Friday, August 28, 2015

Hillary and The Donald are 19th Cousins? Yawn.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are allegedly 19th cousins
Let's just say, even if true, this isn't very surprising.
The genealogists had to go back to the 1300s to find a common ancestor. (John of Gaunt, son of Edward III)

I believe I am 11th cousins, or closer, with, among others:

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Ulysses Simpson Grant
  • George Romney (and his son, Mitt Romney)
  • John Kerry
  • Anthony Perkins
  • Cary Elwes
  • Ann Bradford Davis
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Shirley Temple
  • Debbie Reynolds (and her daughter, Carrie Fisher)
  • Patrick Swayze
  • William Holden
  • Viggio Peter Mortensen, Jr.
  • Ashley Judd
  • Fred Rogers
  • Lillian Gish
  • Hart Crane
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Orson Scott Card
  • Alfred Kinsey

I am happier about the relationship with certain individuals above than I am others.

Note: All of the above, and I, allegedly share a common ancestor, Thomas Stoughton (1557-1620)

If someone can trace their ancestry back to 17th century New England, it is very likely one can find similar relatives to the ones I listed. Maybe not the same ones, but similar ones.

There was a website that claimed Geoffrey Chaucer was my 18th Great Grandfather. They were almost definitely wrong. Lots of genealogical information on the internet is wrong. (I might be descended from William de la Pole, 1st Duke of  Suffolk, who married Chaucer's granddaughter, but the descent would be through his illegitimate offspring. However, there are other problems with the alleged descent.) I am confident I trace my ancestry back to the Stoughtons. I am not confident that all of the famous people listed above can do so. But others claim to have done the research. (Note: I am most confident about Patrick Swayze, since I have Swayze ancestors, as well. We're 7th cousins.)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Hospital Admission Card - 1945 - Mandell Newmark

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, newspaper articles, 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.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the National Personnel Records Center, and retrieved some "Auxiliary records" for a handful of of kin who served in the Army.  A fire in 1973 destroyed most of the Personnel Folders for those discharged between 1912 and 1960, but before making my visit I contacted the center, and the staff was able to inform me whether any records existed for each of the individuals. All the folders were destroyed, but there were a handful of other records that they had on location. So when I showed up, they had these records waiting for me. It felt a little like I was a celebrity on Who Do You Think You Are.

One of these records was the Hospital Admission Record for my great-uncle, Mandell Newmark, who died in the Philippines in April of 1945.


RANK:2Enlisted Man (includes Aviation Cadet or Student)
RACE:1White (includes Mexican)
YEARS OF SVC:62-3 yr.
ARM OF SERVICE:20Medical Dept., General or Unspecified (incl all enlisted men)
AAF STATUS:0Neither assigned nor attached to AAF (includes all unassigned, and all Arm or Service known with no mention of AAF)
ADMISSION STATION:-8Southwest Pacific
ADMISSION DD/M/Y:12 4 512 April 1945
TYPE OF CASE:4 Battle Casualty
TYPE OF ADMISSION: 0New, not EPTS (did not Exist Prior To entry on active military Service)
FIRST DIAGNOSIS:0260Fracture, compound, comminuted with no nerve or artery involvement
LOCATION:8432Femur, Shaft
OPERATION:302Fracture, compound, closed, treatment of, w/splints/casts; or Fracture w/bone fragment removal and cast.
CAUSATIVE AGENT:233Bullet, Rifle
CIRCUMSTANCES:5Injured handling firearms, ammunition, etc, on post or in camp (cleaning gun, on range, etc. by patient or others.)
Total Days003003
Overseas Days:003003
G/C HOSPITAL:No entry made

Source: This information was obtained from the Hospital Admission Card data files (1942-1945; 1950-1954), created by the Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the Army. During 1988, this secondary source material was made available to the National Personnel Records Center by the National Research Council, a current custodian of the data file. The file was originally compiled for statistical purposes, therefore, name identification does not exist and sampling techniques were used with the result that not all hospital admissions are included. Veterans on the file are identified by service number and other data related to hospital admission.


1) The first thing to note is that this isn't an original record. It is a printout derived from the Hospital Admission Cards, and was created in July of this year (by the Personnel Records Center in preparation for my visit.) I don't have an image of the Hospital Admission Card, but I am confident the only information on it is the codes. The accuracy of the explanations is dependent upon the use of the correct decoding system.

We can assume that the National Archives would use the correct decoding system, correct? No. They've made mistakes in the past. Ten years ago, the National Archives discovered they had been using the wrong code book for the Civilian Occupation Codes. This meant the occupation on all the Army Enlistment records was incorrect. NARA updated their records in 2005. Ancestry updated their records sometime between 2007 (when I first looked up the records for several kin) and 2011 (when I noticed the change, and wrote about it).

The description of the circumstances of injury matches what the family was told. Mandell was shot by a fellow soldier who was cleaning his rifle.

2) The record indicates he was shot on April 12, and remained alive for three days. His obituary also stated that he died three days after his wounds.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: The Obituary I Was Sure Wouldn't Contain Any Surprises

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, newspaper articles, 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.

Obituaries are a wonderful resource, but when one's library research time is restricted one focuses on documents where one expects to find new information. That new information can sometimes lurk in unexpected places.

I had some time to visit the library last week, and I looked up several obituaries that had been on my to do list for quite awhile. One was the obituary for my second great grandmother, Minnie Mojsabovski Cruvant. [Like many of the surnames in my database, the exact spelling of her maiden name is a bit uncertain.]

I have a cousin who has researched the Cruvant lines for several decades, and I have a rather extensive database covering the Cruvant/Kruvant/Cruvand/Kruvand descendants and cousins of my second great grandparents. But being completist, I knew I should look up her obituary, even though I knew there wouldn't be any surprises.

St. Louis Post Dispatch - Feb 14, 1924, p.30

CRUVANT - On Wednesday, Feb 13, 1924, Minnie Cruvant, widow of Morris Cruvant, fond mother of Mrs. Bertha Newmark, Mrs. Stella Stern, Mrs. Flora Altman, Benjamin, David and Sol Cruvant. Dear sister of Mrs. Blanche Rubin, and our dear grandmother. 
Funeral from Berger Chapel, 4715 Mcpherson avenue on Friday Feb 15 at 10 a.m.

Reading the obituary, I was stunned. Minnie had a sister?

Siblings of immigrant ancestors  have been the source of several surprises during my years of research. When one can trace their lines back several generations on American soil, the US Census will usually record most siblings. There is the 20 year gap between 1880 and 1900, due to the destruction of the 1890 census, but otherwise it is difficult for someone to be born, grow up, and leave the household in the usual 10-year census gaps.

However, since I don't have access to pre-immigration records, siblings or adult children of immigrants can escape notice.

When an obituary doesn't indicate where a relative lives, that often means they live in town. So I looked up Blanche Rubin in the Online Missouri Death Certificates. Her death certificate lists her parents as Mendel Majabovsky and Sarah Greenberg. Minnie's parents are thought to be Mendel and Sarah Goldstein. It's possibly the same mother, with at least one improperly recorded maiden name. However, the dates of birth for the two sisters are twenty years apart, Minnie being the elder, suggesting they are actually half-sisters.

In 1920, Blanche and her husband, Ben Rubin were living next door to Philip and Leah Rubin. Philip and Leah's daughter, Anna, would marry David Cruvant, the son of Morris and Minnie. Were Ben and Philip related? It seems a strong possibility. However, complete strangers live next door to one another all the time, and it is possible for them to share a surname.  Ben and Blanche's nephew marrying Philip and Leah's daughter isn't proof of anything. I've now looked up the death certificates and obituaries for Ben and Phil without confirmation one way or another.

I've managed to trace two children of Ben and Blanche who each had one child, and these two grandchildren are still living. I will likely write to them to see if they can provide further information. However, I'm glad I finally found the time to look up the obituary for my second great grandmother.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Obituary for Robert Lee Gober

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, newspaper articles, 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.

I began this project back on February 16, 2009. Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe and share their family history documents. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.

This week I transcribe the obituary for my wife's great grandfather, Robert Lee Gober (1895-1971)


PINE LAWN – Robert Gober, 75, died at his home last Friday. He was born in Vanduser and farmed in the Sikeston area until he moved to the St. Louis area 17 years ago.

He is survived by his wife, the former Mabel Fulkerson, and one daughter, Anna Lee Wallace, of St. Louis.

Those from Sikeston attending services in St. Louis Monday were Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Alcorn, Mr. and Mrs. C.D. Alcorn, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Alcorn, Mrs. And Mrs. Lester McDonald and one daughter Tammy.

Gober’s wife is a sister of Mrs. Ellis Alcorn.

The Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri) · Fri, May 7, 1971 · Page 12


1) I transcribed his WWI registration form a few weeks ago.
2) Mrs. Ellis Alcorn was Urista Fulkerson, a sister of Mabel (Fulkerson) Gober. I believe the three children of Urista and Ellis who attended the services were Cal, Dale and Blanche.
3) In addition to the familial relationships, the obituary provides an estimate for the year the Gobers moved to St. Louis - 1954.