Episode 293 - Church Bells Ringing For Family HistoryAug 04, 2019
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David gives an update on what he’s expecting when he receives the family Bible he located in Canada. Fisher adds a ditty about likely pirate booty found in the will of his seventh great grandmother. In Family Histoire News, David talks about an interesting story about the “Mayflower Steps” in Devonshire, England. Turns out, the Pilgrims may not have departed the Old World from exactly where they’re marked. You’ll be amazed where it’s said they really were. Next, David talks about the discovery of a medieval tunnel in Scotland. It was always rumored, but now that it has been found, the description is fascinating. FaceApp is giving us all an idea of what we might look like to our descendants in future years, but it has a downside. Catch David’s take on this popular (Russian!) app. Finally, in late breaking news, the folks in Britain at Find A Will (probatesearch.service.gov.uk) have lowered the price from ten pounds to one and a half pounds! David’s Blogger Spotlight this week shines on Elizabeth O’Neal at mydescendantsancestors.com. Learn about her Genealogy Blog Party and how it is solving complicated cases.
Then, Fisher begins his two part visit with Sunny Morton, author of the new resource book, “How To Find Your Family History In US Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide,” from Genealogical Publishing of Baltimore. Sunny talks about some of the family finds she has had using church records, what to expect from the records of a dozen major denominations, and where to find them.
Next, David Allen Lambert returns for another “Ask Us Anything” segment.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 293
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 293
Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And if you’re new to the show, this is where we talk about techniques for finding your ancestors, gathering those stories, interesting information, extending your trees. There’s so much to do and it is so much fun. And one of those experts is Sunny Morton. She has written a new book. It’s all about finding your family history in church records and she’s got stories that she’s found to go along with this. You’re going to enjoy that coming up in about ten minutes on the show. Hey, just a reminder if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, this is a good time to do it, well anytime is. So, just get online at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. You can get signed up. It’s absolutely free. You get a blog from me each week, links to shows, past and present and to stories that you’ll be very interested in as a genealogist. And right now, let’s head out to Boston and check in with David Allen Lambert, who I know is eagerly sitting by the mail right now. Because David, last week you told us you were getting a 19th century family bible. Has that arrived yet?
David: I’ve got the Canada post tracking number and I’m actively clicking on it every hour, on the hour [Laughs] to see where it is.
Fisher:[Laughs] Where is it?
David:Between Alberta and Boston where it’s being sent to my work. It looks like it will arrive early next week.
David:So I’m very excited.
Fisher:And you’ll be there at like six in the morning, right, just waiting for that special moment.
David:I’ll be waiting for the mailman to come out like a kid at a Christmas tree waiting for Santa to arrive with my family bible.
Fisher:Yes, that’s going to be a lot of fun. Well, it’s always fun anytime you make a discovery. And I had another one this past week concerning my pirate ancestor that we’ve talked about a little over the last year and a half.
Fisher:There’s a guy in Rhode Island who’s a great pirate researcher. His name is Jim Bailey. In fact, there was a great article written about him and some of his discoveries involving a slave ship in 1696 that came into Newport that was actually a cover for these pirates, and apparently my ancestor was on this ship. He’s been doing more and more research about these pirates who escaped justice and found that one of them had some interesting stuff, the widow did in her will. And he said, “You might want to check out the will of his widow.” And I’d never really thought much about it, and so I went and checked it out. And the second item she had in the will said, “I given bequeath to my daughter, my East India silk gown. [Laughs]
Fisher:Oh really? Where do people get that in 1741 you know?
David:And not at the local mercantile.
David:I can tell youthat sounds like pirate booty to me.
Fisher:Yeah, that’s kind of the way I’m looking at it too, so that was kind of interesting. She also had a silk quilt and a long velvet hood that she was leaving her daughter so, very interesting items for the wife of an alleged pirate.
David:Well, I’ll tell you since we’re dealing with the17th and 18th century so let’s kind of stick there for our Family History News and go over to Devon, England. In Devonshire, of course you know, the pilgrims left in 1620 from Plymouth. And in fact, in 1934 a commemorative set of Steps was built in Plymouth to commemorate where the location was. It may not be where they think it is. In fact, you and I, Fish, can’t even visit that location.
David:Because it is in the ladies room at the Admiral MacBride pub underneath the ladies room.
David:At this pub is where the owner claims the actual Steps are.
Fisher:That was the actual step-off point for the pilgrims getting on the Mayflower.
Fisher:That’s crazy. That’s funny.
David:I mean, it makes sense you’d want to use the facilities before a long ocean voyage.
Fisher:[Laughs] Right. Of course, yes.
David:[Laughs] I want to say that I love genealogy when it digs into the past, but also sometimes archaeological stories are what we like to talk about on the show. There had been a rumor about an old ancient tunnel in Paisley in Scotland. Well, archaeologists found it. It’s over 100 meters long and was built in the 1300sin this beautiful ark shape. It kind of looks like a cistern system, but they didn’t know it was there and arches are still intact after over 800 years.
David:It’s amazing. So, you just never know what lies under the streets. Maybe they’ll find somebody’s ancestor. [Laughs] Let’s go forward a little bit into current days. You’ve heard about that FaceApp that’s trending on the internet? That people are using it.
Fisher: Oh yeah, it’s all over the place. In fact, I’ve got a picture of my son at age 70. [Laughs]
Fisher:It was really interesting because I looked at it and I thought you know, that is what he’s going to look like when he’s much older. [Laughs]
David: Well, you know, that’s true. And a lot of people are using it. In fact, my wife took a photograph of me with American flags in my hat, but now we’re understanding that there’s a Russian developed App that may be able to hack into your Facebook photos and you might get ransom-ware and all this sort of things. So, if you’ve used it that is fine. Delete it now is my advice, my tech advice. It looks like it’s causing problems.
David:But yeah, I now look like the brother of the 87-year-old cousin of my mother who’s sending me the bible. So I thought to myself, “Look! I look just like your dad.”
Fisher:[Laughs] That’s funny.
David: Ah, you just never know what you’re going to find.
David:One of the things that I love is breaking news and Shamrock genealogist Melanie McComb who we have work here, passed something under my nose right before we went on the air. I hope that you haven’t recently ordered an English probate after 1857 from ProbateSearch.services.gov.uk because Find-A-Will as it’s commonly known as has gone in price from £10 (ten pounds) to £1.50 a search.
Fisher:Wow! Which is nothing. That’s a really good deal.
David:It really is. So, if you have later UK family after 1857 that left a will, go check it out now and order up accordingly. The blogger spotlight shines upon a good friend on social media, Elizabeth O’Neil. Now, Elizabeth O’Neil has an intriguing blog called MyDescendantsAncestors.com and she does a link up every month called the Genealogy Blog Party which is kind of fun. I got involved in it once in the past and it allows people to work together that are bloggers or maybe just follow blogs. So, you can check out her blog at MyDescendantsAncestors.com. Well, that’s about all I’ve got from Beantown this week. If you’re not a member of American Ancestors and you didn’t see me dressed in 18th century costume trying to bring you into the library last week, well, you can still come in for $20 savings and become a member at American Ancestors, using the coupon code “Extreme” as always.
Fisher:All right, thank you very muchDavid. And of course he’s going to be back for our “Ask Us Anything” segment at the back end of the show. Coming up next it’s Sunny Morton. She is the author of the new book that can help you find your family history in church records. You’re going to want to hear what she has to say and hear some of her stories as well when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 293
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sunny Morton
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, very excited to have my good friend Sunny Morton back on the phone with us today. Hi Sunny. How are you?
Sunny: Hi Scott. I’m so excited to be here today.
Fisher: Oh I’m so thrilled to have you. She has written a new book called “How to Find Your Family History In U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide” and you know, we always hear from listeners saying, “How do I get started? What are some of the primary records?” Well, obviously, there are the census records and then there are things like this because they often, well, they always do really, they precede many of the vital records, the birth, death, and marriage records that you would order from government sources. And I guess I’m looking at this thing, it’s pretty lengthy and pretty detailed, and covers so many different denominations. My first is, Sunny, how in the world did you have time to do all of this, compile all this information? It’s incredible.
Sunny: You know Scott, I wish I had a better answer than, “I don’t know.” [Laughs]
Sunny: How do you find time to do the things that really matter to you? This was a labor of love. I came across church records, my sort of glory hallelujah conversion records.
Fisher: Yeah, right. [Laughs]
Sunny: It happened several years ago when I was volunteering here at Cleveland, Ohio at an archive, and I started inventorying all their old church records from lots of different denominations. And I was stunned at the kind of stuff they had in there. I was already teaching people how to do their genealogy and nobody was really talking much about church records and how to find them. So, it really became a passion for me, especially once I started having my own discoveries in church records. And then you’ve got to believe I was ready to convert everyone to using church records. So, it’s taken a long time to get it suppressed, and I couldn’t have done it without my co-author Harold Henderson. But as a team, we worked through the last several stages of the book’s publication and genealogical publishing was super patient, and super responsive because they felt like it was a really important thing to get out there. It feels like it covered a gap that we’ve had in our genealogical education, looking at the church records, not from Germany or from other countries but here in the United States where there’s a strong tradition of church and record keeping.
Fisher:Boy, and it covers so much ground and a lot of it just isn’t digitized yet, right? Because I mean, each congregation is just usually a pretty small group and maybe you can get some larger group records. But on the whole, we usually see the government records first, but these are kind of the hidden nuggets. I, myself discovered something similar with New York with Methodist Marriages back in the 90s and I published two volumes of those, 41,000 marriages in there that a lot of people have used. And I’m just looking at this thinking, wow! This is great to see how each domination is going to work on its own. You were mentioning that you had your own experience there. What was it that you found using church records?
Sunny: Well okay, I’ll give you a story.
Sunny: And this is tracing my husband’s line and this is the O’Hotnicky family. I know that the name O’Hotnicky sounds like a nice Irish family, but it’s not. This is actually a Slovakian family. They were immigrants in the little borough of Olyphant and Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. And I was researching them. I was not quite a baby researcher, but I was probably a teenage researcher.
Fisher: Okay yeah. Yeah. Right.
Sunny: So I had some growing up years as a researcher. So, I had found some great things on this family but I was really stuck. So, Andrew and Rose were my primary couple of interest and I started pushing back at generations of Andrew’s parents. I knew they were immigrants. I knew they originally spelt their name with the Cs and Vs, not like the easy way that I was looking at it. And I couldn’t figure out exactly where they were from. The census just told me the country. But dad’s naturalization paper just told me the country. I couldn’t find a passenger list entry that I was so sure about for either parent.
Sunny: I had found well this could be them, but I don’t want to go down the wrong track. So, I got desperate enough that I actually started cold calling people named O’Hotnicky in the Olyphant area.
Sunny: I don’t know if you’ve done that before?
Fisher: No, that’s pretty desperate though yeah, amazing.
Sunny: I was pretty desperate. But they still had the same first name because they were in the family tree 100 years ago so I’m like, “They’ve got to be related.” They passed me off pretty quickly to an elderly aunt, the people that I talked to. And she was kind enough to talk to me, and she sent me things that I didn’t know, but she didn’t know that all important detail, where exactly was the family from. So, finally, I got really desperate and I was just like, “Well, where did they all go to church?” And she paused for a second and then acted like she was a little annoyed almost, acting like I was kind of stupid. She was like, “Well, they went to Holy Ghost Parish of course.”
Sunny: And I was like, “Of course.”
Fisher: Of course, yeah, we all knew that.
Sunny: Of course. I knew that. How could that slip my mind? So, I was very grateful though that she would tell me that detail, and it turned out to be crucial. So, the first thing I did of course was to Google Holy Ghost Parish in Olyphant, Pennsylvania because that’s where a lot of my questions start. They had the broadest range. And I came across a website that had a little one page history, and it said that the first Slovak Catholic Church was built in this area. It had a little history of them. It said that the early parishioners were immigrants from like five different counties in what used to be Hungary. And so it gave me specific names of places and I started salivating a little bit. [Laughs]
Sunny: And then it had this great story. It said that 21 dedicated Slovak families pioneered the effort to establish a parish. During the summer of 1888, they along with the Slovak families from Forreston to Taylors spearheaded a combined effort to solicit funds for the church. The little spring church would be erected by the strength and sweat of men back to their regular days work. This group dug with picks and shovels often well beyond midnight until the excavation was completed and the stone foundation placed.
Sunny: And it goes on to say that when the corner stone was put in place and they celebrated the first time mass on Christmas Day of 1888.
Fisher: So, you got a lovely story there.
Sunny: I do. Of course my O’Hotnicky is part of this pioneering group of families. So, suddenly I really want to find the connection here. So, when I Googled and found the website, I was able to reach out to the church and during this time that I was corresponding with them, they were merging with another parish just down the street. This was the Slovakian Ethnic Parish that was merging with the Irish Parish down the street. And this was fairly common. You’ll find this in all the denominations.
Sunny: They’re similar churches, maybe the same denomination, or very similar denomination who fall on hard times, or their members migrate out and so they end up combining forces. So, that’s what they were doing and I was able to talk to the new parish administrators and I started ordering some records from them. It took a while. I had to be patient, and I had to be really polite, and I sent my money. But gradually, I got both genealogical information and a great story. I got baptismal certificates for Andrew and Rose’s kids. I got burial and marriage information on a lot of his kids and his siblings. And going back to the immigration generation that I really wanted to find, I found baptismal certificates for their kids, so Andrew’s siblings. Andrew was interesting because he was born right there in Olyphant. He was baptised just two years after the church was completed. So I’m like, “Okay, come on, they had to have been there. I can trace them two years. I’m getting closer, right?” So, the evidence the family wouldn’t belong to this little community because they didn’t have any exact date of arrivals for them. But even more crucial was the baptismal certificates of his siblings. These confused me a little bit because it said that they were born in a little town in Slovakia that I couldn’t pronounce. But of course, my heart was just like, “Oh, I have a hometown!” And then I realized the significance also of them, they were baptised a day or two later in Pennsylvania.
Sunny: Exactly what I said. So, that’s even less probably in the 1890s then it is today, right?
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah that’s kind of weird. Did they take a flight or something?
Sunny: Exactly. So, I wondered what kind of mistake this was, but I also wondered if it really was a fortuitous one. Did it mean that there was a parents’ birth place here in that record that I just didn’t know about?
Sunny: Because they were only sending me typed certificates.
Sunny: I wasn’t seeing the original image. So, I called them and I was really grateful they went back into the records and they looked at them and they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s the parents’ birth place. Sorry.”
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.
Sunny:I said, I’m not sorry at all.
Fisher: [Laughs] Right. But the act that you recognized it, says a lot right there. It was really important. And you know that’s the thing, when anybody is doing this stuff that they have to take transcripts especially with a grain of salt. And even the original records, because you don’t know if the record keeper fully understood was saying or that they didn’t misinterpret it or something.
Sunny: Right. That’s absolutely true. You have to pay attention to what you’re looking at and think from a common sense point of view. What it’s saying to me, is that even really possible? And if it’s not possible, then what could have gone wrong in the process of giving me this information.
Fisher: What could possibly have gone wrong? [Laughs]
Sunny: Exactly. Did they write it wrong initially? Did they write it wrong just for me when they made the certificate? So yeah, you just have to kind of think it through. But you can imagine me, I was doing all kinds of happy dances.
Fisher: Oh yeah, absolutely, cartwheels in the hall. I understand how that stuff works. And it is fun. And it’s very difficult in many cases for many families to get across the pond, and these church records are great for that and all kinds of other information. So, it sounds to me overall, Sunny, you’ve had a lot of success in indentifying people and their ethnic origins, which often are very difficult to do in standard government records, right?
Sunny: That’s absolutely true, those oversees birth places. In fact, there was a study that was published several years ago of German American church record saying that the overseas exact hometown appears in up to 75% of those German American church records.
Fisher: Oh wow.
Sunny: It’s way more than it appears in any other kind of resource that we would normally go look for it in. So, especially for that immigrant transition generation, church records can be incredibly powerful.
Fisher: I love it. All right, I’m talking to Sunny Morton. She’s the Author of “How to Find Your Family History In U.S. Church Records: It’s a Genealogist’s Guide.” And Sunny, when we come back in about three minutes here, let’s talk about these different denominations and some of the difference between what’s in those records. Because I know that there’s some great things and maybe some not so great things in some of these denominations. That’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 293
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sunny Morton
Fisher: Hey, we are back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with my friend Sunny Morton. She’s the author of “How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records.” And Sunny, I was going through this and your list here, what have you got, like a dozen different denominations? And what can be found in those and you’ve got samples of them and pictures of them. And I’m thinking, this is just invaluable stuff. Of the twelve denominations, which ones would you say are the most valuable? In other words, which ones are you hoping your ancestors belonged to, right?
Sunny: So, really we get to pick the churches that we hope they belonged to? That’s awesome.
Sunny: I would say I would love to find Quaker ancestors because their records are so rich in terms of their daily lives.
Sunny: I once went through a Quaker marriage record. The entire record was two manuscript pages long because it listed every single person who was present at the ceremony.
Fisher: Oh, wow.
Sunny: And it listed the entire marriage vows and it listed all of the grooms and brides, not just their names and residences but also the parents and where they were from, and if they were still living. This was a very strong community and they recorded a lot of detail about the community.
Fisher: Yes. They also typically say where they came from previously.
Fisher: So, you could follow the different congregations as they went from place to place over time which is hugely invaluable. And by the way, for those people who are wondering, where did the stories come from for the family? Boy, when you find something like direct quotes of exactly what the marriage vow was, boy what a great detail for a family history.
Sunny: That’s a great story.
Sunny: Well, there’s another aspect to consider. It’s not just what are really good genealogically kept records but also, what’s online. And Ancestry.com, in just one collection of their Quaker records is over six million records. I think about not only what the good records are but what are the records that are easy for me to get hold of? And the same thing with the Dutch Reformed Church, a lot of really great records, especially if you can search within in the language, not intimidated by that and those that are online.
Sunny: A lot of great Methodist and Lutheran records. Ancestry is in the process of bringing millions of Methodist records, mostly from the mid-west, online and that’s a growing amount. I love the Roman Catholic records but I just was telling that story about the O’Hotnickys where there’s so much in these sacramental records and they’re cut pretty reliably. In Omaha churches you hope that you find the church and you hope that you can find the record somewhere at the church or at another nearby archive or something like that. But, pretty much in the Catholic Church if the parish is still open, the records should be there or at the Diocese Archive.
Fisher: Yeah. You just have to learn to interpret the Latin version of people’s names though, right? [Laughs]
Sunny: Yeah. You can use the census and hope that they translate the searches. [Laughs] So, yeah there’s a lot for each one of these. There’s a lot of them that are really strong and very promising. I guess it’s not fair to only focus on the ones that are online because like I mentioned, when I started looking for Holy Ghost Parish, the first thing I did was Google it. And even though I didn’t find the records online, I found the place to look for the records online.
Sunny: And I found that short little history that I read about the pioneering families. So, there’s often a lot to find online even if the records themselves haven’t been imaged and indexed on your favorite genealogy website.
Fisher: Right. And I’m sure a lot of people are very helpful back at these various parishes and churches in providing you copies of those records. I had a situation a week or two ago where I found online that there was a deed involving a couple of ancestors and I reached out to the archive, and somebody just went and took their cellphone and snapped a couple of pictures and texted them to me the next day. [Laughs] I’m thinking, how cool is this?
Sunny: That’s fantastic. The archives are there in the business of providing this kind of information, so archives and libraries are wonderful places to find old church records. When you start to get to the ministerial offices, like if you’re actually talking to the Parish or the Church Congregational Office that’s still in business, I think it’s important for us to remember that their priorities are the living.
Sunny: They care about the couple who is in crisis down the street, or the funeral sermon they’re going to be preaching the next day, or the luncheon they’re hosting, or whatever.
Fisher: So, we shouldn’t be demanding things from them saying, hey I want this right now, today.
Fisher: By 5 ‘o clock, close of business. [Laughs]
Sunny: Exactly. We should be patient. We should understand these are not public records. They do not have to release them to us. And we should understand that they’re a non-profit who doesn’t necessarily need to invest any time or effort into our request. So, it really helps to grease the wheels when you send a donation check to the church.
Fisher: Absolutely. And you know, the other thought on this too is that if somehow,we provide a bad experience for them, we have kind of fouled things up for people who come after us that may want to reach out to them for records.
Sunny: That’s absolutely true. So, I always say please be respectful when you reach out. Be brief with your requests and be precise. Don’t say, please see if you can find the name of my ancestor in any of the volumes in your old histories, or anything like that, right?
Fisher: And it’s important to understand what the histories and the merging are of many of these places. A lot of these churches have their histories online it’s really easy to find just through a Google search, in old books. That’s an easy starting point as well.
Sunny: It is an easy starting point, to start online and you should take advantage of every single bit of clues that you can find as to how this church may have evolved over time and its name or its union with another church. But, sometimes it’s easy to go like, well maybe my ancestor was a pilgrim. I can’t call like the first pilgrim church national headquarters today, right? There’s no such church.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Right.
Sunny: Well, what happened to the pilgrims? So, you actually have to look at things called denominational trees, which I talk about in my book a lot. And I refer everybody to all the ones that I have found online. Okay, this is a family tree of those who participated and, you know, what became the Congregational Church in New England. If they belonged to this part of the church, they later affiliated with this church and others affiliated with another one. So, it helps you go to the right archives and repositories to ask the questions, if you’re looking for churches that may no longer exist, or may no longer exist under the same name.
Fisher: So, Sunny, when I look at all these denominations here on your part 2 list and it’s a really healthy long list with lots of great images as examples here, which denomination would you say carries the least information typically? I know it will vary from place to place and which time periods and all that, but generally speaking.
Sunny: So, I hate to throw somebody under the bus like that.
Fisher: [Laughs] You didn’t throw them under the bus. You’ve got them in the book here.
Sunny: Oh okay. The ones that are probably genealogically the least reliable to exist and then to be more findable by researchers and then to have genealogical information in them, I would have to say is Baptist records. Of all the different Baptist traditions, whether you’re talking about southern Baptist or some of the African Baptist traditions. I would say that the record keeping tradition wasn’t as high a priority in the Baptist states as it would have been for some of these other churches. The priority was really more on the religious community. The religious experience and helping other people have a religious experience. So, it was different that by a large historically a lot of Baptists didn’t necessarily live in urban centers or they had a lot of educational opportunities. There was just a lesser emphasis on record keeping itself. So, if you were to say, well they’re Baptist. I can find a Baptismal record. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sunny: It would be awesome. But, you have to understand that the Baptist practiced a believer baptism of older people. So, when you find a baptismal record, you can’t use it as a surrogate for a birth record, like you could say, for a newborn Catholic child.
Fisher: She’s Sunny Morton. She is the author of “How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records: A Genealogist’s Guide.” It’s a brand new book from Genealogical Publishing Company in Baltimore. You can get it through them. I would imagine you could get it on Amazon, yes, Sunny?
Sunny: Yes, it’s available both places. We always love it when you it from a publisher.
Fisher: Well, it’s a great book and I really can’t recommend it enough because there’s so much information to be found. Thanks so much for joining us!
Sunny: Thanks for having me, Scott. I really enjoyed talking to you.
Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns from the New England Historic Genealogical Society with our “Ask Us Anything” segment, answering your questions, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 293
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: Welcome back! It is America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. David Allen Lambert is back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And it’s time for our Ask Us Anything segment. And, I love this, David, because we get so many great questions, like this one from Nida in Milwaukee. This is actually addressed to me, and she said, "Fisher, you mentioned in your visit with Sunnythat you had this book on New York marriages. How would you know which church my New York City ancestor got married in?" And that's a great question, you know. How do you know which church they belonged to, so you can search these church records and not just see it necessarily in an index?
David: Well, that's something that we even do here in Beantown.
David: I mean, any of the urban areais a lot easier. Smaller towns, you can usually have a hand pick of under five ministers or clergy of any sort, but in the cities, you're dealing with dozens upon dozens if not 100s.
Fisher: That's it.
David: So, the directories are my go to.
Fisher: Well, the thing is, you first of all have to get the marriage certificate of your person and find out the name of the minister.
Fisher: Then once you have the name of the minister, then you can do what you're talking about, try to figure out what church that person was associated with. And what's really interesting too about it, it’s not just finding out what's in the church records about that couple, but often, there are other family members within that same church. And that's how I broke open one particular line from England as I recognized the name of a cousin that had been mentioned in some family notes. And that allowed me to go back and find who their people were, which were my people's people, and suddenly the line was broken after 20 years. It was a big deal, because of that church record.
David: Occasionally, you can even find portraits or photographs of the person who performed the ceremony. In the case of Parson Calar Bradleyup in Stroudwater,Maine, he married my third great grandparents back in 1808. I have no photographs of them or paintings, but there’s a photograph of him, but he also lefta diary. And if you even want to find the true stories of how the clergy felt about your family, seek out those diaries that are not in the church records. [Laughs]
Fisher: Now wait, wait, what did this guy have to say about your family, David?
David: Yeah, not accorded exactly, but it’s something along the lines that Parson Bradley was asked to admire one of the latest children of my third great grandparents' large family, and he said something along the lines of, "I would rather admire another barrel of flour in that house than another child in that brood."
David: And I'm like, "Ookaay."
Fisher: Wow! Isn’t that funny! But what a great little ditty. And you know, this is the thing when you're writing histories, you could get a photograph of the person who married your ancestors even if you don't have pictures of them. I've done the same thing, David. I have several pictures. And these pictures from the 19th century, they're out of copyright and so, you can use those as you put your histories together, photographs of the churches. Some still stand, some are gone, and then you get things like you just quoted there, which is absolutely priceless. Obviously there was just a little bit of enmity between their minister and this particular family.
David: It’s true. And occasionally, you know, you seek out these photographs from universities that the church might have in itself or flea markets. I was with the photo detective, Maureen Taylor seeking out photographs of the book we worked on the last muster.And a person had a box of old CDVs, the old paper photographs Carte de visite from the 1860s. And I recognized one of men pouring over a book was the same photograph I had paid ten years before from a university. I now owned a photograph of the man who married my great, great grandparents in 1844, and didn't say his name on it. I just remembered what the picture looked like and it matched up hundred percent.
Fisher: Oh wow! So you had an original photo now.
David: I do, yeah.
Fisher: Wow! And how much did you have to pay for that?
David: Five bucks.
Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that amazing! Isn’t that great!
David: I paid more for the copy of the picture from Harvard University. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah. All right, thank you very much, Nida. Hope that answers your questions. Coming up next, we've got another, David, about military service and spam. We'll explain coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 293
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, we're back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. That is David Allen Lambert. He is the chief genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, we have a question from Tom, he's in Tuscaloosa. And he says, "David, why was my ancestor listed under spam for his military service?" That's a unique question and I have no idea what he's talking about, do you?
David: [Laughs] It probably is the 1930 census where they ask, what military service or war were you participating in? They use acronyms. So, like the Civil War is CW, or WOR for War ofthe Rebellion, WWI of course is still just World War or The Great War.
Fisher: Um hmm.
David: And then you get IW, Indian Wars, but yeah, for the Spanish American War, the acronym is SPAM.
Fisher: [Laughs] No!
David: Yeah, that's probably what it’s coming from or somebody had an abbreviation that they couldn't fit it on a card. And then of course you have PI, which is for the Philippine Insurrection, which was immediately following the Spanish American War, so that's probably what you've got, Tom. It’s probably not his dietary concerns, but his military service in 1898.
Fisher: Well, I don't think they had any dietary spam back in 1930, did they? Maybe they did.
David: No, they're probably still doing hardtackat the end of the day. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, something like that.
David: Yeah, hardtackand cold coffee.
Fisher: Were these acronyms used universally through government records or just in the 1930 census?
David: Well, I mean, I'm sure anybody abbreviates anything, you know, like World War I has always been WWI. Before WWII, it was just The World War or WW or GW for Great War. So I think people are just trying to shorten up the amount of word count that they have and they may have had a form or something.
David: And in the census, you know, it’s a very small, little column, so whatever you can squeeze in there, and of course, trying to spell out Spanish American War is probably not going to cut it.
David: So that's probably what it stands for.
David: I did have somebody ask me the same question a long time ago in regards to something in the census and they said, "What does that mean?" I said, "Well, it’s not food." [Laughs]
Fisher: No. That's right. Well, I know that in New York for instance in 1890 they did a census of the Civil War vets. And you know, there's all kinds of interesting information in there. I'm sure that they had to shorten a lot of things for these various little columns they make in overall accounting of individuals and what they did in military service.
David: I want to mention, if you had to spell out the 101st New York Artillery or something like that, so you're going to get 101NYART. I mean, whatever fits.
Fisher: Well, surely it is important then for people to figure out what some of these acronyms mean when they run across them. And most of that I would imagine is simply available online, right?
David: It really is. In fact, it’s also a good topic for Ask Us Anything. [Laughs]
David: So you can reach out to me at any time you have any military acronym questions. I'm more than happy to engage you.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.
David: Not militarily of course.
Fisher: Not militarily, we know. We're not a violent show here.
David: No, no,family friendly.
Fisher: Absolutely. And by the way, if youhave any questions at all for Ask Us Anything, it’s really easy to ask us anything, you just email us at [email protected]. And we'll be happy to consider your question. And of course we have a variety of experts who come on, so it really doesn't matter what the topic is. Ask away, we're happy to help. And David thanks so much for coming on again. And we'll catch you again next week. And good luck with the bible once again.
David: Thank you, sir.
Fisher: Well, we have reached the threshold of the end of the show. And thanks so much for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the stories about the Scottish tunnel that's been found deep underneath the old country. And of course, the Mayflower steps, it may actually be under a women's room in a pub. You can't make this stuff up. And of course thanks so much to SunnyMortonwho has come on, talking about her brand new book to help you find your family history in church records. And of course if you missed any of this, you want to go back and listen to it, catch the podcast on ExtremeGenes.com, iTunes or iHeart Radio. And don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!