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Friday, November 30, 2012

Next FTF Post is up: fun in a cemetery

Fresh on the heels of my cemetery escapade yesterday comes my latest Family Tree Firsts post.  You can read all about a recent trip to a nearby cemetery here. 

I was a bit disappointed that the cemetery was locked, after the ranger told me it was open, but I enjoyed myself anyway.  My husband was very happy that I did not go ahead with my first inclination of scaling the brick wall.  Having to rescue your wife from a locked cemetery, or worse yet explain to an ER doctor why your wife broke her leg, did not sound like a fun idea to him.

Besides the large center stone I did take quite a few other photographs.  These were all taken at the main gate peering through with my zoom lens.  So, without further ado, here are the results from my first cemetery visit!
The Chancellorsville Family Cemetery
The front gate

Here are interred
George Chancellor, Esquire. (1785-1836)

of Chancellorsville
Son of John and Elizabeth (Edwards) Chancellor and
Grandson of John Chancellor (1726 – 1815) and his wife
Nee Jane Monroe. Aunt of President James Monroe.
In 1814 He Married
Ann (Lyon) Pound (1783-1860)
Only Daughter of James Lyon (1755-1836) of Falmouth, VA.
And his wife Nee Mary Longwill (1748-1794) of Cecil Co., MD.
Ann was the widow of Captain Richard Pound of Fairview who
Is also interred here. As a Wedding Gift her only Half
Brother, William Lorman, ESQ. (1764-1841) of Baltimore,
Erected the mansion called Chancellorsville in 1815-1816

Mary Edwards Chancellor
Wife of
John Thomas Frazer
Daughter of Major Sanford Chancellor
Born May 7, 1827
Died at Coventry
Spotsylvania County, VA
Oct 22 ?

 Rev. M.S.Chancellor
June 29. 1815,
Feb. 20. 1895.
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart
of man, the things which God hath
prepared for them that love Him."

(On Left)
Thomas Chancellor  
9 VA Cav
(In Center)
In Memory of
My Mother
Lucie F. Chancellor
Wife of Rev. M.S.Chancellor
Sept. 5, 1834
In The 37th Year of
Her Age

 (In Foreground)
William R. Crady
9 VA. Cav
(In Background)
On the left side:
George Edwards
Major of Cavalry
On the right side:
Melzi Sanford
At Rest

 Susan Margaret Chancellor
Wife of
Vespasian Chancellor
Born at Forest Hall Feb 19 1847
Daughter of
Major Sanford Chancellor
And His Wife
Frances Longwill Pound
Died at Fredericksburg VA.
Dec 28 1935



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adventures in Genealogy: Finding James Drake

File:Falls of the James, Downtown Richmond, Virginia, 2008.JPG
Richmond, Virginia
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you decide to have an adventure.  Of course, if you have a particularly ingenious spouse, they may suggest the adventure.  So let me tell you a story...about what I did today.

One night, a few weeks back, I was out poking around on Find-a-Grave, as I am sure many of you have done.  This particular night I got a hit for the possible burial location of James Drake, my 6th great grandfather.  It gave me a lead that he was at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.  He died in Powhatan County but who knows, he could have been buried here since he was a prominent figure.  Also, this church is a national historic site because it was where Patrick Henry gave his “give me liberty or give me death” speech.  All I could think was how exciting it would be to stroll around the grounds, take some pictures, and if I was really lucky see his tombstone.

Days passed and I was getting ready to go to Richmond for an errand this morning when my husband suggested that I stop by the church.  I was going to be in the area after all, why didn’t I just pop on over there and see what I could find.  Yeah, that sounded like a plan, how hard could it be?  Just a few minutes, maybe an hour, perusing the area and then I would drive home.  Well, best laid plans and all that, this is not quite what happened.
File:RichmondVA StJohnsChurch.jpg
St. Johns Church
From wikimedia commons

I strolled up to the visitor’s center and boldly asked for help.  Enthusiastically I explained that I was looking for information on internments and that I thought I had an ancestor located in the cemetery.  A very nice woman, dressed in colonial attire, gave me a very fat old book to look through.  It was the index of the internments, and James was not in it.  I was crushed.  Another member of the church staff gave me the number for the church office and said I should talk to them.  Maybe they could give me a lead or I could talk to their archivist.  It was at this point that I realized I had only put half of my new found knowledge of cemetery research into practice.  However, I was doing this on a whim and not nicely planned out.  Next time I would be on top of my game.

After perusing the bookstore (I couldn’t help myself) I went out to the street and called the number written on the piece of paper.  I repeated my story to the lady on the phone and she asked me if I was standing outside on the corner.  Well, they could have told me the office was just across the street.  In I went, and sadly they had no information for me either.  However, she suggested I drive over to the Virginia Historical Society.  They had the early parish records there and maybe, just maybe, they could help me locate him. 

15 minutes later I was there, checked in, and asking my questions to the reference librarian.  She was stumped too.  There were no parish death records for the time frame I was looking for.  However, we found him listed in the “VirginiaWills and Administrations 1632-1800.”  I was told this was a good thing, but that the Historical Society could not help me.  To get this information I would need to go to the Virginia State Library, back the way I had come. Yes, I had already driven by it…twice.  Well, off I went.

To be honest, I have been meaning to go to the Library of Virginia for, well, a couple years but I have just never got around to it.  Since I was there I went ahead and got my library card so I can do more research there and from home.  I was giddy!  Looking at the clock I had an hour, just an hour, until I had to leave so that I would make it home in time to get my kids from school.  No pressure.

Once again the research librarian pointed me to the microfilm for the wills of Powhatan County, Virginia.  Those from 1797 were on book 2 of the reel.  Great!  This will take no time.  30 minutes later I still hadn’t found him.  Back to the desk to ask for more help, and I get taken to the index.  THE INDEX!  I could have saved 30 minutes of my life because it told us…he didn’t have a will.  Perplexing a librarian seems to be the name of the game today, however after a quick computer search he found that James Drake was listed in the deed books for that year.  Lesson:  don’t assume that your record is where it should be.  There wasn’t a will, but an inventory of the estate at the time of his death on page 375-7 of deed book 2.

I downloaded the three ledger pages to my thumb drive and got the heck out of dodge.  Best of all, I made it home in time to meet the school bus.  Whew!  Now to go through what I saved since there was no time to look through it then.  Wonder what I will find?  Also, I still need to find out about the James Drake who is now MIA from the cemetery.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday!!

One year ago today I wrote my first ever blog post.  I was petrified.  It had taken months for me to work up the courage to actually set-up the blog and put that first timid post out there.  To be honest I think I fretted more about the design than the actual post.  I looked at it for at least 30 minutes before I clicked the publish button.  Little did I know that 4 days later I would also become the 2nd Family Tree Firsts Blogger.

Then I waited, and wondered.  Who out there besides the few friends I had who liked genealogy, my husband, parents, and mother-in-law would read this.  It was amazing when I had my first comment from someone unrelated to me.  I nearly passed out the first time I had more than 20 reads in one day, let alone the first time I had over 1,000 reads in a month.  It appeared that people were actually READING this blog.  Wow was about all I could think, and it made me want to research, share, and write more.

To say it has been an amazing whirlwind of a year would be an understatement.  It has changed my life.  No, really, it has.  I am a more confident writer and researcher.  I have met amazing people who are dear friends to me, even if I have never met them in real life.  I am looking to my future in this field and I am excited about it. 

So, on that note, what are my goals for the upcoming year?  I have thought long and hard about this, and have decided on the following list:
  • Finalize and submit all paperwork to the DAR as well as the GSMD for me and my husband.
  • Continue to write and work towards further publication opportunities.
  • Research the possibilities for certification.
  • Attend one national conference.
Yes, I am being ambitious but, like I have been told, I might as well shoot for the moon because even if I miss I will still land in the stars.   Thank you for reading, thank you for returning to see what I am up to, and thank you for all your support. 

Here is to a great second year!
photo credit: Here's Kate via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Bennett and Jahnke Familes of NYC

Presumed to be the children and
grandchildren of George and Augusta Bennett
George and Augusta are seated in the front row
For the past 6 months I have searched to bust down the brick wall on my husband’s paternal family line.  I have had little luck and it can be very aggravating because the two family names are not that uncommon in turn of the 20th Century New York City.  I have to know the story of George Bennett and Augusta Jahnke, even if it takes me years to put the puzzle pieces together.

James and Isabella “Bella” Bennett appear together on the 1880 US Federal Census with their children at 1529 1st Ave New York, New York.  The Next time I was able to find this family was in 1920 with Isabella living with her son George Bennett and his family in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Emil Jahnke, widower, appears with his Daughter, Augusta Jahnke Bennett, and her family in the 1910 Census at 408 east 108th Street New York, New York.  By back tracking a little I find him living with Mary Jahnke, age 13, in 1900 2 blocks away From George and Augusta in the Bronx.

Then a hint fell into my lap.  A fantastic breakthrough!   On Family Search I found an index listing for George and Augusta’s marriage, in Manhattan, during August 1894.  On it  had the most amazing bits of information.  The grooms parents were listed as Jas. Bennett and Isabella Ruddy and the bride’s parents were listed as Emil Jahnke and Mary Meyer.  BINGO!  I know, not a lot to go on, but hey I will take what I can get.

Even better, when I put Emil Jahnke and Mary Meyer into Family Search I came up with a listing for a possible marriage certificate for them.  My only problem, it is 10 years after his eldest daughter was born, in 1884.  So, who do Augusta and Mary belong too, really?  Or, is this even the correct family?  The pieces all fit just the dates are all screwy.  Am I at square one again or this a trail that could lead me to the right people?

On the Emil and Mary indexed marriage record it listed his full name as Emil Herman George Jahnke and hers as Maria Meyer Heinritz.  His parents were listed as Ferdinand Jahnke and Louise Engelman.  I had several hits on this family showing that he had a brother named George.  It appears that they immigrated to the US in the 1870’s.  Odd part, both boys are listed as living with their parents on every US and NY state census I can find; even when they are in their 30’s.  This was getting stranger and stranger by the minute. 

I have a father that immigrates with his parents after his daughter was born, marries her mother 10 years later, lives with his parents for decades while appearing to live on his own or with his children, and then disappears after 1910.  Owie, my brain is starting to hurt.  I have ordered the marriage certificates from New York, maybe seeing the real thing will help.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week 48 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 48: Genealogy Society Member. Genealogy society members are a vital part of the family history community. We’ve made many acquaintances this way and we all benefit from their friendship, support and expertise. Share with us a genealogy society member that has left a memorable impression on you.

I have not met a person at a meeting, yet, who has not left a favorable impression on me.  Everyone has been friendly, warm, welcoming, and genuinely happy to see someone new.  In my experience, not all organizations are like this.  Too often in the past I have been left in the cold and made to feel like an outsider at a groups meeting.  Thankfully, like I said, not at a genealogy meeting.

To pick one person would be so hard.  Everyone I have become friends with has helped, guided, and encouraged me in my endeavors.  I have learned a lot from them, and I hope that I have possibly taught them something in exchange.  The level of enthusiasm from these women and men is contagious and I always leave meetings feeling re-energized and rearing to go again.

Lesson for the day:  If you haven’t joined a local society then run, don’t walk, to your nearest one and sign the membership form.  You won’t be disappointed! 

photo credit: rickz via photopin cc

Friday, November 23, 2012

Another match with AncestryDNA

File:Map of Indiana highlighting Martin County.svg
Martin County, Indiana highlighted
in red.  from Wikimedia
AncestryDNA has found another cousin for me.  I have to admit, that I seem to be having a fair bit of luck with them compared to many people. More luck than I am having with my dad’s test result at FTDNA (fingers crossed with his test for the future). This time I received an email for a third cousin connection.  Well ,a third cousin 3 times over.  That’s right he is descended from 3 of my 3rd great-grandfathers.  All are on my mother’s side of the family: two through her mother and the other through her father.  Plus, they all merged in Martin County, Indiana.

Great-grandfather 1:  Augustine Arvin
Augustine Arvin was born in Washington County, Kentucky during February 1824 to Henry Arvin and Theresa Montgomery, both formerly of Charles County, Maryland.  Henry and his family moved to Rutherford Township, Martin County, Indiana in the 1840s and became farmers and merchants in the county.  Augustine married Rebecca Summers in Daviess County, Indiana (one county over) on 29 September 1846.  Together they had 9 children: William Robert, Thomas Henry, Susan, Mary Rose or Ellen, James, Pius Augustine, Tressa, Joseph, and George.  My family is descended through William Robert and my new cousin is through Thomas Henry.

Great-grandfather 2:  James Sanders
James Sanders was born in Rush Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio during September 1829 to Lewis Sanders and Prudence Gamble formerly of Virginia.  I am not certain what brought them to Ohio, or when, and then onto Indiana, but I have been in contact with members of the family who stayed in Ohio.  Another branch of my maternal grandmother’s family is from the same township and still resides there too.  I think that many of community came to Indiana together about 1850 and were married, repeatedly, into these families while in Ohio and then in Indiana.  In 1848 James married Elizabeth Denning in Washington County, Ohio and they had 13 children: Margret Ellen, Prudence, Henry Martin, Benjamin Asbury, James, Josephine, Josephus, Adaline “Addie”, Florence, Jasper, Anthonetta, Alfretta “Etta”, and Margaret Elizabeth.  He later married Sarah in 1898.  My family is descended through Josephus and my new cousin is through Adaline.

Great-grandfather 3:  Armstead Wildman
Armstead Wildman was born in Ohio during December 1826 to Jonas Wildman and Mary Burton both formerly of Virginia.  The entire Wildman family moved to Trinity Spring, Martin County, Indiana in the mid 1840’s where they settled as farmers.  Armstead married Mary Frances Moberly on 18 December 1849 in Martin County, Indiana.  Together they had 7 children:  Maria, Emsly, James, William, Mary Ellen, George, and Francis.  Second he married Eliza Reynolds on 26 July 1866 in Martin County.  They had 2 children together:  Lewis and Andrew.  Armstead married 2 more times.  Next to Prudence Bridges on 31 July 1872, and last to Martha Williams on 22 March 1899 with no children from these unions.  My family is descended from his first wife through Mary Ellen and my new cousin is through James.

Now here is the fun part:  Mary Ellen Wildman, daughter of Armstead, married Josephus Sanders, son of James.  Their daughter was Ila Sanders who married John Sample Armstrong.  From this last union came my Grandmother.  She married an Arvin who was the great-grandson of Augustine.  Viola!  There are my 3, 3rd great-grandfathers that are in his family tree.
I just love great big jig-saw puzzles... don't you?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Memories of turkey days past

Puck Thanksgiving 1905
Image from the Library of Congress
It has been many years since I spent a Thanksgiving at a family member’s house.  Usually it is our small family of four.  Now we get together with other friends, and their children, for the day instead of making a cross country trek.  This is what happens when family spreads out across the country and you have to pick and choose which holidays you will be sharing with them.  When it comes to holidays I am brought back, time and again, to all the different types of food we would eat.

This week I baked my dad’s pumpkin pies.  Not sure if he got the recipe from someone else, but for as long as I can remember he has baked them for fall holiday gatherings.  They are a staple now in my house as my boys and husband would pout if I didn’t make them.   I also make homemade vanilla flavored whip cream to put on them.  Yes, it is decadent, but it took me YEARS to figure out how to make whip cream that tasted good and was stiff enough, so now it has to be done.

Then there is my Grandmother Arvin’s cranberry relish.  I talked about it before here.  It has been at the holiday table most years.  My grandmother would make it by hand, chopping the fruit into thin slivers, pureeing the half frozen cranberries in the blender, and adding just the right amount to sugar.  Now, if they had only told me that you were to make it the night before to sweeten my husband would not have had to eat so many tart servings.  He would have preferred the canned jelly version of cranberry sauce, which is okay, but never as good as fresh relish.

On my husband’s side I now fix his Nanny’s candied yams every holiday for him.  It took me 3 years to figure out all the nuances to correctly making them (I kept melting the marshmallows) but now they are a super yummy addition to the table.  Of course, anything that is covered in butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows can’t be bad!  You just don’t think about the calories while you are eating them.
However, you can’t have a holiday meal without out the staples: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, and on occasion a ham.  Eating at grandma’s house always meant the 3am start to cooking the bird.  It amazed me that she would spend hours making sure that the turkey was perfect.  It was never overdone, always juicy, and browned perfectly.  It was much better than what my meat course morphed into when not sitting at grandma’s table.
Puck Thanksgiving 1903
Image from the Library of Congress
When we left Indiana and moved to the east coast it was just the three of us: me, mom, and dad.  Our finances were not that good and we had turkey loaf on more than one occasion.  Now, if you have never had turkey loaf let me educate you on this.  It is turkey bits, light and dark meat, made into a loaf that is frozen waiting to be baked in your oven.  You then slice off hunks onto your waiting plate and voila turkey dinner!  Yeah, tastes good when you don’t know any better.

As soon as I could I started cooking real turkeys.  I have a very patient and loving husband, particularly the year I caramelized the turkey in wine.  It sounded like a good idea when I watched it on the Food Network you know.  Thankfully I never undercooked the turkey, and I knew enough to make sure the giblet bags were all taken out.  An over cooked turkey just calls for extra brown gravy to make it edible and there were several years when I had to make extra gravy. 

Most importantly, beyond the food, was the company.  Playing in the yard with my cousins, watching the adults get riled up over a game of eucher, listening to the stories from years past, and letting the tryptophan myth take you into a midafternoon nap.  I just hope my kids will have just as many fond memories as I do when they are my age.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cursive writing going the way of the dinosaur?

I enjoy looking at medieval manuscripts.  Odd hobbies, I know I have a lot of them.  They are beautiful, and once you understand the hand, or calligraphy, they are fairly easy to read.  This made me think about a trend of recent blog posts I read.  They all concern the lack of teaching cursive writing in schools and if in the next century we will need to teach researchers how to read what was written by…us. 

File:Cursive.svgMost recently James Tanner wrote at Genealogy’s Star about this subject as well.  While his post covered several subjects pertinent to the education of future researchers, his comment about his grandson not being able to read cursive struck home.  Just a few months ago I taught my middle school son how to sign his name.  He didn’t know how.  I know that they started to teach cursive in 2nd grade at his school, but it seems that it is not a requirement to actually do it anymore.  All of his work is printed or typed, no cursive to be seen.

If you had asked me a year ago if thought this could happen in our future I think I would have been hard pressed not to laugh.  Cursive, go out of favor, are you kidding me?  However, as I have read article, after article, after article addressing this concern, I started to look around me.  Even my home state isn’t requiring teaching of cursive writing anymore!

I think I am the only one in my house who still writes in cursive.  My boys both print, and so does my husband when he isn’t typing.  However, in his defense, he is a lefty with atrocious handwriting; I may be the only one on the planet that read it.  Most of my friends print, even my sons teachers for the most print all their notes home when they aren’t typed. 

What are your thoughts?  Is this a dying art from like gothic lettering?  Do see a college class for historians in 50 years on reading cursive handwriting?  Or… am I overreacting? 

*Image from wikipedia

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks at FTF

The pilgrims signing the compact, on board the May Flower, Nov. 11th, 1620
Signing of the Mayflower Compact
from the Library of Congress
My next post is up at Family Tree Firsts. All about….wait for it…. The Mayflower!  You know I couldn’t resist.  It is that time of the year after all.

I have written several times about learning from my grandmother that we were from “those Pilgrims.”  Several times I have even told you about my application process with the GSMD.  Well, this week is when those stories and dreams are realized.  I have the last pieces of documentation in my hand to prove her tales and hopefully by this time next week it will all be in the mail.  Then I can concentrate on my husband’s multiple lines.  I only have the one line since my family left Massachusetts by the 3rd generation after settling here, my husband’s family on the other hand stuck around for a while.  300 years  in New England is a while right?  He has 4 potential lines if I can prove them beyond a doubt.

What makes me even more excited is that members of my family are excited too.  I even have cousins of my mother-in-law helping me with their family lines.  Collaboration at its best!  Without their help this would have been a longer process with more costs for me.  Since we are sharing documents, records, and sources with each other we all benefit from on another’s resources. 

Best of all, my oldest got on the bus this morning with his Mayflower ancestors extra credit report.  We had the best time putting it all together.  He looked up their names on the internet, wrote a ½ page about each of them, added some pictures from wikicommons, and by the end of it had a basic understanding of a pedigree chart.  He was so excited to take it to school and show everyone.  In particular to show it to the kids who didn’t believe him.
Yes, there was some teasing.  Kids are kids right?  My son is very sensitive to others and I was happy the teasing from unbelieving children made him more resolved to prove them wrong.  That would be the desire to become a historian showing through I think.  Now, it would be great if I could get him to have the same drive when it comes to studying math.

Having this last document also proves my first ancestor for the DAR.  I am up over a dozen patriots on both sides of my family.  My mom and dad are tied with patriot ancestors, and at times I wonder if there is a bit of competition between the two of them.  I sometimes wonder if when I call do they get all excited about another one being found to pull them in the lead for the ancestor count?

As I stated in the post at FTF I am submitting William Hayden as my first patriot.  I can also put in for his son Noah as he fought along with his father in the war.  In fact, 5 of William’s sons fought in the Revolution:  John, Stephen, Enoch, Noah, and Hosea.  Enoch and Noah were twins too, but I haven’t figured out if they were identical or not.  In an out of print Magazine called  The Hayden Family I found an interesting description of what William did during the Revolution in Volume 1, No. 3, page 102:

We also know he died after working on his farm one afternoon in July of 1823 thanks to a poem written after his death.  I have not found a pension record for him or his son Noah; I hope to uncover more about their family’s service in the Revolution.  Oh, and find out where the Fredericksburg Magazine was.  That would be a worthy field trip to take.  Maybe on my next run to the grocery store.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Entering the modern era

You may have noticed the 2 new badges on the left side of the screen.   Yes, I have joined the modern world of social media.  Heaven help me!

I have created a Facebook page for this blog as well as a twitter account.  Just click the links to the left and you will join them.  The pages are still being tweaked, but I should have them all up and going full steam ahead by the end of the week.  I have never used twitter before so this should be very, very interesting.  Advice is welcome, don’t be shy.
The Facebook page and twitter account are designed so when I have something to say, but not a lot on the subject, I can quickly post it out to you. If I want to share a link, a picture, a quick comment; you know all those things that I don’t have time to write a full blog post on but want to let you all know about anyway.

Hope to see you over there!
photo credit: agahran via photopin cc

Heraldic Primer: Part 2

File:Balduineum Wahl Heinrich VII.jpgLast time we talked about colors and common furs that were used on heraldic arms.  This time I want to talk about common field divisions: ordinaries, and sub-ordinaries.  These help build the structure of the arms and give you definition to them as well as defining places that the charges can go.
Before we can get into that, let’s go through the parts of the shield/arms/device.  This is important because you may not see a pictorial representation of the arms; someday you may only get the blazon, or written description.  If you are not comfortable with the basic terms you won’t be able to decipher the heraldic language.  First, all directions are giving from the shield bearers perspective.  Right, or dexter, is the bearer’s right side not the observers, just like in stage directions.  Left is sinister, the top of the shield is chief, and the bottom is base.  The background of the shield is the field and anything placed on this field is called a charge.
Field divisions, or the way you can divide the background of the device, are created from ordinaries.  They are large geometric charges that cover the field from one side to the other.  They were not required to be used and you will see many arms that have no field divisions on them.  Common ordinaries are shown below. 
Smaller, or diminutive, geometrical charges are sub-ordinaries.  There is some argument as to whether or not these should have an ordinary category.  Some people feel they should be lumped in with charges, but since they can be used to make patterns on the field I like to separate them out.  Common sub-ordinaries are shown below.

Heraldry would be boring if it was only a bunch of straight lines wouldn’t it?  Each of these ordinaries and sub-ordinaries may have various line treatments to add variations to the arms.  Common line treatments you may see are shown below.

Now, what about color?  In the last post I talked about metals and non-metals and how similar colors cannot be used on top of each other.  This is when you can really begin to understand the need for contrast in color and appreciate the rules.  An or field with an argent pale would not be visible from across the field let alone look right.  However, an or field with an azure pale would be visible and contrast nicely.  Think about sports teams.  What colors and charges stick out in your mind from community, high school, college, or professional teams?  Do they have a nice contrast?  Are the charges visible?  This is modern day heraldry!  Heralds wanted the same type of gut reaction from people when arms were designed.  Yes, they need to have significance to the bearer, but they also need to make a statement to those who see them. 
Next time:  animal charges

Images of the parts of the field and ordinaries are from Heraldry Clipart
Main image from wikimedia

Friday, November 16, 2012

Memories and phone calls

Ruth Eleanor Brennan Combs
mid 1940s
This past week my mind has repeatedly gone back to my Grandmother Combs.  Things I have done, seen, said, and listened to have reminded me over and over again of her.  We lived with my grandmother until I was in Kindergarten.  When we moved away I would spend summers home with her and my other grandmother as well as many school vacations. 

I wanted to take dance classes when I was little.  Across the street from my dad’s store was a dance studio.  I watched the other little girls in their tights and leotards going to class and wish I could be one of them.  Once, dad and I sat in on a class.  I remember grandma teaching me basic ballet positions in her kitchen after that.  It amazed me that she knew so much and I practiced in her kitchen holding on to the kitchen counter as my bar.   Those lessons have stayed with me.  In college I started to take belly dance lessons and for 5 years.  Recently I have taken it back up, and grandma’s stretches, feet positions, and walking techniques are still there.

So, I called my dad.  He has a better memory of my childhood that I do after all.  He is always full of stories, and I was not disappointed.  He told me about how his mom taught square dance for the local 4-H and girl scouts.  She also enrolled his sister in dance classes at the YMCA and then made him be her practice partner.  Dad learned tap and ballet at home with grandma watching and correcting them both.
The memories and the stories didn’t end there, for either of us.  It was a wonderful conversation about all the odd things that I did growing up, how everyone acted, antics my dad got in, coaching sports, and so much more. 
My first sports picture
taken 1981
Here are some of the highlights:
  •  Dad telling me about karate drills when he was learning in Hawaii
  • Him coaching women’s softball teams
  • Me learning to play soccer, but not ever being able to pitch or hit a ball with a bat
  • His PE classes in school teaching dance to reluctant teenagers.
  • His memories of playing collegiate soccer
  • Me walking with a book on my head learning proper posture so grandma would buy me my first pair of pumps
We tend to talk for hours on the phone, and this time was no different.  Dad is in his 70s and living several thousand miles away now with mom.  I will take all the long phone calls that I can.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Local Meeting Sucess

Last night I attended a local genealogical society meeting.  Awesome huh?  I had tried to begin attending last year; however their meeting nights conflicted with another activity I was required to attend.  It was very exciting to be able to attend something in the local area with people who enjoy genealogy.

I found out about it yesterday morning from a new genealogy friend who lives in the same housing complex I do.  We met at the Fairfax County Genealogical Societies Fall Fair nearly a month ago.  I was asking questions about becoming a member when the nice lady I was talking to, Ole Myrtle herself, exclaimed that there was another person in the room from the same town I was.  We chatted briefly and talk about riding up to meetings in Fairfax together.  Need to do that, but the timing didn’t work out for this month.  Just one more reason I need to find reliable child care… again.

It was great to get a phone call yesterday morning from her letting me know that 20 minutes from my house there was going to be a meeting of the Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society.  After I fed my boys dinner we jumped into the car and headed out to the meeting at the Salem Church Library in Fredericksburg, VA.  My youngest played with LEGOS throughout the meeting, but my oldest sat in rapt attention during the guest speaker’s presentation.

The guest for the evening was Ray Maki and he spoke about finding female ancestors.  I picked up some good tips, heard wonderful family stories, learned of some great new resources for New York, and enjoyed watching my oldest son with great big eyes learn about documenting your research.  He particularly thought the wills were the “most awesome” thing he had ever seen.

They are a nice group of people, I even saw a woman from the chapter of the DAR I am joining, and I think I will enjoy being with them.  My helium hand stayed down, for now, and I did not leave the meeting with a job.  I did however leave the meeting with an invitation to speak in the future on a couple subjects.  Gulp…
photo credit: de sata1 via photopin cc

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Entries for FTF Blogger Contest due FRIDAY!

Hey guys!  One more little plug for the Family Tree Firsts Blogger position…. If you know anyone who is a newbie genealogist that would love an opportunity at amazing products and resources have them go check out the Family Tree Magazine/University contest for my replacement!

Entries are due THIS FRIDAY November 16th!!!

It has been the most amazing experience and I have learned so much by being their blogger.  In fact, I can safely say, that without their help I would not be as far along today.  The last year has been an amazing ride and I am so glad many of you have decided to stick it out with me to see where I went next. 

Have questions?  Let me know and I will do my best to give you my perspective.  Also, go check out my predecessors posts.  Nancy Shively was the first FTF Blogger, and she had a very different style than mine.  Don’t let style, words, and ideas, stand in your way!  Get out there and tell someone you know about this amazing opportunity.

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc

Week 46 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 46: Large Genealogy Vendors. Which big genealogy vendor is your favorite one to see at conferences? What does this vendor offer the genealogy community? Why do you like visiting this vendor in the exhibit hall?

Once again, my lack of attendance at large conferences will be seen in this post.  That being said, I would like to comment on a couple of companies I saw at the NARA Genealogy Fair this past spring.  The only booth there selling items was the NARA shop, but I still learned a lot from the other groups, institutions, and organizations that were in attendance.  It was wonderful to interact with people from varied backgrounds; they made the day more fun and exciting. 

FamilySearch and Ancestry both had large booths.  They also had terminals set-up walking people through online searches at their sites and giving guidance on how to use them.  Ancestry also had a table set-up to discuss their DNA testing that was getting ready to go to BETA.  I, of course, talked their ear off with questions on that one.

Maybe if my plans to attend a conference next year pan out I will be able to tell you more about what vendors out there are really cool.

Let me know who you think is a good vendor so I can go and check them out too!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Next FTF Article is up: My genes

EuropaeMy continuing fascination with genetic genealogy was explored a bit more in this week’s post at Family Tree Firsts.  Check out the post here.
You may remember a few weeks back I posted about receiving my AncestryDNA test in the mail.  It was different that the FTDNA test that my dad was shipped.  For FTDNA you do a cheek swab, with Ancestry you spit in a vial.  I think, personally, I prefer the check swab.  Less chance for spit to go everywhere, and as the mother of 2 boys I have enough of that in my life already.
It was interesting to read their ethnicity break down on me.  Yes, I am a white girl.  Just in case there was no doubt in anyone’s mind.  There is no way to deny it as they tell me I am from… Europe.  As a visual person I liked that they gave you a graph for the percentage breakdown as well as a highlighted map of where you come from; more visuals for every learning type.  Uh-oh, the education classes are coming through.
If you are not familiar with the history, culture, or the basics for the regions Ancestry says you come from there is a summary page on each ethnicity that you can read.  I didn’t learn anything ground breaking because growing up with a history teacher for a father, loving museums, traveling, and reading odd books I know a little bit about a lot of subjects. 
Most exciting for me is connecting with cousins through their matching system.  So far a half a dozen people have contacted me after I emailed nearly twenty about our families.  Who knows that I can learn, what we can learn, by having this contact.  Of course I am secretly hoping for story and picture sharing.  I love having the images to place in the tree, making the entry a person and not just a bunch of names and dates. 
Now there is another test on the way.  This time it is for my husband and I am just as excited about it!  This is going to be SO MUCH FUN!!!

*Map image from the Library of Congress
*Ethnicity Breakdown is a screenshot from my results on

Monday, November 12, 2012

Honoring the unknown: who was Claudius Herbert Chamberlin

I am an army brat; proud of my mama in combat boots, and proud of all my family who have served this country through military service.  When Veteran’s day comes around each year I wear my poppy and reflect on the stories that I have been told about my family and their service.  This year I found myself wondering about a mysterious man in my mother-in-law’s picture file.  A man that we know nothing about but is quite dashing in his army uniform.

This photograph was given to me last December with the request to find out all I can on him.  I am sorry to say that I have failed to find out much, and I do not know where else to look or who to turn to for help.  On the back of this postcard is the following information: 

Claudius Herbert Chamberlin
Company F. 20th Infantry.
Ft. Douglas
Age 20

The theory is he may be the son of her grandfather’s older brother, Frank Herbert Chamberlin.  Unfortunately I have no record of Frank from the last time I found him in up-state New York in 1878, at about 15 years old, until his death in San Antonio, Texas in 1934.  Could Claudius be his son?  Yes, but I have no proof one way or the other.

From the style of the uniform I have deduced that he served in the army between the Spanish American War and World War I.  I did a bit of research on the 20th Infantry division at Ft. Douglas.  I know they patrolled the Mexico and US border at El Paso, Texas in 1914 because of the Mexican War.  They ceased to exist in May 1917 when they were reorganized as the 42nd Infantry Regiment.  I even read an interesting article about life at the Fort.  However, still no answers on my mysterious solider. 

One day I will have the answers.  Even if it means I have to spend an hour every time I go to NARA looking through the rolls from Fort Douglas on that darn microfilm machine.  I have made it through the first roll and I think there are about 15 to go.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week 45 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 45: Genealogy Speakers. Which genealogy speaker has left the biggest impression on you? What is it about that speaker that you like the most? What is his or her general focus? Does this person speak at regional or national conferences? Share why other genealogists should attend this speaker’s sessions.
You all know by now that I don’t get out much so I have limited scope on this subject.  However, I have seen one person speak twice in person, Claire Bettag.  Last spring I heard her give a presentation on Federal Land Records at the NARA Genealogy Fair then a few weeks ago at the Fairfax County Genealogy Society Fall Fair I heard her speak again.  She is an amazing speaker, very knowledgeable, and very fun.  This time I learned a lot about the Land Bounty Records, the manuscript collection at the Library of Congress, and the Congressional Serial Set.   She speaks on a reagional as well as a national basis, and will be an instructor at Samford this coming year
If you have a chance to see her I highly suggest you do.  You will come away with a lot of information, leads to follow up on, and insight into things you may not have known about.  I came home from the fall fair and found several ancestors in the Congressional Serial Set.  Most amazing was the information I found about my husband’s ancestor Salathiel Nickerson.  Particularly, the private claim for a Revolutionary War Bounty on a schooner named "Nine Sisters".  Now, to learn more about that vessel and how someone could get a bounty for a ship.
Wonder what else I will be able to find?
photo credit: WilliamMarlow via photopin cc

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Heraldic Primer: part 1

A few weeks ago I posted an entry here and at Family TreeFirsts on Heraldry.  Unless you are one of my close friends, you would never guess that I have a love of heraldic display.  Heraldic display is the use of personal heraldry on banners, clothes, embroidery, wood, glass, metal, or anything that a person owned or used.  The personal display of heraldry harks back to medieval tournaments where you could look out over a field and know, on sight, who was fighting who.
There are some amazing uses of heraldry over the centuries, many being quite breathe taking.  My favorites are the ones in stained glass.  However, do you know what all the colors, flora, fauna, and symbols mean?   Over the next few weeks I want to take you through the world of heraldry and give you the basics to understand what you are looking at during your research.  Each culture in Europe has a different view on heraldry, from who can use it to how it was drawn, and with that in mind, these posts will concentrate on English Heraldry.
The basics of heraldry come down to the colors, field divisions, and the charges used.  It can be very complex, but it can also be very simple, it all depends on how it is drawn.    English heraldry had its beginnings with the Normans and because of this the language of heraldry is French.  Now, let’s start with the colors used.
Color is a main aspect of heraldry. All those amazing colors and textures bring the images to life in some cases, and make them unforgettable in others.  There are only 7 colors you need to know, 5 non-metal colors and 2 metals.  They are:  azure (blue), vert (green), purpure (purple), gules (red), or (yellow/gold), and argent (white/silver).  I have left off, and won’t discuss in detail, the 20th century addition of blue-celeste (sky blue).   In addition to the colors there are stains and furs.  The 3 stains are:  tennè (orange), murrey (purple-red of the mulberry), and sanguine (deep blood red).  Ermine (white with black spots), erminois (yellow with black spots), ermines (black with white spots), pean (black with yellow spots), and vair (blue and white pelts) are the types of fur.  There are more complex fur patterns, but we will stick with the most common for now.
Fájl:Coa Illustration Tincture Ermines.svg
 On the other hand, what happens if you come across an image that is black and white?  Or you don’t have any markers with you to make color notes on arms that you are researching?  How would you know what all the colors are supposed to be?  Easy!  In the late 16th century heralds developed a system of hatching to show color in black and white drawings.  This is an easy way to sketch arms while taking notes and you do not have access to something to color with. 
Now that you know the colors, tinctures, and furs used, let’s look at how they were placed on a person’s device.  There are specific rules as to what colors are allowed to touch and which are not.  For instance, you may not place a metal object on a metal background or a non-metal object on a non-metal background.  If you think about it, it should be clear as why.  Would a gold goblet show up on a gold background?  Or a red flower on a red background?  Contrasting a metal and non-metal makes the arms pop so to say.  Furs, on the other hand, are technically a neutral color, but common sense should be used.  While technically correct, a black panther on an ermines background would not be a good choice because you would not see the panther, or the charge, on the device. 
Next time, field divisions.
Brooke-Little, J.P.  An Heraldic Alphabet.  Robinson Books, Ltd; London; 1996.
Parker, James. AGlossary of Terms Used in Heraldry. Oxford: James Parker & Co., 1894 (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1970); see online version