Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Than Meets the Eye,.....

     In my perpetual search for clues for the origins of my ancestor, Allen Ives, I often collect data on the family of his step-father, Benedict Singer, and for Allen's half-brothers, Benjamin F. and Francis Marion Singer.  I make a point to visit the website frequently, and browse through any records of interest.  They add new online materials regularly.
     Recently, I was reminded of the need to look further than how an item might be described in a title.  The example?  A record collection described with the following title:  United States, Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903.  In the paragraph below the title,  giving more detail, is the following qualifier, "Some cards may include War of 1812 veterans.  The gravestones were provided between 1879-1903."
     Sure enough, when the surname Singer was entered into the search box, the name Benedict Singer appeared among the results.  He was buried in Somerset, Indiana in 1870.  Further information indicates that he served as a private in the 1st Regiment of Pennsylvania Militia.  Cemetery:  Mount Vernon, Somerset (Wabash County).  Date of death is simply 1870.  At the bottom of the card is a stamp that says Lee Marble Works, and a hole has been punched in the rest of it, but there's clearly a date that says March 29, 1902.
    When I first looked in this resource, I was only expecting to find "Union Veterans" from the Civil War era, perhaps someone from the next generation down.  Instead, I was reminded of the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover."


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Genealogical cloak and dagger: who knew?

From the 100th-year anniversary issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly comes the following anecdote.  Who says genealogy is a dry topic?

Writing about former editor George Ely Russell, it states:  "In 2011 George Ely Russell credited Milton Rubincam's always punctual and perfectly typed book reviews for keeping him on schedule and for almost getting him fired from his day job.  Each quarter Russell, a married government employee with a top-secret security clearance, would stand on the sidewalk outside his office and accept a package from an attractive young woman.  Resulting speculation that he was a spy receiving secret documents taught him to keep delivery of Rubincam's book reviews away from his business address."

Rutland County, Vermont letters: David Bates family

     I recently attended the annual banquet and conference held at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston.  Special guests were Michael & Kitty Dukakis, who spoke about their experiences as the children of immigrants, and of their recent European trip in search of their ancestral origins.  The keynote speaker was Professor Bryan Sykes, noted geneticist, who unveiled his newest book, DNA:USA - A Genetic Portrait of America.
     There was enough time during my visit to spend three days in the wonderful NEHGS research library, the scope of which is much broader than New England.  Seeking information which might add to my knowledge of my ancestors on the move, I made a point of combing the online card catalog before I left home.  I made note of the following manuscript:

Call #Mss C451 "Letters addressed to David Bates at Poultney, Rutland Co., Vt. Correspondents include his son David Bates; Josiah Reed; Silas Gould; Rachel (Loveland) Partridge; and others. The Bates and Reed families moved from Vermont to New York about 1815. Their letters discuss travel and living conditions, family matters, spiritual piety, the acquisition of land, and farming conditions."

     None of these people are my direct ancestors (that I know of!), but I thought their experiences might reflect that of my own family during the same time period in the same locations.  The letters range in date from I think 1809 to 1817.
     I was able to handle the actual 200-year-old documents carefully, wearing gloves and using a library card to turn the pages.  There are 11 letters, some easier to read than others.  A very small digital camera, used without a flash, enabled me to record the image without doing any damage.  Some other details I was able to glean were the towns of Castletown(ton), Rutland Co, VT, Poultney, VT, what may be Worthington (unknown state), Auburn, New York, Phelpstown (New York), and Murry (Murray), New York.  Besides the names mentioned in the catalog citation, I saw both David Bates Sr. and Jr., Ruth G____(illegible), a comment from Rachel Partridge who states "mother is not very well and Philips is in a poor state of health," Belinda Bates, Ebenezer Partridge, "Uncle James (Bates?)," and  Eunice Bates, who may be the wife of David Bates, Jr.
     One comment gives an idea of the heavy labor involved in moving to an uncleared location:  David Bates, Jr. writes to his father, "I have chopt twenty acres of land."
    The more complete picture that can be gained by seeking out these absolutely unique sources is well worth the time and effort.