Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kutano - Combining Twitter and Google's Sidewiki into one App

As I mentioned in my post about Google's SideWiki -- they also opened up their API to allow others to create applications that use comments left in SideWiki.

I received the below email yesterday (Tuesday) morning from a Marketing Manager at Kutano:
I came across your post about Google SideWiki and wanted to let you know that this morning we are expecting to release what we believe to be the very first Sidewiki client ever!

Our tool, Kutano, already works as something of a "SideTwitter", showing tweets about each web page and website directly beside the page and allowing for conversations and comments on the page as well. However, as of early this morning (10AM), Kutano will also be pulling in "high quality" comments that are made in Google's Sidewiki.

The advantage of this, aside from being able to collectively view web page related tweets, Sidewiki and Kutano comments in one place, is that Kutano will also allow users to respond to and start interactive discussions around comments made in Sidewiki. Currently, Sidewiki comments are not threaded and there is no way to respond and engage another person that commented on the web page. Additionally, there is not yet a way to have multiple discussion topics on one page. But using Kutano, people will be able to engage in more interactive and topic-varied discussions about each web page using Sidewiki comments as well as existing web page related tweets and Kutano comments. As can already be done with existing Kutano discussions, users will also be able to tweet out entire discussions as well.
I didn't have time yesterday to test it out, but I have this evening.

First the technical requirements:

Kutano claims that it works on Firefox 3 with Windows (x64 or x86 of XP and above), MacOSX, or Linux. And with Internet Explorer 7 or 8 (32-bits) with Windows (x64 or x86 of XP and above)

I am using it on Firefox 3 with MacOSX.

The Kutano Experience

As a Twitter Application

Kutano creates a fully functional Twitter sidebar on your browser, as can be seen below, but the arrow button in the lower right minimizes the sidebar. Two of the buttons to the right of the textbox are "Tweet about this page" and "insert current page URL". For both Kutano creates its own shortened url for the page. For the former it also adds the text "Reading __Page Title__"

Alone, these are nice added features.

As a SideTwitter

In the above image you can see all the tweets for my recent Wordless Wednesday post. The one tweet from my TransDutch account which automatically tweets every blog entry. Occasionally some of my posts get a little more TwitterLove, but to illustrate the features better, I went to CNN.com

Now I am looking at all the Discussions for CNN. The yellow boxes near the bottom of the panel represent comments pulled in from Google's SideWiki application. The other comments are from Kutano. The numbers in the icons indicate how many posts in each discussion thread.

The email I received from Kutano also indicated Google's API for SideWiki allows them to pull in the comments from SideWiki to use in their App. However, it doesn't provide a mechanism to send comments in the other direction. So discussions that take place on Kutano remain on Kutano.

Thoughts

I don't see myself getting involved in too many side-discussions about a page. Unless of course discussions form around my blog, or any other websites I maintain. I expect most people who have a comment about my blog to post it in the comment threads, or email me. However, not every website has a place to leave comments.

I remember a time not too long ago, back when I was in college and frequented the Usenet bulletin boards, where these discussion threads would have been more appealing to me.

For me the benefit of SideWiki (and Kutano) is the ability to leave notes on a page that otherwise doesn't provide a means to do so. (A blog that doesn't allow comments, or a normal web page without a discussion forum.) The note may provide more information the page doesn't already contain -- or indicate any inaccuracies I feel are there.

I do like the ease of use of Kutano as a Twitter application.

Wordless Wednesday: Cactus Flower in San Marcos, Texas

Cactus Flower Along Devil's Backbone Ranch Road #12
San Marcos, Hays County, Texas
Source:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Minnie (Mojsabovski) Cruvant

Transcription: Here is interred Michaliah Kruvant, daughter of the righteous Mendel. Died on the 8th of Adar I, 5684. May her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

Here is one of the few photographs I have of my second great grandmother, Minnie (Mojsabovski) Cruvant, wife of Moshe Leyb.

They immigrated to America from Lithuania circa 1875-1885.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Sauerkraut, Palascinta, the Titanic, and the Rhein

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

I continue transcribing in ten minute segments the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and his older brother, Ted Deutsch, recorded in 1977.

They had begun talking about their immigration to America in 1913 (at ages 6 and 11), but have returned to talking about the farm they lived on in Transylvania.

1:05:00

Ted: We had a place we called the cellar, but that was under the barn.
Martin: The cold storage
Ted: Where we kept sauerkraut
Martin: And the apples, we’d save during the winter
Ted: We had enough to last the winter anyhow. In the spring we had to live out of the garden. New stuff coming up. Cucumbers.
Martin: You always had enough sauerkraut, cabbage I guess
Ted: Yeah we had that, we had a barrel of sauerkraut.
Martin: I remember you had to cut up your cabbage and throw in the stuff, and
Ted: And take a rock and put it over it
Martin: I thought you went in there and stepped on it to squeeze it down. I know you did that with wines and grapes.
Ted: We did that when we made wine, yeah. We’d get in barefoot and press the wine. I don’t recall doing it on sauerkraut. I didn’t make that much of it.
Martin: I had a recollection of that, but I might be wrong.
Ted: I know we had to keep it in a barrel in the basement, and we had a big rock to keep the cover on it.
Martin: And we probably had several barrels of it, so if nothing else you were going to have sauerkraut.
Ted: That’s right.
Martin: I don’t know where we got bread, wheat, and flour
Ted: Dad got that in trade. The bread and the wheat
Martin: Did we have to make our own flour
Ted: Yeah, we had to grind it. We had that grinder. A primitive grinder. Two kinds of wheel connected to a rod, turn the wheel around.
Martin: It was probably a heavy stone that ground it
Ted: We made our own flour. Or if you wanted to there was a mill over there. Next to the river there was a mill.
Martin: The old mill stream.
Ted: The mill was built way down below the level of the river so we had a waterfall driving the wheel of the mill.
Martin: Which was the common thing of course.
Ted: You could take it there and they’d grind it for you for a small amount of money. So we had wheat stored, and we had corn stored. And when we wanted to use it we would grind it ourselves. The corn we ground ourselves, but the wheat we didn’t. I think the wheat we took to the mill.
Martin: I know in later years I remember we kept chickens, so we had some eggs I suppose. If nothing else.
Ted: Yeah we had eggs.
Martin: We probably didn’t have much meat of any kind.
Ted: We also made…during the season we made cheese from goat milk, or we also had lambs. People had lambs. We went up and they made cheese in big brown cakes, and we’d take the cheese home. That would last a long time.
Martin: We’d probably have something like they have in Mexico, what do you call it, palacsinta. You can always bake those
Ted: You always make that, and they stay a long time. But they have those big brown wheels of cheese they make up in the mountains and bring it down. They’d hang it up in the home to dry.
Martin: I was just trying to figure out how we got our meats. We didn’t have any.
Ted: Meats. We had a butcher that opened up once on Friday every week. That was the only time you could get meat.
Martin: And your meat was probably poultry mostly.
Ted: Poultry we used at home. We had poultry at home we raised. But if you wanted meat you could buy it at the butcher shop that was open once a week on Fridays.
Martin: They probably would slaughter a cow or something, kosherized course.
Ted: If you wanted a chicken killed you would have to go to the shochet who would kill it for you. You couldn’t kill it yourself. That’s how we got our meats.
Martin: Well, Jean then took care of the crowd. It was only for a period of a year. Mother left there and I still haven’t – you showed me that passport, but I couldn’t figure out the year. I think the year was omitted in some way. Or it gave a year, of course a passport needn’t be used the time it was issued. You can have it in your possession for a year.

1:10:00

Ted: We got here in this country in February 1913.
Martin: February 1913. It sounds approximately. I saw a movie just a few nights ago on television of the sinking of the Titanic which was in October or November of 1912. I do remember from my own memory about discussions about the ocean vessel sinking. It was a deterrent at the time.
Ted: I remember too. We had newspapers. Hungarian papers had the story about the sinking and the life lost on the Titanic. And the news came to us finally. It rippled down to the villages.
Martin: It must have been a deterrent to most people that were thinking of coming over.
Ted: It didn’t hit me as a kid. It didn’t mean much to me.
Martin: It was still an adventure to you, I imagine.
Ted: Even when I read about the disaster I didn’t realize at my age how many people died. It didn’t register with me even at my age.
Martin: I’m trying to figure out a sort of…if mother came over one year before, which was 1912.
Ted: She came in 1912
Martin: Then she must have earned enough to put a down payment.
Ted: That’s right. She was here a year before
Martin: Suppose she earned 2-300 dollars, that would do it, wouldn’t it as a down payment.
Ted: Of course she lived with her sister, and she probably didn’t have to pay too much board or lodging with her.
Martin: She probably borrowed some too.
Ted: She put everything away. But she signed up and they gave her credit for the entire family if it …. I really don’t know what the amount was for the entire family. Maybe they got a rate for kids. You know, smaller kids didn’t have to pay, or half fare. But I would say the amount of at least 500 dollars. Which was a lot of money in those days.
Martin: Especially for her and she had to live on it
Ted: Which would also include train fare.
Martin: After all Chicago is quite a ways
Ted: From New York, and the train from Varalmas to Bremen.
Martin: Yeah I was wondering about the ride from Varalmas to wherever you’re going
Ted: Bremen
Martin: And you’re covering a thousand miles there.
Ted: Maybe it cost more, I don’t really know.
Martin: I think you had to come through Hungry and Austria, and then cross over through Germany to Bremen, which was on the West Coast of Germany.
Ted: We crossed to Germany. We went to Germany.
Martin: We had to get through Austria to get to Germany.
Ted: I doubt it. We had to go South
Martin: You had to go North. That area where we were was almost the southeast corner of Austria Hungary. You see it ultimately was ceded to Romania, which was southwest of Hungary. Southeast I mean.
Ted: We had to get to Bremen and I know we went through Berlin. That I know.
Martin: You might have gone through Berlin. You might have gone up to Vienna and across to Berlin and over to Bremen. That’s my thought what happened. And do you think we took a train then?
Ted: We were on a train
Martin: That’s right, I don’t have any kind of recollection.
Ted: That was my first trip on a train. I’ll never forget it because we took the train. We went to Huedin, we got on the train. And I remember going through Berlin because they told us on the train this is Berlin, and I saw the first time electric lights over there in Berlin.
Martin: I imagine that’s where I saw my first automobile.
Ted: Well we didn’t get off in Berlin
Martin: We stayed on the train all the way
Ted: We stayed on the train to Bremen. We didn’t get off until Bremen. And waited there for the ship. The Bremen Rhein was the name of the ship.
Martin: You think the Bremen Rhein. A German passenger ship.
Ted: That was the name of the ship, the Bremen Rhein. We were on the ship for two weeks.

One of the difficulties of transcribing audio is running across an unfamiliar word, and trying to figure out what is being said. For example, I heard what sounded like "polechenta" and from context sounded like it should be a Mexican dish of some sort my grandfather was familiar with and reminded him of a Hungarian dish. But it took several creative searches to come upon Palascinta - a Hungarian crepe.

Recipes for sauerkraut do indicate pressing is necessary, but nowhere do I see any suggestion to use one's feet, as with grapes.

The route from Varalmas to Bremen is definitely Northwesterly.

I like how Ted's memory of the train ride to Bremen is reinforced through his recollection of the first time he saw electric lights at the stop in Berlin.

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, September 26, 2009

Return of Weekly Picks

Back in January I got the idea I would create a weekly list of notable blog posts and news stories related to genealogy. Others do it, and I've found stuff I've missed in their lists, and perhaps I can return the favor. However, my weekly lists ended after about a month.

I had the notion to do this again a week ago. It may not be a coincidence that it is the beginning of another "New Year."

The relationship to genealogy for some of the links below will be a stretch, but I felt the items were still worth sharing.

Saturday September 19 - Friday September 25

On International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Tracing The Tribe expanded upon my entry, and discussed additional Sephardic Jewish Pirates.

The Genetic Genealogist has an entry on Tracing DNA to Individual Ancestors, and how scientists have been able to trace the genes responsible for some hereditary diseases.

The official blog of JewishGen has an entry on how the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island helped a metal detector hobbyist return a class ring to someone who had lost their ring in Sag Harbor Bay fifty years before.

What's Past is Prologue has had a couple entries on Passenger Manifests: Manifest Markings and Accidental Discoveries

I enjoyed Geneamusing's photograph on his "Wordly Wednesday" of a great great uncle using a 1916 telephone.

Carnival of Genealogy: Tracing the Tribe is hosting the October 1st CoG, and the theme is to write an obituary for your blog. Here is footnoteMaven's official poster for the CoG.

Hamilton's Habitat blogs about finding a photograph of her distant four-legged relative. And here's her entry a year ago when she learned about the woman. (A rare form of 'conjoined twinning' actually gave her two sets of legs.) The Genealogue had an entry on the woman, Josephine Myrtle (Corbin) Bicknell back in 2006.

While he isn't a geneablogger, and his blog is one of the most popular on the net, there are probably a few who missed Wil Wheaton's post celebrating the memory of his awesome dog. (Wheaton is best known for his television role as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek:TNG, and his roles in the films Stand By Me, and Toy Soldiers. He still does some occasional acting, but has begun a new career as a writer.)

Google has digitized Life Magazine's entire weekly run. (hat tip: Good Morning Silicon Valley)

Newspaper Articles

An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch discussed how some schools are no longer teaching cursive handwriting, making some fear there will come a time when we are no longer able to read the letters of our ancestors, or other historical documents.

In the National Jewish Student Voice there is an article on whether the E-book is Good for the Jews -- "As Judaism protects texts so much that there are genizot, cemeteries for holy writings, literature is a vital piece of the culture, but the advent of the Kindle may mean the end of that culture as we know it." (hat tip: Jewish Publication Society blog). [I'd argue we protect the text, not the medium through which it is distributed. I was reminded of a 1998 article comparing The Talmud and Hypertext.]

Metro.co.uk has a 'Separated at Birth' story on how two twins met each other when they became employees of the same company.

On evolution: The St. Louis Post Dispatch has an article on how chimpanzees in the Congo are developing 'tool kits' for hunting.

DiscoveryNews has an article on whether mankind's evolutionary ancestors - Neanderthal and Australopithecus - were monogamous, and how scientists think they may be able to tell.

The Daily Mail has an article on the completion of the Fifth Revision of Confucius' family tree, (hat tip: GenealogyBlog ) Back in February of 2008 I blogged about their decision to stop looking for more descendants. I first heard about the revision back in September of 2007, when I learned it would be the first revision to include his female descendants.

Video:

A video on the Information Revolution (hat tip: Dividing by Zero)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Who to Invite?

Back in January of 2008, the 41st Carnival of Genealogy challenged us to come up with a dinner party of five - by inviting four ancestors, and including ourselves. I cheated and hosted two parties.

From sunset Sunday to sunset Monday the Jewish community will be fasting for Yom Kippur.

"Sarah" at the Jewish Publication Society blog asked the question: Which Five Jewish Authors Would You Invite to your Break-Fast meal?. She provided her five choices.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe provided her five.

While I'm not in the same position as I was in January of 2008, of having to choose between ancestors, I am grateful for having an additional seat at the table.

1) Joseph Heller (1923-1999) -- I was introduced to Catch-22 in high school and became hooked on Heller's brand of dark humor. I also read Something Happened, God Knows, Picture This, and the autobiographical, No Laughing Matter.

2) Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) -- Former US Poet Laureate, the late author was a professor at Washington University in St. Louis from 1969-1991. For many years he was my favorite living poet. I heard him perform when I was in 7th or 8th grade. However, my timing was off, and I was unable to have him as a professor before he died.

3) Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) -- A voracious reader since the age of six, I became hooked on science fiction early. I may not have read my first Asimov until junior high -- I'm not positive. But he earned a place on this list with his Robot novels, and his collection of (I believe) 576 limericks (288 each) he co-wrote with Martin Ciardi, Limericks: Too Gross

4) Mel Brooks (1926 - alive) -- I can't resist inviting the creator of Get Smart, The Producers, and History of the World Part I. He and Joseph Heller were actually good friends, and regularly ate together in a "Gourmet Club" with Mario Puzo, Carl Reiner, Zero Mostel, and Speed Vogel. So I suspect I might be able to get both of them to share some tales of each other, and their mutual friends.

5) Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) -- Because I need a woman at the table, I like her poetry, and I suspect her wit will be a fair match to the others.

Two things I notice:

1) They are all English-speaking modern authors, Dorothy being the eldest. Four of them are basically contemporaries, born within six years of each other. There are definitely authors from the deep past I could invite. However, this way there is no need for interpreters.

2) None of them were/are overly religious (to my knowledge). I suspect more than one would classify themselves as an Atheist or Agnostic. Though I suspect at least four of the five identify/identified enough with their religious heritage to fast on Yom Kippur.

Poetry: Lost Generation by Jonathan Reed

Note: I've decided to be a little more diverse in my selections for Poetry Friday, and I am no longer restricting myself to genealogy-related poems. Instead, I would like to share poems that move me, or inspire me.

Below is "Lost Generation", a video poem created by Jonathan Reed for an AARP challenge to youth/college students in 2008 to imagine themselves at 50. The video came in second place, but it became somewhat of a sensation, and currently has been viewed over 6.5 million times. Which is impressive since the video consists solely of scrolling words on a black screen with corresponding audio. (Give it at least 55 seconds before you decide to stop listening.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OFallon, IL City Records

The Belleville News-Democrat reported on Monday that the city of O'Fallon, Illinois has put their city records online.
O'FALLON -- If you want to peruse the city's bills or check on the ordinance about O'Fallon's special election of 1936, now you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

As the culmination of what he called an eight-year project, City Clerk Phil Goodwin said any records someone might normally come down to City Hall to see are now available online.

"With the assistance of the city's Information Technology Department, access to public documents via our Web site is now a reality," Goodwin said. "I have been striving toward this goal since I ran for office in 2001."
To my knowledge, I don't have any kin who are current or past residents of the city. However, their new Public Documents section does contain information that might be of interest to Family Historians who do.

The Public Documents section is set up as a series of folders and subfolders like on your own computer.

Inside the City Clerk/Public/Cemetery Minutes Agenda/Cemetery Disposition Records subfolder there are a series of folders with years from 1963-2009 containing scans of the Authorizations family gave the city to bury the deceased in the OFallon City Cemetery. There's no index, but if you know the year someone died, you can browse through the entries for that year until you find your relative. The documents contain
  • Name and age of Deceased
  • Lot Number, Section, Grave number
  • Name of Lot Owner
  • Date of Funeral
  • Signature of Authorizer, and if not lot owner, relationship to lot owner
These are the records of most obvious interest to the family historian. There's also a Property Records subfolder under City Clerk/Public. These records aren't organized neatly by year, but the filenames contain the address, so if you know where a family member lived you might find something of interest.

I haven't looked through all the documents, so there might be some other items of interest. There's definitely a lot there for those interested in the local government process, and history of the city.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Web Annotation: More Competition

The concept of Web Annotation isn't new. Methods of leaving notes on websites for other users of the application to see date back as far as 1999.

The concept is very appealing. Leaving notes that indicate information is outdated or otherwise inaccurate. Leaving notes that expand upon the information that is presented. Leaving comments in the same manner you might jot a note in the margins of a book.

But unfortunately, the more competition there is, the usefulness of each application diminishes, since the user base for each application diminishes.

So until one application is declared a winner, it's hard to know which application is best to use. One might argue what is needed is for a well-established web entity to enter the Web Annotation market and establish themselves as the service to use. And perhaps open their code for others to use so that there can be competing systems that share the same content.

Enter Google SideWiki

Announced this morning on the Google Blog, currently Google SideWiki installs on Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers using Google's Toolbar.

They allow owners of websites to create messages that will always be on the top of the 'SideWiki' for a page. (They can identify what websites you own through which Google Account you are signed into, and what websites are associated with that account.)

And they are offering access to their API (code) so others can write applications that utilize the content left in SideWiki.

Wordless Wednesday: Herman and Regina Dexter

Believed to be Herman Dexter and his wife, Regina - as mentioned in the transcription Monday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Abigal (Stuart) Van Every (1825-1866)

The below tombstone is of my second great grandmother, Abigail (Stuart) Van Every, second wife of Samuel Van Every. She was born on April 29, 1825 in Ontario, Canada, and died March 4, 1866 in Middleville, Michigan. Cause unknown, but due to an infant who died after 3 days one month earlier, my guess is complications from childbirth. She is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Middleville.

My great grandfather, Melvin Van Every, was three years old when she died, though his father, Samuel, married his third and final wife three months later on May 22, 1866.

I know little more about her than the facts above. However, Abigail (or possibly Abigal, according to the tombstone) is the ancestor from which springs many of the branches that lead to my most famous cousins.

(Photograph by Richard Howell. Used with Permission)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Cousins, and Coming to America

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.

56:00

Martin
: Well then, here we are now, you’re about 10 or 11 years old say in 1912
Ted: 1912
Martin: 1911, 1911 is when mother came over by herself, am I right about that?
Ted: She had a sister here in Racine
Martin: That’s...what was her name?
Ted: Gold
Martin: I forget her first name
Ted: Bertha. Bertha Gold.
Martin: She was a half-sister. She is Emily Fox’s mother.
Ted: She was from the same father. They had the same father. And she was here in Racine, and she was doing pretty good here
Martin: Had she been here more than a year or two?
Ted: Yeah, because, well she had grown children. Not grown, but she already had children born here. At least two or three.
Martin: I think she had three all together, didn’t she Emily, Bill, and I forget the
Ted: Al. Albert. She must have been here for some time I would say five six years at least
Martin: And there were others in the family I think that came over
Ted: There were, she had also had another sister and she was out here, and she came back to Hungary. Her name was Rose, I believe, Rosa.
Martin: Did Rosa come over at the same time with us, it seems to me
Ted: She’d been here before us. Then she went back to Europe, she went back to Hungary. And she got married, and she stayed there.
Martin: Whose sister?
Ted: Mother’s sister.
Martin: Mother’s sister. I remember her. She came over, but
Ted: She came over. Her husband had two great horses, grand horses he bought after he came back from America. He had money, so he bought himself two horses and called them Chassar and Chular. I remembered that when they visited us they drove a two horse wagon.
Martin: Of course, there were still other relatives too, including Mrs. Newman, Bertha Newman.
Ted: Yeah, well her father was Dad’s brother.
Martin: Her father was Dad’s brother. She was a niece of Dad’s then.
Ted: That’s right
Martin: And she had been here awhile, I don’t know how she came.
Ted: Her father was here.
Martin: Oh, I see.
Ted: Dad’s brother, his name was Dovid Leib, Dovid Leib they called him in Hebrew. His name was David. His brother David was here, and then he went back also. What they did was they came here and they made some money
Martin: A few dollars and went back

60:00

Ted: They saved their money and went back. He bought himself a saloon over in Buchem, which wasn’t too far from Varalmash.
Martin: And settled down there
Ted: And settled down there. And then his daughter Newman, Bertha Newman, and his son came out here, and they got married here and stayed here. His son’s name was, changed his name to Dexter.
Martin: Oh, that was Dexter. So that was another nephew of Dad’s.
Ted: Dexter and Bertha Newman were brother and sister, and their father was Dovid Leib they called him.
Martin: That was then the brother of Dad’s. Dexter and Bertha Newman were niece and nephew of Dad’s, they were our cousins in other words.
Ted: Yeah, they were our cousins. They came here and lived here, but the old man went back and stayed.
Martin: That’s what it was. I get the idea now. With all that coming and going, I can see there was in the air the atmosphere a familiarity of the
Ted: That’s right, Dad, had a brother who was here and went back, and they made money. And mother had a sister who came here and went back, and they made money. So mother got an idea. She ought to go because she had a sister here, and Dad was too old. He was twenty years her senior. So she figured it woud be better for her to go. And it worked out that she had Berta at that time – 1911, and soon after Berta - she was born in 1910, I believe, as soon as she was a year old she made up her mind that
Martin: She was going to do it
Ted: She was going to do it, and she wrote to her sister Bertha, Mrs. Gold, and arranged for her to buy a ticket for her to bring her around
Martin: How much do you guess a ticket would cost - $100-$200 for a person to come over in steerage.
Ted: At that time I believe it would cost about $100
Martin: At least that
Ted: In steerage.
Martin: In the steerage of course we all know what that…
Ted: They always bought it on the installment plan, So that it took $25 and the rest a dollar a week. They had these agents.
Martin: It was still a real accomplishment. And took a lot of intelligence and knowhow to leave the backwoods of Hungary and get to wherever you could board a ship and you didn’t know the language.
Ted: Never saw a ship before.
Martin: You still had to cross those mountains to get over somewhere
Ted: Mother had a lot of guts
Martin: She did, there’s no question about it
Ted: No question about it
Martin: And she must have been the prime
Ted: To leave six kids and all, and a one year old child in care of a twenty year old man…a fifty year old man.
Martin: A fifty year old man, and of course
Ted: Of course she had Jean
Martin: Jean was the oldest, she was about 11
Ted: At that time she must have been, If I was 11, she must have been 13
Martin: Which isn’t bad if that’s true
Ted: She was 2-3 years older than I am, she could have been 14
Martin: Well..
Ted: But she took care of the kids at home while she was here.
Martin: There’s a lot of cooking and sewing, of course there wasn’t much washing of clothes or anything
Ted: No, we didn’t need much of that. The cooking and making the dinners and food, was enough.
Martin: That sure should be enough for six or seven or eight kids
Ted: They had to start from scratch when they made something to eat, they didn’t have no place to go to buy it.
Martin: Not only that but you didn’t have the facility of being able to turn on the gas stove, where would you get your heat?
Ted: Every time you had to make a fire you had to go out and get some wood.
Martin: You couldn’t get any canned peas.
Ted: Nothing. Everything came from the garden.
Martin: The garden, and of course we didn’t have any money to go buy anything

1:05:00


Martin and Ted get confused with ages often. It was established earlier in the tape that their sister Jean was likely born in 1899, which means she would have been 13 in 1912 when their mother left for America. Ted, born in 1902, would only have been 10, while Berta, born in 1911, was 1. The rest of the family followed a year later in 1913.

Relatives mentioned:
Sisters of Martin and Ted's mother, Helen (Lichtmann) Deutsch: Bertha (Lichtmann) Gold, and Rosa Lichtmann
Children of Bertha Gold: Emilie (Gold) Fox, Bill Gold, Albert Gold
Brother of Martin and Ted's father, Samuel Deutsch: Dovid Leib (David)
Children of David Deutsch: Bertha (Deutsch) Newman, and Herman (Deutsch) Dexter.


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, September 19, 2009

SNGF: Ahnentafel Roulette

Randy at Geneamusings offers us his weekly Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge:
1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the "roulette number."
Randy didn't speficy whether to round up or down for a whole number, providing me with a choice of two individuals. I chose the 'roulette number' of 17, which in binary is 10001. A side effect of using binary with ahnentafel numbers is that, ignoring the first digit, each 0 represents a father, and each 1 represents a mother. So 17/10001 is my father's father's father's mother.

1) Rose Cantkert Newmark was born in 1865 in Poland, possibly Warka, on the outskirts of Warsaw. She died on July 6, 1943 in St. Louis, Missouri, due to heart disease.

2) She married Samuel Joseph Newmark in Poland, and they immigrated first to England approximately 1893, and then to the US in 1908 and 1909. (Samuel and their sons Sol and Barney arrived in October of 1908, and Rose, Sol's wife, and both sets of children, arrived in March of 1909.)

3) She only spoke Yiddish.

Jewish Pirates: Ahoy Vey!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Today is also the Jewish New Year.

What would be an appropriate topic, albeit perhaps a little afield from the subject of genealogy, for a blog post combining the two?

How about Jean Lafitte, the possibly Jewish Pirate?

[image - late 19th century artist's conception. [source]

The facts of his origins, and those of his demise as well, depend upon whether you believe the "Journal of Jean Lafitte" is a forgery or not. Discovered in the possession of a claimed descendant.
"My grandmother was a Spanish-Israelite. ... Grandmother told me repeatedly of the trials and tribulations her ancestors had endured at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. ... Grandmother's teachings ... inspired in me a hatred of the Spanish Crown and all the persecutions for which it was responsible -- not only against Jews." [source]

According to one account, Jean Lafitte was killed upon the General Santander, an armed private vessel in the service of Columbia, on Feb. 5, 1823, at the age of 41. In the Gulf of Honduras, the General Santander encountered two Spanish privateers or warships, and was mortally wounded in a brief battle with the vessels and buried at sea ...


According to Lafitte's Journal ( which many believe to be a hoax, claimed to have been found by a great grand son of Lafitte) written by Lafitte himself in 1851, he took the name John Lafflin and died in St. Louis in his 70s. [source]

As a St. Louisan, this last definitely interests me. Though I have been unable to determine where John Lafflin (whether or not in reality Jean Lafitte) is supposed to be buried. Mysteries tend to surround pirates, don't they?

However, while the origins of Jean Lafitte are controversial, in Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, author Edward Kritzler makes the claim for several others. Some of the earlier ones are said to have gone into the piracy business as revenge against the inquisition.
One such pirate was Moses Cohen Henriques, who helped plan one of history's largest heists against Spain. In 1628, Henriques set sail with Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, whose own hatred of Spain was fueled by four years spent as a galley slave aboard a Spanish ship. Henriques and Hein boarded Spanish ships off Cuba and seized shipments of New World gold and silver worth in today's dollars about the same as Disney's total box office for "Dead Man's Chest." [source]
Of course, pirates tend to break a few commandments in their daily routine. Ends rarely justify the means, and revenge isn't generally considered a morally appropriate explanation for deeds. One wonders if the above Jewish pirates recited the Al Chet (confession of sins) yearly on Yom Kippur.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy New Year - 5770

Happy New Year to all - 5770

Rosh HaShana (Hebrew for Head of the Year) begins at sunset tonight





Poetry: Another Garland Cinquain

Last week for "Poetry Friday" I posted a Garland Cinquain I wrote about my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every.
A cinquain is a five-line syllabic poem. The number of syllables per line follows the pattern - 2,4,6,8,2.

A garland cinquain is a series of six cinquains. The sixth cinquain containing a line from each prior, preferably in order. (The first line from the first cinquain, the second line from the second cinquain, etc.)
Here's a Garland Cinquain for my Second Great Grandfather, Selig Dudelsack/Feinstein.

Selig: A Life Story

Selig
changed his surname
(Dudelsack to Feinstein)
when he moved to St. Louis from
Poland

Selig
and wife Anna
were married in Poland.
(A more precise location is
unknown.)

Early
1890s
with several children
they crossed the Atlantic Ocean
Hopeful.

Selig
spent two decades
raising his family
and through the Chesed Shel Emeth
giving.

Blacksmith,
and junk dealer,
then real estate salesman.
Two infant sons he and Anna
buried.

Selig,
and wife Anna,
with several children
are at the Chesed Shel Emeth
buried.

The Chesed Shel Emeth Society - formed on November 3, 1888 - was a chevra kadisha, or "holy society" for mutual assistance and especially for burial. [source]. They provided free burials for everyone, so that the poor didn't need to 'ask', or prove their need, at such a time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

GRAMPS on Mac

GRAMPS is the Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System - Free genealogy software developed originally for Linux computers. (And obviously developed by people who like acronyms.) There is a Windows version, and recently they released a Mac Version.

At the top of the page one sees this warning:
Warning: this page describes the GTK-OSX port of GRAMPS to Mac, which is still under test. This page too is still under construction. The program described may not work as expected. Or even work. Use it on precious data at your own risk!
This warning indicates that the program isn't quite yet ready for everyone. But those who are more willing to experiment with software still being tested may be curious. Its test status relegates it to a secondary software program at this stage, but it is a free download, so there is no monetary investment.

The key, as the warning suggests, is not to use it with original data files. That is, export a GEDCOM file from your primary genealogy software, and use that GEDCOM with GRAMPS.

My primary software is iFamily for Leopard. Back in 2007 after trying out MacFamilyTree, Reunion, and iFamily, I decided iFamily had the most user-friendly graphical interface. For me the most important features are ease of entering data, and ease of looking up data. However, iFamily has lagged behind in the reporting features. I was satisfied with the reports it offers, but it doesn't provide "Register" or "Ahnentafel" reports, which are the standard for many professional genealogists.

GRAMPS does. For basic reports you can choose from Ahnentafel, Modified Register (NGSQ), and Henry numbering systems.

I like the "End of Line" report, which lists all ancestors of a specified individual for whom there are no parents recorded. I also like the Records Report which provides the top three records under the following categories: Youngest living person, Oldest living person, Person died at oldest age, Person married at youngest age, Person married at oldest age, Youngest father, Youngest mother, Oldest father, Oldest mother, Couple with most children, Living couple married most recently, Living couple married most long ago, Longest past marriage

From this report I learned my great grandmother, Margaret Denyer Van Every, was one month shy of her 15th birthday when she married, and two months shy of her 16th birthday when she had her first child. I knew she had been young, but I hadn't done the math. My great grandfather was five years older.

I also like the Fan Chart. Here's mine:


However, it does illustrate a flaw in the code, as it appears GRAMPS occasionally gets confused over which of several spouses the correct ancestor is. Here it lists my great grandmother, Margaret Jane Denyer, as the daughter of George Foster - who was the second husband of Sarah Ann Hartley, not her first husband, Ebenezer Denyer.

And its not just in the fanchart. I've noted in a descendant report that it included some stepchildren with the wrong parents. There may be other inaccuracies in the reports that I haven't noticed yet. So while the reports and charts available with GRAMPS are appealing, and show a lot of promise, it's probably advisable to wait for a little more testing before distributing the reports to family.

[Note: The above only refers to the Mac version of GRAMPS. The Linux and Windows versions of GRAMPS are outside of the testing stage, and I suspect do not have the same reporting flaws.]

Find A Grave

Approximately two months ago I discovered the joys of FindAGrave.com.

The website has “over 36 million” recorded memorials. Some entries have just name, dates (if available on the tombstone), and the name of the cemetery. Other entries have photographs of the tombstones, and/or of the people, as well as biographies. It depends upon what has been entered - by family members, or often by volunteers who take the time to record entire cemeteries methodically, section by section.

I conducted some searches on some of my surnames, and made some connections with a few distant relatives who had uploaded photographs. Then it occurred to me that if I added memorials for family members not already on there, others could find me.

While some bloggers take great pains to be anonymous -- geneabloggers often have the opposite desire. We want to be found. It's always easier when distant cousins end up finding us.

Two months later, I have added 85 memorials. (A link to my profile, which also appears on the sidebar to the left.)

As I mentioned above, many of the volunteers creating memorials are creating them in bulk for cemeteries, and aren’t related to the deceased. FindAGrave has set up a system where a family member can request that the individual who created the memorial transfer its management. If you are closely related (The deceased is your sibling, parent, grandparent, or great grandparent), they can’t reject you. (Unless they too fall within that range.) Outside of that range, it is their choice, though I have found most I have asked to be more than willing to transfer management to a family member. I am currently managing 103 memorials.

Below is the memorial I am currently maintaining for my second great grandfather, Samuel Van Every.
It is one that I didn’t personally create, but I had transferred. I have added all the “Family Links” which link the memorials to each other, creating an effect similar to a family website. Samuel had 22 children, though I currently only know the burial location of 10 of them. I also haven't figured out the location of his first wife, Cordelia Hitchcock, who died in Brant County, Ontario in 1846.

When you indicate on X’s page that Y is their parent, on Y’s page X is automatically listed as a child, with an asterisk indicating that the relationship wasn’t added directly to the page but inferred. The same thing happens with spouses.

I have linked as many memorials as I can, so by providing a link here to the memorials for both of my grandmothers -- Myrtle Van Every Deutsch and Belle Feinstein Newmark -- those interested can find almost all of the memorials of my relatives that I have so far found, or added, simply by following the links.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: My Great Grandmother, Bertha (Cruvant) Newmark, and Ken Boyer

Caption: Ken Boyer visited the office one day last February while one of our faithful volunteer groups were preparing materials for the house-to-house and Tag Days campaigns. In the picture seated left to right at the first table, Mrs. Bertha Jacobs, Mrs. Bertha Newmark, with back to camera Mrs. Jack Kranzberg, at second table left to right Mrs. Clara Grote, Mrs. Irene Rubin, Mrs. Helen Kiely, standing Mrs. Herb E Holland, Ken Boyer, Mrs. Milton Radlo. Ken is serving as Campaign Chairman for the 8th year.

Source: Multiple Sclerosis Society, St. Louis Chapter, Bulletin, June 1967.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Toba (Tillie) Dudelsack Oberman




Translation of Hebrew inscription: Here lies Toba Oberman, daughter of Reb Samuel Zvi, died 9th of Av, 5695. May her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

She was the daughter of Gitel. It is her death certificate which provides the only documentary proof of the ancestral Dudelsack surname, as her "father's name" was recorded by a daughter (phonetically) as Samuel Harry Dudelzock. Her mother, and two brothers, changed their surname upon arriving in America. However, she married before coming to America, so I suspect in her mind her maiden name never changed.

As I've noted before: Zvi is the Hebrew word for 'Deer'. The Yiddish word is 'Hirsch'. When Americanizing their given names many Jews looked for common American names with as many matching consonants as possible, using either the Hebrew or the Yiddish variant, so Zvi/Hirsch often became Harry.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How Patrick Swayze and I are Seventh Cousins

Actor, Patrick Swayze died today, September 14, 2009, at age 57. [source] This didn't come as a surprise, as the world has known he was struggling with Cancer since March of 2008. Still, many had hoped he would find a way to evade the disease.

Two years ago, I confirmed the Swayzes in my family tree intersected with his ancestry.

Below, using the ahnentafel numbering format, is our relationship:

1 Patrick Wayne Swayze

2 Jesse Wayne Swayze
3 Patsy Yvonne Helen Karnes

4 Jesse Elijah Swayze
5 Mamie Bell Johnson

8 James Wesley Swayze
9 Sarah Elizabeth McDonald

16 Alexander P. Swayze
17 Amanda M. F. Littleton

32 James Swayze
33 Elizabeth Starke

64 Samuel Swayze Jr.
65 Elizabeth Putnam

128 Rev. Samuel Swayze
129 Hannah Horton

256 Judge Samuel Swayze
257 Penelope Horton

1 Me

2 Dad
3 Mom

6 Martin Joel Deutsch
7 Myrtle Van Every

14 Melvin Van Every
15 Mary Jane Denyer

28 Samuel Van Every
29 Abigail Stuart

58 Elihu Stuart
59 Johanna Swayze

118 Israel Swayze
119 Abigail Coleman

236 Israel Swayze
237 Mary Pitney

472 Judge Samuel Swayze
473 Penelope Horton
Judge Samuel Swayze's record at sweezey.com

[You should be able to trace backwards Patrick's lineage from there, and mine to Abigail Stuart.]

Amanuensis Monday: January 24, 1926 - Marriage and Brother George

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

The following letter was written by Melvin Van Every to his daughter Myrtle (my grandmother) on January 24, 1926. He lived in Garfield New Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, TX. She had been living in St. Louis for 6 years. They sent each other weekly letters; though I have none of the letters she sent him. All of his letters to her began with "Dear Machen", likely a term of endearment meaning either 'little girl' or 'little woman'.

Garfield N.M.
Jan 24th - 1926

Dear Machen

Your letter received Wed. As usual was glad to hear from you and was glad to hear you were well as I had been worried that I did not hear from you the week before. We are about as well as usual tho I have a bad cough that stays with me both summer and winter. We are having a lot of cold weather this winter the coldest since we have been on the project.

It seems that you thinking of marrying and I writing advising you to marry in my last letter was a coincidence. I have been thinking for a long time that it would be the best thing for you if you could find a man with a future. The man Murry you were going with would be nothing more than he now is and would only make life miserable for you. You are now old enough to make a choice and for working a few years to make a start is alright if it is used right. [...]

We went to Sunday School this morning and will have Methodist Preaching this evening. The preacher and wife stayed all night with us last night. He preached at Hatch today.

There is so many new people moved in we don't know half of them.

Had a letter this week from Bro George and sister Cal. He is 78 and she is 74 they live with Marnie at Knott Texas. Marnie is their daughter. Her husband's well off and have everything fixed up fine they live in a 10 room house with a porch on two sides and he has a 1280 acres in farms and pasture they are 31 miles from Big Springs.

George and Cal sold their home in California. They are too old to work but he is thinking of buying a small farm. He said it would make him feel 20 years younger to work on a farm.

Love and Best Wishes
Dad

It's unclear whether "Murry" is the last name of Jack, a man Myrtle was married to very briefly in approximately 1919 -- or a different beau altogether. There is a Jack Murry in the 1920 El Paso, Texas census, 7 years older than Myrtle, and a hired hand. I'm still trying to track down a marriage certificate.

Melvin had twenty siblings, so it's not surprising that even though Myrtle was 26 years old, he wasn't sure she knew the name of a first cousin. There were probably several cousins she didn't know well. George and Cal (likely his wife, Carolyn) lived 4-5 more years, moving to Douglas County, Missouri at some point prior to 1931. (I discovered both of their death certificates online at the Missouri State Archives.)

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, September 11, 2009

Eight Years ago

Here's what I said on September 11, 2006, on the five year anniversary of 9/11/01
I was still working at AG Edwards in their IT department. Very little got done that day, as there was a television in the hallway that was constantly set to the financial news network, which like every other news network, focused on that morning's events. And when half the department is standing in the hallway watching television, not very much gets done. When not in the hallway, I was at my desk. Had to look like I was doing something. But I was following the news on the Dow Jones Newswires, which we could access from our computers.

It was a Tuesday, so that evening I was at Writer's Group. There were more people there than one might expect. Why weren't we with family? We were. Which shouldn't be interpreted as a slight against our biological families. But we'd either spent several hours that day already with them, or knew we would in the days to come.

Poetry: A Garland Cinquain

A cinquain is a five-line syllabic poem. The number of syllables per line follows the pattern - 2,4,6,8,2.

A garland cinquain is a series of six cinquains. The sixth cinquain containing a line from each prior, preferably in order. (The first line from the first cinquain, the second line from the second cinquain, etc.)

I wrote the following on my maternal grandmother, who died on September 11, 1951.

Myrtle: A Life Story
©2009 John C Newmark

Myrtle
Van Every
was born in aught zero
last of eight kids for Maggie and
Melvin

Myrtle
Van Every
had lots of male callers
who show up in photos without
labels

Left home
at age twenty
she moved to St. Louis
not too long after her brother
Sam did.

At night
she expanded
on her education;
and worked at the post office with
gusto.

A brief
marriage ended
then in her mid thirties
she found who she had been seeking:
Martin.

Myrtle
Van Every
she moved to St. Louis
and worked at the post office with
Martin.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some Words

The last two Wednesdays I have posted for Wordless Wednesday photographs received from a first cousin of my mother's. There was no writing on the back of the photographs and the cousin was unable to identify them. However, they were with other photographs of Deutsch and Lichtmann kin, so we are relatively certain (no pun intended) they are from those family lines.

This means they are likely from a region of Transylvania that was then Hungary, and is now Romania. (Though it is possible they are relatives post-immigration to America.)

Here are the faces of the two men:

It is my understanding that both the Lichtmann and Deutsch families were Orthodox Jews. And the individual on the right looks like traditional images with which I am familiar. Not so the individual on the left.

The head covering the relative on the right is wearing appears reminiscent of what I sometimes see Hasidim wear. The relative on the left appears to be wearing a more 'cowboy-style' hat to me. Though it may just be the way the hat is turned.

Even more interesting than the hats, is the facial hair, or the lack thereof.
With the spread of kabbalism to Eastern Europe, trimming the beard was gradually prohibited by leading rabbinic authorities (Noda bi-Yhudah, Mahadura Tinyana, YD 80) and with the rise of Ḥasidism, the removal of the beard became tantamount to a formal break with Jewish tradition. [Source]
Not growing up in an Orthodox household, and used to 20th and 21st century changes in tradition, this difference didn't occur to me until I pasted their faces one next to the other. My Great-grandfather, Samuel Deutsch, also didn't have a beard. This may be representative of a generational break with tradition, as if the two pictures are from a similar time period, the individual on the right appears older.

The woman in last week's photo is holding a book.

I wonder what the book is. While such movies as Yentl have ingrained in popular culture the idea that Jewish women in Eastern Europe were discouraged from education -- it has been suggested recently that paradoxically, the restriction from reading religious literature resulted in women reading secular literature, and becoming key players in the latter half of the 19th century enlightenment. (The law of unintended consequences strikes again.)

I'd like to be able to put some names to these faces someday. Perhaps similar pictures will turn up in other cousin's collections, but with labels.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Smile for the Camera: School Days

The word prompt for the 16th Edition of Smile For The Camera is "School Days." It is September, historically the month when a new school year begins. We all have images of the days spent in school. The barefoot children gathered together with their teacher in front of the rural school your ancestors attended. Children at their desks, children at play in the school yard, and those obligatory school photographs - one for every year. Show us your family memories of school days. Admission is free with every photograph!
I've always been amazed at what my maternal grandparents, Martin and Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch saved.

High School Report Cards of my grandfather, Martin Deutsch:

Law School report cards

Above I show two semesters of high school (front and back), and three semesters of law school, though my grandfather saved all of them. I like seeing my great grandfather's signature. They also indicate when the Deutsch family moved from Campbell to Mozart street in Chicago.

Here's a photo from one of his two graduations. I don't have a date on it, so I'm not certain which one.
I'll finish with a class photograph including my paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark, from 1926, when he was 14 years old. It was his Confirmation Class from Bnai El in St. Louis. I've drawn a box around my grandfather.

Wordless Wednesday: Unidentified Family phOto

Unidentified Deutsch or Lichtmann ancestors (Transylvania)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

May I ask you for a date?

Looking over the notes a cousin had made in her research on a 19th century date of death, I saw a Hebrew date (Adar 18) and civil date (Feb 18). It is very unusual that the calendars are in sync like that.

So I went to a calendar converter and discovered that Adar 18 that year was March 1. February 18 was Adar 6. Either way, one of the two dates recorded was off by 12 days.

My cousin doesn't usually make mistakes like this, and she was quoting the Lithuanian Archives as her source. I looked at the archival database on JewishGen, and the records matched. So maybe someone else made the mistake in the transcription, and my cousin hadn't checked the dates like I had.

Further research indicated I was the one in error -- as I was using the wrong calendar converter.

The Gregorian Calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, was decreed in 1582 by the Catholic Church, and since then has become so widely used by Catholic and non-Catholic countries alike, many people probably think it is universal. Or at least, while one might be aware of other calendars like the Hebrew, Islamic, or Mayan calendars -- if one sees a date that looks Gregorian, we assume it is Gregorian. This can be a mistake.

The civil calendar in use in Lithuania has changed over time. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was an early adopter of the Gregorian Calendar in 1586. However, in 1800, when Lithuania was annexed by Russia, there was a return to the Julian calendar. The Russian revolution of 1917 reinstated the Gregorian Calendar. [Source (linked above): Wikipedia entry on Lithuanian Calendar]

A side effect of this history is that dates on Lithuanian documents, such as vital records, between 1800 and 1917 are likely on the Julian calendar.

Once you know what calendar you're dealing with, converting from Julian to Gregorian is easy. Depending upon what century the date occurs in, you add a specific number of days.

16th and 17th centuries - 10 days
18th century - 11 days
19th century - 12 days
20th and 21st century - 13 days

For those who like mathematical formulas:
For the Nth century, add [[3*N/4]] - 2 days (where [[ X ]] truncates the integer.)

The question I don't have the answer to is how to record it in my database. I lean towards using the Gregorian date, since other dates in the database are Gregorian; Indicating in the notes that the Julian date is what appeared on the document. I am already converting Hebrew dates I find on tombstones to the Gregorian date for my records, and this is really no different.

Tombstone Tuesday - Gitel (Slupsky) Dudelsack (1831-1906)

Generationally, the oldest family tombstone in America, on my father's side, is that of my great great great grandmother, Gitel (Slupsky) Dudelsack.

Transcription: Gitel daughter of Reb Simcha Zelig died on the 16th of Av 5666. [August 6, 1906]

Her tombstone says she was born in 1831. Her death record says she was 60 years, five months, and 21 days when she died. That converts to Feb 13, 1846. Taking into consideration when her children were born, 1831 is more likely.

From the tombstone I learned my great-great grandfather, Selig, was named after his maternal grandfather.

Gitel is buried in the Feinstein Plot at Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Her stone is in the front row on the far right.

Gitel immigrated in 1891 under the surname Feinstein, with her daughter-in-law Annie, and several grandchildren. Her son, Selig, had immigrated in 1890 under the original surname Dudelsack. The reason behind the surname change is uncertain. Family lore said that Selig changed it to match the person in front of him in line at Ellis Island. One problem with this is that Ellis Island wasn't open yet, and Selig went through Castle Garden. I've searched through the Castle Garden records to see if there were any Feinsteins who arrived at the same time as Selig, and I didn't find any. It's actually possible that Selig's mother or wife were responsible for the name change, or Selig changed it upon arrival, and wrote to them and told them of the change before they made the trip.

* Gitel's memorial at FindAGrave.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Amanuensis Takes a Holiday

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

I am taking a holiday from my personal Amanuensis project, though if you have posted a transcription, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Google Search of the Future?

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, talks about the future of search (Sergey is Google co-founder Sergey Brin)
Now, Sergey argues that the correct thing to do is to just connect it straight to your brain. In other words, you know, wire it into your head. And so we joke about this and said, we have not quite figured out what that problem looks like…But that would solve the problem. In other words, if we just - if you had the thought and we knew what you meant, we could run it and we could run it in parallel.
When asked if they were actually working on the product
“Well, I wish we were. But we don’t exactly have all the medical clinics necessary to test brain insertion.”
As the article indicates, the point of Schmidt's joke (It is a joke, right?) is that search engines have a difficult time reading our minds.

Poetry: Poems for Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day Weekend begins today in the United States and Canada, and culminates on Monday. (Many other nations celebrate it on May 1) In honor of the holiday, I thought I would share some Labor-related poetry. Most of us have ancestors for whom the words in these poems might ring true.
Fellow Citizens - Carl Sandburg (1912)

I DRANK musty ale at the Illinois Athletic Club with
the millionaire manufacturer of Green River butter
one night
And his face had the shining light of an old-time Quaker,
he spoke of a beautiful daughter, and I knew he had
a peace and a happiness up his sleeve somewhere.
Then I heard Jim Kirch make a speech to the Advertising
Association on the trade resources of South America.
And the way he lighted a three-for-a-nickel stogie and
cocked it at an angle regardless of the manners of
our best people,
I knew he had a clutch on a real happiness even though
some of the reporters on his newspaper say he is
the living double of Jack London's Sea Wolf.
In the mayor's office the mayor himself told me he was
happy though it is a hard job to satisfy all the office-
seekers and eat all the dinners he is asked to eat.
Down in Gilpin Place, near Hull House, was a man with
his jaw wrapped for a bad toothache,
And he had it all over the butter millionaire, Jim Kirch
and the mayor when it came to happiness.
He is a maker of accordions and guitars and not only
makes them from start to finish, but plays them
after he makes them.
And he had a guitar of mahogany with a walnut bottom
he offered for seven dollars and a half if I wanted it,
And another just like it, only smaller, for six dollars,
though he never mentioned the price till I asked him,
And he stated the price in a sorry way, as though the
music and the make of an instrument count for a
million times more than the price in money.
I thought he had a real soul and knew a lot about God.
There was light in his eyes of one who has conquered
sorrow in so far as sorrow is conquerable or worth
conquering.
Anyway he is the only Chicago citizen I was jealous of
that day.
He played a dance they play in some parts of Italy
when the harvest of grapes is over and the wine
presses are ready for work.
A Pict Song - Rudyard Kipling (1917)

Rome never looks where she treads,
Always her heavy hooves fall,
On our stomachs, our hearts or our heads;
And Rome never heeds when we bawl.
Her sentries pass on—that is all,
And we gather behind them in hordes,
And plot to reconquer the Wall,
With only our tongues for our swords.

We are the Little Folk—we !
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you'll see
How we can drag down the Great!
We are the worm in the wood !
We are the rot at the root!
We are the germ in the blood !
We are the thorn in the foot !

Mistletoe killing an oak—
Rats gnawing cables in two—
Moths making holes in a cloak—
How they must love what they do!
Yes,—and we Little Folk too,
We are as busy as they—
Working our works out of view—
Watch, and you'll see it some day!

No indeed ! We are not strong,
But we know Peoples that are.
Yes, and we'll guide them along,
To smash and destroy you in War!
We shall be slaves just the same ?
Yes, we have always been slaves;
But you—you will die of the shame,
And then we shall dance on your graves.

We are the Little Folk, we ! etc.

End of Summer Rituals
by John Newmark ©August 2001

On September Third
Millions of Americans
Will celebrate the End of Summer
By having a barbecue.

Few know where the name
Of this holiday came from.
To most, it seems ironic
Since none but a few work.

Labor Day now means
The changing color of trees,
The start of the school year,
Or just another day off.

Any connection to unions
Or the forbidden word, "Socialism,"
Is obscured by the distance
From the First of May.

If we're to return to the roots
Of this annual worker's holiday
We need to barbecue Phil Knight
Over a bonfire of shoes

Or observe how Bill Gates
Changes colors
As we remove his tongue
And he can't speak a Word.®

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Accuracy of Census Information

It bears repeating - the information on the census isn't always correct. One common source for inaccuracies is when the census taker didn't find the family at home, and not wanting to have to come back on a different day, asked a neighbor for the information.

But even when the census taker found an adult member of the household, that individual could still provide inaccurate information. One strange example:

Below is a screen snapshot of the 1900 census record for my great grandfather, Melvin (M.E) Van Every, and his family. (Caldwell County, Texas, Justice Precinct 1, District 116, page 23)

Even those who don't know the family are likely to question whether Abigail is really a son. It's not too uncommon, however, for individuals to undergo a gender change on the census. That's not what this is about.

Reading the 1900 census: Melvin and Margaret had seven children ranging in age from 15 to 3 months: Minnie, Samuel, Abigail, Willa, Delbert, Eva and Myrtle.

Here's the list of children from the Van Every Family Record (which I believe came from the family Bible).

Abigail lived for two weeks in 1888, and Delbert was either stillborn, or died within 24 hours in 1890.

When the census taker asked my great grandmother or great grandfather to name their children...why would they name Abigail and Delbert as well? (They didn't name their son, Melvin Theodore, who had died in 1899.)

My first thought was that it had to have been one of them, as no neighbor would have known the months and years of birth for the children - which all match the Family Record perfectly. Then I realized -- if a child (or anyone else) answered the door, they could have retrieved the Bible for the information. Even assuming it was one of the older children, it's still a little strange that they would have given the census taker the information for two out of three of their deceased siblings.

[It should be noted that I am not relying completely on the Family Record, as Melvin did not list either Abigail or Delbert as children in his testimony in front of the Dawes Commission in November of 1900, five months after the census.]