Saturday, July 28, 2012

Finding My Past - Part Three: Hampshire Baptisms

Exploring FindMyPast with my new subscription, I decided to look up some Denyer baptisms. This is another instance where I have already conducted the research, but I wanted to see if FindMyPast had the same information.

Farlington Parish has transcriptions of their Baptism Records from 1654-2005 (with some gaps) online. I had already looked up the records for the eight children of my fourth great grandparents William and Jane (Goldfinch) Denyer.

Source: Farlington Parish Baptismal Records
(the only additional information on the full records are the given names of the parents.)

For the set between 1766 and 1812, Farlington Parish provides the following source information: Reproduced by kind permission of the Portsmouth Record Office. From a transcription of the original Register done by the Rev John Burrough Rector of Farlington Parish, in 1794. [This obviously references the entries from 1766-1794. The website displays a document written by Rev. Burrough and dated 1794 explaining that the original registers had been damaged due to dampness and the transcription was done to prevent loss of the information. The website doesn't indicate from where the information for the records 1794-1812 come, beyond the Portsmouth Record Office.]

At FindMyPast I conducted a search for all Denyers in the United Kingdom with the Optional Keyword 'Farlington' and specifically selected the Hampshire Baptisms record set.  There were only ten results.  The first two below may well be related in some fashion, but I haven't yet figured out how. The following eight match up with those found on Farlington's website.

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)

At least all of the names, and six of the dates. John Henry was baptized in either 1795 or 1796, according to Farlington Parish or FindMyPast respectively. Charles was baptized in either 1802 or 1801, according to Farlington Parish or FindMyPast respectively.  The months and dates are identically transcribed.

Source: FindMyPast - (used with permission)

FindMyPast doesn't indicate where their transcribed records came from. I suspect if they transcribed from any original records themselves there would be images. Since all FindMyPast has is a transcription, my assumption is that they transcribed from a transcription - possibly the same transcription Farlington Parish transcribed from. But in both cases it's a transcription of a transcription. There is nothing in either to give greater credence.

However - in the case of John Henry - I suspect FindMyPast is more likely correct. It's very unlikely that John Henry was baptized in March of 1795 if my 3rd great grandfather, William, was baptized in July of 1795. (Especially since family records suggest William was born in November of 1794. Waiting several months between birth and baptism was common, but if William and John Henry were twins, they would likely have been baptized together.)

FindMyPast does appear to fall into the same trap that I've noticed elsewhere in referring to baptismal year as birth year in the transcription. They're not the same thing.

Another baptism I searched for is that of my fourth great grandfather, William - the father of the eight children above. Many family trees posted online indicate he was born in 1763, and his father was named Richard.
Source: FindMyPast - (used with permission)
However, the Hampshire Marriage Allegation for William Denyer and Jane Goldfinch asserts they were both 21 in 1791. It is very unlikely in my mind that this William Denyer was my fourth great grandfather.

FindMyPast was able to uncover a much more likelier answer. While some descendants might cringe at part of the transcription, I'm not bothered.

William (Fyfield or Denyer) - baptized in Headley Parish in December of 1771 - the illegitimate son of a William Denyer and Elizabeth Fyfield.

Source: FindMyPast - (used with permission)
All I have to support this theory is a baptismal date that comes within a year after the assumed birth year from the marriage allegation.  There might well be another William Denyer born at the right time whose baptismal record hasn't either survived or for some other reason doesn't appear in these databases. But for now I think these are the most likely candidates for my fifth great grandparents.

Update February 2013 - I have been contacted by one of the joint administrators of the Farlington Parish, and he has clarified that their transcriptions are from the original registers that are kept at the Portsmouth Record Office. He also mentioned that the transcription continues and more records continue to be added.

Finding My Past - Part Two: Census Records

Readers of Part One, where I looked at FindMyPast's marriage records, may have enlarged the image of the search results and noticed the check marks by the two view icons. This indicates that the transcription and the image had already been viewed.  I didn't take screen captures as I was conducting the research, I went back later and repeated my steps.

These check marks are a nice addition, letting the researcher know: You've already been here. 

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
Instead of repeating my original research steps exactly, I'm going to go another route to the same records.

First, I am going to click "Search" on the opening screen without entering any data whatsoever:

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
This takes me to a screen with 1,232,970,358 results. I guess that's the number of records they currently have. I will then narrow down the results dramatically by entering a last name, specifying the United Kingdom, and using the Optional Keyword "Tailor".  There are 15 results, and I show the first four below.

I'm unsure who Harry Newmark is. There are several Newmark families in England and the US. From discussions on Surname message boards, it seems many of them trace their roots to a similar geographical area. Whether there is a common ancestor might only be determinable through Y-Surname DNA.

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
Barnet is my great grandfather, Solomon his brother, and Samuel their father. There is one tailor in their household, however, who appears on the 1901 census, but doesn't appear in these search results. Unless one searches for "Tailor*" or "Tailoress". My great grandfather's sister, Nelly.

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
I was actually unaware that Nelly was listed on the census as a Tailoress.  I originally viewed the 1901 English Census back in April of 2007. (I know this because of the date on the image file I downloaded.) This tells me that there is a 99% probability I downloaded it from That said, I clearly wasn't looking at documents very carefully back then.
Database Source: The National Archives (published by permission)
Despite the X marks (and I am unsure why they are there) the professions for Solomon, Barnet, and Nelly are quite clear.

This page of census results only lists the children of the household. Obviously, the parents were at the bottom of the preceding page. There seems to be no way to move back or forward a page in the census results.  However, I can return to the transcription.

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
And at the top of the "Other Household Members" are the parents, and I can select the view options from there.  (You might notice that on the transcription page, previously viewed transcriptions or images aren't checked off like they are on the search results page.)

I like how FindMyPast appears to transcribe every or almost every possible field on the record. This allows one to search on those fields using the "optional keyword," and helps the novice researcher not overlook some fields on the image.

One might complain that even though one can find other family members on the transcription, not being able to move back and forth on the pages prevents you from looking up neighbors. Not so. The Registration District and Street Name appear in the transcription.

Using the Optional Keywords: Marylebone "Wells Street" - and narrowing the results to the 1901 census, produces 462 results - likely everyone recorded on Wells Street in the 1901 census.

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)

Another feature I like is their "Research Profile". This can be selected from the home page, or any transcription or image page:

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)

It provides you a list of every single entry you have looked at, and whether you have viewed the image, transcription, or both. 

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
It also provides you with the # of credits it would cost if you were purchasing the documents "As you Go" instead of using a monthly or annual package.  Currently you can buy 100 credits for $13.95, and you have 90 days to spend them.  This will help a lot in a year when I have to decide if I wish to renew, and what package to choose.

So far I have 'spent' 95 credits, and I have focused mostly on my Newmark relatives. I've viewed one Goldfinch record, no Denyers, and none of my wife's British surnames. There's a lot of fun research ahead for me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Finding My Past - Part One: England and Wales Marriages

FindMyPast - the British genealogy website, is expanding to America.

They currently have a deeply discounted World Subscription rate, and since my Ancestry subscription is US-only, I decided to give it a try. My first search involved the brother of my great grandfather, Sol Newmark. I knew he had gotten married in London.  I actually already have a copy of his marriage certificate, but I was curious what FindMyPast would turn up.

1) On the opening screen I entered his name under Who. I selected 'name variants' for the given name, but not the surname.

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
[Note: any image in this entry can be clicked upon to make larger]

2) These were the the first two results:

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
The first result was his marriage. And there were two spouses listed - one of them completely unfamiliar to me. My initial assumption was that either

A) Something no one told me about happened
B) What we have here is a page of a document with multiple marriages and the FindMyPast transcribers were unable to differentiate the marriages for some reason, so they include all of the surnames.

So I viewed the transcription (There are two icons in green next to the word "View" - a camera, and a piece of paper. The piece of paper is the transcription.) I also conducted a search on both spouses, and the additional groom who turned up, pretty much confirming hypothesis B. Here are the four transcriptions:

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)

If you enlarge the images, you will notice that all four indicate a Page # of 110.  They all have the same "Image Quarter" (3). I was unable to fit the entire transcription in the images, but there is also a row that indicates they all have identical Volume #s (1C)  All other rows with data in them are in the images above.

I decided I wanted to view the image of Page 110. So from Solomon's transcription I clicked on the View Image button.

Database Source: The National Archives (published by permission)
Above I show the top of the page, so you can see the header, and the bottom of the page where Solomon's entry was located (in the middle column).  You can see that isn't page 110.  The images for Sarah Nathan, Eva Belosky, and Morris Rudowsky are all on different pages.

It's clear why the transcribers didn't know which spouse was which.  They entered the volume and page number for each person, and then saw who matched up. I believe '3rd Quarter' represents the months of the year - since each year appears to have been divided into 3-month segments. The image doesn't really contain any information that isn't on the transcription.

This is all supposition. I could probably do some research on the England and Wales Marriages (1837-2008) database  - but this information isn't on the FindMyPast website that I could tell. I'd have to find it on a different website with the same database. They also provide no information on how to take this information and order the actual certificate - which would be nice.

As Randy at Genea-Musings noted there isn't enough information for a proper citation. If I don't care about the academic quality of the citation (which in general I don't) I have enough information to suffice for my own needs.

FindMyPast does have an article in their "Learn More" section on the importance of citations.

Source: FindMyPast (used with permission)
In Part Two I will look at the Census results, as well as a couple other FindMyPast features. (Some of which I am quite fond.)

Note: As Randy points out in the comments, FreeBMD does have the information about these records that FindMyPast doesn't.  I'm unsure where I retrieved the Volume and Page # for my great great uncle back in 2007 (no source notes were written down in my database), but wherever it was, they didn't provide me with multiple spouses.  They probably just provided me with the volume and page number for Solomon, which was enough for me to order the certificate from the General Register Office. While the multiple spouses listed might not confuse British researchers, now that they are trying to attract American researchers, it would likely behoove them to provide a little bit of explanation.

Further Note: Here's the Certificate ordering information that FindMyPast provides on their British website.  They haven't yet moved it over to their American site.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tumbling for Genealogy?

I work in the non-profit industry, and noticed a recent article in the NonProfit Times discussing organizations discovering the social networking site, Tumblr.
[First Book, which provides books for children] has more followers on the microblogging site Tumblr than it has on any other social media outlet.
“Tumblr, to me, is a great platform to reach a new, young audience,” said Rochee Jeffrey, FB’s social media coordinator.
Tumblr is a blogging tool “for the short attention span generation,” said Chris Youngblood, director of strategic partnerships for the Melbourne, Fla.-based To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). Tumblr blogs are generally multimedia heavy: lots of photos, videos, audio clips and infographics, with short pieces of text. Long-form content need not apply. That’s what you do on a regular blog.
A week ago I created a tumblr blog, posted a vacation image, and told no one. In that week three people have 'reblogged' the image and an additional person has 'liked' it. Somewhat impressive since the only way the image could have been found is through the three 'hashtags' I put on the post.

I'm not completely new to Tumblr. I have another one focused on the author, Victor Hugo. However, I post very infrequently, and have only 3 followers. A vacation image posted there a week ago has now received 12 likes or reblogs. (None of the individuals are among my followers, so they too found the image through the tags. I'm not surprised Napoleon is more popular than a cemetery.)

As on Twitter, what tags one uses will greatly impact how many people see the post.

As the individual in the article above was quoted, Tumblr is for the short attention-spanned. The focus is on images and videos, not words. I like words. So I post more frequently to this blog, or to the social networks where I can be more long-winded.

Those who are using social networking as a promotion tool probably should have a presence on every popular social networking site. You need to be where the potential customer is; you can't force the potential customer to come to you. Tumblr is very popular.

A family historian/geneablogger might find Tumblr useful to share images of tombstones, or family history documents, while providing a link from the entries back to their primary blog where they add more details for those with greater attention spans. Not just for attracting the attention of potential customers if you are a professional genealogist, but also for getting noticed by potential cousins.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Correcting a Serious Mistake

I’ve uploaded parts of my genealogy database to a few different websites. If I am going to make the tree public, I’ve naturally always trimmed it a bit. My standard procedure is to delete every record of a living person. Most of the websites have privacy mechanisms that obscure information for living individuals, but which information they obscure sometimes varies, and technology can always fail. So no information is better, in my opinion, than obscured information. What the software doesn't know, it can't reveal to the world.

But a recent occurrence made me realize this isn’t always enough. A cousin contacted me, (rightfully) upset because some private information appeared on an entry at Wikitree. How did this happen? I had placed information about a living person within the source notes for their ancestor.

I actually do this a lot, but not to the extent in this case. I copy and paste obituary notices all the time for the individuals in my database. And those obituaries usually contain the names of children and grandchildren. However, few would complain about their name appearing in the obituary of their grandparent.

This lapse was a lot more serious. I had copied and pasted an entire email from a cousin, detailing names, and dates of birth, for several generations. I naturally pasted it into the notes for the original ancestor, and entered ‘see notes for X’ in the notes for the later generations. This email was my ‘source’ for much of the information; it made sense for me to copy and paste it into the database. I just forgot I had done this when I uploaded it to WikiTree. To cap it off, the email also contained a couple email addresses, and a postal address. (This contact information has now been deleted from my database. It didn't need to be there as part of the source material.)

At least WikiTree is a Wiki – making quick edits easy. Within minutes of getting the email, I had removed the text of the email from the profile. Of course, as is standard for the Wiki software, the entire text gets moved to “Change History.”

I emailed the WikiTree staff and asked them if they were able to override the settings and delete the Change History. I learned this isn’t possible. The only solution would be to delete the individual’s profile and then recreate it manually. I had no problem with this solution (in my email I had actually told the WikiTree staff that I would do this if they couldn't) but I didn’t want to do it immediately.

Why not? Google had already cached the private information. [I suspect this is how my cousin discovered the private information was there - through a search on their name.] It can take weeks, or months, before Google updates a cache, and it is my understanding that it can take longer if the page no longer exists. WikiTree names pages with the “Surname-XX “format, where XX is a number. I knew deleting and recreating the profile would likely generate a different number, and thus a different page from Google’s perspective.

I didn’t want to wait weeks or months, though, so I conducted a search to see if I could manually speed up Google’s process, and I learned I could.

In order to remove a cached page you need to provide
1) The URL of the page you want removed
2) A word that appears on the cached page that no longer appears there.

This process will not work to update a page where you have only *added* information. It is precisely intended for those times where information is deleted for reasons of privacy or legality. My situation fit perfectly.

I submitted the request in the evening, and by noon the next day the cache was gone.

I then deleted the profile, along with the change history, and recreated the profile manually with only the information I had intended to make public.

My next step was to remove the cache from Bing. They have a similar form to fill out, however, they require the original page to no longer exist before they remove the cache. Which is why I deleted the profile first. They also require the form to be filled out by someone associated with the website, and specifically ask for an email contact, so I sent the information to the WikiTeam, and they submitted it for me.  Three days later, the cache has been removed. (Since Yahoo uses Bing's search engine, this deleted it at Yahoo as well.)

I suspect the information may be cached on some minor search engines, however, a search at DogPile and MetaCrawler (which both search multiple search engines simultaneously) no longer produces a cached result. Any other search engines will update their information in their normal process of events.

I am very thankful to the WikiTree team for the quick assistance they provided me in dealing with this situation.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Transylvania 2012

As our honeymoon continued in Romania, Jenifer and I met up with my parents, siblings, two nephews, a niece, and some cousins. There were 15 of us in total, and using Oradea, Romania as a base, we spent two days touring a section of Transylvania where my Deutsch and Lichtman ancestors lived. When they lived there, it was part of Hungary. Now it is part of Romania.

One day we visited Huedin, Almasu (marked by the A), and Cluj. The other we visited Marghita and Simleu Silvaniei. My maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch, was born in Almasu. The nearest train station from which the family likely departed in 1913 was in Huedin. My great grandfather's passport was issued in Kolozsvár (Cluj). In 1977 my great-uncle Ted Deutsch was recorded singing a song in part-Hungarian and part-Romanian about Kolozsvár. My great grandmother, Helen Lichtman Deutsch, was born in Marghita. Two nieces of Helen's, who remained in Romania, survived the concentration camps, but returned post-war, and settled in Simleu Silvaniei. They weren't allowed to leave under Communist rule until the 1960s. A daughter of one of the survivors, who grew up in Simleu Silvaniei, now lives near Tel Aviv. She joined us and acted as a tour guide.  

Almasu, Romania (Varalmas, Hungary)

About all we know about the home my grandfather was raised in until age 7 is that it was situated by the river. The Valea Babiu runs through Almasu. My parents took a photograph of a different house when they visited previously back in 2000. Either could be 100 years old; both have clearly seen better days. My great-grandfather was a tenant-farmer, so even if some depository had land records, his name wouldn't likely be on them.

Huedin, Romania (Bánffyhunyad, Hungary)

I like that the train station still has the Hungarian version of the town's name on it in addition to the Romanian. I also took photographs of two old benches that theoretically could have been there in 1913. One of the two benches isn't very useful anymore.  The sign on the red box says, "Pastrati Curatenia," which means, "Keep Clean" in Romanian. (There were newer benches at the train station, in addition to the chairs which can be seen in the first photograph.

Marghita, Romania (Margitta, Hungary)

We know the exact address in Margitta where my great-grandmother, Helen (Lichtman) Deutsch, was raised. However, sometimes streets get renumbered. There's a photograph of the Lichtmann leather shop prior to WW2. Is this the same building? While the front has been remodeled somewhat over the years, I believe it is.  While the building is occupied, we didn't knock on the door.


Here's another archival image of the Lichtmann leather store, obviously taken at a different time than the one above because the sign above the door is different.

The similarities between it and the current building are more noticeable.

Cluj, Romania (Kolozsvár, Hungary)

While in Cluj, I took a photograph of a monument. I couldn't read what it said at the base, but I figured I could look it up later.

It is a quote from Ioan Raţiu, one of several Romanians who petitioned Emperor-King Franz Joseph in 1892 for equal rights for Romanians.

Existenţa unui popor nu se discută, se afirmă!

which translates to:

The existence of a people is not for discussion, but rather for affirmation!
Photo Credits: 
John Newmark - June 2012 
Lichtman Leather Shop: Unknown photographer, Unknown date

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Honeymoon - Etymology

There are several competing theories concerning the etymology of the word, Honeymoon. One associates it with the drinking of mead for a month.

Source: "A philosophical and statistical history of the inventions and customs of ancient and modern nations in the manufacture and use of inebriating liquors," Samuel Morewood, 1838, p. 466

For some, mead is a drink they last recall hearing about when they read Beowulf in their English Lit class. I've seen mead shelved with beer in some liquor shops, but it is closer to wine, and is often called "honey wine" to avoid confused looks from potential customers. There is definitely a lot of sweet mead, but like wine made from grapes, a dry mead can be produced as well. 

Jenifer and I received a gift of three bottles of mead on our wedding day from some good friends who were aware of this custom. We made those three bottles last for an entire lunar month (28 days), sharing a small amount each evening.  The custom held some extra meaning since both of us have a great grandfather who was a beekeeper.

The OED dates the word, 'honeymoon,' back to the 16th century, simply indicating the period of sweetness which follows marriage, but then wanes.

Sources seem to indicate that the concept of a trip taken after the wedding is relatively modern, dating back to "Bridal Tours" in 19th century Britain where couples (sometimes accompanied by friends or relatives) would visit those who had been unable to attend the wedding.

Photo Credit: Jenifer Newmark - June 2012
We spent three wonderful days and nights together in Prague. (See: Of Prague and Clocks, and Terezin - Not Your Usual Honeymoon Destination). However, our "bridal tour" had just begun.

For the next leg, we flew to Budapest, Hungary - where we met up with several family members. We only spent one night in Budapest before embarking on a Family History tour of Transylvania.  But that's a different post.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Terezin - Not Your Usual Honeymoon Destination

Approximately 61 km (38 miles) NW of Prague is the town of Terezin, temporarily renamed Theresienstadt by the Nazis during WWII. Even though it was our honeymoon, and visiting a former concentration camp was a bit unusual, we both wanted to make the journey.

Terezin has a history that predates Hitler. The fortress was built in the 18th century by the Hapsburgs and named after Empress Maria Theresa. Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was imprisoned in Cell #1 until he died in 1918.

When the Nazis arrived, they found a fortress/prison already built for them, with few construction costs. Theresienstadt was primarily a prison/labor camp. We were told that they were in the process of creating a gas chamber there, but it was never completed.

Arbeit Macht Frei - German for "Work Makes you Free"

Theresienstadt is known by many for the children there 
The Nazi propaganda film, The Gift of the Town, was created at Theresienstadt.

Here's a photograph of the bunks that were slept in:

One of the few uplifting stories to come out of the camp, was that of the Maple Tree
The story of the seeds began on Tu B'Shevat, 1943, when a guard at Theresienstadt smuggled a tiny oak seedling into the children's barrack. With help from their teacher Irma Lauscher (one of the few Jewish instructors the Nazis allowed to hold classes), the children planted the seed in their courtyard. Miraculously, thanks to meager water rations the children were able to spare, the tree sprouted. 
By the time of liberation, the red maple had grown to become 5 feet tall. The children gave it one last drink before digging it up and replanting it near the crematorium where the ashes of 38,000 fellow Jews lay scattered. Declaring it their etz chaim (tree of life), they left a sign at its base which translates: "As the branches of this tree, so the branches of our people! (source)
The Maple Tree was lost in a flood a few years ago, but communities around the world, including: San Francisco, CAChicago, ILOrange, CACincinnati, OHPhiladelphia, PAIsraelSurrey, UK; and Hampshire, UK have received seedlings from the tree, so the tree of life lives on.

While it wasn't a traditional Honeymoon destination, I am glad we visited. Reading books, and looking at photographs, doesn't convey what it feels to be standing where so many people suffered. And learning the story of the Maple Tree provided  me with something, though small, still uplifting to take away from the trip.
Photo Credits: Jenifer Newmark - June 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Of Prague and Clocks

During June my wife and I went on our honeymoon. I didn't mention it here beforehand, or during, as I'm not overly fond of letting the world know that I am not going to be home over a long period of time. But it's time to share some photographs. Many of them are of genealogical or historical interest.

Our first stop was Prague.  And we stopped by the clock tower.

No, not the Astronomical Clock:

We stopped there, too.  Constructed in 1410, with some additions in 1490, it is perhaps the best known clock tower in Prague. But there's another.

Located in the Jewish Quarter, these clocks top the Jewish Town Hall, and were constructed in 1586. The higher two of the three clocks have Roman numerals. The lower one on the left has Hebrew, and it rotates what can only be called 'counter-clockwise' except the term doesn't really make sense, does it?  Whatever direction a clock turns is clockwise for that clock.

Is this 'correct' for a Hebrew clock? How does one define 'correct?' While the language reads right-to-left, this doesn't necessarily require the clock to turn in this fashion.

We would visit Israel later in this trip, and though I saw several Hebrew watches in gift shops, none of them rotated in this fashion. However, wrist-watches are a relatively new invention, and Israel is a modern state.  There aren't many places in the world where one might find a Hebrew clock dating back to the 16th century. Prague may be alone. If it is, how does one decide if Prague's clock is 'correct'?

The Jewish Town Hall stands next to the Alt Neu (Old New) Synagogue.

Constructed in 1270, it is the oldest active synagogue in Europe. According to legend, the golem created by Rabbi Judah Loew sits in the attic, waiting for a time of great need to return.  (As a tour guide suggested to us...that time came, and no golem. There is a story that one Nazi agent died after entering the attic.)

Photo Credits: 
Astronomical Clock - Jenifer Newmark - June 2012
Jewish Town Hall and Altneu Synagogue - John Newmark - June 2012