Sunday, September 7, 2014

She Was in the Book!

Catherine Fox Owen
Sellers Moore
I have been interested in my family history since I was very young, because my mother and grandmother always spoke about family members.  I grew up knowing names, relationships, birthdays, and anniversaries and hearing lots of stories.  But what really got me hooked was an assignment in junior high school to fill in a family tree back four generations.

I still have that purple mimeographed tree (that special smell is long gone, though).  I also have all the notes I made when I interviewed my relatives.  I knew a fair amount about my mother's side but not as much on my father's.  To learn more, I spoke with my dad, my aunt who lived nearby, and my grandfather.

One of the facts that everyone seemed to agree on at the time was that my grandfather's paternal grandmother was Kate Moore.  Everyone told me that.  So I dutifully wrote it down (no personal computers with family tree programs back in the mid-1970's) and began my search for her.

Over many years of searching I was not able to find a Kate or Katherine/Catherine Moore who married a Sellers and had a son named Cornelius Elmer, but I kept looking.  Sometime around 2000, I found a book on eBay about the Benjamin Moore family of Burlington County, New Jersey, the county in which the family lived for many decades.  It wasn't going for much money, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The book arrived just before Labor Day weekend.  I was going to a convention in Los Angeles for the weekend and brought the book with me for "light reading."  I checked the index and found one mention of a Sellers, but it was for a Catherine Owen Sellers marrying someone named Moore, which didn't fit what I had been told.  In addition, there was no son named Cornelius Elmer.  I read through most of the rest of the book, which seemed well put together, but it didn't appear to be my family after all.  When I packed up to return home at the end of the convention I tossed the book into the van with everything else.

A month later, I discovered that one of my grandfather's sisters was still alive (you'd think someone in my family would have already mentioned this to me, wouldn't you?).  Of course, I immediately wanted to talk with her.  My aunt gave me Aunt Betty's phone number, and I settled in on a Sunday afternoon to call her.

When Aunt Betty answered, I introduced myself and told her I was that granddaughter of Bert (her brother) and that I wanted to talk to her about family history.  She sounded suspicious but said, "Tell me what you know," in a no-nonsense tone.  I ran through a quick overview of the information I had.  She started to warm up to me, so I figured I must have been reasonably accurate.  Then I mentioned that I had been told Kate Moore was the mother of Cornelius Elmer (Aunt Betty's father).  She said, "Well, you know that Moore was her second husband."


Aunt Betty proceeded to explain that Kate's first husband, Cornelius Elmer's father, had died young and that she had married George W. Moore a few years later.  That's how she became Kate Moore.  She also told me that George and Kate had a son, Howard Evans Moore.  Cornelius Elmer had loved his stepfather so much he named one of his own sons after him:  George Moore Sellers (who later was known as Dickie).

Wow!  That was certainly going to change my research.  I thanked Aunt Betty and wrapped up our call.  I went through my notes and made sure the scribbles were legible, then called my dad.  When I told him that Aunt Betty had been very short and matter-of-fact at the beginning of the call, he said, "Yeah, that's Aunt Betty, all right."  He also was surprised to hear about Kate Moore's second marriage.

The next morning I was telling someone about my conversation with Aunt Betty when I suddenly remembered the book I had read a month previously.  I jumped up and said, "I'll be right back!"  I ran out to my van, got the book (yes, it was still in the van a month later — don't ask), and ran back inside.  Lo and behold, when I looked again at that Catherine Owen Sellers, whom did she marry?  Why, George W. Moore, that's who.  And wouldn't you know, they had a son named . . . Howard Evans Moore!  So she was in the book after all!

In 2002 I made a special trip to Florida to meet Aunt Betty in person.  We had a great time and got along beautifully.  I'm really glad I was able to go when I did, because she passed away less than two years later.  Thanks for your help, Aunt Betty!  You are still in my thoughts.

Friday, August 29, 2014

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Kelsey Grammer

I had been looking forward to the Kelsey Grammer episode of Who Do You Think You Are? since they announced the celebrity line-up for the season.  It didn't go in the direction I had anticipated, but I enjoyed it a lot.  The teaser said he would learn about a troubled relative (wait, maybe another murder?) and a pioneer on his grandmother's side of the family.

During the opening sequence we saw the famous Hollywood sign; Kelsey Grammer lives in Los Angeles.  He is best known for playing the "iconic role" of psychiatrist Frasier Crane on Cheers and the spin-off Frasier.  The part garnered him five Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes.  He had a passion for Shakespeare at a young age and began performing in theater when he attended Juillard (but did not graduate).  He lives with his wife and two youngest children (deft phrasing which sidestepped the fact that this is his fourth marriage and he has four children from previous relationships).

Grammer's parents (both deceased) were Frank Allen Grammer, Jr., and Sally Cranmer.  They met in New York, married, and moved to the Virgin Islands (I wish they had told us why!), which is where Kelsey Grammer was born.  When Grammer was about 2 years old his parents separated, and he and his mother moved in with his mother's parents.  He called them Gordon and Gam, and they and his mother raised him and his sister, with the five of them together.  He remembers being a happy child and young man, but he has had more than his share of tragedy.  His sister died at 18, his father at 38.  Gordon died at 63 of cancer.  He and Gam became closer after that.  Gam was feisty, funny, loving, and tough as nails, and taught him to figure a way out and not to quit.

Gam's given name was Evangeline; Grammer's youngest daughter is named after her.  Gam never spoke about her mother.  Her father's name was Dimmick, first name unknown.  He left the family early.  At some point in her life Gam tracked him down, but he wasn't interested and didn't want to talk to her.  She was raised primarily by three aunts, and of them mostly by Aunt Lela.  Apparently raising Gam was difficult, because she ran away a lot.  The big mystery to Grammer is why she was living with her aunts.

Grammer is very self-deprecating:  While he is driving to his first destination he turns toward the camera and says that one of the scariest things to do in your life is allow an actor to drive you around.

And that first research destination is the Beverly Hills Public Library, where he meets with "family historian" Jennifer Utley (an employee of  Grammer says that Evangeline Dimmick was born in Oakland, California about 1905.  Utley says they should look for her on in the census.  Grammer searches from the census collection page, typing in Evangeline Dimmick, born 1905.  Only two hits are shown on screen, but the first four hits are her.  Utley says the first census they should look at is the 1910 census, because it's the closest one after Evangeline's birth.  Utley says they're in Alameda, and Grammer says that's near Oakland, but the family is actually in Oakland, Alameda County, California.  (Their address of 2276 Market Street, which is no longer a residence, is a mere half-mile from where I live.)  Evangeline was the granddaughter of the head of household, Chas. (Charles) B. Geddes; Geddes is a name Grammer recognizes.  Others in the home were Charles' wife, Amelia, and their four daughters:  Evangeline M. Daymont (who was divorced), Minerva and Delia Geddes, and Genevieve Dimmick, Evangeline Dimmick's mother.  The census says that Genevieve had been married for five years, but her husband was not in the household.  (Not mentioned was that Charles, Amelia, and their daughter Evangeline were born in Canada.)  Utley mentions that the combination of the unusual names — Genevieve, Evangeline, and Dimmick — means they can be pretty sure they've found the right family, a type of analysis not usually shown on this program.  Grammer can be seen taking notes on all of this information, and he continues to take notes throughout the episode.

After the 1910 census, they look at the 1920 census.  Evangeline was then living in San Francisco with an uncle and aunt, Walter and Eland Swindell.  At the same address, likely another unit in the same building, were her mother and her aunts Lela and Minerva.  In this census, however, her mother is listed as divorced.  So they've found Genevieve in two censuses with Evangeline but still no husband.  She's divorced, but they still don't know the husband's name.  Utley says that it would be difficult to look up information on the divorce because they don't know the husband's name (seriously?  Divorce records are indexed by last name; how many Dimmicks got divorces in San Francisco between 1910–1920?) but that newspapers tried to sell stories.  (Okay, as much as I love using newspapers for research, the scripting was incredibly lame.)

We got a big surprise:  They went to a newspaper database online, but it wasn't!  It was the California Digital Newspaper Collection, a free site (did it have to pay a "placement fee"?).  Grammer searches for Genevieve Dimmick, and the first result is "Neglect and Desertion Charges Made by Wife."  The San Francisco Call of October 31, 1913 carried the item, which said that Genevieve Marriott Dimmick had filed for divorce that day against her husband, Ellis L. Dimmick (we have his name!).  They were married in April 1905, but Dimmick left in November of that year.  Dimmick must have left while Genevieve was pregnant (or very soon after Evangeline was born), and it's possible they married while she was pregnant.  Grammer decides that "L" stands for "Louse."

San Francisco Call, October 31, 1913, page 1
California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research,
University of California at Riverside,
Utley asks a logical question:  Why wait eight years before filing for divorce?  Grammer asks what he should do next.  Utley tells him it will be best to find someone in the Bay Area who can explain the historical context of what divorce was like at that time.  (My first thought was, "How about trying to get a copy of the divorce file?"  I guess that's why I don't get to work on these shows.)  As he leaves, Grammer comments that Ellis didn't even exist for him until that day.

From one library to another, Grammer's next stop is the San Francisco Public Library (a place I go often for research), where social historian Donna Schuele meets him.  (We saw her previously on the Cynthia Nixon episode.)  Grammer says he's curious as to why Genevieve would wait eight years to file for divorce.  Schuele says she has found the final decree of divorce, which was made on November 20, 1914.  (San Francisco didn't keep the complete divorce files for early decades of the 20th century.  Often all you can get is the register of actions, so finding the final decree is really good.)  Dimmick did not show up to contest the divorce.

As for the delay in filing, Schuele says that when Genevieve filed her parents were no longer alive.  It's possible that they didn't want her to file (they might have been Catholic), she didn't want to file, or she didn't want the social stigma that divorce carried.  It was even harder to be a single mother at that time than now, with no daycare or support system.  Genevieve's sisters probably gave Evangeline a more stable environment than she would have had otherwise.

Grammer wants to know what is next — what happened to Dimmick?  Did Genevieve remarry?  Schuele tells him that Genevieve did marry again.  She died as Genevieve Foltz on September 30, 1934; her husband was William S. Foltz.  The certificate showed her date and place of birth as September 10, 1882 in Merced County (not Oakland).  She died in San Francisco at 1249 Mason Street (residence 1117 McAllister); the cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver.  This leads to a discussion of how Genevieve developed cirrhosis.  While it is commonly associated with long-term alcoholism, several other causes exist, and today hepatitis overwhelmingly is the leading cause.  But they latch onto drinking and discuss some of the social conditions at the time that could have led Genevieve to drink too much.  It was easy to find alcohol in San Francisco, even during Prohibition.  They even joke that maybe Genevieve was a party girl, and Grammer suggests that maybe Genevieve and Dimmick hooked up on a drunk.  Maybe the reason Evangeline ran away was to try to get attention from her mother.

Having resolved the question of what happened to Genevieve, we return to the mystery of Ellis "Louse" Dimmick.  Since he and Genevieve married in Oakland, Schuele says she will put Grammer in touch with a historian there.

As he drives to Oakland over the new span of the Bay Bridge, Grammer talks about how Genevieve was probably a heavy drinker and wasn't there for her daughter.  Problems with alcoholism resonate with him because of his own (very public) experiences.  He comments that someone wiser than he said that alcoholism is caused by a broken heart and unresolved grief.  Now he wants to find Ellis Dimmick and learn why he abandoned his wife and child.

Completing a library hat trick, Grammer ends up at the Oakland Public Library and speaks with historian Jim Baumohl (who specializes in urban poverty, homelessness, and social welfare).  Baumohl has a copy of the May 26, 1908 U.S. Marines enlistment for Ellis Loughbrough (so much for Louse!) Dimmick.  At that time many rebuilding efforts were going on throughout the San Francisco area due to the 1906 earthquake and fire, so work was plentiful, yet Dimmick had enlisted, suggesting some level of desperation on his part to find employment.  Dimmick's enlistment paperwork said he was "waiving marriage." Baumohl misspeaks and says that the Army (Dimmick enlisted in the Marines) made sure that part of a soldier's salary went to dependents; Dimmick apparently said that his wife was not dependent on him, so he kept his entire salary for himself.  His service record shows several AOL (away over leave, as in returning late) and a few AWOL (away without official leave) entries.  The next to last entry reads, "Discharged as UNDESIRABLE, Private; Because of habitual A.O.L. and excessive use of intoxicants; Character 'Bad.'" He was discharged on November 8, 1909, less than a year and a half after he enlisted.

Grammer laughs and says that Baumohl must have more evidence of Dimmick's miserable existence, and Baumohl agrees.  The next document Baumohl shows is Dimmick's 1918 World War I draft registration (which looks like the original record).  It states he was born February 22, 1879 and lived in the Hotel Shattuck, where he worked as a night porter.  With Dimmick's poor military record he certainly wasn't going to be called up, and he was a little old to serve at that point anyway, but he did fulfill his legal obligation by registering.  He listed his nearest relative as his daughter, Evangeline Lucile Dimmick, but gave her address as unknown.  She was about 12 years old at the time.  Grammer comments that maybe Dimmick thought about Evangeline at times and sees this as a sign of something more human about the man.

When Grammer asks, "Now what?", Baumohl produces Dimmick's death certificate and says this will close the book on him.  Dimmick, aged 60, died in Alameda County on August 1, 1939 of arteriosclerosis.  The certificate says he was born in Healdsburg (about 75 miles north of Oakland) and that his parents were Joseph Dimmick, from Iowa, and Mary F. Krichbaum, from Ohio.  I noticed that the certificate has "2 OF 2" stamped on it, meaning the second of two pages.  I usually see that when there's a coroner's inquest, and the second page updates the cause of death.

Grammer says that both of Ellis' parents were from the Midwest and asks why they were on the West Coast, to which Baumohl responds that they should look in the census.  He suggests looking in the 1880 census, because that would be the first one in which Ellis appeared.  They find him living in Oakland with his parents and siblings.  Joseph and Mary were born in Illinois and Iowa, respectively.  The two oldest children, Victor and Ernest, were born in Oregon.  The rest of the children — Clarence, Lillian, Edwin, Virgil, and baby Ellis (only one year old) — were born in California.  It is obvious that Joseph and Mary moved from the Midwest to Oregon, whether separately or together.  Grammer wonders if they came out on a wagon train.  Baumohl says he will introduce Grammer to someone who can help with research in Oregon (apparently our next stop), if he's interested.

Grammer sees Dimmick as an irretrievably tragic man.  He can't really feel sorry for him and thinks he was a scoundrel and a weak character.  Now he's looking forward to learning about his second-great-grandparents and is headed to Portland to look at early Oregon records.

In Portland (I love Portland!) Grammer goes to the Genealogical Forum of Oregon and meets David Del Mar, an Oregon historian and associate professor at Portland State University.  Grammer gives a short background of his family and what he wants to learn (as if Del Mar didn't know already), and Del Mar shows him the Early Oregonian Search database (another free database not associated with  Grammer declines the opportunity to type the search himself, so Del Mar does it, entering Joseph Dimmick's name.  A lot of information pops up on screen (this is a pretty cool database).  Joseph was born in Ohio in 1842.  His mother was Comfort Dean, his father Joseph Dimmick, Sr.  Grammer correctly guesses that they are his third-great-grandparents.  Joseph Sr. was born in New York in 1808.  They arrived in Oregon on October 1, 1852.

Then we go back to (the third researcher to use it in this episode) to look for the family in the Midwest, before they traveled to Oregon.  Del Mar pulls up the 1850 census.  The Dimmick family is living in Rushville Township (Schulyer County), Illinois. Joseph and Comfort have twelve children in the household.  Grammer says, "I'm doing what I can to catch up!"

Del Mar says he has found something that will give more clues to why the Dimmick family picked up and moved across the country.  The Springfield Daily Journal (not online) of November 1, 1850 published an article titled "Oregon Fever!" which was essentially a sales pitch.  The article talked about homesteading for free land in Oregon and what a beautiful area it was.  (Springfield was in Sangamon County, which is not adjacent to Sangamon County, so I don't know how likely it is that Joseph Dimmick saw this particular newspaper article.  I guess they couldn't find something that was published closer to home?)  It's easy to understand how someone with a large family in an area where land was expensive could be enticed by the possibility of a large homestead and the hope for land for his children and grandchildren.  So the Dimmick family decided to follow Manifest Destiny and the Oregon Trail.  Del Mar cautions that getting there was not for the faint of heart and says if Grammer is interested in learning about the hardships the family would have faced (what, he's going to say no?) he has a colleague in eastern Oregon who can help.

Grammer is astounded to learn he had pioneer ancestors who traveled on the Oregon Trail.  As he gets out of the car at the next location, Grammer says something about Oregon and the "lure of gold" that doesn't make sense.  In Baker, Oregon, he is met by Peter Boag, an Oregon Trail expert.  Boag begins by explaining that the Oregon Trail was 2,200 miles long but only about 300 miles are still visible (and the camera obligingly shows us some of the ruts).

The narrator says the Oregon Trail began in 1836.  It was a dangerous journey, and settlers took up to six months to make the cross-country trip, through rugged mountains and dry plains.  People mostly walked; the wagons were there to carry supplies.  The trail started in Missouri and followed the Platte River through the Great Plains, then went over the Rocky Mountains and to the Snake River.  From there the trail followed the Columbia River to the Willamette Valley.  Until the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the Oregon Trail was one of the most viable ways to cross the continent.  More than half a million people took the trail to go west.

Boag tells Grammer that many people kept journals detailing their trips.  The researchers found a journal kept by Joseph Gragg which mentions the Dimmick family, who traveled with him.  Gragg was Joseph Sr.'s nephew and Joseph Jr.'s first cousin.  Boag points out this is a "rare find" (and it's very, very cool when you do find something like that in your research).  Grammer reads several passages from the journal pages.  The party started out in April 1852.  The entire Dimmick family is listed by name.  Going down the list of the children, Grammer sees that by Thomas' name it says that he died on the plains.  Thomas was the Dimmick's oldest son (we saw his name on the 1850 census; he was 21 years old then).  The journal says that Thomas was on a buffalo hunt with two others; the weather was very hot, and when he returned he "drank quite freely of poor water."  He became sick with "colera"  that evening and died quickly, apparently either the same day or the next.  He was buried alone on the plains.

Boag explains that the water was contaminated by human waste; the pioneers weren't maintaining very good hygiene standards.  Cholera was the deadliest disease to affect travelers on the trail.  Grammer reads more from the journal:  The group passed several new graves daily as they traveled along the Platte River.  Grammer asks how many people died along the way.  Boag says that the mortality rate was about 4% (which really isn't that bad when you consider the circumstances).

Boag points out that the journey did not end where they are standing.  Immigrants still had another month of travel to pass through the Blue Mountains, which the two men can see from where they are standing.  He tells Grammer that the Willamette Valley is still another 300 miles from there.  Grammer thanks him for all the information and says he wants to say a prayer for Thomas and the others who didn't make it.

Grammer is impressed by the first-hand account in the journal.  He's awed by the sacrifices people made, and learning that the Dimmicks lost their first-born son is powerful.  But now he wants to know where his Dimmick family ended up, and Boag has recommended he speak with archivist Layne Sawyer at the Oregon State Archives in Salem (the same organization that provides the Early Oregonian Search used earlier in the episode).

Sawyer is at the archives building to greet Grammer, who asks if Dimmick got his land claim.  She tells him that all of the records are on microfilm, but the index is in a book.  Grammer finds Joseph Dimmick and wife; their claim number is 1501.  On the microfilm he finds Joseph's land grant of 311.04 acres; the eastern part of the land is Joseph's, the western part Comfort's.  Sawyer explains that it was the first land act that specified women could own land.  The document says that they worked the land from 1854–1858.

Sawyer asks if Grammer would like to see another record, to which he responds, "Oh, yes, I'd like to."  Sawyer hands him a manila folder with Joseph Dimmick, Sr.'s probate.  Grammer comments on the fact that it's incredible to be touching the original documents.  Joseph Sr. died October 1, 1860 in Benton County, only two years after getting title to his land, but he died on that land.  That's the end of the probate discussion; next Sawyer says she has found a reference to Joseph Sr. in the Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley, a hefty-looking tome.  The index indicates Joseph's entry is on page 1172.  The biography mentions that Joseph was a pioneer, and Sawyer points out that means he arrived before the railroad; to Oregonians, this is an important distinction.  Joseph was born in Connecticut, so during his life he traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast.  They don't go into detail about the rest of the bio, probably due to the fact that in its discussion of the Dimmicks' travel across the plains it says, "Beyond the events incident to a trip of this nature in the early days they met with no hardship and arrived safely at their destination ...."  Losing your oldest son to cholera was "incident to a trip of this nature" and "no hardship?"  Kind of makes you wonder who wrote that bio.

Next Sawyer brings out a map of Township 14 South Range 5 West to show Grammer where the Dimmick property was.  Grammer finds the Dimmick property on the map, and Sawyer tells him it isn't that far from where they are, about an hour's drive south.  Grammer is glad that Joseph did get the land and wants to find it and thank Joseph.  While he's driving he says he consulted an updated map to find the property.  The area is still farmland.

Grammer muses at the end on how he began this trip to find Gam's story.  He thought he came from a small family, but now he has many more names and stories.  Some of his ancestors didn't do very well — Genevieve, Ellis — while others were successful — Joseph and Comfort.  He feels Joseph instilled a sense of obligation in his children and taught them that if they could imagine it, they could try to do it.  Grammer is at a loss for words for a few seconds and then says that maybe he got a small piece of that.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Valerie Bertinelli

This is later than usual because I, being the geek that I am, rewatched the episode multiple times trying to catch every piece of information from the various family trees that were shown.  I still missed some bits because they didn't discuss them on screen and the camera didn't stay on them long enough for me to see everything.  It was interesting to see what they skipped over (but more on that later).

I have to admit, I was happy to finally see an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? this season with a celebrity I recognized.  I didn't feel quite as old and out-of-date.  The opening teaser mentoned royalty (I was thinking we'd find another trail to Charlemagne) and another murder (reminding me of my earlier comment that maybe all the celebrities this season would have murders in their backgrounds).  And in the opening sequence I noticed that a sixth celebrity has been added:  Minnie Driver.  I don't understand why it took until the fourth episode to add her, since she was announced as a substitute for Lauren Graham back in July, before the new season actually started.  Unfortunately, since Minnie Driver was featured in an episode of the UK Who Do You Think You Are?, I'm sure TLC will just take that episode and edit it down to make room for commercials, as NBC did with the Kim Cattrall episode.  And of course we still don't know why Lauren Graham's episode won't air (at least this season), though it's likely that the research team wasn't able to find everything they wanted in time.  On the other hand, maybe the research results just weren't as exciting as anticipated?

The introduction to Valerie Bertinelli explained she hit the big time with One Day at a Time and has also published memoirs and a cookbook of Italian family recipes.  Currently she is one of the stars of Hot in Cleveland (which, although it does have Bertinelli along with Betty White and Jane Leeves, whom I think are great actresses, I also have not seen).  Bertinelli and her husband Tom live in Los Angeles, a few miles from her son Wolfie.

Bertinelli starts off by talking with Wolfie about her rolling pin, which used to belong to her Nonni (Italian for grandmother).  She remembers watching Nonni use it to make gnocchi, cappelletti, and other pasta.  (If she's the type of person to hold on to something like that, she really is a good candidate for a family history show.  Hooray!)  She was born in Wilmington, Delaware and grew up in Claymont, Delaware.  Her parents, Andrew Bertinelli and Nancy Carvin, married young and have been married more than 60 years.

Bertinelli knows more about her father's side of the family because she was around them.  Nonni was a baker and cook.  She died when Bertinelli was in her early 30's.  There are questions she didn't ask that now she wonders about, such as when and why Nonni left Italy and anything about Nonni's parents.  Bertinelli's mother embraced her father's side of the family, and consequently she doesn't know as much about her mother's side, so she wants to focus on it.  Apparently Nancy ran away when she was 16 years old (nothing else was said on that subject).  The family didn't talk much and some subjects were not brought up, such as where the family came from.  And Wolfie wants to know if there's a family crest (foreshadowing ...).

Bertinelli starts her research by meeting with her parents.  They show a photo of Nancy with her parents, Lester Carvin and Elizabeth Adams Chambers.  Nancy was only 8 years old when her mother passed away.  Nancy says her older sister told her their mother was English.

Andrew's parents were Nazzareno and Angelina Rosa Bertinelli.  There's a photo of Nonni's mother and several women standing by a "specialità gelato" cart.  Andrew doesn't know who the other women are.  Nonni's mother's name was Maria Mancia Crosa, but Crosa was her first husband's name.  He was Giorgio Crosa.  Maria came to the U.S. after he died and married Mancia; they lived in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.  Nancy says the name as "Man-chee-uh", a common mistake with Italian pronunciation.

Bertinelli says that she needs more help with her mother's side and has asked a genealogist in England to research the Chambers and Carvin families.  She figures she has enough information to start on her father's side herself and decides to look for the family in the 1920 census on  Bertinelli searches (with no capital letters!) for "mancha."  (When I heard the name proncounced, I mentally spelled it as I thought it would be in Italian, i.e., Mancia.  Mancha is how you spell it in English to get the same pronunciation.)  She finds Gregorio Mancha, "Mary", Angelina (as Angeline), and a son named George.  Andrew comments that Giorgio was called George in English.

They decide that the next step should be for Bertinelli to go to Lackawanna County to find more information on the family.  (Funny how the Internet gets boring so quickly.)  She goes to the Lackawanna Historical Society in Scranton, Pennsylvania, commenting that she never talked about her father's grandmother and where she was from in Italy.  At the historical society she meets Marcella Bencivenni, a historian who focuses on Italian immigration, who says she has found some information.  She has deed book 382, which she has Bertinelli open to a deed dated April 14, 1931, where Maria Mancha, a widow, sells land in Jefferson Township, Lackawanna County, to Nazzareno and Angelina Bertinelli for $1.  The land is the same farm on which the family was living in the 1920 census.  Bertinelli wonders what happened to Gregorio, and Bencivenni tells her Gregorio died on April 9, 1931; one week later Maria gave the land to her daughter and son-in-law.  Bertinelli wants to know why.  Bencivenni says, "If we are lucky, we can find something in about his death."  (With all the talent in Hollywood, this is the best scripting they can come up with?)  So Bertinelli searches for <gregorio mancha>, and they show an article from April 10 (actually the second hit; I did the same search) on the computer:  "Believing He Killed Wife, Cortez Man Takes Own Life; Wife Saves Self by Feigning Death."  And we cut to a commercial!  (In the article, his name is actually spelled Gorgia Mancia; maybe they've set up an "alternative" index entry so people can find it?)

Scranton Republican, April 10, 1931
On returning from the commercial, of course the article is the topic of discussion.  "Gorgia" Mancia was 47 years old.  Bertinelli wants to know why he shot Maria.  She looks honestly confused and is wiping away tears.  Bencivenni says that they may not be able to find the answer (translation:  the research team couldn't find the answer).  (A follow-up article, which was actually the first hit from the search, appeared in the same newspaper on April 11.  It stated that no reason was known to explain Gorgia Mancia's actions.  It also said that the only known relative in this country was Angelina.)   She has another document, however.  This is an obituary for Mary Mancia, from the Scranton Times of July 6, 1951.  It says she died in the hospital and that surviving relatives included her daughter, Angelina; son, George Crosa; and brother, Joseph Possio.  So now they have Maria's maiden name!

Bertinelli now wants to look for immigration information on Maria.  Bencivenni says she should look on  Bertinelli asks if she should look for Maria under her maiden name, and Bencivenni says yes, because she was a widow when she arrived here and more likely would have taken back her maiden name.  (What she should have explained, but maybe Ancestry and the program's producers didn't think was worth the time, is that in Italy a woman's "maiden" name is her legal name throughout her life.  Whether Maria was single, married, or widowed when she traveled to the U.S., her name would have been Possio.  It was only after living in the U.S. that she would have adopted the custom prevalent here, of using her husband's surname as her own.)

Bertinelli finds Maria Possio arriving on the Dante Alighieri on June 12, 1915 in New York.  She was born about 1879, from Lanzo, Torino, her race was "North" (as in Northern Italian), and her occupation was cook.  She was traveling with two children, Maddelena and Giorgio Crosa.  (Maddelena seems to be Angelina, but the difference in name is never brought up, much less explained.)  Bertinelli asks why Maria would leave Italy with two children in tow.  Bencivenni explains that World War I began in 1914, and on May 23, 1915 Italy entered the war, so Maria wanted to leave the war behind her.  Apparently Maria wasted no time, because her ship sailed on May 29.  (Could she really have gotten all of her paperwork, tickets, travel documents, money, everything in order in six days?  I don't think so.  She was obviously planning to emigrate well before Italy officially was in the war.  Other information gleaned from the ship manifest:  Maddelena/Angelina and Giorgio each applied for U.S. citizenship later, as evidenced by the handwritten numbers to the right of their names; Maria's contact in the U.S. was her brother; and someone must have met Maria and the children at the dock, because there is no note by their names indicating they were held as "likely public charges.")

Bertinelli asks how she can find out about Maria's life in Torino.  No surprise, Bencivenni tells her the only way is to fly to Italy and go to Lanzo.

And she goes to Lanzo, wanting to learn about Maria's first husband and hoping that maybe Maria had an easier life in Italy.  At the Lanzo library (Centro Biblioteche) Bertinelli meets Molly Tambor, an assistant professor of history at Long Island University.  Tambor has Maria's marriage record, which shows that Maria Francesca Possio married Francesco Crosa on June 30, 1910, when she was 31 years old.  Tambor first presents the record in Italian, then gives Bertinelli a translation; Bertinelli says she's going to have to learn Italian.  Maria and Francesco already had a daughter (Angelina), who was born April 27, 1908, and they declared her their legitimate daughter.  Bertinelli wonders how they could have had a child and then not married until two years later.  Tambor explains that a church wedding and a dowry, the latter of which would not have been uncommon at that time, were both expensive, so they were put off.  Giorgio was born after Maria and Francesco married.

So what happened to Francesco?  Tambor has a copy of his death certificate, with a translation.  He died on November 10, 1911 of myocarditis (not actually a heart attack, as Bertinelli says).  In 1912 Maria was working, explaining the photograph of her with the gelato cart.  Tambor comments that it was not common for a woman to work.  Bertinelli wonders if she might have been saving money to go to America (a good probability in my mind), and Tambor says that even if she hadn't been, the money she made would have funded the trip.  She adds that Lanzo is a small town, so she had asked if anyone knew about the Possio family and found someone to talk to.  She has already made arrangements for a meeting.  Bertinelli asks if maybe the person will recognize the people in the photograph, and Tambor tells her to bring it with her (I love these heavy-handed lead-ins).

Pietro's postcard
The next day, Bertinelli goes to the meeting that Tambor has set up.   The on-screen translation says that Pietro Possio is Bertinelli's third cousin; his grandfather was Maria's first cousin (which actually makes them third cousins once removed).  He speaks only in Italian, and Tambor appears to be the interpreter.  (I was proud of myself:  I was able to follow most of the Italian conversation!)  Possio has a postcard sent to his grandfather by Maria from Palermo, as she was leaving Italy for the United States (how cool!).  A translation has been prepared, of course.  She wrote the postcard at 10:00 in the morning and talked about how they were scheduled to leave at 9:00 in the evening and that everyone was fine.

They show Possio the photograph of Maria and the gelato cart.  He points out that the little girl on the left is Angelina (which is what Andrew had thought), and an older woman on the right is Maria's mother.  He then takes out a letter that his father, Francesco, sent to Angelina.  (But if the letter was mailed to Angelina, why does Pietro have a copy?)  Angelina was one year younger than Francesco.  He asked for Angelina's children to write and hoped their children would visit each other, and now that has been fulfilled (also very cool).

As she leaves, Bertinelli says that she has more answers now and that her father will be proud of his grandmother.  She's hoping that in London she'll find information on her mother's side of the family, so she can give Nancy the same type of gift.  And off she heads to England.

In London Bertinelli goes to the Society of Antiquaries, where she meets with Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists.  Bertinelli says that she had never really thought about her English ancestry before and hopes Churchill will find some information for Nancy.  Churchill says she has found quite a bit of information and has created a family tree.  She also mentions that the information came from censuses and land records.

The tree begins with Bertinelli and goes to her parents, then to her mother's parents, Lester V. Carvin (born 1907 in Newark, Ohio; died 1984) and Elizabeth Adams Chambers (born 1907 in New Jersey; died after 1945).  It goes back and forth between following male and female lines.  Lester Carvin's parents, Bertinelli's great-great-grandparents, were Joseph Carvin (born 1874 in New Jersey; died after 1943) and Ida P. Gooden (born 1877 in New Jersey; died 1909).  Ida's parents were Jacob G. Gooden (born 1842 in New Jersey; died between 1910–1920) and Mary Emma Bishop (born 1858 in Gloucester County, New Jersey; died 1924).  Mary's parents were Benjamin Bishop (born 1828 in Gloucester County, New Jersey; died 1895) and Mary Claypoole (born 1831 in Gloucester County; died 1862; no comment was made about how young she was or that she died only a few years after her daughter was born).  I was a little surprised at the gaps in the research, especially for the 20th century; I know from personal experience New Jersey is not a friendly state when it comes to getting records, but I would have thought that all the money behind htis research would have smoothed the way for the research team.  Maybe those missing pieces of information simply couldn't be resolved before the final edits for the episode but the team finished the research later?

At this point Churchill interrupts Bertinelli to comment on how when doing English genealogy one can come across a "gateway ancestor" — one from a well documented family that can link to already established family trees.  (As if only the English have gateway ancestors?)  She points out that Mary Claypoole is just such a gateway ancestor, because the Claypoole family is well known and documented.  We then go tripping merrily up the Claypoole family tree, talking only about the men.  We go from Mary, Bertinelli's 3x-great-grandmother, to her parents, John Claypoole (born 1795 in Cumberland County, New Jersey; died 1877) and Jane (not discussed on screen, but born 17XX in New Jersey; died 18XX).  John's parents were Wingfield (how's that for a given name?) Claypoole (born after 1755 in New Jersey; died about 1806) and Mary Poole (also not discussed; born about 17XX).  Wingfield's parents were John Claypoole (born 1714 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died after 1770), who had no wife listed at all.  This John's parents were Joseph Claypoole (born 1677 in London, England; died 1744) and Rebecca Jennings (not discussed; born unknown; died 1713 [I think]).  And we stop at Joseph's parents, Bertinelli's 8th-great-grandfather, James Claypoole (born 1634 in England; died 1687) and his wife, Helena M—, also not discussed on screen (and difficult to read; I couldn't see the birth information, and death looked like 1688, but I'm not sure).

After hitting James, Churchill explains that the Claypooles are a well known line of Quakers in England.  Bertinelli asks how she can learn more about the family, and Churchill tells her the best place to go is the center for the history of Quakers in England, Friends House in London.

At Friends House Bertinelli meets Scott Stephenson, Ph.D., the director of collections at the Museum of the American Revolution (who apparently also specializes in Quaker research?).  She tells him that she has learned that her 8th-great-grandfather was James Claypoole, a Quaker.  He tells her a little about the history of the Quakers in England:  how they were persecuted and jailed for their beliefs because they went against the Church of England; in the 1680's more than 10,000 Quakers were in prison.  When Bertinelli wants to know if James was in trouble also, Stephenson pulls out James Claypoole's Letter Book, which utterly amazes Bertinelli.  A bookmark indicates a letter Claypoole wrote to William Penn — upon which Bertinelli asks, "The William Penn?" — dated the 1st of the 2nd month, 1683 (which I believe would have been April 1, because Great Britain did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752).

William Penn
The narrator gives us a short overview of William Penn and the Quakers.  The religion began in England in the 1650's.  It had many social aspects that diverged from commonly held beliefs of the time, including pacifism, gender equality, and that people could communicate with God without the need of a priest.  Quakers suffered persecution for these beliefs.  Penn petitioned King Charles II for the right to create a colony in North America, which Charles granted in 1681, giving Penn more than 45,000 square miles to create a safe haven for Quakers wishing to leave England.

Claypoole's letter to Penn said that Quakers were reduced to meeting in the streets because they had been locked out of their meeting houses.  Stephenson then shows Bertinelli a copy of the document that essentially founded Pennsylvania, which was written in 1682 in England.  It laid out governance for the province and was witnessed on the back by men who had purchased land.  One of the signatures is that of James Claypoole.  Bertinelli comments on his beautiful handwriting.

Bertinelli wants to know what happened to James and if he made it to Pennsylvania.  Stephenson directs her to another bookmark in the book.  This is not a letter from Claypoole but one about him.  He was elected to the council in 1687 in Pennsylvania, but unfortunately was not well.  The council was on recess during the summer, from May through August.  When it reconvened, Claypoole had died, on August 6.  His wife Helena died a year later, but she inherited several items after his death, including the "largest and least" of his silver tankards, the "larger with the Claypoole Coat of arms."  Boy, did that catch Bertinelli's attention!  After all, Wolfie wants to know if there's a family crest.  So she asks how she can find out more about the coat of arms, and Stephenson directs her to the College of Arms, which controls and records heraldry for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

As she leaves Friends House Bertinelli talks about how she sees parallels between Maria Possio and James Claypoole.  Both came to America for opportunity and made her world a better place because of the things that they did.  She says Claypoole particularly played a huge part in making America what it is (okay, maybe a little bit of an overstatement) and that she has "a lot to live up to."

At the College of Arms Peter O'Donoghue, the Herald of Arms, greets Bertinelli.  He has another family tree for her.  It begins with James Claypoole.  This is another time when they don't talk about all the people in the tree, and it was hard to see the names and dates because the camera didn't focus on them.  James' parents, not discussed, were John Claypoole (died 1660/6) and Mary Angell (born unknown).  The next name brought up after James was actually his grandfather, Adam Claypoole (born 1565; died March 2, 1632), who was married to Dorothy Wingfield (not discussed; born 1565; died November 1619).  Adam's parents were James Claypoole (born unknown; died about 1599) and "Jo" (that's all I could read, and I was guessing Joan; apparently she was Joan Henson).

O'Donoghue pauses at James Claypoole and says there's a document to look at.  He has Bertinelli open a book at a marked page, which describes the granting of arms to James Claypoole.  The page also shows the coat of arms.  O'Donoghue explains that James, who was from Norborow, Northampton, was not originally of the gentry but was a yeoman.  He made money and transformed the family's fortunes, then its social standing.  He came up enough in the world and had enough influence that he was made a gentleman.  Once he became a member of the gentry, his children could could marry the children of other gentlemen.  And that's what happened with James' son Adam.  Adam's wife, Dorothy Wingfield, was from a longer established, important family (he married up).

We then return to the family tree and follow Dorothy's line.  Her parents (Bertinelli's 11th-great-grandparents) were Robert Wingfield (born 1532; died March 31, 1580) and Elizabeth Cecil (not discussed, although she came from a very important family:  her brother was William, Lord Burghley, an important advisor to Queen Elizabeth I; she was born unknown, died 1611).  Robert Wingfield's parents are totally skipped, and next we see Sir Henry Wingfield (born before 1431) and then Sir Robert Wingfield (born 1403, died before November 21, 1454), neither of whose wives were shown.  Sir Robert Wingfield was Bertinelli's 14th-great-grandfather.  Above his name is a notation:  "Arundel 1.159."  When Bertinelli asks what it means, O'Donoghue directs her to a closed cabinet in the room and has her pull out another book.  Page 159 of that book has another family tree.  (Bertinelli is not asked to wear gloves while looking at either book.  She did handle the pages carefully.)

"Gal nations edward i" by
Unknown, Sedilia at
Westminster Abbey;
erected during reign of
Edward I (1272–1307).
Licensed under
public domain via
Wikimedia Commons.
The new family tree starts with Sir Robert Wingfield and his wife, Elizabeth (now she has a name!).  I had trouble reading her last name and thought it was Greskill, but it seems to be Goushill or something similar.  We hop over to Elizabeth's line at this point.  On screen they skip over her parents, who were Sir Robert Goushill and (Lady) Elizabeth (Fitzalan), and go straight to Lady Elizabeth's parents, William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton, and Elizabeth (daughter of Bartholomew de Badlesmere).  William was the son of Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford, and Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward I! (This Elizabeth was also the relict [widow] of John, Count of Holland, though he wasn't discussed at all, because, after all, we just landed on a king!  She was the daughter of Eleanor of Castile, who was the daughter of another king, Ferdinand III of Castile.  And with all this royalty, I know it must go back to Charlemagne, but I can't find the path.  So I'll claim accuracy on that point.)

O'Donoghue proceeds to tell Bertinelli that Edward is a great king to be descended from.  He was the quintessential Medieval English king.  He lived a long life, dying at the age of 72 (though Wikipedia says he was 68).  He was about 6'2" and was known as Longshanks because of his height.  O'Donoghue mentions Edward fought in the Crusades but that it was a disaster and says, "Never mind."  And during his reign England began its first steps to what would eventually become Parliamentarian democracy.  (What O'Donoghue neglects to mention is that Edward I expelled all Jews from England in 1290, after having expelled Jews from Gascony in 1287.  "Great" might be in the eye of the beholder.)

Bertinelli is obviously excited at these revelations but appears to be very self-effacing.   She is glad she has filled in blanks on her mother's side of the family tree with so many names and stories.  Now she is heading back to Los Angeles to share the information with her parents.  She's been so in touch with her Italian side all of her life and feels a real connection with Maria (and she brings back the postcard Maria sent from Palermo to show her parents).  She's never had any inkling about her English background but now has to identify with that side of her family as well.  And of course she's thrilled with the "Claypoole coat of arms."  (What they never address in the program is that English heraldry doesn't award a coat of arms to a family but to a person.  Each person in the family entitled to a coat of arms must use a variation of the basic form.  So the Claypoole coat of arms would originally have been James Claypoole's.  His descendants would have differentiated theirs by various devices.  I guess Wolfie will have to come up with his own version.)

On a totally separate note, now that Who Do You Think You Are? is on TLC, I'm seeing commercials for lots of programs from that network.  I have to say, I had no idea so many incredibly tacky, tasteless shows existed.

Whew!  I'm glad I finially finished this one.  All that nobility was very confusing after a while.  Onward to Kelsey Grammer!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Another Round of Newspaper Links

I have the 1976 disco song "More, More, More" going through my head, because that's what is happening with newspaper archives:  More and more of them are being posted online, which is a great thing for genealogy researchers.  And we still always want more!  While I haven't been able to catch up to adding all of the links to the Wikipedia newspaper archive page, this is a list of the current additions, several of which are university student newspapers.  There is one new country represented:  Vietnam.  Oh, and all of the new links are free!

• Hungary:  An archive of newspapers from South Hungary covering 1910–1945 is now available.
• California:  The Contra Costa County Historical Society has an online index of obituaries from about 1855–1920, mostly from the Contra Costa Gazette.  The society also offers to mail you a copy of an obituary you find in the index.
• California:  Stanford University's Stanford Daily is available from 1892–2009.
• California:  The University of California at San Francisco's student newspaper, Synapse, is online from 1957–2013.
• Georgia:  Three historic Savannah newspapers — Savannah Georgian (1819–1856), Savannah Morning News (1868–1880), and Savannah Republican (1809–1868) — have been added to the Digital Library of Georgia database.
• Georgia:  The Southern School News (1954–1965), which reported on desegregation issues across the South, has also been added to the Digital Library of Georgia.
• Hawaii:  Another extensive collection of Hawaiian-language newspapers is online.
• Illinois:  The Bloomington (DuPage County) Public Library has an online obituary index that includes downloadable PDF's of many of the obituaries.
• Illinois:  The North Suburban Library, near Chicago, also has an online obituary index (index only, though) that covers roughly 1880's–1980's.
• Iowa:  The Iowa Old Press site, part of Iowa GenWeb, has transcribed articles from 19th- and 20th-century newspapers throughout the state.
• Iowa:  The cities of Mount Vernon and Lisbon (Linn County) have a searchable and browsable historical newspaper archive on the Cole Library Web site.
• Massachusetts:  The Boston College newspaper collection includes the BC student newspaper; the student newspaper published by Newton College of the Sacred Heart, a women's college; a Boston-area Catholic newspaper; and two additional Catholic-church-related publications.
• Missouri:  The St. Louis Globe-Democrat has an online name (for A–R) and subject index to their morgue of clippings.  The page lists the years covered as about 1930–1986, but a search for "smith" gave results from at least 1920–1998.  This is an ongoing project, with more entries being added to the database.
• New Jersey:  The New Brunswick Free Public Library has two newspapers available free, New Brunswick Daily Times and Daily Home News, that are also available on a paid site.
• New Jersey:  The Papers of Princeton collection includes the Daily Princetonian, Local Express, Princeton University Weekly Bulletin, and Town Topics, covering 1876–2013.
• New York:  The Columbia Spectator student newspaper from Columbia University is online from 1877–2012.
• New York:  Cornell University's student newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun, can be read from 1880–1981.
• New York:  The Vassar College student newspaper collection includes seven publications and covers 1872–2013.
• Ohio:  Kent State University's student newspapers from 1939–1969 can be read online.
• Ohio:  Wright State University's student newspaper, The Guardian, is available online for the years 1965–1982 and 2012–2013, with more to come.
• Virginia:  The Library of Virginia has an extensive collection of newspapers, ranging from 1809–1999 and including more than 65 titles.
• Virginia:  The Collegian, the student newspaper of the University of Richmond, is online from 1914–2013.
• Multistate:  Japanese internment camp newspapers from World War II are available on Densho.
• United States:  The American Legion has an online archive of several of its publications, including American Legion Weekly, American Legion Monthly, American Legion Magazine, and The American Legion.  The latter is available for 2003–2011, while the first three are said to cover 1919–1949.
• Vietnam:  The National Library of Vietnam has a collection of digitized newspapers covering 1890–1955.  The site is in Vietnamese.

Some big news:  Two new states, Nevada and South Dakota, have been awarded federal grants to digitize their historic newspapers, which will then be added to the Library of Congress Chronicling America newspaper database.  Some South Dakota newspapers are already available on Chronicling America, and I look forward to seeing Nevada newspapers in the future.  Only thirteen states are not yet partners in the program.

Don't forget, if you find an online newspaper collection that isn't on the Wikipedia page, please add it, so it's easy for everyone to find!