Sunday, December 24, 2017

Kickin' it with Rachal Mills Lennon and the steel guitar

I was first introduced to the lineage of Margaret Ball in 2008 with the Elizabeth Shown Mills lecture, "Margaret's Baby's Father and the Lessons he Taught me," at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Philadelphia [F-144]. I followed up by reading the 1989 NGSQ piece and other corresponding articles on the Ball family. Southern research is a completely different animal than New England, and learning from the Mills's lessons eventually helped me with my Boone kin. 

When Rachal Mills Lennon was elected to the American Society of Genealogists as its 167th Fellow, I noticed that she had written a genealogy that I had not read yet, so I sought out a copy ASAP. I was not disappointed by this wonderful publication! 

Some Southern Balls from Valentine to Ferdinand and Beyond, published in 1993, is a road map for those of us looking to creatively and concisely document a southern line from beginning to end. Although it has endnotes rather than the footnotes we are used to, the endnotes take on a story of their own -- another story linking the past to the present (endnotes on pages 227-233 because I love any excuse to use Hébert’s Southwest Louisiana Records)! This book includes transcriptions, photostats of original records, maps and proof summaries to the hearts content. 

If you can find a copy of this book, scoop it up. 

I love the steel guitar. It is where Hawaiian music meets up with country (like a metaphor for my Grandma Reba and Grandpa Ned). Check out the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame album and dig Jerry Byrd's "Hilo March." Or Sol Hoopii -- which is wonderful on a cold winter day.

Donna Rachal Mills, Some Southern Balls from Valentine to Ferdinand and Beyond (Orlando, FL & Tuscaloosa, AL: Mills Historical Press, 1993). Some copies are available on Amazon.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, "The Search for Margaret Ball: Building Steps Over a Brick Wall Research Problem," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 77 (March 1989): 43-65.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Margaret's Baby's Father and the Lessons he Taught Me," Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference Footprints of Family History, 2008: F-144. Jamb Tapes, Inc. Out of Print. 

Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, on Amazon.

Sol Hoopii, on Internet Archive, specifically the 78 of "I Like You."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Kickin' it with Ronald A. Hill and Uptown Funk Empire

As autumn rolls in, you may yearn for a great and well documented story to read. If so, Ronald A. Hill's The Tumultuous Achym/Fulford Relationship is definitely worth the search and study.

A series first published in The Genealogist, this genealogy not only follows a Cornwall (England) family, but showcases how to beautifully discuss the many court cases encountered during the research. As someone with a deficiency in transcribing, abstracting and extracting records, Hill's fresh approach to that subject alone made me want to reevaluate my own work so that I could apply the same methodology. His restraint and the applicability of evaluating and producing entries within the genealogy for those records is quite glorious.

This is a great read. It will inspire those considering writing a genealogy. It will also inspire those who want to pursue focused research in Cornwall/England because it provides valuable steps to move forward.

The book, like all good ones, is out of print. A digital version is available here at FamilySearch. You can order a physical copy here or check with your local library. Either way, it is worth the purchase and read.

You can slow it down with some Uptown Funk Empire, specifically, the Empire Strikes Back album. Check out "Boogie" and "Please Mr. Postman."

Ronald A. Hill, The Tumultuous Achym/Fulford Relationship (Star, Idaho: Chaghill Publications, 2003).

Friday, July 21, 2017

Kickin' it with William B. Saxbe Jr. and Gary Lewis and The Playboys

"Although each generational step requires both assumptions and explanations, when taken together those steps tie a scattered and disparate collection of facts into a coherent narrative."
-- William B. Saxbe Jr. "George1 Lane of Rye, and a Lane Line from Westchester County Westward," page 114.

I like reading Saxbe's pieces because most, if not all, of the genealogical cases solved are done with imagination and creativity. Having an open mind to the dilemmas we encounter along the genealogical path enables us to test hypothesis and find conclusions that an algorithm cannot. The abovementioned quote was one of those moments where I realized I would catalog this work in my head because solving the case of several men with the same name, let alone in Westchester County, would come in handy in the future.

Another quote: "Gaps in our knowledge remain, however, and alternative explanations do exist, requiring caution and qualification of all statements." [page 112] Just ponder that for a bit.

Reading both of those quotes and contemplating them, I had the same reaction that I have when I hear "Green Grass," by Gary Lewis and The Playboys. So why not couple the two? Shimmy it out, listen to summer jams and read some studies that have nothing to do with your family.

William B. Saxbe Jr., "George1 Lane of Rye, and a Lane Line from Westchester County Westward," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 18 (April 2017): 111-128.

The Best of Gary Lewis and The Playboys, specifically "Green Grass."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A plea... #grandparentsaremagic

A personal, but audio related post: 

On 30 June 2004, I came within two hours of dying. I had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured my last working tube (the year before, during finals week, I'd had a double blighted ovum which corrupted the other one). Unbeknownst to me, I had been bleeding internally for hours before I began having seizures, and was rushed to the emergency room where I was saved by an amazing doctor that had recently moved to the area to be close to Nauvoo. Having been made aware of my mortality in that way, I chose to make my work my legacy: the articles and books that I have and will produce are like children to me.  And for 13 years, the anniversary of that event, June 30th, became a reflective day; a time to do an inventory of the previous year: accomplishments, goals and what I could do to improve.

On 30 June 2017, I published my first book. I felt like I had finally taken back my tentative sense of self worth on that day to make it an anniversary of triumph. That morning I carried 23 pounds of book to the post office to mail to friends and family. My grandmother was pleased as punch, and I sent her a copy in care of her trusted neighbor because I knew they would likely read it together.

But the next morning, my grandmother passed away. Apart from the sense of loss, I found that losing the last of your grandparents makes you aware of your mortality in a very different way:  it is like time is marching toward you, because they were always that unjaded presence that encouraged you and connected you to the past. When your parents pass (which mine have not) you move closer to being the last left, to being that connection to the past. I was and am heartbroken.

But I remembered a project that I had done with her several years ago and I felt my heart do a leap. Kimberly Powell had posted interview questions on her website, and I had printed them out and given them to my grandma to answer in a journal. She called me and told me she had tried, but that she would prefer to be recorded. I sent her a voice recorder so that she could read the question and then free flow. It was one of the coolest things ever. I have her discussing her childhood, how she found out about her father dying, about her husbands, her adventures; and I have her playing the piano.

When I found out she had passed, I played a recording of her talking to me and playing "Aloha Oe." The part at the end when she says goodbye makes me bawl each time. The eccentric in me pictures her side-saddling a star and riding over a rainbow while waving.

So my plea is to interview now. Audio (MP3 recorders are so cheap these days, and most phones have that capability too) and written interviews of parents, grandparents, siblings and other relatives should be done as soon as you can. Collect while they are able because you cannot interview the dead (you can trust me on that: I have gone through the entire Houdini collection at the Library of Congress).

In the last few years, I have also made a mad dash to get my grandmother's lineages published in peer reviewed journals. One was published in The Genealogist in the Spring, one is pending for NGSQ, and another for The Genealogist is also pending. In her tiny voice, my grandma once mentioned that she thought I preferred to write about my grandfather's side (the Hawaiian) more than hers. I assured her that I didn't, that it was just that his seemed so much easier. Her Boone and Chamberlain lines were some of the toughest pedigrees I have ever worked on. I was able to correct them, and by having them published I could give her a tangible copy she could hold and read.

So fix those lineages now too. Write them out while they are fresh in your mind. And when you do, publish, publish, publish. It is your responsibility to publish lineages now and to share with them with the living, while they are living.

Interview now.
Write now.
Publish now.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kickin' it with J. Horace Round and Ferde Grofé

Antiquated. That is how some might label the work of J. Horace Round, but I would beg to differ. In order for us to not duplicate work and waste time doing something that has already been done (many years before), we must study the past works of other genealogists. Call it an inventory or an audit; when you are about to research a location, a time period, a family surname, or a genealogical problem, it is necessary to understand how other genealogists' related ideas were conceived, articulated, presented to an audience, and then how they became part of the tapestry we now take for granted.

I would love to see how Round would have reacted to the evolution from his "Historical Genealogy" to the glory that is "generational history" proposed by Elizabeth Shown Mills. I wonder if it would be similar to how the public reacted the first time Stravinsky's Firebird Suite was performed! Stendhal syndrome and fetchin' of smellin' salts!

Genealogy is an art and a science; we go by instinct proved by solid logic. But those small movements that start a revolution and change the minds of those around us that may not be appreciated during our blip-on earth. J. Horace Round's book was posthumously published, but we can read and appreciate the grandeur of his bibliography.

In April, my husband and I traveled to England for our 15 year anniversary. One of the many stops was a required day at Lyme Park, also known as Pemberley from the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. (Fun fact: The gardener was a genealogist.) En route we had to drive through the peaks, which was a white knuckle ride to say the least, but once we had time to catch our breath, my husband said, "The Grand Canyon musta blew the tots off them."

Round may have been a British genealogist, with all the waltzes in Europe to accompany his timeline, but how would he have reacted to Paul Whiteman's version of The Grand Canyon Suite? The imagination and creativity that Grofé's work showcases how this next generation of genealogy would unfold.

Paul Whiteman's performance of Grofé's Grand Canyon Suite in 1932 can be downloaded or listened to at Internet Archive (scroll down to Grand Canyon Suite in the alphabetical list).

J. Horace Round's Family Origins and Other Studies can be purchased in e-book format at the Genealogical Publishing Company.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Genealogy in the Information Age: History’s New Frontier?” NGS Centennial: A Special Issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91 (December 2003): 260–77, specifically 260; digital image at Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways ( : 17 June 2017).

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Kickin' it with Gordon L. Remington and Hot Chip

The first Hawaii themed genealogy article I read (four years after it was published) was Gordon L. Remington's "Lost Boys and Imprudent Young Men: Using U.S. Consular Despatches from Hawaii to Track Nineteenth-Century Prodigals," from the March 1996 National Genealogical Society Quarterly. With typical Remington creativity and innovation, Record Group 59 (American Consular Despatches) accompanied by Record Group 84 (Foreign Service Posts of the Dept. of State), was used to establish the timeline of those illusive male ancestors who go off the grid to seek whatever it is that makes ancestors leave their homeland.  What is so cool about using these two record groups in unison is that you can see the original correspondence and the reply --- allowing the entire conversation to be viewed. How often do you see correspondence from one side and wonder what prompted that reply? These are comely records, and Record Groups 59 and 84 show the back and forth. Remington's study provides examples which you can dissect to create a similar research plan that is transferrable to other record groups and research situations:  other military records or civil records from other years could be "Tetris"ed into this methodology.

The article also highlights motives for leaving and motives for seeking. This study led me to the book, The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii by Beth Bailey and David Farber. Although set in WWII, it made me deeply analyze why non-Natives first arrived at Hawaii: the allure, the race relations and then the final product of a multicultural society planted in the middle of an ocean and featuring parallel histories (American and Native). These histories, motives, and truths are on display in Record Groups 59 and 84, and can be seen in other record groups and methodologies if we are open to them.

Hot Chip's DJ Kicks is a good time. There is profanity, so you may want to ear-muff it through some of that, if you think it will bring on the vapors. I will *literally* stop everything I am doing to hear a New Order song, so I was quite pleased to find one of them on there, along with Etta James & Sugar Pie DeSanto's "In the Basement."

For a more General rated listen, check out Ben Bernie on Internet Archive. My personal fav. is "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf [tra-la-la-la-la]."

Gordon L. Remington, "Lost Boys and Imprudent Young Men: Using U.S. Consular Despatches from Hawaii to Track Nineteenth-Century Prodigals," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 84 (March 1996): 28-38.

Beth Bailey and David Farber, The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii (Baltimore & London: John Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Hot Chip DJ Kicks

Ben Bernie discography from 78rmp

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Kickin' it with Cameron Allen and Philip Glass

I was saddened to hear that Cameron Allen passed away earlier this year. The case studies he wrote are pure brilliance, written in a voice that entices the reader to learn more, locate more and evaluate more. My personal favorite is one that he wrote on the Bassano family in The Genealogist in 2009. It begins with a "three-pronged proem," and with lightning speed addresses the genealogical issues that have haunted this lineage for generations, by resolving them one by one with excellent research, analysis and logical composition -- one of many such studies he gifted the genealogical community.

It is a beautiful Spring read to accompany with Philip Glass.

Cameron Allen, "The Bassano Family," The Genealogist 23 (2009): 105-128, 237-255. Back issues can be ordered from the American Society of Genealogists.

Philip Glass, Glassworks.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Kickin' it with Nathaniel Lane Taylor and The Velvet Underground

"The more you make these pictures, the better you shall do them. That is the kind of studying you can do, and from the study of your fellows you shall learn more than from the study of all the text-books that ever will be written.
But to do this you must learn to sit very quiet, and be very watchful, and so train your eyes and ears that every sound and every sight shall be significant to you and shall supply all the deficiency made by the absence of text-books."
                    ---Frank Norris, "Novelists of the Future," The Responsibilities of the Novelist and other literary essays (London: Grant Richards, 1903), 207.

Even if it is not representative of our own lineage, we study the work of others. The esoteric. The works of those that intimidate. We do this because it pushes us as genealogists when there are no text-books on such expertise.

Nathaniel Lane Taylor's publications are the poetic, luscious, deep-rooted works that appeal to the senses in order to study and understand dynasties and kinships in ancient times. Recommended reading available at his website:
"Kinship in the Courts: Testimony of Kinship in Lawsuits of Angevin England."
"Inheritance of Power in the House of Guifred the Hairy: Contemporary Perspectives on the Formation of a Dynasty."
His thesis, The Will and Society in Medieval Catalonia and Languedoc, 800-1200.
There are several excellent book reviews also and when it comes to those, I trust Taylor's authority and insights.

The Velvet Underground surprisingly matches the abundant writing style of Taylor. Of any of The Velvet Underground pieces, I would pair it with the self titled album, mainly because "The Murder Mystery" is my favorite work of theirs (tied with "Who Loves the Sun.")

If you would like more subtle music in the background, I suggest the Hot Pipes podcast. Yes, the Hot Pipes podcast. Try it, you might like it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kickin' it with Thomas W. Jones and Franz Ferdinand

I didn't learn how to read until I was eight years old. When I was in Kindergarten I was diagnosed with a learning disorder, but the treatment was expensive; my daddy was a gandy dancer and my mom was about to have her fourth child at the age of 23 and I was the oldest --- they had to prioritize. I coped by memorizing the order of the words on the page. I memorized the order of everything ranging from streets in my neighborhood to musical notes to conversations:  Memorizing sequences was my compensating strategy. When Mrs. Anderson discovered my ruse in third grade (it was a report on Andrew Jackson that took me down), and taught me how to read aloud and inside, the first book I both read and comprehended was Anne of Green Gables. Now that book was a good time! I have been compulsively reading from that moment on. Memorization worked to eek me through high school (barely) and college, but a semester before I graduated from college, my husband and I were able to finally have me retested for a learning disorder.  With the proper diagnosis of Expressive Language Disorder, and the necessary allowances (quiet room alone for testing), I was able to raise my GPA from below a 2 to 3.6. I have known for years that I process things differently than others, my brain is on hyper drive, creating lists, timelines, references and maps of what I have in front of me. There are only a few items and resources that slow it down to be in the moment, and when I was first studying genealogy (and to this day), the audio lectures and articles of Tom Jones are some of those rare moments.

In the October 2016 issue of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, his article "Two James Greenfields from New England to New York" separates the interwoven timeline and identities of men of the same name, while also establishing a seed of truth in an undocumented online source, demonstrating how important it is for us to trace things back to their original sources (that provenance hunt). This article reminded me why I love genealogy so damned much.

Add some Franz Ferdinand to the mix along with some deep breaths and you will see that everything, everything, is gonna be alright.

The Record, NYG&B to get the most recent issue of The Record. Thomas W. Jones, "Two James Greenfields from New England and New York," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 147 (October 2016): 245-263.

Franz Ferdinand self titled album, Franz Ferdinand.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Kickin' it with Jean Stephenson and Wham!

I have a confession: I am a closet feminist. A few of you have known my secret for a while due to the socks I wear or my past Broad City references here on the blog. I am more of a first generation feminist than a second or third because my feminist leanings focus on education rights and the elimination of double standards. 

I grew up and was raised by factory workers. Men and women worked side by side and they all pulled their weight. It had nothing to do with a certain gender being unable to do something because all performed. I was never told that I would be treated differently just because of my gender and in all honesty, it never crossed my mind until I moved east.

I don't want to earn my place because of a statistical need for a person of my ethnicity or gender. I want to earn my place based on proven ability. It is a point of pride for me -- kind of like how I want to be a breadwinner and am fiercely independent. I want to blow up my balloon of success by working hard, not have the air let out simply because of the way I look. I have never used my body, family or circumstances to not adhere to a deadline because I want to keep that clock going.

As a society and community, we need to support each other. This is not about women rising up against men. In fact, I think women supporting women is something that needs to be more prevalent in society in general. When one woman is undercutting another woman based simply on difference of opinions or something simple like they way they look, we lose focus what we really need to do: support each other and raise the bar.

Jean Stephenson, one of the baddest genealogists you have probably never heard of, wrote a special publication for the National Genealogical Society in 1939-40 titled Heraldry. If you look at the history of heraldry in America and abroad, it was a male dominated field and still is. This was in 1939, people! Jean's knowledge is seen in black and white in this publication and is a must in your genealogical library along with any of her other publications. Study her career and see, clearly, how many glass ceilings she Super-Womaned through.

I was raised on Wham! and was saddened by George Michael's death, so I recommend this gem of a jam.