19 December 2015


You may think that Holiday music or the Christmas Carols you know - the classics - have been around so long that just about everyone has heard them, maybe even knows the words by heart, and has sung them.  The truth is that "classic" Christmas songs are not the same songs that churchgoers and door to door carolers sang decades ago and in the future, someone living in 2050 may have never heard of say, Adam Sandler, singing the funny Hanukah song or understand the references to Captain Kirk.  They may have changed or dropped religion and not even understand who or why "Come oh Come Emanuel."

So, this year, when your family is gathered, keep the lyrics and if possible the sheet music to the songs they sang and include it in your genealogy project so that that your descendants can try out these songs, listen to them, think about the lyrics and the times they were sung in.

Searching the web I located this site



"This was changed by St. Francis of Assisi when, in 1223, he started his Nativity Plays in Italy. The people in the plays sang songs or 'canticles' that told the story during the plays. Sometimes, the choruses of these new carols were in Latin; but normally they were all in a language that the people watching the play could understand and join in! The new carols spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries.

The earliest carol, like this, was written in 1410. Sadly only a very small fragment of it still exists. The carol was about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem. Most Carols from this time and the Elizabethan period are untrue stories, very loosely based on the Christmas story, about the holy family and were seen as entertaining rather than religious songs. They were usually sung in homes rather than in churches! Traveling singers or Minstrels started singing these carols and the words were changed for the local people wherever they were traveling. One carols that changed like this is 'I Saw Three Ships'.

When Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in England in 1647, the celebration of Christmas and singing carols was stopped. However, the carols survived as people still sang them in secret. Carols remained mainly unsung until Victorian times, when two men called William Sandys and Davis Gilbert collected lots of old Christmas music from villages in England.

Before carol singing in public became popular, there were sometimes official carol singers called 'Waits'. These were bands of people led by important local leaders (such as council leaders) who had the only power in the towns and villages to take money from the public (if others did this, they were sometimes charged as beggars!). They were called 'Waits' because they only sang on Christmas Eve (This was sometimes known as 'watchnight' or 'waitnight' because of the shepherds were watching their sheep when the angels appeared to them.), when the Christmas celebrations began..."


15 December 2015


This morning I ran into "Bette" the best friend of "Ethel."  She was on her way to meet Ethel and accompany her to a doctor's appointment. 

Ethel is never married and childless, living in the family stead for the last 75 years,  with one brother on the east coast who comes out to visit once a year.  At this late stage in her life Ethel simply does not think she can adjust to life in a small new England town moved in or near her brother, especially because of the harsh weather there, and also feels, rightly so, that she would miss the many social advantages she has living on a fixed income here.

With our increasing population of unmarried, never married, and childless people, it is becoming more and more important for  people - especially seniors - to have best friend.  It's my suggestion that while friends are not part of your genealogy project, certainly a best friend is part of a family history, or personal history/memoir project. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SEE THE MENTION OF BEST FRIENDS IN OBITUARIES.

It's often said that we do not choose our family and can't be blamed for our relatives, though some reincarnationists would disagree, and that's usually the case when it comes to bosses and coworkers too. 

But you choose your friends.

Bette and Ethel originally met a church that neither of them goes to any more, though they go to another. Bette has a disabled son who she has been the lone caregiver of for years and is still working part time while Ethel has been on disability income since midlife.  The two go here, there, and everywhere together - lunches at a senior center, local museums on free days, shopping, and doctor's appointments.  This morning Bette, bless her, told me that she calls Ethel every morning and every night.

In case you're wondering, neither woman is of lesbian nature.  But it could be said that they act as husband and wife, living separately, together.

So here is another, real story of women's friendship that is a little closer to my home.

Walking my dog I got to know several neighbors, including "Este."  She lives in a large old single apartment with one pit bull, one scruffy little dog, one enormous white cat, and until recently two roommates, a married couple.  She has lived in the same place for over 20 years and with rent control this is what she can afford in her retirement.  Of course the couple both work and are gone most of the day, and they are gone a lot socially too, but recently the wife went to live elsewhere.  That left Este and, we'll call him "Mickey" the motorcycling riding fifty-something man who works full time.

A few months back Este got pneumonia and had to go into the hospital and then a nursing facility.  Mickey showed up to visit and she wrote out rent and utility checks.  He was on his motorcycle on his way to the landlords to pay the rent with the check when he was in a bad accident.

Enter, "Sharon," Este's best friend.  Sharon visited Este at the hospital every other day and when Este wanted and needed some of her things from the apartment, like her own nightgowns, of course Sharon went with her key to pick things up.  That's when she saw eviction notices on the door.  The pets, sadly, had not eaten in days.  Now Este, as stated, had paid her rent on time for 20 years but this landlord was going to evict her anyway.  (You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.)  It was then that Sharon - and Este - realized something was wrong.  What had happened to the rent check and Mickey?

Sharon contacted the landlord, who wanted his money, money she could not come up with.  She explained that Este was in a nursing home temporarily and that she had written out the rent check and handed it to Mickey; she begged for time.  Sharon went on FACEBOOK and that way learned that Mickey was hospitalized and in need of prayers.  She went to the hospital to see him, where he lay in a coma.  She went to the place where his motorcycle was impounded, found the rent check and then delivered it to the landlord, who backed off the eviction- with only a day to spare!  In short, because of Sharon's devotion to her best friend she saved her from being a homeless senior citizen.  She now went to the apartment every day to walk and feed the animals.

I know that if you've read this far you want more of the story.  Este did return home well but with Mickey, who was now conscious, in the hospital and not working, she was still not sure that she could keep the place.  Mickey even told her that he wasn't sure if he would make it home or back to work in time.  Mickey's coworkers DONATED THEIR VACATION TIME to his recovery so that he would not loose his job.  He WAS able to make it back to work, not on his motorcycle, but in a van for the disabled, and keep his job.  Weeks into this physical therapy, he is still not able to ride it, but he wants to.  His best friend comes over on Sundays and they give it a try.

Bless Sharon!

Keeping the Holiday Spirit


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Ancestryworship.blogspot.com  Ancestry Worship - Genealogy

07 December 2015


A friend of mine has NEVER EVER gotten a flu shot and he is now over 60.  (I'm not sure that as a baby he got any vaccinations at all other than polio.  He wasn't born in the United States.)  He is one of the people who believes that vaccinations and flu shots in particular are unnecessary.  Some of these people believe that the government gives people diseases like cancer and AIDS in other vaccines.  To me this is paranoid thinking.

For much of my life I did not take the flu shot, not out of fear, but out of a sense that I did not need it and was so strong and in such perfect health that if I got the flu I could fend it off.  And if I did get a virus or cold or a flu I must have.

I started taking the seasonal shot in the last few years because I'm now in much more contact with the general population than I was - and that includes at libraries - and because I visit people who live in Assisted Living where there are a lot of seniors and people in more fragile health. 


I'm convinced that, although the flu shot manufacturers take a good guess at what strain of flu is making its way around the globe and could be wrong, so that a vaccination might not actually work in every case, that the LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE TAKING THE SHOT actually helps protect those who refuse.  When thousands of people take the shot, they cannot get or give others the flu.

Well, my friend had a couple bouts of somewhat serious illness this year for the first time.  He was afraid enough to actually go to a hospital Urgent Care at one point.  He took antibiotics around the clock for the first time and he managed to break a fever of more than 102!  At that point I urged him to get the flu shot, because I think he is slowly becoming more fragile and at risk.  He said he'd think about it.

 And he didn't do it.

Not even when I brought up some DEATH CERTIFICATES from a database and showed him that people did indeed die of the flu in the not so distant past - like in the 1960's!

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16 November 2015



Just went to see a terrific exhibit - three hours in the hall - where I learned so much more about our American history, how complicated the question of slavery was throughout what would become our nation, back in the day when half of it was still territory, in dispute.

So here's a little story.  Twenty or more years ago it was still not acknowledged, despite the documents that genealogists would find, not even by some college history professors, that some Native Americans had slaves.  I myself found documentation proving this in a western county of North Carolina, but it just wasn't acknowledged.  A research friend of mine actually went to a professor at a college in Florida where he had once attended to discuss his findings and was told to his face that this had "never happened."

But this exhibit admits it.  Even the Cherokee chief John Ross had slaves.

Could it be that people did not see much difference between a slave and chattel labor?  It seems so.
In fact, the very poor who survived through chattel labor were in a class only slightly higher than a slave and individual circumstances being what they were, might not have actually been better off.  They might not have been "owned" the same but their living conditions could be deplorable.

I had not known that coal miners also hired and imported immigrant labor where men were put under contract to work.  I'd known about servants who came into the early colonies and worked years to pay off the price of their ticket, but didn't know this happened in the mid 1800's during the Gold Rush.

Also up for going against stereotype:  Prostitutes in the Wild Wild West, often depicted as willing and having a great time of it, when it's known that sex trafficking went on.   (I've known about the situation in San Francisco with imported Chinese women and children, often put in cages and locked underground, even given the tools to commit suicide once they became infected with VD, but somehow I bought the movie depictions of White Women going west for the opportunity to make money the only way they could among the gold miners.)

A simply amazing array of  historical objects, paintings, proclamations, and other museum-worthy items are on display, along with some diary narratives read by actors at the touch of a button that give various perspectives.


This brings up the USE OF DIARIES and NARRATIVES in your genealogy an history research.  Some of you may know about the SLAVE NARRATIVES that were collected by the WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION which are on a searchable database.  Additionally, you may find narratives in other places, such as written narratives available through FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUESTS, as well as some military related documents.  WILLS can also be a form of NARRATIVE.

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03 November 2015


As identity thieves and frauds have been using the Social Security Death Indexes for criminal activity, over the last few years there have been some removals (Rootsweb's Free Indexes, now owned by Ancestry.com) and restrictions. 

To sincere and honest persons intent on genealogy research this has been upsetting.  However, as someone who has been subject to the use of such information for criminal activity, I myself have been wondering when our United States government will begin to restrict the use of all the free or low cost information available on the Internet and on specialty databases that have citizens so easily spying on each other; the exact behavior we loathed back in the day when we heard citizens of the Soviet Union were encouraged to do so.

Socially, it's a real turn off to meet someone for coffee for the first time and have them tell you all the things they found out about you on the net. 

I went to a historical site one time where the docent, who apparently took pride in her family's involvement in the region, looked at my signature in the sign in book and then asked, "And what is your maiden name?"  (I told her "that IS my maiden name!) She was a bit much.  Now, I hold my own family cards closer to my chest.

I've also had the experience of people calling relatives, lying that they are my friend, and then saying that they need my current address and phone number.  And these dummy relatives gave that information out! 

But since ANCESTRY WORSHIP - GENEALOGY BLOGSPOT is for the sincere and honest researchers, let's talk about the UNITED STATES SOCIAL SECURITY APPLICATIONS and CLAIMS INDEX, which, as provided by Ancestry.com databases, covers the years 1936-2007.

First, you can still send away for the ORIGINAL APPLICATION. Those of us who used to send away to the Social Security Administration for ORIGINAL APPLICATION copies when the cost per each one was relatively inexpensive and reasonable were also upset when the fees went up to about $36 - $38 each.  The lesser fee was for those applications in which the SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER of the applicant was known.  Using a database you might be able to find that number even if you were not a close family member.  (If the information is over 75 years old, it will generally still be available to anyone for the asking.)  Of course, in filling out the application the government knows who is asking for it, so if there is criminal behavior involved that is documented.  That's good since the sincere and honest researcher is an ethical person who is not using the information for criminal activity or spying.  (Anyone involved in PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGY RESEARCH SHOULD BE AWARE THAT THE FAMILY THAT IS PAYING FOR THEIR SERVICES EXPECTS THEM TO RESPECT THEIR PRIVACY AS WELL!)
So -


It is useful beyond the obvious.

Let's say that you use it by NAME of the deceased and it has this information (a fictional example).

born  November 15  1925
Father  Greyson Andrew SCMIDT
Mother  Rose Ann CRABBE
Death November 15 1999
June 1941
May 1943  Marianna C. SMITH
May 1945 Marianna Rose WEAVER
August  1950  Marianna R.  ROSCETTI
Nov 23 1999  Marianna R. ROSCETTI

Here is the information you might be able to deduce from what appears to be "just the facts, mam, just the facts."

Marianna was born on November 15, 1925 in Germany.  However, her parents may or may not have been citizens of Germany.  They might have just been on a vacation or visiting relatives when she was born.  It might be interesting to check the ship records, incoming and outgoing - Germany and the United States where we might find the family.

It follows that she was living in the United States and likely an American Citizen when she went to work in about June of 1941 and made her first application for Social Security as at this point payments to Social Security would have been made from her employer to the government in her name. 

A couple years later, it's possible  Marianna decided it would do her some good to CHANGE HER NAME from the clumsy Scmidt to the name Smith and that she is using her mother's illustrious Crabbe surname as her legal middle name.  Of course we will want to prove that before accepting it.

There may or may not have been a legal name change and if so, it may be on file.  Checking around the 1940 census, we can possibly learn if her parents were living, if she was living with them or elsewhere, and where she might have processed a legal name change.  We also know that we have to check for Marianna under the name Smith from now on. 

It's also possible that the change in name to Smith was because she married.  We would want to check the marriage indexes.

In May of 1945 it is very possible that Marianna did marry someone with the surname Weaver. 

And it's possible that she married for the 2nd or 3rd time in August of 1950, a Mr. Roscetti.  Now we are looking for marriages, deaths, and divorces in each case.  In November of 1999, still going by the name Marianna Rose Roscetti, the lady died and at that time she was collecting Social Security.

We would want to follow this up with a search for her death records, civil, cemetery, and/or church.

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27 October 2015


Several months ago I realized that I was over stimulated and informed of violence.  I decided that I would stop exposing myself to repeated views of violence and try to stop reading about it.  It's not that I don't know how bad things are in the world; dead refugees,  ferry's sinking,  major natural disasters, gunmen gone crazy, and seriously evil people.  It's that I believe we are all OVEREXPOSED TO IT through the media, and through our cell phone news apps too and that it is doing something bad to us, making us numb, making us feel helpless and hopeless, making us think that the world is a very bad place, alienating us from others since we can't trust them, and making us forget the good.

I'm not sure exactly when it was that I began to feel that I had to know so much, even things that I'm sure I cannot do anything about, especially because they already happened and in places where my vote will not count.

My least favorite genre in film is Horror.  I don't want to be scared.  I don't want to be grossed out.  I do not want to see mutilation or blood - even when I know it is Hollywood fake. 

I decided that I had seem way too many murders watching psycho-thrillers, murder mysteries, and the like.  I went to a local library that possesses several thousands DVD's and it was difficult to find something that wasn't entertaining and funny.

Is goodness BORING?  A friend of mine seems to think that's true and why the media focuses on the extreme, the unusual, and a certain famous for being famous person's unusually large behind for her smallish size.

All I ask you is to think about this.  When is the last time you felt secure?  At peace?  Satisfied that you did a good job?  Looked forward to an in-person conversation with a good friend?  Saw beauty in nature?  Took a walk instead of watching the evening news?  Invited someone over for a home-made meal and conversation instead of watching a film? 

Did a good deed?  Acknowledged someone else's best characteristics or gave a sincere compliment?  Did a little something to help someone else without any expectation of reward or acknowledgement?

14 October 2015


(Check out my past posts about Halloween and All Souls Day using the search feature embedded on the sidebar of this Google Blogger!)

Did your family have any special holiday celebrations or traditions that were ethnic or their very own special invention?

I find that writing about this subject can really bring a kind of "warm and fuzzy" feeling to a family history writing project, along with all the genealogy data that you're compiling.  You can even gather your family to have a little writing group and write as individuals together in the meeting on various events, read your writing to each other aloud, and include the writing in the MEMORIES part of your book.

For Halloween you might write about the first Halloween costume you ever wore.  Could you breath through the mask?  Did your mother sew it?  Did you walk wearing it in a parade?   Did your family celebrate this holiday in any special way?   Is Halloween a holiday that is spiritual, funny, or spooky for you?

All Souls Day;  Did you go to church?  Did you pray for a relative that passed?  How old were you when you understood what death was?  What was the first funeral you remember attending like?  How did it make you feel?

Thanksgiving:  The best and worst Thanksgivings you've experienced.  Favorite foods (be sure to credit the right cook!)  The furthest you've ever traveled to attend a Thanksgiving Dinner.

Christmas:  Your earliest memories of the holiday.  How old were you?  Pictures with Santa.
The year it didn't snow.

You get the idea.

As for me, I have some rich holiday memories such as:

That my aunt, in the days before you had to go through inspections at airports, actually took a cooked ham in a roaster pan on an airplane as her contribution to a meal in Florida.  Reportedly at some point the ham beneath her seat moved and had passengers scrambling.  (She proudly walked off the plane with the roaster pan before her.)

Being six years old and seeking my first body in a casket.  It wasn't creepy exactly.  The person appeared to be at peace - and waxy.

Wearing costumes that were made for me at dancing school for Halloween too - just with a simple mask.  My neighbor who made home made candy apples - just a few for the closest neighbor kids - and gave out candy bars to the rest.  Living in a suburb where one year several hundred kids came to the door.

The Christmas that my most treasured present was something small but yearned for that was in my stocking.  The Christmas my cousin swore that she saw Santa and the reindeer from the window view from the top bunk bed.  The Christmas a loved one died.


10 October 2015


The Benjamin Franklin connection is exploited for the title of this PBS video that is part of the Secrets of the Dead series.  His 18th century residence in London, which was the home of a family at 36 Craven Street was also the home of Dr. Huston, a doctor who was probably more or totally responsible for the burial of human bones in the basement.  Though Ben Franklin's experimental and scientific nature is well known, there is no way to prove he ever had anything to do with them. 

This film is about the state of the art of medical science in that era. It is about the "body snatchers,"  people who would sell dead bodies to doctors (science) so that autopsies and dissections could be performed.  Check your gag reflexes because this is a time honored practice to learn about the human body and expected in medical schools.  The "body snatchers" were not always the most moral and ethical people, however, and so by modern day standards they may be thought of as criminals.

But what else did those who wanted to understand and some day cure diseases that killed people like typhus and cholera have to work with if not the bodies of the dead?  Methods then were primitive compared to now, as were the tools to saw a skull in half.  In this society there was no concept of virus or germs and people were dying of kidney stones and gall stones, which we well understand today, as well as broken bones.  Today many people donate part or all of their bodies for organ transplants and skin grafts and there is huge debate over the ownership of sperm and eggs that are frozen for later use once the people who donated them don't want to or can't pay for them to be kept.

In the 18th century, men who were sentenced to death wrote begging letters to their families to claim their bodies before they were sold or given away, fearing the desecration even though they'd be dead.

So though Benjamin Franklin is one of my favorite most fascinating historical personages, perhaps what was more interesting was that when he returned to America, this "Second Family" he had lived with in London was brought here to live and their family tree is full of doctors, including a woman who will show you some of the family documents that link Ben Franklin and their family.

03 October 2015


Anthropology is one subject I love.  I love learning how the human developed culture, how cultures spread, and DNA is enhancing our understanding of human migration, ethnicity, and race.. 

I love knowing this life I lead is so much of the times.  Can I even really imagine the world of my great grandparents?  The ancient Greeks?  The life of a tribe in the Amazon?  Well, could they in their lives imagining air travel or rock and roll?

With anthropology we can try on what it was to live in another time and place, since we cannot yet actually TIME TRAVEL for a look-see.  But besides living there is dying.

Along with Anthropology, there is Archeology (digging evidence up and applying scientific methods and analysis to it), the two often going hand in hand.  One of the things that the Anthropologists and Archeologists look at is BURIALS.

Burials tell us so much about the person, the people.  The posture they are buried in, if they have a shroud, if there are tools or jewelry buried with them, or perhaps their pet cat...  if they were laid into the earth, had stones put on top of them, had a carved wood casket, were embalmed, had ordinary clothing on or were naked, and what direction they - and others in that graveyard - were facing; all of this telling.

One time I asked an Archeology professor, if so many millions of people had died on this earth in the past, why were there not MORE burials, more evidence of their lives.  He said most people were not buried.  They were cremated, or left out for the vultures,  or otherwise exposed.  Also many burials are now deep under the earth or the graves were robbed.  So when a burial is found and explored it can be a wealth of information.

Some of the more exciting burials I've learned about are in museums.  I saw an exhibit at the Getty in Malibu, California that had the painted cases that some ancient Greeks had been buried in, though living in Egypt.  Each had a painting of the person's face, as to be remembered in life. This was a time and place burial, influenced by both Greek and Egyptian notions.

Then there are the burials found in Hungary in which the people inside beautifully painted caskets, many who had died of TB, were found to be naturally preserved mummies.  Scientists of medicine are studying TB through these mummies.

Take a look at the stack of beautiful coffins at this link VAC HUNGARY - NATURAL MUMMIES - NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

Reading around these Hungarian mummies, I've learned that they are known people, for whom there are records, and descendants alive.

I don't know about you, but I personally do not think I would want to see any of my dead relatives  dug up so I could see what they look like, but did you know that a son of the Big Bopper,  the 1950's rock and roller who died in a plane crash, did just that, before having him cremated?

Can you tell that it's that time of year... that Halloween and All Souls Day are not so far away?

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22 September 2015


Recently I started going through boxes of research that had been in a storage unit, had been brought to my residence, had made it through a flooding so so, and that I had not entirely forgotten about.  Things had gotten scattered so I also didn't know what I still had, where it was, and if it was still valuable to my research.

Most of the research was handwritten and old photocopies.  Because of the time spent and the detail, I know I have to read each and every piece of paper and evaluate it for the value it has to my present personal genealogy.

The condition of the paper varies, making me wish that I had never ever used any sort of typical lined, punch holed, paper.  But not everything can go on archival paper.

A friend suggested THE CLOUD for storage.

No not even if said friend PAYS for me to have a CLOUD!

Having had computer disks thrown away and memory sticks stolen, having purchased a couple lap tops only to see them become defunct rather quickly, any suggestion of THE CLOUD as optimal storage, any suggestion that I SCAN all these papers, and I react negatively.

I do not want to give up my paper copies, no matter what electronics could be applied.  I don't want to worry about equipment, monthly fees, or being hacked.

As I looked through these papers, besides seeing that various brands of the lined, punch holed paper had discolored and had folded in different ways, the cheaper papers no deal, I also noticed that no doubt PHOTOCOPIES showed less aging and held up better, and ANY PAPER KEPT IN PLASTIC did very well.

THE PLASTIC HOLDERS are heavier.  So your binders can be difficult to carry, but I think that binders and plastic holders with paper inside is the way to go, so long as you also remember to cover them on the shelf to prevent dust from settling in.

Because sure enough old plastic binders do show dust and dirt and age.

Through all of this I have a cardboard mailing tube that contains some of my oldest, handwritten, and hand drawn charts.  Much of what I wrote on these charts was there proven, some of it was speculation or calculation (birth and marriage and death dates.) 

But when I think of the person(s) who will inherit my research, I think:

1) The hand written and hand drawn charts will probably feel more personal and valuable.

2) It's going to cost a whole lot to ship all this research to them.

3) But do they only want the end results, the book, or do they want to follow along with my research, realize just the high price of those end results, and will they be inspired to continue, documenting my life when I'm probably dead perhaps, or to travel to the places that their gggparents left?  Will they even take care of all my research, such as taking care to pass it along to the person in the family who they deem the most interested and worthy?

4) I've concluded that I will provide some simple electronic resources, such as family pictures and some scans on CD.

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14 September 2015



I sent away for the marriage records (civil) of my aunts, uncles, and parents and grandparents. I wanted the marriage dates and places as well as the mother's maiden names.  Eventually everything came in.  My shock was learning that my parent's did apply for a marriage license but there is no record of them actually having got married.  I got a note back stating that an extensive search had been made.

I'm sure they did marry.  But now I'm not sure they married the same year they got the license.  This is because there's a story about how they got married and then went back to work on Monday, no honeymoon, and that they got married on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  The year on the license and the date I recall they celebrated their marriage doesn't line up with the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday or the story that they met and married in a year.  I remember celebrating their Silver Anniversary but I can't remember what year we did!

What can I do to prove they married?

Ruth - Pittsburgh PA


Hi Ruth,

I checked FAMILYSEARCH which does have SOME records of marriages for Allegheny County - Pittsburgh area - Pennsylvania, just in case, and nothing came up.  Sending away was the right thing to do.

I suspect that your parents got married in a local church and the priest didn't send the paperwork in that he should have to the Allegheny County people to make a CIVIL RECORD of it.  But as usual it could simply be a missing, burned up, or otherwise document.

But there are a few things I want you to do.

First, check the date you remember as their anniversary for several years after that license to see if the dates work for the story.  It might give you a date, it might not.

Second, call and ask Allegheny County this question, "Once a couple applied for a marriage license, was there a time limit that they could use it, say a few months or a year or two, before they would have to apply again?  (This could vary by location, so anyone else reading this, call the location)

Three, check city directories and or census or possibly Social Security APPLICATION, to try and figure out about where they were living.  Then check to see what churches might have been in the area.  Additionally, if the area is right next to another county, then maybe they married in another county.  So you also want to ask, "In PA, if a couple got a marriage license in Allegheny County, could they use it in Washington County?"

Four, If they likely married Catholic, call the CATHOLIC DIOCESE ARCHIVES and ask them if they have records of marriages.  Explain that the CIVIL RECORD does not include evidence that the marriage actually occurred.  Possibly the actual PARISH still has records, but with so many churches closing, I'll bet on the archives first, especially if you cannot be sure of the church.

LINK! http://diopitt.org/department-chancellor/office-archives-and-record-center

I hope this helps!


10 September 2015


1940 ... 

So many of us longed for the 1940 census to be released, and by now many of us have outlived the effort to get the entire census online in various databases including the one from NARA, the one from Ancestry, and the one from FAMILYSEARCH.  Just as when the ELLIS ISLAND site came up years ago, there was a huge impact on these sites as so very many people went to them at all hours to get in - temporary but frustrating crashes - missing pages - missing towns - and most of it has been resolved and is now as good as it's going to get.

I myself am back to reading neighborhoods page by page as information I seek is NOT coming up via text searches for surnames.  I would be happier rolling microfilm as I think my forefinger is going to need a joint replacement for all the stress of clicking.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is when you find your family and SUSPECT or KNOW the information on it is in error, especially because the census taker took that information given BY A NEIGHBOR OR LANDLORD.  (There is usually a notation on the side of the form stating this.)  But if the information was not given by the head of the household or a family member, I would not take it for granted to be correct, even if that person was well intentioned.

I can tell you right now that contemporary neighbors and landlords have said things so incorrect about me that some of it is misunderstanding and some of it is slander.  (And I've noticed that when I put it into writing that I know about it and that it is wrong information and that I don't appreciate it, when some people then see me, they blush, get big eyed with shock of seeing me, and even run out of the room.  Oh the things people can or will say when they think you'll never know.) 

So, taking that experience in real life, and that anger, back to 1940, I have to wonder.  If someone's landlord didn't like them, if the family wasn't home much or hadn't paid their rent on time, or whatever,  WHY WOULD A POTENTIAL GOSSIP BE CONSIDERED AN AUTHORITY ON THE FAMILY?  What it means when you see that the information did not come from a family member is YOU CANNOT COUNT ON IT.

It means that you have to find other collaborating evidence.

You have to check CITY DIRECTORIES, your CHURCH records, your Social Security Applications, and so on, to verify it.  Do find out whatever you can on an employer if listed, just in case the employee information is now part of some collection somewhere and to understand if they were small or large businesses.  This may be especially interesting if they lived in a company town.

Some of the information on the 1940 census given by neighbors that I've found to be incorrect:

The spelling of the family surname.  (It is incorrect in handwriting, and so transcribed in text the same.)

The age of some or all of the family members.  (Thus one woman who had five children out of the home and who was in her 50's was listed as 40, based on the younger children at home.)

The language they spoke.  (I noticed "German" listed for people who spoke German as one of their languages, but whose native language was Slovak or Hungarian.  The census taker had a German surname.  My guess is that she spoke German and so did the information giver.)

People who were working, perhaps part time or in their own small business due to the economy, listed as not working at all.  In some cases this was the parent, so children's income was assumed to be supporting the family.  While in Hard Times, and in days before SSI or SSDI, some old before their time husbands were too old or ill to work and the children did support the parents or contribute income to the family,  I'd research around it.  WHY?  Because misinformation means a false family story.  (You want to understand that family in their place in time and history, as well as their ethnic, religious, and FAMILY CULTURE.  You want to ask, "Did this family value education?" "Was this family sexist? Did the males or the females or both quit school to support the family?  And so on.)

In reading this or any other census, record the DATE the census taker wrote the information.  Missing family members can be on no census at all because they MOVED in the weeks between one census taker visit and the next census taker visit in another part of the town or country.

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29 August 2015


DID YOUR GRANDFATHER or another MALE RELATIVE JOIN THE CCC's as a teenager in the 1930's (GREAT DEPRESSION ERA leading into World War II era) in order to learn skills and most importantly SEND MONEY HOME? 

Not just anyone could sign up.  This was a RELIEF PROGRAM (which I sure wish was still going on today) that existed from 1933 to 1942 in the US.  It was part of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" and a man had to be 18-23 years old (eventually they took men 17-28 years old) who were unmarried an unemployed.

image from PBS




CCC LEGAGY. ORG - RESEARCH  includes links to forms to send away to the right National Archives (Saint Louis) and information on CAMP LISTS.

So OK, the difficult has been (hopefully in the past) that men who joined the CCC's were sent to various camps, not necessarily close to home.  The goal was to SEND MONEY HOME and LEARN SKILLS.  The 1940 census might be of help to some of you, but don't count on it.  I've personally been unable to use a database to search that census for CCC members I'm looking for.  One of the reasons is that a typical participant stayed in the program for 6 months and could reenlist a total of 4 times for a 2 year stint.  This wasn't a branch of the military, but there was a sort of boot camp at first to see if a person was physically fit before they started doing a lot of hard physical labor, like building walls or planting trees to reforest a burned out area.  A person could be transferred around to where there were work projects.  Many men from poor families dropped out of high school to join or first did the CCC's and then enlisted in the military.  There were separate camps for veterans and Native Americans.

Today when you go to many parks, you will find stone walls and stairways that are still in use that CCC workers built.  (Such is the case in some of the Santa Monica Mountains here in Southern California.)

24 August 2015


The Princesses in this book are not all from Europe and they include the schemers, the insane, the plain unlucky.  It's enough to make you stop trying to prove a royal connection in your family history.

Really, you may count yourself lucky to have come from less inbred people!

Here's a link to Linda Rodriquez McRobbie's own review of her book! HUFF POST - 11 of the BADLY BEHAVING PRINCESSES - with Pics!

Small Quote!  "I took a look at the not-so-Disney lives of 30 princesses, and found a whole world of women whom history had mostly forgotten, vilified, or written off. These are women who took the crown and ran with it--though not always to particularly nice places. They lied, murdered, used sex, or dressed like a man to hold on to power, and weren't afraid to get a little blood on their hands. They're also women who were imprisoned, victims of circumstances entirely beyond their control, or who were forced to make difficult decisions that history still punishes them for. Some were mean, petty, and vain; some drank too much, or gave their affection rather more freely than their contemporaries thought appropriate. Some just wanted to have a good time, no matter how much that unsettled everyone else. And others, of course, were just bizarre and possibly mentally ill- a limited gene pool can be just as corrupting as absolute power. But at the end of the day, they're all real--and isn't that somehow more satisfying than the glittery, pink-and-purple fantasy princess?..."

at this site you can read a bit about Njinga, the Murderous Warrior Princess, Charlotte of Prussia, the Sex Party Princess, Princess Louise of Belgium, the “Insane” Princess, and Märtha Louise, the Princess Who Talks to Angels.


I picked this book up at the library because there are chapters devoted to Elizabeth Bathory (discussed on a recent post below) as well as one of my favorites, Princess TNT (Thun und Taxis), also known as the Punk Princess turned astute business woman.

OK, I confess that I read around European royalty a lot, have a fascination with tiny Monaco and the next generation there, and have no current claims to be related to any Kings or Queens, maybe just German and Hungarian, petty nobles... and as a citizen of the United States of America, my ancestors gave up on all that long ago.

I so enjoyed this book that it's one for my bookshelf meaning I'm going to buy it!

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05 August 2015


Have you ever had the experience of looking at a photograph and suddenly feeling a shiver go up your spine?  I have.  That shiver feels like a confirmation of truth somehow, and it certainly makes you pay attention to the photography.  What is it about a scene from another country or time and place that you recognize deeply?

I was researching one of my personal ancestral lines which, according to the marriage record I was looking at, went back to a German town in what was Hungary but is now Romania.  This was one of the towns which, while over hundreds of years was no doubt Hungarian, but the residents kept to German customs too, speaking both languages, building houses, wearing clothes, and keeping to customs that were more German.

So I wanted to see some pictures of this town and towns like it.

I went to a famous research institute, the Getty, and before I got there I ordered many books to be bought upstairs for me prior to my arrival.  Not known for genealogy, but for art, the Getty Research Institute still houses MANY books that can be very useful to researchers of family history and genealogy researchers as well as those learning about other cultures and societies for which the expression of creativity is one factor.  In this pile I found two books that were especially informative and interesting and that applied to my personal research.  These books were not available through my large city library or anywhere else I checked.

In one of them there were black and white pictures of this German town. I turned the page to  a simple street scene, and got the shiver up the spine.  None of the other pictures in the book did that to me.  I looked again.  There was something about that curve in the road.

It made me wonder if I was having a moment of ANCESTRAL MEMORY.

The theory of Ancestral Memory is that in our DNA/genes we have memories of things our ancestors have experienced.  In this case we are talking about a GGG.

This is different that Reincarnation Theories that suggest that we might incarnate in the same family, as a descendent of someone we were on earth years prior. 

With Ancestral Memory, all you have is GENETICS, your own body carrying information.  The theory has nothing to do with any spiritual belief.

Let's say that you were born and raised in the United States and identify as All American and really believe in justice and equality for everyone but you still find yourself fearing a certain ethnic group.  (I realize that admitting to such a thing may even be considered not politically correct, yet I hear people say they have such fears!)

My friend Marilyn, who only recently realized that she has German heritage in her ancestry on one side of the family, has since hearing of Germans in childhood, has always felt a little sick to her stomach at the mention of them.  She has never self identified as German and has self identified herself as Polish.  She had of course heard about World War II and the Holocaust, but she had no reason to believe that her own family heritage was any part of that.  Marilyn hated it when she learned she was genetically partly German, but she also felt there was no logic to it.  After some in depth research and interviewing family members and then reading around the history of the places they came from,  Marilyn learned that one of her ancestors had been taken from his house by German soldiers and had never been heard from again.  He was not Jewish.  This happened before World War II. When she got some photos of the town where this happened, she began to have a strong sense of having been there, of recognition.  Marilyn does not believe in reincarnation but she now believes that her fear is the fear of this ancestor.

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Ancestry Worship - Genealogy

21 July 2015


Access Newspaper Database and Newspaper Archive Academic , which are related, have me quite frustrated.  A researcher at a distance provided me some notes via text of two death/funeral/burial/obituary announcements and since I've used this database in the past to locate copies of originals, I thought I would try.

Since my experience has been that in many small town newspapers that were typeset there re a lot of misspellings of proper names, as if they had run out of one vowel and used another, I decided that the best tactic would be to go the exact newspaper and date and page that the other researcher had provided me.

I would have preferred to have rolled microfilm and read page by page.

I wasted over an hour trying to make the database simply get me to the paper on the date specified, if not the exact page, WITHOUT ALSO PUTTING IN THE NAME, first and last.

Finding the WRONG date, I read the language the paper used.  Maybe it was my terminology?

I tried obituary. I tried funeral.  I tried died.   Certainly something should come up!

Once again I returned the search choices, this time with a librarian at my side to double check my moves.

I think Access should make it easy to get to the newspaper, by date, for those of us who would prefer to read it page for page, rather than only focusing on what comes up in a search.

15 July 2015


I got to talking to a sweet lady the other day, while I was out walking my dog, who looks a lot like her dog.  The conversation went from dogs and fleas and itchy dog skin, to dog breeds, dog hair and dog shampoos, to human DNA, Blood Types, and genealogy. 

It turns out that this sweet lady has spend the last 6 months doing research on the Internet, kind of like a lot of people do when they first find the subject fascinating and want to know more about their families.  She has been looking at postings in genealogy groups, hoping to link up with relatives who know more than she does, who have maybe done years of research and are giving it away for free. 

With experience,  I feel I can say that this research is of the type that I find is usually a lot of time wasting speculations, and usually includes posts that possibly endanger the privacy of others in their attempt to be "helpful" because some people thoughtlessly post about people who, if asked, would say no to the post and even be infuriated that they or their family is being discussed or entered into databases without their knowledge and permission. 

It's not that I've never been there or not wasted time.

So after she gave me some free shampoo to try on my itchy dog, I gave her some strong advice on genealogical research.  I told her to start her own research, to document everything, to not take leaps without documentation because, one does not know that the information they find in groups is even correct;  I even met someone who did that and ended up spending TEN YEARS researching the wrong family.  Rarely are you going to find the actual documents posted to support the gossip. 

I told her about some records she can get for FREE without having to have a subscription to a genealogy database and where the local genealogical society has a club house.  I told her that if she ever intended to submit her research for inclusion in certain societies, someone else would be going over it looking for each item to be proofed so she may as well try for those professional standards even if she was just starting out.  And she listened.

But when she told me that she has B- (B Negative Blood) and had been reading on the net about how this blood type came from a breeding program begun by alien visitors to our planet, I knew this sweet lady had encountered some of the same groups and posts that anyone who begins reading around DNA and Blood Type does.

There is just a lot of hooey attached to B- negative blood on the Internet and other media.
Some of these include :

The "fact" that because human fetus have "tails" that proves we humans are "reptilian" and that the B- blood people have extra vertebrae and small tails on them.  (The truth is that many animal species that never develop tails look to have tails when they are only fetus and that this is simply a stage of development of the spine.  A tiny percentage of humans do have a more prominent tail bone or an extra vertebrae.)

The "fact" that people with B- blood are more often abducted by aliens, that aliens prefer them.  (Yummy!  Though I'm open to the idea that there is life on other planets that we would consider to be alien, and am even open to the idea that some people have had close encounters of the 3rd kind with alien beings,  I would love to know who took the abductee poll and how and when!)

The "fact" that people with B- blood are more psychic than other people with other blood types.  (I think all people have some capacity for having the 6th sense and that it might be innate like a talent or developed as a skill but there is simply no proof that type B- people, due to their blood type, are more psychic.)

"The "fact" that people with B- blood are EVIL and that the origins of this blood type come out of a place called the "Draconian" Caves.  (...as in Dracula - who by the way WAS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER...)

There are plenty of maps and charts showing the distribution of type B+ and B- blood all over the world which do, with changes in population, vary from year to year.  Granted some places such as Northern India - have higher rates, but overall B blood is rare and AB blood is even rarer.

The "fact" that people with B- blood also have higher IQ's that everyone else.  (Again, who, when, where, and how did someone take that poll? I know some people who would like to boast about it!)

The "fact" that humans in general were bred by aliens who ruled the earth, gods, or God, to be slave labor, in particular to mine gold, or that the female primates who were on earth at the time were inseminated for this purpose or the purpose of making man in the image and likeness of God...

(And if that is the case, so what?)

HERE ARE SOME FACTS CIRCA 2015 about B- blood that you can count on:

B blood is RARE blood.  B- blood is RARER than B+ blood.  In the United States, depending on which chart or map you look at, and because of who has and is immigrating here, the rate for B- is about 2-3% of the population but it might be higher or lower in your particular city or state.  Therefore most Blood Banks are always looking for B blood/plasma donors.

Scientists do not yet know how it is that blood types developed or mutated but they feel that a variation in blood types probably happened due to mutations and they sure do want to know so they are working on it.  The most prevalent blood type on earth is O as in Original Blood type and it is extremely prevalent.  DNA studies of migration may prove useful to figuring it all out.

It is possible that at one time the B blood type was far more prevalent but due to some disease that effects B blood type people more than other blood types more of those people could have died off.   It's true that some diseases seem to be more prevalent in certain blood types.

Type AB blood is even rarer and seems to have developed or mutated only a few thousand years ago. 

Science is clear that DNA mutates and that blood type is in our DNA.

B blood is sometimes called "The Asian blood type" but B- blood seems also be a Middle Eastern or Central Europe blood type.  B- blood is prevalent in Northern India while B+ blood is associated with some of China.

If you are looking to prove paternity in court, DNA tests today are far more accurate than previous Blood Type proof.

So to all you evil, psychic, genius UFO abductees with tails out there... sorry!

Negative blood is associated with "the Rhesus factor" as in the Rhesus monkey, another primate, but that doesn't mean that people with negative blood come from a long lineage of monkeys (and certainly not reptiles). 

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08 July 2015



Klansville USA is a documentary from PBS- American Experience series that is the history of the KKK.  It proposes that the KKK "tapped into the fears of low income Whites" and that it all took place in North Carolina in the 1960's.  Eventually there were over 10,000 known members in the southern states of the USA.
I found this documentary interesting, but frankly, I'm not so sure the KKK was about Whites of Low Income in the South so I'm challenging the premis.  To say this, I spent a couple hours reading articles on web sites affiliated with Neo-Nazism and White Pride and so on from the last few years.
I certainly do not support terrorist tactics such as burning crosses on people's lawns or discriminating on the basis of skin color or anything else when it comes to a person's value as a human being, place in society, and so on.  But the KKK was not just opposed to Black people (then called Negroes) but also Catholics, Jews, anyone not White Angle Saxon Protestant, and WASPS, as just about everyone knows, were the elite in the United States even before it was the United States.  I do not associate the KKK with just low income whites in the south, but I must say that there has been plenty of opposition to women having equal rights including education and work on the basis that this means that men will be displaced in the workplace.  The era of feminism I refer to began in the 1970's. And I truly wish sexism were as huge an issue as racism, especially when I meet sexist men "of color."
This video showed films that included female participation but didn't edge into the role of women in the KKK or their stand on feminist issues. 
In reading so very many DNA oriented sites, I think we are reaching a knowledge that it's difficult to find anyone who isn't "mixed" in some way, even if that means going back to the 12th century.
Instead of skin color, I think people are looking at the VALUES OF A PARTICULAR RACE or ETHNIC or RELIGIOUS group in which a person is self identified.  Is it wrong for a person to realize that their values are not those of another race, ethnic, or religious group and admit it?  I don't think so.
Additionally, I got to know a lot about the State of North Carolina through genealogy research for a particular family with deep roots in that state, including pre American Revolutionary members.  I had been told verbally that the family may have had Jewish roots in the old world.  There was no genealogical evidence of this in the states that I could find, yet the children in the family had been razzed by their neighbors who called them out as "Jews."  Interestingly,  I traced several branches of this family and found only one who owned a single slave.  I was told verbally that the family had been opposed to slavery way back. 

So the genealogy lesson here is, we cannot make assumptions about any particular family from North Carolina, even if the state was full of people who hated Blacks, Catholics, and Jews in the 1960's.

23 June 2015



As a genealogist, I have to look at documents and depend on them but I also have to know that sometimes documents are incorrect and can be incorrect for many reasons.  That includes census records that record the same person as White one year, Black ten years later, because that was the perception of one census taker or another. 

Birth certificates can be incorrect because they are often a recording of testimony.  Women can have identified the wrong man as the father on them.  (Such was the case with Marilyn Monroe, whose mother identified a husband she had just divorced as Marilyn's father, when it was another man.)

Although I know that some people are asked to provide their birth certificate for certain jobs or governmental benefits, I've always thought that a social security number is enough.  These days, and we have the Internet and Genealogy Databases that provide free personal information, including information on the living, for rampant privacy invasion.  It's as if nothing is left that is personal.  But if Rachel Dolezal had been asked to provide her birth certificate, as a documentation that she is Black,  if the NAACP required that she be Black to be employed by them, that would have been racist of them.  You do not have to BE Black genetically to do a good job advancing the cause of equality.

Rachel Dolezal, who has been working for the NAACP (National Association of the Advancement of COLORED PEOPLE) turns out to be White.  So says her parents, who also raised four of her siblings, adopted, who are visibly Black (or African American.)   Rachel SELF IDENTIFIES as Black.  She probably did as far back as she remembers her Black siblings but maybe it's more than that. Rachel is saying something about her INNER LIFE not her appearance, though yes she does like to wear hair styles that might be thought of as Black.

That is why she sought out the job she did.

Frankly, I think that if she's been doing a good job, that's all that should matter. If I were her  I would have told her not to resign. 

You see, lots of people self identify with the ONE ETHNICITY of many that they have rights to, the one that they feel the most comfortable with or are most proud of.  Many "Heinz Variety 57" people in the United States will declare their ethnicity to be that of their surname, even if they are now only 1/8th or 1/16th Scottish or Irish or whatever.  They may even have a tartan kilt, but be mostly Polish.

A person who carries a Hungarian surname but is mostly English and other than Hungarian is the actor Richard Gere.

I think Rachel Dolezal should take a DNA test that may locate some COLORED PEOPLE as ancestors.  I'm using this now outdated term because I happen to think the terms White and Black are oppositional, setting up conflict, and that we are all COLORED, but OK... some ancestors who tie her in with the African continent, in fairly recent history when it comes to genes, since we apparently ALL can trace back to Africa.

I also wish she, and everyone else, would read a book called ONE DROP by Bliss Broyard, which I read and reviewed for this blog some time ago.  In Bliss's case, her father, who passed as White, on his near deathbed, admitted he was Black and so then were his children, but actually, he wasn't 100% Black and neither was she.  Otherwise he wouldn't have been able to pass. The book is about Bliss' family history search and wrangle with how Black she is or isn't.  It only take ONE DROP of Black Blood (or Jewish Blood or whatever) for a person to be considered so, or so some people think.

But is DNA the point?  Not when it comes to SELF IDENTITY.

I had a friend who, while not saying she was BLACK, had one ancestor who was a Black and free woman, and who married an Irish servant when he was emancipated from his long service contract. Though blond haired, blue eyed, and as WHITE as one could appear, all these generations later, she also SELF IDENTIFIED with BLACK CULTURE.  She knew all about African art.  She loved Black men. She even said things that could be thought of as Anti-White racist. She had "one drop" of Black blood, and in her case, she so depended on it.

Likewise, I've had a friend who self identified as NATIVE AMERICAN, who didn't look it and had one grandfather who refused to talk about his heritage, which was suspected to be Native American.  She didn't have to prove anything to head up a local Native American interest group.  She felt tied to the world of the Native Americans.  I started her on a genealogy quest so that she could learn more about her heritage while circumventing her uncooperative grandfather.

Along with the DNA testing, I also think it's time for Rachel to do her genealogy, to be surprised by what she may find, as so may be her parents.

Finally, it's time for Rachel to be regressed hypnotically in search of this life and past life experiences that help her SELF IDENTIFY as BLACK.  I suspect that she has had a life in which she was a slave, if having four siblings who are visibility Black is not enough to be Black, or if meeting people in this life, or exposure to another culture than the one born into isn't enough.

Here is my point: How is this different than say, BRUCE JENNER, the male Olympic Athlete of fame who has been married to women three times, and fathered, SELF IDENTIFYING AS A WOMAN?  Despite his recent Vanity Fair cover, which was the result of some experts in hair, makeup, costuming, and photography, making him appear a woman, and despite any cosmetic procedures he may have had,  Bruce cannot change his DNA.  He is a man this life, but I'll bet that if he is hypnotically regressed, he will find that he has been a woman in many lives or in his most recent past life!

If we can accept (and the American public seems to have, wholeheartedly,) that Bruce Jenner is a WOMAN, we can accept that Rachel Dolezal is BLACK!

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