Friday, February 29, 2008

Squirrel Genealogy

On some days, I feel like a squirrel!

The Privilege of Ladies

Because leap years are seen as unusual events that disturb the otherwise orderly progression of days/months/years, certain beliefs have been attached to them. (One constant in the realm of folklore and superstition is that out-of-the-ordinary events are deemed to have out-of-the-ordinary consequences or properties.) Leap years, according to folk tradition, were the only times when women could propose marriage to men, with this belief often termed "The Ladies' Privilege." Yet even within this hypothesis there was disagreement as to how far it went -- a great many of those who encountered this custom did not see it as applicable throughout the length of a leap year, but only to the extra day itself; that is, only to February 29.

Another school of thought held that a man so entreated either had to accept the proposal or pay the refused woman a substantial forfeit for turning her down, such as a silk gown or £100…

I have two sets of grandparents who were married during a leap year -- though neither on LeapDay. The same leap year even - 1936. 18 leap years ago. My maternal grandparents managed it by the skin of their teeth on December 31. It's not clear who proposed to whom, or whether Leap Year figured into their plans at all.

Coincidentally, both marriages were conducted by a Justice of the Peace, with only the required witnesses. While all four participants lived in St. Louis, MO at the time, both marriages occurred in Illinois. No family members were in attendance at either one; primarily because family hadn't been informed. Both sets of my grandparents were married on a spur of the moment. A leap of love.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday Tech †ip


I was planning on starting this series next week, but a quick post idea occurred to me.

Many genea-bloggers have ancestors from foreign countries which often use foreign characters in their character sets. You may know how to draw those characters in your own handwritten notes, and may even be able to get your word processor to reproduce them. However, you may not know how to blog them.

Here's a cheat-sheet.

In the first column you will see what the character looks like. The last column is a description of the character. The middle three columns provide three different codes you can use: "Friendly", Numerical, and Hex. Not every character has a 'friendly' code, which are easier to remember, but they all have the other two. [Note: link above updated from original link to a source with a more complete list]

For example

á is a "lowercase a acute". It is reproduced by typing: á (where that first character is an ampersand.) or á or á

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My First ScanFest

Participated in my first ScanFest today. It was productive, and fun. I scanned 46 photos in total. The conversation among the scanners varied from lingerie to applying for SAR/DAR membership. Reminded me of my college days chatting on Relay. Things are a little different twenty years later, but not much.

Here's one photo I scanned. It's a personalized autographed photo of Chevy Chase. The picture is from his 1985 movie, Spies Like Us. The photo was obtained for me by a cousin in 1986 while I was in the hospital.

This is one of only two autographed photos I scanned today. I have a large collection of those, but most of them don't have special meaning beyond being autographed photos of mostly actors. The other I scanned was a photograph of US Representative William L Clay, for whom I interned during the Summer of 1990. He gave each of his interns an autographed photo at the end of the internship.

Unlike Chevy, he wasn't wearing a hat in his photo.

Here's another photo I scanned in - of myself. An uncle of mine was married in New Orleans, and a trip was made to a local store for everyone to buy a Mardi Gras mask - even though it wasn't Mardi Gras at the time. The photo on the left is clipped from a larger group photo, since I don't like posting photographs of living people without their permission. (Famous actors are an exception.) I wasn't surprised by it, but I could easily identify everyone in the entire family group shot - even though I couldn't see anyone's face. Clothes and body shape are sufficient if you know people well enough. But I also know that's one photo that has to be labeled, or it will be completely useless to future generations.


As a long time fan of SF/Fantasy novels and movies, I have learned from experience that genre movies don't win Best Picture, Best Actor, or Best Director awards. Fans must settle for Best Special F/X, Best Makeup, or possibly Best Soundtrack. There are the exceptions (2001: A Space Odyssey; Lord of the Rings) but the exceptions are rare.

Tonight is The Academy's night, and so it somehow seems appropriate that the theme for the 43rd Carnival of Genealogy is on technology, since the last Carnival focused on our Best of Awards. (It also seems just like yesterday that the 42nd Carnival concluded, but February is a short month.)

What technology do you most rely on for your genealogy and family history research?

Select one piece of hardware (besides your computer)

This isn’t difficult. Besides my computer, the piece of hardware I currently use the most is a microfilm reader. There are a lot of records that haven’t been scanned in, haven’t been indexed. They know me by now when I enter the Special Collections department.

One web site/blog (besides your own) that is indispensable to you.


If I had to recommend one database subscription site to someone, this would be it. Others have been useful, but it’s hard for me to imagine where I would be without Ancestry – from what I have learned through their databases and forums.

One piece of software (besides your internet browser)

This is where I am most likely to deviate from a lot of answers.


I have set up two family wikis – both password protected – one for my mother’s family, and another for my father’s.

Here’s a view of the the homepage of my mother’s, as well as one entry on the site.

The images should look familiar to anyone who has experience with Wikipedia or any of its cousins. It uses the exact same software. The original theory behind installing the software was to facilitate other family members helping me in recording the information.

Theory and practice aren’t always the same. I think only one edit has been made so far by anyone except me. However, even when a cousin sends me an email with text for me to put onto a page, that’s helpful. And it’s easier for me to update a wiki than it is to update other types of family websites.

I've uploaded images of almost every document I have found. Most of the more recent entries have several photographs on them.

One might argue this hasn’t helped my ‘research’. However, I think one genealogy-obsessed cousin was impressed enough by it, and pleased with the password-protection, to send me her entire register. (And I have respected her wishes and not blogged any information for which I am indebted to her.)

I’ve been meaning to do a series of posts on my knowledge of and ideas for websites, including a few more snapshots of our wikis. Hopefully I will get a round tuit soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another President!

Too many of these posts and people will be paraphrasing line 230 from Act III Scene II of Hamlet.

However, while this isn't the reason I am researching my family history, I believe I have found support for at least one more, and I'm close to another of the 'famous people' Ancestry's One World Tree claims my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, was related to. I've had fun laughing at some of the impossible family trees the OneWorldTree software draws, but the lousiest ball player will occasionally hit the ball.

(And researching both hits and misses can result in extending lines further back)

Alas, the hits are not necessarily the hits I'd have chosen.

According to this Genforum post, the book "Ancestors of American Presidents" claims the Eddye family is related to three Presidents: Ford, Benjamin Harrison, and Fillmore. I already knew about Harrison since the Van Every's intersect slightly more recently than the Eddyes. There are a couple unproven generations on my grandmothers side still for Fillmore. But if the book is accurate, Ford was 'definitely' my mother's 8th cousin. (I bet she wishes she knew this when he was alive.)

The book was researched by Gary Boyd Roberts, who seems to have some credentials. Senior Research Scholar for the New England Historic Genealogical Society sounds impressive. Since he seems to be known as a scholar, I expect the book to cite sources. It's out of print, though. I can buy it at Amazon for $300. Or I can browse through it at either the St. Louis County or St. Louis City library next time I go there. I think I'll do that. It's supposed to contain the ancestries of all the Presidents (Since it was published in 1995, it might include Clinton, I'm not sure.)

Find a library near you that has it

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ancestry Facts

Several of the charts and tables that can be found in the Name in History books that Ancestry publishes can be found on Ancestry for free. Even for many surnames that aren't popular enough to have books. (Link to extensive review of the contents of one such book.)

On the main index page of their Learning Center, if you scroll down you will see "Facts About Your Surname", and an input box to enter your surname.

You don't need to have a paid Ancestry account - though if you do, there are links to the databases for the actual records, which of course the books don't have.

Monday, February 18, 2008

ScanFest - Feb 2008

AnceStories has announced the upcoming ScanFest. This will be the first one I participate in. If I do my time zone math correctly, it will be from 1 pm to 4 pm Central Daylight Time.

I have reread Sally Jacobs' "8 Blunders People Make" and cleared some albums of photographs I wish to scan. There are probably more than I can scan in 3 hours, but whatever I accomplish will be more than I would have probably done anyway.

I don't believe it's too late to sign up now, and you don't have to be a blogger to do so - Miriam includes instructions in her post.

The answer is 42

The 42nd Carnival of Genealogy has been posted. 23 Geneabloggers have chosen their five best posts from 2007, creating a Best of the Best carnival. Since I started blogging midway through the year, and there are several bloggers in the group I have only been reading recently, a lot of it is new to me. Which is good.

The theme for the 43rd Carnival has also been announced:
Technology. What technology do you most rely on for your genealogy and family history research? Select one piece of hardware (besides your computer), one piece of software (besides your internet browser), and one web site/blog (besides your own) that are indispensable to you...The deadline for submissions is March 1st.
Read the post for full instructions.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Houston, We May Have A Problem...

The 24/7 Family History Circle posted, as it usually does, What's New at Ancestry

On the list was: Missouri Birth Records, 1805-1980 (Updated)


I quickly went and typed in my own surname.
The results turned up 1 person born in 1889, and 3 appearances of another born in 1909.

I knew about the latter, as I discovered her on the Missouri State Archives awhile back. She's a daughter of Sol Newmark and Sarah Nathan (the couple married in the Great Synagogue of London in 1901.) She didn't live long enough to appear on the 1910 census. The 1889 individual wasn't in the State of Missouri database, though I don't know why not. I was aware of Newmarks in St. Louis prior to our family, and they either died or moved before we showed up. I haven't yet figured out whether or not they were related.

However, no other Newmarks appared in the results, and this was supposed to be 1805-1980. That suggested some serious gaps. My great grandfather, Barney, his brother Sol, and other brothers Max and Israel, all reproduced some more, and there were many grandkids. And great grandkids, too.

Since Ancestry allows you to search on just one field, and allows a +-20 year search, I made that the field, and discovered there was a grand total of 4 records between 1940 and 1980. (One of which was a birth certificate from California!)

A little more research revealed there was 1 entry for 1934, another for 1933, and 5 for 1932. I think more than 7 people were born in Missouri from 1932-1934.

In 1931 there's a sudden explosion of results: 50.
In 1930: 509
1929: 1609
1928: 3536

I'm not quite sure what's going on, as in 1912, the year my grandfather Melvin Newmark was born, there is only one entry. Not him.

I suspect some counties in Missouri may have released some more recent records. The big question in my mind, since there is a significant, if not completely sufficient, privacy window between 1934 and now, is those four *certificates* from 1951, 1966, 1973 and 1980.

I sent Juliana at Ancestry an email notifying her of this issue.

Please, no more, we're done!

The compilers of Confucius' descendants have been working for ten years, and have finally decided they're finished.
"We have received more than 1.3 million new entries and already stopped soliciting new ones."
The database is closed, for now, and since this is only the fifth time they have ever updated the list, if you didn't get on it, maybe your great great grandchildren will.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Texas Vital Records on Footnote

Since I have a 3-day free trial, my goal was to find everything I could possibly find on Footnote, and then cancel my subscription before they start charging. They are adding databases constantly, though at the moment I don't see enough hits for my surnames to warrant continuing my subscription. They also offer individual image download, though if there are more than four images, it's worth buying a month's subscription.

The two databases that show the most promise for me are in the process of being entered.

1) Texas Birth Certificates (1903-1910, 1926-1929)

I'm not sure why the years between 1910 and 1926 aren't part of the database. They are 47% finished. However, I have already found a few certificates for relatives of Myrtle Van Every, my maternal grandmother, who was born in Texas in 1900.

Her oldest sister, Minnie Van Every Benold, had two children between 1903-1910 (Shirley and Margaret). I found Shirley's certificate, as well as the certificate for Corinne Griffith, Shirley's daughter, born in 1927. I also found the certificate for Melvin Edwin Denyer Jr, who would have been Ebenezer's great-grandson. His father was Myrtle's first cousin.

2) Texas Death Certificates (1890-1976)

This is only 4% entered, but there are going to be a lot of certificates from this database that I know I will download. At least five of my grandmother's siblings, and both of her parents, for starters. And then there are nieces and nephews. I'll just wait until they're all there, and then buy a month. Though if there's a delay, there is one or two I might spend $2 to download individually.

I already have Myrtle's mother's death certificate. I ordered it because I knew she died in her fifties, and I wanted to know what from. I don't have her father's though.

There's also a very good chance that Margaret's mother, Ebenezer Denyer's wife, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster will be in this database. It is she who I mentioned in November that declared she was 1/8 Native American. After Ebenezer died in 1872, she remarried in 1874, but alas, chose a husband with a very common surname. I was able to find Sarah and George Foster in the 1880 census, but not conclusively in the 1900 census. (There's a Sarah Ann Foster listed as a widow who might possibly be her, but there's no way to know for certain from the census alone.)

Myrtle's oldest sister, Minnie, was born in 1884, and she wrote a brief description of Sarah, and her recollection of the home Sarah and George lived in. She didn't write down years, or her own age, but I suspect she was older than 6 when Sarah died.

Of course, how much information is on the certificate, and whether it will be identifiable as my great-great-grandmother will depend upon the informant.

Ebenezer Denyer (1828-1872)

I signed up for a 3-day free trial of Footnote this weekend. There was a 28-page dossier on my Civil War ancestor, Ebenezer Denyer, which I wished to download.

Turns out he was a regimental teamster, and a "Regimental Return" form was filled out for him on an almost monthly basis, so a lot of the pages are repetitive.

However, there was one "Descriptive List and Account of Pay and Clothing" (see left) It contains a physical description of Ebenezer. Blue eyes, dark hair, dark complexion. He appears to have been a mutant, as he had five feet, and was only 10 inches tall. (There may be another way to read that.)

The form also mentions that he was captured at the Battle of Vicksburg, and paroled on July 7th. Another form says he was captured on July 4th, and the Wikipedia article confirms that was when the surrender occurred. So he was a PoW for 3 days. (I am not a Civil War buff, so while I vaguely recalled that the Battle of Vicksburg was one of the important battles I had to memorize in high school, I had to look it up to find the details.)

So how well does the documentation match up with the brief bio that appears in: A Brief History of John and Christian Fretz and a Complete Genealogical Family Register With Biographies of their Descendants from the Earliest Available Records to the Present Time – by Rev A.J. Fretz of Milton N.J. copyright 1890. Mennonite Publishing Co. Elkhart, Indiana. pp. 326-333.

This is the Civil War info:
he joined the 2nd, Texas Company Volunteers, mustered at Marcos, Hays County, in the summer of 1861, and served throughout the war in the Confederate service. He was taken prisoner at Vicksburgh, Mississippi, was exchanged, and laid in the hospital at Galveston until the close of the war.
Company is correct. He actually enlisted on June 12, 1862. The "Second Company" itself wasn't formed until September of 1861. There's a Regimental Return form filled out for every month from March 1864 until April 1865 identifying him as a teamster, so I don't think he was in the hospital until the close of war, unless there were teams of horses for him to drive through the corridors of the hospital. However, the 'Descriptive List' says he was paroled by 'the medical authorities', so maybe from July 1863-March 1864, which is a significant amount of time. On the other hand, there are no hospital forms in the dossier -- I'm not sure if those would have been kept separate or not.

One thing I am curious about the Fretz history is who submitted the information for Ebenezer's family. Rev Fretz supposedly began researching for the book in 1872, which is when Ebenezer died. His brother Samuel, and sister-in-law were both deceased too. He had one sister, Elizabeth, and one brother, William, who may have submitted the information. His wife Sarah is another possibility. That's the biggest problem with the book - there are very few citations.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I can do it!

Terry's inspired me.

As I mention on my new blog, I've done this before, seven years ago, before I knew about blogging.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Happy Valentine

The past few days I've been going through my own photo albums removing photographs I wish to scan. This morning, February 14th, before work I turned a page and found this photo I decided I had to share.

1) It illustrates that back in 1995, when I first began growing my beard, I actually started off going for the 'Honest Abe' look. I finally caved into pressure, and laughter, and grew a mustache. Lincoln's Birthday, of course, was Feb 12th, 199 years ago. I had both friends and family tell me the style was 'a little out-of-date.'

2) Seeing this photograph of my grandmother, Sissie (Feinstein) Newmark, and me -- on the morning of Valentine's Day - makes me question the randomness of events.

Now that the writer's strike is over...

It's time for awards!

In particular, it's time for the First Annual Academy of Genealogy and Family History iGene Awards. These are awards given out by genea-bloggers for their best posts in the previous year. According to the stated rules posts between Jan 1 and Feb 15th are permitted to receive awards.

Here are the categories:

Best Picture

Sphinx Chinning on some sandbags

Even though for sentimental reasons I like looking at the photo of myself at age 13 with my grandparents, I think my favorite photo is of my grandfather in Egypt during WWII. The combination of history with family is appealing. The sandbags make the photograph unique.

Best Screen Play

It was difficult choosing a family story I shared which I thought would make a good movie, because I haven't shared many family stories. One story I considered briefly I decided deserved a different award. I then realized that the best movie could probably be made, not from something I wrote, but from something a collateral ancestor of mine wrote.

Mother – a poem by Ida Green

This poem covers a lifetime of struggles and hardships. It would be a depressing movie, with few special FX. Not the typical movie I like to see. Which probably means it would be a critical success. I don’t know who I would like to cast as I don’t know what any of the key players looked like.

Best Documentary

It wasn't difficult choosing the most informational article about my family's history

August 31, 1902

Here I took the marriage certificate of my great-grandfather’s brother, and researched what I could from the names, and places I was given. As a sidenote: the second-great-granddaughter-in-law of the Cantor found the article and left a comment, and I found a few more links for her which can be found in the comment thread.

Best Biography

The winner of this category is the one I briefly considered for Best Screenplay.

The Vicious Chiffonier

The post is mostly a partial transcript of an audio tape. It narrates a tragic event in Transylvania as told by my grandfather and his brother seventy years afterwards.

Best Comedy

The final category was the one with the stiffest competition. I like humor. My choice:

Olo Chubb Baggins of Pincups

GeneaBloggers were challenged by CowHampshire to post something funny, and this was one of my contributions. I went to a Hobbit Name Generator and converted the names of all my ancestors through four generations and then created a tree-chart using my genealogy software.

Excuse me!
What's the matter?
This is your grandma!
I recognized your voice, Grandma.
You have four grandparents, and you had five categories, and still, you forgot me!
I didn't forget you.
With everything you've written about the Dudelsacks, you think you could have found an award for one of those posts!
I did Grandma.
Which one?
The last one. Selig is the only ancestor whose Hobbit-name I mentioned in the commentary that went along with the post.
Oh. Well, I guess...
And you're going to be in my next post.
I am? Well, alright then.

I can do it!

I have hope!

I finally believe that I will one day be able to extend my family lines back 800 years, perhaps 1000!

Scientists declare we might someday live to be 800-1000 years old

That would make my task easier. Just a matter of waiting long enough, and keeping track of descendants.

Of course, this assumes the world's politicians don't destroy the Earth in that time period due to Malthusian Principles.

Time to Colonize!

(I suspect someone might tell me that The Independent isn't a primary source. Or even a very good secondary one.)

Mea Culpa

If The Genealogue is correct and WorldConnect isn’t a Primary Source…-- and I am inclined to agree --OneWorldTree definitely isn’t.

However, under the philosophy of visiting the sins of the parents unto the children…if you aren’t a fan of the holiday that is today…you can either blame me, Patrick Swayze, some of our kin, or perhaps a few other individuals. (Of course, if you like the holiday, we get the credit too, right?)

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 about today, and someone is upset, perhaps you can use this information to give yourself a few extra months.

Monday, February 11, 2008

First Annual Blogger Poet Roundup Submission

Terry is sponsoring the First Annual Blogger Poet Roundup. Since I enjoy both reading and writing poetry, I couldn't not participate.

He asked for six line poems about one's own blog

  • the first three lines must end in rhyming words
  • the fourth and fifth line must rhyme
  • and the sixth line must rhyme with the first three.
  • Here is the general rhyming scheme to follow: AAABBA
Originally he called it a limerick, and said limerick meter was optional.
Then he revised the post to indicate it was a sestet - like the last six lines of a sonnet.
He said nothing new about meter, so I decided to write my sestet in pentameter (five feet).
Though I'm certain there are several feet that aren't iambic.

He said I could submit three, so this is my first submission. If I compose any more, I will tack them on to this post.

TransylvanianDutch - by John Newmark

In his jammies, he finds some distant kin –
Or in the library microfilm bin
He’ll uncover where ancestors have been.
Then he’ll post what he has found on TransDutch
Along with jokes, funny names, and much much
More he hopes others find interest in.

Poem #2

Poetry my ancestors wrote
and Friday Fives add a coat
of humor. Maybe I will post a phot
ograph or two to entertain a rube
or explain how to download videos from youtube.
I don’t believe I’ve mentioned my goat.

Other posts with my poetry:
Genealogy Limericks
Genealogy Haiku/Senryu
Genealogy Jenny

My Memoir

Yesterday on the Ficlets Blog, writers were challenged to write six-word memoirs.

Being a slightly obsessed fan of the French author, Victor Hugo, I decided to take the challenge of reducing Jean Valjean's life to six words:

Stole bread. Prison. Pursuit. Barricade. Death.
Don't worry. Despite the last word, I didn't really spoil the book for anyone. There's a lot left out of those six words.

Today, Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County challenged bloggers to write their own 6-word memoir.

This isn't a phenomenally strange coincidence. There was a recent publication of a collection of six-word memoirs.

So tonight I decided having reduced Valjean's life to six words, I needed to reduce mine. Here's what I have now:
(Good friends * loving family) + health = happiness.
(if you object to the mathematical symbols as exceeding the 6-word limit, remove the parentheses, replace the * and + with a semicolon, and the = with a period. This won't convey the different weights I have assigned to each, but it will suffice for those who are strict interpretationists for the form.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Do you have malaria? Read this post.

"Hard" cider (with about 7% alcohol) was a very popular beverage in the U.S. during colonial and early American times and continues with some popularity today. However, bottles with "cider" noted on them seem to have been most prevalent from the late 1840s until about 1880, largely disappearing about the time of the pictured example. It is thought that the popularity of hard cider was an early victim of the rising power of the Temperance movement in the late 19th century. (source)
I can say with relative certainty that there was Missouri Cider being sold in 1888. I saw the advertisements in the St. Louis Jewish Voice microfilm this afternoon at the library. There were also some editorials on the Temperance Movement, taking the stance that legislating against food/drink of any sort was unAmerican, and that moderation has to come from the home, or church, and not the law. (The editor was a local rabbi.)

The newspaper's anti-Temperance Movement stance may have encouraged a struggling company to advertise there. The advertisements were single lines intermingled with local announcements submitted by the community. "Have malaria? Drink Missouri Cider." "Bilious? Drink Missouri Cider." (Actual wording.) I'm not sure about the research that went behind the claims. Of course, they really weren't claiming it would help, were they? They just wanted you to drink their product.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The only other discovery I made today was the Wm Prufrock Furniture company. They advertised a lot in the paper too. And since TS Eliot was born in St. Louis in 1888, I wondered: "Is this where he got the name?" It turns out that I am not the first to discover this. (I'd have been surprised if I were.) TS Eliot stated in 1950: "I did not have, at the time of writing the poem, and have not yet recovered, any recollection of having acquired this name in any way, but I think that it must be assumed that I did, and that the memory has been obliterated."

A very minor case of cryptomnesia.

I found nothing about my ancestors.

Note: If you think you might have malaria, here's some information the CDC provides

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What does this mean?

I decided to run the MyHeritage software through a few more tests using a family photo of the Deutsch family. My great-grandparents and their seven children. (taken at some point in the 1920s.) The photo is perfect since most of them are directly facing the camera, which helps the face recognition software.

I'm unable to distinguish at the moment between two of the brothers since they're close enough in age and I don't have other photos to compare with. However, the oldest daughter is Jean, the youngest daughter is Berta, the oldest son is Ted, the youngest son is Allen, and I recognize my grandfather. That's five more tests I can run.

(Was the youngest son, "Allen", who was born in the US, named after "Armin", a child who died tragically in Romania, and I blogged about in October? First and last initials. I don't know for sure, but my suspicion is yes.)

Ted Ed looks 15% more like his mother. [This is what happens when one judges age by appearances. You'll note it was the fifth one I did -- I decided at the last moment that he was definitely older than the other two. I've been told I was wrong. I can't change it on the graphic below, but this note should suffice. I should have gotten identification from this source for this photo when I scanned it, but I'm glad she's reading my blog.]

And for the sons, it keeps getting worse for Samuel...

Martin looks 35% more like his mother

And if you think 35% is slightly worrisome, look at Allen's results:

I happen to agree with the results. I could almost get Allen and Helen confused. Luckily for Samuel, his daughters are a little more balanced.



My great-grandmother's genes appear to have had a tendency towards dominance.

Face Recognition

Jasia at CreativeGene has been experimenting with MyHeritage Face Recognition. So I thought I would try it out too.

I decided to see which grandparents I looked most alike, and I started by clipping the faces from the Bar Mitzvah photograph I posted yesterday, as well as from another photo of my maternal grandmother from the 1940s.

I started out with my paternal grandparents - Melvin Newmark and Sissie Feinstein (Sissie being a name her older brother gave her, and it ended up sticking the rest of her life) and discovered I looked slightly more like my grandmother than my grandfather.

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities - Collage - Morph

Then I tried my maternal grandparents, Martin Deutsch and Myrtle Van Every. I had to find a different photo for Myrtle, and discovered I was 13% more like my grandfather.

MyHeritage: Family tree - Genealogy - Celebrity - Collage - Morph

I wondered though if this was being influenced by the photographs having been taken when they were of significantly different ages. So I found a younger photo of both.

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Family tree layout - Family search

Exactly equal! I more like my mom's parents, or my dad's parents? Well, the above doesn't tell me. So I had to do two more.

I'm 14% more like my maternal grandfather

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Family search - Roots

And then to compare my grandmothers, I had to find a younger photo of Sissie. The one I chose is a little grainy because it came from a newspaper clipping - her engagement announcement.

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities - Collage - Morph

This was certainly a lot of fun!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Pajama Game vs Genealogical Societies

I've been conducting pajama research for the past six months. Quite successfully, I think. However, I have recently begun visiting the local library a lot more often to go through their microfilm holdings, and at the end of January paid the dues to join the local genealogical society for a year.

I could wait for the microfilm holdings to go online, but I could be waiting a decade, or longer, and I'm not that patient. I've seen devices advertised online that will convert microfilm to digital images, but at $40,000, I suspect libraries, and genealogical societies, aren't yet lining up to buy them. But if the price decreases, I suspect they will. When that day comes, the conversion process will speed up.

The St. Louis Genealogical Society does have some attractive offerings to members. Discounts on classes and seminars is one of them. In particular, they offer a Beginning Genealogy course for $60 to non-members, and for free to members. Still feeling I qualify for that course, I figured that it was worth $35 to see if I could learn anything.

Checking out their course list, I'm not too thrilled with their other offerings for this season. The ones that would interest me the most (on military research) are scheduled during the weekday lunch hour. It's likely the majority of membership is retirement age, but I'm not, so I can't attend those classes.

Beyond the discounts on courses and some CDs they offer, there isn't much they provide to the member only. There is a lot of good information on their website available to anyone, and I've been using it the past 6 months. The Members-only section has a marriage database from 1804-1876, but none of my ancestors were in St. Louis by then, and anyway, they sold the database to, so it's available there. They have a section for the pedigrees of "First Families", but once again, my ancestors haven't been here long enough. (They've been here since the 1880s. It's not like they arrived last year.) Beyond that the only other Members-Only feature on the website is the opportunity to volunteer to do data entry. I may, but that's not really a benefit. I'm not upset that the society gives most of their information away, but it might not make the most business sense.

So if I don't feel I'm getting my 'money's worth' from the discounts on classes, or find another benefit, my renewal in future years may be open to question. However, I do feel that the experienced genealogists in the society have knowledge about resources I lack. I've learned stuff at every presentation at every monthly meeting I have attended so far.

Jewish Mysticism and Genealogy

One aspect of Kaballah, a Jewish form of mysticism, is the interplay between numbers and letters.
"Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word, number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings." - source
Three of these methods are Notaricon, Gematria, and Temurah. While primarily used as a means to interpret the scriptures, they can be used elsewhere, so an overview of the methods can be helpful to the genealogist with Jewish ancestry. (An overview is pretty much all I know and can provide; I don't have deep knowledge.)

Notaricon – A method of using the initial and/or final letters in a group of words to form words/phrases.

Several months ago I wrote about my great-great grandfather, Moshe Leyb "the king". At least one of his daughters referred to him by that epithet, probably as a Hebrew joke, based on the initials of his name. This of course is a usage of Notaricon. Similarly, Moshe Leyb was honored with several grandchildren, one named Melvin Lester, another Monroe Leslie, and a third Morris Louis. Without knowing the importance of initials in Kabbalistic thought, this might appear to be a coincidence of names instead of grandchildren being named after their deceased grandfather.

BTW: Leyb is the Yiddish word for Lion. Leyb was one of several new animal names which became popular in the European Jewish community in the 18th century. Prior to that animal names were common, but were limited to those that had appeared in the bible.

Both Yiddish and Hebrew variants are used, and sometimes interchangeable. One of my ancestors on some documents was Zev Perlik and others Wolf Perlik. (Since many English words are Germanic in root, and since Yiddish has Germanic roots, sometimes Yiddish and English words are the same.)

Many immigrant Jews Americanized their names, and often they did this by finding a common American name that began with the same initial letter(s). Until recent research, I thought Wolf Perlik's name was "William" as that is how it was recorded in our family documents. William, of course, shares the first two consonants with Wolf. Wolf didn't immigrate, but some of his children 'changed' his name to 'William' in the oral history. Similarly, another ancestor's Hebrew name was Zvi, or 'deer.' The Yiddish variant is 'Hirsch', and a common Americanization is, "Harry."

Without knowing the animal names, and the process of Notaricon, one might be very confused how the name 'Harry' was derived from 'Zvi'. This tradition of using the initial letter or letters to change names can be useful for parents if an ancestor had a name that is uncommon today.

Gematria – A method of assigning numerical values to letters, calculating the numerical value of words/phrases, and associating them with other words/phrases of matching value.

Perhaps the best known example of Gematria is with the Hebrew word, 'chai,' meaning 'life.' Formed with the Hebrew letters Chet (8) and Yod (10), the numerical value is 18. Many Jews will give charitable donations in multiples of $18 to symbolize 'life'.

I don't know of any examples of names of children/grandchildren that were gematrical equivalents of ancestral names. Though I haven't computed the numerical value for all of my ancestors Hebrew names, either, and I'd have to perform the math to notice.

However, there is a genealogical connection in that you will find something similar to gematria in the Hebrew writing on gravestones. The dates on the Hebrew calendar are converted to letters.

Temurah – Exchanging letters in words to create new ones. There are three primary types of Temurah. (I'll use the Roman alphabet to illustrate)

1) (Atbash) A exchanged with Z, B exchanged with Y, C exchanged with X...
2) (Avgad) A becomes B, B becomes C, C becomes D...Z becomes A.
3) (Albam) A exchanged with N, B exchanged with O, C exchanged with P…M exchanged with Z.

Once again, I don't know of any examples in my family tree where names were created using one of these methods, and I haven't heard of it happening in other families. However, there is one example from literature.

Some creative readers suggested that Arthur C Clarke came up with the name for his misbehaving computer in the novel, 2001, through a reverse-Avgad technique -- HAL being derived from IBM. Clarke has denied this, insisting it was a coincidence, and that the name is actually a Shakespearean reference to Henry V, referred to as Prince Hal in the drama, Henry IV. Clarke probably expects readers to believe that since he is British, he is more likely to make a Shakespearean reference than a reference to an American computer company. Yeah, right.

I've not been trained in any of these methods specifically. I knew about gematria growing up solely through the importance of Chai and the number 18. Some examples appear in the book/film The Chosen by Chaim Potok, which I remember reading in high school. I read the book, The Bible Code a few years ago which goes into some more detail.

I've been fascinated with numerology for a long time. (as several posts on my personal blog indicate). When recently a nephew was born at 6:37 pm, I 'rounded down' in 'military time' to 18:36:54. I'll never forget the time he was born. Interestingly, I recently discovered in my maternal grandfather's addressbook that next to my birthday was written the time I was born. (12:05 pm) I have no idea why it interested him, but the time is not written next to any other birthday. Jokes have been made over the years that I was 'born just in time for lunch".

Talking to Myself through a Rift in the Space-Time Continuum

Feb 6, 1982

2008: Mazel Tov!
1982: Who are you?
I'm you…26 years from now
I know about [...]
Oh. (pause) You're really from the future?
Cool! Please tell me Apple no longer exists.
Commodore no longer exists
It's true. You own an Apple.
It happens.
Wait a minute…what's this? (points at my laptop)
It's that Apple I was telling you about.
This is cool! (sits down in front of computer)
Computers have improved a little, haven't they?
What happens if I click on this?
You really shouldn't get on the internet…
What's Google?
It's a search engine. You really shouldn't…
Search engine? What happens if I type... (types: Cheryl Ladd) and click search? Wow!
Hands off the keyboard now
I can't believe it, less than five seconds. (turns off computer) Back to what I was here to talk about.
What was that?
Your Bar Mitzvah. You did great!
I skipped over a line of Hebrew in my Torah portion.
You're the only one who noticed.
You know, your beard makes you look a little like my uncle looked a couple years ago, before he shaved it off.
Our uncle. Yes, Grandma liked it.
She'll be around for awhile, don't worry. She makes it to the 21st century.
That's good. My other grandparents?
They're all gone in ten years. Cancer. Don't ever pick up a cigarette.
I won't.
I know.
Are you married?
Can't tell you too much about your future.
It could change it. Yeah, I know. Can you get me a soda?
(I head into the kitchen and a few seconds later I hear the computer turn on.)
Turn off the computer! (I re-enter room.)
Noisy thing.

It's been twenty years since I was inside the synagogue. The congregation moved in the 1980s to a new building. But I'll be returning. The building was sold to The Missouri Historical Society and it is now the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. There are some good resources there I know I will be going through. I suspect it will feel strange though, since the old sanctuary is now a reading room.

* Note: There is one anachronism in the above conversation. The Commodore 64 wasn't released until August of 1982. My maternal grandfather would give the family our first computer that December. Oh, well, I don't have any 1983 photographs nearly as good as this one.

On my right (your left) are my paternal grandparents, and on my left (your right) are my maternal grandfather, and his second wife. They were married three years prior to my birth. I knew in 1982 that she wasn't my biological grandmother, but I have no recollection when I was told. I still considered her my grandmother, though. She died in 1985. My mother's father died in 1991, father's father in 1992, and my father's mother made it to 2002.

Monday, February 4, 2008

41st Carnival of Genealogy has been posted

The 41st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy has been posted at CreativeGene. I count 31 different dinner parties. And it appears that that 1967 film with Tracy, Hepburn and Poitier is fairly popular among genea-bloggers since its title was used for several posts. Of course, it was a natural.

Topic for 42nd Carnival of Genealogy (deadline: Feb 15):
The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: The Best of The Best! It's Academy awards time... time for the Academy of Genealogy and Family History aka AGFH (an esteemed organization that all genea-historian bloggers who participate in this next edition of the COG will become founding members of) to honor their best blog posts of 2007* in the following 5 categories:
  • Best Picture - Best old family photo that appeared on your blog in 2007. Tell us which you liked best and why.
  • Best Screen Play - Which family story that you shared in 2007 would make the best movie? Who would you cast as your family members?
  • Best Documentary - Which was the best informational article you wrote about a place, thing, or event involving your family's history in 2007?
  • Best Biography - Which was the best biographical article you wrote in 2007?
  • Best Comedy - Which was the best funny story, poem, joke, photo, or video that you shared on your blog in 2007?
More Details

Sounds fun.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

You know you're addicted when...

You're standing in front of the locked library doors, waiting for it to open at 1 pm Sunday afternoon, so you can get at least an hour of microfilm research in before you head to a Superbowl party.

Four more city directories down. The 1914 roll was incomplete - beginning with names starting with "Deb". Luckily, I found my one Blatt ancestor in the business section, so I know where his tailor shop was that year. While he wasn't living at the same address in 1915 as he was in 1913, the exact year he moved isn't a major concern.

Hello, my name is...

81%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Friday, February 1, 2008


I'm a writer by vocation and avocation. A grant writer (professional beggar) by trade, writing poetry and fiction on the side. So I enjoy words, and how they interact with each other.

So I was thinking today about my paternal great-great grandfathers. Three of them tailors, one of them a blacksmith - or at least he was a blacksmith for a decade. I was reading a description about blacksmithing and came across the synonym, "farrier." I thought to myself, "Wait! Farriers are tailors!" I remembered seeing that occupation on a form for one of my ancestors. And then I remembered, no, it was 'furrier.' (Furriers are basically tailors who work with fur, as farriers are blacksmiths who work with farses horses.)

So if someone asks me what my ancestors did, I'm telling them they were farriers and furriers. Though with some of my friends, they will think that the latter dressed up in animal costumes, and the other in women's dresses while working at a M*A*S*H* unit. And while there aren't any photographs of that, I have no proof they didn't.

(my mother's side adds 'farmers' to the mix, which fits perfectly.)

Friday Five

Names on a theme from various databases at

1910 - Blizzard Anderson – Williamsburg, SC – age 7 – male
1881 – Hurricane Dugey – West Ham, Essex, England – age 7 – male
1930 – Twister Bones – Clatyon, AL – age 9 – male
1910 – Tornado Davis – Madison, MS – age 16, female
1888 – Snain Johnson – Chicago, IL (Voter Registration)

(I also found a "Rain Storm" in some more recent databases.)