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!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Amanuensis Monday: A Protest Against Agitation Against Japanese Farmers - 1919

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 a newspaper transcript of a protest my maternal grandmother's father lodged with the agricultural department of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce against any agitation to keep Japanese farmers out of the El Paso valley. It's not clear if the newspaper included the entire text of the protest. Some of the language makes me cringe, but giving some leeway for the year, I am glad my great grandfather didn't fall victim to the xenophobia of his times.

Tue, Nov 18, 1919 – 8 · El Paso Times (El Paso, El Paso, Texas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com
HERE’S REAL FRIEND OF JAPS!
WANTS ‘EM IN EL PASO VALLEY
CALLS ‘EM GOLDEN EGG GEESE

A protest against any agitation to keep Japanese farmers out of the El Paso Valley has been lodged with the agricultural department of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce by M.E. Van Every, a farmer of the lower valley.

Is For Americans

“I want to say that I am an American and believe in America for Americans, or those who wish to become Americans,” he writes, “and believe in the uplifting of my own race. But when this race degenerates so that it fears that another race will crowd them to the wall as farmers, I say move to town and start an oil company and sell stock to the little yellow fellow while he tills the soil.”

Mr. Van Every declares that there is a great deal of room for improvement in the farming methods in the lower valley. He praises the work done by the Japanese in California, saying:

Likes Japs in California

“Take the Japs out of California and you have killed the goose that lays the golden egg. They have made farming in California what it is, and they have caused land values to go higher than ever before.

“’When the Japanese come the whites go.’ It is about as well to go if we can’t compete with another race. Perhaps if we whites, who depend on Mexican labor and our country merchant for a living, were to leave and give a class of people who will work their own farms a chance, not so many country merchants would go broke, and our valley would have the appearance of the valleys in California, and our own land would sell for what it is worth, and not for what we can get for it.

Hits at Birth Rate.

“It is an appalling fact that the birth rate among Americans is not what it should be, and I am glad to note that the Japanese as a race are not afraid of their birthrate. If we cannot compete with the Japs I for one am willing to throw up the sponge and leave it with them.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ahoy Vey! -- Jewish Pirates

Repost with slight changes

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. As well as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

What would be an appropriate topic, albeit perhaps a little afield from the subject of genealogy, for a blog post combining the two?

How about Jean Lafitte, the possibly Jewish Pirate?



[image - late 19th century artist's conception. [source]

The facts of his origins, and those of his demise as well, depend upon whether you believe the "Journal of Jean Lafitte" is a forgery or not. Discovered in the possession of a claimed descendant.
"My grandmother was a Spanish-Israelite. ... Grandmother told me repeatedly of the trials and tribulations her ancestors had endured at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. ... Grandmother's teachings ... inspired in me a hatred of the Spanish Crown and all the persecutions for which it was responsible -- not only against Jews." [source]
According to one account, Jean Lafitte was killed upon the General Santander, an armed private vessel in the service of Columbia, on Feb. 5, 1823, at the age of 41. In the Gulf of Honduras, the General Santander encountered two Spanish privateers or warships, and was mortally wounded in a brief battle with the vessels and buried at sea ...  
According to Lafitte's Journal ( which many believe to be a hoax, claimed to have been found by a great grand son of Lafitte) written by Lafitte himself in 1851, he took the name John Lafflin and died in St. Louis in his 70s. [source]
As a St. Louisan, this last definitely interests me. Though I have been unable to determine where John Lafflin (whether or not in reality Jean Lafitte) is supposed to be buried. Mysteries tend to surround pirates, don't they?

However, while the origins of Jean Lafitte are controversial, in Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, author Edward Kritzler makes the claim for several others. Some of the earlier ones are said to have gone into the piracy business as revenge against the inquisition.
One such pirate was Moses Cohen Henriques, who helped plan one of history's largest heists against Spain. In 1628, Henriques set sail with Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, whose own hatred of Spain was fueled by four years spent as a galley slave aboard a Spanish ship. Henriques and Hein boarded Spanish ships off Cuba and seized shipments of New World gold and silver worth in today's dollars about the same as Disney's total box office for "Dead Man's Chest." [source]
Of course, pirates tend to break a few commandments in their daily routine. Ends rarely justify the means, and revenge isn't generally considered a morally appropriate explanation for deeds. One wonders if the above Jewish pirates recited the Al Chet (confession of sins) yearly on Yom Kippur.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Labor Day Weekend 2018

As you light up your barbecues this weekend and enjoy your day off from work Monday (those who have the day off) - take some part of the day to consider the advancements we have made in workers' rights over the last century - Many of us may have ancestors who worked in the coal mines or sweatshops.

Also, consider in what ways the struggles aren't over.

Here's a playlist of songs which may help.



A Pict Song - Rudyard Kipling (1917)

Rome never looks where she treads,
Always her heavy hooves fall,
On our stomachs, our hearts or our heads;
And Rome never heeds when we bawl.
Her sentries pass on—that is all,
And we gather behind them in hordes,
And plot to reconquer the Wall,
With only our tongues for our swords.

We are the Little Folk—we !
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you'll see
How we can drag down the Great!
We are the worm in the wood !
We are the rot at the root!
We are the germ in the blood !
We are the thorn in the foot !

Mistletoe killing an oak—
Rats gnawing cables in two—
Moths making holes in a cloak—
How they must love what they do!
Yes,—and we Little Folk too,
We are as busy as they—
Working our works out of view—
Watch, and you'll see it some day!

No indeed ! We are not strong,
But we know Peoples that are.
Yes, and we'll guide them along,
To smash and destroy you in War!
We shall be slaves just the same ?
Yes, we have always been slaves;
But you—you will die of the shame,
And then we shall dance on your graves.

We are the Little Folk, we ! etc.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Amanuensis Monday: Obituary for Everett Van Every - 1924

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 a news article on the death of Everett Clarence VanEvery (1906-1924), the nephew of my maternal grandmother. Clipping found at Newspapers.com

ObituaryWed, Apr 2, 1924 – Page 1 · The Austin American (Austin, Texas) · Newspapers.com

BOY DROWNS IN BARTON CREEK

Everett VanEvery Victim Of Cramps Attack.

Everett VanEvery, 16, senior student in Austin high school, son of Mrs. Charles Haynie, 2108 Swisher street, met death by drowning Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock while swimming with comrades in Campbell's hole on Barton creek, about one mile above Barton Springs.

VanEvery was a member of a picnic party composed of senior high school students, which was being conducted at Barton Springs park.

Overcome by Cramps.

VanEvery and several companions went to Campbell's hole shortly after eating dinner and were in swimming when the unfortunate youth was overcome by cramps and sank to the bottom of a 15-foot hole. His companions made an effort to rescue him as he sank, but were unable to help him. They then hurried to Barton Springs for aid and after half an hour, VanEvery's body was brought to the surface by D. Hamilton, special officer at the municipal swimming resort, and M. C. Muckleroy and Abe Parks, high school students.

Lungmotor Fails.

An effort to revive VanEvery by means of a lungmotor rushed to the scene of the drowning by the Rosengren-Cook Undertaking establishment was made, but proved futile. Charles G. Haynie, barber, the youth's stepfather, made the call to the scene of the drowning with the Rosengren-Cook ambulance.

After efforts to revive the youth were abandoned, the body was carried to the home of his parents on Swisher street.

Funeral services will be held this afternoon at 3 o'clock at the home of young Van Every's grandmother, Mrs. A. M. Dahlin. 1703 Sabine street. At 3:30 o'clock services will be held at the Swedish Methodist church. The services will be conducted by Rev. K.G. Norberg.

Charles B. Cook will direct the funeral.

Active pallbearers are: Clifford Palmier, Joseph Rubenson, Louis Lindahl, Ernest Severine. Harold Laveen, Louis Sward.

Honorary pallbearers are: Henry McCallum, Dan Ward, William Deveraux. Albert Haynes. Gustave Watkins and Charles Lewis.


1) This goes into much greater detail of the incident than I have been able to uncover from his death certificate, previous newspaper articles, and family. There had been some question of whether he had drowned in Barton Creek, or in Deep Eddy Pool, which is in a community named after the creek. This article clarifies it was in the creek, or more specifically, Campbell's Hole.

2) I knew that Everett's mother had married Charles Haynie at some point before her death, since his name appears on her death certificate, but I didn't know it was before Everett's death.