Let’s Talk About: Tom Jones & Puzzles

Most genealogists know who Tom Jones is, genealogist extraordinaire with decades of credibility and standing. The Eastern Washington Genealogical Society was privileged to have him teach us for our May society meeting.

His presentation title was Building A Credible Lineage Despite Multiple Research Barriers and he took us through a case study step-by-step. Here are my summary notes from that class:

  1. To solve a research problem, you have to define, outline and dissect the problem and the research steps to solve said problem. “The scatter-shot approach to research using your mouse is easy to do but with that approach you likely will not solve the problem.” he said.
  2. “You must search ALL the pieces from ALL the pertinent sources, pull out appropriate pieces (facts) and study out how they fit together,” he said next.
  3. “And how to know when you have enough information?” Tom quizzed us, and pointing to a zigzag puzzle, answered, “If you have enough pieces to show what the puzzle IS, then you don’t have to have every single pieces.”

Tom Jones was teaching some 60 members of the EWGS that while it’s good to strive to have every single puzzle piece, and every single genealogical fact, know that you will not be able to find every single fact you seek due to a large variety of reasons.

We all agreed; with the inspiration from Master Teacher Tom Jones, we just might complete our family history puzzle before we cross that bridge. Maybe.

Let’s Talk About: A Whale of a Tale

I picked up a 2004 issue of Nostalgia magazine and the blurb right on the cover caught my eye:  “A Whale Visits Spokane.”  Wwhhaaaatt?

Author Peggy Cunningham (a past EWGS member) wrote how in the summer of 1930 her Dad loaded up the family and off they went to Spokane to see the whale. Let Peggy tell the story:  “As I remember it was a warm day and Dad let us off by the railroad station. Mom paid for us, maybe ten cents each. Following the “SEE THE WHALE” signs, we soon were caught up with the rest of the crowd. When the pace of the crowd began to increase, we followed and soon smelled the reason for their hurry. We could see the (railroad) flatcar completely covered with the huge smelly carcass! With hankies to our noses we hurriedly looked and then made a hasty retreat to meet Dad.”

Peggy explains the beginning of this “whale tour.”  “The whale tale started in Massachusetts in 1930 when two friends happened to find a dead whale washing ashore on a local beach. Seeing an opportunity to make some money, they rented a railroad flatcar, pumped the monster full of formaldehyde, hoisted it onto the flatcar, and went from town to town charging admission to see the whale. They made sure that local papers in the towns along the route where they were planning to stop received an enhanced story……. their bonanza ran out when an unendurable odor began to rise from the corpse. (They soon) made a decision to call it quits, rolled the whale off the flatcar onto a vacant lot near the railroad tracks and buried it under a scant three feet of earth.”

This same photo appeared in the Nostalgia article but was taken about 1913 in Florida. Guess there were more than one “whale on tour.”

In 1930 my husband’s father was living in Spokane. Wonder if the family also went to see the whale?? Did somebody in your family?

Let’s Talk About: Cemeteries

Did you realize that there are more than 4.1 million people buried in the 167 national military cemeteries of U.S.? This includes personnel who died on active duty, as well as veterans (with other than dishonorable discharges), their spouses and dependent children. The National Cemetery Administration’s Nationwide Gravesite Locator at https://gravelocator.cem/va/gov  allows searches for burials in the national cemeteries and some burials in private graveyards. This from David A. Norris’ article in the Jun-Jul 2021 issue of Internet Genealogy.  And did you know this factoid:

25 American military cemeteries

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) has tried to keep a tally. They created and maintain 25 American military cemeteries located in 10 foreign countries, including France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, and Tunisia.

Closely related to the topic “cemetery” would be “burials.” Here are two I photographed near Kona, Hawaii, last February; think they’re on Find-A-Grave?

Let’s Talk About: Scandinavian Research

Sharon Fowler, a dear friend of mine, just completed the FamilyTree course on Finding Your Scandinavian Ancestors and she graciously shared some of her notes with me for you all. (Family Tree University: Find Your Scandinavian Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, $99.00. The text to accompany the course was The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Norway and Sweden by David Fryxell, 2019.)  Anyhoo. A most interesting bit of trivia was the 3-part list of common surnames in each country:

Denmark                                   Norway                                     Sweden

1-Jensen                                   1-Hansen                                   1-Johanson

2-Nielsen                                 2-Johansen                               2-Anderson

3-Hansen                                  3-Olsen                                    3-Karlsson

4-Pederson                               4-Larsen                                   4-Nilsson

5-Andersen                              5-Andersen                              5-Eriksson

6-Christensen                           6-Pedersen                               6-Larsson

7-Larsen                                   7-Nilsen                                   7-Olsson

8-Sorensen                               8-Kristiansen                            8-Persson

9-Rasmussen                                      9-Jensen                                  9-Svensson

10-Jorgensen                            10-Karlsen                                10-Gustafsson

In skimming this list, did it catch your eye that both the Danish and Norwegian surnames end with “EN” and the Swedish names end in “ON?” Interesting, no?

History:  Early Scandinavian immigrants settled in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania but set their sights on the Midwest as early as the 1830s. Why? The region offered opportunities and unclaimed land. Chicago became both a destination and a jumping-off point for the immigrants.  Why did they come? Religious freedom, economic opportunity and simple survival. (The Irish potato blight in 1845 soon spread to Norway; I didn’t realize that fact.)

The Swedes headed to Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota

The Norwegians headed to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North/South Dakota…then on to

      California, Washington, Oregon and Texas

The Danes headed to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas

They were a literate lot; all three groups had official state Lutheran churches. Scandinavian newspapers sprouted and flourished.

When we think of early New York City we think “Dutch” but the borough of the Bronx was actually named for a Scandinavian. Jonas Jonasson Bronck, a Swede, brought 90 immigrants to New Amsterdam in 1639. For this, he received a grant of 680 acres which became known as Bronck’s Farm, then Broncksland and ultimately the Bronx.

Let’s Talk About: Trivia

** Every coin has two sides. The front is called “heads” and, from early Roman times, usually depicts a country’s head of state. The back is called “tails,” a term possibly originating from the British ten pence depicting the raised tail of a heraldic lion. (Our Daily Bread, April 2020)

** In 1787, Benjamin Franklin designed America’s first penny, often referred to as the Fugio cent. Fugio, Latin for “fly,” was stamped on the coin next to an elaborate sundial with a shining sun overhead. The ever-pithy and quick-to-quip Franklin was sending the message that time flies.” (Boyd Matteson, Deseret News)

**Did you realize that thanks to DNA, they are still identifying veterans’ remains after 80 years??  William Eugene Blanchard, age 24, serving on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, went down with his ship on December 7, 1941, in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Once remains were found, the soldier’s son provided DNA samples which identified him. Blanchard had been buried in the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu but will be reinterred in Tennessee. I found this a heart-warming story. Wonder if it would work on Civil War remains???

** Vonnie’s ring. That’s what I call this next photo. Vonnie is a dear friend living here in Spokane. She has 6 children and many grandchildren. She also has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. During a lunch together recently, she was talking about all she was going to do “before it’s too late to think of what to do.” She showed me this photo of her mom’s wedding ring set. Their wedding day and time is written in the lid of the box. Vonnie is giving this NOW to her eldest daughter. Giving it NOW while she can still enjoy the giving.

Does this spark ideas in any of you????

Let’s Talk About: Yearbooks

Lesson for you here:  if in yard sales, garage sales, flea markets or thrift stores, you come upon discarded high school or college yearbooks (the older the better), rescue them and contact the folks at e-yearbook. You can check yourself to see if they have or don’t have the ones you just found.  What a good pay-it-forward thing to do. Here’s how it works: You find old yearbook; you check the website to see if they already have that one; if they don’t, you email and ask do they want; you measure and weigh the book(s) and they will send you a postage paid sticker!! Such a deal. Note: they do not include really new ones for the privacy situation but they will take them for future adding.

Let’s Talk About: Freebies!

FREE Genealogy Cheat Sheets

Download a variety of easy-to-use, free genealogy cheat sheets created by genealogy expert Thomas MacEntee of GenealogyBargains.com

Please SHARE these 2-sided cheat sheets with your genealogy friends and fellow genealogy society members!

©2020, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Let’s Talk About: Chief Dan George

“If you talk to the animals, they will talk to you. And you will know each other. If you do not talk to them, you will not know them. And what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.”

Born Geswanouth Slahoot, known as Dan Slahoot, on 24 July 1899 in North Vancouver (Canada), the boy’s name was changed at age 5 when he entered a residential school. Dan George was well known for his poetic writing style and in 1974, George wrote My Hearts Soars followed by My Spirit Soars in 1983 (both available today as The Best of Chief Dan George). He was also an actor, appearing in several movies. Dan George was the band chief for a dozen years of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet, North Vancouver. He died 23 September 1981.

Canadian actor Donald Sutherland narrated the following quote from his poem My Heart Soars in the opening ceremonies o the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver:

The beauty of the trees,

the softness of the air,

the fragrance of the grass,

speaks to me.

And my heart soars.

Why do I share this with you today??? We often hear quotes from Chief Seattle but other Pacific Northwest chiefs shared words of profound wisdom to teach us yet today.

1950 Census……….. Will You Help Indexing?

Surely you know that the 1950 census will be released to us eager genealogists on April 1st. But if I understand correctly, the U.S. Census Bureau will then release just the IMAGES and it’s up to “we the people” to do the indexing so we can use this new resource. FamilySearch.org seems to be spearheading the indexing project (like they did for the 1940 census, remember?) and to that end they are inviting both individuals and groups/organizations to participate. Why not help with this “pay it forward” project? Click to www.familysearch.org/1950census to read how YOU can help.

I think perhaps we can work on indexing the place where our ancestor lived (or heck, where I lived, age 7 in Kalamazoo, Michigan!!!) or work on a state as a group………… why shouldn’t we Washingtonians “do” our state??? By genealogy society groups perhaps? I have already registered my group, the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. We be ready to help!