Friday, April 30, 2010

A post of political advocacy

Outside of a Small Circle of Friends - Phil Ochs - 1964

Inspiration for song: On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death outside of her apartment, over a period of at least 30 minutes, with the attacker leaving and returning to the scene a few times. Originally an estimated 38 people saw parts of the attack; that estimate over the past forty six years has been reduced, but at least a dozen people saw, and did nothing.

Introduction to Psychology courses use the Kitty Genovese story, and several studies that followed to discuss The Bystander Effect. The idea that you are less likely to react to a situation like this if (1) you believe there are others who might help (2) there are other bystanders doing nothing -- convincing you that the situation isn't serious.

Luckie Daniels at Our Georgia Roots mentions a case Last Sunday of a homeless man in Queens. Stabbed, and lay dying in a pool of blood for over an hour. At least 25 people walked by. 

Luckie is most certainly correct.  Because psychologists understand why we act the way we do, doesn't give us permission to continue acting that way.  We have to fight the urge to let others respond, and trust our own instincts on what we see happening around us.

Note: If you are reading this somewhere where the videos above have been trimmed, you can view them here.

Follow Friday: Calendar Converter

There isn't only one place online to go for this, however, Calendarhome is my calendar converter of choice. Genealogists are most likely to come across the need for one if they are converting between the Gregorian and Julian calendars, or between the Gregorian and a specialized calendar, such as the Hebrew, Islamic, or Bahá'í

(click on image to enlarge)

I like this converter as it is compact. You enter one date, and all the other dates change with it. It also allows you to enter the time of day, which is important for converting between calendars where the day starts at different times.

For example, the image above shows that April 30, 2010 at 8 pm is equivalent to Iyyar 17 5770 on the Hebrew calendar. However, if I entered 4 pm, it would say Iyyar 16, since the Hebrew calendar advances at sunset.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

PSA: Sleep Disorders

This post is unrelated to genealogy.  However, below are two photographs.

The one on the left is a Polaroid of me taken by a college roommate in the late autumn - winter of 1987-1988. Cold enough for me to be wearing a sweater.  It's not a particularly flattering picture for several reasons. Alcohol wasn't involved. I don't recall the exact time of day, but I suspect it was afternoon after classes.  I like the ironic relevance of the poster, even though it was his, not mine.

The photo on the right was taken in 2002 at a friend's house.  I need a new pair of Guatemalan pants; that pair is no longer wearable.

Anyway, if you find yourself with excessive daytime sleepiness, you should have yourself tested. Don't wait twenty years. Sleep disorders are fairly common, and treatable.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Uncle Sam's Second Wife

Back in July of 2008 I discovered the FBI file of my great uncle, Samuel Van Every.  (He also, occasionally, went by the name Stanford Van Every.)

The FBI file began with this wonderful letter:
War Department
Information Bureau
Washington, DC

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

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

Very Truly
Mrs. SO Van Every
Bigamy, draft evasion, and pro-German sympathies.  I was most interested in the first accusation, and I was angered by the old custom of signatures.  I knew my great uncle's initials, I wanted to know the name of this woman!

The FBI file revealed, when the FBI agent arrived in Fabens, TX, Samuel's mother (my great grandmother) showed him the Family Bible where Samuel's birth date was entered.  Whether or not he had pro-German sympathies is a question that will likely never be uncovered.

A search of Jacksonville, Florida city directories turned up nothing.  Through RAOGK I had someone search the Duval County marriage records from 1914-1919, and they found no Van Every.  And there the mystery sat.


James Tanner at Genealogy's Star mentioned that the records at FamilySearch nearly doubled today.  So I went there to browse around.

One of the new databases I noticed was Florida's marriage records (1837-1974).  I immediately entered the Van Every surname, wondering if my RAOGK angel had missed something somehow.

Groom's Name: Stanford O. Van Every
Groom's Birth Date: 1889
Groom's Birthplace:
Groom's Age: 28
Bride's Name: Amy C. Johnston
Bride's Birth Date: 1898
Bride's Birthplace:
Bride's Age: 19
Marriage Date: 20 Mar 1917
Marriage Place: Duval, Florida
Groom's Father's Name:
Groom's Mother's Name:
Bride's Father's Name:
Bride's Mother's Name:
Groom's Race:
Groom's Marital Status:
Groom's Previous Wife's Name:
Bride's Race:
Bride's Marital Status:
Bride's Previous Husband's Name:
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: I09962-4
System Origin: Florida-EASy
Source Film Number: 963541
Reference Number: p 168
Collection: Florida Marriages, 1837-1974


Unfortunately there isn't an image associated with the record.  There are a few different Amy Johnstons in the 1910 census this could be.  I will need to get the microfilm roll and see if there is any information on the record that didn't get transferred to the database. 

This appears to confirm most of the woman's story.  She was the one who was lied to about my uncle's age; not the government.  Samuel had married someone previously -- Esther Dahlin, who in 1917 was still raising their son, Everett, in Austin, Texas.  Were Samuel and Esther officially divorced?  And did Samuel get engaged to and possibly marry someone else in California?  I don't know.  He's single and living in Oakland in 1920.

Note: This is recent enough, I probably wouldn't be blogging about this if I knew he had any surviving siblings or descendants who might be embarrassed by his escapades.  Of course, as the number of women grow, so do the odds.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: The Later Years of Herman and Annie Feinstein

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

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

This week I conclude a transcription of a family history tape recorded on December 29, 1987 between my grandmother, "Sissie" (Feinstein) Newmark, and a professional oral historian. After spending about five minutes discussing her grandchildren, the interviewer asks my grandmother to talk some more about her parents.  The transcript is below.  The notation [ ... ] indicates passages have been removed for this post.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- April 18 to April 24
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Heather Erickson at the Ancestry Blog has a summary of Friday night's Who Do You Think You Are episode with Susan Sarandon.  I was pleased to see Sarandon actively involve a member of her family in the research.  She was the first celebrity to do so.

Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider looks at's new search engine filters.

NARAtions announced that the National Archives now has a list of records digitized by their partners, Ancestry and Footnote.  (The list.)

Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings had a phone conversation with David E Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch. He transcribed parts of the conversation.

Lisa Scottoline at the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about how Obits make a reader feel grateful. (hat/tip: What's Past is Prologue)

Last Friday, Alan Mutter at Reflections of a Newsosaur discussed price-gouging at newspapers on death notices. (hat/tip: Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter)

Ruth Himan at Genealogy is Ruthless Without Me discusses family foundations as a means to preserve cemeteries.

Dan Curtis discusses what a personal historian should do if the interview unlocks a traumatic story.

Perhaps you heard that two books from the New York Public Library are seriously overdue - having been checked out by George Washington.  Martin Hollick at The Slovak Yankee has some thoughts on where the books might be.

Gerard Lagana at MacGasm discusses how a new iPhone app might make a genealogist's travel life more simple -- iTravel.  (Note: He doesn't discuss genealogy in particular.  Any traveler.)

Chris Dunham at The Genealogue wonders if genealogists of the future - conducting tests on their mitochondrial DNA - might have an issue.  If the mtDNA doesn't belong to the mother...

All birth certificates issued in Puerto Rico prior to July 1, 2010 have been ruled invalid.  Puerto Ricans who just want a copy of their new certificate for their records are being urged to wait a bit to 'avoid the rush.'  (Apparently Puerto Rican certificates were popular among identity thieves.)

Barbara Poole at Life from the Roots wrote for Patriot's Day about growing up in Lexington, MA.

Amy Coffin at We Tree shows off her new genealogy purchase.  It's a bit out of my price range at the moment.  There are some items you don't need two of.  But I could be looking for something similar in a few years.

Other Weekly Lists
Amanuensis Monday: April 19th participants
The number of participants continues to grow!
If you participated, but don't appear on this list, let me know.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Google Transliteration

Back in December Google released Google Transliteration, making it easy to convert Roman alphabet languages to 17 other language character sets.  I commented that Hebrew wasn't one of the 17, and I theorized it might somewhat appropriately be the 18th.  (18 having mystical significance).

Today Google announced the addition of five more character sets, and Hebrew is one of them.  We'll just say that it was the 18th.

Here's my surname in Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek characters

It's not perfect.  When I type in my great grandmother's surname, "Cruvant," and ask for Hebrew characters, I am given


Which would actually be equivalent to Sruvant, but there's no way for me to expect a computer to know I meant a hard-C.  When I enter 'Kruvant', I get the Hebrew spelling I've seen on gravestones and elsewhere:


Follow Friday: Jackson County (KC) Missouri Marriages

This week the resource I'd like to highlight is Jackson County Missouri's Marriage Database.  Jackson is the second largest county in the state, and home to Kansas City and Independence.

 You can retrieve the marriage record as a PDF or Tiff document.

Everything is up-to-date in Kansas City.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  But it's accurate. The records cover the years 1826 to current date.  There are a few entries listed for April 20th, though only a few of the documents are available to download yet for the records after April 15th.

Still, for these records that are less than a week old, you have the following information available free online:

And if you are willing to wait a week or so, you should be able to download the marriage license and application.  There is a box on the application for social security number, but naturally, it has been whitened out.  It appears to be the only information that has been censored.

I wish every county did this.

I'm sure there are some who would rather the information on their marriage license wasn't publicly accessible.  And these individuals shouldn't file for a marriage license in Jackson County, Missouri.

There's also an Official Public Record database that goes back to 1963. 

There are lots of different types of records here, including Birth Certificates and Death Certificates.  However, there are only 41 matches for Death Certificates in the year 1963, and only 30 matches so far in 2010. There are a total of 48 birth certificates in the database, with January 1963 being the earliest, and September 2009 being the most recent.  Still, if your research takes you to the area, it may be worth checking out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

February 1928: Lindbergh Again Flies the Air Mail

Below is one of the more interesting historical postcards I have found.  Not because of the postcard, obviously.  It was a blank slate on both sides.

Before Charles Lindbergh flew his trans-atlantic non-stop solo flight, he was an airmail carrier, and flew the St. Louis - Chicago route.  He did this for a year, and then left to build the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft. After his famous flight the US Post Office convinced him to fly the airmail one more time as a promotional event.  He made flights on February 20 and 21, 1928.  Each piece of mail received the horseshoe stamp seen below, which reads "Lindbergh Again Flies the Air Mail."  There was so much mail, multiple airplanes had to be used, which meant Lindbergh couldn't fly them all.  The Post Office Department assured everyone that Lindbergh at least took each plane for a trip around the airfield, so each piece of mail got flown by him, at least for a short distance.

This postcard was sent to my maternal grandmother, Myrtle Van Every.  She was working in the St. Louis Post Office at the time, in the Money Order section.  I'm not sure who sent it to her.  All I have are the initials LLB.  But the postcard was sent from St. Louis to St. Louis through Chicago "with an extra cent" for it to make the return trip on the train.

The horseshoe stamp isn't a rarity. Estimates at the time indicate there were 200,000 pieces of mail that received the stamp.  There are about a dozen pieces of mail currently on ebay, selling for about $10/apiece. There's no question in my mind this postcard is worth more to me and my family than to anyone else.

1) "Lindbergh Flies His Old Mail Route," New York Times, Feb 21, 1928, pg 13. (Proquest Historical Newspapers)
2) Wikipedia
3) Charles Lindbergh Discussion Center

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two Poems for Today - April 19

The Midnight Ride of William Dawes - by Helen F Moore (1896)

I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, “My name was Dawes.”

‘Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear –
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

When the lights from the old North Church flashed out,
Paul Revere was waiting about,
But I was already on my way.
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode, with never a break or a pause;
But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

History rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because
He was Revere and I was Dawes.

Excerpt from Campo dei Fiori, by Czeslaw Milosz (1943)

I thought of the Campo dei Fiori
In Warsaw by the sky-carousel
One clear spring evening
To the strains of a carnival tune.
The bright melody drowned
The salvos from the ghetto wall,
And couples were flying
High in the cloudless sky.

(full poem)

April 19th is filled with historical events.  Many Americans think of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  But this is also the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

Note: According to this source William Dawes, who rode with Revere, was related to Henry L Dawes, for whom The Dawes Act was named.

Amanuensis Monday: A Third Child, Another Move, and a Career

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

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

This week I continue a transcription of a family history tape recorded in 1987 between my grandmother, "Sissie" (Feinstein) Newmark, and a professional oral historian. This section begins with my grandmother talking about what happened after my grandfather came home from World War 2.

She begins to talk about her children and grandchildren, and so I have edited or left out a few of those sections, as I have decided not to blog about living relatives.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- April 11 to April 17
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Tom Fiske at GenealogyBlog discusses relatives who encouraged him not to dig up the past.  Of course, many genealogists are like kids, and as the musical The Fantasticks tells us, if you want a kid to do something, "Just say no."  As Tom says: "Digging up the past is fun, as long as no one is hurt by it."

Ruth Stephens at Bluebonnet Country Genealogy wanted to know what to do with all her pictures.  She has over 5gb, and wanted to be able to access them easily online.

Randy at Genea-Musings shares the Boy Scout requirements for getting a Genealogy merit badge.

Matteo Giunti at Leghorn Merchant Networks explains in detail the survey and analysis of the Old English Cemetery in Livorno, Italy. [Italian version]

Dean at Genlighten discusses ways to interest teenagers in genealogy.

Diane Haddad at The Genealogy Insider provides some suggestions for breaking down genealogy brick walls.

Sheri Fenley at The Educated Genealogist provides some resources to have fun with images.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe discusses 160 years of The Illustrated London News (1842-2003) going online, hosted by Gale Cengage.  Initially it will only be available to libraries and archives.  I know locally the St. Louis County Library already provides access to several Gale Group archives, so I hope this is added.

There was big news in the Social Networks this week as it was announced by Twitter and the Library of Congress that the LoC would be preserving every Twitter message since its inception and into the future.  David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, explains why the National Archives isn't doing it, and the difference between the two agencies.  An interview with the Director of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) at the LoC appears in The American Prospect.  One of the key bits of information for those using Twitter is that there will be a six month window between every 'tweet' and its being preserved.  This provides some time to delete messages before they are preserved for eternity.  The LoC appears to be also considering whether it is possible to anonymize the messages, and still retain their usefulness -- suggesting there is more interest in what "the people" are saying than what 'you' are saying.

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star has had several posts this week on Genealogy and Apple computers.  Apple for Genealogy, More Apple GenealogyApples Big and Small, Why he uses Apple computers.

Google has released functional updates to several of its application this week, including Google Documents, Gmail, and Google Calendar.

Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, on the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; Hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). Monday, April 19th, is the 235th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy shares her memories of watching the annual re-enactment in 2000.

Other Weekly Lists
Amanuensis Monday: April 12th participants
The number of participants doubled this week!
If you participated, but don't appear on this list, let me know.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Chicago Key Puncher's Finish - a poem

A poem found in my maternal grandmother's collection. The type of office humor that still gets passed around today. The poem is attributed to "Anon," and I have been unable to find references to it online.

Her saving the poem suggests my grandmother was familiar with the operation of a keypunch in the 1920s and 30s when she worked for the Post Office.

(click to enlarge)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Three Years Ago Today

A friend of mine got me interested in researching my genealogy online. My family has actually already been pretty good about this, asking elder members about what they know while they’re still around to tell us. So as many census forms, ship passenger lists, and military records I have found, it hasn’t extended the chart another generation yet. But as my mother told me recently, it’s nice to have the documentation confirming what we thought.
It is with these words on April 16th, 2007 that I began actively blogging about genealogy. The referenced friend had seen my March 15th, 2007 post about my great-grandfather Barney Newmark.  The friend looked Barney up in an online census and emailed me a link to the page.  It's been a heckuva ride since.  One that involved me creating this separate space for genealogy.  I'm the only genealogy blogger I know who moved from a blog on his own personal domain to Blogspot.  It's usually the other way around.  When I traveled here, I did move two older posts with me.  A 100th birthday tribute to my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and on October 11, 2002 I "blogged Kaddish" for my paternal grandmother, "Sissie" Feinstein Newmark.

Follow Friday: St. Louis Religious Cemetery Databases

I'm going to start participating in the Genealogy Follow Friday meme
For recommending genealogy bloggers, specific blog posts, genealogy websites, or genealogy resources.
I am already creating lists of specific blog posts for my Weekly Genealogy Picks every Sunday.  However, I will focus here on genealogy resources.

The two resources I'm starting with will only be useful for those whose research takes them through St. Louis, Missouri.  However,  these two databases contain burial records from over twenty cemeteries in the region.
Here you can search a database for fifteen Catholic cemeteries in the St. Louis archdiocese.  The website implies that the database was completed for those fifteen cemeteries in 2003, and has since been updated in 'real time.'
  • Resurrection
  • Sts. Peter & Paul
  • Mt. Olive
  • Calvary
  • Sacred Heart
  • St. Charles Borromeo
  • St. Peter
  • St. Ferdinand
  • St. Monica
  • Our Lady
  • Holy Cross
  • St. Vincent
  • Ste. Philippine
  • St. Mary's
  • Ascension
For some of the cemeteries, the results provide a lot# with a link, which allows you to easily find everyone else in the same lot.
    There is also historical information and photo galleries for each cemetery.
    Though some burials are missing, this database, on the St. Louis Genealogical Society website, contains records from seven Jewish cemeteries.
    • Chesed Shel Emeth (1816-2003)
    • United Hebrew (1849-2002)
    • New Mount Sinai (1853-2002)
    • Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol (1920-2002)
    • B'Nai Amoona (1901-2003)
    • B'Nai Amoona (Old Section) (1872-1895)
    • Chevra Kadisha Adas B'Nai Israel (1924-2003)
    It's hard for me to overestimate how much I owe in my personal research to this one database. All four families of my father's grandparents arrived in St. Louis between 1885-1910.  Almost all of the immigrants, and many of the following generations are buried in these cemeteries.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Poetry: A Common Genealogical Mistake

    April is National Poetry Month, and as such, as someone who considers themselves a poet at times, I've been trying to write a poem-a-day.  I've been posting several of these poems at my non-Genealogy blog.  Both ReadWritePoem and Poetic Asides have been providing daily prompts, which has helped.  Today's prompt from Poetic Asides inspired the following poem.
    A common genealogical mistake

    My longest, verified stretches
    four hundred fifty years,
    eleven generations,
    varied professions,

    Wait, that's not what you meant by dead-line?
    The prompt, in honor of April 15th, was to write a 'deadline poem.' So I did. Sorta.

    The poem was written in a form I came up with four years ago.
    Each of the 7 lines has a set number of syllables.
    I call the form, "Jenny."  (Singular and Plural)

    Those of a certain age don't need to count the syllables, you already know Jenny's number.
    The video below is for everyone else.


    "Freedom from something is not enough. It should also be freedom for something. Freedom is not safety but opportunity." -- Zechariah Chaffee, Jr.
    You powered up your computer with a singular task in mind. Perhaps you wanted to compose a letter to a relative, work on that novel you’ve been trying to write for years, or catalogue your bookshelf. But as soon as you got started, you saw the icon. You know the one.

    Internet Explorer, Firefox, Camino, Safari, Opera, or your internet browser of choice. “I’ll just quickly check my email,” you said to yourself. “And then I’ll get right back to this.” Well, you checked your email, then you logged onto Facebook, and then you had to check Google News.  And before you knew it, an hour or two had passed, and you hadn’t returned to that singular task you had sat down to do.  And now you're reading my blog post!

    If the above sounds familiar, you might want to investigate Freedom.

    A software applicaton with a very narrow mission.  You enter the number of minutes of freedom you desire (from 10 minutes to 8 hours) and it disables your internet access for that length of time.  If you have the urge to cheat, you have to completely reboot the computer.  This may be just enough of an inconvenience to keep you focused on your task.

    There's a freeware version for the Mac, which gently reminds you that it's the freeware version.  There's a $10 non-nagging version for both the Mac and PC.  What price freedom?  $10 seems low.

    It seems the application has been around for two years, but I'm just now discovering it.  I'm glad I did.

    Disclaimer: No one paid me anything to write this blog post.  (And I wrote most of it in Microsoft Word, while Freedom was running.)

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Excuse Me, What is This?

    James Tanner at Genealogy’s Star has a post about Genealogy Software on the Mac.

    The gist is that the offerings aren’t as feature-rich as PC genealogy software, with the best option a solution for Mac users being to run Windows using the Parallels software, if they are familiar enough with both Mac and PC environments to not be confused by it. [Sentence revised based on follow-up entry at Genealogy's Star.]

    Having used Mac software since I began my family history obsession 3 years ago, I can’t really argue with his premise that PC software is better, as I haven’t used any of the PC software.

    However, he links to a Software Review site, TopTenReviews, which lists Mac Genealogy software, and itemizes which ones have which features. I was shocked, looking down the list of features my software allegedly doesn’t have.

    We’re going to play a game now I have entitled, “Excuse me, what is this?” I will list a feature that TopTenReviews claims that iFamily software doesn’t have, and then I will display a screenshot, or two.

    1) Filtering Options “Filters individuals in database according to user specified criteria”

    If you only wish to filter on the contents of one field, the easiest way to accomplish this is the search box on the main navigation window:
    Above we see a list of criteria we can filter upon

    And here I have filtered a list of individuals who died in Texas.

    For more complex filters, there's the Filtered People Report

    Above I am filtering for the surname Newmark, birth year prior to 1950, and birth place in London.

    2) Flags/Labels “puts flags or labels on incomplete or noteworthy individuals”

    You will note that in the search box above, one of the categories you can search on is “Notes.” You can put any coded labels you want to put into the notes section of an individual’s entry, and then search for that label.

    3) Geographic tracking “tracks locations of ancestors and events”

    iFamily has a nice Google Maps interface. Pictured below.

    There may be other geographic functions iFamily doesn't do.

    4) Ancestor chart

    (The names are cutoff as I sized the chart to the window, and I am using a small laptop.  iFamily does work a little better on larger desktop monitors, and the iFamily website recommends a 17inch screen.)

    5) Descendant chart

     6) output formats

    a) web/html

    b) cd/dvd

    You can certainly burn a CD or DVD if you are exporting a website, as you can see above.

    c) pdf

    Well, first, you can print. And on most printers today, I believe, you can print to PDF. But let's say your printer doesn't do that.

     Do you see the "Save as PDF" button above for this descendant chart?

    (Horizontal charts are possible, as well as the traditional vertical charts I showed in #4 and #5.)

    The navigation window for iFamily is an ancestor/descendant chart in itself, and you can print directly from it. (If I had a larger monitor, more generations would be readable.)  As you can see below, PDF is one of the export options.

    Finally, under user support, TopTenReviews claims there is no User Forum.  (I've linked to the User Forum for you.  The oldest post on the user forum is dated 2006.)

    It also claims there is no email contact

    The contact button on the left is a direct email link.  You can also see a link to the forums.

    I admit I am not as familiar with the other Mac Software Apps.  I've experimented with MacFamilyTree and Reunion, but felt their graphical user interfaces weren't as welcoming as iFamily's. Still, if the TopTenReviews itemization is filled with inaccuracies for iFamily, I don't put a lot of faith in their list of features for the other software. 

    iFamily is the least expensive of the primary Mac software options, and I will be the first to admit that there are some deficiencies, primarily in the area of charts and reports.  For many the biggest void may be the ability to print ahnentafel and register reports.

    However, Personal Ancestry Writer II is a free software program you can download and use whenever you want to print out either one of these reports.  It has a primitive interface, which I wouldn't want to use for everything else, but you can open any gedcom in it and print out the reports you need.

    GRAMPS (free/open source) is also working on a Mac Version, which I reviewed back in September.  I haven't checked to see if they've fixed the bugs I noted back then, but it has Register, Ahnentafel, and Henry reports.

    In short -- Mac genealogy software may not be as feature rich as some PC options.  I have no means of comparison.  But the checklist of features on TopTenReviews Mac Genealogy page is filled with inaccuracies when it comes to at least one software package.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Amanuensis Monday: A Wedding and a War

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

    I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

    This week I continue a transcription of a family history tape recorded in 1987 between my grandmother, "Sissie" (Feinstein) Newmark, and a professional oral historian. This section begins after my grandmother has finished discussing her graduation from high school.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Ancestor Approved Award

    TransylvanianDutch has been chosen for the “Ancestor Approved” award by four separate blogs:

    Wild Rhododendrons
    Climbing My Family Tree
    My Ancestors and Me

    I want to express my gratitude to all four bloggers. I like to think my ancestors do approve of what I am doing here.

    This award has been making the rounds on genealogy blogs. It was initiated a couple weeks ago by Leslie Ann Ballou at Ancestors Live Here
    As a recipient of this award I ask that you list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you and pass it along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.
    Ten things I've learned which have surprised, humbled, or enlightened.

    1) My second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, filed a patent
    2) Selig was a blacksmith for his first ten years in America. The family knew of his success in the real estate business, but that was actually his third career.
    3) I also discovered Selig was very active in the local religious charitable community, helping to form schools, and raise funds for the poor.
    4) My great grandfather, Herman Feinstein, drove a jitney taxi.
    5) My grandfather, Martin Deutsch, may have been a direct male descendant of Aaron
    6) My Denyer ancestors may have emigrated from America for a couple years, before America expanded to include them again. It’s unclear when they entered Texas.
    7) A bit of humor my great grandmother, Bertha Cruvant, liked to share, may have been rooted in Gematria.
    8) Seven out of eight of my paternal second great grandparents are buried in St. Louis, where I have lived most of my life.
    9) My eighth great grandfather, Myndert Frederickse, owned a slave.
    10) Hartley and Denyer relatives testified in front of The Dawes Commission, hoping they would be granted land based on their Choctaw ancestry. (Their application was rejected, as they didn't have enough proof.)

    I’m going to refrain from choosing ten blogs. It’s too difficult of a decision. However, I will pass it on to one. This sounds like it would be a more difficult decision, but it’s easy – Leslie Ann Ballou, of Ancestors Live Here.

    It appears, even though she began this, and passed it on to the first ten people, no one has given it back to her yet – or at least, she hasn’t listed her “ten things that surprised, humbled, or enlightened.” It's now her turn.

    Weekly Genealogy Picks

    Weekly Genealogy Picks -- April 4 to April 10
    from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

    Nancy at My Ancestors and Me provides a few forms she has created for research purposes, including a checklist and a Fact/Opinion/Search chart.

    An authorless news article declares that family tree research can cause family conflict. Of course tactless researchers are likely to come into conflict with family members over other reasons, if not family research.

    Dan Curtis discusses steps to starting your own personal historian business.

    Find My Ancestor discusses Graveyard Preparedness, providing tips to prepare the researcher for a trip to the cemetery. This is the fifth part in a series.

    Sharon at Kindred Footprints discusses a recent trip to Thorold, Ontario, where many Loyalist families ended up after the American Revolution (including my Swayze ancestors). She also shares some photographs of the area.

    Kimberly Powell at Genealogy explains why your ancestor's name was likely not changed at Ellis Island. (Shortly afterwards, by your ancestor, possibly. But not by someone at Ellis Island.)

    Randy Seaver at the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal researches the European practice of renting and reuse of burial plots.

    ProGenealogists has an organized list of genealogical fallacies. (hat/tip: Midwestern MicroHistory)

    Google Earth helped discover rare Hominid ancestor

    Recently two elderly Florida men discovered they're half-brothers.

    "In the fall of 1945, a Soviet soldier hoisted a 5-year-old boy aloft and paraded him through a Lithuanian synagogue that had been closed throughout a long Nazi occupation." Both recalled the incident, and over the years, told family, and friends. One of the tellings resulted in a song being written and recorded, and through the song, 65 years later, the two were reunited. The soldier had become a rabbi in Oak Park, Michigan. And the five year old kid... On the JewishGen blog you can read the story, and listen to the song. (Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day, begins at sunset tonight. Many sites say it began last night, but it is officially pushed forward or back a day so it isn't adjacent to the Sabbath.)

    Schelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe highlights the Memorials for Vanished Communities database at the Israeli Genealogical Society. The database contains memorials for nearly 2,000 destroyed communities.

    Other Weekly Lists
    Amanuensis Monday: April 5th participants
    If you participated, but don't appear on this list, let me know.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Parshat Shemini and me

    As I recently learned there's a chance I am a descendant of Moses' brother, Aaron (my maternal grandfather being the most recent direct-male descendant in my line) - I found the below video more relevant. If Aaron is an ancestor, it's an animated song of a tragedy in my family's history.

    G-dcast provides an animated synopsis of the weekly Torah portion, and Parshat Shemini is the weekly portion that will be read in Synagogues across the world this Shabbat. (Parshat is the Hebrew word for 'portion,' and Shemini is the Hebrew word for 'eighth.' The name of each Torah portion is just the first distinctive word in the section, and has no significance beyond that.)

    Parshat Shemini from

    More Torah cartoons at

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    What Do You Do with Conflicting Evidence

    This entry has been percolating in my mind for a few weeks. In the first episode of Who Do You Think They Are viewers were shown that it is possible to find conflicting evidence. That historical documents aren't always correct.

    Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestor, John Hodge, is mentioned in an obituary of his son as having died in 1849 enroute to California. But he appears in the 1850 California Census. Further research showed that he died in California in a gold-mining accident. Probably in the years between his death and his son's death "dying in California searching for gold" became "dying enroute to California." It's not unusual for family stories to be less than 100% accurate.

    I wonder if some viewers jumped to the conclusion that the census was obviously the correct document, as it was more reliable than an obituary written years later. On the contrary, it was equally possible for the result of the research to be the opposite.

    It was possible that the individual listed in the 1850 census and the individual listed in the Ohio obituary were the same, but the obituary was correct that he had died enroute to California.

    At first glance this might seem an impossibility; If he died enroute, how could he end up in the census? But if there was someone in California waiting for him to arrive, a business partner perhaps, who didn't know he was dead, they could have mentioned his name to the census taker. Sure, they weren't supposed to do that. But maybe they figured that he was going to show up any day, and he ought to be counted.

    Incorrect information on the census isn't uncommon. And it's not always the fault of the census taker. Lots of people lie. And others don't know the truth. I came across one census that listed children who had been dead for a decade. I have no clue who answered the door and provided this misinformation, or why. (But since the only census these two children should have appeared on was the 1890 census, which was destroyed, it is kind of nice, albeit morbid, that they appeared on the 1900 census too.)

    Vital Records, even though they are usually considered "Primary Records," also have errors on them. The birth certificate of my great uncle, Allen Deutsch, gives his name as 'Adolph' - and no certificate of correction was ever filed. Family agrees his birth name wasn't "Allen," but say it was Abraham, after his grandfather. While there was certainly reason for the 'family story' to change post-1939, he was born in 1914, and there is no record of the name 'Adolph' being used in the early years. Abraham appears on the 1920 census, and Albert appears on the 1930 census, suggesting the migration to "Allen" had begun.

    There are other errors on the document. It says Allen was the 7th child, but he was the 8th, as one had died in Europe. The document says both parents were born in Varmezo. This matches his father's military documents. However, it's known his mother came from the village of Margitta.

    Birth Affidavits (filled out when birth certificates were unavailable) also can be unreliable for obvious reasons. Either the individual didn't know the truth, or intentionally provided incorrect information. While I would like to find evidence to support the former, with respect to my maternal grandmother's Birth Affidavit, I have difficulty believing she and her sister forgot what year she was born. Every census my grandmother appears in, including the 1945 Florida State Census, her age is correct. However, in October of 1945, she declared she was born five years later, and her older sister acted as witness. My best guess is my grandmother thought she might have to look for a job, and felt it would be easier if she were 40, rather than 45.

    When conflicting evidence is discovered, there's no quick and easy Rock-Paper-Scissors (or even a Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock) method to figuring out which document is correct. Vital records don't always beat census reports, which don't always beat family lore. The only solution is further research, with the hope of uncovering more documentation that clarifies the situation.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Amanuensis Monday: 1909 Postcards to my Great Grandmother

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

    I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

    This week I am sharing a couple postcards my great grandmother, Margaret Jane (Denyer) Van Every received from her son and daughter-in-law in 1909.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Weekly Genealogy Picks

    Weekly Genealogy Picks -- March 28 to April 3
    from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

    James Tanner at Genealogy's Star suggests there's a genealogical goldmine at Google Maps. He's right. I was unaware that the 'browse directory' tab in the My Maps feature led to apps. I'd seen it before, but assumed they were public maps other users had created.

    Julie Cahill Tarr at GenBlog reminds us that a book's index isn't always complete.

    Carolyn Barkley at Genealogy and Family History discusses using Ebay as a genealogy research tool. While I had already been conducting surname searches on it, I hadn't considered using it in some other ways she mentions.

    Ask Olive Tree discusses the markings on passenger manifests.

    Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter says You are Probably Descended from Charlemagne. He says, "professional genealogists tell us that Charlemagne appears in almost every European descendant's family tree." I accept that, mathematically. I also know that the earlier 'proven' ancestries linking my ancestors through Anneka Jans to William the Silent have been called into question, as have the connections drawn between another ancestor, Barnabas Horton's wife, Sarah Wines, and her Mapes descent from Charlemagne. The issue is not whether mathematically we all must be descended from Charlemagne - the issue is can we accept as accurate any descent that claims we are?

    Lynn Palermo at The Armchair Genealogist asks Are We Overcoming the Genealogy Stereotype?

    Wired Magazine notes that on March 30, 1848, the Niagara Falls stopped. And disappeared. And everyone freaked out. It was only temporary, though. I have relatives who may have been in the area at the time. I wonder how they reacted.

    Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak at The Huffington Post reports that The Belgian Red Star Line is seeking emigrant stories.

    Apple at Apple's Tree shares an important blogging tip. Provide some way for readers to contact you. This becomes crucial if your comment-system is broken. And that happens more often than you might think. If we can't comment, and you don't have an email address listed on your blog, there's no way for us to tell you we can't comment.

    The Southern California Genealogical Society seems to have been the first to note that Who Do You Think You Are altered their episode schedule. They replaced a new episode on April 9th with a repeat of the first episode. April 16th remained a skipped week, resulting in an extension of the run.

    Jasia at CreativeGene has released the 92nd Carnival of Genealogy (theme: Dance!) The theme for the next edition will be "series how-to" articles. More information.

    Other Weekly Lists
    I'm also going to start listing those who joined me in the past week with the Amanuensis Monday blogging meme.

    Amanuensis Monday: March 29th participants
    If you participated, but don't appear on this list, let me know.

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    What You May Have Missed

    Are you reading this on Facebook? Or perhaps through Google’s Reader, Bloglines, or another newsreader?

    If so, and you haven’t actually visited my blog lately, there are a few things you might have missed.

    Here, have a visit

    At the top of the screen, below the masthead, you will see links to
    I have gathered together some of my local favorite genealogy research sites for the states of Missouri and Illinois, where a lot of my research has focused, as well as some more general resources that cover a broader geographical scope.

    Under Family History Documents I’ve linked to genealogy books and other resources I’ve found digitized online that relate to my family history. This mostly pertains to my maternal ancestry, though I have found some online interviews of paternal cousins, to which I link.

    I also have a chronological timeline of all my Amanuensis Monday entries.

    On the left hand side, underneath all the methods of subscribing to my blog posts (email, audio, and traditional RSS feeds) you’ll see a link to my ahnentafel chart (a chart of my ancestors).

    If you continue scrolling down, past the monthly archives of posts, you’ll see links to categories. These are helpful if you are interested in seeing all the posts I have written mentioning a particular surname, or geographical location.

    If you scroll all the way down, past my ‘blogroll’ (a list of blogs I read, which I have just updated.) You’ll ultimately see a poem I wrote in 2008 entitled, “Divergent, yet Intersecting.”

    SNGF: Degrees of Separation

    This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun over at Genea-Musings looked fun, but was slightly depressing.
    1) Find an ancestral line that stretches back to the time of the US Revolutionary War (1775-1783), about 230 years. Define your person-to-person connection (the person actually met the next person on the list) back to a historical figure from that time.
    Since the challenge only specified time, and not location, I actually considered seeing what I could do with my father's chart. The earliest ancestor I have is a Meer Kruvond born "before 1795." I can definitely imagine parents, but I have no idea who they would have come in contact with in Cekiske, Kaunas, Lithuania. I remember my great grandmother, Bertha (Cruvant) Newmark, quite well, so I could get off to a very good start on that chain.

    So I turned my attention to my mother's side, and that's when I realized how few generations I was able to skip in the process.

    1) I know my mother.
    2) My mother knew her mother, Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch (1900-1951).
    3) Myrtle Van Every knew her father, Melvin Van Every (1863-1929)
    4) Melvin Van Every knew his grandfather, Andrew Van Every (1798-1873). (In a letter Melvin wrote Myrtle, he recalls receiving a half-dime from his grandfather.)
    5) Andrew Van Every knew his father, David Van Every (1757-1820)

    David Van Every, a loyalist from Poughkeepsie, NY, served under the leadership of Colonel John Butler, in Butler's Rangers. David also served very briefly in the New York militia, before joining the Loyalist side...I'm not sure who he met while there.

    Or I could take a slight detour

    4) Melvin Van Every knew his mother, Abigail Stuart (1825-1866), albeit only for three years.
    5) Abigail most likely knew her grandfather, Israel Swayze, Jr (1753-1844)

    Israel Swayze, Jr was a loyalist from Hope, New Jersey. I'm not sure where he served, but once he migrated to Niagara, he himself became quite prominent locally.
    THE BEAVERDAMS CHURCH 1832: Early in the 1790's a group of settlers in this area had been converted to Methodism and formed a Class with in 1795, was included in the newly-established Niagara Circuit. Services were held in the home of a prominent local settler, Israel Swayze, and camp meetings took place on his property. - Beaverdams Church Historical Plaque
    Town meetings were also held in his home between 1806 and 1809.

    Note: Israel Jr's grandfather, Judge Samuel Swayze, is my shared ancestor with the late actor.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Genealogy Shocker: Lucille Ball married her grandson

    Every genealogist knows that everything in the Family Trees uploaded to is undeniably true.

    So it's a fact: Lucille Ball married her grandson

    Since you have to have an account on Ancestry to view the page, I have converted it to graphic form. Apparently Desi is related to a whole bunch of people -- I only show the first of six pages below. They are all undeniably true.

    Ignore the warning box Ancestry includes in the upper right.

    Happy April Fools Day

    John the Jester wishes everyone a Happy April Fools Day

    The one day a year everyone acts foolish, on purpose!

    (photograph from the 2002 St. Louis Renaissance Festival)

    Another Easter Greeting - On Children - Khalil Gibran

    The below letter was sent to my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every Deutsch (1900-1951), by her niece, Elizabeth Campbell (1914-1996), daughter of Evelyn Van Every Campbell Crabtree (1892-1982).

    I don't have a year on the letter. Somewhere between 1941 and 1951.

    My Darling Tante

    Do you like this?

    And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."

    And he said:

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies, but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
    He bends you with His might that His Arrow may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as he loves the Arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

    This is from a book that was given me recently, and has enchanted me although I do not know whether it is because of the meaning in the words or just the beauty of their sound.

    Happy Easter to you and Martin, and Barbara, and Peggy.

    -- Betty


    I post this today as well because it is the start of National Poetry Month. The poem, "On Children," was written by the Lebanese American poet, Khalil Gibran (1883-1931).

    It has been set to music and recorded by at least two different artists/groups

    On Children - Astrid Seriese

    On Children - by Sweet Honey in the Rock