Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Good Genealogy Luck

I think Randy Seaver's luck has been a little better than mine.  In this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, he asked his readers to write about a time that good luck happened in your research:

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is:

(1)
When have you had a dose of good genealogy luck?  What document or resource did you find just by happenstance or chance?  By being in the right place at the right time?  By finding a family history treasure in your family's attic or basement?  By finding a helpful document or reference without even looking for it?  


(2) Tell us about it in Comments to this post, in Comments on Facebook or Google+, or in a blog post of your own.


For my own family research, I can't think of a time when I randomly came across a great document or resource.  I still don't have any real "family history treasures", much less one that I discovered by chance in an attic or basement.

But as Randy mentioned, some people have considered luck to come about because you prepared ahead.  From that perspective, my "luckiest" treasures came to me because everyone in the family knows that I'm the genealogist.

After my grandfather died, his widow (she was his third wife), who had no children, went to live with a nephew.  A couple of years after she passed away, the nephew contacted my father's oldest sister and asked if the family was interested in getting all of my grandfather's papers and photos that Adelle had brought with her.  Luckily, my aunt said yes.  She hung on to them for a while, then asked my father if he wanted them.  He told me he had them because he figured I would be interested in the information, and I was.  So I asked for copies — of everything.  He fiddled around with them for a bit before deciding that it was going to be too big of a hassle to make all those copies for me, so he just sent the entire lot to me so I could deal with them.

In those papers were records of every pay increase, commendation, promotion, and other positive feedback that my grandfather experienced in his career as a civil service mechanical engineer working with the Air Force.  Grampa also had created lists of every job and every residence he had had during his life.  I have learned a lot about him by reading through all of this, especially the list of residences, although I'm still trying to figure out how to research the two years he said he spent "out west" during the late 1920's.

Many of the photographs were of Grampa's second wife, Anita, and my youngest aunt, Carol.  I felt it was important to return those photos to them, which motivated me to track them down.  It took several years, but I finally found them.  Because I started corresponding with my aunt, eventually she got in touch with my father, which led to the four adult children of my grandfather getting together for the first time in their lives.  And knowing I had something to do with that is priceless, even if it isn't "lucky."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Carrie Ann's Meme

This week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver has found another Facebook meme that looked interesting.  So today we're playing 20 questions.

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is:

(1) On Facebook, Carrie Ann Smith posted a meme earlier this week and I thought it might be fun for SNGF (thank you, Carrie Ann!).

(2) Copy the questions below, delete my answers, and put your own answers in.

(3) Post the questions and answers on your own blog, in a comment to this blog, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.  Be sure to leave a link to your blog post in my blog post.

So here is my contribution.

1.  Who are you named after?  I was named Janice Marie after the initials of my maternal great-grandparents, Joyne (Gorodetsky) and Moishe (Meckler).

2.  Last time you cried?  The morning of August 31, when I woke up and found one of my cats was missing because the man who bought my house had broken in during the night and left a window open.  I am thankful that the cat was found quickly. 

3.  Soda or water?  Water most of the time, although I do enjoy an occasional Mountain Dew.

4.  What's your favorite kind of pizza?  Italian sauage and jalapenos on thin crust. 

5.  Favorite flower?  Red roses.  After my grandfather died, I learned from my mother that he had always given red roses to my grandmother for Mother's Day, so I picked up the tradition and continued it until my grandmother passed away.

6.  Roller coaster?  I enjoy them, but I don't go often.

7.  Favorite ice cream?  Mint chocolate chip, with Ben & Jerry's Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz a close second.  

8.  Favorite book?  Encyclopedia Brittanica.

9.  Shorts or jeans?   Jeans.  I practically live in them.

10.  What are you listening to right now?  The washing machine.

11.  Favorite color?  Blue.

12.  Tattoos?  One, a Western-style dragon on my upper right arm.

13.  Favorite thing to eat?  Shrimp.

14.  Android or iPhone?  Neither.  I have a flip phone.

15.  Favorite holiday?  Chanukah, because I get to make latkes for everyone.

16.  Night owl or mornings?  I used to be an early bird, but I've been a night owl for the past few years.  I'm currently trying to retrain myself to mornings. 

17.  Fave day of the week?  I can do genealogy every day.  But maybe Tuesday, because that's the night for Chopped!, NCIS, and NCIS:  NOLA

18.  Favorite season?  Fall, for football season and cooler weather.

19.  Favorite sport?  Football, hands down.  

20.  Mountains, beach, forest, or snow?  Maybe forest, although I've never lived in any of the four.  I used to live near beaches when I was younger, but most of my life has been spent in cities.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Back to California — For Genealogy, of Course!

I haven't even been in Portland for three entire weeks, but I've already taken two day trips to California.  What could make me do that?  Genealogy!

Both trips were to give talks that had been scheduled before my move out of state.  The first was a presentation to the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society (CCCGS) last week on Thursday.  I flew to Oakland (via Ontario!) and took BART out to Concord, where Martha Whittaker graciously picked me up and took me to the premeeting group dinner, and from there Lisa Gorrell drove me to the meeting.  It was gratifying to see that the room was full for my presentation about using resources compiled for Jewish research to help research non-Jewish ancestors.  I was very glad that everyone appeared to enjoy the talk and several people came up to say they learned a lot.

The second trip was today (Tuesday), to the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society (SCCHGS).  This time I flew into San Jose, where Linda Sanders met me and took me to the Santa Clara City Library.  The topic was immigration and naturalization records, and the room was again full of genealogists.  I took up all the time allotted and had to leave a couple of questions unanswered because librarian Mary Boyle wanted to make sure I got to the airport on time for my return flight.  This talk also went well, and Mary said everyone appreciated the information.

I am grateful to CCCGS and SCCHGS for inviting me to be a speaker and then keeping me on the schedule after I moved.  Thank you both for your support, and I really enjoyed both presentations.  I hope I'm able to visit again soon.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Where Were My Ancestors 100 Years Ago?

For this week's edition of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver is doing a variation on a theme he used a couple of years ago.  Whereas that time he asked us where our ancestors were 150 years ago, this time we're moving into the 20th century and not looking back as far.

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

(1) Determine where your ancestral families were on 16 September 1917:  100 years ago.

(2) List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence locations (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?

(3) Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.


This is going to be a much shorter list for me than the 1865 version, because I won't be including any of the Sellers ancestor lines.  I still don't have addresses for my relatives, particularly for those living in Europe.

My 2nd-great-grandfather Joel Armstrong (1849) was living in Burlington County, New Jersey.

My great-grandparents Cornelius Elmer Sellers (1877) and Laura (Armstrong) Sellers (1882) were living in Mount Holly, New Jersey.  Elmer's World War I draft registration card, dated September 12, 1918, has the address 115 Clover Street, so that might be where they were in 1917.  (Elmer died two days after he filled out that draft card.)  My paternal grandfather, Bertram Lynn (Sr.) (1903), was also in the household, as were his siblings Catherine Marie (abt. 1907), George Moore "Dickie" (1908), and Nellie Elizabeth (1912).  It's possible that Herman J. (about 1914) and Amelia (after 1904) were still alive and in the household; I only know that both children died before 1920.

My great-grandparents Thomas Kirkland Gauntt (1870) and Jane (Dunstan) Gauntt (1871) were living in Burlington County, New Jersey, although I don't know if they were in Mount Holly or Burlington.  Children living with them were Edna May (1902), James Kirkland (1905), and Thomas Franklin (1908).

My paternal grandmother, Anna Gauntt (1893), was almost definitely living in Mount Holly, New Jersey with her husband, Charles Cooper Stradling (1895).  I don't think they divorced until the 1920's.  Also in the home would have been their daughter, my aunt Ruth Carrie (1914).

My 2nd-great-grandmother Bela (unknown maiden name) Mekler (unknown birth year) might have been alive.  I know she had died by 1924, but that's it.  If she was alive in 1917, she was probably living in the area of Kamenets Litovsk, Russian Empire (now Kameniec, Belarus).  I don't know who she might have been living with.

My 2nd-great-grandparents Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (about 1858) and Dora (Yelsky) Nowicki (about 1858) were still in Europe, probably in Porozowo, Russian Empire (now Porozovo, Belarus).  Chldren living with them might have included Louis, Chaim, Harry, and Mirke.  I don't know when Louis and Harry immigrated, and I don't know when Mirke married (she did not immigrate).  Chaim is said to have died in 1918 and no Anglicizied name was ever used for him, so he probably stayed in Europe also.

My great-grandparents Morris Meckler (about 1882) and Minnie Zelda (Nowicki) Meckler (about 1880) were living in Brooklyn, New York with all of their surviving children:  Sarah (about 1900; Sam (about 1903); Harry (about 1905); my maternal grandfather, Abraham (1912); Florence (1915); and Elsie (1919).

My 2nd-great-grandfather Isaac/Victor Gorodetsky (about 1866) was living in Brooklyn, New York, having immigrated in 1914.  I don't know with whom he might have been living; I suspect he was not living by himself.

My 2nd-great-grandparents Morris Brainin (about 1861) and Rose Dorothy (Jaffe) Brainin (about 1868) were living in Manhattan, New York.  Living with them were their children Lena (about 1884) and Benjamin (about 1896).  It's possible their son William (about 1892) was at home with them, but he enlisted in the U.S. Army for World War I, so he already might have been in the service.

My great-grandparents Joe Gordon (about 1892) and Sarah Libby (Brainin) Gordon (about 1890) were also living in Manhattan, New York.  At home with them were their sons Sidney (1915) and Alexander (1917), the latter of whom was a mere five months old.

None of my ancestors was living in the only home of which I have a photograph.  In 1930 my great-grandmother Laura (Armstrong) Sellers Ireland and my grandfather Bertram Lynn Sellers were living in the Armstrong home at 343 Broad Street, Mount Holly, but in 1917 Laura's great-uncle and -aunt were living there.

I have seventeen ancestors who were alive 100 years ago, and possibly eighteen.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Research Grief

I missed last week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun because I moved from Oakland, California to Portland, Oregon the day before, and I didn't get Internet until the Monday after.  Since this week's challenge is a repeat of the one from October 17, 2015, which I posted about at the time, I'm going to answer last week's question instead.

Your mission this [last] week, should you decide to accept it, is:

(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,
"Which ancestor gives you the most researching grief?"

(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 ancestor who has been giving me the most research grief of late is my paternal grandfather's biological father.  I used Y-DNA testing to prove that this man was not the husband of my great-grandmother, the man my grandfather grew up with as his father.  Since that time I have been working on trying to determine who the mystery man is.  My grandfather's original birth record did not list a father's name at all.

My father matches two men on 107 of 111 markers based on their Y-DNA test results.  Both of these men have the same last name, Mundy, which I have interpreted to mean it is the likely last name of my mystery great-grandfather.

I started looking for Mundys in and around Burlington County, New Jersey, where my great-grandmother lived.  As she did not have much money, I don't believe she could have traveled much, so my hypothesis has been that Mr. Mundy probably came to her area.  I have focused on Burlington County and Philadelphia, which is close by (just across the river) and the nearest big city.

I did find a Mundy family in New Jersey, but they were in the northern part of the state, so I noted them but put them aside.  I began to look at them more closely when a generous soul named Suzanne McClendon dug up several newspaper articles on Bert Mundy, a member of that northern Jersey family.  Good old Bert apparently was a traveling salesman and a philanderer, making him a decent possibility for someone who might have traveled to the southern end of the state and had a short fling.  Another thing that makes him a good candidate is that my grandfather's name was Bertram and he was said to have been named after a "close family friend."

I've done a lot of research on Bert's family, hoping to find some living not-too-distant cousins who might be willing to do autosomal DNA testing and compare results.  So far I've gone back two generations and brought everyone forward, but none of the lines has any surviving individuals.  Taking it back one more generation is getting to be a little too far to easily determine connections, but it's the most promising path right now.