Sunday, May 31, 2020

1913 Benton Basketball Team - Robert Lee Gober - Genealogy and Algebra

Robert Lee Gober (1895-1971) is on the far left in the photograph below, holding the basketball. He is my wife's great grandfather. Benton is the County Seat for Scott County, in Southeastern Missouri.

Born in 1895, Robert Lee Gober would have been 18 in 1913. We know as an adult he was 6'4" tall, though we do not know if he had stopped growing by the time of this photograph. I don't know the identities of any of the other young men, but I was curious how much they varied in height. Let's assume he was 6'4" tall. Can we estimate the height of the shortest teammate? Definitely.

Examining the photograph in my photo-editor, RL Gober is 1,775 pixels in height, and the shortest teammate is 1,515. (I measured from the top of the head to the bottom of the foot, choosing the back foot for both individuals)

76 inches / 1775 pixels = X inches / 1,515 pixels
Solving for X, he is 64.87 inches tall. Or 5'5. Almost a full foot shorter than Robert.
Naturally, there is some room for error in how I calculated the pixels.

(You didn't realize algebra would come in handy for genealogy, did you?)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend 2020

Below is my annual post for Memorial Day.

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.

Mandell was born Jan 31, 1923. He was almost certainly named after his great-grandfather Mandell Mojsabovski. He enlisted in the army on Feb 22, 1943, and served as a Sgt. Technician Fifth Grade, in the 163rd infantry. He was killed in action on April 15, 1945. Less than a month prior to VE day

My grandfather also had a second cousin, Arnold Kruvant, who was killed in action during the D-Day invasion.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Ancestry’s Indexing of Newspapers.com Obituaries

Here’s a research tip that probably should go without saying, but sometimes as humans we get tired or sloppy, and forget. Indexes made by humans have errors in them. Indexes made by computers do too. Perhaps more.

Ancestry’s indexing of their obituaries from Newspapers.com should not be trusted without looking at the actual obituary. A computer has done the indexing, and not a human. The algorithms are good, but not perfect. This is a great illustration. Patrick Swayze never resided in a town called “Ghost,” and he didn’t marry “Jennifer Grey.” While these mistakes are humorous, and obvious to any fan of the actor, consider what other mistakes the computer algorithms may be making with the obituaries of those in your tree. (I have distant Swayze ancestors, and Patrick is possibly a 9th cousin.)