14 March 2018


In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family Published in 1998, this survivor of the controversial Unification Church cult, was married underage and immigrated illegally to the United States.  She was married to the oldest son and then heir apparent of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who established his church as well as an international business empire, with the help of devotees called "Moonie," die to their smiling but sometimes vacant look.  I picked up this book because I wanted to understand how Nansook Hong escaped.  She depicts a life full of violence, personally and within the church.  Because Moon declared himself and his wife and their 13 children the True Family on earth, despite the fact that adultery was considered the worst sin one could commit, and that thousands of church members who'se marriages were also arranged were expected to be celibate before marriage and faithful after, it turns out the True Family wasn't held to the same standards.  Her husband was out of control, a drug and sex addict who beat her.  The Church was involved in cash businesses. Finally and systematically Hong one day left, sure that she would be killed by her husband. 

In this book there is a lot to learn and think about when it comes to Korean culture and the ideas about loyalty in family and community.

Page 36 - That church members left their children to be raised by other members so that they could prioritize traveling to preach/ witness and conduct business.  Couples were abandoning their babies to the care of others.  This was no model for a perfect family.

Page 53-54 -  The Church appealed to "alienated youth" who were out of step with both their parents and their peers."

Page 65 - "To become engaged in the Unification Church, one must have been a member for three years, one must have recruited three new members, and one must have made the required financial contribution to the Indemnity Fund.  This payment symbolizes Unification teaching that all of humanity shares in the debt owed for the betrayal of Jesus and that we must all pay for this collective sin."  (The marriages were arranged.)  Also three years are supposed to lapse between the Initial Matching Ceremony and actual consummation of the marriage.  (But in her case all this was skipped.  She was 15.  And it was assumed that she and her husband would one day rule the church.)

Pages 14- 15 - that Buddhism and other native believes such as Shamanism  and Confucianism are incorporated as well as Christianity.  "In addition to ancient beliefs in ancestor worship and the spirit world, there is a strong messianic strain in my culture.  The notion that the Messiah or herald of the Righteous Way would appear in Korea predates the introduction of Christianity into Korea a hundred years ago.  It has its roots in the Buddhists notion of Maitreya and the Confucian idea of Jin-In, or the True Man, and in Korean books of prophecy, such as the Chung Gam Nok."

Page 17 - "Even in the aristocracy in the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla was classified according to what was known as the bone-rank system...  The elite were divided into three classes.. the holy bone class, from which the sacred kings sprang, the true-bone class or the upper aristocracy, and the head classes, which included all other members of the aristocracy.  This would influence Sun Myung Moon's organization of his own religion.

Page 31 - He married in 1960 at a time when many had left the church as they did not believe Sun Myung Moon was the Messiah or like that he personally selected marital partners for members.  (His wife, Hak Ja Han is considered to be the True Mother, and he the True Father, and they are not to be disobeyed. She gave birth to 13 children called True Children.  However there is rumored children outside of this marriage for Moon.)

Page 139 - Marriage is not considered a romantic liaison.  Her marriage "was a "Providential Union, ordained by God, but one that the secular world would not understand."

Page 140 - after one of the True Children died..."Reverend Moon frequently joined the living with the dead in matrimony." This is because no one was supposed to be able to enter into the heaven who was not married.

*** I found this book shocking and bizarre and yet I do know that it's not just Korean culture or this particular cult/church that is rife with sexism and the devaluation of women to be the bearers of children and who must accept sex any time it is demanded, and so on.
The author was uncommonly brave to tell her story.

07 March 2018


A long time ago I was listening to a radio talk program by the then popular Doctor Laura.  Someone who was adopted called in and wanted to locate their birth parent.  Among the reasons why was medical information.  Doctor Laura said that medical science was so on top of things (in so many words) that this was a dumb reason to find a birth parent.  And this was before DNA and an understanding about hereditary diseases!  Needless to say I could not disagree with Doctor Laura more.

Recently I was researching for someone who has a once in a life time opportunity to tour a European country with a church group.  He and his wife plan to depart from the group and spend about a week touring through ancestor homelands.  He lost a young son to colon cancer a few years ago and then was diagnosed with it himself and is surviving.  I'm thrilled that he will be well enough to go on this trip.  So I went ahead and, beginning with his father, verified which of several candidates with a fairly common surname in a small region of a particular state was his, found his father on census records, and discovered that his grandfather, who had died before he was born, had gone through an evolution of given names, which is making finding him coming in on a steamship or naturalization records that will tell me the name of the town his grandfather left over a hundred years ago a little bit tricky. Currently I have a declaration of intent that might be his, but no completion of citizen ship documented. 

I went ahead and got the death certificate for his grandfather and from the information printed on it by the attending doctor, there was a description of lesions on the colon.  (The word cancer was not used.) Tears sprung from my eyes at the realization that there is a familial aspect to this cancer.

The reasons why someone dies...
I recently listened to an audiobook by a popular author who does some hypnosis to help people heal from trauma, including the trauma of their previous deaths and violent experiences, such as rape, loosing limbs, car accidents, death in childbirth.  Hearing a long list of reasons why, I was reminded of all the death certificates I've seen.  Some of them come with oral histories from the family, for instance a carpenter who burned up in a fire.  The doctor noted his whole body was burned.  The family says he was the victim of arson by the mob.  Reading the death certificate I would not know that, and I may check some newspaper databases to see if there is any mention of the fire - or the mob.

One adoptee I know has made medical decisions based on the fact that breast cancer is rampant in her birth mother's line, which she would not know without having found her and done the genealogy.

C 2018 Ancestry Worship Genealogy  - All Rights Reserved.

25 February 2018



From the Los Angeles Public Library home page EXCERPT:
The Liberator is an early 20th-century Los Angeles African American newspaper, whose owner and editor, Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, was born enslaved and spent twenty years in bondage before Emancipation. Edmonds was educated in Mississippi Freedmen's Bureau schools and served two terms in the Mississippi State Assembly before moving to Los Angeles after the end of Reconstruction due to threats against his family.

I believe this is money well spent and will be of great benefit to African-American/ Black historians and genealogists!

02 February 2018


There are many reason's why people do genealogy research, for themselves and for others.  Like many people who are self taught professionals, personal research was the start for me, back in the day before Internet and databases, and I still use the old resources.  Came the day when I was up against a "brick wall," on my personal research.  I had to wait a while for the information I needed to reach me.  And while I was waiting I started working on a friend's genealogy because I just needed to keep learning.

Not all projects I do turn into books.  Sometimes I work only on a specific question.

Recently I found myself having to defend my love of genealogy and the time I put into it (which is not excessive.)  Oh, I knew this person was ignorant but I also sensed she was  afraid.  I was put down.  Things said to me included, "I think anyone who has to go to the library three days in a row is weird."  "Who cares about the past? I live in the present."  and "You know how you write letters? Well, write nothing about us."

I'll start with that last one.

My experience as a professional and with other professionals is that they respect privacy more than your average person.  They sometimes sign confidentiality agreements (usually when working for someone famous).  There is a lot of information out there for free or for cheap these days and an average person can find out a whole lot about someone else without their permission.  There are criminals who use that information.  Let's just say that I am as careful as I can be to keep a project within the confines of the family I'm working for and with.  However, I've had the experience of the family then doing what they want with that information, usually making copies for their relatives.  I do have to write letters to a client's relations at times.  They know it's a professional asking for information and they know who has hired me and so on, so it up to them to not respond.  (That has happened, even when it was important, and I don't pester.)

As for "living in the past," I think it is quite possible to be curious about ancestors and how they lived and to do some research around their times and place, society and culture, without actually living in their past.  Since we do not yet have a time machine to transport those now living into the past, of course it is impossible.  Then there are people who are such aficionados of an era that they do everything possible to live in it to escape the present as much as possible.  There are fans of the 1930's and fans of the 1950's who own cars, decorate houses, and wear the clothes of their era.  They might shun the Internet and cell phones!  I love DNA science and anthropology and archeology and, as my readers know, I'm also fascinated with past life regression and that the soul chooses to incarnate repeatedly.

As for myself, those who know me know I am also very interested and concerned about the future, in particular the ecosphere of our planet, beginning with my own neighborhood.

As for weird, you might find this weird but I could easily research far more than three days a week, and sometimes I have.  On one project I did three twelve hour days because there was a legal deadline involved.  I am never bored by this research.  I am enlivened by it.  Often there is something of helping people involved in it.

So let me get to the FEAR, since this person is a relative by marriage.

I have been pondering why a particular person may not want to know of ancestors or relations who are not in their immediate presence or memory. Perhaps in some way such a person is overwhelmed with the ones she knows and can't imagine having to include even more people into her worries or around the holiday table.  Because of her attitude I am no longer showing her any of the documents I found.  I know at least one of her grandchildren are interested and the day will come when it is proper to present this grandchild with her genealogy.  I personally have thought of some of my ancestors as incredibly strong people because I learned about the things they had lived through and because I discovered the role of religion and faith in their fortitude!   ... Just about every family has some secret or scandal or someone they don't like for whatever reason...

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20 January 2018


Over the last few months I've had a lot to contemplate about the role of genealogy research when dealing with family, in particular family problems.  Genealogy can sometimes be an instrument of healing if understanding results from documents and can sometimes bust through mythologies that family believes as truth.

In one situation that was and is very difficult I finally came up with the solution: a time line.
I don't always use time lines and when I do I often find them to be most helpful as a reminder of what time-sensitive documents I may want to look for or perhaps overlooked as valuable.  In this case it was developing the time line of a person's grandmother and mother than created the beginnings of a healing, for it is what the person does with the information for themselves that is most important.

The situation was that the mother had due to illness and poverty had to give up the child to the care of others, which included her parents, fostering programs, and eventually an orphanage while the mother was in long term care.  The child had also been taken in by one particular aunt and uncle who had a few children to support and raise of their own, and one of these children, now an adult, had reported to me that the situation was never comfortable. 

Before the person who needs the healing was an adult, his mother had died and his father was remarried, fathering several children, but not available to him as a father.

He and his wife were bitter that his grandparents had "thrown him out."

Did they really throw him out when his mother, though ill, was alive?

First by developing a time line for the grandmother, we were able to reveal her childhood poverty, her lack of formal education (which must have been frustrating, for she was an intelligent woman, and the poverty of the family she and her husband had established in America.
During the 1940 census era, one adult child was supporting his parents and all remaining children in the household.

Using maps, we situated their row house not far from a river and using history of the area we were able to establish that this row house was across the street from a factory spewing fumes at all hours.

We were able to show that the family had not been in the city directories (which charged a fee for listing) or had a telephone until well past the point where most neighbor's did.

Using census we were able to establish that the older children left home by 14 to work as servants, other's joined the military to begin self supporting adult life.

Using church records we were able to establish that the family found religion important to them and had sacrificed to send their children to at least three first years of school in an ethnic church where they were able to begin to learn to read and write in English.

Using Social Security applications, we were able to establish the family expectation that all children begin to work for pay by 16 even when in high school.

But the time line was what made the difference because we progressed Grandma's life year by year.  Giving birth, having so many children in the household already. 

Very simply, by the time she had a grandchild to raise, this woman was worn out, exhausted, and by today's standards old enough to enjoy senior discounts.  Her husband, the grandfather was even older.

So if you find yourself or someone else in need of healing through understanding, I recommend doing a time line.

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