Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sorting Saturday: New Mystery Photos from the Bronx and Brooklyn

Four more photos from my "unknowns" box. Please take a look at the mystery tab for more "unknowns" awaiting identification. Anyone look familiar? Thank you!
  • A gent with a cigar and topcoat (top row, right), photographed in Brooklyn
  • Two little girls (left column), both probably photographed in the 1920s, judging by their high-button shoes (both in Bronx studios)
  • A dapper gent with dark wavy hair and a mustache, photographed in Beldegreen studios, where the Kossuth Society was photographed.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #20: Capt. John Slatter, "Dileas Gu Brath"

Captain John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) served as bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders in Toronto for 50 years. Although I've written about him many times, today for the first time I saw the three-foot tall photo portrait of him, below, which once graced the officers' mess in the Armory (now long gone).

The 48th Highlanders' museum is located in the basement of St. Andrew's Church on King Street in Toronto. Inside the church is this magnificent stained glass window, testament to the longstanding and close ties between the church and the regiment.

Capt. Slatter most certainly embodied the regiment's motto: "Dileas Gu Brath"--Gaelic for "Faithful Forever." Well into his 80s, he put on his uniform and greeted those of the 48th Highlanders who had served overseas in WWII, upon their return to Toronto.

According to Canadian records, Capt. Slatter's son, Albert Matthew Slatter, also served in the military. During WWI, he was confirmed in the rank of Lieutenant and by 1918, he was a member of No. 4 Company of the 15th battalion. He may have been wounded in the battle for the Canal du Nord (he was reported at a dressing station September 28, 1918)--part of the Hundred Days that led to the war's end.

Today's visit with the wonderful folks of the 48th who staff the museum brought up an intriguing possibility. According to Capt. Slatter's 1954 obit, his daughter Mabel Alice married a man named Davidson.

The first commanding officer of the fabled 48th was John Irvine Davidson, born in Aberdeen, Scotland and a highly successful business man in Toronto. Did Capt. Slatter's daughter marry into this Davidson family? That's a question I'll research as I continue to look for more Slatter cousins.

Here are photos and a brief video snippet of the 48th Highlanders Church Parade, which took place on May 25 this year.

22 second video of the 48th Highlanders parading to St. Andrew's Church

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Writing to Understand Our Ancestors

Today's NY Times has an interview with Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove, Brokeback Mountain, and many other fictional works set in the West.

One reason he writes novels about characters living in Texas in the 1880s is because he wants to understand his grandparents' experience moving from Missouri to settle the frontier of Texas at that time. "In the new land, Texas, they had no time for anything except work," he tells the interviewer. "Of course, they hadn't much time in Missouri either, but Missouri was violent, and Texas was empty. They knew violence, and I suppose that emptiness seemed to offer a better option."

We genealogy bloggers can relate to the impulse to write as a way of getting to know our ancestors from the inside. After all, don't we construct stories to make some sense of the facts we collect about our ancestors? Not all the stories turn out to be accurate, but it's a way of understanding who these ancestors were, what they wanted, what their lives were like, and how their experiences affected their descendants (including us). I'm interested to learn that family history plays such an important role in this celebrated author's professional life!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

NGS 2014: Prothonotary, Census Tips, and Case Studies

With the elusive McClureSteiner, and Rinehart Pennsylvania ancestors in mind, I attended three final sessions at NGS last Saturday.

  • What's a prothonotary? Now I know, thanks to Elissa Powell, and I have a better idea of what kinds of courthouse records to seek out in Pennsylvania. For the 1741 marriage of Robert Larimer and Mary Gallagher, however, Elissa suggests looking for church records (if I'm lucky enough to find something that early).
  • Census tips from Jason Harrison offered a LOT of ideas to try. Here are only a few: (1) Check Ancestry, Heritage Quest, and Family Search, because there may be different transcriptions and different scans of the same pages in each place. (2) Search in a specific town and specific ED, when I know that info. (3) Try the Soundex search in Ancestry. (4) Try * and ? for wildcard searches. (5) Try nicknames, not just name variations. For instance, Nancy might be Agnes, Nan, or Nannie (I had this exact example). (6) Try initials instead of a first name/middle name. (7) Search for other family members or known neighbors, then look at who's living in the same area. 
  • Case studies cited by Tom Jones reinforced how someone else's experience can teach me a new technique or a different way to reframe the question. It's the same with genealogy blogs, not just written case studies in magazines. I've learned so much by reading what bloggers did to break through their brick walls.

Also, I bought the session CD for Henry Hoff's "Research Strategies for Upstate New York." Friends in the audience raved about his suggestions, which I want to try when researching the Bentley and Morgan families from Oswego. His session ran at the same time as Elissa's prothonotary session, unfortunately for me.

For lunch, a small group of us walked to the Jefferson Hotel. I enjoyed a salad topped with a pretty and yummy crispy poached egg. The hotel has its own methodology, but you can get an idea of how to make this unusual egg dish by checking out this site. And like everyone else in Richmond, we had our photos taken with the alligator in the courtyard.

Monday, May 12, 2014

NGS 2014: Looking for Local Info--NARA, Periodicals, Newspapers

Day 3 of the NGS Conference (final attendance: 2,593!) was NARA day for me plus two other sessions about finding my ancestors in local records and newspapers:
  • NARA's finding aids. I've been too intimidated by the scope and diversity of the National Archives site to search it in detail. Pam Sayre says to start on the "Research our records" tab and learn about the online catalog. With her excellent ideas, hints from the Geni Guide (Guide to Genealogical Research in NARA), and the online index at the Archives Library Info Center, I hope to be able to figure out how to get WWI records for my Farkas great uncles, Mahler in-laws, and some ancestors in the Wood line.
  • Federal land tract books. Thanks to Angela Packer McGhie's presentation, I think I'll look into the land records for hubby's Steiner, Rinehart, and McClure farm owners. Among the sites she suggested investigating are HistoryGeo and of course the general land office records from BLM.
  • Maps, maps, maps. Rick Sayre's excellent talk on NARA's cartographic records inspired me to dig deeper into those maps so I can better envision population movements, economic impact, geographic features that affected immigrants' lives, and transportation possibilities. This will be especially helpful in tracing the McClures who left Virginia for Ohio, and the Pennsylvania Steiners and Rineharts. What were the common westward routes and how/when did towns and farms develop? Maps will help me learn more.
  • PERSI and beyond. Don Rightmyer wasn't just focused on Kentucky in his talk about state and regional genealogical periodicals. He reminded me to go back to PERSI on a regular basis and also check HeritageQuest and Find My Past for periodical listings to articles about everything from cemeteries and published obits to photo identification and social activities of our ancestors.
  • Criminals, soldiers, apprentices, and the news. Josh Taylor had the audience smiling and nodding as he described the databases we can use at Find My Past for locating British Army personnel (hello, Slatter great uncles), news articles about criminals and scoundrels, workhouse records, and apprenticeships (Shehen and Slatter family?). My local Family History Center has access to Find My Past, Fold3, and other databases--can't wait to get there and do more research!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

NGS 2014: Pennsylvania, Yearbooks, and Scotch-Irish (Again)

Day 2 of the NGS conference and my notes are getting more and more crammed with nifty websites and tips:
  • Looking for Steiners and Rineharts and Larimers in Pennsylvania . . . and I learned a lot from Kay Haviland Freilich's session. Might try the Presbyterian Historical Society, for instance, and definitely have to check out the Pennsylvania State Library and Archives (and other state archives).
  • School district records may help fill in some gaps in my research for several families, thanks to Pam Stone Eagleson's talk today. Privacy issues make this type of research a big challenge, but I'll try in Toledo, Upper Sandusky, and other Ohio communities where Wood ancestors lived. Yearbooks would be ideal so I can see what ancestors looked like!
  • Scotch-Irish research is still on my list, and Vic Dunn's session "From the Old Dominion to the Buckeye State" perfectly described the journey taken by John McClure and his wife Anna McFall McClure who left Virginia and moved to what became Adams Cty, Ohio in the early 1820s.  

NGS 2014: Scotch-Irish and Runaways and Mining the Data

Highlights of NGS 2014 from yesterday:

  • Vic Dunn speaking about "The Scotch-Irish from Pennsylvania to Virginia and Onward." I wasn't the only one scribbling or typing quickly to take down all the research ideas he mentioned! And his syllabus names several top books to read for more background. I'm looking forward to his talk today about Scotch-Irish movement from Old Dominion to Ohio--the journey my husband's McClure and Larimer ancestors took.
  • Michael Brophy speaking about "Irish Genealogy" including the Scotch-Irish from Ulster, with more ideas such as searching the Pennsylvania Gazette for ads seeking the return of runaway Irish immigrants who were indentured servants. The Larimer who was hubby's ancestor journey-taker from Ulster had to be rescued from his shipwreck--he wasn't indentured, was a paid passenger--and was forced to work off the cost of the rescue. He supposedly walked away from his harsh master to start his new life in America after many months of toil. Maybe there's a record?! You know I'll be checking!
  • David Rencher speaking about "Mining the Destination Data." This was an excellent session demonstrating how to wring every last bit of info out of every document and clue. He even exported records from a cemetery's database, resorted by section, and tried to reconstruct the family plots of an Irish family named Shea in an effort to see the connections between possible siblings and in-laws. Impressive and inspiring!
  • Several trips through the exhibit hall, a half-hour well-spent listening to a Family Search specialized search demo, and one genealogy T-shirt purchase (a gift).

Monday, May 5, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #19: Mary Gallagher, from Ireland via the Kishacoquillas Valley

Hubby's granddaddy, Brice Larimer McClure, wrote this note about his ancestry some 70 years ago. The note says that Robert Larimer--born in the north of Ireland--married Mary O'Gallagher or Gahaler in American about 1741 or 1742. Robert and Mary are hubby's 5th g-grandparents. He's the Larimer who was shipwrecked (I've written about it here).

From the well-researched book "Our Larimer Family" by J.C. Work and A. Work (available as a digital download here), I know Mary and her husband Robert lived in the Kishacoquillas Valley of Pennsylvania. This valley was settled from the 1720s on by Scotch-Irish folks.

A search for the valley AND the name "O'Gallagher" turns up essentially nothing, but searching for the valley AND "Gallagher" turns up a number of entries. These may be clues that Mary's name was actually Gallagher, from a Scotch-Irish family.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Discovering Our Connections

With pleasure I want to introduce Corinne Mitchell and her new blog, Discovering Our Connections. Corinne really knows her way around Canadian genealogy, particularly the Drouin Collection on Ancestry--which is how we met

Over the years, Corinne has noticed some transcription errors in Drouin records and submitted corrections, including one about a Montreal Berk relative of mine. When I found this correction, I clicked on the pencil icon to contact her, wondering whether there was some family connection. No, we're not related, but Corinne is passionate about genealogy and gracious in sharing what she knows.

Now I'm following Corinne's blog and her adventures in discovering family connections from Eastern Europe and North America. She has some fascinating family stories, lots of old photos, and documentation galore. Can't wait to see who she discovers next!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Surname Saturday: Rineharts and Steiners and Larimers, Oh My!

These surnames from hubby's family tree will be my main focus during sessions at the NGS conference:
  • Rinehart - Joseph W. Rinehart (hubby's 2d great-grand) was born in Pennsylvania in 1806, died in Nevada, Ohio in 1888. When did the Rinehart family get to America? Who were Joseph's parents? Sessions on Pennsylvania and possible German connections might help!
  • Steiner - Jacob S. Steiner (another g-grand of hubby's) was born in Pennsylvania in 1802, died in Crawford County, Ohio, before 1860 (he's not in that census). Where/when did Steiners come from? Who were his parents? Elizabeth Rinehart married Edward George Steiner in 1851 in Crawford County, OH (see above).
  • Larimer and O'Gallagher - Robert Larimer (hubby's 5th great-grand) was shipwrecked enroute from Northern Ireland to America. Was he part of a family of Scotch-Irish immigrants? What is the family connection between the Larimers, the Shorts, and the Works? They held an annual reunion for several years in Elkhart, Indiana, and intermarried. Robert Larimer married Mary Gallagher (or O'Gallagher) in Pennsylvania. Where were the O'Gallaghers from and when did they arrive?
  • Smith - Brice Smith (hubby's 4th great-grand) was born in Cumberland Cty, PA, in 1756 and died in Fairfield Cty, OH, in 1828. He was the first Brice we know of in the family, but not the last. Supposedly his father Robert Smith was born in Limerick, and Robert married Janet "Jean" in 1751 in Limerick. What's their story--why and when did they come to America? Sessions on Irish genealogy may help me research the Smith family.
  • Bentley and Morgan - Still looking for the origins of William Tyler Bentley, born about 1795 in upstate New York, and his wife Olivia Morgan, also from upstate NY. Were they originally from England? Session on UK research might help.
  • McClure and McFall - Still trying to find siblings for Benjamin McClure, son of John McClure and Ann McFall, who married in Rockbridge cty, VA, in 1801. Sessions on Scotch-Irish immigration will help me trace these families from Pennsylvania to Virginia and especially beyond.