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:

Drew Smith Awarded the Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship

The annual conference of the (US) National Genealogical Society starts tomorrow and I expect a number of new announcements will be issued. Here is the first one, written by the National Genealogical Society:

drewsmithARLINGTON, VA, 3 MAY 2016— Drew Smith, MLS, is the 2016 recipient of the Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship. Smith, an Assistant Librarian in the Academic Services department of the University of South Florida Tampa Library, received his award and its $1,000 prize, which is underwritten by ProQuest, at the opening session of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2016 Family History Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 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.

Separated for 65 Years, Two Brothers Reunited by MyHeritage

MyHeritage has released the details of another heartwarming reunion, this time involving two long-lost brothers born in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp. The reunion is the subject of a documentary called “Aida’s Secrets” which will have its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto on May 3, 2016. The story is also told in the MyHeritage Blog at and in the article below:

TEL AVIV, Israel & TORONTO — MyHeritage, the fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the reuniting of two long-lost brothers born in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp who subsequently separated as young children and grew up in Israel and Canada, respectively.

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Izak Szewelewicz, who was born in the displaced persons camp at Bergen-Belsen, Germany shortly after World War II, was adopted by an Israeli family in 1948 at the age of three, and was then raised in Israel. Izak’s mother, Aida, had meanwhile immigrated to Canada, and later found and contacted Izak when he was an adolescent. They met a few times, but she always refused to speak about the identity or fate of Izak’s father or anyone else from the family. Only a few years ago, Izak received documents from the Bergen-Belsen archive that delivered a shocking revelation: he had a brother named Shepsyl in the camp, as well as another relative. The records indicated that both relatives had emigrated to Canada, separately from his mother. In September 2013, Izak’s nephew Alon Schwarz reached out to MyHeritage with a special request: to help him find Izak’s lost brother. MyHeritage rose to the challenge.

BCG Welcomes Alice Hoyt Veen, CG as New BCG Education Fund Trustee

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

BCG Welcomes Alice Hoyt Veen as New BCG Education Fund Trustee, Thanks Debbie Parker Wayne for years of service

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, is stepping down after four years of volunteer service with the BCG Education Fund. While serving as a trustee Debbie organized an online repository for the documents so all trustees have immediate access to the same set of documents and helped create checklists and timelines to guide future trustees.

Plagiarism Raises Its Ugly Head Again within the Genealogy Community

Here is a quote from


  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
  • to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.

Plagiarism has been found in genealogy books and magazines for probably a century or more. However, with the explosion of publishing on the Internet, plagiarism appears to be more popular than ever. Sadly, one individual has been caught before in the act of republishing other writer’s words without crediting the source. In fact, he was even sued for doing so although the case was later settled out of court. Even though already being notorious for such actions, he continues the practice even today.

Illinois Man Claims He Can Show That Donald Trump is Related to Every U.S. President

Of course, everyone is related to everyone else. (See my earlier article at for details.) Therefore, it is no surprise that Donald Trump is related to a number of US Presidents. However, one genealogist claims The Donald is related to a hu-u-u-ge number of them. In fact, all of them.

Genealogist Ken Reveal claims that Trump and President Obama are 26th cousins, four times removed. That’s rather distant, certainly not close enough to get invited to the family reunion. However, Reveal then goes on to say that Donald Trump is related to EVERY US President. For instance, according to Reveal’s research, Franklin Roosevelt is Trump’s fourth cousin once removed of the husband of the half first cousin seven times removed of the wife of his second great grand nephew of the husband of his half first cousin once removed. Again, not exactly close.

The Real Colonel Harland Sanders

Alan Bellows has published a fascinating mini-biography of “Colonel” Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. The story certainly changed my mental image of the Colonel. You might be interested in reading the article at


Tracking Black Ancestry: Lessons from Genealogist Tony Burroughs

Tony-BurroughsTony Burroughs is an expert on Black American genealogy and also is an all-around good guy. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tony for years and have always been impressed by both his knowledge and his delightful personality. Today, I was pleasantly surprised to see an article about Tony’s work written by Branden Hampton and published in the Northwestern University’s Medill news service.

Hampton writes:

“If you think that black lives matter, then ancestors’ lives matter as well: Without them, we wouldn’t be here today, says renowned African American genealogist Tony Burroughs.

Joanna Francis Lives Like It’s 1939

Joanna Francis of Burton upon Stather, Lincolnshire, England, was born too late. She prefers the lifestyle of 1939 and she lives it every day. She doesn’t own a television and the last time she used a washing machine was at least a decade ago. She doesn’t drive but does have an 80-year-old pedal bike. As to owning a computer, she would ask, “What’s that?”

In Joanna’s world, the clock is permanently stopped at some point in 1939 and her home in the picturesque village of Burton-upon-Stather in North Lincolnshire is an exact recreation of how we used to live, right down to the bomb blast tape on the windows.

Update: Lewis Bunker Rohrbaugh, R.I.P.

As mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter, Lewis Bunker Rohrbaugh passed away recently. He was the proprietor of Picton Press in Maine and also was well-known as an expert Swiss genealogist. He was also a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. His obituary has now been published:

Lewis Bunker Rohrbach, F.A.S.G., of Marco Island, Florida, and Worb, Switzerland, one of genealogy’s most dynamic and widely-respected writers and publishers, passed away in Naples, Florida, on 2 January 2016, after a short stay at Avow Hospice. Despite an illness that became critical several months ago, he was able to continue his research in early Swiss records up until a few days before his death.

Lew was born in Philadelphia on 28 October 1941, son of Lewis Henry and Ruth Elizabeth (Bunker) Rohrbaugh, and a Birthright Quaker. He attended Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and then Amherst College, where he was a member of Phi Delta Sigma fraternity. After graduating in 1963 with a degree in Economics, he completed six months of training in the U.S. Army Reserves. He then began a professional career in the banking industry as credit analyst for Provident National Bank in Philadelphia, but quickly moved into the investment banking business, first with Butcher and Sherrerd brokerage in Philadelphia, and then with Endowment Management & Research Corporation in Boston. His final stint as an employee was a year as a vice-president of Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder in New York. In 1973 he formed his own consulting company and became one of the first securities analysts to extensively cover the burgeoning Japanese market; primary clients during that 15-year period were Endowment Management, Nikko Securities of Tokyo, and GT Management of London. His first marriage, in 1964 to Suzanne Potts, ended in divorce a decade later. He married, second, on 28 June 1980 in Rockport, Maine, Carol Allen Cressman, daughter of Dr. Paul Gerhardt and Betty (Allen) Cressman, who survives him. It was at the time of his second marriage that he changed his name from Rohrbaugh to its original spelling, Rohrbach.

Patricia Moorhead appointed Emeritus Member of AGI

The following was written by the Accredited Genealogists Ireland:

Accredited Genealogists Ireland (AGI) is pleased to announce that its very first Emeritus Member is Patricia Moorhead. She is a popular figure in Irish genealogy, known particularly for her witty and entertaining talks. Pat, as she is familiarly known to her friends, has been involved in family history research for over two decades. She was passed by the APGI (now AGI) assessors in 1999 and retained membership until a year ago, when she chose to retire.

At AGI’s Annual General Meeting in December 2015 a constitutional amendment was passed, allowing the Council to confer emeritus status on members or associate members who have retired. The status is not automatic on retirement. It recognised a long and valued association with AGI. Immediately after the AGM, a Council meeting was held at which Patricia Moorhead was named as the first person to receive Emeritus Membership. The decision was announced later that day at the annual lunch.

Patty Limerick named Colorado’s State Historian

The following was written by History Colorado:

Professor_Patty_LimerickDenver (January 11, 2016)—History Colorado and the University of Colorado Boulder have formed a collaborative partnership to advance the understanding and appreciation of Colorado’s vast history. As a key component of the partnership, Governor John Hickenlooper has named CU-Boulder Professor Patty Limerick to serve as the new Colorado State Historian.

“This strengthened partnership between these two Higher Education agencies is a demonstration of Colorado’s collaborative spirit and is a testament to the work that state agencies can do together,” said Governor Hickenlooper.

Curt DiCamillo Appointed Curator of Special Collections at New England Historic Genealogical Society

The following announcement was written by the folks at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

CurtDiCamilloBoston, Massachusetts, January 11, 2016 ― Curt DiCamillo, the internationally recognized authority on English country houses and the decorative arts, has been appointed the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s (NEHGS) first Curator of Special Collections, a new position commencing February 29, 2016.

A longtime member of NEHGS, Mr. DiCamillo has led highly successful heritage tours for the organization to England and Scotland, has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad, and has taught classes on British culture and art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and elsewhere. Previously, he was for many years Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, based in Boston, where he successfully raised over $7 million and initiated many innovative programs. In addition, he worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for 13 years. The New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845, is the leading nonprofit genealogical society in America, serving more than 150,000 constituents and millions of online users through its award-winning website,

D. Joshua Taylor Appointed President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society

The many friends and acquaintances of Josh Taylor will be pleased to learn of today’s announcement from the Board of Trustees of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society:

Josh_TaylorNew York, New York, January 7, 2016. D. Joshua Taylor, the prominent genealogist, author, and lecturer, has been appointed President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, effective February 1, 2016. He succeeds McKelden Smith, who is retiring after serving as its highly-regarded President of seven years.

Jeanne Sloane, chairman of the board of trustees of the NYG&B, said, “We are thrilled that Josh has accepted this position. He brings to the NYG&B dynamic energy and his well-known passion for the mission of genealogical societies in general. He has broad experience as an advanced researcher and riveting lecturer. Plus he has the expertise we require in the innovative use of technology in our field.”

Ms. Sloane also said that Mr. Taylor already knows the NYG&B unusually well. “Most recently,” she said, “Mr. Taylor was Director of Family History at While he was in this position he coordinated the integration of the NYG&B’s eLibrary with the Findmypast platform.

Twins Born in Different Years

This will cause confusion for future genealogists. Twins were born a few minutes apart on Thursday evening/Friday morning in San Diego, California. The confusing part is that the clock struck midnight during those few minutes. Not only were Jaelyn and Luis Salgado born on different days, they also were born in different years.

They became the last baby of 2015 and the first baby of 2016 at San Diego Kaiser Permanente Zion Medical Center.

Pictures and a video are available at

A Techie’s Obituary: “Bill’s Application has been Migrated to the Cloud”

This has gone viral on Reddit. William Fink was a life-long techie and lover of computers and all sorts of other assorted modern devices. His obituary in the Belleville (Illinois) News-Democrat, written by his bother Matthew, reads (in part):

William Ralph ‘Bill’ Fink, 46, encountered an unhandled exception in his core operating system, which prematurely triggered a critical ‘STOP’ condition on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015.

Update: John Martino, R.I.P.

John Martino, a very active genealogist and the Project Coordinator for the Italian Genealogical Group, passed away earlier today. John dedicated all his spare time to coordinating the funding and digitizing of our online databases which have been so helpful to researchers worldwide.

UPDATE: John Martino’s wake will be held at the M. A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave, Huntington Station, NY 11746 (Phone: 631-427-1123) from 2 until 4 and again from 7 until 9 on Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6.  A Mass will be held at 10 AM Monday at St. Francis of  Assisi Church, 29 Northgate Drive, Greenlawn, NY. A military funeral will follow at Calverton Cemetery.

John Martino, R.I.P.

John Martino, a very active genealogist and the Project Coordinator for the Italian Genealogical Group, passed away earlier today. John dedicated all his spare time to coordinating the funding and digitizing of our online databases which have been so helpful to researchers worldwide.

UPDATE: John Martino’s wake will be held at the M. A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave, Huntington Station, NY 11746 (Phone: 631-427-1123) from 2 until 4 and again from 7 until 9 on Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6.  A Mass will be held at 10 AM Monday at St. Francis of  Assisi Church, 29 Northgate Drive, Greenlawn, NY. A military funeral will follow at Calverton Cemetery.

New York Centenarian Makes the Rest of Us Look Like Lazy Slackers

Felimina Rotundo works 11 hours day, six days a week at a Buffalo Laundromat. She works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week washing clothes and handling dry cleaning at the College Laundry Shoppe on Main Street in Buffalo. Born in 1915, Felimina celebrated her 100th birthday in August.

Felimina says she likes being out and working because it “gives her something to do.” She hasn’t considered retirement and will continue working as long as her health is good. She also says too many people retire too soon. Her advice to her peers: “Get out and do some work.”