Friday, August 29, 2008

Show and Tell

Honoring the season of Back to School - The theme for the 55th Carnival of Genealogy is Show and Tell
Show us and tell us about an heirloom, a special photo, a valuable document, or a significant person that is a very special part of your family history. Don’t be shy now, show us what you’ve got!

I have two items to share:
1) Fireplace tongs. At first glance, they don't look that special. They were used to start every fire as I was growing up, and I knew they were old. I think I knew they had been in the family multiple generations. But I didn't know the details. I may have been told them at some time as a youth, but I didn't retain the knowledge.

They come through my maternal grandmother, and they were forged in Pennsylvania. This is the extent of our definite knowledge. However, research shows that our lineage was last in Pennsylvania in the early 1800s.

The tongs were possibly forged by a 3rd great grandfather, William Denyer, either in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, or Philadelphia. He would have passed them on to his son, Ebenezer Denyer, who would have passed them to his daughter Margaret Denyer, who passed them to her daughter Myrtle Van Every, my grandmother. So I am at least the sixth generation to have started a fire with these tongs.

It's possible they come from the family of William Denyer's wife, Elizabeth Sliver, in which case they could date back to the 1700s.

2) The second item is a family heirloom of which I am proud. However, it is not something I can easily photograph. Though it's part of one of the first photographs I ever shared on this blog. My middle name. Cruvant.

I wasn't always as proud of it as I am now. It's unusual, as a middle name. The family name of a paternal great grandmother, it derives from the Lithuanian city, Kruvandai.

Photograph of modern day Kruvandai.
Source: photogalaxy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Famous Kin

Several months ago I browsed through Gary Boyd Roberts' Ancestries of American Presidents.
Gary Boyd Roberts is an American Geenalogist known for his scholarship in Americans of royal descent, the ancestors of American presidents, and notable kin. Roberts is the retired Senior Research Scholar of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). (Wikipedia)
Today I discovered this article he wrote: Notable Descendants of the Immigrant Stoughton Siblings of Massachusetts

This provides some documentation to extend the ancestry of Joanna Chamberlain (mentioned a couple posts ago) a couple more generations back, and provides an extensive list of cousins. In this article Roberts doesn't provide detailed genealogies, but does provide a long list of names filled with fun. (And maybe, since Roberts himself is a descendant, I'll be able to find some more detailed charts in one of his books.)

While I insist I am more interested in other genealogical pursuits, I can't deny that it is fun to find out I am distant cousins with all of these individuals. A personal genealogy page at FamilyTreeMaker Online has a detailed descent chart, with even more names. It quotes the Gary Boyd Roberts article, but I'm not certain where the details come from, so I can't be as confident with the information.

Here's a selection of Stoughton descendants according to the sources above.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Ulysses Simpson Grant

Other Political
Mitt Romney
George Romney
John Kerry
Patrick Buchanan
Adlai Stevenson III (son of Presidential contender)
John Foster Dulles
Thomas Dewey
Pierre Dupont IV
Hamilton Fish

Matthew Langford Perry (Chandler, Friends)
William Christopher (Father Mulcahy, M*A*S*H)
Kyra Sedgwick (Brenda Johnson, The Closer)
James Osgood Perkins (Johnny Lovo, Scarface)
Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates, Psycho)
Osgood Robert Perkins (Young Norman, Psycho II)
Cary Elwes (Westley, Princess Bride)
Ann Bradford Davis (Alice, The Brady Bunch)
Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan, Dirty Harry)
Barbara Babcock (Dorothy Jennings, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Tuesday Weld (Thalia Menninger, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis)
Shirley Temple (Marthy Jane, Little Miss Marker)
Robert Bushnell Ryan (John Claggart, Billy Budd)
Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden, Singin in the Rain)
Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia, Star Wars)
Thomas Edward Hulce (W.A. Mozart, Amadeus)
Patrick Swayze (Johnny Castle, Dirty Dancing)
William Holden (David Larrabee, Sabrina)
Jane Wyatt (Margaret Anderson, Father Knows Best)
Viggio Peter Mortensen, Jr. (Aragorn, The Lord of the Rings)
Ashley Judd (Linda Porter, De-Lovely)
Amanda Peet (Jack Barrett, Jack and Jill)
Margaret Sullavan (Patricia Hollmann, Three Comrades)
Fred Rogers (Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood)
Malcolm Atterbury (Al Malone, The Birds)
Lillian Gish (Elsie Stoneman, Birth of A Nation)
Dorothy Gish (Nell Gwyn, Nell Gwynne)
Ralph Bellamy (FDR, The Winds of War & War and Remembrance)

Poets, Artists, Novelists
Hart Crane
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Orson Scott Card

Benedict Arnold
Alfred Kinsey

Anyone should be satisfied with this list of cousins, so now I can focus my genealogical attention elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Fashion Flashback

Melvin L Newmark (1912-1992)
August 1971

Wordless Wednesday

Veterans of Future Wars

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
It's listed in the top 10 college pranks of all time, second only to CalTech's 1961 Rose Bowl stunt. The Veterans of Future Wars campaign.

In 1935, hit hard by the effects of the Depression, the nation's veterans lobbied Congress to provide them with their bonus check 10 years early. Congress agreed and passed the bill in January of 1936. A group of Princeton students decided to satirize the events and the following manifesto was published in March 1936 in the Daily Princetonian:
Whereas it is inevitable that this country will be engaged in war within the next thirty years, and whereas it is by all accounts likely that every man of military age will have a part in this war,

We, therefore, demand that the Government make known its intention to pay an adjusted service compensation, sometimes called a bonus, of $1,000 to every male citizen between the ages of 18 and 36, said bonus to be payable the first of June, 1965. Furthermore, we believe a study of history demonstrates that it is customary to pay all bonuses before they are due. Therefore we demand immediate cash payment, plus three per cent interest compounded annually and retroactively from the first of June, 1965, to the first of June, 1935. It is but common right that this bonus be paid now, for many will be killed or wounded in the next war, and hence they, the most deserving, will not otherwise get the full benefit of their country’s gratitude.
The satire spread to other college campuses. Many veterans were offended. Eleanor Roosevelt, however, said: "I think it’s just as funny as it can be! And—taken light, as it should be—a grand pricking of lots of bubbles."

There is a time for bubble pricking, and there is a time for seriousness. While at the time many veterans accused the students of being unpatriotic, and "too yellow to go to war," six years later all but two of the Princeton students were overseas. One stayed home due to an injury, and another was employed in the steel industry.

The first official chapter of the Veterans of Future Wars was at Washington University in St. Louis. And the Post Commander there also served overseas in WWII (as a member of the American Red Cross). He was my grandfather.

I found this article in the March 19, 1936 Jefferson City Post Tribune (in the Newspaper archives.) I shared it with my family, and learned that while my grandfather didn't hide his collegiate actions from his sons, he had expressed regret.

I'm not sure the regret was necessary. As Eleanor Roosevelt was kind enough to publicly note, there was cause for satire, and the students conducted the satire flawlessly. And when the time came, the students illustrated to the country that their actions hadn't sprung from a lack of patriotism.

The MuseumOfHoaxes points out that in 1950 there was a failed attempt to revive the joke to protest the Korean War. There was also an online attempt that began in 2003, which hasn't had enough success to receive any mention in mainstream press (all references in Google's News Archives to the VoFW after 1960 are historical references to the original protest. News stories concerning the 1950 revival do appear in their archives.)

I feel the reason the revivals didn't catch on is that the original protest took place in a time of peace, though war was on the horizon. The same economic circumstances that caused the veterans to ask for an early bonus caused the students to question their government's spending of money. Those circumstances weren't present in 1950, nor are they present now. In 1950 and now, current veterans weren't and aren't receiving early bonuses, so the only 'statement' left for those reviving the joke is an anti-war message. Without the economic underpinnings, the VoFW loses the satirical humor it had in the 30s.

My grandfather, Melvin L Newmark was born August 27, 1912. He died Jan 22, 1992. He would have been 96 years old today.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Humor

It probably has something to do with growing up in Missouri but whenever I think of the word "Ahnentafel" I think of spelunking as a kid at Onondaga Cave State Park

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who's Correct?

WARGS has the ancestry of Jane Wyman

My parents have told me before that I am not related to Jane Wyman. Of course, they were talking about my paternal ancestry at the time. I recently posted a photograph of my great grandfather, Morris Blatt, who married a Belle Wyman, who died in Poland.

Reagan's former wife wasn't born with the name Jane Wyman, though. She was Sarah Jane Mayfield.

According to WARGS, however, she is descended from:
472 Caleb Horton
473 Phoebe Terry

Caleb's sister was Penelope Horton, who married Samuel Swayze. You see them in my descent in the previous post.

However,, says the parents of Penelope and Caleb Horton were Barnabas Horton and Sarah Wines (This Barnabas being the grandson of Barnabas Horton and Mary Langton mentioned in my previous post)

WARGS says that Caleb's parents were:
944 Jonathan Horton
945 Bethia Welles

At least one of them is wrong.

Related to...

Randy at Geneamusings writes about his lack of cousinhood to Joe Biden.

I've been to WARGS before. (Acronym for William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services) However, I didn't browse through the lineage of every politician and celebrity he's researched on the site. (That would take awhile, and I still haven't.) However, spurred by Randy's post, I searched a few more genealogies today. Trusting his research, I am ninth cousins with Senator John Kerry. (This would have been nice to know 4 years ago.)

Below is a table illustrating our shared ancestry, with ahnentafel numbers.
John Kerry's DescentMy descent
8th Great Grandparents
1578 Capt. Richard Betts
1579 Joanna Chamberlain

7th Great Grandparents
788 Capt. Joseph Sackett
789 Elizabeth Betts

6th Great Grandparents
394 Joseph Sackett
395 Hannah Alsop

5th Great Grandparents
196 Col. Jacob Blackwell
197 Frances Sackett

4th Great Grandparents
98 Joseph Blackwell
99 Mary Hazard

3rd Great Grandparents
48 Col. James Grant Forbes
49 Frances Elizabeth Blackwell

2nd Great Grandparents
24 Rev. John Murray Forbes
25 Anne Howell

Great Grandparents
12 Francis Blackwell Forbes
13 Isabel Clark

6 James Grant Forbes
7 Margaret Tyndal Winthrop

2 Richard John Kerry
3 Rosemary Isabel Forbes

1 John Forbes Kerry
8th Great Grandparents
1890 Capt. Richard Betts
1891 Joanna Chamberlain

7th Great Grandparents
944 Joseph Swazey
945 Mary Betts

6th Great Grandparents
472 Samuel Swayze
473 Penelope Horton

5th Great Grandparents
236 Israel Swayze
237 Mary Pitney

4th Great Grandparents
118 Israel Swayze
119 Abigail Coleman

3rd Great Grandparents
58 Elihu Stuart
59 Johanna Swayze

2nd Great Grandparents
28 Samuel Van Every
29 Abigail Stewart

Great Grandparents
14 Melvin Van Every
15 Mary Jane Denyer

6 Martin Deutsch
7 Myrtle Van Every

2 Dad
3 Mom

1 Me

After showing Kerry's ancestry, Reitwiesner takes selected ancestors and mentions other people descended from the same, and behold, he chooses Betts and Chamberlain. So I know I am also related to actors Thomas Edward Hulce, and William Franklin Beedle (better known as William Holden.) I already knew about Patrick Swayze. And apprently, Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Henry Seward (Responsible for the purchase of Alaska), is also a descendant.

Interestingly, Reitwiesner doesn't talk about other descendants of Kerry's ancestors:

3534 Barnabas Horton
3535 Mary Langton

I am also descended from them (as is Patrick Swayze, William Holden, and William Henry Seward) All of us are more closely related through Betts and Chamberlain. However, descended from Horton and Langton is also Anna Tuthill Symmes, the wife of William Henry Harrison, and grandmother of Benjamin Harrison. At least according to the research at

Saturday, August 23, 2008

GBGames Final Tally

We have reached the final day of the GeneaBloggers 2008 games, and here are my final tallies:

GB Games - Team TransylvanianDutch - FINAL

1) Competition: Go Back and Cite Your Sources

Cumulative total: 58 citations

Qualifications for "Go Back and Cite Your Sources!":
10 Citations - Bronze Medal
20 Citations - Silver Medal
30 Citations - Gold Medal
40 Citations - Diamond Medal
50 Citations - Platinum Medal

Medal: Platinum

2) Competition: Organize Your Research

Cumulative total: 20 Data Entries
Cumulative total: 84 photos or documents, 126 scanned images.

Qualifications for "Organize Your Research!":

A. Organize at least 20 hard files or ancestral items (books, fabrics, inherited items) into file folders, boxes, envelopes, containers, etc.; archival-quality where appropriate.

B. Organize at least 20 digital files into folders, label, add metadata, add descriptions, add tags, etc.

C. Organize at least 20 photos into photo albums, scrapbooks, collages, protective holders, boxes, etc.

D. Organize at least 20 digital photos into folders, label, add metadata, add descriptions, add tags, etc.

E. Create at least 20 data entries in your database, or scan 20 photos, or scan 20 documents.

F. Create a master list of your files and notify your family members of where it is stored.

Complete any one task - Bronze Medal
Complete any two tasks - Silver Medal
Complete any three tasks - Gold Medal
Complete any four tasks - Diamond Medal
Complete five or more tasks - Platinum Medal

Medal: Platinum (Task E 5 times over)

(I realize my interpretation of the guidelines may have varied from original intent.)

While it won't change my medal, there may be a few more data entries entered today. A cousin contacted my mother with a lead yesterday on several more cousins in Chicago. I only had time last night to look up the census, passenger manifest at Ellis Island (typed!) and do a search at the Cook County index. I have enough leads I am very hopeful I will find some living contacts. There will be another post.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unusual Obituaries

One of the non-genealogy newsfeeds I subscribe to is's Urban Legends. So whenever they analyze the claims of a new chain email, I receive it immediately. Of course, the most enjoyable posts are often the ones they announce are true.

As Randy at Geneamusings mentions, the unflattering obituary for Dolores Aguilar is real. Apparently her children weren't very fond of her, and at least one of them was unafraid to say so to the world. I think most of us hope that this isn't the impression we leave on our family. When I read or hear stories like this I realize how lucky I am to belong to the family I do.

Coincidentally, it's the five year anniversary of another obituary that got passed around a lot in emails. An obituary that said memorial gifts should be made to any organization that seeks the removal of President George Bush from office. Alas, there must not have been enough donations.

Also nearly five years ago, in November of 2003, the New York Times found itself issuing a very strange correction

GBGames Statistics: Day 12-13

Day Thirteen of the 2008 GeneaBloggers Games is near completion. We are supposed to keep daily stats. This is a combination of yesterday's and todays statistics.

GB Games - Team TransylvanianDutch - August 20-21

1) Competition: Go Back and Cite Your Sources

: Create Proper Citations
Number of Citations Entered: 18

Cumulative total: 58 citations

2) Competition: Organize Your Research
Event: Create data entries in your database, or scan photos, or scan documents.
Number of data entries: 18

Cumulative total: 20 Data Entries

Two days ago, when I entered 2 data entries, I said I was unlikely to enter 18 more. Then I remembered that a year ago I found over at Rootsweb's WorldConnect the Descendancy of Henry Rosenberger. It's a transcribed version of "A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Henry Rosenberger of Franconia, Montgomery Co., Pa." by Rev. AJ Fretz, 1906 - in GEDCOM format. So I downloaded the GEDCOM and transferred the data for my direct ancestors over to my primary database, and left everything else be. Unsure about the validity of Fretz's research, or the accuracy of the transcription, I decided not to add everything to my database.

Recently I found the book in my local library and photocopied the most relevant pages. Having removed the possibility of transcription errors, I decided last night to add a couple generations of collateral relatives. There ended up being 18 of them, and of course I cited the source.

Number of photos/documents scanned: 24 documents, and 24 scanned images

Tonight I scanned 20 columns I wrote for a college newspaper in 1987 and 1988. I figure I can count this under the assumption somebody in my family in some future generation might enjoy reading them. While my parents did save them for posterity, I chose not to scan in the letters to the editor from irate readers critiquing my columns. Though rereading my columns, I agree with several of the comments.

I also scanned in 3 marriage licenses and 1 marriage license application.

Cumulative total: 84 photos or documents, 126 scanned images.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - St. Louis 1910

Franklin Ave. Looking West from 7th Street - postcard 1910. Source collaboration announcement

On Tracing the Tribe I read a combined press release from Ancestry and JewishGen.

Partnership Enables Broader Research of Jewish Ancestry Through Powerful Search Tools in One Centralized Location

CHICAGO – Aug. 19, 2008 – The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, and JewishGen, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching and promoting Jewish genealogy and an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, today announced a partnership designed to provide easier online access to millions of important Jewish historical documents. JewishGen's collection of databases will be integrated and be made available for free on, making these historical Jewish records and information ore accessible than ever before. As part of the agreement, the JewishGen site will also be hosted in's data center.
I think this will be great for the genealogist interested in these databases. The one difficulty I have had with JewishGen is the ability to only search by surname. There is a paid membership option which allows for more search options which I haven't tried yet, but the promised ability to search the databases with Ancestry's search capabilities is exciting. (The press release suggests it will be available by the end of the year.)

The rest of the press release suggests not all databases at JewishGen will be available at Ancestry, but many will, providing data to many researchers who may never have thought of researching JewishGen's databases, and Ancestry will provide JewishGen with hardware and network support making JewishGen a 'more robust' web experience, and allow JewishGen to be able to afford to keep the data free. It looks like a win-win collaboration.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Carnival of Genealogy

The 54th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted with a variety of interesting posts about "The Family Language."
With Labor Day and the end of summer right around the corner it’s time to think about going back to school. So, the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Show and Tell! Remember that fun little exercise you used to do in your grade school days? Here’s your chance to do it again :-) Show us and tell us about an heirloom, a special photo, a valuable document, or a significant person that is a very special part of your family history. Don’t be shy now, show us what you’ve got!
The deadline is Sept 1st. Instructions can be read here.

GBGames Statistics: Day Ten

Day Ten of the 2008 GeneaBloggers Games is near completion. We are supposed to keep daily stats. And we have not been doing so, however, the past few days would have been null statistics.

GB Games - Team TransylvanianDutch - August 18

Competition: Go Back and Cite Your Sources
Event: Create Proper Citations
Number of Citations Entered: 20

Cumulative total: 40 citations

I've earned a diamond medal, and I'm only 10 citations away from a platinum.

Competition: Organize Your Research
Event: Create data entries in your database, or scan photos, or scan documents.
Number of data entries: 2

In redoing the research on Ancestry for my citations, I found the names of in-laws of a cousin, so I created two data entries for them. I don't see myself entering 18 more data entries, but I thought I would record the number.

Number of photos/documents scanned: 0

Cumulative total: 60 photos or documents, 102 scanned images.

I feel I have already earned a platinum here, with over 100 scanned images. However, it is my goal to scan 100 separate photos/documents, because I think I can accomplish this. The difference exists since several of the documents have been letters of varying length, and I'm not counting each page as a separate document even though I can only scan in one page at a time.

Above is Schrödinger. He arrived tonight to help me reach my goals. He's five years old, in a state of constant quantum flux, and in need of a temporary home for a couple weeks.

For those who have no idea why a cat would be named Schrödinger, Wikipedia should help. Those who understand, rest assured, I will not test out Erwin Schrödinger's thought experiment.

I suspect the odds that a cat will be named Schrödinger are directly proportional to the number of cat owners who are science geeks.

Van Every Apiary

The photo on the left is a small part of a larger photo that I'd seen in my grandmother's collection, but I had no idea who the people were, or where they were. Last night my mother suggested they were surrounded by bee colonies. It made sense - my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every, was an apiarist. I looked up images online, and there is no question in my mind. This is quite likely a bee yard (or apiary).

However, I still don't know who the women are. I'd like the approx 5 year old girl to be my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, and the older woman to be her mother, Margaret, or older sister, Minnie. That would date the photo to circa 1905. Minnie would have been 21, and Margaret 37. However, I don't know if Melvin Van Every was a beekeeper yet. I do know that by 1914 he was "one of the most extensive apiarists" in the state of Texas. It's a logical conclusion that the apiary belonged to my great-grandfather, but without any labeling, and without recognizing either of the two people, it's not certain.

My maternal grandmother labeled less than half of the photos in her collection. Of course, it could be worse. She could have labeled none. Here's the full photograph:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another Great Grandfather photographed

It was only a week ago in my Smile for the Camera carnival post, that I mentioned I only have photographs of four of my 16 great great grandparents.

Yesterday my mother showed me a fifth that had arrived in the mail from a cousin in California.

Morris Blatt (1862-1926) From Losice, Poland, he immigrated to America prior to 1893 with his two daughters, Anna and Blanche. Their mother, Belle Wyman, died in Poland, and Morris remarried here in America.

The photo comes from the collection of Blanche's youngest daughter, Belle.

Morris looks like a wealthy dandy in this picture. He wasn't. Like a few other great grandfathers, he was a tailor. And you would expect a tailor to wear well-tailored clothing. (Would anyone trust a shabbily-dressed tailor?)

Why is a Cole Porter song running through my mind?

You're the top, You're an Arrow collar.
You're the top, You're a Coolidge dollar.
You're the nimble tread of the feet of Fred Astaire.
You're an O'Neill drama, You're Whistler's mama, You're Camembert.
You're a rose; You're Inferno's Dante,
You're the nose of the great Durante.
I'm just in the way, as the French would say 'de trop'
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top.

The Genealogy page at All Top aggregates a list of genealogy blog feeds. In their FAQ they say they "import the stories of the top news websites and blogs for any given topic."

What is Alltop's mission?
We help you explore your passions by collecting stories about “all the topics” on the web. We’ve grouped these collections — “aggregations” — into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as environment, photography, science, Muslim, celebrity gossip, military, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, we display the headlines of the latest stories from dozens of sites and blogs.
When other genealogy blogs I read announced earlier in the week they were on the list, I immediately searched the list for blogs I knew, and I agreed with all their choices. I received an email from AllTop this morning telling me that TransylvanianDutch had been added to their list of Genealogy sites.

I wasn't sure whether to be honored, or start worrying about their judgment. There is definitely a contrarian Groucho Marx quotation that comes to mind. However, I will choose to be honored.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

October 15th is Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

This year the theme is Poverty

Global issues like poverty are extremely complex. There is no simple, clear answer. By asking thousands of different people to give their viewpoints and opinions, Blog Action Day creates an extraordinary lens through which to view these issues. Each blogger brings their own perspective and ideas. Each blogger posts relating to their own blog topic. And each blogger engages their audience differently.

You can sign up to participate, and learn more at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Was your grandfather (or grandmother) a Spy?

The Office of Strategic Services personnel list has been released.

Pre-cursor to the CIA, this spy network contained nearly 24,000 individuals.

You can search NARA's OSS personnel files for the names - but it doesn't provide much identifying information, so it's difficult to detect if a match is your relative unless they had a unique name.

I did come up with one result that matched a cousin of my paternal grandmother's, though he had a common surname. Fortunately, the OSS member was in the armed forces, and NARA does include serial numbers with the OSS records, as does their collection of enlistment records. So I was able to confirm that the member of OSS wasn't my cousin. Which is a shame, that would have been a fun thing to find out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fourth Edition of the Smile For the Camera Carnival has been Posted

The Fourth Edition of Smile for the Camera carnival has been posted - 40 participants shared their choice of favorite photo.
The word prompt for the 5th Edition of Smile For The Camera is Crowning Glory. Show us those wonderful photographs of hairdos and maybe even a few don'ts. Don't limit yourself to just hair fashion through the ages, got a great photograph of a hat, helmet, bonnet, or some other interesting headgear? Share!
More information here

GBGames Statistics: Day Five

Day Five of the 2008 GeneaBloggers Games is near completion. We are supposed to keep daily stats.

GB Games - Team TransylvanianDutch - August 13

Competition: Go Back and Cite Your Sources
Event: Create Proper Citations
Number of Citations Entered: 0

Cumulative total: 20 citations

Competition: Organize Your Research
Event: Create data entries in your database, or scan photos, or scan documents.
Number of data entries: 0
Number of photos/documents scanned: 20 photos or documents, comprising 30 scanned images

Cumulative total: 60 photos or documents, 102 scanned images.

I have finished scanning in the letters I have so far found written by my great-grandfather, Melvin Van Every and his second wife, Josie, to my grandmother Myrtle between 1925-1927. Including the ones I scanned back in March there are 45.

There are 37, or an average of 3 letters a month, for 1926. However, in October of 1926 Melvin was diagnosed with a brain clot. He didn't die until May of 1929, but he didn't write any letters after that. Josie only wrote a handful of letters. Most of the missing weeks for 1926 were in the final three months. My grandmother lived away from home after 1920 - so I don't know why there are so few letters (7) in 1925, and none before that. But I am very grateful for what there is.

I know from Melvin's letters that Myrtle also wrote a weekly letter to him. I don't have any of those, but there are glimpses of what she wrote in his responses.

Wordless Wednesday: It feels like something's missing...

Postcard circa 1939

Arugula Lego Metallica Andresson

Naming restrictions in Sweden have been relaxed. While religious names [Gud, Allah, Fan (Devil)] are still forbidden, as are gender-based names for the wrong gender, it is now permitted to name a child (or change your name as an adult) after any member of the plant kingdom, or after a rock band, or corporate name, as long as they wouldn't otherwise cause offense. (So you can't name yourself after a condom manufacturer)

I suspect, though, a girl named Arugula Lego Metallica Andresson might choose the nickname Alma.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Family Language

This is being written for the 54th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy

The Family Language...Does your family use words and phrases that no one else knows or understands? Where did they come from? Did you ever try to explain your "family language" to outsiders? Tell a story about your family-coined words, phrases, or nicknames.

I'm not aware of any distinctly family-coined words or phrases. I've blogged previously about how I discovered the origins of why my great-grandmother referred to her father as, "Moshe Leyb, The King," at a most unlikely spot - his grave. Moshe Leyb Kruvant's initials spelled the Hebrew word, King. He spelled his surname with a "C" though, so I didn't notice this until I saw his tombstone carved entirely in Hebrew.

However, the Notaricon code is not unique to my family, though it has been passed down the generations as my parents have exchanged notes written with just the first initial of each word, as did my paternal grandparents, my paternal grandfather being the son of the great-grandmother mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Recently, as I've read old family letters I have come across a twist of this question - words and phrases in letters that I don't understand.

My great-grandfather addressed his daughter, my maternal grandmother, as Machen. Through the help of several readers back in March I decided that was a misspelling of the German, Madchen, meaning "little girl." My grandmother was his youngest child, and it's not unusual for the youngest to be referenced in a diminutive fashion forever. As a youngest child, I speak from experience.

However, I'd appreciate some help interpreting the final words from the last letter my maternal grandmother received from her father's second wife, Josie - in November of 1927. Josie may have sent letters after this one, but they didn't survive, or haven't been uncovered.

Cherry and Jerry still suck the hose?

I don't know who or what Cherry and Jerry were, but the possibility occurs that they were two pets (or two farm animals) that might have enjoyed getting their water from a water hose.

Any other ideas?

Monday, August 11, 2008

GBGames Statistics: Day Three

Day Three of the 2008 GeneaBloggers Games is near completion. We are supposed to keep daily stats.

GB Games - Team TransylvanianDutch - August 11

Competition: Go Back and Cite Your Sources
Event: Create Proper Citations
Number of Citations Entered: 0

Cumulative total: 20 citations

Competition: Organize Your Research
Event: Create data entries in your database, or scan photos, or scan documents.
Number of data entries: 0
Number of photos/documents scanned: 0

Cumulative total: 40 documents, 72 scanned images.

Yes...I did nothing today related to the GBGames. I probably won't do anything tomorrow either.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

GBGames Statistics: Day Two

Day Two of the 2008 GeneaBloggers Games is near completion. We are supposed to keep daily stats.

GB Games - Team TransylvanianDutch - August 10

Competition: Go Back and Cite Your Sources
Event: Create Proper Citations
Number of Citations Entered: 20

At 10 citations per medal, I have already earned a Silver!

[I am assuming that the source information provides with its databases qualify as 'proper citations'. 11 months ago I discovered the wonderful lack of genealogical privacy in the state of Texas, as I traced third, fourth, and fifth cousins. I wasn't very good at writing down the source, but I know where 90% of the birth, marriage and death information for my distant Texas cousins comes from.

Today I re-did the searches to verify the information is there, and matches what I wrote down. I then copied and pasted the Ancestry citation, as I should have done last September.)

Competition: Organize Your Research
Event: Create data entries in your database, or scan photos, or scan documents.
Number of data entries: 0
Number of photos/documents scanned: 20, comprised of 32 separate scanned images.

Cumulative total: 40 documents, 72 scanned images.

82 year old Honey Locust bloom

How To Find a Mummy's Mommy's Mommy's Mummy? MtDNA.

Egypt is examining the DNA of the mummified foetuses buried with Tutankhamen. It's assumed they're his children, and his only known wife was the daughter of Queen Nefertiti. Queen Nefertiti's mummy has never been identified, but they've been running DNA tests on all their mummies, and hope to find a match.

Sharpened Edges

A few of the letters I scanned yesterday had been written in pencil, which tends to fade over the years quicker than ink. I used a filter on my graphics program to "sharpen edges". (I use GraphicConverter for the Mac, but many different graphics programs have this function.) I didn't delete the original scan. That way - if I want to try other techniques to improve the legibility, I can start with the original image.

(Click to enlarge)

I couldn't fit both images on my screen at the same time, so I show you more of the sharpened half. Both images are at 50% size. At 100%, you can squint your way through most of the non-altered text, but there are still some bumpy spots. At 50%, the altered text is still difficult in a couple of places, but at 100% it is readable.

My great-grandmother, Margaret Van Every, is writing to her daughter, Minnie (a great-aunt).

Dear Daughter Minnie,

As I have a few minutes time I will write you [a] few lines. We are all well but have not found a location yet [although] we have bought 35 [colonies] of bees. I believe this is good honey country but there is so many bees here it is hard to find just what you want. Agnes and I are here in town waiting for daddy to go look…

The dateline says Phoenix. I believe they didn't find a location there. They had purchased land in El Paso in January of 1917, which is where most of the family lived. They had a farm in Fort Hancock, TX, just south of El Paso. They often had multiple farms, but Phoenix is a good 450 miles from El Paso, so it's not likely. Agnes is the daughter of Willa Van Every, who wrote the poem, Mother. Willa died in 1916, and in 1917 Agnes, age 10, had moved in with her grandparents.

I have always had a large fear of bees, and apiarist is one profession I would never have considered as an option.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

GBGames Statistics: Day One

Day One of the 2008 GeneaBloggers Games is near completion. We are supposed to keep daily stats.

GB Games - Team TransylvanianDutch - August 9

Competition: Go Back and Cite Your Sources
Event: Create Proper Citations
Number of Citations Entered: 0

Competition: Organize Your Research
Event: Create data entries in your database, or scan photos, or scan documents.
Number of data entries: 0
Number of photos/documents scanned: 20, comprised of 40 separate scanned images -- several documents were multiple pages in length. Documents included the Declaration of Intents for Barney, Solomon, Myer Wolf, and Israel David Newmark. Divorce documents for Myrtle Van Every and Dale B Ridgely. Several letters to and from the siblings and parents of Myrtle Van Every. A handful of photographs.

TV Commentator: Team TransylvanianDutch's post-scan usage of the "Sharpen Edges" filter in his graphics program to darken letters written in pencil was especially impressive. He should consider a post with before and after images.

TransylvanianDutch: hmm. Not a bad idea. Tomorrow maybe? It's getting late.

TV C: Tomorrow will be fine.

Have you seen the spider in my sidebar?

If you are a regular reader of this blog via an RSS newsreader you may be unaware of some recent additions to my sidebar. So I thought I would spend a post detailing what you can find there. (Yes, there is a spider, keep reading!)

At the top there are two links. One to a post that lists my ancestral surnames. The other link ("Genealogy Resources") is to a series of pages I put together listing and annotating online resources for the states of Missouri and Illinois, along with US and International resources.

Then there are links to subscribe to either my posts, or my comment threads via RSS. For those confused by RSS, there's also a widget where you can enter your email address, and receive the posts in your email. Then, as you scroll down, there's a translation widget that can translate the blog into a variety of languages. (Though I suspect the machine translation isn't that great. Phrases like "The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak" might get translated to "The wine is potent, but the meat is tasteless." That's what you get sometimes when you ask a computer to do something.)

Then there is a series of Missouri, Illinois, and US research links. This is a subset of the links you will find by following "Genealogy Resources" at the top of the sidebar. I have more room over there.

Scrolling down you will see my blogroll, and then a list of my 10 most recent comments. Following my archives you will see a section labeled "Google News Search". There you can see a handful of news items for the key words: Genealogy, Ancestry and Family History - provided by Google News.

Finally you will see a "GeneaSpider". What's a GeneaSpider? He (or maybe she)'s a colorful spider that will crawl inside a box, following the movement of the cursor. S/He doesn't do anything else. But move your cursor around and watch the spider move.

And then there's a Google Ad. Since it's that low on my sidebar, I doubt very many people are going to click-through and earn me any money, but there's always the possibility.

My Favorite?

This is my first time participating in the Smile for the Camera carnival. The theme this edition is Your Favorite Photo. As I've read other participants comment, I agree, this is a very unfair challenge. I have favorite photographs of particular ancestors, but choosing among them puts me in an uncomfortable position.

My favorite photos are probably of those for whom I have the fewest photographs. The less photographs I have, the more I treasure those that I do. This narrows down the options, but certainly not far enough.

I have a large number of photographs of my four grandparents, and while rarer on my mother's side, I have a good selection of photographs of my eight great grandparents. It wasn't too difficult to create this tree:

My grandparents are on their respective honeymoons - both in 1937. As children, they were each in the photographs from which I took the faces of their parents, so the eight great-grandparents are roughly similar ages. (Except Samuel Deutsch on the far right, who was twenty years older than his wife, Helen.)

For truly rare photographs I have to go back one more generation, and I can only do this on one branch. I have photographs of all four of Melvin Newmark's grandparents: Moshe Leyb and Minnie Cruvant, and Samuel and Rose Newmark.

Narrowing my selection down to these photographs, the choice isn't difficult. My favorite was taken shortly after my father was born. (And I believe this is the first time I am violating an earlier decision not to post photographs of living relatives, but I don't think he'll mind.)

This photograph is special for several reasons. It is one of about 5 photos that were taken at about the same time - probably the same day or weekend - clearly for the same purpose – to celebrate four generations of Newmarks. Samuel died 3 years later.

On the far left is My father's grandfather, Barney Newmark, and grandmother Bertha (nee Cruvant). My middle name was in her honor, and my Hebrew name, Baruch, was in honor of Barney. In the middle is Samuel Newmark and Rose (nee Sandgart). Samuel appears in the other photographs that were taken on the same day or days as this one, Rose doesn't. This is the only photograph I currently know of that contains Rose. I assume it is her from her position – who else would it be? – but there are no other photographs to compare it to. The two people on the right aren't Newmarks. They're my father's other two grandparents, Herman and Annie Feinstein. The two couples knew each other as friends before their children married, and I have some wonderful pictures of the four of them vacationing together I will likely share at some time. So this photograph contains all four of my father's grandparents, and two of his great grandparents. It's hard to beat that combination.

But is this my favorite photograph of all of my family photographs? Of course not. No such photograph exists. But it's certainly 'one of my favorites'. And if I am asked this question again, I will choose another one of them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

False Start

The opening ceremonies of the GeneaBloggers Games were five hours ago at 3 pm Pacific. It was a beautiful ceremony, with a lot of well-designed flags, and music. Luckily, you can still view it yourself by just following the link.

I was supposed to wait until tomorrow to start competing. But unfortunately, the spirit of the games grabbed a hold of me, and I have suffered a bit of a false start. I transcribed six letters tonight. My transcription project is outside of the official competitions, so I am hopeful no one gets upset. All six letters had been scanned back in March.

On April 4th, 1926, my great-grandfather Melvin Van Every, living in Garfield, N.M., wrote to his daughter, Myrtle, my grandmother:
Our radio is fine. We got St. Louis one night but there are so many stronger broadcasting stations that some stations are hard to get. We can't get El Paso. We tried to get the Easter sunrise service at 6:00 this morning at El Paso but could not. We got the sunrise service at Los Angeles. It was fine.

I believe I told you Josie is boarding two school teachers. Gets $60 dollars a month for the two. What are you looking for a new boarding place for? You said you had a good place. Our apples have just begun blooming. I will send you a bloom.
Attached to the letter is an 82 year-old flower blossom labeled "White Pear Red and White Apple." It's not the only dried flower that has been preserved with these letters.

Google Honors GB Games

Google likes to change their logo art for special events, and they have redesigned their logo today to honor the Genea-Bloggers Games

(Maybe they actually did this for the Olympics in Beijing)

Joshua: Would you like to play a game?

To honor the 2008 Olympics a certain group of Genea-bloggers are competing in several events.

I'm always up for a little competition, especially since the events are structured so we are competing against ourselves - not each other. Medals are awarded for how many tasks we complete - not to who does the most - so everyone could get Gold medals (or Diamond and Platinum medals since there are five levels of medals for each category in this competition.)

So the first thing I did was create my flag by going to the WeAreMultiColored site as suggested. It's the first thing I did, as I did this back in November of last year. Though I did make a small change to the flag I created back then.

The image of the vampire in the lower left has been added. It's a painting by Edward Munch (most famous for The Scream). I naturally added it to represent my Transylvanian ancestry. As I noted back in November, the Star of David represents all of my Jewish ancestry, but considering the flag is representing my blog as well as me, I figured I had to add something Transylvanian. And what's more Transylvanian than a vampire? So the flag combines the flags of the US, Netherlands and Israel, with a vampire for added flair.

So what are the Genealympic events, and which ones am I participating in?

1. Go Back and Cite Your Sources!

This is something I need to do, and I think I might even be able to reach the 50 citations necessary for the Platinum Medal. (Which is why I need to do this.) I am competing in this event.

2. Back Up Your Data!

While I already have my genealogy data backed up to an external hard drive, and a flash drive (which is also a USB watch, so easy to grab in case of fire) There are a few other suggestions in the instructions for this competition that I should consider - but not right now. I don't want to be too distracted from my other activities.

3. Organize Your Research!

I need to do many of these things, but not right now. However, one of the activities is "scanning 20 photos" or "scanning 20 documents." I'm confident I have enough to do this task 5-times over. I recently discovered a box full of letters. I figure if I scan 100 pages of letters I have definitely earned a platinum medal. I don't know if there are a 100 pages, but if I end up scanning all of them, and there are only 80, I'll be happy with the Diamond.

4. Write, Write, Write!

I'd probably be doing a couple of these tasks anyway, but I don't want to get distracted from the citations, and scanning, so I'm not competing. It's not like I need extra encouragement to write.

5. Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness!

I was looking up obituaries for people through RAOGK during the spring. However, the local library isn't open on Sundays during the summer, giving me less time to spare on research. I might do a few of the other tasks, but not as part of the competition.

In addition to the citations and the letter scanning, I have a long-term transcription project of those letters. I'm going to tally for my own benefit how many letters I transcribe. It doesn't fall under any of the competitive categories, but there's no reason I can't use the "Olympic spirit" to challenge myself, even if no one else is doing it.

This post has been revised

Monday, August 4, 2008

53rd Carnival of Genealogy

The 53rd Carnival of Genealogy has been posted, and it's another wonderful carnival, filled with 39 entries in this carousel edition. My entry was the one on the St. Louis City housing conditions in 1908.

The topic for the next edition of the COG is, The Family Language...Does your family use words and phrases that no one else knows or understands? Where did they come from? Did you ever try to explain your "family language" to outsiders? Tell a story about your family-coined words, phrases, or nicknames. This topic was chosen by Donna Pointkouski who will be hosting the next edition of the COG at What's Past is Prologue. Thanks Donna! The deadline for submissions is August 15th.
Past and Future carnivals can be found on the Carnival of Genealogy index page.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mother - by Willa Van Every (1890-1916)

Here's a poem I discovered in a box of my maternal grandmother's. A poem written by a sister of hers. Willa only lived to the age of 26.

Mother - by Willa Ann Van Every (1890-1916)

When Sammie cuts his fingers with a case-knife in the shed
'Tis mother wraps a bandage on and puts her boy to bed.

And when Evva dons her gown to visit in the town
The same deft hands arrange the lace and smooth the ruffles down;

When Pa comes home most tired to death and takes his easy chair,
'Tis mother brings his slippers and pats him on the hair;

It's mother here and mother there: "Where is that book I brought?"
"The hanger on my coat is off!" "Where are those pens I bought?"

Now Myrtle cannot find her hat -- she left it on the floor --
And grandpa wants the liniment; the butcher's at the door.

Poor Mrs. Means is sick a bed; Miss Newwed needs advice
About the way to boil an egg -- she never could cook rice!

The sociable is shy a cake; the church bazaar is short --
Will mother help to run a booth or serve with Mrs. Bort?

From morn til night she moves about, precision is her tread --
No wonder mother sometimes faints, and goes worn out to bed!

Her days are marked by kindred ills and putting things to right;
And close, at last, with counsel wise, and "tucking in" at night.

Ah, mother, purest of the pure; unselfish in her love,
May God reward and comfort thee with blessings from above,

And may thy ministrations fall on hearts that knowing worth,
And praise thee: "Mother, queen of home and angel of the earth!"

And when thy sun of life has set, below the western crest,
May angels crown thee with the days, of everlasting rest!"

"From Willa"


Willa mentions three of her siblings in the poem: Samuel, Myrtle, and Evelyn -- Myrtle being my grandmother. On the 1900 census a few homes away I found a family that might have the surname Bort, and another the surname Mien (Means?). I can't find a Newwed. (Is this a description as opposed to a name?)

There's no date on the poem, but I believe it was probably written about 1905. Willa would have been 15 in 1905, 'Sammie' would have been 19, and 'Evva' 13. Myrtle was born in 1900, so it has to be after then.

How reliable is the poem? Did her mother help out with sociables and church bazaars? Did they have an easy chair - or did that just rhyme well with 'hair'? A poem isn't the same as an official record, and it's not uncommon for young poets to 'stretch' for rhymes.

The most confusing part of the poem is the reference to her 'grandpa.' Both her grandfathers (Ebenezer Denyer and Samuel Van Every) died before she was born. Her grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer did remarry, and it's possible the grandfather referenced is her step-grandfather George Foster.

There are a few lines in the poem that strike a chord of memory suggesting she's borrowed a few phrases from other sources. The lines that reverberate the most for me are "It's mother here and mother there." (though I'm pretty sure the original had a different word than 'mother' which makes it very hard to Google) And "Grandpa wants the liniment; the Butcher's at the door." Once again, there's been some word replacement.

The rhythm of the poem is very similar to Edgar Guest, though I'm not sure how well-known he was prior to 1916 (which is when his collection, Heap o' Livin' was published.) I think his popularity came later. Someone I showed the poem to suggested it sounded a bit like James Whitcomb Riley, which better fits the dates, though I still can't find the originals that are causing this sense of poetic deja vu.

note: I am interested in finding the original poem(s) because that would indicate the poets that Willa had read, and patterned her poem after, revealing more about her. It's certainly not a question about originality, as there is a lot of personal detail.