History

Hunt for Acadian Ancestors Resumes in Louisiana

Mark Rees, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor of anthropology and archeology, is leading two research assistants this summer in field work along the Bayou Teche near Loreauville. They want to learn where the Acadian exiles first settled in Acadiana some 250 years ago. It’s all part of the New Acadia Project, or Projet Nouvelle-Acadie, a long-term, multidisciplinary project that could set the record straight about Cajun heritage.

“We want to provide some measured facts and places of interest that speak to people in terms of their identity, who they are,” Rees said.

Sir Tony Robinson Reviews Life Before World War I

In a video presentation, Sir Tony Robinson uses the records available today to get a better understanding of what life and times were like before World War I. If your ancestors lived in England at that time, you can obtain a better understanding of their lives, thanks to this video.

You can view the 44-minute video on the Ancestry.com Blog at http://goo.gl/uNtcVu or on YouTube at http://youtu.be/gCSXXsrytBs or in the video player below.

Are You Ready for Friggatriskaidekaphobia? (The Fear of Friday the 13th)

Look at the calendar. See Friday of this week? Yes, it is Friday the 13th.

I am not superstitious. Really, I am not. Well, maybe just a little…

The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia. The word is derived from Frigga, the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named in English, and triskaidekaphobia, meaning fear of the number thirteen.

Numerous stories abound as to the origins of the fear of Friday the 13th. However, Wikipedia claims “there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th.

Historic Jamestown at Risk from Rising Seas

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell got a firsthand look Thursday at the effect of climate change on ever-receding Jamestown island, concluding that America’s first permanent European settlement is clearly vulnerable to rising seas. Led by National Park Service rangers, Jewell trekked around the island, where some sections now lie beneath the James River, and heard of the devastation in 2003 when Hurricane Isabel raked the low-lying landscape. The storm left many parts of the island underwater and destroyed thousands of artifacts retrieved from archaeological digs. Many are still being restored.

Our Ancestors Once Thought Mice Grew Out of Wheat and Sweaty Shirts

Our forebears couldn’t figure out how maggots could just up and appear in a corpse, or how oysters just seemed to materialize in the sea. They had to have been spontaneously generating, no sex required.

In the 17th century, physician and chemist Jean Baptiste van Helmont devised a home recipe for the manufacture of mice. It was quite simple, really, far simpler than getting a girl mouse and boy mouse together with a tiny bottle of wine: “If a soiled shirt is placed in the opening of a vessel containing grains of wheat,” he wrote, “the reaction of the leaven in the shirt with fumes from the wheat will, after approximately 21 days, transform the wheat into mice.”

Isn’t modern knowledge a wonderful thing?

Interactive D-day Landings Scenes in 1944 and Now

Here is a fascinating study of history during World War II versus today. Peter Macdiarmid has taken photographs of locations in France and England to match with archive images taken before, during and after the D-day landings. The Allied invasion to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi occupation during the Second World War took place on 6 June 1944. Operation Overlord was the largest seaborne invasion in military history, with more than 156,000 Allied troops storming the beaches of France

You can view the “then and now” photos at http://goo.gl/KzBt95. The first photos you see will be those taken in 1944. Click on a photo to see the image taken 70 years later.

Galway Historian Reveals Truth Behind 800 Orphans in Mass Grave

Here is one of the saddest stories I have read in a long time. If you don’t want to read about sad things in history, skip this article. However, I also have to commend the efforts of historian and genealogist Catherine Corless for revealing the truth and solving a mystery.

How Do You Pronounce “Ye”?

Many of us have encountered “ye” in old documents. Of course, we have all seen tourist shops labeled as “ye olde” something-or-other. How many of us know how to pronounce that?

For years, I assumed it was pronounced as it was written. I would pronounce it as “Yee Old.” Perhaps a more correct way to write it is with a long e: . I was a bit surprised later to learn that I had been wrong.

New England Holocaust Institute and Museum is Closing

A man who opened a small Holocaust museum in western Massachusetts a year and a half ago says he’s shutting down because there just isn’t enough interest. Rare photographs of life in the concentration camps are there, as are records Nazis kept on Jews and prisoners. Owner Darrell English says the New England Holocaust Institute and Museum in North Adams will close June 30.

Details and a video may be found in an article by Scott Stafford published in the Berkshire Eagle at http://goo.gl/DvMIHm.

America’s Sources Of Immigrants Through The Years

With more than 40 million immigrants, the United States is the top destination in the world for those moving from one country to another. Mexico, which shares a nearly 2,000-mile border with the U.S., is the source of the largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States. But today’s volume of immigrants, in some ways, is a return to America’s past.

You can read the rest of this article and look at some very interesting maps showing where are ancestors came from in an article by Jens Manuel Krogstad and Michael Keegan in the Pew research Center’s web site at http://goo.gl/hBW7MT.

The History of Memorial Day

Monday in the United States is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who died in our nation’s service. The origins of this day of remembrance are in doubt, with more than two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War.

Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

It is believed that the end of May was chosen for the first Memorial Day because ” flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”

Richard III’s Family Descendants Lose Battle over Reburial in Leicester

Descendants of the family of Richard III, the last king of England to die on a battlefield, have lost a legal battle over where his recently discovered remains should be reinterred.

Three high court judges ruled that the twisted and traumatised skeleton found under a council car park should remain in Leicester, and said it was “time for King Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest”. The judges rejected the claim of distant relatives from the Plantagenet Alliance that justice secretary Chris Grayling was under a legal duty to set up a wide-ranging consultation over the reburial site.

Details may be found in an article by Caroline Davies in The Guardian web site at http://goo.gl/aixErL.

Here is Your Opportunity to Own a Historic Collectable: the Propellor from the SS United States

Click to view a larger image

Would you like to own a very unique piece of history? If so, you can bid in an auction for a piece from the luxury passenger liner built in 1952 for the United States Line. The ship is the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the US, the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction, and, even in her retirement, retains the record of the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed.

The SS United States Conservancy is looking to sell a massive propeller sitting on its deck in Philadelphia. The purchaser will be responsible for removing and transporting the four-blade, 18-foot diameter, 60,000-pound propeller.

Security Concerns of 1900

Privacy is a modern problem of the online world. At least so it would seem if you read today’s many newspaper, magazine, and online articles about the topic. Some people believe that this is a modern problem. Not so! Our ancestors had similar fears about protecting their privacy from encroaching modern technology

Glenn Fleishman wrote an article several years ago at http://goo.gl/d9YKm6 entitled The Killer App of 1900, pointing out that the privacy fears and phobias of more than 100 years ago were little different from today. The following words were spoken in court by attorney Henry Anderson in 1905 A.D.:

Only Extant Revolutionary War Mine Tunnel Opened

The History Blog reports that archeologists, local firefighters, and National Park Service staff have started to explore a tunnel dug during a siege in South Carolina in 1781. This is apparently the only tunnel created during a Revolutionary War siege to survive, and, in fact, it survived in good shape.

The 125-foot tunnel was designed by Polish humanist, engineer and Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko during the 1781 siege of the earthen Star Fort in the town of Ninety Six, South Carolina. The plan was for the tunnel to extend underneath the Star Fort so that it could be mined from below and blown up. British reinforcements arrived before the tunnel was finished, which is why it, unlike its more successful brethren, managed to survive the war.

Grace Hopper and the UNIVAC

Click on the image to view a larger version

Look at the handheld tablet or smartphone you carry in your pocket or purse. It seems difficult to believe it is far more powerful than the Univac-I computer that weighed 13 tons, had 5,200 vacuum tubes, and took up a whole garage. Only 46 Univac-I computers were ever built but it revolutionized the world.

Grace Hopper, born in New York in 1906, was an associate professor of mathematics at Vassar when WWII broke out. Volunteering for the US Navy Reserve, she was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project, where she worked on the Harvard Mark I project (a calculating machine used in the war effort), from 1944–9, co-authoring several papers.

A Map of Who Doesn’t Have Indoor Plumbing in the United States

1.6 million Americans live somewhat like their ancestors did: without indoor plumbing. I can identify with that as I grew up in a house without indoor plumbing. That was a few years ago, however. Someday I will re-post my article about two-story and three-story outhouses, complete with pictures. No, that is not a joke. Multi-story outhouses were rather common in the northern climates at one time.

A recent American Community Survey says that nearly 630,000 occupied homes in the United States still lack complete plumbing facilities, and The Washington Post whipped it into a handy interactive map. As you might expect, the rural areas have a higher percentage of homes without indoor plumbing.

Did you also grow up with indoor “facilities?”

Looking for Descendants of Residents of the Lost Village In New York City

One of Manhattan’s earliest communities of African-American property owners was in the middle of what is now Central Park. Between 1825 and the mid-1850s, it was alive. Seneca Village was home to a variety of Americans. Most were of African descent, but there were also Irish and German and maybe some Native Americans, as well. The 1855 state census noted that 264 people lived there. The village included a school, three churches and some cemeteries. However, one mystery remains: Researchers have not been able to find a single living descendant of anyone who was a resident of Seneca Village.

13 Tips for Landing a Wife (in the 19th Century)

In 1883, a Methodist minister named George W. Hudson wrote an “advice for men” book: The Marriage Guide for Young Men: A Manual of Courtship and Marriage. It was self-published, perhaps because traditional publishers of the time couldn’t handle all the hard-core truth the Reverend was going to deliver. It is amusing and often politically incorrect when read in the twenty-first century. However, our ancestors probably believed these to be “facts.” Here are some excerpts:

“Whenever you see a woman with a good, full, round back head, combined with a good front, you may be sure that she is capable of giving a good degree of energy and pluck to her children; and better still, that full back head denotes that she is well sexed, capable of loving husband and children devotedly, and capable of giving her children a good sexual endowment.”

One suggestion is that a potential wife should be capable of working hard and able to “lift a good load”:

USCIS Webinar: Understanding the Lists of Deported Immigrants…

Many of us think about all the immigrants who arrived in Ellis Island, Castle Garden, Philadelphia, Boston, and other ports of entries without thinking about those who were denied entry or about those who were allowed to enter and then were later departed. In fact, not everyone was allowed to enter. Ellis Island was sometimes known as “The Island of Tears” or “Heartbreak Island” because roughly 2% of the would-be immigrants were not admitted after the long transatlantic voyage.

Immigrants were denied entry because of disease, lack of money, or the lack of nearby relatives who would take responsibility for them. Immigrants denied entry could appeal to a Special Inquiry Board, which granted them entry if an immigrant aid society or other party would post their bond. Statistics for other ports of entry are not well documented but probably were similar to the Ellis Island numbers. Perhaps a greater resource for genealogy purposes is the records of those who were admitted and yet later departed for a number of reasons.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Historian Marian Smith will hold an online “Records Found” webinar on Thursday, May 22, 2014, at 1:00 pm Eastern Time:

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