September 1880, my wife's soon-to-be-married
great-grandfather, Frank X. Bezold, opened a general store
in the rural farmlands of southern Campbell County,
Kentucky. He sold spices, fabric, shoes, hardware,
phonograph records, and gunpowder to the local farmers, who
often paid with butter, eggs, or other crops. Then once a
week, this produce was hauled to the big city by horse and
wagon (a 12-hour journey) for sale
to city grocers.
My wife's grandfather, Clem, was born in the house behind
the store, and he and his brothers grew up farming, keeping
shop, and hauling produce to market. "Old Dobbin" was
retired in 1914, when they got their first truck. Dobbin,
the family horse, was named after a lead character (the son
of a grocer) in the 1848 novel Vanity Fair.
got a new 1 terabyte hard drive for Christmas, to replace
the 500 gigabyte drive in my old laptop (which was over 90%
full). So now I can move the old 500gb drive into my
computer backup rotation.
Previously, I had a 100gb and a 250gb backup, but now the
100gb is too small to hold all my genealogy and family
I like using the small 2.5" laptop drives for backup,
because they can be stored in a modified DVD case.
cleaning out the attic of an apartment house I own in the
historic district, I came across a box belonging to a
previous owner. A couple who bought the house in the 1930s
for rental income, and later lived there, after retiring in
The box contained two custom leather-bound albums from the
husband's retirement party (imprinted with his name, and full of
letters and telegrams of congratulations), a box of personalized
Christmas cards, his railroad pension papers, and lots of family
pictures dating from 1890 to 1970..As a family historian, I felt a
duty to rescue these items and get them back to their rightful
family. So when I got home, I did a little genealogy work to find
out what happened to them.
Name That Tune
Grandpa was in a brass band in the 1920s with his German immigrant
friends. They reunited 45 years later as old men and made some
recordings. We've named a few of the songs, but many are unfamiliar
to us. If you can name these mystery tunes, please remark on my
YouTube Videos. There are 24 in all.
Playing the Unplayable Records
Researchers and scientists at the Smithsonian work together
together to find a way to play audio recordings made by the
studio of inventor Alexander Graham Bell in the 1880s.
Arriving home Sunday night, after a fun day of Easter Egg
hunting and wiffle ball games, I had an interesting email
waiting for me. A woman found my
family tree in an online search, and contacted me about
a possible family relation.
She had a letter written in German by my wife's great-great-great
aunt to a possible daughter in Alabama. I was not aware of this
daughter, but knew the aunt was head of a blended family, and that
she moved from Texas to Ohio before 1860.
Here is our correspondence, and how we reunited distant cousins:
Addie Hoyt Fargo 1901 Murder Mystery
In the wee hours of the morning, through the blackness of a warm
summer's night, Enoch J. Fargo entered the bedroom of his
frail and sickly wife, Addie Hoyt Fargo. While his two grown
daughters, his servants, Addie's nurse, and Enoch's young
mistress all slept quietly down the hall, Enoch put a gun to
Addie's head and blew her brains out.
The family doctor was immediately summoned, bribed, and filed a
fake death certificate. Addie
was then taken directly to the cemetery for a quick burial that
morning. Or was the coffin empty? For it seems that her burial
permit is missing. And now Addie's ghost roams the grounds of her former
home, the Fargo Mansion, in Lake Mills, Wisconsin.
Well, that's what the legend's promoters say. But the genealogist
in me wanted to look a little deeper, and
here's what I
The National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia, has filed for bankruptcy.
Paperwork says the organization has more than $3 million in
It will make little difference to visitors, however, since the museum doesn't actually exist.
Former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder,
the first African American to be elected governor of the
state, founded a nonprofit organization in 2001 to create
the museum, and launched fundraising
efforts that involved the likes of comedian Bill
38 acres, valued at $7.6 million, was donated to
the project in 2002. Deed restrictions say it can be used only for an African-American heritage museum or for "charitable, educational or public purposes and related uses." It was supposed to open in 2004 but never did. A
small memorial sculpture garden was opened in 2007. Now some
of the donors to the Slavery Museum are asking that their pieces
be returned to them.
20 July 2011
Rejected Family Feuds with DAR
is a lesson here. Don't take on the
the American Revolution
unless you have PROOF! Their researchers are tough old
broads, and harassment won't help your case. Here's a story
of a family association rejected three times because they
can't prove descent or military service...
Wayne Witt Bates did not set out to take on the DAR. But he
is not used to being challenged on his genealogy. <read
Stanley Young III got a visit from his ancestors earlier this
Bundled in a parcel that arrived on his doorstep was an old
photo album that depicted his great-grandmother and
great-granduncle, along with various other relatives, in all
The family album, portions of which dated to the late 1800s,
was accompanied by a family tree put together by a total
stranger, a Maryland genealogist <read
been collecting family photographs for a couple decades, and
recent years its been mostly great-great aunts and uncles,
or other distant relatives. I can't remember the last time I got a
"new" picture of one of our direct ancestors. That is until
About a month ago, I discovered a new branch of my wife's family.
When her great-great grandfather, Franz Rust (1823-1903), immigrated
from Germany to Gubser's Mill, Kentucky in 1857, he brought along his 6-year-od niece, Sophia
Rust. Unable to find any trace of Sophia after they came ashore, I
assumed she had died sometime before 1860. But I couldn't have been more
24 June 2011
to Tick-Off your Relatives
Ever wanted to write a family history book? Where you can
talk about your successful children, show off your adorable
grandkids, and tell the wondrous tales of childhood spent with
your loving parents and grandparents?
Great! But, if you want to include your cousins AND sell copies to them,
you better have something about their families, too. Here's a discussion
I found on ... <read
As the testing becomes more commonplace, families sometimes learn painful facts. And that can raise ethical issues.
In a search for their ancestors, more than 140 people with variations of the last name Kincaid have taken DNA tests and shared their results on the Internet.
They have found war heroes, sailors and survivors of the Irish potato famine.
They have also stumbled upon bastards, liars and two-timers.
Much of it is ancient history, long-dead ancestors whose dalliances are part of the intrigue of amateur genealogy. But sometimes the findings strike closer to home.