Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2017

My Great-Grandfather, Barney, celebrated his birthday on March 17th, and claimed to have been born in Dublin, Ireland. It's significantly more likely that he was born in Warka, Poland - on the outskirts of Warsaw. The dates of March 25th and April 14th also appear on some documents as his date of birth, but no birth records have been uncovered, so anything is possible. There may be some significance to the fact that there are 20 days between March 25th and April 14th. (12 days adjustment between the Gregorian and Julian calendar, and 8 days between birth and circumcision.) There are also 8 days between March 17th and March 25th.

After a holiday post in 2007, a friend introduced me to online genealogy, and the rest is family history.





Past St. Patrick's Day Posts
2016: Corned Beef on Rye
2015: Corned Beef on Rye
2014: Happy St. Patrick's Day 2014
2013: Happy St. Patrick's Day
2012: Happy 126th Birthday to my Great Grandfather
2011: Happy St. Patrick's Day
2010: Barney's Birthday and Birthplace
2009: On St. Patrick's Day Everyone is Irish
2008: My 'Irish' Great Grandfather
2007: Corned Beef and Cabbage on Rye

Monday, March 13, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Melvin Vanevery's Cheese Creamery 1914-1915

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.

This week I look at several reports in industry journals about my great grandfather's creamery business in Berclair, Texas - and a possible second location in Beeville.


Manufactured Milk Products Journal, Vol 5, 1914, p. 310

Berclair, Tex. – What perhaps is the only institution of the kind in Texas began operations here this week. Mr. M. E. Vanevery, one of the most extensive apiarists in the state, has completed the erection of a creamery for the manufacture of cheese and the product turned out compares favorably with that shipped in from the North. The plant is equipped with silos and the ensilage has proven a success as a milk producer. The plant is located about two miles from town and is attracting much attention.

The Milk Dealer, Volume 4, 1914, p. 47.

Berclair, Tex. – Mr. M. E. Vanevery has in view the erection of an ice cream factory in connection with his cheese factory.

The National Provisioner, Volume 52, April 17, 1915, p. 20

The erection of a cheese factory at Beeville, Tex., is planned by M.E. Vanevery, of Berclair, Tex.



Texas Trade Review and Industrial Record, Volume 20, April 15, 1915, p. 114

Beeville, Tex – M.E. Vanevery, Berclair, Tex., plans removing his creamery plant to this city and greatly enlarging it.

The American Produce Review, Volume 40, April 21, 1915, p. 25

Beeville, Texas – M.E. Vanevery, of Berclair, who is an experienced cheese manufacturer and who is now making and selling a first-class product in his small factory at Berclair, wants to locate in Beeville.

Notes:

1. I found these clippings in a Google Books Search. The clipping from Manufactured Milk Products Journal is identical to what appeared in The Galveston Daily News on Nov 29, 1914. The other clippings concerning a second location in Beeville are a new discovery. It is unclear whether the plans came to fruition. My great-grandfather still had a beekeeping business in Berclair in 1916. They moved across the state to Fabens, Texas, near El Paso,  in 1917, where he had a job as County Apiary Inspector.



Monday, March 6, 2017

Approaching Anniversaries

In May of 2002, I began blogging on a myriad of topics, sometimes political, sometimes religious, rarely genealogical.

In March of 2007, I wrote an entry for the alleged birthday of my great grandfather: Corned Beef and Cabbage on Rye

Shortly thereafter, a friend emailed me a link to a census document with my great-grandfather on it. Prior to that, I had no idea what was available online.

So I am approaching my 15th year of blogging, in general, and 10 years of genealogy research. (Plus, in April, my wife and I will celebrate 5 years of marriage.) This would be a great time for some retrospective posts.

And while not chasing
twin four-year-olds, or sleeping,
I'll see what I can do.

I may find the time
to write a brilliant haiku,
or even two.

Celebrate Your Name Week

Reposted and updated from 2009 

The first week of March is Celebrate your Name Week
Celebrate Your Name Week is a holiday created in 1997 by American amateur onomatologist Jerry Hill. Hill declared the first full week in March a week for everyone in the world to embrace and celebrate his or her name, and to appreciate names in general, by having fun getting to know facts about names. This is a week set aside to participate in names-related hobbies, activities, and to take part in entertaining names-related events inspired by a fondness for and true appreciation of names.
My first name: John

John comes from the Hebrew Yochanan, meaning 'G-d is gracious.' It isn’t short, as some assume, for Jonathan. Jonathan comes from the Hebrew Yanatan, which means 'Gift from G-d,' and is a longer form of Nat(h)an.

My Hebrew name: בָּרוּ (Baruch).

Baruch is a Hebrew word meaning, “Blessed.” Benedict is the common English version of this name. My parents chose “Baruch” naming me after my great grandfather, Barnet "Barney" Newmark (1886-1956).

My middle name: Cruvant.

Cruvant is one of my ancestral surnames, the maiden name of my paternal great grandmother Bertha Cruvant Newmark (1887-1978; She and Barney were married in 1911.) Since my parents followed the tradition of choosing names from deceased ancestors, my middle name came from Bertha’s father, Moshe Leyb Cruvant. The origin of Cruvant is the town Kruvandai, Lithuania. Almost every conceivable phonetic spelling exists somewhere on the family tree: (C/K)r(U/OO)van(T/D). I blame it on individuals who were used to transliterating Hebrew to English, and had no problem 'transliterating' Lithuanian to English as well, even if the two languages shared an alphabet.

My surname: Newmark

The origin of our surname isn’t certain. It is thought that the surname was Neimark (or Nejmark) in Poland. There are multiple Newmark “clans” in the United States, and it is uncertain whether they are related, though several appear to have originated in Poland, and several made stops along the way in Great Britain.

Namesakes

I share the name “John Newmark” with a Canadian pianist (1904-1991) - Though he came from Germany, and his original surname was Neumark.

I also share my name with the British biologist, and identical twin who appeared on the television show, To Tell the Truth, with his brother, George.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ancestry's We're Related - at 100 celebrities

Ancestry’s We’re Related app has now told me about 100 possible relatives. This is a good place to discuss some statistics.

Occupations (my categories)
  • Actors - 25
  • Presidents - 19
  • Entertainers - 13
  • Authors - 13
  • Politicians - 9
  • Athletes - 4
  • Science - 4
  • Business - 3
  • Military - 4
  • Activists - 2
  • Artists - 2
  • Vice Presidents - 1
  • First Ladies - 1
Note: The meaningful of this is is of course slightly dependent on the breakdown of the individuals they have in the database.

Furthest confirmed ancestor on my chart
  • Betts, Capt. Richard - 7
  • Chamberlain, Joanna - 2
  • Chamberlain, Robert - 3
  • Clark, Abigail - 52
  • Horton, Barnabas - 1
  • Horton, Penelope - 1
  • Meyer, Elizabeth - 2
  • Pitney, Mary - 16
  • Schauer, Michael - 2
  • Swazey, Joseph - 3
  • Van Tock, Hannah - 8
  • Wines, Sarah - 3
Note: Abigail Clark is definitely my 'gateway ancestor' to the most alleged celebrity kin. Mary Pitney a distant second.

Individuals for whom my research confirms my alleged ancestry (8/100)
  • John Kerry
  • Mark Twain
  • Jim Varney
  • Johnny Depp
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Tom Hanks
  • Stephen King
  • Theodore Roosevelt
I could say these are individuals for whom the relationship is very likely...if I trusted the research for the celebrities. But...

Individuals for whom my research confirms my alleged ancestry, and other research I trust confirms the celebrity’s ancestry (1/100)
  • John Kerry
Note: I haven't actively tried to research any of the celebrity ancestries. However, with the advent of Who Do You Think You Are and other genealogy shows, many celebrities have had some professional research done. And even without the shows, many politicians have had their genealogies well-researched.

Out of the 19 Presidents I'm allegedly related to – those for whom the alleged President’s ancestry is confirmed through Ancestors of American Presidents by Gary Boyd Roberts, 2009 edition. – 2/19
  • Rutherford B. Hayes
Note: There are 4 generations in my own ancestry I'd have to confirm to prove this relationship.
  • Barack Obama
Note: There are only 2 generations in my own ancestry I  have to confirm. I'll step out on a limb and say this relationship is the likeliest of all the Presidents the app has generated. If anyone can find sources for me to back up the ancestry on WikiTree linking Mary Pitney to Samuel Smith, that would be helpful. (Sources other than WikiTree, that is.) I discussed this possibility back in October.
                                                            
For the other 17 Presidents, the number of extra generations that are extended unto Gary Boyd Roberts' research

George Washington - 1
John Adams - 1
James Madison - 2
William Taft - 2
Richard Nixon - 2/3 *
Calvin Coolidge - 3
Theodore Roosevelt - 3
Harry Truman - 3
James Carter - 3
Thomas Jefferson - 4
Franklin Pierce - 4
Zachary Taylor - 4
George HW Bush - 4
George W Bush - 4
Abraham Lincoln - 5
William Clinton - 6
Ronald Reagan - 7

*App provides a different 6th great grandfather for Nixon, and then goes 2 more generations.

Note: Washington and Adams would appear to be the easiest for me to research to confirm/disprove. However, the number of unconfirmed generations in my tree are 7.
               
Celebrities whose alleged ancestry goes through an ancestor’s adopted parent (I'd have no problem with this if the app made it clear.) - At least 1/100
  • Robin Williams (his mother was adopted)
In Summary

The app is very entertaining. However, without sources to back up the ancestor charts, that's all it is. The percentage of alleged matches where I have been able to confirm the ancestry back to the shared ancestor for either myself, or the celebrity, is quite small.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Defining a Person by their Occupation

Most genealogy databases have a category field for Occupation, which can be entered similar to an Event with a date and place. And if someone was faithful in entering data into the field, and used consistent terms, it could be used to search the database. You could find all the tailors, or all the famers.

However, some tailors are called furriers, and some blacksmiths are called farriers, and there are subtle differences between musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters. It's difficult to be consistent with occupation titles without running into individuals who don't quite fit into your categories. And since the choices can be subjective, decisions will vary.

***

I wrote about how Ancestry's We're Related App categorized Richard Nixon as "Politician" rather than "President." While that was an obvious error, their simple decision to sort the results into occupational categories, and only allow one occupation per individual, means many of their choices are going to be debatable.

A simple example: William Howard Taft.

Sure, his primary categorization is easy - President.

However, the app's listing of categories (see right) currently tells me that I have no relatives who were U.S. Supreme Court Justices. And I know that isn't true. (And a good percentage of the Politicians and Presidents are/were also Lawyers.)

Below are all the "Possible Relatives" the app has currently suggested to me for whom I would categorize differently. [All my suggestions are used for other individuals by the app.]



  • Robert E. Lee - Military Figures
  • Ring Lardner - Authors
  • B.F. Skinner - Scientists 
  • Walt Disney - Artists
  • Britney Spears - Entertainers
  • Franklin Pierce - Presidents
  • Richard Nixon - Presidents
The last two are the most obvious mistakes. Classifying Ring Lardner as an entertainer also seems to be a mistake when he is known for his writing. Walt Disney was definitely entertaining, but I think not classifying him as an Artist is a slight against cartoons and animation. I'm not sure if B.F. Skinner's categorizing is a mistake or a slight against Psychology as a science. There are several people in the Musicians and Composers category that raised my eyebrows, but most of them have either played a musical instrument, or at least composed some of their songs. Britney Spears' name has appeared in conjunction with others in some of her song credits, but she is known for her performances.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

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.


Why is Valentine's Day on February 14th?

There is a theory that the only reason today is associated with Cupid is due to a poem Geoffrey Chaucer wrote.
In 1381, Chaucer was busy composing a poem in honor of the arranged marriage between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. This was a very big deal indeed, and Chaucer was looking for just the right saint to honor on May 3, the day Richard II signed the papers of engagement to his Bohemia beauty. 
His search ended, Kelly surmises, when Chaucer learned that a Saint Valentine of Genoa had an honorary feast day on May 3. Perfect! So he wrote the poem "The Parliament of Fowls" in the couple's honor. 
"The Parliament of Fowls" literally means "the meeting of birds," says Kelly. "Chaucer dreamed up the idea that all birds chose their mates on May 3rd," he says.

After Chaucer's death in 1400, Valentine's Day celebrations got pushed back to February.
Why exactly is unclear, however, if you forgot, and someone is upset, perhaps you can use this information to give yourself a few extra months.

Friday, February 10, 2017

We're Related App - Categorization Error

Apparently, Ancestry's We're Related app places Richard Nixon in the "Politicians" category and not the "U.S. Presidents & Vice Presidents" category.



I'm fairly certain this is a coding error and not a political statement. But it is humorous.
Almost makes up for the appearance of him as a possible relative.
I have informed Ancestry using the Feedback app.

Including Nixon, the app has now informed me of 17 Presidents to whom I may be related. I am unable to verify both halves of the ancestry on any of them.

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Barack Obama
  • Bill Clinton
  • Franklin Pierce
  • George H.W. Bush
  • George W. Bush
  • George Washington
  • Harry S Truman
  • James Earl Carter
  • James Madison
  • Richard Nixon
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Rutherford B. Hayes
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • William H. Taft
  • Zachary Taylor

There are two other presidents - FDR and Grant - to whom I am fairly certain I am related, but the app, so far, hasn't found. For these connections, I am trusting the research done by Gary Boyd Roberts in Ancestors of American Presidents, and my own research for my own ancestors.