History

A New Database with Pictures of 18th and 19th Century Ireland is Launched

From an article by Micheál Ó Maoileoin in the Galway Daily:

“How was Ireland depicted in illustrations produced by travellers from 1680 to 1860? A new database of images drawn from travel accounts answers this question.

“Based on years of research by a group of investigators at NUI Galway led by Professor Jane Conroy, Ireland Illustrated is now available to view online.”

“Ireland Illustrated, 1680-1860, is a database of over 500 images of Ireland – woodcuts, water colours, engravings and other illustrations – with related text, drawn from more than 50 manuscript and printed works, and highlighting several neglected or rarely accessible sources.

What Your London Ancestors Ate: Jellied Eels

Tastes in food certainly have changed over the generations. An article by Tony Dunnell in the Atlas Obscura web site describes one of the favorite foods in London, especially amongst the working class folks in the 1700s. Eels from the River Thames were chopped, boiled, and then combined with vinegar, sliced onion, peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt. As the mixture cooled, the cooked animal’s gelatinous proteins solidified into savory jelly surrounding the meat.

If you are feeling hungry, you can learn more at: https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/jellied-eels-london.

Hart Island, a Potter’s Field where New York City’s Poor and Unclaimed Dead are Buried

This sounds more like a Charles Dickens novel than it does about a 21st century news story. It seems that millions of formerly impoverished but now deceased citizens, along with many whose bodies were unclaimed by family, are buried in Hart Island. The 101-acre sliver of land in the waters far, far north of the Manhattan is the final resting place of more than an estimated 750,000 deceased persons. Hart Island is not open to the public.

Most of the graves are unmarked. The records of the coffin row-and-column placement are kept between five and 10 years, depending upon the effect of plot soil conditions on attempted disinternments. When disinternment attempts are no longer practical and appropriate, those plot burial records are turned over to the Municipal Archives.

Automobiles in Old Family Photographs

Sometimes we take certain things for granted. We often don’t stop to realize what life was like for our ancestors. We may have skills that our ancestor did not possess. Recently I stumbled across some old photographs that made me stop and think.

In 1905 the automobile was a novelty. Very few people had ever driven one, much less owned one. After looking at a couple of photographs, I realized that most people did not know how to drive in those days.

Today most adults are familiar with driving automobiles. However, 100 or more years ago, that was not true. In fact, the idea of someone driving an automobile was so unique that commercial photographers of the time often took advantage of the automobile to sell more photographs.

Historic Weather

What was the weather on the day you were born? When your Dad talked about going out in that great blizzard, just how bad was it? Wolfram Alpha has a number of helpful tools to answer your weather questions, including historical data from weather stations located all over the world.

For example, simply enter “weather” into the search bar, and Wolfram Alpha’s geoIP capabilities identify your approximate location and produce the latest records from your nearest weather station. The “Latest recorded weather” will display the current temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and conditions, such as clear, thunderstorms, or fog.

To find historical weather information, simply enter the word WEATHER followed by a date and a location. For instance:

Congregational Library and Archives Hidden History Project

The Congregational Library and Archives’ “Hidden History” project is locating and digitizing New England church records from 1630 to 1800 and putting them online for free.

According to the project’s web site, “Congregational church records are an unparalleled source of information about the religious activities of the early colonists, and about many other aspects of early American life. The Congregational Library and Archives, in partnership with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale is currently preserving these records and making them available to the public.”

Introducing The Newark Public Library Digital Archive

The Newark, New Jersey, Library has greatly expanded the My Newark Story. The collection now includes more than 50 collections and 23,000 digitized items available online related to African American, Latino, and Newark history. These include photographs, city directories, documents, objects, newspapers, documents, maps, and more.

Highlights include thousands of photos of Newark Public Schools, the Samuel Berg collection of Newark Street photos, Newark maps and atlases, Newark area newspapers (including the Newark Herald, City News, and La Tribuna!) and much more.

How Many Friday the 13ths Have You Survived?

This Friday falls on the 13th of the month. That is an especially bad day for people who suffer from a phobia famously called triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number 13. Any Friday that falls on the 13th of the month is especially bad, causing the fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (meaning “thirteen”).

In the Christian world the number 13 has long been associated with many bad events. Jesus had 12 disciples, which meant there were a total of 13 people in attendance the evening of the Last Supper, with Judas being received as the 13th guest.

Columbus (Ohio) Library Scans 1 Millionth Item Into Digital Archive

Archivists at the Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library have scanned the 1 millionth item into the system’s digital collection.The one-millionth item is a panorama photograph taken from the cupola atop the Ohio Statehouse. The library estimates the picture is one of the oldest panoramas in Columbus, likely taken in 1858 when the cupola was being repaired.

A New Website: African American Civil War Soldiers

This may be one of the most important history-related web sites launched so far this year. The following announcement was written by John Clegg, a founder of the African American Civil War Soldiers web site:

African American Civil War Soldiers is a new website that will crowd-source the transcription of the military records of roughly 200,000 African Americans soldiers who fought for their freedom in the American Civil War. These records are of great interest to historians and genealogists, since they contain detailed biographic information on individual Union Army soldiers, most of whom were slaves at the start of the Civil War. However, until now these records have been locked away in the National Archives in DC, accessible only to a select few researchers. Our website invites members of the public to help transcribe scanned images of the soldiers’ records, turning them into text that can easily be searched by students and historians, as well as descendants of the soldiers themselves. The database we collect will be made freely available on the website of the African American Civil War Museum. It will serve as a memorial to the solders and their legacy, as well as a teaching aid and a tool for genealogical research.

The Truth About St. Patrick

March 17 is celebrated by millions of Irish descendants every year. They all know the “facts” about Saint Patrick. Or do they?

St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick was probably born in what is now England, Scotland or Wales around A.D. 390. Most agree that St. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in the British Isles. Therefore, Patrick himself was a Roman citizen even though he was born somewhere in what is now Great Britain. He was living in Scotland or Wales (scholars can’t agree which) when he was kidnapped at age 16 by Irish raiders and sold as a slave, reports Catholic Online. He spent years in Ireland herding sheep until he escaped. He eventually returned to Ireland where he spread Christianity.

St. Patrick did not bring Christianity to Ireland. Christianity was introduced into Ireland by a bishop known as Palladius before Patrick began preaching in Ireland. However, St. Patrick apparently had more success at converting the Irish to Christianity than did Palladius.

Why We Drink Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day

Even if you’re the kind of person who scorns tasteless green beer, you might enjoy a Guinness for Saint Patrick’s Day. And why not? Unlike shamrock pins and wild partying sure to take place on March 17th, Guinness drinking really is a longstanding tradition in Ireland, as well as the Irish diaspora. But it’s a folk tradition that’s inextricably tied up with almost a century of commercial advertising, according to Brenda Murphy, a gender studies professor at the University of Malta.

I am sure that Brenda Murphy must have conducted extensive on-site research on this topic! You can read her findings in the Jstor.org web site at: https://daily.jstor.org/why-we-drink-guinness-on-st-patricks-day.

How Two of President John Tyler’s Grandsons are Still Alive, 174 Years Later

I suspect very few families can boast this sort of longevity. Two of President John Tyler’s grandchildren are still around, 175 years after he left office.

You can read the full story by Chip Reid and watch a video on the CBS News web site at: http://cbsn.ws/2DuhH2q.

The First British People Were Dark-Skinned

DNA from one of Britain’s first people, Cheddar Man, shows that he was very likely to have dark brown skin and blue eyes. By sequencing the ancient DNA extracted from his skeleton, scientists were able to create skin color, eye color, and hair type. Despite his name of “Cheddar Man,” scientists also know from his DNA that he couldn’t digest milk.

Close up of the model of Cheddar Man rendered by Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions

One More Update about the Turkish Online Genealogy Database

I have written twice about the new online genealogy database created by the government of Turkey. (See http://bit.ly/2CbUjdT to find my earlier articles about this story.) When the Turkish genealogy web site first appeared, it was so popular that it soon became overloaded, then was shut down so that the system administrators could add more hardware to the cluster of servers in order to handle the load. The Turkish genealogy web site is now back online and apparently is running well, handling a huge number of visitors.

Fehim Tastekin has written an article explaining why the web site become so popular. It seems that many Turkish citizens have deep, dark secrets in their family trees: some of their ancestors were Armenians, Syriacs, Greeks or Jews. In Turkey, this apparently is the equivalent to Germans in the 1930s and early 1940s hiding the fact they had Jewish ancestors or Americans in the Deep South hiding the fact they had Black Americans in the family tree. While the facts in Turkey have been hushed up for years, the new web site reportedly shows the truth. The story involves the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians. (What was once called the Ottoman Empire was the forerunner of present-day Turkey.)

These facts have apparently been hidden from many of today’s younger Turks while they were growing up. Yes, apparently there are many skeletons in the Turkish family closets. The new web site reveals many family secrets and curious Turks want to know those secrets.

Tastekin’s article states, “Some people who had always boasted of their ‘pure’ Turkish ancestry were shocked to learn they actually had other ethnic and religious roots.”

Remember When a 29-pound Portable Computer was Light?

The staff at Wired remembers 1983 and produced a YouTube video showing how useful the “lightweight” computer was in those days:

Henry L. Benning Civil War Materials are now Available Online

The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) announced the availability of the Henry L. Benning Civil War materials collection at http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/CollectionsA-Z/ghlb_search.html.

Brigadiere General Henry L. Benning, CSA

Henry L. Benning was born in Columbia County, Georgia in 1814. After finishing first in his class at the University of Georgia in 1834, he moved to Columbus in 1835. There, he was admitted to the bar, married Mary Howard in 1839, and entered his father-in-law’s firm. In 1840, Benning lost a race for the General Assembly, but was later elected to the state Supreme Court in 1853. After Lincoln’s election, Benning became one of Georgia’s most vocal supporters for secession. During the war, he served as Colonel of the 17th Georgia Infantry in twenty-one engagements including Antietam, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga. By the beginning of 1863, Benning rose to the rank of brigadier general. His regiment was the first part of the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee and later under Braxton Bragg in the Army of Tennessee. After the war, Benning returned to Columbus and resumed the practice of law, dying on his way to the court in 1875.

What Do Scotsmen Wear Under Their Kilts?

Here is the answer to the question you undoubtedly have often asked: What do Scotsmen wear under their kilts?

In a bit of investigative reporting, Ken Jennings has researched the topic and provided answers in his The Debunker column at: http://bit.ly/2CondTW.

I’ll leave the racier bits for you to find in Ken Jennings’ column. But I will say that I was interested to learn that “… the traditional Scottish kilt is a lot less traditional than you probably think. The original Highland plaid was the ‘great kilt,’ a belted piece of tartan worn as a cloak from the shoulders. The modern kilt only dates back to the turn of the 18th century, and sources from that era actually credit it to Thomas Rawlinson, an English industrialist!”

You can learn more about “going regimental” at: http://bit.ly/2CondTW.

Update: Was the Westford Knight also on Oak Island?

About a week ago, I published Was the Westford Knight also on Oak Island? at http://bit.ly/2Eq2c11. The article, and an earlier article from several years ago, describe what was then a future television program that introduced the topic of possible visits by medieval Knights Templar to North America in the 1300s, possibly even earlier. I also gave information about the date and time the program was to be broadcast.

This episode of The Curse of Oak Island has now been broadcast. However, if you missed it and if you would like to view the program, you can view it free of charge on The History Channel’s web site at: https://www.history.com/shows/the-curse-of-oak-island/season-5/episode-14. However, you will be asked to log in by using your user name and password used to access your cable provider’s web site. If you do not have such a user name and password, you will not be able to view the video.

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.