Wednesday, July 22, 2009

COG 77 - The Shooting at Salt Lake City Family History Library

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: "Disaster". As human beings, our very existence is proof of the survival skills, faith, or just plain luck our ancestors possessed in order to persevere through millenia of disasters: epidemics, wars, pestilences, famines, accidents, and acts of nature. Tell about a disaster that one or more of your ancestors lived through. Did they survive a hurricane, flood, tornado, train wreck, sinking ship, plague, genocide, explosion, mine collapse, or some other terrible event? How did they survive? Research the details of the disaster and explain how it affected your ancestor (guilt, fear, faith, gratitude, etc.), your family's history, and even yourself!

When I first thought to write a posting for this topic, I immediately thought of my parents. They've both lived through many hurricanes, having spent the greater portion of their youth and early adulthood in Miami Florida. I've spent most of my life in Pennsylvania and we don't get a lot of extreme weather here, tiny earthquakes, a tornado here and there, typically F1, and hurricanes have usually lost their oomph by the time the get up the coast to us. Mudslides and brush fires are also pretty rare. We're like the anti-California. Probably our worst natural disaster is flooding from rivers.

While I was quizzing them on their memories, another topic came up. My dad was in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City when the shootings happened in 1999. I wonder if any genea-bloggers were there as well?

He's taken a few trips out to the library in Salt Lake, I've only been there once, but do plan to go back.

So, on the morning of Thursday, April 15, 1999, he was happily ensconced at a carrel on the first floor of the library. He says he heard some pop-pop-pop noises.

To get out of the open, he quickly headed towards a room to the far side of the floor away from the popping noises which he recognized right away. Along the way, he gathered two little old ladies that were also researching and the three of them entered the room. There were already some people hiding in there, it was some sort of scanning room/office that was for library use only. The door was closed and my dad said he stood, didn't sit.

Eventually, a library employee came to the room and said, okay, c'mon, let's GO and he led them to the left out the door (to the right would have been to go back to the main room of the floor). They followed him down some back stairs and they all found themselves in the back alley between the library and the hotel next door, where the garbage trucks come through. They all went in to the hotel and sat in the restaurant where they were eventually interviewed by police. My dad said that he veered off along the way to a pay phone (remember those?) and called my mom. He told her, "Look, I'll tell you all about this later, because you're going to be hearing some really odd stories about what's going on here, but I wanted to let you know that I'm all right."

My dad says it was a long time before anyone was allowed to go back into the library to gather their belongings, naturally everyone had pretty much jumped up and left all their research and stuff behind. He said he was upset with himself later when he realized he should have grabbed his briefcase and papers. They were told that the Library would be closed for a few days. So he ended up taking long bus trips to the Brigham Young University Family History Library in Provo. At that library he discovered the series "Germans to America" which lists the transportation details of German national to the US. It also happened to list his Polish ancestors too, which was a bonus. So even without all his papers, he was able to find something while on the trip.

When he went back in finally to gather his things at the Library, my dad says he has a picture imprinted - it's strange the little things your mind picks up and refuses to let go of - he remembers seeing a roll of nickels. This was back when you actually needed the coins to make the copies, they didn't have the little cards to put money on. So there was this roll of nickels, laying there and one side had opened up, and the nickels had come out in a little perfect cascade. It's one of the those crystal clear picture memories that we sometimes get to keep, all the other normal memories get all mushed up and revised and forgotten. He remembers thinking, wow, with all the investigators and police in and out of the library, nobody moved or bothered that little roll of nickels.

The shooter was a man named Sergei Barbarin. He was an older man, 70-71 years of age, and his family said he was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had gone of off his medication.

No one knows why he chose the Library, no one who knew him had ever heard him say anything bad about the Mormons or the library. He was known to hassle people that happened to cross his path, but that was it.

That day he killed 2 people at the library and wounded 4 other patrons. Certainly the last place you would expect to be harmed or killed would be while you were doing genealogy research, it's such a gentle pastime. But you just never know what's going to happen. The police killed him shortly after the shooting started.

Some links to stories that are still out there on the internet are here:,5143,660195182,00.html

And me? My thoughts on the whole thing? I'm just glad he wasn't in the lobby that day. I'm grateful he's still here so we can repeat lines from AIRPLANE! to each other ad nauseum (you can tell me, I'm a doctor), drink gin and tonics in the heat of the midday sun (british tonic please, Bombay gin (no, not Bombay Sapphire, ptuh, yuck, gak)), and watch Family Guy on Tivo when we think my mom isn't paying attention (she doesn't hate the show, she just dislikes it with the heat of a thousand suns). Yep, he's definitely my favorite Dad and all in all, I'm lucky to have him.

Wordless Wednesday - 22 July 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Cemetery in Your Basement

Anybody else remember the Dead Milkman and their song "Big Lizard in Your Backyard"? My title kind of reminds me of it. But enough of my wasted youth...

So yeah, there are lots of places that have crypts or tombs in the basement, but how many have the actual cemetery down there? As in, the ground, and gravestones sticking up out of it?

Take a trip to New Haven, Connecticut and you can see for yourself. In the green that still exists in the center of the city there are now 3 churches (it's a long story). Back in the early days of the city in the 1600s the cemetery was there as well, and was there for many many decades.

Eventually, they built other churches on the grounds of the town green, and my focus is on the center church. The picture below, which I got from the church's website: shows what it looks like. It's the center church. By the way, that's Yale University in the background there (gorgeous as well).

The church was first built in 1813, right on top of part of the cemetery. Instead of taking the stones away, they just built right on top of them.

Now I know what you're thinking: But what about the rest of the cemetery Leah, that picture doesn't show any headstones.

That's right! They just picked up all the headstones and moved them to another cemetery nearby. There they propped them up against the cemetery wall.

But, you say, what about the bodies???? Didn't they move the remains as well?

NO! :-) They moved the cemetery but they left the bodies!!! They left the bodies and only moved the headstones! They're all still under there as you walk around this gorgeous park-like green. About 5000 people they say! Slightly creepy on that gorgeous day on the green? Yes. Yes it was.

Anyway, the church allows you to tour the Crypt as they call it and it's really wonderful. There were a bunch of the Trowbridge family down there, which is one of my really far back direct ancestors. I learned by the nice guide lady that it's pronounced Tro-bridge, rhymes with "sew" and not Trow-bridge, rhymes with "how". What can I say, at least she didn't laugh outright at me like the nice scottish man who corrected my pronunciation of "Arbuthnott". :-D Yeah, laugh away, dear reader, let's hear how you'd pronounce it!!!

To the right here is the actual Scotsman that laughed at me. Just to be clear, he's the one on the right in the picture. If only he'd been on a horse, I might have taken it better. :-D

The oldest stone in the underground graveyard is for Sarah (Rutherford) Trowbridge. She passed away in 1687. She's my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. How cool is that???

So here are some pictures, but really, you ought to see it for yourself, so if you are ever in New Haven, check it out!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Censorship and Genealogy

***Warning! This blog entry has been conceived while standing on a soapbox! Warning! Proceed at your own risk! :-) ***

oh, you're still here? Okay, here goes.

Some things have happened over at GenealogyWise, I'm sure you've heard so I won't re-hash. One of the outcomes is that there is now a discussion about the role of censorship on the site. Basically it's come down to the ideas of: no porn, no business, no rudeness.

Naturally, the last one (rudeness) has prompted a lot of discussion. My idea of rudeness is quite different from yours and everyone else's. I might think it's cute to call someone Mr. Poopy-pants, but maybe they think that is darn rude. There's no good answer, other than to let us all act like adults until we don't. I know, it's still subjective, but that is the age we live in now, we need to learn how to deal with it. The anonymity of the Internet, or the distance (both literal and figuratively) that exists even when we do know who each other is, makes it easy to forget to "Be Nice". I'm always surprised by how quickly comments on news stories and blogs turn into name-calling and insults. We are our lowest common denominator. We are human and messy and selfish and mean.

The 2nd one, no business, makes some good sense to me, to a point. The last thing I would want to see are those fake "family crest" businesses set up shop and start bilking inexperienced genealogists out of money. But I would love to see a way to contact legitimate businesses. Maybe a section of the site where professionals can list their contact information and specialties. But I have to go there looking for it, not have it in my face all the time.

And lastly, what prompted me to write this posting: Porn. I can promise you, my definition of porn, like rudeness, is different than yours. At first, I had no problem with the idea, ok, sure, the genealogy site won't have porn on it. Sounds reasonable to me!

But then in all the comments, it immediately went another direction. We should also not allow any nudity...if your grandma was a burlesque dancer, put some black bars on her picture before posting. If you're transcribing text from a letter or book, if there are curse words, use an asterik, like "h*ll".


I don't understand why so many of us find the human body offensive, or would consider a naked picture of a woman from 1899 (for instance) to be porn. Those naked women, usually just showing their breasts, from those old photos are still usually wearing more clothes overall than most tweens and teen girls today. So a breast is showing, who cares?

My suggestion would be to not automatically show pictures that users upload on to the site on the main page. Let a user tag a photo from their page for public viewing. That way, you'd have to actually go to my page, and flip through all my pictures to find something to be offended about. And at the same time, we won't be imposing one set of views from one group of people on to another.

As for censoring curse words...well, what do you consider a curse word? The 7 words we can't say on television? Cause I know some people who are really really good at making up new aggregate curse words from already existing words, and they aren't part of the original list.

Now, let me state, out of all the genealogy books, town history books, vital record books, and all those other books, not once do I recall coming across any sort of curse word. But if I did, if there was a court record or something from 1690 where they transribed an ancestor of mine who cursed a blue streak, well, that's history, and I'm not going to alter it. So if I wanted to transribe something, I'm gonna transcribe it. But again, you'd have to search me out to find the information so you could be offended.

Just like this blog, it's not being shoved down anyone's throat, if you think my views are horrible and wrong and irresponsible, you can stop reading and delete your link to me. That is your power. In your world, I will be silenced, and that is as it should be.

And if you're worried about the children, just remember, the more you hide something, ignore something, prohibit something, the more shiny and sparkly and alluring it becomes.

Anyway, that is my 2 cents. I will continue to use genealogywise, I think it is a cool site and a cool idea and I've already made some contacts on there that I'm really grateful for. And I promise not to post any pictures or text that will offend anyone (and I'll even use your definition, not mine, just to be safe).

But censorship makes me sad. It's letting someone else control what I'm allowed to see and know, and to me, there couldn't be a worse fate. I want to see everything, read everything, in its original form and I will be the judge as to whether I want to not look at it again because I thought it offensive.

Earlier today I saw on some other blog that someone had posted funny postcards from the 1930s. They were what I would consider "slightly risque". I chuckled and enjoyed them because it reminded me that the people who created and bought those postcards in the 1930s were just like us.

Like I said earlier, we're human and we're messy. Or at least, I am, since I can only speak for myself.

Ok, stepping off the soapbox now, it's safe. :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Surnames and Lots of Other Places that aren't Rehoboth, Mass.

In my last posting I listed out all my surnames that originated (at least once they moved to America) in Rehoboth, MA. One day soon I'd like to visit that town.

Anyway, so below is a list of my other surnames, I like to think of them as "Not-from-Rehoboth-Surnames":

AKINS - the farthest back I have them is the 1800s in Lockwood, NY. They are a brick wall for me.

BROWN - first lived in Swansea, Mass, don't have much on them at all, the name comes from a wife

CHURCHILL - first lived in Wethersfield, CT. Lots of old genealogies try to link my Josiah Churchill to the famous Churchill family but I'm not buying it

COLLINS - first lived in Boston, then moved to Walllingford, CT, came from Herford, England

DOMELLE - immigrated in the 20th century from what was NagyOsz, Hungary (now in Romania) and moved to Lake Village, Indiana

ENSIGN - first lived in Hartford, CT. Some old genealogies try to prove a link to nobility with this one, but again, I'm not buying it.

FIENES - this was a maiden name for the mom of the wife of the first Bliss of mine that came over. Family was from Maiden Newton, Dorset, England

FOOTE - lived in Wethersfield, CT, came from Shalford, Essex, England and Royston, Hertfordshire, England

GEORGE - lived in Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts, have little because it was a wife

GIBBS - 1800s in Waterloo, Seneca Co, NY, have little because it was a maiden name

KINGSBURY - another maiden name of a family that first came over, they came from Dedham, Norfolk, England, but that's all I have right now

KIRBY - lots of brick walls in NY in the 1800s - another maiden name in Waterloo, Seneca, NY that comes from who knows where

LYNN - darn those maiden names, it's so hard to prove who the parents were in so many cases! This one was in Connecticut.

MIX - originall in New Haven, CT, then moved to Wallingford, CT, then NY - the cause of all my mysterious maiden names in NY. I know the first Mix came from London, but that's it.

OBENDORFER - married to the Domelle above, so was in Lake Village, Indiana. all I know is that she said she was born in Vienna and that's it!

ROCKWELL - lived in Windsor, CT, came supposedly from Fitzhead, Somerset, England

ROYCE - lived in New London, CT, came suppsedly from Martok, Somerset, England

STEVENS - another maiden name who married a Mix, I got nothing - 1800s in Greene, Chenango County, NY

TROWBRIDGE - lived in Boston, New Haven, CT, Branford, CT. Supposedly came from Devonshire, England

TURNER - like the Mix, I only know he came from London. First lived in Lynn, Massachusetss, then founded New Haven, CT

WHEATLIE - a maiden name of one who came over - is supposed to be from Maiden Newton, Dorset, England

And those are all my surnames to the point of emigration or immigration, whatever you want to call it!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Surnames and Rehoboth, Massachusetts

I can't keep track of anything anymore (did I ever, or did I just imagine it?) - so I have all these spreadsheets all over the place, for genealogy, for bills, for work. It's not that I'm some kind of excel guru, I don't do all the fancy stuff, it's basically just lists. I like lists, and excel is really good for lists.

So this particular list is my direct line surnames and their place of origin in my records - in other words, what town did they originally inhabit in the US and the originating country?

If I could figure out a way to import excel into my blog, I'd do that, but none of these cute little buttons up top here in look like they do that for me, and let's just not even go to the little edit html tab. I can do word or line formatting in html, but there's no way I can format me up a table. I'll put that on my list of things to learn!

Anyway, I have a bunch of families who first lived in Rehoboth Massachusetts, we're talking 1600s here. On my mom's side, most of the families were early New Englanders.

I must disclaim at this point - some of the originating towns in England/Wales etc. are conjecture as far as I am concerned. There's all those great genealogy books from the late 19th century and I love them to pieces for the great lists of descendents in America; but some of them you just have to take with a grain of salt when they go back to England or Scotland because a lot of them were really just trying to prove links to nobility that didn't exist.

And so, my ancestors who came to America in the 1600s and first lived in Rehoboth, Massachusetts (or almost first lived there):

BLISS - first lived in Rehoboth, came from Northampton England, either Daventry or Preston Parva

BOSWORTH - first lived in Rehoboth, came from Hingham, Norfolk, England

BOWEN - first lived in Rehoboth, came from Ilston, Glamorganshire, Wales

COOPER - first lived in Hingham, Masschusetts, moved to Rehoboth, came from Hingham, Norfolk, England

DAGGETT - first lived in Rehoboth, not sure where they came from yet

IDE - first lived in Rehoboth, my line moved to Clarendon Vermont, came from Ide, Devon, England

KENT - first lived in Taunton Masschusetts, then Swansea, Masschusetts, then Rehoboth, not sure where they came from yet

PECK - first lived in Hingham, Massachusetts, moved to Rehoboth, came from Beccles, Suffolk and Hingham, Norfolk, England

PERRY - lived in Rehoboth, not sure where they came from yet

SMITH - lived in Rehoboth, not sure where they came from yet

I just re-discovered the Daggetts the other day and found an awesome book online. Amazing that I can forget about a direct line surname for years. It's the Problem Of The Wives, darn name changes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"Gimme a whiskey with ginger ale on the side and don't be stingy, baby."

So yeah, I adopted a cat. My current cat, NooNoo, needs a companion. Not that she would admit it, she's far too regal for that, as her re-enactment of the Princess and the Pea here shows. She's 10 years old (as of saturday) and her companion of several years passed away last fall. I tried bringing home a new friend for her in December and it was an Utter Disaster. His name was Angel and he loved more than anything to chase NooNoo. She spent most of her life living on the fridge. It broke my heart, but I couldn't keep him, it just wasn't right to torture NooNoo like that.

But she's spent her entire life living with other cats (whether she cared for them or not) and I could tell she was a little lost. I had actually broken down and gone to the local Pet Smart to buy a collar and leash with some vague idea that we could go outside together (she wants to be an outside cat REAL BAD, but unfortunately, her previous owner had her declawed). I wasn't sure how it was going to work because I couldn't imagine getting the collar thingy on her, and it would probably be some horribly ending discussion where the collar somehow ended up being on me. Then I noticed they had I wandered over and was reading the descriptions really carefully. I needed a cat that was good with other cats and not aggressive at all.

See, NooNoo is little, I guess she was the runt of the litter, or else she just has petite genes. She's 4 pounds soaking wet, not that I've ever seen her soaking wet... Where, O Universe, are my petite genes???? I must have eaten them...! :-D

Anyway, I had had a passing idea that I would adopt a kitten (the only thing littler than NooNoo) and even applied to a local rescue society (which shall go un-named). The lady who talked to me was much more interested in judging me in how I had handled the Angel situation (why didn't I isolate him and foster him until he could be adopted, had I followed up on whether he was adopted, did I realize that since I hadn't kept him, he was probably put down). Thanks lady, like I didn't go through enough soul-searching and guilt over how to handle that situation. Needless to say I withdrew my application from that society and felt like crap. Once I realized she was the jerk, not me, I got over it.

After a lot of petting and pondering at the Pet Smart, I determined there was a likely candidate in a female black and white cat named Greta. I wonder what the person who named her was thinking about, Garbo seems too easy, but that's the only Greta I know. They said she was found "living under the porch of a preacher's house" in Marcus Hook (I feel like there's a song in there somewhere, and I suddenly have an inclination to watch quentin tarantino movies now...).

And so, one reviewed application and long discussion with the ladies at the rescue operation later, I have a new kitty.

She's living in my master bedroom for now, which is a HUGE pain in the butt, but I am not rushing this introduction at all. She seems fine to be living in there right now, she's not trying to get out the door or anything, so the intro will happen when I feel it's right.

I wanted to post some nice pictures of her, but this darn cat does not sit still when there's a camera in the room! She's a lot like my nephew Jack, there are a lot of pictures of the back of his head floating around, for instance:

So, you will have to trust me, she does have two yellow eyes, a nose and mouth, and she loves nothing more than to be petted and to shed all over (I was smart enough to get a black and white cat so no matter what I wore, the fur would show up). She's a sweetie and so far hasn't demonstrated any aggressive behaviour at all. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!!