Thursday, July 31, 2008

St. Louis City - 1908

For the 53rd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, which is a carousel edition, I thought I would go back to the theme for the 47th edition, in which I didn't participate. I couldn't decide what to write about at the time. The theme was "A Place Called Home." We were to describe a place where our ancestors lived. I know a few names of European towns where my immigrant ancestors came from, but little more than that, and I didn't have the time to do the research. Many of the immigrants settled in St. Louis, which is where I have spent all but a few of my college years so I didn't think about it as an ancestral home.

However, a couple months ago I found the St. Louis 1909 Sanborn Maps online, and since I knew street addresses for where my great-great grandparents were living at the time, mostly gleaned from city directories and the Census, I downloaded the specific maps for their neighborhoods.

A week ago I started doing some research on the neighborhood for the Newmark family.

(click any image on this page to enlarge it.)

The Newmarks immigrated in 1909, and in the 1910 and 1920 census Samuel and Rose Newmark, my great-great grandparents, were living on Wash Street, a block or two West of Carr Square Park. The blue writing on the image is where I have marked their 1910 and 1920 addresses. Wash Street is now Cole Street as can be seen on this map - courtesy of Google.

The park still exists. I've actually driven by several times. The United Way of Greater St. Louis is located at 11th Street and Cole. The quickest route to business meetings I've attended there takes me straight down Cole.
"In 1908, the Civic League of St. Louis conducted a study of a slum neighborhood. Known as Carr Square, one area contained as many as 1900 residents per acre. The average living space was 16.9 square feet per person. There was an average of one bathtub and four toilets for 2479 people. The average rent was $1 a week. Human waste and garbage accumulated in the few open spaces. And in these ill-ventilated, foul-smelling shacks and cellars were found saloons, bakeries, groceterias and laundries."
Souce: "Beyond the Orphanage", Peggy Thomsan Greenwood, 1991

The article above didn't provide the boundaries of the Carr Square neighborhood that was studied by the Civic League. I realized it may not have included the tenements my great great grandparents lived in, but since they lived near the park with the same name, I knew it was likely close.

I searched online through some local library catalogs looking for this report. I had no luck, and broadened my search, and struck paydirt - I found a report online - at Harvard, of all places.

Housing Conditions in St. Louis, Report of the Housing Committee of the Civic League of St. Louis, 1908

I downloaded it. In my glance through the 90 pages I am unable to find a reference to the Carr Square neighborhood, so I'm not positive it is the report referenced in the article on orphanages. It's possible Carr Square was mentioned in an associated report. However there are almost 90 pages on a section of St. Louis City that lay a couple blocks East of where Sam and Rose Newmark lived. The study says the area is representative, though of other sections of the city.

Here's the map of the area the study did cover:

7th and 14th Streets are the East/West borders. While Sam and Rose were outside the boundaries, within the boundaries is the corner of 8th Street and Biddle where my other great-great-grandparents, Selig and Annie Feinstein, lived between 1896 and 1906. (It's a little hard to read, but Biddle Street is the second street from the right on the map) My great-great grandparents Morris and Minnie Cruvant lived at 7th and Biddle in 1897. And the last set of my paternal great-great grandparents, Morris and Mollie Blatt, lived at 10th and Biddle in 1896. It's possible the conditions were different ten years prior to the study when the Blatts and Cruvants lived there. I doubt they were very different for the Feinsteins two years prior to the study.

The disturbing image of a shared wall between a privy and a bakery oven, which I posted on Wednesday, came from this report. There are other equally disturbing images, and descriptions. It's difficult to imagine living under these conditions, but it is clear half of my ancestors at least did so in the early 1900s.

As a historical note -- if you look at the Google Maps image above, you will notice the area west of 20th Street bordered today by Cass and MLK Jr. Drive, there is a lot of land unbroken by roads. In the 1950s the buildings there were torn down and an infamous housing project was built by the same architect who would later build the World Trade Center -- Pruitt-Igoe.

Note: Further reading of the report indicates the statistics in the report match up with those in the paragraph quoted from "Beyond the Orphanage" - therefore the "Carr Square" neighborhood references the entire neighborhood covered by the 1908 report.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Xmas in July

Last night I was helping my mother organize photos, and a previously undiscovered box was found in a storage room. This box contained about two dozen letters from my great grandfather Melvin Van Every to my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, (in addition to another dozen I had found in another box and had begun to transcribe.)

It also contained a letter my great grandmother, Margaret (Denyer) Van Every wrote to my grandmother at some point in time before 1923 (I think it was written in 1919 or 1920.) Margaret consoles her daughter on a divorce. I already knew about a later marriage to a Dale Ridgely, but I now know my grandmother had at least three marriages. (The divorce papers from Dale Ridgely were also in the box providing the exact date of marriage - and an unexpected location - Oakland, California. hat marriage certificate will now be easy to obtain, though I now have another to search for.)

There was a sizable collection of telegrams and letters my grandfather sent my grandmother in the 1930s and 1940s.

I found high school and college transcripts for my grandmother.

There was also a handful of unused humorous holiday postcards. The references to the New Deal suggest they were either purchased or received by my grandmother in the early 1930s.

Wordless Wednesday

(click to enlarge)
Caption: "The back wall of this privy vault is the wall of the oven of the adjoining bakery."
Source: Housing Conditions in St. Louis: Report of the Housing Committee of the Civic League of St. Louis, The Civic League of St. Louis, 1908, p. 22.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Creative Non-Fiction

The FootnoteMaven writes an introduction to the genre of Creative Nonfiction, for those considering how to put their research into book form. I don't think I'm close to this, as I have only begun to research.

However, one of the links at the end of her post is to Creative Nonfiction (CNF), a literary journal for the genre that is approximately 15 years old. I remember reading the first three issues as textbooks in a college writing course back in 1995. I wasn't aware they were still around.

From the submission guidelines of the journal, one gets a good idea of how they define the genre:

What we're looking for:
  • Strong reportage
  • Well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice.
  • An informational quality or instructive element that offers the reader something to learn (an idea, concept or collection of facts, strengthened with insight, reflection and interpretation.)
  • A compelling, focused, sustained narrative that is well-structured, makes sense and conveys meaning.
Of course, bloggers write a lot of Creative Non Fiction, without perhaps knowing it. Whether the blogger is providing a narrative of what happened in their kitchen a couple hours previously, discussing recent political events, or writing about a tragic accident involving a great-uncle and a chiffonier. That entry, which I wrote last October, is probably the best example of Creative Nonfiction on my blog, though it is tragic, and borrows a lot from an audio transcript of my grandfather and one of his brothers.

However, any blog entry qualifies if it informs (provides tips on research, or information on ancestors), and does so via a narrative (This morning I drove to the library not knowing the treasure trove of information I would discover in the microfilm drawers...). Those who are scared by the novel-length form might prefer a series of essays on the life of each ancestor.

I would also like to expand the definition of the genre by eliminating one word from the guidelines CNF provies. Which word? "Prose." Poetry should be included in the genre. And not just poems that are written in a 'dramatic narrative' form, as if enough poems are grouped together, they can form a narrative. (Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology would be a perfect example of Creative Non Fiction - if he hadn't fictionalized the town, and the residents.)

Those who are seeking an alternative Family History structure might find a series of poems more fitting to their writing strengths. Or they might find a poem is a great way to open each chapter in a prose work.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jacksonville, Florida City Directories

The Jacksonville, Florida Public Library website has a nice set of local city directories. Most of the years between 1891 and 1925 are either scanned in and browsable, or 'under construction'. When a year is selected, thumbnails are loaded for every page, which can take a couple minutes, but then it is very easy to browse through the directory.

There were no Van Everys in the 1916-1920 directories, neither my great-uncle Samuel, nor his alleged wife (see previous entry). Of course, her letter in his FBI file only said they were married there, not that either of them lived there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Uncle Sam and Uncle Sam

Kathi mentioned that Footnote was opening its database of FBI files to free access until the end of August. So I headed on over to see what I could find.

I soon learned that Uncle Sam had a 3-page file on my "Uncle Sam".

Sam was my maternal grandmother's brother. As I've written before, he had a son named Everett born in 1906, who drowned in 1924 at age 17. He was also possibly married for a brief time to Everett's mother, but was single in the 1910 and 1920 California censuses, while Everett and his mother were in the Austin Texas censuses. In 1930 Sam was living in Kansas City, Missouri, where he died in 1933.

The FBI file is backwards, with page one being the last page filed, and page 3 being the first page filed. Here are selected excerpts from a letter that appears on page 3 (dated July 1918):
War Department
Information Bureau
Washington, DC

Gentlemen: I was married to S.O Van Every, March 20, 1917 in Jacksonville Fla., my husband gave his age then as 28 but on June 5th of last year he very suddenly grew to be 32 he did not register for the draft ... Mr. Van Every deserted me last December in Little Rock Ark. when he went to Oroville Calif. and Martinez, Calif. and became engaged to another ... Mr. Van Every I learn has been married before he married me but had not a divorce.

I would like to know where I stand...He is a native of Texas, his parents live in Fabens, Texas ... Before the war he was pro-German.

Very Truly
Mrs. SO Van Every
Page 2 of the FBI file an investigator writes that he visited "the Van Every ranch" but no one was home. He describes the ranch as 3-4 miles south of Fabens, Texas.

On page 1 there is a statement from Samuel’s mother, Margaret Jane Van Every, my great-grandmother.
My name is Mrs. M.J. Van Every, my son SO Van Every was born January 15th, 1886, near San Marcus Texas, and is now 32 years of age.
Then the agent writes:
Mrs. Van Every then presented the family Bible with record of births that had been kept by her for many years, and this record shows that on January 15, 1886 a son was born and that his name is Samuel Opham Van Every, the record of this Bible has not been interfered with since the birth of this subject was recorded therein as it is in perfect condition and shows plainly that there has been no erasures of any nature.

Investigation closed.
Closed?! The investigation has just been re-opened!

It appears there was definitely a woman very upset with my great-uncle who tried to attack him with anything she could think of (bigamy, draft evasion and pro-German sympathies.) How much of it was true? Anything? And dangit, why does she have to go by the name “Mrs. SO Van Every.” So dang unhelpful!

Of course, she gives a date for her alleged marriage. Unfortunately, my quick research turns up that Florida state records only go back to 1927, and I have been unable to find information so far on how to obtain Jacksonville (Duval County) marriage records. The county website only mentions birth and death records, so it is possible the marriage records aren't available. Though I've just begun to look.

From my grandmother's collection I have a photocopy of what most likely is the family record that appeared in the family Bible, and was shown to the agent. I've figured it was the type of record one would see in the front of a Bible, but wasn't certain of its origin. It's wonderful to see a reference to it.

This also illustrates that you don't need to actually do anything to have an FBI file - it's possible to get an FBI file if you anger someone enough that they write to the government and make claims against you the FBI needs to investigate. The claims may be true; they might not be true. But it's worth searching the database, as even the simplest of investigations might include facts about your relatives you didn't know.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I sent an email to the Office of Student Records at a highly esteemed university regarding retrieiving student records of a deceased relative. This is how the response began:

This is a very commend request we as that you provide some type of documentation.
Well, I will have no problem providing the documentation, but it is taking great restraint not to respond, "I common you on your excellent grasp of the English language." Of course, I know if I do so, the odds of me retrieving the records will diminish. (So instead of responding sarcastically, I'm posting this on my blog.)

So...two tips for today.
1) Universities maintain historical records of students, and you can find the contact information for the Office of Student Records (or equivalent) on the university website.

2) Do restrain yourself from responding sarcastically when a clerk makes a spelling or grammatical mistake. At least until after you have retrieved every last bit of information that you imagaine you will ever have to retrieve from that clerk. (Even then, it's not nice, as we all do make mistakes from time to time. )

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Punt: Part II

Sharon of BackTrack made some great suggestions in the comments to my last post.


I entered the first name and middle initial of my cousin, and the surname that my previous search turned up. I also selected California. Unfortunately, date of birth isn't one of the search fields.

The free results gave me the Name, Age, "Past and Current Locations" (city, state), and "Possible Relatives and Associates." I am also told what public records are available - 3 categories: Phone numbers, Addresses, and date of birth. In this case all three types were available, but I would have to pay $2.95. (Not a lot, but I thought I would try the other suggestion Sharon made first.)
I did make note of the possible relatives.

2) Back to Ancestry - and their California Birth Records.

Sharon suggested I enter the possible married surname for the surname of the child, and the mother's maiden name that I knew, and see if there was a hit. A great idea I should have thought of.

And there were two hits! And both children appear in the list of "possible relatives" at PrivateEye.

So if we are going to stick with the football metaphor, I have scored, which is impossible with a punt in American football. Perhaps I should have referred to this as a Hail Mary Pass. And since PrivateEye provided me with married names for the children in the "Possible Relatives" section, I've found another generation in the California Birth records.

Now to write the letter.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Sometimes when researching, you have to punt.

I am very appreciative of the flexibility of Ancestry's search engine. On many databases, the surname field is required, but not at Ancestry. You can search for everyone named "John" across all their databases. The over 45 million results in their census databases alone probably isn't very useful, unless you were curious about the popularity of the name.

I remember last year I was searching for descendants of my great great grandfather, Selig Dudelsack's brother, Julius. I found Julius (who had changed his surname to Odelsohn) in the 1900 St. Louis census, and his oldest daughter was named Pearl. Pearl wasn't in the Odelsohn household in 1910. From her age in 1900 I knew the odds were that she had gotten married - but I had no clue who to.

So I punted with the information I did have
First name: Pearl
Place of Birth: Russia
Year of Birth: 1884 +- 1
Residence: Missouri

There was 1 result, and it was in St. Louis: Pearl Feldman. I went to the Missouri Death Certificates online, and found hers. Her father was Julius Odelsohn. The punt worked. (And a few months later when I looked up her obituary in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, I found about 100 living cousins.)

So today my mother gave me an assignment. She wanted to know where the two children of one of her cousins were. I had their full names from the Texas Birth Index. The son was easy to find - alas, in the Social Security Death Index. The daughter was more difficult, as daughters often are. And since she was born in 1940, there were no censuses to search. But Ancestry does have a Public Records Index, and many of the entries have ages associated with them. So I punted.

Name: First Name, Middle Name [Details not mentioned for privacy]
Birth year: 1940

That's all I gave it. Only 1 result in the Public Records Index. In the same town her mother died, and 30 miles from where her brother died. (Individually the first and middle names are fairly common, but not too many people use both.) Is it her?

If the town had a population of 1000, I wouldn't hesitate. However, it's Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States. It could easily be a coincidence. But I have a name to research, and an address to which a letter could be sent. I'm not exactly sure what the letter would say....

Dear ___

If you are not ____(maiden name)____ I apologize for the inconvenience, and please discard this letter.
However, if you are...

52nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy

The 52nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy has been posted at 100 Years in America.

If I counted correctly, there are 29 wonderful posts on the theme of age.

The 53rd edition (deadline Aug 1) will be a carousel edition:

The next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be a “carousel” edition. Just as carousels have a variety of animal figures so, too, will the next edition of the COG have a variety of topics. All subjects are welcome but please limit yourself to one submission. Submit any article you’d like (genealogy-related of course!) and if you'd like an introduction for it, please write your own.

More information here

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

World Digital Library

Albert Einstein's Declaration of Intent:

can be found in the National Archives' Archival Research Catalog and will be part of its contribution to the World Digital Library.

I learned of this on the GenealogyBank blog

One way to name a kid

A Florida man has won £50 worth of petrol by agreeing to name his unborn son after a pair of radio DJs.


At today's exchange rate, that's $100, and will buy 25 gallons of gas. At least if the guy had gotten the $100 in cash, he could have invested it in the kid's college fund. And in 18 years, perhaps it would have paid for a few textbooks.

I'm sure the guy didn't auction this off to the highest bidder.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Last November I sent a Qualifying Request email to the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists. I was accepted.

The society is for those genealogists who have discovered 'black sheep' in their family tree. There are a handful of 'deeds' that are automatic qualifiers:

Armed Robbery
Theft of any item of fame
Membership in a famous gang, well documented
Political Assassin
Member of the FBI's Most Wanted List
Political Expatriate
Extreme Public Embarrassment
Involvement in Witchcraft Trials
Bigamy (outside the Mormon faith, which condoned it at one time)
Persons expelled from normal society
Convicted felons (documented)

In my submission I argued I qualified under two categories: Bigamy and Political Expatriate. Since then I have cleared the bigamist, who was a sibling of a great-grandmother, as it seems much more likely now he really did go through with a divorce, even though documentation hasn't been uncovered. There's still a possibility, but the evidence leans away from bigamy.

This leaves Political Expatriate. Even though they fall under an 'automatic qualifier' for this society, I don't really consider my Loyalist ancestors as Black Sheep. They chose the non-winning side in a war, so after the war, they had to flee. The winners write the history. My ancestors were the ones that were loyal -- which is admirable -- others committed treason. But treason isn't a crime if you're successful. I am happy the Revolutionaries won, but I am not ashamed of the stand my ancestors took.

So while I have been given permission to put the "IBSSG" acronym in my signature, I am refraining from doing so, until I discover someone in my tree who qualifies for a less defensible deed. I suspect I might.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day

In 1988 I caught Les Miserables on Broadway, and a couple years later I read the novel. Since then I've become a major Hugophile, and somewhat of a Francophile, particularly of their literature. (I'm also a fan of Montaigne, Moliere, Baudelaire, and the modern Oulipo movement.)

There used to be rumors in my family that the Cruvant surname had French origins, but I think that was based more on sound than on research. When research was conducted by a cousin, she found the surname most likely originated in Kruvandia, Lithuania.

I have found some 'French' ancestors though in my mother's lineage. I put the word in quotation marks, because the ancestors would have considered themselves German. A couple generations lived in Alsace while it was under control of Germany. It's now France, though, and it may be the closest I will get to claiming French heritage.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Age is Relative

Take some time to look over the data that you have collected on members of your family tree, and share a story of age with us … With the understanding that “age is often a state of mind”, share your family story about someone whose story stands out because of their age, either young or old.
For the 52nd Carnival of Genealogy, instead of focusing on one individual, I thought I would start by taking a look at some of the lifespan statistics that I was able to generate with my genealogical software. (see previous entry)

Ave Male Lifespan 61
Ave Female Lifespan 62

At first this feels a little low, but several lines go back a few centuries, when life expectancy was shorter, and infant mortality was higher.

Earliest recorded person with birth/death year
William HORTON, born 1550 AD

When I look at the record, it says “abt 1550” and since I didn’t do the research, I don’t know how the year was derived. William Horton’s grandson, Barnabas Horton, may be the earliest ancestor for whom I have an exact birth date. July 13, 1600. (Happy 408th Birthday!) Barnabas’s fifth-great granddaughter, Abigail Stuart, married Samuel Van Every, who had 22 children, one of which was my mother’s grandfather.

Age At Death &lt 1 = 3.4%
Age At Death 01 to 10 = 4.8%
Age At Death 11 to 20 = 2.8%
Age At Death 21 to 30 = 2.0%
Age At Death 31 to 40 = 5.3%
Age At Death 41 to 50 = 5.6%
Age At Death 51 to 60 = 12.6%
Age At Death 61 to 70 = 17.4%
Age At Death 71 to 80 = 20.2%
Age At Death 81 to 90 = 19.1%
Age At Death 91 to 100 = 6.2%
Age At Death 101 to 110 = 0.6%

I have no idea how this curve compares to that of other families. My gut instinct says the 11% for age 31-50 is probably higher than it is for the 'average family'. But what is the average family? I will look at this further a little later in the entry.

My database is small compared to some – at the moment slightly over 700 people, only half of them with known death dates. So the %s might very well change as I enter more records. Here are a few of the longer lived in my family:

People who lived over 100 years (only 2)
Israel David NEWMARK (1903 - 2004) 101
Joe WYMAN (1904 - 2007) 102

Israel David was my great grandfather, Barney Newmark’s youngest brother. However, due to being the same age as the children of his oldest siblings, he was was given the nickname, “Uncle Buddy.”

Joe was first cousin with my paternal grandmother. I'm not sure I ever met Joe, but I've met his younger sister several times, and she is still alive, and we've sent emails back and forth. She's already earned a place in at least the next category; hopefully she makes it to this one.

People who lived over 90 years
(there are 26, I'm going to mention a handful.)

Paternal grandfather's lines

Ida Adele KESSLER (1907 - 2003) 96

Ida married an “Israel David Newmark”, who happened to be the nephew of the one above, born 4 years later.

Cruvant William ALTMAN (1914 - 2008) 93

Cruvant passed away on March 15th of this year. He was a first cousin to my grandfather, and they were in a law practice together prior too WWII.

Bertha CRUVANT (1887 - 1978) 90

My great grandmother, she is he second longest living direct ancestor for whom I am certain about age at death. I was 9 when she died and I remember her well, but she was in a retirement home, and a wheelchair by then. I’ve enjoyed discovering photos of her from her younger years recently.

Paternal grandmother's lines

Robert Seymour Selig FEINSTEIN (1915 - 2008) 93

Seymour also passed away on March 15th of this year. I started to pen an entry about the Ides of March back then, but it didn't get finished. Seymour was another first cousin of my paternal grandmother.

Maternal Grandfather's lines

Berta DEUTSCH (1911 - 2003) 91

My maternal grandfather’s sister, she is the longest living member of my maternal grandfather’s lines. However, this is also the family I have the least records on, mostly due to it also being the family which, generationally, came to America most recently, with my grandfather (and Berta) having been born in Hungary.

Maternal Grandmother’s lines

Sarah SHOWERS (1762 - 1860) 98

She is a direct ancestor, however, her record says she died before 1860. There is no indication how the year was derived. It could have been significantly prior to 1860.

Elizabeth ROSENBERGER (1752 - 1847) 94

I have complete birth and death dates for Elizabeth which come from a Fretz Family History compiled in the 1890s, and is probably trustworthy. Her granddaughter Elizabeth Sliver married William Denyer, my mother’s second great grandparents.


I've posted before about several early deaths in my family tree, particularly in the Denyer line. While several of the early deaths were in the 1800s, when lifespans were shorter, I still thought the statistics for the Denyers seemed significantly lower than they should have been. I decided it was time to crack the numbers and see just how right I was.

My software doesn’t separate the lifespan statistics by families, but you can export Ancestors/Descendants into a separate GEDCOM, and then open the GEDCOM and run the stats. So that's what I did, and I had some numbers to compare.

"Direct Ancestors"
Starting with me, this GEDCOM had my direct ancestors, with no siblings.

71 males: Avg lifespan: 67
58 females: Avg lifespan: 68

I looked at this as a second control in the study, in addition to the 61/62 in the whole database.

Descendants of Israel David Neimark (his son Samuel was born in 1862, that's all I know)
55 males: Avg lifespan: 66
53 females: Avg lifespan: 74

Descendants of Me’er Kruvant (born before 1795)
116 males: Avg lifespan: 68
110 females: Avg lifespan: 70

These are the only two families I looked at for my father's side, as the other branches have less entries, making the significance of the data questionable. I question the siginificance of the data for the Newmark family as well, and wonder if the stats will look any different once I enter more of the information.

Descendants of William Denyer (1794-1848)
121 males: Avg lifespan: 53
103 females: Avg lifespan: 61

Descendants of Andrew Van Every (1798-1873)
93 males: Avg lifespan: 49
82 females: Avg lifespan: 48

Quite a significant drop.

The argument that it is due to pre-20th century data is possibly negated by comparison to the Kruvant family, as I have information that goes back to the late 1700s for them too, in Lithuania. However, when they immigrated to America, they immigrated to urban St. Louis, not rural Texas. Life expectancy can change based on geography.

Whatever the causes, I definitely confirmed that the life expectancy for the Denyers and Van Everys was sadly lower than for the rest of my family tree.

Yes it can, now.

Randy Seaver at Geneamusings has been asking whether various genealogy software can display a list/report of selected people and their ages at death, or at least the top 20 in descending order.

I noted in the comments that iFamilyForLeopard could get them in a list by those who lived over 100, over 90, and over 80, but not descending order within the 10-year groupings. I'd actually noticed this a couple days earlier as I had been thinking about the topic for the upcoming Carnival of Genealogy, age. (I hope to finish writing that entry later today.) However, iFamilyForLeopard is continually being updated, and the developer releases a new version for download once or twice a month on average. These releases are actually several version numbers apart, whenever a significant number of upgrades have been made. You can special request the current release to be emailed to you. [All upgrades to the software are free.]

I suggested the modification to the report in their forums, and within 2.5 hours, the modification had been made. (As someone with programming experience, I had a suspicion my request was on the simpler side of some requests that get made in the forums, but I was still impressed.) I requested the new version, which was 2.411, so I was able to see it in action.

Here are some screenshots to go along with the instructions I gave Randy in his comments.

Step 1: From the 'Reports' drop-down menu, select 'Statistics'.

Step 2: A window will open with some general information on the number of births, deaths, marriage, pictures, sources, and a few other types of records. At the bottom of the window, click on 'Show Lifespan Info'. Another window will open providing you with a choice of three sorts: 1) Family name, First name; First name, Family name; Age at Death. I selected the last.

Step 3: the report won't fit on one screen, so you can scroll down to see more:

As you can see we start off with some overall statistics.

Num Males
Ave Male Lifespan
Males who died under 20 yrs (#)
Males who lived over 80 yrs (#)
Males who lived over 90 yrs (#)
Males who lived over 100 yrs (#)

Num Females
Ave Female Lifespan
Females who died under 20 yrs (#)
Females who lived over 80 yrs (#)
Females who lived over 90 yrs (#)
Females who lived over 100 yrs (#)

Earliest recorded person with birth/death year

Age At Death < year =" %"
Age At Death 1 to 10 = "%"
11 to 20 = "%"
21 to 30 = "%"
31 to 40 = "%"
41 to 50 =" %"
51 to 60 =" %"
61 to 70 =" %"
71 to 80 =" %"
81 to 90 =" %"
91 to 100 =" %"
101 to 110 =" %"

And if you scroll down more, you see the list of ages at death

You could scroll down further and see the complete list of those who died from 80-89. You will notice that you have the option to either close the window, if you are happy just viewing it, or print it. It 'prints' to an .rtf file, and it opens in TextEdit.

[note: the family information in the images above will actually be discussed in an upcoming entry.]

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Five

1880 - Talleyrand Farnell - Columbia, FL - age 3
1900 - Launay Sunday - Wayne, MI - age 9
1910 - Bastille Millet - Ascension, LA - age 11
1920 - Storm Wall - Jackson, MO - age 10
1930 - Jack Necker - Los Angeles, CA - age 1

All the names above come from the named censuses, and have something to do with each other. In this case, a holiday on Monday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

O Microspatula, My Microspatula

Ode to a Microspatula

O device made from steel
of the stainless variety
so thin, yet so shapely –
How can I ever repay?

Some use your strong metal
to extricate staples, spread
adhesive, or separate pages
which have become attached.

You help me to rescue
the memories of my past
from the sticky undersides
of their present enclosures.

O device made from steel
of the stainless variety
so thin, yet so capable –
How can I show my gratitude?

©2008 John C Newmark

They were designed for chemists.
The National Archives recommends using them to remove staples and other fasteners.
Librarians and Bookbinders find them useful as well.
I'm thankful to Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist, for suggesting their usage in extricating photographs from sticky photo albums.

This is what mine looks like:


While some are encouraging others to procrastinate with wordles (see earlier post) and other timewasters, I thought I would provide a website you could visit to find out something potentially useful about your blog. How readable is it?

You can give your blog (or any website) a readability test

Below are the results for this blog.
(Note: The script only computes the results for the page you doesn't search your archives. Therefore, to find the URL I would enter, I clicked on the 2008 archives link in my sidebar.

This is the URL:

If you ignore the gobbledygook, you can see there are three variables that are easily modifiable - a beginning date, an ending date, and a maximum number of posts. I made the necessary changes so that every 2008 post of mine would appear on one page. Therefore the statistics below represent my average for the entire year so far.)
Reading Level Results

Total sentences 5180
Total words 49461
Average words per Sentence 9.55
Words with 1 Syllable 32003
Words with 2 Syllables 9804
Words with 3 Syllables 5252
Words with 4 or more Syllables 2402
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 15.47%
Average Syllables per Word 1.56
Gunning Fog Index 10.01
Flesch Reading Ease 65.48
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.50


My blog falls somewhere inbetween 6th and 10th grade level reading. I consider that good. I wouldn't want my writing to require higher than a high school education to read. Supposedly it is roughly equivalent to the readability of Time and Newsweek.

Flesch Reading Ease is a 100 point scale, the higher the number the easier it is to read. 60-70 is a recommended target, which I seem to fall smack dab in the middle.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Steve Morse One-steps Cook County Vitals

Steve Morse on his website has added a Cook County One-Step for searching Cook County's new Vital Records.

There are two big improvements in his search script over Cook County's. Instead of computing the soundex code, you can select 'sounds like', and his code will compute it for you. Also, if the search results contain a marriage record, there will be a link to click on for the spouse.

TransDutch Wordle

FootnoteMaven started it. Others soon followed all over the GeneaBlogosphere. I couldn't resist either.

Above is a word-cloud created from the words in my blog. You can create your own here.


Arlene Eakle has a good post on the different types of mathematical gaffes genealogists make. She categorizes four types: Fuzzy, Bogus, Destructive, and Speculative

I don’t believe I have yet succumbed to either the bogus or destructive. If I don't have enough data to even speculate, I don't. I don't mind blank spots on the record, as it reminds me where I need to conduct more research.

I have utilized both fuzzy and speculative math, but always made notes as to the logic that led to the conclusion. My best example is the birth date of my third great grandmother Gitel Slupsky, mother of Selig Dudelsack. Both of them changed their surname to Feinstein in America.

Gitel immigrated with her son, Selig, in 1890, and is buried in St. Louis. I have visited, and photographed her tombstone. It says she died on the 19th of Av in 5666. A Hebrew-Gregorian date converter tells me this is August 10, 1906. (Or August 9th, since the Hebrew day starts at sunset the night before.) The tombstone also says she was born in 1831.

However, her death record says she was 60 years, 5 months, and 21 days old when she died. (At least according to the abstract – I haven’t seen the original. The address on the death record matches the address on the 1900 and 1910 census for the family, so there is no confusion of names.)

That’s rather exact, and I calculated a birthday of Feb 17, 1846. I couldn’t find an online calculator for this, so I had to rely on my own math and calendar skills, which could have been off.

Finally, just to confuse matters further, the 1900 census says she was born in January of 1840.

I have chosen Feb 17, 1846 as the date to enter on her record, because there is logic behind it, and it is nice to have a logical exact date, but I've described where I got that date, and all the variations from other documents in my notes.

As a side note – Arlene Eakle leads into her discussion on math with the ‘gaffe’ that Senator Obama made when he said he had visited 57 states. For those who are confused how one can make that gaffe even due to lack of sleep, reading the Snopes article on this topic is revealing. Many people think Obama said 57 when he meant 50. However, he had visited 47 states at the time, and it’s not too difficult to imagine where someone might slip and say ‘fifty’ instead of ‘forty.’

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Missouri Courts

All My Branches Genealogy mentions MissouriCaseNet's Your Missouri Courts, where you can search court records throughout the State of Missouri.

I found cases that went back to the 1970s, though it feels strange looking through the pages of results. There are a handful of cases I might consider notable in my research. For example, there were a few divorces, and I could write down a date.

However, I'm not interested in knowing which of my cousins had state traffic tickets, or which of my cousins was a repeat DWI offender. (More than not being interested, I'm not sure I wanted to know.) There were also personal injury suits that were filed that I don't find exciting, either. Though part of my lack of excitement probably stems from the fact they don't provide the details, just the names of the parties, the type of charges, and the outcome.

Another reason for my lack of excitement is that they are all rather recent activities. I either know these people well, or they are distant cousins.

However, there is the possibility if you have relatives in Missouri you will find out something about them in this database.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Samuel Joseph Newmark (1863-1940)

This is the fourth in a series of Brick Wall posts.

Samuel Joseph Newmark was born in Warka, Warsaw, Poland on Oct 7, 1863. He married Rose Cantkert. (That's the best guess at the spelling of the name that was written down on the birth certificates of three of her children as Sandgart, Sonka, and Sankad. It is my understanding that the 'C' in Polish is pronounced 'Ts'.) Rose was born in approximately 1865.

In 1893 they immigrated from Poland to England with sons Sol, Barnet, and Max, and daughters Nellie and Bella. In London they had three more children - Kate, Cecile, and Israel David. In two voyages in 1908 and 1909 the family immigrated from England to the US, settling in St. Louis. Samuel, and most of his sons, were tailors.

We know that Samuel's father's name was Israel David. We think his wife's name was Leah. Samuel almost certainly had siblings, but nothing is known about them.

The photograph in this post was discovered today in a photo album. It was taken in 1938.

CoG: 51st Edition

The Carnival of Genealogy: 51st Edition has been posted at Destination: Austin Family

It is filled with entries about men and women who have or had an Independent Spirit.

The 52nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will focus on the simple topic of AGE.
With the understanding that "age is often a state of mind", share your family story about someone whose story stands out because of their age, either young or old.
More information here

Friday, July 4, 2008

Missouri Records Databases

Inspired by a comment in the prior post, here's a list of Vital Records and related databases/indexes I know about for the state of Missouri. If anyone knows of any others, mention them in the comments.

Missouri State Archives: Missouri Birth and Death pre-1910 (free abstracts)
Missouri State Archives: Missouri Death Certificates 1910-1957 (free images)

St. Louis Public Library: Obituary Search, St. Louis Post Dispatch Obituary Index(1880-1926,1942-1945,1992-2006) and St. Louis Argus Obituary Index (1915-1927,1942-1945) [the search link is in the process of combining the information in the two indexes] This provides date and page number, but saves a lot of time if you have access to the microfilm.

Jackson County Department of Records: Marriage Licenses
(free images - and up-to-date. Currently through July 1, 2008)

[The St. Louis Genealogical Society has a database for St. Louis Marriages from 1804-1876 for members only. This same database is also available through]

While these aren't related to Vital Records, I also consider them worth noting:

Missouri State Archives: Naturalization Records (1816-1955)
[Note: While they include "St. Louis City" in their indexed column, I think they only have the pre-1906 naturalizations, which they got from the St. Louis Genealogical Society)

St. Louis County Library: 1906-1928 Naturalizations in St. Louis (index with both Library and LDS film numbers)

CookCountyGenealogy Tip

Here's my first tip on using the CookCountyGenealogy website that I mention in the previous post.

When searching the marriage database you might be a little disappointed with the results at first.

(click to enlarge)

As you can see, it provides the name you searched for, and the date of marriage, but not the spouse. You don't have to order the certificate, though, if all you want is the spouse's name. The results also provide you with the "file number". And as you can see in the search box, you can search by file number and the year.

When you do that, you get both entries. So it's a two-step process to figure out who someone married.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cook County Vital Records

Cook County's (Chicago's) Vital Records! They're here! They're here!

These are indexes - you still have to order the certificate from the Cook County Clerk office at $15/per, however, you can download the images (tiff files) immediately. The images have the words "For Genealogical Purposes Only" stamped on them, however, this doesn't effect readability much once you zoom in on a particular area of the image.

Records date from 1872

Birth certificates - 75 years or older
Marriage licenses - 50 years or older
Death certificates - 20 years or older

I may have found the site before they officially announced I can't find a reference to it in a news search. However, I arrived there by clicking on the 'genealogy' link at the County Clerk site.

It doesn't say whether or not they've finished entering all the data yet, but I am having difficulty finding records I know have to be there. My great-grandmother Helen Deutsch died in 1958, in Chicago. I can't find her record.

The marriage of Adolph Rosenblum and Sarah Deutsch is listed in the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, which goes up to 1900. That index says they were married in Cook County, on 2/18/1900. I can't find them on the Cook County site. I've even tried their soundex search.

So, it's not perfect. But it's exciting.

Note: As it was pointed out in the comments section, earlier when I read the "more info" and "FAQ" pages of the website I missed their statement that there are 8 million records, and they have only entered 6 million of them so far. This explains the gaps.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Independence Week (Canada and US)

Source: high school commencement speech, 1987, John Newmark

The Siblings of Samuel Deutsch (Rosenblum, Greenfield)

This is the third in a series of “Brick Wall” posts. I have actually discovered a few leads in the past couple days on this branch of the family which provide a little more hope than previously.

Samuel Deutsch (1861-1938), his wife Helen Lichtman Deutsch (1881-1958), and six children (Jean, Edward, Maurice, Ted, Martin, and Berta) immigrated to America in 1913 from Nagayalmas, Hungary. The town, in the Transylvania region, is now part of Romania.

(Helen actually arrived a year earlier to earn money for the rest of the family to make the trip.) In 1914 a 7th child, Allen, was born. They all settled in Chicago, Illinois.

According to family records, Samuel’s parents were Abraham Deutsch and Sarah Weiss. I have no information on them except for their names.

Martin, Ted and Berta recorded a family history audiotape in the 1970s, and they knew their father had had several siblings, and they had cousins in America, but they hadn't seen them in years and their memories were hazy. They were able to come up with a handful of names, though their certainty was low. They also knew that Samuel had had a wife prior to Helen in Hungary, and six children who decided not to come to America. They didn't know any names.

A couple days ago my mother had a phone conversation with the daughter of Jean, and her memory was also now hazy, but Jean had been the eldest child, and her daughter recalled a few more names of Samuel's siblings (but not that of his first wife). Plugging the names in has resulted in a few interesting leads

Likely siblings of Samuel:

David Deutsch – it is thought he was in America only briefly and returned to Hungary. However, a son of his, Herman, settled in Michigan, was a teacher, and he changed his name to Herman Dexter. It’s not believed he had any children. David may have had a few daughters who stayed in America, and their names may have been Hannah Goodman, Celia Palmer and Bertha Newman.

Sarah Deutsch – married a Rosenblum, and had six children. One son named Daniel, and five daughters.

A very likely family has been found in a Rootsweb forum post – a Sarah Deutsch and Adolph Rosenblum who lived in Chicago. Their children were Daniel, Pauline, Frances, Esther, Julia, and Lillian. In 1930 Julia Rosenblum had married David Mittelman. [The post is dated back in 2003, and the poster has not responded to a query I made a month ago.]

Regina Deutsch – married Nathan Greenfield

I found a Nathan and Regina Greenfield in the 1930 Chicago census, with children Gertie, Milton and Irving. Country of origin being Hungary.

Nephew of Samuel

Sigmund Deutsch

I found in Chicago a Joe and Eva Deutsch with sons Sigmund and Albert, living on the same street as Samuel and Helen in 1920.

There are enough names here I should be able to locate some cousins with a little help from the Chicago Vital Records which are supposed to come online at some point in the near future. Before then I might make a trip to the local library and browse through the Chicago city directories for 1923 and 1928, but I'm not sure if they will provide more information than the census already does. Unfortunately, after 1928, the next Chicago city directory at my local library is from 1973.