Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review of "The Art of Creative Research"

Those fortunate (or wise) enough to be members of the Association of Professional Genealogists and now read the December issue of the APG Quarterly, which includes numerous relevant articles for serious genealogists, as well as my review of Philip Gerard's The Art of Creative Research: A Field Guide for Writers. The general title is correct -- the book has applications well beyond genealogy -- and my misgivings about some passages don't change the fact that there is a lot to learn here and a lot of good stories as well.

For those who have occasion to look online for the complete list of my genealogy articles, the best way is to look here.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Two provoking new books

Here's a book and a blog that might be of use to genealogists focused on the southern US and/or African-American ancestors. So far I have only seen the first blog post. Court records may be the least efficiently used of readily available sources in genealogy! And blogging is a cool way to tempt people to read your big book.

Speaking of books about history, on a whole 'nother level, here's a review of James C. Scott's Against the Grain, one that could turn your mind inside out.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Census entries that have "DOOM" written all over them, and some good reading

Joseph M. Burdock [Burdick], 1870 U.S. census, Chicago, Cook Co., Ill., Ward 14, p. 582, dwelling 1455, family 1657: FIRE INS. AGENT.

Robert G. Turk, 1920 U.S. census, Binghamton, Broome Co., N.Y., Ward 3, Enum. Dist. 18, sheet 8B, dwelling 167, family 230: FOREMAN CITY STABLES.

What's your most doomed occupational find?

In other reading . . .

. . . the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society's blog takes a look at haunting forms of decease in old New York.

. . . those who appreciate the Napoleonic Era nautical-historical novels of Patrick O'Brian may want to check out a New-York-based novel set half a century earlier. One reviewer called Francis Spufford's Golden Hill "the best eighteenth-century novel since the eighteenth century."

. . . if you'd like to have a long leisurely dinner with a historian who knows all about what went on in the US between 1815 (end of the War of 1812) and 1848 (end of the Mexican War), you're out of luck. But you can read the book What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The sheriff's granddaughters

My step-grandmother's grandfather Samuel James Lowe (1798-1851), an immigrant from England, was sheriff of Cook County in the 1840s. He had two wives and thirteen children.

In the September issue of Indiana Genealogist, I tell the story of his two youngest daughters -- Mary Alice (Lowe) Amerman 1848-1943 and Kate (Lowe) Gilbert 1850-1928. They grew up in Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois, and spent most of their adult years in and near East Chicago, Lake County, Indiana.

They were among the pioneers there: Kate's husband published the first newspaper and was the first postmaster, and was involved in a real-estate boom that somehow passed them by. Northwest Indiana was a lightly settled frontier 117 years ago, but a frontier with a difference: it was just a train ride away from Chicago's Loop.

This family has a lot more stories but they won't fit into an article!

“Pioneering in Chicago, Onarga, and Northwest Indiana: Lowe, Amerman, and Gilbert Families,” Indiana Genealogist 28 (September 2017): 5-16.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Just when you think you've got the whole family . . .

Few things genealogical are more fun than finding a probate that reveals a supposed bachelor marrying, fathering five children, and dying -- all within the 1880-1900 "little dark age." Without the probate they and their mother would have been difficult or impossible to find. We're talking Pennsylvania here, no marriage records. And so far this branch of the family appears not to have been in communication, even though it was one of the few who remained in Erie County. Did somebody have a quarrel?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Five generations of New York women

Ye fair that cast on this an eye
By me a pattern take and
Spend your time industriously
And such a sampler make
Polly Holmes her work done
In the year 1824

Polly Homes did not live to see 25, but she is the 5G grandmother of our granddaughter. The sampler she stitched 193 years ago survives, a little faded in parts. I tell the stories of her five generations of non-living female descendants in the July 2017 New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. Cuddle up with a copy and see what you think.

Samplers were a part of schooling at that time, and to some extent an insurance policy: wives marked their linens, and many a widow or grass widow plied the needle for a living. Books and surveys have been published based on samplers, some of which are beautiful and some of which document family trees. For more, check the informative and illustrated books by Betty Ring, Susan P. Schoelwer, and others. For now, I'm just happy to have these Holmes-Denison-Crandall-Burdick-Bassett female lines documented: just as much a family as those who share the same surname every generation. And thanks to NYGBR retiring editor Karen Jones for  being willing to publish a "cross-grained" lineage.