Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Share a Childhood Memory

Sometimes Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenges are great for sparking ideas for future blog posts as well as the one for that night.  Once I started thinking about childhood memories, several came to mind all at once.  So it seems that I'll have good fodder for future subjects to write about!

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

(1) Have you written your memoirs yet?  If so, please share with us one story from your childhood.  If not, then start your memoirs!   The story could be a memory of your family life, your schoolwork, your neighborhood, etc.  It doesn't have to be a certain length, just something you recall.

(2) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a link to your work as a comment to this post.


The Sugar Ant Invasion

This incident happened when I was about 13 or 14, I think.  My family had already moved to Villa Tasso, a small setttlement (unincorporated part of Walton County, in the very southwestern corner) in a rural area of the Florida Panhandle.

Florida is a great place for bugs of all kinds.  I used to joke that if there was a bug anywhere in the world, there was at least one of that bug somewhere in Florida.  It's bug heaven.

My family lived in two mobile homes that had been connected by a custom-built addition between them.  Being out in the country, there was no citified sewage system, so we had a septic tank.

One day I was in the bathroom at the back part of the second mobile home, doing what one does in a bathroom.  After I finished my task, I stood up and turned around to flush the toilet — to see hundreds of big sugar ants swarming out of the toilet bowl!

You can be sure I beat a hasty retreat out of the room as I started yelling for my parents.

We discovered that a break had occurred in the line connecting the toilet to the septic tank, and the ants had been attracted to all the goodness leaking out.  I was just the lucky person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In writing up this little memory, I wanted to find a photograph of a sugar ant to accompany the story.  I discovered that sugar ants are properly a subset of carpenter ants.  I also learned that what we used to call sugar ants in Florida might not actually be sugar ants, as the information I can find seems to indicate that they don't occur in Florida.  What I remember is they were big and black and headed my way, and there were way too many of them.  They might have been black carpenter ants; this guy looks kind of familiar.

By Muéro at English Wikipedia.  Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons, Public Domain
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3385453

Sunday, May 17, 2020

My Father the Photographer

While I absolutely adore finding (and identifying!) photos of my ancestors and other relatives, and that's certainly the direction that Elizabeth has suggested to celebrate National Photography Month for the Genealogy Blog Party, I'm not taking that tack.  Instead, I'm focusing on the most important photographer in my life:  my father.

Self Portrait, by Lynn Sellers

Daddy was what he called a semiprofessional.  He was really into it, and we even had a dark room in most of our homes while I was growing up.  He often competed (and won prizes) in contests.

He primarily worked in black and white, and that's the only type of photographs he developed at home.  He said that working with color was a lot more difficult.

I still don't have access to the vast trove of the photos my father took.  They were moved from Florida to Texas after he died last year.  Currently they're at my sister's house in San Antonio.  Her niece might be working on digitizing some, or at least that was the plan.  Being the family genealogist, I hope that at some point they will make their way out here to Oregon.  I want to (with any luck) make sure they're all identified and then store them archivally.

Before taking the containers of photos to my sister, my stepbrother found one photograph I was happy to see.

My father had stored the framed photo in a box.

That's me, sometime in the 1970's.  My father took the photograph.  I don't know if the photo or framing has any indication of the exact date.  The sepia tone might have come via my stepbrother's phone, with which he took a photo of the photo, or the original may have taken on some tint over time.

While going through one of my old photo albums — the kind that had sticky backing paper and plastic overlays, which we now know are so bad for photos, so I was carefully peeling off the photos and removing them all from the album — I found this photo, which I know my father took.

One of the many Sellers family Siamese cats.


Unfortunately, by the time I found this photo and asked my father about it, his health was very poor and he was forgetting things.  So he didn't remember which of our many Siameses this one was.  In fact, he wasn't even sure he had taken the photograph, although I am.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Maternal Grandfather's Matrilneal Line

When I saw the subject for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, I knew I was not going to get as far as Randy Seaver did.

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

(1) What was your mother's father's full name?

(2) What is your mother's father's matrilineal line?  That is, his mother's mother's mother's . . . back to the most distant female ancestor in that line.  Provide her Ahnentafel number (relative to you) and her birth and death years and places.

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please put a link to your post in the comments here.


See, my mother's side of the family is the Jewish one, and once you get past the most recent generations I don't always have a lot of information.  But I discovered that for this line it wasn't as bad as I expected.  I actually have a few generations AND surnames.

1.  My mother's father's full name was either #6 Abraham Meckler or Abe Meckler (1912–1989); I've been told both.  There is an Abraham Machler listed in Ancestry's New York, New York Birth Index, who appears to have a birth date of July 23, 1912.  If I could get a copy of that birth certificate from New York City (ha!), I might be able to verify that's him, but I'm pretty sure it is.  I called him Zadie ("grandfather" in Yiddish).

2.  Zadie's mother was #13 Mushe Zelda Nowicki, called Minnie in the United States (about 1880–1936), who married Moshe Meckler, Morris or Max here (about 1882–1953).  Mushe was born in the Russian Empire, probably in Porozowo, Grodno gubernia; married in the Russian Empire, probably in Porozowo or in Kamenets Litovsk, Grodno gubernia; and died in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York at approximately age 56.

• Mushe's mother was #27 Dube Yelsky, Dora in the United States (about 1858–1936), who married Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (about 1858–1948).  Dube was born in the Russian Empire, probably in Porozowo; married in the Russian Empire, also probably in Porozowo; and died in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York at approximately age 78.

• Dube's mother was #55 Frieda Bloom, which was probably not really Bloom, but it's the only name I have (about 1838–about 1898), who married Ruven Yelsky (about 1838–about 1898).  Frieda was born, married, and died in the Russian Empire, likely in Porozowo and almost definitely in Grodno gubernia.  Based on the scant information I have, she lived to be about 60.

And that's it.  I have no idea who Frieda'a parents were, and I'll probably never know, since Grodno gubernia is the black hole for Jewish records.

Unlike Randy's line, all these women probably started in the same place, Porozowo.  The two who immigrated to the United States both died in Brooklyn, which is likely the only place they ever went after their arrival at Ellis Island.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Favorite Genealogy Sites

Randy Seaver decided to go to town on superfluous quotation marks with this week's installment of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

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

(1)  What are your "Favorite" genealogy websites?  What ones do you have in your web browser "Bookmarks" or "Favorites" bar or listing?

(2) Please list them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link to your work in a comment on this post.

Perhaps we can help each other, and our readers, find some new resources!

I suspect that most people will have similar lists of favorites and not many new discoveries will be made, but let's see, shall we?

The only site I visit routinely that I go to from a bookmark or toolbar is Ancestry.com.  Most sites I access by going to the address bar, entering the first one or two letters, and clicking on the link as it pops up.

My short list:

• Ancestry.com
• FamilySearch.org
• FindMyPast.com
• JewishGen.org
• FindAGrave.com
• Chronicling America
• California Digital Newspaper Collection
• Old Fulton Postcards
• Wikipedia Online Newspaper Archives page
• SteveMorse.org
• Family Tree DNA
• 23andMe
• Legacy Family Tree
• Facebook.com
• Google.com
• Google Translate
• Google Maps

Since I rely primarily on the address bar and not bookmarks or the toolbar, I don't have a second quickie list.  Most of my regular sites pop up when I start typing (and I rely on typing because I'm a trained touch typist and that's the fastest thing for me to do).

Now, in my bookmarks, I'm like Randy in that I have hundreds more links.  I have one folder named Genealogy that has lots of saved links.  As with Randy, these are less used sites, although I wouldn't say I don't use them anymore.  It's more that they're for specialized topics, such as research on specific family lines or for other people, and when I'm doing that research I bring them up.  I have one folder just for Jewish research.  I also have close to 200 links in my general list that I haven't sorted and filed yet, and I know several of them are for genealogy.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your "Where I'm From" Poem

Today for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy decided to revisit a previous theme.

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

(1) Write your own "Where I'm From" poem — you can see a sample format at http://www.swva.net/fred1st/wif.htm.  But make it unique — yours!

(2) Share your poem on your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a comment with a link to your poem.


Here's mine.

Where Is Janice From?

I am from constantly moving freeways, from slow country roads,
From skyscrapers and apartment buildings, from small churches and family homes.

I am from too many homes to remember,
From the city and the suburbs and the country.
From Southern California and Sydney and Florida,
From behind the sausage factory and from the trailer park.
From trees and trellises and bookshelves to climb,
From swimming pools and bayous to swim in.

I am from sagebrush and oleander, from honeysuckle and raspberry bushes,
From manicured lawns and rose bushes, from kudzu and live oaks.
From dogs and cats and gerbils as pets,
From cottonmouths and ground-dwelling hornets to avoid.

I am from Sellers and Meckler and Gauntt and Brainin,
From Armstrong and Dunstan and Nowicki and Gordon,
From Lippincott and Wynn and Yelsky and Blum.
From tall and short and thin and fat,
From misers and spendthrifts, frugal and gamblers,
From cheerful and dour and friendly and aloof.

I am from college and books, from mechanics and taxi drivers,
From bookkeepers and cashiers, from dressmakers and farmers.
From "You can do anything you want to do" to
"Why aren't you married and where is my granddaughter?"

I am from Lancashire and Baden, from Grodno and Podolsky,
From Cornwall and Courland, and maybe border rievers,
But not from John of Gaunt or Peter Sellers.
I am from La Puente and Pagewood, from Niceville and Villa Tasso,
From Los Angeles and Berkeley and Oakland.
I am from California, from New Jersey, from New York,
From delis and chili, from take-out Chinese and ham for Easter.

I am from Jews and Catholics, from Chanukah and Christmas,
From Quakers and Dunkers, from Lutherans and Separatists.
From a fervent Quaker witnessing from her knees,
From a cremated Jew who attended Midnight Mass.

I am from the Mayflower, from 20th-century immigration,
From the Depression and from the Holocaust.
From the free-wheeling West Coast, the intellectual East Coast,
And a little bit of hick from the South.

I am from photographs and jewelry and yarmulkes and silverware,
From dishes and menorahs and crocheted cups saved and treasured.
From family names remembered through the years
And reborn in the lives of descendants.