23 October 2013



At "Died in House" you pay to get the details on who, if anyone, died in your house.   You might find out someone died in their own bed in your bedroom.  You might find out there was a murder or a fire.  DOES THIS REALLY DEVALUE A HOME when it's up for sale?

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE DIED IN A HOUSE (something that used to be very common before the hospital or hospice became the place to go and die) DOESN'T MEAN THE HOUSE IS HAUNTED, but these days people from many cultures, including our own New Age culture, are concerned about BAD VIBES.

And if a house has bad vibes, what can you do about it?

You can have the home blessed by a priest.  You can do Feng Shui or maybe burn sage and candles and make up your own ritual.  Of course this means you are telling any ghosts or entities (orbs anyone?) that they must go so you think or believe they are there.  If you read around this subject you'll learn that psychics think The Other Side is not so far away from us at all.  One psychic says you can tell if they are earth bound or on The Other Side by how high up they are.  See a ghost walking on the same floors you do?  Then they are earthbound.  A few feet up?  Not!

Is it all total superstition?  After all there are millions of people on this earth who are going to die - somewhere.  For a person who is terminally ill to pass on in their own home is often their last wish.  I think it would be mine!

21 October 2013


One of my friends confided in me that she recently went on the Internet and searched for information on some family that she left behind.  She said that since then she cannot get these people out of her mind even though more than a decade went by from when they lost contact and she searched for them again.  She even dreamed of meeting some of the children she saw in pictures on the Internet.  She hadn't really wondered about them through those years and she had no reason to think they missed her. 

She found out about a divorce since she found out about a re-marriage, which she finds shocking.  She knows where they live and work now.  She's thinking about the positives and negatives of trying to reunite with them, or at least visit them.  She did all that without any genealogy database research.  However, she feels certain that if she does decide to reignite a relationship she needs to honesty tell them about the things they have said and done as individuals and collectively that hurt her and so her reason for moving on.  She pretended not to hear or know when she was around them.  She played dumb for many years.  She doesn't want to be that way any more.

The reasons for her departure from this branch of her family are considerable.  She said for years she made efforts to keep relationships going and found it to be very one sided.  She also said that though her income was average she got the feeling they were dismissive of her because she was considered to be the poor relation.  Last but not least, when she thought about it, theirs was a very different family culture, and she wasn't sure if this was just about their family or that culture.  She thought of them as materialistic and greedy.  She thought they were always looking at relationships in terms of what they were getting or not getting from people but didn't give as good as they got.  She thought of them as poor examples of their religion.  She thought the females dominated the men and the children were never raised to actually leave home.  They were a rare multigenerational and extended family.

I could sense the pain in my friend.  So I asked her to consider what she would want out of a reconnection after over a decade.  Did she think maybe they changed or would be more participatory or nicer to her?  (There is always the chance that they've changed! but do people ever really change because you want them to?  Well, I've changed!  Have you?) Would a reunion just result in more pain?

I don't have those answers for her but it occured to me that maybe she was inspired by the recogniztion of her own mortality to see them. Maybe she, at least, wanted to leave this earth without any grudges.

Can genealogy or family history projects heal families?  I think the marketing of genealogy promotes that idea.  My experiences is sometimes but it's not something to count on.  When I was teaching genealogy I had students whose families were extremely cooperative and who could easily put together big books of photos, documents, and warm memories without actually doing research.  Others were alone in the project from beginning to end.

I think just about every family has some secret that they collectively do not wish to discuss or recall.  You could say whole families are haunted by something. 

Such as?

Such as domestic violence, molestation, even a murder.  Membership in Organized Crime or someone in prison.  Sexist favoritism of the males in the family that left the females floundering or forced to endure unhappy marriages.  Unwed motherhood was a big one, though far more common and acceptable now.  Mixed marriages or someone leaving the religion of the family is also something that has ripped families apart in the past but is now more common and acceptable.

As a genealogist none of these things shock me.

16 October 2013


Here is a video that retells a tale about Stingy Jack and the Devil by a Pagan Witch Collective!


The Halloween that is celebrated in the United States is rooted in Celtic traditions and is associated with the cycle of life and death.  The carved Jack O' Lantern pumpkin we are familiar with now had its roots in Celtic Ireland where a turnip was carved to hold a candle and held in hand.  The turnip was probably a practical idea since a turnip was  simply available.  I'm not sure how or when pumpkins were used and then turned into laughing Jack-O-lanterns, but maybe it was as simple as that pumpkins grew in the Americas.

In the South-West, and that includes California and wherever Mexican immigrants have settled, a Halloween-like celebration is called The Day of the Dead. The Day of the Dead is a day - even a week - for family to gather at the graves of loved ones, to celebrate with food and drink (and offer them some).  With humor many creations of sugary skeletons include skeletons participating in all aspects of life, singing, dancing, and simply performing their earthy professions, and are sold in special bakeries.

While Halloween has taken on horrific, even evil, connotations, that many of us do not involve ourselves in and it has even turned into an "anything goes" weekend, to those who are more interested in the spiritual tradition, Halloween is a time when the
"veil" between this world and the world of the afterlife is especially thin and so communication with those who had passed on before us.  Some people do rituals to contact these ancestors, others simply light a candle, do special prayers (All Souls Day of the Catholic Church), or mantras to release any soul that is in Purgatory to Heaven.

The belief of ancestor contact has roots in the Pagan or Country or Folk beliefs and is tied in with the agricultural cycle of the year, which is also coordinated with the seasonal weather cycle.  Fall is the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, the European countries, when the harvest takes place.  The pumpkins and gourds are about to be harvested.  Some plant and tree life is only resting and will grow again after dormancy in the spring.  Soon the earth will cool, snow will come, and people will spend more time indoors.  To our ancestors who lived generations ago in caves and other dwellings, staying close to the burning fire, busy themselves with crafts, and resting was essential, as was relying on many foods that had been stored. 

From watching the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of life, a great many early cultures decided that reincarnation makes a lot of sense. 

13 October 2013


If you've seen the death records of your ancestors a generation or more back, you know that many diseases than have since been "conquered" took our people out of this life. One of the most common diseases that killed people was TUBERCULOSIS and it's to blame for more than one of my ancestor's death.

Here is what author of BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR, Larry Dossey, has to say:

"Consider the history of tuberculosis, one of the great scourges of humanity. As biologist Lyall Watson notes, skeletal evidence for tuberculosis has been found in graves in Germany dating back two thousand years and in Egypt's Old Kingdom. Engravings from 2500 B.C.E. show spinal deformities that, along with hieroglyphics descriptions provide clear descriptions of death from tuberculosis. The disease was common in ancient China, India, and Greece, where it was described by Hippocrates five centuries before Christ...

As cities grew larger and people moved about more freely, tuberculosis became pandemic. Waves of the "White plague" spread across the world, devastating cities in its wake, competing with the "black death" in ferocity. The last and greatest European epidemic began in England during the sixteenth century and peaked in London around 1750. The capital cities of western Europe were affected in turn though 1870. Then, Watson states, "There was a sudden, marked, and inexplicable decline in TB everywhere that records have been kept - beginning, it seems, in Germany in 1882... WHY?... Surgical interventions in tuberculosis did not begin until 1912, and antibiotic therapy in this illness was unknown until 1944. "But something did happen in Germany in 1882 that could be very significant," Watson observes - the discover by Dr. Robert Koch of the cause of tuberculosis, MYCOBACTERIUM TUBERCUILOSIS. Almost overnight physicians and researchers could actually see the organism for themselves, and common citizens could visualise it from illustrations."

"Almost immediately," Watson states, "There was a marked decrease, not only in the incidence of the disease, but also in its mortality. Deaths fell from 600 per 100,000 to around 200 in less than a decade... The recent improvements can all be attributed to better medical care, but nothing comparable happened to account for the sudden and rapid decline which is evident in Hamburg and Berlin during the 1880's. Nothing, that is, except Koch's discover and spreading awareness of what lay behind the disease that had come to be called "Captain of all the Men of Death."


08 October 2013



British colorist Jordan Lloyd, 27, met fellow colorist Mads Madsen, 19, from Denmark when he started posting on Madsen's subreddit 'Colorized History'...

If you haven't seen this series of American Civil War Photos that have been colorized, you've got to check this link.  Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Mark Twain, General Custer... so many others. 

I notice that when I see black and white photos I tend to think of the times they were taken in as very long ago. There is a distance there. When I saw film and photographs that had been taken in color of the World War II era, I realized that wasn't so long ago.  The feeling is the same here.

02 October 2013


This book was Copyrighted in 1979, 1983, and 1988, so there were updates.  That was pre-Internet and the changes were probably due to the great number of resources such as adoption registries in the back of the book.  The book is a keeper for me because of the parts like this which take a side of NATURE rather than NURTURE.


... "In 1952 there appeared in Mental Health magazine a short letter entitled, "Children without Genealogy - A problem of adoption."  It began, "May I draw attention to the observation that lack of knowledge of their real parents and ancestors can be a cause of maladjustment in children."  It was signed by a British psychiatrist, E. Wellisch, who went on to note that in questioning whether it matters if a child has such knowledge, it should be remembered that most people accept their own genealogy as a matter of fact, and are no more aware of it than one is of one's shadow or mirror image.

... Expanding this analogy, Wellischy pointed out that the shadow and mirror image of a person have a considerable psychological significance in that they are extensions of the body image - a concept he borrowed from Paul Schilder to describe a picture of our own body which also extends beyond its confines.  Wellisch reminded his readers that the shadow was regarded by primitive people as an actual part of the body, and the mirror was used in witchcraft - in Gothic tales heroes sold their shadows and mirror images to the devil with disastrous results...

The deeper he went into his study, the more Wellisch was struck by the Adoptees loss.  He noted how everyone, including himself, took the presence of others with similar physcial characteristics for granted, because they had grown up surrounded by relatives who resembled them... "


Well, this is still one thought provoking book.  I was thinking about this today because of a distant relative who has been having major issues with an adopted child for many years.  The child is all grown up now and still troubled.  This person does not at all look like his adopted family.  He began looking for family through adoption registrations the day after he turned 18.  He did, in fact, succeed in being reunited with siblings who had also been put out for adoption and none of them had done well.  The family of origin was British, possibly Jewish British, and Anglo-Saxon Protestant American.  The adopting family was Italian, Armenian, and Catholic.  Besides not at all looking like the family he was raised in, and despite being well loved, not abused, and also given lots of therapy, the genes dictated his personality, temperament, and weaknesses.  The birth parents had all their children taken away from them due to abuses.  They were addicts.  He became an addict and abusive as well.

In this case nature has dominated nurture. 

Every situation is different.


Quote " Ms. Lifton, who lectured widely about the potential psychological effects of adoption, was best known for a nonfiction trilogy: “Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter” (McGraw Hill, 1975), in which she recounts her adulthood search for her birth mother; “Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience”(Dial, 1979); and “Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness”(Basic Books, 1994).
An outspoken proponent of open adoption, Ms. Lifton was often interviewed on the issue in the news media. (Nine states now allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.)  She was a past board member of the American Adoption Congress; in recent years she also worked as a psychological counselor, with a practice centered on adoptees and their families." Unquote