Monday, April 15, 2024

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's . . . .

Today is April 15, now probably most famous in the United States for being Income Tax Day, the deadline to file one's federal (and often state) income taxes, or at least make your payment while you extend your filing date for six months.  The date was codified in 1955 and varies sometimes depending on holidays, weekends, and events such as the COVID pandemic.

In 1912, the RMS Titanic sank on April 15, after having glancingly hit an iceberg the night before.

And in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died, succumbing to the gunshot wound inflicted on him by John Wilkes Booth on April 14.

But even more important than any of these events, April 15 is my little brother's birthday.

Happy birthday, Mark!

Me and Mark, about 1964–1965

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Are You Experimenting with Artificial Intelligence for Genealogy?

For tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge, Randy Seaver has posed a question that has actually been occupying my brain for a while.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  Are you experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) for genealogy and family history?  What have you learned so far?  What have you done to date?  What GPTs have you used?  What results have you had — good or bad?

2.  Tell us about your AI experience in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

I'll start out by saying that I am not going out of my way to experiment with artificial intelligence.  I have used no GPT's or set up any searches, no matter how much Bing keeps pressuring me to do so.  Google was bugging me about it also but seems to have given up.  I signed up for Bard at the beginning but decided it wasn't for me.

I know that I have been experimenting with AI anyway, whether I want to or not.  It's built into the hints that the genealogical database sites use, it's permeating our search engines and their algorithms, and it's being integrated throughout the computer and business worlds, because it's the latest greatest coolest thing that's going to make our lives easier and more wonderful and solve all the world's problems

Oh, wait, that isn't true?  Gee, you'd never know it from the way it's being touted.

Color me a skeptic, but I read an insightful article recently (and I'm still trying to figure out where I put it on my desk, which is why I haven't already posted my thoughts about AI) which pointed out that not only, as Randy mentioned, does AI give incorrect information when it doesn't know the answer because it just has to tell you something, but relying on AI to do your thinking for you means you are not using your own brain to do your thinking.  Go down that path often enough, and how long will it take for your brain to need AI for all those answers?

This is the stuff that many science fiction stories are based on:  technology being oh so convenient and performing all those boring tasks for people and people becoming more and more reliant on technology, to the point where it's no longer a choice to rely on technology, because people are no longer capable of doing those tasks themselves.

Using Randy's examples:

• Writing a biographical sketch:  Ancestry can already do this when you post a tree and input some dates (I'm sure that's classified as AI).  I'm pretty sure other sites and databases can do something similar.  Or, heaven forfend, you can write one yourself, using the same data.  AI will write in a standard formulaic manner.  You can actually give it personality.

• Writing an obituary (yours or someone else's):  Yes, you can have the computer create an obituary for you, or (again) you can write it yourself, using the same information.

• Book recommendations:  You can do this with a search engine already.  Search for books on a given subject, and you will receive a list longer than you want to look through.  You can do the same thing on Amazon.  I admit this is a situation where it's helpful to have that kind of capability, because you can't find what you don't know about.  But this capability has existed for years and years.  We didn't need ChatGPT to do it.

• MyHeritage features:  So, as I wrote above when commenting on Ancestry, another site can also create a biographical sketch based on information that has been fed into it.  RecordFinder sounds suspiciously like twitching leaves on Ancestry and hints on FamilySearch.

• Ancestry's AI feature:  Wow, I can input a search like that into Google and get something similar.  And Google is drawing from many more sources than Ancestry.  Actually, Google searches Ancestry also.

• DeepStory:  I already find it frighteningly misleading the directions that MyHeritage is taking on having moving and talking photographs and use of multimedia, because it won't take long for people to forget that they're all computer-generated and are not our relatives, just someone's interpretation of what they might have been like.  I want reality, not someone else's version of what it possibly could have been.

• FamilySearch's full text search:  I find it ironic how this is now being received, when not that long ago at an early RootsTech — you know, that genealogy conference that actually used to be about tech in genealogy?; nowadays referencing one URL in your presentation counts as tech — an app for reading handwriting came in second(!) in the innovator challenge to something as banal as being able to record a phone call on your mobile phone.  I guess the church finally decided that reading handwriting was worth something.  I have often wondered what happened with the programmer(s) working on this question years ago.

That said, I will admit that it's a lot harder to learn how to read old handwriting than how to write something relatively straightforward such as an obituary or a quick historical profile of a person.  But this will quickly become something where people don't check the writing themselves to verify the reading made by AI, they'll just accept it and move on.  Gee, I hope it's accurate.

• Google Bard/Gemini and MS CoPilot:  You can create your own images/collages with standard photo editing software that already exists.  Some of the programs are even free.  The more you do it, the better you become.  Why let someone else's AI improve, instead of improving yourself?

Another thing to keep in mind is that, along with only being able to provide answers based on what information it has available, AI has already been found to carry on and put forward the preconceptions of the people who program it.  So if it doesn't have more than one perspective available, or if one perspective is weighted more strongly, that will affect the answers it provides.

So, cynic that I am, I am not jumping on the AI/ChatGPT bandwagon and have no plans to do so.  I know I can't avoid it entirely, and I'm not trying to, but I'll use it judiciously and continue to rely primarily on my brain and my own abilities to puzzle things out, write obituaries for family members when the need arises, make collages, and research what happened in the times and places my family members lived.  I'll even continue to write my own blog posts, like this one.  After all, how do we know that Randy didn't just feed ChatGPT the topics he wanted to cover and let it write his column?

Friday, April 12, 2024

National Pet Day, April 11

Well, yes, I'm a day behind posting for National Pet Day, but I had really good intentions that were waylaid by being sick yesterday (and today even!).  But I love my pets, so I still wanted to honor and talk about them.  I have always had pets in my life, and I wouldn't know how to live without them.

A few years ago I suggested the topic of pets to Randy Seaver for a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge, which he decided to use.  I wrote about my furry and feathered children at that time in some detail.

Since that post, both Brandy and Frankie have passed away.  When Brandy was gone, it was obvious that Frankie was a lonely kitty, so I looked around for a new friend for him.  Someone was looking for a new home for her female Siamese.  I have been a sucker for Siameses ever since I was a kid, so I leapt in without asking enough questions.  Mimi turned out not to be a good companion cat for Frankie, as she is pretty much terrified of her own shadow.  It took a year for her to mostly become used to me, and she's still not comfortable around other people.  But she is a beautiful little girl, and she's a little more relaxed than she was, so I have faith she'll come around eventually, even if it takes another year or two.

Mr. Frankie never was the same without having a buddy, and I said goodbye to him this year.  He went to the vet on a regular basis for recurring problems, and everyone there misses him tremendously.

When I started going through the big photo bonanza that I received from my sister, I found a photograph my father took of me and all my babies (at the time) when he and my stepmother came out to California in 2004.  This seems like a good time to share it.

Me lying on the bed with Noodle barely visible in back,
Hank next to me, Sassy on the chair, and Kirby on the floor

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Umm, Beer . . . .

"The cause of and solution to all of life's problems." — Homer Simpson

Well, I'm not sure Homer is entirely correct, but good beer is well worth enjoying.

Did you know that April 7 is National Beer Day?  According to the National Day Calendar, beer is the world's most popular alcoholic beverage and third most popular beverage overall, behind water and tea.

My favorite choice for good beer is Guinness Stout.  I have had the excellent fortune to enjoy Guinness at the St. James's Gate brewery in Dublin, Ireland, and yes, it does taste better there.  I don't know if it's really because of the water from the River Liffey, which is what they tell you, but it definitely tastes better.  It's smooth and malty and goes down just like that.

When I went to the brewery, I was with a friend.  He took two sips of the Guinness, pushed it away, and said, "I don't like it."  What??!!  Are you crazy??!!  On the one hand, to each his own, but on the other hand, there's no sense wasting good Guinness, so I took his and drank it after finishing mine.

When I participated in the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California several years ago, we were told that the beer they drank in Elizabethan times in England was like liquid bread, and that's how I think of Guinness.  It doesn't just quench your thirst, it's actual nourishment.

I remember, though, when I was a kid living with my family in California, when we visited relatives on the east coast, we had to promise to bring Coors with us, because you couldn't get it on the other side of the country then, and everyone wanted it.  Now when I taste a Coors (well, rarely), I wonder if they actually liked it, or if it was just better than the other choices available (such as Bud, eww!)?  Or did they want it only because they couldn't buy it?

I admit, I like my beer malty, not hoppy, and Coors and Bud are far hoppier than Guinness.  Maybe if you like hoppy better they're perfectly fine.  I'll stick to my Guinness, thank you.

I'm not happy that Guinness is now owned by the multinational conglomerate Diageo.  But I guess it's better than not having Guinness at all.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: When Has Someone Helped You Find a Record or Solve a Mystery?

How could we get by in genealogy without people who help us find things?  That's the focus for tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  We all need, and usually enjoy, a little help from our genealogy friends.  This week's challenge is to share a time when a genea-friend helped you find a record, or even solve a mystery.  It could be a recent help, or something from long ago.

2.  Tell us about them in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

For one of the most important records that someone helped me find, it wasn't a genea-friend who stepped up, it was my sister.

I had requested a search for my paternal grandfather's birth record from the state of New Jersey a few times, and I had failed every time.  I tried with his name as I knew it, with no given name, and under his mother's maiden name.  Fail, fail, fail.

But my sister had offered to help with the family research, and I took her up on the offer.  I did the previsit legwork:  checked with the archives on their procedures, verified their hours, etc., etc., etc.

So when my sister went in to search manually, she was successful!  And the lovely archivists even had found when my great-grandmother had amended the birth certificate 37 years after my grandfather was born.

The original birth certificate of my grandfather, whom I knew as Bertram Lynn Sellers, was made out in the name of Gertrude L. Armstrong, female, born April 6, 1903.

We're never going to be able to explain the mystery of how a mistake was made on the sex and name of the child, but 37 years later, his mother had it corrected.

And with the help of my sister (who I guess is also my genea-friend!), we now have the documentation to show it happened.

Coincidentally, today is April 6, my grandfather's birthday.

Friday, April 5, 2024

National Read a Road Map Day

According to several sites (Days of the Year, National Day Calendar, Time and Date, There Is a Day for That), today, April 5, is National Read a Road Map Day, but none of them has any information on how it started or who initiated it.  No matter, I love maps of all kinds, including road maps.

My most memorable experience reading a road map came during the summer of 1976.  I was living in Villa Tasso, Florida and had just finished C. W. Ruckel Junior High School, in Niceville, 10 miles away.  I also had been a Junior Girl Scout during the three previous years and had "graduated" with other girls in my troop.  To celebrate, we took a trip to Atlanta.

I remember there were a few cars, each loaded with girls and one chaperone driver.  Somehow our driver became separated from the others as we were getting into Atlanta.  Then she got lost, on the "wrong" side of town.  Then she got scared.  Because she was a white Southern woman, and everyone around us was Black.  She started freaking out.  (That's the kind of people I lived around at that time of my life; the joys of living in the Deep South.)

But we had a road map!  And I was already good at reading maps.  So I figured out where we were on the map and guided her to wherever we were supposed to be going, probably a hotel.  (That I don't remember.)  And she slowly got unfreaked out.

Knowing how to read a map is a useful skill.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Genealogy Fools Day Is on Monday

I always associate April Fools' Day with my brother and myself, because my mother told me that she was told her due date for each of us was April 1.  It's one of the few times I can say I'm happy I was late.  But this week, for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver is asking when we genealogists were fools.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision. 

1.  April Fools Day is Monday.  When were you a Genealogy Fool?  What wrong, funny, or silly genealogy effort did you make?

2.  Tell us about them in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

One of the biggest genealogy mistakes I have ever made, and which lasted an extraordinarily long time, was trusting an index entry without looking for the original record from the beginning.

In the LDS International Genealogical Index (IGI), I found an entry for what appeared to be the marriage of my great-great-grandparents Joel Armstrong and Sarah Deacon Lippincott.  It stated that Sarah's parents were Jesse and Elizabeth Lippincott.

Because I knew that information in the IGI generally came from actual microfilmed records, as opposed to unsourced family trees, I trusted this and added the information to my tree, then researched the people listed as Sarah's parents.  I took the tree back two or three more generations, which was the result of some effort, because you pretty much can't go around New Jersey, and particularly Burlington County, without tripping over lots and lots of Lippincotts.  They're everywhere.

Then FamilySearch added images of church records from New Jersey to its online record collection.

And I discovered that there were actually two different Sarah Lippincotts who married close in time to each other in Burlington County.  Mine did marry Joel Armstrong, but her parents were not Jesse and Elizabeth Lippincott.  They were Abel A. Lippincott and Rachel R. Stackhouse.  Jesse and Elizabeth were the parents of the OTHER Sarah Lippincott.

Somehow the two different marriage entries had been conflated in the IGI.


So I excised a huge amount of my research and started over.  And yes, I absolutely felt like a fool.

On the other hand, at least I was willing to admit I was wrong and start over.

My cousin's husband, who had made the same mistake I had, refused to believe it was a mistake and stuck to his guns, even when I sent him the information about the two different Sarahs' marriages.  (And it's even correct in the IGI now.  Well, somewhat correct.  Now it says that Sarah's parents were Abel A. Armstrong and Rachel R.  At least the given names are right.)

As of the last I heard, he still had Sarah's parents as Jesse and Elizabeth.

You can lead a horse to water . . . .

Monday, March 25, 2024

My Father's Photos for National Peacock Day

I have written about how I recently received a photo bonanza from my sister.  Four years after my father passed away, my sister's niece finished scanning (or at least finished scanning a good portion of) the photos that were in my father's home.  My father was a semiprofessional photographer for many years and would take photos of just about anything and everything.

As I have been going through the photographs and attempting to identify people and places in them, I found many that were of various animals that apparently caught my father's eye.  I tried to figure out how I could go about posting and sharing them and discovered that there are many, many "national days" of more things than I had ever imagined.  So I decided to pair photos with national days when I could.

Today, March 25, is National Peacock Day.  There's a lovely informative page about the day with fun facts about peacocks and a list of 25 ways you can celebrate peacocks.  Believe it or not, #7 on the list is share photos of peacocks on social media.  Every now and then even I can follow instructions!

So here are the peacocks I found among my father's photos.  Unfortunately, my father was really bad about labeling his photos (I'm still working on all the cars), so I have no idea where or when he took these.  But at least they are absolutely recognizable as peacocks.  My best guess is a park in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, but I could be horribly wrong.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Top End-of-line Ancestors

The Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post that Randy Seaver posted tonight is a rerun from 2018, and I don't have anyone else in my extended family I have researched to the same degree where I could readily pull up that information, so instead I went back and found an older Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, from September 2023, that I did not write about at the time.

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.  Show us your pedigree (or fan) chart.  Who are your end-of-line ancestors?  Describe the top five or ten of them.

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

Okay, bowing out of showing the pedigree/fan chart.  I have tried to create those in the new version of Family Tree Maker that I have, and I must be doing something horribly wrong, because it just isn't working.  So, feh.

But I can write about the end-of-line ancestors!  Not sure what Randy means by the "top" five or ten, though.  Top problem causers?  Top frustration generators?  Maybe just furthest back in time.  I decided to write only about my father's side, since I don't have a lot of real concrete data on my European-born ancestors on my mother's side.

• Paternal grandfather Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr. (1903–1995):  Born out of wedlock to his mother, with no father listed on the birth certificate, he gained the name Sellers when his mother married Cornelius Elmer Sellers seven months later.  I proved with Y-DNA testing that he was not biologically a Sellers, but I'm still trying to find his biological father.  (I researched the Sellers line back to 1615 in Weinheim, Baden, so not much to worry about there,)

• 2x-great-grandfather Joel Armstrong (1849–c. 1921):  I know two more generations back on his paternal line (see below), but I still don't know who his mother was, because his father was apparently widowed by 1850.  With more information available nowadays than when I got hung up on this, I probably should be able to resolve this question if I simply get back to working on it.

• 3x-great-grandmother Rachel R. Stackhouse (c. 1826–aft. 1885):  Married Abel A. Lippincott before 1846, probably in New Jersey.

• 4x-great-grandfather Joel Armstrong (c. 1798–1854):  Married Catherine Stackhouse in 1823 in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

• 4x-great-grandmother Catherine Stackhouse (c. 1798–c. 1865):  Married Joel Armstrong in 1823 in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

• 4x-great-grandfather Stacy B. Lippincott (?–?):  Married Alice Parker before 1826, probably in New Jersey.

• 4x-great-grandmother Alice Parker (?–?):  Married Stacy B. Lippincott before 1826, probably in New Jersey.

• 4x-great-grandfather John Gibson (?–?):  Married Mary before 1833, probably in New Jersey.

• 4x-great-grandmother Mary —?— (?–?):  Married John Gibson before 1833, probably in New Jersey.

• 4x-great-grandmother Jane Coleclough (c. 1811–1865):  Married Richard Dunstan in 1833 in Manchester, England.

• 4x-great-grandfather Thomas Winn (c. 1792–?):  Married Mary Parr(?) c. 1812, possibly in Shropshire.

• 4x-great-grandmother Mary Parr(?) (?–bef. 1842):  Married Thomas Winn c. 1812, possibly in Shropshire.

So I included twelve ancestors, nine of whom are 4x-great-grandparents.  I really need to get back to work on this!

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Are You a Descendant of Irish Ancestors?

I knew Randy Seaver would be asking about Irish ancestry on this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, because tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  This Sunday is St. Patrick's Day.  Are you a descendant of Irish ancestors?  Who are your most recent ancestor(s) who were born in Ireland?  Do you have DNA Irish ethnicity?  Have you performed any Irish genealogy research?

2.  Tell us about your Irish ancestry, ethnicity, and research in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

Well, this is one of those topics that has been discussed in my family for a while.  You see, my mother insisted we had Irish ancestry — on her side of the family.  Which was Jewish.  There are indeed Irish Jews, and I have even visited the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin, but my mother didn't have a drop of Irish blood in her.  I guess she just really wanted to be Irish, because don't we all.

When I received the results of my AncestryDNA test, they said that I was 12.5% Irish, which would be about the amount expected if I had one great-grandparent who was Irish.  But I knew about my ancestry and pooh-poohed the mere idea.  I was 50% Jewish, 25% English, and 25% German.  What did those silly people at Ancestry know?

Let's keep in mind, of course, that the ethnicity estimates are the most useless part of the DNA results.  They're not based on statistically significant numbers, and they are primarily based on self-reported information.  Judy Russell calls the ethnicity information "cocktail party conversation"; I call it smoke and mirrors.

But I had begun to suspect that my paternal grandfather's biological father was not, in fact, Mr. Sellers, which is where that German ancestry came from.  I have researched that line and taken it back to 1615 in Weinheim, Baden.  Before that some of the ancestors were probably Swiss.  But definitely not Irish.

I was fortunate in that my grandfather had a brother, who had sons, who had sons.  My father had taken a Y-DNA test, so I tracked down one of my male cousins descended from my grandfather's brother and paid for his Y-DNA test.

And the results were clear:  My grandfather and his brother did not descend from the same man.  The two Y-DNA results were worlds apart.  My cousin descends from the family from Weinheim, Baden.  My father and me, not so much.

Coincidentally, I had bumped up my father's Y-DNA to the maximum number of markers available at the consumer level.  And who did he match at that level?  Two guys named Mundy, who apparently are Irish.

So do I have to admit that Ancestry might have been right?

I'm still working on trying to figure out who Grampa's biological father was.  But I might have Irish ancestry after all.

Now, separately from that, I have done a bunch of Irish research.  My ex is half Irish, and I did a ton of research on his family.  His best friend is also half Irish, and I've worked on his family history (mostly because my ex thought the two of them might be related, but they're not).  My half-sister's mother was all Irish, all day long (although I think it's going to turn out that she was at least partly Welsh, and that they came to Ireland as mercenaries, but I'm still working on that also).  A friend whose genealogy I still work on is one quarter Irish.  So I know a fair amount about researching Irish ancestry.

Maybe one day I'll research my own.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Did Your Ancestors Meet Their Spouses?

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge is a category of question I did not ask my relatives!

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision. 

1.  How did your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other greats meet each other?  Do you know any details?

2.  Tell us about your ancestors meeting each other in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

Okay, here's what I know.

I wrote about my how my parents met in a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post in 2015.

I am pretty sure my paternal grandparents, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr. (1903–1995) and Anna Gauntt (1893–1986), met while both of them were working at the silk mill in Mount Holly, New Jersey during the early years of the Depression.  My hypothesis came about because in the 1930 census, I found both of them enumerated as employed at the silk mill.

I wrote about how one set of my maternal great-grandparents, Joe Gordon (c. 1892–1955) and Sarah Brainin (c. 1885–1963), met in a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post in 2019.

With all the family stories I heard from my mother and her mother while I was growing up, I don't remember ever being told how my maternal grandparents met.  I know they both lived in Brooklyn, but I'm pretty sure they went to different synagogues.  I guess that's a big hole in my family knowledge.  And I just realized that my grandmother told me how her parents met and how her daughter (my mother) met my father, but not how she met my grandfather.  Hmmm, suspicious?

My paternal grandmother's parents might have met through my great-grandmother's older brother, Frederick Dunstan (1868–1932).  He immigrated to the United States first, about 1888.  My great-grandmother Jane Dunstan (1871–1954) arrived in Philadelphia in October 1890 and married my great-grandfather Thomas Kirkland Gauntt in Burlington County, New Jersey in September 1891.  That has always seemed awfully fast to me, so I've suspected introductions might have been made before her arrival.

I would not be surprised if some of my ancestors on my mother's side met through arranged marriages, particularly on my grandfather's side of the family.  His family was very Orthodox and very traditional.

I'm still trying to determine who my paternal grandfather's biological father was, but the leading candidate was a traveling salesman, so that's as good of a guess as any as to how he met my great-grandmother, .  She lived near Philadelphia, and that's certainly a place a salesman might have gone in the early 1900's to make a buck.

Any pairings beyond these would be even more wild guesswork on my part, so I think I'll stop here.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Chili and Bicarb

Lately I've been using "National Day of" lists for a new kind of inspiration for blog posts.  (I've noticed that Thomas MacEntee has been doing the same, but we rarely seem to have something to say on the same subject.)

Today, February 22, is National Chili Day, which falls on the fourth Thursday of February.  Instead of celebrating the day by making chili, I'm writing about chili in my family — in particular, my father's love-hate relationship with chili.

My father loved eating chili, especially if it was spicy.  But he had a stomach ulcer, and the spices or something else in the chili always bothered him.

So he would tell my mother that he wanted chili for dinner, and for her to make it spicy.  She would say, "But Lynn, your stomach!"  And he would respond, "Go ahead and make it spicy anyway!"

And we would have great chili for dinner.

But when dinner was over, it didn't take long for my father to call out, "Myra!  Bring me the bicarb!"

Because bicarbonate of soda, otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, is a home remedy for heartburn or acid indigestion.

I can't count how many times we went through this.  Because no matter how much he may have suffered afterward, my father really loved his chili.


Photo of bowl of chili by Carstor.  Used under license.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Five "Fun" or "Different" Facts

And somehow I have fallen behind in my blog posts again!  Ah, well, I'm picking myself up and starting over (again).  That's all we can do, right?  So here I am for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision. 

1.  We all find "fun" or "different" information about ourselves, our relatives, and our ancestors in our genealogy and family history pursuits.  What are five "fun" or "different" facts in your life or your ancestors' lives?

2.  Tell us about your five fun or different facts in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

Thank you to Jacquie Schattner for suggesting this topic.

I had to thnk about this a little bit to come up with five stories.

• Starting with myself, something fun and different about me is that for a short while I was a professional drummer — as in was paid for a drumming gig.  This is prettty cool, since I'm not actually a drummer (as any real drummer can tell you), but a percussionist who can drum a little.  So I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity.

• After he passed away, I found out that my father had served in two different state National Guard units.  This was one of those accidental discoveries, as opposed to something I had been looking for.  My sister had consulted me about my father's obituary (as she should have, since I'm definitely the family genealogist).  She had included that Daddy had served seven years in the New Jersey National Guard.  I knew that couldn't be right, based on his age and when he had moved to Florida, so suggested she take it out.  She ended up revising it to served seven years in the National Guard.  The question prompted me to figure out how to request his National Guard personnel file.  The revision turned out to be accurate, because he served four years in New Jersey and three in Florida.  None of us had known previously that he served in Florida!  And I was happy the obit didn't have inaccurate information.

• Many years ago, I found a newspaper squib in an issue of the De Funiak Springs, Florida newspaper thanking my paternal grandfather for lending his collection of antique carpenter's tools to a display in the local library.  I saved it (of course!) and remember thinking at the time that I had had no idea my grandfather collected antique carpenter's tools and wondered what had sparked his interest.  Recently I was looking over documents my grandfather saved from when he was working at Fort Dix, New Jersey in the civil service and discovered that one of his early jobs there was as . . . a carpenter!  So one little genealogical tidbit fed into another.

• After being contacted by a cousin's husband (he's the genealogist in their family), I learned that my great-great-grandmother's older sister had an early marriage that was apparently annulled (so far the only annulment in my family that I know of).  I say apparently because I haven't found documentation yet (not sure what kind of documentation you can find for annulments), but it's definitely her in the marriage record, and there doesn't seem to be a divorce (and my cousin's husband thinks it was annulled).  Okay, so it's possible that she simply moved on without dissolving the first marriage and married two more times, which would make those bigamous.  Well, that would be a different kind of "fun" fact about a relative, wouldn't it?

• And for something different on my mother's side of the family, I was told that her father had played sandlot baseball with Jackie Robinson (yes, *that* Jackie Robinson) in Brooklyn.  I suspect I'll never be able to find any kind of documentation for that, but it's a cool story.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Lucky 13th Blogiversary

Well, it's lucky 13!  Lisa Hork Gorrell and I started our blogs on January 15, 2011, and we're both still at it.  The past two years for me have been much skimpier on posts (and I didn't even manage to post for my blogiversary last year), but I'm still here, plugging along, writing about my family and family history in general.  I hit 2,000 posts sometime last year.

During the past couple of years most of my posts have been for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun and Wordless Wednesday, two memes I've followed for a while, but there hasn't been much else.

I fully intend that this year will be different.  I have so many things I want to write about!  I want to finish up my family events.  I have something like 6,000 photographs from the photo bonanza that I plan to identify and discuss.  Gotta track down my cousin who was given up for adoption, figure out my biological great-grandfather, find more documents for my family in the Maryland Motherlode and the New York City Historical Vital Records Project, write down more family stories . . . geez, I better get going!

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Genealogy Goals for 2024

I'm going to be guardedly optimistic about accomplishing what I write about tonight for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, because I'm going to be cautious.

1.  What are your genealogy goals for 2024?  Consider genealogy research, education, organizing, service, writing, and whatever else you care to share.

2.  Tell us about your goals in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

Okay, here are mine.

• Get back to posting regularly on my blog.  In 2023 I had 33 posts, and in 2022 only 25.  I'm going to shoot for at least 100 posts in 2024.  I should be able to do that with Wordless Wednesday and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, plus I do have more I want to write about.

• Finish going through the scans of the photo bonanza that I received from my sister and make at least preliminary identifications of all of them.

• Figure out a way to pursue more research on the man who could be the son my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945, without alienating anyone.

• Finally finish posting to my blog about the family events (births, marriages, and deaths) that I was extracting from my family tree database.  I think I need to pick up again in mid-November.

• Get back to work on finding Mr. X, the biological father of my paternal grandfather.  I want to find a photograph of Bertram Mundy to see if he resembles my grandfather.

• Finish putting together a few new presentations that I've had ideas for.

Eek!  That doesn't look like as cautious of a list as I had intended.  But I think I'll stick with it.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Very Best Genealogy Finds in 2023

I didn't find much in 2023, but I did find a few things to write about for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge this week.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision. 

1.  Ellen Thompson-Jennings posted an interesting question last week in Best Genealogy Find of 2023.

2.  What were your very best genealogy finds in 2023?  Elusive ancestors?  Hard-to-find records?  Family photographs?  Family stories?  Family artifacts?  New cousins?  What else?

3. Tell us about one or more of them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status  post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

* Elusive Ancestor:  Not actually an elusive ancestor, but I may have come closer to finding an elusive relative.  I wrote on December 30 about someone having brought to my attention a person who could be the son my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945.  The man looks absolutely right and knew he was adopted, but he isn't the age expected.  I'm trying to pursue additional information about him to figure out what's going on.  I hope I'm able to determine what his connection is to our family.  Because of the very strong resemblance to one family member, I'm positive there has to be a connection.

* Hard-to-find Records:  I was able to take advantage of two new releases of digitized records:  The Maryland birth/marriage/death records (the Maryland Motherlode!) that were acquired by Reclaim the Records and placed online for free, and the New York City Historical Vital Records Project, a release of a lot of digitized birth/marriage/death records (but with some periods missing).  These weren't necessarily hard to find per se, but they're more easily searchable and accessed now, and I have found many records for my family.  There are still some that don't want to be found, of course, but great progress has been made!

* Family Photographs:  I didn't find the photographs, but my sister sent me scans of my father's photos that were in his house when he passed away.  I have been spending a lot of time trying to identify as many as possible.  I'm going to need help with all the photos of cars.