Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why Do You Do Genealogy, #5

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Genealogy tip for today:  Why Do You Do Genealogy #5: Mysteries!

Do you like to put puzzles together on a cold wintry day, or work the crossword puzzle in the paper?  How about watching a mystery movie or reading a book? There’s something in a genealogist that wants to figure out the puzzle called family, or solve the mysteries handed down from generations. As we mentioned in the beginning of this series, chasing down your family stories and information satisfies a basic human characteristic: curiosity.


Genealogy tells me who I am, where I came from. It fills in the missing facts, fits the pieces of the puzzle together so you can see the big picture when it all comes together. There are many factors that fall under the ‘mystery’ column: it can resolve confusing family trees or data found in family bibles, or in family lore.


It can solve a family mystery about – say – Grampa and why we don’t have any more information about him after 1937. Sometimes that “silence” about a family member screams louder than all the talk at family get-togethers.


I asked a grandmother one time about her father. You could tell the pain was still there well into her 80’s from his abandonment when she was a young child. She wouldn’t tell me anything about him. He was persona non-grata as far as she was concerned. So I had to find out the hard way, but I still found out. I found new cousins, as well.


Maybe there was a family dispute – “You owe me $500”; “No I don’t. I paid you back.”  Ooooooo, money, that’s a good one. One part of our family moved 3 states away over a money dispute. When that’s the case you may not find out that reason unless it was passed down in oral family stories. But one can always speculate. It’s not apt to be documented unless it went into court cases. The less serious ones will probably have to be explained by assumption or as a possibility or family whispers.


Here’s a reason folks probably don’t often think of: missionaries, or the ministry. Another family in my tree moved 7 states away back in the 50’s. They didn’t really disappear.  But if you have a family that can’t be found maybe they went into the ministry. Even 50 years ago, we didn’t have the immediacy of contact and communication like we do today. It was a letter, an envelope and the mail man that kept folks in touch. When it came from half way around the world, it was easy to lose touch for that reason.


Or maybe there was a bad habit of which was disapproved. Alcohol and other vices sometimes led to disinheritances and disappearances of the rejected family member. The mystery may not be disappearances of relatives. But if one is disinherited, sometimes that can be a mystery as to why. Searching wills, maybe even land records may give reasons for the action of the deceased upon his heir. (It can be surprising what you find in land records – often more than just actual land records.)


I had a distant grandfather who put in his will that one of his sons could not receive his inheritance until he had forsaken his wicked and worldly ways. He had an alcoholic in the family! That might also explain why the son’s sister-in-law was so into the Temperance Movement, even served as chaplain.


Did you inherit a beat up, dirty old trunk full of letter, diaries or journals? Setting out on the journey to research its author can help you put those pieces together. Maybe Marta came through Ellis Island from Poland or Ireland and had only a quarter in her pocket and all her worldly goods in a cloth bag. It could be letters sent to her that you now have; or the journals or stories she wrote.


Why did she come to this country? Did she come with someone? Did she leave any family behind? Where did she go when she got here? What did she mean when she wrote ‘such and such’? Did she ever find happiness and a new life in the new land? Oh the questions we can ask. Jumping into genealogy helps to find the answers.


Was your mother named Marta after this ancestor? What does that tell you about the first Marta? What does that say about your grandmother that named your mother, Marta? What does that say about your mother, Marta? This can provide some understanding for that honor. Usually there is significance for a namesake. What is it?


As you can see there are a number of mysteries, or a number of reasons for mysteries. Researching your family tree can most usually give you the answers. We may not always find all the answers we are looking for, but we will certainly find more than what we had when we started.


History – it’s who we are; Genealogy – it’s who I am!



If any of these posts are helpful drop us a line in the comments section below. We just want to know if the information we provide to you is helpful in anyway.


Lorenzo Medici
Giuliano Medici


Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano succeed their father, Piero de Medici, as rulers of Florence, Italy.
France cedes to Spain all lands west of the Mississippi–the territory known as Upper Louisiana.
Illinois admitted into the Union as the 21st state.
The French defeat an Austrian army at the Battle of Hohenlinden, near Munich.
Frederick Douglass and Martin R. Delaney establish the North Star, and anti-slavery paper.
Confederate raiders attack a Federal forage train on the Hardin Pike near Nashville, Tenn.
Confederate General James Longstreet moves his army east and north toward Greeneville. This withdrawal marks the end of the Fall Campaign in Tennessee.
Major General William Tecumseh Sherman meets with slight resistance from Confederate troops at Thomas Station on his march to the sea.
The U.S. Supreme Court orders Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) leaders extradited to Idaho for trial in the Steunenberg murder case.
The United States expels German attaches on spy charges.
French commander Joseph Joffre is dismissed after his failure at the Somme. General Robert Nivelle is the new French commander in chief.
The Allied Conference ends in London where they decide that Germany must pay for the war.
The League of Nations orders Greece to pay an indemnity for the October invasion of Bulgaria.
British reports claim that German soldiers are being trained in the Soviet Union.
The Chinese close in on Pyongyang, Korea, and UN forces withdraw southward.
The National Council of Churches asks the United States to halt the massive bombings in North Vietnam.
The State Department proposes the admission of 10,000 more Vietnamese refugees to the United States.
Eleven are dead and eight injured in a mad rush to see a rock band (The Who) at a concert in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Toxic gas leaks from a Union Carbide plant and results in the deaths of thousands in Bhopal, India.
Presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev announce the official end to the Cold War at a meeting in Malta.
A test engineer for Sema Group sends the world's first text message, using a personal computer and the Vodafone network.
Representatives of 121 nations sign the Ottawa Treaty prohibiting the manufacture or deployment of antipersonnel landmines; the People's Republic of China, the US and the USSR do not sign.
First manned rocket aircraft delivery of US Mail takes place in Mojave, Cal.
Suicide bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, kills 25 people, including three miniseries of the Transitional Federal Government.
Gilbert Stuart

Gilbert Stewart, portrait painter.
George B. McClellan, Union general who defeated Robert E. Lee at Antietam and ran against Abraham Lincoln for president.
Carlos Juan Finlay, Cuban epidemiologist.
Joseph Conrad, Polish-born novelist (Heart of Darkness, Nostromo).
Sven Nykvist, Swedish cinematographer.
Jean-Luc Godard, French film director (Breathless).
Paul Crutzen, Dutch chemist.
Abimael Guzman (Presidente Gonzalo), leader of the Shining Path Maoist guerrilla insurgency in Peru.
Morgan Llywelyn, American-born Irish author noted for historical fantasy and historical fiction novels, as well as historical nonfiction (1921, the War for Independence); received Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year award (1999).
Ozzy Osbourne, singer, songwriter, actor; member of the influential rock band Black Sabbath; an MTV reality show, The Osbournes, followed the lives of the singer and his family (2002-05).
Rick Mears, race car driver; three-time Indycar national champion (1979, 1981, 1982).
Daryl Hannah, actress (Blade Runner, Steel Magnolias).
Terri Schiavo, who became the focus of a 15-year legal struggle over the question of artificially prolonging the life of a patient, Schiavo, whom doctors had diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state.
Holly Marie Combs, actress, TV producer (Charmed; Pretty Little Liars TV series).
Prince Sverre Magnus, third in line of succession to the Norwegian throne.







verb tr.: To disdain or scorn.


From Old French desprisier (dispraise), from Latin pretium (price, worth, or reward). Ultimately from the Indo-European root per- (to traffic in, to sell) which also gave us praise, price, precious, appreciate, appraise, and interpret. Earliest documented use: 1480.


"And disprize them [jingles] as we might, they are an art form."
James Parker; Let Us Now Praise... Jingles; The Boston Globe; Dec 6, 2009.

Quote for the Day
It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine, philosopher and writer (1737-1809)




Today’s Recipe
Holiday Cooking
Candy Cane Fudge



2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes
1 dash red or green food coloring


Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, and grease the foil.
Combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until almost melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth. When chips are completely melted, stir in the peppermint extract, food coloring, and candy canes.
Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill for 2 hours, then cut into squares.




Now You Know!