Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 22 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

From Geneabloggers:

1. Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas?

Did I? I'm embarrassed to say 'no' -- though I plan to this year, since I'll be in town. Did others? Yes. My grandmother would go lay wreathes on many of the graves, and knowing my grandmother, probably with clippers in hand to trim back any overgrown evergreens obstructing some of the tombstones.

2. How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

Our family gathers every year around Christmas for a party. To honor those passed, we tell stories, laugh, and raise a glass in toast to them. As for me, I like to get a bottle of my grandfather's favorite champagne (when I can find it) to share with family and/or friends around the holidays.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The footnoteMaven's Tadition of Blog Caroling

footnoteMaven is challenging us to blog our favorite Christmas Carols for Blog Caroling.

There are several carols I love for different reasons, but I think my favorite is The Little Drummer Boy. I don't think I've ever heard a version I didn't like, but the version by the Harry Simeone Chorale is tops in my book.

YouTube offerings of this carol didn't have wonderful accompanying visuals, but I like this one because my parents had an album with similar cover art back in the day, and I can still picture it when I hear the Harry Simeone Chorale sing The Little Drummer Boy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 4 - Christmas Cards

From Geneabloggers:
"Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?"
It's all about photo cards in my family. My grandmother always hung the photo cards she received on a ribbon by the fireplace, and then around doorways, or in a china bowl when the prime fireplace real estate was full. My mother and her siblings have adopted similar practices.

I don't think I have any cards sent by ancestors, but what I do have are photo cards they received from other families. After Christmas, my grandmother would usually place a selection of the photo cards received in her scrapbook, labeled for the year. I have several scrapbooks with such pages in them, the earliest of which (in my possession) probably dates back to the 1950's.

Do I still send Christmas cards? Some years. This year I should, since I have good photos from summer trips that rate a photo card this year, but my procrastination seems to be getting the better of me. Maybe there's still time...

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What are your d'Aboville numbers?

I'm back after a sizable dry spell. Randy Seaver has another Saturday Night challenge that uses your genealogy software to calculate d'Aboville numbers. See his post and instructions at Genea-Musings.

To summarize, Randy asks us to calculate our own d'Aboville numbers for the lines of our four grandparents, from the earliest known ancestor.

I've calculated what I think are d'Aboville numbers. Reunion doesn't use the term (that I can find), and these are called (in Reunion-speak) 'Legal Numbers'. But the numbering scheme seems to closely match the definitions of d'Aboville numbers that Randy identified. [See Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Wikipedia] The numbers are organized by generations, using periods to separate the generations, and does not change numbering for more than nine children. What Reunion's Legal Numbering system does, that neither definition above indicated, is add lowercase letters for generations where there is more than one marriage. First marriage = a, second marriage = b, etc.

Here are mine:
  • From Stephen Greenleaf (1652-1743) -
  • From Thomas Joseph McCormick (1850-1905) -
  • From Peter Worrall (b.1719) -
  • From John Cadwalader (1677-1734) -
How I did it:
  • Numbers can be made viewable on the family cards by navigating to Reunion Preferences and adding the "numbering" field to the default view.
  • Navigate to the ancestor for whom you want to calculate the numbering scheme.
  • Under the 'Change' menu, click 'Numbering'
  • Select the 'Descendant' tab
  • Select 'Legal Numbers'
  • Confirm the source individual. If you navigate to a married couple, you can select either spouse as the source of descendant numbering.
  • Click 'Assign'
  • Numbers are now viewable on each persons card.
All four numbers are viewable on my card, in the order in which I assigned them, separated by commas. What is less clear is if there's an easy way to remember which is which, should I forget. But it's also easy enough to clear them and recalculate.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Same Birthday as Yours?

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has this for this week's fun:

1) Is there a person in your genealogy database that has the same birth date that you do? If so, tell us about him or her - what do you know, and how is s/he related to you?
2) For bonus points, how did you determine this? What feature or process did you use in your software to work this problem out? I think the Calendar feature probably does it, but perhaps you have a trick to make this work outside of the calendar function.

There are no relatives in my tree who share my birthday. But I know there is at least one whose death date is my birthday. So in order to test the "Find Anything" feature in Reunion, I ran my birthday, 6 Oct, through as a death date.

Reunion has a pretty handy search feature called "Find Anything". I start with the conditions, "Death Date" "Is" "6 Oct" and get a single return, Lewis Kitchel Bridge my 4th great grandfather who died 6 Oct 1846.

My go-to feature in Reunion for finding things is "Find Anything". So given Randy's instructions, I decided to see what Reunion has in the way of a Calendar feature. I found Reunion's Calendar feature under the "List" menu and was able to select setting to retrieve all birth dates in the month of October:

Reunion returns exactly what is says it does -- a handy list of people whose birth dates are in October, including people who I know (or suspect) were born in October but for whom an exact date is not yet known:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tech Tuesday - Ancestry's Person Viewer Solves a Mystery

So in the last day or two, I've been interested in the launch and subsequent reception of's Labs, one item of which is their new Person View feature. Person View seems intended to aggregate "the most likely evidence" of one person on one page, including data from records and trees from, as well as including related Web records.

So of course, I had to try this and see what I got. To my great surprise, Person View answered one of my minor mysteries, but introduced an interesting data error/bug.

My test search was for Lewis Kitchel Bridge, my 4th great grandfather who lived in New York City in the early 19th century, dying in 1846. The Bridge family has been my family of focus in recent months, as I'm trying to get proof on the identity of Lewis' wife and the mother of my 3rd great grandmother, Adeline Bridge Stone.

Anyway, I searched for Lewis Bridge, male, born in 1799, father's name of Kitchel, and received a single page of results. The item that caught my eye, was near the bottom of the page, and was a listing of web records for Lewis K. Bridge, Jr. (son of Lewis Bridge).
The entry links to the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn and lists Lewis Bridge Jr.'s death date as 7 Nov 1874. So I hopped over to the Green-Wood Cemetery and searched their burial records to find the following:
I've been trying to determine the current burial location of the Bridge family for some time. The key here is my use of the word current. Green-Wood Cemetery's records list note the 7 Nov 1874 date as a burial date, not a death date, which is correct as the Bridge family was moved there from the New York City Marble Cemetery in 1874.

I found the interment records on the NYC Marble Cemetery Web site some time ago.

The interment records listed at NYC Marble Cemetery include a removal date, and the removal date for the Bridge family is 7 Nov 1874 -- the same date they were buried at Green-Wood Cemetery.

I've been wondering for a while if they really were no longer at NYC Marble, and if not, where they were relocated, and am glad to finally find out. And I admit I never would have thought to use a tool like Person View to uncover this information -- I think I got lucky in that respect.

But back to the data in Person View. My issue here is that Person View is displaying a burial date as a death date.
And in this case the burial date in Green-Wood Cemetery isn't even close to the actual death date. Lewis K Bridge Jr. was interred in the NYC Marble Cemetery 14 July 1863, having died 10 July 1863. Yet the data mapping in Person View (information being pulled from Green-Wood and displayed elsewhere) reports a death date of 7 Nov 1874 -- the date the family was moved from one cemetery to another.

In all fairness, I have not gotten records from either cemetery beyond what is available on their web sites, and am trying to harmonize some interesting potential inconsistencies in the family plots. I think Person View has great potential, and I got lucky with my search in that it answered a question I had, but I think there are still a few bugs to work out.

Tombstone Tuesday - John Ruckman Fell

John Ruckman Fell
1 Jan 1858 - 15 Nov 1895
St. Thomas Cemetery

First husband of Sarah Drexel, John Ruckman Fell died of cerebral apoplexy in 1895 in Philadelphia, leaving his wife and four children Amanda (b.1880), Mae (b.1884), Frances (b.1887), and John (b.1890).

John Ruckman Fell at Find A Grave

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer

Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer
1860 - 1929
St. Thomas' Cemetery
Sarah Drexel Van Rensselaer at Find A Grave

Sarah Drexel was my great-great grandmother, daughter of financier (and 3rd great grandfather) Anthony Joseph Drexel. She married first, John Ruckman Fell in 1879. After his death in 1895 she married Alexander Van Rensselaer in 1898.

I create an entry for her at Find A Grave tonight, inscribing what is on the grave stone, though I'm not entirely certain the birth date is accurate. I confess it's been some time since I've done much research on her, but have a niggling feeling the August 28 date, might not be correct, and I've yet to find evidence to support the date. I mentioned in my post on Alexander last week that I have a copy of their marriage license. However, there's no birth date on the license for her -- only her age -- 37 years.

Alexander Van Rensselaer signed the license 18 Jan 1898. If Sarah Drexel Fell was 37 years old on that date, she could have been born at almost any time in 1860. Anyway, more work to do here.

As is usually the case with these little entries, this isn't near enough information to do my ancestor justice.

Picasa for Image Management

Last Tuesday I was full of grand plans to upload gravestone pictures to Find A Grave for Tombstone Tuesday. While trying to resize my images to meet Find A Grave's requirements, I got frustrated pretty quickly with some of the intricacies and oddities of my current software (which shall remain nameless).

So I downloaded Picasa as an alternative. I like that it's free and works with Mac, but I really had no expectations otherwise. In the little playing with it I've done in the last week, I see that it has tremendous potential for organizing photos and may well assist me with efforts to better identify and organize what I've got on my machine.

I'm still not sure about editing capabilities, but I don't do a great deal of image editing. My immediate needs are resizing and organization, which Picasa seems to be able to deliver.

I got my images resized and uploaded to Find A Grave and am ready to move forward with other family memorials.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bits and Pieces - Assorted Death Certificates and the Clues Therein

I find it curious that the highlight of my day is receiving a death certificate in the mail. I'm not saying this is abnormal, but simply an interesting observation of where my current interests lie.

In the past week I've received three death certificates for ancestors in my paternal line, and while none of them provided huge clues or broke down brick walls, they all had little bits of value.

Adeline Emma Bridge Stone (1827-1855). Given the little information I supplied on the request form, I'm actually surprised I even got this. Considering that my 3rd great-grandmother died in 1855, there was little additional information on the form, but it is a record from New York City in the mid-nineteenth century. I've been working on determining the definitive identity of Adeline's mother, and had half-heartedly hoped this might help. Sadly it didn't. But it did answer another of my questions... What caused her death at age 28, leaving my great-great grandmother motherless at age five? Answer: pneumonia.

John Stoddard McCormick (1889-1948). I really wasn't looking for answers with this one -- more to bring his documentation full circle and complete as much as possible. One piece I've gone back and forth on with my great-grandfather is the year he was born. The month and day, December 8, has been consistent, but other information has pointed to either 1888 or 1889. His death certificate lists 1889. He was born in Connecticut, not New York, so I suppose my next step is trying to track down a birth certificate.

Margaret Gilligan McCormick (1851-1927). I love having this one. I struggled for quite a while to prove that Margaret was John Stoddard McCormick's mother and my great-great grandmother, and I cherish every piece of information that links us together. My great-grandfather, Dr. John S. McCormick provided the "personal and statistical particulars." This tells me her father was John Gilligan, born in Ireland, and her mother Katherine, also born in Ireland. Unfortunately, Katherine's last name is hard to read or even guess at. But it's a tidbit I didn't have before.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Alexander Van Rensselaer

Alexander Van Rensselaer
1 Oct 1950 - 18 July 1933
St. Thomas' Cemetery

Alexander Van Rensselaer was the 2nd husband of my great-great grandmother, Sarah Drexel Fell. Many of my maternal ancestors are buried at St. Thomas, and while I have a good start in getting photographs of their graves, I have a number yet to locate. Alexander's stone is the first in the group of photos I have on hand, so as I've been a bit lazy about posting of late, thought I'd get started.

I need to go back and get a better look at this stone, as well as several others nearby, as the dates are quite hard to read. I strongly suspect the birth date on this stone might be wrong.

It looks like the birth year on this stone says 1851, but I've got a copy of his marriage license to Sarah Drexel Fell, which says he was born in 1850, and I'm using the date from the marriage in my genealogy. (And I'm kicking myself for not being more detail oriented when I shot this photo last year -- lesson learned.)

On a side note, I had grand plans for this post, which I'm hoping will get me back on track with my genealogy blogging. I'd hoped to get Alexander's Find A Grave entry up, but I'm having trouble resizing the images appropriately, which is frustrating me no end. Anyway, here's the link to Alexander Van Rensselaer's entry at Find A Grave, images forthcoming (though not likely before midnight at this point).

And the article on his death from the New York Times that I'd hoped to link to seems only to be available for a fee. Hopefully next week will be better.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Elsie's Hideaway

In June I wrote about Stonover Farm and our family visit to a place that had a deep connection to our past. This week I received an email from someone who also has a connection to Stonover Farm. In his honor, I'm posting this tidibt from our visit.

Rumor has it (rumors I've heard, anyway) that this little cabin nestled in the woods above the farm was the writing hideaway of anthropologist Elsie Clews Parsons.

The Parsons family has a deep connection to Lenox. My family is related to them through marriage, and I admit I don't know quite enough to know what Elsie's ties to Lenox were, but regardless, it's a beautiful little gem of a place tucked away in the woods with a wonderful (possible) history.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mapping Genealogical Data - The Albany Cluster

A few weeks ago, a colleague introduced a group of us at work to a resource called Dipity ( Dipity is a timeline tool capable of hosting images, video, and text, presenting the results in one of several formats: standard timeline, list, flipbook, or map.

As soon as I saw this, I started imagining how I could try it with genealogical data. I find the ability to map historic events the intriguing part of this resource and for quite a while I've been wanting to find a way to visually associate genealogical events with geographic points.

One of the timelines I've been working on is Genealogy Data Mapping. This is a pretty basic use of Dipity, where my timeline is entirely text-based and consists of genealogical events I could associate with specific dates and locations.

The first thing I tried mapping was census data. I liked the idea of this in order to visualize my ancestors' residential patterns -- places lived and approximate length of time spent in a given place before moving on. Census data has two specific data points to map: (1) an exact date, taken from census form images, and (2) location - city/town, county, state. On the surface this works, but the problem I had was capturing the richness of the family data in a census. Who exactly was I mapping and emphasizing -- the head of household? The family group? One of the children in his/her life over time? I played with a few census time/map plots, but the dissatisfaction frustrated me. Perhaps with a better defined goal for my census timeline, say mapping individual ancestors irrespective of other family members listed in the same household, I'd have better luck. But I decided to move on.

Dipity allows you to enter/map a specific street address in addition to basic city/state geographical data. Thinking about this, I realized I had another type of genealogical data at hand with date/location points -- city directories. I've used the Albany City Directories for the past couple of years to research my paternal grandmother's ancestors, establish relationships, and pinpoint death dates between censuses. As such, I had a nice little set of addresses tied to specific individuals for specific years. I realize city directories technically include an entire family/household, but the entry in the directory itself is for one person, and multiple independent adults living in the same household (borders, extended family, etc.) appear to be listed in the directory individually.

Using my city directory data, I was able to map a interesting cluster in the downtown Albany area:

My McCormick and Gillespie ancestors did a fair amount of moving around Albany in the early part of the 20th century. I found it interesting to see the actual locations of the addresses and noticed patterns of residence. Even though the families moved several times (if not quite often), they tended to stay in specific areas -- the Gillespies particularly tending to reside within the same few blocks. (Clicking on each pin point on the map will bring up the Dipity entry.

I do wish there was a way to color code the entries to distinguish families in the map view, but for a free tool, it's not bad and I think has some interesting possibilities for projects. My next Dipity project will use images to present a standard historic timeline of a single family line.

Genealogy Data Mapping timeline

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Knowing Your Neighbors

I've heard it said in genealogical research that one should pay attention not just to the family you're researching, but to their neighbors as well, who often turn out to be family members. I'm also reading Buzzy Jackson's book, Shaking the Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist, and Jackson emphasizes the same point a couple of times. Nevertheless, a basic genealogical research tip I should be well aware of came sneaking up on me.

So last week I mentioned in my post on mapping Windyside that one of Richard and Adeline Greenleaf's neighbors with whom he agreed on the situating of the residences was Henri Braem. I found out recently (well before writing the post last week, but still recently -- within the last month) that the Braems were in fact relatives of the Greenleafs.

My research into Adeline Emma Stone Greenleaf's family has focused almost solely on the Stones - her paternal line. Mrs. Henri Braem, nee Emily M. F. Bridge, was Adeline Greenleaf's aunt -- the sister of her mother, Adeline Bridge Stone.

I really haven't paid much attention to the Bridge family, but they've recently sucked me into a bit of a research challenge which I'm greatly enjoying. But that's another post (or several).

So what's my point here? I'm not sure there is one, but there were a few related things niggling at my brain that I needed to put down:
  1. Windyside
  2. A recent connection with a distant relative through the Bridge family
  3. Buzzy Jackson's book and the tip on neighbors
I guess I feel like the connection to the Braems is something I should have mentioned in my last post, since I knew about it, but failed to take in all the details of what I was writing about. I'm not sure I'm explaining myself very well, but maybe this is enough of a mental jolt so I'll remember to take a better rounded view of the individuals next time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Visualizing History - Mapping Windyside, Lenox, Massachusetts

Last night I wrote about the music room at Windyside, so tonight onward with a little more about the Greenleaf ancestral home, Windyside, in Lenox, Massachusetts. I was tempted to title this post for "Madness Monday," largely because I'm frustrated in not being able to better organize my thoughts in my posts on Windyside than for any other reason.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned one of the first books in which I read about the Greenleaf cottage in Lenox, Jackson and Gilder's Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930. [1] The book has a nice chapter on Windyside, which among other things, contains the following tidbit:
"Windyside was one of three neighboring houses constructed along the newly created Yokun Avenue in 1874-75. A gentlemen's agreement between the three new owners--Greenleaf, Danish consul Henri Braem, and New York lawyer John E. Parsons--accounts for the positioning of these houses at staggered intervals, allowing each an unobstructed southern view"--p. 40.
Not long ago, release the U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918. [2] An 1894 map illustrates nicely the three properties -- Parsons, Braem, and Greenleaf -- and shows the staggering of the houses.

Judging from the positioning of the properties, I'd guess that south is to the left. I rotated the orientation of the map to make the wording more readable, and in the original image, what is now the left side was at the bottom, though there was no key indicating direction on the original image.

[1] Jackson, Richard S, Jr., and Cornelia Brooke Gilder. Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930. New York: Acanthus Press, 2006.
[2] U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various publishers of County Land Ownership Atlases. Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - The Music Room at Windyside, Lenox, Massachusetts

I wrote in an earlier post about my mother's family ties to Lenox, Massachusetts, which I'd known about for as long as I can remember. What I discovered a little more than a year ago was that my father's family also had ties to Lenox, and were "cottagers" about the same time as members of my mother's family. This spring I returned to the Greenleaf ancestral home at Lenox and was able to walk in spaces I'd read about and researched in the past year.

Richard Cranch (1845-1913) and Adeline Emma Stone Greenleaf (1849-1936) lived much of the time in Lenox at a cottage on Yokun Avenue called "Windyside." The Lenox Greenleafs are one of my favorite family groups to research, largely because the New York Times covered much of Lenox society in their day, bringing these people to life in a way I haven't found in other sources.

Among the events covered in the Times were concerts and musicales given by the Greenleafs in the music room at Windyside. One notable architectural feature in the music room is a huge terra-cotta fireplace. I discovered this feature first in Jackson and Gilder's Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, where they describe the fireplace as "a notable ornament in the history of terra-cotta ornament in America." [1] American Architect and Building News published a photograph of the fireplace in the January 31, 1885 issue:

The fireplace is described as "16 feet wide, 12 feet high, and 8 feet deep, ... executed in terra-cotta by the Boston Terra-Cotta Company." [2]

In September 1890, the New York Times reported:

"Mrs. and Miss Greenleaf gave one of the most enjoyable and successful germans of the season at the great Greenleaf cottage to-night. The house was beautifully decorated. The great music room was decorated with palms and tropical potted plants. The great fireplace and mantel, the largest and most elegant in Lenox, were decorated handsomly with autumn flowers and foliage." [3]

In September of 1883, the Times mentions a morning musicale and the only piece I've found thus far to mention the music room's organ:

"Mrs. Richard C. Greenleaf gave a musicale Wednesday morning, when Adamowski played. He was assisted by Mrs. John I. Kane and Mr. R. C. Dixey. This is the first time that Adamowski has been in Lenox this season. Among the selections that he played were a gavotte by Carl Berg, Hungarian Dance by Natchez, novelette composed by himself, prelude to the 'Deluge' by Saint-Saens, and barcarolle by Sitt. The large organ in the Greenleaf music room was presided over by Mr. Dixey, and Mrs. Eames played the piano." [4]

[1] Jackson, Richard S, Jr., and Cornelia Brooke Gilder. Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930. New York: Acanthus Press, 2006.
[2] American Architect and Building News 17 (no. 475 : 31 January 1885). Online. Internet Archive : Accessed: 18 July 2010.
[3] "Society Still at Lenox," New York Times, 30 Sept 1890, pg. 4. Online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers : Accessed 18 July 2010.
[4] "Not Ready to Leave Lenox," New York Times, 24 Sept 1893, pg. 17. Online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers : Accessed: 18 July 2010.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - I Write Like...

From Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, this week's fun is to submit a piece of writing that exemplifies the best of your work to the web site: The site will analyze your writing and return a badge to post on your blog.

I decided to analyze two things. First, I copied 4 or 5 paragraphs from my most recent blog post, American Revolutionary War Relics?, and received the following:

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Next, I took 4 paragraphs from an email I'd written recently, topic being family and genealogy, and received the same result, James Joyce. I find this fairly amusing since I'm not sure I could read Joyce, so for an analytical tool to think my writing is like his is interesting.

So to see if I could get a different result, I took another blog post, Thomas and Margaret McCormick, and copied 4 paragraphs... James Joyce again.

So finally, abandoning analysis of my genealogical writing, I copied 4 paragraphs from an email to my friend Lisa -- no genealogy, just typical daily life update stuff, and got...

I write like
Margaret Mitchell

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

For Margaret Mitchell, who I have read, I feel like my life should be much more interesting than it was in the email I copied.

Anyway, it's fun to play with. My genealogy writing must have a certain pattern to it that matches Joyce in the analysis tool. I'm sure if I analyzed more blog posts, I'd eventually get someone else.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

American Revolutionary War Relics? The William and Mary Brown Greenleaf Portraits

Some months ago, while searching for information on possible family portraits, I stumbled across this book, Catalogue of the Revolutionary Relics Exhibited at No. 56, Beacon Street, June 1875, in the Internet Archive noting the existence of portraits of my 5th great-grandparents, William Greenleaf (1725-1803) and Mary Brown Greenleaf (1728-1807). [see p. 5.]

I noticed a couple of interesting things in the entries (no. 43 and 44) on page 5, listing the Greenleaf portraits. In this scan from the University of Michigan original, someone scratched out the artist name "Copley" and wrote in "Blackburn". I wondered if this was simply a typo, or if the portraits were ever actually attributed to Copley.

The second interesting point is the notation under Mary Brown Greenleaf's portrait regarding piercing by a British bayonet. I presume that to mean there is at least one hole in the canvas. How it got there is anyone's guess, but given that the family came from Boston, I suppose there could have been a British bayonet in its vicinity at some point.

Further searching turned up this book in the Google Books collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art Catalogue of Paintings, by Bryson Burroughs (6th ed., 1922). Entries for the William and Mary Brown Greenleaf portraits on page 18 indicate both that the portraits are signed by Blackburn (not Copley) and attribute the holes to "bullet holes, which according to tradition were made during the Revolutionary War."

I found copies of the portraits in the book, Early American Costume, by Edward Warwick and Henry C. Pitz. But the black and white plates don't show enough detail to tell me if there are bullet holes. Both the William Greenleaf portrait (plate XXVIII-A, facing p. 129) and Mary Brown Greenleaf portrait (plate LI, facing p. 232) have specks that might be holes, but there's no way of knowing. I don't know where the portraits are today. This work also attributes the Greenleaf portraits to Blackburn.

It's probably safe to say that the works are by Blackburn, but there will likely never be a definitive answer about the bullet or bayonet holes. In any case, it still makes for a great story, made even better by finding it in print in a couple of places.

[1] Ladies' Centennial Commission (Boston, Mass.) Catalogue of the Revolutionary Relics Exhibited at No. 56, Beacon Street, June, 1875. Boston: Ladies' Centennial Commission, 1875. Online. Internet Archive. : Accessed 4 July 2010.
[2] Burroughs, Bryson. Catalogue of Paintings. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1922. (6th ed.). Online. Google Books. : Accessed 4 July 2010.
[3] Warwick, Edward, and Henry C. Pitz. Early American Costume. New York: The Century Co., 1929.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thomas & Margaret McCormick - The Answer

Finally, an answer -- Thomas Joseph and Margaret Gilligan McCormick are my great-great-grandparents. I received a copy of my great-grandparents marriage license in the mail from the State of New York, and there they were, listed fully by name. I'm especially thrilled to have a last name for Margaret.

My great-grandfather's address at the time was indeed 281 Madison Avenue, Albany, which also solidifies the link I found in the City Directories last month and wrote about here.

I feel like I should write more, but it seems fairly concrete at this point. Both were born in Ireland, so I'll be getting into a phase of research I haven't done before with other branches of my family as these are my nearest immigrant ancestors -- new challenges ahead!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Prolific Dad

From Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.
"1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

2) Tell us about him in your own blog post, in comments to this blog post, or in comments on Facebook."

I knew off the top of my head that there are several prolific fathers in my tree, so I started by looking at these directly.
  • Asaph Stone (1786-1854) and Jane McFarlane (1793-1854) had 13 children.
  • Daniel Greenleaf (1679-1763) and Elizabeth Gookin (1681-1762) also had 13 children.
  • William Greenleaf (1725-1803) and Mary Brown (1728-1807) had 15 children, 13 of whom lived to adulthood.
But I wondered if Reunion had a way for me to search number of children to see what other prolific dads might be in my tree, and if any could top William and his 15 children. So I used the "Find Anything" feature found the search quite straightforward. I searched for "# children" "more than" "15" and found two men with more than 15 children:
  • Josiah Franklin (1657-1745) who had 7 children with first wife Anne Child (d.1689) and 9 children with second wife Abiah Folger (1667-1752), for a total of 16 children.
  • Archibald McCall (1727-1799) and Judith Kemble (b.1743) had 18 children.
Archibald McCall was a merchant, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1727. He married Judith Kemble of New Jersey in 1762. The McCalls had 18 children born between 1763 and 1788. Of the 18, 3 died as infants, 14 lived to adulthood, and I don't have enough information about one to know whether she survived to adulthood.

Two of the McCall children married into the Cadwalader family. Archibald McCall (1767-1743) married Elizabeth Cadwalader, daughter of General John Cadwalader. Archibald's sister Mary McCall (1764-1848) married Colonel Lambert Cadwalader, John Cadwalader's younger brother. Mary McCall Cadwalader is my 4th great-grandmother.

Miniature of Archibald McCall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Additional sources on Archibald McCall and family:
  • McCall, Ettie Tidwell,. McCall-Tidwell and allied families. Atlanta, Ga.: Published by the author, 1931. Online. : 2010. [See p. 614]
  • Wharton, Anne Hollingsworth. Heirlooms in Miniatures. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1898. Online. Internet Archive : 2010. [See page 12 for an illustration of the Archibald McCall miniature and page 14 for information on Archibald McCall.]

Mourning the Kent Children

When I do genealogical research, I sometimes get stuck on something (or distracted by life) and set it aside for a while, never knowing what I might find that will pull my back in. For the last couple of weeks I've been cleaning up my sources in Reunion, intentionally being fairly mechanical about the process so as to actually complete it, but last night stumbled across a little tidbit while verifying a citation that pulled me into a family I probably wouldn't have spent much time (if any) on otherwise.

I was double checking the source of death information for Sarah Greenleaf Kent (1688-1723) in Newbury, Massachusetts. As I was checking her death date (12 Apr 1723) in the Newbury Vital Records [1], I noticed a death listing for her son, Stephen, on 1 Apr 1723. I wondered if there was an epidemic or some event in the spring of 1723 that might account for their two deaths so close together.

Sarah Greenleaf Kent is my 7th great-aunt (according to Reunion), and fairly far removed from where I've been focusing my research, so I had not yet recorded any children for Sarah and her husband, Richard Kent. Finishing my source clean-up, I headed back to the vital records database [1]. I found that Capt. Richard Kent and Sarah Greenleaf were married in Newbury, Massachusetts, 30 Jan 1709. So I searched next for Kent children born to Richard and Sarah between their marriage in 1709 and her death in 1723.

It seems that the couple had 9 children:
  • John, b. 6 Nov 1710
  • unnamed son, b. 31 Aug 1712, d. 31 Aug 1712
  • Elisabeth, b. 8 Oct 1713
  • Richard, b. 5 Oct 1715
  • Stephen, b. 18 Sep 1717, d. 1 Apr 1723
  • Mary, b. 12 Jun 1719
  • James (twin), b. 29 May 1720
  • William (twin), b. 29 May 1720
  • Daniel, b. 10 Nov 1721
At this point, I knew that at least 2 of the 9 children had died: an unnamed son, born and died the same day, and Stephen at 5 years of age in 1723. I went back to the vital records to search for deaths in Kent family between 1710 and 1723. In addition to the 2 deaths I already knew about, what I found was the following:
  • 23 Jun 1719 - Mary died
  • 10 Jun 1720 - William died
  • 11 Jun 1720 - James died
  • 10 Jun 1723 - Elisabeth died
I expanded my search for deaths in the Kent family from 1723 to 1733 and found:
  • 10 Sep 1725 - John died
Seven of the 9 Kent children died between 1712 and 1725, six dying between 1719 and 1725. I have yet to find death information on the 2 (apparently) surviving Kent children, Richard and Daniel. In fact, going back to the vital records [1], it appears that Richard Jr. may have survived to marry Ann Hale. Several of the children of Richard Kent Jr. and Ann Hale Kent bear names of the deceased Kent children, including John and Stephen, as well as the family name Daniel. This leads me to suspect that Ann Hale Kent's husband, Richard, is the son of Sarah Greenleaf Kent.

While I don't usually use other people's family trees as a source of information, I did go to Ancestry to see if anyone else had connected Richard Kent Jr. (b.1715), son of Richard and Sarah, to Ann Hale. I searched for Sarah Greenleaf (1688-1723), and browsed 40 trees. 3 of the 40 had Richard Kent Jr. married to Ann Hale. The others either had no wife listed, didn't list Richard Jr., or listed Sarah Greenleaf as unmarried or husband unknown.

I still wonder if an event in the spring of 1723 might account for the deaths of Sarah Greenleaf Kent and her son Stephen. I know children dying young in those days was far from uncommon. But to find so many lost so close together rattled me a bit while I was searching. This might be an interesting case for me to hone some additional research skills.

[1] Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2008).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sentimental Sunday -- Stonover Farm, Then and Now

Stonover Farm, January 1944

Stonover Farm, May 2010

Lenox, Massachusetts has been part of my family's history as long as I can remember. Stonover Farm in particular. The property originally belonged to the Parsons family, which my mother's mother married into not once, but twice (sort of). Her first husband, Rufus Patterson III, was the son of Elsie "Lissa" Parsons Patterson Kennedy, owner of Stonover Farm until her death in 1966. Some time after Rufus was killed in World War II, my grandmother married the brother of Elsie's sister-in-law, who was my grandfather. [Yes, the generations are a little goofy here.]

My mother would tell me about visiting Stonover Farm in summers with her older half-brother to see his grandmother, Lissa. Memories were always fond, and Lenox to me, even before I visited myself, was a clearly a special place.

A few years ago, my mother discovered that Stonover Farm had been turned into a bed and breakfast, and of course various family members talked of visiting. This year, we finally made the trip, turning talk in action (something we don't always manage).

I'd been to Lenox last year, but hadn't seen Stonover Farm. So finally seeing Stonover Farm was wonderful, but all the more so because I took the trip with my sister, my mother, and her two sisters (my aunts). Lenox is one of those places where I feel at home and connected and can see myself returning to time and again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Death Certificates, More Questions

A few weeks ago, I requested the death certificates of William and Martha Magoun Adams from the New Jersey State Archives. Both are in my "Mayflower line", so while I didn't expect to learn anything new from these, having them helps solidify my research in this line of the family. The New Jersey State Archives has a small searchable index of death records from June 1878 to June 1885, and happily both deaths in West Orange, New Jersey fell within this small time frame. (I love requesting records from these databases since the results populate the request forms automatically.)

So when the photocopies arrived a couple of weeks later, the information was mostly what I expected: birthplaces, parents' names, and death dates, while secondary information, all confirmed information I had already. The major new information gleaned was their burial location -- both in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts. (I've already fired off a confirmation request to Mount Auburn.)

What I found odd was a fairly minor note on each certificate: How long resident in this state?
William Adams died first: 31 Aug 1880. So I didn't think much when the length of his residence in New Jersey was listed as 4 months.

Then I looked at Martha's death certificate. She died 13 Jun 1885, a little less than five years after her husband, yet her length of residence is listed as 11 years.

At first glance, the math doesn't add up. Assuming William and Martha Adams lived together during their marriage, I'd expect her length of residence to be only 5 years or so longer than his. But on the other hand, I guess it's not impossible that he was one place while she was in West Orange, but for six years? In the 1870's? I suppose the most likely explanation is that the information on one or both certificates is wrong. And at the moment I don't know that it'll make a huge impact on my research, but it's niggling at my brain. Something else to work on some day.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day - Remembering Rufus Lenoir Patterson III

Rufus Lenoir Patterson III (1922-1944), was killed in action over Germany Sept. 11, 1944. To honor him on Memorial Day, I spent a little time updating his pages at and Find-A-Grave.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - McCormick Family, St. Agnes Cemetery

For some time now, I've been wanting to locate my great-grandparents' graves in Albany. Interestingly enough, it was through my continued search to link Thomas and Margaret McCormick with John Stoddard McCormick, that I found them at the St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands.

Some weeks ago, after following a link in a comment on Find-A-Grave, I found the Troy Irish Genealogy Society's index to St. Agnes Cemetery interment records. I knew from Find-A-Grave that Thomas and Margaret McCormick were in St. Agnes Cemetery, so using the TIGS's index, requested Thomas' record. I received a speedy reply and was impressed with the extra details written in on the returned form.

I then re-examined the obituaries I had for John Stoddard McCormick, Irene Gillespie McCormick, and John Stoddard McCormick, Jr. I found that John Stoddard McCormick was buried in St. Agnes Cemetery (according to his obit.). Irene's obituary did not name a place, but I decided to operate on the assumpotion that she'd be buried with her husband. John Jr.'s obituary stated he'd be buried in Albany (he died in Houston). I hoped that if he was moved from Houston to Albany for burial, that he'd also be with his parents (having never married). Since I was heading to Albany anyway to do research at the State Library, I decided to see if I could add an appointment at St. Agnes to my roster.

I sent St. Agnes a list of who I was looking for, including dates when and where they died. I spent about an hour with a staff member looking at copies of their index and she escorted me to their grave site. (Thank goodness because St. Agnes is huge and even with two maps at different levels of detail, I'm not sure I'd have found them on my own.)

And here I am, now with photo documentation and maps detailing where they are. The folks at St. Agnes clearly do a good job tending to the grounds, and promised they do some neatening up around the base of the stone, removing some old buried vases and some minor landscaping.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Margaret McCormick - Dare I hope, a breakthrough?

I've posted about Thomas & Margaret McCormick and my ongoing quest to claim them as my great-great-grandparents. Thus far, a lot of my evidence doesn't prove anything. Thomas & Margaret had a son, John, also the name of my great-grandfather. Newspaper articles such as my great-grandfather's obituary, match names of his siblings with names of children of Thomas & Margaret found in census records. Maddeningly, neither his obituary, nor his marriage announcement (which I found today) reference his parents at all, much less name them.

So I spent the better part of the day at the New York State Library, hoping to fill in some holes and find something to connect these people. I spent a decent amount of times with the Albany City Directories (which I love) and found this entry in the 1915 directory:

The entry for the McCormicks notes 2 key things:
(1) Margaret McCormick, widow of Thomas C., is residing at 281 Madison Ave.
(2) John S. McCormick, her son, a student, is also residing at 281 Madison Ave.

Then tonight, while noodling around Ancestry I pulled up my great-grandfather's WWI Draft Registration card:
I'm certain this is his because of the birth date, birth place (not shown) and occupation. I noticed his address listed was 281 Madison Ave., which I'd seen earlier today connected to this family. The draft card, which has no year, also mentions that he was married at the time he filled it out.

John Stoddard McCormick and Irene Gillespie were married Tuesday, Nov. 14, 1916. Their wedding announcement in the Times Union (below) mentions they'll reside on Madison Ave.

This is the most concrete connection I have so far that links John Stoddard McCormick as the son of Thomas & Margaret McCormick. I have a several vital records requests in the queue with Albany, so am still hopeful of a more definitive source, but for now this is more evidence supporting the connection.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Richard Cranch Greenleaf Drawings

My mother recently unearthed a set of drawings (at least I think they're drawings) done by my great-great uncle, Richard Cranch Greenleaf (1887-1961). They're in poor condition, so I need to somehow get them stabilized, or at least in decent acid-free housing. I'm fairly certain they depict locations in France. Each is signed and five of the six have captions (in pencil) in the lower left corner. I need to work on deciphering his handwriting to get more details.

The sixth drawing, shown, has a more extensive caption, indicating that it was used as the basis for a lithograph to benefit the American Red Cross. (Unless it's actually a lithograph rather than a drawing. I can't tell for certain.)

Family Tree Maker for Mac

From Eastman: " Announces New Macintosh Version of Family Tree Maker"

I'm not sure what it says about my life, that Family Tree Maker for Mac is the most exciting news I've heard in a while. I've needed to harmonize my Reunion database with my online tree for a while, and the prospect of switching to Family Tree Maker (which I'm assuming will interface directly with puts this project in new perspective.

Definitely food for thought... more later...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Mystery Woman

Okay, so this post isn't so wordless. But just a bit of back story as to why I chose it tonight.

Looking for other photographs yesterday for a project, I decided to look at originals instead of browsing files. I came across this one from my maternal grandmother's collection. There is nothing on the photo that tells me blatantly who it is.

A few clues:
1. The photograph is marked on the front, Broadbent & Taylor, I assume the photograph studio.
2. Additional details printed on the verso: S. Broadbent ; W. Curtis Taylor ; 914 Chestnut St. ; Philadelphia.
3. Penciled in the upper right, "April 1878"

I'm wondering if it might be Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (b.1860) at age 17 or 18, assuming the penciled date is when the photo was taken. (See photograph on earlier post.) But maybe I'm reaching.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Madness Monday, or, Milestone Monday: My First Death Certificate

So back in March, during the Fearless Females posts, I wrote about my great-great grandmother, Helen Coolidge Adams being my then brick wall. I've been trying to prove or disprove that Helen is the daughter of Henry Coolidge and Margaret Hawley. Well, brick wall no longer -- thanks to the good people at NYC Vital Records!

Not long after writing the Fearless Femals post on Helen back in March, I finally found her death notice in the New York Times. It was brief, but as it turns out contained vital information. The notice states:
"ADAMS--On Sunday Jan. 20, 1929, at the Hotel Devon, 70 West 55th St., in her eighty-first year, Helen Coolidge, wife of the late William Adams. Funeral private."
[New York Times, Jan. 21, 1929, p. 15]
NYC Vital Records general information states that death records are filed by place of death, so thankfully the death notice told me not only when and where she died (Hotel Devon), but gave me an exact address. And it was enough information to fill out the request for a copy of her death certificate.

Today I received my self-addressed stamped envelope back from NYC Vital Records. I felt like I was back in high school waiting for a college acceptance -- feeling the envelope for thickness to figure out whether it contained my desired information or was a polite "sorry no luck" letter. Happily, the envelope contained two sheets of paper, double sided copies each, containing Helen Coolidge Adams' death certificate.

Scanning it quickly I found that the certificate did indeed list her parents, as follows--

-- Henry Coolidge and Margaret Hawley.

In addition to her parents, the certificate also list other interesting information. Birth date and place, 13 Nov. 1848, Connecticut, as well as her place of burial, "Cremation Fresh Pond". Page two of the certificate was a statement signed by her son William, understanding her wish for cremation and releasing the remains to the undertaker. I'm wondering if I should take the "Fresh Pond" bit literally.

Anyway, now I have this link and am free to move forward by going backward to the Coolidge and Hawley families.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thomas & Margaret McCormick

I've been working on tracing my paternal grandmother's family (among other things) -- one of my few family lines for which I had no information existing beyond what I or a handful of other family members remember.

My grandmother, Ann McCormick, was born to Irene Gillespie and John Stoddard McCormick in Albany, 1919. She had one younger brother who never married or had children (that I know of, which in this case, sadly isn't saying much). Last spring I was able to track Irene's parents and found Henry and Anna Gillespie in Albany.

I also found a family that could be John's, Thomas and Margaret McCormick, but have yet to be able prove or disprove it. There's a lot that matches -- birth places, names of siblings, but no concrete proof, and with a name as potentially generic as John McCormick, I need more.

But in the meantime, I've grown oddly attached to Thomas & Margaret McCormick and think I'll be disappointed if they turn out not to be my great-great grandparents. I found their death notices in the Albany Times Union (in 1905 and 1927) which give me nothing more concrete than siblings of John. The siblings names match those listed in John's obituary and the 1910 census record I think is his.

A few nights ago I found their tombstone pictured at Find A Grave. It's a shared tombstone in the St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands (Albany County). The dates on the stone match the death dates I have for this couple from their death notices. Linking back to comments posted at the site, I found that the interment records at St. Agnes are being indexed online by the Troy Irish Genealogy Society. Thomas' record has been indexed, so I can request the interment record for $5, which I'll do Monday. I'm not sure what more this will tell me, and feel like I'm grasping at straws, but I can't help thinking it's another step forward, even if a small one.

So today I went downtown to the Rundel Building to use the NYS Vital Records index on microfiche. I wanted to see if I could find entries for the deaths of John S. McCormick (d. 1948), Thomas C. McCormick (d. 1905) and Margaret McCormick (d. 1927). I found entries for Margaret and John, as expected, but did not find Thomas listed among the 1905 deaths, which threw me. Two more records requests, which may or may not help, but another small step forward.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Family Timeline

Original post at: Genea-Musings: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - a Family TimelineThis is my first time participating in Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, and I found this an interesting exercise. First the basics:

1. My genealogy software is Reunion (v.9.0b) and I created this timeline using the standard timeline report and made some very minor edits. The edits I made were mostly with the colors. The timeline default report was generated with each individual marked as a different color. Since the men and women are already distinguished from each other by the shapes of their bars (men are rectangles, women are rounded rectangles), I changed the colors to designate family lines. Reunion allowed me to save this chart as a JPEG. I then pulled it into Photoshop to crop the excess white space.

2. The timeline (sorted by birth date) shows my paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. My grandfather and his line are green, while my grandmother and her line are yellow.

My grandfather was born in 1917, when his mother was 41 and father 44 years old. In 1917, his two older siblings (born 1901 and 1904) were already in their teens. So I was curious to see what visualizing the generations would look like, knowing that he was born to older parents. I put in my grandmother's line in as a comparison to see how the generations of her family were compare to his. Looking at the timeline, Ann's parents, are noticeably younger than Richard's, by a good 10-15 years. And the age differences between their grandparents (my great-great grandparents) spans another 10-15-20 years.

So what does this mean to me? When I think about my family generationally, I tend to assume similar life experiences in terms of culture and politics of the day, but in looking at ranges of years they actually lived, with 10-20 year spans in difference, I wonder to what extent their life experiences (in terms of politics and outside influences) might have varied more than I image.

* Disclaimer: I haven't yet proven (or disproven) that Thomas and Margaret McCormick are John S. McCormick's parents, but for comparison (and out of curiosity) thought I'd put them in.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Occam's Razor, or Not Overthinking File Harmonization

Thanks to Kelly at Family History Fun: A light bulb moment!

People who know me know that I have a tendency to overthink things. I also love playing with data, so while I've known for a while that I need to harmonize the records I have on with my regular family tree data (in Reunion), I haven't thought of an elegant way to do it. I started imagining scenarios of trying to merge data and people using various incarnations of GEDCOM files when I happened to see this post [Family History Fun: A light bulb moment!] today. This is a simple and probably workable solution for me (I think).

Most of the work I've done in Ancestry is on my direct ancestors (on either side), rather than on the many extensive lateral connections I have documented in Reunion. I'm thinking that if I methodically work my way through the generations I have a fighting chance of recording the Ancestry records in Reunion, saving copies as I go along. (I have little space for extensive paper files, so would prefer to go paperless when possible.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cataloging Futures = Cataloging Past

I saw this post from Cataloging Futures in my Google Reader today, where Michael Gorman, Janet Swan Hill and Arlene Taylor talk about living through rule changes in cataloging past. I studied cataloging with Arlene Taylor (more than 10 and less than 15 years ago), and this stream transported me back to grad school at Pitt. As I start thinking about how to wrap my head around RDA and subsequently train my staff, I can see myself returning to these streams for inspiration!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Handsomest Man in New York Wins Philadelphia's Richest Woman

Found on

I found this article on and love the headline and image at the top of the article in the Chicago Tribune (Jan. 11, 1898, p. 8) announcing Sarah Drexel Fell's engagement to Alexander Van Rensselaer. I especially love the images of the couple and her yacht below them. The article spins the yacht and yachting as the main reason for their meeting and calls their relationship a "love match". The article also gives a decent amount of information about Sarah's yacht, the May, and mentions her rare place as a woman in the yachting world.
"Mrs. Fell is one of the half-dozen first class yachtswomen in the United States."

"She is one of six women members of the New York Yacht club. The privileges of such members are only available when they are on a cruise. They cannot use the clubhouse, and they cease to be members when they cease to be yacht owners."
I found this article while looking for items to create a Footnote page for Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer for Fearless Females.

Fearless Females - Day Twenty-Nine - Footnote Pages

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Create a free Footnote page or Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. ... Tell us who you've selected and why and then post a link to what you've created."

I opted for the Footnote page. I've played a little with Footnote pages, but was intrigued (and a little intimidated) by the challenge of creating one from scratch. The other Footnote pages I've contributed to have all been automatically generated by Footnote and then I've added to them.

I created a page for my great-great grandmother, Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (1860-1929). I selected her for a couple of reasons. First, I've mentioned her several times during Fearless Females month, so it seemed appropriate, and second, I thought there was a decent chance she wouldn't have a page already.

I didn't find lots of information right off the bat, but will keep poking around Footnote and trying to enhance the page.

Footnote page for Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Twenty-Three - Jane McFarlane Stone

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines. Post an image of it or link."

I like free tools. I really like good free tools, and I had fun with this one. I have no shortage a female ancestors to try this with (limited of course to those whose birth and death years I know). And I was tempted to try this with someone who died young -- to make display easier in case I had to use screenshots.
The custom timeline I created was for Jane McFarlane Stone (1793-1854). I chose Jane for one main reason -- she died in a tragic event -- the sinking of the SS Arctic off the coast of Newfoundland on 27 Sept. 1854. (see also Fearless Females Day Eleven) As she died at age 61, her timeline was quite long. I've captured only the first and last screens.
A few notes:
1. In looking at the bottom of her timeline, I was particularly struck by an event in 1848, "NY allows women to own real estate" (age 55). Her husband, Asaph, was a merchant, doing business in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, so this seems like something that might have impacted her personally.
2. The timelines are rather US-centric. Not completely, but this particular timeline has a lot of US history, politics, expansion, invention -- those were the times. But Jane was born in Scotland, immigrating to the U.S. in 1795. [1] So while she lived most of her life here, and most of these events are probably relevant, I can see that it might not work for all ancestors.

But I can see this tool coming in handy -- mainly to give me a better idea of events happening while my ancestors were living, and what might have impacted their lives.

[1] History of the Clan Macfarlane, Macfarlan, Macfarland, Macfarlin, by Mrs. C. M. Little (1893), p. 193. Available online: (Accessed: 23 Mar 2010)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Twenty

Yeah, yeah, a few days late on this one too...

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information."

I have a variety of female ancestors who are brick walls. But one of the more recent walls (one I hit so hard it knocked me off course for a while) is my great-great grandmother, Helen Coolidge Adams (1849-1929).

Helen married William Adams (1840-1888) on 14 May 1867 at Madison Square Church in New York, New York. I know from a marriage notice in the New York Post (accessed via that she was the daughter of "the late Henry Coolidge".

Other genealogical sources she appears in mention her as "Helen Coolidge" -- no daughter of whomever, from wherever. Example from A Genealogical History of Henry Adams, of Braintree, Mass., and his descendants; also John Adams, of Cambridge, Mass., 1632-1897.
"William, b. Jan. 31, 1840. m. May 14, 1867, Helen Coolidge. He d. at Searsdale, N.J., 14 July 1888."

So I know her father's name was Henry, and that as of her marriage in May 1867, he was deceased.

I also have copies from Descendants of John and Mary Coolidge of Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630. In this genealogy (p. 188) there is listed:
"Henry (Coolidge), b. Oct. 17, 1815, a merchant of New York; m. at Ridgefield, Conn., Nov. 3, 1847, Margaret Hawley, b. 1824; d. 1906. Of four children known William, Henry, Helen and Fannie..."

But I'm not sure this is the right family.
1. In reading the content of the above entry, first of all I'm not sure if Henry died in 1906 or his wife, Margaret, died in 1906. If Henry, this is the wrong family since Helen's father died prior to 1867.
2. But, Ancestry has a U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index entry for a Henry Coolidge, a merchant born in New York, who died in 1860 at 44 years of age in Fairfield County, Conn. The birth year fits the Henry Coolidge married to Margaret Hawley, as does the profession. Further, Ridgefield, Conn., where Henry Coolidge and Margaret Hawley were married is in Fairfield County.
3. 1870 Census. Lists Helen Adams as the wife of William (with 2 young children) in Scarsdale, New York on 21 July 1870. But there is also a Helen Coolidge listed with her mother, Margaret, and siblings William, Henry and Fannie, in New York, New York on 12 July 1870. Could be the same woman visiting her mother and family? Attempts to find the Coolidges in the 1850 or 1860 censuses have not turned up anything (and I'm not sure it'd tell me anything, anyway).

So I'm trying to prove or disprove the relationship between Helen Coolidge Adams and Helen Coolidge, daughter of Henry and Margaret Hawley Coolidge. Where to look next? Marriage and/or death records for Helen Coolidge Adams. Probate records for Margaret Hawley Coolidge.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - St. Thomas' Church

St. Thomas' Church, Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania. Six tombstones lined up along the (south?) wall of the church, visible from the approach from the parking lot. These are members of the Fell-Van Rensselaer family, my great-great grandmother Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (1860-1929), both of her husbands, John R. Fell (1858-1895) and Alexander Van Rensselaer (1851-1933) and at least one of her children. (See also my post for Day Three of Fearless Females.)

Just One Thing: Basic Chinese Sauce Recipes

From Eat Close to Home, "Just One Thing: Basic Chinese Sauce Recipes"...

I've been in a sauce slump. I love Asian food and can usually do a decent stir-fry sauce without much effort, but have been coming up empty of late. So I Googled "Chinese spicy brown sauce" and turned up this trio of basics. Thank goodness!

I made the white sauce for dinner tonight, with shredded pork and broccoli florets, but made a few adaptations. I did not make the brown sauce as I don't have molasses, and ingredient-wise was looking at the white. So I tried stepping it up a bit by using tamari for the soy sauce, a larger amount of chopped garlic, and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, and was really pleased with the results. I'm looking forward to doing more experimenting with these sauces.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Eleven - Loss of the SS Arctic

Yes, I'm behind -- and I skipped a few posts. I got behind on posting last week, so elected to skip the posts for which I didn't have some easy answers. I may go back and revisit the post on religion (day ten), but for now, onward.

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?"

I've already told the story of Marion Constance Greenleaf who died young, from Typhoid Fever at age 29. This story is about Marion's great-grandmother, my 4th great-grandmother, Jane McFarlane Stone (1793-1854).

I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never heard of the SS Arctic until about a year ago.

Jane McFarlane Stone, her husband, merchant Asaph Stone, and their youngest daughter, Mary all died September 27, 1854. Some time ago now, I stumbled across a resource in Ancestry, Simon Stone genealogy : ancestry and descendants of Deacon Simon Stone of Watertown, Mass., 1320-1926, and in looking up my Stone Family ancestors, discovered that Adeline Emma Stone's father's father, Asaph (1786-1854) perished, along with his wife and daughter, on the steamship Arctic.

The passage in the Simon Stone genealogy reads (under the entry for Asaph Stone):
"After a year of European travel, Mr. Stone, his wife and their youngest daughter, all perished while homeward bound from Liverpool in the tragic sinking of the steamer Arctic off the coast of Newfoundland, 27 Sept. 1854. Of the two hundred and thirty-seven passengers in the ill-fated vessel only twenty-one were saved, the crew seizing most of the boats."--pp.306-307.

I read a little about the event and the Arctic after that. The Wikipedia entry for the SS Arctic points to 2 books written -- one in the early 1954, and one in 2002. I've read Women and Children Last (1954), and still hope to move on to The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic (2002). [Wikipedia can be a decent starting point for research when an entry has citations/bibliography.]

I've also looked at headlines from the New York Times near the incident. I forget, with today's era of instant information, that news did not always travel as quickly as in 2009. The New York Times has a series of small articles reporting no news of the Arctic, and counting its days delayed from arriving in port until news finally arrives of the ship's sinking. One of the earliest articles I noted was Oct. 4, 1854, which states (in part):
"The non-arrival of this vessel creates some interest in business circles ; but no alarm, owing to the heavy weather which she no doubt encountered on her voyage."--"The Steamer Arctic", New York Times, Oct. 4, 1854, p. 4.

By Oct. 9, 1854, the Times speculates that the ship, then 20-days out from Liverpool, might have met with mechanical failure and returned to England, with more time anticipated before hearing anything as to the ship's fate.[1]

It is finally on Oct. 11,1 854, that the Times reports "Loss of the Arctic : Collision Between the Steamer and a Propeller off Cape Race : Apprehensions of the Loss of all but Thirty-two Persons."[2]

In no way can I imagine what this event must have been like for those aboard. I think at the very least what I can do at present is be one more person who knows this happened, who has a personal connection to the event, and will not forget it in her own lifetime -- for what that's worth.

The Stones are listed in the Times as Mrs. Stone & daughter; Mr. A. Stone.

[1] "The Missing Steamer", New York Times, Oct. 9, 1854. Available online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Accessed 11 Mar. 2009.

[2] "Loss of the Arctic", New York Times, Oct. 11, 1854. Available online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Accessed 11 Mar. 2009.