Thursday, June 6, 2019

D-Day Plus 75 Years

Today marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day

The closest relative I have found involved in the D-Day invasion was Arnold Burton Kruvant, a second cousin of my paternal grandfather. The details of his death were, I believe, first described in a book on his battalion published in 2016. While apparently several surviving members of his battalion witnessed his death, they decided not to share the details with his family, due to its gruesome nature.

First Lt. Arnold Kruvant of New Jersey was a Camp Claiborne original. He transferred to the 37th Parachute Artillery Battalion and became the S-3, jumping into Normandy even though he had never had jump training. Kruvant carried in with him the funds for the battalion, $500 in U.S. currency. He is listed as KIA and MIA on June 6. He was twenty-six years old.

Kruvant’s widow was well known and well liked by the men of the 321st. They decided at the time that she would not be told of her husband’s gruesome death. Several 321st officers recalled that Kruvant was bayoneted to death while hung up in his parachute harness, dangling from a tree just off the ground. Why his body was never positively identified remains a mystery to this day. (Source: Screaming Eagle Gliders: The 321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division in World War II, G. J. Dettore, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016, pp 83-85. Image: East Orange High School Yearbook, 1936, p. 44. Retrieved from Ancestry.com June 5, 2019.)

***

Note: A week and a half ago I neglected to make my annual Memorial Day post. On future Memorial Days, I believe I will honor Arnold Kruvant's service in addition to that of my great uncle, Mandell Newmark. (Mandell and Arnold were second cousins.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

National Genealogical Society Conference 2019

Four years ago, the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference was in St. Charles, MO, 15-20 minutes from me. So I attended, and blogged about my experiences. It's back in St. Charles this week, so I will be attending again.

I have updated all the links on my 2015 blog post of Dining Recommendations. My personal recommendations are pretty much the same. However, there is a new excellent Kosher restaurant in St. Louis for those with dietary considerations. Cafe Coeur. About a 20 minute drive from the conference center, it offers a blend of Japanese and Italian cuisine. (Yes, sushi and pizza, but more.) The restaurant is about a month old, so reservations are recommended.

I didn't sign up for any of the Pre-Conference events today, so I will be headed there tomorrow for the Opening Ceremonies. I had a lot of educational fun four years ago, and I'm looking forward to the next few days.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday: John Davenport Sr. 1784-1851

John Devenport and his wife Delilah Abernathy Devenport are my wife's fifth great grandparents.


This tombstone is filled with information. (The accuracy of the information depending entirely on the knowledge of whoever provided it.)

1) John's profession: Justice of the Peace
2) Where he was born: Virginia
3) His wife's maiden name: Abernathy
4) Where she was born: North Carolina
5) When they moved to Missouri: 1820
6) And that he was the first to be buried in the cemetery. (Old Union Methodist Church Cemetery; Bessville, Bollinger County, Missouri)

There are North Carolina marriage records for John and Delilah.
There is a likely father for John, William Devenport (1756 VA - 1826 NC).
William's will does mention a son by the name of John, and a witness on several of the documents has the surname Abernathy.




Monday, April 22, 2019

Amanuensis Monday: Melvin Van Every and Cotton in the El Paso Valley - 1917

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

Today I transcribe two newspaper clippings. One my great grandfather's obituary from 1929, and a letter to the editor one of his daughters, Minnie Van Every Benold, wrote in 1965. Both discuss my great grandfather's role in growing cotton in the El Paso valley.

El Paso Times, May 28, 1929, page 14 

MELVIN E. VAN EVERY, 60, died at Garfield, N.M., Sunday. Services will be held at 4 o’clock this afternoon at the chapel of Kaster & Maxon the Rev. W. Angie Smith officiating. Burial will be in Evergreen cemetery.

Mr. Van Every was one of the pioneer residents of the lower valley and was engaged in cotton growing and ginning. He was the builder of the first cotton gin in the valley.

He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Josie Van Every, three daughters, Mrs. Minnie Benold and Mrs. I.T. Herrin, both of El Paso, and Miss Myrtle Van Every of Kansas City, Mo., also by one son, Dr. S.O. Van Every of Kansas City, Mo. Pallbearers will be selected from the W.O.W. of which he was a member.

El Paso Times, Feb 12, 1965, p.4. 

Dear Mr. Hooten: I have just read your request for information as to who raised the Valley’s first cotton. I think I know!

My father, M.E. Van Every “scouted” for good cotton land in 1917 from South Texas to California and bought land two miles below Fabens. There he cleared and ditched the land for irrigation in time to plant cotton for the spring of 1918.

Louis J. Ivey was his good friend and may have experimented before, but all had decided the summers were too short. My father contended that some seasons were not and planted 11 acres, from which he harvested 14 bales, taking the cotton somewhere over in Texas for ginning. He then built a cotton gin in Fabens or Tornillo.

This set the Valley “on fire” and the farmers turned their alfalfa and wheat fields and orchards into cotton patches! He sent letters and telegrams to us, begging us to move out, until we did in 1919 to take charge of my uncle’s farm who was to ill to farm.

This is the story of how our family came West. That year we made enough on our cotton to buy a car and put $1,000 in the bank. Cotton was 39 cents a pound, the highest since the Civil War. I believe this to be the true story of cotton here.

Notes:

1) My great grandfather and Louis.J. Ivey were both mentioned in a 1919 article on El Paso cotton growing.

2) An obituary I previously transcribed from May 29th states he was 66. 66 is the correct age.

3) Minnie's letter clarifies that my great grandfather scouted out land in El Paso while his family remained in San Marcos, on the opposite side of Texas. Minnie, the eldest child, was 33 in 1917. His youngest child, my grandmother, Myrtle, was only 17 in 1917.

4) Minnie is the same great-aunt who wrote a series of letters to the Houston Post as a child for their Happy Hammers children's section.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Twelve Years of Genealogy Research

I've been blogging about something since May 2002.

  • In March of 2007 I wrote about my great grandfather Barney and his claim he was born in Dublin on March 17th.
  • A friend read my post, and sent me a census record with my great grandfather on it.
  • I had no previous idea what was online.
  • On April 16, 2007 I wrote my first two blog posts concerning research

In 2007 I wrote 131 blog posts.
2008: 263
2009: 323 (almost, but not quite, one per day)
2010: 293 (I began dating the woman of my dreams in May)
2011: 165 (We became engaged)
2012: 114 (We were married)
2013: 90 (We bought a home)
2014: 50 (We adopted twin 1 year old boys)
2015: 54
2016: 86
2017: 59
2018: 23

My research continues; I've just been blogging less.

  • Six years ago, the last time I looked at database statistics, my database had slightly over 2800 individuals, and my wife's had 340.
  • Today: There are over 4700 individuals in my database, and over 1700 in my wife's database.
I'm very pleased with the discoveries I have made, and I'm confident I will continue to make more. I missed my annual St. Patrick's Day post this year, but you can read all my past ones here.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Partnership between St. Louis County Library and Newspapers.com

According to the April edition of PastPorts (the St. Louis County Library's History and Genealogy Newsletter)
St. Louis County Library signed a cooperative agreement with Newspapers.com on March 13 to digitize newspaper microfilm in its History & Genealogy (H&G) collection. The project will for the first time provide online electronic access to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 1853–1963; Anzeiger des Westens, 1843–1898; and Westliche Post, 1857–1938. Other newspapers include those that once served St. Louis African American, French-speaking, and Jewish communities. 
Over 2000 microfilm reels will be shipped in Mid-May to Newspapers.com. (They may have been considering the NGS Conference in early May when they scheduled the shipment.)

They don't list all the newspapers being digitized, but below are some of the defunct titles that could be included in the list. (It would be nice if they have worked out deals with some additional newspapers that are still ongoing.)
  • Jewish Free Press, 1885 – 1887
  • Jewish Tribune, Aug 29, 1879 – 1884
  • Jewish Voice, Jan 6, 1888 – Dec 31, 1920
  • Modern View-St. Louis (Jewish), Mar 21, 1913 - Aug 27, 1920; Mar 4, 1921 - Feb 10, 1928; Aug 24, 1928 - Jul 28, 1938; Feb 2, 1939 - Jul 25, 1940
  • La Revue de l'Ouest (French), Jan 1854 – Dec 1854
  • Le Patriote (French), 1878 – 1887
  • St. Louis Palladium (African American), Jan 10, 1903 – Oct 5, 1907
  • Przewodnik Polski (Polish), Jan. 8, 1903 – July 7, 1910; Feb. 27, 1913 – July 11, 1929; Feb 2, 1945 – Feb 22, 1945 
  • St. Louis La Lega Italiana, Oct 9, 1914 – Dec 25, 1920 
  • St. Louiske' Listy (Czech), Oct 23, 1902 – Sept 1, 1923
The digitization of the St. Louis Globe Democrat archives will likely be what interests most researchers. The St. Louis Post Dispatch has already been digitized, and made available through Newspapers.com, and for decades the two newspapers were the primary dailies. But the weekly specialized newspapers will be of great interest to many as well.

I've been slowly working my way backwards through the Modern View microfilm looking for ancestral surnames. It will be a pleasure to be able to search the digitized records from home. The quality of the microfilm isn't consistent, so Optical Character Recognition will be poor in spots. This will require browsing the newspapers as I am currently doing. However, I will be able to do it from home. Several of my ancestors came from Poland, though I suspect if they are going to appear in a local community paper, it will be one of the Jewish ones.

Pastports also says:
Researchers will be able to view newspaper images on the Newspapers.com website and search them by name or keyword. Newspapers.com can be used at St. Louis County Library locations and remotely by library cardholders living in the St. Louis metro area.
I wasn't aware Newspapers.com had been added to the library databases. It's the ProQuest Library Edition. The description states 4,000+ newspaper titles. Newspapers.com Basic has 11,400+ newspaper titles. Newspapers.com Premium has even more. If all of the newspapers that the library is digitizing will be available through ProQuest, I *suspect* they will also be available through a Newspapers.com Basic subscription.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Happy Hanuka!

Hanuka isn’t going to be celebrated for a couple weeks. It begins on the evening of December 2nd, this year. However, tomorrow is the day Hanuka would fall on if instead of the Hebrew calendar, we used the Gregorian calendar. The 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in 164 BCE fell on November 21.

Of course, Pope Gregory hadn’t been born yet in 164 BCE. Jesus hadn’t been born yet. Not only was there no such thing as the Gregorian calendar, Julius Caesar hadn’t been born, so there was no Julian Calendar.

Moreover, the Hebrew calendar wasn’t standardized yet. Each Hebrew month began after two people declared they saw the crescent moon. So two different communities could be slightly off from one another, but each month there was a reboot.

So November 21 is an estimate.
The 25th of Kislev is an estimate too.

Happy Hanuka!