Friday, August 21, 2015

History of the Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón

During my recent trip to Cuba, I visited the large Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus Cemetery).  Just inside the entrance was a display celebrating the 143rd anniversary of the cemetery, which opened October 30, 1871 (so the display probably was put up last year).  I figured this information would be difficult to find outside of Cuba, so I've translated the text to share it with others.  I have arranged the short essays into a rough chronological order of the events described, which is different from the order in which they were displayed.  Please forgive the light reflections on some of the images; the display was all under glass, and I'm not a professional photographer.

Illustrated Timeline of the Christopher Columbus Cemetery
143rd Anniversary of the Cemetery: October 30, 1871

Old General Cemetery of Havana

In 1806 Havana’s first general cemetery, known as the Espada Cemetery in honor of Bishop Juan José Diaz de Espada Fernández y Landa, one of its primary supporters, opened its doors. This cemetery ended the dangerous practice of burials in churches and convents.

In the mid-19th century, gradual population growth and deteriorating hygiene and sanitation led to successive epidemics, exhausting the burial space available and making it necessary to build a much larger and more modern cemetery.

The Espada Cemetery was closed in 1878 and demolished in 1908.

Opening of the Christopher Columbus Cemetery

On October 30, 1871, the new city cemetery was opened.  The event was recorded in an anonymous painting portraying what happened at the ceremony, with the benediction, and which included depositing into the first stone a copy of the day's newspaper and some coins.

North Facade of the Cemetery

Majestic sculpture designed by the architects Calixto de Loira and Eugenio Rayneri. Almost 22 meters high and built of stone from Jaimanitas [a suburb of Havana].  It is inspired by the classic Roman "Gates of Triumph", showing a predominance of the popular Romanesque style in its arches and the massiveness of its walls.  Note that the sculptures were not yet placed.

Gallery of Tobias

First large mortuary that was built in the cemetery for the burial of the dead, using a system of recesses; these functions ceased in 1874 due to defects in the construction.  In the 1970’s it was reclaimed to be used as a state-owned ossuary.  It is an extensive catacomb, 95 meters long, with 526 recesses in three rows.

The name of the gallery was taken from a biblical character of the Naphtali tribe who was devoted to various works of charity, including transporting and burying the dead, in the 7th century BC [8th century BC, according to the Wikipedia article].

Central Chapel

In 1886 work was completed on the new cemetery.  In the chapel Christian ceremonies are conducted.  This chapel marks the center of the cemetery, at the junction of the main avenues.  Of a marked necromantic character, it is the only religious building in Cuba with an octagonal plan.

View of the Interior of the Cemetery, 1892

View from the central chapel of the cemetery toward the main entrance.  This represents the upper-class area, where one sees an abundance of elegant monuments.  Note how the cemetery was growing like a city, in line with the interests of the owners.  The hierarchy of the spaces was determined in the sales of the plots in order to build tombs according to prices established for social classes.

Gate of Peace

Crowning the main arch, above the inscription JANUA SUM PACIS (“I am the Gate of Peace”), stands a sculpture in Carrara marble, representing the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity), by Cuban sculptor José Villalta y Saavedra.  It was put in place in 1904.

At the same time two other works by the same sculptor were placed on the north and south faces of the main arch. They represent two biblical passages. On the outside is "The Crucifixion" [visible in this photo], and inside is "The Resurrection of Lazarus."

Cemetery Expansion

In 1922, a project was drawn up to expand the cemetery through its eastern section, incorporating areas that are called A, B, C, D, E, and F, raising the overall area to 560,000 square meters [almost 140 acres].

Northeast Corner of the Cemetery, May 7, 1949

View from the corner of Avenues 23 and 18.  Here the intersection of Zapata Avenue and the old Estancias Road can be seen.  Note that the right angle of the corner was transformed into a curve to provide greater traffic flow for the road.  [And see the Esso gas station?]

The last two blocks of the cemetery to the west were a space for burial of non-Catholics and victims of epidemics.  After the construction of the Chinese and Baptist cemeteries, as well as improvements in hygiene and sanitation, the space had no purpose and was transformed in the late 1940’s.

National Monument

In 1987 the cemetery was declared a national monument, due to its indisputable historical value, heritage, and treasured documents in its archives.  In the cemetery expressions of religion and of Cuban popular and traditional culture coexist.  It has an extensive collection of architectural and sculptural works and decorative arts, true examples of national and universal culture.  Inside one can find prominent individuals of national and international importance.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Ginnifer Goodwin

I am finally out of Comcast limbo!  I realize few people will be shocked that my Comcast problem was not resolved with the first technician's visit.  A tech did come on August 7 as promised, and he actually fixed the problem — but the fix only lasted while he was here.  After he left, OnDemand and the program guide were screwed up again.  Because I spent last week in Washington at the Northwest Genealogy Conference, the next day I could schedule a follow-up appointment was today, August 17.  My programming is working and I was able to watch the Ginnifer Goodwin episode again, but now I'm afraid to turn the TV off.

Seasons for series on cable television don't work the same as those for regular networks.  Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? wrapped up at the end of April, and only three months later Season 4 began.  In addition to these two seasons being so close together, the number of episodes varies quite a bit.  Season 3 had eight episodes; the original announced schedule for Season 4 had only five, and one of those is a recut of a British original.  Since then a "highlights and outtakes" episode was added, which aired August 16.  I'm sure some factors in the scheduling are how long research takes for a given celebrity and what they are able to find, but it's hard to plan ahead for watching.

Season 4 opened with Ginnifer Goodwin.  The teaser told us she would investigate dark family mysteries, uncover a shocking truth, and learn about her great-grandparents who had been shunned for generations.  Fun stuff, huh?

Goodwin is an actress whose breakout role was playing Margene in the cable series Big Love.  She is also known for the movies Walk the Line and He's Just Not That into You, and the Disney/ABC television series Once Upon a Time, in which she works with her husband, Josh Dallas.  (Once Upon a Time started in October 2011, less than a week before Grimm.  Both sounded fun, but after two episodes I gave up on Once Upon a Time.  It was just too sappy and "Disneyish" for me.  Grimm, however, is awesome.)

Goodwin has a one-year-old son named Oliver (born one month after his parents married, by the way).  After having a child, it became important to her to be able to give him his family story.  She knows three branches of her family well, but not her paternal grandfather's side.  John Barton Goodwin died when she was only a year old.  She knows he left home at the age of 11 to get away from his family, but that's it.  One photo of John Goodwin shows him in a Navy uniform, but his military service isn't discussed.  Goodwin is very close to her father and wants to let him know about his father's family.

Goodwin starts her research with a visit from her father, Tim, who comes to her home and brings a few things with him.  He tells her to find "whatever", even if it's dark (foreshadowing!  and they really expect us to believe they don't know ahead of time what the research results are?).  Tim didn't really start to wonder about his father until after he died.  Tim knows John was born about 1905 in Arkansas and that by age 11 he was living in Memphis, abandoned.  His parents were apparently around the area, but he was alone.  He spent some time in a juvenile home, but those homes at that time often functioned as orphanages as well as homes for kids in trouble.  Tim learned this information from his mother, not his father.

Tim has his grandparents' names, John A. Goodwin and Nellie Barton.  Tim's father, John, built his mother a home after he was successful but refused to allow her to be part of the family (which sounds very harsh).  Tim has a photo of three women; he says Nellie is in the center, but he doesn't know who the other two are.  Nellie looks elderly, and the other women are younger (rough age estimates could possibly make them Nellie's daughter and granddaughter).

Batesville Ward 1, Independence County, Arkansas, ED 41, sheet 4B
Tim had already started digging and has a copy of the 1910 census for Batesville, Arkansas (on an oversized piece of paper, no less).  Al was 29, Nellie 28, a daughter named Pearl was 8, and John was 4.  Goodwin notes that Al and Nellie had been married 6 years, but Pearl was 8.  Either Nellie was married previously, or the baby came before the marriage ceremony.  (She's pretty good with that census, isn't she?  Has she done this before?  She didn't mention, however, that the census indicates it was a first marriage for each of them.)  All of them were born in Arkansas, as were their parents, so Goodwin says she should probably go to get records in Arkansas.  (Seriously?)  Tim says there are "so many things I could have asked him that I regret not asking him", which should serve as a great reminder to everyone else to ask your older relatives questions now, while they are alive.

In the interlude, Goodwin says that as a mother, she wouldn't let her 11-year-old child out of her sight, so she wonders what happened.  Now she's heading to Batesville, where her grandfather lived with his parents, to look for some answers.

In Batesville Goodwin goes to the Mabee-Simpson Library at Lyon College, where she meets with professional genealogist Thea Walden Baker (who lives in Arizona and has no stated expertise in Arkansas research, so I'm confused as to why she ended up doing this; she does seem to have a Southern accent, however).  Baker tells Goodwin that she was unable to find any records for Nellie Barton but ordered the Social Security account application (SS-5) for John Barton Goodwin to see what names he gave for his parents.  The SS-5 was shown clearly, and it was easy to read multiple times that Nellie's maiden name was given as Haynes, but for some reason the two women talk about several other things on the application first — John applied on June 8, 1942, he was born October 14, 1905, and he was 36 years old.  (I don't think they mentioned that he was living in Memphis when he applied.)  When they finally do get around to discussing the different maiden name for Nellie, Baker declares that "finding the correct maiden name is a great step" (without mentioning that many people get their mothers' maiden names wrong on SS-5's) and then says, "Now you can look for records on Ancestry!" (Groan!)

John Goodwin and (Nellie) May Haynes
1906 marriage record,
courtesy of
Baker has Goodwin search specifically for a marriage record in Arkansas for Nellie Haynes, born about 1881–1882.  (Subtle, really subtle, guys.)  Of course, Goodwin does find an index entry for a marriage record.  (Are you surprised?)  Nellie married J. D. Williams October 4, 1900 in Independence County, Arkansas.  (They don't mention that the same database shows John Goodwin's marriage on April 2, 1906 to May Haynes, who is Nellie, in Jackson County, Arkansas.  Interesting that they married in a different county.  The image of the second record, much better than just the transcribed information, can be found on  But from the 1910 census, we know that Nellie married Al roughly around 1904.  So did Williams die, or did they get a divorce?  Baker says that death records are "not easily found" in Arkansas and were not consistently kept, so it "might be easier" to look for a divorce (as far as I'm concerned, that doesn't mean you shouldn't look for a death record — unless, of course, you already know that he didn't die and that there was a divorce).  She recommends going to the Independence County courthouse and checking the books there.  (That's right, lead them by the nose . . . .)

Goodwin is now baffled and overwhelmed.  She wonders if there was a "gross, extensive misunderstanding" or if her grandfather didn't want people to know who Nellie was and told family members an incorrect maiden name to make her untraceable (which didn't work anyway, as we can see).  But now she's on Nellie's trail and wants to learn all she can, whether it's good or bad.  Will the divorce decree shed some light on this?

At the Independence County courthouse, Melissa Murray, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who specializes in family law, greets Goodwin.  She has found Nellie Williams' divorce case against Duff J. Williams, which was filed on October 19, 1903.  Nellie stated that she and Williams were married on October 3, 1900 (only three years later, and she's already off by one day!) and that Williams had deserted her December 17, 1900, leaving her with a baby girl who was 8 months old (which means born before the marriage, at least by my calculations).  The baby was probably Pearl.  The fact that Nellie didn't file until 1903 prompts Goodwin to ask why she would wait that long.  Murray explains that in that era women's economic support and security depended on marriage or parents.  She says that maybe Nellie wanted to stay married but finally decided Williams wasn't coming back, or maybe she had met a new man, e.g., Al Goodwin, and needed the divorce to be able to marry again.

The two women don't discuss the resolution of the divorce suit, but the front of the docket shows that the case was "disposed of" on May 11, 1904.  Other tidbits from Nellie's claim that weren't talked about on air but were easy to read in the screen shots of the documents were that Nellie and Williams were married by Judge J. D. Fulkerson, circuit judge, at the courthouse, and the words "arrested", "penitentiary", and "18 months imprisoned", presumably referring to Williams (which suggest that perhaps part of the reason he "deserted" her was because he was in prison?).  Perhaps the latter weren't considered relevant to the discussion because they were trying to surprise viewers with what was to come later?

Goodwin asks where she should go now.  Murray suggests the Arkansas History Commission, where her colleague, Brooks Blevins, can help her with the wonderful archive there.

Goodwin says she now has a more neutral view of Nellie, after learning that she was abandoned and poor.  She doesn't know yet how her great-grandfather fits in; she assumes he was Nellie's knight in shining armor.

The Arkansas History Commission is in Little Rock.  Brooks Blevins, Ph.D., is there with a stack of legal records to show Goodwin.  All appear to be indictments against Al for selling liquor without a license; he was a bootlegger.  The first one shown is from June 1906 for an infraction in spring of 1906, so Goodwin's grandfather would have been only about one year old.  All were filed by 1910.  The two discuss that Nellie would have known that this was happening.  It was a way to make a good living, however, and she might have supported it.

Blevins has a newspaper article from the December 23, 1910 Batesville Guard showing that Al was in jail and waiting for trial.  This was well before Prohibition, so he wasn't being prosecuted for selling alcohol, but for failure to pay taxes on controlled items.  Goodwin jumps to the conclusion that he wasn't paying taxes on his income, but the government apparently was not collecting taxes from 1906–1910, since the Income Tax of 1894 was apparently ruled unconstitutional, and the 16th Amendment wasn't ratified until 1913.  (Oh, and the name IRS, which Blevins uses, didn't come about until 1918.)  Blevins apologizes for not being able to find Al's federal trial records but tells Goodwin that some National Archives branches have records from federal prisons.

Al Goodwin's mugshot
Blevins mentioned the federal prison records because he found Al's, of course.  He hands Goodwin a file folder.  When she opens it and looks inside, she says, "Oh, wow," and pauses, then adds, "That's wild."  (That is such an odd comment, but maybe that means it was her honest reaction?)  She holds her head and has a pained, pensive look on her face.  She then holds up a mugshot of Al, who was apparently prisoner #3261.  Goodwin wonders if anyone in her family would have seen a photo of Al.

The file is dated January 11, 1907, though Al appears to have entered prison ("date of reception") on January 17, 1911.  He was 29 years old.  Goodwin pages through the file and picks up a sheet of paper labeled "Evidence of Previous or Present Disease."  Listed are pneumonia in 1901, syphilis in 1906, measles in 1907, mumps in 1910, and "Gonorrhea twice last 1910" (a charming fellow).  At the bottom is a note that Al's paternal grandparents and his father died of consumption (tuberculosis).  The only disease Goodwin mentions is the syphilis (which ends up being foreshadowing, but any others mentioned may have been cut in editing).

The file includes a letter from Nellie to the warden dated March 9, 1911, asking whether a 5'-tall woman with dark hair had been visiting Al.  Nellie wrote that the woman was trying to cause problems for her with Al.  We don't learn whether any information about this woman was used in Nellie's divorce case versus Al, but the next document Goodwin reads from is dated March 28, 1911 from Atlanta, Georgia and was sent by a lawyer.  Goodwin notes Al was being served with divorce papers. (Some of the text shown on screen is "please serve copy of Complaint herein."  Two lines down from that is "return to Geo. L. Bevens, clerk", and I had to look again at the researcher's name, Blevins, because they were similar.  At first I thought they might have been related.)

Goodwin asks what happened to Nellie after the divorce.  Blevins refers her to his colleague, Brian Schellenberg, in Little Rock and says that Schellenberg can "walk [her] through some of the genealogy trails."  Gee, it sounds like they're going camping!  (And just like Duff Williams, nothing else is mentioned about Al or his fate for the rest of the episode.)  As Goodwin leaves, she talks about how emotional she was when she saw the photograph of Al but sounds frustrated about the "endlessly bad choices" that Nellie made.

1918 Memphis City Directory,
R. L. Polk & Co., page 1340
Brian Béla Schellenberg is part of's ProGenealogists division.  He meets Goodwin at the Arkansas Studies Institute, Butler Center Galleries.  He tells her that he did not find Nellie Haynes or Goodwin in any Arkansas or Memphis city directories (Ddid he really search for the entire state of Arkansas?  How many years did he check?  Did he look offline?  Or did he just do a global search through all the directories on Ancestry for "Nellie Haynes" and "Nellie Goodwin?"), and that "we know that she had her daughter Pearl", so he searched for instances of a Nellie and Pearl at the same address (even though Pearl could have been living on her own at this point, it's a clever search technique).  He finally found what looked to be them in 1918 in the Memphis, Tennessee city directory with the last name of Wyllie.  Also listed at the same address was Hugh Wyllie, Nellie's apparent next husband.  Goodwin comments that her grandfather John was about 13 years old and already on his own, according to what he had told family members.  (On the other hand, minors are not normally listed in city directories, so the absence of his name doesn't actually indicate he isn't living with his mother.)

Schellenberg admits that the city directory on its own is not enough to prove it's the right Nellie, so he looked for a death certificate.  He started in Tennessee but didn't find anything there, so he searched in the states around Tennessee.  He discovered that Nellie died in Minden, Louisiana as Nellie May Wyllie.  Goodwin is now thoroughly confused.  All the stories she was told were about Memphis, but she is figuring out that she has to let go of stories, because stories aren't always true.  The death certificate says Nellie's husband was Hugh and that she was born in Batesville; it also lists her father's name as Will Haynes.  (Additional information on the certificate is that she was widowed, she had lived in Louisiana for 20 years, her regular address was 511 Myers Street, and she died at the Minden Sanit. Inc., which appears to have been a regular hospital, not one of those "other" sanitariums.  I really wish they had shown us who the informant was, however!)

Schellenberg tells Goodwin that Minden is in northern Louisiana, near Shreveport.  From that, somehow Goodwin comes up with the question of whether there might be more information in Shreveport.  (Why not ask if there's more information in Minden?  Because she did that and he told her no, and they edited that out?)  Yup, that's the next stop on the Nellie Haynes research tour.  Schellenberg wishes Goodwin good luck as she leaves.  Louisiana has come as a huge surprise to Goodwin, but she definitely wants to find out what was going on.

As she arrives in Shreveport, Goodwin has much less sympathy for Nellie.  She doesn't understand why Nellie was in Louisiana when her son was in another state.  Earlier she had assumed that Nellie just had bad taste in men, but now she's beginning to believe that Nellie was a bad seed herself.

At the Shreveport Memorial Library, Goodwin meets Joseph Spillane, a professor of social history at the University of Florida whom she says she asked to research the family's life in Louisiana, what brought them there, and what kind of man Hugh Wylllie was.  (Spillane seems to specialize in drugs, the history of drug addiction, and related topics.)  He looked for Hugh Wyllie in newspapers and found an item in an October 1925 issue of the Shreveport Times:  "12 Alleged Dope Law Violators" (not a happy start).  Hugh "Wiley" was accused of violating the "Harrison anti-narcotic act", which was passed in 1914.  (The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act didn't make opium and cocaine illegal, it just made them controlled and taxable.)

The narrator, who didn't have much of substance to add during this episode, explains that during the early 20th century several drugs that are now controlled — morphine, cocaine, heroine — were legal and accessible, used for many everyday ailments, and hundreds of thousands of people became addicted.  The Harrison Act placed some of these drugs under federal supervision, which meant that doctors were restricted in what they could prescribe, but drug dealers still sold stuff to desperate addicts.

But is this Hugh truly linked to Goodwin's Nellie?  Spillane says while looking in the newspapers for Hugh Wyllie he found one reference to Mrs. Hugh Wyllie.  Goodwin says, "Excellent," and then Spillane gives her a copy of the article.  Goodwin doesn't say anything but appears to be holding back tears, because this article is titled "Woman to Be Tried on Morphine Charge" (we are not told the date of the article or what newspaper it was published in).  Not surprisingly, Goodwin says, "Somehow this is not what I expected."  Nellie was 54 years old and had been caught with 1 1/2 ounces of morphine.  Spillane says that the amount would be significant even today and is a good indication that she probably had it to sell, not to use herself.

Goodwin assumes there were not a lot of female drug dealers.  Spillane responds that women were overrepresented as addicts, particularly in the South, and he wouldn't be surprised if some of them also distributed the drugs.  Goodwin wants to know if Spillane found any of Nellie's indictments after she was arrested, and indeed Spillane has more documents.  The first is a letter from Nellie addressed to the U.S. Attorney's office in Shreveport and dated May 8, 1934.  Nellie requested a transfer from the Shreveport to the Lake Charles Division so that she could enter a guilty plea and begin serving her sentence.  She signed as Mrs. H. Wyllie.  The second document was from the United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana.  Mrs. Hugh Wyllie was sentenced to two years at the Federal Industrial Institution for Women in Alderson, West Virginia, starting from May 21, 1934.  I found it interesting that in the newspaper article and in both legal documents, Nellie's given name did not appear.

Goodwin wisely notes, "No wonder he didn't want us to know her name."  But why did Nellie go back to Shreveport?  Spillane says that in the early 1920's Shreveport was home to the nation's most significant clinic for narcotics addiction, and that records for the clinic still exist.  Those documents are held at Louisiana State University, not too far from where they currently are in Shreveport.  Spillane says that he can arrange for Goodwin to meet with Jim Baumohl, who can help her look through the material.  Goodwin is silent for several seconds and looks as though she is thinking it over, then grudgingly says, "Well, I should go see them."  I wonder if she would have gone if this hadn't been for a TV program.

In this interlude, Goodwin looks serious and contemplative.  She says she needs to learn if Nellie was an addict.  She considers addiction to be a disease.  If Nellie was an addict, maybe Goodwin's family won't be able to, but she can forgive Nellie.  She doesn't want to say that she feels sorry for Nellie and doesn't think she should be pitied, but views her as someone to be understood.

Still in Shreveport, Goodwin now goes to the Noel Memorial Library archives at LSU, where Jim Baumohl is waiting to help her.  (Baumohl specializes in research into urban poverty, homelessness, and social welfare.  We saw him previously on the Kelsey Grammer episode.)  For obvious dramatic effect, he has her take a heavy book down instead of having it on a table already.  It has the applications that people filled out when they wanted to come to the drug treatment clinic.

Baumohl has Goodwin look through all the W's instead of having marked a page (vicarious research?), until she reaches Mrs. Hugh Wylie.  The application is dated March 8, 1922.  Nellie (patient #710) was 43 years old and said she had been addicted to morphine for 11 years, which Goodwin notes means she started when John was 6 years old; Pearl would have been about 9 or 10 years old (actually about 11, if she's the baby mentioned in Nellie's divorce case against Duff Williams).  She originally took morphine to treat a heart condition and syphilis, which Goodwin says (and I agree) that she probably got from Al.  (When she submitted the application she was taking 10 grains of morphine each day.)

Baumohl explains that Nellie was likely prescribed morphine during the first stage of syphilis for the pain.  Baumohl adds that syphilis could not be cured until after World War II, when penicillin became available; during Nellie's time, doctors couldn't cure much but they could relieve pain.  Nellie stated that she was married and had three children (we haven't heard about a third child; where did this one come from?), and that she did want to be cured.  Her address was 210 Baker.

Goodwin pages through the book and comments on how many other women's applications are in it.  Many of them apparently said they started taking the drugs after surgery.  Baumohl says that medication addiction was ubiquitous in the South, particularly among women.

Speaking of Pearl, Goodwin finds her application in the book also, as Pearl Williams (Goodwin has to pause and remember that Williams was Pearl's father's name), dated the same day as her mother's, March 8, 1922.  She was 21 years old and lived with her mother at 210 Baker.  Goodwin and Baumohl comment on her coming in the same day as Nellie and say that they probably came together, but I think the more telling evidence is that Pearl was patient #711 and Nellie was #710.  Pearl said she had been an addict for three years and that she started when taking medication for bronchial asthma.  (She stated she began at 6 grams of morphine per day and in 1922 was taking 10 grams each day.)

Baumohl then tells Goodwin that the clinic for which these applications had been submitted closed in 1923.  Nellie and Pearl would have been patients for less than a year.  Goodwin notes that they really had no chance and wonders what would have happened if the clinic hadn't closed.  Nellie probably would not have gone to federal prison.

Baumohl also has an obituary for Nellie.  The Minden Press reported on the funeral service for Mrs. Nellie Wyllie, who had died at the age of 82.  Survivors included two sons, J. P. Wyllie (who must be that third child mentioned previously) and John B. Goodwin, and seven grandchildren, one of whom was Goodwin's father.  (The complete text of the funeral notice appears on Nellie's FindAGrave page, which is linked below.  I wonder who gave the information to the newspaper, since John was included.)  Pearl apparently died before Nellie, but nothing was said about her death during the program.  Maybe the researchers didn't find her?  Maybe they didn't look?

Goodwin talks about what Nellie faced was insurmountable.  She was prescribed drugs then struggled with them, and that's probably why she cut off by family.  It was all a tragedy.  Goodwin is excited to tell her father what she has learned but also (understandably) anxious about how he will deal with the information.   Now that she's gone on this journey, she feels closer to Nellie.  She's amazed that at the age of 37 she has "inherited" great-grandparents (though she never refers to Al as her great-grandfather).

In the final scene, Goodwin visits Nellie's grave at the Minden cemetery and brings flowers.  The gravestone has Nellie's and Hugh's names on it.  (An interesting note per the FindAGrave page:  Nellie outlived all three of her husbands.  Also, her father's name is listed as Isaac Bart Haynes, not Will.)  Goodwin tells Nellie, "You aren't Jewish, but I am" (Goodwin's mother is Jewish, and she was raised in both of her parents' religions), and she leaves a small rock on the gravestone, explaining that the Jewish custom is so that the deceased knows a loved one has visited.

Goodwin regrets that there was no reconciliation between Nellie and John.  She concedes that it was his right to feel the way he did, but it's still sad.  She can't imagine facing everything Nellie did and not having a relationship with her own son because of it.

Questions left unresolved in this episode:  Who were the two women in the photo with Nellie?  (Was the middle-aged woman Pearl?  Maybe J. P. Wyllie's wife?)  What happened to Duff Williams, Al Goodwin, and Pearl?  You can find Duff's and Al's death dates on their FindAGrave pages, and Al's death certificate is posted, but Pearl isn't even listed as a child on Nellie's page.  Inquiring minds want to know!  As a side note, did you notice that all three of Nellie's husbands had trouble with the law?  What does that say about Nellie?  Whether deliberately or subconsciously, she appeared to make the same mistakes over and over.

This was rather a downer of a story, and Goodwin is more than a little teary throughout.  The research sources were interesting, but I was surprised that this was the lead episode for the summer season.  It made me wonder what would follow in the ensuing episodes.

New Orleans Times-Picayune,
October 29, 1930, page 4
While this episode focused on the the negative aspects of Nellie's life, I did find two newspaper articles from her time in Minden, when she served on the annual Presbyterian synodical conference committee in 1930 and 1931.  Apparently things weren't all bad all the time.  In addition, both articles referred to her as Mrs. Hugh Wyllie, so apparently Spillane didn't do a very thorough search?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Who Is Your "Bad Behavior" Relative?

It's Saturday, and that means another episode of Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!  Tonight's assignment was a very easy one for me:

1)  Who is one of your relatives (ancestor or not) who behaved poorly during his or her life?   It can be any time period.

2)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

Anytime I'm asked about black sheep or misbehaving relatives in my family, the first person who comes to mind is Joseph Mulliner, commonly known as the Pine Barrens Bandit.  While Joe's brother, Moses (my ancestor!), was a Patriot who fought on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War, Joe was a Loyalist.  Instead of fleeing to Canada after the British lost, he stayed in New Jersey and became a thief and poacher to survive.  He eventually was caught and hung for treason.  "Bad behavior" doesn't get much worse than that!

Many legends have been repeated about Joe Mulliner over the years, including that he was a kind of Robin Hood and that he attacked both sides indiscriminately.  Gabe Coia, who has a Web site about the New Jersey Pine Barrens, wrote a well researched post that tears apart most of the things that have been written about Mulliner.  While some arguments were apparently made at the time of his capture in 1781 that he had been commissioned by the British government and therefore should be treated as a prisoner of war, he was charged with high treason and hung.

The ironic twist to this is that today Joe Mulliner is still well remembered.  He was portrayed in a New Jersey Public Television documentary about the Pine Barrens.  He has a tombstone that is replaced when it disappears (which has happened several times over the centuries, apparently).  He even has a page on FindAGrave!  Yet Moses barely received a pension for his service before he died, and he doesn't seem to have a tombstone at all.  What's that line, nice guys finish last?

DNA and Legal Records and Jewish Records, Oh My!

Days 2 and 3 of the Northwest Genealogy Conference continued to be interesting and educational.  On Friday the featured speaker was CeCe Moore, and the theme for the day was therefore DNA, of course.  The session I attended was "Autosomal DNA and Chromosome Mapping:  Discovering Your Ancestors in You" (as I already have a good handle on the basics and ethnicity estimates, and really didn't want to hear about Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and his program).  While I recently attended a one-day seminar by Dr. Tim Janzen on this topic, I have to say that Moore explained it a little more clearly, and now I almost feel prepared to try using these techniques on my own family research.  She was very open about warning everyone that this is time-consuming stuff, however, so I have to figure out a way to fit it into my schedule (ha!).

I also went to Elissa Scalise Powell's third offering at the conference, "Baker's Dozen Steps to Writing Research Reports."  She has created a great template that looks like it will make writing reports much easier.  I'm definitely going to implement ideas from this session in my regular work.

Saturday's featured guest was Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, and most of the day's sessions were related to legal records and courthouse research.  I managed to get up early enough to make it to the first presentation of the day, "That First Trip to the Courthouse", by Judy.  Yes, I have done a lot of courthouse research already, but she's just so entertaining that it was worthwhile to listen to.  Some of the points she made really resonated with my own experience, such as "Don't be afraid to ask."  Once I couldn't find a record in the computer index that I really, really thought should be there, so I asked if any other index was available.  The clerk took me across the hall to the original docket books, from which the computerized index had been created.  The case I wanted was listed in the book!  I don't know why it was missing from the computer database, but I found what I needed.

As a follow-up to "Don't be afraid to ask", Judy had in her handout, "Almost every courthouse has someone who really knows the old records.  It's worth trying to find that person and find a convenient time to chat."  When I was trying to determine in which courts and prisons or jails a particular man might have records, the clerk told me that this one guy upstairs in the D.A.'s office knew all about how the courts were set up "in the old days."  You know that I immediately went up there to see if that man was available.  Lucky me, he was!, and he had a few spare minutes.  He explained how the old municipal (city) court and jail used to function and what probably happened to their old records.  I still didn't find the records (the consensus was that they had probably been destroyed decades before), but I had a much better understanding of the process the man I was researching had gone through in the judicial system.

After Judy's morning session I taught my class, "Looking for Non-Jews in Jewish Records."  This talk originated as a keynote at a local family history day.  The main point is that those of us researching Jewish family history can be obsessive (very obsessive) about finding any and all records and resources that might be helpful and then often sharing the information online.  Though the sites on which the information is shared are usually focused on Jewish research, the resources themselves often aren't.  So if, for example, someone who isn't Jewish has ancestors who were in Belarus, the Belarus Special Interest Group's page on JewishGen has links to lots of great information that can help that person.  About twenty-five people came to my class, which went very well.  Several people stopped me later to say that they learned a lot, which is always great to hear.

The next session was Judy's second class of the day, "Where There Is — Or Isn't — a Will."  I learned a few new things here, such as the fact that a "holographic" will (one handwritten in its entirety by the person making it) is called "olographic" in areas that use civil law (as opposed to English common law), such as Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and Québec.  In Florida you might find a "curator" listed as one of the people involved.  He was a temporary caretaker of property after someone's death, before an administrator was appointed.  The example that Judy discussed was when a man who sold perishable foods died; the curator stepped in to make sure that the food was handled properly and saved during the time it took the court to find and appoint an administrator.  I found it interesting to learn that, while minors are not considered competent to bequeath real estate, they can leave personal property:  boys at 14 and girls at 17.

The afternoon began with Judy's last presentation of the conference, "Order in the Court:  Using Court Records in Genealogical Research."  This was a different kind of class.  She gave a brief overview of courts but then switched gears and suggested that researchers take the time to simply read through cases that occurred in the same time and place as where their ancestors lived, even if those ancestors themselves had not been involved in the cases.  The information in the write-ups of cases can give you a lot of details about what life was like at that time and place.  She read from several cases.  The most detailed example was an 1844 Virginia appellate case relating to a murder, in which we learned about the types of houses people lived in, family living arrangements in those houses, when people normally went to bed, the styles of shoes men wore, and what types of guns were commonly used, among many other things.  While it's always recommended to read about the history of an area, this was the first time I've heard a recommendation to read the court cases of an area to learn more background information.

The final session of the day really surprised me.  The title, "Field Dependency:  A Way to Evaluate Genealogical Sources", and the handout sounded very academic and stuffy, but Jean Wilcox Hibben turned it into a lively talk about looking at records and thinking about for what purpose a record was created, who gave the information, ways in which the information could have been misunderstood, reasons for which someone might have lied or made a mistake, and generally just looking at each record critically and analyzing it.  It was a great way to end a conference at which I learned a good amount of new things and made several new genealogy friends.  I had a wonderful time in Arlington and hope the conference continues to grow and improve in the years to come.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Northwest Genealogy Conference and a Visit to the Cemetery

Today was the first full day of the Northwest Genealogy Conference, which had a very busy and impressive schedule.  I unfortunately did not make it to the opening welcome and prize drawing, because I missed a turn on the way to the conference and went ten minutes out of my way (which I then had to repeat on my back to the correct turn).  But that allowed me to discover the Arlington cemetery, which I visited on my way back in the afternoon (more about that soon).

Today's featured speaker was Angela Packer McGhie.  I attended two of her sessions, "Mining for Family History in Federal Land Records" and "Read All about Your Ancestors by Locating Historic Newspapers."  The land records class was by far the best I have had on the subject.  She provided a very clear timeline of what types of federal land records were created during which timeframes and also gave great instructions on how to find and obtain copies of those records.  These are obviously records she is passionate about.  I am very motivated now to try to find these records for as many of my relatives as possible!

Because I teach so many classes about newspapers myself, I did not expect to learn much new in her class on that subject, but I still picked up some information.  One gem was a list at the University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center & Archives of its periodicals sorted by ethnic group.  These periodicals are not online, but it's a great resource to know about.

I had been looking forward to going to the classes that Luana Darby was going to teach (on tax records and online archives), but she unfortunately fell ill and had to cancel her sessions.  The conference organizers arranged for Elissa Scalise Powell to teach her Saturday classes today instead, to fill the gaps.  In one way this worked to my advantage, because one of her sessions was originally scheduled at the same time as mine, so I was going to miss it.

"Bridging the Decades:  Little-used Clues from the Census" (the class I would have missed on Saturday) emphasized all those columns to the right of the names, ages, and birthplaces that many people stop at.  A lot of information there is often overlooked by researchers.  And "What's a Prothonotary?:  Pennsylvania's Courthouse Records" was important for my personal research, because about half of my father's ancestors were in Pennsylvania.  Elissa explained which offices have which types of records, the . . . interesting indexing method used by county offices in the state of Pennsylvania (Randy Seaver wrote about his adventures with the Russell Index System a few years ago), and showed some examples of using the index system to find records.  I also learned that has digitized the microfilms of Pennsylvania probate records (more research I need to make time for!).  Oh, and "prothonotary" comes from the first or most important notary; it's now used to denote the chief clerk.  Apparently a title used in commonwealth states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia in addition to Pennsylvania), only Pennsylvania still uses the term.

Speaking of my talk on Saturday ("Looking for Non-Jews in Jewish Records"), I just discovered that it was featured in a post about the ethnic genealogy track at the conference.  I hope Val comes to my class; I think it would help her a lot with researching her husband's mother.

Several ProGen alumni had lunch together today at the conference.  I'm happy to say that we got a photograph of the group (the first time I've managed that in the four get-togethers I've coordinated!).  Thank you to Michelle Goodrum, Cyndi Ingle, Mary Kathryn Kozy, Janice Lovelace, Angela Packer McGhie, Linda Okazaki, Elissa Scalise Powell, and Cari Taplin for a very pleasant lunch break, and to Reed Powell for taking our photograph!

On my way back to the hotel from the conference, I stopped at the Arlington Municipal Cemetery.  It's a very pretty cemetery, with well kept grounds and easy access from multiple entrances.  I spent some time walking around and took photos of a few of the gravestones that particularly caught my attention.

Frank L. Greeno's tombstone was made in the shape of a tree trunk cut off at the top, and since he was only 34 years old when he died (1869–August 13, 1903), I thought the shape might be to emphasize that he died relatively young.  The information about him on FindAGrave suggests that the tree trunk form might be because he was a member of the Woodmen of the World.  (If I knew more about the Woodmen, I might have recognized the "Dum Tacet Clamat" phrase on the stone.)  Sadly, when he died in a work accident he left behind a widow and five children.

I found the stone for William Spoerhase to be very graceful.  When I read the birth and death dates — April 8, 1876 to June 18, 1918 — I wondered if he had died in the influenza pandemic.  The transcribed obituary on FindAGrave doesn't say that directly, but it seems to imply it.

By far the most impressive grave I saw was that of Mariano Soltero.  Mr. Soltero lived a full life (April 17, 1925–October 15, 2001), and he must have been well loved by his family.  His stone, which says, "Brother • Son • Husband • Father" and "He is remembered by his wife, children, and family" in Spanish, is beautifully carved with a natural scene.  The grave also has an elaborate Catholic shrine at the head of the stone.  The flowers were fresh and had to have been put there recently, probably this morning.

I thank the "residents" of the Arlington cemetery for sharing their afternoon with me.  I hope they all are resting in peace.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Cuban Adventure, Part 3: General Impressions and Observations

Cuba was definitely an interesting country to visit.  I have been to a Communist country before — I visited the USSR in 1983 — so I had some expectations that proved to be accurate.  Lots of political and ideological slogans were plastered all over the place, on billboards, building walls, buses, even inside stores:  ¡Venceremos! ("We will succeed!", with a photograph of young female ballet students), Patria o muerte ("My country or death"), Nuevos retos, nuevos victorias ("New challenges, new victories"), Sin cultura la libertad no es posible ("Without culture, freedom is impossible"), Solo la voluntad humana podrá salvar el mundo ("Only human will can save the world"), and even a photo of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in a (state-owned) rum and cigar shop.  One slogan I particularly liked was La palabra enseña; el ejemplo guía ("Words teach, but examples lead"), credited to Che.

I also expected to hear a lot of political rhetoric, and I was not disappointed.  As I mentioned in Part 2, one site the group visited was a cooperative organic farm.  The president of the cooperative lectured us for 45 minutes about how the work they were doing was helping the country, how everyone worked together, how the U.S. could learn lots of valuable lessons from them, ad nauseum.  The one surprise was when he said that Cuba is facing a problem because the fact that all citizens' basic needs are met — everyone has housing, healthcare, education, and basic food provided — means that people don't have to work, and some people actually choose not to.  Of course, he didn't respond to any questions following up on that point, and didn't answer several other questions that apparently touched on other questionable topics, but instead simply "answered" about totally unrelated subjects.  The coop president spoke in Spanish, and our tour guide interpreted for him.  I was able to follow along with what the president said and then compare how the guide translated.  At one point he made a comment about the problems with democracy, but the guide translated it as problems with individuals.

Our tour guide was generally very good at phrasing things so that they didn't stray from party ideology.  She chose her words carefully when describing potentially volatile subjects.  She obviously didn't want to alienate the group on which she was dependent for employment and gratuities, and I also got the impression that for the most part she believes in her country's system.  But for all her talk, not only is she working as a tour guide to supplement the income she receives from her position as a university professor ($50 each month, we were told), it seemed that she was likely getting kickbacks or some kind of percentage cuts from vendors, even going so far at one establishment to ask a clerk how much members of our group had spent.  It appears the capitalist spirit is doing well in Cuba, even among the party faithful.

The bus we traveled in was from Transtur, which seemed to be the official government tourist agency.  We saw Transtur buses in many of the places we went.  This reminded me of going around the Soviet Union with Intourist, the official state tourist agency there.  I never had the impression in Cuba that we were being watched, however, while in the USSR many members of that group were pretty sure we were followed and watched a good portion of the time.

Other experiences, however, were more of a culture shock.  There seems to be some sort of (unwritten?) rule that women in Cuba must wear impossibly tight clothing.  Almost all women wore extremely tight pants (usually Spandex), no matter how narrow or wide they were, and pantylines be damned.  This included police officers (super tight slacks with high heels) and even customs agents at the airport (would you believe two women wearing Spandex and tank tops?  yes, they really were customs agents).  Tops also were very tight and stretched to their limits.  Some professional women, such as officers and hotel employees, substituted very tight, very short mini skirts for the Spandex pants.  They usually wore suit jackets and blouses instead of the ubiquitous stretch tops.  Some of the customs agents wore mini skirts with patterned stockings.  As I tend to wear loose, comfortable Hawaiian shirts and jeans, I stood out like a sore thumb.  For men, somehow the baggy pants look was imported and is very popular.  Sorry, Cuban men, very few of you could get work as underwear models.

Cuban food was somewhat disappointing.  I already knew that Cuban cuisine is not particularly spicy, but I wasn't expecting totally bland.  Salt and pepper seemed almost unknown in prepared food, and herbs were equally nonexistent.  Most of the food tasted adequate but uninspired, and we saw the same dishes in multiple places.  I don't know if the dishes and preparation styles were truly "authentic" or merely what is offered to tourists.

Our group with Daisy and her family
The best meal we had was in a private home.  Through a complicated connection that began when a man tried to escape from Cuba and was rescued by people in the Dominican Republic, we were given the opportunity to have dinner with a family in their home.  The matriarch made the best chicken croquettes (one of those dishes we saw multiple times) we had all week, along with Cuban tamales (much moister than Mexican style), tostones (double-fried plantains), pork and veggie stew, fried ripe plantains, roast chicken, stewed yucca, fresh avocado, and shredded coconut and cheese for dessert (which may sound odd but was very tasty).  Our guide did not come with us to this dinner, and I became the interpreter, dredging up the Spanish I haven't used on a regular basis for more than 30 years.  They didn't kick us out or look offended, so I must have done ok.

Most of the buildings I saw appeared to be sturdily built but falling into disrepair.  The phrase "shabby gentility" came to mind.  This applied equally to residential, commercial, and government buildings.  Paint was peeling, pieces of exteriors were missing (most buildings in the city appeared to be made of concrete, though in the country I also saw uneven clapboard, bare corrugated metal, and cinder blocks).  Many residences looked as though they had been through fires.  Some houses had pieces missing from the roofs but were still occupied.  Many buildings were obviously too damaged for use but were not fenced off, simply abandoned.  Fences often seemed to have been made from whatever materials someone could find; I saw wood slats, broken tree branches, cardboard, and other opportunistic items filling in spaces in bare wire.

Something else I noticed about buildings was that almost universally, ground-story doors and windows had heavy-duty bars, and many second-story windows had bars also.  Government buildings did this one better:  Instead of bars, they had those roll-down doors (like in warehouses) that cover windows entirely.  So even though there doesn't appear to be a problem with personal safety — the women in our group walked around even late at night and nothing happened — I'm not so sure about property crime.

There was trash everywhere — in the city, in the country when we went to Viñales, everywhere.  There was also graffiti all over Havana.  It was a very dirty city.  As I remember Moscow being very clean, I was not expecting this, but it has been three decades.  Maybe Moscow is dirty now also.

Animals that Americans think of as "pets" were in very poor condition in general.  Though some people had dogs on leashes, and those dogs looked well taken care of, they were the exception, and cats and dogs usually looked scrawny and underfed.  Ribs, hip bones, and shoulder bones often were easy to see beneath the skin.  Neutering animals does not appear to be a popular thing to do, because pretty much every male dog and cat we saw was fully intact (thereby helping increase the populations of those dogs and cats, of course).

One interesting aspect of Cuban culture our tour guide explained to us was race, or rather the lack thereof.  In Cuba the government policy is that everyone is mixed race, so race is not used as a classification.  On driver's licenses, "black", "white", and "mulatto" refer to skin color, not race.  The guide also mentioned that someone's skin color is subjective and can easily vary by time of year and how much the person has been in the sun recently.

During our visit to the artist's studio, I noticed two rainbow flags incorporated into the artwork.  Our guide told us that the government's official stance on the LGBT community is acceptance and accommodation.

Most roads were in awful condition, including the major highway we traveled on to go to Viñales.  The speed limit on the highway wasn't very high, most of the time topping out at 60 kph (about 35 mph).  For some short stretches, it actually got up to 80 (50), 90 (55), and even 100 (60) once.  But we'd be zipping along, and suddenly the driver would start hitting the brakes, slowing down gradually to almost a crawl, so he could avoid yet another pothole spanning the width of the lane.

Beyond the condition of the road, I think one of the reasons for the relatively low speed limits is that the highway has to accommodate not only cars and buses but also more old-fashioned transportation.  During our three-hour trip west I counted nine pairs of yoked oxen and sixteen horse-drawn carts that used the highway.

A confusing sight along the highway were overpasses that didn't connect to any roads.  I never learned whether they were roads that hadn't been completed, roads that used to exist but had been destroyed, or built that way deliberately, perhaps as shade for hitchhikers.  Our guide had told us that hitchhiking was the national sport, and a lot of people used the highway to bum rides.  But it gets really hot during the day, and being able to take shelter under those overpasses probably saves some lives.

Something I really liked in Cuba was how traffic lights work.  Every side has a countdown, for both drivers and pedestrians, in green to let you know how much longer the light will stay in your favor, and in red so you know how much longer you'll have to wait.  The system seemed to work very well (but people jaywalked anyway).

the corner of 21 and M streets
Street "signs", however, were another thing.  Instead of a pole on the corner with the names of the intersecting streets, in Havana you see small, square obelisks with the street names on the different faces.  Not only were they difficult to see easily (I can't imagine looking for them while driving), not all of them were in good condition — some were broken, sometimes the street names were missing, and some just didn't have any writing on them at all.

An unexpected bit of excitement on our trip was the opening of the U.S. embassy, on Monday, July 20.  The event was televised locally and was greeted enthusiastically by everyone we saw.  Later that day several of us decided to visit the embassy just to try to look around.  We were turned away because we didn't have any official business to conduct, but we took photos outside the building to commemorate the historic event.

Visiting Cuba really was a great adventure.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to do so, and it's a trip I'll always remember, even though I wasn't able to find everything I wanted to about my family.  Only time will tell if I'm being overly pessimistic about what will happen as more Americans travel there.  I hope I'm wrong, because I would like to go back again some time and try my research again.

My Cuban Adventure, Part 1, is "In Search of Family History."
My Cuban Adventure, Part 2, is "Seeing the Sights."