Sunday, July 30, 2017

IAJGS Conference, Days 5 and 6 and Going Home

The IAJGS conference runs longer than most genealogy conferences, so as you get toward the end you might not have quite as much energy as at the beginning.  On Thursday morning, the fifth day, I wanted to go to the Leadership Series session on membership database solutions, as the topic has come up at our board meetings for the past couple of years.  I really did.  But it was at 7:00 a.m., and I was up until 6:00 a.m. working on that day's presentation.

See, on Wednesday night I was going over the PowerPoint file for my Thursday talk, and then the computer rebelled.  It said it couldn't save the file.  I tried save as.  I tried again to save it directly.  The computer was adamant — nope, not happening; sorry, unable to comply.  After trying everything in my rather limited arsenal, I finally had to concede defeat.  And then I had to reconstruct the presentation from scratch, without the benefit of the graphics that were on my home computer.  I tried to remember what the original slides had said and made do with what I could download from Ancestry and other sites.  Around 6:00 I was too bleary-eyed to focus, so I gave up and fell asleep.

I knew I wouldn't make it to the database session (I hope they make the information available to societies later), and being awake in time for the 8:15 talk about Jewish settlement in the Caribbean didn't sound realistic, but I thought I had a chance of going to the Professional Genealogists Birds of a Feather get-together at 9:45.  I slept through my alarm.  So much for that idea.

I finally did wake up, in time to go to Dana Cohen Sprott's session on the "Lost Jews of St. Maarten."  She first gave a broad overview of Jewish settlement on several Caribbean islands (after pointing out multiple times that the correct pronunciation has the emphasis on the third, not the second, syllable) and then focused a little more on St. Maarten (where she lives) and on the "dead man found behind the Radio Shack."  Apparently a body was discovered behind what was at the time a Radio Shack but what previously was a Jewish burial ground (see page 10 of the "WeekEnder" section of the October 30, 2010 issue of The Daily Herald for more details).  Dana has been researching the Jewish presence in the Caribbean for several years.  It was an entertaining and informative talk.

For lunch Mark Fearer and I had a very small ProGen get-together (if any other ProGen alumni were at the conference, they didn't own up to it).  We had a lively discussion covering many professional genealogy topics, which helped make up for the fact that I missed the BoF meeting.

The first session of the afternoon was the reconstructed presentation, which was about my research on two Colonial Jews, Daniel Joseph of Virginia and Israel Joseph of South Carolina (the first Colonial research I ever did!).  I told everyone up front what had happened to the file and apologized for the situation, then gamely went on to give the talk.  Lucky for me, everyone was very understanding.  My most recent research results (learned only a couple of weeks before the conference) actually ended up running contrary to my original hypothesis, so I opened it up to suggestions from the audience on possible future avenues to pursue.  I received some very helpful ideas I'll be looking at, including checking with the American Jewish Archives to see if there might be original research notes from when Rabbi Malcolm Stern wrote his book on First American Jewish Families.

Since Thursday was the last day the ProQuest databases would be available, I bypassed the rest of the afternoon sessions and spent the next two hours looking for articles about family members in newspapers.  I was particularly successful with Schumeister cousins appearing in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune collection.  I have about 40 articles with lots of information on those relatives.  And I have copies of my cousin's and my sister-in-law's doctoral dissertations thanks to ProQuest!

I rounded out the afternoon with a mentor session that someone had even signed up for ahead of time.  The same woman who solved a brick wall because of information in my Sunday talk came back for more.  She's trying to determine where an ancestor came from.  I gave her lots of homework and resources to check out.  After that I hung around to enjoy the prebanquet reception (all vegetarian, but probably not kosher) and socialized with several friends before heading back to my room to collapse.

Friday is always the "afterthought" day of the conference.  It's only half a day, and a lot of attendees leave late Thursday or early Friday.  Given that, I was pleasantly surprised to see a good turnout for my 8:15 talk (someone really had it in for me at this conference with early time slots), which was on immigration and naturalization records.  Even the illustrious Hal Bookbinder was there (I think he enjoyed it).  The bad news was that the air conditioning appeared to be off, either because the conference organizers had decided to economize or the hotel saw fit to cut it off early.  I was not amused.

The same a/c problem reared its ugly head when I tried to enjoy Mark Fearer's talk on Jewish immigration to Texas.  While I didn't have a choice about staying in the room for my own talk, I did for Mark's, and sadly I had to abandon it in favor of the resource room, where the air condioning was still going strong.  Since I was there, I took advantage of the databases still available and focused on  I found photographs of several tombstones for my friend's family.  I also tried to search on the Israel Genealogy Research Association site, but the entire site was down, which was very disappointing.

And that was it!  Poof, the conference was over!  Then it was just a matter of checking out of the hotel, waiting for the airport shuttle, and flying home.  As usual, overall it was a good conference, and I learned lots of new things.  There are always some duds, but they were definitely outweighed by the many informative talks, and it was great to see so many of my genealogy friends and colleagues in person.  Plus I had the opportunity to participate in the first annual membership recruitment drive of the Antarctica Jewish Genealogical Society!  I'm glad I was able to attend this year.  I wish I could go to Warsaw in 2018, but I suspect that won't be practical for me, so I'll focus on Cleveland in 2019 instead.

Representatives of the Antarctica Jewish Genealogical Society,
just before the keynote presentation on Sunday, July 23, 2017

My commentary on days 1 and 2 of the conference is here, and that for days 3 and 4 is here.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Genea-Bucket List

Wish lists are always fun to create, because you can really go nuts with what you would like to do.  And that's what Randy Seaver is asking us to do for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

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

Knowing that a "Bucket List" is a wish list of things to do before death:

(1) What is on your Genealogy Bucket List?  What research locations do you want to visit?  Are there genea-people that you want to meet and share with?  What do you want to accomplish with your genealogy research?  List a minimum of three items, more if you want!

(2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own (please give me a link in Comments), a comment to this post in Comments, or a status line or comment on Facebook.

Think big!  Have fun!  Life is short - do genealogy first!

Ok, here's mine:

1.  Locations I want to visit:
• Burlington County, New Jersey for an extended research visit, because that's where most of my father's family was from:  Armstrong, Gauntt, Gibson, Sellers, Stackhouse, and other families
• Trenton, New Jersey, because it's the location of the New Jersey State Archives
• Research repositories in New York City and extended area, because that's where most of my mother's ancestors lived after they immigrated to the United States
• Kamenets Litovsk (now Kamyanyets), Porozowo, and Kobrin (minimum), Belarus, all locations from which members of the Meckler and Nowicki branches of my family came
• Kreuzburg (now Krustpils, Latvia), the (claimed) origin of my Brainin family line
• Kamenets Podolsky (now Kamyenets Podilskiiy, Ukraine) and Kishinev (now Chisinau, Modolva), where Gorodetsky family members were born and lived
• Khotin, now in Ukraine (I think), where one branch of the Gorodetsky-Kardish family lived
• Manchester, England, home to my Dunstan line for several generations
• County Cork, Ireland, particularly Ballyvourney, home to my stepsons' paternal ancestors on the mother's side
• Punjab, India, particularly Khatkar Kolan and Patiala, home to my stepsons' paternal ancestors on the father's side

That's the short list.  I can come up with even more if I try.

2.  People I want to meet and share information with:
• Any relatives I can find in the above-mentioned locations :)
• Relatives with whom I am in electronic contact but whom I have not yet met
• Relatives whose names I have from previous research but whom I have not yet met
• Anyone else I find I'm related to
• After I determine who my grandfather's biological father was (see below), people from that branch of the family

3.  What I want to accomplish with my genealogy research:
• Determine who my grandfather's biological father was
• Meet as many relatives as possible
• Collect photographs of as many ancestors as possible
• Learn as much as possible about my ancestors and other relatives as individuals
• Create books or other collections to share with family members
• Document family members who perished in the Holocaust for Yad Vashem
• Find someone else in the family to carry on my work after I'm gone, because I'm going to assume I can't resolve all the questions before I go

Thursday, July 27, 2017

IAJGS Conference, Days 3 and 4

It really is amazing how much you can cram into a conference schedule when you try.  Between speaker sessions, volunteer activities, and networking, I've been going steadily all day long every day.  But oh!, the things I'm learning!

Tuesday began with a Jewish bloggers brown bag breakfast.  It's a pleasure to meet people whose words you read in cyberspace and put faces to names.  I had a lovely time chatting with Lara Diamond (Lara's Jewnealogy), Emily Garber ([going] The Extra Yad), Israel Pickholtz (All My Foreparents), Ann Rabinowitz (JewishGen blog), Mary-Jane Roth (Memory Keeper's Notebook), Marian Wood (Climbing My Family Tree), and Barbara Zabitz (blog in progress).  Then it was off to learn more!

Well, it should have been.  In the first session I headed to, the speaker kept his head down and read directly from prepared notes, without looking up at the audience.  He also wasn't making any great revelations, so I quickly moved on and instead spent some research time in the resource room.  The second session was much better, though.  Alexander Beider spoke about the origins of Jews from North Africa.  His discussion covered the same types of linguistic and naming clues that he discussed in Monday evening's presentation, indicating origins from multiple locations in Europe and elsewhere.

From there I gave my third presentation of the conference, on where to find and how to access online Jewish historical newspapers.  I was really happy to let people know that there are now two free online OCR programs for Yiddish and that Google Translate handles Yiddish.  That makes a lot more historical Jewish newspapers much more accessible than they used to be.

On Tuesday IAJGS held a Tech Lunch, where people with technical and computer skills are asked to volunteer their skills in helping IAJGS.  It sounds as though there are plans for a Web site redesign and a desire to offer assistance to societies.  Something was said about encouraging everyone to be on Facebook also, but I still don't think that's a substitute for a good Web site.  Facebook is great for short term, but legacy material is lost.

The afternoon brought some interesting subjects.  Nicolas Coiffait has been researching the soldiers in Napoléon's armies and has identified more than 2,000 men he believes are Jewish.  He is continuing the research and trying to learn more about each man.  Eugenio Alonso spoke on how to research conversos and Anusim in the Caribbean by using documents from the National Historical Archive of Spain, many of which are available online for free.  He showed several examples that identified individuals as "judaizing", meaning that they were following Jewish practices.  He pointed out that he had even found two documents that specified the judaizers were black.  And that was the end of the day for me, because I had to head back to my room to reconstruct a presentation for later in the week (more on that in my next post).

On Wednesday I finally had the opportunity to "sleep in":  My first session didn't begin until 8:15!  (Hooray!)  And I had to be there, because I was the one speaking, on the subject of copyright and how it affects genealogy.  Unfortunately, far too many genealogists are still woefully undereducated on this subject, with significant numbers believing that if it's online it's ok to copy.  It was gratifying to have one person in the audience who understood already, but it was also good that people asked lots of questions, because that indicated they wanted to learn what they should be doing.  I'm very happy that the program committee accepted that talk for the conference.

We had a small but dedicated number who came to the JGS Newsletter Editors meeting.  Five people, including me, were there, representing four society publications.  Mostly it was another opportunity for networking, but we also did some brainstorming.  It's interesting that one group still has only a print publication, with no electronic version.

A session on the Yad Vashem Web site was supposed to show advanced ways to use other record sets besides the central database.  It didn't really deliver, but as a sample photograph the speaker used a wedding photo that accompanied a recent article in ZichronNote.  The photo is notable because even though it was for a wedding, the bride and groom, and in fact the entire wedding party, were wearing the cloth yellow Stars of David mandated by the German government.  Surprisingly, the speaker did not mention that.

Squeezed in between the end of the third morning session and the beginning of the group lunches, most of the SFBAJGS members here met for a quick photo to celebrate being at the conference.  While we had almost 50 members last year at the Seattle conference, this year we are a more modest thirteen, ten of whom came for the photo.  That isn't too bad!

San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society members in Florida

After lunch, my afternoon was spent at the IAJGS Annual Meeting.  I was the representative for my society this year, as the president was at home in California.  I've never been to the meeting before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I should have known — it was a standard bureaucratic meeting, including lots of reports, delays, and minor tiffs.  We did accomplish what we needed to, voting on bylaws and the next set of officers, and only ran about 15 minutes overtime.  It's unlikely that I'll be attending next year's conference in Warsaw, so someone else will have the pleasure of attending the meeting.

My day ended with one of the best parts of family history:  actually getting together with family.  I don't come out to the east coast often, so I always try to see family when I'm here.  I have cousins who live relatively nearby (75 miles away), in Daytona.  They drove out to the hotel, and we had a nice dinner together.  I even updated them on the latest research I'm doing on our grandfather.  They're as interested as I am in finding out who his biological father was.

My commentary on days 1 and 2 of the conference is here, and that for days 5 and 6 is here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Florida (in July!)

Here I am at the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, in Orlando, Florida.  (Who schedules a conference in Orlando in July?)  As expected, it's miserably humid, but the air conditioning in the hotel is working perfectly.  (Some attendees think it's too cold, but I'm very comfortable.)  As I told everyone before the conference started, people in Florida take their air conditioning seriously.

The conference started bright and early Sunday morning.  The first session I attended was "Outreach for Societies and Organization Leaders", one of a series of eleven, running through the conference, aimed at genealogical societies.  Outreach has been one of the issues lately for my society, so I headed over there.  I got some good ideas and a handy worksheet to take home and discuss with my board.

I'm giving five talks here at the conference, the most I've ever been scheduled for.  I'm very happy to say that they are spread out over the conference, with only one on a given day.  The first one was "Jewish Genealogy:  How Is This Research Different from All Other Research?", on Sunday.  After two time changes, it ended up at 4:30 in the afternoon (which was much better than the original 7:30!).  I'm happy to say it went very well, with several good questions from attendees.  One woman found me on Monday to let me know that the talk helped her knock down a brick wall!

Talks by Mark Fearer, on immigration laws and documentation, and Banai Lynn Feldstein, on her new Crowd Sourced Indexing, rounded out the afternoon for me.  Then, before the evening keynote, I attended the IAJGS presidents' reception for the first time, standing in for the real SFBAJGS president, who had decided he didn't want to go to Florida in July.  It was great to network with everyone, but I was very surprised to discover that the light snacks provided were not kosher and that there was no kosher option for observant attendees.  That seemed to be a significant oversight (or blunder, depending on your perspective).

The keynote was great.  Robert Watson of Lynn University gave an entertaining, informative talk about Alexander Hamilton and his relationship to Jews and the American Revolution.  Apparently Hamilton has been a favorite historical subject of Watson's for some years, and now I know a lot more about the "bastard orphaned son of a whore and a drunken Scotsman."  Since I have not seen the musical Hamilton, I learned on Sunday that Hamilton was taken in by the Jewish community of Nevis after he was orphaned for the second (or was it third?) time.  There he learned to speak Hebrew, to add to the seven languages he already knew.  Apparently Hamilton, who was incredibly intelligent and a prodigy when he was young, wrote a significant number of George Washington's speeches and letters, including many of the latter sent to Jewish congregations around the United States.  Watson was a wonderful speaker; it was easy to see why he was twice named Teacher of the Year by students at Lynn.

Monday started out far too early (7:00 a.m.!) at a breakfast hosted by FamilySearch, which is working on finding and digitizing ever more records.  The meeting was held to reach out to researchers in the Jewish genealogical community to help identify records of interest.  I'm hoping something can be worked out for records from the Jewish Cuban community.

I tried going to some talks in the morning, but I abandoned one after the speaker spent the first 15 minutes talking about personal reminiscences rather than the stated topic, and another when the speaker used words of one syllable and enunciated everything as though he were talking to kindergarteners.  (I know, I'm so fussy.)  Then I headed off to the IAJGS Media Lunch, where several bloggers, tweeters, and others discussed ways to help publicize next year's IAJGS conference in Warsaw, how Jewish genealogical societies can take advantage of social media, and how International Jewish Genealogy Month can be updated to become a more effective outreach tool.

In the afternoon I learned about finding Israeli burial data from Daniel Horowitz, then went to a talk purported to be about one thing but that actually ended up promoting a Web site.  That was . . . disappointing.  I left early and spent the rest of the afternoon in the new "mentoring" area, helping people who came by looking for research advice.

The evening wrapped up with two presentations.  Dr. Alexander Beider, who is well known in Jewish genealogy for the many books he has written on Jewish names, spoke about the historical, linguistic, and onomastic facts supporting the commonly accepted theory that Eastern European Jews migrated there from Western Europe.  That talk was followed by Dr. Harry Ostrer discussing the genetic evidence that supports the same theory.  It was quite an interesting evening, and I think I'm going to somehow find the money to buy Dr. Beider's book about Yiddish dialects.  Once a language geek, always a language geek.

My commentary on days 3 and 4 of the conference is here, and that for days 5 and 6 is here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Was the Biggest Surprise You Found about an Ancestor?

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver borrowed a provocative question from another blog.

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

(1) The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about Your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months.  

(2) Please answer the question - "
What was the biggest surprise you found about an ancestor?" 

(3) Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post  your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.

I considered whether I should choose learning that my grandfather's biological father was not the man his mother married, but that really wasn't a surprise.  By the time I had my cousin's DNA tested, I pretty much expected my cousin and my father not to match.

What was a surprise, however, was learning that my great-grandmother Nanny Ireland gave birth to a daughter three years after her husband, Elmer, had died.  It was also surprising that my grand-aunt did not try to hide the information.

Several years ago, I acquired a list of the children buried in the same cemetery plot as my great-grandfather.  One of the names was Bertolet Grace Sellers.  She was said to have been born about 1921 and died in 1927.

I had never heard of Bertolet Grace and had no idea who she was.  I had been told that one of my grandfather's sisters had had a daughter who was born about 1922 and died in 1927.  This little girl was very close in years, although that other child was not said to have been named Bertolet.  I wondered if perhaps there had been some confusion about the name in the records.

I called my grand-aunt and told her about my discovery.  I asked if Bertolet Grace could be Catherine's daughter, and someone had gotten the name very wrong.  Aunt Betty responded in a totally unexpected manner:  "Oh, so you've found our little secret, have you?"

She proceeded to tell me that no, Bertolet was not Catherine's daughter.  She was in fact a much younger sister [technically half-sister] born in 1921, three years after Elmer had died.  Aunt Betty did not know who Bertolet's father might have been.  She remembered her little sister very well, though.

Some additional research turned up another surprise:  a memorial printed in the newspaper on the one-year anniversary of Bertolet's death.  The memorial was stated as being from Bertolet's mother (Nanny Ireland) and all of Bertolet's siblings.  It was a very sweet poem saying how much the family missed the small light in their lives.  So not only did my great-grandmother have an illegitimate child out of wedlock three years after her husband died, she placed a memorial in the newspaper a year after the child had died.  Definitely not trying to cover up the information?

The last surprise related to Bertolet, at least so far, came when my sister obtained copies of Bertolet's birth and death certificates.  Nanny Ireland declined to list Bertolet's father on either document.

Overall, I think I'm safe in saying that Nanny Ireland was a surprising woman for her time.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Genealogy Mentor: Marge Bell, June 8, 1946–July 20, 2017

Enoch and Marge Bell, Oakland FamilySearch Library, June 15, 2017
It's likely that even in the genealogy world, not a lot of people outside the San Francisco Bay area knew Marge Bell.  But in the Bay Area, she was well known and appreciated for her contributions and knowledge.  She had been on staff at the Oakland FamilySearch Library for many years, and we all relied on her.

Marge had also been researching her own family history for years, and her research was of the highest caliber.  She deplored the state of online family trees, whether on Ancestry, FamilySearch, or somewhere else.  She was particularly aggravated when FamilySearch began its collaborative tree, which allowed others to "correct" your information.  Marge had meticulously researched her tree, and she knew that any information she posted was accurate.  While everyone else (multiple times over) had her distant female ancestor's father as one man, she was the apparently the first (and only) person who made the effort to search through the unindexed loose probate documents for the county to find the father was a totally different man.

Marge was my genealogy mentor.  She tricked me into teaching my first genealogy class, but she gave me advice and feedback throughout the time I was creating the presentation.  She came to that first class and let me know what went well and what could use some work.  Her recommendations always improved my work and made my talks better.  I can't imagine where I would be without the benefit of years of her advice and support.

Marge was also wonderful to brainstorm with.  She could offer a different perspective and new insights on difficult research problems that had me stumped.  Sometimes I was even able to return the favor.  We enjoyed bouncing ideas off of each other.

Marge announced she was moving to Utah about the same time I had begun to make my plans to move to Oregon.  She warned me that just because we each were moving didn't mean I wasn't going to hear from her when she had a question or wanted a second opinion.  Unfortunately, I won't be receiving any more messages from her.

Marge had just barely moved to Utah when her health took a turn for the worse, one from which she was unable to recover.  The genealogy community, especially that of the Bay area and the Oakland FamilySearch Library, has lost a tremendous resource and a dear, loving friend.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Defending the League of Nations

I've run into a problem with posting the remaining documents relating to the dispute between Emma (Schafer) Le Forêt and her Curdt half-siblings.  The documents are oversized, and the large flatbed scanner that I normally use is not working at the moment.  I would prefer to avoid scanning them in pieces and then tiling them, because I'm really not very good at that.  While I wait for repairs, I decided to post this small newspaper clipping.

This is about 2" square.  It appears to be newsprint that has yellowed with age.  There is no indication on either side of which newspaper it came from or when.  It was mingled in with the documents about the property inheritance.  I suspect this was saved by Jean Le Forêt, as he seems to have to followed other international news stories.

I have tried some online searches but have not been able to determine the newspaper source of the item.  My first guess is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as other newspaper clippings saved by Jean came from it.  My guess for the year is 1923, as October 8 fell on a Monday that year.  I did find items with similar topics published in St. Louis and area newspapers in 1922.

I didn't recognize the names of the people, so I looked around a little.  "Senator Reed" was James A. Reed, a Democratic Party senator from Missouri from 1911–1929.  In addition to opposing the League of Nations, which was counter to the prevailing attitude of the Democratic Party at the time, he was against immigration of anyone who was not white into the United States, and he opposed reauthorization of an act designed to reduce infant and maternal mortality.  He got his mistress pregnant but wouldn't divorce his wife to marry her, instead waiting until his wife died and then marrying the mistress (even though his first wife had divorced her husband to marry him).  Sounds like a charming fellow.

Lee Meriwether was an author and worked for the government at times.  He wrote a biography about James Reed, who was a friend of his.

George Barnett's name appears many times in the Post-DIspatch.  He was an attorney in the St. Louis area and lived in Webster Groves at some point.

H. W. Belding lived in Webster Groves.  Along with being a judge, he was a member of the Board of Managers for the Federal Soldiers' Home.  One newspaper item called him a police judge.

Charles M. Hay was another lawyer in the St. Louis area.  The State Historical Society of Missouri holds a collection of his papers.

Webster Groves is described on Wikipedia as "an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis in St. Louis County, Missouri."  It is about 5 miles from Clayton, and 9 miles each from Overland and Creve Coeur, placing it squarely in the area in which Jean and Emma were living.  Maybe Jean attended the discussion himself.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Unbroken Chain of Gravestones

I'm going to be pretty much a total failure tonight for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.  Lack of digitization is part of the problem, but not all of it.

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

(1) Determine what is your longest unbroken line of ancestral gravestones:  How many generations can you go back in time?  Do you have photographs of them?

(2) Tell us and/or show us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog, or in a Facebook status or Google+ stream post.

Let's see how lacking my contribution is and the reasons for that.

I am happy to report that my father is still alive.  That means that he has no tombostone, and therefore nothing for me to have a photo of.

My mother was cremated and her ashes scattered in Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa County, Florida.  She has no cenotaph or other marker.

So much for my parents.

On my mother's side, even though I have seen it, I don't think I have a photograph of my grandfather's tombstone.  I believe I have a photo of my grandmother's tombostone, but it was taken with a film camera and I haven't digitized the image.

On my father's side, I'm not sure if my grandfather has a tombstone.  If he does, I'm pretty sure I don't have a photo of it.

I do, however, have a photo of my grandmother's tombstone.  (Finally!)  Anna (Gauntt) Stradling [Sellers] was born January 14, 1893 in Westhampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey and died January 20, 1986 in Lindstrom, Chisago County, Minnesota.

According to FindAGrave, neither Nana's mother nor her father has a marker in the Brotherhood Cemetery in Burlington County, New Jersey, where they are buried.  So I have one generation in this unbroken chain!

But let's get hypothetical.  IF I could find the photo of my maternal grandmother's tombstone, that would give me one for that family.  I do have a photo of the tombstone of her father, Joe Gordon, who was born about 1892, probably in or near Kamenets Podolsky, Podolia, Russian Empire, and died May 2, 1955 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York:

That's my grandmother, Lillyan (Gordon) Meckler, standing on the left and her brother Sidney Gordon on the right.  I think this photo was taken at the unveiling of my great-grandfather's stone, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

I also know I have a nondigitized photograph of the tombstone of Joe's father, my great-great-grandfather Victor Gordon.  He was born about 1866ish in or near Kamenets Podolsky and died January 26, 1925 in Brooklyn.  So even though I'm not able to post them all tonight, I have a chain of three generations of tombstones on my Gorodetsky/Gordon line.  I have no idea when my 3x-great-grandfather Gersh Wolf Gorodetsky died or where he is buried, so I don't think I'll be adding that to my records anytime soon.  And my maternal uncles are happily still alive.  I think three is about as far as I'm likely to get for a while.

Obviously, I have not made a huge effort to photograph tombstones of my family members, nor to digitize the ones that I do have.  I guess I can't do everything!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Blogger Recognition Award

On Thursday Elizabeth O'Neal nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award.  Beyond thanking her, I've been told that there are rules to follow after accepting one's nomination.

The Rules

• Thank the blogger who nominated me.
• Write a post to show the award.
• Write a brief story on how my blog started.
• Share two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
• Nominate seven other bloggers for the award.
• Comment on each of those seven blogs to let them know they have been nominated and provide a link to this post.

I thanked Elizabeth once already, but you can never say thank you enough.  So thank you again, Elizabeth!

How My Blog Started

My blog began after I attended a class through the California Genealogical Society in 2011.  Craig Siulinski, who has been blogging for several years about his family, encouraged everyone to jump in the pool.  I had been thinking about starting a blog for a while, and his class was the extra push I needed.  You can read my introductory post from January 15, 2011 here.

Advice for New Bloggers

1.  Commit yourself to writing on a schedule and put it on your calendar.  It's really easy to tell yourself, "Oh, I'll get to that tomorrow."  Then you'll find that it's been one, two, three, or even more weeks since your last post.  And if you don't write regularly, people will think your blog isn't active and move on to others that are.

2.  This is my advice for anyone who wants to start writing:  Don't be afraid to write, but take the time and effort to look over your spelling, grammar, punctuation, flow, etc.  I can't tell you the number of blogs I have read once or twice and then abandoned because of fractured grammar, misspelled words, and incoherent logic.  Every word processor has a spellchecker function, and there are grammar and writing guides available online and in print.  With all the blogs out there, I'm much more likely to read one when I don't have to reread every sentence to figure out what it was supposed to mean.  (Can you tell I've been an editor for a long time?)

My Seven Nominees

Since I'm coming along later in the chain, several of the blogs I read have already been mentioned.  Nothing in the rules says I can't renominate someone, but I bypassed some of the bloggers I read regularly in order to highlight ones I haven't seen mentioned.

Schalene Dagutis - Tangled Roots and Trees
Banai Feldstein - Ginger Genealogist
Emily Garber - (going) The Extra Yad
Lisa Gorrell - Mam-ma's Southern Family
Xiaoming Jiao - All of a Sudden Part Jew
Kenneth Marks - The Ancestor Hunt
Nicka Smith - Who Is Nicka Smith?, Atlas Family

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt Does Land Research

This sheet of paper is 8 1/2" x 13".  It's a piece of off-white 20# bond with a watermark of BERKSHIRE / SOUVENIR BOND / USA.  It has a small rectangular piece of paper, on which is written "Original" in pencil, folded over the upper left corner.  This page is followed by eleven others on the same type of paper.  They are backed by a rectangular piece of an advertising poster, which appears to have been cut down to size for the purpose of backing these pages.

Jean La Forêt was definitely willing to spend time on research.  It must have taken many hours to find all the records he cites in this document and then type up the summaries.  He researched the property that John Schafer, Emma (Schafer) La Forêt's father, bought in 1856 from that purchase through to 1919, the year Emma's mother died.  He even included transcriptions from Louis and Elizabeth Curdt's divorce case.  Here's a quick overview of the contents:

1856:  John Schafer bought lots 9 and 10.

1864:  A warranty deed was executed for lot 9.  The property was released on margin October 19, 1867, six weeks after letters of administration were granted to Elizabeth Schafer to handle her deceased husband's estate.

1870:  John Schafer's estate was settled.

1874:  Louis Curdt and Mrs. Elizabeth Schafer married.

1883:  Emil Petit and Emma Schafer married.

1885:  Emil and Emma Petit's waiver was filed.

1885:  Louis and Elizabeth Curdt filed a deed of trust on the land with a life insurance company.

1891:  Elizabeth Curdt divorced Louis Curdt on grounds of desertion.  She was awarded custoy of Louisa, August, and Alvina and ownership of lots 9 and 10 but received no alimony.

1891:  Louis Curdt filed a quit claim on the two lots.

1891:  Elizabeth Curdt took out a $2,800 mortgage on the land.  She paid it off in 1895.

1892:  Elizabeth Curdt leased some part of the land for two years to C. W. Seidel.

1896:  Elizabeth Curdt deeded part of lot 10 to Charles Frederick Schaefer (Louisa's husband), apparently for $3,000.

1897:  Charles and Louisa Schaefer filed a quit claim to Elizabeth Curdt for half of the property deeded in 1896.  The amount is $1 and "other consideration."

1897:  Elizabeth Curdt filed a quit claim to Charles and Louisa Schaefer, also for $1 and other consideration, to exchange property.

1898:  Elizabeth Curdt took out a mortgage for $2,800.  She paid it off in 1900.

1898:  Charles and Louisa Schaefer took out a mortgage for $1,000.  It appears to have been paid off in 1904.

1900:  Elizabeth Curdt took out a mortgage for $1,500.  She paid it off in 1903.

1901:  Charles and Louise Schaefer sold part of lot 10 to August Eves for $3,350.

1901:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 10 to Charles Schaefer for $600.

1903:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 9 to Jacob Wagner for $2,000.  In 1912 Jacob Wagner and his wife, Louisa, sold the land for $15,000.

1903:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 9 to William Curdt (a relative of Louis?) for $1,300.  In 1912 William Curdt and his wife, Katarine, sold the land for $5,500.

1906:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 10 to her daughter Alvina for $1,000.  In 1919, after Alvina had married, she and her husband, Edward Schulte, sold this for $1 on a quit claim deed to Emma Opperman.

1906:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lots 9 and 10 to her son, August Curdt, for $500.  In 1909 August and his wife, Mathilda, sold the property to his brother-in-law Charles Schaefer for $1 and part of the land Charles and Louisa Schaefer received in 1906.  August and Mathilda Curdt sold this second piece of land in 1912 for $6,000.

1906:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lots 9 and 10 to Charles Schaefer for $875.  In 1912 Charles and Louisa Schaefer sold part of this land for $5,600.  In 1914 they sold an additional section for $2,000.

1912:  Elizabeth Curdt sold for $100 a small easement adjoining property she previously sold.

I can see from this how one could interpret the sales and resales as ripping off Elizabeth Curdt.  Playing devil's advocate, however, it could be that the land had simply appreciated quite a bit due to development in the interim between Elizabeth selling the lots and the children reselling them.  It also could be the case that Elizabeth was being generous with her children.  It's obvious from previous documents that Jean and Emma believed she was being taken advantage of.  I don't think I see enough evidence here of that, though.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Ancestor Had the Most Children?

It's Saturday night, and time for more genealogy fun with Randy Seaver!  This week we're mining details from our family tree programs:

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

(1) The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about Your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months.

(2) Please answer the question "What ancestor had the most children?  How many?"

(3) Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.

The most children I have entered for any couple in my database is ten.  I found two couples with ten children.  The first couple I am listing are my great-grandparents.

Jane and Thomas Gauntt, c. 1940's
Thomas Kirkland Gauntt, born May 23, 1870 in Fairview, Burlington County, New Jersey; died January 21, 1951 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.  He was the son of James Gauntt and Amelia Gibson.  He married Jane Dunstan September 2, 1891, probably in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Jane Dunstan, born April 28, 1871 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died August 1, 1954 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.  She was the daughter of Thomas Cleworth Dunstan and Maria Winn.

The children of Thomas Kirkland Gauntt and Jane Dunstan are:

1.  Frederick Cleworth Gauntt, born January 7, 1892 in Rancocas, Burlington County, New Jersey; died March 17, 1910 in Rancocas, Burlington County, New Jersey.

2.  Anna Gauntt, born January 14, 1893 in Westhampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey; died January 19, 1986 in Lindstrom, Chisago County, Minnesota.  She married Charles Cooper Stradling on November 3, 1913 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey.

3.  Bertha Gauntt, born June 14, 1895 in Camden, Camden County, New Jersey; died before June 27, 1900, probably in New Jersey.

4.  Carrie Florence Gauntt, born September 9, 1896 in Rancocas, Burlington County, New Jersey; died April 19, 1985 in Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey.  She married Levi Ellis on July 29, 1914 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.

5.  Mary Louise Gauntt, born October 31, 1899 in Mt. Laurel, Burlington County, New Jersey; died 1971, possibly in New Jersey.  She married Oliver Goldsmith Holden on August 10, 1919 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.

6.  Edna May Gauntt, born July 15, 1902 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey; died January 29, 1981 in Orlando, Orange County, Florida.  She married Roscoe Sherman Flynn on July 4, 1920 in Hainesport, Burlington County, New Jersey.

7.  James Kirkland Gauntt, born August 7, 1905 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey; died October 31, 1949 in Fern Park, Seminole County, Florida.  He married Katherine Boyle in 1932 in West Virginia.

8.  Thomas Franklin Gauntt, born July 14, 1908 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey; died December 4, 1991 in Sarasota County, Florida.  He married Anna Marie Stayton on July 12, 1935 in New Jersey.

9.  Elmer Gauntt, born March 30, 1912, probably in New Jersey; died June 1, 1912, probably in New Jersey.

10.  John H. Gauntt, born December 30, 1914, probably in New Jersey; died March 16, 1917, probably in New Jersey.

The second couple are the great-grandparents of Jane Dunstan and therefore my 4x-great-grandparents.  I don't have as much information about them and their children.

James Dunstan married Maria Hilton on June 6, 1811 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

The children of James Dunstan and Maria Hilton are:

1.  Sarah Dunstan, born about March 11, 1812 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

2.  Richard Dunstan, born about June 9, 1813 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died after April 7, 1861.  He married Jane Coleclough on December 25, 1833 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

3.  Maria Dunstan, born about January 10, 1816 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.  She married Robert Hill on August 12, 1832 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

4.  Harriet Dunstan, born about January 7, 1818 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

5.  Frederick Augustus Dunstan, born about December 20, 1918 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died after April 5, 1891.  He married Bridget before 1844.

6.  Mary Ann Dunstan, born about September 25, 1822 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

7.  James Dunstan, born about July 7, 1824 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died before 1832.

8.  Susannah Dunstan, born about April 27, 1828 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

9.  Caroline Dunstan, born about February 16, 1830 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

10.  James Dunstan, born about October 2, 1831 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Draft of a Response?

This piece of lined paper is 5" x 8".  It has no watermark and is of moderate to poor quality.  It is similar to the page with notes about land that each of Emma La Forêt's siblings had but is definitely of different stock.  This sheet has a larger blank margin at the top of the page, and it lacks the textured lines of the earlier one.  It does have a lengthwise fold in about the same position as the first paper, which could mean that they were in an envelope together at some point.  This sheet has two holes in the upper left (first side)/upper right (second side) that suggest it had a straight pin in it.  The holes are fairly easy to see on the second side.

Everything on both sides of the sheet is handwritten in pencil except for a small typed line on the first side.  It is oriented parallel to the lines on the page.  The writing is probably that of Jean or Emma La Forêt.  (I'm leaning toward Jean due to the awkward English.)  Here is a transcription of both sides.

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

Typed line:

Overland  Missouri  February 10th 1919

Front of page:

  You know quite well that the land
you received from her, was given you
because you are farmers, but you
know also that mother gave it to
you under the condition that my
share be given to me, either in cash
or other valuable consideration.
There should Do not forget that
transfer of propriety does not give prevent
the canceling of any fraudulent act –

Back of page:

  Acts accomplished by use of
undue influence and pressure
undue influence and under a
nefaste moral pressure, are
void –
  Is it not very strange that just
at the moment time Mother intended
to call on me, at my house, to speak
over that very matter, she should
have such an accident, . . . and no
                      one around.  Strange! . . .

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

The date is before one topic discussed in the handwritten portion occurred.  Elizabeth Curdt died April 25, 1919, two and a half months after the February date.  The place in which the date is typed and its orientation to the rest of the page suggest that perhaps someone was going to type a note on February 10.  Why that person did not do so, we are unlikely to learn.  The date does not appear to be connected to the note itself.  It looks as though someone who was frugal simply used the piece of paper and ignored the typing.

The note itself has some content similar to that of the letter that Emma wrote to her three Curdt half-siblings:  the discussion of "Mother" (Elizabeth Curdt) having intended that Emma receive her "share."  It has more in common, however, with the handwritten narrative of Emma's life that I posted at the beginning of my journey into this story:  "fraudulent" act, "nefaste moral pressure", and the phrasing used when writing about Elizabeth's death.

I'm pretty sure that "property" was meant where the word "propriety" appears.  Unfortunately, swapping that word in doesn't cause the sentence to make much more sense to me.  I could see that transfer of property would not prevent the accusation of a fraudulent act, but the cancellation of one?

I wish more of these items had dates on them (well, dates that actually relate to the information).  This sheet might have been a draft for a response to the letter from the Curdt siblings that reused phrases from earlier writing.  According to the typed transcription of that letter, an answer was sent on February 3, 1920.  Why, oh why, is there no copy of it in my piles of paper for this family?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hooray for Newspapers!

It's amazing how quickly time can get away from you.  I knew it had been a while since I had posted the new additions to the Wikipedia newspaper archives page, but I didn't realize it had been eight months.  That's obviously far too long.  My only excuse is that I've been busy trying to move to Portland, Oregon, and it's amazing how much time it takes to do all the paperwork.

Lucky for us researchers, almost all of the newspapers added have free access.  The exception is the Friedens Messenger, for which you need to be a paid member of the St. Louis Genealogical society.

• Hungary:  Although the newspaper itself has closed down, the online archive of Népszabadság is being maintained for free access.  I don't read Hungarian, however, and I can't figure out what years are covered.

• Korea (new country!):  Yes, you read that right, Korea.  Not North or South, but just plain old Korea.  The National Library of Korea (in South Korea) has an online collection of newspapers published in Korea prior to 1950.  The link I posted is to the English-language interface, but the newspapers are in Korean.

• Mexico:  El Universal is online for 1999 to the present.

• Sierra Leone:  I discovered that Early Dawn, available on and incorrectly labeled as "Earley Dawn", is also on the Internet Archive and much easier to read, although the site notes that some issues are missing.

• California:  The Monterey Public Library has digitized its historical newspaper collection and placed it online for free.  The 34 newspapers range from 1846 to the present.  They are listed on the library's site in chronological order, which is a little different.

• Florida:  The Weekly Challenger, the newspaper of the black community of St. Petersburg, has partnered with the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg, which is now hosting digitized issues of the paper for 1976, 1985–1988, and 2009–2016.  Plans are to to digitize more historic issues and add them to the online archive.

• Idaho:  The University of Idaho has digitized the historical run of Argonaut, the student newspaper, and posted it online.

• Illinois:  The Aurora Public Library has online indices for the Aurora Beacon-News for obituaries (1933–2004 with many gaps) and for a clipping collection (1925–1956 and 1963–1978).

• Illinois:  The Coal City Public Library has a searchable index for obituaries and death notices, most of which came from the Coal City Courant newspaper.  The index can be searched only by surname, and nothing on the page indicates what years the database covers.  I searched for Smith as a general test, and years ranged from 1884 to 2017.

• Kansas:  The Rossville Community Library not only has posted an obituary index online, it has gone the extra step and scanned and posted the obituaries listed in the index.

• Massachusetts:  Smith College has placed every issue of its alumnae quarterly, for 1909 to the present, online.

• Michigan:  Oakland County has an online historical archive site which houses what appears to be a substantial collection of digitized newspapers.  Unfortunately, I can't find a way to determine the names of the newspapers in the collection or what years it covers.  Seventy-four locations are listed on the browse page.

• Michigan:  The University of Michigan has an online archive of the historical run of the student newspaper, The Michigan Daily.

• Missouri:  The St. Louis Genealogical Society has posted issue of the Friedens Messenger, published by the Friedens United Church of Christ, for 1940 and earlier, although the range is not specified.  Paid members of the society may view the digitized files.

• New Jersey:  The Elizabeth Daily Journal for 1872–1915 (with more years to be digitized and posted online) is available courtesy of the Elizabeth Public Library.

• New York:  The entire run of the New Yorker, all the way back to 1925, is now available through the New York Public Library site with a library card.

• Ohio:  The Lepper Public Library has a collection of seventeen newspapers covering the Lisbon (formerly New Lisbon) area, ranging from 1810 to 2011 (with a lot of gaps).

• Ohio:  The Ohio National Guard has shifted its publication, The Buckeye Guard, from print to digital and has posted the archives of the print edition (1976–2011) on its new site.

• Ohio:  The Salem Public Library has an obituary index for 1938–2016 for the Salem News and will send you a copy of the obituary.  It also has the "Yesteryears" section of the News for 1991–2002 online.

• Ohio:  The Warren–Trumbull County Public Library has two indices for obituaries:  The Warren Tribune Chronicle for 1900–1949 and the Youngstown Vindicator for 2011–2014.

• Pennsylvania:  Elizabethtown College has digitized its students newspapers, Our College Times (1904–1934) and The Etownian (1934–2009), and uploaded them to the Internet Archive.

• Tennessee:  A near-complete archive of the original incarnation of Confederate Veteran magazine, from 1893–1932, including a searchable index, can be found on the Internet Archive.  I placed it under Tennessee because that's where it was published.

• Texas:  The Texas Obituary Project is a collection of scanned obits from LGBT publications, dating back to 1975.

• Wisconsin:  The complete historical run of the print version of the UWM Post, the student newspaper of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, has been digitized.

• Multistate:  The Catholic News Archive currently has nine newspapers (including one issue from 1832!) from five different states and the United States in general.  This is a Veridian site (yay!), and more newspapers will be added over time.

• Multistate: now has a database of GenealogyBank obituaries from 1980–2014.  Even though GenealogyBank itself is a pay site, this collection is free.

• Worldwide:  Catholic Newspapers Online is a portal collecting links to Catholic newspapers from multiple countries, both historical and current, and has 22 pages of links so far.

• Worldwide:  "Last Seen:  Finding Family after Slavery" is a collection of ads posted in newspapers after Emancipation, where people tried to find relatives from whom they had been separated, whether by slavery, escape, or the military.  Currently the volunteer effort includes notices one Canadian and thirteen U.S. newspapers, but the project continually grows.

• Worldwide:  The Mennonite Library and Archives in Kansas has placed online a large collection of German-language newspapers and other publications from German Mennonites.  The countries include Canada and Paraguay!

Wordless Wednesday