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.