Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Homes in Which I've Lived

For tonight's edition of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver has borrowed another meme from Linda Stufflebean, and it's a fun one.  Also surprisingly relevant for me at this moment in time.

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you:

(1)  Read Linda Stufflebean's blog post, "Homes in Which I've Lived", on her Empty Branches on the Family Tree blog.  

(2)  This week, please list the homes in which you have resided (not just visited) from your birth until the present.

(3)  Share your list in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or on Facebook or Google+.  Please provide a link to your list as a comment to this post.

I actually have this list — somewhere in my house.  I don't know where.  It was packed away before my aborted move in 2008.  But it's an actual list of all the places my family lived, with addresses, at least from the time my brother was born (and possibly from when I was born, a year earlier) through to about 1980 or so.  Without it, there's no way I can come up with most of the addresses.  But I have some specifics and lots of vague information.  And it's a much longer list than Randy's.

• When I was born in 1962, my parents lived at 106 Rose Lane, Montebello, California.

• When my brother was born in 1963, I believe we still lived in Montebello, because that's the city he was born in, but it might have been at a different address.

• My sister was born in 1964 in La Puente, California, and I believe that's where we lived.  I do know we lived in La Puente at some point, because that's where we were when my father's first wife and my half-sister lived with us.  It probably was not the same address, but I don't know.

• In 1971, and probably a year or two before that, my family lived at 434 Randy Street, Pomona, California.  That's the last place we lived in the United States before we moved to Australia for two years.  We left in March 1971.

434 Randy Street in 2011

• In Australia we lived in three different places that I can remember:  an apartment in Sydney, a place in Maroubra Junction (don't remember if it was an apartment or a house), and a house at 309 Bunnerong Road, Pagewood.  All of these are in New South Wales.

• When we returned to the United States about March 1973, we stayed for a short while in the Fort Lauderdale area with relatives.

• From south Florida we went up to the Panhandle, where we lived with my grandfather and his wife at 637 Bayshore Drive, Niceville, but not for long.

• After my grandfather's house, we moved to a trailer park in Niceville.  I am pretty sure that was also in 1973.  We lived at two different locations in the park, in two different trailers, so that's two separate residences.

• We left Niceville and Okaloosa County to go to Villa Tasso, a tiny unincorporated place just over the county line in Walton County.  I think that was about 1974.  I know we were living in Villa Tasso in 1975, because that's when Hurricane Eloise hit.  We actually stayed in the same place through to my high school graduation in 1979, which at the time seemed to me to be a minor miracle.

• After graduation, I lived with my grandparents in Las Vegas for two or three months before I started college.  I don't remember the address, but we were behind the Imperial Palace, which apparently was renamed the Quad Casino in 2012 and the Linq in 2014.  And until now I didn't know it was owned by Caesar's.

• Oh, college!  So many places, so few specifics.  I lived in three different dorm rooms during the four years I was an undergraduate.  During each summer I rented a room at a fraternity; in 1980 and 1981 it was the same frat (Phi Kappa Psi, I think, at 642 West 28th Street), and in 1982 it was the Delta Sig house (which doesn't seem to be there anymore; apparently the chapter is inactive).  Altogether college gave me seven different residential addresses.

• In the summer of 1982 I went on a student exchange trip to Bordeaux, France, which had (still has?) a sister city relationship with Los Angeles.  Through a series of misadventures with the student with whom I was paired, I ended up in Paris three weeks earlier than I was supposed to be, needing some way to make money and a place to stay.  I had my own little efficiency apartment three blocks from the Sorbonne.

• My first move after graduating college in 1983 was to a three-story Victorian house at 459 East Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, next to an AME church (now the Walker Temple, but I don't remember if it had that name then).  (And by the time I was 21, I had lived in at least 21 different places.)  The house was great and even had the original carriage house at the rear of the property.  I lived there four years, with four prior-enlisted Navy ROTC housemates.  I had the third-floor attic as my room.  The house was owned by the uncle of one of the ROTCs, who lived there with his partner.  I moved when the uncle and his partner became irrationally negative about women in the house.  Shortly after that, the uncle was unfortunately murdered by his daughter's boyfriend.

• In 1987, after the aforesaid irrationality, I moved to a small second-floor apartment a mile or so away.  I don't remember the address.  I do remember it was an old building, and my apartment still had an original icebox, from when the iceman delivered blocks of ice.

• Soon after moving into the apartment, I decided I didn't like living in an apartment, so I found a four-bedroom bottom-floor half of a duplex on South Catalina Street.  I think the address was 2210 South Catalina, but don't hold me to that.  I lived there until September 1989, after I lost all three housemates in less than a month.

• Next was a big move, 400 miles north, to 1620 Alcatraz Avenue, Berkeley, where I was an unpaid housekeeper/cook/nanny.  I arrived a mere three weeks before the Loma Prieta earthquake.  For various reasons the arrangements did not work out, and I was on the road again.

• In June 1990 I didn't move very far — just down the street, to (I think) 1632B Alcatraz Avenue, where I lived in a cute little mother-in-law unit at the back of the property.  I actually stayed there almost three years, the third longest I had lived anywhere in my life to that point, after Villa Tasso and the Victorian on Adams Boulevard.

• In February 1993 I moved to my present location, 1066 28th Street, Oakland, the first place I owned.  I am still amazed when I realize that I've lived in the same place for more than 24 years.

So, to date I have lived in 27 residences, but another one will be coming soon.  I am in the process of selling my house and moving to the Portland, Oregon area.  Soon my list will have 28 locations.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ever Wanted to Run an Italian Castle?

The 103 historic properties available
This may be your chance.  Italy is making more than 100 historic castles, farmhouses, and monasteries available to entrepreneurs in an effort to revitalize the unused buildings.  (Maybe one of the sites has a connection to your family?)  The program, called Cammini e Percorsi (I'm thinking of it as "Highways and Byways", although that's not entirely accurate), is being handled by Italy's Agenzia del Demanio ("Agency for State Property") and is backed by the Ministry of Tourism.  The 103 properties are located along eight historic transportation routes throughout the mainland and in Sicily and Sardinia.  The goal is to have the buildings transformed into facilities that will be used by tourists, hikers, bikers, and pilgrims.  (Hey, what about genealogists?)

If you want to take a shot, you will need to submit a proposal outlining how you will transform your desired location into a tourist destination.  Preference is being given to individuals under 40 years of age, although those of us over 40 are not excluded from applying.

You don't actually get title to the building, sorry.  You will have the right to run it for nine years, with an option for an additional nine years.

The deadline to submit your proposal is June 26, 2017.  It is expected that work will begin next summer.

For more information (all in Italian, although the top of the page proclaims "English Version...Coming Soon"), visit  And let me know if you win one of the contracts!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Another Copy of Emile Petit's "Interrogation"

This document is two sheets of paper attached to each other in the upper left corner by some sort of paste or glue, a technique we have seen several times.  The first page is 8 1/2" x 10 15/16"; the second is 8 1/2" x 11 1/16".  The third image is the reverse of the second page.  The first page is about 20# in weight but not high-quality paper; it has no watermark.  The second page is of better quality and has a watermark:  "BERKSHIRE SOUVENIR BOND USA."  Almost everything on these pages is typed, with the exceptions of the dates on the top of the first page, a handwritten "s" at the bottom of the first page, and the words "Questions to Petit" on the back of the second page.

In case this sounds familiar, it should.  This is another copy of Jean La Forêt's questions posed to Emile Petit, which I posted on March 16.  Those copies were in an envelope, while this one was separate.  The sizes of the pages are different, but the types of paper are the same.

Now that I have all the copies together in one place, it's clear that the one above is the original typed version of the second set in the March post.  The letter impressions on the page are crisper, and the indentations in the paper are deeper than in the March copy.  Shame on me for not noticing in March that the pages I had in hand had the fuzzy look of a carbon copy.

As these pages are the original typed copies of the set from March, they unfortunately add no new information to our ongoing narrative.  They do, however, reinforce that Jean La Forêt wanted to make sure he had plenty of copies of documents.  Maybe he was worried that one of Emma's siblings would try to destroy papers and derail his investigation.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Northwest Genealogy Conference: Another Busy Time Coming Up

I already feel tired.  In addition to having five presentations accepted for this July's IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, I have now learned that four of my submissions were accepted for the Northwest Genealogy Conference, which will be held in August in lovely Arlington, Washington.  I am thrilled to be going to NWGC again.

The conference runs over four days:  Wednesday–Saturday, August 16–19.  The first day is free classes in two tracks, beginning genealogy and society management.  Then each day has a featured speaker:  Diahan Southard on August 17; Daniel Earl on August 18; and Kenyatta Berry on August 18 and as the banquet speaker on August 17.

This conference is only half as long as IAJGS, so I don't have the luxury of only one talk per day.  Instead, I have two each on Friday and Saturday:

Friday, August 18, 2017
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization, Parts 1 and 2

Saturday, August 19, 2017
Online Resources for Jewish Genealogy
Using Online Historical Jewish Newspapers for Genealogical Research

It'll be nice to have two sessions for my immigration and naturalization class.  I cover so much material in that, and it's impossible to cram it all into one normal session time.  But I'm very disappointed that my talks on Saturday are at the same times as two by Janice Lovelace, and I won't be able to hear either one.  At least I can go to her Thursday presentation.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Mother and Cars

Maybe a car my mother drove?
Don't confuse the title of this post with "My Mother the Car", which was an entertaining television series starring Jerry Van Dyke (notwithstanding what later critics had to say about it).  For Mother's Day, I wanted to share the saga of my mother's love-hate relationship with cars.  Maybe it was because she grew up in major urban centers where it was not common for everyone to have a car, but my mother and cars didn't always seem to get along.

The reason my parents met is because she was in a car that broke down.  I don't know if it was my mother's car or her best friend's.  The story is that they were going to a party and the car broke down.  My mother was fretting that they'd miss the party, but her friend said, "Don't worry, I'll call my uncle.  He can fix it."  It turns out my mother's best friend was my father's niece (so she's my first cousin).  I never heard if he fixed the car, but my parents married soon after.

When I was very young, my family lived in Southern California, where cars were a necessity.  While it was possible to get around without one, it took forever to do so.  I can't imagine my mother trying to go by bus with three small children; she didn't have the patience.  She had a horrible sense of direction, however, and got lost all the time.  The amazing thing is that my brother, who was not quite 8 years old when we left California, was often the one who gave her directions to get home again.  (And just to prove that it wasn't something about driving in Los Angeles that caused her to lose her sense of direction, she even managed to get lost in Niceville, Florida, which is about as small as it sounds.)

Another memorable car breakdown my mother experienced was on the Grapevine, the twisty, turny highway that goes through the Tehachapi Mountains and is the connection between the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles area.  Apparently she and a friend (not my cousin) were driving from Los Angeles to Modesto to a party (yup, another one).  The car broke down on the Grapevine.  Rather than miss their party, my mother and her friend left the car where it was, headed to Modesto some other way, and left it to my father to retrieve the car.

Through all of this my mother had been driving automatics.  When my family moved to Australia, however, my father told her that she was going to have to learn to drive a stick, because there just weren't that many automatics in Australia, and they were extremely expensive.  So it was drive a stick, rely on public transportation, or stay at home.  That was enough to motivate my mother, but she was never great with a stick.  She definitely believed in the phrase, "If you can't find 'em, grind 'em."  (Unfortunately, I think she taught my brother to drive, and for several years he ground gears with the best of them.)

To some degree my mother recognized her limitations, and sometimes she chose not to push it.  When we were living in Florida, she had taken my siblings and me to a theme park (sorry, don't remember which one), and on the way home we experienced one of those lovely heavy Florida thunderstorms, where it's almost white-out conditions.  Rather than try to drive through the storm, my mom pulled over to the side of the highway, and we waited it out.

Perhaps the most eye-catching thing my mother did with a car was the time she hit a deer.  I don't know how common it is, but she rolled the car.  Luckily, she was fine.  My stepfather told me he drove past the rolled car on the other side of the highway and didn't realize my mother was in it.

At least she wasn't hit by lightning in a car.  That happened to her twice while she was on the phone.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: A Tribute to Your Mother

Well, it is the day before Mother's Day, so I should not have been surprised to see that Randy Seaver chose mothers as the theme for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you:

(1)  This is Mother's Day weekend, and I have been thinking about my mother — the family times, the hard times, the wonderful times.  

(2)  For SNGF this week, write a tribute to your mother.  It can be any length.  What do you remember about her, and what did you learn from her?

(3)  Share your tribute or memories in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or other social media.  Please leave a comment on this post if you post something elsewhere.

I learned many valuable lessons from my mother.  I learned tolerance and openmindedness, because my parents had friends of many different backgrounds — black, Hispanic, Indian, Vietnamese, gay — in a time when that was not common.  I learned forgiveness and love, because my mother welcomed my father's first wife and my half-sister into our home, and they lived with us.  I learned intellectual curiosity, because my mother always encouraged her children to read, study, and expand their minds.  I learned to appreciate language, because she played games with it and made it fun.  I learned fearlessness, because she always told me I could do and be anything I wanted.  I learned to be adventurous, because she emphasized that we should be willing to try almost anything once.  And I learned so much about my family, because she and her mother talked about relatives and let me know who they were.

There is no tombstone for my mother with numbers on either side of a dash, because she chose to be cremated.  But I don't need a tombstone to remember her.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Revisiting Louis Curdt's Legal Waiver

In March, I posted three transcriptions of Louis Curdt's 1885 waiver of dower of Elizabeth (Walz) Curdt.  At the time I came up with a couple of ideas for where the original might be.  It turns out that I have one and didn't know it. Apparently when I sorted through all the documents, I didn't notice that I had two different sets of these waivers.  Well, now I know!

This sheet of paper is 7 1/2" x 12 1/2".  It's about 20# weight.  It has an embossed logo of some sort in the upper left, but I can't read it.  (I'm going to scan it at 600 DPI and see if that helps.  If not, I'll go for 1200.)  The embossing was so strong that it cut through the paper in one place.  The sheet has been folded multiple times, in different places.  On the main text side, the only ones that seem to be visible in the scan are the two horizontal lines that divide the page into approximate thirds.  On the reverse side, which has only "Waiver of Dower rights" in blue pencil, the folds framing the text and one that bisects that section can be seen clearly.

These are copies of two of the three transcriptions I posted in March.  The upper one is the original typed version of the third transcription from March (which now that I have this one in hand I've looked at again, and it is a carbon copy).  This sheet also has a "DEPOSIT BOND" watermark and is the same size and color as the March item.  The page has two more folds than the carbon copy does.  The only difference between the two transcriptions is that the name "Louis" in the signature line is slightly lower in the carbon copy.  The name was typed directly with the typewriter.  It looks as though the carbon copy name was erased first, but I'm not totally sure.  One other difference is that this page has "Waiver of Right of Dower" in blue pencil on the reverse side.

The lower image is a carbon copy of the second transcription posted in March.  This sheet is the same size, 8 1/2" x 12 1/2", appears to be the same weight and color, and has folds in the same places.  The differences between these two documents are the handwritten word "Sections" in blue pencil on the original typed page (the March copy) and slightly different placement of the words "all my" in the next to last line of the long paragraph.  Now that I have the two pages next to each other, I can see that the original typed version had something else typed there that was removed and then "all my" typed in.  On the carbon copy, it appears that whatever was typed with the carbon paper was erased and "all my" typed in its place.

So altogether I have an original handwritten copy of the waiver from Louis Curdt, three typed transcriptions (all differing slightly in wording), and carbon copies of two of the transcriptions.  Someone in this family (I'm still guessing Jean) was just a little obsessive about having extra copies.  Of course, now that I have a handwritten copy, I just have to transcribe it and compare it to Jean's work.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

This witnesseth that I have received for a valuable consideration a warranty deed of of Louis Emile Petit and Emma his wife to me the undersigned Louis Curdt to lots 9 & 10 of a Subdivision of John Smith's Estate in Seys[?] No 1901 & 1902, T 46 R 6 East in StLouis [sic] County State of Missouri U. S. of America.  The deed, though, convoying [sic] by its face an absolute title and unincumbered [sic], is conveying only the title subject to the dower of Elizabeth Curdt, late widow of John Schaefer  Now for good causes & considerations I hereby for myself and for my ligal [sic] representatives do hereby waive all my claims against said Petit & wife on account of said dower interest

Signed and sealed this 19th day September 1885 at StLouis [sic] Mo

[signed] Louis Curdt [seal]

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Even though this might be Louis Curdt's original signature (it does seem to be different handwriting from that on the rest of the page, although I don't know if it's "German" script or writing, as Jean typed in his transcriptions), this does not appear to be the original document.  The word "seal" surrounded in curlicues suggests that this is a handwritten copy of an original that had a seal on it.  Unfortunately, this copy is not dated, so there's no way to tell if it was made around the time of the 1885 waiver or when Elizabeth Curdt died in 1919.

At least now we know why Jean had "Seys" in one of his transcriptions — that is certainly what it looks like to me in this original.  At first I thought that the "y" didn't look like other "y"s in the document, but then I found a couple that looked at least similar.  And if it isn't a y, I have no idea what it could be.  Maybe there is yet another "original", which might be more legible.

Overall Jean's transcriptions are all very close to the handwritten copy, although he did correct the spelling of "legal" every time.  Certainly no significant deviation was made, and the meaning is the same across all three.  The only major difference is still Seys versus Sections versus Surveys.