Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Free App for Making Videos

I recently learned about a free app that is designed to help you make marketing videos.  Directr for Business has built-in storyboard templates that guide you and make it easier to figure out what you want to say and how to deliver that message.  Templates exist for several kinds of marketing messages, but you could certainly use it for other types of videos also.  You can upload your new video quickly to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.  It's made for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch and is super easy to use.  I was able to use it to create a short video to let people know about my genealogy research business.  So check out my video and then think about the ways you can use Directr to help promote your own business!  (Or even outreach for your genealogy research?)  And did I mention that it's free?!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Commemorating Anzac Day (a day late)

First, my apologies.  I know Anzac Day was yesterday, April 25, but I was not able to post this then.  I did want to commemorate the day, however, especially as this was the 100th anniversary.  Anzac Day is the anniversary of the first military campaign with significant casualties for Australia and New Zealand in World War I.

I lived in Australia for two years, from 1971–1973, which is when I learned about the Anzacs.  The lesson obviously made an impression, because I've never forgotten, and I remember the immense pride that was always evident when their history was discussed.

The Australia and New Zealand Army Corps is particularly remembered for fighting at the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I.  I have no Anzac veterans in my own lineage, but I share the pride and esteem that I was taught while I lived in Australia.

More information on the Anzacs can be found on several sites, including the following:

Anzac Centenary Site

Discovering Anzacs

I Love the Anzacs

God bless Australia!

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: A Favorite Family Photograph

Randy's challenge this week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun was to post a favorite family photograph and tell about who is in it:

1)  Show us one of your favorite photographs of your family - a group, yourself, your mom, your dad, your sibling(s), your grandparents, etc.  Tell us about it - the date, the event, the setting, the persons in the photograph.

I'm only a few hours late!  But this was an easy choice for me, especially with the inspiration of Randy's four-generation photo.

This is one of the few five-generation photos I have for my family.

Date:  Probably 1982, because the baby was born in March 1982.

Event:  Just the fact that five generations were together was probably enough, but maybe also to celebrate the new baby.

Setting:  I don't know, but probably my cousin's or my aunt's home.  (I need to ask my cousin!)

Persons, left to right:

Anna Gauntt Stradling (1893–1986), my paternal grandmother, mother of Ruth Stradling Appleton

Ruth Carrie Stradling Appleton (1914–1984), my father's oldest half-sister and my aunt, mother of Ruth Anne Appleton

Forrest Ronald Appleton, my first cousin once removed, father of Forrest Ronald Appleton II

Ruth Anne Appleton, my first cousin, mother of Forrest Ronald Appleton

Forrest Ronald Appleton II, my first cousin twice removed

Now that I've noted all the years, I realized that this photo is even more special, because only two years later my aunt passed away, followed two years after that by my grandmother.  I'm glad they took this photo when they did!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - America Ferrera

Well, I'm slipping further behind, but the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen.  Tomorrow (Sunday) is the final episode in this season of Who Do You Think You Are?, so I won't have too much more to catch up on.  Sometimes real life simply interferes and doesn't leave me the time I need to rewatch an episode and try to ensure I've understood everything correctly.

This is my delayed review and commentary on America Ferrera's appearance on WDYTYA.  The teaser tells us that Ferrera will travel to Honduras to connect with a father she barely knew.  She will also trace an ancestor with charisma and power and try to learn if he was truly on the side of good.

Ferrera is characterized as a beloved actress whose fame began as a teenager when she appeared in Real Women Have Curves and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  She was more recognized and gained critical acclaim after starring in Ugly Betty at the age of 22.  That part earned her an Emmy and a Golden Globe award.  She also portrayed Cesar Chavez's wife, Helen, in a biographical movie about the labor leader.  In her personal life, Ferrera is involved in social justice, particularly in immigration reform and children's issues.  She lives in New York with her husband, Ryan Piers Williams.

Ferrera's parents are América Griselda Ayes and Carlos Gregorio Ferrera, both Honduran immigrants who came to the United States before they had children.  Although she and her siblings were born and raised in Los Angeles, and she jokes that she was a Valley Girl, she feels a connection to Honduras because of the culture she grew up with.

When Ferrera was about 8 years old, her parents "split up" (according to Wikipedia, divorced) and her father returned to Honduras.  She never saw him again.  He died there in 2010.  The first time she visited Honduras, in 2012, she somehow "ended up" visiting the small mountain village that her father was from (and how exactly does one accidentally end up visiting a small, out-of-the-way mountain village?).  The visit piqued her interest in family history.

Ferrera's older sister Jennifer is her family foil at the beginning of the episode.  They discuss how family history wasn't really talked about and that they know nothing about their father's side of the family, other than hearing that his grandfather or maybe great-grandfather was possibly in the military, maybe a general.  They agree that if Ferrera wants to learn the facts, she's going to have to start in Honduras.  (Taking into account the documents she ends up seeing during the show, this is probably one of the few instances in the history of this program where taking off to another location, particularly at the beginning, to do the research is actually warranted.)

La Esperanza, the small town in which Ferrera's father was born, lived, died, and is buried, is the first location she visits.  While riding in a car to her first destination, she says that this trip, where her purpose is to learn about her father's family, has her feeling a little nervous.  She's thought about doing this, but now that she's actually here, she's feeling very emotional.  When she was here in 2012 she met a woman her father knew; she's headed to visit the woman's son, a friend of her father.

In what is probably his home, Romualdo Bueso says that he and Carlos Ferrera were close friends, like brothers.  They knew each other from about the age of 5 or 6.  Bueso offers to show Ferrera some photos, which include some of her father from the 1970's when he was about 20 years old.  Ferrera holds one photo and says it reminds her of her brother.  Bueso says he has many photos that her father sent.  Ferrera goes back and forth between speaking Spanish and English here and throughout the episode; when she does speak Spanish, it's a little stilted and hesitant.  I suspect there was usually an interpreter available, though we never see one on camera.

Bueso says that Carlos talked about his family and often cried.  He apparently missed his children very much and had good memories.  He thought he would eventually return to the U.S., though he never did.  He didn't contact the children because he had some problems, which Bueso describes as struggles in his heart.  In Honduras he worked with computers and ran a school teaching computer skills.  He enjoyed teaching.  Bueso points out that Carlos came from a very intellectual family.

Ferrera asks if Bueso knew her grandparents.  He says he knew her grandfather, Don Carlos Ferrera, but not her grandmother, Georgina.  Ferrera says her middle name is Georgina, and the two agree she must have been named for her grandmother.  When Ferrera asks about her great-grandparents, Bueso says they were María Luisa and General Gregorio Ferrera.  (Hey, look, we found our general already!)  Bueso says that to learn more about her great-grandfather, Ferrera should go to the Municipalidad de La Esperanza and find a historian there.  She thanks him and calls him Don Romualdo; he corrects her and says she should call him Tío (Uncle) Rumi, a nice touch.

In the bridge to the next segment, Ferrera says it feels good to have learned a little more about her family.  She may never really know about her father's struggles and why he stayed out of contact, but it means a lot to know he missed his family.

Palacio Municipal de La Esperanza
It is not stated where the next segment is, but the large building we see before Ferrera is inside is the Palacio Municipal de La Esperanza, the city hall (which has a Google+ page), so that's my best guess, and it could be what Bueso was referring to.  Inside some building, Ferrera meets Latin American historian Dr. Suyapa Portillo, of Pitzer College.  Portillo starts out by saying that the records from this area are in poor condition and that it has been difficult to find much on her great-grandfather.  She then says she found one document, which she hands to Ferrera in a file folder.  It turns out to be a page from the 1895 census (censo general) of San Jerónimo (part of Jesús de Otoro), in the Department of Intibucá.  On the list of names are Sebastian Ferrera (60 years old), Gregoria Gonzales (50), and what appears to be their fifteen children, including Ciriaca (24), María (20), and Gregorio Ferrera (14).  Portillo cautions that the form does not state relationships but only the head of household, but I was able to read that Gregoria was listed as mujer (wife) of Sebastian.  So it seems that the parents of Ferrera's great-grandfather Gregorio were Sebastian Ferrera and Gregoria Gonzales, her great-great-grandparents.  Sebastian was a labrador (farmer).  Ferrera asks how her great-grandfather could have gone from being a farmer's son to a well known general.  Portillo says she knows a local historian nearby who can help her find out.

Ferrera goes to Jesús de Otoro, where she meets Professor Jesús Orelio Inestroza, a "guardian of historical documents", who has been collecting them for decades.  (So is this a personal collection?)  He says he has found many papers about Gregorio.  The first one he shows is an 1895 list of students enrolled in a school for boys, which includes the monthly "dues" (probably better translated as "tuition") that were paid.  The first name on the list is Gregorio Ferrera, and his father was Sebastian, confirming the hypothesis based on the 1895 census.  Inestroza says it was not common for a 14-year-old to still be enrolled in school at that time; most children of that age would already be working to help support their families.  The fact that Gregorio was in school indicates that education was important to Sebastian.  Ferrera sees a parallel in that her parents moved to the United States so that their children would be able to have a good education.

Next Inestroza pulls out a copy of El Monitor, a national newspaper, from 1908.  It has a short article about Gregorio Ferrera, who was leaving his position as head of internal revenue to lend support to the government in its current military campaign.  His position was going to be filled by Rafael Pineda.  Gregorio was then about 27 years old.

Inestroza explains that Gregorio was a member of the liberal party (how does he know this?  where's a document that shows it?) and loyal to the president of Honduras.  There was a threat to overthrow the president, and Gregorio was going to defend the government, probably as a volunteer.  Ferrera asks what it meant to be in the liberal party in 1908, which Inestroza doesn't really answer.  He says that there were two parties, the liberal and the nationalist, and that this period is the beginning of the civil war, when the two parties sometimes resorted to armed conflict.

The narrator steps in at this point to explain that Honduran civil wars were tied to the popularity of the banana, which had become the main export of Honduras after its introduction in 1870 to the United States.  The term "banana republic" was coined by author O. Henry to describe the control exerted by U.S. interests in the area.  Bribes, kickbacks, and shady politics were the order of the day, creating policies that were good for American companies but bad for Hondurans.  In 1908, the Cuyamel Fruit Company backed nationalists over the legitimate president, Miguel Dávila, a liberal.  Men such as Gregorio Ferrera supported the president.

Ferrera asks Inestroza how she can learn more about Gregorio.  (It's a shame we saw only two of the "many" documents Inestroza said he had found relating to Gregorio.)  Inestroza says she should go to the national archives, where there should be more documents about him.

With no interlude, Ferrera heads to the national archives in Tegucigalpa, which the narrator tells us is 100 miles east of Jesús de Otoro.  Historian Rolando Zelaya y Ferrera (incorrectly shown as Ronaldo on screen) of Universidad Unitec is there to greet her.  (I don't know how common the name Ferrera is in Honduras, but one would think the coincidence of their names would have been mentioned.)  Ferrera has asked Zelaya to look for documents about Gregorio's military career after 1908.  They are in a room filled with shelves and stacks of books and documents.  Ferrera asks if any of the information there is backed up or protected electronically, and of course the answer is no.  Zelaya says they'll have to look through them the old way.  He eventually points out one particular pile, and they move those items to a table.

An issue of La Nación from August 16, 1919 is the first document Ferrera looks at.  She notes that it was about 11 years after the last item she had seen.  The newspaper is very fragile (I wonder if it or the issue of El Monitor is available on one of the ProQuest or NewsBank databases, which would have negated the need to handle this delicate item).  A translation of an article that mentions Gregorio appears.  The article, "Victory for the Defeated of Santa María", explains that the people of Intibucá had declared that President Francisco Bertrand was in that position illegally.  Several names supporting revolt against Bertrand were given at the end, including Colonel Gregorio Herrera, which Zelaya is a typo and should read Ferrera.  The other names are all military men also.  At the end of his legitimate term, Bertrand didn't want to hold elections but instead wanted to hand the presidency over to a relative.

Ferrera is confused by this turn of events.  Previously Gregorio had fought in support of a president, but this time he is against the president.  She gets very emotional and is proud that Gregorio stood for democracy and fought for elections to be held.  Zelaya tells her that the result of this revolution was that Bertrand was exiled and elections were held.  Rafael López Gutiérrez (yet another military man) won the presidency in 1920 (in an apparently manipulated election).

And what happened after this?  Zelaya has another item, an issue of Time magazine from September 15, 1924.  (This is online, so there's absolutely no excuse for handling the original, which again looks fragile.)  López Gutiérrez's term had expired on February 1, but he had forcibly remained in office and then had died in March.  Two more generals, Arias and Bueso (possibly related to Tío Rumi?, but again not discussed) took over as dictators.  Gregorio, allied with General Tiburcio Carías, now took up arms against them.  General Vicente Tosta became the provisional president.  According to the article, three months later (reported in the August 11 issue of Time), Gregorio said that Tosta was bad for the country.

from September 15, 1924 Time magazine

Ferrera says she wishes she knew more about why Gregorio had called for a revolution against Tosta.  Zelaya explains that during the first 33 years of the 20th century, this is how things went in Honduras.  Leaders were friends, then enemies, then friends again.  Someone might be on the side of the liberals in one fight, then support the nationalists, and then return to the liberal fold.  It was constant flip-flopping.  Gregorio seemed to have no qualms about starting a revolution against a president if he didn't agree with the man's politics.

Next, in what is probably one of the lamest segues, Zelaya says he has no more documents, so maybe they should look on Ancestry.com (at least it took them halfway through the episode before they resorted to Ancestry!).  But the comment of "right, maybe they have some more articles about him" was pretty pathetic.  Zelaya has Ferrera search for Gregorio Ferrera in Honduras and says to use the year 1925 because they want to look for items after the 1924 article.  Seriously?

San Antonio
April 16, 1925
The sad intro notwithstanding, of course Ferrera finds an article:  "Again Hearing from the Irrepressible Ferrera", in the San Antonio Express of April 16, 1925.  (When I tried the same search, the first 99[!] hits were for Gregorio.  They actually had quite a bit of material to work with, even if we saw very little on screen.)  After "reputedly fair elections", Miguel Barahona was named president.  Gregorio, noted as "a former war minister" and "notorious for his political obstinacy", was said to be leading an insurgent force, although the article points out he was hostile to Tosta, not Barahona.

Ferrera wonders if this revolution was justified or not and asks Zelaya what happened next.  He points her to the national library, where she should talk to Professor Justin Wolfe.  As she leaves, Ferrera says she didn't grow up with her father, so she hadn't known what parts of her character might have come from his side of the family (here we go back to that theme).  Now, however, she feels a direct connection with Gregorio, but she is concerned because he seems to have turned against his own allies.  She wants to know if his intentions were pure or if he had become a power-hungry warmonger.

At the Biblioteca Nacional de Honduras, Justin Wolfe of Tulane University is waiting for Ferrera.  He also says he has had trouble finding materials after 1924 for Gregorio, but he has a printed item from 1929 titled "Al Pueblo Hondureño", with Gregorio's name at the bottom.  Gregorio was about 48 years old at this point.

The document, which unfortunately Wolfe does not explain the purpose or origin of (maybe it was a manifesto?), was addressed to the Honduran people.  It begins with a comment about a long and painful exile.  After the overthrow of Tosta in 1924, Gregorio had become persona non grata in Honduras and had to leave for a few years.  Now he is returning for Honduran peace.  He promises there will be no more revolutions or agitation and speaks of one flag to be symbolic of the future of the country.  He wants people to unite for the nation's peace and prosperity.  He talks about engaging in daily work and a modest living and declaims any interest in an official post.  The document is dated February 1, 1929, San Pedro Sula.  Sounds good, right?

Wolfe says the document is typical of what you could expect from Latin American caudillos.  These were powerful, regional strongmen, often with military ties, who controlled various areas.

The narrator explains that after independence from Spain in the early 19th century, many Latin American countries suffered from instability.  Caudillos often became champions of the poor and marginalized.  The local residents of Intibucá backed Gregorio Ferrera and made up the bulk of his armies.

Ferrera comments that Gregorio had come back without guns blazing and seemed to have had a more enlightened view.  But what did he do after this?  Wolfe says there was very little information but in the U.S. national archives he found a confidential communication, dated October 18, 1930, sent from the American consulate in Honduras to the U.S. Secretary of State.  The letter says that the electoral campaign in Honduras was becoming more acrimonious.  The then-current president, Vicente Mejía, was a liberal, but it was believed the nationalists might win the next election, which could give them a springboard to the presidency.  Recent reports about General Ferrera were disquieting, and the legation feared trouble if his candidates were defeated.  Colonel Maloney, an American civilian (a colonel is a civilian?) living in San Pedro Sula, had supplied some information.  Gregorio and his men were said to have about 200 rifles, 1,000 grenades, and five machine guns.  One comment was that "Ferrera is a difficult person to control."

So not even one year after Gregorio's "I come in peace" declaration, here he goes again.  General Carías was the leader of the nationalist party, and it seems that Gregorio had shifted in his loyalties.  The incumbent was liberal, but now Gregorio was supporting the nationalists.  Was this shift a betrayal of the state, or loyalty to the people?

The consulate document has more information.  The Honduran minister for foreign affairs was concerned about Gregorio and was urging the United Fruit Company to do something about him.  The United Fruit Company was financing Gregorio's cattle and banana ventures, so he was on some level obligated to the company.  United Fruit had a monopoly in the international banana trade, but the Great Depression had affected their revenues.  Earlier Gregorio had appeared to be idealistic, but now it looked as though he was "paid for" and under the thumb of a corporation.  It was difficult to know how much Gregorio was still supporting the people versus just being a tool of the company, but Ferrera comments that if he had been just a tool, it is unlikely there would have been much trepidation about what he would do.  Wolfe agrees.

From this we go directly to finding out about Gregorio's death.  Wolfe hands Ferrera another newspaper, this one dated June 27, 1931 (El [something]; the title was on the top of the page, but it was very small on screen).  The big headline was about the body of General Ferrera being sent to his wife and children in San Pedro Sula.  So one year after the consulate communication, Gregorio was dead, at the age of 50.  The article, by J. Antonio Inestroza (related to our "guardian of historical documents" perhaps?), says that the body had been checked to verify his identity.  It called him the principal enemy of Honduran peace.

Ferrera is astute enough to wonder if this was a national newspaper and whether the people in power would have controlled the perspective presented in the article.  Wolfe agrees that is indeed the case.  Gregorio was fighting against the government again, but on the side of the nationalists.  The unanswered question is still whether he was driven by his interest in the people of his country or by his own personal interests.

To try to answer that question, at least in part, Wolfe brings out a book.  Los Hijos del Copal Candela is what the cover shows, though it should be Los Hijos del Copal y la Candela ("Children of the Copal and the Candle").  The book was written by an anthropologist (Anne Chapman) who worked in the Intibucá region in the early 1960's.  Wolfe picks one interview, with Rómulo Gómez, who fought as a soldier with Gregorio.  Gomez said he was always on Gregorio's side.  Wolfe adds that people from Intibucá were "Ferreristas" and that many died following him.  Whatever reasons he may have had for what he did, he had the support of the local people, who loved him.  The interviews were conducted more than 30 years after Gregorio's death, and it was apparent that the interviewees still remembered him and his charisma.

Ferrera comes to the conclusion that whatever Gregorio was fighting for, it was clear he was fighting against dictatorship.  When Honduras had one dominant political party and one dominant fruit company things were stable, but the people had no options.  Gregorio fought for the people to have options, but that fight came with sacrifice.

A realization that hits Ferrera comes from the headline of the article:  Gregorio's body had been delivered to his wife and children.  It was easy to forget that he was not just a general but also a father and husband, part of a family, and she too is part of that family.  Overall, Gregorio was a complicated man and an enigma in Honduran history.  The interviews showed, though, that people who followed him respected him.

To close out the episode, Wolfe suggests that Ferrera visit Gregorio's home town of San Jerónimo.  There she finds a community center (salon de actos) dedicated to Gregorio.  It was finished or dedicated August 30, 2014, which seems a little too coincidental to me.  I suspect it exists because of the research done for this program.  But Ferrera is proud to have learned that her great-grandfather was a local hero and is still a legend 100 years later.

Ferrera has been involved with politics for a while and never questioned why it was important to her, or what parts of herself came from her father.  Now she "knows" and is proud to be part of a family that was willing to defend its ideals.  Her family history inspires her, which is a great thing to come out of an opportunity like this.

The Spanish-language Wikipedia has a page for Gregorio Ferrera.  It begins with a comment on how Gregorio was who people thought of when they talked about a caudillo and ends with a reference to a book published in 1933, El verdadero origen de la muerte del General Gregorio Ferrera ("The Truth about the Death of General Gregorio Ferrera").  Now there's a source I wish they had used during the show!  The page also includes a list of many of the battles in which Gregorio participated.

Several of the links I used for this post go to Spanish-language pages because the pages available in English had such limited information I did not think they were worthwhile references.  If you do not read Spanish, use Google Translate or a browser add-on, and you can get the gist of the articles.

Something I found while checking links for this write-up was a photo (undated) of Gregorio, which I was surprised they did not use in the episode.  But since I did find it, here's what our hero looked like.
Sheboygan Press, April 21, 1931

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thank You to the Calaveras Genealogical Society!

I had a fantastic time on Saturday with the Calaveras Genealogical Society.  This was the first time I have taught an all-day seminar.  Everyone was welcoming and very enthusiastic about genealogy, and they treated me great.  People had lots of good questions, and I think I even helped the society figure out how to handle a copyright problem with one of the older issues of their newsletter.

I will admit that I was a little — just a little, mind you — nervous on Friday.  People were going to come and listen to four separate classes from yours truly.  I've gotten enough good feedback over the past few years to know that I am a reasonably entertaining speaker, but four classes might be something entirely different.  But I was just about ready.  Everything was set up, my presentations were waiting for their final tweaks, I had even planned what I could grab for breakfast and eat in the car Saturday morning.

Then things started going wrong.

When I tried to start my car on Friday morning, it wouldn't turn over.  Wouldn't even make little clicky sounds.  All I heard was the "Sounds of Silence."  This did not bode well, as beautiful Murphys, where the Calaveras County Genealogical society meets, is a mere 132 miles from my home.  Not exactly easy walking distance.

But my car obviously didn't want to make the trip, so off it went to the mechanic, and I got on the phone to all my friends, searching for a car to borrow.  My back-up plan was to look for the least expensive rental available, but someone was generous enough to let me use his van, which even has air conditioning.  Hooray!  I could make it to Murphys!

Friday evening, I was looking over the four presentations, trying to make sure I had made all the updates I wanted.  Everything was looking good again, and I started to relax.  Until I remembered the oversize handout for one of the talks.  Which I had made 40 copies of earlier in the week.  And which were sitting in a box on the back seat of my car.  At my mechanic's garage.


I was going to have to leave at oh-dark-thirty on Saturday morning to get to Murphys on time, so I couldn't go to the mechanic before I left.  I sent a panic message to my contact person at CGS and let her know that I would have the electronic file with me, if there was a copy place close enough that handled 11x17.  I also hunted around for older handouts for that class and found fifteen copies of the oversized page, which I immediately stuffed into my computer bag.

Breathe breathe breathe.

On Saturday morning there was a response to my message saying not to worry, we could figure something out.  Much calmer than I was.

It was a lovely drive to Murphys.  Amazingly enough, not a lot of people out on the freeways and highways super early on a Saturday.  After I turned off I-5, lots of open pastureland with lots of cows, and then very suddenly a treeline and climbing up into the Sierra Mountains.  Gorgeous scenery and twisty turny mountain roads that would have had me white-knuckled only a few years ago (I learned to drive in Florida, where everything is flat and straight), but which now just make me slow down a little.

After driving through several small towns (some with populations of only a couple hundred) — Copperopolis, Angels Camp, Vallecito, Douglas Flat — I saw the sign for Murphys.  It looked like there was good signage; every intersection appeared to have street signs.  I looked for the sign for Bret Harte Drive, which Google Maps had told me was where I needed to take a left turn.  But I didn't see it.  And then Murphys was behind me and I was headed further into the Sierras.


I pulled over at the first turnout and called Linda.  No surprise, I had passed the turnoff.  Once I turned around and headed back, I discovered that Google Maps had lied to me:  There is no way to turn left on Bret Harte Drive when you're headed east on the highway.

Note to self:  Don't trust the new, "improved" Google Maps.

After that things improved a lot.  I found the LDS Church and even got there on time!  I learned that there was a place right across the street that could copy the handout.  It took almost no time to set my computer up.  And a good crowd of people was there to listen to me talk about some ways to do genealogical research they might not have thought about yet.  They even laughed with me when I told them about the adventures I had gone through on my way there.  I couldn't have asked for a nicer group for my first time as a seminar speaker.  My most sincere thanks to a wonderful audience!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Crestleaf.com’s Guess My Family Heritage Blogathon Contest

Crestleaf is running a contest where you post a photo to your blog and ask your readers to guess your family heritage.  That sounded like fun, so here's my entry!  If you have a guess about my family heritage based on this photo, please post a comment!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Help Celebrate National Volunteer Week!

It's National Volunteer Week, so it seemed like a perfect time to post another collection of research and volunteer projects looking for help.  This time most are looking for assistance in identification or finding relatives.

A woman who was imprisoned in the Gabersdorf labor camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II kept a diary, in which she wrote not only an alternative Passover haggadah but also a list of other women who were at Gabersdorf.  Yad Vashem, the center for documentation, research, education, and commemoration of the Holocaust, is seeking information about the women on the list and about Gabersdorf in general.  A recent article lists all of the women's names and includes contact information if you can assist with Yad Vashem's research.

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

The UK's Commonwealth War Graves Commission, begun after World War I, cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in 154 countries, to ensure that 1.7 million people who died in the two World Wars are not forgotten.  The Commission is trying to make contact with relatives of around 70 soldiers, sailors, and airmen who are buried at cemeteries in the United Kingdom.  A list of the servicemen can be found here.

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

The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933–1945 exists to coordinate the return of property stolen during World War II to rightful owners or their descendants.  The lists of owners of identified property have been recently updated.  Looted property consists of art, books, and more.

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

Ernst Bienenfeld resident certificate
Loyola Marymount University in California has digitized a photographic collection of Shanghai from 1937–1947 that includes photos of Jewish refugees, Chinese citizens, and others.  They are trying to crowdsource information about the people in the photos, and translations of the German and Chinese documents.  The digitized images have been posted to Flickr.  The information page about the collection includes a link to the Flickr pages.  Take a look if you had family in Shanghai during that time or if you can assist with translations.

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

Lisa Taylor, writing for the Library of Congress "Folklife Today" blog, is asking people to pledge to interview at least one veteran during National Volunteer Month, the extension of National Volunteer Week to the entire month of April. Visit her blog post and make your commitment in the comments section.  Then go to the Veterans History Project site to find out how to make it happen.  Return to the site the week before Memorial Day to see a new “Experiencing War” feature dedicated to more Veterans History Project volunteers, with links to some of their interviews.

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

The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODŻ) tries to protect and commemorate surviving monuments of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland.  It is active in areas away from major cities and covers nearly two thirds of Poland.

FODŻ is looking for volunteers to adopt Jewish cemeteries in Poland.  A current town list of Jewish cemetery projects that are already "adopted" and "seeded" is available on the Web site.  Each entry has a descendant, survivor, family historian, or organization that is concerned and has contacted FODŻ.  Projects range from clean-up and maintenance work to hopes of erecting a memorial to commemorate a specific family or a whole community lost in the Holocaust.  The size, scope, and concept are for the volunteers to decide and to finance, either alone or with partners.  FODŻ can help with the necessary permits, advice on material and labor, and arranging installation and final dedication events.

Jewish cemeteries, especially those that have no headstones, are vulnerable to being forgotten.  Please contact FODŻ if you are ready to start a new project that can make a difference in preserving these precious relics.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Tony Goldwyn

I have figured out why I've been running late with my posts about Who Do You Think You Are? this season.  With my current schedule, I don't have time to rewatch the episodes until late in the week, and before I know it, Sunday has arrived again.  They say that recognizing the problem is the first step toward dealing with it, right?

The April 5 episode of WDYTYA was about Tony Goldwyn.  The teaser told us he would learn about a remarkable couple who pioneered women's rights, braved great danger, and helped shape the American West.  Sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it?  While I certainly recognized the name Goldwyn from Hollywood history, I didn't actually know who Tony was.  We learn he is an actor and director, particularly known for his role as President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal (sorry, never watched that).  Almost as an afterthought, the narrator mentions that his breakout role was in Ghost.  Well, at least I saw that, even if I don't remember Goldwyn in it.  I'm feeling old.

Goldwyn, now boasting an acclaimed career in Hollywood and on stage, is the father of two grown daughters.  He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Jane, a film production designer, but spends a lot of time in Los Angeles due to work.  For this program, he appears to be staying with his daughter Anna.  She is around for a short time only, seemingly as window dressing and to support Goldwyn's comment that one of the reasons he is doing this research is for his daughters, because it's their history also.

Goldwyn says he grew up in California.  His parents are Jennifer Howard (her stage name) and Samuel Goldwyn, Jr.  Samuel Goldwyn is the son of the Samuel Goldwyn of MGM, well known as a pioneer of the movie business.  Goldwyn adored his grandfather.  Jennifer Howard was the daughter of Sidney Howard, a Broadway playwright.  Goldwyn tells us that Howard wrote commercially viable plays but also included commentary on social issues, society, and politics.  After moving to California, Howard turned to writing screenplays and was the original writer (but one of several) of the screenplay for Gone with the Wind, for which he received a posthumous Oscar.

Being born into this family (both of his grandmothers were actresses, and other family members were also well known performers), it was almost inevitable that Goldwyn would be interested in a performance career.  He says the romance of the profession drew him to the theater.  He never knew his grandfather Sidney Howard, as Howard died in 1939 (in a pretty horrible accident, not mentioned on screen), and knows very little about him, so is interested in learning more.

Since Goldwyn is in Los Angeles, and apparently because WDYTYA doesn't have any other handy venue, he begins at the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, as Josh Groban did.  Instead of Kyle Betit, however, he meets Jennifer Utley, "family historian" (and Ancestry.com employee), whom he has asked to find more information about his grandfather.  She begins by showing Goldwyn one of those fancy calligraphed family tree scrolls, à la D. Joshua Taylor.  It isn't as detailed as many of the ones we've seen and hops back and forth between different family lines.

The tree begins with Goldwyn at the bottom.  His parents are Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., shown with no birth or date information (probably because he was alive when the episode was filmed; he died in January 2015); and Clare Jenness (Jennifer) Howard, born 1923 in New York, died 1993 in Los Angeles, California.  "Clare"'s parents were Sidney Coe Howard, born 1891 in Oakland, California, died 1939 in Tyringham, Massachusetts; and Clare Jenness Eames, born 1894 in Hartford, Connecticut, died 1930 in Richmond, England (both IMDB.com and Wikipedia have it as London, England, but the New York Times obituary says Richmond).  Howard's parents were John Lawrence Howard, born 1849 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, died 1914 in Oakland, California; and Helen Louise Coe, born 1860 in The Dalles, Oregon, died 1916 in New York, New York.  Helen's parents were Lawrence White Coe, born 1831 in New York, died 1897 in San Francisco; and Mary Louise Graves, born 1843 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died 1917 in New York, New York.

For whatever reason (did they cue him?), Goldwyn latches onto not the oldest generation shown, but his great-grandmother Helen Louise Coe and the fact that she was born in The Dalles (which he mispronounces) in 1860, supposedly because he's never heard of that place.  She was born there right after Oregon became a state.  Goldwyn asks Utley where they should go from the tree, and she of course says Ancestry.com.  She has him enter Lawrence Coe in the search form and somehow the second hit shown on the page is a link to the "Early Oregonians Index" (even when I enter Lawrence White Coe, it shows up as the sixth hit).  Utley tells Goldwyn to click on the link and he is taken to the Early Oregonian Search (Ancestry apparently felt the need to rename it on its site).

The entry they see says that Lawrence Coe was born in Nunday, Livingston County, New York on March 17, 1831 and died October 20, 1897 in California.  (Currently the database specifies that Coe died in San Francisco and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery.  It appears more information has been added to the database since the filming, or possibly some was hidden for purposes of the program.)  They don't discuss it, but Coe is listed as an agent for a navigation company.  The page shows the names of Coe's parents, and Goldwyn clicks on the link for Coe's father, Nathaniel Coe.

Nathaniel Coe's record indicates he was born September 6, 1788 in Morristown, New Jersey and died October 10, 1868.  It includes an alternative date of birth, September 12, 1788, and now has an alternative date of death, October 17, 1868, which I did not see when I watched the program.  Nathaniel was a farmer.  His father was Joel Coe (and his mother was Huldah Horton, something else I don't remember seeing on the program).  Goldwyn either remembers his history or was given another cue, because he asks if Nathaniel was a pioneer on the Oregon Trail.  (I think it was a cue, because he doesn't ask anything about Nathaniel's father, something that would interest most people.)  Utley says it's possible (big hint that it wasn't the way he came?).  Goldwyn then comments on the fact that Nathaniel was buried in Hood River in Wasco County, Oregon.  The entry on screen shows the place of burial was K of P (Knights of Pythias?) in Hood River; the online record now includes Mountain View Cemetery.

Goldwyn begins to work out his 3rd-great-grandfather's path:  New Jersey to New York, and then to Oregon.  He thinks it would be interesting to see what he was doing in New York at that time.  Utley says they can look on Newspapers.com (not mentioning it is owned by Ancestry, of course!) and disingenuously adds that they are "looking at all the historical newspapers that are digitized", with a straight face, no less.  I'm going to hope she didn't actually say that as a stand-alone comment and that it was just poor editing that cut off more at the end.  Someone really needs to look at these things more critically in post, because I'm sure NewspaperArchive.com, ProQuest, NewsBank, and several other companies would be really surprised to hear that.

That said, Goldwyn enters Nathaniel Coe in the search box on the home page, not even using quotation marks, and finds a useful hit as the second hit on the page.  (You also can find this as the second hit, as long as you restrict your search to New York newspapers, which of course they didn't show.)  In an article titled "Legislature of New-York", the New York Evening Post of November 14, 1843 shows a complete list of the legislature members for the upcoming year.  Included is Nathaniel Coe, a Whig from Allegany County.

New York Evening Post, November 14, 1843, page 2 (image edited)
Goldwyn is excited to know something about his ancestor.  He notes that Nathaniel was in the Whig Party and also that being born in 1788, he was at least 55 when he left for Oregon.  He wonders why Nathaniel would have left.  Utley tells him to go to Albany, New York and find a political historian who can tell him about the political climate of the time.  (Like Goldwyn is going to find a political historian on his own.  This silliness is repeated later in the episode.)

In the outro to this segment, Goldwyn says his big question is why Nathaniel went to Oregon.  He also wonders why Nathaniel would have reinvented himself at the age of 55.  Was it some sort of trouble or controversy?  Was he just restless?  It was a significant trip to make, so it's a puzzle.  He hopes he finds something juicy, like a political scandal, at the root of it.

And onward to Albany we go, to the New York State Library and historian Daniel Feller of the University of Tennessee.  Goldwyn admits he knows very little about Nathaniel Coe and asks about the Whig Party.  Feller says the Whigs were the party of progress and reform.  They believed in public education and were against slavery.  In 1848 the Whigs had a majority in the state legislature and were able to pursue their agenda politically.  Coe was an enthusiastic Whig.  Feller has a New York Assembly Journal from 1848, the 71st session.  It shows that on February 23, 1848, "on motion of Mr. Coe", "an act to punish seduction" was introduced to the legislature.  Feller says that it eventually was passed.  The purpose of the law was to hold the man responsible for engaging in sex with an umarried woman, with her consent or not.  The charge was a misdemeanor, but it carried a prison term.

This was a new and controversial idea at the time.  Nathaniel's fellow Whig Party members had to be convinced to support it.  Goldwyn wonders why Nathaniel proposed the law and whether it was a personal crusade or if it came from his constituents.  Feller tells him the answer might be in Nunday and that he should look for an expert in social and cultural history, particularly the antiseduction crusade.  (Maybe Banai Feldstein is right, and Ancestry is trying to illustrate how research is actually done, though I don't think the effort is particularly successful.)

Now Goldwyn prepares to head to Nunday.  He's happy that his ancestor was a champion of women's rights and was progressive for his time, but he's wondering what inspired him.

When we get to Nunda we discover that it's spelled without the "y."  Goldwin goes to the Nunda Historical Society, saying that he wants to learn more about the antiseduction movement and Nathaniel's involvement in it.  He meets historian Nancy Hewitt, a specialist in feminist reform movements (shown as a professor of 19th-century women's studies at Rutgers University).  She immediately suggests looking at reformist newspapers (yeah, that would have been first on my list also).  She has a copy of the Advocate of Moral Reform (not exactly light reading, I'm sure) of April 1, 1838 (April Fool's?).  Goldwyn says, "19th-century print is very small, so I'm going to put on my glasses."  An article with a dateline of March 3, 1838 refers to a meeting of a female society supporting moral purity, held on November 8, 1837 at the house of Nathaniel Coe, Esq., of Nunda Valley.

Hewitt explains that Mary Coe would have been the one who actually hosted the meeting.  Goldwyn asks if Nathaniel was involved, and Hewitt says that he had to have been supportive or it wouldn't have happened at all.  It was memorable because at that time no one actually talked about rape; they talked in a more abstract way about "seduction" and were trying to "protect women."  They were essentially trying to challenge the sexual double standard that allowed men who assaulted women to get off scot-free but that tainted women forever.  A woman who had been raped was considered unmarriageable.  Part of the concern was that such women would turn to prostitution because they had no other recourse.

Goldwyn wants to know if Mary was always a reformer or if this issue was of particular concern to her.  In response, Hewitt has him go into the storage area of the historical society to get a copy of the 1889 Nunda newspaper.  There he speaks with Tom Cook, the society president.  Cook says the society has the complete run of the Nunda News and takes one of the books off a shelf, warning that the book is old and brittle.  You can even see a piece of a torn page hanging down.  Why in the world are they having him carry this around?  Is this really the only way this information is available?  Hasn't anyone ever microfilmed this newspaper?  If Ancestry really is trying to make an effort, no matter how small, to educate people about how to do research, encouraging them to use fragile resources that are available in other formats is not a good direction to go.  Even if this is the only available copy, having someone unaccustomed to research handle this is simply inexcusable.

So when Goldwyn brings the book out to the front room, Hewitt has him put on conservator's gloves (not actually that great of an idea when something is this fragile, because you lose tactile sensation with these gloves, and it's much, much easier to tear something).  But then what does she have him do?  Go through the book page by page, instead of having marked it ahead of time and letting him go directly to it.  Boy, are they sending mixed messages.  At least Goldwyn seems to be very careful.  Hewitt has told Goldwyn that the date he's looking for is July 20, so he keeps going until he gets there.  In that issue he finds a retrospective article talking about what was going on 60 years ago.  It mentions Mrs. Coe was a reformer and a radical but is not specific about anything, so even though the question is not answered directly, we are to believe that the issue of "seduction" was probably not her only concern.

Hewitt explains that at this time, women collected signatures on petitions to show that citizens were concerned about an issue.  Nathaniel would have been the one to work on passing any legislation.  Goldwyn is impressed by the obvious partnership and close bond the Coes had.

Albany Evening Journal, April 28, 1852, page 2
And now we come back to a question Goldwyn has already asked:  Why did the Coes go to Oregon?  They appear to have been leaders in the community, so why leave?  Again we find information in a newspaper on Newspapers.com.  The Albany Evening Journal of April 28, 1852 has a letter from Nathaniel, written from Portland and dated March 24.  Though the letter takes up a column and a half, the only part discussed is the opening paragraph, where Nathaniel is identified as a U.S. mail agent in Oregon.  After Goldwyn asks how Nathaniel would have become a mail agent, Hewitt explains that it was a position nominated by the U.S. president.  In 1852, the president was Millard Fillmore, a fellow Whig from New York, so the connection is easy to see.  It was a privilege to be nominated as a mail agent, and probably considered a great assignment.

The narrator pops in and says that special mail agents were liaisons between the federal government and settlers.  Their responsibility was to scout locations for mail routes.  They were crucial in 1850's Oregon because they helped make communication and trade with the eastern U.S. possible.  They negotiated with local Indian tribes to ensure safe passage for settlers.  Unfortunately for an agent, because it was an appointed position, it ended with a change in presidents.

Goldwyn asks if Mary went with Nathaniel.  In another of the fake "suggestions", Hewitt says that to discover that, Goldwyn should go to Oregon and talk to an expert there.  And where will he find an expert without the assistance of Ancestry.com and WDYTYA?

As he leaves, Goldwyn goes back to how Nathaniel and Mary had a great partnershp and worked together as a team.  He comments on how now he knows "genetically where I got my taste for liking strong women."  He also says that Nathaniel and Mary were "obviously so close" and couldn't be separate from each other.  I think he's extrapolating a lot, at least based on what we were shown.

So back to the West Coast he travels, heading now to Portland and the Oregon Historical Society.  There to greet him, boxes in hand, is historian Lissa Wadewitz, a professor of the American West at Linfield College.  The boxes she brings out are labeled "MSS 431 Nathaniel Coe Family Papers."  It looks like Nathaniel may have been well known in this area, but Goldwyn doesn't ask that question.  (I would have.)  The first item Wadewitz has Goldwyn look at is a book, which turns out to be a scrapbook of Mrs. M. W. Coe (Mary White Coe) of Hood River, Oregon.  It appears to be filled with obituaries, based on a comment from Goldwyn, but also includes photographs of Nathaniel and Mary.  Goldwyn thinks Nathaniel reminds him of his grandfather but doesn't comment on Mary.  Wadewitz has to tell him, "Let's move ahead," or maybe he would have continued to look at the scrapbook.  I guess they had a schedule to keep.

The next item of focus is a letter dated January 19, 1853.  It was written by Mary from Portland.  She was reunited with her husband and wrote about the perilous journey she had made.  She had left New York on December 6 (probably 1852, but not stated).  She said it had taken ten days by land before she reached Aspinwall Navy Bay, which Wadewitz explains was on the east coast of Panama.  (She does not mention that Aspinwall is the former name of the city of Colón.)

The narrator tells us that at the time there were three ways to travel from the East Coast of the U.S. to the West Coast.  The most common method was the Oregon Trail, which took longer.  Going around Cape Horn or across the Panama isthmus were faster but cost more money.  The trip by the latter methods could take only six to eight weeks.

Mary's letter goes on to say that Lawrence (her son, Goldwyn's great-great-grandfather) had hired a boat for $100 to take them on the Chagres River.   They then went by canoe, and finally across the isthmus by mule.  This was a pretty intense journey for a 52-year-old woman.

A letter from February 12, 1854, also written from Portland, talks about the primitive conditions.  She comments that the "native inhabitants" "must soon submit to their 'manifest destiny.'"  Goldwyn appears a little stunned at this heavy-handed commentary.  Wadewitz tells him that this was the common racial ideology of the the time:  Whites were physically and culturally superior to everyone else.  (It certainly makes an interesting contrast with the Coes' high-minded ideal of saving young women from "seduction."  On the other hand, they probably were only concerned with saving white women.)  Goldwyn asks, "Is it worth reading more of this letter?"  Wadewitz says no, which made me wonder if there was more inflammatory material further on.  Or maybe they were still behind schedule?

Mary's next letter was not written from Portland but from Fort Dalles (which Goldwyn now says correctly), on March 6, 1856.  The Coes left Portland and went to Fort Dalles for protection by the Army unit posted there.  They were concerned about attacks by the Yakima chief "Camiacen" (which Goldwyn somehow pronounces correctly the first time).  Wadewitz tells Goldwyn that to learn more about what was going on, he should go to the Fort Dalles Museum.

As he leaves the historical society Goldwyn talks about the hardships that Mary faced on her journey and living in the wilderness, and then being "forced out" of her home.  (Um, what about the Indians' homes?)  He's looking forward to learning about the Indian conflict and what impact it had on Nathaniel and Mary's lives.

Fort Dalles surgeon's quarters,
now home to the Fort Dalles Museum
He drives east, following the Columbia River, until he arrives at the museum.  There he meets Dr. Andy Fisher, a specialist in American Indian history from the College of William & Mary.  Fisher gives a little bit of history about the fort, including the fact that when the Coes came here for refuge, it had no palisade and was just a collection of buildings.  It was apparently strong enough to deter attacks, however, at least in part due to the number of people there and the presence of federal troops.  The reason for concern was the beginning of the Yakima War, which took place in the mid-1850's.  It was a conflict between white settlers, looking for more land, and the local Indians, nervous about losing more land than they already had.

The narrator tells us that gold was discovered in Oregon in the early 1850's, and the federal government wanted to control the land.  Local Indians were pressured to cede the land, and a treaty in 1855 forced them to give up more than 6.4 million acres, leaving them a small area supposedly as a permanent homeland.  Gold miners were trespassing before the treaty was even ratified, however, which helped lead both sides toward war.

Fisher says that relations with the Indians were peaceful until the war and that there had been little violence.  He then shows Goldwyn a newspaper article from the New York Tribune, dated April 4, 1856:  "Indian War on the Pacific."  It roundly criticized the white settlers for how they were conducting themselves toward the Indians but was extremely disparaging of the Indians themselves.  This causes Goldwyn to ask what Nathaniel's opinion was of the situation.  Fisher produces a letter written by Nathaniel and mentions that it came from the Nathaniel Coe Family Papers at the Oregon Historical Society.  (So why didn't he get to look at it there?  Oh, that would have messed up their narrative, wouldn't it?)

Nathaniel is responding to a missive from someone else, as he begins with "Your letter."  (It could have been written in response to the Tribune article.)  He says that the other person is doing an injustice to Oregon citizens who reside in the vicinity.  The cause of the war was the yearly increase in the white population but the tribes had been greatly reduced and some were extinct.  He also wrote that "Aborigines melt away with the presence of civilization."  (Boy, that white ideology is getting to be just a little arrogant.)

Fisher tells Goldwyn that the war in this area was mostly over by 1856.  If the Coes would have probably felt safe by 1857, Goldwyn wants to know why they stayed here, in such a wild place.  Fisher tells him he should look at official records, such as land grants and probate, which he can find at the Oregon State Archives.

As he leaves the museum, Goldwyn is amazed at the extraordinary comment expressed by Nathaniel about the Indians melting away.  He acknowledges that human beings are complicated, however, and that his 3rd-great-grandfather was progressive but not always so.

Goldwyn drives down Interstate 5 to Salem and the Oregon State ArchivesCynthia Prescott, an expert on the American West (history professor at the University of North Dakota), is there to welcome him.  He asks about records relating to Nathaniel and Mary Coe and why they stayed around the Hood River area.  What was in it for them?  Prescott points him to the Historic Oregon Newspapers database (hosted by the Oregon State Archives), one of those few cherished instances when Ancestry.com allows acknowledgment that not all information on the Internet belongs to them.  The Oregon newspaper database is available free to everyone and can be viewed anywhere.  The article we see is "Story of Nathaniel and Mary Coe" from the Hood River Glacier, October 7, 1915.  (A subhead says "Continued from last week", but they don't discuss the first part of the article.)  Goldwyn reads highlights from the article:  The Coes went back to Portland.  They had more children.  He wanted to continue his farm, which was in a relatively protected area with hardly any snow.  He grew lots of fruit and vegetables; one bit Goldwyn didn't read said that seeds came from the Lewellyn Nursery in Milwaukie (Oregon) and from Rochester, New York.  Mary is credited with renaming the Dog River as the Hood River, a more attractive name that helped establish the town of Hood River as a desirable place to live.

Goldwyn returns to the unusual partnership between Nathaniel and Mary and asks again why they would have stayed.  Prescott points out that here they had land and tremendous opportunity.  Nathaniel could reinvent the area and do something different.  (It takes a lot of self-confidence and ego to believe you can do that, which I think they showed Nathaniel had in abundance.)  The Hood River area was good for growing tree fruits, which Nathaniel did for market, not just to feed his family.  Building a successful business helped start the town itself, which the article points out was built over the old Coe homestead.  The Coes were buried in a family plot on the farm.  The article ends, "Their graves should be kept with loving care."  Goldwin says he would like to go to Hood River, and Prescott tells him that the graves still exist there.

As he leaves, Goldwyn says, "This was really fun and interesting."  Now he knows why Nathaniel and Mary didn't go back to New York.  They had a perfect oasis on the Hood River.  He concedes that maybe it took ego to start something as substantial as Nathaniel had.

The final scene is at Mountain View Memorial Cemetery in Hood River.  Goldwyn says he's going to meet Nathaniel and Mary, whom he likes to think of as great-great-great-grandpa and great-great-great-grandma.  He finds their gravestones, which I suspect are modern replacements, as both are flat and flush with the ground.  They're very simple, with only names and dates:  Nathaniel Coe 1788–1868 and Mary Coe 1801–1893.

Goldwyn has been inspired by learning about his ancestors.  He talks about how the Coes were really leaders, coming to this new "universe" and creating what they did.  He knows his family has a long line of very strong women who were equal and indispensable partners to their men.  The Coes helped build the next stage of the American story.  He can't forgive their attitude toward Indians but won't let that define them.  He had already known that his two grandfathers were pioneers who achieved great things, and now knows that the same applies to Nathaniel and Mary.  He can see it's been carried down in his genes.

I was not that impressed with this episode.  Having the researchers tell Goldwyn that he needed to find an expert in a given field just sounded stilted and phony.  The facts that Goldwyn appeared to focus on didn't ring true to me.  Maybe they're really what caught his interest, but they're not the types of things I've seen others latch onto.  There were also several points that were mentioned but then not resolved.  We never actually learn why the "seduction" issue became one the Coes supported.  My gut reaction is that they knew someone who had been raped and it became a personal crusade.  Goldwyn asked whether Nathaniel took the Oregon Trail, but that point was never addressed in the episode.  (According to the first part of the "Story of Nathaniel and Mary Coe" article, Nathaniel also crossed the Panama isthmus.)  The question of why the Coes went to Oregon was never answered:  Did Nathaniel ask for the appointment?  Did Fillmore offer it as a political thank you and Nathaniel decided it would be impolitic to refuse it?  Did Fillmore offer it because Nathaniel did suffer politically for some reason and it was a way to help a fellow party member?  At Fort Dalles Museum, Fisher told Goldwyn that searching official records such as probate and land grants would help him learn why the Coes stayed in the Hood River area, but the only document we see at the state archives is one newspaper article.  That might have been just a continuity problem, but it stuck out for me.

Something which was never mentioned at all in this episode was the somewhat significant age difference in the three older generations of the family tree.  Nathaniel Coe was 13 years older than Mary White; Lawrence Coe was 12 years older than Mary Graves; John Howard was 11 years older than Helen Coe.  Based on when these people were born and married, none of the marriages should have been affected by the loss of so many young men during the Civil War, so why the big age differences?  I was wondering if the three men might have been married previously.

I've noticed that in all the episodes for this season, except Julie Chen, the celebrities have talked about acquiring personality traits genetically.  I don't believe it's credible that one can acquire persaonality traits in that manner.  I'm starting to wonder if the celebrities are being "encouraged" to use that terminology for some reason (in order to help promote AncestrayDNA sales, maybe?).  I know from friends who have done "talking head" pieces for TV "documentaries" that they are often steered toward saying things in certain ways.  But maybe I'm just cynical.

Ancestry.com is still airing the commercial with the actress who says, "I got a leaf!" and misidentifies a World War II Old Men's draft registration card as being from World War I.  How can the company not find that embarrassing?  I saw it twice during this episode.

And I had an amusing coincidence occur while starting to write this post.  One episode of Forensic Files from 2003, "Bio Attack", deals with events that happened in The Dalles, Oregon.  The announcer, Peter Thomas, who usually seems to take great care in pronouncing names correctly, also mangled Dalles.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Slaves Advertised for Sale during 1827 Probate Proceedings

As a contribution to the Slave Name Roll Project, I have recovered the names of the following individuals, who were listed for sale in the Louisiana Advertiser of September 10, 1827.

Court of Probate—Sale by the Register of Wills—On Tuesday, September 11, 1827, at 12 o'clock, I shall expose for sale at the New Exchange Coffee House, the following slaves belonging to the estate of the late Antoine Marigny d'Auterive, to wit—

Antoine, a negro aged about 45 years;

Jean, do 70;

Magloire, do 55;

Edward, negro boy, do 14;

Euphrosine, negro girl, do 13;

Joseph, negro man, do 40;

Lindor, do, blind, do 30;

Francoise, negro woman, do 40, addicted to drinking.

Terms—6 and 12 months credit, in approved endorsed notes, with special mortgage.

By order of the Court.

august 13            Martin Blache, Register.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Sean Hayes

This episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was about Sean Hayes, whose name I vaguely recognized.  The teaser said that he would learn about dark mysteries connected to his father's lineage, an estranged ancestor living in squalor, and patterns of dysfunction going back generations.  Sounds like one happy family, doesn't it?

In the introduction, we hear that Hayes is an Emmy-winning actor known for his role on Will & Grace (at least I've heard of that, though I've never watched it).  He was nominated for a Tony award for his performance in Promises, Promises.  He also has been a producer of Hollywood Game Night and Grimm (now there's a show I watch!).  He lives in Los Angeles with his husband, music producer Scott Icenogle.

Hayes tells us his full name is Sean Patrick Hayes and that he is "named after no one I know of."  He was born in Illinois and at the age of 1 his family moved from Chicago to the suburbs (known to many as Chicagoland).  He is the youngest of five children.  He had a rather tumultous life growing up, as his mother worked all the time and his father was mostly not present.  He concedes that his father probably has some good qualities, but he doesn't know any of them.  He's never had a relationship with his father, as the man left when Hayes was 5 years old.  He doesn't know anything about his father's side of the family.

Hayes has always been drawn to comedy, probably as an escape.  It's a way of enjoying life without dealing with the real world.  Now that he's older, he has started to wonder about his family history and wants to learn about his father's side.  He knew his grandmother and was told that his father was in an orphanage at one time.  His parents met when his father had just come out of the Army.

We get some more information about the family through a letter from Hayes' brother, Dennis, which Hayes reads to Icenogle.  As background, Hayes doesn't know his grandfather's name, but his sister told him that the grandfather died literally in the gutter.  Hayes comments that his family history has been mostly full of bad luck.

From Dennis' letter we learn that the father (whose name is never used in the entire episode) was born in Chicago in 1936 and that his parents were William and Barbara.  Hayes notes that Dennis' middle name is William, so that appears to be a connection.  In 1947 the four children in the family were placed in an orphanage.  At some point Barbara broke both of her hips and was in the hospital; it wasn't clear to me if this was the same time that the children were in the orphanage (and therefore maybe the cause of the latter).  Dennis doesn't know if William was around, though it appears he was out of the picture.  He says their father's grandfather was from Ireland but doesn't know his name.  He ends by saying that he has run into lots of dead ends and hopes that Hayes has better luck than he did.

Included with the letter is a photograph of Hayes' grandparents, and it's actually labeled!  The photo is of four people; the person on the left is unknown, and then come William Hayes, Aunt Sally, and Barbara Hayes.  The photo is supposed to be from 1941.  Hayes has never seen a photograph of his grandfather before.  Going by the year, this was taken six years before the children were placed in the orphanage.  There is also a photo of Barbara in the hospital (just how did she break both of her hips, anyway?).  Hayes hypothesizes that maybe William wasn't able to take care of the children with Barbara laid up but then also says that "we know" he was out of the picture at that point.  Um, how do we know that?

The Hayes family in the 1940 census:
William, Barbara, Patricia, Ronald, and Kathleen
We go straight from the letter to "Let's see what we can find out about William on Ancestry.com!"  For someone who has had little to no interest in his family history, that was a fast turn-around.  He apparently even has an account, because he's logged in.  He has also already figured out how to do searches and looks for William Hayes with a wife's name of Barbara, then finds them in the 1940 census.  The image shown on screen carefully does not include Hayes' father's name.  William is listed as a photo engineer (at an engineering company, though that was not stated), with an income of $3,400.  Hayes comments that his own father was also a photographer, and then that William was the richest guy on the block (well, actually just this one census page), so what happened?  That segues directly into how it seems that everything happened in Chicago, so he should go there.  (Boy, when he decides to do something, he jumps right on it, doesn't he?)  In the outro he wonders whether his grandfather was alive or dead when the children were in the orphanage.

Two things struck me with the census page showing the family.  The first is that Hayes' father, he of no name, must be Ronald, as he is not only the correct age but also the only boy in the family.  The second is that Aunt Sally does not appear to have been born yet (unless Sally is an unusual family nickname for Patricia or Kathleen).  With the family photo dated 1941, that would mean Sally shouldn't be more than 2 years old.  Admittedly, we didn't get the world's greatest view of the photo, but she didn't look that young to me.

Moving on to Chicago (I love Chicago!), Hayes heads to the Chicago History Museum to meet historian Mark Largent (an associate professor of social relations and policy at Michigan State University), whom Hayes has asked for "anything he can find out" about his grandfather.  Largent tells Hayes that he has found a document, and right before they cut away to a commercial, we hear Hayes exclaim, "Oh my god!  That's really, really sad."  When they come back to the program, we learn that Largent found the death certificate for William Hayes, who died November 16, 1951 in Chicago.

I have to admit I was pretty impressed with the way that Hayes appeared to be reading all the details on the certificate.  He noted that William was 40 years old when he died and said that he had to go back to his makeshift timeline.  His big question had been whether William was alive when the children went to the orphanage, and the answer is definitely yes.  Now he knows that his father and his grandfather were living in the same city but with very different lives.  William's address at the time of his death was 66 West Van Buren, which is now totally different but at the time was a slum. 
Cook County Hospital facade
Largent explains that in 1951 it was populated mostly by single men, a lot of whom were unemployed and/or suffered from mental illness.  William didn't die in the gutter, as Hayes' sister had claimed, but in Cook County Hospital.  He died from advanced pulmonary tuberculosis.  Of all things, Hayes asks if the hospital is still around.  (Is that something you would think of?)  Largent says it was shut down but the facade still remains, and that's where they go next, to look at what remains of the hospital.  (On the other side of the facade there is now a sports field, of all things.)

Hayes sees powerful parallels between his father's and his own experiences.  He says he was the same age when his father left as his father was when his grandfather left (though I don't know how he knows his grandfather left when his father was 5).  He doesn't understand how his grandfather could have gone from seemingly being the richest man in his neighborhood to skid row.  After the thrill of seeing the hospital facade, he asks how he can learn more about his grandfather's final days, and Largent says they can go to the medical library.

At the library (I couldn't figure out where exactly they went for this segment) Largent has a file folder with the police department report on finding Hayes' grandfather.  The page shows the report was for dealing with sick or injured persons.  Dated November 1, 1951, it shows that an officer went to 66 West Van Buren, found William, and took him to the hospital.  Hayes notices that nothing is entered in the field for relatives or friends.  Elsewhere on the report the officer noted that William could answer his questions intelligently, so apparently William simply had nothing to say in response to the question about relatives.

William's hospital admission record (I wish these types of records were available and accessible for more locations!) says that his father's name was Patrick, which Hayes seems surprised to realize is also his middle name, indicating he was likely named for his great-grandfather.  (It also seems to indicate that Hayes' father still had some feelings for his own father.)  Since an address was given for Patrick, he must have been alive at the time, but he does not appear to have been at the hospital.  (And now we have Patrick, William, and Ronald, all living in Chicago but apparently totally disconnected from each other.)  The doctor's synopsis says that William was suffering from anorexia; he hadn't been eating regularly for four to five months.  The report also says that William's liver was 3FB, meaning three fingers below median, a possible indication of alcohol abuse.  Largent is quick to emphasize it's only one piece of evidence that could support that.  William was noted as being extremely emaciated, pale, and having a red nose — another possible indicator of alcoholism.

Hayes wants to know if Patrick was an absentee father or if he just didn't know what was going on with William, but Largent says there's no way to know from the records they have.  Hayes then asks if Patrick was an immigrant.  Largent tells him that information about immigrants is in the Cook County court archives, so that's where he should look next.

As he leaves, Hayes talks about how this is the end of William's story.  He feels sorry for William and how he must have felt alone, and that his story was sad and frightening.  He now sympathizes more with his own father and what he must have gone through with William.  He wonders if some of the same issues were at play with Patrick.  He also wonders about a pattern of absentee fathers.

Still in Chicago, Hayes goes to the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court archives.  There he meets Margaret Garb, an urban historian from Washington University.  He says he had sent her the information he had and asked her to look for his great-grandfather.  Garb begins by showing him the 1930 census page which has William living with his father Patrick; Patrick's wife is Jennie.  William, at the age of 18, is already a photography engineer (which is what, exactly?).  Patrick is 48 years old, meaning he was born about 1882.  He owned his home and was a motorman for the street railway.  Garb explains he worked on the streetcars, which was a good, stable job, so during the Depression (or at least the beginning of it), he was working and the family was doing well.  (The program didn't show Patrick in the 1940 census, but he was at the same address, widowed, and the census taker gave the extra information that he was from County Kerry.)

Patrick and Jennie were both born in Ireland (the census actually says Irish Free State, meaning the Republic of Ireland, as opposed to Northern Ireland), and all the children were born in Illinois.  Hayes is excited to identify his great-grandfather as the first person in the Hayes family to come to the U.S.  The census says he came in 1900.  Hayes reads the naturalization column as "no", and Garb corrects him, saying that it actually says "na" for "naturalized."  Hayes asks about finding those records, and Garb tells him they are in the same building, so that's the next search.  They look through index cards for men named Patrick Hayes.  Hayes uses a magnifying glass to read the cards on the microfilm reader.  He finds one Patrick with a birth year of 1879 and arrival year of 1901; Garb explains that the years could be off a little bit and tells him to write down the certificate number, 54916 (gee, I guess it must be the right guy).

From the microfilm reader the two walk to a shelving area with lots of stacked books.  It reminds Hayes of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (what a great analogy!).  They walk down the aisle looking at the spines of the books, and Hayes spots the one that has 548–553.  They bring it to a table, and Hayes pages through until he finds 54916.  He almost sounds in awe when he's told that this is the original paper, with his great-grandfather's actual signature on it.  It shows that Patrick Francis Hayes, a streetcar operator, was from Ballylongford, Ireland.  His wife's name was Jennie.  Hayes declares this "has to be the guy!"  He had brown hair and blue eyes, just like Hayes.  He came to the United States on the Umbria, arriving in New York about April 1901.  He signed his Declaration of Intention on February 11, 1918.  (I have to wonder why they didn't show his Petition.  Maybe it didn't have as much information, or wasn't as accurate?)

Hayes is thrilled to see all this information and wants to know how he can learn more about Patrick's life in Ireland.  Garb, of course, tells him that he should go there.  Hayes responds, "I'll go to Ireland!  Thanks, Maggie!"  He sounds genuinely enthusiastic.

As he leaves the archives Hayes says he feels as though he has now met Patrick.  He's enamored of Patrick's drive and ambition.  He finds it inspiring that Patrick wanted a better life for his family.  It's a contrast with William's story, which was a great tragedy.  (On the other hand, he didn't follow Patrick all the way to his demise, so we don't know what happened to him later.)  Patrick seems to be the opposite of Hayes' own father.  He wants to go to Ireland to learn more about Patrick's surroundings and why he would have wanted to leave.

In Ireland, Hayes says he had a bizarre feeling when he landed that he was connected to the country.  (Maybe he's very suggestible.)  He's going to the National Archives of Ireland (in Dublin, which is where I thought he was, though they don't tell us that for quite a while) to speak with historian Shane Kilcommins (head of the School of Law at the University of Limerick).  Of course, Hayes has "asked" Kilcommins to look into Patrick's life before he left Ireland.  The first document Kilcommins has for Hayes is a 1901 census page.  It's for a prison in County Kerry, which causes Hayes to say that "my great-grandfather wasn't as great as we thought."  The page doesn't show full names but only initials, so Hayes looks for PH, whom he finds on line 12.  That person is from Ballylongford and is the right age.  His crime was assault.

Hayes asks if there's any more beyond that, and Kilcommins brings out a book and has Hayes put on conservator gloves.  The book is for Tralee Prison records for 1901–1905.  Patrick shows up on page 1.  His entry shows he was 21 years old and from Ballylongford.  He was sentenced on January 30 to hard labor for three counts of assault.  The sentencing options were a fine, bail, or hard labor.  The narrator pops in at this point to explain that prisons in Great Britain and Ireland commonly used hard labor as a punishment.  Examples were to repeatedly carry a cannonball around, turn a crank, or walk on a treadmill endlessly.  The labor was exhausting, monotonous, and deliberately unproductive.  (Obviously, there was no concept of rehabilitation at this time.)  Kilcommins continues to explain Patrick's record, which shows that he was "entered into recognizance" on March 1, 1901, which meant that he promised to behave himself.  He accomplished that by leaving the next month for New York.

Now Hayes appears a little confused.  He had thought his great-grandfather was ambitious and driven, but it seems he may have just been running away from trouble.  He asks Kilcommins if there's more.  Kilcommins says that they can go back to previous criminal records.

The general register for Tarbert(?) Prison for 1896 shows that Patrick Jr.—which Hayes realizes implies that his father was Patrick Sr., so now he knows his great-great-grandfather's name—was 17 years old when accused of assault.  Right above Patrick's entry is one for a William Hayes, also accused of assault.  Both Patrick and William were from Ballylongford and posted bail on the same day.  Were they related?  It looks like they probably were, but right now they don't know how.  Kilcommins says that the Tarbert petty session records can probably shed more light on the subject.  Tarbert is a small town in northern County Kerry.  Hayes asks if the courthouse is still there, and Kilcommins tells him that the building is.  They arrange to meet the next day at the old courthouse.

Hayes has found this information on Patrick to be enlightening (to say the least!).  Patrick served his time, then left Ireland.  (But what happened to William?)  It does look as though he made a good life for himself in the U.S.  Now Hayes is going to Tarbert, where he can stand where his great-grandfather stood when he was sentenced—a very proud moment!

Tarbert, County Kerry, is about 150 miles west of Dublin.  Hayes and Kilcommins meet outside the old courthouse, which Kilcommins points out was also the jail (is it "gaol" in Ireland?), or "House of Corrections."  We see a statue of a guard as they go in.  Hayes admits it's weird to be excited to see where Patrick met his judgment.  (Some books were on the judge's bench, but they were not used during the segment, so they may have been only window dressing.)  Hayes stands in the dock and says it doesn't feel very comfortable.  Kilcommins tells him that since it was an assault case, he would have been only two feet away from the person who was accusing him.  Patrick might have been there with William, possibly his brother.

Moving on to the research, Hayes asks if Kilcommins has been able to glean more information, which of course he has.  And of course, he also has the records.  He takes some large printouts from the bench and brings them to a table to show Hayes.  The records show that two complaints were registered by Patrick Hayes, Sr. against defendants William and Patrick Jr., both for assault  (William and Patrick Jr. were laborers; Patrick Sr. looked like a farm something, but I couldn't read it, even after multiple attempts.  They lived on Kilcolgan Lane.)  Hayes is astonished to learn that a father filed assault charges against his sons and says, "This is one f-ed up family," but admits it's consistent with the other information he's been learning.

Specifically, on August 11, 1896, the record says that William "did unlawfully assault said complainant by attempting to stab him with a knife."  The complaint against Patrick Jr., filed the same day, says that he assaulted his father "by throwing a stone at him."  These revelations engender a "Holy <pause> moley!" and "This is crazy!" from Hayes, who asks what the fight was about.  Kilcommins says "another <something>" that I did not understand.

Then we learn about Patrick Sr., not exactly an upstanding citizen himself.  Kilcommins has compiled a list of his criminal infractions from the petty sessions from 1864–1914.  There was a crime of some sort almost every year, but Hayes notices that from 1878–1888 there was nothing.  After that most of the crimes were drunk and disorderly.  He wonders what changed, and Kilcommins produces a death certificate for Patrick Sr.'s wife, Bridgett, dated May 22, 1888.  Apparently the ten years Patrick Sr. was married (we didn't actually get to see anything that said when he and Bridgett married) were happy ones, and everything fell apart when Bridgett died.  It affected the children as much as it affected their father.  Patrick Jr. was born about 1879, so that would have been the beginning of the good years for Patrick Sr.  He had about ten years of a calm environment, and then his mother died.  Hayes says, "No one knew how to deal with it, they just drunk about it."

Hayes asks if there's anything more about Patrick Sr., but Kilcommins says that was all he could find.  (He couldn't find the death?)  He suggests that Hayes can go to Ballylongford to see the area, which hasn't changed much. As he leaves the courthouse, Hayes says he's been fortunate to learn this information.  It's proven that history repeats itself, and his family has had an endless chain of chaos.

Hayes goes to Ballylongford (Beál Atha Longfoirt) and simply walks around.  It's special to walk in the footsteps of his ancestors, but he hopes he doesn't follow their later paths.  He recognizes more connections now to his family.  His name, Sean Patrick Hayes, has new meaning now that he knows his great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were named Patrick.  Patrick Jr. left Ireland at the age of 21 because he couldn't take it anymore, looking for something better.  Hayes himself left home at 24 because he had to get away, and went to Los Angeles.  He feels a kind of camaraderie with Patrick Jr.

Hayes realizes the knowledge of his ancestry he's been given is a great gift.  His family has a clear cycle of leaving, albeit for different reasons.  He can't excuse his own father but what he's learned has maybe helped him understand a little better.  He can't forget what his father did, but he can forgive him.

And just to prove how obsessive I can be, I watched and rewatched the scenes with the list of Patrick Sr.'s infractions until I could construct this list.  I'm sure I still missed a couple.

1900 Drunk and disorderly on the public highway
1900 Refusing to pay the poor rate
1899 Refusing to pay the poor rate
1899 Trespassing cows
1899 Refusing to pay debts
1898 Refusing to pay the poor rate collector
1898 Refusing to pay the poor rate collector
1898 Refusing to repair boundary fence
1898 Unpaid debts
1897 Drunk on the public highway
1897 Refusing to pay debts
1896 Assault
1896 Assault
1896 Assault
1896 Unpaid debts
1895 Trespassing cows
1895 Unpaid debt for trespassing cows
1895 Drunk on the public highway
1895 Drunk on the public highway
1895 Drunk on the public highway
1895 Drunk on the public highway
1894 Drunk on the public highway
1894 Drunk on the public highway
1894 Drunk on the public highway
1894 Unpaid debt
1892 Assault
1892 Unpaid debt
1891 Assault
1891 Assault
1891 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1891 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1891 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1890 Assault
1890 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1890 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1890 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1890 Unpaid debts
1889 Cruelty and torture toward someone's donkey
1889 Violent threats
1889 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1889 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1889 Drunk and disorderly on the public street
1889 Refusing to pay the poor rate
1888 Drunk and disorderly
1888 Drunk and disorderly
1888 Drunk and disorderly
1888 Drunk and disorderly
1878 Dog off leash
1875 Trespassing donkey
1874 Cow and goat trespassing
1873 Dog off of leash
1871 Assault
1865 Drunk and disorderly
1864 Assault
1864 Attemped assault with an iron bar