Monday, November 29, 2010

Madness Monday: Is the Tombstone Wrong?

(First of all, let me preface this by saying that I know very little about military history beyond what everyone learns in school.  I also know very little about the protocols within the various branches of the US military and Veterans Affairs.  This post will reflect that so please forgive any mistakes or dumb questions within it.)

I know very little about my grandfather's life.  He and his son (my father) had a complicated relationship and only sporadically kept in touch over the years.  I do know that my grandfather was a veteran of WWII and was a Staff Sergeant in the US Army.  I know that because that is what it says on his tombstone.  The tombstone, however, fails to mention other things and only serves to confuse in other areas.

First off, my father always has said that my grandfather's time in WWII was very brief and that the war had ended by the time my grandfather got out of basic training.  He was seventeen when he enlisted in February, 1945 (three days before the Battle at Iwo Jima).  The war was over within the year so it does corroborate what my father has said about my grandfather's service being brief (I'm thinking he enlisted for the standard duration of the war plus six months which would have meant he'd been in for about a year and a half).  But I can't see how he could reach the rank of Staff Sergeant in that short amount of time. 

Another thing that is puzzling is that my father has always said that my grandfather wasn't even in the Army during WWII, it was the Navy.  Apparently, he didn't like the Navy so when the Korean War started he enlisted with the Army where he remained.  Yet his tombstone does not reflect his brief time in the Navy.  Another thing his tombstone omits, is his service in Korea and Vietnam.  Unlike WWII, my father was alive and witness to both wars and his father's participation in both so there is no hearsay basis to it.

I have seen tombstones for veterans of multiple wars and in every case but my grandfather's, the marker reflects the service in multiple wars.  I've also seen tombstones for those who served in more than one area of the armed forces, and again, they reflect this varied service.

Is it possible my grandfather's tombstone is wrong?  I really have no reason to doubt my father, especially in regards to my grandfather's service in Korea and Vietnam.  Does anyone know how Veterans Affairs decides what ends up on a veteran's marker?  I always have assumed that they just copied the veteran's service record, but like I said at the beginning, I'm not very familiar with protocols within the military and Veterans Affairs.  Any thoughts or input on this subject are most welcome.

My grandfather's marker.
Fort Mitchell National Cemetery, Russell, Alabama

(NOTE: Yes, I know this could probably be all cleared up if I were to get my grandfather's service record.  But I'm not his next of kin, my father is, and he has shown no interest or desire to pursue these records.) 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: John C. Fremont High School

My great-grandmother was a teacher before she married, but I have no idea if she ever taught at John C. Fremont.  These pictures of the school were in her collection.  I don't know who the two ladies are but I assume they were teacher friends of my great-grandmother's.  I'm guessing these were taken in the 1910s.

(c) 2010,
Leah, [Address for private use], California
All rights reserved.  Images are not to be reproduced in all or part without my consent.

NOTE: This John C. Fremont High School was in Oakland, California not the high school of the same name currently in Los Angeles (founded in the 1920s).

UPDATE: I did some more research on the school and found that is was located as 2230 38th Ave.  I looked the area up on Google Maps and it appears the school is no longer standing and was replaced with housing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Mystery Street

I usually keep my unidentified photos separate from the identified ones, which also means I tend to forget about the unidentified ones.  I had planned on getting these up a long time ago, but better late than never, right? 

All three of these pictures are from the same street.  It is from my great-grandmother's collection.  I believe these were taken when she was living in Oakland in the 1910s but can't be sure.  If anyone has any ideas as to where these buildings are, I'd love to hear about it.

Note the white building on the far left, the house just behind it (the gravel path is leading straight to it) and the house on the far right. 

This is clearly the same white building as in the previous picture.  The ladder makes me think it was under construction, maybe?

Again, I think this is the same house as in the first picture.  I believe it is the same as the one behind the white building and down the gravel path.

Again, I think this house might be on the same street - possibly the same as the house on the far right in the first picture?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marshall County

Last year I had a ton of fun researching poets and poems from places where my ancestors lived for Bill's Great American Local Poem and Song Genealogy Challenge and I'm very excited that he will be hosting it again this year!

I had another poem planned for this year but at the last minute stumbled upon this one by accident:
In the solitary forest
By the rushing "yellow water"
Which the Indians called Wy-thou-gan,
When the birds were singing gaily,
In the Moon of Leaves were singing,
Came the white man to our county.
In the forest swung their axes,
Felled the trees and built their cabins,
Built them for their families' coming,
Coming hither in slow ox-carts.
Here to battle with the forest
And the wolves within its shadows.
Strong and brave their hearts and spirits
To endure the storms of winter
And the drought and heat of summer.
Children, let us all be brave as they were-
We are proud of them, our fathers,
And we're proud of Marshall County.  - Minnie H. Swindell
I don't know what the name of the poem is, I found it at the beginning of Minnie's book Marshall County which is a history of the county written in 1923.  It isn't a great poem, but I like it and it tells me a little something about a place I didn't know much about to begin with.  The Marshall County in question is Marshall County, Indiana which is just south of South Bend.

My Barger/Berger ancestors settled there in the 1830s when it was still the wilderness Minnie describes.  The "rushing 'yellow water'" refers to the Yellow River (though it makes me think of something else entirely...).  What is interesting is that the author seems to have "borrowed" from Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha which contains:
"...In the solitary forest
By the rushing Taquamenaw,
When the birds were singing gayly,
In the Moon of Leaves were singing..."
I am working on a book about my Bergers for my grandmother for Christmas so I've had Marshall County on the brain.  While I had found several nice poems about Indiana in general, this was the only I could find that had to do with Marshall County specifically.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Finds: October 24th to November 6th

Not much genealogy got done these last two weeks so this will be pretty short...

Internet Finds:
  • Lincolnshire Marriages 1837+.  I learned about the website here and spent most of my (limited) free time recently playing around with it. 
  • Dorset OPC.  I've been a fan for years and it was one of the first places I looked (and actually found!) information on some of my more frustrating Dorset ancestors.  Anyone with Dorset roots is sure to find something useful here.
  • Somerset OPC.  Like Dorset above, a very valuable site for anyone interested in Somerset genealogy. There are other OPC sites available besides these two, see here.  
  • A Vision of Britain Through Time.  One of my favorite websites, I'm surprised I haven't written about it before. Whenever I want to learn more about a village or town where an ancestor lived, this is the first place I check. 
Blog Posts:
  • None.  I practically have abandoned my GoogleReader in the last couple weeks.  I'm sure many excellent blog posts have been published in the last two weeks and I look forward to reading them all soon.
Online Books, Papers, Articles:

  • BCG Sample Works.  Not only do they give you a good idea as to what the BCG might be looking for (if you're interested in certification), but I found them all incredibly informative reads.  I've read The Maternal Line of Elizabeth (Niesz) Titus several times and have referred back to it time and again when research my Berger/Barger ancestors who followed a similar path as the author's family.  
  • Also from the BCG are their Skillbuilding articles.  I've read about a quarter of them and whenever I have some free time, I try and read another.  

Offline Finds:

  • Henrico County, Virginia, Land Patent Abstracts with Some Plat Maps by Selena Mayes DuLac.  This is really more of a want than a find.  The author was at the California Family History Expo last month but I never got a chance to speak with her.  I'd love to learn more about the books (I know of there being three volumes) and possibly buy them, but don't know where to look (has anyone heard of these and/or know where to find copies?  I know some libraries have them so maybe a lookup is the route I need to go...).  The books have twice won the Donald Mosher Memorial Award for Colonial Virginia Research.  

Closing Tip:  It is a pretty well known tip to look at the neighbors of an ancestor on a census record in the hopes of finding a familial connection.  One thing I've started doing however is to look at how close an ancestor was to a state or county line.  I've had several ancestors who fall under this category and have been having success looking for the same or similar surnames the next jurisdiction over.

Friday, November 5, 2010

November To-Dos

First off, let me preface this by asking that whoever has been regularly Googling my grandfather's name contact me.  Seriously, every time I check my stats I see that you(s?) landed on this blog again and again by searching for him.  This has been going on for a long while and it is starting to get a little creepy.  I really hope that you aren't just ripping off everything I've posted on the family but given the fact that you have never tried to contact me, that is the conclusion I'm left with.  So, please contact me and prove me wrong.  Thanks. 

(This applies to everyone else who has landed on this blog by Googling a recent shared ancestor and not contacted me - and I know there have been a lot of you.  It is a huge pet peeve and really not cool so knock it off.)

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

Well October was a bust!  I started off great but after the Expo ended the real world caught up with me and genealogy research went on the back burner for the most part.  Since October was such a lackluster month, I'm just rolling over those goals into November. 

One thing I did do was get the copies of the DAR applications I had on my October to-dos.  All I can say is wowee!  I wasn't too excited about getting them because they are so old and from long before the DAR adopted the strict documentation standards they have now.  To my surprise these two older applications turned out to be very well sourced, even better sourced than the previous copy I got from a 1986 application.

Speaking of ordering copies of previous verified applications to the DAR, did you know you can now locate, buy and read them in a matter or minutes?  I have to give major kudos to the DAR for making this possible as I know it must have been no small feat digitizing the applications and making this whole thing possible.  Check it out if you haven't already.

I'd also like to get back to work on the Berger book I am writing for my grandmother.  I'd like to give it to her at Christmas but am so far behind, I worry I'll be able to meet that goal.  I plan on offering a free electronic version to any relatives interested but will give my grandmother a hard copy and would like to make that an option for everyone.  Does anyone out there have any knowledge/experience when it comes to self publishing?  I've used Blurb and like it a lot but I'd like to know more about the other options (like Lulu) before I commit.