Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Three Degrees of Separation

I looked at the title of this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, and I thought it looked familiar.  I was right!  Last year about this time Randy Seaver did "Two Degrees of Separation."  This year he has extended it a generation:

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

1)  Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with three degrees of separation?  That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor, who knew another ancestor."  When was that third ancestor born?

2)  Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google+.


Well, this is frustrating already!  Two of the three examples I used last year for this challenge can't go back another generation:

• My great-grandmother Rose Dorothy (Ruchel Dvorje) (Jaffe) Brainin probably knew at least one of her grandparents, but I have no idea who any of their parents were.

• My grandmother Anna (Gauntt) Stradling almost definitely knew her grandmother Amelia (Gibson) Gauntt, but I don't know who Amelia's parents were.  Her paternal grandfather, James Gauntt, died four years before she was born.  And she never knew her maternal grandparents, because her mother was from England and they never came to the United States (or vice versa).

1.  I guess I'm lucky that I can still work backward from my paternal grandfather, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr.  Here's the information from last year:

"Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr., born in 1903, the son of Laura May Armstrong and Cornelius Elmer Sellers (if my grandfather was actually a Sellers, but that's still research in process).  He may have known his maternal grandfather, Joel Armstrong, who was born about 1849 and seems to have died about 1921 or so in Burlington County.  Grampa also probably knew his paternal grandmother, Catharine Fox (Owen) Sellers Moore, who was also born in 1849 and died in 1923."

Since that post, which was made in January 2016, I proved through DNA testing that Grampa was informally adopted by Cornelius Elmer Sellers, so his paternal grandmother was through the adoptive line.  But Grampa's maternal grandfather, Joel Armstrong, knew his paternal grandfather, also Joel Armstrong, because he lived in the latter's household when he was young.  Joel the elder was born about 1798 and died in 1854.

2.  I can go through a different line to get another three degrees, even though that line stays in the 19th century.  I knew my maternal grandfather, Abe Meckler (1912–1989), who knew his maternal grandfather, Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (~1858–1948).  Gershon most likely knew his father, Abraham Jacob Nowicki.  I don't know when Abraham Nowicki was born, but it pretty much had to be 1837 at the latest (and was probably earlier), because Gershon had an older brother.  I know Abraham died before about 1896, because his granddaughter named a son after him that year.

So Randy can go back to 1711, and I'm stuck at 1798, a difference of 87 years.  I feel . . . stunted.

This is simply as far as I can go on my biological lines.  If Randy does make next year's challenge four degrees, I'll be SOL, because I don't know the names of Abraham Nowicki's or Joel the elder's parents!  Apparently I need to find time to take a trip to New Jersey and do some serious archival research, so I can at least go farther back on the Armstrongs.

My Mother and Bridges

Pensacola Bay Bridge
Photo by Skye Marthaler; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

I've had a minor scheduling glitch for the past few years with my blog.  My mother's birthday was November 11.  As most people know, that also happens to be Veterans Day.  So I've had to choose one or the other to write about on that day.  The other easy solution, to write about my mother on Mother's Day, works well, but it means that I don't write about any of my grandmothers, with or without "greats", on that day.  (This all presupposes that I'm only writing one post on a given day, of course.  Most of the time that's all I can handle.)

I've come up with a solution.  I'll be writing stories about my mother primarily on her yahrzeit.  This is a Jewish tradition that commemorates a relative on the date of that person's death.  My mother died on January 2, 1995.  Converting that date to the Jewish calendar (Steve Morse's One-Step site has a great tool for doing this) gives the date of 1 Shevat.  This year that falls on January 28.  (And if you want to know why the Jewish calendar dates change in relation to the Christian calendar, Steve Morse has information about that also.)

The idea for this post came about because of an article I read late last year about a service that's available for people who are afraid of driving over bridges.  My mother would have appreciated that service so much!  She had a lifelong fear of heights, and that fear extended to bridges.  I don't remember this being much of a problem while we lived in Southern California and Sydney, New South Wales, but when we moved to Niceville, Florida, there was indeed a problem.

Niceville is on the coast and in an area with lots of water and lots of bridges.  My mother actually did well with the bridges in the immediate area, none of which was particularly high or long.  But there was one that she dreaded:  the Pensacola Bay Bridge.

See, Niceville was (and still is) a fairly small town, and sometimes it was necessary to go to the "big city" to do business, see specialty doctors, etc.  Most of the time, that meant going to Pensacola.  The trouble was that between Niceville and Pensacola was . . . the bridge.

The Pensacola Bay Bridge isn't actually that long.  It's a little shy of three miles.  And there are certainly taller bridges.  But it was long enough and high enough that my mother couldn't drive over it.

One of the main reasons we would go to Pensacola was to accompany my grandfather when he needed to visit a specialist there regarding his amputated leg.  (He lost the lower part of his right leg when he was 13 years old.  Over the years, he occasionally had to have adjustments made to it and his prosthesis.)  Grampa usually drove.  But one year, in 1975 or 1976, when Grampa needed to see his doctor because the leg was bothering him, my mother decided she was finally going to conquer the bridge.

It started off great.  We headed west on Highway 98.  My mother was calm.  She sounded fine.  Everything was going well.  We really thought she was going to make it.

Then right at the last minute, at the foot of the bridge, she suddenly pulled over to the right.  She just couldn't do it.  Grampa had to drive over the bridge.  And as soon as we were over, my mother took over again.

She came so close.

The other bridge that really terrified my mother was the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.  It isn't tall — the definition of a causeway is that it's built on an embankment, and they're very close to the water — but it is almost 24 miles long.  My stepfather has told me that she would sit in the back seat of the car with her head covered while they drove over it.  And in an odd coincidence, my grandfather was supposed to have worked on the causeway.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Presidents?

Well, I suppose Randy Seaver has found a timely topic for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, but my list will have some asterisks.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music) is:

1)  Which U.S. presidents have held the office in your lifetime?  Your parents' lifetimes?  Your grandparents' lifetimes?  How many generations do you need to cover all of them?

2)  A list of the U.S. presidents is at http://www.presidentsusa.net/presvplist.html to help you out.

3)  Put the answers in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

Here are my lists.

My life, 1962–present:  11 presidents

#35 John F. Kennedy
#36 Lyndon B. Johnson
#37 Richard M. Nixon
#38 Gerald R. Ford
#39 James E. Carter
#40 Ronald Reagan
#41 George H. W. Bush
#42 William J. Clinton
#43 George W. Bush*
#44 Barack H. Obama
#45 Donald J. Trump*

*lost the popular vote; not my president

My father, Bertram Lynn Sellers' life, 1935–present:  14 presidents

#32 Franklin D. Roosevelt
#33 Harry Truman
#34 Dwight D. Eisenhower
#35 John F. Kennedy
#36 Lyndon B. Johnson
#37 Richard M. Nixon
#38 Gerald R. Ford
#39 James E. Carter
#40 Ronald Reagan
#41 George H. W. Bush
#42 William J. Clinton
#43 George W. Bush
#44 Barack H. Obama
#45 Donald J. Trump

My mother, Myra Roslyn (Meckler) Sellers Preuss' life, 1940–1995:  11 presidents

#32 Franklin D. Roosevelt
#33 Harry Truman
#34 Dwight D. Eisenhower
#35 John F. Kennedy
#36 Lyndon B. Johnson
#37 Richard M. Nixon
#38 Gerald R. Ford
#39 James E. Carter
#40 Ronald Reagan
#41 George H. W. Bush
#42 William J. Clinton

My mother did not have to suffer through either asterisk.

My paternal grandmother Anna (Gauntt) Stradling's life, 1893–1986:  18 presidents

#23 Benjamin Harrison
#24 Grover Cleveland
#25 William McKinley
#26 Theodore Roosevelt
#27 William H. Taft
#28 Woodrow W. Wilson
#29 Warren G. Harding
#30 Calvin Coolidge
#31 Herbert Hoover
#32 Franklin D. Roosevelt
#33 Harry Truman
#34 Dwight D. Eisenhower
#35 John F. Kennedy
#36 Lyndon B. Johnson
#37 Richard M. Nixon
#38 Gerald R. Ford
#39 James E. Carter
#40 Ronald Reagan

My paternal great-grandfather Thomas Kirkland Gauntt's life, 1870–1951:  15 presidents

#18 Ulysses S. Grant
#19 Rutherford B. Hayes
#20 James A. Garfield
#21 Chester Arthur
#22 Grover Cleveland
#23 Benjamin Harrison
#24 Grover Cleveland
#25 William McKinley
#26 Theodore Roosevelt
#27 William H. Taft
#28 Woodrow W. Wilson
#29 Warren G. Harding
#30 Calvin Coolidge
#31 Herbert Hoover
#32 Franklin D. Roosevelt
#33 Harry Truman

(16 presidencies, but only 15 presidents, because Grover Cleveland was the same person in his nonconsecutive terms)

I had to follow my father's lines, as none of my mother's ancestors was in this country prior to 1903.  In going back four generations to my oldest known great-grandparent, I can cover 28 presidencies.

I can just barely cover all 45 presidencies by going back to my 3x-great-grandfather Hananiah Selah Gaunt, who lived from 1795 to 1852.  I didn't realize until today that this 3x-great-grandfather was born three years before my 4x-great-grandfather Joel Armstrong.

My grandmother lived through the most presidencies, but then again, she was 93 when she died.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Second Letter from Adrienne La Forêt



As with last week's letter, this piece of blue paper is 21 cm x 26.8 cm.  It also has faded along the lines where it was folded into quarters.  It has the same watermark as last week's letter, but this time I can read the entire thing:  SANDRINGHAM DUALIS PP (with the P's linked) PARIS.  I can't find a reference online to this paper manufacturer, but progress has been made.

This letter is again handwritten in French, addressed to Mon cher Papa, and signed by Adrienne.  Jean La Forêt's older daughter wrote him a second letter that he kept.


The envelope in which the letter was contained is 14.2 cm x 10.2 cm, as with last week's.  Its blue is a little darker than the stationery.  It is again addressed to Monsieur Jean L. La Forêt at 615 Indiana Street in Vallejo.  It cost 150 centimes to mail, although this time Adrienne used three 40 centime stamps and three 10 centime stamps, as opposed to last week's two 75 centime stamps.  But this envelope has something last week's didn't:  a legible postmark!  The postmark says "MANTES A PARIS", which I have not yet been able to determine the location of, but I have found references online.  It does seem to be in Paris.  The postmark date looks like 24 August 1926.

I will again transcribe and translate Adrienne's letter.  The envelope is easy enough to read.

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

Lundi 23 Aout 26

Mon cher Papa,

Je voudrais bien recevoir de tes nouvelles et savoir que tu vas de mieux en mieux a que je souhaite de tout coeur.

J'espère aussi qu'Emma et soeurette sont bien.  La petite Rosita devait lui m'ecrire un peu, elle est en vacance en ce moment et doit avoir plus de temps a elle, cela me ferait tant plaisir.

Je vait très bien en ce moment et me sens forte pour recommencer la lutte quotidienne.  Mais celas(?) c'est un grave problème maintenant que d'arriver a vivre, tant est hors de prix!  on va t-on?  on n'on sait rien, que les pauvres comme moi tant malheureux!  enfin j'ai du courage, pourra que j'ai la santé j'arriverai bien tant de mème a gagner mon pain.  Heureusement j'ai un tant petit loyer et suis petite mangeuse.  En dois voir sur les journeaux ce que tant coute en France!  Et dire que c'est pour ce resultat que nous avons laisser tuer des ètres cheris, et nous avons gagni la guerre, nous avons eu la victoire!  triste victoire si les ètres qui ne sont plus voient, ils doivent fremir dans leur tombeau et regretter leur sacrifice.

Mais je ne veux pas t'attrister plus long temps au contraire je veux te rassurer, le dire que j'ai du courage et que je veux arriver a me refaire une petite situation si ???? me donne un peu de santé.

Lorsque toi ???? mon cher Papa donne moi souvent de tes nouvelles, dis a Rosita de m'ecrire, embrasse les bien fort toutes deux par moi et pour toi recois les plus affecteureux baisers de ta fille qui t'aime et pense a toi

Adrienne

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

Monday, August 23, 1926

My dear Papa,

I would like to hear from you and know that you are getting better and better, which I wish with all my heart.

I also hope that Emma and little sister are well.  Young Rosita should write to me a little, she is on vacation now and should have more time, it would make me very happy.

I am doing well currently and feel ready to start the daily struggle again.  But this is a big problem now that to live, at what price!  Where are we going?  We know nothing, with the pitiable ones like me so unhappy!  In short, I have courage, and if I am healthy I will be successful in earning my keep.  Luckily I have low rent and don't eat much.  You see on the news how much everything costs in France!  And to say that it is for this that we have allowed dear people to be killed, and we won the war, we had the victory!  Sad victory if the people we no longer see must shudder in their tombs and regret their sacrifices.

But I don't want to make you sad any longer, I want to reassure you, to say that I have courage and that I want to redo a small situation if ???? give me a little health.

While you ???? my dear Papa, give me lots of news, tell Rosita to write to me, give big kisses to the two of them from me, and for you loving kisses from your daughter who loves you and thinks of you.

Adrienne

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

I'm very frustrated that I was totally unable to decipher two words in this letter.  I have enlarged the high-resolution versions of these images on my screen and simply got nowhere.  Maybe someone else will be able to tell me what the question words are.

When you read this letter and compare it to last week's, it's hard to say whether Adrienne had heard from Jean in between.  This letter repeats a lot of what was in the first letter.  Maybe Jean was too ill to write to her.  And it doesn't sound as though Rosita had written to her, either.  She wasn't ill; maybe she was a flaky kid, or wasn't that crazy about her older sister.  Or maybe Jean didn't relay the message?

It's nice that Adrienne sent good wishes for Emma in this letter and sent her kisses also.  I doubt that Adrienne thought of Emma as her stepmother in any way, but she's maintaining good relations.

Adrienne didn't include her surname anywhere, so we still don't know if she was married or single.  At least with the postmark we know she was in Paris.  And it does sound like she was taking the traditional August vacation and was getting ready to go back to a normal work routine.

And this is the last item I have in my treasure chest for Jean.  I need to look at my documents to determine who is next up on the list to be analyzed.  In the meantime, I may take a break next week for Treasure Chest Thursday to make my plans.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Wow, It's My 6th Blogiversary!

Photo by Ardfern*
I know there are lots of bloggers out there who have been writing longer than I have, but I'm just amazed that I've been able to stick to it for this long.  It's now a regular part of my routine.

I hit a major milestone this past year:  my 1,000th post.  I looked over my labels to see what I had posted about the most.  First I realized I have a lot of labels, probably because I'm an indexer, and I like a good amount of detail in my indices.  Also, many of my posts have multiple labels.  That said, I was not too surprised to see that the highest number for a label is 296 (almost 30% of my total posts) for Wordless Wednesday, a meme where I don't have to write.

Trailing well behind that with only half the total (150) is Sellers.  The next few significant numbers are for cousins (108), children (104), newspaper research (99), and Meckler (89).  So even though I cover a wide range of topics on my blog, most of the big numbers relate to my own family.  I like that.  And it makes sense that newspaper research is high on the list; after all, I am the genealogy newspaper queen of the Bay Area!

Along with Wordless Wednesday, two other memes I regularly write under are Treasure Chest Thursday and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  And I still have a long list of other topics I want to write about.  It looks like I'll be able to keep going with my blog for a few more years.


*Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  The image has been cropped but not otherwise changed.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Best Find of 2016, and Research Challenge for 2017

I love topics where I know immediately what I want to write about.  This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver falls into that category.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music) is to:

(1)  What was your best research achievement in 2016?  Tell us:  Show us a document, tell us a story, or display a photograph.  Brag a bit!  You've earned it!

(2)  We all have elusive ancestors.  What research problem do you want to work on in 2017?  Tell us where you want to research and what you hope to find.

(3)  Put the answers in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.


(1) By far, my best research achievement in 2016 was proving that my paternal grandfather's father was not the man whom my great-grandmother married.  I had suspected for several years that was the case, but I was able to prove it with DNA.  My father's Y-DNA and that of a male cousin who is a descendant of my grandfather's brother show conclusively that they do not descend from the same man.  I wrote about this after I had announced to my family members the results of the test.

(2) The research problem I will focus a lot of my time on in 2017 is identifying this so-far nameless great-grandfather.  I have a strong suspect, thanks to help from Suzanne McClendon, who found a lot of relevant newspaper articles about the candidate after reading my post about my most recent unknown ancestor (who happens to be this great-grandfather).  I've been researching the suspect's family, going back one generation at a time and then bringing family lines forward, trying to find a living male descendant who is willing to take a Y-DNA test.  Even if that person matches my father, the test won't tell me who my great-grandfather was, but matching will tell me that I'm not barking up the wrong family tree.  One step at a time!

Friday, January 13, 2017

I Will Be Presenting at RootsTech!

I received a phone call late Thursday afternoon.  Due to another speaker having to cancel at the last moment, I was asked if I could step in and give two presentations.  I'm sad that my opportunity came became someone else wasn't able to go after all, but I'm happy to report we were able to work everything out.  I will be presenting at RootsTech this year (my first time as a speaker there).  The two sessions will be on Freedmen's Bureau records and Freedman's Bank records.

You know, it's amazing what you can accomplish in a short period of time when you need to.  We were trying to get everything done in time to get my session information into the printed program, and I think we made it.  I wrote and rewrote my session descriptions (including the Twitter versions), updated and uploaded my handouts, and completed all the other tasks on the speaker list.  Plus I booked my airline ticket, found a hotel that still had rooms avaiable (!), and made boarding reservations for my birds.

And since I'll be in Salt Lake City, I'll have to find some time to go to the Family History Library for research.  I just have to narrow down what to work on, since I'll only be in town for a few days.

Genealogy happy dance all around the house . . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt Receives a Letter from His Daughter



This piece of paper is 21 cm x 26.8 cm.  It's a lovely blue in color with some fading along the lines where it was folded.  It has a watermark:  I can read SANDRINGHAM clearly.  The next word is DUA, then some character I can't figure out, then IS.  From the other side the character looks like a J, but then the rest of the letters are backward.  Then comes a stylized PP with the two P's linked, and finallly PARIS.

The letter is handwritten in French on the front and back and is signed "Adrienne."  The salutation on the first page is Mon cher Papa:  "My dear Papa."  So here finally is proof that my conjecture about Adrienne was correct and that she was Jean's daughter.  No, this is not a letter from Rosita!  Unfortunately, Adrienne's handwriting is not nearly as clear and legible as her father's, so my translation tonight will probably be less than perfect.


The envelope in which the above letter arrived to me is 14.2 cm x 10.2 cm.  It's also blue, but a little darker than the letter.  It is addressed to Monsieur Jean L. La Forêt (Adrienne even included the circonflexe over the "e" in Forêt).  The address, 615 Indiana Street, Vallejo, California, is the same one Jean included at the top of his letters to the French Consul General that he wrote four months before this letter from Adrienne.  I cannot read the postmark over the stamps, so I don't know when it was sent or from where.

Adrienne's writing is clear enough on the envelope that it doesn't require transcription.  I have transcribed and translated the letter below.

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

7 Aout 1926

Mon cher Papa,

Je reçois ce matin ta lettre du 19 Juillet.  Je suis très triste de savoir que ton etat de santé a necessité ton transport a l'hopital mais c???? tu me le laisser esperer j'éspère que a l'heure ou je t'écrit tu es rentré chez toi et en bonne voie de guerison.  Donne moi souvent de tes nouvelles car je suis inquiète de te savoir ainsi et voudrais tant te savoir gueri. – Je suis en vacances (forcies) en ce moment il n'y a pas causer a Paris cela me reprend qu'au commencement de Septembre.  Je m'ennui très un peu mais qu'y faire? –

J'attend toujours une longue lettre de Rosita cela me ferait tellement plaisir en attendant dis lui que je l'embrasser très fort ainsi que le chère petite haman(?).

On me present pour cet hiver une interstice meilleure, j'éspère que cela reussira, je te tiendra au courant, ce serait pour Octobre. – Je te quitte mon cher Papa, souhaitant de tout mon coeur que le très prochaines nouvelles de toi soient meilleures et en t'embrassant très affectueusement.

La fille qui t'aime

Adrienne

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

August 7, 1926

My dear Papa,

I received this morning your letter of July 19.  I am very sad to learn that your health condition required you to go to the hospital, but ??? you left me hope and I do hope that as I write this you have returned home and are on the road to recovery.  Send me updates often[,] because I am anxious to know and want so much to know that you are better.  I am on vacation (involuntary) at this time[,] there is nothing happening in Paris to bring me back until the beginning of September.  I am very bored[,] but what to do?

I'm still waiting for a long letter from Rosita[,] which would make me so happy[.]  While I am waiting tell her that I send her a big kiss, the dear little [haman?].

I should have a better break this winter, I hope it will be successful[.]  I will keep you informed, it would be for October.  I leave you my dear Papa, wishing with all my heart that the next news about you is better and sending you fond kisses.

Your daughter who loves you

Adrienne

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

The big news from this letter is that a couple of months before he died, Jean was in the hospital with some unknown ailment.  We'll have to wait to find out if he did get better and make it out of the hospital at some point.

For some reason, I'm happy to hear that Adrienne and Rosita were in touch with each other.  Over these months that I've been questioning whether Adrienne was actually Jean's daughter, I also wondered how much communication there was between her and Jean's "second" family.

It sounds as though Adrienne was living in Paris, but because I can't read the postmark, I don't know where she was spending her forced vacation.  If she had a forced vacation, maybe she was working?  Or maybe this was just the normal "everyone leaves Paris in August" type of vacation.

In 1926 Adrienne was 42 years old.  She didn't write her name on the envelope, so we don't know if she was married or was still a La Forêt.  We really don't know much about her at all.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Latest in Genealogy Journals

I realized I have been remiss lately in letting everyone know what interesting articles are being published in the journals for which I am the editor.  And now that I've added a new (to me) journal to the list, there's a wider range of stories!

The most recent issue of ZichronNote came out at the end of November.  Australian Dani Haski wrote about the status of Jewish record books in Egypt, a subject of interest to her because her ancestors came from Egypt.  Susan MacLaughlin discussed her roots trip to Lithuania, which she originally thought was going to be to France.  Vivian Kahn updated our membership on the latest additions to the Hungarian Special Interest Group database on JewishGen.org.  Debra Katz tried to entice people sitting on the fence to jump in the DNA research pool and see what they can learn.  Fred Hoffman wrote about some pitfalls of machine translation, including "swanky oxen" and "fetus farms."  And SFBAJGS President Jeremy Frankel and several other members shared their perspectives on the 2016 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which took place in Seattle, Washington in August.

The Fall 2016 issue of The Baobab Tree was e-mailed to members in December (yes, when it was still fall, thank you).  We've had a glitch with the printer, so the print copy has not yet gone out, but it should soon.  The big story in this issue was the celebration of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California's 20th anniversary, which was held at the September meeting.  Dera Williams wrote about the highlights of the day, and Jackie Chauhan contributed a list of some of the topics the society's speakers have addressed over the course of 20 years.  There's also a lovely photo gallery showing many of the attendees and honorees, including our beloved Electra Kimble Price and the ever-busy Ron Higgins.  Lavinia Schwarz wrapped up her three-part story about the research she did on her 2x-great-grandmother, a free woman of color in New Orleans.  A few AAGSNC members attended the 3rd International Black Genealogy Summit in Arlington, Virginia and had the opportunity to meet the Côte d'Ivoire ambassador to the United States.  And AAGSNC President Howard Edwards presented a plaque of appreciation to the Oakland FamilySearch Library in thanks for all of its support over the years.

My new baby is The California Nugget, the twice-yearly journal published by the California Genealogical Society.  This is my first issue, so there's been a learning curve, finding out about all the people and procedures involved.  It should be published this month.  Two things that will be new with this issue are a message from the president, currently Linda Harms Okazaki, in place of the previous message from the editor (because we all know I hate to write), and a regular column on genealogical methods by Rondina Muncy, CG.  In addition to those, Stella and Linda Allison wrote about their great-grandfather's sister, a Mexican immigrant to San Francisco who moved up economically from her beginnings in Mazatlán.  Scott McKinzie used DNA and old-fashioned paper research to determine who his grandfather was.  Joe Reilly and Tim Cox have stories about relatives who served and died in World War II.  Kathleen Javdani dove into research on her great-grandmother, trying to find if the information in a family narrative matched reality.  And Carolyn Ervin wrote about memories of her own great-grandmother, whom she was fortunate enough to meet shortly before she passed away.

There's a caveat, though.  (Isn't there always?)  To receive these fine journals, you need to be a member of the respective societies.  If you would like to read these articles, visit the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (for ZichronNote), the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (for The Baobab Tree), and the California Genealogical Society (for The California Nugget) to join and you can be reading them soon.

There is a way around that membership requirement, at least on a per-issue basis.  If you have a story published in an issue, you receive a copy!

Have you had a breakthrough in your research, solved a family mystery, discovered a different way to use resource materials, or walked where your ancestors walked?  Do you have an interesting story about your family?  We would love to read about it in one of the journals.  Submission guidelines for The Baobab Tree (including deadlines) and The California Nugget (which will probably be updated soon) are available online, or you can send me a message regarding any of the journals, and we can talk about it! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Are Your Genealogy Goals for 2017?

It's the beginning of a new year, so for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Randy Seaver has us thinking about what we want to accomplish during the year:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible music):

1) What goals do you have for your genealogy research, education, and writing during 2017?  

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


These are my goals:

Personal Research

• Find the son my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945, find his descendants, or at least find out what happened to him.  My aunt is 91 years old, and we're running out of time to let her know.

• Determine who the biological father of my grandfather was.  I think I'm close, but I need to find some living descendants and see if they're willing to take DNA tests to confirm my hypothesis.

• Catch up on entering all the information I found in 2016 into my family tree database, including citations.

• Make sure I have uploaded the DNA results of all the family members who have tested to all possible databases.  Spend more time with the DNA databases looking for matches and contacting close matches to share information.  Work more with chromosome mapping; try the Lazarus tool on FTDNA.

• Share all the photos I've been scanning with family members from the appropriate lines and ask for help with identification of as-yet unlabeled photos.

• Look for a group that is planning to pool money for research in the Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine archive and join up, with the aim of finding documents on my Gorodetsky, Kardish, and Schneiderman relatives from Kamianets Podilskyi.

• Stay in better touch with cousins with whom I have already made contact.

• Figure out how to do some sort of research in Punjab remotely, so I can make progress on my stepsons' grandfather's family lines.

• Get back to working on Irish research, so I can make progress on my stepsons' grandmother's family, my half-sister's mother's family, and my friend's O'Gara family from County Roscommon and County Sligo.

• Any time I take a trip, check to see what research I might be able to do in the area while I'm there.

Education

• Go to the Ventura County Genealogical Society's family history event for Black History Month.  I am the featured speaker, teaching two classes in the afternoon, plus I have volunteered to help with general genealogy questions in the morning.

• Attend the Forensic Genealogy Institute in San Antonio, Texas in March.  I'm registered for three days of classes with Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist!  (Be still, my heart!)

• Attend the annual Sacramento African American Family History Seminar in March, where I will be teaching about Freedmen's Bureau records and also taking the opportunity to attend other classes.

• Attend Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank in June.  I'm teaching one class, but that gives me three days to go to a lot of other classes and learn more cool genealogy stuff.

• Attend (probably) the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Orlando, Florida in July.  (No, you are not the only one wondering why anyone would schedule a conference in Florida in July.)  I plan to attend, but it depends on whether I have a talk accepted and therefore can justify the expense of flying cross-country.  It appears I no longer have any relatives living close by Orlando, so I might have to (shudder!) pay for a hotel room.

• Attend the Northwest Genealogy Conference in August in Arlington, Washington, if I have a talk accepted.

• Attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference over Labor Day weekend, this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I won a free registration, or I wouldn't be able to go.

• Watch Webinars from Florida State Genealogical Society, Illinois State Genealogical Society, Legacy Family Tree, Minnesota Genealogical Society, North Carolina Genealogical Society, Southern California Genealogical Society, and Wisconsin State Genealogical Society, and whatever other ones I hear about.  I average about two per week.

• Attend local genealogy presentations, primarily at the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California, California Genealogical Society, East Bay Genealogical Society, San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, and Oakland FamilySearch Library.

• Make presentations at local genealogical societies and FamilySearch Centers and Libraries.  So far I'm scheduled for 16 talks, but I usually average about two dozen each year.

Writing

• Stick to my average of about three to four posts per week on my blog.  (I'm not anywhere near as prolific as Randy.  I don't know how he does it.)  I regularly post for Wordless Wednesday, Treasure Chest Thursday, and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, plus additions to the Wikipedia newspaper archives page and opportunities to help with genealogy-oriented projects.  Beyond that, I write about family stories, research discoveries, the journals I edit, and things I find interesting in the world of genealogy.

• I want to update and expand my article on the research I did on my Cuban cousins.

• I have a translation project and two transcription projects I'm working on that I need to devote more time to.

• Write some book reviews that I'm behind on.

• Finish creating a name index for a book about Niceville and Valparaiso, Florida.

All of this should keep me off the streets and out of trouble!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt Is Concerned about Italian Espionage



This is an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper (finally!  modern size!) that probably was once a pristine white but is now quite yellowed with age.  It has a watermark that says "LAKESIDE BOND."  It was in an envelope and was folded into quarters previously, but I have flattened it.  Someone, likely Jean La Forêt, has typed on the front and back.  I am surprised at the red ink Jean used for his name and return address at the top; I wonder if he had a separate typewriter ribbon for that or if there was a row of red on his regular ribbon.  I've seen both.  (Yes, I do remember typing with ribbon, thank you very much.)  With several typed-over corrections, this wouldn't have been the final version of a letter; it looks like it might have been a draft.  Supporting that hypothesis is the second letter that was in the same envelope.


This is another letter on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper.  As with the first, it is yellowed but was probably white, and was folded into quarters.  It also has the same watermark, "LAKESIDE BOND."  It has Jean's name and address on the top — in black this time — but typing on only one side of the page.

Both letters have a mix of English and French.  They are Jean's reaction to a news item that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 15, 1926.  The first letter is dated the same day and might have been Jean's initial reaction to the article, while the second letter, dated April 18, is a more condensed version of his initial reaction.


And here's the envelope the letters were in when I received them.  It is a perfect 22 cm x 14 cm; the standard measurements are 8 5/8" x 5 5/8".  It's very brittle and looks as though it has taken on color over the years, but I'm not sure it was originally white.  The preprinted return address on the envelope is "American Consular Service, Algiers (Algeria)", so it was likely printed overseas, ergo the metric size.

Here's the short item that caught Jean's attention in the Chronicle.  He did a very good job of transcribing it, with the only mistakes being one added comma and one omitted comma.  Not bad, Jean!

San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 1926, page 2
Jean's typing is very clear and easy to read, so I did not transcribe the sections written in English.  I have transcribed the French sections and translated them (but not Jean's strikeovers), and the handwriting on the envelope, which is mostly in English.  Unlike Jean's handwritten items, these letters have no diacritical marks, so he must have had a standard American typewriter.

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

Transcriptions

First letter

[name and address]
Le 15 Avril, 1926

Monsieur le Consul General de France,
          San Francisco, California

Monsieur le Consul General,

          Dans le "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE" du 15 courant, je viens de lire un petit article intitule:
     [article title]
et concu en ces termes:–
[transcription of newspaper item]

[paragraph in English]

     Traversant l'Italie en 1909, je me suis arrete a Genes pendant environ trois semaines, fin may et premiere moitie de Juin.  Ayant besoin d'une carte pour m'orienter, je suis alle chez un libraire pou[r] en acheter une, demandant la carte la plus recente obtainable.  Le libraire me presenta une carte publiee tres-peu de temps avant et je l'achetai.  En arrivant a l'hotel je l'ai examinee et je me suis apercu que j'ai fait une emplette tres- interessante et, a mon point de vue, assez valuable.  Les revendications suivantes y sont clairement donnees:–
     1.– Republique de St. Marino;
     2.– Ile de Malte ( Angleterre) ;
     3.– Ile de Corse ( France) ;
     4.– Province de Nice (France) ;
     5.– Principaute de Monaco (France)
     6.– Suisse italienne (Suisse) ;
     7.– Canton de Ticino ou Tessin (Suisse)
     8.– Tirol Italien; Cercles de Pusterthal,Belsane, Trente, et Rovereto; Illiria Italienne;
           Cercles de Gorizia, Adelsberg, Trieste (Illiria) et le territoire de Trieste.

     Vous l'Italie n'est pas rapace, elle ne demande que peu de choses! . . .

     Cette carte est marquee:–

[map companay name and address]

     Cette carte est a votre disposition si vous desiriez en prendre une copie photographique.  La carte elle meme, je veux la conserver comme souvenir interessant.

     Ou serait l'Italie sans le secours de la France?  C'est le prestige de la France, le sang de ses soldats et ses finances qui ont fait l'Italie.  Que serait l'Italie aujourd'hui sans le concours, l'aide materiel de la France?  La Carte de l'Italie aurait surement un tout autre aspect:  Allemande et q.q. petites principautes eparpillees sur la peninsule.

     Si vous le desirez je viendrai vous voir a votre office et vous pourrez decider ce que vous desirez faire dans cette affaire.
     En attendant j'ai l8honneur [sic] de me dire,
          Monsieur le Consul General,
               Votre tout devoue serviteur,
                     Jean L. La Foret,
     De 1915 a 1919 U.S. Vice Consul et Charge d'Affaires a Alger, Algerie
                                      des Etats Unis


Second letter

[name and address]

Dimanche le dix-huit Avril, 1926.

Monsieur le Consul General de France,
          Consulat de la Republique Francaise,
                    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.

Monsieur le Consul General:–

          Dans le "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE" du 15 de ce mois, j'ai lu un petit article intitule:
     [article title]
L'article est concu en ces termes:–
     [transcription of newspaper item]

     En lisant cet article je me suis rappele qu'en traversant l'Italie en 1909, je me suis arrete a Genes pendant environ trois semaines, fin Mai et premiere moitie du Juin.  Ayant besoin d'une carte pour m'orienter dans mes excursions, je me suis rendu chez un libraire demandant la carte d'Italie, la plus recent obtainable.  Le libraire me presenta une carte publiee tres-peu de temps avant et je l'achetai.  En arrivant a l'hotel je l'ai examinee et je me suis apercu que j'ai fait une emplette tres-interessante et, a mon point de vue, assez valuable.  Les REVENDICATIONS ITALIENNES y sont clairement donnees, les voici:–
     1.– Republique de San Marino;
     2.– Ile de Malte (Angleterre) ;
     3.– Ile de Corse (France) ;
     4.– Province de Nice (France) ;
     5.– Principaute de Monaco (France) ;
     6.– Suisse Italienne (Suisse) ;
     7.– Canton de Ticino ou Tessin (Suisse) ;
     8.– Le Tirol Italien; les Cercles de Pusterthal, Belsane, Trente, Rovereto;
           Cercles de Gorizia, Adelsberg, Trieste (Illiria) et le Territoire de Trieste.

     Vous voyez, l'Italie n'est pas rapace, pas du tout, elle ne demande que peu de chose! . . .


Envelope

ITALY and GENOA ——

Italian Revendications —
Very interesting —

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

Translations

First letter

April 15, 1926

Mr. Consul General of France

Mr. Consul General,

          In the San Francisco Chronicle of today, the 15th, I just read a small article titled:
     [article title]
and which stated:–
     [article text]

     [paragraph in English]

     Going through Italy in 1909, I stopped in Genoa for about three weeks, from the end of May to the first half of June.  Needing a map to orient myself, I went to a bookstore to buy one, asking for the most recent one available.  The bookstore offered me a map published very recently, and I bought it.  On returning to the hotel, I looked over it and realized I had made a very interesting purchase and, from my point of view, a valuable one.  The following claims are clearly made:
     1.– Republic de San Marino;
     2.– Island of Malta (England);
     3.– Island of Corsica (France);
     4.– Province of Nice (France);
     5.– Principality of Monaco (France);
     6.– Italian Switzerland (Switzerland);
     7.– Canton of Ticino or Tessin (Switzerland;
     8.– Italian Tyrol; areas of Pusterthal, Belsane, Trentino, et Rovereto; Italian Illyria;
           areas of Gorizia, Adelsberg, Trieste (Illyria), and the province of Trieste.

     You [see], Italy isn't greedy, it hardly wants anything! . . .

          This map is marked:–

[map company name and address]

     This map is at your disposal if you wish to make a photographic copy.  I wish to keep the map itself as an interesting souvenir.

     Where would Italy be without the assistance of France?  It is the prestige of France, the blood of its soldiers, and its treasury that have made Italy.  What would Italy be today without the aid and assistance of France?  The map of Italy would surely look totally different:  German and several small principalities scattered over the peninsula.

     If you wish, I can come see you at your office, and you can decide what you wish to do in this matter.

     Meanwhile I have the honor,
          Mr. Consul General,
               Your devoted servant,
                     Jean L. Foret,
From 1915 to 1919 the U.S. Vice Consul and Charge d'Affaires in Algiers, Algeria


Second letter

Sunday, April 18, 1926

Mr. Consul General of France,
     Consulate of the Republic of France

Mr. Consul General:–

          In the San Francisco Chronicle of the 15th of this month, I read a small article titled:
     [article title]
The article stated:–
     [article text]

     While reading the article I remembered that while going through Italy in 1909, I stopped in Genoa for about three weeks, end of May to first half of June.  Needing a map to orient myself during my travels, I went to a bookstore and asked for a map of Italy, the most recent available.  The bookstore offered me a map published very recently, and I bought it.  On returning to the hotel, I looked over it and realized that I had made a very interesting purchase and, from my point of view, a valuable one.  The ITALIAN CLAIMS are clearly made; here they are :–
     1.– Republic de San Marino;
     2.– Island of Malta (England);
     3.– Island of Corsica (France);
     4.– Province of Nice (France);
     5.– Principality of Monaco (France);
     6.– Italian Switzerland (Switzerland);
     7.– Canton of Ticino or Tessin (Switzerland);
     8.– Italian Tyrol; areas of Pusterthal, Belsane, Trentino, Rovereto;
           areas of Gorizia, Adelsberg, Trieste (Illyria), and the province of Trieste.

     You see, Italy isn't greedy, not at all, it hardly wants anything! . . .


Envelope

ITALY and GENOA ——
Italian Claims —
Very interesting —

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

It appears that the letter dated April 15 was written right after Jean read the article in the Chronicle.  Whether he intended it as a draft or simply put it aside for a few days to think about it a little more, the letter dated April 18 seems a little more streamlined and smoother.  It does not have the paragraph in English at the beginning.  It also seems a little less inflammatory, but I'm not sure I have the entire letter.  This one page does not include a closing or Jean's name at the end, so the second page may have been typed on a separate sheet and has gone missing over the years, and Jean may have repeated his comments about how much Italy owed to France.

I'm not sure how to interpret the ending of the draft letter, where Jean offers to visit the Consul General.  I don't know if he's talking about a decision on whether to copy the map or what to do about the Italians taken into custody.  If the former, he makes it sound much more momentous than I think it warranted.  If the latter, he may have had an inflated opinion of his position after seven years out of foreign service.

The map does appear to have been interesting, although I don't think I have it either.  While some of the cities and territories claimed by Italy that Jean listed had been under Italian control in the 19th century, some go back 500 years or so.  It would have been difficult to find any support for those claims.  Even more interesting is that in the current day, some of the territories on the list have indeed been returned to some level of Italian control.

Jean included an entry in his journal for his trip to Genoa.  This was when he traveled with Emma on what looked like it could have been a honeymoon trip, and Genoa was a stop on their way to Switzerland.  The dates Jean gave in this letter match his journal.  This man was very organized.  Who knows, maybe he even consulted the journal before he wrote the letter!

These letters are the first dated items I have for Jean after he and Emma returned to California from Missouri (unless I find another misfiled item, of course).  Sometimes between July 11, 1925 and April 15, 1926, they moved to Vallejo.  And less than five months later, when he had been back in California for only a year or so, he died.  I wonder if he received a response from the Consul General before then.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Lost Lady

A photograph of this beautiful lady was left behind at the Oakland FamilySearch Library in March 2015.  I've tried to find her home for almost two years by talking to people in the area, but no one so far has claimed her.  I even tried looking for her through Tineye to see if she appeared on a blog or family history page, or perhaps was a celebrity.  I'm hoping that by posting her image someone in her family will see her and let me know where she belongs.


If you recognize this woman, please contact me at janicemsj@gmail.com to let me know who she is and to whom I can return her.