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:

Ancestry Hires Three Science and Data Industry Veterans

Ancestry obviously is building its DNA business. The following announcement was written by

LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 03, 2016 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced three new appointments to its growing leadership team. As the world’s largest consumer genomics provider, having genotyped 2.5 million DNA samples, Ancestry is continuing to add to its roster of talent as it seeks to help millions of consumers better understand themselves and the world around them by unlocking the secrets hidden in their genes.

The three appointments announced today:

Amy Gershkoff, Ph.D., most recently the chief data officer at Zynga, is joining as Ancestry’s first chief data officer.

Sarah South, Ph.D., who previously served as vice president of Laboratory Operations at 23andme, has been appointed as vice president of Laboratory Sciences

Todd Davis, who has led global talent acquisition at both Amazon and Dropbox, is joining as vice president of Global Talent.

The Future Tomb of Actor Nicolas Cage

TOKYO - DECEMBER 06: Actor Nicolas Cage attends the Premiere for a film "National Treasure" at Roppongi Hills on December 6, 2007 in Tokyo, Japan. The film will open on December 21 in world wide. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

I guess it pays to be prepared. Lots of people purchase cemetery plots (as I have already done) and even tombstones before their own death. Actor Nicolas Cage is one of those who is prepared. However, his preparations seem a bit unusual.

Cage purchased a large cemetery plot in New Orleans’ historic St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. How he obtained the plot seems to be a mystery; the cemetery is already overcrowded and local residents didn’t believe there was enough space for another burial, much less a nine-foot-tall stone pyramid that requires a lot of space.


The Saint Louis Cemetery is one of New Orleans’ most famous cemeteries where the dead are buried above ground because nobody wants to see their ancestors’ caskets floating every time it floods.

Ancestry Appoints Catherine Ball as Chief Scientific Officer

The following announcement was written by

Recognized Leader in Field of Genomics Will Help Company Scale DNA Offering to Millions More

catherineballLEHI, Utah, Sept. 08, 2016 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced the appointment of Catherine Ball, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer. In addition to overseeing the science team, Dr. Ball leads the Company’s initiatives to develop innovative new technologies and analyze genetic data at a rapidly-increasing scale.

Dr. Ball joined Ancestry in 2011 as Vice President of Genomics and Bioinformatics, helping to establish the Company’s approach to genetic genealogy leading to the launch of AncestryDNA. She has built Ancestry’s science team into a key innovation engine, driving new scientific discoveries and powering the Company’s growth to become the largest consumer genomics provider globally. Today, AncestryDNA has the world’s largest consumer genomics database and has helped more than two million customers learn more about their ethnic origins and genetic relationships.

Curt Witcher Honored with a Hoosier Hospitality Award

curt-witcherCurt Witcher, manager of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, was honored Friday with a Hoosier Hospitality Award from the office of Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The Genealogy Center generally draws more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Witcher was honored for taking exceptional steps to make Fort Wayne’s genealogy tourists feel welcome. A press release announcing the award recounted this example: “On one occasion, a group of visitors was planning to be in Fort Wayne for only a short period of time. Witcher’s nominator said he took their information before they arrived and began doing the background research for them. When the visitors arrived and found that several pieces of their family history had been assembled, they were moved by Witcher’s generosity.”

Another Great Obituary: William Ziegler

William Ziegler escaped this mortal realm on Friday, July 29, 2016 at the age of 69. We think he did it on purpose to avoid having to make a decision in the pending presidential election. He leaves behind four children, five grand- children, and the potted meat industry, for which he was an unofficial spokesman until dietary restrictions forced him to eat real food.

William volunteered for service in the United States Navy at the ripe old age of 17 and immediately realized he didn’t much enjoy being bossed around. He only stuck it out for one war. Before his discharge, however, the government exchanged numerous ribbons and medals for various honorable acts.

Ancestry Appoints Carla S. Newell as Chief Legal Officer

The following announcement was written by Ancestry:

Tech industry veteran to help company continue rapid growth and global expansion

LEHI, Utah, Aug. 09, 2016 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that Carla S. Newell is joining its senior leadership team as Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel. Newell will lead the global legal team, supporting privacy, security, and risk management initiatives as the company continues to expand globally while accelerating the growth of its high-demand consumer genomics offering. Newell is succeeding William Stern, who is departing from Ancestry to pursue new business opportunities.

Prior to joining Ancestry, Newell spent more than a decade as Operating General Partner at Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), a leading growth equity investor, where she led legal, investor relations and fundraising for the firm and its multi-billion dollar funds. Among TCV’s portfolio companies are many of the world’s most successful and recognizable consumer technology brands, including Expedia, Facebook, Fandango, Netflix, Spotify, and Zillow. Most recently she has served as an adviser and board member for a number of early stage technology companies and funds.

Mike Pence’s Irish Roots

On July 25, I wrote (at about vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s Irish ancestry and his visit to ancestral locations in Ireland. A newsletter reader then pointed out that his competitor, Mike Pence, also has Irish ancestry and also has made the trip back to the homeland. It’s interesting that we have two Irish Americans running for Vice-President with traceable genealogical roots.

Mike_PenceAn article from 2013 in the IndyStar describes Pence’s Irish interests:

“Pence’s grandfather emigrated to Ellis Island from Tubercurry, Ireland, about a century ago and later worked as a bus driver in Chicago, according to the governor’s staff. His grandmother was born and raised in Doonbeg, Ireland.

“Their experiences left a lasting impression on Pence, who as a member of Congress sought looser immigration restrictions than many of his fellow conservatives liked.”

On a trip to Ireland, Pence visited the small house where his great-grandfather, James Moloney, was born. He also was able to meet his grandmother’s first cousin, 92-year-old Patrick Moloney.

Sir David Goodall, R.I.P.

The following sad announcement was written by the Council of the Irish Genealogical Research Society:

Sir David GoodallThe Council of the Irish Genealogical Research Society regrets the announcement of the death of the Society’s former President, Sir David Goodall.

Sir David died peacefully at his home on the morning of Friday, 22 July, aged 84. He was a career civil servant, serving with the British Diplomatic Service in Austria, Germany, Indonesia and Kenya. He was later Deputy Secretary at the Cabinet Office and was a senior UK representative during the negotiations that led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. In 1987 he was appointed British High Commissioner to India, a post he held until his retirement 1991.

Tim Kaine, VicePresidential Nominee, Harmonica Player, and Irish Genealogist

TimKaineTim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s pick for Vice President, has many talents and interests. Of interest to genealogists, Tim Kaine’s great-grandfather, PJ Farrell, emigrated from Ireland to Kansas, where he became a successful farmer.

Kaine certainly feels Ireland in his heart. Kaine is a member of The Irish National Caucus and of the Congressional Friends of Ireland. During his acceptance speech for The American Ireland Fund Leadership Award, he talked about his family’s 2006 trip to Ireland, where they found the ruins of his great-grandfather’s cottage in Killashee Parish, in Longford. He stated at the dinner: “I am about as stone Irish as you get for somebody whose family has been in the country for 150 years.”

He spoke at the American Ireland Fund about finding his roots:

Association of Professional Genealogists Names Annette Burke Lyttle Coordinator for 2017 Professional Management Conference

The following announcement was written by the Association of Professional Genealogists:

Lyttle Brings Broad Event-Planning Expertise to Premiere Professional Genealogy Event

Annette Burke LyttleWHEAT RIDGE, Colo., 11 July 2015—The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) today announced the appointment of Annette Burke Lyttle as coordinator for the 2017 Professional Management Conference (PMC). Lyttle of The Villages, Florida, brings lengthy experience in logistics and event management to the conference.

As PMC Coordinator, Lyttle will be responsible for the planning and implementation of the annual conference, which offers topics relevant to genealogy professionals and those interested in the profession. Her career began in logistics management in the U.S. Army, after which she moved on to positions in corporate, higher education, small business, and volunteer work. She holds an M.A. in English language and literature and a B.A. in journalism. She is the owner of Heritage Detective, LLC, and currently serves on the committee for APG’s 2016 PMC, which will take place 22–24 September, 2016 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Jay Verkler Appointed Interim CEO At Findmypast

This is a major business news story: The former CEO of FamilySearch, Jay Verkler, will take over from Annelies van den Belt as interim CEO of Findmypast. The announcement states he has agreed to serve as interim CEO for six months. My assumption is that the board of directors of Findmypast will be using that time to find a permanent replacement.

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

Jay Verkler

Jay Verkler

London, Tuesday, July 5th 2016

Jay Verkler, former CEO of FamilySearch, has been appointed as interim CEO of Findmypast. He takes over from Annelies van den Belt who has stepped down after three years.

In a decade as CEO of FamilySearch, Jay pioneered the digital transformation of the world’s largest genealogical organisation. He oversaw the shift from vast paper and microfilm record stores to accessible digital archives. He broadened the audience for family history by developing partnerships with genealogy and technology companies, societies and archives across the world. Since leaving FamilySearch, he has been a consultant on strategy, product and technology for many organisations.

The Irish Ancestry of Vice President Joe Biden

Now that he will have a bit more time available after next January 20, Joe Biden may have time to research his own family tree. Actually, there is an old joke that has turned out to be accurate in Biden’s case: “Fastest way to trace family tree: run for public office.” Joe Biden’s family tree has already been researched by Ancestor Network, a collective of many of Ireland’s most experienced genealogical experts in tracing people of Irish ancestry.

Now Joe Biden is traveling to Ireland tomorrow for a state visit. As part of the visit, Mr Biden is expected to visit some of his ancestral home-places.

Melanie Frick named as 2016 Freeman Memorial Genealogy Grant Recipient

The following announcement was written by the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Grant Committee:

SWF Frick Headshot5 June 2016 — Melanie Frick, MLIS, is the 2016 recipient of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Genealogy Grant and Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree Scholarship. Melanie was introduced at the SCGS Scholarship Breakfast sponsored by Legacy Tree Genealogists, Professional Genealogists and Research Services, and presented with the $500 cash award and recognition certificate. The grant program was founded in 2011 by family and friends to honor the volunteerism and family history interests of the late Suzanne Winsor Freeman.

Melanie Frick, an Iowa native with deep Midwestern roots, is a 20-something young genealogist who has already spent over fifteen years researching her family history. At the age of twelve, Melanie inherited an early 20th century diary written by her great-great-aunt, a South Dakota prairie schoolteacher. She was fascinated by the stories of “barn dances, schoolhouse shenanigans, family gatherings, and the spread of Influenza in her rural community.” Melanie continues to unravel the stories of her ancestors in her popular blog, Homestead Genealogy at:

BCG Gives Christine Rose Emeritus Status

The following announcement was written by the folks at the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

The Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 4 May 2016.

christine_roseThe BCG Trustees honored Christine Rose, cg, cgl, fasg, with Emeritus Status for her service to BCG and her distinguished, fifty-year genealogical career. She became an associate of BCG in 1981, earned the Certified Genealogical Lecturer credential in 1991, and served as a Trustee from 2007 to 2012.

A prolific author, she received the Donald Lines Jacobus for her two Rose family books. Her numerous publications include several volumes on nearly every genealogist’s bookshelf such as Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures (2004), Military Bounty Land 1776–1855 (2011), and Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case (2014). From 1987 through 2014 Ms. Rose wrote the “Family Associations” column for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Forum.

Bill Wyman: Amateur Historian and Would-Be Archivist

This article is not genealogy-related but it does deal with history. I also found it interesting.

79-year-old Bill Wyman is an amateur historian and a metal detector enthusiast. Treasure detecting adventures in the British Isles are detailed in Wyman’s 2005 illustrated book, Treasure Islands, co-written with Richard Havers.

“I’ve found 200 old coins, Roman brooches and an axe from 1700 BC. I’ve discovered Roman sites, all manner of 15th-century artifacts, all of which are verified by the British Museum.”


Bill Wyman also designed and markets a patented “Bill Wyman signature metal detector.” See for details.

MyHeritage Reunites a 93-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor With Her Relatives

Nata Gattegno is a 93 year old Holocaust survivor. She was born in Corfu, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. Caught in World War II, she was sent to Auschwitz as a teenager. Though she survived, the abuse she suffered there prevented her from having children. She’s a widow living alone, and thought she had no family in the world. Thanks to the researchers at MyHeritage, Nata she does have close relatives. In fact, the folks at MyHeritage were able to locate them. The MyHeritage folks notified her, and them, and they all recently met for the first time.

You can learn more at,7340,L-4800207,00.html.

You may enjoy the emotional video below of her meeting her relatives. One warning: keep some tissues handy: