Friday, July 31, 2009

This post is a DISASTER!

Carnival of Genealogy Poster - by footnoteMaven.comThis post is written for the 77th Carnival of Genealogy

As human beings, our very existence is proof of the survival skills, faith, or just plain luck our ancestors possessed in order to persevere through millennia of disasters: epidemics, wars, pestilences, famines, accidents, and acts of nature.
Tell about a disaster that one or more of your ancestors lived through. Did they survive a hurricane, flood, tornado, train wreck, sinking ship, plague, genocide, explosion, mine collapse, or some other terrible event? How did they survive? Research the details of the disaster and explain how it affected your ancestor (guilt, fear, faith, gratitude, etc.), your family's history, and even yourself!
I have relatives who survived (and others who didn't survive) genocide, but my ancestors managed to get out of Europe before World War II. There are no disasters I am currently certain any non-living ancestors directly experienced. (I exclude War, and the Great Depression, though there may be a strong argument to include the latter.)

However, there were two great cyclones/tornadoes in the St. Louis area which have been written up as noteworthy disasters, and I had ancestors living in the St. Louis area at the time. The question is how much they were impacted.

The Great Cyclone of 1896
[image from NOAA's National Weather Service]

"The 'Cyclone of 1896' has been described as the single most deadly event that hit the St. Louis area in recorded history."

Over 250 dead, over 150 missing, over 1000 injured.

The St. Louis Cyclone
Words by Ren. Shields, 1868-1913
Music by George Evans, 1870-1915

In the city of St. Louis on a busy afternoon,
Just before the ev'ning shades began to fall,
The streets were filled with people who were home from toil,
No danger seemed to threaten them at all;
Each one was smiling gay as they strolled along the way,
The world to them had never looked so bright,
When a cyclone with a roar down the streets and byways tore,
Leaving sorrow and destruction there that night.

Many hearts are aching,
Many homes forsaken,
Many lov'd ones gone forevermore;
Wives and mothers weeping,
At the harvest death is reaping,
As it travels on its way from door to door.

Rest of song (NB: midi auto-plays)

My paternal Cruvant, Feinstein and Blatt ancestors were all in St. Louis in 1896. However, the path of the cyclone is described as hitting the Southwest portion of the city, and my ancestors were in the central corridor at the time.

The Tornado of 1927
[image from NOAA's National Weather Service]

Between 72-79 killed, over 550 injured. This tornado struck the central parts of St. Louis City. However, I think my ancestors had moved west of the city by then.

In addition to all four branches of my paternal ancestry, my maternal grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, was in town. The divorce proceedings from her brief marriage in California to Dale Ridgely had been filed a month earlier, and according to her employment records from the US Post Office, she had resumed her job on Sept 26th. The cyclone hit on Sept 29th.

While I'm not certain what impact these natural disasters had on my ancestors, I also have an inverse situation. There may have been a disaster that killed three of my ancestors, but I am unable to identify it.

  • My fifth great grandfather, Mark Fretz, lived from December 1750 to Feb 24, 1840.
  • His daughter, my fourth great grandmother, Barbara Fretz Sliver, lived from April 21, 1775 to June 10, 1840.
  • Her daughter, my third great grandmother, Elizabeth Sliver Denyer, lived from Feb 20, 1798 to Aug 10, 1840.
The latter two are recorded in family histories as having died in Texas, while their father/grandfather is likewise recorded as having died in Pennsylvania. It could easily be happenstance, but three generations dying in the same year seems suspicious to me.

Poetry: De Inferiis Ad Fratris Tumulum - Catullus

In this week's installment of my Friday Poetry series I go back over 2000 years to the Roman poet Catullus. I provide the original and a translation.

De Inferiis Ad Fratris Tumulum
Caius Valerius Catullus (84? B.C.–54? B.C.)

MVLTAS per gentis et multa per aequora uectus
aduenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias:
ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem.
quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum,
heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi,
nunc tamen interea haec prisco quae more parentum
tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,
accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu,
atque in perpetuum, frater, aue atque uale.

On the Burial of his Brother

By ways remote and distant waters sped,
Brother, to thy sad grave-side am I come,
That I may give the last gifts to the dead,
And vainly parley with thine ashes dumb:
Since she who now bestows and now denies
Hath taken thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes.
But lo! these gifts, the heirlooms of past years,
Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell,
Take them, all drenchèd with a brother’s tears,
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!

Source: Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872-1898)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Xmas in July - Part Four

Xmas card sent from my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, to my grandmother, Myrtle, Dec 1943

[despite this being my 'Wordless Wednesday' post, I can't help but notice the censor's stamp on this card reveals at least one of my grandfather's responsibilities during the war -- not too surprising since his civil employment was with the post office.]

Monday, July 27, 2009

Famous Namesakes

Neil Armstrong lives nearby Neil Armstrong, but isn't Neil Armstrong, or at least, isn't that Neil Armstrong.

Apparently some people confuse a 38 year old Financial Services Professional named Neil Armstrong with the 79 year old astronaut. Though the news story doesn't say whether the astronaut ever gets asked to provide financial services.

No one has ever confused me with the famous Pianist. Of course, I have never lived in Canada. And since he passed away 8 years ago, the likelihood of confusion has diminished. As far as I am aware, there is no relationship.

Amanuensis Monday: A Language Lesson, Johnny Appleseed, and local villages

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue transcribing the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and his brother, Ted Deutsch, recorded in 1977. The Deutsch family immigrated to America in 1913, and the brothers are recalling their youth in the Transylvanian town of Almasu or Varalmas - depending upon whether you chose the Hungarian or Romanian language.


Martin: I think everybody has difficulty trying to go back to really know of Hungarian beginnings and how we as a family – how did we ever get to Hungary. I have absolutely no idea and I don’t suppose you have any idea
Ted: I don’t have any idea where we came. We never touched that subject even with Dad. He never mentioned
Martin: He couldn’t explain it, I’m satisfied. Now, we do know there were ancestors, however, grandfathers and great grandfathers still in that country.
Ted: Now I remember his father, he used to come and visit us. he lived in a town called Torda TORDA. Torda. In the vicinity around there. It was past Bucium.
Martin: That was maybe 30 miles aways
Ted: And that was where Pa was born
Martin: And maybe 30 miles away from
Ted: I would say 30
Martin: From where we were
Ted: Exactly, I wouldn’t know
Martin: Now, we talked about Cluj and Kolishvar, but we didn’t live in Kolishvar, did we?
Ted: No.
Martin: Now, do you know what the closest town was, there was a town
Ted: There was a town. If you crossed over the mountains that had a railroad, it was called Hunyad, HUYAD, or something like that.
Martin: That means Great-something. HUN. You know…you’ve read about the huns in the dark ages who overran a lot of Europe and actually gave their name to the word Hungary, Hungarian. This word Hunyad sounds like a Great Hun.
Ted: It was bigger than our town, and it had a railroad stop, and if you wanted to go anywhere you had to drive your horse and wagon to Hunyad, where there was a station. And you could take the train to go somewhere.
Martin: Now would that be say 10-15 miles away
Ted: Well, I would say around that, 10, 15. It was a day’s trip. No matter where you went around that it was a day’s trip
Martin: Well, because it was mountainous
Ted: I wouldn’t know. First you had to go way up, then you had to go way down.
Martin: It depends upon how many valleys you had to cross over the mountains.
Ted: We made many trips. We made trips to a place called Margitta, where mother’s parents lived.
Martin: Now that would be MARGITTA
Ted: Something like that. Margitta. That would take 2 days or three days, it was so far away.
Martin: Maybe 50 60 miles away.
Ted: And we would have to camp on the road outside on the street overnight.
Martin: On the road…In the car (laughs) horse and buggy
Ted: On the wagon or on the side of the road. All the sides of the road had apples, we had plenty of apples to eat on the way.
Martin: There were a lot of orchards.
Ted: They weren’t orchards. They actually had apples growing along the road.


Martin: They didn’t have a Johnny Appleseed. Though Johnny Appleseed for some reason in my mind makes me think of somebody who’s a Romanian. But I don’t know where I got that idea.
Ted: Who was Johnny Appleseed
Martin: Johnny Appleseed you know was famous in this country, I think he was from the state of Iowa. He roamed the state and planted apple seeds. I don’t know what his purpose was, he thought he was doing good for the countryside for the natives to pick apples.
Ted: Maybe he --- somebody was over in Hungary too, because every road I remember they had these white little kilometer signs, so many kilometers to Margitta, and I remember the roads of apple trees along the road.
Martin: Of course some of them were cultivated orchards. Apples. I wonder how they marketed them. Of course, you say there was a railroad.
Ted: In those days of course those apples were – we had a market in our village, they’d bring their stuff to the village and sell it.
Martin: I imagine that was it, there was a public market.
Ted: We had a what they call Pizza…Pizza
Martin: Piza, for Italian, yeah marketplace in Italian I think it’s called…the word Plaza, Piazza
Ted: It’s a place. Piza is a place, that’s all it is. Going to the Piza means you’re going to the marketplace. Right there in front of the marketplace were the city village hall, the church, all the finances
Martin: Banking
Ted: In German. The financiers were not financiers, they were the police. Police department. Finances they would call them. Just like the French word for their police department.
Martin: I’m trying to think of the French word. I know it but I can’t think of it.
Ted: We would call them…they were the guys that collected the revenue, and they would call them finances.
Martin: They were part of the establishment
Ted: They represented not the village but the country…state of Hungary.
Martin: The royalty
Ted: They represented the administration, the crown, that’s right. They represented the crown…Dad, when he was cooking this alcohol, and looking at his permits, collecting
Martin: I just thought of the word – Gendarmes in French
Ted: (pause) We used to call them by the German name...That was in the Pisa
Martin: The marketplace.
Ted: The administration buildings for the village.
Martin: Probably they did have a county seat town which was Kolishvar. They didn’t call it a county, Would you have a word for it.
Ted: The county? Kolosz megye would be the county
Martin: But the word for the organization – I guess it’s similar to a county.
Ted: I wouldn’t know.
Martin: They apparently kept records of births and marriages. And they probably had records of real estate, I’m satisfied of that. They must have had some word.

The language lesson is frustrating. The Hungarian word 'megye' means county, so Ted was able to answer my grandfather's question, even though neither may have realized it. I couldn't believe my grandfather interrupted his brother with the French word, Gendarmes, just as Ted was about to speak again about their father's plum whiskey (slivowitz). I did find it interesting that Ted associated tax collecting with the police.

Naturally, I found the discussion of nearby towns more interesting. Huedin is about 7 miles from Varalmas, and is today the nearest train station. My parents visited it on their trip in 2000. It is most likely the train station from which the Deutsch family left in 1912 and 1913.

Turda is about 40 miles from Varalmas, Bucium is about 46 miles away, and Margitta is 47 miles. I know Margitta is the correct town, as we have letters sent from there to my great grandparents after their arrival in America, and it is further confirmed by cousins. I am only guessing at Bucium and Turda, though they are nearby, and fit the pronunciation on the tapes. It's not clear from the tape whether Ted thought my great grandfather was born in Turda or Bucium.

Johnny Appleseed is associated with Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. While there is no Romanian connection I can find, the discussion may illustrate the different ages of my grandfather and his brother when they arrived in America. My grandfather was 6 when they immigrated, and perhaps would have been more 'indoctrinated' with the American mythology they taught in the Chicago primary schools than his brother, who was 11. Of course, my assumption he learned about Appleseed in his youth may be wrong. There was a series of postage stamps released in 1966, two years prior to my grandfather retiring from the postal service.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oldest Relative You Remember Meeting

Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist has an interesting entry. He addresses an article in the Evansville Courier Press which has a photograph showing six generations of a family gathered together.

Like Blaine, I never met my mother's, mother's, mother's, father's mother - the relationship illustrated in the photograph from youngest to oldest. However, it would have been even more unlikely for me. Her name was Elizabeth Sliver Denyer, and she lived from 1798 to 1840. She'd have been 171 when I was born.

For that generation of ancestors, the longest living on my mother's side was probably Nancy Vansellas Van Every who lived from 1799-1880. On my father's side it was likely Gitel Slupsky Dudelsack. She immigrated to America along with her children Selig, Yidel and Toba. She died in 1906, still 63 years before I was born, and is buried in St. Louis. (There are several ancestors on both sides from that generation for whom I do not have positive dates)

To get six generations together you need a lot of luck or several teenage pregnancies. (Assuming every birth at age 20, you still need the eldest to live to 100)

Who is the oldest relative I recall? There are actually two questions there - eldest by age, and eldest by generation.

Israel David Newmark (April 1903 - October 2004). Born in London, England, he was my great grandfather Barney Newmark's youngest brother. However, Israel was born two years prior to his first nephew. Since he was basically the same age, he became known to his nephews and nieces as Uncle Buddy.

Bertha (Cruvant) Newmark (Sept 1886 - June 1978). My great grandmother. I was only 9 years old when she died, but I remember her well. She was truly of that generation.

It is believed she was born in St. Louis, Missouri, though she doesn't appear in the city birth registers, and her father doesn't appear in the city directories until 1890. Family immigration may have occurred anywhere between 1876 and 1885 according to census figures. So exactly where the family was before 1890 isn't certain - we suspect they were in St. Louis, or nearby.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our Name in History: Redux

Back in November of 2007, upon their release(*), I reviewed's Our Name in History line of books. I summarized:
Someone who has spent significant time researching their family history already isn't likely to learn much, or get too many leads. In their introduction, Ancestry is careful to insert two disclaimers: 1) this information is about the surname in general, and not about the reader's specific ancestors. 2) data shouldn't be confused with fact. [I illustrated both disclaimers in my initial review.]

However, I feel this book would be a good first book for a son or grandson of high school/college age, or an adult friend who has shown some interest in genealogy, but doesn't quite know where to start. There is a section at the back that provides tips on research, and organization, along with some sample forms to get one started. The data that is presented should whet their appetite.
I noted that a quick random survey of surnames available on Amazon indicated that there was some variance in page length (as much as ten pages), likely due to how much data was found for particular surnames in the databases that Ancestry used for the books. I had purchased The Newmark Name in History, and said I wasn't interested in most of my other surnames, since I knew they would be very similar books. However, I was slightly curious about the Vanevery surname, since I knew the family had a different migration history which could yield different stock history pages.

The Van Every surname is also one of my few surnames where I am pretty certain everyone with the surname is related to me. It is believed all Van Everys are descended from two brothers Myndert and Carsten Frederickse (sons of Frederick Van Iveren). Therefore, I knew that the charts and graphs on name and occupation distribution would have a little more meaning for me.

Still, it was almost two years before I bought it.

I'm not going to repeat what I said in my first review. I will focus on the differences, as I find the differences are important to note for anyone considering purchase today.

There are only two pages in the Van Every book that weren't in the Newmark book, and that's because five Van Everys purchased some federal land between 1830 and 1888. None of these were my direct ancestors. However, there is a nice stock entry on the Homestead Act, Manifest Destiny, and Daniel Boone.

There at 10 pages in the Newmark book on the surname's history in England from 1851-1901, and only 2 in the Van Every book. For the obvious reason, there were no Van Everys in England. They did throw in 2 stock pages on the working conditions in England in 1881, even though they had no family statistics to attach that to. I'm not sure why they did this, except perhaps for padding.

Some of my disappointment I should have seen coming, as I could tell from the Amazon descriptions that the Van Every book was 6 pages shorter. With some thought, I should have figured out why.

My Van Every ancestors immigrated to America in the 17th century, but a large number of their descendants left America after the Revolutionary War. Even with just two surname books, I think I can say with relative certainty that all the books start with 1840, and the focus is on America, though they do have a sizable section on England, if applicable. Ancestry's Canadian resources have grown in the past two years, but all they had in 2007 may have been the 1911 census. So I did get a chart showing the 1911 name distribution - There were 98 families in Ontario, and 1-15 families in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec. In comparison, there were only 3 Newmark families each in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

I'm not sure what the 19th century immigration data for the Van Every surname reflects. It could be families who were traveling instead of immigrating. Or perhaps some families returned to Europe for a couple generations instead of Canada. Or there is a third possibility that there are some Van Everys in America who aren't descended from the two brothers...perhaps related more distantly.

In summary, if one is evaluating which surnames to purchase a Name in History volume for, the paucity of information from Canada might play a role for some surnames.

I know that the Amazon pages for the books say they were published in June/July of 2007. I also know the Amazon Press Release announcing them was on November 5th.

Poetry: E Pluribus Unum; Cognatus, Ergo Sum

E Pluribus Unum;
Cognatus, Ergo Sum

Some might consider us a family
of false cognates, but to us,
this suggestion is offensive.
Despite lawyers littered
there are no steps in our households;
nothing halfway about our relationships.
The legal prefixes ignored
as with our disparate roots --
We are one.

1 Out of many one; Co-born, therefore I am.

©2009 John C Newmark

Genesis of a poem

A colleague was searching for a one-word synonym of 'blood-relative'. An internet search suggested 'cognate'. I was only familiar with the linguistic definition: words with a common etymology. Ironically, I was fascinated to realize cognate's own etymology. I say 'realize' instead of 'learn' since I took high school Latin, and should have seen the roots.

The metaphorical etymology of the linguistic term inspired me to reverse the metaphor with 'false cognates.' False cognates are two words similar enough in look and meaning people might assume they have the same roots, but they don't. (e.g. English boy and Japanese bōya.) A genealogical definition follows easily. And the poem was born.

I wrote the poem to work on both the personal family level, as well as a national level.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Xmas in July - Part Three

Source: Postcards (circa 1930s) come from my maternal grandparents' collection
Part One | Part Two

And this concludes the collection of Depression-era Xmas postcards

Monday, July 20, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Dear Folks - Feb 26, 1937

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Since February 16th I have been transcribing letters, audio, and other documents and posting some of these transcriptions every Monday morning.

The below letter was sent not long after my maternal grandparents, Martin and Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch were married on December 31, 1936. It was sent to my great grandparents, Samuel and Helen (Lichtmann) Deutsch. And my grandfather wrote it - Most of the letters I have were written by my grandmother.

St. Louis, Mo –
Feb. 26, 1937

Dear Folks:

Sorry to hold out so long with this check, but I lost track of when it was due. You probably have learned that Ted’s making up for half the amount I used to send, and I hope that $50 every 10 weeks will be alright from now on. Myrtle is afraid you’ll be thinking that she was to blame for my delay in sending the check, but, as I said before, there was no other reason but that I forgot the date.

We certainly received a pleasant surprise on Washington’s Birthday when we opened up the large package from Chicago and found that it contained such a nice radio. I’ve placed it in a nice corner of our home with a big easy chair on the side of it and from now on, when ever I’m in St. Louis, you’ll find me in that corner each evening. There was no letter or card with the radio and we’re not exactly certain who sent it, but we want to thank everyone who had a hand in it.

We might be around in a short while and will thank you in person – and we can tell you of our trip to Mexico.

Best regards to everyone, and many thanks –

M. & M

Many of the letters my great grandmother received from my grandparents began with mentioning the regular check, though this is the only one that specifies how much they were sending. Ted was an older brother of Martin's (the two of them recorded the family history tape I have also been transcribing.)

Near the top of the second page you can see where my grandfather scratched out the word 'nice'. I think he realized he had just used that adjective in the preceding sentence. It's interesting to see the word was just as overused back in the 1930s as it is today, and it's also pleasing to see my grandfather concerned about his word choice.

The 'dateline' says they're home in St. Louis, MO, but the hotel stationery is from Laredo, Texas. The stationery probably indicates Laredo was a stop on their honeymoon in Mexico.

The signature surprised me. My grandmother died in 1951, and my grandfather remarried in 1965. His second wife was named Marjorie. Almost every letter or greeting card I received from them was signed M&M.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Genealogy Wise and its most active and most popular groups

OK. Despite my statements of a week ago, I haven't managed to completely avoid the new Genealogy social network, and I have enjoyed participating in several group and forum discussions.

As of this morning, here are the twenty "most active" groups on Genealogy Wise. I'm not sure how the term "Most Active" is measured.

1. Ireland and Irish Ancestry
2. Ancestry Family Tree users
3. FindAGrave Addicts
4. Germany and German Ancestry
5. Scrap Your Family History
6. Southern California Genealogy Jamboree
7. Scotland and Scottish Ancestry
8. Legacy Family Tree fans
9. Surname Groups Needed
10. Missouri Genealogy
11. Genealogical Proof Standard
12. Ships Passenger Lists to USA
13. DNA and Family Research
14. Internet Research Tips & Treasures
15. American Revolutionary War Ancestors
16. Iowa Genealogy
17. Lost Faces: Ancestor Photos & Albums
18. MacGenealogist
19. Genealogy in St. Louis
20. Genealogy Tips and Links

And as of the moment, here are the 20 "most popular" groups (measured by number of members).

1. Germany and German Ancestry 341 members
2. FindAGrave Addicts 327 members
3. Ireland and Irish Ancestry 302 members
4. Ancestry Family Tree users 297 members
5. Legacy Family Tree fans 261 members
6. Genealogy Tips and Links 255 members
7. Scotland and Scottish Ancestry 211 members
8. American Revolutionary War Ancestors 169 members
9. England Family History 158 members
10. Lost Faces: Ancestor Photos & Albums 156 members
11. Internet Research Tips & Treasures 151 members
12. I am a Geneaholic 148 members
13. Genetic Genealogy 136 members
14. Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library 133 members
15. MacGenealogist 132 members
16. RootsMagic Fans 131 members
17. GeneaBloggers 130 members
18. National Genealogical Society 116 members
19. Missouri Genealogy 116 members
20. The Genealogy Guys Podcast 115 members

I am very impressed that Missouri Genealogy is high on the list in both measurements. I created the group when I realized no one else had yet done so. I've been quite pleased with the participation, and I've learned of several new resources . (This is where I learned about the Springfield/Greene County Library)

Genealogy Wise shows a lot of promise. The administrators of the site have made several mistakes, which may have irrevocably repelled some potential members, in their opening week. Most of it I would ascribe to lack of preparedness. Tamura Jones points out that they announced on July 7th they were hiring 15 people to help launch the site. And for all intents and purposes it was launched later that day through it being blogged about on several Geneablogger websites. So they weren't fully staffed when the initial wave of genealogists joined up.

However, they have responded well, I think, by listening to the complaints, and seeking input from the community. Any social network is a product of its members, and there are a lot of experienced genealogists participating on the website, so it could be a valuable resource to expand one's genealogical knowledge, as well as a potential place to discover kin.

Poetry - A Tale of a Grandfather - Charles Stuart Calverley (1831-1884)

The following poem in my Friday Poetry series may remind some of family history interviews they've conducted.

A Tale of a Grandfather

Charles Stuart Calverley

I KNOW not of what we ponder’d
Or made pretty pretence to talk,
As, her hand within mine, we wander’d
Tow’rd the pool by the lime-tree walk,
While the dew fell in showers from the passion flowers
And the blush-rose bent on her stalk.

I cannot recall her figure:
Was it regal as Juno’s own?
Or only a trifle bigger
Than the elves who surround the throne
Of the Faëry Queen, and are seen, I ween,
By mortals in dreams alone?

What her eyes were like I know not:
Perhaps they were blurr’d with tears;
And perhaps in you skies there glow not
(On the contrary) clearer spheres.
No! as to her eyes I am just as wise
As you or the cat, my dears.

Her teeth, I presume, were “pearly:”
But which was she, brunette or blonde?
Her hair, was it quaintly curly,
Or as straight as a beadle’s wand?
That I fail’d to remark: it was rather dark
And shadowy round the pond.

Then the hand that repos’d so snugly
In mine,—was it plump or spare?
Was the countenance fair or ugly?
Nay, children, you have me there!
My eyes were p’haps blurr’d; and besides I ’d heard
That it ’s horribly rude to stare.

And I,—was I brusque and surly?
Or oppressively bland and fond?
Was I partial to rising early?
Or why did we twain abscond,
When nobody knew, from the public view
To prowl by a misty pond?

What pass’d, what was felt or spoken,—
Whether anything pass’d at all,—
And whether the heart was broken
That beat under that shelt’ring shawl,—
(If shawl she had on, which I doubt),—has gone,
Yes, gone from me past recall.

Was I haply the lady’s suitor?
Or her uncle? I can’t make out;
Ask your governess, dears, or tutor.
For myself, I ’m in hopeless doubt
As to why we were there, who on earth we were,
And what this is all about.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Springfield/Greene County Missouri records

I don't know of any kin who lived in Greene County, Missouri (Springfield area). However, I wish I did.

The Springfield Library has a great collection of digitized documents.

Including the White River Valley Historical Quarterly (1961-1988, 1991-1998)

Indexes to a variety of Greene County Records
Index to Alms House Records (1875-1955)
Index to Coroner's Records (1875-1972)
Abstracts of Circuit Court Record Books (1833-1866)
Divorce Records Index (1837-1950)
Justice of the Peace Docket Books Index (1835-1885)
Naturalization Records Index (1868-1906)
Stray Records Index (1833-1913) [Records of stray livestock]

And the Turnbo Manuscripts by Silas Claiborne Turnbo 1844-1925."a collection of approximately eight hundred short tales, stories and vignettes that reflect life along the White River Valley in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri during the latter half of the 19th century."

There's more too. Collections of photographs, postcards, maps, and local histories.

GenealogyWise hiccup

An indication that there are some people in Provo, UT right now scrambling to figure out what happened.

I suspect it will be fixed soon. And then everyone who has become addicted to this new social network can return from whatever productive activity they were replacing it with.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: A Gay Nineties Affair

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

In January of 1934, after graduation from high school in 1933, my paternal grandmother spent a few months in California with her family. It is said her parents were considering moving out there, but that she was able to convince them to remain in St. Louis. (She wanted to remain near my paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark, whom she would marry in 1936.)

Before they left, a party was thrown for her by her cousin. A write-up appeared in three newspapers. Unfortunately, while she saved the newspaper clippings, my grandmother neglected to note which newspapers, or the date.

Update: The 3rd article was from the St. Louis Post  Dispatch, Dec 24, 1933, p. 14

Miss Belle Feinstein Given Farewell Party

A ‘gay nineties’ party with the hustle and bustle and leg of mutton, brown derbies, high-water pants, misplaced eyebrows and swallow tail coats reminiscent of what the well-dressed males and females wore back in the good old days, was given last Saturday night by Miss Belle Wyman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Wyman, 5467 Delmar boulevard, in the form of a farewell party for her cousin, Miss Belle Feinstein, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Feinstein, 6422 San Bonita avenue. The guest of honor wore a gown belonging to her great aunt.

Miss Feinstein will leave for the west coast early in January and will visit several months with relatives and friends.

Present at the party were: Misses Belle Feinstein, Belle Wyman, Bonnie Schwartzman, Belle Hoffman, Stella Samuels, Florence Greenberg and their escorts, Morris Pearlmutter, Bennie Feinstein, Harold Newmark, Melvin Newmark, Sandy Adler, Bob Kalm, Barney Cruvant, Harry Klein, and Meyer Brownstein.


A farewell party in form of a “Gay Nineties Affair” was given in honor of Miss Sis Feinstein, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Feinstein of Clayton, Mo., last Saturday evening at the home of her cousin, Miss Belle Wyman. Guests dressed in costumes of the 1890 period arrived in carriages. The guest of honor was attired in a gown belonging to her great-aunt. It was made of brown brocade, trimmed with heavy ruchings of Irish lace. The hostess wore a gown of coral velvet resembling those worn by Mae West. The house was decorated in cabaret style. Miss Feinstein is departing on January 3 and this is the first of a series of parties to be given in her honor. She will remain in the West for several months.


Miss Belle Wyman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Wyman, 5467 Delmar boulevard, gave a farewell party at the home of her parents last night for her cousin, Miss Belle Feinstein, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Feinstein, 6422 San Bonita avenue. It was a “gay nineties” ball with setting for the dancing and entertainment in a cabaret. The guests appeared in the costumes of that period and arrived and departed in carriages. The guest of honor wore a gown belonging to her great aunt. Miss Feinstein will leave early in January for a trip to the west.

Belle Feinstein and Belle Wyman were both named after their grandmother, Belle Wyman Blatt, who I mentioned on Saturday. My grandmother's brother nicknamed her 'Sissie', and the nickname stuck with her her entire life, often shortened to 'Sis'. However, I am a little surprised that one of the three newspapers used the nickname.

I'd love to know for certain which great-aunt's dress she wore. My suspicion is that it belonged to Tillie Oberman, the sister of her grandfather, Selig Feinstein. Tillie lived in St. Louis, so would have been around to loan my grandmother her dress.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SNGF: Time Travel

Randy at Genea-Musings for his weekly Saturday Night Genealogy Fun asks us to travel in time.
1) Let's go time traveling: Decide what year and what place you would love to visit as a time traveler. Who would you like to see in their environment? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

2) Tell us about it. Write a blog post, or make a comment to this post, or on Facebook, or in Genealogy Wise.
So many choices.

Option 1)

Travel back in time to 1850. My great-great grandmother Sarah Ann Hartley was about 16 years old, and according to the census, I believe she is a helping hand for Sarah and Hardy Ware in Houston County, Texas. Her mother, Eliza, and brothers William and Samuel are in a different Houston household, along with a Wheeler family. I'd like to interview Eliza: "Tell me everything you know about your parents, and your late husband George's parents." Maybe Eliza can help me get the facts of our Native American ancestry straight. By 1900 when they were standing in front of the Dawes commission, Eliza's son Samuel, and several grandchildren, were mightily confused. Sarah passed away in 1898.

[I'd travel back in time to when both Eliza and George were alive, but my knowledge of where they were when is confused, so I might get the settings incorrect.]

Option 2)

Travel back in time to 1890 Losice, Poland. Great great grandparents Morris and Belle Blatt should still be married with two infants: Blanche and Anna. [I'll need an interpreter who understands both Yiddish and English for this trip.] Since I can only ask one of them the question, I'll ask Belle to tell me everything she knows about her parents and Morris's parents.

Family lore, directly from her daughters, says Belle's maiden name was Wyman. Her daughter Blanche also married a Wyman. Research has found *a* Morris Blatt in Losice who married a Chaia Beila Boksern. The middle name is close enough to Belle, but it is doubtful her daughters would have confused the surname, especially since one of them married a Wyman, resulting in the obvious family jokes. However, one of Belle's granddaughters thinks Morris was Belle's second husband, making it possible Boksern was her first married name. Hopefully Belle/Beila can straighten this out.

If the research found the correct Morris Blatt, it tracks the Blatt line back several more generations.

There are more people I'd interview, but choosing one from my maternal and one from my paternal lineage seems like a fair place to stop.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Respect for the Dead

In Oxford, Alabama a 1500 year old Indian mound (likely a burial mound) is being destroyed and replaced by a Sam's Club.

Four employees at a cemetery outside Chicago are accused of digging up bodies and reselling plots at a historic black cemetery.

In positive news, the Osage Tribe may purchase an ancestral mound in the St. Louis area

Poetry: Dorothy Q - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes is a distant cousin of mine through shared Stoughton ancestry, however, the below poem is about his mother's mother's mother - Dorothy Quincy.

Dorothy Q

A Family Portrait
by Oliver Wendell Holmes

GRANDMOTHER’S mother: her age, I guess,
Thirteen summers, or something less;
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth, square forehead with uprolled hair;
Lips that lover has never kissed;
Taper fingers and slender wrist;
Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade;
So they painted the little maid.

On her hand a parrot green
Sits unmoving and broods serene.
Hold up the canvas full in view,—
Look! there ’s a rent the light shines through,
Dark with a century’s fringe of dust,—
That was a Red-Coat’s rapier-thrust!
Such is the tale the lady old,
Dorothy’s daughter’s daughter, told.

Who the painter was none may tell,—
One whose best was not over well;
Hard and dry, it must be confessed,
Flat as a rose that has long been pressed;
Yet in her cheek the hues are bright,
Dainty colors of red and white,
And in her slender shape are seen
Hint and promise of stately mien.

Read the rest of the poem

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughts on GenealogyWise

Disclaimer-wise: As an aficionado of the English Language, I am predisposed against the new social network website –GenealogyWise – due to their appropriation of the painful-to-the eyes ‘wise’ construction. If there was a way to kill usage of ‘wise’ as a suffix, I would do so. Yes, I am aware there is also a pun on ‘wisdom’ in this case, but this isn’t sufficient to get me to support the corruption of the English language.

The new website was announced on Wednesday, and there was a heavy stampede from geneabloggers – many who had been utilizing Facebook. Several individuals were heard saying that they planned to leave Facebook entirely.

I, for one, am not leaving Facebook. Of course, I was a member of Facebook before the geneablogger stampede towards it, and have many non-genealogist friends with whom I keep in touch using it. My non-genealogist friends won’t be switching to GenealogyWise so there’s no reason for me to leave. If I only networked with other genealogists on Facebook, I could see the temptation to delete my account. But that doesn’t define me.

Those genealogists who do leave Facebook are going to lose a few advantages to my mind.

1) Facebook is a great way to find living cousins – just by searching the directory for your surnames. 99% of these cousins won’t be on GenealogyWise.

2) I have found and left a message on one Facebook group set up for an annual family reunion of not-too-distant cousins. These too can’t really be set up on GenealogyWise since it will be difficult to get family members who aren’t genealogists to join. But a Facebook group could be a great way to keep younger family members interested inbetween reunions.

3) Those genealogists who do research for others may find Facebook is helpful in letting those in your social network know what you are doing as a business. When they decide they want some research done – or someone they know is asking for references – they are more likely to think of you. Your social network isn’t going to follow you to GenealogyWise.

On the other hand, there are a couple things I like about GenealogyWise.

1) I like their option of one rss feed for every blog post on the site. You can subscribe to rss feeds for individual members as well, if you don’t want every post, but the one super-feed is very useful. I find the effect similar to subscribing to tags on Wordpress. Every time someone tags a post with ‘genealogy’ it appears in my blog reader. And every time someone posts a public entry on their GenealogyWise blog, it will now appear in my blog reader.

[Note: by default all profiles and blog posts are readable by anyone on GenealogyWise, meaning they are also likely to get indexed by search engines such as Google. You can go to your settings, and under ‘privacy’ change that to either ‘members only’ or ‘friends only’. However, the posts shouldn’t appear in the rss feed if it is restricted.]

2) Like the Facebook Notes application which allows you to display your outside blog posts on Facebook – or the TwitterFeed application that automatically posts links to your blog posts on Twitter -- GenealogyWise allows you to display your blog posts on your profile page. I know I have friends who read my blog posts on Facebook who otherwise wouldn’t, and I have been told by fellow geneabloggers they are often more likely to read a blog post when they see a link to it on my twitter feed. Similarly, I suspect some may now find my blog posts through my GenealogyWise profile.

Of course, both of these advantages occur from me setting up the profile and respective rss feeds. I don't actually have to ever return to GenealogyWise beyond accepting any friend requests that come in.

There may be some interesting forum and group discussions, but I find I prefer email mailing lists, such as those available on Rootsweb, for these types of discussions. If upon GoogleWave's release, GenealogyWise releases an application that turns these forum discussions into waves accessible through a Wave browser, I anticipate I may well become a participant in some of the forums.

Update: it appears they are now displaying their site name as two words. This change doesn't predate the initial drafts of my post, but does predate the final posting, so unless they're psychic, or have access to my drafts, I can't take credit.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: 146 Years ago

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Ebenezer Denyer, a 2nd great grandfather on my mother's side, was a Confederate soldier, captured at the Battle of Vicksburg. Below is the oath he signed upon his release. (Emphasis is my own)

Vicksburg, Mississippi, July 7th 1863.


I, Ebinezer M Denyer Private of Co. “E” Reg’t 2d Texas

Vols. C.S.A. being a prisoner of War in the hands of the United States Forces in virtue of the capitulation of the city of Vicksburg and its Garrison, by Lieut. Gen. John C. Pemberton, C.S.A., Commanding, on the 4th day of July, 1863, do in pursuance of the terms of said capitulation, give this my solemn parole under oath ----

That I will not take up arms again against the United States, nor serve in any military, police, or constabulary forces in any Fort, Garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of America, against the United States of America, nor as guard of any prisons, depots or stores nor discharge any duties usually performed by Officers or soldiers against the United States of America, until duly exchanged by the proper authorities.
E. M. Denyer (signature)

Sworn to and subscribed before me at Vicksburg, Miss this 7th day of July 1863.

[illegible]Co. “G” Reg’t 31st Illinois Vols and Paroling Officer

After being duly exchanged, though, all bets were off. His name next appears in Confederate records in February of 1864, and his service was uninterrupted after that through April of 1865.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Don't Rely Completely on Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a great concept, and can be useful for genealogy research.

1) You select whether you want Google to search News articles, blogs, the web, video, Google Groups, or a "comprehensive" search.
2) Then you select how often you want an email sent to your email address.

3) Then you indicate the email address in the field: "Deliver to." If you are signed in to a Google account, it will default to that gmail account. But a gmail account isn't required.

It's tempting to think your work is done for you, and Google Alerts will now prevent you from missing anything important. But if you stop doing the manual searches, you may very easily miss important items.

According to the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) this is what Google Alerts does for each setting (emphasis mine):
  • A 'News' alert is an email aggregate of the latest news articles that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top ten results of your Google News search.
  • A 'Web' alert is an email aggregate of the latest web pages that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top twenty results of your Google Web search.
  • A 'Blogs' alert is an email aggregate of the latest blog posts that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top ten results of your Google Blog search.
  • A 'Comprehensive' alert is an aggregate of the latest results from multiple sources (News, Web and Blogs) into a single email to provide maximum coverage on the topic of your choice.
  • A 'Video' alert is an email aggregate of the latest videos that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top ten results of your Google Video search.
  • A 'Groups' alert is an email aggregate of new posts that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top fifty results of your Google Groups search.

1) How often when conducting your Google Search do you find the treasure on the second, third, or a later page?

It probably depends upon how specific your search terms are. If, for example, you have provided the specific name of a particular ancestor, you might not miss much, unless the full name is common. If you entered a surname, you're likely going to be missing some results, especially if you maintain a family website, or blog, since hits on your own site might legitimately monopolize the top results.

2) Comprehensive is 'comprehensive' for News, Web, and Blog alerts. It won't capture the results from Google Video or Google Groups alerts.

3) Google Books results are now appearing in Google web searches. However, only for "full view" and "limited preview." Searching Google Books directly will yield results in the categories of "Snippet View" and "No Preview Available". The publishers of these books haven't given Google permission to show you a preview, but have allowed the books to be scanned in. You often have to track down these books in a library to see what the text says, but Google Books does provide the source information, including the page number where your search terms appeared.

Google Alerts is useful if your search is very specific (of course, the more specific you get, the more likely that you might be missing something because you are too specific.) Google Alerts is also useful if you are only interested in the "top results" for a broader search. But you need to be aware that Google Alerts isn't a catch-all system.

Smile for the Camera: They Worked Hard for a Living

The word prompt for the 15th Edition of Smile For The Camera is "they WORKED hard for the family." The professions of our ancestors are almost as interesting as the people themselves. Some of our ancestors worked very hard; they took in laundry, worked the land, raised many children, or went to school and became professionals. Photographs of them working are called occupational photographs and are rather hard to find.
I agree, they definitely aren't easy to find. However, I have found a few. I'll start with my maternal grandparents Martin Deutsch (1907-1991) and Myrtle Van Every (1900-1951) who worked at the St. Louis Post Office together in 1935 when this photo was taken, less than a year before they were married. I've drawn a box around my grandparents.
The below photograph of my paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark (1914-1992), shows him with gavel in hand as a City Judge. I like how the nameplate reflects in the photo.
Here's a photograph of my great grandmother, Margaret (Denyer) Van Every (1868-1923) at work on the farm. The photograph was likely taken after 1920, as the writing on the back suggests my grandmother, the recipient of the photograph, had already moved to St. Louis. The writing also indicates that El Paso had received some snow. Which isn't completely unheard of.
Finally, I have a photograph - circa 1935 - of the Lichtmann Leatherworks shop in Margitta, Hungary - Address: 43 December Street - birthplace of my maternal great grandmother, Helen (Lichtmann) Deutsch (1881-1958). The people in the photo are my grandfather's first cousins, Andre and Sanyi Lichtmann, sons of Helen's brother, Frank (Fere).

The 75th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted

The 75th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted, and is filled with entries on Justice and Independence.
The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: How I spent my summer vacation... a favorite summer memory from your youth. Tell us what summers were like when you were a wee tad pole. Did you vacation with family? Go to a youth camp? Hang out at the local park? Watch fireworks? Catch fireflies? Share those lazy, hazy, crazy, days of summers past with us! Deadline for submissions is July 14, 2009. [more info]

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Good-night - Carl Sandburg (1920)

MANY ways to spell good night.

Fireworks at a pier on the Fourth of July spell it with red wheels and yellow spokes.

They fizz in the air, touch the water and quit.
Rockets make a trajectory of gold-and-blue and then go out.

Railroad trains at night spell with a smokestack mushrooming a white pillar.

Steamboats turn a curve in the Mississippi crying in a baritone that crosses lowland cottonfields to a razorback hill.
It is easy to spell good night.

Many ways to spell good night.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Poetry: A Toast to the First and the Fourth of July

A Toast to the First and the Fourth of July
for David Van Every (1757-1820)
©July 2009 - John Newmark

For two years my fourth great fought
for the creation of our nation
then in seventeen seventy seven
he deemed his disloyalty a disservice
and joined the other side.
Finally, he and his family fled to Canada.

His motivations are unrecorded.
Beyond his appearance on muster rolls,
a few brief mentions elsewhere,
we have nothing. No inkling
of the wherefores behind his decision
either in seventy five, or seventy seven.

In July’s opening barrage
of national celebrations
I honor both of his decisions -
whatever the reasons, and his willingness
to fight for what he believed
even when those beliefs changed.

I've previously blogged that I only have Loyalist direct ancestors and no Revolutionaries. I've learned that's not exactly true. My fourth great grandfather, David Van Every, was a Revolutionary who became a Loyalist. Though I do note he was 18 years old in 1775, and 20 in 1777.

I think about the decisions I was making at that age. My 4th great grandfather left one side of a war, and went to the other; I left one college and went to another. There's a long story behind my actions; I'm sure there's an equally long story behind his.

While there's no certainty, one researcher suggests there may have been a familial reason David (and his brother, Benjamin) initially joined the New York militia.
David and Benjamin Van Every perhaps had decided to join the New York Militia, as it was in this Regiment that the cousins of their father, McGregory Van Every had been serving: Martin as a Lieutenant, Cornelius (1730 - 1815) as an Ensign and later as a Lieutenant, and Rynier as a Captain. However, soon after deserting from the New York Militia, both David and Benjamin transferred themselves to Butler's Rangers, within which they fought for the duration of the American Revolution, David as a Sergeant and Benjamin as a regular soldier.

"Warner Cemetery: an important piece of Canada's heritage worth preserving," Robert Collins McBride, The Loyalist Gazette, March 22, 2000.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I think my decision has just been made for me.

I just received in my email box the monthly issue of PastPorts, the newsletter for the St. Louis County Library's Special Collections department. The first sentence of the first article?

Footnote is now available in the Special Collections Department or at public
computers at any St. Louis County Library branch.

Unlike, where I find myself searching their databases so often, free library access isn't sufficient -- at this point in my genealogy research, library access to Footnote will definitely be sufficient. My paid account will expire in September.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Footnote partners with Gannett Newspapers

I received the below in my email from Footnote on June 26, with a note that the information wasn't to be released until today - July 1st.
We wanted to let you know of an exciting new partnership between Footnote and the largest newspaper publisher in the US, the Gannett Company. Gannett, publisher of 84 daily newspapers including USA Today, will be able to digitize their vast archives for the first time by working together with Footnote. Through this partnership Footnote Members will be able to access valuable historical newspapers never seen before on the internet.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing and Woodstock, we have kicked off our partnership by digitizing the newspapers covering those events. We have recently launched the first runs of Florida Today and the Poughkeepsie Journal (NY). Footnote will continue to digitize the full run of those newspapers including all of the Poughkeepsie Journal, which goes back to 1785.

Visit our Moon Landing and Woodstock pages today and relive the 60’s man.
I'm sure the timing of this announcement isn't completely coincidental with their recent announcement that as of August 1, Footnote Annual Membership will increase by $10. Current subscribers can get a reduced subscription through the end of July.

I have to admit that while I have been very happy with what I have so far found on Footnote (in particular several Dawes Commission transcripts and some civil war documents) I was asking myself whether it was likely that enough information would be added to make extending my subscription worthwhile. I find myself searching Footnote every couple months to see what new items I find, which suggests I might be better off saving some money by buying an occasional monthly subscription, as opposed to the annual.

I found a list of Gannett newspapers; the only Missouri newspaper is The Springfield Leader, and there are no Illinois, or Texas newspapers. The Poughkeepsie Journal might provide some interesting finds for some of my early American ancestors, but as long as I'm only researching for myself, I'm not sure I really need daily access.