People

Today is the 125th Anniversary of Lizzie Borden’s (Possible) Act of Murder

Lizzie Borden

One of the more fascinating murder stories in the U.S. occurred 125 years ago today.

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Shortly before noon on August 4, 1892, the body of Andrew Borden, a prosperous businessman, was found in the parlor of his Fall River, Massachusetts, home at 92 Second St. The police were called and they started investigating the rest of the house. They soon found the body of Andrew Borden’s wife, Abby Borden, discovered in an upstairs bedroom. Both had been hacked to death with a hatchet.

While all the neighbors were shocked by the gruesome deaths, many in Fall River were perhaps not entirely surprised that Andrew Borden had met an untimely end. Frugal to a fault, he was a self-made man who had become the head of one of the town’s largest banks and was a substantial property owner. At the time of his death, his estate was valued at $300,000 (equivalent to roughly $8,000,000 today). The dour businessman had also made many enemies on his rise to the top. In fact, it appears he had no friends outside the family.

Early rumors in the days following the murders speculated that Andrew and Abby had perhaps been killed as revenge for Andrew’s shady business dealings.

Ancestry Appoints Evan Wittenberg as Chief People Officer

The following announcement was written by the folks at Ancestry.com:

LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO, July 31, 2017 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that Evan Wittenberg, most recently the Senior Vice President of People at Box, Inc., has joined the company in the new position of Chief People Officer. Wittenberg brings an extensive track record of helping world-class organizations grow and foster their talent while evolving their cultures to support continued expansion.

“There is no higher priority at Ancestry today than our ability to attract and grow the world’s best talent. Very few people can match Evan’s history of leading so many great organizations through change and growth, and fewer still can come close to his track record of success,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of Ancestry. “I am incredibly proud of the team we have built and of their ability to create a company, brand and products that resonate with millions around the world. Evan will play a critical role in helping us continue to grow and develop the great people we have while attracting the high-caliber talent we need to lead us into tomorrow.”

The Unusual Cause of Death of Allan Pinkerton

Allan J. Pinkerton (25 August 1819 – 1 July 1884) was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Pinkerton emigrated as a young man to seek his fortune in the United States of America. A self-educated man, he had little formal training in any of the professions usually available to immigrants. However, that never slowed the ambitious young man.

He settled in Dundee Township, Illinois, fifty miles northwest of Chicago. He built a cabin and started a cooperage (making barrels). His home soon became a stop on the Underground Railroad, smuggling escaping slaves northward to Canada.

Pinkerton worked with the local sheriff to identify some counterfeiters who were working nearby. Soon he was appointed as the first police detective in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. In 1850 he partnered with Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in forming the North-Western Police Agency, one of the nation’s first private detective services. The company later became Pinkerton & Co and finally Pinkerton National Detective Agency, still in existence today as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, a subsidiary of Securitas AB.

Four members of Accredited Genealogists Ireland Appointed to Positions of Influence

The following announcement was written by Accredited Genealogists Ireland:

Four members of Accredited Genealogists Ireland have recently been appointed to positions of influence. One has been appointed a member of the National Archives Advisory Council; another elected a vice-president of the Irish Genealogical Research Society; and two appointed members of the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

John Grenham is one of the 12 members of the National Archives Advisory Council (NAAC), recently appointed by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD. The NAAC is a statutory body with remit to advise the Director of the National Archives of Ireland on policy and practical matters. John is a longstanding member of AGI and is known internationally as the author of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, now in its fourth edition.

Paul Gorry has been elected a vice-president of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS). Founded in 1936, the IGRS is a learned society and the world’s oldest organisation dedicated to the study and pursuit of Irish genealogy. Paul is a past president of AGI and with his AGI colleague Máire Mac Conghail is co-author of Tracing Irish Ancestors, published in 1997.

NYG&B Announces the Retirement of Karen Mauer Jones and the Selection of Laura Murphy DeGrazia as Editor of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

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

Today the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) announced the retirement of editor Karen Mauer Jones and the selection of Laura Murphy DeGrazia as editor of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (The Record).

Earlier this year the NYG&B announced that Karen Mauer Jones wished to retire as editor of The Record. Since 2011 she has brought her expertise and vision to one of America’s oldest—and most respected—scholarly genealogical journals. An editor, author, speaker, and professional genealogist, she has a long and distinguished career. The author of numerous books and articles, including those published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and The Record, she is widely respected in the genealogical field and has been a Board-certified genealogist since 2011 from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). A noted New York scholar, she was elected as a Fellow of the NYG&B in 2013 and served on the editorial team for the NYG&B’s award-winning New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer. She is also a member of the NYG&B’s Family History Advisory Committee. A past board member and regional vice president for the Association of Professional Genealogist (APG), she also served as a board member and vice president of administration for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). Under her careful stewardship The Record has published hundreds of pages reflecting the diverse stories from families across the state of New York.

Louise St Denis Presented with OGS Award of Merit

The following announcement was written by the Ontario Genealogical Society:

Louise St Denis of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies is Presented with the Award of Merit at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference.
Award honors leadership and contributions.

L to R: Heather Oakley, Louise St Denis, Patti Mordasewicz

The Ontario Genealogical Society, Canada’s largest genealogical society, held its Friday opening ceremonies for their annual conference in Ottawa, Ontario on June 16, 2017 and honored individuals with their Award of Merit. The OGS award recognizes those:

Whatever Happened to “Jimmy” O’Neill?

16-year-old James “Jimmy” O’Neill, vanished as if into thin air on December 15, 1947. No family members have heard from him since. His family has been looking for him for years without success. If still alive, Jimmy would be 86 years old and would still have three surviving siblings: Nancy, Jack and Frank. A younger brother, Noel, died six months ago.

Genealogists often are good at finding missing relatives. Can a genealogist help?

Father’s Day Founder Was a Renegade, According to her Great-Granddaughter

Sonora Smart Dodd

The woman most cited as the founder of Father’s Day is Sonora Smart Dodd. Inspired by the earlier campaign to create Mother’s Day, and a desire to honor men like her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran and a widower who raised Sonora Smart Dodd and her brothers solo, Dodd organized the first Father’s Day in 1910 in her hometown of Spokane, Washington.

Father’s Day did not become a national holiday until 1972, thanks to the continued efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd. Dodd spent 62 years lobbying everyone from presidents to retailers for support. She even lived to see the national holiday created. She died at age 96 in 1978.

Dodd’s 55-year-old great-granddaughter, Betsy Roddy, recalled this year that her ancestor was a Renaissance woman, the Mother of Father’s Day was a painter, poet and businesswoman, running a funeral home with her husband while raising the couple’s only son, a future father named Jack.

National Genealogical Society Announces The 2017 Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

ARLINGTON, VA, 9 MAY 2017— Larry W. Cates is the 2017 recipient of the Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship. Cates, who is librarian at the Heritage Research Center of the High Point Public Library, High Point, North Carolina, received his award and its $1,000 prize, which is underwritten by ProQuest, at the Librarians’ Day event of National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2017 Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina., also underwritten by ProQuest. The Filby Award is named for the late P. William Filby, former director of the Maryland Historical Society and author of many core genealogical reference tools that genealogists have relied on for decades. Created in 1999 by NGS, the award has been sponsored by ProQuest and Mr. William Forsyth since 2006.

Cates has been Librarian at the Heritage Research Center of the High Point Public Library since October 2007. During the course of his career, he has created innovative programs for family historians. In 2010, Cates co-founded the Heritage Book Club to introduce genealogists to the historical context in which their ancestors lived. He initiated a “Field Trip to Archives” program with the Guilford County Genealogical Society to mentor inexperienced researchers. He also has provided programs to local genealogical societies; served as journal editor for the Randolph County Genealogical Society and Guilford County Genealogical Society; and helped to promote their activities through his library’s mailing list and at genealogy fairs at his library.

State Library of South Australia has a new Online Portrait Collection of “Old Colonists”

If you are descended from one of the early settlers who arrived in Australia prior to 1841, you might be able to find his or her portrait in one of over 1,000 ‘Old Colonists’ were on display in the State Library. In 2017 they have returned as facsimiles (along with new indexes and online catalogue records) – funded by the Friends of the State Library. They are now available online.

William Rollings arrived in South Australia in March 1845 on board the ship the “Scotia”. Poundkeeper, Springfield.

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: http://bit.ly/2p7kKrV.

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 https://www.facebook.com/TheGoodCemeterian/.

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: http://bit.ly/2n7zxE0.

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.

mary_fields

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.

christian-fuchs

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.