26 July 2014


CARNEGIE LIBRARY PITTSBURGH - LIST OF ORPHANAGES in Allegheny and some adjacent counties.

As I understand it, adoptions in Pennsylvania are closed records and very difficult to get though there is a PA adoption registry at  PA ADOPTION SEARCH (ROMBERGERS TRIPOD SITE) that has helpful information.

I'm posting this because someone I know was told that their ancestor had been at "Boys Town" in Pittsburgh and so he went crazy looking for it on the 1940 census but there is NO BOY'S TOWN IN PITTSBURGH - never was.  There were, over time, 70 such institutions in the area though, and the librarians at the Carnegie Library came up with this helpful list.  Bless them!  What's so great is that all the listings link to even more information and so with locations you may be able to use the census to get to the institution and search from there as a new start.

Those who live in an orphanage, poor folks home, maternity home (a place where a woman goes to have and often give up her baby), and homeless shelters, are called inmates,  the word used for anyone in any institution, not just criminals in jail or prison.

There was a Boys Industrial Home of Western Pennsylvania but I think that the Boys Town concept of villages of orphan boys got such good marketing and PR that some people just use the term to mean any boy's orphanage.

Orphanages became a dated concept as foster care and adoption became better options.

If you're wondering what I think of the children from Central American who have walked across our borders of the United States recently, I think they should all be privately adopted.  I think illegal immigration is offensive to every American and American family whose immigrant ancestors did it the right - and legal - way.  They should not be granted instant citizenship at this point.  As recently posted there was a way to declare that you had been brought to the U.S. as a child and wanted to be a citizen "of age." This was useful when one or both of your parents had died or they left you when they went back to the Old Country or got lost out West.

Sure I have a heart.  Most people do.  But there are so very many Americans who are homeless and there is no funding for them like what is proposed to help this stream of poor children.  I feel that at some point our country has to face that we cannot afford to keep helping others when we are not taking care of our own. 

There are also so many Americans who want to adopt but can't because they are considered to be too old or too poor.  Years ago a friend of mine faced this because they were told that when her husband hit 40 it was all over for them.  They never did get a child and they had saved money for years to buy a house with a yard in a nice community.  Americans have been adopting outside this country because it's even said that there are not enough children to adopt.  Well, now there are!

People over 40 can have natural children so why not adopted ones?  People who are not high income have children naturally, why not adopted ones?  People with natural children have them in bunk beds, sometimes two bunk beds to a room so why does an adopted child have to be guaranteed their own room?

I say let these children who walked in desperation (but without their parents!) have a chance at being LOVED by a family!  Let them be adopted.

So let's say you have a great grandpa who was an orphan in Allegheny County Pittsburgh.  If a name search doesn't bring him up on any databases, check out these institutions and find out if they are holding old records anywhere.   I do have to wonder about privacy of the children.  Maybe some places did not allow census takers in.  Maybe a child or mother was there between census!

16 July 2014


If you've been spinning your wheels looking for naturalization papers for an ancestor who came before 1906 I may be able to help you. 

Here is the NARA LINK TO EXPLAIN IT http://www.archives.gov/research/naturalization/naturalization.html 



Exceptions to the General Rule (*of having to live in the U.S. for two years, make a Declaration of Intent, then live for another 5 years proving yourself worthy and begin the process!)

Having stated this "two-step, 5-year" general rule, it is necessary to note several exceptions.
The first major exception was that "derivative" citizenship was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens. This also meant that an alien woman who married a U.S. citizen automatically became a citizen. (Conversely, an American woman who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship, even if she never left the United States.) From 1790 to 1940, children under the age of 21 automatically became naturalized citizens upon the naturalization of their father. Unfortunately, however, names and biographical information about wives and children are rarely included in declarations or petitions filed before September 1906. ...

(*So look at those birth dates everyone!)

The second major exception to the general rule was that, from 1824 to 1906, minor aliens who had lived in the United States 5 years before their 23rd birthday could file both their declarations and petitions at the same time. ...  (*that means they could arrive at the age of 18 or less and just do it!)
The third major exception to the general rule was the special consideration given to veterans. An 1862 law allowed honorably discharged Army veterans of any war to petition for naturalization--without previously having filed a declaration of intent--after only 1 year of residence in the United States. An 1894 law extended the same no-previous-declaration privilege to honorably discharged 5-year veterans of the Navy or Marine Corps. Over 192,000 aliens were naturalized between May 9, 1918, and June 30, 1919, under an act of May 9, 1918, that allowed aliens serving in the U.S. armed forces during "the present war" to file a petition for naturalization without making a declaration of intent or proving 5 years' residence. Laws enacted in 1919, 1926, 1940, and 1952 continued various preferential treatment provisions for veterans.

* my notes and THANKS TO BETTY at NARA New York City

12 July 2014


Did you know that when the Dust Bowl refugees (called "Exo-Dusters")  came to California on Route 66 citizens tried to stop them from entering the state at the borders ,not wanting these people to have any public support?  THE 1930's  MIGRATION OF THE DUST BOWL PEOPLE  DWARFS THAT OF THE MIGRATION OF THE COVERED WAGON ERA!  This was also one of the worst ecological disasters to happen in the 20th century.

This and many other facts that were brought forth make THE DUST BOWL by Ken Burns a film that should intrigue anyone working on American genealogy. The film has a multitude of black and white images of the people, the farmsteads, and the black clouds of dust that devastated farming and caused many to die of dust fever, a lung disease, including many children, and left many with life-long lung ailments.  This wasn't a little dust.  This was a chronic barrage of massive clouds that even left the equivalent of sand dunes of dusk and is a testimonial to ecological disaster that was man made but also man resolved after much suffering.  The film also has testimonials by some of the children who experienced migration who are now past mid-life.

Among the facts covered that are compelling to me and other American researchers are the following:

The clouds of dust were so fast and dark that some people thought the Biblical end of the world was upon them.  The dust blackened the skies and chocked them and gave them dust pneumonia. The dust caused static electricity that made using phones impossible.  The Buffalo grass that they had replaced with wheat is what nature and time had evolved as the perfect ground cover for a sometimes wet and sometimes parched area of the country there near Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.  Eventually 40,000 farmers signed up to learn a new technique called contour farming which over several years time did resolve the issue, but through the 1930's 80% of the Great Plain soil was eroded.  As a result of the Dust, COUNTIES LOST 30-40% of their population in the 1930's. Schools closed.  (See the changes by looking at the 1930 and then 1940 census.*)  But 75% of the population hung in there maybe because they had families in the local cemeteries.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took a train ride, covering a couple thousand miles, in order to see for himself and talk to the farmers.  Now that we know that Roosevelt hid his crippled body, when we see film of him standing, with an aid next to him, arm provided support, and then raising his arm to wave, we know what an actor he was.   He saw that millions of acres were abandoned and that the children were underweight.

Many Dust Bowl families were too proud to accept what public relief there was.  HERE THEN COMES THE OPPORTUNITY OF THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS...  Young men made $30 a month and had to send $25 of it to their families.  Some people were critical, feeling that they were being paid to stand around, but others saw that over time these young men learned skills and used their hard physical labor to improve the country.  (I can tell you that there is a park nearby where I live where the walls and steps that CCC's members built are still in use and in great shape.)  And here then comes THE WORKS PROJECT ADMINISTRATION.
THE WPA BECAME THE BIGGEST EMPLOYER IN THE NATIONS with 8 million people employed and saving themselves from starvation.

By 1937 other ecological disasters were happening.  The 1937 OHIO RIVER FLOOD that effected the city of Pittsburgh with houses floating away

THE DUST BOWL a film by Ken Burns is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Television   C 2012  The Dust Bowl Film Project, LLC

Review C 2014 Ancestry Worship Genealogy


08 July 2014




The researchers looked at a century's worth of data on thousands of human remains found at hundreds of sites across the Four Corners region of the Southwest. After studying these remains and the sites where they were located, the scientists were able to create a detailed chronology of the area's transition from a hunter-gatherer society to a farming society; stone tools revealed a transition from cutting meat to pounding grain.

Maize, or corn, was actually grown in the area as early as 2000 BC; yet it seems as if the people in the region were slow to respond. By 400 BC, though, corn provided about 80 percent of the area's calories. These new farming practices cause populations numbers to rise steadily until about 500 AD. Around 900 AD, populations remained high, but birth rates began to fluctuate. Then in the mid-1100s, one of the largest known droughts in the Southwest occurred. Spurred by this drought and other reasons, from the mid-1000s to 1280, conflicts raged across the northern Southwest.
While there were as many as 40,000 people in the Southwest in the mid-1200s, within 30 years it was empty.

I've toured this area of the South West and have also taken a college level class on Native Americans of California and the South West.  My professor has said that usually people who've been said to have "disappeared" have actually responded to situations like this by joining another tribe, often as the lowest class of people in that tribe.

03 July 2014


This afternoon I'm doing genealogy, using the FamilySearch web site, and this weekend my plan of action is to get around to putting recent photocopies of documents in plastic folders and starting a new binder for a person I'm related to that I never met. 

Let's call him "Joe."

"Joe" is a long lost relative and he died before I found him on records.  He was alive when I started looking for him but there was a lot of needle in a haystack searching going on because the family legends or rumors which were all I had to go on at that point proved to be wrong.  Years ago I read every page of the 1920 Brownsville Texas and Bexar County census looking for a farmstead hoping I could find "Joe" as a young boy.  I even called places in Texas looking for a wine grape grower and was told I was erroneously looking in Citrus Country.  The Texas Wine Growers Association heard from me as did librarians in Brownsville who told me that records had been burned up or thrown away because "Texas is a cheap state."

It was a couple years ago that I happened upon a military record by using Ancestry databases which allowed me to ask for everyone in Texas who was a World War II veteran with the name "Joe."  With what I thought to be a misspelled surname in Texas but apparently was how the family spelled the name, I followed that to contact with his daughter, who was celebrating her wedding anniversary.  She seemed fairly enthusiastic when I contacted her by e-mail but I have heard nothing since.   I so hoped to see a picture of this man!  I put all my cards on the table when I e-mailed her because I want to be sensitive but also authentic about who I am, why I contacted her, and that I would like to share information.  At the same time I realize that people who are not into genealogy or who have more concerns about privacy than I do (or maybe should) might have second thoughts about it.  I told her what I thought the relationship was and other details based on family legends and rumors.

I just wish she had written back and said so rather than let me hang wondering and worrying.  I hung like one of those cats on a poster from the 1970's.

Recently I decided to proceed with documenting "Joe" and at this point I now know enough because of additional records in the FamilySearch database to be extremely sure that indeed he is the man I'm looking for.  The problem is that there will probably never be a record of his adoption as I don't think the couple who adopted him did so legally...and one interpretation of this is scandal and heartbreak.

You should know that there was a lot of informal or illegal "adoption" going on in American for the longest time.

And now that I know that a certain rumor or legend that I shared with her is incorrect because I have a death certificate and burial with the name of Church and Cemetery of his birth mother, who was married at the time, I think I should let her know.  Now that I know that a certain rumor or legend about how "Joe's Mom"  died is not true, I think her family might want to know incase it's genetic.  All the while I'm thinking of this poor woman dying young with a toddler in her household and how terrible that must have been for everyone and now she's in a cemetery that has broken and missing tombstones and records, no one visits the grave, no one thinks about her, and yet there are people alive because she had "Joe."  This year when I light candles for the dead I will have reason to light one for her.

What do I do?

I wait in hopes that someday "Joe's daughter" will reply to the just send e-mail asking if she's still there.  I'm hoping she is not ill or has died and wondering if I should try to find her children or JUST LET IT ALL BE?

I'm like everyone else.  Sometimes the GENEALOGY BRICK WALL is not that you can't find the records or proof but that other people just aren't interested in being involved in a project.  They think "None of this makes any difference to me in my life!"  And there are times when you have to know that they called it quits on you even when you didn't give up on them.

This is why I always say, "SOMETIMES GENEALOGY CAN HEAL A FAMILY but DON'T COUNT ON IT."  Do genealogy for your own purposes or reasons and be prepared to keep that information PRIVATE!  Just because it's increasingly easy to do doesn't mean people don't deserve their privacy and to be let alone.

There are always mysteries in this world but I suspect that in the next life/world/hereafter all is known.

With that, I wish you all a happy Fourth of July!  Make it a three day weekend!

C 2014 Ancestry Worship Genealogy