New York Centenarian Makes the Rest of Us Look Like Lazy Slackers

Felimina Rotundo works 11 hours day, six days a week at a Buffalo Laundromat. She works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week washing clothes and handling dry cleaning at the College Laundry Shoppe on Main Street in Buffalo. Born in 1915, Felimina celebrated her 100th birthday in August.

Felimina says she likes being out and working because it “gives her something to do.” She hasn’t considered retirement and will continue working as long as her health is good. She also says too many people retire too soon. Her advice to her peers: “Get out and do some work.”

Gordon Honeycombe, R.I.P.

Former broadcaster Gordon Honeycombe, the face of ITN news between 1965 and 1977, has died in Australia aged 79. UK genealogists will remember him best as the presenter of the BBC Television programme (broadcast first in 1979) called Family History. He was twice voted the UK’s most popular newsreader.

He also helped maintain the Honeycombe Family History Archive on the web at

Pat Couture, R.I.P.

The many friends of Pat Couture will be saddened to learn that she passed away yesterday. She suffered from pancreatic cancer. Pat was a mother, professional singer, genealogist, ham radio operator, member of Mensa, an expert on African violets, and many other things. She was well known as a French-Canadian genealogist and, in recent years, became active in a couple of Jewish genealogy societies as well. She was a frequent public speaker, usually speaking about French-Canadian topics.

Pat Couture shown here with her husband and constant companion, Paul

Pat Couture shown here with her husband and constant companion, Paul

In a Facebook posting early today, Pat’s daughter, Amy, wrote: “To all who knew my mother and have been sending warm wishes, Mom passed away yesterday after her year long battle with cancer. She made a big impact on everyone that knew her. She was a mother, professional singer, genealogist, member of Mensa, and many other things. I miss her already! Thank you all for your nice words in the end. They made her happy.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Elmire Conklin and Jennie Sweetman Presented with Special Awards for their Five Decades of Genealogical Research

On Thursday, September 24, in a brief ceremony held at the Warwick (New York) Town Hall, Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Historian Dr. Richard Hull presented special awards to Elmire Conklin and Jennie Sweetman.

“I’m honored to introduce to you two long-time Warwick residents,” Hull said, “who through more than five decades of genealogical research have quite literally done more than anyone today and through the deep past to identify and exhaustively research many dozens of Warwick families, many of whom were distinguished citizens of our community and some of them with roots going back many generations.”

Update: Pamela Weisberger, R.I.P.

This is an update to the sad news about Pamela Weisberger published earlier at

For more information on the celebration of life and how you can leave a message of remembrance, please visit

Pamela Weisberger, R.I.P.

pamela_weisbergerAcquaintances of Pamela Weisberger will be saddened to hear that she passed away this morning after a very brief illness.

Pam was a professional genealogist with a long list of accomplishments. She was the president of Gesher Galicia Inc. as well as 1st Vice-President & Program Chair of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, and was on the the Advisory Board of the Global Family Reunion.

She leaves her husband Ken, and her three children.

Diane Clemmons honored as the Outstanding Volunteer Genealogist

Diane Clemmons, registrar of John Bartram Chapter-DAR, has been honored as the Outstanding Volunteer Genealogist by the Florida State Society of Daughters of the American Revolution at its fall convention in Orlando this past weekend. Clemmons qualified for the award by helping so many prospective members that John Bartram Chapter became DAR’s fastest growing chapter in the nation in 2014.

Details may be found at

She Went to College to Study Anthropology and Found Her Slave Ancestors Nearby

This story seems ironic although I doubt if it is the first time something like this happened. Michelle Taylor recently graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University. Like millions of other people, Taylor started researching her own ancestry. She was surprised to not only find dusty old records, but to even visit the cabin where her ancestor, freed slave George Gilmore, lived. He was a man who had been enslaved by James Madison at Montpelier, about 30 miles northwest of her school.

You can read the full story in an article by Moriah Balingit in the Washington Post at

“I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it.”

Many genealogists try to imagine the lifestyles of their ancestors. Gabriel and Sarah Chrisman decided to do more than imagine. They live that lifestyle in a Victorian house in Washington state. They have:

  • a period-appropriate icebox that they stock with block ice
  • no modern lightbulbs in the house
  • oil lamps
  • 19th-century gas heaters and an antique kerosene space heater
  • a cast-iron clawfoot bathtub
  • high-wheel bicycles
  • and more.

White Poet/Genealogist Who Used Chinese Pseudonym to Get Published Sparks Debate

Many genealogists will recognize the name of Michael Derrick Hudson. He is employed at the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. He is also a talented poet, typically writing poems that have nothing to do with genealogy. Time Magazine and the Washington Post report that Hudson’s poem The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve, appears in an annual poetry collection. The reports state that Hudson chose the pen name “Yi-Fen Chou” after being rejected by 40 different journals under his real name. Once he used a Chinese-sounding pseudonym, his poem was immediately accepted.

Michael Derrick HudsonHudson, who is white, wrote in his bio for the anthology that he chose the Chinese-sounding nom de plume after “The Bees” was rejected by 40 different journals when submitted under his real name. He figured that the poem might have a better shot at publication if it was written by somebody else. Apparently, he was correct.

What Donald Trump Inherited from his Immigrant Grandfather

FredTrumpThe New York Daily News has an interesting story by Ginger Adams Otis about Donald Trump’s grandfather, Fred Trump. His will and probate documents may be seen in Ancestry’s new collection of wills and probate records in the United States, announced earlier today. (See for the announcement.)

Born Friedrich Drumpf, in Kallstadt, Germany, in 1869, Fred Trump left an estate worth $500,000 in today’s dollars when he died in Queens, NY on May 30, 1918, at age 49.

You can read the New York Daily News article at

Change of Members at the BCG Education Fund Board of Trustees

The following two announcements were written by the folks at the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

Announcement – Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, retires from BCG Education Fund

After eight years of volunteer service, Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, of Charlotte, North Carolina, has retired from the BCG Education Fund Board of Trustees. From 2007 through 2014, Kathy was the Education Fund Secretary and streamlined its administrative procedures. She led the Trustees in planning and executing its programs, which are the annual Putting Skills To Work, the biannual Helen F. M. Leary Distinguished Lecture Series, and the Mosher Award for Colonial Virginia Research. She secured exclusive one-year rights for the Education Fund to outstanding lectures by Thomas W. Jones and Elizabeth Shown Mills. She promoted incorporating additional topics into the Education Fund’s offerings, such as law, proof arguments, and genetics. In 2015, Kathy stepped forward to serve as Treasurer pro tem. Her forward thinking and organizational skills contributed to the Education Fund’s substantial presence in genealogical education.

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Announces Appointment of Christopher C. Child as Editor of the Mayflower Descendant

The following announcement was written by the folks at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

Christopher C. ChildAugust 19, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—Christopher C. Child, Senior Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press at New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has been named editor of the Mayflower Descendant, the Society announced today. Child is an award-winning genealogist and author of important published studies of American family history. He will begin his assignment as editor with the winter 2016 issue of the journal, the first to be published by NEHGS, while retaining his responsibilities with Newbury Street Press.

Last week NEHGS announced that, as the result of an agreement with the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants (MSMD), NEHGS will assume a ten-year stewardship of the Mayflower Descendant. First published in 1899 by George Ernest Bowman, under the auspices of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, the journal is one of the most highly respected scholarly journals in the field of genealogy. NEHGS plans to continue twice-a-year publication, winter and summer, available by subscription.

In making the announcement of Child’s appointment, Penny Stratton, NEHGS Publishing Director, stated “Chris Child is an excellent choice for this new position, poised to bring his well-articulated vision of genealogical scholarship to this very important journal.”

Do You Speak Like Your Ancestors? If You are from Raleigh, the Answer is “Probably Not.”

For more than half a century, the familiar Southern accent has been fading in Raleigh, North Carolina. Its disappearance has been so slow and so subtle that locals may not even have noticed. But for Robin Dodsworth, an associate professor in sociolinguistics at NC State, the decline tells the story of rapid social change across the urban South.

Dodsworth discovered that the vowels of speakers born between 1920 and 1950 were remarkably stable. Then, in the middle of the 20th century, Southern linguistic features began to steadily decline. But why?

Another Interesting Obituary: Dorothy McElhaney

I have published several humorous obituaries in past newsletters. However, a newly-published obit for 104-year-old Dorothy McElhaney is interesting for different reasons. Obviously written by Dorothy before her death, it is more of a celebration of her life.

You can read the obituary at

Donald Trump and Immigration

The U.S. news services are full of stories about Donald Trump’s campaign to become President. His stand on immigration is one of his more controversial ideas. Generally speaking, Trump seems to be against immigration. That seems surprising as his mother, Mary MacLeod Trump, was born in Scotland. His grandfather, Frederick Christ Trump, was born in Germany. His first wife Ivana was born in Czechoslovakia, his current wife Melania was born in Yugoslavia.

As Kimberly Powell writes on, “Donald Trump epitomizes the American immigrant experience.”

FamilySearch International Appoints Steve Rockwood as President and CEO to Replace Dennis Brimhall Who Will Retire

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

The FamilySearch International board of directors has elected Stephen T. Rockwood as the company’s president and chief executive officer, succeeding Dennis Brimhall, who will retire. Rockwood, who most recently served as director of the international division at FamilySearch, becomes president and CEO on October 1.

“Steve is an extremely capable, experienced, and respected leader with an immense passion for our mission and our people,” said Elder Allan F. Packer, Chairman of the Board. “As president and CEO, Steve will bring a rich combination of management skills, customer focus, business acumen, and a can-do spirit that will build on the vision and work of Dennis Brimhall.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Proposes in a Church Where His German Ancestors Worshipped

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. proposed last week to Amy Reimann. He picked the perfect place: in a church where his 10th grandfather — Hamman Ehrenhart — and other ancestors attended.

Earnhardt is on a trip to Germany to learn more about his roots. (See my earlier article about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s trip at Earnhardt and Reimann went to the city of Speyer, Germany, and saw the names of his ancestors written in books detailing their births and deaths and confirming they had been baptized at that particular church. Earnhardt said the church apparently is more than 1,000 years old in a town of 300. He knew it was the perfect spot to ask Reimann to marry him after a six-year courtship.

The wedding date likely will be sometime next summer.

Allen Weinstein, Former Archivist of the U.S., R.I.P.

Allen Weinstein, the ninth Archivist of the United States, died June 18 at a nursing home in Gaithersburg, Md. He was 77.

Dr. Weinstein served from 2005 until 2008 as chief of the National Archives and Records Administration. As archivist, he ended secret agreements with the CIA and the Air Force by which thousands of declassified documents had been removed from public view. “We’re in the access business,” Dr. Weinstein said, “not the classification business.” Dr. Weinstein resigned in 2008 as he struggled with Parkinson’s disease.

Weinstein had previously established himself as an academic, with professorships at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., Georgetown University and Boston University. Outside academia, he held leadership roles at nonprofit institutions — most notably the Center for Democracy in Washington, which he founded in the mid-1980s and led as president until 2003.

A Genealogist Traces Rachel Dolezal’s Ancestry and Finds No Black Relatives

Rachel Dolezal has recently stirred up a controversy concerning he ancestry. She resigned Monday as head of her local NAACP chapter after reports surfaced that she was born white yet has claimed she is black. If you are not familiar with this recent news story that has been on all the news networks, start at to find a few hundred reports about her recent controversy. Now a professional genealogist says that Dolezal’s claim is bogus.


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