24 March 2015



Eliza Kewark (Indian) born about 1790
Katherine (sent to England)
Ruth (another Ruth)
Diana (Princess of Wales)


Eliza Kewark is Prince William's great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. She has long been described as Armenian, but Kewark was at least half-Indian, the genetic ancestry testing company BritainsDNA announced today. ... BritainsDNA says it is confident of Kewark's lineage because it traced Williams' mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, which is passed down from mother to child. BritainsDNA took saliva samples from two unnamed members of the royal family and traced it back seven generations to Kewark, who was born around 1790. ...

Kewark's mtDNA is so rare, BritainsDNA said, that it has only been found in 14 other people, all but one of whom was Indian (the other one was Nepali). ...According to the biography "The Real Diana," by Lady Colin Campbell, Kewark's background was known but kept quiet by a family that was full of Europeans descended from royalty.

"Eliza Kewark was a dark-skinned native of Bombay who had lived, without benefit of matrimony, with her great-great-grandfather Theodore Forbes while he worked for the East India Company," "The Real Diana" reads.

21 March 2015


The United States federal 1890 census was destroyed.  

Only about 6000 counted people appear on what's left of it. 

The years between 1880 and 1900 were ones of major immigration in the United States and major changes in society and culture.  So that's 20 years for which the researcher must use alternative methods to find their ancestors, especially if they immigrated into the United States during that time.  It's a long period of time and millions of people who at first, when you depend on census, appear to be missing.

Among the records that can be used are County Histories (books often put together by and paid for my the citizens which include photos and bio/profiles which are more like yearbooks as well as more literary efforts by professors and historians), City Directories (pre phone book listings that individuals paid for, though there were advertisers and sponsors), STATE CENSUS, ship manifests that record the destination location or address, Military Records that show an individual enlisted, served, or received a pension or benefit as well as draft records,  NATURALIZATION RECORDS that begin with the Declaration of Intent, newspaper articles (such as one's I've found that list the names of the men who recently were sworn in as citizens) that may contain wedding announcements, business advertisements, as well as obituaries), and so on.

So many local historical society volunteers take pride in knowing about families in small towns especially I think its worth trying to talk to them. (I met one man whose family had been in Los Angeles for 6 generations beginning with Andras Pico, one of the founding fathers, at a celebration event at a local historical site.)

The Declaration of Intent (to become a citizen)  and the Ship Manifest (document of arrival in the United States at any one of several port, New York being the busiest) are two documents I always attempt to find for immigrants of the Industrial Age.  On the Declaration the person states how and where and on what date they entered the country.  So they will say the name of the ship and between these two you are likely to find one or two addresses for them in their early years in this country. Sometimes Ship Manifests, despite  the Ellis Island, Ancestry databases, and so on are difficult to find because they appear missing but are perhaps not showing up where they should be kept digitally.  So if you find the name of the ship and harbor and date of arrival in the Declaration of Intent  you may be able to find it using one of the alternative search features provided by stephenmorse.org  (http://stevenmorse.org/).  If the ship manifests still appears to be missing, try for records that document passengers leaving a port or arriving at a port in another country such as Germany or The United Kingdom. 

There's a romance to the era of the big steam ships and images of the ship and reading through the manifests to get a feeling for the passengers on the ship besides your ancestor makes for interesting reading and history, but perhaps the addresses and relationships give you the most information to go on with.

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18 March 2015


Recently I borrowed the PBS genealogy series, called FINDING YOUR ROOTS, featuring Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a great number of famous people with diverse backgrounds.  Watching a TV series one show after another is a different experience than tuning in once a week, and I wrote down my impressions.

1)  I have a lot of respect for Louis Henry Gates, Jr., especially since he has flat out stated that Africans SOLD other Africans as slaves.  There has been a lot of denial on that issue. He has said that the stories of people being captured and taken away while out in the bush are greatly exaggerated - generally just not true.  I note that this is part of the story in the book and TV series Roots.

2) There is an underlying anti-racism theme in these shows and a lot of pride about what ancestors, especially Jews, have suffered.  A great many of the featured famous people have some non-white ancestry, so a person who is completely or mostly white is a rarity, and some are learning about their Jewish, Asian, or other than white ancestry.  A fact is a fact, DNA research has progressed rapidly, and my suspicion is that it's actually very difficult to find a lot of people today who don't have some non-white ancestry.  That's because it is a myth that white people dominate this world.  So this underlying theme is about people trying on the fact that somewhere in their past, documented or not, someone reproduced with someone of another race.  Sadly this often means rape.

3)  Lots of historical references that put the ancestors in their historical context is terrific.  I've always loved learning history through the characters in the story and think this is essential for writing your own family history.

4)  Cutting edge DNA is used and explanations of how it works is very helpful to understanding the possibilities in research.  For instance in Gates own family tree, no one knew the name of his white ancestor but through several DNA tests one particular match came up, and now he gets to explore that through documents, interviewing, etc.

5) It's always obvious that the show plugs the Ancestry genealogy database company.  That's OK but remember there are many other electronic resources that can be of great use and that we can still hire professionals, go to archives, historical societies, graveyards, and so on that are NOT up on any database.

6) I have a couple more DVD's of the series ordered, but so far there has not been one person from a Polish, Hungarian, Slovak, or other Central-Eastern European background WHO WAS NOT JEWISH.  If there is a sub-theme of the ancestors suffering, Catholic, Christian, and other religious people of Europe also suffered.  It's not all about slavery in the United States and the WWII era Holocaust!  (Update April 2 2015:  Just watched a show about Martha Stewart who does have Polish Ancestry and it turns out some Moslems in Poland too! - So, OK, she's the exception.)

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14 March 2015


HUFFPOST - FIRST PAPER PHOTOGRAPHS WERE MADE WITH SALT  By Priscilla Frank.  Note that images at this link for the full article include a nude.

EXCERPT: In 1839, British inventor William Henry Fox Talbot created the salt print, the earliest form of paper photography.  ...

The technique went as follows: coat paper with a silver nitrate solution and expose it to light, thus producing a faint silver image. He later realized if you apply salt to the paper first and then spread on the silver nitrate solution the resulting image is much sharper. His resulting photos, ranging in color from sepia to violet, mulberry, terracotta, silver-grey, and charcoal-black, were shadowy and soft, yet able to pick up on details that previously went overlooked -- details like the texture of a horse's fur, or the delicate silhouette of a tree.

These rare and early prints are the subject of Tate Britain's "Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840 – 1860," the first exhibition in Britain to focus on this brief preliminary moment in photographic history. Talbot's method quickly spread from Britain around the world, not only to artists but to scientists, adventurers and entrepreneurs as well, all hungry to capture and immortalize the immediacy of the moment.

A link to the TATE where the exhibition is in London TAKE ORG - SALT PHOTOGRAPHY etc.


If you'd like to bring up another post about DATING PHOTOGRAPHS, use the search feature embedded in the side bar of this blog.  Now that we know that all old photos were not sepia toned, keep an eye out when you go antiquing for these collector items.

10 March 2015


Book is published by Harvard University Press -  1999
C Presidents and Fellows of Harvard
Anyone doing AMERICAN genealogy research is bound to go back far enough to find that someone was a slave, slave owner, or living during slave times.  This book is the first and only I have ever encountered which brings the reality of the situations forth in great detail of the human considerations of both slave and slave trader, Masters and Mistresses, people born free, people who bought their own freedom, people who were returned to slavery.  It's about the socio-cultural aspects of life in slave territory and how it differed from state to state.
Did you know slaves sometimes attempted to sell themselves and their loved ones when a plantation or estate was liquidating, so that they could be with each other or local to each other and have some influence on who they would work for?
Did you know that some sellers attempted to and succeeded in hiding the fact that a slave was being sold because he or she was terminally ill or unable to work?  Sometimes they would blacken graying hair, fill in chests shrunken by TB with straw, or put all their slaves in new matching suits or calico dresses to erase some of the differences between them.
Estate liquidation was one of the main reasons that slaves who had been with one Master for a long time might get sold or split up.  If there was debt he or she might have no say in the matter as it would have been a seizure of property.  Many slavers were single men who traveled a lot for business and worked only until they could secure land and marry.  They slept out in the rough with the slaves they were trading.  Some met boats and moved slaves to holding pens in other states where they might be for months between seasons.
As in any other business there were levels of purchase, such as brokers who acted for others, commissions to other traders, and many employees who did had no personal interest in buying or selling themselves but acted  as sales people or fed the slaves.  Conflicts between traders sometimes meant bad blood and law suits.
The role of women as traders is also explored more thoroughly then I have ever encountered in a book before.  A slave woman might be bought because she could reproduce and thus add wealth and value to a owner's estate.  Only men went to market to buy slaves for their wife and children's needs.  In Louisiana a married woman had no right to buy or sell slaves (real estate) unless he had her husband's permission, declared herself separate in property from her husband and could thus trade in her own name; this meant she legally was not responsible for his debts either.  But even if she had the legal right, she did not go to market but sent her husband or another man.  How people managed to get around all sorts of existing laws and prevailing attitudes is in play here.
Perhaps most interesting to me is what happened when a slave appeared white or almost white, and became a "fancy" woman, which meant that she might be sold for much more than someone in a first rate category.  This means that she was usually bought to be a sex slave or mistress, by someone who had a fantasy and who might or might not fulfill that fantasy..  Some sold for over $5000 at a time when the average was under $1000.  (Please don't make the error of assuming that is in today's dollars.)  "Fancy" women were sold at auction rather than at set price or negotiated price.  Men might compete to get the most beautiful slave women and show off that they could afford to.  In the paperwork they would describe these women as cooks or domestics or seamstresses, so if you encounter a very high price for a slave in your research, think again.
Buyers sometimes came up with a physical type they were looking for, for their own reasons.  They might decide they needed men with longer arms, for instance.
This book is one for your reference collection, a keeper.

05 March 2015



November 30, 1941 - August 29, 2013

It is with great sadness that the family of Andrew (Andy) James Kranack, age 71, announces his passing on August 29, 2013. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Andy was the son of the late Andrew James and Anna (Trzyna) Kranack.

Andy came to Nova Scotia in 1960 to attend Acadia University, where he completed his B.Sc. and B.Ed. In 1965, Acadia won the National Collegiate Basketball title and Andy was named Acadia athlete of the year. After University, he taught Biology at Amherst Regional High School from 1965-1974. During this time, he started the Viking Basketball program and was head coach of the ARHS Vikings. The Vikings appeared in the NS finals 7 years in a row, winning the championship in 1970 and 1971. Coach Kranack was a consummate mentor, and instilled in his boys values of discipline, fair play and athletic excellence that they carried with them for the rest of their lives. From 1974 until into the late 90’s, Andy was the owner and operator of Kranack’s Bike’n Sports. During that time, he was also Head Coach of Mount Allison University’s men’s basketball team from 1981-84 and for years he coached summer basketball camps for kids across the Maritime Provinces.

Andy enjoyed reading, doing crossword puzzles, gardening, watching football, American culture, taking his girls on summer vacations to his hometown and watching, playing, and coaching basketball. He played all senior levels of basketball in Canada and is a member of the NS Hall of Fame and the Acadia University Hall of Fame.

Andy is survived by his daughters Andrea (Craig) McCormick of Halifax and Amy Kranack (Robert Stewart) of Amherst, two grandchildren Sophie and Finnian McCormick, two sisters Mildred Grimm, Palm Beach, FL and Carol Fay, Alamo, CA, a brother Frank Kranack, Pittsburgh, PA and three nieces Karen Kranack, New York, NY, Kathy Kranack, New York, NY and Natalie Fay, Alamo, CA.

There will be no visitation.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm at Campbell’s Funeral Home Chapel, 98 Church Street, Amherst, NS (667-9906) with Rev. Don Miller officiating. Reception will follow.

Interment will take place in the Amherst Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Andy’s memory may be made to the Viking Alumni Scholarship Fund or the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.
Online condolences and sharing of memories may be made to the family via: www.campbellsamherst.ca

03 March 2015


The very interesting television series WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE is available on DVD (and some YouTube videos) in case you never saw it, missed some, or want to watch it again.  I just watched the second season in one long sitting, and as a researcher was sensitive to any reveals about how the research had progressed, the obvious tie in with the genealogy database Ancestry, and the various expressions of interest and appreciation which revealed that people vary in what they perceive as important, be it self knowledge or solving a family mystery.

Most viewers (I do hope) know that extensive research beyond the capabilities of the celebrities who travel to talk to professionals, archivists, and go to graveyards, is done and condensed into a show. I think bringing professionals into the research is only right and very smart.  But they are only shown handing over color copied documents which might have taken many hours, weeks or months, to get ahold of.  Then the celebrity is amazed.

One of the problems I found with one episode was a discussion of COLOR (RACE) on census and other documents.  That someone is listed as White, or Mulatto, or Black, seems to be really subjective, even if the instructions to the census taker were fairly clear that when they looked at the person they exhibited certain traits.  The PERCEPTION OF RACE is often dependent on the place and time.  For instance I have found people called Black in the South who moved to Chicago and were considered White on records.    So if I see a W, I don't automatically believe this person has a long European history.

On the show that featured Barbara Walters I learned how important it is to have a researcher who is willing to involve someone else if they cannot, say, read Hebrew off a tombstone.  Barbara had genealogy done by a professional that had hit a brick wall because the Walters surname was not the Hebrew name of her Jewish ancestors.  A local expert went to the cemetery where her father was buried and there on the tombstone was the name.  This also proved that when you hire a second professional, they should go over the previous work of family, volunteers, and other professionals, to get situated, if not to prove or disprove the work.

It has happened to me that in looking over genealogy that a family member did for a client I've seen great leaps of faith presented as documented research and sadly, the family has put their reputation on this when they have to reason or right to, so bringing up the fact that something is speculation presented as fact is sensitive.  Such leaps of faith are sometimes wishful thinking, such as anchoring the family in early colonial America.  DNA sometimes help locate a relative who knows more or has family documents that move the speculation to proof, but often one must accept that they are cornered by the Brick Wall.

I like WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE as a show.  I think it is interesting and useful and inspiring and it does familiarize the viewer with research.

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