Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Marriage Certificate for Myrtle Vanevery and Dale Bowlby Ridgely - April 1927

Several years ago I discovered the divorce complaint from my grandmother's second or third husband. The marriage lasted less than three months. I made the comment then that if my grandmother hadn't kept a copy of the complaint, it would never have occurred to me to look in California records for a marriage or divorce.

However, as records get digitized, such things matter less. The record to the left turned up for me on Ancestry this past week. It is the marriage license and certificate for my grandmother, Myrtle Vanevery, and her second husband, Dale Bowlby Ridgely.

It's a legible and quite detailed certificate, with names of parents for both bride and groom, as well as occupations for bride and groom.

I was most intrigued by the surname of the minister, and two witnesses. It matched my grandmother's. However, I was unfamiliar with these relatives.

Some quick research in Ancestry's family trees suggest that the minister, John M Vanevery, was the son of a John Vanevery and Louise Bartlett, and grandson of my third great grandparents, Andrew Vanevery and Nancy Lucinda Vansellas. (I'd have to do some research to truly verify the family trees, but it seems likely.) That would mean the minister was first cousins with the bride's father. The two witnesses were the minister's wife, Fanny, and their daughter, Irene.

I still suspect the marriage was in California primarily because the groom was stationed in the army in San Francisco, but my grandmother did have 'family' in the Bay Area. She returned to St. Louis after the marriage ended.

The certificate states that it was my grandmother's second marriage. I have records of one prior divorce from an Alfred Connevey in 1920. Letters from her parents imply an earlier marriage with a man named, Jack, that ended in 1919.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Poetry

Below are several poems for the holiday

Gratitude - by Edgar A. Guest (©1917)

Be grateful for the kindly friends that walk along your way;
Be grateful for the skies of blue that smile from day to day;
Be grateful for the health you own, the work you find to do,
For round about you there are men less fortunate than you.

Be grateful for the growing trees, the roses soon to bloom,
The tenderness of kindly hearts that shared your days of gloom;
Be grateful for the morning dew, the grass beneath your feet,
The soft caresses of your babes and all their laughter sweet.

Acquire the grateful habit, learn to see how blest you are,
How much there is to gladden life, how little life to mar!
And what if rain shall fall to-day and you with grief are sad;
Be grateful that you can recall the joys that you have had.

Thanksgiving - by Edgar A. Guest (©1917)

Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin' more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an' men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

Looking Back - by Edgar Guest (©1921)

I might have been rich if I'd wanted the gold instead of the friendships I've made.
I might have had fame if I'd sought for renown in the hours when I purposely played.
Now I'm standing to-day on the far edge of life, and I'm just looking backward to see
What I've done with the years and the days that were mine, and all that has happened to me.

I haven't built much of a fortune to leave to those who shall carry my name,
And nothing I've done shall entitle me now to a place on the tablets of fame.
But I've loved the great sky and its spaces of blue; I've lived with the birds and the trees;
I've turned from the splendor of silver and gold to share in such pleasures as these.

I've given my time to the children who came; together we've romped and we've played,
And I wouldn't exchange the glad hours spent with them for the money that I might have made.
I chose to be known and be loved by the few, and was deaf to the plaudits of men;
And I'd make the same choice should the chance come to me to live my life over again.

I've lived with my friends and I've shared in their joys, known sorrow with all of its tears;
I have harvested much from my acres of life, though some say I've squandered my years.
For much that is fine has been mine to enjoy, and I think I have lived to my best,
And I have no regret, as I'm nearing the end, for the gold that I might have possessed.

A Song of Thanks - by Edward Smyth Jones (©1922)

FOR the sun that shone at the dawn of spring,
For the flowers which bloom and the birds that sing,
For the verdant robe of the gray old earth,
For her coffers filled with their countless worth,
For the flocks which feed on a thousand hills,
For the rippling streams which turn the mills,
For the lowing herds in the lovely vale,
For the songs of gladness on the gale,—
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans’ banks,—
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

For the farmer reaping his whitened fields,
For the bounty which the rich soil yields,
For the cooling dews and refreshing rains,
For the sun which ripens the golden grains,
For the bearded wheat and the fattened swine,
For the stalled ox and the fruitful vine,
For the tubers large and cotton white,
For the kid and the lambkin frisk and blithe,
For the swan which floats near the river-banks,—
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks

For the pumpkin sweet and the yellow yam,
For the corn and beans and the sugared ham,
For the plum and the peach and the apple red,
For the dear old press where the wine is tread,
For the cock which crows at the breaking dawn,
And the proud old “turk” of the farmer’s barn,
For the fish which swim in the babbling brooks,
For the game which hide in the shady nooks,—
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans’ banks—
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

For the sturdy oaks and the stately pines,
For the lead and the coal from the deep,
dark mines, For the silver ores of a thousand fold,
For the diamond bright and the yellow gold,
For the river boat and the flying train,
For the fleecy sail of the rolling main,
For the velvet sponge and the glossy pearl,
For the flag of peace which we now unfurl,—
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans’ banks,—
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

For the lowly cot and the mansion fair,
For the peace and plenty together share,
For the Hand which guides us from above,
For Thy tender mercies, abiding love,
For the blessed home with its children gay,
For returnings of Thanksgiving Day,
For the bearing toils and the sharing cares,
We lift up our hearts in our songs and our prayers,—
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans’ banks,—
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: The "Engagement" of Belle Feinstein and Melvin 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.

Below I transcribe two December 1936 clippings from The Modern Voice, a St. Louis Jewish weekly newspaper. The second one appeared a week after the first, reporting the same event, but with a few corrections.

Dec 6, 1936 - page 14


Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Feinstein of 6422 San Sonita Ave., have announced the engagement of their daughter, Miss Belle Feinstein, and Melvin I. Newmark, son of Mr. and Mrs. Barney Newmark, of Kingsbury Avenue. Mr. Newmark attended Washington University and is a graduate of the school of law of that institution. The wedding date has been set for June 10
Dec 10, 1936 - page 24


Miss Belle Feinstein, daughter of Mr.and Mrs. H.M. Feinstein, of 6422 San Bonita Ave., has chosen January 10 as the date of her marriage to Melvin L. Newmark, son of Mr. and Mrs. Barney Newmark, of Kingsbury. Mr. Newmark is a graduate of the Washington University school of law.


1) My grandparents, Melvin Newmark and Belle Feinstein, were married in Waterloo, Illinois on May 10, 1936, in the middle of the night, and told no one. In an interview in the 1980s my grandfather explained they were unwilling to wait. My grandmother's older brother was married on November 1, 1936, so I suspect they felt they had to wait until after that to announce their intentions to their families. May 10th, 1936 was one month prior to my grandfather receiving his diploma from Washington University law school.

2) It's unclear whether the June 10th in the first clipping was a mistake on the part of the newspaper, that was corrected the following week, along with a couple spelling errors, or whether my great-grandparents thought the date was June 10th, and my grandmother corrected them. It occurs to me to wonder what my great-grandparents thought when my grandmother told them she wanted to get married in a month. They had been a couple for several years, so it's a good chance everyone knew they were simply waiting, first for my grandfather to have his degree, and second for the older sibling to be married first, but still, a one-month engagement may have raised a few eyebrows. Their first child wouldn't arrive until 1938.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Poem: A Cry of the Foreign Born - by St. Louis poet, Leah Rachel Yoffie (1883-1956)

The following poem by Leah Rachel Clara Yoffie appears in Contemporary Verse, Volume 9 (1920), p. 144, as well as the St. Louis weekly newspaper, The Modern View, April 2, 1926, p. 27.  While I originally found the poem browsing through the microfilm at the library, the Google Books scan of the 1920 volume is a lot clearer than the microfilm printout, so I will share that below.
I suspect from her references she may have grown up in the same slums that my Polish, Russian and Lithuanian ancestral immigrants to St. Louis did. Her plea rings strong today.

Posted for the Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wordful Wednesday: Oxenhandler Funeral Home advertisement - with photographs

December 1937 advertisement. From The Modern View, a local community newspaper.

Edward Louis Oxenhandler was the brother-in-law of my great-grandfather, Herman Feinstein. Willard Z. Oxenhandler was Edward and Pearl (Feinstein) Oxenhandler's son. Aaron was another sibling of my great-grandfather.

Note: An agreement between the Chauffeur and Undertaker unions abolished Sunday funerals in St. Louis in 1928. In 1930 the Oxenhandlers created a non-union Orthodox Jewish funeral home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Alleged photographs of my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every

In an online family tree, I found two alleged photographs of my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every. I communicated with the owner of the tree, and the photographs came from his grandmother's collection, and she was a niece of my great-grandfather. I would normally consider that a good source of identification, but my great-grandfather had about twenty siblings. It would have been easy for a niece to get confused.

There are three photographs below. The one in the middle is a definite photograph of my great-grandfather, taken in 1900, shortly after the birth of his daughter, and my grandmother, Myrtle. (It was colorized in the 1940s, but I have the original photograph as well, which contained my grandmother as an infant.)

My inexpert opinion is that the individual in the oldest photograph isn't the same as the individual in the middle. The shape of the head is different. However, the ear, mouth, and nose look identical. If it were my great-grandfather, it would likely have been taken in 1883, at the time of his wedding, when he was 20.

I am much more willing to believe the man in the last picture is my great-grandfather. He lived until 1929, age 66. Visually, I'd guess the picture is from his final decade.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Birth Record for Salamon Deutsch - Dec 1861

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.

Below I transcribe a transcription from a record at No image is available. The source information says it is from FamilySearch, but the record isn't there, either. At least, not yet.

Name: Salamon Deutsch
Gender: Male
Event Type: Szulettek (Birth)
Birth Date: dec. 1861
Birth Place: Vitka, Szabolcs, Hungary
Father: Abraham Deutsch
Mother: Sara

Source Information: Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895-1978 (database on-line), Provo, UT, USA. Operations, Inc., 2014.

Original data: Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895-1980. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.


1) The database is labeled with the years 1895-1978. The year of birth is 1861. Without seeing the record, it is uncertain what record it is taken from. I am curious whether it might be a marriage record, which could have contained the names of his parents, and birth information, from which Ancestry created a 'birth record'.

2) This is my great grandfather. The date of birth matches family records, as do the names of his parents. It is nice to have documentation to back up their names. It's a shame the maiden name for the mother isn't indicated. We believe it was Weiss. My grandfather's application for a certificate of citizenship indicated his father was born in Vitka, so this is confirmed as well.

3) The existence of these records gives me hope that I may be able to break down some brick walls in my Transylvanian ancestry.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day/Remembrance Day 2017

Caption for photo to left: Human Statue of Liberty. 18,000 Officers and Men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Colonel William Newman, Commanding. Colonel Rush S. Wells, Directing. Mole & Thomas, 09/1918. (source)

November 11 is Veterans Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in the UK, Canada, Australia, France and Belgium. In Poland it is celebrated as National Independence Day.

Below are the names of ancestors, and their siblings, who I know served their nation's military, either in a time of war, or in a time of peace. I am including my Loyalist ancestors; their nation was Great Britain. Canada became their country after the war. I am including my Confederate ancestors too, despite their desire to form a separate nation. I am also including a Conscientious Objector ancestor since the DAR counts him as a Patriot.

Fifth Great Grandfathers
McGregory Van Every (1723-1786) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Michael Showers (1733-1796) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Mark Fretz (1750-1840) Patriot (Inactive Duty) Pennsylvania militia

Fourth Great Grandfather
David Van Every (1757-1820) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers (served briefly as a Patriot in the NY militia)

Fifth Great Uncle
Benjamin Van Every (1759-1795) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers (served briefly as a Patriot in the NY militia)
William Van Every (1765-1832) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Peter Van Every (1771-bef 1816) Loyalist/Fifth Lincoln and Second York regiments (War of 1812)

Fourth Great Uncles
David Van Every Jr. (1782-1847) Loyalist/Second York regiment (War of 1812)
Michael Van Every (1790-?) Loyalist/Fifth Lincoln and Second York regiments (War of 1812)

Second Great Grandfather
Ebenezer Denyer (1828-1872) (Mexican-American War) (Confederate Army)

Third Great Uncles
Samuel Jennings Denyer (1822-1861) (Gonzales County Minute Men - Republic of Texas -1841)
Samuel T Hartley (1830-1920) (Confederate Army)

Great Grandfather
Samuel Deutsch (1861-1938) (Franz Josef's Austro-Hungarian Army)

Second Great Uncle
Nelson D Van Every (1845-1926) (Union Army)

Melvin L Newmark (1912-1992), WWII
Martin J Deutsch (1907-1991), WWII

Great Uncles
Jerry Deutsch (1909-1950), WWII
Allen Deutsch (1914-1988), WWII
Harold Newmark (1915-2003), WWII
Mandell Newmark (1923-1945), WWII (KIA)
Bernard Feinstin (1913-1968), WWII
Seymour Feinstein (1917-1999), WWII

Stevan J Newmark (1942-1997) Army Reserves

Photographs of those who served in World War II

My grandfathers Melvin Newmark (1912-1992) and Martin Deutsch (1907-1991)

Allen Deutsch (1914-1988) and Maurice "Jerry" Deutsch (1909-1950).

Harold Newmark (1915-2003) and Mandell Newmark (1923-1945).

Bernard "Benny" Feinstein (1913-1968) and Seymour "Babe" Feinstein (1917-1999)

Monday, October 23, 2017

We're Related Notable Kin Update

It's been a year since Ancestry released their We're Related mobile app.

The app has identified 151 celebrities who might be related to me.
  • If the alleged ancestry for me is correct. 
  • If the alleged ancestry for the celebrity is correct. 
It is based on Ancestry's collection of online family trees which are of highly variant accuracy.

Here is a selection of alleged kin Ancestry has identified for me. In the below cases, I have confirmed our alleged shared ancestor is actually my ancestor. (I haven't researched the alleged ancestries of the celebrity.) The alleged shared ancestor is emboldened.

Betts, Capt. Richard 1613-1713
1. Elizabeth Montgomery
2. Jim Varney
3. John Kerry
4. Johnny Depp
5. Mark Twain
6. Newt Gingrich
7. Tom Hanks
8. Truman Capote

Chamberlain, Joanna 1620-1711
[Note: Joanna Chamberlain married Capt. Richard Betts. Ancestry isn't consistent when choosing which spouse to list as the shared ancestor.]
9. Meryl Streep
10. Mitch McConnell
11. Bill Clinton

Chamberlain, Robert 1590-1639 
[Note: Robert Chamberlain married Elizabeth Stoughton. See below]
12. Stephen King
13. Theodore Roosevelt

Frederickse, Myndert 1640-1706 (Son of Frederick Van Iveren)
14. Vincent Price

Horton, Barnabas 1600-1680
15. Henry Fonda
16. Humphrey Bogart
17. Norman Rockwell

Horton, Barnabas 1666-1705
18. Tobey Maguire

Horton, Penelope 1690-1746
19. Robin Williams

Magdalena, Anna 1679-1734
20. Lindsey Buckingham

Rosenberger, Heinrich 1680-1746 
21. Blake Shelton

Schauer, Michael 1679-1710
22. Les Brown

Stoughton, Elizabeth 1600-1647
23. Ulysses S Grant

Swazey, John 1621-1692
24. Owen Hart
25. Amelia Earhart
26. Roy Orbison

Swazey, Joseph 1653-1717
27. Richard Gere
28. Warren Buffett

As I have noted in the past, I have not been able to research my ancestry back to John Lathrop, through his daughter Abigail, as the app alleges. However, John Lathrop's son, Samuel, married the daughter of my ancestor, Elizabeth Stoughton. Here are the celebrities that the app claims are Samuel's descendants. [While the app indicates our shared ancestor is John Lathrop, I know if the celebrity ancestry is accurate, we do share Elizabeth Stoughton as an ancestor, at an equal distance.]

1. Alec Baldwin
2. Billy the Kid
3. Carrie Underwood
4. Edgar Allan Poe
5. George H.W. Bush
6. George W Bush
7. Mitt Romney
8. Paul E Brown

There are a total of 36 individuals listed above. The other 115 allege an ancestor for me that I haven't yet been able to confirm. Nor have I found a workaround similar to the Lathrop-Stoughton connection. (It doesn't mean the app is wrong. I'm not claiming that my end-of-line research is anywhere near complete, but it does suggest a lot of the allegations are based on family trees where the researcher has made leaps without documentation.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jewish Pirates: Ahoy Vey!

Repost with slight changes

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The Jewish New Year begins tomorrow night at sundown.

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

How about Jean Lafitte, the possibly Jewish Pirate?

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

The facts of his origins, and those of his demise as well, depend upon whether you believe the "Journal of Jean Lafitte" is a forgery or not. Discovered in the possession of a claimed descendant.
"My grandmother was a Spanish-Israelite. ... Grandmother told me repeatedly of the trials and tribulations her ancestors had endured at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. ... Grandmother's teachings ... inspired in me a hatred of the Spanish Crown and all the persecutions for which it was responsible -- not only against Jews." [source]
According to one account, Jean Lafitte was killed upon the General Santander, an armed private vessel in the service of Columbia, on Feb. 5, 1823, at the age of 41. In the Gulf of Honduras, the General Santander encountered two Spanish privateers or warships, and was mortally wounded in a brief battle with the vessels and buried at sea ...  
According to Lafitte's Journal ( which many believe to be a hoax, claimed to have been found by a great grand son of Lafitte) written by Lafitte himself in 1851, he took the name John Lafflin and died in St. Louis in his 70s. [source]
As a St. Louisan, this last definitely interests me. Though I have been unable to determine where John Lafflin (whether or not in reality Jean Lafitte) is supposed to be buried. Mysteries tend to surround pirates, don't they?

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

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day Weekend - 2017

Happy Labor Day Weekend

As you light up your barbecues this weekend and enjoy your day off from work Monday (those who have the day off) - take some part of the day to consider the advancements we have made in workers' rights over the last century - Many of us may have ancestors who worked in the coal mines or sweatshops.

Also, consider in what ways the struggles aren't over.

Here's a playlist of songs which may help.

A Pict Song - Rudyard Kipling (1917)

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

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

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

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

We are the Little Folk, we ! etc.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Poem: Cause of Death

Below is the poem which won 3rd place in the Poetry & Song category of the 2017 ISFHWE Excellence-in-Writing Competition. Last year, I finished 2nd with The Genetic and Synthetic.

Cause of Death

A dozen distant cousins
in Prienai, Lithuania
died on the same day
all with the same cause of death.

If my cousin who researched the family
had written down ‘Auschwitz,’
“Treblinka,’ or ‘Bergen Belsen,’
I think I would have nodded
and kept on reading.

It’s what I expect happened
to most of my relatives
who didn’t get out of Europe
before the war.

I wasn’t ready for
"townspeople with axes" -
Neither were my cousins.

"Townspeople with axes"
could be the name
of a b-grade horror movie
with vampires and zombies.

"Townspeople with axes"
should not appear
in my genealogy database.

Press Release: 2017 ISFHWE Excellence-In-Writing Competition Winners Announced

Yesterday I received the below press release from Tina Sansone, Competition Coordinator at The International Society of Family History Writers and Editors. However, the information was going to be officially announced today at the FGS Conference, so she asked that it not be shared until this morning. I have added links where I could find them. 

Congratulations to all winners!

The International Society of Family History Writers and Editors is proud to announce the winners of the Excellence-in-Writing Competition. All entries were exceptional this year. Submission details for 2018 will be announced soon. For any questions on the competition, email

Category 1 – Columns
1st Place – Elaine Thomas: “For the Love of Dinah”
2nd Place – Carolyn Schott: “Welcome Back to Osthofen”
3rd Place - Maureen Wlodarczyk: “More Than (Immediately) Meets the Eye”
HM – Valerie LaRobardier: “Do You Have an ‘Indian Princess’?”

Category 2 – Articles
1st Place – Martin Fischer: “How the Gogolinsky Family of Warsaw Became the Barney Family of St. Louis, Missouri”
2nd Place – Joseph F. Martin: “Apolonia Lewicka and the Priest”
3rd Place - Mari Margaret McLean, PhD: “Unintended Family History: Thomas Scholfield’s Letter to His Brother”
HM - Fred Delcomyn: “A Danish Lad in America”
HM - Karen Brattesani: “A Soldier's Stories of World War II as Told to his Daughter”
HM - Sherri Panchaud Onorati: “Lucky to Be Here”

Category 3 – Newsletters
1st Place – Michelle D. Novak: “Genealogical Society of Bergen County, NJ -  The Archivist”
2nd Place – Patricia Mansfield Phelan: “Newsletter of the Irish Family History Forum”

Category 4 – Unpublished Material, Unpublished Authors
1st Place – Joan F. Vitale: “The Messenger”
2nd Place – Bonnie Dodge: “Getting to Know Grandmother, A Step Back in Time”
3rd Place – Robbin M. Smith: “I Have an Aunt Alice?”
HM - Linda D. Fritz-Langston: “Grandpa & His Puzzle”

Category 5 - Unpublished Material – Published Authors
1st Place – Dave Strausfeld: “Gus Cloepfil and his Migration Westward”
2nd Place – Wevonneda Minis: “DNA Decision”
3rd Place – Elaine Thomas: “Boyhood Tales from the Great Depression”
HM - Wendy Wilson Spooner, Lic. G, LCoT: “The Relevance of Genetic Knowledge to Genealogical Research
HM - Andrea Butler Ramsey: “ The Nickel Man”
HM - Emilee Marks: “The Tale of Two Wilhelmina Gogollas”

Category 6 – Poetry & Song
1st Place – Kavya Srikanth: “An Ode to Time Lost”
2nd Place – Lori Lynn Price: “Virden, New Mexico”
3rd Place – John Newmark: “Cause of Death”
HM - Anthony Proctor – “The Great Wave”

Saturday, August 19, 2017

On the towns of Krūvandai and Čekiškė, as well as the Lithuanian Language

It is almost a certainty that the surnames Cruvant/Kruvant/Kruvand/Kruvant come from the Lithuanian town of Krūvandai. We have traced ancestors back to the nearby (5.5 km) town of Čekiškė. One cousin told me that his family lore said the Lithuanian town got its name from the family. Regardless of whether the chicken or egg came first, there is still the unanswered question: What does it mean?

I decided to ask on a Lithuanian Genealogy Facebook group.

I've learned Krūvandai was founded in the 1600s, and named after a particularly bloody battle in the Polish-Swedish wars (1600-1629). 'Kraujas' means 'blood.' 'Kruvinas' means 'bloody.' This information pretty much sets to rest any question of which came first. Jewish family surnames were uncommon in 17th century Eastern Europe. They weren't required by law until the late 18th, early 19th century, depending upon the area.

My query on FB did result in an enthusiastic contact fluent in both Lithuanian and English, with current relatives in Krūvandai. In addition to providing me with the information above, he translated from a recent book a chapter on the history of the Jewish community in Čekiškė. A handful of 20th-century cousins of mine were named in the chapter. Sept 4, 1941 marked the violent end of the Jewish community.

I also learned that in the Lithuanian language, surnames are gendered. That is, a male cousin might be referred to in documents with the surname 'Kruvandas,' a female cousin either as 'Kruvandaite' or 'Kruvandiene' depending on whether unmarried or married, respectively.

The images are of a synagogue in Čekiškė that still stands. An older synagogue was destroyed in an 1887 fire, and rebuilt. My second great grandfather and his family left in approximately 1886-1887. While they would never have seen the current synagogue, the cousins who remained would have worshipped there for fifty years.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Robbie Cruvant - age 6 - on the cover of Sports Illustrated - 1957

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.

One can't always predict where a photograph of a relative will appear.

The newspaper clipping below comes from, The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, May 21, 1957. I found it at, and then found the cover in the Sports Illustrated Vault. Robbie Cruvant, a second cousin once removed, died in a car accident in 1967.

Magazine Cover Shows Local Boy

The photo of a Shreveport boy, Robbie Cruvant, 6, appears on the cover of the current issue of a national magazine, Sports Illustrated.

Robbie, the son of Mr. and Mrs. M. Leslie Cruvant, 6227 Gilbert Dr., is seated on a four-in-hand coach witnessing the Bridal and Spur Horse Show in St. Louis Mo., in the photograph. The horse show is featured in the magazine.

The picturesque four-horse coach is owned by Robbie's grandfather, Robert Baskowitz, of St. Louis. Among others seated on the coach is August A Busch, Jr., president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the makers of Budweiser beer.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

MyHeritage and Legacy Family Tree

Last week I mentioned that I had switched genealogy database software to MyHeritage's FamilyTreeBuilder. Thursday, MyHeritage announced, they had acquired Legacy Family Tree.

There has been a lot of discussion about the acquisition on genealogy blogs in the past few days. As is the case with all mergers and acquisitions that impact the things we care about, there are those with fearful pessimism, and those with hopeful optimism.

I've been surprised by those who have implied MyHeritage didn't already have a software program of its own. Or have implied their software program was entirely online. My FamilyTreeBuilder database is on my computer, and isn't synched with any MyHeritage account. (I have a free account, but my database isn't online.)

Legacy Family Tree doesn't have a Mac version of their software, so I can only base any opinion on the tutorial and help screens on their website, but at first glance, I am confident MyHeritage will not simply develop a Mac version of Legacy Family Tree, as it is lacking in adaptability to MyHeritage's international consumer-base. Whereas I was surprised to see MyHeritage only accommodated the Gregorian, Hebrew, and French Revolutionary calendars, and not Julian, I saw no references to date conversion at all in Legacy's help pages. (Possibly I missed it.) No references to multiple language interfaces, either. Hopefully the software team will combine the best features of both programs and create something both sets of users will see as an improvement.

Both Legacy Family Tree and MyHeritage use the Freemium marketing technique where they offer free basic services, and offer additional benefits for paid users. So that's unlikely to change. (I've seen some bloggers imply Legacy Family Tree didn't, but they do have a free standard version of their software. I just can't download it to test it since I don't have a PC.)

I'll admit in my first interaction with MyHeritage a decade ago, I didn't consider them a very serious website. It appeared they were focused primarily on games, such as their Face Recognition Software. I had fun with that software, but the company has grown tremendously since then. They are still growing, and I am in the set of people with hopeful optimism.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How to Pronounce the "G"

There is a huge debate over how to pronounce the letter “G” in the acronym "GIF." GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, and is the filetype for many images on your computer. (Other common image filetypes are JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group, and TIFF - Tagged Image File Format.)

Since GIF is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, #TeamGiff argues the “G” should be hard like the “G” in "Graphics."

Members of #TeamJiff follow the advice of Steve Wilhite, the engineering Lead of the team that developed the format. He says it is supposed to be pronounced with a soft "G" – to mirror the peanut butter brand, "Jif." (“Choosy developers choose GIF.”)

#TeamGiff responds that once a word or acronym enters the language, the inventor has no say in the matter. And a hard "G" makes more sense linguistically.

I say, computer images aren't only used by speakers of English. In Spanish, when the letter "G" is followed by an "I," it is pronounced with the hard “Ch” sound, as in the German composer's name, "Bach." This is also the case for the Spanish, "J."

1) I am a big supporter of this phoneme in whatever language it appears in.
2) Furthermore, since in Spanish "Gif" and "Jif" would be pronounced identically, this should satisfy the peanut butter fans in #TeamJiff, as well as the linguistic purists in #TeamGiff. So I am in #TeamKhiff


In the Genealogy world, I have heard there is some discussion on how to pronounce GEDCOM. GEDCOM is an acronym for Genealogical Data Communication and is used for the file format for genealogy databases.

#TeamJedcom argues that the "G" is for "Genealogical," so should be a soft "J."

#TeamGedcom prefers a hard "G" for some reason. [Members of #TeamGedcom are welcome to leave their explanation in the comments.]

I do not know how the developers of the GEDCOM pronounce it. This may be a closely held secret of the LDS church.

As you might have guessed, once again I fall back upon Spanish pronunciation, because, why not? In Spanish, when the letter "G" is followed by an "e" it is also pronounced with the hard “Ch” sound. I am in #TeamKhedcom


Hopefully, this post has been helpful. It's time for me to find a tall glass of iced chai.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Changing Genealogy Software

Back in 2007 I downloaded a trial version of iFamily genealogy software, and fell in love with it. Despite some deficiencies in reports and charts, the Graphical User Interface (GUI) was much superior in my view to anything else I experimented with. Also, instead of being the product of a company, it was the product of an individual, who responded quickly with new updates fixing bugs, and adding features. The developer, Keith Wilson, passed way in December of 2008. His son took over, but maintaining his father's program wasn't his full-time job, and updates became less frequent.

I still haven't found a competitor with a GUI that I like as much. But I have found a competitor with a GUI I can accept, and with additional features that make it very attractive. (Including its price - Free.) FamilyTreeBuilder from MyHeritage. It is true that they want you to sync your tree with a premium MyHeritage account. But it isn't required for most of the offline features to be fully functional.

I could continue to update in iFamily, and whenever I wanted to create a report/chart export a GED and open it with FamilyTreeBuilder. But that becomes a hassle, and I rather like how FamilyTreeBuilder handles Hebrew-Gregorian date conversion and a handful of other features.

I noticed when I transferred the data, for individuals with both natural and step parents, both sets of parents got labeled as natural. I've had to manually fix a few entries. However, I also like that two sets of parents can be set as 'natural.' It allows an easy way for children to be included in reports that they wouldn't be if they were recorded as 'step-children.' And with a growing number of parental options in today's society, how an individual might define 'natural' may vary depending on the situation.

I will miss the iFamily GUI. But after almost 10 years it is time for me to change software programs.

Amanuensis Monday: Melvin Vanevery and the El Paso Cotton Growers - 1919

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.

Below is a newspaper article mentioning my maternal great-grandfather, Melvin Van Every.

El Paso Herald – Nov 28, 1919, page 7.
Cotton Growers Purchase Seed in Pecos Valley
El Paso County Farmers Will Not Plant Seed Grown Here.

Farmers of El Paso County, who, according to reports from over the district and from implement men, are going to grow 10,000 acres of cotton next year, will not plant local seed. Instead, the 10,000 bushels of seed needed will be brought from the Pecos valley. The purchase will be financed by the State National bank, C.N. Bassett said Friday.

Local cotton seed will not be used, at the request of officials of the federal horticulture board. This request arises from the fact that the federal horticulture agents were unable to scout the field properly for pink boll worm. No evidence of pink boll worm has been found here, the agents say, but because of the proximity to the border, a source of infection, the farmers of the valley have agreed with the federal agents that no chances should be taken.

This year about 1500 acres of cotton were grown in the valley. About 1,500,000 pounds of seed was produced. This will be crushed by a local refinery. The farmers, in order to get the seed for the 8500 acres more which will be planted next year than this, will put up a guarantee of $1 or $1.50 a bushel an acre for what they will need. The committee will then buy the seed where it can, and sell it to the farmers at cost, making delivery within a few weeks. The probable cost of the seed will be $2 or more a bushel. The Lone Star variety will be bought.

L.J. Ivy and M.E. Van Every, of Tornillo, have been named on the committee of five to supervise the purchase and distribution of cotton seed. Roland Harwell, county farm agent, said Friday. A meeting will be held at Clint to discuss further plans for getting the seed. Three other members of the committee will be named within a few days.

The committee will leave next week to hunt the seed.


1) Melvin and his family had moved to the El Paso area from San Marcos in 1917. It's nice to see references to the multiple businesses he had a hand in. Apparently, in addition to beekeeping, and a cheese creamery, my great grandfather grew cotton. (I'm sure he had other crops as well.)

2) More on the Pink Bollworm, and the damage to Texas crops.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Melvin L Newmark - President of Washington University Alumni Federation - 1963

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.

Below is a newspaper article on, and photograph of, my paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark.

St. Louis Jewish Light – July 19 1963, p. 8.

Melvin L Newmark (above) St. Louis attorney, has been elected president of the Washington University Alumni Federation for 1963-1964. The Alumni Federation consists of presidents and past presidents of the alumni associations of individual schools at the University. Newmark, who resides at 701 Payson, Dr., Olivette, earned his LLB degree from Washington U. in 1936. He is a past president of the Alumni Association of Washington U., past president of the Missouri Lodge No. 22, B’nai B’rith, and has served in many community service positions. Presently he is a judge on the Municipal Bench of Olivette, a member of the board of the St. Louis Jewish Light, and is active in many other organizations. Mr. and Mrs. Newmark are the parents of three children.


1. My grandfather was a municipal court judge from 1962-1967. He was quoted several years later on why he resigned from the position.

2. While I am not short of photographs of my grandfather, I enjoy seeing what he looked like before my recollections.

Amanuensis Monday: Melvin L Newmark - President of United Hebrew Congregation 1971

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.

Below is a newspaper article on, and photograph of, my paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark.

St. Louis Jewish Light, Dec 1, 1971, p. 26.

Melvin Newmark Elected United Hebrew President

Melvin L. Newmark, an attorney, has been re-elected for a second term as President of United Hebrew Congregation.

Newmark is President of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees, a member of the Jewish Federation Board of Directors, and a former president of the Missouri-Illinois Regional Anti-Defamation League Board.

He was re-elected at the recent annual meeting of the congregation, which was addressed by Dr. Louis Schwartzman, Executive Director of the Central Agency for Jewish Education, who discussed, “What We Hope to Achieve for Reform Jewish Education in St. Louis.”

Also elected to office at the same meeting were: Echeal Feinstein, Barnett Goodman and Peter Lurie, vice presidents; George Nemon, secretary, and Joseph Goldstein, treasurer.

Elected to the Board of Directors were: Dan Bogard, Lee Demba, Morris Feldman, Earl Fishgall, Grank Friedman, Joseph C. Friedman, Ralph Friedman, Herman Friedman, Allen Furfine, Elmer Gidlow, Edward Golde, Emil Green, Harold Greenberg, Dr. Milton Jasper, Stanley Laiderman, Sidney Librach, Sam Michelson, I.E. Millstone, Max Orenstein, Morris Rosenthal, Harry T. Schukar, Dr. Irwin Schultz, Dr. Nathan Simon and Eugene Wolff.


1. I believe the photograph that accompanied the article is slightly older than the article. Here is a photo from four months earlier, in which his trademark mustache is much more defined. (The wig he is wearing here, is not in the August 1971 photo, though I've seen it in photographs both earlier and later. It is possible he wore it less frequently in the summer.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Newton Fulkerson and Jerry Usrey - January 1933

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.

Several articles from Sikeston, Missouri area newspapers tell the story of two deaths in a family a few days apart.

Sikeston Standard Oct 21, 1932, p. 5

Oscar Blackman, who has been visiting with his sister, Mrs. Newt Fulkerson for the past month, accompanied them to his home in Carrier Mills, Ill. We are glad to report that Mr. Fulkerson's conditions is somewhat improved. He has been suffering for some time with heart trouble.

Benton Scott County Democrat, January 19, 1933, p. 1


Newt Fulkerson, aged and respected citizen of McMullin, died at his home there Sunday and burial was made at Blodgett Monday. He was sick three or four weeks and was about 80 years of age. Several children survive, among whom are Mrs. Robert Gober of Vanduser and Will Fulkerson of near Sikeston.

The Sikeston Standard, Jan 24, 1933, p. 1


Funeral services were conducted Saturday afternoon from the residence of Mrs. Robert Gober of Vanduser, for her 4-year-old son, Jerry Wayne Usrey, who died Friday of a throat infection. Rev. D. M. Margraves officiated.

The child was buried beside the grave of his grandfather, Newton Fulkerson, who died January 15. Besides his mother and step-father, Robert Gober, he is survived by the following half-sisters and brothers: James W. Usrey, Mrs. Jean Berry and Miss Anna Lee Gober of Vanduser, Raymond Usrey of Cape Girardeau, and Harold and Miss Melba Usrey of Morehouse.

The Sikeston Standard – Jan 24, 1933 p.4

We wish to thank our many friends for their great kindness during the illness and death of our loved one, Newton Fulkerson. We especially desire to express appreciation to Rev. Margraves and the singers, also the undertaker, Geo. Dempster, and all those who sent floral offering. May God bless each and every one.

Mrs. Newton Fulkerson and Children
The Grandchildren

The Sikeston Standard – Jan 24, 1933 p.8.

Those from Illinois who attended the funeral of Newton Fulkerson were R.S. Hart, Mr. and Mrs. Hosie Blackman, Mrs. Pear King, Mrs. Ella Spears, Mrs. Veda Fulkerson, Lem Fulkerson and daughter, and Oscar Blackman.


1) My wife's grandmother, Anna Lee Gober, is mentioned as Jerry Usrey's half-sister.
2) The Sikeston Standard was published twice a week. I checked the January 17th and January 20th issues, but there was no obituary. My general search for "Fulkerson" in January 1933 papers turned up the Benton obituary using the nickname, 'Newt.' I hadn't seen that nickname before; another search retrieved the October article indicating that he had been suffering heart troubles.
3) I didn't make any changes to spelling and grammar. I believe there are a couple misspelled given names in the last article.

Amanuensis Monday: James Herman Fulkerson - Tuberculosis - Age 36 - 1931

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 articles concerning the death of James Herman Fulkerson, brother of my wife's great- grandmother, Mabel Fulkerson Gober.

Sikeston Standard, March 31, 1931, page 1.


James Herman Fulkerson, 36 years old, died Sunday evening about 5:00 o’clock, following an illness with tuberculosis. Mr. Fulkerson has been bedfast for about five weeks gradually becoming weaker. He leaves his wife and seven children, all of the home place, to mourn his death.

Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday morning at 10’oclock at the family residence near Morehouse, with Rev. A.C. Rudloff of the First Baptist Church of Sikeston officiating. Interment will be in the Dexter Cemetery with Dempster in charge.

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Fulkerson is survived by his brother, Willie, of near McMullin, and five sisters, Mrs. Virgil Williams and Mrs. John Healey of Sikeston, Mrs. Ellis Alcorn and Mrs. Sam Usrey of McMullin and Mrs. E.P. Huey of Mountain Grove.

Sikeston Standard, April 4, 1944, page 6


Gone but not forgotten, though it’s thirteen years, dear brother Jim, since you left us waiting here. We miss your sweet smiles more each day. The voice we loved so well we can hear no more. God knew you were one of the best, so he called you home to rest. God bless you, Brother, in your home above are the prayers from those you loved. Until some fair sweet morn when our hands shall join.

Sadly missed by a sister,
Mrs. Robert Gober.


1) In 1931, Mabel was a widow, as her husband Samuel Usrey had died in 1929. She would marry Robert Gober shortly thereafter, as their daughter Anna was born in June of 1932.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Seeking Advice on Searching Newspaper Archives When The Hits Are Numerous

So a local weekly newspaper has recently uploaded 55 years of newspapers to
That's 2860 issues.

Simple surname searches on just ancestral surnames (not including various and sundry branches) yield over 3000 hits. An average of at least one relative per issue. I wouldn't be surprised if I started searching on those branches I could get the average up to 2.

Of course, for most of these hits, I don't need to download the article. For classified ads, I might download one occurrence. I don't need to download box scores from high school baseball games. But I still need to go through the results. Keep track of my searches. And do it in such a way that I don't repeat the work.

Any suggestions on process?


After some thought, I have come to the realization that when every issue might have an article of interest, search functions are no longer a time-saver. Especially when I am looking for multiple surnames, some of them less unique than others. I have been slowly going through microfilm at the library for a similar local paper, and I will have to treat this one similarly. It will be quicker, since I am not limited to library hours, and reading the online images are easier on the eyes than the microfilm.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Harold Newmark and the 101st Airborne - 1950

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.

Harold Newmark (1918-2003) was the brother of my grandfather. When I transcribed his obituary, it mentioned he was in the 101st Airborne division during WWII. However, at that time, I didn't know what that may have meant.

The St. Louis Star and Times – Jan 18, 1950 p. 29
Vets of Bulge Reminisce At Area Reunion
By Bob Schulman – Star-Times Staff Writer

BOB CAWEIN, who has only two fingers on his right hand and a jagged scar along his right temple, smiled wryly.

“Five years ago last month, most of us wouldn’t have bet a plugged nickel this meeting would ever be held.”

Cawein’s delight at being present was keenly shared by the 20 other St. Louisans who showed up with him the other evening, in the Armory on Market st.


FIVE YEARS AGO they were still members of the 101st Airborne Division, thrown into the snow-covered Belgian town of Bastogne to bleed, freeze, or both, as eight crack Nazi divisions surrounded them in one of the most dramatic episodes of World War II.

The Armory meeting was their first formal reunion since the war. It was called by onetime Pfc. Harold Newmark of University City, vice-president of American Textile Products, Inc., to create a St. Louis chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association.

The current movie, “Battleground,” is a graphic portrayal of what happened at Bastogne. But until the reminiscences started rolling it was difficult to fit the men at the meeting into the roles.

At Bastogne, the Germans had dubbed them “the big-pocketed butchers.” But now they were just another collection of civilians and an airman.

“We’re not the commando type,” Cawein, a truck lines salesman, conceded with a grin. “I used to wear a size 34 suit. Now I wear a 46.”

Newmark was up from a size 30 to a size 36. George W. (Pops) Hendrix of Webster Groves was down to 119 pounds when they froze him in at Bastogne. Now he’s back to his 168 – quite proper for a man of 45.


1) More on the Siege of Bastogne.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Frederick Fulkerson (1759-1824) and Elizabeth Pottinger

Frederick Fulkerson (1759-1824) is one of my wife's fifth great grandfathers.

The phrase "Frederick married to Elizabeth POTTINGER (in 1799) and several others" appears in a handful of places on the internet. And countless other people have copied the facts of a 1799 marriage, and additional unnamed wives. Inevitably, with a few exceptions, five children are attributed to Frederick and Elizabeth, all with dates of birth prior to 1799.

I have a difficult time imagining the logical processes of a family historian who notes Frederick had multiple wives, married one of these wives in 1799, and then assumes that this wife is the mother of Frederick's five children, all born prior to their marriage.

It's certainly possible the 1799 date for the marriage is wrong. If it were wrong by 10 years, that is if the correct marriage year was 1789, that would help with two of the five (three if we allow for a January marriage while Elizabeth was in her final month of pregnancy. That type of thing did happen.) My wife's ancestor, Richard Fulkerson, was the one born January 29, 1789.

Allegedly. I haven't seen the records from which any of the dates involved are taken.
I have not recorded Elizabeth Pottinger as my wife's fifth great grandmother.

I suggest anyone reading this who have Frederick and Elizabeth in their database as ancestors should put a huge question mark beside Elizabeth's name in their notes. Unless they have records to back it up. In which case, please contact me.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Anton Schrock on Grape Culture in Bollinger County Missouri in 1880

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.

My wife's 3rd great Grandfather, Anton Schrock (1819-1900) was quoted in a Special Report of the US Department of Agriculture. Special Report #36, "Report Upon Statistics of Grape Culture and Wine Production in the United States for 1880," p. 73.

ANTON Schrock, Marble Hill, Bollinger County:

Bollinger County has a considerable area which seems well adapted to grapes that are excellent for table use and the production of wine. Those now engaged in grape culture in this vicinity are only amateurs, and cultivate by small patches of one-half acre to three acres, apart from their regular business of farming. Some sell their grapes in our towns or send them to Saint Louis. I make wine in a small way because it has dull sale here. We need immigration of Germans from the wine provinces who perfectly understand grape culture and the manufacture of wine. The Ives and Hartford do well, but the Norton's Virginia does the best. Concord bore abundantly last year.


1) Norton wines still do well in Missouri.
2) There is an "Abram Fulkerson" who is quoted directly above Schrock in the report. He is possibly related in some fashion to my wife's Fulkerson ancestors.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The ancestor who moved the farthest

Randy Seaver at Geneamusings asks: Which of your ancestors moved the farthest from home?

Of course, I first think about my ancestors who immigrated from Eastern Europe

  • My second great grandparents, Moshe Leyb and Minnie Cruvant, and their family moved 4,872 miles from Cekiske, Lithuania to St. Louis, Missouri
  • My second great grandfather, Morris Blatt, and his daughters moved 4,980 miles from Losice, Poland to St. Louis
  • My maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch moved 5,236 mies from Varalmas, Hungary (now Almasu, Romania) to Chicago, Illinois, and then to St. Louis. (He accompanied his parents and siblings on the first, and longest leg of the journey.)
  • My second great grandparents, Selig and Annie Feinstein, and their family either moved 5,260 miles from Zhitomir, Ukraine to St. Louis, or 5,477 miles from Oleksandriya, Ukraine to St. Louis. (Those are the two most likely origin points for his family.)
So the Feinsteins win for distance, right?

Well, there is more than one way to define "move."  My paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark, while serving during World War II, was stationed in Australia, easily beating them all. My maternal grandfather was stationed in Africa and the Middle East. Thankfully, both returned to their homes in St. Louis.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tech Tip: Making your Blog/Website more Accessible

How accessible is your blog/website? Is the color/size/font of your text readable to everyone?
Can someone click a button and have the text read to them?

Sure, those with difficulties often have apps of their own to do this for any website, but maybe they’re away from their computer and at a library computer that doesn’t have them.

ATBar (Assistive Technologies) provides a free app, easy to install, that creates a toolbar increasing the accessibility of your blog or website. Download and install instructions can be found on the AtBar website.

You can insert the code anywhere on your blog/website. I have placed it in my left-column. Once you click the ATbar button, a toolbar similar to the one pictured below should appear on your screen.

“ATbar has been created as an open-source, cross-browser toolbar to help users customise the way they view and interact with web pages. The concept behind ATbar is simple: One toolbar to provide all of the functionality you would usually achieve through the use of different settings or products.” 
“It is designed for those who may not have their assistive technologies to hand and need a quick way of accessing text on the screen with magnification and/or text to speech etc. It can help those with low vision, dyslexia and other reading difficulties, as well as those who may wish to just reduce the glare of black text on bright white backgrounds. It is not designed for regular screen reader users who need their assistive technology to access the computer as well as their browser.”
Added functions include:
1) Increase
2) Decrease font size
3) Change font typeface/line spacing
4) Spellcheck
5) Dictionary
6) Text to Speech
7) Word Prediction
8) Change text, link, and background colors
9) Create an overlay color for the site

Monday, May 29, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: The Wedding of Virginia Ellen Cruvant and Ronald Ruben Zimmerman

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.

This week I look at a newspaper article that mentions the wedding of Virginia Ellen Cruvant (1915-2013) and Ronald Zimmerman (1913-1976). Virginia's father, Solomon, was the youngest brother of my great grandmother, Bertha (Cruvant) Newmark. The article comes from The Modern View, a local Jewish newspaper. Their archives are on microfilm at the St. Louis County Library.

Zimmerman - Cruvant

Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Cruvant of Springfield, Ill., have announced the marriage of their daughter, Miss Virginia Ellen Cruvant and R. Ruben Zimmerman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Zimmerman of 762 Kingsland avenue, which took place, on Wednesday morning, August 23, in the study of Rabbi Ferdinand M. Isserman at Temple Israel, at 10:30 o'clock. A breakfast at the Hotel Coronado followed the ceremony, after which the bridal pair left on a wedding trip to Old Mexico. They will reside at 7203 Dartmouth avenue.

The Modern View, Sept 28, 1939, p.14

-- Social Notes --

Mr. and Mrs. R. Ruben Zimmerman, who were married on August 23, have returned from their honeymoon in Old Mexico and are at home at 7203 Dartmouth avenue.

The Modern View, Sept 28, 1939, p. 12.


1) I wasn't aware that Sol Cruvant's family had lived in Springfield, IL.  I believe they were in St. Louis until about 1925, spent 4-5 years in Canton, Ohio. After that, I'm unsure.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memorial Day - 2017

Below is my annual post for Memorial Day Weekend.

A post on what Memorial Day is for, besides barbecues.

The above image comes from a past version of the Memorial Day page at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, explaining that Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who died in the service of their country.  [Read the full text of the poem.]
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action. [source]
[More on the history of Memorial Day]

Unnamed Remains the Bravest Soldier - by Walt Whitman (From 'Specimen Days')

OF scenes like these, I say, who writes—whoe’er can write the story? Of many a score—aye, thousands, north and south, of unwrit heroes, unknown heroisms, incredible, impromptu, first-class desperations—who tells? No history ever—no poem sings, no music sounds, those bravest men of all—those deeds. No formal general’s report, nor book in the library, nor column in the paper, embalms the bravest, north or south, east or west. Unnamed, unknown, remain, and still remain, the bravest soldiers. Our manliest—our boys—our hardy darlings; no picture gives them. Likely, the typic one of them (standing, no doubt, for hundreds, thousands,) crawls aside to some bush-clump, or ferny tuft, on receiving his death-shot—there sheltering a little while, soaking roots, grass and soil, with red blood—the battle advances, retreats, flits from the scene, sweeps by—and there, haply with pain and suffering (yet less, far less, than is supposed,) the last lethargy winds like a serpent round him—the eyes glaze in death—none recks—perhaps the burial-squads, in truce, a week afterwards, search not the secluded spot—and there, at last, the Bravest Soldier crumbles in mother earth, unburied and unknown.

The cartoon above is by John T. McCutcheon - published circa 1900

I have many ancestors and kin who served in their nation's armed forces during war-time. I honor them on Veterans Day.
However, the closest relative who was killed in action was my grandfather's brother, my great-uncle, Mandell Newmark.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ancestry "We're Related" Mobile App and Private Ancestors

I haven't blogged for awhile about's mobile "We're Related" app for finding celebrity kin. Shortly after my list reached 100, I re-focused the app to find cousins for my wife. Lately it has been producing several ancestries that include "Private" ancestors. This makes no sense to me since the ancestors in question are all obviously deceased. I have "communicated" with Ancestry about it. By that I mean I have sent comments through their mobile app's feedback feature. I have received no responses. No indication anyone has read my queries. And this has been over a several month period.*

Anyway, today's "Possible Relative" is the most egregious of the examples. The "Common Ancestor" is marked private. So are the next two ancestors in both my wife's descent, and the celebrity's descent.

It would be cool if my wife did share a common ancestor with William Butler Yeats. It looks like the common ancestor might have the surname Taylor. However, in my opinion, whatever computer algorithm allows the app to even consider connections with ancestors that are marked 'private' should be eliminated from the code. Assuming the information comes from someone's Ancestry family tree, that they marked an obviously deceased individual as 'Private' should be a red flag that the information is questionable.

That said, my favorite part of the We're Related app is that it provides me with something to research. I like puzzles. In a fashion, this reminds me of diagramless crossword puzzles - which provide an even greater challenge than regular crossword puzzles.

* I sent feedback on this topic on March 21, April 29, May 8, and May 18. It's now been two months since the first message. None of these messages which I sent to the Ancestry Mobile App Team have received a response. The feedback on April 29 specifically requested some response to indicate someone was reading my feedback. The conclusion that I reach is that Ancestry has ceased supporting the app, even if they haven't made that announcement.