Monday, September 28, 2015

What's that you say, Lassie? Someone needs help?

Avro Lancaster bomber
I only recently read about this search, so it's very short notice.  Every living veteran who served in the UK Bomber Command during World War II is being sought for the unveiling of a new memorial, the International Bomber Command Centre, on October 2.  Anyone knowing of any Bomber Command veteran should register the name by e-mailing events@internationalbcc.co.uk or writing to The IBCC, 13 Cherry Holt Road, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9LA.  More information is available in a BBC article.

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The Minnesota Military Museum has a "Veterans Registry" on its new Web site and is requesting assistance to gather stories from veterans.  The registry is a statewide database with information about the military service of Minnesota veterans.  A qualified veteran is anyone who once served or is currently serving in the U.S. military and was either born in or lived in Minnesota.  The plan is to have the most comprehensive online database of Minnesota veterans available to the public.

Anyone can submit a Minnesota veteran's story and pictures of veterans ranging from the Civil War to today.  The service is free of charge and is part of the museum's mission.  If you are interested in learning more or making a submission, visit the museum's site and click on "Veterans."

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The Jewish Community of Nuremberg is in possession of the so-called Sturmer or Streicher Library, a collection of approximately 10,000 books taken by the Nazis from Jews, Catholics, Freemasons, and others.  The books primarily appear to have been taken from Nuremberg, Franconia; Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine; and Vienna, Austria.  The Jewish Community is asking for assistance in finding the former owners or their descendants so that the books may be returned.

More background on the collection, a list of known owners, and photos of identifying information from the books is available on GenTeam.  Contact Leibl Rosenberg, representative of the city of Nuremberg, with questions and research results.

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A new cemetery project is looking for help from genealogists everywhere.  Ryan Vinson’s "Here Lies" encourages users to visit cemeteries and catalog grave sites via an app using GPS data.  Someone using the app uploads a photo of one or more tombs or gravestones, then adds the name and date of birth, and possibly comments.  The digital recording of that burial location will remain forever, even if the markings on the stone fade or are damaged, or the stone itself no longer exists.

Vinson is particularly interested in information from small family graveyards and similar cemeteries that often become neglected and forgotten, and where lack of regular care can lead to deterioration that makes gravestones impossible to identify.  At present only a small number of gravestones is on the app, but with the help of volunteers, it could grow to be a useful database.

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The Fittonia
The town of Grimsby, England lost about 375 fishing trawlers during World War I to mines and U-boats.  Most were destroyed while fishing, while some were requisitioned by the British government to assist with the war effort and were lost as far away as Iceland, Canada, and South Africa.  Twenty-five of the boats have already been researched, and funding has been obtained to research thirty more.  There is now an outreach effort to volunteers worldwide to help map the other lost fishing boats.

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England's Tate Museum is asking for help in identifying buildings and landscapes in nearly 1,000 photographs of the English countryside taken by artist John Piper from the 1930's to the 1980's.  The museum is also looking for contributions of current shots of the almost 6,000 locations that Piper photographed.  If you think you might be able to identify some of the unknown locations in the photographs, visit the Tate's page about the Piper collection.

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Two researchers from the Santa Clara County (California) Historical and Genealogical Society are working on a national project called Faces Never Forgotten, an effort to collect photographs of every Vietnam War casualty for placement in a museum near the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.  They are working on service members from Santa Clara County.  They have found many photographs in obituaries in local newspapers, but for those casualties whose obituaries lacked photographs, they have been searching in high school yearbooks.  In pursuit of the final missing photos, they are now searching for copies of the following yearbooks:
Andrew Hill: 1967, 1968Mountain View: 1960 through 1969
Buchser: 1966, 1969Overfelt: 1966, 1967
Campbell: 1966, 1967, 1968Pioneer: 1968
Cupertino: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969  Ravenswood: 1962
Del Mar: 1964, 1965Samuel Ayer: 1966, 1967
Fremont: 1968San Jose: 1966, 1967, 1968
James Lick: 1966Santa Clara: 1952
Leigh: 1965, 1966, 1967Saratoga: 1965
Lynbrook: 1966, 1967 1968Washington (Union City): 1965
Mount Pleasant: 1966Westmont: 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968

If you have one of the yearbooks being sought, please e-mail research@scchgs.org and put “High School Yearbooks” in the subject line.  The researchers will get back to you and let you know what to do next.

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This might not be considered genealogy-related by some, but I tend to think of archives such as this as wonderful places to look for information about people.  The San Francisco Opera Archive is looking for volunteer assistance with organizing materials related to the history of the San Francisco Opera.  A minimum time commitment of three hours per week is required.  PC skills, including Word, Excel, and Outlook proficiency, are important.  Knowledge of opera is helpful but not required.  If you are interested, contact afarris@sfopera.com.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Surnames in Your Family Tree Database?

I always find it interesting when Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun has me analyzing the information I have in my family tree database.  It's never the kind of thing I think about doing otherwise.  This week's challenge:

1) Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer or an online family tree) and figure out how to count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2)  Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

3)  Tell us how many surnames are in your database and, if possible, which surname has the most entries.  If this excites you, tell us which surnames are in the top 5!  Or 10!!  Or 20!!!

4)  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on Facebook, or in Google Plus Stream post.


Well, I've never heard the term "genealogy management program" before (I just call them "family tree programs"), but I went for it.

I use Family Tree Maker on a PC.  I went to the Tools menu, then Family File Statistics, then Total Number of Different Surnames.

I have 1,952 different surnames in my database.  Randy's program gives a lot more information than mine, and apparently more easily, but I went through my indexed list of names and counted occurrences for surnames.  My top ten are:

1.  Gantt/Gaunt/Gauntt, 845 people
2.  Sellers/Söller, 604 people
3.  Allen, 135 people
4.  Mack/Mock, 132 people
5.  Fuller, 102 people
6.  Crawford, 66 people
7.  Dunstan, 64 people
8.  Eckman, 61 people
9.  Wickham, 52 people
10.  Smith, 50 people

I found it amusing that Smith, one of the most common names in the English-speaking world (maybe the most common?), barely made it into my top ten.  It's even more amusing because they aren't in my direct family.  They're part of my aunt's family, but I have her family in the same database as my own.  Three of the other names in the top ten are also not my family:  Fuller is the same aunt's family, Crawford is her sister's second husband's family, and Wickham is my half-sister's mother's family.  (Yes, I really am researching all those collateral relatives' lines.)  At least the top four are mine!

I have several individuals in my database with "Unknown" surnames, but I did not include that number in my count.  "Unknown" is not the surname for any of those people.  I also didn't do a screen capture of how FTM showed the output; it just wasn't that exciting.

Friday, September 25, 2015

We're Havin' a Party!


Okay, it's a small party, but I'm celebrating!  Happy anniversary to me!  This month is the tenth anniversary of when I started my company and began doing genealogy research for others.  I'm so glad I did it, and I love what I'm doing.  It's the most interesting work I've ever done, because no two families are exactly the same.  I learn something new from each client's research.

I was very lucky when I started.  I got a client from the very first ad I placed, and he kept me busy for five years, working on tracing each of his lines back as far as possible.  I learned how to read Hungarian records for his research.  I went back a few hundred years on some family lines.  I found several cousins for him to talk to.  And of course I still wasn't finished when his health had to become a higher priority than family history.

Five years ago I took the leap to making this my full-time job.  It was scary, but it was thrilling to confirm that I can support myself with the work I love.  I'm looking forward to the next ten years!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Tom Bergeron

I made it!  This is the last episode for the most recent season of Who Do You Think You Are?  And I'm even including a small amount of commentary on the "Into the Archives" filler episode.  I'm all caught up now, at least for a while.

The lead-in for this episode says that Tom Bergeron will follow the dramatic trail of his father's French family, including a young family that endured starvation and religious persecution.  He will be moved by the actions of one of his ancestors, who was brave enough to leave France behind.

Bergeron is a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host.  He began as a disc jockey in radio but by 1998 was the host of Hollywood Squares (well after the days of Paul Lynde, unfortunately).  He gained some measure of fame as the host of America's Funniest Home Videos (a program on which a good friend of mine worked, in the Bob Saget days) and now is known for Dancing with the Stars, where he is in his tenth season.  He divides his time between Los Angeles and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  He lives with Lois, his wife of 33 years, and their two daughters.

Bergeron begins by telling us that he grew up in New England with what he considers to have been a typical family life.  His mother was Mary Catherine Costello; his father was Adrian Raymond Bergeron, Jr.  He went to Catholic grade school for eight years.  His was the classic family:  father, mother, brother, sister, and a pet.  As far as he knows, he is Irish on his mother's side and French on his father's.

He spent more time with his father's family growing up.  He knew one of his great-great-grandparents (lucky him!):  His father's grandmother was called "Mi-me" (or at least that's the closest I can come to approximating his pronunciation without using diacritical marks), which Bergeron thinks might be French for "grandmother."  He has no idea what her actual name was.

Bergeron thinks that his family went from France to Canada and then to the United States.  He apparently has already discovered that looking for family history can be like driving in a fog.  Growing up, his family didn't talk much about about their history.  Now he is interested in learning how the Bergerons came to the United States, what they went through, and about them as people.

Bergeron begins his journey of following the trail of bread crumbs by meeting with Kyle Betit at the Portsmouth Public Library, probably not far from his home.  Betit has built a family tree on Ancestry.com for him to look at.  (We, however, do not really get to look at it; there are few camera shots, and they go by quickly.)  We start with Bergeron himself:  Thomas "Tom" Raymond Bergeron, born May 6, 1955 in Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts.  We move from him straight to "Mi-me", who it turns out was Marie Azilda "Memere" (mémère translates to "old woman" and is French Canadian for "grandma") Gaudrault, born December 27, 1883 in Les Eboulemonts, Charlevoix, Québec, Canada; died September 23, 1977 in Haverhill.  Bergeron is surprised at the name Marie; he never knew what her name was.  There is a small amount of discussion about the fact that the French in Québec are almost all Catholic.  We see glimpses of a few more names:  Moses (Moïse) Bergeron; Michel Bergeron, born 1842, died 1929; Joseph Bergeron, born 1804, died 1883.  The camera zooms in on Marie-Josèphe Vanasse dit Précourt (but no discussion about dit names).

Bergeron wonders when his father's side of the family came from France, and Betit directs him to look at Suzanne Rabouin, born November 23, 1655, died 1755.  She was the daughter of Bergeron's 9th-great-grandmother Marguerite Ardion, born 1636–1640 in La Rochelle, France, died unknown (yeah, sure it's unknown).  She married Jean Rabouin in 1663; he was also born in La Rochelle.  Bergeron finds this information intriguing and asks if they met in France and then came over.  Betit, who apparently is trained to lie on camera (which makes him a better actor than Kelly Clarkson), says, "In this case we don't know."  (Sure, you don't.)

Now that Bergeron knows who his first French ancestors were to come to the new World, he wants to know the next step.  Betit recommends he continue his search in La Rochelle, of course.

As Bergeron departs, he's already having a good time but is wondering why his 9th-great-grandparents went to Canada, whether they knew each other in France, who were the parents of his 9th-great-grandmother (what about his 9th-great-grandfather?), and whether they were upset when she left.  That sounds like an interesting list of beginning questions to me.

As he drives around in La Rochelle (I noticed he did his own driving everywhere), Bergeron says he wants to find out why Marguerite would leave for Canada.  He's impressed by the feeling of real history in the city, that you can sense thousands of years gone by.  He is likely seeing the same buildings that Marguerite saw when she was a child there.  He goes to the La Rochelle archives (La Charente-Maritime Archives Départementales), where historian Kevin C. Robbins of Indiana University suggested they meet.  The first thing Robbins has Bergeron do is put on a pair of the infamous white conservator's gloves.  Then out comes a 1623 register of notary contracts; Robbins knows that this particular notary worked primarily with Protestants.  There is a marriage contract for Ardion and Soret, Marguerite's parents.

Bergeron admits immediately, "I can't even pretend to read any of this."  Conveniently, Robbins has a translation handy.  Before they get around to the contract, there's discussion of the fact that the Reformed religion (Protestant, but specifically Huguenot) was typical for La Rochelle at the time; about 80% of the city was Protestant.  The Catholic kings of France were suspicious of Protestants, and Protestants thought that the church was corrupt, greedy, and focused on money (well, you can't fault them on that).

February 1623 registration of marriage
of Pierre Ardyon and Suzane Soret
(their names are just above the
signature at the bottom)
The mariage contract, dated January 5, 1623, was between Pierre Ardion, a master stonemason native to La Rochelle (whose father Jehan, "in his lifetime" [suggesting he was already deceased], was a wholesale fish broker), and Suzanne Soret (daughter of the late — [I couldn't see the name] and of Marie Simon], also a native of the city.  Pierre Ardion, being a master stonemason, probably helped build many of the La Rochelle buildings Bergeron had earlier been admiring.

And what was in the future for this newly wedded couple?  This was a period of growing tension.  The Catholic kings had been hunting down the Protestant community.

The narrator tells us that the French Royal Army tried to take La Rochelle in 1572 but failed.  After this, Protestants in the city minted their own coins and ran their own municipal government, and many of them prospered.  King Louis XIII, who came to power in the early 1600's, considered the city a threat to Catholic control and decided to make an example of it.

In 1627, royal forces of the Catholic king surrounded La Rochelle for another siege.  To learn more about what happened, Robbins directs Bergeron to a colleague who specializes in the military situation in that period.  In the meantime, Robbins "intend[s] to pursue" more research on "what happened to Marguerite" and will let Bergeron know what he finds.  (Have you noticed there's no more mention of the 9th-great-grandfather?)

Bergeron says this is the first day he is starting to see the silhouette of his ancestor through the haze.  As she becomes more real to him, he is becoming more emotionally invested in the search.

la tour Saint-Nicolas
The next stop on the La Rochelle tour is the Tour Saint-Nicolas (Saint Nicholas Tower), which stands at the mouth of the city's harbor.  Bergeron wants to learn what happened to Marguerite's parents during the siege.  Greeting Bergeron at the tower is Erik Thomson, a historian of early modern Europe (the 17th century is "early modern"?)  at the University of Manitoba.  Thomson begins the history lesson by saying that in August 1627, the army had surrounded La Rochelle.  Between 25,000 and 30,000 soldiers constituted the army, while as many as 20,000 residents of La Rochelle remained in the city to face the siege.  The city's defenses were made of stone, so Pierre Ardion would have been an important person for keeping them in good repair.

map of La Rochelle showing
the second, outer, wall
The army built a second wall some distance from the city's original wall.  The plan was to surround the city, cut it off, and starve the residents.  A dike was built to close off the harbor mouth to remove access to the sea and complete the outer circle.  Louis XIII intended to choke the life out of La Rochelle.  The people in the city were aware of the situation and knew they were being starved to death.

By the spring of 1628 things were looking pretty bleak for the town.  Thomson has a translation of an account written by Pierre Mervault, who survived the siege:  A Journal of the Last Siege of the City of Rochel, Begun the 20 of July 1627.  The original book (in French) was printed in the 17th century.  Bergeron reads two short sections.  (The translation style is . . . interesting.)

At this time the necessity, which was horrible, obliged divers to seek ways and means to pass the Line, others to scatter themselves in Vineyards, to gather even but Virgin Grapes, and some to render themselves willingly.  It was now published in the Camp, upon pain of death, not to suffer them to approach the Line, nor to take Prisoners any that should come out of Rochel, but by Musket-shot force them to return within their Counterscarp and Ports, from whence many were killed, choosing whether to finish their lives by a Musket-Bullet, than to return home to die there miserable of Famine:  And many Women and Maids of the common people, going into the Vineyards, were violated, and beaten with Forks, and shafts of Halberts; then stripped as naked as when they came from the Wombs of their Mothers, and so sent back to the City; and in this sort I have seen some return:  But to meet them, other Women went to carry them Gard-robes and Cloaks to cover their nakedness.

While reading this section Bergeron comments on how some people were committing suicide by deliberately choosing to walk out where the soldiers will shoot them.  He is also struck by the fact that the royal army was raping and beating women.  In the second section, things aren't going any better.

October 19, 1628
Now the Famine increased dreadfully, nothing being left, the greatest number having in three Months time not known what Bread was, nor any thing of ordinary Provisions, Flesh of Horses, Asses, Mules, Dogs, Cats, Rats and Mice, were all eaten up; there was no more Herbs or Snails left in the Fields, so that their recourse was to Leather, Hides of Oxen, skins of Sheep, Cinamon, Cassia, Liquorish out of Apothecaries Shops, Flemish, holewort frigased, Bread of Straw made with a little Sugar, Flower of Roots, Irish Powder, Belly of the skin of Beasts and Sheep, Horns of Deer beaten to Powder, old Buff Coats, soles of shoes, Boots, Aprons of Leather, Belts for Swords, old Pockets, Leather Points, Parchment, wood beaten in a Mortar, Plaster, Earth, Dung (which I have seen with my own eyes) Carrion, and Bones that the Dogs had gnawn, and indeed all that came in their sight, though such food gave rather death than sustenance, or prolongation of it, from whence there passed not a day that there died not two or three hundred, or more persons, of such sort, that not only the church-yards, but then the Houses, Streets, and out-parts of the City were in a little time filled with dead bodies, without having other Sepulchres than the places where they fell, the living not having so much — (and I couldn't read the end)

Bergeron exclaims, "They were eating leather?!"  He is astounded and horrified by what the king was doing to the population of La Rochelle.

It becomes obvious that La Rochelle had to surrender.  When it did so, only about 5,000 people were left.  The siege had killed three quarters of the population.  Obviously, Pierre and Suzanne survived (because from what we saw earlier, Marguerite's birth wasn't until the 1630's).  In profound contrast to the detailed description of the siege, everything in the city looks perfectly normal now.

Bergeron is somewhat subdued after the revelation of what his 10th-great-grandparents survived.  Apparently we see him the next day, because while he is surprised at how emotional his reaction is to their circumstances, he wonders what he will learn "today" and asks, "Haven't I been through enough?"  Even though he knows his ancestors have been dead for hundreds of years, he hopes things went well for them.

Kevin Robbins has returned with some "newly discovered" information and has arranged to meet Bergeron at the Médiathèque in La Rochelle (it appears to be part of the public library system).  Bergeron is hoping that Robbins has the next chapter in his search.  Robbins starts with a book of baptisms from November 1632–July 1638 (and something else, but I couldn't read the rest of the very aged handwriting on the cover), and since we were shown at the beginning of the episode that Marguerite was born 1636–1640, I was expecting her baptism to be shown.  Indeed, I was not disappointed.  In the church of Villeneuve, the only Protestant (i.e., Huguenot) church still allowed by the king, Marguerite Ardion, daughter of Pierre, was baptized August 11, 1636, eight years after the siege was over.  (I looked several times for Marguerite's baptism, and I just can't find it in the La Rochelle records that are online.  If someone else finds it, please let me know!)

Burial registration of Pierre Ardion,
47 years old
Bergeron wants to fill in more of the gaps between Marguerite's birth and her travel to Québec, and Robbins replies, "That's why we're here."  He has more documents!  Next we see the book of burials for 1631–1647 for the Villeneuve cemetery in La Rochelle.  Pierre Ardion was buried December 31, 1641; they say he was 50 years old (but the burial record says 47).  (I realized about this time that Robbins had not been providing Bergeron with translations, as is customary for WDYTYA, but rather was reading all of the entries to him.  I wonder why they did it differently for this episode.)

The men discuss that after Pierre died, Suzanne would have been in a difficult position.  As a single mother, she probably would have faced the need to work.  (Why wouldn't she remarry?  Was that not common among the Huguenot community in La Rochelle at this time?  And based on the discussion, I have to assume that Pierre must not have had much money, even though he was a master stonemason, though that might be partly due to lingering aftereffects of the siege.)  After talking about this, Robbins takes out a book of deaths from 1647–1658.  Bergeron definitely seems more on the ball than a lot of the celebrities we've seen on this program.  Not only is he able to read the cover, he asks, "Now we're gonna find out when mom died, right?"  And then they cut to a commercial.

Burial registration of Suzanne Soret,
50 years old
On returning to the program we learn that Bergeron is correct.  Suzanne Soret ("the widow Ardion") was buried in July 1650.  Marguerite was an orphan at 14 years old.  Bergeron thinks of his own two daughters and what things would have been like if they had had to fend for themselves when they were 14.  Going back to Marguerite, her best-case scenario would have been having extended family who could incorporate her into their household.  We don't learn how she handled that, however.  The first document the researchers were able to find for Marguerite after her mother died is in a book with the title "Liste des protestant convertit ..." for 1655–1661.  Again, Bergeron is able to get the gist of the French and realizes it's a list of conversions; did Marguerite become Catholic before she went to the New World?  And indeed, Marguerite, an unmarried woman, age 23, converted to the Catholic faith on January 1, 1659.  There would have been a lot of pressure on her (and on all the remaining Huguenots in La Rochelle) to convert.  She probably had fewer options than many others, though.

The next book is particularly fragile, and Robbins handles it very carefully.  (Then why handle it just for an entertainment program??!!)  It is another book of marriages; it includes a contract for the marriage between Marguerite and Laurent Baudet on January 12, 1659.  This comes as a shock:  Marguerite was married before she married Bergeron's 9th-great-grandfather in Québec?  The translation shows that Baudet was a shoemaker from La Rochelle, son of the late Simon Baudet, who was a stevedore; Marguerite is identified as the daughter of the late Pierre Ardion.  Baudet was illiterate; instead of a signature, he made his mark.  Bergeron turns to the camera, breaks the fourth wall, and exclaims, "You can do better, Marguerite!"  Looking at the dates, Marguerite converted less than two weeks before her marriage.  It seems pretty clear that the conversion was done only so she could marry; she was a survivor and did what she needed to do.

Robbins points out a marginal note:  A son, Laurent Beaudet, was baptized on February 21, 1662.  (Unfortunately, I couldn't find the Beaudet records either.)  Of course, Bergeron hasn't heard about this child and can't imagine Marguerite would have taken such a small infant with her on the cross-Atlantic journey.  Robbins says he looked but could not find a death or burial registration for either of the two Laurents.  Bergeron asks where he should go next, and Robbins tells him to investigate Marguerite in Québec.  As the two men part, Bergeron says, "Merci," and Robbins responds, "Je vous en prie" ("You're welcome.").  I was pleasantly surprised at how good Bergeron's French pronunciation was, such as when saying Québec and Suzanne (and far, far better than the mangling that Melissa Etheridge did).  Sometimes he sounded better than Robbins.

While driving, Bergeron says he was not expecting so many tragedies on top of what Marguerite's parents had experienced during the siege.  He hopes Marguerite had a happy ending with Jean in Québec.  He drives by some wall art of a young girl who looks like a hitchhiker; she is carrying a suitcase that has "La Rochelle Québec" printed on the side.  Is that what graffiti looks like in La Rochelle?

In beautiful Québec City, Bergeron heads to the National Archives of Québec (which is an interesting turn of phrase, considering that Québec is not a nation).  He wants to find Marguerite's marriage to his 9th-great-grandfather, which had to have taken place between 1662–1663.  Archivist Peter J. Gagné of the Musée de la civilisation of Québec City is waiting to meet him.  Bergeron sees white conservator's gloves and knows he's going to learn things.

Gagné shows Bergeron something, which he correctly guesses is a marriage contract.  Bergeron recognizes Marguerite and Jean's names and even the date, October 17, 1663 (by this point I was pretty sure that Bergeron has a good working knowledge of French).  Gagné hands him a translation and he says, "Thank you.  These have been very helpful."  (I really enjoyed his wry sense of humor.)  The marriage contract stated that Marguerite was a widow from her first marriage to Beaudet.  Bergeron asks if that means Beaudet died in La Rochelle.  All Gagné can tell him is that there is no mention of Beaudet in Québec records.

Registration of October 28, 1663 marriage of Jean Rabouin and Marguerite Ardion
The marriage contract also mentions Marguerite's 16-month-old son — he survived! — and that Jean Rabouin agreed to "retain and provide lodging, nourishment and catechism" and generally to take care of the child until he reached the age of reason (which might have been 15 years old, but they didn't show that entire section).  So the contract somewhat functioned as an adoption.  Bergeron is thrilled that something good had finally happened to Marguerite.  He is surprised, however, that Rabouin would marry a widow with a son and promise to take care of the child.  He says that Marguerite has "been through a shit [bleeped out] storm!" but is glad that she had the courage to make the trip.

Gagné now turns to an important history lesson.  The fact that Marguerite came to Canada in 1663 with nothing, and that Rabouin was willing to accept responsibility for her son as part of the marriage contract, most likely means that Marguerite was a fille du roi, or a "daughter of the king" (and if she was, then by extension, her first husband had to be dead before she left, or she couldn't have come as a fille).  (What Gagné doesn't discuss, at least not from what we saw, is that he is pretty much the authority on the filles du roi.  He wrote a two-volume work which has biographies on all of the filles.)  Until 1863, there was a significant imbalance in the number of men and women in New France, with about six to ten times more men than women.

The narrator steps in to elaborate.  From 1663–1673 the French crown arranged for and funded about 800 unmarried women to immigrate to New France.  They were known as the filles du roi because the travel expenses were paid by the king's treasury.  Marguerite was among the first group of women sent.  Their job was to marry, have children, and help create a sustainable colony for France.

Bergeron thinks this was analogous to an arranged marriage, but Gagné corrects him.  The fille could choose her own husband.  In the economics of supply and demand, she had the supply, and she could demand what she wanted.  For Marguerite, this meant that she could stipulate that her husband-to-be accept and provide for her son from her first marriage.  Women held negotiating power, which was unprecedented for the time.  The program was very successful, and many (most?) of the women had large families.

But wait, Bergeron wants even more.  How can he find out about Marguerite's children?  Gagné says he needs to go to Nôtre Dame de Québec (hey, maybe Bergeron will run into Bryan Cranston there!), where he has a colleague who can be of assistance.

Bergeron finds it powerful to learn that Marguerite's baby survived.  He can appreciate that Marguerite was a strong woman:  He is married to a strong woman, and both of his daughters are strong.  He's starting to like Marguerite a lot.

Baptismal record for Jacques Ardion
In the Nôtre Dame archives, Bergeron works with Ann Little of Colorado State University.  They start off with baptismal records, of which we see only one:  Jacques Rabouin, who was baptized October 7, 1675.  Bergeron is thrilled to find out that Marguerite had at least one more son.  When Jacques was born, she was about 39 years old.  If she was still having children at that age, she must have been healthy.  She was a good fille du roi.

The next item Little shows is an estate inventory dated September 6, 1679, which suggests someone had died.  She provides only the translation; we don't see the original.  Jean Rabouin was listed as the widower, so Marguerite had died by the age of 43.  Rabouin was the guardian of the following minors:  Marie, 16 years old; Suzanne, 14; Marguerite, 12; Izabel, 10; Anne, 9; Magdelene (7, though not stated on air); and Jacques, 4 (the child whose baptism we saw).  (The baptismal records for Jacques and all six girls are available online, as is the record for at least one more child.  Birthdates:  Marie, April 12, 1664; Suzanne, November 23, 1665; Marguerite, August 25, 1667; Izabel [Elisabeth], August 27, 1669; Anne, May 16, 1671; Magdelene, July 25, 1673; and Marie Angelique, September 28, 1677, who does not appear to have survived to 1679.)  The number of children surprises Bergeron.  (Marguerite's first son, Laurent, is not discussed, but if he was still alive, he would have been about 17, so he possibly wasn't considered a minor, Rabouin probably was not legally responsible for him anymore, and he wasn't covered by the guardianship.)

Church bells ring in the background, and Little turns her head to listen to them (possibly concerned that they might interfere with the taping?).  Bergeron jumps in and says, "The bells are tolling for Marguerite right now."  This man is quick on his feet.

Marguerite died at the Hôtel Dieu, which is not a hotel, as Bergeron thinks, but a hospital.  She probably died of an infectious disease.

The last document Little has is a map of landowners, on which Jean Rabouin's name appears.  The map is of a large island (Île d'Orléans) in the St. Lawrence River, about five miles out of Québec City.  It was the site of some of the initial colonization of the area.  Bergeron is excited:  "We get to go there!"  Little adds that he should visit Ancestral Park, which has a monument to the founders of Québec.  She points out to him that his family is special because he is a descendant of a fille du roi, the Canadian equivalent of being a Mayflower descendant.

Bergeron appears to be surprised and says that he was so focused on Jean Rabouin (really?  the entire episode has been about Marguerite's family; besides, he started out wanting to know about the Bergerons) he hadn't been thinking about how important Marguerite was.  Now he's blown away and says that Marguerite has emotionally taken root for him.

On his way to Île d'Orléans, Bergeron is looking forward to walking the land where Marguerite lived with her children.  He now can appreciate what the filles meant to Québec.  At Ancestral Park (Parc des Ancêtres-de-l'Île-d'Orléans) he finds Jean and Marguerite's names on the founders monument (La mémorial des familles souches de l'île d'Orléans).  He then drives to where Rabouin's land was.  There's a lot of land (but it isn't clear how much of it actually belonged to Rabouin).  (When he got out of the car to walk around, I noticed that he was carrying his jacket, which seemed odd on such a sunny day.  Maybe the car didn't get to stay in that spot?)

Bergeron becomes philosophical at the end.  We learn from the past to improve and enrich the present.  He has been moved by the stories of his ancestors' lives and was more emotional than he had expected.  He's now proud to be a descendant of a fille du roi.  Even when your ancestors have been dead for more than 300 years, if you listen, you can still learn from them.  He had anticipated that this search was going to be more of an intellectual experience, but it's great that he opened up to the emotional side of what he learned.  He closes by saying that life doesn't play out as you think it will.

And to close this season's commentary, I have a little to say about the "Into the Archives" highlights episode, which I was able to watch before it disappeared from my On Demand listings.  As I had expected, even though the commercials had hyped the never-before-seen footage, most of what we saw was familiar.  Two scenes got my attention.  The first was one from the Julie Chen episode, where we learned that the reason her grandfather Lou Gaw Tong built the school in his hometown of Penglai was because his mother had been murdered by hooligans.  Lou felt that the reason this had happened was because children were not being educated and therefore did not feel they had anything to work toward.  This was a powerful scene; I wish it had been included in the full episode.

The second set of scenes that caught my eye came from the Valerie Bertinelli episode.  I noted a couple of times in my commentary that her ancestry through Edward I probably would go back to Charlemagne, but I hadn't found the information.  Well, guess what they did — the Herald of Arms, Peter O'Donoghue, took her ancestry back to William the Conqueror, and from him to Charlemagne!  I also found a handy page online listing royal descendants of Charlemagne; the first one on the page is the lineage of William the Conqueror.  So I really was right!  Additional scrolls extended the lineage back to Adam and Eve and then to God, but O'Donoghue said Bertinelli might not want to put too much faith in those.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Did Your Mother Love To Do?

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver picked another topic that I felt an immediate affinity for:

1) What did your mother really like to do in her work or spare time?  Did she have hobbies, or a workshop, or did she like cooking, or reading, or watching TV?

3)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.


In her spare time, my mother really enjoyed watching television.  As soon as she walked into the house, on went the TV.  Her favorite programs to watch were sports (just about anything, even golf), game shows, mysteries, and Westerns.  Later, soap operas were added to the list.  She was a big fan of Hollywood.  Well before the age of tabloids, she kept track of celebrities and knew who had been married to whom (how else would I have known when I was a kid that Ken Berry was married to Jackie Joseph?) and even which big-name stars were gay.  She was excellent at recognizing actors by their voices.

My mother also loved to travel.  As often as she was able to, she would visit her parents and other relatives.  We went to Las Vegas on a regular basis because that's where my grandparents lived.  She took her three young children (aged 4, 5, and 6) with her to go to a cousin's wedding in Florida.  Once she visited me in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving, and we went to the big buffet at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  She told me once that she really wanted to travel around the world without any luggage, just buying new clothes in each place she visited and leaving them behind, to buy new again in the next city.

Kind of part and parcel with travel, my mother loved to go out to eat and to try different foods (except for beets!).  When visiting relatives on her side of the family we often had Chinese food.  Living in Southern California, there was lots of Mexican food.  Going to Vegas meant all the great buffets at the casinos.  In Australia, we learned to appreciate Indian food.  We also had rabbit, mutton, and other things not common at the time in the U.S.  When the area we lived in Florida became home to many Vietnamese refugees, she probably tried Vietnamese food at the restaurants that opened soon after.

My mother, not exactly the epitome of domesticity, enjoyed working outside of the home.  When I was young, for a while she worked a graveyard shift inspecting circuit boards.  When my family lived in Australia, she worked at a delicatessen owned by a nice Greek man.  When we returned to the United States, one summer she worked at a fruit and vegetable stand.  Later she had her own freelance bookkeeping business.  I can't think of a time my mother did not have a job, even if I can't remember all of them.  She did not have a college education (the one semester she attended Florida State University, she flunked all of her classes except physical education; I've gotten the impression she was a party girl), but she was very intelligent.

I can't think of many hobbies my mother enjoyed, although she did crossword puzzles for years.  Painting premade ceramics caught her attention for a while, and everyone in the family received a zodiac wall hanging.  (I think I still have mine.)

Hmm, kind of scattered impressions of a person, not a very cohesive picture.  I obviously need to collect more stories from other relatives.  I can use this as a springboard to have other family members add their memories.  But it's a start!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Bryan Cranston

Look at me, still working on my last commentaries for this past season of Who Do You Think You Are?  I have only one more after this one!  I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel . . .  but I just know they're going to start advertising the next season as soon as I'm finished.

This episode featured Bryan Cranston.  The teaser tells us that he will follow a trail of clues to a family tree full of revelations.  He will find traces of disturbing patterns across generations, which will shine light on long-held secrets.  (Hmm, shades of Ginnifer Goodwin?)

Instead of beginning the episode with an overview of Cranston and his career, as we've seen in previous episodes, this one opens with Cranston talking with his wife, Robin, and sister, Amy.  Cranston says that if everything he finds in the family is wonderful, it will be boring.   If not someone famous, he figures he will find someone infamous (standard foreshadowing, and still suggesting a story similar to Goodwin's).

Then we hear about Cranston himself.  A veteran actor (Hollywood code for "been around for a long time but generally not well known"), he first became recognized for playing the father on Malcolm in the Middle but at this point has become a cultural icon for the part of Walter White on Breaking Bad.  He has won five Emmy awards and one Golden Globe (all for Breaking Bad).  He also won a Tony for portraying President Lyndon B. Johnson in All the Way.  Not mentioned was his role of dentist Tim Whatley on Seinfeld, the only program I've seen him on.  Cranston lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 26 years, actress Robin Dearden.

Cranston tells us that he was born in Hollywood (actually part of Los Angeles, but his Wikipedia page says Canoga Park), the son of Joseph Louis Cranston and Audrey Anneliese Dorothea Peggy Sell (there's a mouthful).  He has a wry smile as he says his mother's full name.  His father was a typical actor, underemployed more than employed.  The good part for the kids, though, was that they got to visit him on the sets of several television shows.  Acting is the family business (though not stated, Cranston's brother and daughter have also worked as actors).  His family was happy and he has fond memories of growing up, until the age of 11.

Cranston was 11 when his family went through a seismic shift, caused by his father leaving them.  His father was the love of his mother's life, and she never got over his departure.  The kids were profoundly affected also.  From the ages of 12–22 Cranston did not see his father.  His father did not have the courage to stay and meet his responsibilities, and now Cranston wonders if there are traces of that in his family.  (Really?  This intro was shot after the results were in, right?  'Cause that's just way too weird of a thing to wonder.)

Returning to the discussion with Robin and Amy, one of them asks Cranston what if he'ss wrong and he finds someone heroic, maybe related to a king.  He says he will be greatly disappointed and is hoping for shock value.  (He had to know already to come up with all of this.)

Cranston decides that to make sense of his family he needs to start where his father was born and raised:  Chicago.  He doesn't know any details about his paternal grandparents and thinks it will be fascinating to find out what they were like.  Maybe it will also shed light on his father.

At the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) in the Ronald Williams Library of Northeastern Illinois University, Cranston meets genealogist Diane Richard (who is from North Carolina, natch).  He tells her he knows little about his father:  He was born July 30, 1924 in Chicago, and his parents were Edward and Alice Cranston.  Richard tells him that the 1930 census is a good place to start and says he can find it on Ancestry.com (of course).  The good news is that she has him look specifically in the 1930 census database, rather than the entire census database.  Cranston searches for Joseph Cranston with "exact" match checked and finds a Joseph L. Cranston with parents Edward and Alice (who are living on Long Island, New York, but that isn't mentioned; so much for needing to go to Chicago).  Cranston comments on the name being spelled with an "m" (it appears in the index and on the census page as "Kramstun"), and Richard explains that census enumerators wrote what they thought they heard.  Cranston is surprised that the system was that imprecise.

Cranston admits that he needs to put on his glasses to read the census page, which shows father Edward B., mother Alice B., and children Edward, Joseph, and Margaret.  Cranston scrolls across to read the rest of the information and notes that Edward was a veteran of the World War.

Cranston family, 1930 census, South Huntington, Suffolk County, New York
Richard says that something caught her eye, and she directs Cranston's attention to Edward and Alice's ages and their ages at first marriage (one of those great pieces of information in the 1930 census).  Edward was 33 years old and was first married at 19; Alice was 26 and was first married at 18.  (Something else that caught my eye:  They're living on Edward Place!)  Cranston runs the math in his head and figures out that Edward must have been married before, which he had never heard about.  He asks how they can go beyond the information in the census and find out about Edward's first marriage.  Richard says, "A great way to do that is the World War I draft registration", because that was around the time Edward was married.  (Actually, that can work, but it isn't a "great" way, because many of the World War I draft registrations don't list the wife's name.  The more normal way is to look for a marriage record or for the couple in the 1920 census, but she obviously knows already those won't answer the question.  In fact, Edward was living with his parents in the 1920 census and was reported as single.)

Cranston family, 1920 census, Winnetka Village, Cook County, Illinois
So then Richard has Cranston search in the World War I draft registration database for Edward Cranston.  He finds Edward Bennett (Bennard on the form) Cranston, born in Chicago, who was married and had a 4-year-old daughter.  The registration is dated 1917.  You could see on the screen that the form shows "theatrical" and "vaudeville theatres", but nothing was mentioned about that, or the fact that he had been quarantined for 11 weeks (for what?).  Also, on the second page, where question 3 asks about disabilities, it says, "Right eye poor".  (Keep all this in mind for later.)  One additional tidbit is that he is working for Bryan Lee; if you look at that 1920 census again, Lee is Edward's brother-in-law.

Edward Bennett Cranston, World War I draft registration, June 5, 1917
Cranston comments that this is his first surprise; he didn't know his grandfather had been married previous to his grandmother.  He asks if they can track the first wife and daughter.  Richard points out that the draft registration doesn't give the wife's name, and it could be a difficult search.  She suggests looking for a divorce, which would list both parties' names.  (Gee, why not look for a marriage record, the first thing most people would check for?  Or see if the first wife died, probably the second normal search?  Oh, she already knows the answer again, doesn't she?)  And the best place to look for that is the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court archives.

Outside, Cranston says he didn't know his grandfather had been married before and had a child.  His "half-aunt" would be about 100 years old, if she were alive today.  Did she have a short or a long life?  Did she have children?  Maybe he has a string of other relatives out there.

Beth Bailey, a "historian of the recent United States", meets Cranston, who is carrying his notebook, at the archives.  She looked in the divorce index and requested some documents from remote storage, and she has them now.  The first document, dated May 11, 1921, reveals that the first wife's name was Irene.  She stated that she and Edward Cranston were married June 25, 1912 in Chicago.  In her complaint, she said that she had been a "true, kind, affectionate and virtuous wife", which really strikes Cranston, who questions it but then realizes what he is doing and asks why he feels the need to defend his grandfather.  Further in the document, Irene said that the "fruits of said marriage" was a child, Kathleen, then about 8 years old.  Edward had "willfully deserted and absented himself" "for the space of two years".

Bailey hands Cranston the next document, which followed Irene's attempts to track Edward down.  I think the date on the outside was April 5, 1922.  Irene testified that Edward did not appear in court on July 8, 1921.  She had tried to find him but was unsuccessful.  He left because he did not like the responsibility of family.

In the last document, Irene said that Edward had left in June 1913 (I don't now how this relates to him having been gone "for the space of two years", as stated in the first document, because we didn't get to see the entire thing).  She wanted her maiden name, Kelly, back, but the judge said that she had to keep her name because she had a child.  Irene responded, "All right."  I guess the fight was already out of her.

Cranston asks what happened to Kathleen:  Did she have a family?  Bailey responds, "I was able to find this," and hands a document to Cranston right before a cut to commercials.  It looked to me like a death certificate, which was confirmed when we returned to the program.  Cranston reads that she died in 1930 of tuberculosis and was a student.  Cranston is sad to hear what happened to Kathleen and admits this is his "first emotional reaction" to what he has learned so far.

(They did not discuss other details on the certificate, such as the fact that Kathleen was born April 27, 1913 and died April 5, 1930 in Winnetka, Illinois.  They also didn't bring up the fact that the certificate is for the death of Kathleen Ann Kelly, whose parents are given as William Kelly, born in Ireland, and Mar– [I couldn't see the rest of her name], born in Illinois.  That doesn't jive with Edward Cranston and Irene Kelly, so I was wondering if this was the right person.  If it was, what happened?  Did Irene give her up for adoption?  Since Kelly was her maiden name, was William her relative?  What is going on here?  You can see from the transcribed information available on FamilySearch.org that Irene Kelly was the informant, so that at least seems to connect her to Kathleen Cranston.  I eventually found Irene and Kathleen in 1920 living with Irene's widowed mother Mary and was able to piece together that William and Mary Kelly were Irene's parents.  Oh, and Irene and Kathleen were going by the last name of Kelly in 1920, notwithstanding what the judge ordered in 1922.)

Now Cranston wants to know where Edward went after he left Irene.  Did he join the Army and fight in World War I?  Did he choose going to war over being a father and husband?  Bailey tells him that the archives in Springfield, Illinois have records on Illinois regiments; maybe he can find something there.

As he leaves, Cranston comments on how everything was very analytical for him until he saw Kathleen's death certificate, which was very upsetting.  Though he had thought that he might find some "unsavory characteristics" in his family, he had hoped not to do so (you wouldn't have guessed that from all his earlier commentary).  He believes that Edward's behavior is a link between his and Cranston's father's actions (but did Joseph Cranston ever even know about Irene and Kathleen?).  Now he wants to find more information:  Did Edward ever send money to Irene, or any support for Kathleen?  Was Edward completely absent from their lives?

In Springfield, Cranston meets Christopher Capozzola, a political and cultural historian from MIT.  (Throughout this entire segment, Capozzola had an odd little smile on his face; I think he was starstruck.)  Capozzola says that lots of records were destroyed by a fire, but Cranston's grandfather's records survived.  Only 20% of the World War I applications for soldier's bonuses made it through the fire.  When Capozzola hands Cranston the document, Cranston notices that it's singed.

The front is labeled "Enlistment Record."  Edward B. Cranston enlisted on July 7, 1917 as a private with no prior military service.  "Inducted" was crossed out, so he went voluntarily, a mere three months after the United States entered World War I.  (Considering the fact that this was only one month after he filled out his draft registration, with the information about the quarantine and poor eye, I'm surprised the Army took him.  They weren't desperate in the beginning.)

The flip side is a certified copy of Edward's honorable discharge from the Army.  His serial number was 1393763, and he was a private, engineers unassigned, which Capozzola explains would have been dirty, heavy construction work and digging trenches.  The men would have been ahead of the rest of the army, and it would have been dangerous.  (We also see that Edward was in Company D, 106th Engineers and that he was with the AEF in France, at Somme and Meuse Argonne.)  For vocation, Edward had listed actor, which surprises Cranston, who apparently didn't bother reading all of the information on Edward's draft registration card.  (That, or it's all acting on Cranston's part.  Naw, couldn't be that, could it?)

Cranston says he wants to go back to something on the form and reads where Edward said he was single, commenting, "He is an actor."  He asks Capozzola about it, who says that's simply what Edward said when asked.  It mattered because the Army took part of the salary of married soldiers and sent it to their dependents.  This meant that families didn't starve, because soldiers couldn't spend all of their pay on carousing and the like.  Cranston and Capozzola agree that this was probably an attempt on Edward's part to keep all of his money for himself.  Capozzola says that's all he knows about Edward; to go back further, Cranston will need to talk to a genealogist.

Cranston is now somewhat torn about his feelings for his grandfather.  Edward enlisted, a noble act, but said he was single, probably to deprive Irene and Kathleen of money.  So it was two steps forward and one step back.  Cranston won't be surprised if there are more secrets to learn.  (Gee, you think?)

Still in Springfield, Cranston meets again with genealogist Diane Richard, who "had some success" with additional research.  She has found Edward Cranston with his parents—Cranston's great-grandparents—in the 1910 census (not difficult at all for me; did Richard actually have a problem finding it?).  Edward's parents were Daniel J. and Margaret J. Cranston, and brothers Louis R. and Arthur D. are also in the household (though Louis doesn't merit a mention on screen).  It is pointed out that the census indicates that Daniel's father and Margaret's father were born in Ireland (not stated is that Daniel was born in Canada, his mother was born in England, and Margaret and her mother were born in Ireland).

Cranston family, 1910 census
Richard instructs Cranston to read all the columns, in particular the ones that indicate what number marriage this is for the person and how many years they've been married.  The census shows that this is the first marriage for both Daniel and Margaret, and they have been married for 41 years.  Margaret has had eleven children, and they are all living.  Cranston is impressed at how long they were married and at how many children Margaret had had.  He did not even know his great-grandparents' names before this.  Ever curious, though, now he wants to know how to find out more.  Silly me, I'm thinking, "Hey, how about looking for a marriage record?", but no, Richard has a death certificate for James Daniel Cranston.  His parents, as given on the certificate, were Henry Cranston, born in England, and Sarah McLoed, born in Ireland.  Cranston notices the discrepancy, and Richard correctly explains that the census is probably more accurate because the person giving the information would have had first-hand knowledge.  (Not brought up:  Daniel was 87 years old and widowed; he died in New York City; he had been in the United States for 65 years and in the city of New York for 8 years.  I could read Daniel died on June 6 but couldn't read the year; I searched on Steve Morse's One-Step Webpages and found it was 1937 in Manhattan.  With that I found a transcribed record on FamilySearch.org that gives a lot of the information.  Although that transcription says that Sarah McLoed was born in England, it is clear from the image on screen during the program that the death certificate says Ireland.)

Cranston notices that Daniel was born in Montreal and says he didn't know about that connection.  I couldn't tell if he was referring specifically to Montreal or if he meant Canada in general, but the census had shown Daniel was born in Canada, even though Cranston and Richard didn't discuss it on air.  The death certificate also says that Daniel was a retired brush manufacturer (this occupation was shown on the 1910 census).  Cranston wants to know how to learn more about Daniel, and Richard says he should go to Montreal, to Notre-Dame Basilica, which has an archive of baptismal records.  (So we'll accept that Montreal is correct and send Cranston to Canada but question the accuracy of the statement that his father was born in England.  Nothing like making it obvious what they've already checked!)

Cranston is a little more cheerful after leaving Richard this time.  Daniel appears to be an honorable man who stayed with his family, so not all of his ancestors are reprobates.

At Notre-Dame Basilica (looking at it reminds me of when I attended mass at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris), Cranston is met by Janice (what a great name!) Harvey, a historian at Dawson College.  He tells her he is looking for information on his great-grandfather Daniel Cranston, born in 1849.  Harvey says that the church archives have documents going back to 1642.  She has Cranston pull a book down from a shelf but then says she "put a marker in the book".  So why bother putting it back on the shelf?  Is it that great of a camera shot to show him lugging it over to the table?

When Cranston turns to the conveniently marked page, he looks down the page to find the baptismal record of Daniel James Cranston.  Harvey has a translation handy (probably a good thing).  Daniel was baptized on February 24, 1849 and was born about five months before that (so he was actually born in 1848).  His father was Joseph Cranston, carpenter, absent, and his mother was Sarah McLeod.  (The sponsors were Matthew Kelly and Mary Delahoide.)  Cranston immediately focuses on the fact that Daniel's death certificate said that his father's name was Henry.  Harvey explains that there were fewer than five Cranston families in the city, and Joseph was the only one married to a McLeod, so she's sure it's the right person.  There's some discussion about the possibility that Henry was his middle name, but nothing about the fact that death certificates are primarily full of second-hand information that depends on the knowledge and memory of the informant.

Daniel James Cranston 1849 baptism
From that Cranston moves to realizing that Joseph was his father's name, and he assumes his father was named after this Joseph Cranston.  (I'm inclined to think that's unlikely.  It would require Edward to have known that his grandfather was named Joseph.)  Then he and Harvey talk about the fact that Joseph Cranston was "absent", and Cranston says, "You have no idea of the significance of that."  He mentions that the male members of his family follow a pattern of disappearing.  He asks whether Joseph could have died, but Harvey says if that were the case the record would say so explicitly.  As it says absent, it means he had left his family.

So what is Cranston's next "stepping stone" for more information on his ancestor?  Harvey admits she tried to find information about Joseph and Sarah and was unable to do so.  She does have a copy of the 1861 Canada East census, however.  It shows D. (Daniel) Cranston as an "inmate", causing Cranston to ask if Daniel was in prison.  Things weren't quite that bad—he was in the Ladies Benevolent Institution, for children of families unable to support them.

D. (Daniel) Cranston, 1861 Canada East census (edited image)
Harvey also has documents from the institution.  The entry book shows that James Daniel Cranston was admitted on October 14, 1851.  Under the remarks column, it says that his mother was obliged to go to service, as her husband was a "dissipated" man.  (It also says that his mother will pay for James' board.)  Harvey explains that dissipated means he was drinking and probably immoral.  "Going to service" meant that she was working as a servant in a private home and couldn't have her child there (somewhat similar to the McAdams' sisters ancestor).  She was allowed to visit him once per week.

That's all fine and good, but Cranston wants to know where Joseph was and how to find him.  Harvey repeats that he was not in Canadian records but suggests checking Ancestry.com, which has data from several other countries (gee, will he be in the U.S.?).  They go to the conveniently placed computer, and Harvey has Cranston use the "search all" page (shudder!) for Joseph Cranston, making a "guesstimate" that he would have been in his mid-20's when Daniel was born and therefore born about 1825, in Ireland.  This search was done without "exact" checked for the matches, and surprisingly, the fifth hit is Joseph H. Cranston, born about 1826 in Armagh, Ireland (an Orangeman?), in a record from the U.S. National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio.

The first thing that Cranston notices on Joseph's record is an enlistment in April 1861, which he notes was the time of the Civil War.  Another of his ancestors left his family to go to war.  Joseph actually enlisted three separate times; he left Canada and joined the Illinois 23rd, the Illinois 39th (signing up in Missouri), and the Pennsylvania 26th.  Apparently he liked being a soldier, or he felt it was the only alternative he had.  At the close of the war he was discharged.  On September 1, 1883 he was admitted to the soldiers' home.

Joseph H. Cranston's record from the U.S. National Home for Disabled Soldiers
Cranston says he now knows why Joseph wasn't there to help Sarah (but Joseph enlisted ten years after Daniel was placed in the Ladies Benevolent Institution; where was he in 1849 when Daniel was baptized, in 1851, or in the years after that leading up to the 1861 enlistment?).  Other information from the soldiers' home record indicates Joseph was 57 years old and a carpenter (which is nice to see, since that does match Daniel's baptismal record), but (uh oh!) he said he was single.  This does look like the same behavior we saw with Edward.  Cranston asks if Joseph and Sarah had been divorced, and Harvey says she hadn't found one (without bothering to mention that at that time in Canada, it took an act of Parliament to obtain a divorce).

Finally, the record says that Joseph died on March 4, 1889 and that his personal effects on death were $0.25 (yup, that''s all!).  (It also says that the cause of death was "Said to be from inhaling Gas", but we'll ignore that for now, shall we?)  Cranston asks if he might find more information at the Home for Disabled Soldiers in Dayton.  Does it still exist?  Conveniently, it does.

Cranston visits the church sanctuary before he leaves.  (Why is he wearing shorts in there?  I was taught that was sacrilegious.)  With the basilica behind him, Cranston comments on the amount of abandonment by the Cranston men and wonders if there's something in their DNA (please!).  His father followed the pattern of his great-great-grandfather Joseph (well, and so did his grandfather Edward, at least with his first marriage, but let's not forget Daniel, who was a good guy, married 41 years in the 1910 census!).  He thinks of Joseph being called "dissipated" as meaning that he was no longer a man, that he was gone.

And off we go to Dayton, where the former Home for Disabled Soldiers became the Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center.  Cranston is thinking about how his great-great-grandfather enlisted three times, which normally evokes glory and honor, but he sympathizes with the women his ancestors left behind.  The men's behavior was less than honorable in the end.  Sarah and Irene took the harder road and stayed; they are the more noble parts of his bloodline (what about his own mother?).  Now he wants to learn how his Joseph spent the last chapter of his life.

In the VA Center, Cranston is greeted by Tessa Kalman, a visual information specialist there (though this page credits her as the archives manager).  In the patient library, Kalman shows Cranston a photograph of several soldiers.  All the men were disabled and probably spent their last days there in the home.

Cranston knows that Joseph died in Dayton but wants to know the cause.  Was it related to the war?  (Oh, I'm sorry, didn't you read everything on that soldiers' home record?)  Kalman has found an article in an old, very musty, delicate book (but doesn't make Cranston wear conservator's gloves, hooray!).  Cranston opens the book to the Dayton Daily Democrat of Saturday, March 2, 1889 and reads the title of the article, "Blew Out the Gas and 'Slept the Sleep That Knows No Waking'", right before a cut to commercials.  (I at first thought that it might have been suicide but then saw the word "intoxicated".)

Cranston reads through most of the article, and I pieced more together by rewatching the scenes, but I wasn't able to get everything.  As far as I can tell, the Daily Democrat is not online anywhere.

BLEW OUT THE GAS
And "Slept the Sleep That Knows No Waking" at the Union House on Second street

On Thursday night [April 30] two soldiers, aged 60 years respectively, came to town from the Home, and after walking about for a time, becoming more or less intoxicated, went to the Union House on Second street, between Jefferson and St. Clair, and asked for a room.  The clerk gave them a room on the second floor, and they retired, requesting not to be aroused early, but to be allowed to sleep late.  Nothing more was thought of them until yesterday [March 1] about 11 o'clock, when the landlord went to their room to call them, so that they could be ready for dinner.  On hearing no response from the inside, the landlord opened the door.  To his surprise he found the room full of gas and the two men lying on the bed in a lifeless condition.

Dr. Von Klein was called, and the coroner, Dr. S. P. Drayer, was notified.

The men were examined, and one of them, named J. H. Cranston, was dead.  He had papers in his pockets that showed he was a member of Company B, Thirty-ninth Illinois volunteer infantry, and that he was granted permission to come to town on Thursday.

The other man whose name was learned from — (and that's all I could get, but I think I saw that the other man's name may have been Charles)

(One of the first things I noticed is that the newspaper article is dated March 2, Joseph apparently died on March 1, yet the Soldiers' Home record says he died March 4.  Neither Kalman nor Cranston brings this up.)

Cranston asks about the gas; Kalman thinks it was probably CO2 poisoning.  So Joseph died unceremoniously, not due to injuries or from being broken-down.

Kalman also has found Joseph's grave record.  For next of kin, it says "unknown".  Kalman says that Joseph is buried there at the VA, several hundred yards from where the two of them are sitting.  Cranston is very subdued but does want to see the grave.

In the cemetery (Joseph's gravestone can be seen on FindAGrave), Cranston muses over the fact that his great-great-grandfather died in a boarding house while he was drunk.  The death could have been suicide, but he probably won't ever know.  He does know that Joseph was disconnected from his family and got what he had worked hard for:  He was alone.  In an odd, bizarre way, he had been successful.  Cranston thinks he got what he deserved.

He's learned a lot about his father's side of the family and the men who were born with suitcases in their hands (but let's not forget that trait skipped Daniel).  It's sad as a child to be abandoned.  We learn from our parents:  In the best of circumstances we learn how to become whole human beings; in the worst, they teach us what not to do.  Cranston learned from his family how not to live; he didn't want to be like his father.  Families give us patterns we can follow, or we can choose to go in another direction.  This pattern stops with him.