Monday, June 30, 2008

Independent Spirit

With the upcoming July 4th holiday, there is no more perfect time to honor someone from your family whose life can be summed up in one word --INDEPENDENT! Do you have a relative who was feisty, spoke their own mind, was a bit of a free spirit? Anyone who most people might consider a “nut” on the family tree but you know they really just followed a “different tune?” We all have at least one person whose character and habits may have made them seem “ahead of their time” and now is the chance to tell us their story.
Considering the theme for this issue of the Carnival of Genealogy I decided after some thought that the nuttiest thing anyone can ever do is leave family and friends behind and move to another country, or continent. Even moving across several states in the US was pretty nutty until recent generations. Which, of course, means most Americans have a family tree filled with these nuts, unless you are 100% Native American, or all of your ancestors were brought here against their will.

For the most part, it doesn’t matter what was happening in the country of origin. Even when pogroms occur nearby, rational thinkers will often assure their neighbors “it won’t happen here.” However, once it arrives, escaping isn’t the same as immigrating by choice. Still, the rational thinkers often stop escaping once they cross the border into the nearest city/country they feel safe. They don't go any further.

So here are my known direct ancestors who were nutty enough to leave everything behind. I include some who fled, but who went a little further than most, or were pioneering in some other fashion. The list results in a collection of intersecting geographical trails.

1. Barnabas Horton (1600-1680). At some point between 1633 and 1638, Barnabas Horton traveled from Mowsley, England to America. He settled in Southold, Suffolk County, NY, on the east end of Long Island.

2. Myndert Fredericksen (1636-1706), along with brothers Carsten and Rynier, left Holland and arrived in New Amsterdam prior to 1656. They were the sons of Frederick Van Iveren, and their surnames followed the Dutch patronymic tradition. Their children returned to the surname Van Iveren, which later morphed into Van Every.

3. Henry Rosenberger (1685-1745) left Germany and arrived in Franconia, Pennsylvania prior to 1729.

4. Hans (Weaver John) Fretz (1704-1772) left Alsace, Germany and arrived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania approximately 1720.

5. David Van Every (1757-1820) and his wife Sarah Schauer, along with their parents McGregor Van Every and Michael Schauer, helped settle the Canadian side of Niagara. They fall in the category of ‘escapees’; however, they may have been the first United Empire Loyalists to settle the land.

6. Israel Swayze (1753-1844), the grandchild of Barnabas Horton's great granddaughter, Penelope Horton, made the trip from NY to Ontario in 1789. Due to the year, I have unconfirmed suspicions regarding the impetus of his journey.

7. William Denyer (1794-1848) traveled from Hampshire, England to Bucks County Pennsylvania, prior to 1821 when he married Elizabeth Sliver, a second great granddaughter of Henry Rosenberger, and a great-granddaughter of Hans Fretz. The Denyers, along with their son, Ebenezer, then journeyed to Texas.

8. Samuel Van Every (1820-1888), born in Dumfries, Ontario, made the trek to Michigan between 1852-1855. His son, Melvin (1863-1929), went further south to Texas, where he met Ebenezer Denyer’s daughter, Margaret.

9. Moshe Leyb Cruvant (1857-1911), along with his wife, Minnie Mojsabovski, and two children arrived in St. Louis, Missouri from Cekiske, Lithuania about 1886.

10. Selig Dudelsack (1860-1915), his wife Anna Perlik, and their children came from somewhere near the border between Russia and Poland. They arrived in St. Louis in 1890.

11. Morris Blatt (1862-1926) arrived in St. Louis from Losice, Poland, with two daughters prior to 1893.

12. Samuel Newmark (1862-1940) and his wife Rose (possibly Cantkert) first journeyed from Warka, Russia in 1892 and arrived in London, England. In 19041907 Samuel and his 1821-year-old son, Barney spent 3 years2 months exploring Canada and the US, retuning to England in 1907 – apparently with the advice that the family should move again, because they did in two waves in 1908 and 1909.

13. Samuel Deutsch (1861-1938), his wife Helen Lichtman, and seven children left Nagyalmas, Hungary in 1913 and settled in Chicago, IL.

14. I will include my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every (1900-1951), in this nutty bunch, because she left both parents and several siblings behind in Texas, and moved to St. Louis in the 1920s. Not a new country, but a fair distance. She would meet up with Martin Deutsch, son of Samuel and Helen, in 1933 when he moved from Chicago to St. Louis following a job offer.

It wasn't until 1933 that all the branches of my family had arrived in St. Louis. 36 years later I was born, uniting all the disparate threads together. (Though the threads had united twice prior with two older siblings.)

There are also several unknown threads. For example, I don't know what areas of the world Sarah Hartley's ancestors originated. Her daughter Margaret Denyer has the middle name McAlpin suggesting the possibility of some Scottish or Irish heritage. And Sarah claimed to be 1/8 Native American.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

National Archives Archival Databases

The National Archives (NARA) provides free access to their Archival Databases.There are a large variety of records there, including the WWII Enlistment Records. (I know I've browsed through their records before, but I hadn't double-checked the data I had previously retrieved from

They list my great uncle, Mandell's occupation as salesperson, which suggests the person who entered the data at did mistake a '175' for a '170' (see previous entry). It also suggests that there was some way to indicate on the record which of several occupations in a particular category applied.

Confirming this is that a first cousin of my grandfather, Cruvant Altman, was a lawyer. He was classified under category 22 on his enlistment record. On Ancestry's record it says correctly, "Barber or Lawyer". However, NARA is more specific with "Lawyers and Judges".

Neither provide the image of the original document, but it looks like NARA's records provide better detail.

WWII Army Enlistment Occupational Codes

When I found my great-uncle Mandell Newmark's army enlistment record at, under Civil Occupation it said: BANDSMAN, OBOE or PARTS CLERK, AUTOMOBILE.

When I showed this to my parents, they scratched their heads in bewilderment. Everyone knew that he had worked in a local clothing store. Mandell was killed in action in 1945, and while his two brothers survived the war, both are now deceased. However, a close friend and classmate of Mandell's survives, and she has remained in touch with our family over the years. She also has no recollection of Mandell playing a musical instrument.

I found a list of Civil Occupation Codes at a Kansas GenWeb site, which cites the National Archives as its source.

One mistake I made was reading the entry as two answers. BANDSMAN, OBOE or PARTS CLERK, AUTOMOBILE is only one answer. Code: 175. If you fell in either category, you got the same code.

There are other weird combinations.
Code 022 is BARBER or LAWYER. (Some barbers used to be known for 'bleeding you dry', but they used a razor.)

Code 042 is CAMERA REPAIRMAN or CHIROPRACTOR (because repairing your back is the same as repairing your camera.)


I am unable to explain why the Oboe isn't under code #024. And what is a Blacksmith doing there?

CLERK, CLOTHING STORE, unsurprisingly, doesn't have a code. It's likely the enlistment official was told to choose a category they thought to be closest. In their position, I might have decided, depending upon my uncle's duties: 055 - CLERK, GENERAL, or more likely, another interesting combination: 170 - ENGINEERING AIDE (DESIGNATED FIELD) or SALES CLERK.

There was also the choice 010 - NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSIFIED (But I suspect this category was discouraged.)

Final note: It just occurred to me the enlistment records don't show the images for the original documents. Someone hand entered all the data, and probably read the code on the document, looked the code up on the chart, and typed out what it meant. Depending upon handwriting a 170 could look like a 175.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Literary Quote

The Letters of Victor Hugo From Exile, and After the Fall of the Empire
Translated by Paul Meurice
Published 1898
Pages 204-205

Albert Caise had published a genealogy of Victor Hugo in which be assigned him the arms of the Hugos of Lorraine. An anonymous writer discussed this in the Figaro asking where Hugo, Bishop of Ptolemais, was to be placed in the genealogy.

To Albert Caise
Hauteville House, 20th March 1867

The point raised by the anonymous writer to whom you refer admits of the simplest explanation. These matters are of very slight importance, but what is certain is that you are right and that the anonymous writer is not wrong. The relationship to the Bishop of Ptolemais is a tradition in my family. I never knew more than what my father told me about it. M Bury, formerly a notary at Epinal, sent me some documents of his own accord which are among my papers. Personally I do not attach any importance to genealogical questions. The man is what he is; his value is what he has done. Beyond this all that is added to or taken from him is nothing. Hence my absolute contempt for genealogies.

The Hugos from whom I am descended are I believe a younger and possibly illegitimate branch which had come down in the world through poverty and misery. A Hugo was a breaker up of boats on the Moselle. Mme de Graffigny (Francoise Hugo, wife of the chamberlain of Lorraine) addressed him as my cousin. The “wise and witty anonymous writer” is right; there were a shoemaker and a bishop, beggars and prelates, in my family. This is more or less the case with everybody. There are very curious instances of it in the Channel Islands (see Les Travailleurs de la Mer – Tangrouille) In other words I am not a Tangroville. I am a Tangrouille. I have no objection. If I could choose my forbears I would rather have a hard working cobbler for an ancestor than a lazy king.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sarah Ann Hartley Denyer Foster (1836-?)

This is the second of a series of posts that I am putting together to hopefully get seen by those doing searches on their surnames.

Sarah Ann Hartley, was my second great grandmother, and I carry her mitochondrial DNA. According to most census forms, she was born approximately 1836 in either Mississippi or Arkansas, or Texas.

In 1850 there is an Eliza Hartley in Houston County, Texas, with two sons Samuel and William. In a different household in Houston there is a Sarah Hartley of appropriate age who might have been acting as a servant of some sort. There are no other Hartleys in the 1850 Texas census, but they might not have been in Texas yet.

In 1854 Sarah married Ebenezer Opham Denyer in Gonzales County. (G-d bless Gonzales County archivists who managed to keep a marriage certificate for over 150 years.).

In 1860 a Samuel Hartley is residing with Sarah and Ebenezer in Hays, Texas.

Sarah Hartley and Ebenzer Denyer had four children – two sons and two daughters. Mary Susan Denyer and Ezekiel Denyer both died as infants. Samuel William Denyer married Alice Gollihar, and Margaret McAlpin Monteroy Denyer married Melvin Elijah Van Every. Margaret Denyer and Melvin Van Every were my great-grandparents.

Ebenezer Denyer died in 1872. Sarah Hartley Denyer married George Foster in January of 1874. Sarah and George had three children: Eliza, George, and Sarah. (It could be a coincidence of given names, but their daughter Eliza, and Ebenezer’s son Samuel William, make me think that the 1850 Hartleys in Houston County, Texas may be the right ones.)

According to a Rootsweb Community post Eliza Caroline Foster was born in 1875, and she married a William T. Reeves in 1892. George William Foster was born in 1877, and died in 1957 according to his death certificate. The informant on his death certificate was Sarah Ann McCarty. According to her death certificate, she lived from 1887 to 1961. Her parents were George Foster and Sallie Unknown.

It's possible George Foster had a new wife, but I don't think so. I think the informant got the first name of the mother wrong. [See comments. Sally is a nickname for Sarah.] It would mean that Sarah Hartley, who according to the 1860-1880 censuses was born about 1836, would have been 51 years old when her last child was born. However, while unusual, that's not impossible. My Aunt Minnie wrote about her grandmother Sarah as someone she remembered, and Minnie was born in 1884. Sarah had to have lived at least until the early 1890s for Minnie to have her recollections.

I am in contact with some cousins who are also descended from Margaret McAlpin Denyer. Thanks to Texas birth and marriage records online, I've been able to trace the generations of Margaret's brother, Samuel, and I've written blind letters to a couple descendants, but with no response. Not everyone is interested in extended cousins.

I don't enjoy writing blind letters, but I'm going to write to some descendants of Eliza Foster as well, since several generations of her family remained in Texas. Sarah Ann Hartley claimed to be 1/8 Native American, but I have no details on her ancestry, and it's possible the children of her second marriage were better at passing down the information.

I'd also love to find descendants of any siblings of Sarah. Some possibilities in the censuses appear below.

Census Records

1850 Houston County, Texas

Household #1
Hardey Ware – age 71 - Unknown
Sarah Ware – age 56 - Georgia
Sarah Hartley – age 14 – Mississippi

Househould #2
Eliza Hartley – age 32 - Tennessee
Samuel Hartley – age 18 - Mississippi
William Hartley – age 6 – Texas
6 Wheelers – ages 0-36


Household #1
Hays, Texas
4 Lawlins – ages 1-33
E. Danner – age 32 - Louisiana
Sarah Danner – age 22 - Texas
Sam Hartley – age 26 - Texas

[I am relatively certain this is Sarah (Hartley) Denyer and Ebenezer Denyer. Ebenzer was born in Pennsylvania, but he traveled through Louisiana to get to Texas, and the Lawlins probably provided the information. I suspect Sam is a brother of Sarah.]

Household #2
Leon, Texas
William Hartley – 31 – Mississippi
Elizabeth Hartley – 26 – Mississippi
Jno Hartley – 4 - Texas
Albert Hartley – 1 - Texas
11 others age 3-46


Household #1
Hays, Texas
Samuel Hartley – age 30 – Arkansas
Margaret Hartley – age 22 – Louisiana
Children: Caroline, Virginia, Amelia
3 Rawls (age 11-42)
[I have found a Rawls genealogy online and it is the family of Samuel’s wife Margaret.]

Household #2
Hays, Texas
Sarah Denyer – age 30 – Arkansas
Ebenezer Denyer – age 43 – Pennsylvania
(Samuel) William Denyer – age 4 – Texas
(Margaret) McAlpin Denyer – age 2 – Texas
4 other Denyers age 10-18 (Children of Ebenezer’s deceased brother)


Hays, TX
Sarah Foster – age 44 – Arkansas
George Foster – age 40 – England
Samuel (William) Denyer – age 14 – Texas
Margaret (McAlpin) Denyer – age 13 - Texas
Eliza Foster – age 6

Jewish Waldheim Cemetery - Chicago, IL

Images of graves submerged in water appear in the newspaper. My first thought was for my great grandparents - Samuel and Helen Deutsch - buried there, somewhere.

Coincidentally, on Monday, I discovered the cemetery's online request form Elsewhere I read they will email photographs, so I sent in a request. I haven't heard back, though the website says to give them 3-5 days, so I could hear tomorrow - if the graves are accessible.

In the cemetery there are 200,000 graves, only a fraction near the river. I live five hours away by car, and haven't been to the cemetery. My mother attended an aunt's funeral there five years ago. My great-aunt is likely a safe distance from the flood waters, though -- the newspaper says only the indigent have been buried there in recent years.

A map I found of the cemetery suggests the graves of my great grandparents are probably safe. They are in Section 37, (aka Progressive Order of the West), which is apparently to the East of Des Plaines Avenue, separating it from the river. I don't know how far East, or how far the river has flooded.

Even if their stones are safe, my thoughts go to the heartrending photographs. They are family of others.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dudelsack Dudelzak Dudelczyk

This is the first of a series of posts that I am putting together to hopefully get seen by those doing searches on their surnames. Most of these are what are referred to as “Brick Walls,” though I think usually that is used to reference lines you are attempting to expand further generationally. I don’t have high hopes for this with most of my Polish, Russian and Transylvanian ancestors. It might happen, but I am more interested in finding cousins. (Theoretically finding cousins could also help me find a way around the wall)

My website is already at the top of the list for searches on "Dudelsack," but the other variant spellings actually seem to be more common, and I haven’t written a post yet that gathers all the information that might catch the eye of a cousin researcher.

Generation One: Simcha Zelig Slupsky

I know nothing about him. His given name appears on his daughter’s tombstone in the traditional fashion of “Gertrude daughter of Simcha Zelig” (In Hebrew). The surname is the name passed on by family oral tradition. More about that later.

Generation Two: Gertrude (Gerte) Slupsky (1846-1906) married Samuel Harry (Shmuel Zvi) Dudelsack. They had six children: Yidel, Selig, Gershon, Selma, Toba, Belle and Sprinsa.

Gerte Slupsky's birth year is a guess. Her death record says she was 60 years and 5 months old when she died, which would indicate she was born in 1846. However, her tombstone says she was born in 1831, which means she would have been 75 when she died. She immigrated with her son, Selig, and died in St. Louis, MO.

Generation Three: Yidel, Selig and Toba immigrated to America. Yidel became Julius Odelson (Odelsohn). Selig became Selig Feinstein. Toba, back in Russia, married Aaron (Aron) Oberman, and in America became Tillie Oberman.

Julius, his wife Jennie (likely his second wife), and most of their family moved to Chicago. Julius probably died in Chicago before 1916.

Tillie died in 1935, and is buried in St. Louis, MO with her husband Aaron.

Research suggests there are Dudelzaks in the US and Argentina. I have no idea if they’re related. The name seems to come from players of a particular type of bagpipe, and several different Dudelczyk families could exist.

My great-aunt who passed down the information said that Gershon, Selma, Belle and Sprinsa remained in Europe. However, Selig, Yidel and Toba immigrated in the 1890s, leaving a few decades their siblings, or the next generation, could have followed and still have escaped the Holocaust. It's possible they immigrated to somewhere other than the US (there seem to be some Dudelzaks in Argentina, for example), or immigrated to the US, but didn't know how to make contact since the previous generation had all changed their surnames.

We don’t know what city our Dudelsac family came from. The best information we have is for Selig’s brother-in-law Jacob Perlik who put down Szdobeitzen, Poland/Russia on his naturalization papers. No such city exists, but ‘Dobryzn’ is close, as is ‘Shebreshin‘.

Slupsky surname: There was a Slupsky family in St. Louis at the time Gertrude and her son Selig immigrated to America. It’s a logical theory that they are related, and may have been the reason St. Louis was chosen as a destination, though while I have communicated with a descendant, no connection has been made.

My great aunt has been 100% correct with all the other names she provided, so there is no reason to suspect she is wrong with ‘Slupsky’ or the given names of Selig, Yidel and Toba’s three other siblings. Her accuracy with dates, on the other hand, was very poor, but it’s not uncommon to have a greater facility at recollecting names than dates.

This covers what I know of these generations. I have made contact with some of Julius's grandchildren, and they have kept in contact with each other, so I don't think there are any stray Odelsons that I won't ultimately be able to find.

I've made contact with one Oberman, though he is in his early 90s and hasn't kept in touch with the rest of his family. He gave me a few leads on finding others.

I'd really love to find out if any descendants of Gershon, Selma, Belle or Sprinsa exist.

Any descendants of Dudelsacks, Dudelzaks, Dudelczyks, or variations are welcome to email me at the email address at the top of the sidebar, and we can compare notes to see if we are possibly related.

Texas Death Records at Family Search Redux

Two months ago I wrote about finding a few Texas death records at FamilySearch's new record search. In particular, Everett Van Every's, a first cousin to my mother who died at age 17. I had begun to question the family story that my grandmother's brother had had a child, but it turned out his marriage had been brief, and the child had remained with the mother, which is why Uncle Sam was single on all the censuses.

The death records at FamilySearch didn't have the images associated with them. I emailed FamilySearch and their response was a reminder they were in pilot stage, they would enter beta testing later in the year, and then even later fully release the project. I wasn't upset by the response, and completely understood. (I expected them to direct me to the LDS microfilm available at FamilyHistory sites, actually, which they didn't, though I suspect most if not all of the records they are scanning in and indexing are available that way.)

Realizing I could be waiting awhile for the images, I searched for other sources. I found someone at RAOGK willing to look up and copy Everett's death certificate, as well as one for my great Aunt Minnie. I paid them a minimal copying fee. (I asked them to look for the death certificate for another great-aunt, Willa, who died in 1916, but they were unable to find her in the state archives.)

I noticed a couple weeks ago that the Texas death records at FamilySearch now have images. If it had taken 6 months I'd have been fine with my impatience, but 6 weeks I feel a little silly. Still, I didn't spend much.

Everett did drown, as family records had indicated, and the death certificate names the creek (Barton Creek near Austin, which appears to be a popular local swimming area.)

I have a lot of relatives in the FamilySearch database, and have spent some time looking at various certificates I wouldn't likely have actively pursued.

George William Foster was the son of Sarah Ann Hartley and George Foster. Sarah was my second great grandmother, through her prior marriage to Ebenezer Denyer. The informant on George William's death certificate was Sarah Ann McCarty. I knew from some Rootsweb forum posts he had a sister named Sarah Ann, so I suspected this was her. I found Sarah Ann McCarty's death certificate easily, and it says she was born in 1887 to George Foster and Sallie Unknown.

I then wondered if the informant didn't know Sarah McCarty was named after her mother, and got the name wrong, or whether my great great grandmother had died and this was a new wife for George.

I'm pretty certain it's the former. It would mean that Sarah Hartley, who according to the 1860-1880 censuses was born about 1836, would have been 51 years old when her last child was born. However, while unusual, that's not impossible. My Aunt Minnie wrote about her grandmother Sarah as someone she remembered, and Minnie was born in 1884. Sarah had to have lived at least until the early 1890s for Minnie to have her recollections.

My only complaint with the database is a complaint I have with Texas history. They apparently started requiring death certificates in 1903, which is actually seven years earlier than Missouri, but they weren't completely successful at enforcing this until the 1930s. I'm not sure if the index at FamilySearch is 'complete', but they indicate that most deaths between 1890-1903 were not recorded, as well as many deaths between 1903 and 1930.

The death certificate for Aunt Willa who died in 1916 might not exist. However, I and my mother have recently made contact via letters and email with some of her cousins in Texas and California, and I am sure they will have more information on Aunt Willa, cousin Everett, and perhaps they may even know when and where Sarah Hartley died.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The 50th Carnival has been posted

Rembrandt, and his pup, would like you to know that the 50th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted. Filled with stories about dogs, cats, and other animals.

[Art: Self-Portrait in Oriental Costume - Rembrandt - 1631]

The theme for the 51st Carnival (deadline July 1) is Independent Spirit:
"The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Independent Spirit. With the upcoming July 4th holiday, there is no more perfect time to honor someone from your family whose life can be summed up in one word – INDEPENDENT! Do you have a relative who was feisty, spoke their own mind, was a bit of a free spirit? Anyone who most people might consider a “nut” on the family tree but you know they really just followed a “different tune?” We all have at least one person whose character and habits may have made them seem “ahead of their time” and now is the chance to tell us their story.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pet Sounds

The theme for the 50th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is family pets. There are six pets I would like to honor, though I don't have a photograph of three of them.

I've mentioned Daisy before. She looks a little less like a bear in this photo. Most bears don't wear pajamas. Most dogs don't either, unless there are creative, but slightly cruel children about.

Daisy joined the family a year before I did. I am told she was jealous at first of all the attention the new baby got, but soon she learned I meant more table scraps. She was half-springer spaniel, half-poodle, and a scholar-athlete.

She leapt over the backyard fence within hours of coming home from her early surgical procedure. She was always a runner, but she loved riding in cars, so once she got away you wouldn't be able to catch her, unless you were in a car. Then she would gladly jump in. Any car.

Watching my brother, sister and me come inside after playing in the backyard, she saw us ring the doorbell, and how the door miraculously opened. At least, that's what we think went through her mind, because she decided to give it a try. I'm told the first time she did it, my mom went to the back door, looked around, saw just the dog, and shut the door. When it happened 10 seconds later, she opened the door, and then Daisy did it live for her. We'd put her outside in the back during dinner parties, and then have to explain to the guests when the doorbell rang, "it's just the dog."

I heard last night a story told that one day she got loose and ran, and we couldn't find her in the neighborhood. She returned home at 2 am, jumped the backyard fence into the backyard, and rang the bell.

Daisy died when I was in sixth grade.

Molly was our next dog. She was all Springer Spaniel. She didn't ring the doorbell, though we did try to teach her. What we didn't realize is that every dog has to find their own trick. She learned how to play the piano.

We didn't immediately spay her. It was the 1980s, and the spay/neuter crusade hadn't really hit full-force yet. We decided we would wait until after she had puppies. We found a professional breeder with a stud, and Molly had a litter of 8. While we had prepared a comfortable bed for her to have the puppies, she chose my bedroom, where she would often sleep at the foot of the bed. (Not a surprising choice, actually.) We got her to the room we wanted her between puppies 2 and 3.

I was home after college when she died.

Benny, another Springer Spaniel, followed. My parents decided they didn't want to spend the time training a puppy, so they found a 1-year old from a breeder. Apparently a family had bought him, but the check bounced, and they ended up returning him. The breeder was sure she would have to keep him herself, until we came along. I thought we should name him Bouncer, but we kept the name the breeder had given him.

While I spent a couple years in the same house as Benny, I did move out, and he was the first pet that I saw grow up from afar. The picture above isn't the most flattering. Benny liked the pool, but mostly as a large drinking bowl. He wasn't a fan of swimming. This surprised us since we figured all Spaniels by nature should be attracted to water, but every dog is an individual. Here he is riding on a raft, and drinking from the pool.

When Benny died in December of 2004, my parents debated whether or not there should be another. They did get another Springer puppy. Her name is Katie. (Though I will follow my standard rule of not posting photographs of the living without their approval. And anyway, while she is very sweet - and her favorite trick is retrieving a tennis ball thrown into the pool - I can't claim her as my dog. Her favorite playmates who visit are my niece and nephews.)

I had three other pets as a child. They were mine, and only mine. They were a trio of hermit tree crabs. I don't think a photograph was taken of them, or at least, I don't have one in my collection. I named them Sabrina, Kelly, and Jill. If you grew up watching television in the 1970s, like I did, you probably know who I named them after.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barack's Birth Certificate

To combat the rumors that Obama was really born in Kenya, or his birth name wasn't really Barack Hussein, Obama's Presidential Campaign has released his birth certificate.

The certificate has also appeared on The Daily Kos.

Ancestry's Newspaper Archives

The Genealogue mentions that Ancestry has doubled the size of its Newspaper Archives. (and access to the newspapers is free until June 19th)

I checked it out and found this article in The Galveston Daily News, November 29, 1914

Is M.E. Vanevery, Melvin Elijah Van Every, my great grandfather? Berclair, Texas is only about 100 miles south of San Marcos, and 160 miles south of Caldwell, where I know Melvin and his family had farms between 1900-1920. Beekeeper (aka Apiarist) was his primary profession. I don't know how long it lasted, but I think he had a creamery as well. (The business didn't last more than five years, as I know the family was in El Paso by 1920, which is 650 miles from Berclair. All distances computed by Google Maps)

Several of the images I tried to access in the database are broken; I suspect this is only temporary. I had particular lack of success viewing any of the ones from the El Paso Herald-Post, for the Benold surname. There are several, including what I expect is my Aunt Minnie's obituary, and I'm curious to see if it matches the one I retrieved through RAOGK a month or so ago.

My search on my own surname in Missouri didn't turn up much - though I did find an article in a Jefferson City, MO newspaper about (I think) a first-cousin of my father's who was active in McCarthy's presidential campaign in 1968. When I searched in Illinois, though, I did find several articles on a first cousin of my grandfather, who lived in Chester, Illinois. Including an obituary for his wife's mother, and an engagement announcement for his daughter. (I also found some articles on a Ben Newmark who was involved in the Al Capone trial. I have no idea if I'm related to him.)

Since newspaper archives aren't indexed, per se, but the searches are based on OCR (Optical Character Recognition) I usually have difficulty searching on my surname alone, because I get a lot of articles about athletes setting a "new mark." About half the hits are surnames, and the other half sports articles. It is impossible for me to search on the surname Denyer, because anything of interest is buried in stories about Denver, CO. There's not much that can be done about either of these because if the software requires an exact match, with the low-quality of some of the scans of fading newspapers, lots of articles will be missed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Indexes v Databases

The below information is outdated.
Please follow this link for more recent info.
Here is the St. Louis Obituary Index at the St. Louis Public Library website. It covers obituaries that appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch 1880-1927, 1942-1945, 1992-2006. Each year is divided into three separate lists alphabetically. If you know what year someone died, it's very easy to look up the date of their obituary (or burial permit) if it appeared in the newspaper. (The library has an index for The St. Louis Argus as well, organized in the same fashion). However, if you don't know the date, most people will find themselves looking in every year's list for their surnames.

After a certain point, it is probably likely that any organization that is indexing a project that large will ask themselves...wouldn't a searchable database be easier to use? And their new Obituary Search is definitely easy to use. (I just discovered it this week, and so far they've entered the data for the Post Dispatch, 1880-1925 and 1942-1945.) You can search by surname, first name, or initials, though only the first 100 results are listed.

It will be somewhat sad, though, to see the indexes disappear, as I suspect they will, once they are done catching up in the years entered into the database. Because there is one advantage of indexed lists over databases. They show up in Google search queries. You have to know the databases are there in order to search them.

Still, I'm not complaining. The database is an improvement. And I am definitely happy the staff at the library is taking the time to make the information available online.

Carnival of Genealogy

The Carnival of Genealogy has been released. Filled with photographs of swimwear models and beach stories.

The theme for the 50th edition will be Family Pets
Bring out those old photos of Snoopy, Garfield, Rex and Bob! Tell us the funny, charming, and cute stories about the pets you remember or remember hearing about. Introduce us to the furry, feathered, and scaly members who have a place on your family tree! The deadline for the next edition is June 15, 2008.
more information

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tale of Two Cities

The Missouri Archives reports the scanning of death certificates from 1910-1957 has been completed a year ahead of schedule

Meanwhile I am hopeful that in Cook County, Illinois, where they had originally scheduled their index to go online in January, and then pushed it back six months to July...that there isn't soon another revised release date...

Ahh, well, even if there is, I realize that not every locale can have the same glorious success with volunteers, and I will celebrate whenever it happens.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunshine Day

The Carnival of Genealogy is upon us, and this is apparently "The Swimsuit Issue"

It's my experience that swimsuit pictures are rarely flattering, and most of the beach photographs I own are of family members who can still get even with me for putting them on the internet.

As such, I will share one of me.

There's more sky, ocean and beach in the photo than swimsuit. There's more sun cream on my nose than swimsuit.

The photograph was taken in 1974, I believe, which would have made me 5. My mother who reads this will correct me if I am wrong. If the caption in the photo album is correct, the beach is on the island of Maui.

I have many fond beach memories. I built many sandcastles, most of them with my brother, all washed away before any census was taken. As I grew older I migrated from building sandcastles to reading books. Others in my family are able to go to a beach, and sleep for several hours. I find this difficult.

I believe I have photographs somewhere, of a family member who will go nameless, in swimsuit, asleep in a lounge chair in our back yard, with snow on the ground. Weather can change quickly in St. Louis. The sun was out, and it could have been as high as 65 or 70, maybe, but there was still unmelted snow, and this family member was under the impression that the reflection of the sun off the snow might be good for tanning. Whether true, or not, that's dedication to a sun tan I don't have.