Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do Distant Relatives Want to Hear from Us?

A few weeks ago I found the obit of a descendant of my grand-aunt Anna, and wrote a letter to one of the surviving relatives. I also sent a Facebook message to her son (he was listed in the obit, as well).

Both of my notes were polite and enthusiastic, explaining that I'm researching my family tree, found what I think is a connection to their family, and would like to ask a couple of questions about where Anna came from in the Old World. Also I offered a photo of Anna if they'd like to see what she looked like. No answer.

Does no answer mean "no" or does it mean "too busy to respond" or "don't want to think about the old days" or "don't want to talk to strangers" or "moved, no forwarding address" or what? I've never received a letter like the ones I'm sending, so I can't say how I'd react. Most likely I'd at least contact the writer to confirm that we are, in fact, related, and then go from there.

My 2d cousin Harriet was delighted when my letter found her two years ago. She and I got together for a wonderful visit and we call each other now and then. But I never heard from my husband's distant cousins (presumably related) when we found them in NJ and wrote them last summer.

On the other hand, when the Wood family genealogist and I located a long-lost cousin of theirs after doing a lot of pretty interesting research, we started an ongoing e-mail dialogue with photos and family details flying back and forth. It's been fun getting to know all these folks.

So my question is: Do distant relatives want to hear from us? Update: Via Twitter, found this good discussion thread about online contacts. Check it out!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seeking Classmates?

Nostalgia ... I searched for photos of my home town, the Bronx, and came across a number of sites that have, of all things, class photos scanned from yearbooks. The Bronx Board has a photo of me from my Jr High days (back when that's what middle school was called). Most photos come with names of those pictured, so if you're searching for class mates whose full names have become fuzzy in your mind over the years, this kind of search might help.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pappy sailed on the USS Niagara in 1920


Looking at US Census data for 1920, I believe my great-uncle "Pappy" Markell (the nickname used by some of my cousins) served on the USS Niagara, anchored in Mexico during the Census period of Feb. 1920. Thanks to the Naval Historical Center, and a friend with a great grasp of Google, I can post the following image of the Niagara, a yacht purchased by the Navy from Howard Gould of NYC.

Following WWI, the Niagara stayed in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean waters during early 1920s . . . when Pappy was on board. More about the USS Niagara on this informative Naval Warfare blog. Pappy was on back on shore for good, it seems, by 1921 when he married Sweetie.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great-Grandma Tillie

Great-Grandma Tillie Mahler died in June, 1952 at 99 yrs old, if her death cert can be believed (informant was her son Morris, but still...). Morris says Tillie's father was Julius Yaina but in other records, her maiden name is shown as Jacobs. Who to believe? Cuz Ira had this full-length photo of her. She lived to see many grandchildren married--I know because her face is in their wedding photos. Wish I could hear her stories.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great-Aunt Anna

My cousin had always told me that her aunt Anna (my great-aunt) died in 1940, but I had no exact date and didn't follow up--until last month, when I used the excellent Italian Genealogical Group web site's databases to find her among the NYC records the volunteers have painstakingly cross-indexed and made available. I sent for the death cert, thinking it would be months before it arrived. NYC surprised me and processed the request in less than 2 weeks. Now I have Anna's parents' full names and birth countries! And using that, I've already found them in, of all places, Connecticut. More research ahead.

Alas, without Ancestry.com at home. The price was just too dear and I've let my subscription lapse, effective this week. At least my library subscribes so I can always go there to do my research. And I can use Heritage Quest from home, thanks to my state library's site. Too bad about Ancestry but it's priced too high for ordinary folks--Ancestry, are you listening?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day and Dad

As a salute to all the brave members of our armed services, a bit of my Dad's military history. Harold Burk enlisted in Mar 1942 at Camp Upton, Yaphank, New York, "branch immaterial," as a private. He was assigned to the Army Signal Service Corps and was in "Central Europe" and "Rhineland" battles. He's at right in photo taken in Europe, probably 1945.

Discharged in Oct 1945 in Ft. Monmouth, NJ, he went back to civilian life as a self-employed travel agent. Here's to you, Dad, on Memorial Day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dr. Hull Allen

Following up on Allen line, Cousin Larry found the following ancestor info in the 1880 census:

Hull ALLEN, Male W 80 CT Physician CT CT

Susan ALLEN Wife M Female W 75 NY At Home NY NY

Sarah C. ALLEN Dau S Female W 48 CT At Home CT CT

Maria E. STREET GDau [granddaughter] S Female W 17 CT At School CT CT

[via Milford Public Library "Hull Allen Fund"]

Common ancestor on Wood branch of family tree: George ALLEN and Katherine WATTS.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Abigail Allen

Abigail Allen is a 10th cousin of my hubby who first married John Shepherd/Shephard (in 1707) and then, after his death, married Daniel Foote (or Foot), exact date unknown but around 1723.

Vol. 1 of Vital Records of Newtown CT shows the children of Abigail and her second husband Daniel Foote, including Sarah Foote who married James Fairchild. But where did Abigail's second marriage (to Daniel Foote) take place--and when? When and where did Abigail die, and where is her grave located? Next stop on this genealogical quest: CT State Library to check Stratford and Milford records.

Monday, April 27, 2009

John Bickmore

So many John Bickmores! Who's the John in my niece's family tree who resisted the British in 1770s and who, with his wife, signed a petition against the king? That's the Bickmore I want to find so I can verify his Revolutionary War activities, confirm the genealogy line, and Katie can qualify for the DAR.

Here's the limb of this family tree I'm seeking to verify:

George Bickmore (b. 1705? in Norfolk Cty, MA) --> John Bickmore (b. 1731? in Suffolk Cty, MA) -->David Bickmore (b. 1764? in Meduncook, Lincoln county, Maine) -->Samuel David Bickmore (b. 1806, Friendship, ME) --> Martha Jane Bickmore (b. 1842, Nauvoo, IL).

If you've got Bickmore info, happy to exchange. Thanks!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Abigail Allen Foote

Neither my family nor my hubby's family had any connection to CT when we moved here but recently we learned, through his genealogy cousin, that Abigail Allen Foote, a distant cousin, died in 1755 and is buried here. But where? Records about grave stones, collected during WPA era, don't list her name, nor do local church records. Her son-in-law was from a major local family and I can trace him and that line, but not Abigail.

Today I'll go back to the local genealogy room at the library and try to find some trace of Abigail. She's listed in the Foote family genealogy but because she married into the Foote family (in fact, Foote was her 2d husband), nothing other than her parents' names and her children's names are mentioned.

Where are you buried, Abigail Allen Foote?