Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Was the First Genealogical Society You Joined?

Randy Seaver is back with a new challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

What was the first genealogical society you joined?  Why did you join that one?  What other societies are you a member of?

(2) Share your response in a comment on this blog post, in your own blog post (and provide a link in a comment on this post), or on Facebook or Google+.

NOTE:  Thank you to Jacquie Schattner for suggesting this topic in 2016.

Well, the first genealogical society I joined was the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (SFBAJGS).  I've been a member since 2005.  I've been researching my family history since 1975 and just did stuff on my own.

I really don't remember how I learned about SFBAJGS.  Maybe there was a flyer at the Oakland Family History Center, or I might have heard about a meeting being held at the Jewish Community Center in Berkeley.  I remember I attended meetings for about a year before I officially joined, which I did because at that time I was primarily focusing on researching my mother's side of the family, it was the local Jewish genealogical society, and I wanted to support it.

Over the years I took on responsibilities for the society to support it further.  I became the publicity director in 2008, which meant I became a board member at the same time.  I started handling the program scheduling in 2010.  Also in 2010, I took over as editor of ZichronNote, the society's quarterly journal.  Those are all things I continue to do.  From 2015–2017, I was also the vice president, a position I stepped down from when I moved to Oregon.  And I've presented talks to the society several times over the years.

I am currently a member of two additional societies — Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon (since 2017) and California Genealogical Society (since 2011) — and three professional organizations — Association of Professional Genealogists (since 2005), Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (since 2012), and Genealogical Speakers Guild (since 2011).  Past memberships include California State Genealogical Alliance (which closed down in 2016), Gesher Galicia, and African American Genealogical Society of Northern California.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Cornelius Elmer Sellers, November 7, 1874–September 14, 1918

Laura May (Armstrong) and Cornelius Elmer Sellers

Today, September 14, 2018, is the 100th anniversary of the death of Cornelius Elmer Sellers, my great-grandfather.  None of his grandchildren knew him, because he died well before any of them was born.  This is some of the information I have learned about him through my research, none of which my family knew previously.

Elmer, as he was known, was born November 7, 1874 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Cornelius Godshalk Sellers and Catherine Fox Owen.  His father died when he was 3 years old, and his mother remarried in 1882 in Mount Holly, New Jersey, to George W. Moore.  The family appears to have stayed in the Mount Holly area from that point on.

Cornelius and Catherine Sellers had three children who died young, and George and Catherine Moore had at least two children, only one of whom survived to adulthood.  Elmer's surviving sibling was Howard Evans Moore.

On November 7, 1903, Elmer married Laura May Armstrong and accepted her 7-month-old son, my grandfather Bertram Lynn Armstrong, and raised him as his own.  They went on to have eight additional children I have documented, three of whom lived to become adults.

Elmer was in the New Jersey National Guard.  In 1905, he received a service medal for five years' service, which was reported in the Trenton Times of March 20.  After five years, he was still only a private.

Elmer registered for the World War I draft on September 2, 1918, only two days before he passed away.

Elmer's occupation was listed as plumber on his 1903 marriage record, farmer in the 1915 New Jersey state census, and ship builder on his 1918 draft registration, but I have been told that the family was always poor and never really had any money.  When Elmer died, however, the funeral home costs were more than $100.  It took me a while to figure out where the money had come from — Elmer's mother had paid for the expenses.  She outlived him by five years.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Grandparents Day 2018

So today is Grandparents Day here in the United States.  While cynics may believe it was created as a manufactured holiday designed to sell cards, I think it's a great excuse to post a photo of myself with all five of my grandchildren.  This is from June of this year, after a day-long visit to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Crazy Thing Did You Do?

I knew right away what I would write about for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge:

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!), provided by Jacquie Schattner:

What was the craziest thing you did to get some genealogical information? 

(2) Write about your "crazy thing" in your own blog, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook.  Please leave a comment on this post with a link to your response.

Several years ago, I was scheduled to travel to Montreal for a work-related conference.  I knew that I was supposed to have many cousins in Ottawa, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to try to meet some of them, while I was "in the neighborhood."  I looked up bunches of names, addresses, and phone numbers and then tried to find out how far apart the two cities were and how long it might take to get to Ottawa (this was before the days of the ubiquitous Internet and Google Maps, so it wasn't as straightforward as it is now).  I spoke with my travel agent, who told me it would take several hours to travel to Ottawa from Montreal.  I figured I didn't have that much time in my schedule and decided not to pursue it.

When I arrived in Montreal, however, I learned that it was actually only about two hours by train or bus to go to Ottawa.  Two hours?!  I had to do it.  Because I had decided not to go before leaving on my trip, I had left all of my carefully researched names and contact information at home.  Scrambling around with what I remembered, I was able to find one phone number of a store that belonged to three brothers, who were among my cousins.  With that in hand, I bought a train ticket and headed off.

When I arrived at the train station in Ottawa, I found a pay phone (I said this was a while ago, okay?) and called the store number.  One of the brothers answered.  I told him my name, explained that we were related, and said that I had come to town to try to meet some of my cousins.  He gave me his home phone number and said to call his wife.  I called, got an answering machine, and left a message explaining who I was and that I was at the train station.

Rather than just stand around and wait, I called the store again.  This time I got a different brother.  I repeated my little story to him and mentioned that I had left a message for the first brother's wife.  He did almost the same thing his brother had:  gave me a number and suggested I call his cousin.  And I did the same thing:  got an answering machine and left an explanatory message.

Again, not wanting to just waste time waiting, I called the store again.  I actually got the third brother on the phone that time.  After hearing my story, instead of suggesting I call someone else, he handed the phone to another cousin, who was working there in the store.  That cousin and I then started the fun game of "okay, how are we related?"

We had been talking on the phone for about five minutes when a woman walked into the train station.  By this point, I was the only person still there, so she walked over to me and asked, "Hi, are you Janet?"  I said, "I'm Janice, not Janet."  She said she had gotten a message on her answering machine from a possible cousin who was at the train station, and I said, "That's me!"  I gave her a quick run-down on the activity that had led up to that moment.  Debbie got on the phone with the cousin at the store (who had been politely holding on), told him that she was at the train station with me, and said she would be taking me around town.

She dropped everything she had been planning on doing that day and drove me all around Ottawa to meet cousins.  I learned that her family (my family!) had the only glatt kosher bakeries in Ottawa, started by her grandmother and her children when they immigrated to Canada from Europe.  We went to both stores (and I was sent back with tasty bialys and bagels).  I met many, many cousins, who were thrilled to meet me and learn how we were related.  One cousin let me make copies of photographs.  The most important one was of a December 1924 wedding in New York City that had my great-great-grandfather, my great-grandparents, and my grandmother in it, along with many other relatives.

It so happened that Debbie was the only person in this branch of the family who was interested in genealogy.  She had actually created a two-page questionnaire (on long Canadian-sized paper) for family members to fill out, and had received them back from almost everyone.  She made copies of all of them for me!

The final adventure of the day came when it was time for me to return to Montreal.  I had thought the return train was leaving at 7:00, but I hadn't realized the time was noted by the 24-hour clock, so it had actually been at 5:00 (1700), and I missed it!  Luckily, we were able to find a bus I could catch instead, and I was able to get a refund for the half of the train ticket I hadn't used.

Monday, September 3, 2018

A Record of My Grandfather's Labors

For Labor Day, I'm celebrating the labors of my paternal grandfather, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr.  Along with recording every place he had lived duirng his life, my grandfather created a detailed list of all of the jobs he had held through the beginning of 1955.  Both are wonderful primary source material that provide me with leads to conduct further research into my grandfather and his life.  I can't quite take them at face value, because there are some discrepancies between the two, but I wish I had this kind of information for all of my relatives.

I'm sure Grampa had a purpose in making this list.  Maybe he was up for a promotion or eligible for a security clearance.  Whatever it was, I haven't found a continuation of the list with later dates.  I did, however, find one page titled "Military Certificates of Training" which ends with a date in 1961.

Obviously, I now need to find out where to apply for copies of my grandfather's Civil Service personnel file.  One record always leads to another . . . .

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Ancestors In the 1900 Census?

I love when Randy Seaver has us looking through our records for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, but my database is still offline, so it's a lot harder to do right now!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) How many of your ancestors are in the 1900 United States census?  List them all, their locations, their ages, and their occupations.  Were any ancestors missed by the census enumerator?  (Note:  For folks who have census entries in other countries, substitute your country for the U.S. and the closest available census to 1900.)

(2) Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a comment to this post with a link to your post.

Here are mine.  I also worked backward in time.

• My grandmother Anna Gauntt is the only grandparent I have who was born before 1901.  In the 1900 census she was 7 years old, lived in Mount Laurel, Burlington County, New Jersey, and had no occupation.

• Great-grandfather Thomas Kirkland Gauntt was 30 years old, lived in Mount Laurel, Burlington County, New Jersey, and worked as a farm laborer.
• Great-grandmother Jane (Dunstan) Gauntt was 29 years old, lived in Mount Laurel, Burlington County, New Jersey, and had no occupation.

• Great-grandmother Laura May Armstrong was 18 years old, lived in Westhampton, Burlington County, New Jersey, andi is listed as a "helper" in the occupation column.

• Great-great-grandmother Amelia (Gibson) Gauntt was 68 years old, lived in Chester, Burlington County, New Jersey, and had no occupation.

• Great-great-grandmother Sarah Ann (Lippincott) Armstrong was 40 years old, lived in Westhampton, Burlington County, New Jersey, and for occupation had "boarder" listed.

So I have a grand total of six (!) ancestors I have found in the 1900 census.  I don't know of anyone who was missed by enumerators.  My list is short for several reasons:

• Jane (Dunstan) Gauntt's parents (and grandparents) died well before 1900.

• I have not yet identified my biological great-grandfather, who fathered a child with Laura May Armstrong.

• Amelia (Gibson) Gauntt was widowed before 1900.

• Sarah Ann (Lippincott) Armstrong was apparently divorced from Joel Armstrong before 1900, and he was in all likelihood was still alive and was enumerated in the 1900 census, but I have not definitively identified him yet in the census.

• I don't actually know whether Sarah (Lippincott) Armstrong's parents were alive in 1900.  I don't have death dates for either of them.

• All of my ancestors on my mother's side of the family were still in the Russian Empire in 1900, and I have been unable to find a single one of them in the 1897 census.  The closest record to 1900 I have found for an ancestor on that side is for my great-great-grandfather Gershon Itzhak Nowicki; he appears in a 1904 or 1906 (I can't find it right now to check) voter list, living in Porozovo, Grodno Gubernia (now Porazava, Belarus).