Saturday, August 11, 2007

Book Review - "The Lost Constitution"

I brought "The Lost Constitution" by William Martin (published by Tom Doherty Associates, New York, 2007)on our vacation, and finished it this morning. This is a work of historical fiction, comparable to Martin's other works such as "Back Bay," "Harvard Yard," "Cape Cod," "Annapolis" and "Citizen Washington."

The focus of this book is an annotated copy of the first draft of the Constitution that may shed light on how the Framers developed the final version, especially as it pertained to Second amendment rights. There are two stories here - the historical travels of this document through time, and the search in present times by Peter Fallon (a rare-book expert) and his girlfriend, Evangeline, for the actual document, using historical clues to find it while fighting off several persons who want the document to support their political agenda. The book shifts between the historical chapters and the current search chapters.

The book takes us from Shays' Rebellion in 1786 to Philadelphia, Newport RI and Millbridge MA (a fictional place on the Blackstone River) in 1787; then Millbridge MA and Portland ME in 1861 to Fredericksburg VA and back to Portland ME, then the White Mountains in NH and St. Albans VT in 1864. The author gives us background information about these places and times, and I learned quite a bit about mills on the Blackstone, Shays' Rebellion, the St. Albans incident at the end of the Civil War, etc.

There is one family - named Pike - involved at the beginning, but as the generations multiply there is a web of many families by 2006, which includes many of Fallon's adversaries in the modern-day search. The family fortunes ebb and flow, the mill in Millbridge changes hands several times, and the document appears and disappears. Real-life historical figures appear in the fictional historical story based on their papers and other information.

One of the historical figures in the book was Rufus King, whom I had not heard of previously. He was one of the Framers of the Constitution, was a US Senator, twice a Vice-Presidnetial candidate, and a Presidential candidate in 1816. His Wikipedia summary is here. He sounds like quite an important and interesting person in American history. Methinks we don't know enough about the Framers' lives - we owe them so much!

I love books like this that add to my knowledge of historical times and places. If others know of similar historical fiction books, I would appreciate knowing about them.

I highly recommend this book to genealogy and history aficionados, and encourage those interested in New England history to read all of William Martin's books set in New England.

Aloha from Maui - Post 3

We continue on our quest to find every snorkel beach on Maui. I look like a lobster on several body parts - especially my foot-tops and my knees. Ah, the divine misery of sunburn!

After our Thursday coincidental meeting on the beach with my cousin Joanie and her friend Ray, we went to dinner with them at the Hula Grill in Ka'anapali (and I reported the details in a separate post).

Friday morning was our big 5-hour snorkel trip on the Boss Frog boat to Molokini and Turtle Town. Molokini is a partial rim of a volcano crater that rises only about 100 feet above sea level. The crater is about 150 feet deep, but the waters are very clear and teeming with fish. The boat from Ma'alaea takes about an hour to get there, and they provide breakfast and the snorkel gear. We got suited up and went in the water and spent about an hour swimming with and watching tropical fish, looking for eels in the rocks and admiring the coral. We were pretty much the last ones out of the water.

Then it was on to Turtle Town which is off the resort town of Wailea. We got back in the water (they have a ladder down into the water - you go down the ladder, put on your fins and swim off) and went searching for turtles. The water was not as clear, and I saw a few turtles on the bottom, and then headed back. About halfway back to the boat, I saw a turtle, maybe 3 feet long, on the surface right in front of me, so I stopped, swam parallel to it and watched it dive down. Pretty cool. When we got back on the boat, we had a hamburger lunch and headed back to the dock.

We knew that Joanie and Ray were going to the luau at the Hyatt Regency in Ka'anapali, so we called them to see if they minded if we joined them. They had VIP seats because it was Joanie's ?0th birthday but we decided to go anyway. We called and got reservations, got dressed and headed down there about 4 PM. I found Joanie and Ray in the VIP line, figured out where they were going to sit, and when we got into the seating area, we got a table about 50 feet from them. We were seated next to a nice family from Long Island and enjoyed talking to them. It was a nice dinner - roasted pig, teriyaki steak, veggies, rice, salad, fresh fruit, etc. The luau show was wonderful - Linda thought it was the best we've ever seen (I frankly don't remember much about the others - except when I had to go onstage and act foolishly). The climax was a fire dance that was exceptional.

We met Joanie and Ray afterwards, but they wanted to walk on the beach and we needed to go back to our condo. We'll see them again on Saturday evening for dinner.

I have spotted two cemeteries here on West Maui - I may go take a picture or two.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Further on my moral dilemma

We met my first cousin Joanie and her friend Ray for dinner last night. We had had a swim and a nap in the afternoon and they had had an exciting helicopter ride.

We went to the Hula Grill in Ka'anapali for dinner - a nice place with a Hawaiian atmosphere, although we were seated too far from the stage to see the hula dancers and musicians.

It wasn't long before the table talk turned to family stories. Ray asked "the Seavers were from New England - why did your father go to San Diego in 1940?" I told the story in my earlier post about "A Challenging Moral Dilemma," so I won't repeat it here. I told him the story, but realized that I had never asked Joanie if she had heard the story. She said that she had not heard about it while growing up and living in Massachusetts, but had been questioned about it by another family member - my mother.

When Joanie visited San Diego in the late '80s or early '90s, my mother asked her "Have you heard anything about Fred fathering a child in Massachusetts?" In response, Joanie said that she had not heard that. Subsequently, she asked her father about it - who said that he had not heard anything like that. Her father had told me the same thing several years ago.

We discussed the possibilities for awhile, and concluded that if there had been a child, then the family probably sent the girl out of town to a home for unwed mothers and the child was probably adopted.

I shared with Joanie my discussions with other family members who had stated clearly that the girl was pregnant when my father left Massachusetts. One of the sources was his sister who he lived with when he left. Hearsay? Fact? We don't know for sure!

Ray asked "well, why does it matter?" My response was that if there was a child, and if the child was male, then he would carry on my Seaver line Y-DNA. That launched us into another discussion about DNA genealogy and how it can prove male ancestry in the patrilineal line.

Needless to say, we had a good time talking about family and Hawaii and our lives.

See, I did some genealogy research on my vacation!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Aloha from Maui - Post 2

It was a lazy summer morning on the beach outside our condo in Kahana on the West coast of Maui. We had breakfast and read our email, then got our bathing suits on and decided to go to the beach just below our condo unit. We had been in the water for about 30 minutes - nice and cool, maybe 80 F, looking for fish through our snorkel masks - there weren't many! Then we got out to rest and put on more sunscreen.

A man about my age was sitting in a lawn chair in about a foot of water, with the small waves breaking over him occasionally, and eventually he would go over backwards in the chair as the chair legs sank into the sand beneath him. He laughed, we laughed. And he did it again and again - he seemed really nice and cheerful.

I was sitting in the shade about 20 feet from Linda who was in the sun, and the man was about 20 feet from Linda. They were kibitzing back and forth.

A young lady (well, younger than me!) was walking up the sand, and turned and made a beeline for me. It was Joanie, my cousin from Arizona! What a small world. She gave me a hug, then saw Linda down by the surf and snuck up behind her and said in her ear "are you flirting with that man in the water?" Linda jumped, then saw that it was Joanie, leaped up and hugged her too. About this time the man in the water went backside over tea kettle into the water again.

He came up dripping wet and Joanie introduced us to Ray. We talked for awhile, and found out that they go back on Saturday, they were going on a helicopter ride this afternoon, and had evening plans for the next two nights. They asked if we wanted to join them at the Hula Grill in Ka'anapali tonight. We said sure! We all went in for a swim and talked a lot more before they went off to their helicopter ride.

Linda and I went to Old Town Lahaina again for a juicy bacon cheeseburger at Moose McGillicuddy's, some shopping, and an ice cream before we came back to the room.

It's a real small world sometimes. They are staying at the condos across the road and just happened to be on the beach at the same time we were. Great timing!

No genealogy done yet on the trip, although I think we may talk some family history and cousin-talk over dinner tonight!

Tomorrow morning Linda and I drive down to Ma'alaea and take the Boss Frog catamaran for a 5 hour snorkel tour to Molokini crater and Turtletown. This should be fun!

Why Do I Blog?

Tim Agazio at Genealogy Reviews Online pondered the question, and then Miriam Midkiff at Ancestories:The Stories of My Ancestors wrote a post answering the question. Miriam invited other bloggers to comment on her post, but I decided that I would write a post of my own.

My reasons for blogging on Genea-Musings have changed a bit since I started in April 2006. Initially, my intent was to share my ancestral stories, create how-to articles for my society colleagues to use, find genealogy humor in records, etc. I still do all of these, but now I have added examples from my own research and I have tried to "test" new web sites and genealogy programs (except for FTM 2008 for some dumb reason - I shoulda done it!).

I find genealogy blogging to be an intellectual challenge. I love puzzles and challenges. I am also competitive - I like being first with news or web sites or test trials. I don't get many news releases so I'm often a little late on news items. I also like to help people find their ancestors and to learn new things.

I love to write and share, but I'm not a very creative writer. I was trained as an aerospace engineer and have been doing genealogy for almost 20 years now. I am great on process - how to do something, and testing things. But I do not easily write something new, humorous or uplifting. The exception may be eulogies - which I've used in good stead over the last few years. I prefer to be positive and find it hard to be negative (unless I'm attacked, or am really upset by something).

When I started, my hope was that I could become more of a creative writer and be able to tell stories about my ancestors based on historical events and the research results for the ancestors. This has not happened yet!

Because of my involvement in the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (I'm the current President), I have posted quite a bit about CVGS events and will continue to do so. CVGS has started the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog and I'm the primary contributor to that blog. My hope was that others would step up and contribute (thereby growing more genealogy bloggers and potential newsletter writers). So far, they haven't, but that blog is only 4 months old.

I look at blogging as kind of a rough draft of my memoirs and possible genealogy books. I keep hoping that my daughters, brothers and cousins will read my blogs frequently and thereby benefit by my efforts, but it really hasn't happened yet - life is busy when you have young kids and are working hard.

As Miriam pointed out, when you blog regularly (typically 2-4 posts a day for me, which takes 1-3 hours a day) you have less time to do actual research. One of the benefits of test trials on web sites is that I can use my own research challenges to see if web sites or databases are helpful to my research - I learn something plus I may find useful data.

That's why I blog -- it's pretty unfocused, isn't it? I prefer to call it a pot-pourri of genealogy news, research, humor and occasional opinion.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Aloha from Maui - Post 1

Aloha...we made it on Tuesday about noon Hawaii time on Aloha Airlines. Once we landed at Kahului, we got our rental car and stopped at Costco on the way to the condo.

Our condo is in Kahana, about 5 miles north of Lahaina on the west coast of Maui. We are on the second floor, looking north to Molokai and west to Lanai - about 30 feet from the ocean. The surf sound stays "on" all night! It's warm with trade winds - the condo has sceens on the lanai door and the front door, so there is a breeze in the living room and bedroom. It is beautiful!

I don't have my camera cable so I can't show pictures until I get home.

We went down to Lahaina last night for shopping and dinner. We ate at Kimo's right on the beach in downtown Lahaina - great atmosphere, great food.

The condo owners said there was wireless internet - I hooked up the laptop last night and found a weak signal from a neighboring hotel - for $10 a day. I was going to sign up, but Linda said "did you see the notice about the internet hookup on the end table?" I hadn't, but it said that there was a phone cable hookup available for free. I found the cable, hooked it up this morning, and voila!

I spent almost an hour this morning reading my email (150 emails) via Cox Webmail, and then read my Bloglines material (over 200 posts in two days).

At 9 AM, we left and rented snorkel gear and signed up for a 5 hour snorkel tour of Molokini (a submerged volcano crater) and Turtleland (wherever that is). Then we went looking for a snorkel beach, and finally picked Kapalua Beach and found a parking place and hiked down to the beach. We spent about an hour in the water- there were not many fish on the coral near shore, and more further out near the reef. Then it was to lunch and back to the room.

Genealogy? About the only genealogy thought I've had in the last two days was actually geological - it is amazing how all of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by lava vents in the Earth's crust - from Midway in the northwest to Hawaii in the southeast - these islands were formed over millions of years.

I'll check in again sometime soon - mahalo and aloha!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Aloha -- Off to Maui

After a week with granddaughter Lauren, and a long weekend with grandsons Lucas and Logan (with their mom and dad), Linda and I are jetting off on Aloha Airlines on Tuesday morning to beautiful Maui.

We have a condo near Napili Beach north of Lahaina on Maui - for the next seven nights.

I am taking my laptop, so there may be some genealogy blogging done, but it will be spotty - it probably depends on how many hula dances I get roped into (they always pick me for some reason!) and how sunburned I get (gotta wear a hat at all times, and a T-shirt in the water). I have a bunch of books to read if I get bored with watching the surfers and young people acting crazy.

Are there genealogy libraries on Maui? What does "wiki-wiki" mean in Hawaiian? I need to learn the Hawaiian words for cousin, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, etc.

This came about because I asked Linda the question: "Would you rather go to the FGS conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana, or someplace with a beach?" And she said "Maui." OK - the FGS Conference will have to do without my attendance.

I'm counting on my fellow friendly genea-bloggers to hold down the fort. My faithful readers are asked to click on one of the genealogy blogs on my blogroll that you haven't read before.

Della's Journal - Week 32 (August 6-12, 1929)

This is Installment 32 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 32:


Tuesday, August 6 (warmer): Ed is 77 yrs old today. Emily worked, watered things.

Wednesday, August 7 (warm): I went to town to get some things - 2 bed pads - $4.00, for beds in 2116 Fern, & table pad $2.00. Austin did not work today. Changeing water at faster pump. Has to make up time on Sat. & noons. I got varnish 1 qt $1.50 brush 0.45, catches for cupboard doors $1.80 & screen check 0.15.

Thursday, August 8 (cooler): I varnished kitchen floor, 2116 Fern St. & oil cloth rugs. Mrs. Schmidt called up the man did not go to see Ma's house. A[ustin]'s feet bother him some, has to change shoes when he gets home. Vernon played Golf at C.V.

Friday, August 9 (cooler): I washed, varnish drying nicely. Lyle received letter & card from Germany that came over on the Zeppilin air mail. Ma is out at her house yet. Our new pen drops ink. Mr. Roberts stopped in this morning, he said Mr Britten was home again from the Co[unty] Hospital.

Saturday, August 10 (cooler): Ironed. A[ustin] worked all day. Vernon took me out to Ma's, she had to have some more paint and varnish. Ed over, gave him $10. He has not been well. Have not rented [2116 Fern] yet.

Sunday, August 11 (cooler): A[ustin] varnished toilet seat. I varnished sun nook & part of front room border, have to get more varnish. Lyle's rode to Escondido this afternoon, back after 4 P.M. I listened to Indian chief singer at concert.

Monday, August 12 (nice): Emily working. A[ustin] varnished toward evening rest of front room & bedroom. I rode down with the folks, got more varnish. Then Bessie & Vernon went to the depot to see about their tickets.


What a boring week! Varnishing mostly. That's a task I've never had to do! In the 21st century, we really have it pretty easy, don't we? But we stay busy - with me, it's blogging, researching and web-surfing. No wonder I'm fat and happy!

NEHG Register July 2007 Table of Contents

The July 2007 issue (Volume 161, No. 3, Whole Number 643) of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register arrived last week, chock full of New England research articles.

The Table of Contents includes:


* Editorial -- p. 163
* "The English Origins of Edward Jenkins of Scituate, Massachusetts," by Allis Ferguson Edelman and Daniel G. Jenkins -- page 165
* "The Children of Ward Swift (1735-1821) of Sandwich, Massachusetts," by Ellen J. O'Flaherty -- page 167
* "Marriage by Elihu Marvin, J.P., of Hebron, Connecticut, 1785-1812," by Linda MacLachlan -- page 175
* Jemima Preston, wife of John Younglove of Killingly, Connecticut," by Helga Andrews -- page 181
* "Ancestry of Bennet Eliot of Nazeing, Essex, Father of Seven Great Migration Immigrants to Massachusetts," by William Wyman Fiske (continued from 161:91) -- page 186
* Genealogy of Samuel Peirce, First Settler of Zoar, Massachusetts," by Jon Wardlow (concluded from 1612:137) -- page 199
* "Genealogist John Farmer Discovers His Ancestry: The Warwickshire Family of Edward Farmer, Isabel (Farmer) (Wyman) (Blood) Green, and Thomas Pollard, of Billerica, Massachusetts," by Nathaniel Lane Taylor (continued from 161:155) -- page 209
* "New England Articles in Genealogical Journals in 2005," by Henry B. Hoff -- page 223


For some reason, I find very few recent items or articles useful to my research from the Register. Many people have researched most of my New England families, and there have been many helpful articles in earlier volumes of the Register. What is left, for me to research, are the "brick walls" - the women with no known surname, the folks with a common surname in a place with several families of that name and poor extant records, the men that "pop up" in a place without clues of where they've been previously, etc.

As I've noted before, I'm posting these Tables of Contents so that other researchers, who might Google a name of their ancestor, can find out where they might look next in their search. If every periodical or magazine would post their Tables of Contents online, that would help many researchers.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Randy's "Best of the Genea-Blogs" - 8/5/07

I'm going to try to list my "Best of the Genea-Blogs" each week on Sunday (but probably not next Sunday). I'm going to leave out the entries to the Carnival of Genealogy since there are so many "keepers."

For this last week, here are blog posts that I thought were critical to research, expressed interesting thoughts, or just plain enjoyed:

* The Ancestry Insider - more news about New FamilySearch. I can hardly wait!

* Jasia's Creative Gene -- latest post about City Directories - this is a great series, well-researched and presented, and not completed yet.

* Moultrie Creek's Family Matters - the post on a Copyright Primer, with a link to Smashing Magazine, which looks interesting!

* Chris Dunham's The Genealogue - the post on Serial Centenarians alerted me to Megan Smolenyak's piece in Ancestry Magazine with that title. A great piece of 20th century research work.

* Diane Haddad's Genealogy Insider - a post about Better Web Searching for your Ancestors, including a link to the 2007 list of Family Tree Magazine's 101 best genealogy web sites.

* Elizabeth in the GenWeekly blog - Strategies for Tracking disappearing Ancestors.

And a new feature -- blogs I just discovered and like:

* Paula's Genealogical Eclectica blog -

* Thomas Hamburger Jnr's GENanon -

* Lee Drew's FamHist blog -

* FamilyForest's Your Future, Your Past -

I can see that I need to start a list each week so that this goes faster (for me) and so that I don't miss any "keepers."

What "keepers" did I miss? Tell me!