Episode 102 - One Person- Jamestown- AND Cortez Crew Member Ancestry! Plus War of 1812 Pension Nuggets

podcast episode Aug 31, 2015

This week on Extreme Genes... more gems from newly released War of 1812 pension applications, AND talk with a woman who just learned she descends from a Cortez crew member and Jamestown!
Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors.  David has a story about a couple and their 60 years of wedding cake sharing... with a twist!  Also, Big Ben, now 156 years old, is having trouble keeping accurate time.  Hear what's happening to correct it!  Plus, David has your tech tip and info on where he will be in September to talk genealogy with you in person!
Fisher then visits with Fran Jensen, who, along with some colleagues, are reading nearly every new War of 1812 pension record as it comes out on Fold3.  You'll be amazed at the gems they have found, and you'll benefit from Fran's insight on what to expect when you dig in to this awesome National Archives collection.
Danielle Torres from NEHGS talks about her recent experience of learning about her ancestry... with ancestors on both sides arriving in the America's BEFORE the Mayflower!  Wait... what?!  Yes!  You'll enjoy hearing about Dani's journey of discovery.
Then Tom Perry returns talking about preservation.  One aspect of it you might not have thought about is the right way to ship your fragile, delicate, and special heirlooms.  Have a pencil and paper... or your smartphone... ready!
It's all this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 102

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 102

Fisher: I cannot believe we are wrapping up August, already. Hello you! It is Fisher here, with America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Nice to have you along.  Hope you’re having a great summer. And I’m excited about the guests we have on today. First up, coming up in about eight minutes, Fran Jensen. Now this is a person who is passionate about her research. Very excited about the big program that’s going on right now to digitize all the pension applications from the War of 1812, and she and a group of people have been going through, every day almost, each one as they are released. It’s incredible. She’s going to share some of the gems that she’s picked up from this. Some tips for you also about what to look for and how to use these incredible records as they’re being released.  Plus, later in the show Danielle Torres from NEHGS, a good friend of David Allen Lambert, is going to come on and talk about her experience, joining that organization, doing a little research into her own lines, and finding out she pretty much pre-dates everybody she works with as far as how long her family has been in this country. Wait till you hear the story she’s got to tell. It’s a lot of fun. But right now it’s time to check in with our good friend the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors, David Allen Lambert. Hello David!

David: Hello from Boston, Fish. How are things out in your part of the world?

Fisher: You know it’s great. Just got back from my trip to Alaska, saw a little family history on totem poles in Ketchikan, it was very fun!

David: Well that sounds like a very fascinating one. I hope that you brought back some souvenir from your trip and to keep it in your family ephemeron. But that kind of ties into the first story I want to tell you about for Family Histoire News. 

Fisher: Okay.

David: Okay, well after you get married you save that piece of wedding cake for the anniversary. You probably did that, I did that.

Fisher: Sure everybody did that. You have a little piece every year for a year or two.

David: Yeah and after the first year and tasting freezer burn, I told my wife she could have the rest of it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But Anne and Ken Frederick’s who have been married for 60 years, were married back in 1955, they have continued the tradition for 60 years, to sample a part of their wedding cake every year.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: You’d think that it would probably be frozen.

Fisher: Right.

David: No! It’s not refrigerated at all.

Fisher: Oh no! Not frozen and not refrigerated and they’re eating a piece every year for 60 years?

David: Well, you see the secret is putting a little brandy on it, enough brandy to make it edible.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But they do admit it’s a bit dry. Obviously, how many people are eating things that their grandmother made in 1955, every year?

Fisher: Not a lot of folks, and I’m glad for that.

David: Well that’s very true. Another story, and obviously I love cemeteries, I’m writing a book on cemeteries for Massachusetts. A Missouri homeowner has been taken under some scrutiny because he built a patio out of discarded military headstones. Did you hear that story?

Fisher: Yeah, that’s kind of a touchy subject.

David: It really is. I mean he didn’t really steal any gravestones. These were discards from the monument company itself.

Fisher: Oh. That went out of business or something.

David: I would say personally I would just have discarded the stone all together versus lay it out as patio bricks. But he has agreed to remove them and move the gravestones over to a landfill. Another story I wanted to tell you about, obviously everyone uses their cell phones now to keep track of time. The 156 year old Big Ben over in London is having a little problem with keeping time.

Fisher: Uh oh.

David: It’s only by a matter of six seconds every day.

Fisher: Everyday? Oh that’s going to be a problem.

David: Yeah, but apparently placing pennies on the pendulum will help fine tune it. I can’t imagine something as big as Big Ben can be fixed by a couple of pennies, but hey, go figure. I wanted to let you know of a little kind of a sad story. I recently found out that I suffer from ADGD.

Fisher: Oh, David.

David: Yeah it’s solvable by more extensive visits to a library like NEHGS, but I suffer from “Attention Deficit Genealogical Disorder.”

Fisher: Uh oh.

David: It’s really what happens when you start researching one ancestor but you get distracted by another, and another. And what happens is you do a lot of research but you completely forget what you began to start with.

Fisher: [Laughs] I’ve done that. You do that all the time. Anybody who does that a lot has this same problem. David, you’re okay, it’s all right.

David: Oh! Thank you Dr. Fish. [Laughs] One of the things, I always have people at the Library come in and they’re doing their genealogy maybe online or in a book form. My suggestion to them is if you can’t find a family photo, how do you illustrate your genealogy? So I mean obviously you go back far enough maybe there’s not even portraiture to use, maybe you use a signature or your ancestor’s gravestone. I mean how about yourself?

Fisher: I have actually found antique etchings for instance of Revolutionary soldiers, and said “He may have looked like this in his uniform.”

David: Sure.

Fisher: You could take a family Bible and say, “This was that person’s Bible.” Signatures are a great way to go.

David: Exactly. They really are. I mean how much more personal can you get than the signature of the person. Or in cases like some of my ancestors the Xs they made, this is a nice way to curve that X. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

David: My tech tip for the week is “You are family” which is an app from the app store that allows you to record birthdays and anniversaries, put a photo, email, phone number for our immediate family.

Fisher: Oh, for the living people! This is good because I forgot my niece’s birthday this past week in Florida, not even a call I feel so bad. Sorry, Claire.

David: But I bet you would probably remember you third great grandfather’s birthday next month.

Fisher: Yup. [Laughs]

David: I mean that’s the way we work as genealogists. We remember the dead and forget the living. A couple of things just to quickly tell you. NEHGS is going to be having a Family History Day on October 3rd in Boston. I’ll put out a little link to tell you all about that. If you want to be in Syracuse, New York on September 17th through the 19,th I will be at the New York State Family History Conference. Come by the NEHGS booth and find out about NEHGS and Extreme Genes. And also our free database of the week is the Mayflower descendents. We’ve continued on putting up the additional volumes, from volume 56 to 59. And one of our previous guests, Chris Child, who talked about the Lincoln connection, he is now the editor of the Mayflower descendents.

Fisher: That is very nice. David that is great stuff, and also thank you so much for hooking us up with Danielle Torres who is coming on the show later on today, what a story she’s got!

David: Amazing. And we’re all very jealous of the ancestry that she has.

Fisher: [Laughs] I bet that is true. Talk to you again next week.

David: Talk to you soon.

Fisher: All right, and coming up next in three minutes Fran Jensen, she and some friends have been going through all of the War of 1812 pension applications looking for gems. She’s going to share a few of those with us and give us some tips on how best to use these incredible records as they’re being released – coming right up on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Segment 2 Episode 102

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Fran Jensen

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, and on the line with me right now is Fran Jensen. And Fran was a speaker recently at a Family History Conference at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  And Fran you had a fascinating story about your exploration of the War of 1812 files, and obviously you have way too much time on your hands! Tell everybody what you’ve been up to.


Fran: Well, for the past year and a half we have been perusing through the pension files as they have been digitized and placed on Fold3, and actually viewing many of the files one by one. We were looking for some stories, some fantastic records and information that were contained in the files, and we were just blown away by what we found in the files.

Fisher: Who is “we” Fran?

Fran: Myself and two other volunteers.

Fisher: Okay.

Fran: So we’ve seen things like numerous original marriage certificates, family Bible pages that had been ripped out of family Bibles and sent in during the process of applying for pension or bounty land, and in one case we actually saw that the entire Bible was sent in by the family, not just the Bible pages.

Fisher: [Laughs] How do they store that? That’s amazing!

Fran: [Laughs] I don’t know how they store that back there in the National Archives, but I’m sure it’s just sitting right there. All the pension files were originally stored in alphabetical order, so it’s probably just sitting in alphabetical order with the rest of the pension files. [Laughs] 

Fisher: Oh, that’s funny, the Bible itself.

Fran: So that was just mind boggling to see that.

Fisher: Did they digitize every page in the Bible?

Fran: No. [Laughs] They only digitized the pages that were pertinent to history or family history.

Fisher: Okay.

Fran: It was actually a Bible. I believe the date on the Bible if I remember right was 1815.

Fisher: Right.

Fran: If I remember right.

Fisher: Right from the end of the war.

Fran: Uh huh, yeah, and obviously numerous family members were actually documented in the Bible on those pages, their births, their deaths and their marriages. There was another pension file that we found, let me see, the soldier’s name was Frederick D. Bolles. We were amazed at the information that was in his file. There was a really, really long obituary for the wife, and with that obituary that was in the file as well as the numerous other records that were in the file. We were able to find that individual on FamilySearch /Family Tree, Frederick Bolles and his wife, and they had one child in that record on FamilySearch.  But in the pension file, we were able to identify the birthplace, the birth date, the death date and place. The file confirmed that there was only one spouse for either the husband or the wife. In other words the wife didn’t remarry after the husband died. It gave the marriage date, marriage place. It identified that the couple had twelve children.

Fisher: Oh boy!

Fran: And at the time of the pension, four were still living, and the couple had eighteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren. The file gave us all that information, including the wife’s father’s name and one of her sister’s names and where they were living. If it was my family, I would have been able to take that pension file and fill out all that information which was missing from the record on FamilySearch/Family Tree.

Fisher: Isn’t that something.

Fran: So what we’re hoping is that people will find these records in pension file and fill in all the missing blanks they may have in their family records.

Fisher: Now what kind of military action stories have you stumbled across in these records?

Fran: Now what kind of military action stories... there’s been stories where either the soldier himself or the wife they will tell how they were injured or how they endured certain specific events in the war.  In other words, they were exposed to extreme cold and it caused medical problems. So we’ll see medical records in the pension file that were used in an effort to obtain either the pension or the bounty land, and it proved they were invalid and needed help through pension, through some kind of support, and so, being shot, losing a limb, and normal things you might see out of the ravages of war. You’ll see evidence of that also in the pension files.

Fisher: I’m talking to Fran Jensen. She’s been researching the War of 1812 pension files that are being released. How far along are we right now? I mean there’s percentages of them we see periodically going up 30%, 40%, what number have you seen lately, Fran?

Fran: I was on the Fold3 website this morning and it said 65%. They’re currently digitizing the soldiers’ names who began with the letter M.

Fisher: Was it all done alphabetically?

Fran: Yeah. At the National Archives the pensions are filed alphabetically, so they just started at the very beginning and now they’re working on the Ms. I don’t know how far they are into the Ms, but they’ve been working on that for a few months now. So we will eventually get to the Ws and Xs and Ys. We will eventually get there. It’s just been amazing, the stories and information. Just the other day I was looking at one pension file, it had a little teeny tiny clipping from a newspaper.  Well that newspaper clipping had nothing to do with that soldier. Nothing to do with the person who was applying for a pension which happened to be the daughter of the soldier, and the daughter was using that particular newspaper article to prove that she was the same type of a person, a living descendent of someone who served in the war.

Fisher: Right.

Fran: And so therefore she needed a pension too, like this other person did.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Fran: So I went and looked for that other pension and found it. But that other pension mentioned somebody else who was in the same situation, a daughter who was looking for support and hoping to obtain a pension like another daughter had obtained.  So it was actually one pension file that led to two other pension files, and interestingly enough, the very last pension file that the story actually linked to is actually missing and is not in the pension files on Fold3.  It’s probably not even sitting there in the stack of the pension files. It looks like, based on the information we saw on Fold3 in the pension, it’s probably filed totally someplace else, and that’s the file that I actually expect to see quite a bit of evidence and information about the family in that file. If it can ever be found because the daughter was very young, I think she was fourteen years old when her father passed away, and she was partially blind and that’s why she was able to obtain a pension on behalf of her father’s service. Because of her age and because of her disability, her pension file was actually an exception to the rules and it was an act of Congress that actually made it possible for her to obtain her pension.

Fisher: Wow.

Fran: We’ve seen several pension files where individuals have tried to obtain a pension under the current laws at the time, and was not able to but due to extenuating circumstances, bills went up to Congress and then in many cases when it was warranted obviously the pension was granted to the individual outside of the basic laws that were available at the time.

Fisher: Sure, exceptions at the time. Fran, how many files are there? How many pensions were actually applied for?

Fran: We don’t have an exact count, in the neighbourhood of a 100,000.

Fisher: Okay.

Fran: The other interesting story. Just to point out that even if your ancestor didn’t serve in the war, you may find lots of information about your ancestors, multiple ancestors in the file. For instance, I had an ancestor, he served in the war. His name was William Fuller Card, Card was the last name, and his son in law, his name is Benjamin Cayman Curtis.  Well Benjamin Cayman Curtis was born fourteen years after the war. Well, guess what? Benjamin wrote a letter stating that he knew William Card and that he was there when he died, and he was there when he was buried.  He wrote all that detail out about this person that he knew in the late 1840s who had passed away. He had actually written that he was living in his home at the time, and so both people, William Fuller Card and Benjamin Cayman Curtis, they’re both my ancestors.  But I would have never ever thought to search for Benjamin Curtis in the war of 1812 files because he hadn’t even been born yet. You know?

Fisher: Right. Why would you even look there?

Fran: In the Civil War.

Fisher: Isn’t that funny how that all works out, and then that can lead to other things. Now you can look in places and you can look for land records and start tying those things together.

Fran: Absolutely, yeah.

Fisher: It is just amazing the little pieces that come together. The Revolutionary records are pretty much all available now. Now we’ve got the War of 1812. Long ways we’ve come with the Civil War records, although I don’t think there’s ever an end to those [Laughs]

Fran: I know [Laughs].

Fisher: You’re not going to start going through those are you?

Fran: Um... who knows? [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it’s great things that are happening right now in our country with digitization and so many new stories coming out. Fran, thank you so much for your time! This is very exciting stuff and I’m glad you’ve been doing this. Is there a place where you are sharing any of your finds?

Fran: Oh yes, absolutely. The digitization project is actually sponsored by The Federation of Genealogical Societies, and several others of the Genealogical organizations, Ancestry.com, Fold3, FamilySearch. They are supporting this effort to digitize these records. They’ve never been microfilmed, and they’ve never been so easily available to us. So just going online and being able to see something that normally in the past we would have had to have gone to Washington DC in order to see it in person or hire somebody to obtain a file and copy the file for us. So to have them actually be online is fantastic. We have block articles of the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ website for preserving pensions, and we also have a Facebook page and a Facebook group. During the month of July on the Facebook group, we shared one story from one pension, every single day during the entire month of July.

Fisher: Wow, fun stuff!

Fran: Yeah.

Fisher: And that’s up there still probably?

Fran: Oh absolutely, yes.

Fisher: Great. She’s Fran Jensen. She’s been researching the War of 1812 as these pension records have been released. Still another 35% to go before it’s all out there and all available. Great stuff, Fran. Thanks for coming on the show!

Fran: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, it’s a woman who took a job at the New England Historic Genealogical Society not knowing much about her own background. Wait till you hear what she found. It’s another ordinary person with an extraordinary find coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 102

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Danielle Torres

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And as you know, you run into people with stories everywhere you go. And David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society was telling me a couple of weeks ago, “You've got to talk to this gal who is working with us. She found out the most interesting things.” And let's get her on right now, Danielle Torres. Hi Danielle, welcome to the show.

Danielle: Hi.

Fisher: Nice to have you. And you started there as an intern, out of an interest in genealogy or it was just a new opportunity and you wanted to explore it?

Danielle: I'm not actually an intern. I work in the membership department here at NEHGS.

Fisher: Okay.

Danielle: And I've always kind of had an interest in history. And so it seemed like an interesting avenue to go down. And then once I started working here at the Society, I kind of started poking around in my own background, a little more in depth.

Fisher: Yeah, you didn't want to be the one person there who doesn't know about your own lines, right?

Danielle: No, nobody wants to be that person. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] So this is kind of fascinating because you've known for a long time you had Mexican heritage, you had heritage from elsewhere, but I don't think anybody expected what you discovered. Let's go into that, how this all started and the road you went down.

Danielle: Okay. Shortly after I started working here at NEHGS, I went to a staff research night where they shut down the library just keep it open for the employees. And so I was working with one of our researchers, Christopher Lee, and his specialty is southern records and Virginia specifically. And he took one look at my mother's line, her last name is Grace and he said, “Well, that's a Jamestown family. That's Virginia.” And I had no idea.

Fisher: Wow!

Danielle: And I'm from southern California.

Fisher: Right. So Christopher tells you that this is a Jamestown family. What did that mean to you?

Danielle: Well, I actually took some classes at the College of William and Mary and have visited all of the early colonial settlements in Virginia. So I knew that it was very significant to the founding of this country, but I didn't realize at the time that I actually had family roots there. So my, I believe 11th great grandfather was one of the captains that came over.

Fisher: What year are we talking here?

Danielle: 1608 was the year that he came over.

Fisher: Twelve years before the Mayflower?

Danielle: Yes.

Fisher: Wow!

Danielle: So it was the earliest permanent English settlement.

Fisher: Right, right. Now did he survive there for a while?

Danielle: He did. So he actually avoided the starving time that happened that first winter. He returned to England about six months after arriving there. And he went back with John Smith to get more supplies and bring back more settlers. And so he came back with his then wife and two children at the time, but the people who stayed over that winter didn't fare quite as well. So the starving time that happened in early 1609 in Jamestown about eighty percent of the settlers at the time didn't survive the winter.

Fisher: That's one of the classic stories in American history, but I don't think I've ever spoken to somebody who descended from Jamestown. That's a long way. So it was just good fortune that your ancestor returned to England at that time, only to come back. And then when did he pass?

Danielle: He died in 1635.

Fisher: He still carried on for a good long time after that. Did he remain in Virginia?

Danielle: He did. So he had two shares in the Virginia Company. So he was given about 200 acres of land and settled in Virginia and established a homestead and a plantation in Virginia that his family carried on after he passed away.

Fisher: Wow! That's unbelievable. Now the interesting thing about this is you would think a Jamestown connection would be enough for one person to have, right?

Danielle: [Laughs] Yeah.

Fisher: I mean most of us, if we can get back to the Mayflower, sometime that early with the passage of the English settlers into New England, that's pretty impressive, but Jamestown is pretty darn good. But then you went and started working on your father's side. Talk about what you found there.

Danielle: Yes. One of my cousins actually wrote a book about fifteen, twenty years ago about the Torres side of my family.

Fisher: Your name line.

Danielle: Exactly. And only after I'd started working at a genealogical society took a closer look at it. And she's actually connected our family to one of the conquistadors who came over with Cortez in the 1500s. So that's even older than Jamestown!

Fisher: Even older than Jamestown!  And they wound up where?

Danielle: In Mexico eventually. My particular conquistador, Francisco Verdugo, he was in Cuba for a couple of years in 1519. It's the first record of him that she was able to find.

Fisher: Wow!

Danielle: In that area. And in 1519 or 1520 they carried on towards Mexico and met the Aztecs.

Fisher: Where'd they go from there?

Danielle: They battled the Aztecs for a couple of years. And then after everything that happened with Montezuma and the capitol of the Aztec people, my relative, he was given some pretty large tracts of land in that area. And then over the course of several years after that, he had various governing roles in various parts on northern Mexico. So he didn't really stay in one place for too long. [Laughs]

Fisher: It sounds like he had the wanderlust.

Danielle: Yeah. In a couple of different places that I have been reading he definitely had the adventurous spirit around him. [Laughs]

Fisher: Did he ever wind up in the area of California?

Danielle: I don't think he did in his lifetime. It sounds like his descendants moved further north and were involved with the founding of the missions going up into what is now California.

Fisher: And even that was before Jamestown!

Danielle: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. Then you're getting into a little bit later. But yeah, it’s all still pretty early.

Fisher: For anybody coming over actually from Europe to North America, this is about as early as it gets. Obviously natives have much deeper roots even than you have, but this is enormously impressive. So what has this meant to your family as you've discovered this?

Danielle: I've had various reactions to it. I mean, I, as somebody who really liked studying history and always have kind of taken an interest in it, I was extremely excited because I had no idea that I had connections to like actual names that I could find in history books.

Fisher: Right, right. Cortez, Montezuma, Pocahontas, I would assume.

Danielle: Yeah, the kind of names that people have heard of before. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, yeah.

Danielle: And I think my sisters, they’ve been pretty excited about it. My grandparents on the Torres side, they were excited about it, I think. Some people just don't have that good of a grasp on history, so it hasn't quite sunk in. I don't think, I mean I haven't known about this for very long at this point.

Fisher: Right. It's kind of like, “Yeah, great. Thanks so much. Would you pass the salt please?”

Danielle: [Laughs] Maybe not quite that insignificant of a reaction, but I think I was the most excited.

Fisher: I'll bet and I bet you everybody at NEHGS was blown away.

Danielle: Yeah! I mean David was impressed enough to talk to you about it. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes. So tell me about the conquistador. What does conquistador mean?

Danielle: So as far as I can tell, it essentially means "an adventurer." Sounds like Francisco Verdugo was born into kind of a noble family in Spain and received an opportunity to go see the New World and join Cortez on an adventure and he jumped at the chance.

Fisher: Isn't that insane! Have you seen some of the original records now as you've gotten into the research?

Danielle: My eyes have passed across them. I don't know Spanish very well.

Fisher: Ah!

Danielle: I need to. This has kind of inspired me to learn Spanish to read some of those records, but also just feel more connected to my roots that now I know go back further than I anticipated. [Laughs]

Fisher: Well congratulations on all those finds. I'm sure your status there at NEHGS has gone through the roof. I mean when you impress David, that's pretty impressive in itself!

Danielle: Yeah, well, I mean it doesn't hurt that my desk is about four feet away from his. [Laughs]

Fisher: There you go. Well congratulations. Good luck on the continuing research, because I'm sure there's so much more that you have yet to find concerning both of these very early American immigrants.

Danielle: Yeah, I'm excited to find out more.

Fisher: Thanks for coming on!

Danielle: Thanks for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, Tom Perry the Preservation Authority, with information you're going to want to think about. How do you ship your precious family history heirlooms when you need them worked on? He'll tell you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 102

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, and that is Tom Perry over there. Wave Tom, say hello!

Tom: Hello!

Fisher: From TMCPlace.com, he’s our Preservation Authority. And every week we take your questions about all kinds of things dealing with preserving your photos, your videos, your old slides, home movies. And today this all kind of comes into play when we talk about shipping.

Tom: People take that for granted, and when you’re shipping home movies, slides, video, photographs, anything like that.

Fisher: Daguerreotypes.

Tom: Exactly! It doesn’t matter what you’re shipping. So many people have these horror stories, they just put it in a box, taped it up, took it to the post office or UPS and shipped it off. And they go and pop your tapes in and they go, “Hey, there’s nothing here on the tape.” There are a lot of steps we’re going to talk about. For some people shipping is no big deal. It’s a huge deal and we’re going to make sure you know how to do it right.

Fisher: All right, where do we start?

Tom: Okay, the first thing you want to start off with is, we’ve talked about preserving it in your own home. The biggest problems with tapes is extreme changes in temperature, hot and cold, hot and cold, hot and cold. Even if it’s small hot and small cold, back and forth, back and forth is worse than little bit of extreme cold or little bit of extreme heat. You want to be really, really careful, so what I tell people, “These are your memories, these are your treasures, and you’re never going to be able to get them back once they’re gone.” What I always do especially with film, especially with the 16mm film, hopefully you’ve got the original cans they came in, if you don’t have the original cans they came in, I would go to the “All A Dollar” or a place like that and buy some towels really, really cheap. Wrap the towels around it because it’s going to do two things. This is not only going to pad it, but will also, if somehow some moisture gets in there, it will absorb the moisture.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Wrap it in a good towel and then what you want to do is get a nice sturdy box, and line all the sides of the box with styrofoam. Go to Home Depot and buy a sheet of Styrofoam. Just the white styrofoam that you use in houses and cut it, and make a box inside of the box. So now your tapes or film, or whatever you have wrapped in a towel, is going to go inside the styrofoam. I like styrofoam better than bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is good for bouncing and things but it’s not a good insulator. And once you have that box make sure you put a label inside this box, too, with your name, phone number, all your contact information. Then seal up the box as if you’re going to ship it like that. But you’re not going to. Then you want to do the same thing again. You want to get a bigger box. And when I say a bigger box, you want to have at least 2-3 inches all the way around, not just a box inside of a box. And then you can either cut the styrofoam or you can buy the loose fill styrofoam that is available at any packaging place like “Going Postal” and put that around the second box so you’ve got a double wall.

Fisher: Wow.

Tom: And then that’s how you’re going to want to ship it out.

Fisher: Could there be a need for bubble wrap just to protect the bouncing around all of this?

Tom: Oh absolutely! If you want to go the extra mile you could take this first box once it’s done and wrap it with bubble wrap and then put that inside an even bigger box with the Styrofoam. The Styrofoam is going to be the best thing as far as insulating it.

Fisher: And temperature control.

Tom: Absolutely. Temperature control, that’s the best way to put it. Now one thing too, when you’re putting in the loose fill, a lot of people just pour loose fill in. It’s at the top, and they shave off the top and seal it. Loose fill will settle. So get that box, the second box has the loose fill in it, and shake it so it all settles. Get it in and then you have a little bit above the rim so you can kind of press down the four flaps in order to secure it. And when you tape both boxes on the inside and the outside, you want to treat them the same. Not only do you put the tape on the major sealing points where the box is coming together, you want to go along the edges also, and in the next segment we’ll go into a little bit more detail.

Fisher: Wow! This is so important and so interesting to hear what some people are going to have to do to make sure their memories are not lost. Good stuff, more when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 102

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, we are back - Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority. And we’ve been talking about the significance and the importance of proper shipping of your family history treasures when you’re sharing them with other people because of things such as moisture and temperature changes. And we’ve talked about wrapping a box within a box and styrofoam and bubble wrap. Complicated! Tom, what else have you got?

Tom: Okay, yeah, all these things are really important. Like we’ve said at the get go of this show, it’s so important to take care of this, because any time you have a problem with any kind of preservation, your weakest link is going to cause you the problem, and something as silly as shipping could be your weakest link that could cause your problem.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Like we said, if you have a family archivist that is transferring all your home movies for or you’re sending it to us or anybody, any place you’re sending it, make sure you pack it right. This is really important. Don’t pop in a bubble envelope and send it up. You want to preserve your memories, because even though it’s something you think sturdy, the bubble envelope’s going to keep it from getting bounced around, bubble envelopes do nothing for heat and cold, and that’s where most of the bad things happen. Now another thing you want to do which I really suggest. Get some towels. If you have some old towels, make sure they’re clean or go to a place like “Dollar Treat” or something where you can get some dish towels pretty cheap. Wrap them with that because that helps absorb the moisture. Another thing we’ve talked about is you can get some cheese cloth and put uncooked... let me say that again... uncooked rice in cheese cloth and tie it up with a string, not a rubber band.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right. We’re not using this for food.

Tom: No! No! Do not use minute rice! You want to get the good sturdy rice. Put it in a cheese cloth. The more the merrier. You can’t do too much of it. But, like again, I say you want to tie it with a string, not a rubber band. They don’t make rubber bands like they used to. They break all the time. And you don’t want rice going through all your VHS tapes and causing your brother or whoever’s going to be transferring your stuff all kinds of headaches. And if you don’t have the moisture in it will keep a lot of the bugs out, because they look for wet, damp stuff. Also, you might be shipping it across the country and think “No big deal, it’s only going to be a week.” Well, you know, your uncle or your brother or whoever’s doing all these transfers, if he’s doing all your families, he might have a hundred tapes! And yours might get out on the shelves for a couple of months until he gets to it, so you want to make sure that it’s going to be packed like you’re putting it away for quite some time. Make sure everything’s packed correctly. And another thing that’s important is make sure you label your box “This Side Up” if you’re shipping VHS tapes, or any kind of video tapes and audio cassettes.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Because you always want them to be standing on end, whether it’s the long end or the short end, that's how you want to store them. Now once you ship them, you don’t know what UPS or FedEx or a Post Office is going to do. But once it gets to your brother’s house, hopefully he’ll see the sign that says “This end up.”  Because the one problem we run into more than anything else is on old VHS tapes, that people lay them flat in a box, they sit so long, one of the springs for some reason gives out, the tape drops down and crushes the control track on your VHS tapes. And once you lose your control track, it’s like having your head chopped off the rest of your body. It doesn’t work too well.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s a good way to say it.

Tom: So you want to be really, really careful with that because that’s really the truth. You want to keep those things standing up. And I have people calling me all the time and say “Well, I can get ten of these standing up, but then the last two I have to lay flat.” What’s more important? Shipping it in another box or getting a bigger box and putting them in there right? You want to do it right. If these memories are good enough that you want to preserve them and hand them down to future generations, it’s worth the extra expense, the extra time, to do things right. Don’t cut corners on shipping and storing. You need to do this stuff right. And so now, if you’re shipping them, it’s out of your control once you take it to the post office or whatever. Make sure if you go to a post office, make sure you do tracking. I really prefer UPS, because with UPS you can track along the way. They will say when it went to a different station. It makes it a lot easier. And always double label them. Label the box inside, label the box outside, put tape over the label, do everything you can. Just play like this is a million dollar lottery ticket that you’re sending off to somebody and you don’t want something to happen to it.

Fisher: Always some great advice and I hope people listen to it. Thanks so much, Tom.

Tom: See you next week!

Fisher: And that wraps it up for this week. Thanks once again to Fran Jensen for sharing some of the stories she’s been discovering as the digitized War of 1812 pension applications have been released. Great stuff to be found there and of course, also to Danielle Torres from NEHGS for her stories of her amazingly early lineage that she just recently discovered. Take care, and we’ll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us, and remember, as far as everyone knows we’re a nice normal family!

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