Sunday, March 28, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Who Was Your First Ancestor Born in ...

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun adventure, Randy Seaver is asking us to climb up our family trees to find some of our "first" ancestors.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission: Impossible! music!):

(1) Lorine McGinnis Schulze, in her blog post "
Who Was Your First Canadian or American Born Ancestor?", asked that question.

(2) Let's broaden it a bit to "Who was your first ancestor born in your chosen county, state, province, or country?" based on your known ancestry.

Put it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

I'm going to make a caveat to my post:  These answers are based on what I have entered into my family tree program.  I have additional information about earlier generations, but this is the information that is accessible.

For the British colonies that became the United States, my earliest recorded known ancestor born there is my 7th-great-grandmother Ann Pharo, born about December 14, 1677, probably in the Province of West Jersey, probably in an area that became part of Burlington County, which was not officially formed until 1694.

For the Province of New Jersey, which was established in 1702, my earliest recorded known ancestor born there is my 6th-great-grandfather Hananiah Gaunt, born March 2, 1706/07, possibly in Germantown or Hananicon.

For the United States of America, declared an independent country in 1776, my earliest recorded known ancestor born there is my 3rd-great-grandfather Hananiah Selah Gaunt, born January 25, 1795 in Burlington County.  I suspect I do have someone else born earlier than that, but I can't find the info currently.

For New York State, my earliest recorded known ancestor born there is my maternal grandfather, Abraham Meckler, born July 23, 1912 in Brooklyn, Kings County.

And that's it for me and North America.  No known ancestors born in Canada or in states besides New Jersey and New York.  Now, if we go back across the pond:

For England, my earliest recorded known ancestor born there is my 4th-great-grandfather Richard Dunstan, born about 1790ish, probably in Lancashire.  I know I have ancestors born before that; I think the earliest Gaunt ancestor I know about is Peter, born about 1507 or something like that.  But I can't find that information right now. :(

For the Russian Empire, my earliest recorded known ancestor born there is my 3rd-great-grandfather Avram Yakov Nowicki, born before about 1835, likely in Grodno gubernia, now part of Belarus.

And so far those are the only countries I have prior to North America.  My family didn't move around much.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Triangle Fire 110th Anniversary

On March 25, 1911, the fire at New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Company caused the deaths of 146 workers, mostly female immigrants.  The outcry after the fire and deaths helped change labor laws in New York and across the United States.

I wrote about the Triangle Fire on its 100th anniversary and told the story of Frieda Welikowsky, a cousin of a friend of mine.  My friend had been told that Frieda had died in the fire and had asked me to research whether the claim was true as part of a larger family history project.  I was able to verify that Frieda was one of the fire's victims, although she did not die in the fire itself but from injuries caused by jumping out of the building to escape the flames.

This year, for the 110th anniversary, the lives of two survivors of the fire were highlighted and commemorated in a new podcast.  Fin Dwyer of the Irish History Podcast worked with Hope C. Tarr, a historical fiction author, to create a three-part podcast series highlighting the lives of Annie Doherty and Celia Walker, an Irish and a Polish immigrant, reespectively.

The first episode discusses the lives of the two women and why they immigrated to the United States.  The second episode covers the Triangle Fire itself and the experiences of Annie and Celia, who were trapped in the building with many other workers.  The third and final episode looks at the aftermath of the fire and the lives of Annie and Celia after the fire.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your High School Years

It seems a little early in the year to be reminiscing about high school, but that's what we're doing tonight with Randy Seaver for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  This week we travel down Memory Lane again.  Tell us about your high school years with answers to ten questions.

2.  Put them in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

Okay, here are my answers:

1.  What was your high school's full name, where was it, and what year did you graduate?  Niceville Senior High School; Niceville, Florida (of course!); 1979.

2.  What was the school team nickname, and what are/were your school's colors?  It's the Niceville Eagles, and the colors are maroon and gold (or something similar).

3.  What was the name of your school song, and can you still sing it?  I'm not sure if Randy means the school as a whole or my graduating class.  I remember my class' song was "Fantasy" by Earth, Wind & Fire, which I can still kind of sing.  If the school had/has an overall school song, I have no idea what it is, so I certainly can't sing it.

4.  Did you have a car?  How did you get to and from school?  I did not have a car in high school.  I didn't even have a bicycle.  Most of the time I got to and from school by the school bus, which came out to County Line Road.  Nicevile is in Okaloosa County, and I lived in Villa Tasso in neighboring Walton County, just over the county line.  Sometimes my mother would drive me (and later my brother also) to school, such as in bad weather.  At least once the mother of one of the my classmates, who also lived in Villa Tasso, drove my brother and me to school, because we had flooded roads, and my mother's Corvair was too low to the ground to drive through the high waters.  (When the water starts coming up through the floorboards, you know it's time to use a different vehicle.)

5.  Did you date someone from your high school?  Or marry someone from your high school?  Were you considered a flirt?  Ha!  I had one date in high school (see #9).  I'm still not married, therefore so much for that question.  And I definitely wasn't a flirt.  Social pariah was more like it.

6.  What social group were you in?  Like Randy, I was a social outcast, with the smart geeks and nerds.  My few friends were the other students in the advanced classes.  My school was also heavily cliquish.  The only times the "cool" kids talked to me were when they wanted help with their homework (I'm looking at you, George Skipper).

7.  Who were your favorite teachers?  The only teacher from high school whose name I can remember right now is Mr. Clifford, who taught math.  I really enjoyed his calculus class.  That's funny, I remember more of my junior high school teachers' names than high school.

8.  What did you do on Friday nights?  Stayed home.  I wasn't asked out on dates, I didn't go to sports events, and I was a geek.  Actually, once a gaming club started, which was held at the Niceville/Eglin AFB YMCA building, I think I sometimes did that on Friday nights, although we also gamed on Saturdays.

9.  Did you go to and have fun at the Senior Prom?  My only date in high school was for the Senior Prom.  I was asked only five (yes, five!) days before the prom.  I found a dress to wear at a thrift shop for $5 (I'm wearing it in this photo; I think I still have it).  Even though my date (I really don't want to attest to his name in public) pretty much ignored me at the prom itself, I did have fun, because I ended up hanging out with a friend of mine who was there without a date.

10.  Have you been to reunions, and are you planning on going to the next reunion?  Surprisingly enough, considering the history I've described, I have been to reunions, I htink three of them.  I went to the 5-year reunion because I was working at USC in 1984, the year Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympics, and all nonessential staff were told "you are taking vacation during these two weeks, thank you, see you later."  Coincidentally, the reunion fell during those two weeks, so I figured I might as well, and it made for a good excuse to visit my parents.  I think that was also the year my brother graduated with his Master's degree, so we all ended up going down to Gainesville for that while I was out there.  I went to either the 10th or the 20th reunion (maybe both?), which I had forgotten about but was reminded of when I went to the 40th reunion in 2019.  That one I had planned to attend primarily so I could again visit my parents while there, but before the reunion took place my father passed away and my stepbrother moved my stepmother to Texas so he and his wife could take care of her there, and I didn't see either one of them.  I did get to visit my stepfather, though, so it was somewhat successful in that regard.  And am I planning on going to the next reunion?  I really don't know.

Kind of like Randy, I really didn't enjoy high school, except for the learning part.  I was not in the right social circles, I'm plain as a mud fence, and intelligence wasn't highly regarded.  Not a great place to be.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your #1 All-time Favorite Song

Some questions are harder to answer than they first seem.  And so it is with tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun question from Randy Seaver.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

What is your all-time favorite song?  Yep, number 1.  It's hard to choose sometimes.  If you made your favorite all-time Top 40 music selections, what would be #1?

2.  Tell us about it.  Why is it a favorite?  Do you have special memories attached to this song? 

Put it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.   Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

I spent several hours thinking about this.  I'm a musican and a singer, and there are just so many songs I love!  Almost anything someone says can make me think of song lyrics.  I almost started to make a list of #1 song by category (favorite by recording artist, favorite in a movie, favorite performed in recital, favorite practiced for performance, favorite performed with the USC Marching Band, . . .).

Then I thought about it from the perspective of "what songs do I drop everything to listen to when they come up?"

And one clearly rose to the top:  "The House of the Rising Sun."

I'm familiar with the version recorded by The Animals in 1964, and that's what I hear in my head when I think about the song.  But it apparently has a much longer history, at least according to Wikipedia.  It's said to be a classic folk ballad, with the earliest published version of the lyrics dating to 1925 but references to the song going back at least to 1905.

Musicologists have studied "The House of the Rising Sun" for several decades, and most information about it is still conjectural.  No definitive origin has been found.  Researchers still can't agree on whether the "House" in question is a brothel, bar, or jail or whether there was an actual "House" in New Orleans that the song was written about.

Now, why is this my favorite song?  The lyrics speak to me somehow.  No, I have not spent time in a brothel or jail, thank-you-very-much, so that's not the reason.  I think something about the hopelessness and sorrow in the song.  They strike a chord with me, down deep.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Fearless Females 2021

I haven't posted much recently, but I couldn't miss doing something for my grandmother's birthday today.  And what do you know — tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post from Randy Seaver fits the situation perfectly!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Check out Lisa Alzo's "Fearless Females 2021" blog post prompts and write about one of them.

2.  Put it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

What a great coincidence!  Today, March 6, is my maternal grandmother's birthday!  So I noticed the prompt for March 6 which Randy had used and thought it would be perfect.

"Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.).  If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother, grandmother, or aunt (scarf, hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)."

Something my grandmother gave me before she passed away was a set of china.  She told me she had used it as her Passover dairy dishes when she kept a kosher household.  The amazing thing is that she acquired it one piece at a time from a grocery store during its weekly dishware sale, or at least that's what she told me.

For those not familiar with this practice, many grocery stores would sell a specific piece of china from a set for a very low price, or sometimes free, every week.  If I remember correctly, you had to spend a minimum amount in purchases at the store to get the china on the special deal.  If you worked at it, you could biuld up a nice set.

Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother) had full settings for fourteen people:  dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, coffee cup and saucer, dessert bowl.  She also had two large serving platters, two large serving bowls, a gravy boat, a creamer, and a sugar bowl.

That's a lot of trips to the grocery store.  I think Bubbie was an overachiever.

The set is "Golden Wheat" (by Homer Laughlin, according to Replacements, Ltd.).  The back of some of the dishes (not all of them) says, "Golden Wheat / Made in USA / — 22K Gold — / Oven Proof."  The 22K gold was used on the wheat design on the obverse, on the rim, and for the lettering and design on the reverse.

I have to admit that I am amused by the fact that the dishes are safe to put in the oven but not the microwave (because the 22K gold will set off the micro).

I still remember picking up the set from Bubbie.  I lived in California; she lived in Florida.  One day, out of the blue, she decided it was very urgent that I should come visit because she wanted to give this set to me and have me take it home.

The first problem was that she insisted on this right when I was planning my foot surgery.  No, she didn't care that I wasn't going to be fully mobile.  It had to be that month, December 1997.  Sure, I just had foot surgery and I had to be pushed around the airport in a wheelchair, but I could figure out a way to handle this, right?  But it was my Bubbie, so I went.

The second problem, which I didn't find out until I got there, was that she didn't give me an accurate idea of just how much she wanted me to take home.  This was a lot of china, even if I hadn't been working with only one good foot.

Somehow we managed to pack everything into one duffel bag, with a reasonable amount of padding to protect the pieces.  But it wasn't secure enough that I could check it as luggage; it would have arrived as a huge bag of china shards.

So I had to lug the bag around with me at Fort Lauderdale Airport, and at my transfer airport, and at Oakland Airport.  All while being pushed around by very nice airport personnel who were very, very annoyed (but tried to keep a good face) that I had this big bag of china on my lap during the entire time.  I explained to each of them that I was very sorry, that my grandmother had insisted I had to pick up the china now, that I didn't want to do it right after my surgery.  I don't think it helped a lot.

But the good news is that the china and I arrived safely and in one piece back at Oakland Airport.  I managed to get home also.  I don't remember if I drove or had a shuttle pick me up; it was likely a shuttle, because the surgery was on my right foot, and I don't think I was ready to drive yet.  But we made it.

And I still have the set.  I brought it to Oregon with me.  Only a couple of pieces have been broken over the years I've owned it, one being the gravy boat.  I think I lost one of the small plates also.

And I use it for my Passover seders, although I don't keep kosher.  Bubbie stopped keeping kosher after her father-in-law passed away, which was in 1953, so the dishes were already trafe by the time I got them.

And now that I've written all of this up, I'll print out ths post and include it with the dishes, so I have documented them and why they're important, just as I did with the silverplate flatware that used to belong to my great-grandmother.


Addendum, March 15, 2021:  This is the gravy boat I received today from a very generous reader, to replace the one I broke several years ago.  Thank you so much!

Second addendum, August 7, 2021:  I found out that the person who bought the replacement gravy boat for me was not the person who shipped it but my own sister in Pennsylvania.  It took her a while to let me know.  And now I know that she actually reads my blog!