Another Amusing Obituary: Christine Kockinis

The obituary for Christine Kockinis displays a great sense of humor. Here is one excerpt: “Christine requested that six players from the Sacramento Kings be her pallbearers so that they could let her down one last time.”

You can read the entire obituary in The Sacramento Bee at:

The Good Cemeterian

Andrew Lumish spends his free time in an unlikely place: cemeteries. On his weekly day off, he spends about ten hours using his cleaning skills to restore veterans’ tombstones around Tampa, Florida. To honor veterans for serving their country, Lumish taught himself how to properly clean graves. He found out the system the government uses for national cemeteries—including Arlington—and got to work.

Lumish tries to post four new pictures a week on his Facebook page at

Karen Mauer Jones to retire from NYG&B, the Society is Now Seeking a Replacement

The following announcement was written by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society:

Karen Mauer Jones

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) is seeking an editor to produce The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. The current editor, Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS has announced her plans to retire by the end of 2017.

Continuously published since 1870, The Record is the second oldest genealogical journal in the country and one of the most distinguished. Published quarterly, it concentrates on people and places connected to New York City, State, and region and features compiled genealogies, solutions to problems, and unique source material.

The editor is responsible for:

Terry Punch, R.I.P.

Nova Scotia genealogist Terry Punch died Tuesday evening.

Born in 1937 in Halifax, Punch became a well-known teacher and historian. Since 1961, he was a passionate advocate and tireless researcher of all facets of genealogy, holding executive positions in a variety of organizations, including the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, Halifax Charitable Irish Society, Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes, and was founding president of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia. He was a fellow of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society and the Royal Society of Antiquarians in Ireland.

He was the only Canadian to be elected a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society. He was also a resident genealogist on CBC Radio and editor of Genealogist’s Handbook for Atlantic Canada Research. He was also awarded the Order of Canada.

British Dog Tag Find – ‘The Forgotten Army’

Dan Mackey, an avid relic hunter, tells us about the amazing discovery in England of thousands of metal dog tags found in 2016. The dog tags came from both world wars. The majority of the dog tags are those of British soldiers but a few came from various other nations. Now the team that made the discovery is hoping to return any of these dog tags to the families of the soldiers involved. In one case, one dog tag has already been returned in person to an elderly veteran himself.

Honorary Research Fellow Appointed at the University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde is well-known for having a Genealogical Studies programme offering a range of courses from beginner level up to a Masters degree. Now the University has announced a major addition to the staff:

Dr Iain McDonald has been appointed as Honorary Research Fellow in the Genealogical Studies Department, University of Strathclyde.

Iain comes originally from an Aberdonian family, and began his interest in genealogy 15 years ago, whilst trying to identify any family connection to the Lords of the Isles. Unfortunately, there was no connection, but the process led to an avid interest in Scottish genealogy, and the early history and movement of the Scottish people.

By day, Iain is an astrophysicist, working at the University of Manchester. By night, he has been using physical, statistical and mathematical techniques to develop tools, for both conventional and genetic genealogy.

D. Joshua Taylor Named as One of the “Movers & Shakers 2017 – Educators” by Library Journal

D. Joshua Taylor, President and CEO of New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, one of the hosts on PBS Television’s Genealogy Roadshow, former president (for four years) of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and all-around “good guy” has received another honor. Library Journal has named Josh as one of the movers and shakers in the industry.

According to the magazine article, “Working with different libraries on the show and in other pursuits, Taylor has helped to highlight the many ways librarians are go-to resources for all genealogists, as guides to online services and by leveraging their own on-site collections.”

You can read the full article at:

A Glimpse Into the Life of a Slave Sold to Save Georgetown University

The New York Times has published an interesting article by Rachel L. Swarns about the life of a slave who was sold by the Jesuit college, now known as Georgetown University. He was then shipped to Louisiana and would survive slavery and the Civil War. He would live to see freedom and the dawning of the 20th century. One thing is unusual about this man: pictures of him still exist today.

The photos had been stored in the archives of the Ellender Memorial Library at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., not far from where Mr. Campbell was enslaved.

Clifton Theriot, the library’s archivist and interim director, made the connection late last year after stumbling across an article in a genealogical quarterly about the Jesuit slaves who had been shipped to Louisiana. He was startled to see Mr. Campbell’s name listed among them.

Stagecoach Mary: the Black Cowgirl

America’s Old West was undoubtedly a Wild West before an ex-slave named Mary Fields arrived in 1885 at a small railroad town in present-day Montana. Yet she certainly made things more interesting.

Miss Fields, who came to be known as “Stagecoach Mary,” stood tall and brawny by even frontier standards, weighing more than 200 pounds. Though she preferred men’s clothes to women’s, beneath her work apron she sometimes packed a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver. She was the only woman the local mayor permitted to drink in the saloons, where she favored hard liquor, smoked black cigars, and didn’t shy from arguments, fistfights, or at least one confirmed duel.


Born a slave in Hickman County, Tennessee, around 1832, Fields was freed when American slavery was outlawed in 1865.

The Man who Dresses Up as his Ancestors

Many of us honor our ancestors in many different ways. Peruvian artist and photographer Christian Fuchs is obsessed with his illustrious ancestors and spends months painstakingly recreating portraits of them, posing for them himself whether the ancestors were men or women.


The walls of his elegant apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Lima’s bohemian Barranco district are covered with paintings of his aristocratic European and Latin American ancestors. But if you look closer, you soon realize that many of the portraits are, in fact, photographs of the 37-year-old himself, dressed up as his relatives. The results are amazing.

Howard Margol (1924–2017), R.I.P.

The following is republished here with the permission of Gary Mokotoff, Editor of Nu? What’s New? – The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy From Avotaynu:

howard_margolMr. Litvak has died. Howard Margol, who likely did more to advance Lithuanian-Jewish genealogical research than any other person, died this past Thursday, February 9. He was 92.

Margol began tracing his family history in 1990. He joined the newly formed Jewish Genealogical Society of Georgia and eventually served a two-year term as president of the society. Under his leadership, the membership grew from 65 members to 130 members. After his term as president, he continued to serve on its board of directors.

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.

One Couple’s Descendants that Stay Together But Changed the Tradition

The very first edition of The New York Times on Sept. 18, 1851, known then as The New-York Daily Times, contained one wedding announcement, and one wedding announcement only, for the newlyweds Sarah Mullett and John Grant. The ceremony took place at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Fredonia, the town in western New York where the bride had grown up.


Today, oil portraits of John and Sarah hang side by side in the New Haven, Connecticut family room of a descendant. John and Sarah both are wearing black, and a similarly dour and humorless expression, as if they had whispered to each other beforehand, “Don’t smile!”

Another Funny Obituary: Kay A. Heggestad

There have been a number of humous obituaries lately. The latest is for Kay A. Heggestad of Madison, Wisconsin:

Kay Ann Heggestad, age 72, bought the farm, is no more, has ceased to be, left this world, is bereft of life, gave up the ghost, kicked the bucket, murió, c’est fini. She died on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, after a wimpy non-battle with multiple myeloma, a nasty bone marrow cancer, after almost two years to the date of diagnosis. No one should say she fought a courageous battle, because she did not! Unlike most folks, she complained all the way. What a whiner! She was ready to quit treatment many times but her family pushed her to continue, which was good since she then had time to have parties and say good-bye to friends and relatives.

You can read the entire obit at

Paul A. Cyr, R.I.P.

The genealogy community lost another good friend recently. Paul Albert Cyr, 66, of North Kingstown died peacefully Friday, December 30, 2016.

Paul Cyr was the head of the Genealogy Department and Special Collections at the New Bedford, Massachusetts, Free Public Library where he worked for over 30 years until his retirement. As a librarian, he helped his patrons research their families, organized lectures and exhibitions, and provided resources to writers and researchers on New Bedford and its environs. Under his direction, the Genealogy Department grew as he extended the collection.

Looking for Relatives of World War II Purple Heart and Silver Star Recipient Robert Entzminger

This a strange story: Goodwill is looking for the family of a man whose war medals were donated to Goodwill. I would think genealogists should be especially good at this sort of detective work. Can you help?

Goodwill employees recently were sorting through bags of donated material when they were surprised to discover Silver Star for heroism and a Purple Heart for wounds received on the battlefield, In this case, the medals’ recipient died of his woulds.

Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey

Continuing along with a series of humorous obituaries, here is a recent one for Chris Connors from Quincy, Massachusetts. Here are a few excerpts:

He lived 1000 years in the 67 calendar years we had with him because he attacked life; he grabbed it by the lapels, kissed it, and swung it back onto the dance floor.

At the age of 26 he planned to circumnavigate the world – instead, he ended up spending 40 hours on a life raft off the coast of Panama.

Most people thought he was crazy for … dressing up as a priest and then proceeding to get into a fight at a Jewish deli.

Stanley Diamond has been Awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of Canada

The following announcement has been posted to several of the Jewish Genealogy discussion groups:


On behalf of the Board of JRI-Poland, and bursting with pride, I am delighted to announce that JRI-Poland’s co-founder and Executive Director, Stanley Diamond, has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of Canada.

The letter from the Canadian Governor General’s Office informing Diamond that he had won this prestigious award noted he had received “ the Meritorious Service Medal for your work in documenting Jewish genealogy, and particularly for establishing and directing Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. The impact of your work has indeed been far-reaching.”

Diamond, 83, a Montreal resident, also serves as the founding president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal.

Old Tombstone’s Journey back to Nebraska

The purchase of a tombstone from an antiques store led a California artist on a journey to find its rightful place. Alexandra Grant bought the marker in Buffalo, Wyoming, in 2000. Etched on the tombstone was the name Lena Davis, a girl who died on July 19, 1880. The stone, she was told, was from a ranch in eastern Wyoming. The story turned out to be wrong but Alexandra Grant solved the mystery anyway. Even better, she returned the tombstone to its rightful place.


Seth Meyers’ Family History

Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s “Late Night” television program, recently interviewed his parents and brother on his television program. The conversation turned to the Meyers family history. It seems that Seth may have taken a few liberties with the facts concerning his ancestry.

You can watch a video of the family history discussion at in the video below or at: