Episode 313 - Gena Philibert Ortega On Centennial of Women Getting Vote / Dr. Henry Louis Gates Talks New Season Of PBS’ Finding Your RootsJan 19, 2020
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 a quick discussion on whether or not 2020 actually marks the beginning of a new decade, or the end of the old one. Then, they note that creative material from 1924 has now gone into public domain, out of copyright. The first news of the new year has to do with a pair of twins born thirty minutes apart in different days, months, years, and decades! Hear the details. The DNA Doe Project has done it again, identifying a murder victim who was killed in 1916! Hear the basis and then get ready for next week when Fisher visits with the DNA Doe team leader who oversaw their research. Finally, the guys talk about the sad news that a cemetery containing body of people who were enslaved has been located under a country club golf course in Florida. David then gives a shout out to blogger Wendy Callahan at ourprairienest.com.
Fisher’s first guest of the new year and new decade is Gena Philibert Ortega. Gena specializes in solving the challenges of researching your female ancestors. Gena explains the history of women’s fight for the vote in America and Britain and tells you where you might find voting records of your female ancestors… some even before 1920!
Then, Fisher visits with the iconic Dr. Henry Louis Gates. Dr. Gates is welcoming Season 6 of Finding Your Roots on PBS. He shares who the celebrity guests will be this season, and some of the stories his team uncovered while putting these episodes together. Dr. Gates will be getting a little surprise himself later this season. He reveals a little of what it will be about. (Dr. Gates will be joining Fisher throughout the Finding Your Roots season for insight on each new episode!)
Next, David Allen Lambert is back to take your questions on Ask Us Anything.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 313
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 313
Fisher: 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. It is so nice to have you along Genies. It is our first show of the new year, of the new decade, so much to talk about. And what a great first show of the decade we’ve got actually. We’re going to be talking to Gena Philibert-Ortega coming up here in just a little bit. You know, it’s 100 years since the first election that women voted in the 1920 election. And she’s going to talk about how you can actually find some records of your female ancestors voting, some that actually predate 1920. And she’ll talk about some of the things that finally led up to the Nineteenth Amendment that brought women to voting and it’s going to be a fascinating conversation in about ten minutes or so, and then later in the show, Dr. Henry Louis Gates. Because it’s a brand-new season on PBS for Finding Your Roots, Dr. Gates is going to talk about all the guests coming on this year. He's going to give us a little preview of some of the things that they discovered in the process of working with some of these celebrities. So, this is going to be a great first show of the New Year and I’m very excited about it. Right now, let’s head out to Boston and talk to David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Happy New Year David! Great to have you back.
David: Happy New Year to you now that we’re in a new decade.
David: Or are we? [Laughs]
Fisher: Or are we? What do you mean?
David: Oh, come on now. All the banter on the Internet about people saying the new decade doesn’t start to 2021. I’m in the camp that I don’t care. It’s still the twenties to me. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, I’ll tell you that’s an interesting argument when we got to the year 2000, right?
Fisher: I mean, I remember that because the fact that the first year isn’t zero. The first year is one and it goes one through zero, right? One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten and that’s fine. The end of the decade would be that, but you can’t say that 2020 is in the teens. You can’t say that 2010 is in the 0s. You can’t say 2030 is in the twenties, so I just completely reject the idea. This is the beginning of the twenties but the century didn’t begin till 2001.
David: Remember kids, you heard it here first. [Laughs]
Fisher: That’s it! That’s it! You heard it from me. I’m saying that’s the way it is.
David: Well, will it be the roaring twenties? You know, obviously we had big things like the Nineteenth Amendment and Women’s Right to Vote as Gena will be talking about with you later. And of course, we have prohibition, which my grandfather was highly connected with that.
Fisher: Yes, that’s right. He was a bootlegger, wasn’t he? [Laughs]
David: He was in fact a bootlegger, perhaps even for the Kennedy family as rumor has it.
Fisher: Oh wow!
David: No documents to prove this. [Laughs]
Fisher: Right. Well, the good news is too, with the beginning of the New Year we have all the stuff from 1924 kicked into public domain. So, we’re talking about all the creative works. This means audio, published music, books and photographs. And if you’re writing family histories for instance, and you’re looking for public domain photographs to illustrate the era, you can now go up as recently as 1924 without worrying about copyright issues.
David: Well. You know, I’ll tell you, it gets confusing with genealogy when you have part of the siblings are born in the 19th century, some in the 20th century. How about twins that are born in different decades? [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes! This was in Indiana. I love it!
David: Yeah, little Jocelyn came at 11.37 p.m. on December 31st, making her the last baby born in the hospital in that decade. Then her brother Jackson was born, well, 12.07 a.m.
Fisher: Yeah, on January 1st 2020. So, they’re born in different months, different years and different decades, but 30 minutes apart.
David: Well, congratulations to two little babies who will have something to talk about for the rest of their lives. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
David: Well, you know, I’ll give you a heads up on a story that’s been kind of going around with genealogists. This is a headless body that was found in a cave of a suspected axe murderer. This is a bootlegger out in Idaho, and they found his torso, and they’ve now through DNA been able to discover who this gent is.
Fisher: Yeah, this is a guy who was actually found in 1979, and was so well preserved it was thought he’d probably been killed within the previous five years. And now because of the DNA Doe Project we have a different result.
David: He died in 1916.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s what they figured out through DNA, and in fact we’re going to talk to one of the guys involved with the project, the DNA Doe Project, one of the team leaders, about this whole situation, how they figured it out. So, we’re going to get that full story next week on Extreme Genes, so stay tuned for that.
David: Well, they’ve been piecing this story for a while because they found part of him in 1979 and they say an 11-year-old girl in 1991 found his mummified hand. So yeah, hopefully he’s all accounted for now.
Fisher: No, they’re still missing the head.
David: You know, people that were enslaved obviously got the worst treatment in American history in my estimation in that and Native Americans. In Tallahassee, Florida, they’ve discovered that under a country club is a cemetery of enslaved individuals.
Fisher: Yeah, we’re talking about under the seventh hole of a golf course of a country club.
David: Um hmm. Yeah, they estimate about 40 graves have been found at this capital city country club in Tallahassee. In this case these are probably graves that never had markers to begin with, at least anything with any consequence. But it’s a terrible shame, but at least now right will be done, and maybe their remains will be disinterred and buried some place properly.
Fisher: Well, they’re actually talking maybe shutting down that hole, rearranging the golf course because you can’t have people teeing off over bodies of anybody.
David: No! Not driving golf carts over them.
Fisher: I mean, yeah, especially in this situation.
David: Well, I’ll tell you, I’d like to shine a blogger spotlight for the first time of the year to Wendy Callaghan, a genealogist I know who has a blog called OurPrairieNest.com. And she gave a really interesting blog piece about her trip to the Northeast and discover her Nova Scotian roots. So, OurPrairieNest.com, give it some love to Wendy Callaghan. Well, that’s all I have for this week from NEHGS, but if you want to became a member in the new year go to AmericanAncestors.org and you can use the coupon code “Extreme” to save yourself $20.
Fisher: All right David, thank you so much and you’re going to come back a little later on. We’re going to do Ask Us Anything at the back end of the show of course.
David: I shall do that.
Fisher: All right, and coming up next we’re going to talk to Gena Philibert-Ortega. She’s a very well-known genealogist who focuses a lot on female ancestors and how to find information on them. It’s often very difficult. She, of course, is celebrating 100 years since women got the vote in the 1920 election, and we’re going to talk about what led up to that, finding our voting female ancestors, coming up in just a few minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 313
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Gena Philibert-Ortega
Fisher: I cannot believe it is the dawn of a new year and a new decade. Welcome back. It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And as my very first guest of the brand new year in the decade, it’s Gena Philibert-Ortega. And I’m just thrilled to have you back on Gena. It’s been a long time. How are you?
Gena: I’m good Fisher. It’s great to be here and to be the first guest of 2020. It’s very cool.
Fisher: And the decade, yes.
Fisher: And Happy New Year to you. You know, you and I were talking a while back and kicking around the idea that in 2020 this is the anniversary, the 100th anniversary, the centennial of women getting the vote.
Fisher: And you’ve done so much great work on women ancestors and helping people find stories about their female ancestors. It seemed like a natural way to start out the New Year. And I guess we ought to start with just talking about the Nineteenth Amendment and how that came about because there were so many of our female ancestors who at this time, this election in 1920, a 100 years ago where they voted for the very first time.
Gena: Yes. Yes. And you know, there’s a lot of things leading up to this and there’s a lot of things to keep in mind. So, really, what does the Nineteenth Amendment do? It basically says that it prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. So, that gives women the right to vote universally in the United States, except when it doesn’t, and we can talk about that in a second.
Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.
Gena: There’s always an “except” right?
Gena: So, the 19th Amendment is ratified in August 1920, so the first presidential election, their voting port, is in 1920. The president who becomes elected is Warren G. Harding.
Gena: Now the thing is, we have to keep in mind that not all women wanted the right to vote, and so there was about overall 35% of women who did vote in that election. Now, some women had been voting. In the West, we know that women had some suffrage rights back into the 1800s.
Gena: Actually, Utah women had it in 1870. It was later taken away. California women had it in 1911, and I’ve seen one of my ancestors in those roles. Now, even before that though, in the 1700s we find women voting on the East Coast.
Fisher: Well, there was no West Coast at that point, right? [Laughs]
Gena: That’s true. That’s true. Good point yeah. [Laughs] So, we see women in the 1700s voting, certain women, not all women. In fact, in 1776 women could vote in New Jersey. But in 1807 New Jersey changes the language of the law and so it goes back to free white males. So, as we lead up to 1920, there’s kind of this hit and miss. Every state is different. Some states gives women partial rights, like voting in school elections. But in 1920 that’s when all women get the right to vote, except like I said, when they didn’t. So, what does that mean?
Fisher: Yeah, what does that mean?
Gena: Well, for example, from 1907 to 1922 women who were married, American women who were married to men who were not U.S. citizens lost their citizenship.
Fisher: That’s right. We’ve done shows on this. That’s right.
Gena: Okay. So, citizenship for women was considered derivative, and during that timeframe especially you lost your citizenship and was considered whatever citizen that your husband was of whatever country. So, that means when 1920 comes around, you don’t have the right to vote because you’re not a citizen. Now, in 1922 the Cable Act reaffirms that women can get their own citizenship. It’s not derivative of their husbands. However, those women who lost their citizenship don’t automatically get their citizenship back. They have to apply and it’s a long process.
Gena: Also, Native American women couldn’t vote really till after 1948. Women in Puerto Rico, now, Puerto Ricans had U.S. citizenship since 1917 the 19th Amendment comes by and they don’t get the right to vote. They’re a territory not a state. In 1929 the U.S. Congress finally says, “Fine, you women can vote, but you have to be literate.” So, only give some of the women the right to vote.
Gena: Then in 1935 all women in Puerto Rico are given the right to vote.
Fisher: Now, you said something earlier about only 35% of the women voted in 1920 and that a lot of women did not want the right to vote. Why was that?
Gena: Well, you know, it’s like with anything right? There were arguments that women shouldn’t vote, that their place was in the home. It wasn’t in politics. And there was also the argument that your vote would cancel out your husband’s. And historically, when a man and a woman got married, they became one, and that was the husband. So, she had no property rights, she didn’t have rights to her children. You know, citizenship doesn’t really mean much in that kind of instance. So, a lot of people including women fought against the idea of suffrage because they just felt like they didn’t want to interfere and it would make them more manly, and that they would lose what they had inside the home in being the caretakers of the family.
Fisher: So, it was part of the culture of the time then?
Fisher: Yeah. Okay. So, are there records then to start finding out when they started voting, your female ancestors?
Gena: Well, so here it goes again. It depends.
Gena: In some cases, yes. Now we’ve got two different things going on, right. We’ve got voting records. We also have women who were involved in the suffrages movement and the anti-suffrage movement. So, let’s talk about that real quickly. If your ancestor was a suffragist, she was part of a group, or she was an anti-suffragist, she might be a member of one of those groups and those are records you would find in an archive.
Fisher: Oh wow.
Gena: There are manuscript collections, you know, membership lists, maybe treasury accounts where they’re giving money to that cause. So, that’s something you can look at there.
Fisher: Where? Is that local or national or where would you find those records?
Gena: It would matter where she was, but I would start locally at archives where she lived. And one way you can find those kinds of collections is, you could use Archive Grid, which is an archive catalogue and you could start there, or you could identify specific archives. You know, places in university libraries, maybe the county, and then you could search there as well. It would be really easy to find what groups existed during that time because they’re going to be in the newspaper.
Gena: And there’s all kinds of histories about suffrage in specific states either online and in books so you can also look there.
Fisher: Oh that’s great. I actually found a reference to a relative who was part of the movement in New York through digitized newspapers, and it talked about her going and joining a march in New York City in the nineteen teens.
Gena: Isn’t that fabulous?
Gena: And that points to the importance of newspapers, especially for women’s lives because they can be represented in newspapers in all kinds of ways. Now, if we look at voting records, there’s all kinds of voting records. There’s voting registers. There’s voting lists. There’s another reason women may not have voted. It has to do with poll taxes. And that’s a fee that you paid or a tax that you paid when you voted. Some people couldn’t afford to do that especially if your husband and yourself were voting.
Fisher: Oh yeah, that would make sense.
Gena: Some of those are online. And so for example, you can go to FamilySearch and go to the Research Wiki, put in the state that you’re researching and the word “genealogy” and it will show you different record types. You can click on voting or voter and it will tell you a little bit more about those records. You can also go into FamilySearch’s catalogue and do a search for the state you’re interested in, and then I would also do the county that you’re interested in because, remember, sometimes women voted in smaller elections like regional, municipal, school elections and so forth. But that would be on the county level. And you could do a search there. They do have a section called voting. Now, Ancestry does have some too, not a lot, but if you look at Ancestry, if you go to the top where it says “search” and then “all collections” you can do a search on the place your ancestor lived, if there’s a clickable match, or you can choose the census and voter list collection and then you can go through there. So, for example, California has voting records that pre-date 1911 and you can find women on there because women got the right to vote in California in 1911.
Fisher: Wow. So, what kind of strategies did women take to get the Nineteenth Amendment passed?
Gena: You know, there were all kinds and there was even fighting within those groups, those women who belonged to suffrage group. Because some believed that you should be a little bit more militant, you know. Women have been fighting for this, wanting this since prior to the Civil War. And so, by the time we get to the 1900s, they’re mad especially in England. They are becoming militant. And so, what happens is, these women come up with all kinds of ideas. From influencing the men in their lives to have some clout, and influencing them to go ahead, to vote for women’s suffrage, to writing campaigns, to marches and parades. You know, women even opened up little cafes and fed people, didn’t charge, and then talked about why women should have the right to vote. And they produced cookbooks.
Gena: So, they did everything from the things that you would expect women to do at fundraises. You know, in England they are being a little more militant. They are learning martial arts. They are throwing stones though windows. They’re doing things like that to get their point across.
Fisher: [Laughs] She’s Gena Philibert-Ortega. She’s a lecturer. She’s an author. She did the book “From the Family Kitchen.” I love that. It’s kind of hard to find now, isn’t it Gena?
Gena: It is. But it is available as an eBook and through some genealogy book sellers.
Fisher: Okay. And you got new ones coming too.
Gena: I do. I have a series of special issues from Internet Genealogy Magazine. I have two on tracing female ancestors. One on tracing Hispanic ancestors, and then the newest one coming out is on tips and tricks for websites.
Fisher: Awesome. Thanks so much Gena. This is really fascinating. I enjoyed it. You are a worthy first guest. [Laughs]
Gena: Thank you! I loved it.
Fisher: And coming up next, it is a brand new season on PBS of Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates. And we’re going to talk to Dr. Gates about the new season, some of the celebrities who are going to be on the show, and some of the things they found, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 313
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Henry Louis Gates
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And with 2020, the New Year and the new decade we get a brand new season of Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates. And my good friend is on the line with us right now. Hey Dr. Gates, how are you?
Dr. Gates: How you’re doing Scott? Happy New Year!
Fisher: And back at you! You’ve got a great season coming up here on PBS. How many is this now?
Dr. Gates: This is our sixth season and it’s our most exciting season ever! Season six started with two new episodes in the fall. Then we did five encore episodes. But this week, our spring season begins and we’ll have eight new episodes in early 2020 and then six new episodes in the fall of 2020.
Dr. Gates: So, we’ll be airing 16 new episodes from this past fall to next fall. It’s a dramatic expansion of our programming.
Fisher: And you know what’s fun about it is how much people learn from watching the show, not just about history and seeing some of their favorite celebrities, but about how the work is done, and how people find their own roots.
Dr. Gates: Yeah, we want to unveil the hidden ancestors on an individual’s family tree, that first, and then we want to contextualise the stories that we find so that we’re telling the history of America, the history of immigration, European history, Middle Eastern history, Far Eastern history, African history, because that’s where our ancestors came from.
Dr. Gates: So, that we are contextualising these stories and as you know my day job is I’m a professor. [Laughs]
Dr. Gates: I want Americans to understand more about history and so we as a people are so woefully unaware of our own history and world history. So, I’ve decided that a dramatic, effective way to bring that history to life is through the stories of the ancestors on our guests’ family tree. So, they learn about pogroms in the Russian Empire, and of course the Holocaust, but also about the Irish Potato famine, the history of the slave trade, things like that.
Dr. Gates: It’s really part of my educational mission. So, I’m ever the teacher.
Fisher: Yes, you are.
Dr. Gates: We want to entertain and we want to teach at the same time.
Fisher: Who’s on the show this season then?
Dr. Gates: Oh my goodness. We have Sigourney Weaver and Amy Ryan, Queen Latifah.
Fisher: Oh, love her.
Dr. Gates: And Jeffrey Wright and Justina Machado, Terry Gross [Laughs], your colleague in the radio industry.
Dr. Gates: And Jeff Goldblum, Gayle King and Jordan Peele, the great fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, and Narciso Rodriguez, RuPaul, and even the Madam Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Fisher: Oh, wow.
Dr. Gates: And Norah O'Donnell.
Dr. Gates: This is a show that we created just for you, with you in mind, Mr. Extreme Genes. We’re doing a special DNA program featuring the Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus and Dr. Francis Collins who led the Human Genome Project, along with Dr. Shirley Jackson who is the president of the Rensselaer University and who happens to have been the first African American woman to earn a PhD at MIT.
Dr. Gates: And the stories we have found are astonishing. I made a list of the DNA connections.
Dr. Gates: Because I know that you’re a DNA junkie. Anjelica Huston found out that she was 2.7 percent Ashkenazi Jewish. She had no idea, and her DNA cousins are, [Tada!] Bernie Sanders and Larry David. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Really? And she probably knows Larry David quite well, I would imagine. It’s a small world in Hollywood.
Dr. Gates: Yes, absolutely. She had no idea that they were cousins, I’ll tell you that. Isabella Rossellini is a DNA cousin with Scarlett Johansson. Sigourney Weaver is cousins with Anderson Cooper.
Fisher: Oh, wow.
Dr. Gates: Yeah! Queen Latifah is cousins Wanda Sykes. And Jon Batiste who is the musical director for Stephen Colbert, his DNA cousin is Whoopi Goldberg. [Laughs]
Fisher: No kidding! Oh, wow!
Dr. Gates: And Norah O'Donnell found out, I thought she was going to faint.
Dr. Gates: I said, Nora sometimes these results are quite surprising and they might see counter intuitive. Would you please turn the page of your book of life? She turns the page and looks at it. She looks up at me. She looks down. I am her DNA cousin. And she goes, “How could this be?” And I said, well, the biggest surprise in the history of our show was that I’m 50 percent European and 50 percent Sub-Saharan African. And my great, great grandfather on my Gates side, my father’s father line has the O’Neil haplotype which about ten percent of all the men in Dublin have. So, I’m definitely descendent from an Irishman. And not only that, CeCe Moore who you know is our brilliant genetic genealogist.
Dr. Gates: She has been working for over a year unbeknownst to me. She used her triangulation methods and she has now found the long-lost mysterious identity of the white man who fathered Jane Gate’s children. Jane Gates is my great, great grandmother. Her picture hangs on the wall of our family history room at our home in Harvard Square. And we’ve known my whole life that the man who fathered her five children was a white man but we had no idea of his identity. You know what she did Scott? She told all the kids including my great grandfather that they had the same father but she was not going to reveal his identity and she took the secret of his identity to her grave, and CeCe Moore has found this guy.
Fisher: Oh, wow!
Dr. Gates: We’re going to have a Gates family reunion in the Gates family home in Cumberland, Maryland and we’re going to film it. And CeCe is not only going to reveal the identity of my great, great grandfather but then do our Irish family tree.
Dr. Gates: And man, I have been waiting for this since I was 9 years old and I first saw that photograph, which I now own of Jane Gates in my grandparents’ home. It will be in season 7. We’re airing season 6 now.
Fisher: Got it.
Dr. Gates: The next episode features Sterling K. Brown the great actor, Jon Batiste, whom I mentioned earlier, who is a musical director for Stephen Colbert.
Dr. Gates: And the comedian Sasheer Zamata, who came to national attention through Saturday Night Live. Briefly, you want to hear about their stories?
Dr. Gates: Well, with Sterling K. Brown we hit two of the treasures when doing African American genealogy. One, we found the name of the white man who owned his enslaved ancestors. His name was Samuel Nelson and he owned Sterling K. Brown’s paternal third great grandmother. This guy applied for a mortgage Scott, in 1859. And he used 68 of the slaves that he owned as collateral.
Dr. Gates: In these probate records you have to list the names of the slaves. And the other astonishing thing we found is that we traced the family tree on his mother’s side back to his fourth great grandmother and grandfather, who were Jesse Allen and Melinda Allen. And in the 1880 census in Amite, Mississippi, Jesse had a list where his parents were born. Now, Jesse was born in 1815 and Melinda was born in 1818, and Jesse listed that his parents, Sterling K. Brown’s fifth great grandparents were actually born in Africa.
Fisher: Oh wow!
Dr. Gates: Born in Africa. So, that means that they had been in the last slaves of Africans to come on the slave ships before the slave trade was banned on January 1st 1808. And when he saw that record and he turned the page he broke down and cried.
Fisher: We are out of time for right now, but I’m excited about this new season. It’s on PBS. It’s going on right now. If you’ve missed any of these episodes, of course you can stream it and of course, we’re going to stay in touch every week Dr. Gates, throughout the season and then keep up with your new episodes. I’m excited!
Dr. Gates: Oh, I’m so excited too, thank you. You do me honor and my colleagues’ honor and the field of ancestry tracing honor by devoting so much loving attention to the details Scott. You’re a national treasure, and I’m honoured to be on your show.
Fisher: Well, thrilled to have you, and we will talk to you again next week.
Dr. Gates: Okay my brother. Take care. Have a great week.
Fisher: This is going to be fun for the next several weeks. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org for Ask Us Anything in three minutes on Extreme Genes.
Segment 4 Episode 313
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And it is time once again for Ask Us Anything. David Allen Lambert is back. And David, this is a question specifically for you.
Fisher: It comes from Paige McGuire in Danbury, Connecticut. And she writes, “David, I have a tintype photo of my great, great grandfather from Boston with his Doberman dog. So, David, being a Boston guy, this sounds crazy, are there any records of people and their dog ownership in Boston?” Really? [Laughs]
David: Well, you know, I have to admit you have an interesting question, but I am now quickly looking here, because my friends at the Boston Archives mentioned to me about records going to the dogs, literally.
David: Yep, found it.
David: Yeah. In fact, let's see here, dog licenses for the city of Boston to the city treasurer's office from 1850 to 1852. There are also dog licenses and registered owners, name of dog, the sex, the age and description, and the fee, 1865 to 1867, so right after the Civil War, which might work for her.
David: And we always talked about cattle marks, you know the cropping of the ears of our cattle of our ancestors in the 18th century, 17th century into the early 19th.
Fisher: There are a lot of records of those.
David: Here's one you may have never heard of, registration of cropped dog ears. Based on a Massachusetts Act of Resolve of 1928, it required the city clerk record all the dogs whose ears are cropped or cut off prior to 1928 or amputated by a veterinarian. And these go from 1928 to 1941.
Fisher: Isn't that something? I had no...see Paige, you asked a question I thought was kind of out there, but you know, it is true there are cattle marking records in all kinds of other states and I would imagine now that I want to go and find out if there're dog licensing records where you live, right? Right in your own areas.
David: I registered dogs in our town from the 1950's on till the last we had about 10 years ago. And you know, you wonder how long they keep them around before they toss them out, because they figure, well, the dog's dead. It’s been 25 years, or something like that, but it has a genealogical value.
Fisher: Sure, it does. It tells you a little something more about the person, what kind of dogs they enjoyed, maybe the name of their dog, how old it was, so you get an idea maybe of how long they had it. That's an interesting little detail, because as we all know, our pets are part of the family, right.
David: They truly are. They sometimes have a better pedigree than we do.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] That's true. In fact, you can track it sometimes more easily. But great question, Paige.
David: [Laughs] You know, these records are so valuable. You might want to be the delegate who goes to your town or city clerk and say, you know, “Where are the old records? How long do you keep them?” and then maybe get in touch with the public library or your town's historical society and make them be aware of these types of records. Who know, maybe your town's records go back to the 19th century or early 20th century. But you know, it does put a person, Fish, in a geographical location. So, if someone came over from Italy and bought a Doberman Pinscher for instance and registered in 1918 and he doesn't have a naturalization, you can't find the passenger list and no city directories because it’s a small town, that may be the instance you find him living in that community.
Fisher: Boy I would have never thought of that, but you're absolutely right. That is absolutely true. Yeah, so if you can kind of be the advocate to get the dog records over, you might reveal something more about the immigrant. Amazing thought! Or just when they moved to the area.
David: You just never know what you're going to find.
Fisher: All right, once again, great question Paige. And coming up next as we continue with Ask Us Anything, we have a question, David about graves. How you order gravestones for old grave sites, especially when you live far away from the site. Are there dangers involved in this? Are there tips that you might have? I know I've done this, I know you've done this before as well, David, so we'll get to that coming up in about three minutes when we return on America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes.
Segment 5 Episode 313
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, we're back at it for our final segment this week of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. As always, we're doing Ask Us Anything and David Allen Lambert is with me to help. This question, David, comes from Catherine Hadfield. She's in River Heights, Utah. And she says, “My mother's family is from New England. Our daughter was recently in Massachusetts, so I asked her to visit the Woodlawn Cemetery in Attleboro, I bet you you're familiar with that place, to photograph the headstone of my second great grandfather who died in 1929, but there was no headstone. We were saddened by this and immediately decided to buy a headstone for great, great grandfather. I would appreciate any tips and cautions as to how to go about successfully arranging for a headstone, especially from long distance. Your expertise would be greatly appreciated. Catherine."
David: Well, it’s funny, I actually did this about a dozen years ago and it wasn't even in the United States. I was actually getting one in Nova Scotia.
David: I'll talk a little bit about that if we have time, but let me tell you, the basic thing is, how big is the cemetery? That's the one thing you have to take into consideration. So, like the Woodlawn Cemetery over in Attleboro, that's going to be something that's going to be probably town run. Well, it could be a private cemetery. So, you need to find out who the contact person is. Best one for that, you call up the local undertaker, because they need to know where to put the bodies. So, you call the undertaker up, find out who the contact for the cemetery is, because they're the one that's going to be receiving the gravestone when the cutter gets it. Now, you don’t want to buy a gravestone, say, if you live in Utah and have it sent to Vermont. You’re going to hire a Vermont stone carver company to go out there and install it. So, one of the things you might tend to do is, ask the cemetery what stone cutters they've used in the past. You could use something like Yelp too. It gives reviews of everything, practically. And that might help. The other thought would be, is if you contact the undertaker and say who do they usually use or recommend to families for gravestones in that community, because there might be a stone carver company that's been around for 50 or 100 years that's right down the street. A lot of times you find them, Fish. These stone carver companies for gravestones are like adjacent to the cemetery. They know what the business is.
Fisher: That's absolutely true. I know one nearby here. That's exactly the case. It’s right across the street. It’s almost a way to advertise for them.
David: It truly is. Well, you know what, I'm sure it’s one of those places that you could go to and you can obviously ask them what the different prices would be. The other thing you need to be concerned with is the size of the lot, because there are going to be restrictions. Some cemeteries only allow flush flat gravestones. Other ones will have upright, but they can't be a certain height. So, before you go out spending your money, contact the cemetery, find the contact and then find out how much it’s going to cost to you to have stone made. See if it’s in your budget. You can also reach out to other family members. So, it’s doable, but you want to get your contacts down beforehand. I did the same thing with Nova Scotia where I called the cemetery and I found out where my great grandparents were buried. They told me it was a single grave, double deep, and I ordered a gravestone that fit the dimensions they wanted. They installed the stone. I went there, saw someone walking around with a map and we went to his office and find out they put it in the wrong spot.
Fisher: Oh no!
David: It turns out the person that did the computer database had read section 19 as section 91.
Fisher: Oh dear. [Laughs]
David: I found this out. They contacted me about a month later and said, “Mr. Lambert, we've got some good news. You're now a Canadian land owner. We moved the gravestone. It’s not a single grave, double deep. It is a four-grave lot.” So, the running joke I've always told my wife now is that you can bury me and cremate me. Bury half in America and half in Canada in Nova Scotia and confuse the heck out of my descendants.
Fisher: [Laughs] There you go, David. Great advice. All right, and a great question as well, so thank you very much to Catherine. If you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email us at [email protected]. Thanks so much, David. Talk to you next week.
David: Talk to you soon.
Fisher: Hey, there you go. Lot of great stories, lot of great information, incredible guests this week. And if you missed any of it or you want to catch it again, of course listen to the podcasts on iTunes, iHeart Radio or ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!