Episode 353 - Ordinary Person / Extraordinary Find in Italy! “Archive Lady” Opens Minds To What Might Be FoundNov 29, 2020
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David’s been up late a lot recently working his DNA matches while Fisher has been going through some items retrieved from an old family Bible. They talk about their experiences. Family Histoire News begins with word that RootsTech now has four fascinating keynote speakers lined up for this coming year’s virtual conference, RootsTechConnect. Then, a German man has learned that his family business was obtained by his grandfather, a Nazi, who virtually stole it from a Jewish family. Hear what this grandson has done. Ground Penetrating Radar has brought about another awesome discovery in Norway. Hear what it is. Next, History is running a fascinating article on the family of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. It’s filled with eyebrow raisers. Then, David reveals a site for some amazing Civil War data. Might you have an ancestor in there?
Next, Fisher visits with Lisa Murphy of Orem, Utah, an “Ordinary Person With An Extraordinary Find.” Lisa’s grandfather was a family enigma. He died without ever telling anyone exactly where he was from, and very little about the family itself. But along comes DNA and well… you know the rest. Hear the story Lisa and her family has learned about her long deceased grandfather’s origins.
Then, Fisher talks new archive discoveries with “The Archive Lady,” Melissa Barker of Houston County, Tennessee. Melissa is always digging up inspiring items in her archive to encourage people to get back to where many family treasures may be waiting. Hear what she’s found this time.
David then returns for “Ask Us Anything.” The guys discuss Revolutionary War pensions and coats of arms.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript for Episode 353
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 353
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. Well, it’s great to have you genies. Got some great guests lined up for today. We’ve got a woman from Utah who’s another ordinary person with an extraordinary find. And we’ll be talking to Melissa Barker, yes, the Archive Lady is back to talk about some of her recent discoveries. And by the way, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, you can do so very easily at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. And you get a blog from me each week, you get links to past and present shows, links to stories you’ll enjoy as a genealogist, so, get signed up for it. Right now it’s time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts and the office of the incredible David Allen Lambert, the chief genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you doing, Dave?
David: I’m doing great. I tell you, if I get anymore lack of sleep it’s going to be because I’ve been playing with Ancestry’s DNA matches and just kind of going through all those ones that don’t have a common ancestor [Laughs] or don’t have a tree.
Fisher: Oh yeah, 2-3 o’clock in the morning.
David: Oh yeah. And remember, they cut this down. It’s not even as big as we originally had.
Fisher: No. Thank goodness.
David: Thank goodness. I probably would be doing this for the rest of the year.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Well, and I just got this past week from my brother-in-law a packet of stuff that was in a family Bible. Things he saved. Old newspaper clippings, old letters, and one of the letters in there was to my wife’s great grandfather who was born in 1872. And this guy was a boyhood friend of his and they talk about being in school together, and he mentions what the school was, which is information we never had, so it’s really kind of fun when you get that stuff. I just look at this as the family archives branch and so we just had a merger.
David: Well, hey, don’t forget, if you haven’t signed up, RootsTech is free. What are you waiting for? It’s going to be great. In fact, they just announced their four keynote speakers that are coming up. So, that’s some exciting news and before you know it, it will be here.
Fisher: Yep. And it’s going to be a lot of fun for all of us because it’s done entirely differently this time around as we heard from our visit with Steve Rockwood several weeks ago, talking about how this is going to be going on for three days, 24/7 following the sun so that if you live in the far east, you’re going to hear lectures, and you’re going to have courses about researching your ancestors there, and then moving right around the globe until you get back to North America. It’s going to be a fascinating conference done virtually. And in some ways, it might be better than anything ever done before.
David: Well, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got one scratched into the schedule there for everyone that takes part in it, it’s on cemeteries.
David: Well, this one really touched my heart. This is a story about a gentleman that born 25 years after the allies defeated Hitler in Germany in World War II. Thomas Edelman had always heard a story that he’s family business had been previously owned by a Jewish family that were forced to sell to his paternal grandfather Wilhelm Edelman. So, Thomas started to do some researching, and with the help of MyHeritage.com got in touch with the granddaughter, 83-year-old Hannah Heinrich who lives in Israel who knew the story.
Fisher: Isn’t that something? And she even had a journal that her grandfather had written that talked about this Nazi who basically bought the store for a song. In it, it said that this man was a very nice man despite the fact he was a Nazi. Well, the grandson isn’t so convinced that that’s true, but nonetheless, he just felt that it was important for his son, especially as a teenage boy right now, to understand the impact choices can make on families for generations by decisions they make.
David: That’s very, very true. In fact, her grandfather had fought in World War I for the Germans as many Jewish World War I veterans would later find out their service didn’t mean anything when World War II came around.
Fisher: Yeah, incredible.
David: Well, you know, I always love technology. May it be DNA, or some new analysis by endocrinology that DNA would, but what I really love, is when you find stuff like this, ground penetrating radar up in Norway has determined one of the high status Viking burials that had never been known before, in a place called The Gelmound, not the gello mound folks. Gjellestad in south-eastern Norway has a Viking burial ship, a feast hall, a cult house, and the remnants of little outbuildings. This is amazing! You can look from this on ExtremeGenes.com and see the outline clearly of this Viking vessel.
Fisher: Isn’t that something. Isn’t that absolutely amazing? GPR, love it.
David: Well, you know, I like to think I know about the Civil War, and of course the end of the Civil War, a person named John Wilkes Booth’s history, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln affected both north and south. But there’s a lot of stuff on John Wilkes Booth’s family I didn’t know. And that’s on History.com which you can find the article link on ExtremeGenes.com. What did you think of the article? I thought it was great.
Fisher: I thought there was some great stuff there, a fabulous picture of the father, Junius Booth.
David: Oh yes.
Fisher: What was amazing to me was this little story in here about at the time of the funeral of Edwin Booth, the number one brother in terms of his acclaim for acting, at the time that his funeral was going on, there was a government office that had been setup on three stories at Ford’s Theatre. They all collapsed and 22 people were killed at the exact moment they were mourning the life of Edwin Booth. Isn’t that weird?
David: It really is. You know, the whole Booth family was amazing actors over from England. In fact, John Wilkes Booth’s mother was a poor London girl who used to sell flowers outside of the theatre where Junius Booth performed. Lo and behold, they fell in love, she got pregnant, they moved to America, and the rest is history. Well, speaking of the Civil War, the War of Northern Aggression, depending on what side of the Mason-Dixon line you may have lived, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, I didn’t even know that existed. I needed to visit this website because they have tremendous virtual tours and remote learning recourses that are great during COVID. Also, this is a tab off of their site, but Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office. Now, the records aren’t there anymore but it’s still there on 7th street in DC.
Fisher: Isn’t that something?
David: Well folks, that’s all I have from Beantown for you this week. But don’t forget, if you’re interested in American Ancestors, you can sign up as a guest member. Use the coupon code “EXTREME” and save $20 on membership at AmericanAncestors.org.
Fisher: All right David. Thank you so much. We’ll catch you again at the backend of the show for Ask Us Anything. And on the way in three minutes, it’s another ordinary person with an extraordinary find on Extreme Genes.
Segment 2 Episode 353
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Lisa Murphy
Fisher: And we are back. It’s America’s Family History, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and I am excited to be talking to Lisa Murphy and this kind of fits into the theme that we sometimes do on the show called “Ordinary people with extraordinary finds” and Lisa, your find absolutely qualifies as you tracked down the ancestry of your grandfather who kept his mouth shut his whole life. Did you know him?
Lisa: I knew him as a young child. I think I was about ten when he died. So I do have some memories, but not a lot.
Fisher: What do you know about him? What did he tell you about himself?
Lisa: Well, really nothing. He told us his name was Harry Mayo. He told us that he was an orphan. And that he had come into this country through the port of Montreal actually.
Lisa: He said that he was on his own from the time he was thirteen years old. And he remembers as a young orphan in the streets of Montreal stealing milk and bread off of people’s front porches before they woke up in the morning to get their daily delivery so that he could eat.
Lisa: My grandmother was also an orphan so my dad grew up with no aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents.
Fisher: Wow! Did he say where he was from originally?
Lisa: He said that he was born in Le Havre, France. But we always thought that was strange because he was very Italian and spoke fluent Italian and spoke with an Italian accent.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well that might be the first clue, right? [Laughs]
Lisa: That might be the first clue. That’s right. And also, it was strange because his last name was Mayo M-A-Y-O and there is no Y in the Italian language.
Fisher: And so who had an interest in actually trying to crack his case?
Lisa: Do you mean after people grew up?
Lisa: Because the kids asked him questions about himself when they were little. When they grew up to a point they would ask their dad questions about himself and he would get angry. He would start by saying, “Oh I don’t know, that was a long time ago.” And then if they pressed him he would literally get angry and he would say, “I said don’t want to talk about that!”
Lisa: So he would literally get angry if you asked him any questions about his past.
Fisher: Ha! That is amazingly strange. So now he’s long passed. When did he pass away?
Fisher: Okay. And so his kids are still around. How many children did he have?
Lisa: He had four.
Lisa: Three boys and a girl.
Fisher: Okay. And now we have this new era here with DNA, and one of you decides, “Hey it’s time. Let’s get a test and see what happens.” Was the anticipation of doing this test to find out ethnicity, or was it to find matches, or both?
Lisa: You know, I don’t think that we ever really thought about the matches. I think that we had more ethnicity in mind.
Lisa: Of course my dad and my uncle Alvin were one of the first to get it done. And you know it was really kind of in the new stages of DNA before things really began to explode and we figured out what it was all about. But because their Dad was a mystery, they wanted to know what they were made of, you know?
Fisher: Sure. I think most people go on that now. Ethnicity is kind of what the big companies market.
Fisher: And then some people find, oh there are matches here too! I mean that happened to a friend of mine who was adopted, and we were actually able to identify her birth mother and birth father as a result. But she had had no anticipation of that when she took the test. She just wanted the ethnicity.
Fisher: So, you found matches and when did the matches start coming in, and what did you find out?
Lisa: Well, it was interesting. When Dad and Alvin first got the DNA test, which was well over five years ago, they came back as like one of the only 3% of people that could not be placed. And we were thinking, “Oh brother!” I mean this is truly a dead end everywhere we go!
Lisa: And then they said, “We could tell you that you probably came from somewhere in the Middle East, probably Israel.”
Lisa: So then that gave us another idea about my grandfather. Like okay, was he Jewish?
Fisher: Right, of course.
Lisa: I mean we had exhausted everything. We had looked through prison records, is he hiding a crime? You know.
Lisa: And then when the DNA came through we thought well, is he Jewish? Was he hiding that he was Jewish because lots of times people from the old country and particularly Jews, would hide that ethnicity.
Fisher: Sure. A lot of people hid their ethnicity. Hungarians did.
Lisa: Yes. So then that was one thing. And then five years went by and then somebody contacted my uncle Alvin and her name was not MEO it was another name, a married name. You know.
Fisher: Okay. Yeah.
Lisa: And so she contacted him and she said, “I think we have a match.” But they couldn’t figure out where they matched because of course we had no family tree.
Fisher: Of course, right.
Lisa: Because usually people, when they have a match, they put their trees together and they say, “Oh I see. Okay. Here’s our common ancestor.”
Fisher: Um hmm.
Lisa: We can’t get past Dad so we have no family tree. So, they talked for about a year and they couldn’t figure it out. And then, another family member, totally unbeknownst to the original family member who contacted my uncle, she contacted him and said, “We have a match.” And she sent him a handmade family group sheet.
Lisa: Now, my grandfather did tell us that his parents were named Pietro and Caterina, so we knew that. And he also told my grandmother that he had a brother named Marion who had died of an infection as a child. So we knew that. We had also found a previous wife of his by various means back in the ‘80s. We didn’t even know he had been married before. And she told us in a letter that he had told her about a sister named Grace who was living in New York. But he had never mentioned a Grace to us. But by various means, we had collected these four names and he said all these people were dead.
Lisa: So this woman sends him this like type written family group sheet and I don’t know, it looks very, very old.
Lisa: And on it, it had the parents Pietro and Caterina, and then it had eleven children on there!
Lisa: And of the eleven there was one named Grazia or Grace.
Lisa: And there was one named Mariano or Marion. And it said that Marion had died of an infection as a child. Then there were all the children’s names and who they married and what children they had. So there were a lot of names on this sheet. But in the very, very end in the right hand corner it named a child Nunziato, and it said he immigrated to America, and went to Boston and Toronto and disappeared. And we knew that we had our match!
Fisher: Wow! What a day that had to be for the family!
Lisa: It was sixty five years in the making. I mean my Dad is eighty five years old. Imagine being eighty five and finding out your father’s true identity, his true name, seeing his birth certificate. The whole family has been on fire.
Fisher: Oh, I can only imagine. Now you’ve met a lot of matches now, so were you able to link in with the original contact? Do you now know where you’re related to them? And how this all comes together?
Lisa: Oh, well, the story just gets more magnificent every day! And there’s not a day that goes by that something just mind blowing happens. Some new revelation happens. It’s just mind blowing. Like every day is an adventure. And so what I did was, I created a family Facebook page and I called it the Nunziato-Mayo family. So I just added all of our family members, the Mayos on there because everybody started getting online. Because once we had a name and a place, the information was very easy to find.
Fisher: Sure. Yes.
Lisa: My brother is getting online and he’s finding so and so’s death certificate and the picture of their grave site, and their immigration record, and I’m getting online and my sister is getting online. And you know there’s all these various threads you know like running through the family by text and email. And there are different people on different threads so it’s hard to keep up. So what I did was, I created the Facebook page so that we could have a common dumping ground so that when somebody found something they could put it on the page and everybody could be there and everybody could see it. And then I thought, you know, I wonder if any of those MEO Mayos are on Facebook? And so I just started searching on Facebook for them and both my sister and I started messaging people and at first they were a little bit tentative because like they had this big Italian family and they’re like, “Who are you?” You know, like… what?
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes. Where do you fit in? Well, that’s often the way, isn’t it?
Lisa: Yeah, yeah, and also you know, they’re Italian Sicilians and I think some of the older generation were like, “Wait a minute, let’s check these people out first.” You know?
Fisher: [Laughs] Just a little bit suspicious there, right?
Lisa: Yeah there were a couple of them that were… like one said, “Well, you know my Dad needs to check you out.” You know.
Lisa: He was our cousin Vinny. [Laughs]
Fisher: Cousin Vinny. Let me tell you!
Lisa: [Laughs] That’s right.
Fisher: Okay. So there were eleven kids in this family. Your grandfather was one of them. How many of the different branches now? The other ten, well I guess it would be nine because the one died young, how many of those other branches are you in touch with now?
Lisa: We’re in touch with five.
Fisher: Wow! Five of the other nine.
Lisa: Well, four in America and one that is still in Italy.
Fisher: That’s incredible. Are you going to go over to Italy? Are you going to see the home country? Are you going to see the home city?
Lisa: Oh my gosh, we have to. Of course we’ve Google Earthed it already.
Fisher: Sure. Yeah. [Laughs] Taken a little tour, okay. Have you planned a reunion with any of these people yet?
Lisa: I want to. I’m in the process of planning one for next summer. And, oh, I’ve got big plans! I’ve got such big plans.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well listen to you. That’s so exciting. She’s Lisa Murphy she’s from Orem, Utah and her family has had a huge breakthrough thanks to DNA not only huge in terms of exciting, huge in terms of numbers. That’s fantastic. So, congratulations! She’s an “ordinary person with an extraordinary find.” You can do the same thing. Lisa, thank you so much for your time.
Lisa: Oh it was such a pleasure. I never get tired of talking about this.
Fisher: [Laughs] I bet you don’t. And who does? And coming up next in five minutes, we’re going to talk to Melissa Barker. She is the Archive Lady in Houston, Tennessee. What has she found? You’ll find out coming up on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 353
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melissa Barker
Fisher: And we’re back, it’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGens.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. It was a while back we introduced America to my next guest. She is known as the Archive Lady. She is a professional researcher, still specializes in Tennessee research for many clients but one day got roped into putting together an archive for her county. It’s Houston County as I recall, in Tennessee, is that right Melissa?
Melissa: It sure is. Houston County, Tennessee.
Fisher: Yep. She’s Melissa Barker. Nice to have you back! I love having the “Southern belles” back on the show.
Melissa: Thanks Scott! It’s great to be back, especially in October, which is American Archives month.
Fisher: That is correct. I remember you were telling me on our last visit that you weren’t too excited about what was going to be required in putting together this archive for your county. And you have since fallen in love with it, embraced it and I think the exciting thing about it is you’re around material that isn’t necessarily available online which is the case for most all archives.
Melissa: That’s true Scott. You know, many, many of our archives across the United States and across the world have records sitting on shelves that are just waiting for researchers to discover.
Fisher: And I’m a big advocate for old time research. I’m not really one who considers all the time you spend going through all the various sites as being genuine research. I mean obviously it is because you’re finding documents that other people have digitized and that’s great but we become addicted to them in thinking, “Well if it isn’t there, it’s just not to be had.” But that is not the case. There is probably a lot more material available that’s not online than there is online. Melissa, talk about some of the things you found recently because you never call me unless you found something new, and unique, and exciting to help give an example to people of what they can find in an archive.
Melissa: Oh, since we last talked, we have found some very interesting items in our archives. One of the things that we have gotten recently is some stuff called Loonie Money. Have you ever heard of loonie money?
Fisher: Loonie money, no, I don’t think I have.
Melissa: Well, loonie money is either in script like paper money or it’s in coins.
Melissa: And it’s from the local stores. The store owners would pay to their employees this money but the catch was that you could only spend the money in the store. [Laughs]
Fisher: In the company’s store. So this was a nice way around paying and of course they were making profit on it as well. Mark the prices up in the company’s store, right?
Melissa: Correct. So we have two examples of some loonie money in our archives. One was for the H.H Bucko Mercantile and the other one is for the Daniel Mercantile out of Ellis Mill, Tennessee. And so it’s wonderful to find these items because it’s something that researchers have never heard of but maybe their ancestors used.
Fisher: Right. Now it’s interesting you mentioned that because in researching my great grandfather’s coffee, tea, and spice mill in New York City, I often go through eBay and I ran across a coin from an Albany based coffee and spice mill, and I wondered why their name was on this thing. It’s from the 1860s and I’m thinking that must be loonie money like you’re talking about.
Melissa: It sure could be.
Fisher: All right, what else have you found recently?
Melissa: Well, recently I had a local contractor donate an almost 100 year old vacuum cleaner. He was cleaning out an old house and found this vacuum cleaner and it’s like one of the Bissells you can buy today that have no motors, you just push them along the carpet and it picks up stuff.
Melissa: But it’s all made of wood.
Fisher: A wooden vacuum cleaner. So it’s not electric? Because I’m thinking 100 year old vacuum cleaner, how could that be? I don’t know when the first electric ones came along but this is a wooden thing?
Melissa: Yes it is completely wooden and there is no motor, you just push it along the carpet and it picks up the dirt and it’s totally wooden. It was made in 1920 and believe it or not, it still works.
Fisher: Now what’s that doing in an archive? I’m curious.
Melissa: [Laughs] Well in our archive here in Houston County, we are the only facility in the county that collects and preserves our local history. And when I stated the archives about six, seven years ago, we decided that we wanted to collect anything and everything having to do with Houston County, including artifacts and historical items because we put them on display for people to come to the archives and see.
Fisher: Right and what a great idea to attract people to come by and check it out. What else have they donated to you, by the way?
Melissa: Oh, we used to have a railroad that came through here. Our county was big because of the railroad. So we have lots of railroad memorabilia. And other items that locals just come in and they’ll have it in their hands and say, “Do you want it or not? I’m just going to throw it away.” So of course I grab it as fast as I can. [Laughs]
Fisher: Oh absolutely. I’m always just horrified, I mean from negatives and photographs that’s one thing and you would think that would be more obvious but some of these trinkets, that sounds great! I wish every archive would do something like that. All right, what else have you found within the archive that kind of raised your eyebrows, Melissa?
Melissa: One of my favorite things that I have found here recently was, we were working on the voting and election records of the county and we ran across a city of Erin ballot which is the main city here in Houston County. And the ballot was for 1952, nothing really unusual about that until I looked on the back.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Melissa: On the back was a hand written fudge pie recipe.
Fisher: Ooh that sounds… I just had brownies last night, by the way they were delicious, and that sounds similar. I love that, fudge pie, huh? And this was from a ballot from 1952 for what kind of election?
Melissa: It was a local city election for the city mayor and the aldermen and things like that. So I took the recipe and I made the pie and it was really good.
Fisher: Really, did you serve it up for everybody around the archives?
Melissa: I did. I took it to the court house, served it up and told them this was a 1952 recipe.
Fisher: That is absolutely amazing. So I’m confused though, I mean if you had a ballot, how would it wind up in the archive? Unless you know they were keeping some of these things to keep track for a recount potentially or something like that. And why would somebody write a recipe on the back of it?
Melissa: I have no idea. I can just envision someone, one of the little ladies maybe sitting there signing people in to vote and talking to the other lady and says, “I have this great fudge pie recipe.” And the lady says, “Well can I have it?” And she writes it down.
Fisher: [Laughs] And hands it over to her and it somehow winds up back in your hands. That’s incredible.
Melissa: Yep. It’s one of the finds that I just love because it shows that people were people just like we are today.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely true. But what a great concept though, to gather things from around the area, bring them into the archives and then lure people in to do some research there and see what they can find, like you have. What else have you uncovered lately for us?
Melissa: Well, working on our picture collection right now and one of the things I’d like to tell your listeners about is, looking for those unidentified photographs in archives. Many archives have them and if you know what your ancestor looked like you might find more photographs of them in those unidentified photographs.
Fisher: Boy, that’s funny you mention that. There’s a state archive near me and I actually discovered a photograph of my grandfather and his seventh child from 1921 after his first wife died and he had to take it back to his mother to take care of while he was looking for a new wife and going back, and taking care of his own kids who were out of his state. So yeah, there was that picture there and it was a complete shock to me. I would imagine that’s fairly common for archives all over the country if you know where to look.
Melissa: Exactly, yeah. Most of our archives have photograph collections but they don’t necessarily advertise that they have parts of their collections that are unidentified. And so when you’re researching an archive make sure to ask about those unidentified photographs, you might be able to identify some for them.
Fisher: I would assume that you would look under things like police photographs, fireman photographs, if they belong to different groups.
Melissa: Absolutely. Lots of times they are archived that way according to group, or according to surname, and so always talk to your archivist wherever you’re researching and pick their brains about what they have in their collections.
Fisher: And I would say also what would be a great thing to do, if you have unidentified photographs do not throw them away, take them to your local archives and maybe someday somebody is going to come across it and say, “Oh I know who that is.” Scan it and put it online for everybody’s benefit.
Melissa: Absolutely because you may have the only known photograph of someone’s ancestor, if you donate it to an archive and it can get identified, what a wonderful treasure.
Fisher: Well she’s the Archive Lady. She’s Melissa Barker. She’s from Houston County, Tennessee. Thanks so much for your time Melissa and we’ll talk to you again soon!
Melissa: Sounds great Scott!
Fisher: Coming up next, questions about confusing Revolutionary War pension records and coats of arms, on the way with Ask Us Anything, Next.
Segment 4 Episode 353
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, Mr. Lambert is back and it is time for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David, we're got an email here from Terry Whitehall in Lansing, Michigan and Terry writes, "Fisher, I heard you mention your recent research on Revolutionary War pensions. I'm finding info in my ancestors file confusing and contradictory. Any ideas? Terry." That's a good question. I'm sure David, I know you've done a lot of research on that and I have been doing that recently and I'm finding the same thing, there's a lot of contradiction that goes on and it really takes a lot of work to sort it out to try to determine what companies your ancestor fought with and when.
David: Exactly. You know, I was just the other day looking at a Civil War pension where a lady who had a pension, because her husband had died during the war and she has all her kids with the birth dates. Well, there are about four different forms where she gives different birthdates on her kids every time. [Laughs]
David: So, and that's the mother of the children, so let's lash it backwards a bit. So, it’s the Revolutionary War. Pensions are generally not given out till 1818 of the first soldiers, okay?
Fisher: The first ones, yeah.
David: Yeah. So, you figure the war's been over 30 years, a guy is maybe a young fellow, but maybe he's a little older, so, well, maybe his memory is not going so well. The thing that is the strength, Fish, are the affidavits in there. And a lot of people don't look to these, "What? This has nothing to do with my relative." You've got to read every page. So, let's use a scenario. You and I were in Lexington and Concord together. We look pretty good for our age, don't we?
David: I write that I was there when you got an injury on the battlefield and I helped you to the field hospital down in Cambridge because of your injury and I was there. You know, I might remember something about a particular battle or event that maybe you weren't clear on.
Fisher: Um hmm.
David: Now this is a side step on this. A lot of people don't do this. If you have access to the Revolutionary War pension for instance on Fold3, you now can look up the pensions of other people. I use this term called adopt the regiment, and what you want to do in this case is, look up the pensions for all the people that had affidavits in your ancestor's file. The idea is, if I scratch your back, you may scratch mine. So, you may get a letter from your ancestor in somebody else's pension file speaking to an event that maybe your ancestor wasn't injured at.
David: But the other person was. So, their details and information may be helpful. So, the next time you think you've run out of things to do on the Revolutionary War, think again.
Fisher: Well, you're absolutely right, and I will tell you, I've been working on a New Jersey ancestor and his wife applied and she was in her late 80s when she began the process and the process went until she was well into her 90s, and the old guys who were testifying on her behalf, there were only like five of them left and they told some great stories about being with my Revolutionary War ancestor and where. Now they all have kind of different ideas about what captains and colonels he served under and in what year and I'm trying to match them up with what military records I can find. But looking at the applications of these gentlemen and reading what they had to say about their service time is absolutely amazing! It’s kind of like sitting around with a bunch of, right now, old World War II vets and hearing their stories. And these accounts were often written the way these guys told the story. So it’s just like sitting there and listening with this group about what it was like. And they'll describe not only stories about themselves and your ancestors, but they'll talk about what happened in the unit and experiences they had, what kind of equipment they used, I mean it really goes on and on and on. And I just can't recommend enough that you get into those files and you get yourself a subscription to Fold3. I mean, you're not driving around very much these days, so take the money from your gas money and put into that. It’s fantastic!
David: Definitely worthwhile.
Fisher: Thank you, Terry for the question, got another one coming up with Ask Us Anything, on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 353
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, back at it for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. We're doing Ask Us Anything with David Allen Lambert. And David, this question is from Heather Lockwood in Danbury, Connecticut and she says, "With the holidays coming, I'm thinking of getting my family a coat of arms. Who would you recommend I do this through?" David, you take it. [Laughs]
David: [Laughs] I'd recommend you don't.
David: So, here's the rule of thumb. When I was a kid, Fish, I went to one of these mall and they had like a little path where you could go and get your coat of arms on a keychain, on a T-shirt, on some beautiful plaque made overseas done in porcelain, whatever you wanted. So I walked up and I said, "I'd like to see what coat of arms you have for the last name, Lambert." Well, they had dozens of options for me. And it began with, "Let's see, where did your family come from?" And at that point in time, I didn't know where they came from, I didn't know the Lamberts of Milan. So I said, "Well, they came from Canada." "Well, they must have been British." I'm like, "Okay, that makes sense. Sure, okay." And he goes, "What are some of the first names in your family?" So I started naming like my grandfather, my dad and my uncles’ names. "Oh, well here's a Thomas Lambert who had a coat of arms in the 13th century. That must be a family name that they handed down."
David: What, for 700 years?! So I'm like, yeah, so I think I'll pass on that $59.95 coffee mug that you want to sell me and thank you very much. I mean, the rule of thumb is, I mean, not to say that there's aren't families that do have a coat of arms. But can I explain the nutshell process on this. A coat of arms is not applicable to an entire family name.
David: So, Fish, when you graduated high school, you know, your brother didn't get entitled to your high school diploma. So if you're being awarded a coat of arms, that is not applicable to your brother, it’s not applicable to your dad, it’s not applicable to your grandfather and all of his descendants, it trickle down and the person now in line in that mall store is descended from. It doesn’t work that way. So, unless you are related and it doesn’t matter if your surname has changed, you might like a coat of arms for your 8th great grandfather's family, because they had one, but it’s not applicable just to the name itself.
Fisher: Um hmm.
David: I mean, you might as well just go to a yard sale, go through a box of old photos, find one with the last name that matches yours and say, "Oh, this must be my grandfather!"
Fisher: Yeah, it’s very similar, isn't it? That's true, very good point. You know, the other thing about this is, if you want to create something like that, I mean, it’s really a matter of artistic license. You can create things that have to do with your family's history and there are instructions online for how to create things like that and how to have them made. But like you say, David, I mean, I don't think that there's really much to this and it’s pretty darn rare unless you descend directly from the person who received that. And it continues down that line, right?
David: That's very true. So, let the buyer beware. I tell you this much, I did stop one of my cousins from getting a Lambert coat of arms tattoo. They wanted to know which one was applicable to our family. I said none of the above. I said, "But you could pick one of you'd like and most of your friends probably won't know the difference."
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Well, that's very true. I don't really know what the significance to that is, because it doesn't really have much to do with anybody living today. So, fascinating question and I hope we didn't burst any bubbles there, but that is a really challenging situation. I remember talking about this many years ago, but this keeps coming up and I know there are a lot of places out there that offer this kind of service. So, buyer, beware, David thank you for your time.
David: Take your receipt and return that to the store if you've already purchased one. [Laughs]
Fisher: There you go. All right David, talk to you next week. Thanks for joining us.
David: All righty.
Fisher: All right. And that's our show for this week. Thank you for joining us, genies. And if you missed any of the show or you want to catch it again, it’s so easy to listen to us through our podcast platform. You can catch us on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, we're all over the place. So, talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!