History

Families Torn Apart by Slavery Sought Lost Loved Ones in Newly Archived Ads

The ads are gut-wrenching, such as, “Where is John Person?”

“Ten years have gone by since his mother, Hannah Cole, last saw him. The pain of his disappearance, the mystery of his whereabouts, and the aching question of whether he is alive or dead have driven her to take out an advertisement in the Christian Recorder, seeking an answer.

hannahcolead

“This is the only child I have,” it reads, “and I desire to find him much.”

Coffers, Cauldrons, Comfrey, and Coifs: Lives of our 17th Century Ancestors – A Half-day Course on 25 February

Why do you need a bum roll? What colour were carrots in the 17th century? What did the Cavaliers use for deodorant? Can you think of 47 uses for urine?

Supplying the answers to the above (well maybe not all 47 uses), this presentation is a light-hearted but informative, insight into the domestic life of our 17th century ancestors and what they ate and drank. The emphasis is on providing the context against which to set the documentary evidence for this period.

Oh yes, the presentation by Janet Few, is being made at the Society of Genealogists’ building in London, England. Sounds like fun!

You can read more at: https://goo.gl/aRaapl.

Who Was Saint Valentine?

saint-valentineValentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday to send a card. The Greeting Card Association claims that an estimated one billion cards are sent each year. Yet, most of the people who send the cards have no idea who Saint Valentine was. Even historians cannot agree.

According to some authorities, there were two Valentines. One was a priest and doctor who was martyred in the year 269, and the other was the bishop of Terni, who was brought to Rome to be tortured and executed in 273. Others say it was the same person. Both men (or the same man) have legends attributed to them concerning love and matrimony, legends that may or may not be true.

Early Victorian Photos Featured on new Website

William Henry Fox Talbot in 1864

William Henry Fox Talbot in 1864

The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné contains the complete corpus of the works of the Victorian inventor of photography on paper. More than 25,000 known surviving Talbot negatives and prints are now online.

The photographs are mostly from Talbot’s home in Wiltshire home of Lacock Abbey as well as from Oxford, Reading, and York (England) and a few from Paris, all taken from 1839 to 1846. In most cases, these are the only known photographs of that era. It should provide the best available views or life in those areas in the 1840s.

The US Presidency & its Irish Connection

John Cunningham, owner of Claddagh Rings, has crated a visual showing the US Presidents who had at least some Irish ancestry. 22 American presidents claim Irish roots which is half of all the 44 presidents up to and including Barack Obama.

You can see the visual at by clicking here.

Depending upon which web browser you use in your computer, you might see it full-sized or it may display as a miniature image. If it is miniature, most web browsers can display it larger by simultaneously pressing CONTROL and the Plus Key several times. Macintosh users will need to press COMMAND and the Plus Key several times.

The History of Groundhog Day

groundhogEvery February 2nd, residents of the United States turn their attention to the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A group of men in top hats put a groundhog on a log in front of hundreds of people and wait for it to notice or not notice its own shadow. If Phil the groundhog sees his shadow, we’re supposed to have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see it, winter is supposed to end earlier.

NOTE: A groundhog is also known as a woodchuck. It is a member of the family of rodents known as marmots.

A rodent in Pennsylvania, watched by men in top hats, can tell what the weather will be like for the next several weeks? Sounds strange to me! Actually, it is based upon the traditions of some of our ancestors.

Auschwitz Death Camp: Poland Puts Database of Prison Guards Online

The names of Nazi SS commanders and guards at the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland have been put online by the country’s Institute of National Remembrance (INR). It has been hailed as the most comprehensive list to date.

These children were photographed by a Red Army soldier on the day the camp was liberated

These children were photographed by a Red Army soldier on the day the camp was liberated

About 9,000 names – nearly all German – are on the Auschwitz garrison list, some with photographs attached.

Today is Thomas Crapper Day!

thomas-crapperThomas Crapper was a plumber in the late 19th century who founded Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in London. He is widely (but erroneously) credited with invention of the flush toilet.

Thomas Crapper’s date of birth is unknown but a record exists of his baptism in Thorne, Yorkshire, on September 28, 1836. He died January 27, 1910 so that date every year is dedicated to his memory because of all he did for England and the rest of the world.

Actually, Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet. It was invented by John Harington in 1596 but it never achieved much success commercially. Most people had never seen a flush toilet until after the 1880s. Crapper improved the design and used his skills as a shrewd businessman and salesperson to make it extremely popular. His company, Thomas Crapper & Co, owned the world’s first bath, toilet and sink showroom, in King’s Road, London, England.

Online eBook: Acadian Culture in Maine

If you have Acadian ancestry, especially those who moved from Acadia to northern Maine, you will want to read a 92-page report on the history and culture of Maine’s upper St. John Valley that is available online free of charge. Acadian Culture in Maine, a 1994 publication of the National Park Service can be found on the web site of the University of Maine at Fort Kent Acadian Archives at http://acim.umfk.maine.edu.

acadian-culture-in-maine

The 1994 print run was limited to 1,000 copies that sold out quickly. The Park Service did not have the necessary funds for a second publication. Now the Park Service has made the book available online at no charge. The result is lower expenses for the National Park Service and a much wider audience for this reference book.

The Acadians featured in this book are those Americans of French descent connected by history to the upper St. John Valley of Maine and New Brunswick, including the descendants of early Acadian settlers of the St. John Valley.

100-year-old Film of the Red Baron (Baron Von Richthofen) is Available Online

Talk about an old film! It’s from 1917, and it’s an up-close and personal look at the most legendary combat pilot who ever lived, the infamous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. It shows the Baron preparing for a mission, as well as film of him putting on a flying suit prior to a flight in cold weather. If you look closely you will also see a brief glimpse of Hermann Goering.

The Baron was shot down on 21 April 1918 by Roy Brown of the Royal Navy Air Services, long before it was called the R.A.F.

The Genealogy World of Twenty Years Ago

This week I decided to take a trip down memory lane. I re-read the first 50 issues of this newsletter, all published in 1996. The genealogy world indeed has changed. Here are a few of the more memorable newsletter items from twenty years ago, along with a few comments:

20_years

Only the more advanced computer users in 1996 had state-of-the-art software: Microsoft’s latest operating system, called Windows 95. However, because I was now writing a “techie” newsletter, I purchased a very high-speed system (a 90-Mhz Pentium I) with a huge amount of memory (32 megabytes) so that I could use the latest professional operating system from Microsoft: Windows NT 3.51. During the year, Microsoft also released Internet Explorer version 3.0. Most of the 30 million users of the World Wide Web used Netscape, however. A few used the older Mosaic web browser.

The annual GENTECH conference was held in Plano, Texas, with several hundred attendees.

While at the GENTECH conference, I first saw a GPS unit designed for use by consumers. I saved up my money and purchased my own GPS later in the year. GPS devices certainly have become much more popular in the past twenty years!

Ellis Island Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary

Ellis Island opened as the nation’s main immigrant processing center 125 years ago on Jan. 1. More than 12 million immigrants passed through the gates of the processing center. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation says nearly half of all Americans can trace their family roots to a person who passed through Ellis Island.

ellis-island-immigrants

The 27.5-acre island, part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, no longer serves as a port of entry for new arrivals but it does greet about 2 million visitors a year, according to its website.

You can read more in an article by Karen Yi at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2017/01/ellis_island_anniversary.html.

Census Find Sheds New Light on St Kilda’s History

Not all census records are found online. A few census records have been misplaced over the years. A 250-year-old census came to light during cataloguing by the National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS). The census lists 90 people living on the remote archipelago on 15 June 1764 – 38 males and 52 females, including 19 families and nine individuals.

stkilda

A Possible Location for Arthur’s Camelot has been Identified

Here is a bit of news about history: the quest to find King Arthur’s Camelot has puzzled and intrigued scholars and fans for a thousand years. Now, the search may finally be over.

A retired Bangor University English Literature Professor has revealed what he believes to be the location of Arthur’s Camelot- and it turns out to be a small Roman fort at Slack, outside Huddersfield. In Roman times, the fort was called Camulodunum, which means “the fort of the god Camul”. Over the years, well-recognized linguistic processes would have reduced Camulodunum to Camelot.

Buttering Our Toast

margarine-butterThe Ancestry Blog has republished an article by Beau Sharbrough that originally appeared years ago in Ancestry Magazine. It describes the invention of margarine and its influence on the lives of our ancestors. I suspect that many readers of this newsletter are unaware of the controversies surrounding margarine, originally called “oliomargarine.”

I particularly enjoyed Beau’s words:

“Making butter wasn’t a simple task. First, someone would have to milk the cow. Then the milk would sit in pans, the wife would skim the cream off the top, and the cream would go into the churn. A good housewife would force her sons to work the churn. When those boys grew into men, they never doubted how much work being a housewife was—from beginning to end, it might take 45 minutes to make butter from cream.”

University of South Carolina to Store and Digitize 10,000 Vintage Marine Corps Films

usmc-logoFor most of the 20th Century, the Marine Corps archived film footage of that recruit training along with Marines fighting in wars, including World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and various public relations activities.

Starting at the first of the year, that film collection – 10,000 Marine Corps film – will be permanently transferred to the University of South Carolina, where it will be digitized, stored and made available for public viewing. The footage covers Marine Corps activities from 1918 through the 1970s.

Archaeologists Think They Found the Original Pilgrim Settlement

Archaeologists have pinpointed what they think is the exact spot where the Pilgrims lived in the years after landing in the New World. Every American schoolchild knows the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620, but exactly where has been elusive. Plymouth Rock, after all, is only an educated guess of where the Pilgrims stepped ashore. The archaeologists have now discovered calf’s bones, musket balls, ceramics and brownish soil where a wooden post once stood. The calf’s bones are significant, as the Pilgrims raised cattle while the local Indians did not.

Details may be found at https://goo.gl/kYP2F1.

America’s First UFO Sighting: a strange vision of Ye Olde UFO that mystified Boston

Did our ancestors see UFOs? During the 1600s, Puritans in New England spotted more than just witches flying through the skies. Hundreds of years before Area 51 and Project Blue Book, Massachusetts Bay Colony founder John Winthrop detailed instances of unidentified flying objects in the heavens above seventeenth-century Boston in the first recorded UFO sightings in America.

You can read more about Colonial-era UFO sightings in an article by Christopher Klein in the History.com web site at http://www.history.com/news/americas-first-ufo-sighting.

If you do talk with one of the aliens, would you ask if my great-great-grandfather was in their group?

Civil War documents Tucked Away in Shoeboxes Across Virginia have been Digitized and Placed Online

The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission funded the State Library to send two archivists around the state with digital scanners, making high-resolution copies of documents brought by residents. They roamed Virginia between 2010 and 2015. The archivists traveled the state in an “Antiques Roadshow” style campaign to unearth the past. Organizers had thought the effort might produce a few hundred new items. They were a little off. It flushed out more than 33,000 pages of letters, diaries, documents and photographs that the library scanned and has made available for study online. The originals were all returned to the owners.

johnwinnmoseley_letter

Best of all, the documents are available online and can be searched at http://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/cw150.

My thanks to the several newsletter readers who sent me links to this article.

Uncovering the Truth Behind the Salem Witch Trials with Google Expeditions

Just in time for Halloween: A new set of Google Expeditions lets you explore the Salem Witch Trials. If you had ancestors in Salem during the witch trials, whether they were accused or not, you will find items of interest at https://goo.gl/RK6nSz.

salemvillage

According to the web site: “The new Expeditions invite you to explore the landmarks from the Trials including the Witch House, the home of Witch Trials Judge Jonathan Corwin, and The House of Seven Gables, which tells the story of the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and his connection to the events of the Salem Witch Trials.”