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Noreen Patricia Guether, R.I.P

Sad news: long-time genealogist and subscriber to this newsletter Noreen Patricia Guether passed away on Saturday in Long Branch, NJ after a brave battle with lung cancer that spread to her spine and brain. Her obituary may be found at http://goo.gl/FniSbM.

Man Killed by Falling Headstone

You need to be careful in cemeteries. They are dangerous places.

A man decorating a gravesite for Easter died Monday morning when a headstone fell on him in Pennsylvania. Police say Stephen Woytack, 74, of Scranton was the man killed at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Throop. Throop police say Woytack was kneeling beside his mother-in-law’s headstone as his wife was on the other side, tying a cross on with string. The stone fell on Woytack, killing him.

Using Basic Genealogy Tools and Methods to Show that Your Family Name Was NOT Changed at Ellis Island

There is a common misconception, call it an old wives tale or an urban legend, that family names were often changed at Ellis Island. Such myths gain a great deal of credibility when newspapers such as the New York Times, the country’s “paper of record”, perpetuates these myths by repeating them, in this case in obituaries.

Kenneth A. Bravo, JD did a bit of research and found about half a dozen Times obituaries with similar erroneous Ellis Island stories. After doing the research on each, he was able to show the original name for each of them.

Latest Version of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Sean Hayes is now Available on iTunes

Click on the above image to view a larger version

If you missed last night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Sean Hayes (as I did), you can now retrieve it from iTunes for $2.99. I watched it this morning on an Apple TV. Previous episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? are also available. A Season Pass to all of this year’s episodes costs $14.99.

To view the episodes, launch the iTunes Software on your Windows, Macintosh, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch device and search for “Who Do You Think You Are?

NOTE: iTunes videos and music apparently can be copied to Android devices as well although the process is rather complicated. I haven’t tried that myself but an article at http://www.hdmediaconverter.com/install-itunes-on-android/ seems to describe the process.

The Alcohol Consumption of Our Ancestors

According to a chart created in 1790 by Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and foremost physician, citizens in the newly-formed United States drank a lot of distilled spirits. An article by Megan Gambino in the Smithsonian web site claims that, by 1830, each person, on average, was swilling more than seven gallons of alcohol per year.

“The tradition in a lot of communities was to have a drink for breakfast. You had a drink mid-morning. You might have whiskey with lunch. You had a beer with dinner, and you ended with a nightcap,” says Bruce Bustard, a curator at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. “There was a fair amount of alcohol consumption by children too.” In fact, drinking was seen as a health benefit, useful to prevent fevers and to ease digestion.

You can read the full article in the Smithsonian at http://goo.gl/0u7tlu.

Plus Edition Newsletter Has Been Sent

To all Plus Edition subscribers:

The notice of the latest EOGN Plus Edition newsletter was sent to you a few hours ago. Here are the articles in this week’s Plus Edition newsletter:

(+) Are You a Family Historian or a Name Collector?

(+) Waymarking for Genealogists and Historians

The History of April Fools’ Day

Branches for iPad adds Several New Features

Announcing LibreOffice Online

Daughters of the Republic of Texas sue the Texas General Land Office

(+) Are You a Family Historian or a Name Collector?

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I have a question. None of my living relatives knows the answer to this question. I have not found the answer to this question in any public records, nor have I been able to find the answer in cemeteries. I have read a few magazine articles and Internet pages about the topic, but none of them have directly answered the question.

The question is… “Why do we study genealogy?”

What makes anyone so curious about his or her family tree? What drives us to dedicate time, effort, and sometimes expenses to go find dead people?

What is it inside of us that makes us spend hours and hours cranking reels of microfilm, then we go home and report to our family members what a great day we had?

Recent Updates to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

The following pages have recently been updated in the Calendar of Genealogy Events:

United Kingdom, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee

Some of the above changes may have been deletions of previous events.

All information in the Calendar of Events is contributed by YOU and by other genealogists. You can directly add information to the Calendar about your local genealogy event.

Super Cheap Storage Space in the Cloud for Your Files

Prices keep dropping in technology and especially for services on the Internet. Everyone needs to make backups of their critical files and many people, myself included, make those backups to web-based services such as DropBox, SugarSync, iCloud, Google Drive, and numerous others. Some of those services even give away a modest amount of storage space free of charge. For instance, DropBox allows users up to 2 gigabytes of free space. Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive service both are free for the first 15 gigabytes of storage space. Other services may offer more or less storage free of charge.

If the free storage space is large enough to meet your needs, I’d suggest you take advantage of the offers. However, many of us need more space than what is available free of charge. In many cases, we need a lot more space to store family photographs, genealogy databases, email messages, last year’s tax returns, and much, much more. One terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) on Dropbox costs $100/year, on Google Drive it’s $120/year, and iCloud charges $240/year.

For some period of time, Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier have been the low-priced leaders in the off-site file storage services. Now the same company has even dropped its prices further.

The History of April Fools’ Day

One of my favorite holidays will occur this week: April Fools’ Day. Perhaps it is not an official holiday but I will suggest it should be. It is a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s friends and neighbors. How did this custom get started? Did our ancestors play similar jokes on their friends? Like many things that started centuries ago, the origins of April Fools’ Day are shrouded in mystery.

Some historians will suggest that April Fools’ Day’s origins may be related to religion. It possibly is derived from the Roman festival of Hilaria, a day of rejoicing, or the Holi festival of India, a springtime celebration of love, frolic, and colors. However, proof seems to be lacking.

Rare 1928 Photos of England in Color

Or should that be spelled “Colour?”

In the late 1920s and early 1930s National Geographic sent photographer Clifton R. Adams to England to record its farms, towns and cities, and its people at work and play. Adams happened to record it all in color using the Autochrome process, something that was radically new at the time. Prior to 1928, many people had only seen black-and-white photographs.

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

The Obituary of Captain Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr.

Captain Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr., 60, died Feb. 28, 2015, nestled in the bosom of his family, while smoking, drinking whiskey and telling lies. He died from complications resulting from being stubborn, refusing to go to the doctor, and raising hell for six decades. Stomach cancer also played a minor role in his demise.

His full obituary may be found at http://homertribune.com/2015/03/obituary-march-25.

Graves4Sale.com

I thought I had seen all sorts of “real estate” advertisements, but a new one caught my eye this week. This online real estate service advertises very small plots of land for sale. Very small.

Many people own cemetery plots that are no longer needed or wanted. If you contact the cemetery office, you probably receive a reply that they do not repurchase cemetery plots. Why should they? After all, the cemetery’s owners probably have more plots of their own still for sale.

Google Books Reduces its Digitizing and Preservation of old Books while Internet Archive Increases its Efforts at the Same Thing

An article in The Message states that Google is reducing its efforts at digitizing old books. That certainly is a loss for genealogists, historians, and many others. In what appears to be an unrelated move, the Internet Archive is INCREASING its efforts at digitizing old books, adding 1,000 books to the online collection EACH DAY. Perhaps there is hope for genealogists after all.

In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour. Since then, the company has digitized millions of old books, creating a valuable archive. Google Books is still online, but has curtailed its scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The Google Books Blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account has been dormant since February 2013.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 5.8 Million Indexed Records and Images for Australia, Canada, Hungary, Russia, South Africa, and the United States

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch has added to its collections more than 5.8 million indexed records and images for Australia, Canada, Hungary, Russia, South Africa, and the United States. Notable collection updates include 2,435,483 indexed records from the Canada Census, 1911 collection; 2,069,202 indexed records from the Australia, Queensland Cemetery Records, 1802–1990 collection; and 310,900 images from the Russia, Tula Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists), 1758–1895 collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

Findmypast adds new US & UK Records

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

Over a million fascinating British and US military records are now available to search thanks to the latest installment of Findmypast Friday. Over 1.3 million US Civil War pension records are now available to search and the ability to search by surname has been added to our collection of British Mariners, Trinity House Calendar records. Nearly 29,000 records containing the details of Officers and enlisted men who served with the Royal Artillery are also now available to search along with a First World War Roll of Honour from Clacton on Sea in Essex.

United States Civil War Pension Files Index 1861-1934
Containing over 1.3 million records, the United States Civil War Pension Files Index, 1861-1934, is an index of pension application cards for veterans and their beneficiaries. This time period actually covers veterans of numerous wars including the Civil War, the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection and World War I. The bulk of these files pertain to service in the U.S. Civil War, which saw millions of Americans enlisted into the Union Army. Pensions were received by soldiers or their beneficiaries for service rendered and were available to widows, children under the age of sixteen, and dependent relatives of soldiers who died in military service from war-related injuries or diseases. Each record includes a transcript and many include an image of the original index card. Most transcripts will list the applicant’s name, relation and year of application, while images can reveal the veteran’s unit, the time he applied for the pension, names of his widow or children, pension application numbers, previous pension application numbers, certificate numbers, and the name of his attorney.

Ancestry.com Contract Worker at National Records Center in St. Louis Fired for Mishandling Draft-Card Information

An employee of ancestry.com who was working at the Federal Records Center in St. Louis was fired for allegedly throwing out draft-card information, a federal administrator said.

Bryan McGraw, director of the National Personnel Records Center, said Friday that his staff recovered all the papers, some of them from a trash can. The incident on March 12 prompted the federal agency to halt contract work by Ancestry Inc., which operates as ancestry.com, at St. Louis and four other sites.

Details may be found in an article by Tim O’Neil in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at http://goo.gl/FrQcze.

U.S. Version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” to Feature Sean Hayes this Sunday

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

Sean Hayes’ estranged father has a troubled past, so Sean goes on a journey to discover the root of the problem on Who Do You Think You Are?, airing this Sunday, March 29 at 10/9c on TLC.

Sean’s journey takes him to Chicago where he uncovers the sad details of his grandfather’s early death on skid row. Sean then follows his ancestral trail to Ireland, where court documents reveal the chaos in the Hayes family runs generations deep. Through Sean’s search, he is able to deepen his understanding of his father and appreciate that he’s broken a turbulent family pattern on his own.

Key details from Sean’s episode include:

  • Sean’s father left the family when Sean was just 5, and they’re currently estranged. Since there’s such a big disconnect with his father’s family, Sean wants to know more about his paternal roots. He’d like to know what led to his father’s troubled past; why his father and his siblings were placed in an orphanage when at least one of their parents was still alive.

NGS 2016 Family History Conference Call for Papers Closes 1 April 2015

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

ARLINGTON, VA, 26 MARCH 2015—Time is running out to submit lecture proposals for the NGS 2016 Family History Conference. Speakers and sponsoring organizations must submit their proposals by 1 April 2015. The conference, entitled Exploring the Centuries: Footprints in Time, will be held 4–7 May 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The ethnic makeup of Florida is, and always has been, diverse. Native Americans—including Miccosukees, Choctaw, Creek, Timucua, and Calusa—lived throughout the area, which became known as La Florida after the arrival of Ponce de León in 1513. The Spanish were followed by other groups such as the French, British, Irish, German, and Greeks. The importation of African slaves also affected society in Florida as did the formation of the Seminole alliance. All of these people have left many footprints in time and a rich repository of records to trace our ancestry.

Announcing LibreOffice Online

I ditched Microsoft Word several years ago and started experimenting with different word processors. I eventually settled on LibreOffice, a FREE suite of programs that includes a word processor (replacing Microsoft Word), a spreadsheet program (replacing Microsoft Excel), a presentation program (replacing Microsoft PowerPoint), a drawing program, a database creation and management program, and a formula editor that can be invoked in your text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings, to enable you to insert mathematical and scientific formulas. LibreOffice is available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

NOTE: The LibreOffice programs are similar to, but different from, Microsoft Office. It is not 100% compatible. For instance, macros in LibreOffice’s spreadsheet program are different from those in Microsoft Excel. Even so, the LibreOffice suite of programs meets the needs of hundreds of thousands of computer users, corporations, and non-profits around the world.

Best of all is the price tag: FREE. LibreOffice never asks for payments although the sponsoring organization will accept donations. Most of the articles published in this newsletter, including the article you are reading at this moment, were created with LibreOffice.

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