Saturday, May 5, 2007

Aunt Gerry's day

This was the day of my Aunt Gerry's service and burial at Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster MA. The day dawned bright and cool, and was pleasant while we were in the stone chapel.

There were about 30 people there - several of my New England cousins and their families, Gerry's husband and his family from Maine, my cousin Peter and his wife, my cousin Joan, and Gerry's lifelong friend, Fran, with her niece.

The service was simple - led by the local Episcopal church pastor. Gerry's ashes were in the urn surrounded by flower bouquets. A framed picture of Gerry was in front of her husband and his family. The music player didn't work for some reason so there wasn't any music. After a brief reading of scriptures and responses, the pastor asked the family to share their memories. I led off with the theme of "Gerry is a Family Treasure," then two of Gerry's step-daughters shared their memories, my cousin Joan had fond memories to share, and cousin Peter finished with his memories and words of wisdom and appreciation. The service finished with a short homily, prayers and a commendation.

Then it was over to the gravesite. The urn and flowers were displayed alongside the grave, and the pastor said more prayers and committed her ashes to the ground. Some of us then went to the gravestones of Peter' and Joan's parents and took some pictures there.

Off we went back to cousin Barby's home in Westford, and almost everybody managed to get there. We were soon joined by Barby's 4 grandchildren and a son-in-law - that livened things up quite a bit! There was a nice spread with sandwiches, salad, fruit and quiche, and scrumptious chocolate eclair type desserts. We had a wonderful time catching up with the cousins we haven't seen for awhile, and sharing our family pictures with them. The folks from Maine left for the drive back, and others left over time. We stayed behind with Barby and her family, and had a great time watching the little ones play and learn with cousin Linda.

Finally, we went out to dinner with Barby's family. The kids kept their energy level to the end - we split them up a bit and had two adults per kid - that worked well! Then it was back to the hotel after a long day. We packed tonight - we got all of the papers and photos into the suitcases. We leave the hotel at 7 AM in the morning, and Manchester NH at 9 AM.

I will post my memories of Aunt Gerry later.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Drivin' around Massachusetts

It was an interesting day, once we got going. I called my cousin Barby in the morning, and she asked me to do a favor for her. She needed Aunt Gerry's cremains delivered to the funeral home to be inurned. So we went to Barby's home in Westford (she lives in Hildreth Heights, where our ancestor Richard Hildreth built a house in the 1600's - not there now, of course).

Barby went to Augusta ME yesterday and brought back all of Aunt Gerry's family papers, photo albums, and many of the articles she wanted passed to the nieces and nephews. I'm going to take the papers and photos home with me and scan many of them for a family CDROM later in the year. I looked through quite a bit of it and there are several pictures I don't have, and some of the papers are interesting. My cousin Peter and his wife came just as we were leaving to take the cremains to Leominster.

We had a 2 PM appointment at Richardson's Funeral Home in Leominster, and were there about 10 minutes late. We handed over the urn and the cremains, with the needed paperwork, and that part of it will be taken care of efficiently, I'm sure. I was honored to be able to take Gerry 25 miles on her final journey to the grave.

What to do now? Well, it was a beautiful day, so we decided to visit the family homes and graves and take pictures. Before we left home, I had found the addresses of all of the homes, and had found them all on a map of Leominster and Fitchburg. So we visited (in order):

a) 20 Hall Street, Leominster - this home was bought by my grandparents Fred and Bess Seaver in 1927. I had not seen this home before. The present resident came home while I was taking pictures, and I told him my grandparents had owned it and my father lived in it. He even invited us in, but we declined. Nice guy!

b) 290 Central Steet, Leominster - this home was provided rent-free to my grandparents Seaver from 1911 to 1927 by the Paton Mfg Co - my grandfather Fred Seaver was the manager of the factory next door to this house. My father grew up in this house and it had many memories for all of the family - and there are many stories too.

c) 149 Lancaster Street, Leominster - this home was owned by my great-great-grandparents Hildreth (Edward died in 1899, Sophia in 1923) and was the home for my great-grandparents Frank and Hattie (Hildreth) Seaver for most of their married life.

d) 7 Cedar Street, Leominster - this home is across the street from 149 Lancaster and my great-great-grandfather Isaac Seaver lived in it in 1900 (he died in 1901).

e) 42 Summer Street, Leominster - my great-grandparents Thomas and Julia (White) Richmond lived here in 1900. I had not seen it before, and it was the only house I didn't photograph. It was set back from the street a bit and there was no place to park in seamy part of town.

f) Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster - we found that they have dug the hole for Aunt Gerry. We took photos of the three Seaver stones in this cemetery, but there were shadows on several of them. I took pictures last year in the rain so it was no great loss. We will have another shot at pictures on Saturday, I'm sure.

g) 116 Lawrence Street, Fitchburg - my grandparents Fred and Bess (Richmond) Seaver lived in this house in 1910, and my father and two of his siblings were born here. I had not seen it before.

Now it was time to head back to Chelmsford for dinner. We had a choice - go through rush hour bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 2 and Interstate 495 for 20 miles, or take a two-lane road - Highway 2A - through Lunenburg, Shirley, and Ayer into Littleton. What do you think? It was a beautiful day and we took the ride through the country - averaged 35 MPH, probably faster than the highways! We stopped at Kimball Farms in Littleton - we knew they had a great ice cream place, and thought it had a sit-down restaurant. Nope - we had to find another place to eat. We shopped for about 45 minutes, then headed off to Scupper Jack's in Acton - I had a Mapquest printout from 3 years ago with me. We had a nice dinner - scrod and fries, and Linda had another Frozen Mudslide to drink.

The funeral is tomorrow at 11 AM, with a family party at Barby's afterwards. I think that some of us will go out for dinner somewhere in the evening to share memories, stories and pictures. I will probably not post anything on Saturday or Sunday (until I get home).

The wireless signal in the room is working tonight, and I'd better get this finished before it dies! Has everybody heard the joke about scrod?

A day without blogging is ...

a) Restful - I knew I wouldn't have a chance to post until late Thursday night.

b) Frustrating - I had the time on Thursday night, but the wireless network at the hotel wasn't strong enough.

c) Challenging - I had 100 emails to read, then 82 blog posts in Bloglines. Whew. Bloglines does make it easy to read blog posts, though!

Our flight to Manchester was uneventful. I read the book "Echo Park" by Michael Connelly. I tried to listen to the FGS lectures I have on my iPod, but the background noise on the airplane was too loud, so I played Solitaire on the iPod for awhile. I couldn't find a volume control for the iPod. I left the directions at home, of course.

We got to the hotel in Chelmsford, and the desk said they had either wireless or wired access to the Internet. Cool. We got our room, but went out to dinner with friends. When we got back at 10 PM, I tried the wireless connection, but got no signal. So I called the help number provided, and still could not get connected. I went to the desk again, and asked for the phone connection cable. They gave it to me, but the cable insert and the outlet in the wall didn't match. I went to bed without my email or blog fix.

This morning, I tested the wireless again. Nope - not in the room. I walked to the public room in the hotel and tried there. Nope. OK, I'll go to the library. I went to the front desk again, and they said try the dataport in the public room. OK - the cable insert fit on both ends, but it didn't work. Then I noticed that the icon for wireless lit up, and I connected by wireless. So scratch the library trip! I may be able to do this again tonight and Saturday!

Today is a free day - I'm going to call my cousin and see if we can help, or we will go to Leominster and look for family homes and take some pictures. We may even get to some outlying graveyards for more pictures.

I may be back posting before Sunday night (when we are back home).

Carnival of Genealogy #23 is online

Jasia at Creative Gene has posted the 23rd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy at The topic is "School Days," and there are 18 submitters. I haven't read all of them yet, but I will!

In honor of Mother's Day (May 13th) the topic for the next edition of the COG will be: Moms. Share with us something about a special mom... birth mother, adoptive mother, step-mother, grandmother, Godmother, den mother, cousin's mother (yes, I know that's your aunt ;-), mother earth, Mother Mary, or your own reflections on motherhood if you're a mom. Let's take our mom's to the Carnival! The deadline for submissions is May 15th. You can submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Light Blogging through weekend

As I mentioned earlier, there will be few Genea-Musings online through Sunday. My Aunt's service is at 11 AM in Leominster MA. We travel on Thursday, have a semi-free day on Friday to rest, the service and reception are Saturday, and we fly home on Sunday.

If you desperately need to read Genea-Musings, check out my Archives on the right sidebar. I imagine few of you are that desperate!

If you want more recent material, please click on my fellow genea-bloggers on the blog roll on the right sidebar. They will appreciate the visit, and perhaps you will find something to tickle your humerus or help your genealogy research.

Or go read some of the newer genealogy blogs that Chris has at his site. The G-files look interesting!

Top 10 Genealogy Sites of 2050

I missed this when Chris Dunham published it back in October 2005, but Hugh Watkins posted it today and I thought it was funny:

10. Cyndi's Granddaughter's List

9. The Ancestry of President Mary-Kate Olsen

8. Find a Grave on K-PAX

7. The National Archives of Amerimexicanada

6. Iraq War Service Records, 2003-2038

5. The Bill Clinton Memorial DNA Registry

4. Baptismal Records of the Church of the FSM


2. Daughters of the American Sexual Revolution


Funny stuff. Check out the Church of the FSM for more funny stuff.

Well done, Chris, and thanks to Hugh for the link.

Genealogy Software User Forums

Do you have a genealogy software problem that you are frustrated by, or don't know how to address? Have you tried the Help! button on the software menu? Usually, you can search a table of contents there, or put keywords into a search box.

Did you know that there are message boards for each of the major genealogy software programs? One of my colleagues asked me today about a problem with FamilyTreeMaker on her Macintosh, so I used the FTM message board to see if others have had the problem. Yes, they have, but I didn't see a solution!

I have used the FamilyTreeMaker forums occasionally, but I have not looked carefully at the message boards for the other programs because I have and use FTM.

There are message boards at both and

The Genforum message boards include:

1) Family Tree Maker has several message boards:

* Family Tree Maker: Installation FTM Installation Questions and Problems
* Family Tree Maker: Usage and How-To Questions Get the Most Out of Your FTM Software!
* Family Tree Maker: Printing and Formatting Trees, Charts, and Reports
* Family Tree Maker: Searching Family Archive CDs, Family Finder Report, and the World Family Tree CDs
* Family Tree Maker: Error Messages and Display Problems

2) Ancestral Quest

3) Brother's Keeper

4) Personal Ancestral File

5) Reunion Software

6) The Master Genealogist

7) Family Origins

8) Family Tree Creator

9) Generations Family Tree

10) Ultimate Family Tree

There are Ancestry/Rootsweb Message Boards also:

1) Family Tree Maker

2) Legacy Family Tree

3) RootsMagic

4) The Master Genealogist

5) Ancestry Family Tree

6) Personal Ancestral File

7) Family Tree Legends

8) Brothers Keeper

9) Reunion

10) General software

All currently available genealogy software companies have their own web sites, and most have technical support web pages that list known problems and fixes. For instance, the Legacy Family Tree support page is here and the RootsMagic support page is here.

I was surprised that Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic don't have a Message Board on the Genforum boards. I wonder why? Competition to FTM? Or are they too new (but they are several years old!)?

If your software isn't listed here, and they have a message board or user forum somewhere on the web, please let me know and I will add them to the list above.
On both the Rootsweb/Ancestry and Genforum message boards, you can search for specific problems by using the Search box provided. Put your keywords into the search box and the search will provide the posts that include your search terms.

UPDATED 10:15 PM - added the RootsMagic support link - thanks to Bruce in comments.

"Family History Live Online" Webinar

DearMYRTLE has a post describing the web-based seminar hosted by Family History Live Online, to be held on Saturday, May 5, from 8 AM to 3:45 PM. There will be 13 presentations - please see the list at

DearMYRTLE will have a presentation at 11 AM titled "BLOGGING: Getting the Word Out."

The way this will work is described in the blog post. In order to see the presentation content and hear the presentation, you have to:

1) sign up for the seminar at the Family History Live Online website:

2) download the RegL reader (for free)

3) download the presentation Content in the hours before the seminar starts

4) Log in to the web seminar and listen to the presentations while viewing the content.

5) If you have a microphone, you can ask questions at the end of each presentation.

This is a variation on some of the other types of web presentations of genealogy material. It requires that you be present at the computer for each talk.

Hopefully, the presentation content can be downloaded and viewed independent of the seminar. Or alternatively, perhaps each talk could be viewed after the seminar as an audio file keyed to the content.

We'll see how this goes - I wish I could participate but that's the day of my Aunt's service in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Tribe of Ishmael - Part 1

One of our CVGS members handed me an old newspaper article yesterday - and said "here's a genealogy challenge for you." I said "Thanks, I think!" It is an intriguing article!

The article is from the Indianapolis (IN) Star Sesquicentennial Edition, dated Sunday, November 7, 1971, Section C, Page 13. I will post this in two separate posts due to its length, and then we'll see what further research will find.

TITLE: "Tribe of Ishmael Shows 'Classic' Degeneration."


"An interbreeding gypsy-type "family" that lived in Indianapolis for many years has been described as a 'classic' case of social degeneration.

"The "Tribe of Ishmael" was active here from 1832 until the 1920s, but its curious history has been limited to studies by public health experts and sociologists.

"Numbering hundreds of families at one time, most of whom lived preferred living near White River, the Ishmaelites were involved in prostitution, murder, welfare and destitution.

"The Interbreeding has been described as almost 'beyond belief,' although its extent is indicated in this part of an 1890 study of the tribe:

"'Robert R----- Jr. enjoyed several relations not generally allotted to mankind, for his mother was the daughter of his father. This came near letting him out without a grandmother, but he doubled up in another direction, inasmuch as his brothers and sisters became his uncles and aunts. He had a record of one term in prison. He first married Christina E----, a well-known prostitute, but they were soon separated and next married Christina E----, a well-known prostitute, but they were separated and next married Lydia Ann U---- and here he secured some odd relationships. For he became stepfather and father-in-law to his brother's uncle Alex. His daughter-in-law was his step-daughter, his aunt and his sister-in-law. His wife became the niece of her son-in-law.'"


I will post the rest of the article soon.

Gee, this is "I'm My Own Grandpa" in real life - back in the 1800's. I wonder just how much of this is true. How would one research this? I'm guessing that there may be more newspaper articles about them, but what about the genealogy databases and web sites? How difficult will it be to figure out who these people were?

UPDATE, 2 May, 9:30 AM: Craig Manson, who writes the Geneablogie, posted this comment which enlightens me (and all of us) on the back story about this "family":

I suspect that a lot of modern researchers have stayed away from this story because of its "back-story," as journalists say. The "back-story" is that the 1890 study of the "Tribe of Ishmael" was done by Rev. Oscar McCulloch and soon became a basic document in the eugenics movement.

"Eugenics" was a pseudo-scientific effort in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to prove that criminality, poverty, and socially undesirable behavior were genetic in origin. Efforts were made to identify "any individual group--white or black--considered physically, medically, morally, culturally or socially inadequate . . . . Often there was no racial or cultural consistency to the list of those targeted. The genuinely lame, insane, and deformed were lumped in with the troubled, the unfortunate, the disadvantaged and those who were simply 'different,' thus creating a giant underclass simply labeled 'the unfit.' " Edwin R. Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, (ThunderMouth Press 2004), p. 53.

Based on the McCulloch study, the Indiana legislature passed a law requiring mandatory sterilization of certain people. (The law was declared unconstitutional in 1921). Eugenics became a fundamental part of fascism and formed the basis of the Nazis most repugnant medical experiments.

There is value in undertaking a genealogical or other study of a group like the Ishmaelites using modern research techniques. An upcoming book, The Tribe of Ishmael: Inventing America's Worst Family, takes a serious modern look at this group. It's by Prof. Nathaniel Deutsch of Swarthmore College.

By the way, McCulloch's study can be found on Google Books.

Sorry about the length of this comment--but I wanted to share "the rest of the story."

And an excellent summary of the rest of the story! Thanks, Craig.

Geraldine (Seaver) Remley obituary

The obituary for my wonderful aunt, Geraldine (Seaver) Remley appeared in the Kennebec Journal on Sunday, April 29:


"Geraldine Seaver Remley 1917-2007

"Geraldine (Gerry) Seaver Remley, 89, passed away on Wednesday, April 26, after a brief illness.

"She was born on May 18, 1917, in Leominster, Mass., the daughter of Frederick W. Seaver and Bessie (Richmond) Seaver.

"Her professional career was in the field of music education. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Lowell State College in 1939, a Masters of Education from Boston University in 1959, and 21 graduate credits from Boston, Harvard, Vermont, and Florida State universities between 1964 and 1968.

"She taught music to students at the Northhampton, Mass., public schools from 1939-1950 and at the Newton, Mass., public schools from 1950-1970. In addition she sang as a soloist and in choirs and choruses and directed several choirs and choruses during her career days and following her retirement in 1970.

"She is survived by her husband of 37 years, James H. Remley; Virginia Soule, five children; Nancy Arnold, husband; John Wood, wife and two children; Judith Fischer, Walter Wood, Jr., wife and three children; Randall Seaver, wife and two children, Barbara Schwahn, husband and two children; Stanley Seaver, wife and two children; Peter Seaver, wife and one child; Joanie King; Scott Seaver, wife and two children; stepdaughters Elaine R. Perachio, husband and three children; Sarah Jane Southmayd, husband, two children and two grandchildren: and stepson James H. Remley, Jr., wife and two daughters.

"Her love of music inspired many students and gave enjoyment to family members, friends and people in every community in which she lived. A family memorial service will take place on May 5 in Leominster.

"Donations in her memory may be made to Maine PBS or Augusta Fire and Rescue."


Unfortunately, there are several errors in this - she died on Thursday, April 26, not Wednesday.

The people listed after her husband are her nieces and nephews (and some of the number of children are wrong), not her children. Some genealogists who find this obituary many years from now may think that the list of 11 after her husband were her children, not her nieces and nephews.

We will be at the service in Leominster MA on Saturday, May 5. I worked several hours on my eulogy and am fairly happy with it. I need to practice a bit more, and edit it down a bit. I may post it after we get back.

Della's Journal - Week 18 (April 30-May 6, 1929)

This is Installment 18 of the Journal of Della (Smith) Carringer, my great-grandmother, who resided at 2115 30th Street in San Diego in 1929.

The "players" and "setting" are described here. Pictures of some of the players are here.

Last week's Journal entry is here.

Here is Week 18:


Tuesday, April 30 (pleasant): I worked on parking. Then washed. Ma walked out. Mr. Benford died last night at 1 P.M. Ma better.

Wednesday, May 1 (warm and hot wind): I went down to May day singing at Marston's. Very nice, met the Misses Thompsons, Adell & Estella. E. is 82 years old & blind. I deposited $100 - A[ustin's[ $80 & $20 for Ma's house Rented to a Mr. Smith, works in a meat department in a gro.[cery] on 41st. Got outting (?) flannel for A[ustin's] night dresses 12 yd @ 25c, $3.

Thursday, May 2 (warm): Ma better. I sent check of $2.00 for renewal of Progressive Thinker 1 yr. I made a floral piece for Mr. Benford's funeral. I rode down with Mrs. Benford & Blethen then out to cemetery with Gladys Parker. Letter from Jessie. I got watch out of box at Bank for her. Will take it down when they come in with Eggs. Gave Ma bath.

Friday, May 3 (cooler): We burned on grass on lots. I keep things watered at evening so to keep them from drying up. Letter from Ed. One from Mary Dyar. Emily working.

Saturday, May 4 (pleasant): I went down[town], Pd on 2116 Fern St $65, then went to Union Trust Co they had not received our int[erest] from ?en?ie (??) told me to write. Ed over, gave him $5 check. He cut lawns on East. I went out to Ma's house, saw the people Mr. & Mrs. Smith, liked their looks. Gave Mrs. Smith 20c for postage stamps. Called on Mrs. Snyder & Mrs. Van Beeber. The lady that lived South of Ma died.

Sunday, May 5 (pleasant): Lyle's went to the country. I did not go any place. I wrote letter to West Shores Investm[ent] Co. Ma is getting along nicely. Our roses blossoming fine.

Monday, May 6 (pleasant): Ma helped wash. I worked in yard.


There is quite a bit of news here. When she says she "worked on parking" - I think that means that she worked on the narrow grass strips between the sidewalks and the street curb. I don't know who Mr. Benford is - perhaps a neighbor. Same with Mrs. Blethen and Gladys Parker. Ma (Abby Smith) had a house on 41st Street that she owned and rented out - Della likes the looks of the new tenants, the Smiths. I cannot decipher her handwriting on Saturday about ?en?ie - perhaps a person's name? I don't recall it being used previously.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ancestry's wild card search has a small problem

Paul Graham, in a post on the APG mailing list, pointed out a problem with Ancestry's databases and their wild card searches. Followup messages confirmed that it wasn't just his problem.

If you are doing a wild card search on a surname with a given name, the search works if you use the first three letters of the surname, but not if you use 4 or more letters.

But it seems to happen only on certain surname letters. As an example (1930 census, exact search, all states, all ages):

* If I use Robert Tho*, I get 12,152 hits (all of them correct)
* If I use Robert Thom*, I get 10,623 (all correct)
* If I use Robert Thomp*, I get 5,217 (all correct)

However, if I was searching for the name that Paul used - Michael Wazoo*, I get:

* If I use Michael Waz*, I get 11 hits (all correct)
* If I use Michael Wazo*, I get 95,645 hits (not all correct! - it found some of the given name = Michael as if there was no surname at all).
* If I use Michael Wazoo*, I get 204,687 hits - even more than last time with a more restrictive search.
* If I restrict the search to one state, it finds some of the Michael's in that state.

I tried a lot of surnames, and could only get it to hiccup on relatively rare or non-existent surnames. It worked fine on Smit*, John*, Turn*, Jone*, Seav*, etc. But for Smyk*, Grze*, Brka*, Pryz* (but not Pryo*), and others with rare spellings, it returns many more hits for the first name than for the three letter surname with a wild card. It did the same thing for non-existent surnames like Abcd* and Zxcv* - it returned lots of hits with the first names (with 4 or more surname letters).

Paul found that it extended to the other databases also - the Family Trees, Vital Records and Public Records.

Thankfully, you have to work really hard to make it fail, but if that is the surname you are searching, you will have to limit yourself to three letters in the surname with the wild card option.

Hopefully, Ancestry is aware of this problem and will fix it. I wonder why it happens?

Thinking about it, the search capabilities in online databases and using search engines for the web or news or images is so wonderful and fast, we have come to expect perfection. Think about 10 years ago - we were scrolling microfilm without indexes at the FHC or Archives to find people in the census records. Now we can do it in our pajamas late on a Monday night to our hearts content.

CVGS Meeting today - Margaret Read talk was excellent

The April general meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society was Monday at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library. After a brief business meeting, including describing the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog sponsored by CVGS, the drawing prize (of one hour of research with myself) was won by Grace, who does African-American research.

Our guest speaker was Margaret Fairfield Read, who is a retired school teacher, a member of the North San Diego County Genealogical Society (NSDCGS), and teaches many classes for NSDCGS.

The title of Margaret's talk was "The Strengths of Western Women - Quilting Women's Lives." Her grandmother left a book of hand-colored quilt patterns that intrigued her, leading her to find information about her ancestors lives, especially her female ancestors. She found that her 8 great-grandparents all came to California, some as children from the Midwest, via wagon train or train, and two came on ships through Panama or around Cape Horn. What was amazing is that several were single or widowed women with small children. She marvels at the strengths of the women who rode all the way across the country in wagon trains - how did they cope, what was their attitude, why did they come, where did they go?

Margaret focused her talk on her female ancestors, and their families, that migrated to California. She showed the records that indicated their presence in certain locations, and timelines that helped her search for more records. In all of these cases, Margaret has pieced together the fabric of their lives in a great demonstration of finding and using late 19th century records. The most useful resources were the census records, and she showed how mixed up and inconsistent that they can be. Vital records, city directories, deeds, probate records and county tax assessor records (both from FHL microfilms) provided wonderful records that showed relationships, where the families lived, and how the property ownership changed over time.

I really enjoyed Margaret's talk because she found original records that proved relationships and family structures, and she used traditional resources combined with Internet resources.

We had a fun time at lunch (8 of us) at Marie Callender's with many discussions of research brick walls and genealogy society operations.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Genea-blogging next week

It looks like genealogy blogging next week may be light for me.

Monday, April 30, is the "Blogging Day of Silence" in honor of the Virginia Tech shooting victims. A genea-blogging free day? Probably not - some won't get the message, I fear.

Thursday, May 3 - Linda and I fly to Massachusetts for my Aunt Gerry's memorial service at 11 AM on Saturday in Leominster MA. I will have the laptop with me, and will probably have Internet access at the hotel, but I don't know how much genea-blogging I will do through Saturday.

Sunday, May 5 - we fly home this day from Massachusetts. And get ready to go to Santa Cruz on Tuesday for a week with the grandsons.

I'm not sure if I will get much genealogy research done in Massachusetts due to the compressed schedule. I want to get more pictures of family homes in the Leominster area - I have several more addresses now. I also want to go up to Ashburnham again and see if I can find my Aunt Marion's grave there. Then there is the library and school yearbooks, newspaper articles, etc.

There is a possibility that I will become the "keeper" of my aunt's family papers and photographs. If I am, then I will scan them all and share them on CDs with my cousins later in the year. Another task to do - but exploring the family treasures is always FUN!

My favorite teacher

Jasia wants Carnival posts, so here is mine about School Days.

I honestly cannot identify a favorite teacher or mentor from my grade school, high school or college days. I seemed to glide through my classes. My problems were in the social arena, not the academic arena.

My best teacher and my favorite teacher is the woman I married - Angel Linda. She taught me many things about love, forgiveness, acceptance, joy, and "doing the right thing" every time during our courtship and married life.

Linda has always been a teacher, from the time she was a young girl, and continues to this day. Her brother was her first student (and won't he love this!). After she graduated from San Francisco State in 1964, she taught 6th grade in Clarksburg CA, just south of Sacramento. Then she moved to Coronado CA in the San Diego area hoping "to meet a Navy man." Linda taught 4th and 5th grade in Coronado until early 1974, her classes were mainly children of Naval officers, and the school was excellent in academics.

Along the way, in 1968 she ran into a non-Navy left-handed aerospace engineer. It took him over a year to ask her for a date, but then it took only 6 months to get married after that! She was a great teacher and he enjoyed the lessons. Always.

After we were married for 4 years, our two girls were born and Linda stopped teaching in Coronado and started nurturing and teaching our little darlings. When they entered school, she volunteered in the classroom to help their teachers. By the time they were both out of grade school, Linda decided to start substitute teaching and soon became a 4th grade teacher in Chula Vista. This was in a gang area of town, and the students were difficult to discipline and teach. Her first two principals were very supportive, but the last one wasn't. She disliked the paperwork and unreasonable control, so in 2002 she retired from teaching rather than fight the bureaucracy.

Throughout her teaching career, Linda had marvelous classroom control, teacher instincts, and mastery of the curriculum. Reading, spelling and arithmetic were her mainstays. Her classes went on several field trips each year, often to cultural exhibits in Balboa Park (where the students behaved wonderfully - funny how that happens when you take them out of the home environment). We still have contact with several of her students and fellow teachers - usually every week a former student greets her out in the community.

Her teaching energies are now devoted to reading to pre-schoolers at the Library twice a month, teaching Sunday School once a month, and reading to and loving her three grandchildren every chance she gets. And she still has an older male student to teach.

I'm a lucky guy - I've become a good student as a result of this favorite teacher of mine, and I think I've taught her a bit over the years also. She will travel to see family and friends, but she won't do genealogy research. It works out pretty well!

Funeral home research

One of the repositories that I have not done any research in is Funeral Homes or Mortuaries. I've thought about going down to the local place to see what their policies are about genealogist access, or if they have old records that our society might abstract, etc.

The Advanced Research mailing list has had some interesting discussions about Funeral Home research, and there are several very interesting posts.

JoAnn provides a summary of her experience in this post, and provides a sample letter of request.

Arlene wrote another post that provides a link to the "National Yellow Book of Funeral Directors" here. The Yellow Book contains a "directory of names, addresses, and phone numbers of every funeral home in the United States and Canada known to Nomis." The listings are not online - you have to order a copy of the Yellow Book (the 5 x 7 version is available for $65 + $8 S&H).

Arlene also provided a link to an article on the Tennessee GenWeb in this post. The article, titled "Researching Funeral Home Records, A Genealogical Tool" by Mark Barker, is at This is very informative and should be must reading for anyone just starting to search this type of record.

The Rootsweb mailing lists have many nuggets of information, and sometimes they blossom into long threads of excellent discussion with great advice and experience.

UPDATE: Miriam made an excellent comment (thank you!):

"Rather than purchasing a Yellow Book, I prefer to go to I have had a ton of success cold calling funeral homes. I've gotten plenty of information and numerous ones have freely mailed me copies of obituaries, addresses of cemeteries, and even copies of death certificates!I have a form I use whenever I call a funeral home. You can access it here."