25 May 2015


A few months back I attended a short introduction meeting to a well regarded pre-needs service that features no frills cremation.  Years ago when I first heard of cremation, along with first hearing about Hinduism and reincarnation, I thought it made sense as an option.   With the cost of funerals and burials outrageous (I was quoted $25,000 average to be buried in the same town my parents are - were - for much less) it is more the ONLY OPTION for many, including me.  As it turns out the cost of this pre-paid no frills cremation in a much larger more expensive city than that town is far less that $5000.  I had been quoted double that for cremation in the smaller town.

My feeling is that when my time comes nobody is going to travel to my funeral or to see a stone in a cemetery.  Wouldn't it be better to just have my urn (or in this case a wood memory box) shipped somewhere or better yet, to someone who will then spread my ashes?

But you know, as a genealogist, someone who checks into FIND A GRAVE as a resource, as well as tombstone projects, cemetery records, and burial records, to accept being so - so - disappeared - is a thought.

What I did not want was a burial at sea.  Romantic a notion it is I've spent little time on boats and generally expect to get sea sick.  I love the view of the ocean, but no, I would only want my ashes to be spread in view of the ocean, not in it. 

And really, I can imagine the memory box with my ashes in it, turning up at a Garage Sale, or stashed in a moldering basement, or, if you've seen the funny film, MEET THE PARENTS, sabotaged by a cat as a litter box.  (!)

To go back to the beginning of this story though, this recent inquiry of funeral costs started because I called a cemetery to find out if a burial record I had could be confirmed.  Was there a tombstone and what was the plot number should I come visit.  The cemetery asked me to send the death certificate that stated that the burial had taken place there.  They said there had been a flood but basically, they would look into it but could not identify the burial as is.  They even said that perhaps there had been an "illegal" burial which was that relatives would have buried the person in the middle of the night there... I doubted that, as  there was the county death certificate stating the name of the funeral home and the priest and the cemetery.

While I was on the phone, I asked what it might cost, if the grave was located and did not have a stone, to put a simple stone on it.  I was shocked when I was told the cost would be $10,000. 

Sorry but $10,000 is for a college education, a business start-up, a newer used car.  I personally wouldn't spend that much on a wedding.

Still, I thought that with dozens of descendants alive, maybe they would want to pitch in for the tombstone. 

There are so many forgotten people.  The woman who was buried, probably legally, whose grave was so poor as to never have had a stone, or perhaps that was washed away in a flood, died young and horribly, with young children in the house.  Today, dead since the 1920's, she is the great mother of two, the grandmother of two, the great grandmother of several...  Only her DNA survives.

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16 May 2015


The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives, established online in January 2000  is AMAZING!

Quote, "GG Archives offers one of the largest collections of Social and Cultural historical documents from the 1800s through 1954 with concentrations in Steamship and Ocean Liner documents and photographs, Passenger Lists (Transatlantic European Voyages; Some Australian and South African), U.S. Navy Archives and additional materials covering World Wars I and II, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Immigration documents from Ellis Island, Castle Garden and other Immigration Stations. Learn how to use the Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives to get the most out of your visit.

*** Spice up your family history project with pictures of the ship your ancestors came to the U.S. on  but don't stop there, find a poster, menu, or ticket, that they may have used or one like it.  Just remember that the use of pictures for personal use for free - a family publication that isn't being sold - but for profit one must research the image source and respect copyright.

13 May 2015


Images from Dover Publications
(Search this blog for posts using the subject IMMIGRATION!)
Here is the link to RED STAR information

05 May 2015


This morning I learned that there is a "controversy" because the actor Ben Affleck, who was one of the stars whose family genealogy was explored on the Louis Henry Gates Jr. show WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? asked that it not be revealed that some ancestor of his owned slaves.  Apparently when private e-mails were hacked in a recent Hollywood scandal, and these e-mails were publicized, it was discovered that he had asked for this consideration and it was given.


I completely agree with what LOUIS HENRY GATES Jr. explained, especially because I have been watching the previous seasons on DVD and my criticism was that there was perhaps too much emphasis on the whole slave - slave owners thing.  Affleck would have been just one more, and well, the rest of his family was more interesting, providing, over all, a more interesting show and series.

I think ANYONE whose personal family history is going to be revealed to the world in these shows SHOULD have a say about what goes on the air.

I wonder how it is that anyone with such fame and the according WEALTH needs to have their genealogy done for free in exchange for their personal family heritage - any of it - and their reactions to it - as entertainment!  Sometimes I've winced watching.

Professional genealogists are expensive but affordable to the well-to-do and the wealthy and being able to trust your genealogist is important.  As is that the genealogist keep to professional behavior which is to report to the person paying for our services.  We are not spies.  We are not scam artists.  We are not reporting into tabloids.  And now we should also have the client sign that they are not using the information for illegal purposes - such as stalking.

Doing it on your own is a middle class - working class endeavor - which is why the subscription databases which are free at so many Family History Centers and Public Libraries - are so appealing.  These databases have opened genealogy up to the masses.

So,  famous people who can afford PRIVACY allow their fame to attract an audience.

I would sure like to see what the contracts signed for the show look like!

The shame is not in Affleck being sensitive.  Other guests with slave owner ancestry appeared to be appropriately mortified, and we are not responsible for what our ancestors did or didn't do anyway.  These days we agree slavery was and is wrong.  DID YOU KNOW THAT MORE WOMEN AND GIRLS ARE SEX TRAFFICKED right now than the entire population of Africans brought to the America's unwillingly? Apparently it is still OK for the female to be the ultimate slave because this would not be happening if men were not buying.

The shame is that e-mail is increasingly useless due to hackers.  It used to be that it saved you a phone bill long distance, but now, these hackers also feel it isn't enough to personally read your life and get to know you so they can set up an Identity Theft, but they want the WORLD to know your business, in an attempt to show off.  Why are not more of them in prison instead of hackers conventions? 

An e-mail that I use in conjunction to this blog has been hacked three times.  Each time it was caught and I changed the passwords.  However, it felt to me like someone - perhaps a genealogy database company - was trying to screw things up for me.  I never ever use the e-mails associated with this blog for anything personal!

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