Current Affairs

Remains of Civil War Veteran Returned Home

A Civil War soldier from Maine whose cremains were stored haphazardly at the Oregon State Hospital for nearly 100 years has finally come home. Private Jewett Williams was part of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He saw a number of battles of combat and was present at Appomattox when his commanding officer, Joshua Chamberlain, accepted the formal surrender of the Confederate army.

Jewett Williams

(Photo of  Jewett Williams from the Oregon State Hospital records)

In 1922, Jewett Williams passed away at the age of 78. His remains had been stored at the Oregon State Hospital ever since. His family never claimed his body and he had no known relatives. Thanks to the Patriot Guard Riders, Jewett Williams’ final journey began August 1 and ended on Sunday after crossing 19 states to get to Maine.

Scorned Bride Sells Wedding Dress on eBay to Fund Divorce

What uses can you find for a used wedding dress? One woman in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, United Kingdom is selling hers in order to pay for the divorce. The eBay ad states, “Great condition but needs dry cleaning before wearing to get rid of the stench of betrayal.”

EndedThe ad also states, “If you want a dress that is full of bad memories and shattered hopes and dreams then this is the one for you! Hope this dress brings you a lot more happiness than it brought me in the end and if not…well you can always sell it on here!”

The auction has now ended. The dress obviously turned out to be a better investment than most everything else in the marriage. The dress originally cost around £2,000 brand new in 2014. The winning bid was for £65,900.00 ($86,555 US dollars). You can read the full text of the now-completed auction at (scroll down a bit for the description).

Gorham (Maine) Historical Society May Need to Disband

An article by Robert Lowell in the web site describes a potential loss for historians, genealogists, and the general public. The Gorham (Maine) Historical Society is on the verge of going out of business. The society doesn’t have a president, vice president or recording secretary. Brenda Caldwell, executive secretary and archivist, and a few core members are trying to breathe new life into it.

The society’s building houses genealogical records, documents, volumes of books, scrapbooks, town reports, school yearbooks and files with histories of Gorham people and landmarks.

Update: Internal ‘Set Of Blunders’ Crashed Australia’s Census Site

Last week I published an article entitled “Australian Bureau of Statistics says Census Website Attacked by Overseas Hackers” at In the article, I questioned why the bureaucrats thought the attack was initiated by overseas hackers. Now security experts have looked at the information available and found that it wasn’t an overseas hack at all. Instead, the Australian Bureau of Statistics personnel looked at the servers’ log files and “interpreted the alarms as a successful hack…these were little more than benign system logs and the technical staff monitoring the situation poorly understood it.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics says Census Website Attacked by Overseas Hackers

Australia_Census_logoAustralia’s 2016 census has created a lot of controversy concerning privacy issues. (See my recent article at for details. In turn, that article refers to a longer article in the ABC.NET.AU News site at Now the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says it believes a series of hacking attacks which led to the census website being shut down were part of a deliberate attempt to sabotage the national survey.

Thousands of Australians were prevented from taking part in the census on Tuesday night as the ABS website crashed.

Extensive Genealogy Chart available at the Southport (Maine) Museum

Do you have any ancestors that lived in Southport, Maine? Is your last name Marr, Pierce, Pinkham, Collins, Brewer, Cook, McClellan, Hodgdon, Cameron, Blake, Sherman, Pratt, Barter, Blackman or Alley? If so, you might be able to trace your roots back to Thomas Marr and Eunice Spinney, who were born in the late 1780s.

You can find a brief article ‘s extensive efforts Ron Orchard in an article by Jim Singer in the Boothbay Register at

Charles City County, Virginia, Records Stolen by Union Soldier During Civil War have Now been Returned

Charles City is among about 20 Virginia counties whose records were destroyed or pillaged during the war. Charles City County records that were taken by a Union soldier during the Civil War have been returned, closing part of a gap in wills, marriages, indentures and other court filings from the 1600s.

The records disappeared in August 1862, during the Peninsula Campaign. On Aug. 15 at 10 a.m., local and state officials will celebrate their return on the 154th anniversary of their disappearance. is Used to Catch a Florida Man Living Under an Assumed Name for More Than 20 Years

Terry Jude Symansky was a Florida man who drowned in 1991 at age 33. However, his nephew recently was working on a family genealogy project and found his uncle’s information on Knowing the uncle died in 1991, the nephew was shocked to find a later marriage license associated with his name. After some investigation, police found that the new Terry Jude Symansky is actually Richard Hoagland, a man who disappeared from Indiana about 25 years ago and was declared dead in 2003.

A Call to Action! Finding the Fallen on July 30

This is a follow-up to the Join the Nationwide Service Project “Finding the Fallen” article I published at on June 6. That article described a joint effort between BillionGraves and the Boy Scouts of America to honor of the veterans of the Armed Forces. Everyone is welcome to participate. This follow-up reminder was written by the folks at BillionGraves:

On July 30, 2016, in honor of the veterans of the Armed Forces, BillionGraves and the Boy Scouts of America will host the nationwide service project, Finding the Fallen. We are asking for everyone’s help to make this project a success! By joining the project, you will serve these heroes by photographing and logging the GPS locations of the headstones and markers in our national cemeteries and uploading them to the website.

To organize this commemorative event in your area, visit Easy step by step instructions will guide you in selection of a National cemetery in your area and allow you to invite others to take part in this amazing project with you.

You will need to download the free Billiongraves app on your smart phone.

Founding Mother Anne Hutchinson’s 425Th Birthday Celebration Begins in Boston on July 20

The following announcement was written by the Hutchinson Foundation:

Five Day, Three State Event-Series (July 20-24, 2016): The 2016 Founding Mothers Celebration

ANNE MARBURY HUTCHINSONJuly 13, 2016—Boston, Massachusetts—Puritan castaway and Founding Mother Anne Marbury Hutchinson turns 425 this summer. A five-day learning-event series, in three states along the “Hutchinson Trail,” will commemorate the occasion (July 20-25, 2016). Featuring nearly 20 events, the series is called the 2016 Founding Mothers Celebration™.

Why? Anne Hutchinson (b.1591-d.1643) is widely regarded as America’s prototypical feminist— an intelligent, forceful, and charismatic woman who challenged the male-dominated hierarchy of the early American culture and society, and its treatment of women. “In doing so, founding mother Anne Hutchinson had a formative hand in shaping the America we know today,” says Eve LaPlante, Hutchinson biographer and author of American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans.

Ground Radar Finds Hundreds of Graves at Staten Island’s Rossville A.M.E. Zion Church Cemetery

Specialists using ground-penetrating radar have detected hundreds of previously undiscovered gravesites in an African-American burial ground that dates to the 1830s. The New York Landmarks Conservancy announced the discovery at Staten Island’s Rossville A.M.E. Zion Church Cemetery, part of the historic Sandy Ground community that was among the nation’s first free-black settlements.

Before the radar survey, there were 97 known burial sites, many marked by headstones, on the 1.6-acre burial ground. Conservancy President Peg Breen said another 576 were discovered by radar at an average depth of about 10 feet, bringing the number of total gravesites to 673.

Pokemon Go Causes Problems in Cemeteries

Pokemon-GoPokemon Go is the hottest new thing to appear in computer games. You can read about it in a Wikipedia article at The new game is a huge success but, like all other huge successes, does have a few drawbacks. (See Pokémon Go: armed robbers use mobile game to lure players into trap at for one very dangerous example.)

Now Pokemon Go is causing problems in cemeteries, as described by Lisa Thorne in a posting to Facebook at:

Genealogy Articles in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

JournalOfMultidisciplinaryResearchThe Journal of Multidisciplinary Research is an international, peer-reviewed academic journal. It has just published a Special Issue on Genealogy & Family History. This is a huge step in the long journey towards academization of genealogy.

Genealogy-related articles in the Special Issue on Genealogy & Family History include:

  • Critical Family History: Situating Family within Contexts of Power Relationships by Christine E. Sleeter
  • Memory and Belonging: The Social Construction of a Collective Memory during the Intercultural Transition of Immigrants from Argentina in Israel by Yaakov M. Bayer
  • Recuperating Ethnic Identity through Critical Genealogy by Christine Scodari
  • 200 Years of Scottish Jewry: A Demographic and Genealogical Profile by Kenneth Collins, Neville Lamdan, and Michael Tobias
  • The Genealogist’s Information World: Creating Information in the Pursuit of a Hobby by Crystal Fulton
  • Review of Genealogía Cubana: San Isidoro de Holguín: Padrón de las casas y familias de este Pueblo de San Isidoro de Holguín hecho en el mes de Febrero del año del Señor del 1735, by W. Navarrete and M. D. Espino by Lourdes Del Pino

Genealogists Support Access to State and Local Records

The following is an announcement written by the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), a group sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, and is supported by the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for Certification of Genealogists, the American Society of Genealogists, and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists:


Austin, Texas, 5 July 2016—With access to many state and local government records threatened by decreasing budgets, the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) announced today its support of the Joint Statement by the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the Society of American Archivists, which affirms that the “preservation of and public access to government records is of paramount importance” and “government archives play a critical role in ensuring citizens’ rights and preserving the nation’s history.”

Brexit Fuels Increased Online Irish Ancestry Searches Seeking Information About Irish Passport Applications

Anyone born on the island of Ireland before 1 January 2005 or whose parents are Irish automatically qualifies for Irish citizenship. In some cases, those who have an Irish grandparent can also apply. The recent Brexit vote apparently is encouraging many people to consider applying for an Irish passport. has reported a 40% surge in new trial memberships in the week since the UK voted to leave the European Union, with daily searches of the site’s Irish records up by 20%. Some Northern Ireland Post Offices ran out of Irish passport applications in the wake of the referendum result.

Australia’s Trove Online Database may be Shut Down due to Funding Cuts

The Trove-NLA-logo_Alt_Colour. It includes more than 4 million digitised items, including books, images, music, historic newspapers and maps. Many of these online items, especially the newspapers, are valuable to genealogists and historians. As well as providing a service to people overseas, Trove has been an important educational resource for academics and rural communities in Australia. In 2014, the database’s fifth year, an estimated 70,000 people were using the website each day.

Australia Library and Information Association chief executive Sue McKarracher said Trove was a visionary move by the library and had turned into a world-class resource. “Trove isn’t just a nice thing to have, it’s not just about digital access to museum pieces or library documents, this is a fundamental piece of our national research infrastructure,” she said.

Happy 4th of July

Have a Happy Holiday but please be safe. The following advertisement from June 25, 1911 still contains a valid warning about fireworks:


Royal Voluntary Service to Place World War II Diaries Online

The Hidden Histories of A Million Wartime Women project has now been funded by the public by means of a KickStarter campaign. The on-line campaign that will allow 28,000 pages of wartime diaries written by female volunteers to be freely available on the web.


The Kickstarter initiative to have the war time diaries digitised was led by Matthew McMurray, the Royal Voluntary Service archivist. His collection has been awarded UNESCO UK Memory of the World status and the documents are recognised as some of the most important in 20th century British history. The stories include everything from how young evacuees were organised to salvaging dog hair for knitting.

Quoting from the Hidden Histories of A Million Wartime Women project page on KickStarter:

MyHeritage introduces Sun Charts

MyHeritage has released an innovative new type of chart, called the “Sun Chart.” It is available for free to all MyHeritage users.

The “Sun Chart” places the main ancestor (selected by the user) in the center of the chart, with multiple generations of descendants in outer concentric rings, somewhat similar to the rays emanating from the sun. It can be classified as a descendant fan chart, but it isn’t limited in the number of generations and is unique to MyHeritage in that it also includes photos, making it the only descendant fan chart with photos that you will find anywhere.

Click on the above image to view a larger versions

Click on the above image to view a larger version

The Sun Chart was created to solve a particular challenge. Family history enthusiasts are always looking for the ideal chart for family reunions and other festive family events. A regular descendants chart, typically horizontal or vertical, can become enormous, too large and unwieldy to be practical for events or for hanging on the wall. Descendant fan charts are a popular choice but are limited in the number of generations and don’t include personal photos.

Enumeration District Maps for US 1950 Census are Going Online

The public will not be able to view the 1950 US Census until 2022 but about 8,000 Enumeration District Maps are being placed online now by the US National Archives and Records Administration. The new additions include all county maps and any map that includes five or more enumeration districts.

Quoting the US National Archives and Records Administration web site:

Enumeration Districts– or “E.D.s” as they are known among genealogists and other research communities– were established to help administer and control data collection. An enumeration district is generally the area a single enumerator, or census taker, could cover in one census period, approximately two to four weeks. Because the maps do not contain information protected under privacy restrictions, they have always been open and available for researchers to study. They also provide the primary access to the population schedules, which are arranged by enumeration district. 


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