Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Childhood in Books: Part 1

Growing up, I was surrounded by books. Both my parents have always been voracious readers, my father will pretty much read anything you give him (mysteries and history books are his favorites) while my mother has always prefered non-fiction (especially alternative medicine and new age type books) so there was always a variety to choose from growing up. We also went to the library quite a bit and I still remember getting my first library card (which I still have!) when I was about seven.

I was recently talking about childhood books with my mother and noticed that she was having a hard time remember her favorite books as a young girl (in the 1950s). Then I tried to remember the important books from my childhood and was startled to find that I too was having trouble recalling them all! Luckily, my parents kept most of my old children's books so it wasn't too hard to go through them all and remember which were special and which were extra special. A lot of those books are books that were my mother's and some were even my grandmother's so in addition to being my girlhood treasures they are also family heirlooms! For posterity and entertainment purposes I thought I'd spotlight some of my all-time favorite books from when I was little. Most have special feelings and memories for me that I can recall in an instant while some are just silly fun that, for whatever reason, struck a cord with my young heart (or sense of humor).

David's Silver Dollar by Elizabeth Briggs Squires.

I can't even begin to say how dear this one was to me and still is. It was published in 1940 but my copy hasn't been in my family that long. My mother use to get a lot of children's books second hand and this was one of those finds. Besides the wonderful illustrations, the book has a sweet but simple story. Young David has been given a silver dollar by his grandmother and spends the rest of the story trying to figure out what he wants to buy with it before finally settling on a puppy, something much more special than any material thing he had been contemplating. Unfortunately I don't think the book is in print any longer so it might be hard to find. But if you're interested in it, call me up and I'll be happy to read it to you, =)

In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz and Dirk Zimmer (illustrator)

You know the feeling when you find a book that is something special? That warm, joyful feeling akin to making a new friend? The first time I ever felt that was for this book. I was about five and it was the first book I ever read entirely by myself. And then I reread it and reread it and reread it and... well, you get the picture. Whenever I wanted to feel happy (and a little scared) I would pick this up. However, when they say "scary stories" they mean scary stories (to a youngster) though so use discretion if thinking about getting this. Chances are that if the kid's favorite holiday movie was The Nightmare Before Christmas, like me, then this book won't bother them though. The illustrations are especially fetching and are akin to Edward Gorey. I especially loved the story "The Green Ribbon" and I think I read that one the most.

James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot

I use to love it when my mother would read to me and this was one of those unique books that appealed to both of us. My great-grandmother who was in her 90s even liked it! Basically, the book is a collection of stories set in rural Yorkshire around the mid-20th Century. James Herriot was a veterinary and his stories basically center around the animals he treated and the Yorkshire countryside he knew so well. I've gotten several other of his books over the years and can safely say that I enjoy them all as much now as I did when I was little.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Making Contact

Thanks to this blog, my website, my trees on Ancestry, the Yahoo Groups I belong to and my countless mailing list and message board posts (both Rootsweb and Genforum), I hear from about ten new "cousins" a month. Some of these new relatives are pretty close and some pretty distant (like a 10th cousin twice removed) and it is usually fun to hear from any of them BUT I've been noticing in my exchanges with some that, well, their genealogy "netiquette" deserves some attention. These are some annoying trends I frequently see when hearing from new relatives (please keep these in mind prospective relatives!):

* While I am interested in your branch of the family and love getting any and all information you'd like to share with me, please use some discretion in what you send me! I don't mean to be rude, but I really don't care about your spouses' or in-law's or third-cousin-twice-removed's family tree. If I'm not related to the person, I'd really prefer it if you didn't send me their extensive information and family tree.

* Please don't contact me just to ask for all my information. It is rude and it demeans the years of work I've put into my research. There is a reason why all my trees on Ancestry are set to private, all my images have a watermark and a lot of the information on my website is copy/paste disabled and the reason is this. If you want my information, kindly ask if we can EXCHANGE genealogy. If you share something (like pictures or GEDCOMS) with me, I'd be more than happy to share with you.

* You know how it isn't nice to dangle a carrot in front a rabbit but never let the rabbit take it? Well, it isn't so nice to contact someone, tell them that you have all the missing links and a wealth of information and then don't deliver. I was so elated when I heard from one cousin who promised she had all the answers to a baffling branch of my family tree. She even gave me a run down of all the pictures and information (including original documents) she had. I gave her my address and eagerly awaited hearing from her and then... nothing. Talk about let down...

* Believe it or not, but I (begrudgingly) do have a life outside of genealogy. If you don't hear back from me for awhile it is because I haven't had the time. I usually try to get back to people within a week of hearing from them, but sometimes, it takes longer. If I know it'll be awhile before I can send someone any information I usually tell them. Please don't pester me for information when you know I am unable to send you any at that time, all it makes me want to do is NOT get back to you. I know how exciting it is to meet a new relative and possibly break down brick walls, but twelve e-mails in one week is not okay.

* I once read somewhere about the netiquette around exchanging genealogy information and the lead off, number one rule to always keep in mind was the fact that people are really only interested in genealogy information that directly applies to them (like direct ancestors and close relatives) and there is a lot of truth in that. While I am interested in all branches of my family tree and do research all lines, not just the direct ones, please don't contact me just to tell me all about your side of the family. It is boring and makes for a pretty one-sided exchange of information. Instead of just telling me all about your family, let's try and focus on exchanging information on the relatives that we share, okay?

* If you see an error or an omission in my information, please do point it out (along with your sources) just don't be a jerk about it. I can't tell you how many new found relatives I hear from who think their data is the most sound, error-free and has all the answers- it doesn't and neither does mine. My data isn't perfect and neither is yours so don't berate my errors while pretending your information is the gospel truth. There is always room for improvement, new information and amending in genealogy as well as room for error.

* Believe it or not, but only about half of all the information I have ever received has made it into my trees. Most of the stuff I'm given is either without sources, unsourcable or reliant on poor sources (OneWorld Tree anybody?). Asking about sourcing is the litmus test for genealogists. I find that the really great genealogists have the best sources and source documentation while the newbies and maybe not so great genealogists don't really bother with it (or if they do it is inconsistent and poor). Since I've been in their shoes, I try and tell them a little about sourcing and the importance of it but it would sure be nice if sites like Ancestry offered a tutorial on it and pushed it more (since that is the mecca for any and all genealogists).

* Don't invade my space! I try and respect the privacy of my living (and recently deceased) relatives and I also try and keep a little for myself. Just because we are related don't expect me to send you information on living relatives. I'm happy to exchange pleasantries and have made more than a few friends (I've even come to think of one like a grandfather) through exchanging genealogy information, but asking for personal information on me or living relatives is not okay. I've had new relatives ask me everything from what school I go to to my phone number to my religious affiliation to who I voted for in the last election. As a general rule, I'm pretty stingy about giving out information on anyone (living or dead) born after 1920 so if you contact me don't expect me to be very forthcoming about post-1920 relatives.

If you are a relative and you want to exchange information, please do contact me. Most of the people that do are extremely wonderful, it is a small minority who fall into the categories above, though these behaviors are pretty annoying and something I'd prefer not to have to deal with as often as I do...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wonder List

Am currently wondering...

Researching my Wiley relatives in Maricopa Co., Arizona and wondering why Elijah's (Nancy Ann Webb's husband) death record or place of burial isn't showing up anywhere. Need to check name variations and possibly search by initials. He should be in Rosedale Cemetery with his wife...

Researching my Joseph James Allen and wondering why he isn't showing up in the 1920 census ANYWHERE... He should be in Jackson Co., Michigan. I've checked everything and everywhere... don't really know what to do next. He was hurt in WWI, maybe he was still overseas or in hospital and the census checker missed him? Don't know...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Belated SNGF- Three Things

(I actually started this post last night and then fell asleep before it was finished... oh well, better late than never!)

This week's challenge is to list three things that you learned today. I actually have been spending more time organizing and tying up loose genealogy ends than doing research lately but the recent hubbub around the Canadian census got back into research mode. Like Randy, my genealogical things have to do with the website Automated Genealogy:

1. I learned that an ancestor of mine, Susannah (Horton) Beam probably had a brother, Emanuel, living next door to her and her family in the 1852 Census. The family was in Zorra, Oxford, Ontario and Emanuel is next door to the Beams with his wife, Fanny, and children. I still don't know who Susannah's parents are but any Horton relatives are a start...

2. I found my fifth great-grandparents, John and Deborah (Bell) Beam in Clinton Twp., Lincoln County, Ontario. John and Deborah were the parents of Josiah who was married to the Susannah Horton above. I was a little surprised to see Deborah listed because she died around the time of the census. I also found a bunch of Bells living next door to Deborah and John, I'm sure this is Deborah's family though I still need to check my information to see where they fit in.

3. I found my fourth great-grandfather, Josiah Beam, in the 1901 census on the Automated Genealogy site. He was living with his son John and his family in Zorra. I also found some relatives in the 1911 census on the site and plan on looking for others. What a great website!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Line of Descent: Haley

1 William Hele or Haly m Ann Popple
(need to source)

2 William Haly m Phebe Green
(need to source)

3 Paul Haly or Haley (1664-1718, Cambridge, Middlesex, MA) m Elizabeth Smith (circa 1676-?)

4 Ebenezer Haley (1709-1777, Rehoboth, Bristol, MA) m Grace Bullen (orig. Boleyn) (1727-1790, Brimfield, Hampden, MA)

5 Comfort Haley (754-1821, Brimfield, Hampden, MA) m Hannah Ellis (1765-1862, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada)

6 Ebenezer Haley (1801-1897, Central Chebogue, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia) m Mary Lee Scott (1809-1893, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia)

7 Comfort G. Haley (changed it to Healy/Healey) (1838-1910, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia) m Mary Gertrude Mott (1852-1927, Benicia, Solano, CA)

(See Mott line)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Line of Descent: Mott

Lately, I've been communicating a lot with new found "cousins" and, as always, the first thing we try and establish is how we connect. What I usually send to help explain how I connect to the family in question is a line of descent from the earliest ancestor in the family. I just saw this post and it inspired me to post these lines online in the hopes that other researchers from these families will find them and want to exchange information:

1 Adam Mott m Jane Hulet/Hewlett
(need to source)

2 Joseph Mott m Mariam Williams
(need to source)

3 Jacob Mott (1714-1805, Hempstead Harbor, Nassau, NY) m Abigail Jackson (1720-1780, Jerusalem, Yates, NY)

4 Isaac Mott (1743-1780, Hempstead Harbor, Queens, NY) m Anne Coles (1747-1840, Glen Cove, Queens, NY)

5 Jacob Coles Mott (1770-1833, New York, Kings, NY) m Mary Green Smith (1776-1856, Goshen, Orange, NY)

6 Isaac Thomas Mott (1800-1860, New York, Kings, NY) m Mary Johanna Rose (1811-1856, New York, Kings, NY)

7 Mary Gertrude Mott (1852-1927, Benicia, Solano, CA) m Comfort G. Haley/Healy (1838-1910, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada)

8 Lauren Everett Healey (1873-1959, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA) m Kathryn Nielsen (1875-1918, Mt. Eden (now Hayward), Alameda, CA)

9 Gladys Viola Healey (1898-1998, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA) m Elmer John Shinn (1877-1946, Lodi, San Joaquin, CA). My great-grandparents.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Earl Derr Biggers: A Life, Part 2

I realize you can't do a very good biography of someone if you don't include the people around them. While my last post followed Mr. Biggers life, this one attempts to trace some of his family tree and close to him.

Robert J. Biggers we know from the last post, was born in Jan of 1860 in Canada. I also know from the 1900 census that he and Emma married around the early 1880s. In his 1920 census record he says that he emigrated in 1865 and I believe I found him in Warren in 1880, working as a clerk in a store and living with his family. Listed are his parents, William (b. circa 1829 in Canada to parents from Ireland. He is listed as a "tanner and currier") and Mary (b. circa 1832 in Canada, also to Irish parents) as well as siblings William H (b. circa 1856, Canada), David (b. circa 1857, Canada), John (b. circa 1859, Canada), Marnie (daughter, probably named Mary) (b. circa 1867, Ohio), Maggie (b. circa 1868, Ohio) and George S. (b. circa 1871, Ohio). Looking the children up in the Ohio Deaths database on FamilySearch revealed that they all pretty much remained in Warren and that Mary's maiden name was Stewart. Of the children whose certificate showed up were William H., James W. (born 1853, does not appear with family in 1880), John and Mary (who is listed as "Marnie" above). It also looks like the family was from Ottawa before coming to the US.

Emma E. Derr also comes up in the Ohio Deaths database. She was born 15 Sept 1863 in Greenville (Mercer Co.), Pennsylvania to Reuben Derr and Mary Bortz. She died 6 May 1950 and is listed as a widow.

Robert and Emma were apparently moved out to California to be with their son because they appear in Pasadena in the 1930 census. Robert must have died sometime between 1930 and 1950, where I don't know. He and Emma were married 17 Oct 1883 in Trumbull Co., OH.

From Earl Derr Biggers passport, we learn that his wife Eleanor was born 8 Feb 1888 (in Massachusetts) and that their son, Robert, was born 7 June 1915 (in New York). Through newspaper clippings, I learned Eleanor remarried after Mr. Biggers death (a Mr. Cole) and that she sued Jack Benny for copyright infringement:

(Oakland Tribune, dated 25 Oct 1960)

I believe Eleanor died in Monterey, California on 4 Mar 1976 (her DOB lists her as born in 1887). She was born Eleanor Ladd "of Medford, Mass." (from Mr. Biggers obituary) and they married in 1912. Eleanor appears in the 1910 census with her mother, Harriet and a brother, Philip, living in Medford. In the 1900 census, Eleanor's father is still alive and they are living in Medford. The family consists of: Austin C. Ladd (b. June 1854, Mass.), Harriet A. (b. June 1857, Mass.), and Philip H. (b. July 1885) as well as Eleanor.

Earl Derr Biggers and Eleanor Ladd's son, Robert Ladd Biggers, first appears in a Harvard Alumni publication (from Google Books):

Not much is known about Robert after that except that he died in Los Angeles on 5 Apr 1967 (from CADI), almost thirty-four years to the day his father died. A final notice to any creditors he might have had appeared in July of 1967:

I for one enjoyed learning a bit more about one of my favorite authors, and one of the most underrated authors in my opinion. If you ever have a chance to read one of his books or see a film based on one of his works I highly recommend it. Sure some of the writing and content is a little dated and falls into stereotyping in some places, but I think if you look at his works as a hole you'll find a good story, interesting characters and a compelling plot. Here's to you, Mr. Biggers- hopefully one day you'll be more appreciated.

Earl Derr Biggers: A Life, Part 1

As a girl (and even now), some of my favorite movies were the old Charlie Chan mysteries that used to come on Fox Movie Channel late at night. Later on, I discovered the Charlie Chan books by Earl Derr Biggers and found that I equally loved them as much as the films. Not many people today have heard of the fictional detective, which is a shame because at the height of his fame (1920's and 30's) he was ranked up there with Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Worse still is the fact that the detective's creator (and the author of many other plays and books) is little known nowadays. Though I have nothing against it, I've never been into "celebrity genealogy" (tracing the family trees of famous people just because they're famous) nor was I ever terribly curious to look up any celebrity on Ancestry or other genealogy databases. Mr. Biggers, however, is different. I was first drawn to his life story when I learned that he was from Warren, Ohio, the same town as many of my paternal relatives and ancestors. I also think it is a shame that he is so underrated and under appreciated an author which is another reason why I wanted to put together some kind biography for him (anything is better than the sparse tidbits currently available). I've also been looking for some way to combine my two biggest hobbies, reading (mostly mysteries) and genealogy.

What is known about Earl Derr Biggers is that he was born 24 Aug 1884 in Warren, Ohio to Robert J. Biggers and Emma E. Derr. He went to Harvard University and graduated in 1907. He lived in California much of his life and died there on 5 April 1933 from a heart attack.

I started my search for information on Mr. Biggers in the same place many of us do, the US census records. Since the earliest possible census he could have been in (the 1890 census) was essentially lost, I looked for him in 1900. He is listed as living in Warren with his parents, Robert and Emma. Apparently he was also an only child and the family was living at 309 Washington Ave. Robert J. Biggers is listed as being born in Canada (English) in Jan of 1860, his wife, Emma is listed a being from Pennsylvania, born Sept 1863.

Although I knew Mr. Biggers graduated from college in 1907, he is listed as living with his parents in Warren in the 1910 census as a 24 year-old. Since most colleges issue alumni directories, I searched for Harvard's on Google Books. I found Mr. Biggers in the 1914 and the 1919 Harvard Alumni Directories:

This is interesting because 1919 was also the year Mr. Biggers went to Hawai'i for the first time and first got the idea of Charlie Chan (though it would be another four years before the first book was written). By 1919, however, Mr. Biggers was already an established writer with the classic (and big hit at the time) Seven Keys to Baldpate (1913) as well as Love Insurance (1914), Inside the Lines (as a co-author) (1915) and The Agony Column (1916).

I looked around for more Harvard publications on Google and came across The Harvard Graduates' Magazine from March of 1913:

And again in 1915 (where his play Inside the Lines is mentioned):
Since he was of the right age range, I looked for him in the WWI draft cards and he came up in Pelham, New York (not surprising since the 1919 alumni directory also places him there):

I also learned that by now he was married to an Eleanor (from his draft card). By the 1920 census, the family is in Pasadena, California. They have a son, Robert, who was born around 1915 in New York. Eleanor is listed as being born around 1888 and is from Massachusetts.
Interestingly enough, Eleanor and Earl Derr Biggers appear in July of 1914 at Ellis Island, having just come back from Liverpool on board the S.S. Celtic:
By the 1930 census (three years before his death), the family is in San Marino, California. By now, he is a pretty famous author and his greatest creation, Charlie Chan, has not only appeared in print but is also appearing in motion pictures, first in The House Without A Key in 1926 (starring George Kuwa). By 1930, Charlie Chan had also appeared in two other films and by 1931 the series as it is popularly known now began with Warner Oland in the part (largely considered the best actor in the role although he was in fact from Sweden and not Chinese).

One thing I was particularly excited to find was Mr. Biggers passport application from 1920. In it, he lists a planned trip through China, Japan and Hong Kong. I like to think the trip was for background information on his greatest character and who knows if this is true or not. On the portion of the passport that asks for the purpose of the trip is typed the word "pleasure" only to be crossed out and written in large letters over it "RECREATION."

(Biggers with his wife and young son from his passport application dated January 22 1920)

Earl Derr Biggers suffered a heart attack in late March of 1933 in Pasadena:

(from the Oakland Tribune, dated 1 Apr 1933)

He died a few days later on 5 Apr 1933.

(from the Oakland Tribune, dated 16 Apr 1933)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

SNGF-100 Years Ago

It is Saturday Night Fun Time again! This week's challenge from Genea-Musings is:

"1) Which of your ancestors were alive in 1909?
2) Tell us where your ancestral families were living in 1909. What country, state, county, city/town, etc. Who was in the family at the time? Use the 1910 census as "close enough."
3) Have you found each of these families in the 1910 census?
4) Write a blog post about your response. Or write a comment to this post.
5) Have fun. Learn something!"

Of my direct ancestors, in 1909, those living were:

Joseph James Allen (1891-?) and Daisy Mae Croad (1897-1986), great-grandparents, married 1921. Each was living with their parents in 1910.

John Grant Allen (1869-1955) and Marion Wood (1871-?), great-great-grandparents, married 1890. They, along with their children (including Joseph) were living in Manistee, Manistee, Michigan in 1910, probably at their longtime home on Vine St.

Charles Wood (1842-?), great-great-great-grandfather, father of Marion Wood above. He and his second wife were living in Rolland, Isabella, Michigan in 1910.

Frederick Rendle Croad (1865-1932) and Mary Stokes (1867-1923), great-great-grandparents, parents of Daisy Mae Croad above, married 1885. They, including most of the children (Daisy is misspelled as "Daley") are listed in Millbrook, Mecosta, Michigan although they probably actually lived in Lakeview, Montcalm, Michigan.

Giuseppe Lapiccirella (1888-1973) and Maria Nicoletta Daccia (1892-1987), great-grandparents, this was probably not long before they got married. They were still in Italy, probably still living with their parents in Vieste.

Gideon Gottlieb Berger (1885-1965) and Georgiana Wellons (1892-1985), great-grandparents, married 1919. Gideon was living in the Townsend home as a border in Oakland, Alameda, California. Georgia was still living with her parents in 1910.

Susanna vonAllmen (1849-1932), great-great-grandmother, mother of Gideon Gottlieb Berger above. She was living with some of her children in Oakland, Alameda, California.

George Washington Wellons (1849-1932) and Mary Anna Webb (1862-1926), great-great-grandparents, parents of Georgiana Wellons above, married 1878. They were living in Yreka, Siskiyou, California with their children.

Elmer John Shinn (1877-1946) and Gladys Viola Healey (1898-1998), great-grandparents, married 1922. Gladys was still living with her parents and Elmer was too.

Heman Doyle Shinn (1853-1928) and Emma Sophia Tock (1859-1928), great-great-grandparents, parents of Elmer John Shinn above, married 1874. They were living on the Shinn family farm but their residence is given as Elkhorn, San Joaquin, California.

Mariah Adelaide Doyle (1832-1917), great-great-great-grandmother, mother of Heman Doyle Shinn above. Was probably living in Woodbridge, but is listed as being in Elkhorn, San Joaquin, California

Lauren Everett Healey (1873-1959) and Kathryn Nielsen (1875-1918), great-great-grandparents, parents of Gladys Viola Healey above, married 1896. They were living in San Francisco, San Francisco, California in 1910.

Comfort G. Healey (1838-1910) and Mary Gertrude Mott (1852-1927), great-great-great-grandparents, parents of Lauren Everett Healey above, married 1870. They were also living in San Francisco, San Francisco, California in 1910.

Niels Christian Nielsen (1852-?) and Engeline Christine Petersen/Pedersen (1857-1932), great-great-great-grandparents, parents of Kathryn Nielsen above, married 1874. They were probably living on their farm in Mt. Eden (now Hayward), Alameda, California though the census places them in Alameda, Alameda, California in 1910.

So, in 1909, all eight of my great-grandparents were alive, probably all sixteen great-great-grandparents were alive (I don't know anything about my Lapiccirella and Daccia ancestors) and six great-great-great-grandparents were alive. My paternal branch was in Michigan while my maternal side was in California. As for the fifth part of the challenge, I certainly did have fun and learned something: before this challenge I had never heard of the blog Tri-State Genealogical Society of Evansville, Indiana "TSGS Cruiser", an interesting especially since I have a bit of family from Evansville. Thanks, Randy!

California Research

I just read an interesting article by Greta and it got me to thinking about the best online repositories and databases I've come across in my research. Since I research everyone in my tree and not just direct ancestors, I've researched databases from almost every state in the US. As far as regions go, I've found that New England and the South have the best online representation. Unfortunately for me, I have hardly any relatives from the south and most of my New England family left the area in the 1700s. I primarily research the "rust belt" and western United States (California mostly). California is an interesting mixed bag, I've found, as far as research goes. I've had debates with other researchers who say California is one of the worst states when it comes to online databases and others who say it is one of the best. I've also read articles which spanned the same spectrum. I've found that when it comes to California research, it all depends on the county. Siskiyou county is one of the best represented, as are most of the Bay Area counties. And San Joaquin county (which is the county I focus my research on most), like many California counties, is growing in regards to its online resources. Some counties, like the one I grew up in (Yolo) have a lot of work to do. There isn't a lot of online representation for Yolo and in fact, if you were to request an obit online for some towns in the county, you'd be disappointed because many of the libraries don't carry newspaper archives. In fact, if you want to use Heritage Quest you have to go outside the county to find a library that has it. These are some of my favorite online California databases:

The Golden Nugget Library
Siskiyou Cemetery Central
Library of Congress Newspaper Archive (as far as California goes, counties included are: Amador, Imperial, Los Angeles, San Francisco)
Siskiyou History
San Francisco Genealogy (which includes Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Contra Costa, Sonoma, Napa, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Solano Counties)
California Genealogy and History Archives
California Newspapers
California State Library
California Tombstone Transcription Project
California Vital Search
Lassen Co. Obit Index
Mariposa Co. Database
Solano Co. Database
Stanislaus Co. Early Marriages and Wills
Cyndi's List: California
Databases on Ancestry

Monday, June 1, 2009

Blogging Prompt #22

(I hate that I'm so sporadic about these since the prompts, courtesy of We Tree, are so good. Sadly, I usually don't have the time, attention to deadlines or the creativity to do these very often, but hope springs eternal so here I am!)

This prompt reminded me of when I was about eleven or twelve and I had just gotten interested in genealogy. Since it was my new obsession it was something that I enjoyed talking about with anyone who would listen (and even those who wouldn't). One night I was over at a friend's house going on about my family tree discoveries when my friend's mom (who dabbled in genealogy) told me about her ancestor who came over on the Mayflower. Well, I thought that was about the neatest thing EVER and was immediately jealous. Since then I've been able to tie my family tree to the Mayflower also as well as Jamestown (though my ancestor never lived there he was on a supply ship that went there). Those are really my only direct celebrity ancestors and since a lot of folks can trace their lines to the Mayflower and colonial times it isn't such a big deal anymore (though I am still proud and tickled by it). I am related to other famous people though, they are either a cousin of some level or sibling of a relative of mine. These include: Henry Hudson, George Mason, Oliver Cromwell, Daniel Webster, the Beecher family, Harold vonSchmidt, James Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh. Those are only the connections I have verified. On Ancestry there is a BETA feature for the member trees where they'll scan and find possible "famous" relatives, some of those who came up when I did this include (these are at most fifth cousins however many times removed from my grandparents): Jonathan Swift, William Wordsworth, Samuel Morse, Oliver Winchester, John Locke, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Eldridge Gerry. I haven't verified these so I'm not counting these as definite though the John Locke connection seems pretty likely since I do have some Lockes in my tree. I'm sure that I'm missing a few celebrity relatives because I think just about everyone with early New England ancestry is related in some way.

On a regional level I've got some famous relatives, but since most probably haven't heard of them I'm not going to go into into them too extensively. These "small town" celebrities include a distant grandfather who was the first district attorney of Douglas Co., Nevada and possibly other counties in Nevada and northwest California, a distant grandmother who was alledgedly the first baby born in Benicia, California after the city was officially formed. There is also Moses Lyman Jackman, a cousin of a distant gradfather who was an early LDS member (there are also rumors that we're related to Brigham Young).

Family legends also say that we're related to various famous folks. Lucretia Mott is an example, only problem with that is that she wasn't born a Mott so we're more likely related to her husband than her. For years everyone in my family also claimed descent from William Penn because they shared the grey eye color trait (pretty flimsy, I know) and for years I've discredited this because there was no proof. Well, now I've found a possibly connection but since there is no proof I'm going to hold off on claiming him as a relative. There was also the typical "Indian Princess" in the family tree, but it turns out that she was born in Dorsetshire, England so that one could be wrong too.

Oh, and I'm SURE I'm related Barack Obama too because we all are, right?! That's what it seems like these days, lol.