Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Old El Paso Photographs Need Names!

Another EOGN post from Dick Eastman, on 28 December!

Public Asked to Identify Relatives Shown in Old El Paso Photographs

A photographer who chronicled life in the southwest captured the images but we don't know who all those people are who posed for the pictures. You may have the answer.

"[Construction] workers found a number of boxes of old negatives in a storage area when they were wrecking out the inside of the building and they took them to the pawn shop and asked whether they were worth anything," said Claudia Rivers of University of Texas El Paso's Special Collections.

Some 50,000 negatives photos are now part of a special collection at the University of Texas at El Paso. They're from a photography studio that for 70 years captured life on the border.
Dated but without names. So the university turned to the public to help solve the mystery. The photographs are displayed online, in the El Paso newspaper and at malls. You can read more in the web site at

Orphan Trains

The following is a wonderful article by Dick Eastman posted on his 29 Dec EOGN:

The Orphan Trains

From the 1850s through the 1920s, New York City was teeming with tens of thousands of homeless and orphaned children. To survive, these so-called "street urchins" resorted to begging, stealing, or forming gangs to commit violence. Some children worked in factories and slept in doorways or flophouses. The children roamed the streets and slums with little or no hope of a successful future. Their numbers were stunningly large; an estimated 30,000 children were homeless in New York City in the 1850s.
Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children's Aid Society, believed that there was a way to change the futures of these children. By removing youngsters from the poverty and debauchery of the city streets and placing them in morally upright farm families, he thought they would have a chance to escape a lifetime of suffering.

Brace proposed that these children be sent by train to live and work on farms out west. They would be placed in homes for free, but they would serve as an extra pair of hands to help with chores around the farm. They wouldn't be indentured. In fact, older children placed by The Children's Aid Society were to be paid for their labors.

The Orphan Train Movement lasted from 1853 to the 1920s, placing more than 120,000 children. Most of these children survived into adulthood, married, and had children of their own. Several million Americans today can find former Orphan Train children in their family trees.
Orphan Trains stopped at more than 45 states across the country, as well as Canada and Mexico. During the early years, Indiana received the largest number of children. There were numerous agencies nationwide that placed children on trains to go to foster homes. In New York, besides Children's Aid, other agencies that placed children included Children's Village (then known as the New York Juvenile Asylum), what is now New York Foundling Hospital, and the former Orphan Asylum Society of the City of New York, which is now the Graham-Windham Home for Children. Not all the children were from New York City. Children from Albany and other cities in New York state were transported, as were some from Boston, Massachusetts, where the Boston Children's Services merged with the New England Home For Little Wanderers, which also is still active today.

Only a few of the Orphan Train children are alive today, and most were too young at the time to remember their experiences. However, a few elderly Americans can recall their experiences on the Orphan Trains.

Stanley Cornell and his brother are amongst the last generation of Orphan Train riders. When asked about his experience, Mr. Cornell replied, "We'd pull into a train station, stand outside the coaches dressed in our best clothes. People would inspect us like cattle farmers. And if they didn't choose you, you'd get back on the train and do it all over again at the next stop."

Cornell and his brother were "placed out" twice with their aunts in Pennsylvania and Coffeyville, Kansas. Unfortunately, these placements didn't last, and they were returned to the Children's Aid Society.

"Then they made up another train. Sent us out West. A hundred-fifty kids on a train to Wellington, Texas," Cornell recalls. "That's where Dad happened to be in town that day."
Each time an Orphan Train was sent out, adoption ads appeared in local papers before the arrival of the children.

J.L. Deger, a 45-year-old farmer, knew he wanted a boy, even though he already had two daughters, ages 10 and 13.

"He'd just bought a Model T. Mr. Deger looked those boys over. We were the last boys holding hands in a blizzard, December 10, 1926," Cornell remembers. He says that day he and his brother stood in a hotel lobby.

"He asked us if we wanted to move out to farm with chickens, pigs, and a room all to your own. He only wanted to take one of us, decided to take both of us."

Life on the farm was hard work.

"I did have to work and I expected it, because they fed me, clothed me, loved me. We had a good home. I'm very grateful. Always have been, always will be."

Cornell eventually got married. He and his wife, Earleen, now live in Pueblo, Colorado. His brother, Victor Cornell, a retired movie theater chain owner, is also alive and living in Moscow, Idaho.

Stanley Cornell believes he and his brother are two of only 15 surviving Orphan Train children.
Some of the children struggled in their newfound surroundings, while many others went on to lead simple, very normal lives, raising their families and working towards the American dream. Although records weren't always well kept, some of the children placed in the West went on to great successes. There were two governors, one congressman, one sheriff, two district attorneys, and three county commissioners, as well as numerous bankers, lawyers, physicians, journalists, ministers, teachers, and businessmen.

The Orphan Train Movement and the success of other children's aid initiatives led to a host of child welfare reforms, including child labor laws, adoption and foster care services, public education, and the provision of health care and nutrition and vocational training.

The Orphan Train Heritage Society of America in Concordia, Kansas, serves as a clearinghouse of information about the estimated 150,000 children who were "placed out" from 1854 to 1929. It helps members establish and maintain family contacts, retrace their roots, and preserve the history of the Orphan Train Movement. The Society did maintain a web site although that appears to be offline at the moment.

Other web sites that provide information about America's Orphan Trains may be found at,,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marital Property


Marital Property
Betsy Greer's husband was also her slave.
Greer composed her will in 1851. Less than a year later she died and her husband passed through probate to her heirs."In the name of God, Amen, I, Betsy Greer, a free Negro woman of Greenville District, do make and publish this my last will and testament," the preamble reads. "In the first place, I give and bequeath my husband Abram whom I bought from Col. J.W. Duckett of Newberry District to our son George for and during his life and after his death to such of his sons as the said Abram may choose...""I wish him my slave as he is but at the same time the natural and proper head of the family to have the management and control" of the property, Greer's will states, "as long as he may live." [Link]Such arrangements could lead to awkward situations.
Dilsey Pope of Columbus, Georgia, a free woman of color, owned her husband. After they quarreled, she sold him to a white slaveowner; he refused to sell him back once the couple had reconciled. [Link]


Be sure to click on the above Link to read the entire article at
It's a bit lengthy, but well worth the read!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Web database catalogs slaves' trans-Atlantic treks

Taken from the Associated Press:


ATLANTA (AP) — Historians hope a new Web database will help bring millions of blacks closer to their African ancestors who were forced onto slave ships, connecting them to their heritage in a way that has long been possible for white Europeans.
"Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database" launched Friday in conjunction with a conference at Emory University marking the bicentennial of the official end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808. Emory spearheaded the two-year interactive project, which is free to the public.
"It's basically doing for people of African descent what already exists for people of European descent in the Americas," said Emory history professor David Eltis, who helped direct the project.
"Voyages" documents the slave trade from Africa to the New World that took place over three centuries — between the 1500s and 1800s — and includes searchable information on nearly 35,000 trips and the names of 70,000 human cargo. The voluminous work includes data on more than 95 percent of all voyages that left ports from England — the country with the second-largest slave trade — and documents two-thirds of all slave trade voyages between 1514 and 1866.
Genealogy and DNA tracing have gained popularity for blacks looking to trace their slave roots, and "Voyages" could help give a fuller picture of slavery for a culture stripped of its heritage, Eltis said.
"It's not a super tool for genealogists because you cannot make that connection from ancestor to voyager, but it does give a context," he said, explaining that because the database lists the slaves' African names — which were later Westernized — researching an ancestor by name is difficult.
Still, for someone who knows that an ancestor was enslaved in a certain part of the South, the database might help them trace from where in Africa they most likely came, said Emory history professor Leslie Harris, author of the book "In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863."
"When people study the slave trade, they often talk about the large numbers," said Harris, one of the organizers of this weekend's conference. "It's just one of those human things to want to know where we came from and who our ancestors were."
Harris explained that the database could be most helpful to those who have an understanding of their families, in that it could add layers to ancestors' stories.
"Not that everyone will now be able to point to a name and say, 'That's my great, great, great grandfather,' but it helps give a greater sense of who these folks were or the culture they came from," she said.
Chronicling voyages that ended in Europe, the Caribbean, North America and Brazil, visitors to the site can search the database by voyage or name, or look at estimates of how many people were transported and enslaved. And scholars who discover new information are invited to submit it for the database.
Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates said "Voyages" sheds an important light on the hidden history of 12.5 million slaves.
"Their ancestries, their identities, their stories were lost in the ships that carried them across the Atlantic," Gates said. "The multi-decade and collaborative project that brought us this site has done more to reverse the Middle Passage than any other single act of scholarship possibly could."
The project expands on "The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade," a CD-ROM completed in 1999 that included more than 27,000 slave trade voyages. Gates called "Voyages" the most important tool for blacks looking to research their past in decades, that holds as much benefit to the general public as for scholars.
He said the project is a bittersweet one.
"It's a hell of a lot of people, an enormous forced migration of human beings — one of the largest in human history — for nefarious purposes, for their economic exploitation," Gates said.
"But like the Negro spiritual says, they once were lost, but now they're found."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lifetime No See...

The following was posted in the Jewish World Review on Dec. 3rd. It's kind of lengthy, but it's so worth the read! This is the magic that genealogy performs!!!

Lifetime, no see
By Don Terry

They're brothers. They live six blocks apart. And for 80 years, neither knew the other existed

CHICAGO — Neither man had a clue what to expect that morning last March as they stood toe-to-toe, 42 stories above the city.
The men were guarded yet friendly, as they sized each other up, trying to decide whether to shake hands or hug. After all, they were strangers.
The younger of the two was Lewis Manilow, prominent Chicago lawyer and real estate developer, co-founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art and major fundraiser for cultural institutions. The other man was Jacob "Jack" Shore, an international patent attorney who wrote the patent application for the insanely popular TMX Elmo doll, the 2006 Toy of the Year.
Over the course of their long careers, the two men have taken part in countless negotiations. But never with each other and never anything like this. Not in their wildest dreams.
This morning's meeting had been hastily arranged by telephone at 10 o'clock the night before. It was Lew's idea. He's the one who had tracked Jack down, hiring a modern-day gumshoe out of Detroit to do the job. But now that he had found his quarry - and so shockingly close; the two live only a few blocks apart - Lew wasn't sure how he felt. "I was keeping my emotions in check," he says.
As for Jack, he had stayed awake half the night. Never too up, never too down. That's Jack. The streetwise ex-Navy officer doesn't rattle easily. But this time he was shook up for sure. It surprised him how difficult it was to think this thing through. Muhammad Ali could not have hit him any harder than the news he'd learned in the last 24 hours about Manilow and himself.
The men performed an awkward not-quite-a-handshake, not-quite-a-hug and Jack blurted out the question residing in the forefront of each man's mind.
"What do you say to a brother you didn't know existed for 80 years?"
This is the bittersweet story of Lew and Jack, two grandfathers in their early 80s who, after a lifetime as strangers, discovered they are brothers.
"The surprise of my life," Lew says, "at my age, to find I have a brother, and he lives six blocks away."
"I've always wanted a brother," adds Jack. "But I don't know what having a brother is."
They are both trying to learn. Recently, Jack asked Lew from which side he batted playing baseball as a boy.
"I'm left-handed," Lew said, "but I batted right."
"Me, too," Jack said.
The common ground felt good. The brothers have no history together. But they are negotiating a future.
"We have no idea where this is going," Jack says. "We have no memories to share or to fall back on. We're just kind of feeling our way."
It is a uniquely America story of immigrant dreams and hard times, of broken families and Dickensian serendipity. Most of all, it is a story about the pull of blood and kin and the need to know: "Where did I come from?"
It began in 1955 in a restaurant in the Loop. Ernie Banks was lighting up the Wrigley Field score board and the Prudential Building dominated the Chicago skyline. Lew was in his late 20s, the son of Nathan Manilow, one of the country's top home builders. With a law degree from Harvard and a sky's-the-limit future in the real estate business alongside his father, Lew was having lunch with a close friend of his father. Maybe they were discussing President Dwight Eisenhower's heart attack that September or the death in April of Albert Einstein. Perhaps it was Broadway's heartbreaking sensation that year, "The Diary of Anne Frank."
Whatever the topic, it flew right out of Lew's head as soon as his lunch companion, in reference to a mutual acquaintance, dropped a bomb on Lew's assumptions about his own privileged life.
You know, Lew, so-and-so was adopted. "Like you."
The words sent a jolt through him.
"I tried to keep a poker face," he says. "But I was stunned."
Lew forced himself to finish his meal. Outside on the sidewalk he said goodbye and hurried in the opposite direction to the Cook County Probate Court, head spinning, heart racing. There, he rifled through a thick ledger, found his name and asked a clerk behind the desk for his file. He opened the folder and there he was - or who he used to be - Irvin Inger, born in Wayne County, Mich., on Aug. 11, 1927, to Gussie and Sam Inger.
Gussie was an unschooled immigrant from Lithuania whose life in America included several rocky marriages and a history of living on public charity. Sam Inger was from the Ukraine and had little way with money. The couple met in Toledo, Ohio, the epicenter of the American Heartland. It was Sam's first marriage, Gussie's third. Together they had two children, Jacob and Irvin, who joined Gussie's four older kids from previous marriages.
Sam was a junk peddler. What little money he made, Gussie later told the divorce court, he gambled away. With their marriage falling apart after three turbulent years, Gussie and Sam handed Baby Irvin over to the Detroit Hebrew Infants Orphan Home almost immediately after he was born. Jacob, 13 months older, probably never even laid eyes on him.
A year later in 1928, Irvin Inger officially became Lewis Manilow of Chicago, the beloved son of Minette and Nathan Manilow, Russian immigrant and one-time shoe store clerk, well on his way to banking his first million.
Nathan Manilow, with his two partners, carved the town of Park Forest out of the Illinois prairie in the late 1940s. "He Owns a Town," proclaimed the headline of a Newsweek magazine profile of the elder Manilow in 1953. He was a "soft-spoken, hard-minded" man, according to the article. "A self-made millionaire at the age of 31," who "parlayed his moneymaking talents from shoes to suburbs with a knack for spotting what people need."
From the probate records, Lew also discovered that the Manilows had adopted his younger sister, Betty Ann, from a Chicago couple.
"You couldn't do that today - find the names of the birth parents like that, just by asking for the file," he says. He recently returned to the probate court, seeking a copy of his birth certificate. "I told the woman at the office I was adopted and she said 'You won't be allowed to know the names of your birth parents." They had whited them out. I have known a number of people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, litigating to get the name of their birth parents and they're still trying. A lot more people are adopted than anybody imagines."
That night, Lew confronted his adoptive parents with his discovery. He wasn't angry. He felt sorry for them. It must have been a tremendous burden, carrying that secret around for so long. Why had they kept the truth from him? What did they think he would do, stop being their son? They were his parents, the only mother and father he had ever known. He loved them.
Nathan Manilow, for one of the few times in his life, was speechless. His mother wept. Please don't cry, Lew told her. Nothing had changed. "I tried to alleviate their concerns," he says. "I tried to make them feel good."
For the next several years, Lew didn't attempt to learn any more about Gussie and Sam Inger. He felt it would be disloyal to the mother and father who had raised him. "I was conflicted about it," he admits. "I was still in the 'You're my parents mode.' I wasn't going to try to find anybody else."
So he went on with his life. He got married and had three children. He became an assistant state's attorney before going into private practice, often representing his father's real estate ventures in Illinois and Florida. He also became increasingly involved in Chicago's theater and arts scene as a collector and benefactor. A principal backer of the Goodman Theatre, he would become known as the godfather of Chicago's vibrant new downtown theater district. And as a major art collector, he would become a pillar of both the MCA, which he helped found, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2000, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
But over the years things would invariably come up to remind him that there was a hole in his past. "Occasionally," Lew says, "it would gnaw at me." Doctors, for example, would ask about his family's health history. Does your father have a history of heart trouble? Does cancer run in your mother's family? He wouldn't tell the doctors that he didn't know because he was adopted. Instead, he says, "I would fend off the question."
Eventually, though, he got tired of not knowing. "To not want to know," he says, "is a form of blindness." He decided to go looking, if for no other reason, he told himself, than to be able to answer the doctor's questions. But he knew it was more than that, something more primal. "People want to know about their real parents, their real families," he says. "It's only natural to want to know where you came from."
Every five years or so, he'd hunt up a Detroit phone book - "remember, this is pre-Google," he says - look up a private investigator, dial the number and hire himself a detective to find out whatever they could about his birth parents. "I didn't have much confidence that I could find out very much." He was right. The investigators were never able to tell him anything beyond the few sketchy details he already knew. "I thought it was a lost cause," Lew says, "and then along came Phil."
Phillip A. Applebaum is a 56-year-old genealogist who lives in the Detroit area and specializes in tracing the roots of Jewish families. He got hooked on genealogy as a teenager when he followed his own family tree back to Poland, birthplace of his parents. Then "Roots" came on TV and the whole country went nuts over family secrets. Applebaum was on his way.
For years most of his business came from the suburbs surrounding the Motor City. But the floundering economy has hit especially hard the last few years in Michigan. He was having trouble finding clients. "Business was drying up," Applebaum says. "Guys on the assembly line don't hire me. It's a quirky luxury."
So Applebaum bought a few books of postage stamps and sent out dozens of unsolicited letters to wealthy people throughout the country, offering his services from his basement office in his small home just outside of Detroit. He found Mr. Lewis Manilow - real estate developer, arts patron and Democratic donor - on the Internet.
Applebaum, knowing nothing of Lew's adoption or Detroit connection, sent him a standard solicitation letter last February. As for Lew, he was automatically poised to throw the solicitation in the trash. "At least one friend of mine," Lew says, "got the same letter."
If Applebaum had been from New York, Los Angeles or even Chicago, Lew would have tossed out the letter for sure. But Applebaum was from Detroit, where Lew's journey began, and that geographic coincidence compelled Lew to pick up the phone. Maybe this Applebaum could do what the detectives could not. It was worth one last shot. Lew would be 81. Betty Ann, the only sibling he knew, had died a few years ago. Time was running out.
Over the phone, he told Applebaum that he wasn't interested in tracing his roots to Henry VIII or any of that jazz. All he wanted to know about was his birth family. Were any of them still alive?
That very night, Applebaum went to work on his ancient Macintosh computer. He's been a professional genealogist for 29 years but it took him about a month on the Internet and several visits to public libraries and cemeteries in Ohio and Michigan to find the answers that Lew had been seeking for so long.
One of the factors that made tracing Gussie difficult was that she kept changing her name and moving back and forth between Toledo and Detroit. At various times she was known as Mrs. Kremer, Mrs. Shore and Mrs. Inger. After she divorced Sam Inger, she went back to calling herself Gussie Shore. When Jacob was 12, she had his name legally changed to Shore as well.
Applebaum tracked Gussie to her final resting place, a Jewish cemetery near Toledo. She had passed away in the Ohio city in 1953 at the age of 64. As for Inger, Applebaum found his grave outside Detroit, where he died in 1955 - the year Lew first learned his real parents' names.
From the cemetery in Ohio, Applebaum got the name and telephone number of one of Gussie's granddaughters, Karen Posner, a retired Toledo schoolteacher who is Lew and Jacob's half-niece. "I'd just had surgery," she recalls. "I was on morphine, and I get this call from Applebaum. I was in a daze."
The genealogist told her about Lew and the long search. Posner wasn't sure if it was the drugs or the story that made her head spin. Applebaum's words had a mesmerizing quality, like a dream. "There's a lot of stuff that isn't good in life," she says. "But this is good. It's like an Oprah moment."
When Applebaum asked Posner about Gussie's children, she said that she had never heard of Irvin. But she knew all about Jacob Shore. Uncle Jack.
Asked Applebaum, "Is your Uncle Jack still alive?"
In Chicago.
"I almost fell out of my chair," Applebaum says. "Not only had I found (Lew's) biological parents. I had found a brother, a full brother, living in Chicago. Down the street."
That same evening in late March, Lew and his wife, Susan, were watching television at home when the phone rang around 9 p.m. Applebaum was calling.
Lew took the call. He had hired Applebaum on a whim, really, and was braced for disappointment. He never gave much thought to what he would do if Applebaum found someone alive. It wasn't going to happen. Not after all this time.
When he hung up, he was grinning. He announced to his wife as calmly as he could: "I have a brother."
"Are you kidding?" she asked.
"He lives in Chicago," Lew said. "Six blocks away. His name is Jack Shore."
"Then," according to Susan, "we got the giggles out of control."
Applebaum says when he told Lew about Jack, Lew was "as giddy as a little boy on his birthday. The joy came right through the telephone line."
Pay dirt after all these years, after all the unanswered questions. But Lew quickly shifted into lawyer mode. Be cautious, go slow, he told himself. Maybe his brother - the word would take some getting used to - didn't want to be found. "My birth brother knew nothing about me," Lew says. "It (would be) a real shock to him. I was looking for someone. He didn't know there was someone."
As it happened, the genealogist also called Jack. "He received the news with relative calm," Applebaum says. "He told me he was not an emotional person and I should not expect any whooping and hollering from him."
Jack's wife, Estelle, recalls her husband's reaction quite differently. "He was absolutely dumbfounded," she says.
The next night, the brothers talked over the telephone. It was a brief conversation, just long enough to set up a face-to-face meeting at 9 o'clock the next morning at Jack's home on the 42nd floor of a luxury condominium building just north of the Loop.
When Jack hung up, Estelle got ready for bed. Jack retreated to the den.
"It's time for bed," she called.
"I can't sleep," he responded. "I have to think this thing through."
Jack was happy with his life. At 82, the patent attorney still goes to the office each day. "I don't know what I would do with myself if I didn't work," he says.
A family of Elmo dolls sits on the sofa of his den. He has three children and nine grandchildren, all within easy reach throughout the suburbs of Chicago. After his first wife, Edith, died in 1999, he felt blessed to have found another woman he could love with all his heart - Estelle, whom friends and family call Dimpy. They go to Las Vegas several times a year, to New York to catch a Broadway show or two and jazz clubs in Chicago. "I never listened to jazz before I met Dimpy," Jack says. "I was in a shell. She brought me out."
He wasn't looking to dig up the past. As far as he was concerned, the past was right where it belonged. Long ago he had shoved his family history as far back in his mind as he could. Too painful.
Everyone else was dead and gone. His half-sister Dorothy. His half-brothers, Frank and Israel. Jack was the lone survivor, the last of his generation.
Or so he thought.
What hurt is that he had not been close to his siblings, especially his brothers. So when he did slip up and allow himself to think back on the old days in Ohio, he was wracked with regrets. He missed what could have been, what should have been. He always wanted a second chance but they don't come around too often. And they certainly don't stop at the door of an 82-year-old man.
Sometimes, however, they just might.
He figured Lew would be bursting with questions about the family. He was afraid, perhaps a little embarrassed, that he might not be able to answer them all.
As a kid, not knowing was a strategy of survival. Jack didn't ask a lot of questions growing up and his older siblings didn't volunteer many answers. There were some things no one ever talked about in his family, like the other kids who weren't there. He had a vague and scary sense that his mother had other children he had never met. "My half-sister and half-brothers never told me anything about our past," Jack says. "And I always felt guilty asking. So I didn't."
As a grown man, Jack experimented with psychoanalysis in the 1960s. Try as he might, he could not remember much about his life prior to the age of 7 or 8. "The analyst said I might have withdrawn because I didn't want to get adopted out," Jack says.
The instant they were able to, Gussie's older children fled her home. "She alienated her children," Jack says. By the time he was 12, he was left alone with his mother in a tiny, weary house on Jerome Street in Toledo. "I don't think my mother knew anything about love and affection," he says.
What she knew about was survival.
Gussie, who never learned to read or write English, was 17 when she came to America in 1906. No one knows for sure why she made the arduous journey from the known world to the new. But life for Jews across the Russian Empire was plagued by pogroms and poverty. She left the pogroms behind, but poverty followed her to America and dogged her for most of her life. "My mother," Jack says, "was a very bitter and lonely woman. She had three husbands who didn't amount to much."
It appears Gussie did not make the trip alone. Applebaum believes she came with the first of her three husbands, Louis Kremer, who was one year older. They settled in Providence, R. I., where they had one child, a son, Israel Kremer, born in 1907. Gussie was 18. Three years later, Louis filed for divorce, accusing Gussie of adultery and other "wickedness."
After the divorce, Gussie and Israel moved to Toledo, where in 1915 she married another immigrant, a cook from Boston named Charles Shore. That marriage lasted 10 years and produced three children, Dorothy, Frank and Morris.
This time it was Gussie who initiated divorce proceedings, charging Charles with cruelty, neglect and abandonment, which forced her, she said, to rely "on the efforts of a minor son and her own exertions" to survive. As a result of Charles' behavior, she said, she was "compelled and forced to consent to the adoption of her youngest child, Morris, aged four years, by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Norwalk of Toledo, Ohio."
Jack says the first time he ever heard of Morris was when Applebaum told him a few months ago. The fate of Morris is unknown.
On Dec. 3, 1925, about two months after her divorce from Charles Shore, Gussie married Sam Inger, 39, in Toledo. Sam and Gussie moved back and forth between Ohio and Michigan. They had Jacob in Toledo in 1926, and Irvin a little over a year later in Pontiac, Mich.
Sam, an unskilled laborer, immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine. Exactly when is unclear. He came to the United States from Winnipeg in 1914 and settled in Pontiac, Mich., where he peddled junk.
Gussie and Sam's marriage was turbulent. In divorce papers, Gussie accused Sam of stealing her money to support a gambling habit. She also accused him of beating her so badly a month before Irvin was born that she had to call the police. It wasn't the first time, she said. According to Gussie, he abandoned her and the children on three separate occasions and "assaulted, struck, beat and otherwise ill-treated" her throughout the duration of their marriage.
Jack has no recollection of his father. "I never knew him," he says. "He disappeared. But I'd rather have a lousy father than no father. I had no guidance."
Once when he was 9 or 10, Jack and his mother were walking down the street when Gussie told her son to keep walking while she stopped briefly to talk to a stranger. "Did you see that man we just passed?" Gussie asked Jack a few minutes later. "That was your father."
After their first awkward embrace last March, the brothers sat in Jack's living room and looked out on the vastness of Lake Michigan. Estelle brought in a tray of coffee.
Then they started talking, asking each other questions like two strangers on a park bench exploring what they might have in common. How many children do you have? What are their names? What do they do? Grandchildren? Do you take sugar? Cream?
"We are both uncovering these histories," Lew says. "Bit by bit we're learning more and, I think, getting closer. But it's complicated."
"It's an evolving process," Jack agrees. "We'll have to see where we go from here."
"But they have to hurry," Estelle says. "At their age, how much time do they have left?"
Jack reminded Lew that they had met once before. Jack and his late wife, Edith, had visited Lew's art-filled home, which was then in Lincoln Park. Edith had been a docent at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where Lew is on the board. An ardent art collector, Lew on occasion opened his home for tours of his personal collection. Lew and Jack shook hands that night and then vanished from each other's lives. Again.
"That handshake," Lew says, "was the extent of our history together."
Before arriving that morning last March, Lew Googled Jack and discovered that Jack had done quite well for himself. He had become a globetrotting patent attorney and an expert on intellectual property law. He had taught for 10 years at John Marshall Law School. The profile contained a photograph of a gray-haired man in a suit and tie, wearing glasses.
So that's what my brother looks like, Lew thought.
In fact, all of Gussie's children did remarkably well. Counting Lew, Gussie gave birth to three lawyers, an accountant and a gifted dancer, Israel Kremer, her first born, who died in Eastern France in 1944 serving his country as a soldier in World War II.
From the stories he's heard from Jack about life with Gussie, Lew says, "It's not exactly encouraging to feel warm or nostalgic about her. All I know is we were blessed with good genes. A lot of lawyers came from this woman who was illiterate and difficult. We won the gene pool. We were lucky."
After their first meeting, the brothers started getting together for breakfast every other week or so. They had dinner with their wives, attended a concert together. "It's all totally new to me," Lew says. "This is so overwhelming. I haven't done a lawyerly-like job of figuring it out."
So he and Jack are taking things slow. In August, the brothers and their families got together at Lew's 72-acre summer compound in Wisconsin, more meet-and-greet than family reunion.
Each brother invited his large blended family, including children, step-children and grandchildren. Not everyone was there, but the house was crowded. Estelle's daughter and son-in-law came all the way from Los Angeles to meet the new relatives. "I didn't just find a brother," Lew says. "I found a new family. Digesting that, relating to that is going to take time."
When Estelle and Jack arrived, Estelle was carrying a cardboard box.
"What do you have there?" Lew asked.
"Name tags," Estelle said.
She poured them out on a coffee table.
"Everyone, find yours and put it on," she said.
A few minutes later, into the living room came running Lew's youngest grandchild, 4-year-old Nathan, who is named after Lew's father.
"Uncle Jack?" he asked, looking around at the strange new faces.
"That's me," Jack said, raising his hand and holding up his name tag.
The little boy waved, said "Hi, Uncle Jack," and ran back outside to play in the sunshine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What Your Favorite Genealogist Wants From Santa...

Posted by Diane Hadad on the Genealogy Insider:

Funny how a weekend that seemed endless when I woke up that first free day passed by so quickly. But it was nice and full: celebrating with friends and family, walking the dog (I was at home during daylight hours!) and finishing 85 percent of my Christmas shopping.With the onset of holiday shopping season, may we suggest these gifts for the family historian in your life:

Annual or monthly membership to, Footnote, World Vital Records, Genealogy Bank or another subscription site

Family Tree Magazine tote bag (to take to the library), t-shirt or mug.

Membership in a local genealogical society (do a Google search or see Society Hill for contact information)

Registration for a genealogy workshop or conference (use Family Tree Magazine's online events calendar or contact a local genealogical society to find one)

Family Tree Magazine CDs: State Research Guides; 2005, 2006 or 2007 annual compilation; or International Genealogy Passport

Genealogy reference or how-to book such as the Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists

Gift certificate to a Web site such as Snapfish or Shutterfly, where your favorite genealogist can turn old photos into photo books, collages, picture mugs, notecards and more

a chauffered trip to a research repository or genealogy workshop, maybe with lunch (your treat)
a day at a history museum

What’s on your genealogy wish list this year? Click Comments (below) to tell us (then slip your significant other the link to this post!).For readers in Family Tree Magazine’s hometown of Cincinnati, our company is holding a warehouse sale that includes how-to books on sewing, writing, woodworking, painting and tons of other hobbies—including, yes, genealogy. Click here for the location and directions.No matter where you live, you can check out this bargain book selection online at


Let me also suggest that you go to Cafe Press and search under "Genealogy" for some wonderful gifts that include t-shirts, mugs, journals, calendars, books, posters, and more! [I happen to love shopping from this company!


Ancestor...or Descendant?

I enclose the message below from the APG message board received this morning from a brave reader and contributor, Kate Foote:

Snipped from an email received this evening:
“Kate, I am an ancestor of the Footes also and i know that the name…”

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this – and I usually have a chuckle and let it go. But I’m wondering if there is someone out there who knows how old I really am?!!

Kate Foote


Okay, let's see just how awake our dear readers are out there?

Are you an ancestor or a descendant in your own family tree?

An ancestor is someone who precedes a known generation. And a descendant is someone who follows a known generation.

So, which are you????


Monday, December 1, 2008

"Is There A Reason...?"

The following is taken from: Upfront With NGS, Volume 8, Number 12-1, December 2008

Is There a Reason “Silent Night” was Grandma’s Favorite Carol? by Jan Alpert, NGS President

Although I play the piano and took years of lessons, I have to admit the piano just doesn’t hold my interest as much as family research. However, at least once a year I pull out the books of Christmas carols, turn on the gas logs, and play a few tunes to put me in the holiday spirit.

I happen to have a music book that contains a copy of the original version of “Stille Nacht,” written in 1818 by Austrian Franz Gruber. It’s the version I always play, I guess because it’s the one my German grandmother liked. It has more chords and sounds more like a lullaby than the modern Christmas carol. If played correctly, the baby rocking in the cradle should be asleep by the time the piece is finished. Another familiar German cradle hymn was “Away in a Manger,” composed not by Martin Luther, but by an Evangelical Lutheran Church minister in Illinois. Or is this just another story from my German grandmother? The Reader’s Digest Best Loved Christmas Carols, 1970, says, “Despite the persistence of the legend, Martin Luther did not compose ‘Away in a Manger.’ The words first appeared as a poem in a book published in Philadelphia in 1885 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of North America. The music, by an Illinois pastor, was composed for the song ‘Flow Gently, Sweet Afton.’”

The Joy of Christmas, Yorktown Music Press, Inc., 1972, lists each carol alphabetically in the table of contents, noting the country of origin. So quickly, before you finish this article, think about your favorite carols, and then see if there is a relationship between your favorites and your heritage.

Other German works include “Christ Was Born on Christmas Day,” “O Tannenbaum,” “Good Christian Men, Rejoice,” written in the fourteenth century, and George Friedrich Handel’s “Messiah,” composed in 1741. From Handel we also have “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” and perhaps “Joy to the World.” The Reader’s Digest Best Loved Christmas Carols writes that authorities today believe “Joy to the World” was written by Lowell Mason, who took Handel’s work as inspiration. The words were written by Isaac Watt’s paraphrasing of Psalm 98.

My second favorite carol is “O Holy Night,” written by Frenchman, Adolphe Adam in 1847. I have a French Huguenot line, but clearly not a strong lineage. Other French carols include “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Pat-A-Pan.”

Some of the oldest carols were in Latin, such as “Adeste Fideles,” which we know as “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and “Good King Wenceslas,” which is based on life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907-935 A.D.). “Gesu Bambin,” or “Jesus Was Born to Mary,” is a familiar Italian carol. Some of the most familiar English songs include “What Child is This,” “Here We Come A-Caroling (or A-Wassailing),” “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” From the Welsh we have “Deck the Halls.” The Reader’s Digest Best Loved Christmas Carols says, “Nowell as the English first spelled it, was an expression of joy, meaning glad tidings, called out from one person to another on Christmas Day. It was one of the first French words to be adopted by the English after the Norman invasion.” The carol of the same name has a mixture of French and English origins and originated about the seventeenth century.

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” was the creation of two people working independently. The words came from a poem written by Unitarian minister Edmund Hamilton Sears, published in 1849. Richard Storrs Willis wrote the music for a different poem. The two later became combined.

To round out the selections, the Spanish have “Fum, Fum, Fum,” the Czechs have “Come All Ye Shepherds,” the Polish have “Lullaby Jesus,” and the Hungarians have carols, “Sing Shepherds” and “Hear the Angel Voices.” There are also several spiritual carols, including “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” “Behold That Star,” and “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow.”

And let’s not forgot to end the year with “Auld Lang Syne.” The words are attributed to Robert Burns, the music was written in Scotland in the latter eighteenth century, and they were first heard together in 1898.

Although most of us consider these familiar songs to be American Christmas carols, many of these tunes were traditional Christmas songs, sung for many generations before they reached America’s shores.

I have to say, that no Christmas is complete for me without gathering in the sleepiness of Christmas Eve and singing "Stille Nacht". I first heard it sung this way over 40 years ago when my grandfather, who was of German descent, and whose family was only second generation American when he arrived, sang in a deep baritone those beautiful words!

I was mesmerized! Years later, I had the express pleasure of spending nearly three years abroad in Germany. To hear the beautiful carols in their native language was so touching then, and even more so now. My grandfather died in 1977, and I so miss his deep voice! This time of year, I just know that when I croak out the words to this beautiful carol he is nearby. I can almost hear him singing, "Stille nacht, heilig nacht, all es ruhig, all es glanzend, rund der junfrau, mutter und kind, heilg kleinkind so angebot und mild, schlaffen bei himmel freid, schlaffen bei himmel freid".

Until we share Christmas in heaven Grandpa, I keep this alive!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Little Info On Jump Drives

This is taken from Dick Eastman's EOGN today. Great info! Thanks again, Dick!


I have written a number of times about jump drives, also called thumb drives, USB drives, flash drives, memory sticks, and a number of other names. They are all about the same, regardless of name used. These devices are great for short-term backups and for transporting data from one computer to another. Want to copy data from your desktop to the laptop computer? Use a jump drive. Want to copy data from your cousin's genealogy database and take it home with you? Use a jump drive.

I suggest that every computer-owning genealogist should own at least one of these tiny devices.
See for some of my past articles about jump drives.

Almost everything in the computer world drops in price rapidly, but jump drive prices seem to drop even faster than other hardware. This week I purchased a 32-gigabyte jump drive at a local computer store for $59.95. That's the equivalent storage space of more than 22,000 floppy disks and also more capacity than 48 CD-ROM disks. One 32-gigabyte jump drive can even store six or seven full-length movies without compression, even more if you compress the files first. Not bad for a device that is smaller than a tube of lipstick!

I remember that one of my first thumb drives stored 32 megabytes (that's megabytes, not gigabytes), and I thought that the storage capacity was amazing. I forget the price but suspect it was in the $20 to $40 range. Now one-gigabyte thumb drives sell for five or six dollars, and prices go up as storage capacities increase.

My new 32-gigabyte thumb drive stores 1,000 times as much data as the first one I owned. I keep copies of my genealogy data, newsletter articles, several thousand photographs, checkbook information for the past year, all of the PowerPoint presentations I have made in the past six years, a word processor, an e-mail program, several computer games, and more on the jump drive. Even so, I have nearly 20 gigabytes of empty space still available. I do encrypt the more sensitive information in case I lose the jump drive and some stranger recovers it. However, most of the other data is a simple copy made from the various computers I use.

The $59.95 I paid for a 32-gigabyte drive is about the most cost-effective price today for a jump drive when calculated on a per gigabyte basis ($1.87 per gigabyte of storage). Low storage capacity jump drives sell for five dollars or less but typically do not approach the $1.87 per gigabyte price point. I have seen 64- and 128-gigabyte jump drives advertised but at rather high prices. The size of 32 gigabytes seems to be the most cost-effective. Of course, all that will probably change again within a few weeks as prices continue to plummet.

I love thumb drives for short-term storage – that is, storing data for a few weeks or months. However, the technology is so new that the manufacturers are not making any claims about how long the data will be preserved on a jump drive. I wouldn't trust one of these for long-term storage of a year or longer. I do think they are ideal for keeping a backup of your current data and then making new backups frequently. Almost all of today's Windows and Macintosh genealogy programs will back up data directly to a jump drive.

Have you backed up your genealogy data? If not, pick up a jump drive for five bucks or more at the local drug store, department store, or at any computer store.

Posted by Dick Eastman on November 28, 2008


I personally use a Jump Drive AND an external hard drive for backup! [I had one bad scare in 2007 with my genealogy! Don't ever want that again!]


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lincoln's Bicentennial

From Dear Myrtle:

The National Archives Celebrates Lincoln's Bicentennial in January Special program and film mark 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth Washington, D.C . . . .
The National Archives will celebrate the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth in January 2009 with a special lecture and film. These events are free and open to the public and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., which is located on the National Mall at Constitution Ave. and 7th Street, N.W., and is fully accessible. Coming soon - The Emancipation Proclamation!
**February 12-16, 2009 - Featured Document Display: The Emancipation Proclamation** Thursday, February 12 through Monday, February 16, 2009 National Archives East Rotunda Gallery In celebration of Lincoln's birthday and the Presidents' Day holiday, the National Archives will display the original Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln. The special display of the Emancipation Proclamation is free and open to the public. Saturday, January 17, at noon Film: Abraham Lincoln Noon, William G. McGowan Theater Director D. W. Griffith presents a biography of Abraham Lincoln through vignettes about his life, including his birth, early jobs, courtship of Mary Todd, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, his Presidency, and the Civil War. Walter Huston stars as Lincoln. (96 minutes, 1930) Thursday, January 22, 2009, at noon Lecture: Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln Noon, William G. McGowan Theater Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln are the two preeminent self-made men in American history. Lincoln was born poor, had less than one year of formal school, and became one of the nation's greatest Presidents. Douglass spent the first 20 years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling, and became the most famous black man in the Western world and one of the nation's greatest writers. John Stauffer, author of Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, discusses how Douglass and Lincoln reinvented themselves and transformed America. Related Exhibition Public Vaults permanent exhibition The Public Vaults exhibition of the National Archives Experience features a Lincoln telegram, an image of Lincoln and his general after Antietam, a facsimile of all five pages of the Emancipation Proclamation, a letter congratulating Lincoln on his re-election, and an interactive exhibit about the Lincoln assassination and the Booth conspiracy.
To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: (202) 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events on the web at:
To request an accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program please email or call 202-357-5000 two weeks prior to the event. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD) 301-837-0482.

Genealogy Software That Records Same-Sex Marriages?

Here's a dilemma that anyone doing professional genealogy can appreciate; also some of you who have some non-traditional family members, can appreciate this.


A newsletter reader sent a message this week asking a question that I could not answer. I thought I would pass this on to other readers in hopes that we can find an answer. Here is the original question:

Since we now have two states that permit same-sex couples to marry, and seven other states plus the District of Columbia with "domestic partnership" or "civil union" laws, and several foreign countries with similar laws, I've been looking for genealogical software that permits the entry of such relationships. The Master Genealogist claims to be a "Complete Faimly History" program, but does not seem to allow the entry of same-sex marriages. It does allow one to create a tag, such as partner, for such situations, but it does not export anything about that tag to a GEDCOM file. The situation becomes more challenging when there are adopted children in a same-sex relationship - again, the software doesn't seem to "recognize" these non-traditional families.

Do you know if any of the commercially available genealogy programs provide appropriate fields to permit entry of genealogical data for same-sex couples that WILL export to a GEDCOM file?

Posted by Dick Eastman - EOGN, 25 Nov 2008


Well, I'm happy to say that FTM does this quite nicely! The program is affordable, and does allow the same sex marriage to come through on the Gedcom. It even allows for parenting of natural, adopted and step-children.

While it will designate one person the "Husband" and one person the "Wife", it will allow for both parties to be of the same sex, although it will question if this is what you really want to do.

On the comment section of his blog, Dick had several answers, including Reunion 9; Legacy Family Tree 7; TMG; Family Tree Maker; Genbox; GeditCom; Most of the French Genealogy Programs; and one sour apple who stated the original question was an oxymoron.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Life Photo's Now Available Online!

Posted by Dick Eastman on EOGN:


110 Years of Life Magazine Photos Now Online

I love those glossy photographs that Life Magazine is famous for. Now the magazine has placed 10 million photographs on Google's servers. The photographs range from Margaret Bourke-White's harrowing depictions of the just-liberated concentration camps to Dorothea Lange's haunting photo of a migrant mother to pictures of men walking on the Moon.

One picture that I especially like is that of a parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1865.
On many of the photos, you need to click on the link labeled "View Full Size" in order to see the high resolution version.

You can start exploring here:

Another method is to search Google by and simply add "source:life" to any Google image search. That will limit the search to the LIFE photo archive. For example: genealogy source:life.
Even if you don't find exactly what your looking for there's lots of interesting pictures.
My thanks to Carla Bodette for letting me know about this valuable new resource.

Posted by Dick Eastman on November 21, 2008


Many thanks Dick for sharing this info!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jesus Joins The Family

This amazing old photo comes from "The Genealogue". I really thought you'd like to see this!


Don't you hate in when someone shows up uninvited in your family photos?
I got this photo from my grandma, and it must be from the early 1900s. Just take a look at it! There's a mum and a dad with their child on his knee. The child died shortly after the photo was taken. You can see a face in profile and an angel's face in the hair of Jesus. It's really a fantastic photo, isn't it?


Can you see the face of Jesus? The child is actually his face, and he's facing the Dad. The hair of Jesus is between the Dad and Mum. In Jesus' hair you can just make out the face of an angel!

This is especially haunting when you consider the sweet baby died shortly after the photograph was taken!

DNA Test Costs Reduced

From Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider comes the following post:

The family networking and genealogy site MyHeritage and genetic genealogy company FamilyTreeDNA just announced a partnership that promises DNA testing discounts for you.The arrangement continues the trend of merging social networking, genealogy and DNA, on sites such as Genetree, and Familybuilder.The FamilyTreeDNA-MyHeritage offer includes these discounted DNA tests:

25-marker Y-DNA: $129 (FamilyTreeDNA doesn’t usually offer a 25-marker test, but its 12-marker test costs $149)

mtDNAPlus, which tests mitochondrial DNA and estimates Native American and African ancestry: $129 (this beats FamilyTreeDNA’s regular price of $189)

mtDNA and 25-marker Y-DNA: $219 (compare to the regular price of $229 for an mtDNA and 12-marker Y-DNA combo)The offer page says the specials are for MyHeritage users, though it doesn’t look like you're required to prove you’re a member of MyHeritage. You can read more about these and other genetic genealogy companies in previous Genealogy Insider blog posts. The DNA toolkit on offers advice on choosing the right test for your research questions.

Genealogy Industry Genetic Genealogy
11/20/2008 9:45:19 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Save This & Keep It Handy!

This is another post by Dick Eastman from earlier this week. You should probably save this information and keep it handy by your computer for future referencing!

Happy Trails!


Online Genealogy Dictionaries and Lists

I have been collecting URLs (Web addresses) of various online dictionaries and lists that are useful to genealogists. These are useful when trying to decode foreign or obsolete words often found in genealogy work. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Encyclopedia of Genealogy: (Disclaimer: This is a site that I created but the data has been created by many different people. In fact, you can also add data to the Encyclopedia of Genealogy.)

Abbreviations Found in Genealogy:
FamilySearch has an extensive list at
Other lists may be found at : and and and

A List of Occupations, many of which are archaic. You can discover what your ancestor really did at: (with emphasis on England and its 16th and 17th century colonies ) and and and and

“Cousinship” - What is a second cousin twice removed? This and other cousin relationships are explained at

Cyndi's List of Medical Terms:

Archaic Medical Terms, Diseases and Causes of Death: and and the MedTerms Dictionary with both modern and obsolete terminology at and and and and

Glossar: Die Familie: An annotated English-German glossary of terms frequently found in genealogy research:

Meanings and origins of first names - an etymology (the origin of words) and list of the most popular names:

Old handwriting in genealogy research (with images of handwriting samples):

Old Style Abbreviations - Proper Names (with images of handwriting samples):

Abbreviations on Gravestones:
Military Abbreviations Found on U.S. Grave Markers:
Cemetery Junction Directory - A directory of more than 20,000 cemeteries, arranged by state. Search by cemetery and family name. Links to obituaries and genealogical societies in the U.S, Australia, and Canada:

Where to Write for Vital Records - Addresses and guidelines for contacting each U.S. state or territory for vital records and documents:

There are many, many more such lists online. You should be able to find them with any search engine. However, the above is a list of the ones I keep handy.

Posted by Dick Eastman in EOGN Nov 17, 2008


The White House Moves Into The 21st Century!

Posted by Dick Eastman on his EOGN:

Obama May Be Unable To Use BlackBerry at The White House
Genealogists who use computers can appreciate the marriage of technology with paper-based records. Sometimes that is a rocky marriage: the two do not always work well together. Now President-Elect Barack Obama may have a quandary.
Obama has long used a Blackberry device for communications. Like millions of other Blackberry addicts, he depends on it to conduct day-to-day business in an efficient manner. During the campaign, he told associates to never send him paper memos or reports. Instead, he wanted all reports sent to his Blackberry device. One can assume that he would like to continue that practice as President.
The problem is the Presidential Records Act. That Act requires all official correspondence to be public domain. This means that the incumbent President has "to dispose of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value, once he has obtained the views of the Archivist of the United States on the proposed disposal."
In other words, the President cannot delete anything from the Blackberry until the Archivist of the United States has approved the deletion.
On the bright side, President-Elect Obama has also stated that he will be the first president to keep a laptop on the desk in the Oval Office. He plans to take the same laptop with him when he travels.
Indeed, the White House is now moving into the twenty-first century.

Talking Turkey this Thanksgiving...

The following article was written by Diane Haddad and printed in the "Genealogy Insider" blog. I hope you will each take the time to look this over and talk about your family's health history at your next gathering!


Posted by Diane
For the past several years around this time, the Surgeon General has urged Americans to use holiday gatherings as an opportunity to talk about health history. It’s not to make you feel guilty about that extra piece of pecan pie. It’s because your ancestors’ medical conditions may have a genetic component. So maybe you can improve your health outlook by changing a few habits—or at least you’ll know what to watch out for.While Great-uncle Hector’s intestinal blockage might not be the best dinner-table conversation, we encourage you to gently ask about family members’ illnesses and causes of death when your family gets together. You can record what you learn using the Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait online tool, then print a chart to show your doctor. Other ways to gather famliy health history:
You may find clues about illnesses in journals and letters—health was a major topic of discussion for our ancestors.
Death certificates, funeral records, obituaries and coroners’ records (sometimes available in cases of unusual death) may offer a cause of death. Get tips for finding death records on the Now What? blog.
Though harder to find and access, ancestors' medical records also are helpful.If you find yourself wondering what a record means by “podagra,” consult the archaic disease dictionary at Antiquus Morbus (it’s a term for gout in the joints of the foot.)See for more resources on researching health history.


Blessings To All,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

from EOGN

More great news regarding Ancestry!

Ancestry Toolbar

The Generations Network has announced the availability of an Ancestry Toolbar. The Toolbar is a new feature that you can add to your Windows browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) and use to save photos and stories you find on the Web to a person in your Ancestry Member Tree. With the toolbar, you can:

Attach photos and stories them to people in your family tree

Save links to web pages to people in your family tree

Access your Ancestry Quick Links

Quickly access your family tree(s)

Please note that it is for Windows only; there is no Generations Toolbar for Macintosh.

You can learn more about the Ancestry Toolbar at

Posted by Dick Eastman on November 12, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

America The Beautiful

Okay, I don't usually share these kinds of things with the readers of this blog, but following this year's historic Presidential happenings, and the huge outpouring of our nation's citizens in becoming active in the election process, I can't help but feel such a pride in this Country!

This site will bring such a sense of pride when you watch it!

Simply put, it's My Beautiful America - All 50 States. Be sure to have your sound turned on, and watch the slide show!

Click here:

Historical Records Of 600,000 Canadian WWI Heroes Now Online

Another great article by Dick Eastman in his EOGN online! Thanks Dick!


The following announcement was written by The Generations Network, the parent company of

600,000 records of our World War One heroes, including famous Canadians - John McCrae, Tommy Douglas and Frederick Banting

(Toronto, ON – November 5, 2008) Between 1914-1918, more than 600,000 Canadian men, most untrained civilians, braved foreign soil to join the Allied Forces in an effort to restore peace and freedom to the world, with more than 60,000 making the ultimate sacrifice., Canada’s leading online family history website, honours those men with the Soldiers of the First World War, 1914 - 1918, which contains the original records, fully searchable, of more than 598,000 Attestation Papers of enlisted soldiers.

An Attestation Paper was the first document a soldier signed before entering the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). In many cases, these may be the only surviving record of the enlistment of many Canadian soldiers who fought in World War One.

Attestation Papers provide a range of details about the enlistee including place of birth, age, physical description and next of kin. Some also include valuable information about their lives before the war, such as their occupation, marital status and residence.

Karen Peterson, Marketing Director,, comments: “Military records are invaluable to any family history enthusiast wishing to trace the military career of their ancestors and what makes this collection particularly significant is its sheer size, and also the rich personal details to be found in individual records.

“With Remembrance Day approaching, this collection reminds us of the sacrifices and incredible hardships all Canadians endured during The Great War.”

The struggle of World War One involved virtually the whole country and made enormous demands on the Canadian people, whether they were involved in the actual fighting or remained on the home front to work in industry or farming to support the war effort.

Posted by Dick Eastman on November 05, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just What Is "Ranked Search"?

Okay folks, this is probably the best explanation I have seen thusfar! And, as always, I love the wit!

The following comes from the "Ancestry Insider":

Ancestry's Ranked Search
Posted: 23 Oct 2008 01:05 AM CDT

Look guys, if you're not going to pay attention, you're going to look stupid.
GNW writes,
I don't like any of the searches at It takes too much time to weed through all the results that have nothing that connects to your search. If you put in a name, dates, family members and they lived in that same county and state all of their lives, married there, and then died there, why should they start out with people who lived 1,000 miles from that location and was born 30 years after that person died? That is unforgiveable [sic] and simply put, STUPID.
Let me put together the reasons why this happens and tell you if something is being done about it. Then I'll give GNW what's coming to him.

Everyone needs a good search strategy
Ancestry's Relevance Ranked search works pretty much under the same assumptions as television's Dr. House:
Everybody lies
Everybody screws up
(Before I get into my discussion of ranked searching, let me say that if checking the Exact search box in the new search interface doesn't work as expected, you need to inform Find a current discussion on New Search on the official Blog and leave a comment.)

The faulty world
Put in the context of genealogical research, Dr. House's philosophy translates to, "take nothing for granted." Take for example, a census record. On any given page of the census somewhere you can find with 95% certainty at least one of the following faults:
The census forms, questions or process gathered imprecise or ambiguous information.
The respondent gave the enumerator incorrect information or avoided him altogether. Concepts of exactness in spelling and dating have not always been as strict as today, so the spelling of names could vary wildly. Neighbors were sometimes called upon to give information for those not at home. Respondents sometimes gave information for far away relatives they feared might not be counted.

The enumerator wrote down incorrect information or didn't record everything and everyone that he was supposed to do. Sometimes fraudulent names and data were added.

Often, a second copy of each census schedule was hand copied, introducing inadvertent errors. Sometimes, these copies are all that have survived for use today.

While using the census records for their original purposes, names and information were overwritten, making some information illegible, some inconsistent with other information on the page and some incorrect.

The census records were not always properly conserved and might no longer be legible or even extant. As ink fades, the lighter strokes of cursive handwriting can change the apparent spelling of names and places. Some were microfilmed out of focus and then the originals destroyed.
The information on the census was incorrectly abstracted (i.e., extracted or indexed). Or one or more names or pages were skipped. Sometimes information vital to the interpretation of a census entry was written outside the normal fields or the abstraction software was not capable of capturing it.

The electronic search index includes errors making some records impossible to find. It might exclude some names or groups of names. Sometimes information is incorrectly indexed because of faulty standardization or handling of abbreviations, names, dates and places.

Sometimes you, the user, make typographical errors when typing information into search forms. And sometimes the targets of our searches show up in unexpected times and places.

A similar list can be produced for other types of records. Simply put, people screw up. A good searcher takes each of these errors into account and devices a search strategy accordingly. Have you ever used a successive term-dropping round-robin search to find a misindexed name? (Drop the first name, then the middle name, then the last name.) Have you ever used the successive term-dropping technique to find a person when you only had a vague guess about their location? But strip away the romance of performing dozens or hundreds of searches for one target record and the search strategy is pretty consistent. And pretty repeatable. And pretty mundane.

The ideal world
Wow! That's exactly what computers do better than humans. Lots and lots and lots of redundant tasks. So let's program the computer to do the ideal search strategy for us. I'm talking about the ideal world here, for a moment. Neither nor anyone else has it right... yet.
Don't make me try all the nicknames, or even trust me to know or remember them all. Don't make me study out all the common name spellings. Don't make me study historical linguistics to find out how German pronunciation would affect phonetic name spellings. Let some expert somewhere do it once and let us all benefit from it. Don't make me explicitly search the census for family members to try and find my guy. The computer has my tree; do that search for me. Don't make me do successive term-dropping to account for the faults from the list above. Do it for me. Don't make me figure out every different name that a location was ever known by. Look them up and try them all for me. Hey, and while you're at it, can you account for common transliterations and other typos?

The real world
I'm happy to announce that has been working on just such a feature for several years now. Some of the kinks are worked out. Some are not. It is called Relevance Ranked searching.

The reason you get results 30 years after the death date is because the death date you entered might be wrong or the death date on results listed might be wrong.

The reason you get results 1,000 miles away is because a location might be wrong.

The reason you get results with different names is... well you get the picture.

So it is entirely normal to get results that don't match all of your criteria. That is by design. It is entirely normal to get way too many results. They are sorted from best to worst. Look through the results until your superior brain says, "I've reached the point where the quality of the results is less than what I am willing to wade through." Then let your superior brain zero in on a particular record collection or database. Or change the search criteria. Click the exact box on selected items. Then try another search. Gradually release the autopilot and take greater control of the search. But do it after you've let the ranked search take its best crack at it. has stated that they think their current algorithm has a big problem: it ranks results by how many search terms match but doesn't penalize non-matches. Kendall Hulet discussed that here and Anne Mitchell brought it up again in this comment. Will they be able to fix this problem?

What does your brain do differently when it says, "poppycock, that's not a match!" versus "There he is! In Kansas?" If they can figure that out, then they can fix this problem.

Put up or shut up
Now, in true Dr. House's juvenile fashion, I'd like to respond to GNW.
Ancestry's STUPID!?! Nah, uuuh!!! You're stupider... to infinity!!! You didn't listen, so now you look stupid. Remember that lecture where I showed my superior intelligence? Told you not to complain without giving a specific example? I said, "Put up or shut up." Remember? Sure I misspelling corral multiple times... In multiple ways... But, hey! I'm not stupid! You complained without giving a specific example so you're stupid!

[This is where Dr. Cuddy says, "Careful or your face will stay like that!"]

Give me the "name, dates, family members" that you typed into the search form. You said they "lived in that same county and state all of their lives, married there, and then died there." If I understand you correctly, you say that the very first results "start out with people who lived 1,000 miles from that location and [were] born 30 years after that person died." Send me the example and I'll make certain it gets to the right people.

Please, everybody. Don't ever again bring up the problem of ranked results that don't match the input criteria. We've established that that is sometimes good and sometimes bad and that has plans to improve this.

Oh, and please don't read through all 24,521 results of a ranked search. When you get that many results in Google you say, "Wow! Google's awesome." But you don't try every single result.
Lastly, I'm tired of complaints without actionable examples. It makes real problems sound like unfounded emotionalism.

Put up [examples]. Or shut up. Please!

Notice: The Ancestry Insider is independent of and The opinions expressed herein are his own. Trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The name Ancestry Insider designates the author's status as an insider among those searching their ancestry and does not refer to

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Slap On The Wrist???

We've all read in the papers, or actually seen the results in person, of cemetery vandalism.

This past Memorial Day, my Dad and I went to our local cemeteries where for years we have honored our ancestors by laying flowers upon their graves. The vandalism was rampant in even our rural neck of the woods!

It is heartbreaking to see such disrespect for those who have lived and died in our communities, and especially when it is some of our ancestor's graves.

Well, one Marshall, MN "Independent" newspaper reader offers a suggestion on how to treat those individuals who commit such crimes as vandalism of our cemeteries in the following editorial:

"A slap on the wrist won’t cut it
POSTED: October 12, 2008

To the editor:

The act of vandalism at the cemetery ("Headstones Target of Vandalism in Marshall," Sept. 30) is a prime example of the lack of respect some have for those who came before us. Many believe that those who are responsible should simply be put into jail, that punishment alone is enough to prevent future criminal behavior. Unfortunately, punishment alone will not teach those responsible the respect which they so obviously lack.

To prevent those responsible from repeating this offensive and disrespectful act, and to attempt to prevent them from committing future criminal acts, the community must be involved in whatever sentence the court metes out.

This writer would suggest having the perpetrators assist in the clean-up of the cemetery and the repair of the headstones. The offenders might also learn something from doing genealogical research on those who are buried in the cemetery, primarily those whose headstones were vandalized. As the article mentioned the majority of the headstones damaged were from the late 1800s, and those who are buried there may no longer have family in the area. A simple apology letter seems to be the norm for acts of vandalism, and a letter sent out of town isn't much for someone to write, but if that letter contained the history of their ancestor, researched by the person who showed such disrespect, then maybe it wouldn't be quite so simple. Maybe it would actually mean something, both to the recipient and to the writer.

Samantha Barowsky"


What a grand idea!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Okay, this is telling you an approximation of my age, but as a kid, I thought Bowzer was a hunk! [Okay, so I wasn't a little kid, and I actually was old enough to know what a hunk was!]. That rich deep voice sent shivers down my spine!

So I was thrilled to read Bowzer is still out there doing his Rock 'N Roll Magic!!!

Thank Dick for another great article!


October 06, 2008
Bowzer and the RootsMagic Genealogy Cruise

If you click on the thumbnail image to the right, you'll see a photograph of Jon Bauman, better known as "Bowzer." Bowzer was the bass singer in the ‘70’s band Sha Na Na, which played at Woodstock and later starred in the Sha Na Na television show, the #1 syndicated television show of the time.

As you can see from the picture, Bowzer recently had an encounter with a group of genealogists on the RootsMagic cruise.

Bauman currently tours extensively with his group, Bowzer and the Stingrays, and was an entertainer on board the cruise ship, Vision of the Seas. He and his band played one evening in the ship's theater to a crowd of enthusiastic rockers. I had a chance to sit in the front row and must say that I enjoyed the show. A lot of the folks on the RootsMagic cruise were also in the audience, and I think they all enjoyed it, too.

A day or two later, I managed to snap a picture of Bowzer, just after RootsMagic President Bruce Buzbee handed the musician a book bag with the RootsMagic logo. Perhaps we can now get Bowzer interested in looking up his family tree!

I learned a few facts about Bowzer. For one thing, he is an accomplished classical pianist. He amazed the audience during his cruise ship show by playing several classical pieces. As a child prodigy, he was admitted to The Juilliard School at age 12 and is a graduate magna cum laude of Columbia University. He even hosted the Hollywood Squares television show for a while in the early 1980s. He also had a role in the movie Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. In addition, he does voiceovers on several animated children's movies, including "Animaniacs" and "The Jetsons." That's not the usual image of a rock musician!

You can read more about Bowzer at
You can read more about the RootsMagic cruise at