Saturday, April 30, 2011

Every wedding is a royal wedding

"In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future."
- Dr. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, at the wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011

I was queen for a day six years ago today. Happy anniversary to my own sweet Prince William.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Deep down, we wish we were British

HRH Prince William of Wales and
Catherine Middleton married April 29, 2011
I am not a Royal watcher or a Monarchist. I am from Missouri, a state in a country where we do not have Royals...in fact, many men died to ensure that we would not have a Monarch. Yet, even I, and probably millions of my fellow ex-Britons (albeit 235 years ago) sat and watched today's royal wedding, riveted to our televisions. I heard several commentators ask the same question throughout the coverage: why are Americans so enthralled with this wedding?

It is because deep down, we wish we were British. We wish we had an opportunity to celebrate with such pomp and circumstance. There are many things that Americans can stand for and stand behind: the Statue of Liberty, our beautiful national parks, and just plain "being" American. Yet we do not have a singular institution with such robust history and ceremony. We don't have grand ceremonies, and if there are some at our nation's capital, we're not invited to them. As a young country, we can not even fathom the history behind the British Royal crown.

Yes, today may have just been a wedding. But it was also a time to celebrate the history and heritage of Britain and the one thing every member of the country can stand behind: the Royal family.

Today was a day for all Britons to stand behind the Union Jack and just be proud to be British. And I, for one, will be British for a day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our National Parks - Tuesday's Tip

My family and I just returned from a terrific vacation to Orlando. To get there, we drove 900 miles across six states. We always budget quite a bit of time for our drive to and from our vacation spot because we inevitably find great places to stop. On this particular trip we drove through Vicksburg, Mississippi so we had to stop at the National Park Service's Vicksburg National Military Park. One of my Civil War ancestors, Samuel O. McGuire, was captured by the Union just east of Vicksburg at the Big Black River.

We were not able to stay long at the park because we arrived around 4 p.m., just prior to closing, but we had a wonderful time viewing the park movie, visiting the gift shop and driving the self tour around the park. Our tour of the park reminded me of the importance of National Parks in preserving our history, and in turn, helping us to relive our ancestors' experiences. When I learned that my ancestor was captured outside of Vicksburg, I began reading many books and stories of the battles there, but those accounts are nothing compared to walking the land. I was able to see the steep hills, feel the heat and see the trenches (which are still there) that he had to contend with. None of which I could grasp through a book.

Started in 1916, the National Park Service manages 84 million acres of land, 2,461 national historic landmarks, 582 national natural landmarks, 393 national parks and 40 national heritage areas (as of 2008). The Service's mission is "to care for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage." That is a mission that should be near and dear to any genealogist's heart. Walking through any one of our National Parks or Landmarks is a phenomenal way to walk in our ancestor's footsteps and should be considered when planning research trips or vacations.

For more information about the National Park Service, explore their website. Each of the larger parks and landmarks have their own page with historical information and numerous photographs.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Family Vacation

I can't help but sing "Holiday Road" today as my family prepares to embark on the pilgrimage known as The Family Vacation. There is something so horrible and wonderful in those words. We are avid travelers, and avid travelers with our children, so the idea of being in a car for hours on end is nothing new, or dreaded. This will be our first vacation as a family of four, though, so it will be a new dynamic.

Our adventure will take us to Orlando, Florida, which also happened to be the location of the first family vacation I remember as a child. I'm not positive how old I was, but I believe I was almost four as the vacation includes some of my first memories. It was my first plane ride and I remember the blue and green shag carpet in our hotel room. We also went to the beach and collected a million seashells.
My mother and I hunting for seashells. I love my dad's foot in this photo!
It was also my first and only visit to Walt Disney World. I vividly remember It's a Small World. I also remember my dad telling us a story of riding a roller coaster (Space Mountain?) with my brother. As they rode through the mountain part Dad could hear a kid screaming and elbowed my brother, "Wow, listen to that kid!" Turns out the kid crying was my brother. (I will note that my brother heartily refutes this story).

My most poignant memory of Disney World was my encounter, or lack there of, with Mickey Mouse. My main objective was to meet Mickey Mouse. I was still young enough to be riding in a stroller and after searching for that dodgy mouse for a very long time we finally came across him. I could see him in the distance like a shining beacon of happiness. My parents quickly motored my stroller towards him, but it seemed like we were moving through molasses and everything slowed in motion. He turned, we made eye contact. The moment was nearly here. And then, without so much as a wave, Mickey turned and went in to a building. I was crushed, and have clearly never recovered. And like a good fishing story, this one grows a little each time I tell it.

Unequivocal joy. Taken somewhere in Florida, possibly Disney World
I remember returning home with Mickey Mouse ears that were embroidered with my name...and that I wouldn't take off. But the best memory of all is the pure joy that this adventure brought to me. There was nothing better than flying away with my family for a respite from the everyday. I only hope that my children's memories are half as sweet.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The enigma of the "Perhaps" ancestor

I have a title for many ancestors in my tree: the "Perhaps" ancestor. This title is awarded to those ancestors that may or may not actually be related to me and that I may or may not have any substantial information on. These "Perhaps" ancestors really drive me crazy because I just can't bring myself to coin them full-fledged ancestors without better proof.

One such ancestor is Robert Cutler. Robert may belong to my Cutler line, that first appears in America around the 1850s in Richland County, Ohio. My known ancestor is James Cutler, but I have not been able to find much on him, other than a few census records that indicate his birth in England in 1815. Knowing that James Cutler immigrated from England, I did a search for arrivals to the United States born in 1815. I came across the manifest below, which indicates that a Robert, James and Bartha (?) Cutler arrived in May 1833 on a ship named Eliza.

The age fits James, and the closeness in ages of the other two leads me to believe they were related in some fashion, perhaps brothers or cousins. I call this the "perhaps" manifest. So I looked for a Robert Cutler in Richland County, Ohio...and eureka, there was one! Also from England, I might add. I can only find this Robert on the 1850 census in Ohio. I also found a declaration of intent for a Robert Cutler in Richland County in 1859; it states that he immigrated in May 1834. That is pretty close to the "perhaps" manifest I found. The 1850 census I found states that Robert is married to Esther and has one daughter, Sarah.

In searching for more records on my "perhaps" Robert, I come across a death record from Morrow County, Ohio. It lists the following information:
Name: Cutler, Robert
Birth Place: Wheatacre Parrish, Norfolk co., England
Birth Date: Aug 1808
Spouse: Esther Evarts
Marriage Date: 1837
Marriage Location: Belleville, OH
Children: Sarah
Death Date: After 1880
Death Location: Morrow co., OH
Other Notes: Spent his twenties as a bookkeeper on the Chiswick estate in St Thomas, Jamaica/ became absolutely disgusted with the slavery system

Belleville, Ohio, their place of marriage is in Richland County, Ohio. And Esther's maiden name, Evarts, also appears in Richland County. The information and many of the dates fit my "perhaps" Robert. Could this Robert Cutler be related to my James Cutler? If they are indeed brothers, was James born in Wheatacre Parrish as well? Perhaps.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On TV: "Civil Warriors" - Tracing the Civil War through descendants

Once again my constant channel flipping has introduced me to a great show. Yesterday I came across "Civil Warriors" on the National Geographic Channel. It re-creates the Civil War through the words of those that lived it and follows their descendants as they see what the war was like through their ancestors eyes. Not only is it fascinating to hear the first-hand accounts of the war, but the producers have turned historical photographs in to "video" of the time period. I very much enjoyed the episode I watched. It is not so much a "genealogy" show, but more a historical look at the war through first-hand accounts. Sadly, there will only be three episodes. For more information on the show, albeit not much more, check out the National Geographic Channel website.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sesquicentennial of the beginning of the American Civil War

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. It also marks the beginning of four years of remembrance of a very dark period in American history. It was four years of horrendous death, loss and anger, but also of monumental steps toward the freedom of African Americans and the creation of a stronger Union as a whole. I have so many ancestors that participated in the Civil War on both sides of the conflict that I could not hope to list them all here, but I will be spending the next four years covering their participation in the war through a series of posts entitled Civil War Remembered. These posts will track each ancestor through the next four years as if we were 150 years in the past. Through these posts I hope to have a better understanding of the sacrifices and the time that each Soldier and family invested in the conflict.

HTML code for opening links in new windows - Tuesday's Tip

Web page Design 101 would teach you that when inserting a link in to your website or blog that connects to an outside web page, you should always have the link open in a new window. By doing this, you are able to keep the viewer connected to your page, while still offering helpful links. If the web link opened in the same window, the viewer would be navigated away from your page and may not come back.

Doing this entails editing HTML code...never fear, it is easy. The following directions show the process within Blogger, but the essentials are the same across platforms.
To start the process add your links via your blog program. In the example above I have highlighted the first link. In this instance I have directed my readers to a previous post on my blog through a hotlink on the word "here." In order to have this open in a new window you must find the link within the HTML code. Shift modes from "compose" to "Edit HTML." In Blogger, you do this by selecting the tab circled in the image below. I have highlighted the same hotlink of "here" as it looks in the HTML code.
The HTML code for this link begins with ") to tell the computer to open the link in a separate window. Find the word or phrase that you have linked to an outside website within the code. In this example it is "here." Look just prior to the hotlink and you will notice the ">" symbol. We will insert our new code just before the greater than symbol. Cut and paste the following code in to that space: target="blank". (Note: Do not put the period in the code)
Do this for each link in your blog post and be sure to test it when complete to make sure it works. You can also insert this code into links to images to ensure they open in a new page. Blogger pulls the images we upload from the Picasa website. In order to set your embedded images to open in new windows, insert them the same as you would your web links and then find their associated code within the Edit HTML window. In the example below I have referenced the image of a screen shot.
This is how the image looks in the Compose mode of Blogger. Switch to the Edit HTML mode and you see the code below.
All of the highlighted code pertains to the image. It tells the web program how to place the image in my blog. This may seem intimidating, but the only code we need worry about here is that which pertains specifically to the location of the image link, as highlighted below:

Note that this HTML code looks similar to the code for a web page link. The "href" attribute in the beginning of the highlighted code specifies the destination of the link. Essentially, this code is telling the program where to find the link for the photo (the Picasa web site) and the amount of margin to leave on each side of the image, which is based on the template of my blog. Within the brackets of this portion of code is where we will insert our code indicating that the image should open in a new web browser window (target="blank").

The above image shows where to insert the code. As with the web links, be sure to test your links before posting. I have found that the Preview option of Blogger does not always allow me to test links so you may need to publish your blog post to effectively test it. 

To read more about HTML code visit W3Schools.com, a great resource that outlines HTML codes and shows what each attribute and tag does.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bounty Land Records - Military Monday

David and Mary Reed were my fourth great grandparents. I have written here and here about my search for more information on David's service in the War of 1812. I have received David's pension file, or rather, his wife's widow pension and from those documents I learned that David and Mary had received land from the government due to his service in the military, known as bounty-land warrants. Bounty-land warrants were tracts of land issued by the government to entice volunteers to enlist in the military as well as to reward those that did serve. Mary filed for her widow's land in April 1858 under bounty land warrant act March 3, 1855.

Recently I received a copy of Mary's bounty-land file, which I requested through the National Archives (using Form 85C). Similar to the widow's pension file, this packet of documents is a wealth of information. It included the following documents:

- "Form of Declaration: To be made by the widow of a deceased person who has had a land warrant, and desires another." Long name for a great form. It includes the couple's marriage date and location, her MAIDEN name (score!), death date for David and her signature.

- A declaration from Mary's mother, Elizabeth Bryan, and her sister, Esther Morris, attesting to her marriage to David Bryan.

- A copy of a sworn statement by David Reed that outlines his military service to include when and where he enlisted and what companies he served in.

I was not originally going to order these documents, I mean, how much money do I need to give the National Archives anyway...seems like I am constantly ordering things from them. But Mary's widow pension file referenced her bounty-land warrant many times as providing proof of her marriage so I had to order it. The bounty-land warrant documents have now provided me proof of her marriage to David in December 1820, her maiden name and her mother and sister's names. I had found family trees online that listed Mary's maiden name as Bryan and now I have documentation for that. The cost of the copies was $25. Money well spent.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What I've learned from WDYTYA

The NBC television show Who Do You Think You Are just wrapped up its second season. It tracks famous individuals as they are paired with genealogists and historians to trace their family roots. I must admit that I really enjoy watching this show, despite some of the leaps in reasoning and proofs. There is something wonderful about seeing someone that is not a family historian or genealogist get excited about the same documents that would floor those of us that are avid researchers.

My family is full of farmers, small business owners and military veterans. There are no famous people, no one that will be remembered 100 years after they are gone. "Salt of the Earth" is what you may call my people. While their lives may not be exciting or fit to print (as I have found out much to my chagrin) it must be remembered that it is just these type of people that make the world go around. My farmers and businessmen and veterans and the women that supported them ARE the world. Famous people, criminals, all the individuals that make up some of the fascinating stories on WDYTYA are only a very small majority of the population. The television show does feature the stories of "everyday" people and for that I am grateful. It is those stories that are the most realistic and the most similar of the families of the viewing audience.

What I have learned from Who Do You Think You Are is that I should continue to celebrate the everyday-ness that is my family. Their lives were important and valid and it is up to me to bring them back to life.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Something great about Home

This past week I was visiting my family in Richmond, Missouri, a small town just east of Kansas City, Missouri. My mother and her parents and their parents were all born and raised in Ray County, of which Richmond is the county seat. I also had the opportunity to drive through Kansas City itself. I was born and raised there as was my father and his parents.

There is something so great about home. I have not lived in Kansas City since 2003, yet it will always be my home. I never have to look at a map while I'm there. My father took care of that when I was learning to drive...even earlier than that. Every time we went anywhere he would insist that I tell him not only the streets and highways we were on, but also the direction we were heading. Even after I left KC my friends would call and ask me how to get somewhere.

All of my firsts happened in Kansas City. First steps, baseball game, kiss, prom, job. I honestly don't remember my first kiss, but I do remember my first job. I worked in the Small Mall at Antioch Center, a shopping mall in Kansas City North. The small mall was a tiny building inside the shopping center where children could go and buy gifts for their families at Christmas. The gifts were things like erasers and small plastic toys, but the kids loved it. I hated it as I didn't like children, and I was soon moved to gift wrapping. I just read that Antioch Mall was set for demolition...another of my childhood memories gone.

If nothing else I am as loyal as a cocker spaniel. Especially when it comes to my home. We may not have won a sports championship since 1985, perhaps our city is blighted by well, blight, and perhaps we'll always be a town where folks from the east thinks cows still roam our streets. But we have the best damn bar-b-cue in the country, a beautiful skyline and really friendly people. Taking a drive through town always makes me misty eyed. It's my home and I wouldn't have it any other way...other than to still love there.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Help from my Friends Friday - Paganos on the 1900 census

I am starting this new blog prompt as a way for genealogy bloggers to get help from fellow researchers on their smaller brick walls. Every once and a while we all need a little breather from our own research and this prompt is meant to get you to think for a moment about someone else's brick walls. It might just give you a fresh insight in to your own research. It is ideal as a prompt for some of the smaller genealogy bricks that need a fresh set of eyes.

I have spent all morning searching for the Pagano family, which I wrote about here, on the 1900 census. Actually, I've been looking for them on this document for a couple of years, but this morning was my most recent attempt. I refuse to believe that they were not counted. I have tried every trick I know for census searches: searching by first name only, searching by the mother's maiden name, searching page by page near every residence the family ever lived at. I even tried Steve Morse's great census search engines, but I got nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I may have found Filippo or Philip Pagano:
In this household is a Filippo Pagant, born January 1880 in Italy, immigrated in 1892 and was working as a barber. My Philip Pagano was a barber all his life, was born in January 1880 in Italy and immigrated in 1892. The Filippo on the census is listed as living at 264 W. 35th Street. In 1910, my Philip Pagano lived just blocks away at 422 W. 35th Street. It seems like too much of a coincidence to set aside, but I have no proof.

But what about the rest of the Paganos? The father, Salvatore, died in December 1899, so he is out of the picture. That leaves his wife, one son and two (or three) daughters to find on the census. Here is the information I have on the rest of the family:

Maria Rosa (Cassata) Pagano - wife of Salvatore, born in Italy circa 1858; immigrated circa 1896; also documented as Rose Pagano, Mary Pagano and Marie Pagano.
John Pagano - second son of Salvatore and Mary, born in Italy January 1883; immigrated circa 1897; given name is Giovanni, but found on all American documents as John.
Josephine Pagano - daughter of Salvatore and Mary, born in Italy March 1891; immigrated circa 1896; given name is Guiseppa, but listed on all American documents as Josephine.
Mary Pagano - daughter of Salvatore and Mary, born in New York City in 1899.
There may also be a third daughter, Concetta, born circa 1888.

All of the Paganos are listed on the 1910 census (except for Salvatore and Concetta) living together at 422 West 35th Street, Manhattan, New York. Later they move to the Bronx. Salvatore lived at 224 Chrystie Street, Manhattan, when he died in December 1899.

You may ask why is the 1900 census so important to your research? Well, frankly, it's not. It will not advance my knowledge of the family much more but I refuse to let it beat me! I appreciate any thoughts you may have on ways to put a beat down on this census and drag my Paganos out of it.