Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Who got married?

One of the two individuals mentioned in the clipping below from the  Cincinnati Daily Press, July 26, 1860, might be related to my wife. However, that is not why I am sharing this. 

I found the phrasing particularly interesting. I am fairly certain if the below appeared in a newspaper today, many readers would assume something very different from what most 1860 readers assumed. 
"...Night before last, however, a wedding took place near the Brighton House and almost before the pair had become legally one, Charles Schrock and Henry Erndt became involved in a difficulty, when, after many words and a few blows, the latter drew a knife and stabbed his antagonist in the side and arm..."

Of course, both readers are making an assumption. We need to be extra cautious about the assumptions we make.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Anton Schrock - Obituary (*Where* was he born??)

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.

Below I transcribe the obituary for my wife's 3rd great grandfather, Anton Schrock, which appeared in the Marble Hill Press on June 21, 1900. The clipping was found at ChroniclingAmerica.

Died – At his home near this place, the 15th, Anton Schrock aged about 81 years. Deceased had been in poor health sometime and being quite old, was an easy victim. He was a highly respected citizen and has been a resident of this county about forty years and of the United States sixty years. He was born in Frankenstine, Germany December 31, 1819. He leaves a widow, seven children and a host of friends to mourn their loss.


1. The one word which, for almost any reader, will jump up and wave its arms about forcing the individual to take notice, is the name of the village in Germany. Not everyone realizes it is a name of an actual village. There is a castle there, too. Mary Wollstonecraft, along with three author friends, including future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, traveled nearby in 1814. They challenged each other to a competition to see who could write the best horror story. I don't think there is any dispute who won. Frankenstein was published in 1818.

It should be noted that the only documentation I've seen indicating the village of Frankenstein as Schrock's birthplace is this obituary. Anton Schrock was born after the publication of the novel, and it's very easy to imagine that his claim to have been born there is about as truthful as my Polish-born great grandfather's claim to have been born in Dublin, Ireland.

The passenger manifest for Anton Schrock and his wife, Caroline, indicate their town of origin was Neurode, Germany. Which is approximately 750km from Frankenstein. It's certainly possible Schrock was born in Frankenstein, moved to Neurode, and then immigrated to America. Caroline could have been from Neurode, and Anton from Frankenstein. There are a lot of possibilities.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekly Genealogy Picks and Calendar

Highlights from news stories and blog posts I have read in the past week that deal with my overlapping interests in Genealogy, History, Heritage, and Technology.
Upcoming holidays - religious and secular, national and international - for the next two weeks
  • August 22
    • Flag Day (Russia)
  • August 23
    • European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism
    • International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
  • August 25
    • Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)
    • Liberation Day (France)
  • August 28
    • Women's Equality Day (USA)
    • National Grandparents Day (Mexico)
    • Feast of the Mother of God (Eastern Orthodox Church)
  • August 29
    • Beheading of St. John the Baptist (Christian)
    • International Day Against Nuclear Tests
  • August 31
    • Day of Solidarity and Freedom (Poland)
  • September 1
    • Ecclesiastical Year Begins (Orthodox Christian)
  • September 2
    • VJ Day (US)
  • September 3
    • Flag Day (Australia)
    • VJ Day (Republic of China)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Adoption and Genealogy

Six years ago, Tamura Jones at Modern Software Experience discussed Adoption and Genealogy in the posts Adapted Ahnenlist and Adoption in Genealogy. At that time, I had no idea adoption was in my future.

If you're already familiar with the traditional Ahnenlist/Ahnentafel format, his idea for adapting it to include both (A)dopted and (B)irth parents is so natural, you probably don't need me to explain it here, or follow the links in the paragraph above. An instance where the letters in a numbering system are actually meaningful in themselves is rare, it seems like kismet when it happens.

Of course, adoption isn't the only non-traditional relationship that the genealogist has to think about today. For example, it's 'conceivable' someone might want to indicate surrogacy in a chart. Polyfamilies may also wish to chart multiple lineages. The individual genealogist might need to come up with their own lettering system, but no one should feel compelled to ignore a lineage in their reports important to them in their research.

While it is possible to separate the lineages into separate reports, and this may seem easier, sometimes the whole can be greater than the parts. An interwoven ahnentafel might reveal commonalities and differences previously unconsidered. There are 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, and their meanings can be indicated in a key at the bottom of the list. If somehow we run out of room for relationships, there's always the Greek alphabet waiting in the sidelines.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Days of Love - Religious and Personal

Tu b'Av is a relatively obscure Jewish holiday that falls on the fifteenth day of the month of Av (sundown Thursday, August 18 to sundown Friday, August 19 this year).

The fifteenth day of each month on the Hebrew calendar falls on a full moon, and the holiday was observed as a sort of fertility festival during the period of the Second Temple. After the destruction of the Second Temple, it was forgotten for the most part in the Diaspora, only to be revived in modern times as a Jewish alternative to St. Valentine's Day.

To some, St. Valentine's Day, or Tu B'Av, may feel manufactured for greeting card companies, florists, and chocolatiers. However, most couples have their own personal "Days of Love." Whether the annual date commemorates a first date, an engagement, a marriage, or another anniversary, it's significant only to the individual couple.The memories connected with these dates are often stronger than the ones associated with the annual religious or societal holidays. Still, any reason for two people to celebrate their love for one another is a good reason.

To A Lady
by Victor Hugo,
From Les Feuilles D'Automne 

Child, were I king, I'd yield my royal rule,
     My chariot, sceptre, vassal-service due,
My crown, my porphyry-basined waters cool,
My fleets, whereto the sea is but a pool,
     For a glance from you!

Love, were I God, the earth and its heaving airs,
     Angels, the demons abject under me,
Vast chaos with its teeming womby lairs,
Time, space, all would I give--aye, upper spheres,
     For a kiss from thee!

translation by Thomas Hardy
photogravure by Goupil et Cie, from a drawing by Deveria, appears in a collection of Hugo's poetry published by Estes and Lauriat in the late 1800s.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Highlights from news stories and blog posts I have read in the past week that deal with my overlapping interests in Genealogy, History, Heritage, and Technology.
Upcoming holidays - religious and secular, national and international - for the next two weeks
  • August 14 
    • Tish'a B'av - Jewish (begins at sunset Aug 13)
  • August 15
    • Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary - Catholic Christian
    • Dormition of the Theotokos - Orthodox Christian
  • August 17
    • Birthday of Marcus Garvey - Rastafari
  • August 18
    • Raksha Bandhan - Hindu
  • August 19
    • Tu B'Av - Jewish (begins at sunset Aug 18)
  • August 20
    • St. Stephen's Day - Hungary
    • Feast of Asma - Bahai
  • August 23
    • European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism
  • August 25
    • Krishna Janmashtami - Hindu
  • August 28
    • Women's Equality Day - USA

Saturday, August 13, 2016

DNA Cousin Matching

Below is the AncestryDNA summary for my wife's DNA matches
188 4th-6th cousin matches

Below is the AncestryDNA summary for my DNA matches
1025 4th-6th cousin matches

I suspect a number of readers who have had their DNA tested will look at my wife's numbers, and feel they are similar to their own. And then look at mine and be surprised. "You're so lucky!" they'll think.

Except...I'm sure there's a large number of false positive matches. Back in 2014 Ancestry changed their formula to reduce the number of false positives in general, but I think it's still high for Ashkenazic Jews. It's definitely still high for me.
  • I have 437 pages of matches, 50 matches each, or a total of 21,850 matches. This obviously includes a lot of ancestors Ancestry categorizes as "Distant" or 5th-8th cousins.
  • My wife has 163 pages, or 8,150 matches
The situation is similar at FamilyTreeDNA. I have a total of 5,728 matches, my wife has 876, and my mother has 3,374.

So if I assume the number of matches everyone gets, in a purely random environment, should be approximately similar...It's possible between 4/5 and 5/6 of my "4th Cousins or closer" matches are wrong.

So if the match doesn't have a family tree, and their Ethnicity information suggests we connect on my Jewish ancestry, why should I bother emailing them, when there's over an 80% chance of a false positive? [Unfortunately, even those with family trees don't include generations beyond the 'immigrant ancestor' which would be necessary to make a connection.]

Another situation I have -- several years ago, I came into contact with another researcher on one of my paternal lines who had done a lot of research in Polish archives, and his research took back that surname for me a couple generations providing many cousins. Yay! However, the name he had for my second great grandmother was wrong, the date of birth for my second great grandfather didn't match family records, and the birth record for my great-grandmother hasn't been discovered yet, leading me to wonder if there wasn't a second person with my second great grandfather's name. Well, this person has been declared a cousin of mine by FamilyTreeDNA, and the distance corresponds to the research I was given. However, is this proof?

Well, no. I can assume that I am related to all people of that surname from that Polish town. In some manner. However, the DNA match in no way confirms what generation we really have a shared ancestor. And the less accurate the matching is, the more this is the case. [But it is still nice to see his name pop up in my matches at FamilyTreeDNA.]