Friday, August 29, 2014

DNA Testing and Unending Questions

I've been dipping my toe into the world of DNA testing for genealogy. Some months ago, the genealogy society I belong to hosted a wonderful evening with a DNA expert who presented compelling arguments as to how DNA testing can expand genealogical research and smash brick walls. I started doing some reading on my own and was intrigued. I ordered an Autosomal DNA test from

Autosomal DNA looks at both your paternal and maternal genetic material and is a good way to get an overview of your ethnicity.  It can also help you identify cousins who have a common ancestor within about the last 150 years.  After my Autosomal DNA results came in at Ancestry, I uploaded the raw data to Family Tree DNA to get their analysis.  The summary was mostly what I'd expected.

According to both companies, I am 100% European, with the vast majority of that being British Isles heritage.  This is correct, as my known ancestors are largely Irish, English and Scottish.

However, there were some surprises.  Neither company made significant mention of my Dutch and French ancestry.  My French ancestors left France in the late 1600s, during the exodus of the Huguenots, so with all the intermarriages since then, it simply may not register significantly on an Autosomal test that's looking at more recent history.  The big mystery to me is why my Dutch ancestry is not acknowledged.  My great-grandfather, George Beck (formerly Gerhardus Beukenkamp), emigrated from Amsterdam to America in the early 1900s.  His family was in The Netherlands for many generations prior to that time.  I am one-eighth Dutch.  The Ancestry test says I may have 2% Western European heritage, a percentage which doesn't seem to stack up with what I know about my family.  I understand that these tests have their quirks and are not 100% accurate, but I'm puzzled by this omission.

My great-grandfather, George Beck (formerly Beukenkamp)

Another question mark for me is that both tests claim I have some Eastern European ancestry.  Ancestry's results claim this is a trace amount, but Family Tree DNA indicates it could be as much as six percent.  I am baffled by this.  I can't find so much as a single Eastern European ancestor anywhere in my family tree.

However, both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA did immediately connect me with several second cousins that I already knew.  Through Ancestry, where I find it easier to look through family trees and see potential areas of connection with suspected cousins, I've also met a couple of people who appear to be linked to me through specific families.  We're having fun trying to identify the common ancestor.

My dad and me, 2004

Any questions that I might have had about my results pale in comparison to the eyebrows that were raised when my father received his DNA results.  I encouraged him to do a Y-DNA test on 67 markers through Family Tree DNA.  Y-DNA traces the patrilineal line.  The Y chromosome is passed down, unchanged, from father to son. Theoretically, this testing would connect my father with other men with his surname, Lacey.

A Y-DNA 67 marker match with another person gives you a 95% probability of having a common ancestor within the last 150-200 yrs.  We are confident of my father's line back to his second great-grandfather, Bartholomew "Bartley" Lacey, who was born in Rossadillisk, Ireland in the early 1800s.  Because this family comes from a small corner of Ireland, we were very excited to connect with other Laceys. 

My father's results match him with 24 people who are ranked as either 0: Very Tightly Related, 1: Tightly Related or 2: Related.  More information about exactly what those levels of relationship indicate can be found at Family Tree DNA.  Of those 24 matches, there is not one person with the surname Lacey.

The closest connection, the one person classified as Very Tightly Related, has the surname Elliott.  In fact, 15 of the 24 men on that list have the surname Elliott.  Elliott is not a surname that I know to be in my father's family tree at all.  Other surnames in this list of matches are Hall, Pryor and Glendenning.  None of these surnames appear in my father's family tree.  The ancestors of all these matches appear to be Scottish, some of whom seem to have gone to Northern Ireland and England.  None are truly Irish.  None are Laceys.


One thing to keep in mind is how small the pool of male Laceys is.  Bartley Lacey had three sons, only two of whom, Valentine and Mark, had male descendants of their own.  I believe there are a couple of living male Laceys from Valentine's line who are second great-grandchildren of Bartley.  Bartley's son Mark Lacey was my second great-grandfather.  He had six sons, three of whom were killed in the Cleggan Disaster before having sons of their own.  Of the remaining three, only my great-grandfather, Thomas Lacey, is known to have had children.  Following his line, this means that it's possible the only other direct male descendants of Bartley Lacey are my father and my two brothers, my father's brother and his son Matt, and now Matt's newborn son.  That's six descendants, plus a few more out there from Valentine Lacey's line.  There simply aren't a lot of people who would be close Y-DNA matches for my father.

This still doesn't clear up the mystery of the Elliott matches, however.  I'm at a loss to explain them.  Thus far, DNA testing seems to have created many more questions than it has answered.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds

Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds were my third great-grandparents.  They were the parents of Albert Patrick Barrett, whom I recently profiled on this blog.

Patrick Barrett was born in 1841 or 1842 in Mount Savage, Maryland.  He would remain in Mount Savage his entire life, working on the railroad and raising his own family there.  He was the the eldest son of Anthony Barrett and Ellen Lavelle, and the second of their eight children.  His parents, Anthony and Ellen, were both immigrants from Ireland who settled in Mount Savage in the 1830s due to its abundance of mining opportunities and large Irish immigrant community.  

A modern day view of Mount Savage (source)

Catherine Reynolds was born about 1841 in Maryland, likely in Mount Savage.  She was the daughter of Francis Reynolds and Catherine O'Toole.  Her parents were both Irish immigrants and her father, too, worked in the mines in Mount Savage.

Industry in Mount Savage

In the mid-1800s, men in Mount Savage were primarily employed as miners, metal workers and railroad employees.  The Mount Savage Historical Society's website provides a glimpse of what the town was like at the time that the Barrett and Reynolds families were living there.

The region developed agriculturally at first and the farm community was practically self-sufficient. Iron ore and coal discoveries, however, along with the proximity of transport routes dictated Mt. Savage’s future. As English and Scotch entrepreneurs passed through the area, they saw not only the beauty of the area, but also that these beautiful mountains were invaluable in mineral wealth.

Soon the English, under the leadership of Benjamin Howell, established the Maryland and New York Iron and Coal Company. In 1839 beginning with the construction of two iron furnaces. Production was begun and eventually a railroad was built which connected Mt. Savage to Cumberland and distant domestic markets through tidewater ports. To supply the blast furnaces of the iron works, coal mines also were opened in the Mt. Savage area. In 1844, the first solid-track iron railroad rail produced in the United States was rolled here. Before that, all iron rails were imported from England.

The Iron Works Company brought hundreds of primarily Irish workers here in the 1830’s and 40’s and built twenty-two three-story houses along Old Row to accommodate the families. Other ethnic groups were also well represented as the town and industries grew. 

In 1853, Mt Savage was the heart of the area railroad operation. Here were located the locomotive repair shops, roundhouse and shops for building and rebuilding railroad cars and engines. Besides the industrial output of the shops, hundreds of young men were trained in a variety of trades related to the railroad industry. Most of the railway and maintenance crews lived in town.

Illustration of a railroad brakeman (source)

Rather than working in the mines like his father and his brothers, Patrick took a job with the railroad.  The 1870 census tells us that he was employed as a brakeman at that time.  The B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore provides this information about the job of brakeman:

One of the most dangerous jobs on the early railroads was that of brakeman. It was not a job for the faint of heart. It required strength and coordination, not to mention courage. The brakeman had to climb to the roof of the railcar and turn the wheel that engaged the brakes on each car. The air brake was invented in 1869, but not widely used because it was deemed too expensive. It was not until the 1880’s when railroads finally began widespread use of air brakes that the job became less hazardous. (source)
In 1880, the census indicates that Patrick was a conductor, so he'd advanced in his career in the past decade.  A conductor would have been in charge of his train, managing other crew members and making sure it ran on time.

The Marriage of Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds

Patrick and Catherine were married on March 11, 1866 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Mount Savage.

Marriage registration for Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds

The witnesses to their wedding were John Lavelle, John Sheridan and Mary Reynolds.  The service was officiated by Rev. Richard Brown.  Mary Reynolds was likely Catherine's elder sister, one of her six siblings.  John Lavelle would have been Patrick's maternal uncle or cousin.  I'm not sure what relation John Sheridan had to the bride and groom.  He may have been a family member or just a friend.  Richard Brown, who officiated at Patrick and Catherine's wedding, was an influential religious leader in Mount Savage.  He oversaw the building of St. Patrick's Church in the 1860s. The church still stands today.

St. Patrick's Church in Mount Savage

The Barrett Family

Together, Patrick and Catherine Barrett had eight children:
  1. John Barrett
  2. James Barrett
  3. Ellen Barrett
  4. Albert Patrick Barrett
  5. Anthony Barrett
  6. Mary Barrett
  7. Julia Barrett
  8. Catherine Barrett
John and James Barrett were twins, born on April 22, 1866, just a month after their parents' marriage, if you believe the dates provided by the church.  As you'll see below in regards to the birth dates of the other Barrett children, there may be some cause to question the dates noted in parish records.  James and John were baptized at St. Patrick's Church on April 25th.   The baptismal sponsors for  James were John Sheridan (likely the same who was a witness at the Barrett-Reynolds wedding) and Bridget Monihan.  The sponsors for John were Anthony Reily and Mary Barrett.

The baptism of James and John Barrett

Ellen Barrett was born on October 21, 1869, according to parish records, and baptized at St. Patrick's Church on October 24th.  Her baptismal sponsors were James Reynolds and Bridget Barrett.  Ellen married William H. Evans.  They ran an inn in the mining town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, as detailed in my earlier post about Albert Patrick Barrett.

The baptism of Ellen Barrett

Albert Patrick Barrett, my second great grandfather, was born on February 19, 1870.  At least, that's what his death certificate tells us.  Obviously, he could not have been born just four months after the birth of his sister Ellen.  Census records clearly indicate that Ellen was older than Albert, and that Albert was older than his brother Anthony, born in 1870 or 1871.  The exact dates are uncertain, however.  These three siblings were very close in age, which may explain the close relationship they seemed to share.  My guess is that Ellen was born in 1869, Albert in 1870 and Anthony in 1871, but that their birth dates were recorded incorrectly at St. Patrick's Church.

Albert Patrick Barrett's death certificate

Anthony Barrett's baptismal record states that he was born on September 24, 1870.  Again, this date is confusing given the birth dates of his siblings Ellen and Albert.  Anthony married a woman named Ida and they had nine children between 1902 and 1918.  Like his grandfathers and his brother Albert, Anthony was a coal miner.

I know very little about the three youngest Barrett children, Mary, Julia and Catherine.  They were all born in Mount Savage; Mary in about 1873, Julia in about 1876 and Catherine in November 1878.

Catherine "Katie" Barrett is found living with her paternal aunt, Bridget Barrett Barnard on the 1900 census, in Cumberland, Maryland.  At that time, she was working as a clerk.  I have no marriage or death records for Katie or her sisters Mary and Julia at this time.

The Deaths of Catherine and Patrick Barrett

Catherine Reynolds Barrett died before the 1880 census was taken on June 19, 1880.  She was in her late 30s.  Her youngest child, also Catherine, would have been younger than age two at the time of her death.  Her husband, Patrick, is listed on the 1880 census as a widower, with all eight children still in his household.

Patrick Barrett died on February 3, 1903 in Mount Savage.  While he survived Catherine by more than two decades, it appears he did not remarry. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Albert Patrick Barrett

Albert Patrick Barrett

Albert Patrick Barrett was my second great-grandfather, the husband of my second great-grandmother, Nellie Barrett.

Albert was born on February 19, 1870 in Mount Savage, Maryland.  His paternal grandparents, Anthony Barrett and Ellen Lavelle, were Irish immigrants who settled in Mount Savage in the 1830s.  Albert's given name may have been Alloysus, as he is identified on the 1880 census, but he appears to have only gone by the more conventional Albert.

Sometime between 1880 and 1893, Albert moved to Illinois.  It seems that he made this move alone.  His parents and siblings remained in Maryland.  In Illinois, he met Helen Cecilia "Nellie" O'Hare, who had been born and raised in Williamson County.  They married in Belleville, Illinois on October 18, 1893.  Their first child, my great-grandmother Julia Ellen Barrett, was born a year later.

Albert's father, Patrick Barrett, had worked on the railroad in Maryland, and there's some possibility that Albert may have followed the railroad west to Illinois.  However, in 1900, 25-year old Albert was working as a coal miner.

Here is some information about coal mining in the Belleville, Illinois area:

An immense deposit (400,000 acres) of bituminous coal was found in St. Clair County. By 1874, some farmers had become coal miners. One hundred shaft mines were in operation in and around Belleville. The coal brought the steam railroad to town, which allowed for the transport of many tons of coal to be shipped daily from Belleville to St. Louis. Later, Belleville would have the first electric trolley in the state. (Wikipedia)

The 1900 census tells us that Albert and Nellie were living in nearby O'Fallon, Illinois with their daughters Julia and Magdalene in 1900.  Also living with them was Nellie's widowed father, Michael "Mike" O'Hare.  Just a few short months later, a new baby would join the household.  Albert's eldest son, Stephen James Barrett, was born on August 27, 1900.

In total, Albert and Nellie had five children:

Julia Ellen Barrett (1894-1941)
Martha Magdalene Barrett (1897-1970)
Stephen James Barrett (1900-1949)
Charles William Barrett  (1903-1975)
Bernard Theodore Barrett (1906-1990)

In late 1906, Albert moved his family to Bakerton, Pennsylvania. His sister, Ellen Barrett Evans, had been widowed there and Albert moved his family to assist her. Albert and his sister Ellen were close.  He had named his daughter Julia Ellen in her honor. Ellen had been married to William Evans, and together they had six children. William died suddenly of typhoid fever on September 22, 1906, at the age of 34.  When her husband died, Ellen's children were still very small.  Madeline, their youngest, was born the year of her father's death. William and Ellen had run an inn together, and after William’s death, Ellen struggled to keep the business afloat and make ends meet. Her brother, Albert, came to assist.  Between Albert and Ellen's families, there were eleven young mouths to feed.

The Barrett family lived in Bakerton, a small, gritty coal mining town in Cambria County, for the next four years.  Albert is listed on the 1910 census as the proprietor of a public house, so it appears that he had some success in helping his sister Ellen keep the business alive.  Unfortunately, Albert's health deteriorated during his years in Pennsylvania. He may have been drinking before the move, but apparently this tendency grew steadily worse between 1906 and 1910. Whether this was simply Albert's predisposition, or perhaps exacerbated by the stress of running a business and the convenience of a bar in his workplace, we cannot know.

Albert died on May 6, 1910 in Carroll, Pennsylvania.  The cause of death listed on his death certificate is acute alcoholism, with a contributing factor of meningitis. He'd been suffering from meningitis for four days prior to his death at age 40.  His wife Nellie and their five children all survived him.

After Albert's death, Nellie moved her family to Los Angeles, California.  Her health had also suffered during the years in Pennsylvania.  Nellie had severe asthma, and doctors suggested a warm, dry climate free of coal dust might improve her condition. 

Albert's sister Ellen managed to eke out a living without her brother.  She took in lodgers to pay the bills.  In 1920, according to the census, she had four steel mill workers living under her roof, along with the younger four of her six children. She did not remarry.

Albert lived a short life filled with hard labor and tough circumstances, but his line continues with his many descendants.

Monday, July 21, 2014

How My Grandparents Met

My grandparents, LaVerne Rutherfurd and Glenn Murray Smith, at LaVerne's high school graduation, 1935.

Right now, I'm working on transcribing the autobiographies written by my maternal grandparents, LaVerne Rutherfurd Smith and Glenn Murray Smith.  I'm so glad that they took the time to write down some of their stories, as I've already gleaned much new information.  I've also smiled often, knowing that a certain usage of words or funny incident is right in line with how I remember them.

It's actually quite a bit of work piecing together these autobiographies.  My grandmother left many typewritten copies of hers, some with pictures photocopied amongst the text, but there is not one complete version.  I have multiple partial accounts which I'm having to stitch together.  Figuring out what goes where has not always been easy to determine.  My grandmother also typed up my grandfather's autobiography and it presents the same challenge.  There are bits and pieces of it scattered throughout various files.  I was thrilled to discover the original, handwritten version of my grandfather's autobiography tucked into a folder, but seems to cut off abruptly at page 36.  I don't know if there's more that was written and is now missing, or if that's all he wrote.

My grandfather's memoirs

I decided to compare the handwritten version of my Grandad's memoirs to the typewritten translation provided by my grandmother.  My grandfather's handwriting is not always easy to decipher, so this has been a long task.  What's interesting is that I've discovered a couple of occasions where my grandmother seems to have altered or omitted some of my grandfather's words in her translation.  For instance, my grandmother glosses over my grandfather's description of a teenage party where farts were lit on fire. The farts, apparently still memorable when my grandfather was of an advanced age and recalling his life, are nowhere to be found in the typewritten translation.  Knowing my grandmother and her distaste for any unseemly behavior, I cannot help but believe that this particular omission was intentional. She also adjusted the wording concerning a breakup during my grandparents' college years.  My grandfather recalls the event they were attending and the words that were said one way, while my grandmother's translation changes the name of the event and the particular insult that was uttered.  She must have felt that my grandfather remembered it incorrectly.

My grandmother's memoirs

 As to my grandparents' original meeting, my Grandma does not address it at all in her translation of my Grandad's memoir.  That entire section is missing.  It's possible that it was simply lost, so I'm glad to have found the original document for reference.  It's also possible that she didn't favor my grandfather's recollection of the event.  I've always known that my grandparents met as teenagers at a party hosted by a mutual friend in Los Angeles.  In her autobiography, my grandmother says it was a Valentine's Day party and declares that it was love at first sight for both of them.  What she unsurprisingly does not mention is that there may have been a game of "spin the bottle" and a kiss in a closet on that fateful evening.  That is, if you believe my grandfather's version of events. 

How my grandparents met, from my Grandma's autobiography:

"During my sophomore year in high school I met Glenn Smith at a Valentine party given by one of my classmates. It was love at first sight for the both of us.  We went horseback riding, swimming at State Beach in Santa Monica, to parties in friends' homes and to movies.  On our first date, which turned out to be Glenn's 17th birthday, we went to Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard to see King Kong."

How my grandparents met, from my Grandad's autobiography:

"...I had become quite adept at the roller rink in Culver City.

It was at this rink where I met the girl who was to become my bride. A group of us first met a girl named Annabel Bagley who invited us to a party the feature of which was spin the bottle. This led to a tender kiss in the closet with my future wife."

There are many lessons to be learned here.  One is certainly to always check the original document and not rely on translations.  Another is to think about your subjects and the reasons they might have had for providing a certain version of events. 

I am very glad to have these memoirs written by my grandparents.  They provide so much insight as to who they were before I knew them and brings their personalities fully to life.  I'm grateful to be able to include these stories when I tell my children about Glenn and LaVerne.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Richard Stockton: Signer of the Declaration of Independence

The signature of Richard Stockton on the Declaration of Independence

 My family moved to a small town four years ago.  The Fourth of July is a big deal here and a large chunk of the community turns out for the annual Fourth of July parade.  It's a lot of fun, and we all get into the spirit of the day.

This year, after the parade had ended, the cookout was cleaned up and the kids were in bed, I dug back into the bins of photos and documents left to me by my grandmother, LaVerne Rutherfurd Smith.  Inside, I found a short letter written by my grandmother that detailed how her interest in genealogical research began.  It reads as follows:

At a family supper on the Fourth of July in 1957 the children wanted to know about the American Revolution we were celebrating.  Then came the question, "Did we have anyone in the Revolutionary War?"  "Of course," came the response.  Then the hard one: "Who?"  That began the search which has led to endless interesting searching and down many side roads of family history.

The coincidence of finding this on the Fourth of July made me smile.  Yes, as my grandmother discovered over the years, we do have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Even better, we have a semi-distant relation who signed the Declaration of Independence.  While Richard Stockton is not a direct ancestor, his contribution to American history is certainly worth highlighting here. 

 Richard Stockton is my second cousin nine times removed.  His great-grandparents, Richard and Abigail Stockton, are my tenth great-grandparents and the Stockton line's immigrant ancestors, having emigrated from Cheshire County, England to New Jersey in the mid-1600s.  Richard Stockton, the signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on October 3, 1730 in Princeton, New Jersey.  He was the son of John Stockton and Abigail Phillips.  His father, John Stockton, was wealthy and influential, having served for many years as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas in the County of Somerset, New Jersey while America was still a British colony.  Together with four other local men, he donated the acreage and funds necessary to establish Princeton University.

Statue of Richard Stockton located in the United States Capitol
Richard Stockton was the eldest of John and Abigail's children.  He became a lawyer and a good friend of George Washington.  He served as a trustee of the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University.  He was also a member of the King's Council for New Jersey.  As tensions between Britain and its colony heightened in the mid-1700s, Richard Stockton was torn between his belief that America should separate itself from the crown, and his career and longtime friendships with devoted loyalists.  The book "Biographies of the Signers" by John Sanderson details Stockton's difficulties during this time and his conflicting allegiance. Eventually, Stockton fell firmly into the rebel camp, working on behalf of American independence.

In 1776, Richard Stockton was elected to the Second Continental Congress, and also elected the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.  He turned down the court position in order to retain his role in Congress.  On July 4th, he signed the document that the Congress had drafted declaring the colonies' independence from England.  His son-in-law, Benjamin Rush, husband of his daughter Julia, also signed the Declaration of Independence.

On November 30, 1776, Stockton was captured by loyalists and turned over to the British.  He was jailed at Perth Amboy.  Stockton was freed six weeks later, but his health was never the same.  He had been subjected to freezing temperatures, starvation and brutality during his prison stay, and the effects of that mistreatment lingered until his death from cancer on March 7, 1781.

An image of Richard Stockton can be found in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.  He is also featured in John Trumbull's famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence which hangs in the Capitol Building's rotunda.  In that image, he is between Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock, seated on the left in a group of four men.

It is an indirect relationship, but one that certainly inspires pride.  To be connected, however distantly, to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Grandparents' World War II Ration Books

I have started the long task of sorting through the three large bins of family materials left to me by my grandmother, LaVerne Rutherfurd Smith, after her death in 2012.  They're filled with genealogical files, old photos and newspaper clippings.  I've seen a lot of these items in the past.  My grandmother and I used to spend afternoons together going through photograph albums and talking about genealogy, and she showed me much of her family history collection during those meetings.  However, as I work my way through the contents of these bins, I'm turning up little treasures that are completely new to me.

Today, I discovered a photo of my great-grandparents, George Rutherfurd and Julia Barrett, that I'd never seen.  There's a picture of the interior of my great-grandmother Nellie Barrett's home circa the 1920s and a letter that my grandad, Glenn Murray Smith, wrote to my grandmother in 1933, when they were both teenagers.  It's so wonderful to come upon all these new things.  I only wish I could ask my grandmother for more details about each of them.

One of the newly discovered items that has intrigued me the most is a set of ration booklets from 1943.  There are three of them, one each for my grandmother, grandfather and their eldest child, Glenn Thomas "Tom" Smith.  These three booklets fit into a holder, which my grandmother had reinforced with tape along the edges.  All three booklets contain a number of unused stamps.

The booklets state that the family was living at 210 McKinley Avenue in Pomona, California.  This is new information for me.  My grandparents were both born and raised in Los Angeles, and I knew they spent some of the war years in Forestville, in Sonoma County, and in upstate New York, while my grandfather attended various military training schools.  I did not know that they'd ever been in Pomona.  Pomona is about a 30-minute drive east of San Marino, where my grandparents settled after the war.

My uncle Tom is listed as being 9 months old on the ration books.  He was born on September 22, 1942.  That would date the ration books to June of 1943.  This was before their move to Forestville.

During the war years, there were shortages of a number of items, including food and gasoline.  A system of rationing these goods was enacted across America.

As explained by The National WWII Museum's website:

Every American was issued a series of ration books during the war.  The ration books contained removable stamps good for certain rationed items, like sugar, meat, cooking oil, and canned goods.  A person could not buy a rationed item without also giving the grocer the right ration stamp.  Once a person’s ration stamps were used up for a month, she couldn’t buy any more of that type of food.

Instructions for using the ration stamps are listed on the back of each booklet.  Also, the interior of each holder contains a quote from President Roosevelt and a list of tips to make ration coupons go further.

"We cannot have the things we want if our boys over there are to have what they need."  
-President Roosevelt

  • Budget your points as you do your money.
  • Plan your meals in advance.
  • Total your points at home to save time -- trouble and service at the store.
  • When stamps are used up -- you cannot buy rationed goods until the next ration period.
  • Substitute non-rationed fresh fruits and vegetables when possible to conserve stamps.
  • Keep a record of point changes -- point values change on seasonal foods.
  • Use higher point stamps first -- it will simplify buying during closing days of period.
  • Shop during the early part of the week and avoid confusion.

It's interesting to think about my grandmother, a young mother during the war, planning her meals around rationed items. What sort of compromises did she have to make?

I notice that someone else, perhaps the issuing authority, has written the names of the three family members on each of their ration books.  My grandmother wrote all the identifying information below that.  I recognize her handwriting.  She has signed her own ration book and that of my uncle Tom.  My grandfather did not sign his.

This is such a little piece of history, and I'm glad I've found it and can preserve it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy Blogoversary

Photo by yanyanyanyanyan

Happy blogoversary to me! I started Know Their Stories one year ago today and after 55 entries, it’s still going strong.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that maybe two people read this blog. I didn’t start Know Their Stories for page counts, I started it so that I could share my family’s history with those who were interested and carry on my grandmother’s legacy. On that level, I believe I’ve succeeded. Along the way, some new cousins have stumbled upon my blog and provided me with valuable information about my family. That’s been a wonderful surprise. The stories are out there for people to find, and those who are curious will find them.

Know Their Stories has pushed me to do better research. While writing posts, I’ve discovered inaccuracies in my files and had to go back and work on proving that lineage. The most recent example of this is the posts I wrote about Temperance Burns, my third great-grandmother. The blog has also enabled me to dive deep into stories that were once fragmented and pull them together into one narrative.

The most popular posts on Know Their Stories in the past year:

How Many Times Was George Beck Married?

Wallace Partridge: Civil War Soldier

Scandalous Ancestor: Alvin Jared Howe

Some of my favorite posts:

The series on Gil Cook, a B-52 pilot killed by friendly fire during World War II

The series on my Australian ancestors, the Colemans and Dwyers

A birthday post in memory of my beloved grandmother

I feel that I’ve only gleaned the surface of our family history thus far, and there’s so much more to write about. So, I’ll keep writing. Here’s to year one of Know Their Stories, and many more years to come.