Episode 298 - Creating Social Media Sites For Newfound Cousins/ Ask Us Anything On Navy Records / Identifying The Unidentified in Photos

podcast episode Sep 15, 2019

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with the story of a woman who recently gave birth to a pair of babies, eleven weeks apart! Hear how it happened. Then David shares news of the first car accident fatality which happened much earlier than you ever imagined. Next, it’s the story of a woman whose relentless research has tied her ancestor to the controversial one-time Vice President, Aaron Burr. But there is so much more to this! How would you like to be a tree one day? David explains how one company can make that happen! David’s Blogger Spotlight this week shines on teenager “Daniel,” at Danielsgenealogy.weebly.com. See what a member of the next generation of genealogists has to say.

Next, Fisher visits with Kate Eakman from Legacy Tree Genealogists. Kate recently found her sleuthing skills were needed for identifying an unknown photo. (It happens to all us at some point!) Hear what Kate has to say about what clues may be available for identifying the unidentified.

Melanie McComb from NEHGS is next to share her story about setting up a private Facebook page for her newfound distant cousins. They are a having a blast sharing photos and stories. Hear how you can do the same.

David Allen Lambert returns for Ask Us Anything. David answers questions about lesser known Navy records and records for identifying occupations, and why they’re important to know.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 298

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 298

Fisher: Hey, welcome back! It is America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Hey, great to have you along Genies. Got some great guests today. First of all we’re going to talk to Kate Eckman. She is a genealogist for Legacy Tree Genealogists, one of our great sponsors. She’s going to talk about using clues within photographs and clues by the type of photographs to determine who’s in those photographs. It’s a complicated process sometimes, but it is a lot of fun to play detective with that. Kate will tell us more about that coming up in about ten minutes. And then later in the show, Melanie McComb, a genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org is going to tell us about the Facebook group she recently set up for a group of cousins she has found online through DNA and other methods. It may be something you want to do. You’ll hear about the benefits and how to do it. It’s coming up later in the show. Hey, just a reminder by the way if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, you can do so absolutely free through our website ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Every week you get the free column, you get the free links to past and present shows and to stories that you’re going to find fascinating as a family history researcher. Right now let’s head out to Boston and talk to my good friend David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org and he’s fresh back from Florida where he was down at Disneyworld. Are you feeling refreshed?

David: I am feeling totally refreshed because I went to Galaxy’s Edge on day two and rode the Millennium Falcon. I was eight years old for a matter of hours. It was great! [Laughs]

Fisher: Aah. [Laughs] That is so much fun. You know, there’s so many weird stories to share this week on Family Histoire News.

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: Let me start with this one David. Here’s this mom. She’s really excited. She’s going home after giving birth to two babies. Her name is Liliya. She’s 29. She’s been waiting three months since she gave birth to her first baby in May to go home. And the reason is her second baby was born eleven weeks after the first. Eleven weeks!

David: Huh!

Fisher: Yeah!

David: Okay, that’s an explanation you’re going to have to define for me. How did that happen?

Fisher: Yes, so first of all, the first baby Leah, she was born on May 24th, but the baby boy Maxim wasn’t ready yet. He showed up on August 9th. Leah was 25 weeks, yeah very premature, and she weighed under two pounds. And then Maxim arrived eleven weeks later weighing six pounds six ounces. So, that’s incredible isn’t it? Three times the size of his sister. The reason is David is the mom has a rare condition. It’s a double uterus, very rare.

David: Oh my goodness. Okay, that explains it.

Fisher: Yeah, one in fifty million for something like this and both babies survived which is incredible. What an amazing thing. But, imagine a 100 years from now their descendants looking at the records and seeing mom giving birth to two children three months apart. They’re going to figure there’s something horribly wrong here.

David: Well, you know, genealogists are going to hear this and say hey, those babies that’s born four months apart, that’s going to be correct now. [Laughs] And that’s more likely double dating because of the old stone calendar.

Fisher: Yeah, double dating or something. Yeah, yeah, crazy huh?

David: Well, as my grandmother used to say in New England, second child takes nine months, first child can come at any time, but not the first sibling of a dual pregnancy. That’s different.

Fisher: [Laughs] I know. Crazy stuff.

David: Well, you hear some crazy stuff, news that you find out about for an anniversary that you never thought would have occurred so long ago. The first automobile fatality, I would have figured late 19th century, early 20th century.

Fisher: Yeah, yep.

David: August of 1869 when Mary Ward went on a jaunt with her cousin in a steam-powered automobile and she was crushed beneath the wheels on August 31, 1869 making this 42-year-old scientist the first automobile fatality in world history.

Fisher: Isn’t that something? 150 years ago. It was a steam-powered car. And if you go to ExtremeGenes.com you can see all the details in the article, and a photograph of the type of car she died in and it’s incredible. I did not know that there were unique automobiles in the 1860s, but there were.

David: I don’t think this went very fast, so it must have been, not the velocity, but just the weight of this thing. It looks like a small railroad car.

Fisher: Right.

David: Well, you know, Sherri Burr, a researcher has started to look into her family tree, but her family tree opened up an interesting thing. It turns out her ancestor is the son of Aaron Burr, but he was descendant through one of Aaron Burr’s servants

Fisher: Yes, and he was actually a conductor on the Underground Railroad. And this was rumored for some time, but she actually went through, did all the research over years, and proved it. And it’s a fascinating story and it’s now been accepted by the Aaron Burr Society.

David: You need to get her on the show. She sounds like a great guest.

Fisher: Working on it.

David: Well, you know, at the end of everything we deal with what we do with our remains, may you be buried or cremated or what have you. Now, you can actually grow a family tree from an ancestor. Yes, in a website called Urnabios.com will sell you a little urn, which is a biogradable urn that will turn ashes into a tree. You can do this with your pet too. You could basically have an ancestral forest in your backyard.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, how many cemeteries have you been to David where you go to visit an ancestor’s grave and there’s a huge tree right there. It’s like the roots go down and go, oops, there’s one, let’s bring him up. I think our people are already in trees all over the place, and we will be too, eventually.

David: I have an ancestor that had a tree that growing quite near there. It was during the fall that I was there. I saved one of the leaves and put it in my family records.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I don’t think I’m going to get any DNA from it. [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, wouldn’t that be interesting to check to see if your ancestor’s DNA is in a leaf, you know? [Laughs]

David: Ah, it’s digging through different types of roots my friend, different types of roots.

Fisher: Right.

David: My blogger spotlight this week shines on a young man out in the UK I believe. Not entirely sure, but it looks like he’s done a lot of British related genealogy. His name is Daniel. He’s a teenager and his blog is DanielsGenealogy.weebly.com and I like to give support to the next gen of genealogists because you know, those are the ones that are going to pick up the pieces and steer the industry long after we’re gone.

Fisher: All right David, thanks so much. Talk to you again a little bit later as you come back for “Ask Us Anything.”

David: Sounds great.

Fisher: And coming up next, there are clues on and in those mysterious photographs that are completely unmarked. Find out what they are with Kate Eckman from Legacy Tree Genealogists when we return in three minutes.

Segment 2 Episode 298

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kate Eckman

Fisher: Hey, we’re back at it on America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And recently, it was really fun, I came across a photograph as I was helping a friend with an adoption situation. And this photograph was of somebody who had married into the family and we weren’t sure who the other person was in it. So, it let to all this discussion about analysing the clothing. Was this the early ‘20s or the late ‘20s because that was going to make all the difference in the world. And photo analysis is a real big deal for helping you figure out who you might have pictures of when they’re unmarked. Kate Eckman is on the line with me right now. She is a genealogist for Legacy Tree Genealogists. And Kate, you did a recent blog on this whole thing?

Kate: Yes I did. We talked about how to date your unidentified photographs, the same sort of thing you were talking about with your photographs.

Fisher: Yeah, the years really make a big difference, and there are a lot of clues there. Talk about this first guy you were looking at that stimulated this recent flurry of activity for you.

Kate: Yes, a few years ago, there was a photograph all over the internet and on all of the various genealogy sites that was supposed to be a photograph of a young Revolutionary War soldier who died in 1845. And it was a picture of a young man, sepia-toned. You could see some canvass tents in the background.

Fisher: [Laughs] What?

Kate: And everyone was just thrilled, yes.

Fisher: Wait a minute. Was he camping in the ‘40s? Is that the idea?

Kate: Well, I think what happened was people weren’t really paying attention to the history and the time period because, as you probably know, photographs are relatively modern. The first photograph of a person was taken in 1830.

Fisher: And it is funny you say that because that first person was actually a blur on a sidewalk in France, remember?

Kate: That’s exactly right! We don’t know who that first person was. But, we couldn’t have a photograph of a young man in Revolutionary War because there weren’t any photographs during the revolutionary war.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah. That’s hysterical. [Laughs] People were thinking this is the real deal. You know, when you say, okay he died in 1845, yeah there are pictures of old men who survived long enough to the photographic era. But, the idea that he’s a young man in the Revolutionary War no that just doesn’t happen.

Kate: No.

Fisher: And really, if you go through the history of photography, 1839 is when everything exploded and it went all over the world and people started doing these things. And even then, in the beginning, it was really expensive to have a photograph made.

Kate: It was. Initially it was very expensive. It was a time consuming process, very labor intensive, but as we created more and more inexpensive ways of making photographs, it became very popular. And by the 1850s and the 1860s, especially in America during the Civil War, people were having photographs made all the time.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kate: They were printed on either tintypes, cheap thin metal or on paper.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s kind of fun to have a few samples of all those things in your family, right?

Kate: It is. They’re all wonderful treats. If you can have an amber type, a glass photograph, a tintype on the metal and then those old carte du visage, those sort of odd rectangular calling cards with your photograph on them.

Fisher: Yeah, and then later the cabinet cards, and we shouldn’t forget daguerreotypes too because those are really cool because it’s like an image on a mirror. It’s almost kind of ghostly.

Kate: It is. It really is. You have to have something behind it so you can actually see it when you hold it up to the light. It’s like you said, a ghostly image on the glass.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s very cool. So, let’s talk about identifying a photo, and I think commonly the periods would be in the teens, the twenties. I mean, it could be from any time really, but there are a lot of clues to figure out who your folks are.

Kate: There are. Some of the clues are actually in the photographs itself. It could be items and objects in the photographs. Cars are one of my favorite things to use for dating. You look at an old car in the photographs and do a little bit of research. Google is our great friend always in genealogy. And if you see a car that was made in 1918 and there’s a person standing next to it, well you know the photograph couldn’t have been taken any earlier than 1918.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Kate: and that helps you narrow it down.

Fisher: Of course yes. Absolutely.

Kate: Cars had registration dates on them. License plates did. So, if the car says 1934 California on the license plate, well, chances are that photograph was taken in 1934 in California.

Fisher: Yeah. Isn’t that funny how that works? [Laughs]

Kate: So, those are clues that can help you. Signs in the background, the names of stores, street signs, billboards with advertisements, can help you place a date, a location and that helps you narrow it down a little bit. If you were trying to decide if it’s this grandparent or that grandparent, but you know that they didn’t immigrate, say for instance, to the United States until the 1920s, they had immigrated earlier, that might help you narrow the focus, you know, who are these people, and where was this photograph taken.

Fisher: Sure. And you know the thing about this thing with the stores, you really got my brain working on that a little bit. You could actually then, if you saw a sign in the background that had an address for a store, you could look in directories and see exactly when that store was at that address.

Kate: Exactly. That’s exactly right.

Fisher: And that can be really helpful in dating as well. And then you get into the clothing styles and the type of photograph it is.

Kate: Exactly. The clothing styles, the photographs, so many times the photographs will have the photographer’s imprint on the front of it that has the name of the photographer. It just might say H. L. Olsen, Montevideo, Minnesota.

Fisher: 129 Main Street.

Kate: Yes. Again, the directories, there are lists online for 19 to 20th century photographers. And if you know the photographer was in that place between 1890 and 1900, that again helps you narrow it down. That’s when that photograph was taken in that very brief time span. And so you can use the things that are written around the photograph, the advertisement of the photographer to help you focus on a specific date or location.

Fisher: Well, and then you combine that with the perceived age of the people in the photograph, you know, are they in their 20s, their 30s, how old do they look. And then you kind of can determine obviously when they were born and how does that fit with the information you have in your charts.

Kate: That’s right. The hairstyle and the clothing of the women in particular is very helpful for dating photographs as well. We might have a photograph which is his mother, or George and Martha. You know, if your family has a lot of Georges in it then it doesn’t help you a whole lot for which one that is.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right.

Kate: They all have mothers but it doesn’t help us much. But we can start to look at the clothing and that helps us to narrow it down a lot about who these people are. One of the things that we have to always be aware of when we’re looking at the faces of the people and trying to figure out the age is, remember there wasn’t a lot of smiling in a lot of those early photographs which makes people look older than they really were.

Fisher: And frumpy. [Laughs]

Kate: Yes, yes and frumpy. [Laughs]

Fisher: And cranky.

Kate: And cranky. Yes that would be. Our ancestors really weren’t that cranky. They were just kind of nervous about getting their photographs taken and they’re trying to hold still.

Fisher: Well, and wasn’t it true that shutter speeds were much slower back then?

Kate: Yeah.

Fisher: If you blink you can have kind of a weird looking eye.

Kate: That’s right. And you’ve probably seen some of those photographs where the baby is dangling his foot and it’s sort of a blurry foot in the photograph.

Fisher: Yeah. Ghostly.

Kate: Yes, kind of ghostly looking. Unfortunately, gentleman, the fashions didn’t change a whole lot. And so it’s difficult to look at the clothing of the men to judge how old the photograph is. But hairstyles, and facial hair, beards and moustaches, can be useful in determining how old the photograph is.

Fisher: Right.

Kate: For ladies, it’s important to remember up until the early 1900s or very old photographs, women tended to wear the clothing that they knew as young women. So, what women wore in their 20s and 30s, they would continue wearing in their 40s and 50s even though that wasn’t in style.

Fisher: Not helpful.

Kate: Exactly. So, you have to really pay attention like you said, to the age and the clothing styles to try to determine how old this person really might be.

Fisher: It’s funny you say that too. I remember a story about my great grandmother in the nineteen teens, she’s taking a walk with her daughter and she’s wearing a bustle, and my great aunt said to her, “Well, those are so out of style right now mom.” So she removed it right there in the street and threw it off into the bushes and said, “There, I’m in style.”

Kate: [Laughs] I love it. It’s a great story.  

Fisher: Yeah.

Kate: One of the great things about those old photographs, and you’ve probably noticed it is they’re really sharp and clear, which means when we take a digital scan of it and put it on our computer or we just use our magnifying glass, you can really see a lot of details. One of the things that I like to do is look at those photographs of some of those female ancestors of ours and look at the jewelry that they’re wearing.

Fisher: Yes. Rings and things around their neck, and bracelets, that’s always interesting to me because sometimes you might inherit one of those things and not have any idea what it was or who it came from. And you can discover it in the old picture.  

Kate: That’s exactly right. And that’s what I was going to suggest is look at those photographs and then go dig through mom or grandma’s jewelry box and see if you can find that piece of jewelry some place that your family still has. That might help you be able to identify who that person is in the photograph. We had a pin in my family that my grandmother had and she always knew it belonged to her mother. But we didn’t recognize who her mother was in some photographs until we compared the pin and we found that brooch on some photographs and said, “Oh, then that must be grandmother’s mother in those pictures.” because she was wearing that pin that famously belonged to grandma’s grandma.

Fisher: She’s Kate Eckman. She’s a genealogist for Legacy Tree Genealogists. Great advice Kate and a lot of fun to do the detective work with the photos, one of my favorite to do. And it’s great to have you back on the show.

Kate: It’s great to be here. Thanks so much Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, I’m going to talk to Melanie McComb from the New England Historic Genealogical Society about setting up a Facebook group for your distant cousins, those you share some ancestors with, and all the benefits that come with it, how do you do it, what can you get from it. You’re going to find out from Melanie coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes.     

Segment 3 Episode 298

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melanie McComb

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. You know, one of the things I’ve really enjoyed doing over the years as I’ve researched my family, is getting to know some more distant cousins, and I always thought when I was a kid that it was really cool to meet somebody that was a second cousin. What did that really mean? Well, it was obviously my parents had a first cousin and it was their kid, and we would bond and go from there. But, when you get into DNA and you get into family descendant research you’ll often find people who are much further than that and yet it’s not unusual to find that they have more in common with you than your first cousins or those second cousins. And Melanie McComb who is a genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, is on the line right now and thought I’d get on the line and talk to her about some of the things she’s putting together to make that bond a little more lasting. How are you Melanie?

Melanie: I’m good Fisher. How are you?

Fisher: Awesome! First of all, tell us your story about how you started connecting with some of these people before we get into what it is you’re doing because I think it’s very cool.

Melanie: Sure. So, a few years back I actually saw a comment on the FamilySearch Family Tree, the shared tree that everybody can contribute to, and it talked about my second great aunt Rebecca Siegel and it talked a little bit about her life and things I didn’t know about. I sent her a message and she quickly replied back to me, I think within a day and she shared that she was actually the granddaughter of Rebecca.

Fisher: Okay.

Melanie: And she had all these different pictures and she was starting to upload them online and we just started to exchange information, but that was only the beginning. What happened was we quickly became Facebook friends. We found each other on Facebook and started sharing more pictures back and forth and sending messages. And then I started to get a message from her daughter that also heard I was doing some of the genealogy and everything and she wanted to get in touch.

Fisher: So, this is your third cousin and your third cousin once removed, do I have that right?

Melanie: Third cousin and then I think she would be my second cousin probably twice removed. I‘ll have to look at the relationship here.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Melanie: I just couldn’t believe that this was possible. That I could meet up with people this far back, especially this is my maternal Jewish side from Romania.

Fisher: Okay.

Melanie: So, we quickly started getting more in touch and so now I heard from the person that was her granddaughter. I heard from her great granddaughter, and then I got another message from someone else that was also a great granddaughter of Rebecca. So, we’ve been growing this little group.

Fisher: Wow.

Melanie: And what’s really special about it was that we actually had a meet-up a few weeks ago with my third cousins with them.

Fisher: And do they live in your area?

Melanie: One does. One actually just recently moved to the Cape, out of Massachusetts and one was actually out in Colorado.

Fisher: And so you’re already planning reunions it sounds like. How many people are involved in your little circle so far?

Melanie: I’m directly talking with at least four other people.

Fisher: Okay.

Melanie: And those are my two third cousins and their mothers, and I think we’re slowly starting to bring in the children of the great granddaughters as well too.

Fisher: So, have you found some photos, some documents, some heirlooms, things that you didn’t know existed in the past because of this?

Melanie: Oh, absolutely. So, that was like one thing that we definitely devoted a lot of time to when we first met up. We started sharing stories and pictures. So, I have all these fabulous pictures of some of Rebecca’s daughters, especially in the 1920s and their flapper gear and everything else.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Melanie: You know me. You know I like the 1920s. 

Fisher: Yes. I remember we were at a conference and you were dressed as a flapper girl for a special theme night. I remember that was very fun.

Melanie: Yes. So, I have all these pictures that I’ve never seen in my life. It’s been great and I’m hearing story after story.

Fisher: So, how are you bonding with these people? Are you using any technology, social media, to make this thing work?

Melanie: Yeah. So, I first just started using Facebook messenger and just being Facebook friends, but I took it a step forward. After we met up a few weeks ago, I created a Facebook group and invited them in.

Fisher: Oh, nice!

Melanie: Yeah. So, it’s a nice way to have your own space but it’s still open if you wanted to invite other family members in, and this way you can concentrate on sharing the pictures and stories if you don’t want to share it with everybody else that’s your friend.

Fisher: Sure. So, it’s a closed Facebook group but you can open it up if people wanted to be a part of that?

Melanie: Absolutely and I made sure to name the group, the Descendants of Chaje Goldman and Hyman Siegel So, if anybody ever came across that couple in their family tree they would know which group we’re a part of.

Fisher: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s great. So, what have you done on it so far, how long have you been functioning?

Melanie: So, we’ve only had it for a few weeks now, since we just met-up in mid august. So, it’s only been a little over maybe two and half, three weeks right now. And we’ve just been having post after post asking about, what happened with this and what happened with that? One thing that got brought up, why does it say on Rebecca’s tombstone, why doesn’t it reference her husband or something, why does it only show her alone? And something we found out by going through some of the records that I shared as the family genealogist. I said, well, according to the 1940 census she and her husband weren’t even living together at the time.

Fisher: Oh! Okay, so you guys are starting to ask questions and answer them to each other, which is great. And you’re probably going to find that there’s somebody who specializes in photoshopping photographs. [Laughs]

Melanie: [Laughs]

Fisher: It’s always good to have a certain specialist for every kind of thing, isn’t it?

Melanie: Absolutely, yeah. One of my new found cousins loves photography. So, that’s going to be something good to look into.

Fisher: Perfect. So, what’s been the biggest discovery you’ve made so far?

Melanie:  The biggest thing for my family was finding out that one of my cousins that I met up with, that her mother was still living. My grandmother had thought she had passed years ago.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Melanie: That was one of the biggest surprises at my end.

Fisher: So, you’re going to get them back together?

Melanie: I’m hoping. We’re thinking through baby steps we’re going to slowly meet back. My grandmother has been receptive to starting some correspondence soon. So, we’re going to start to initiate that. The next step is, how do we connect some of the other generations of our families together? The plan is also we’re looking at possibly another reunion coming up in the spring, so maybe we’ll have more family members out there.

Fisher: Oh, what fun. That’s really great. You know, I was thinking back as you’ve talked about this to the time before there was social media, before there was this electronic instant communication, and I always found that when I could track down descendants and I usually did it with letters and phone calls and things like that back in the ‘80s and 90s. It was a lasting relationship because you got to actually know these people. I’m still in touch with many of them 20- 30 years later. We’ve shared a lot of information with each other throughout the years. But today, because of the ease with which we communicate with people, when we find somebody a new match maybe on DNA, we don’t necessarily get real excited about it. We don’t necessarily pursue anything with it and of course a lot of people hesitate to even respond, which is really sad. So, the fact that you can get this together and find a way to communicate and use this communication to enhance that relationship, you’re going to get so much out of it.

Melanie: Absolutely. And it’s something I definitely want to expand out to some other parts of my family now that I’m starting to put together the pieces, especially with DNA. Now that we’re starting to see how everybody is fitting into the tree.

Fisher: Sure. Well, for so many people who aren’t as proficient with social media as you are, how hard is it to setup a closed Facebook group for this kind of thing?

Melanie: It’s actually really easy. Facebook makes really good wizard steps to just create a group. You basically create a group, you give it a name, and you just have to start inviting people in and you can just go to people in your friend list and just invite them in, and then they have to accept the invitation. So, we’re talking about a matter of minutes of setting it up.

Fisher: So, obviously, even if it’s something that somebody isn’t confident that they could do, anybody in their family, a child or a grandchild could probably put it together for them pretty fast and make it happen.

Melanie: Definitely.

Fisher: You know, I have a large group of cousins on one branch of the family and we talk all the time but nobody has ever set anything up like this, so I think it’s a great way to go. You know the one thing about these personal connections that you make with cousins is that you can find things that you just can’t find any other way. I’m talking about letters, and photographs, and the stories like you’re talking about. I mean, you must be hearing things that you never picked up on in the past.

Melanie: You’re right. Those stories are what we want to carry on. One of the stories I can share is, one of the cousins in our family served over in the Merchant Marines actually, and there was a lot of anti-Semitism and he actually was a fighter with a knife during it.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Melanie: I mean, that’s the kind of thing you don’t hear about, but apparently he had a little bit of a scar when that happened and that’s something you would never see written down in any kind of records, unless maybe a military record.

Fisher: Right, right.

Melanie: That’s how it came up.

Fisher: Well, great stuff. Thanks so much Melanie, for taking the time to talk to us about it. I think it’s a great idea. We’ll talk to you again soon.

Melanie: You’re welcome. Have a great day.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns for another Ask Us Anything segment on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 298

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: And we are back, talking Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, back with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, this question comes from Peg in Atkinson. She says, "My grandfather was in the navy in World War II. Are there any navy records aside from enlistment and service records that we should know about?" Good question, Peg. David?

David: That's a really good question. In fact, the navy were very lucky, didn't lose a lot of records because of the fire in St Louis. They were in a different part of the building. But one thing that a lot of don't look at, I mean, maybe your grandfather, Peg, didn't keep a diary, but the navy kind of already did. He was stationed on a vessel. There will be the deck log for the actual vessel. Now, any vessel in the US Navy after December 7th, 1941, all of the Navy deck logs are at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Fisher: Oh wow!

David: So you can go there and actually look at it. And the real cool thing about this, Fish, is that now with our new technology, you're getting day by day what's going on with the vessel. But you get the longitude and latitude, so you can kind of map where the vessel was.

Fisher: On any given day.

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And if it’s like my grandfather who was the Marines on the USS Callister in the 1920s, you can find out that he was two days late from shore leave after New Year’s Eve 1924, coming in on the small tender.

Fisher: Really?

David: And the discipline action given to him after this act. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow! So, what was the discipline for that?

David: There was lots of scouring the deck and pots and pans.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: It was winter, so it must have been real fun.

Fisher: I hope it was worth it.

David: I hope so too.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Tore up a rug in New York City.

Fisher: Right.

David: So that was College Park for after World War II. But going back to the ships of the lion, such were the early vessels from the Revolution right through to 1941. You don't go to College Park, you go to the National Archives in DC. So they have all of the earlier vessels, which is where I found my grandfather's cruiser he was on in the 1920s. And you can take photographs of this and you can go day by day and find out where they were. It’s a nice family project to be able to read through this. And it’s like having a diary for a relative we never had a diary for.

Fisher: That's incredible! Now you say the earlier ones, I mean, going back to the Revolution up to '41, was that just for the navy or is that for other government ships?

David: Well, they have the Cutter Service, they have the US Coast Guard vessels that go back to the 1830s, and then of course there's Merchant Marine record vessels. So yeah, they have quite a lot of them. The ones I really spent a lot of time with are the US Navy of course would also have the US marine corps stationed on a lot of the vessels. But these are great records, underutilized and they are not online.

Fisher: No, it doesn't sound like it. And why not? Why aren't people going for those yet?

David: Maybe that's going to be the next big thing. But it’s just because of their voluminous. They are basically hundreds upon hundreds of pages, every entry. By the early part of the 20th century, a typical entry could be two pages, because you're also finding out the specifics on the ship, the steam, the power it’s using, number of people that are AWOL, number of people that are in the brig, number of people that are sick. So you get your muster role, your daily where we are at port or at sea, the longitude and latitude at certain times, depth of where they are in the water. It’s really fascination.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]

David: It’s shy of being on the deck of the vessel with your relative.

Fisher: That sound like it.

David: So it’s kind of fun.

Fisher: So when you found this record about your grandfather back in the '20 being late for shore leave, was that a special entry that was on this record or did they just have that among many others?

David: It was just amongst many others, and that's why you have to read line by line. And I looked up and said, "Oh look! John Lee." [Laughs] My grandfather, what did he do now!

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And sure enough, there he was. Wish I knew the back story of where he was in New York City and all that.

Fisher: Right.

David: That one's lost to history.

Fisher: [Laughs] There you go. Deck logs from the Navy! Great answer David and a great question from you Peg. Thanks so much. And we'll have another one coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 5 Episode 298

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: Hey, we're back at it for our final segment this week of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. We're doing Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Geological Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, this is from Lee in Pensacola, Florida. It says, "Hi guys. I've heard you say that ancestor occupations are important for many reasons. What are some sources that will reveal that info? Thanks, Lee." All right, good question. Of course census records is the obvious place to start, because there's so many occupations listed there going back to the 1850s.

David: That's very true. And of course census substitutes are which would be like a city directory, sometimes even tax records will list them or assessment records will tell you who the person is, well, sometimes their occupation.

Fisher: Sure.

David: But one thing a lot of people don't look at are deeds, because if you look in those early deeds, they might say, David Lambert, Genealogist coveys to Scott Fisher Radio God a following partial of land."

Fisher: Thank you, thank you. [Laughs]

David: You're welcome, you're welcome. So you get things like that, but there are also, you know, newspaper ads. I mean, if you see people like, all of a sudden, your ancestor could be a runaway from his indentured servitude to his master. As a young man, could have been assigned to be an apprentice to someone. Broke that contract and you see that that is what your ancestor was doing. He could have been the person he was assigned to or he could be the apprentice himself.

Fisher: When I was researching my pirate of course, I wanted to determine what the occupation was of my ancestor to see if he was a mariner, and that actually showed up in the inventory of his estate. It just said, "William Downs. Mariner." and went on from there, where he lived and all that stuff. So, there was that revelation and that's the only place where his occupation is mentioned and that was in 1707.

David: Sometimes you find them in the strangest places, even if your ancestor's in trouble, like a sheriff’s warrant, jail records.

Fisher: Yep.

David: I mean, it does say your occupation, and sometimes on gravestones it says what the occupation is, especially if you're in the clergy. You may not be aware that your ancestor was a minister at some point and time in their life. The other place occasionally you get it is just in the searches we do in the newspaper.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Run a search on your ancestor and make some reference to "Thomas Parker. Fisherman." His boat was lost. I didn't know my ancestor was a fisherman. Yeah, I mean, so that's something you can occasionally find.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right, because you get pre 1850, you usually don't have the advantage of the census records or many directories in a lot of places, they just aren't out there. So these are some of the things that you can use. And the advantage of having the occupations is obviously for their story if you're going to put their history together. It just gives you a little more detail about their lives. But also, if they have a really common name.

David: Ohh, right.

Fisher: Yeah. If you know that your John Smith happened to be librarian, that's really different than John Smith who's the fisherman. And those things can really help you sort out different family members, different candidates for who your ancestor might be and making sure you get the right line, because there are an awful lot of lines that go horribly wrong, because you didn't have some identifying piece of information. In fact, I'd say, David, that knowing the occupation can be as important a part of identifying an ancestor as their name.

David: That's very true. The other thing is a probate. If you left a last will and testament, it might say, you know, "I, Johansson Smith Miller" and then if the person dies in testate without a will, you might find in the inventory, besides his occupation of the late person, things in the inventory, items that are blacksmith tools or carpentry tools that are above and beyond what, say, a regular farmer would have, that might be a clue.

Fisher: There you go. All right, and that's Ask Us Anything for this week. David, thank you so much! And thank you to Lee in Pensacola for the question. And if you have a question for us for Ask Us Anything, just email us at [email protected]. Well, that is it for this week. And if you missed any of the show or you'd like to listen to it again, you can do so through our podcast which you could find on iHeart Radio, iTunes and ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for listening. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes