Episode 368 - Women’s History Month And Tracing Female Ancestors / Ancestors And Animals: Pets And Those “Wild Things!”

podcast episode Mar 22, 2021

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  The guys start off challenging listeners to get on eBay NOW and see all the family history material available for small money. They mention original 19th century hometown newspapers, family Bibles, letters, postcards, family and historic documents, and personal items. Perhaps you won’t find something right away, but you’ll be amazed what all is there! David then brings up the new record haul at MyHeritage.com… millions of Lithuanian/Jewish records. Then, it’s a librarian in Tampa whose father, as a boy, was pictured on ad labels of orange crates. This family connection has caused this librarian to collect orange crate ads of all types. What family connection might you wish to collect? Finally, new fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found. Hear what is known so far.

Next up, Gina Philabert Ortega talks Women’s History Month and shares her tips on researching female ancestors. They can be tricky with all those name changes. She’ll also have some sources unique to women to share with you.

Maggie Stevenson from our sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists then talks ancestors and pets AND wild animals! How did these critters factor into your family history? Maggie has some thoughts on sources and what they can mean to your stories as you put them together.

David returns for the next two segments for Ask Us Anything. First, the guys tackle a question about sources by which you can learn what battles your Civil War ancestor may have fought in. Then, what to do with ancestors or relatives who have been in the movies. It’s a perfect question for Fisher who has two such people in his family, including his mother.

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

Transcript of Episode 368

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 368

Fisher: And welcome to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out! Well, its women's history month genies! And we've got Gena Philibert Ortega on the show today talking about some great tips on finding your female ancestors. You know their names are always changing as they would get married or remarried, and she has some great ideas for you to help you out with that kind of research. Plus, Maggie Stevenson is going to be here from sponsors at Legacy Tree Genealogists, talking about ancestors and their pets and interactions with animals. It’s an interesting conversation you'll want to hear, coming up in a little over 15 minutes. And if you haven't signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, of course make sure you take care of that, because we give you more of what you need as a genealogist, links to stories you'll find interesting, past and present shows and a blog from me each week. Just sign up at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Right now, out in Boston, Massachusetts, standing by, clearing his throat, getting ready for some fantastic information for you is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, its David Allen Lambert. Hello, David!

David: Hello. How are you, sir?

Fisher: I am grand. I've got to tell you right now, last night, it was one of those nights where obviously I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon, so stayed up stupid late, tile like one in the morning and I went on eBay and started looking around, not for memorabilia, but for family stuff.

David: Yep.

Fisher: And I want everybody listening right now to go eBay this week and look and see what's out there that might relate to your family. I know I'm like a broken record on this.

David: Oh yeah, but it’s so important.

Fisher: Oh my gosh, there were Revolutionary War records! Earlier this year, I bought one for $27, signed by three different individuals from an ancestral hometown who were town fathers. One was a close friend of George Washington and he hosted John Hancock's wedding at his house. It was $27! It was unbelievable. There are letters on there from soldiers from the Civil War, family bibles on there, 19th century newspapers. I was looking for specific dates, but still, if you're looking for information about the hometown of one of your relatives or just want to get a feel for what life was like there, pick up one of those newspapers. They're like $10! They're ridiculously cheap. Postcards! I got one from the hospital my mother was born in, in Albany, Oregon in the 1920s. And postcards of my dad's hometown in New Jersey, even my own junior high school in Connecticut is in a postcard from the very era that I was attending there and that stuff was all on eBay! You've got to check that out.

David: It’s amazing. I mean, just last week, my great grandfather who was a railroad engineer at Ammon in New Brunswick. He was with the Canadian National Railway, I found three postcards of the train station that was the main depot where he was, and one of them actually has two trains and it’s about 1915, smack dab when he was an engineer! I mean, it would be nice to romanticize that one of those is his train, but chances are he probably drove one of them.

Fisher: Yeah!

David: So, it’s amazing stuff. And you're right, family bibles, and then how about photographs that people have instant ancestors, because wait, the name's on the back of them, identified photographs you can buy them for a couple of bucks a piece sometimes.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Like that lady we had on recently in England who buys wedding pictures and returns them. So, it could be a random act of genealogical kindness that you find something on eBay, cheap money. You're a genealogist, go out there and find who it belongs to.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s an amazing thing and you never know what you're going to find. I've found things signed by relatives and ancestors and collectible cards that relate to things they were tied to. So this is a challenge to every genie listening right now, go on eBay this week, go on it today and see what might be out there relating to your ancestors, and your ancestral towns, and the time periods in which they lived.  You’ll find it fascinating even if you don’t find anything, the amount of stuff that’s out there. All right, David, let’s get on with our Family Histoire News today. Where do you want to start?

David: Well, I think I’d like to start with millions of available genealogical records for Lithuanian Jewish families that have been put online for My Heritage. Now, these documents are from 20 years of work from a special interest group online called, “Litvak” the Lithuanian genealogy and this is just a recent addition to the millions of records that are already on My Heritage. We have deep nostalgia, but now we also have more deep research. For Lithuanian families, this could be the thing that might unlock your family overseas.

Fisher: Awesome.

David: You know, we’re talking about eBay and buying things. I can tell you, Elizabeth Lee Barron who works at the University of Tampa as a librarian, probably scourers it all the time, and one of the things with eBay, you can set certain searches for certain things. She collects box covers from oranges.

Fisher: What?

David: Remember the old orange boxes that had like an advertisement. It might have somebody on a beach eating an orange.  She collects these because her family had an orange grove in Winter Haven, Florida, and her dad is on some of the advertisements back in the ‘30s as a little kid holding an orange, eating it.

Fisher: See. I mean, everybody has got something unique in their family history that makes collecting possible. That’s a great story, love it.

David: Yeah. More power to her and apparently oranges are a healthy way to do genealogy in Florida. The next thing I want to mention is the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, everybody has heard about them but those were found over 60 years ago. Well, they found new fragments of this biblical text just recently and the Israeli antiquities authority announced that have found these fragments that are thousands of years old. They also uncovered a 6 thousand year old partially mummified skeleton of a child, as well as a ten thousand, five hundred year old basket which looks like it was just put down a while ago.

Fisher: Oh, wow! [Laughs]

David: It’s amazing.

Fisher: Isn’t that fun?

David: Yeah. I mean, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. These are just fragments mind you, but when you’re dealing with fragments from thousands of years ago found in a cave, everyone counts to help build the stories. It’s great stuff.

Fisher: Incredible.

David: You know, genealogy is great, I love connecting with people and I hope that we hear from some of our listeners about the discoveries they made by your prompting to go onto eBay because there must be some great stories of rediscovery just waiting to happen. Well, that’s about all I have from Beantown for you this week, Fish. And I just want to tell people if you go on AmericanAncestors.org and if you decide to join as a member, you can save $20 if you use the coupon code Extreme.

Fisher: All right David.

David: Catch you on the back end.

Fisher: Yeah, as we talk Ask Us Anything a little bit later on. It’s women’s history month, this month. And Gena Philibert Ortega is coming up next with tips on how you can trace your female ancestors back through time when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 368

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Gena Philibert Ortega

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, and it’s Women’s History Month and I couldn’t think of a better person to have on the show to talk about finding your female ancestors this month than Gena Philibert Ortega. Welcome back to the show Gena! It’s been a long time.

Gena: Thank you for having me Fisher. It’s great to be back. I love Extreme Genes and I’m so happy to talk about this subject.

Fisher: Well, you’ve been blogging about it for some time at PhilibertFamily.blogspot.com and it’s time we got a few tips out there because tracing female ancestors can be a little more challenging especially because of all the name changes.

Gena: Absolutely. There’s a few reasons why it’s such a challenge. Besides the name change, you also have women’s legal status throughout time, and so they’re just not recorded in the same way as men are.

Fisher: Right.

Gena: So, can I give you four tips for researching female ancestors?

Fisher: Please do. Let’s start at the beginning. What’s number one?

Gena: Okay. So, for me, number one is probably something that’s really obvious but it’s so important, and that is to keep a timeline. Now, why is that important? Well, you know, to do really good research to need to know what to know, and what you’re missing. And a timeline helps you to see what dates you’re missing, what you need to fill in, what you do know, and so I like to keep a combination timeline research log so that I can see exactly what’s missing out of her life, and then start looking for those records.

Fisher: Absolutely.

Gena: So that would be my number one for you.

Fisher: I am a huge advocate of timelines for so many reasons. And part of doing a great timeline involves not only doing a timeline of the person, but of the family at the same period, of the community at the same period, the larger area, and then maybe even the country and then the world, what’s going on there because that can tell you an awful lot of things.

Gena: Absolutely. And you know, it’s a good idea to populate that timeline with some of those historical events that would impact her life. Like let’s say World War II, you might think, well, what’s that got to do with my female ancestor who’s living in that time period? Well, maybe she has a husband or a son who’s off to war. Maybe she went to work during that time period. So, having those historical moments that would have impacted our ancestor’s life is vital. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You know, everybody likes to do this in a different way. If you’re using Ancestry, you know that timeline is kind of built into your ancestor’s profile in your family tree.

Fisher: Right.

Gena: If you’re using Roots Magic for example, and this is true for pretty much every software program, they have a timeline. So, you can either take advantage of those and what they offer, or you can create your own.

Fisher: Absolutely. All right, great tip. Number two!

Gena: Well, something that you just said kind of goes into my number two, which is, what exists for that time and place that she lives in? So, this is one of the things that I think we as researchers are often guilty of is we just dive into the research and we don’t think about time and place because time and place impacts what records exits. And so, I’ll tell you a real easy way for you to figure out what’s available for a time and place. You can go to the FamilySearch catalogue, so just go to FamilySearch.org click on “search” at the top of the toolbar, then catalogue, put in the county and state that she’s from, and see what FamilySearch has for that time and place. Look through every subject categories so that you get a good sense of what’s available and what records exist that you haven’t looked at. It’s a big mistake to think that everything is online. And so, doing some catalogue searches are going to help you see what is available for a time and place.  

Fisher: And to your point of course, a lot of these records have not been properly indexed and you can still go through them online just by browsing and you can find all kinds of things there. And I should mention too Gena, it seems appropriate at this time, over the last month or so I’ve gone on to newspaper sites and I have browsed through papers where I thought information should be and I found three different things that were not indexed. It didn’t come up in the search engine for some reason. No idea why. There wasn’t any problem with the paper being crinkled, or ink being spread, or names being misspelled, they just weren’t there. They didn’t show up that way but when I did the browsing I found what I had always been looking for and there it was. What a shock.    

Gena: And that’s why research is much more than just searching. It’s also browsing and getting to know the record sets.

Fisher: Yep.

Gena: So, you do that by going through catalogues, by browsing databases like you mentioned, you know, read some local histories or histories of women in that place and time. Because that’s going to give you an idea of what the author used to do their research and that might open up records that you had no idea existed. There’s some records that exist for women that people don’t normally think of because they’re not the standard census vital records, you know, the same old comforting genealogy records that we’re all used to.

Fisher: Right. The standards.

Gena: Yeah. Exactly.

Fisher: And what would some of those be?

Gena: Well, you know, one of the things that I think about is there’s some records from about the 1850s called Femme sole trader records, and these are records you can find them in Pennsylvania and California and a few other states that are a court record that allowed women to conduct business without their husbands and to be financially responsible. And these are court records that have her name, her husband’s name, they put her in place and time so they’re very valuable. So, there’s things like that, you know, voting records. Last year we celebrated the anniversary of the 19th Amendment. And very few genealogists actually use voting records because quite frankly, they’re not research friendly. They don’t exist for all places. Not everyone voted. But you know, there’s some early Boston voting records where women voted for school elections ad those include naturalization information. But if you don’t go and see what exist for time and place, you miss out on that. 

Fisher: Wow, Great point. All right, what’s number three?

Gena: Well, I sorted of hinted to number three just now. What records name women? And so that’s really important because as genealogists we tend to focus on government records and you know, like the census. But in some cases they don’t give us the information that we had hoped for. So, you mentioned newspapers, Fisher, and I love newspapers. And think about what newspapers can provide us with about women. One of the things that people lament is not knowing what is her maiden name because of those frequent you know, surname changes when you married. Well, what if her mother dies, or her father dies, or her brother? Well, that obit might list her under her married name as a survivor, but now you’ve got her brother’s name, her father’s name, and you now know her maiden name.

Fisher: Yep.

Gena: So, we got to think in terms of what names women. And some of these are just general sources we’re all familiar with but then others are specific to women. So, for example, one that I love is Community Cookbooks. I was just reading one last time, that’s what I do before I go to bed at night.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gena: It was one for the ladies of the GAR (The Grand Army of the Republic) and it listed the woman’s name, it listed where she’s from, what leas of the GAR she was a part of. It gave all kinds of information that probably isn’t anywhere else. And so, when we look at women, we’ve got to look at what’s specific to women. And that might be needlework samplers, that might be signature quilts, community cookbooks, women’s organizations, so the things that women are involved in. And the way you figure that out is, once again you could do it through the FamilySearch catalogue, you can look at city directories, local histories. You can also ask yourself, what is her husband involved in? She might be involved in some auxiliary to an organization he belongs to or something to do with his work, so you have to look at that as well.

Fisher: Boy, that’s great. Good tip. All right, number four.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Gena: So, my last one is going to probably sound a little negative at first but bear with me.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]

Gena: [Laughs] That’s my warning. You don’t know what you don’t know. And I love this little saying because it’s so true.

Fisher: Yep.

Gena: And it’s something that I’m always amazed at what I personally don’t know as I start reading and talking to people. So, as genealogists, no matter how long we’ve been doing this we need to connect with others. And whether that is listening to webinars online, attending a conference like RootsTech virtually, going to genealogy society meetings, talking to other genealogists. One of the things that struck me as I was looking at Extreme Genes and listening and you had a guest a few weeks ago who talked about Greta Greens.

Fisher: Yes.

Gena: Now, a lot of genealogists don’t know what a Gretna Green is. But think about what a wonderful resource that can be for understanding the women in our family tree who we can’t find a marriage record for. That Gretna Green is so important. And those Gretna Greens, there’s also places where people ran off to, to get divorced.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs] That’s where my parents met as a matter of fact.

Gena: Yeah. So, you know like you think about Reno for example, so those are things that we need to know. And we may not know that we don’t know so listening to Extreme Genes, going and listening to webinars, that’s how we learn those things. 

Fisher: She’s Gena Philibert Ortega, and it’s Women’s History Month so there’s a little idea for how you might be able to trace some of your female ancestors. Really great ideas Gena. I appreciate it. And where can they follow you?

Gena: Well, so this month on my blog Gena’s Genealogy, which is at PhilibertFamily.blogspot.com I am blogging about women and researching women at the museum.

Fisher: Awesome! That sounds so much fun. Well, thanks for taking the time to come on and talk about it, and look forward to catching up with you again in the future.

Gena: Wonderful. Thanks for having me Fisher.

Fisher: And coming up next, Maggie Stevenson from Legacy Tree Genealogists talking about pets and wild animals and your ancestors, in five minutes.

Segment 3 Episode 368

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Maggie Stevenson

Fisher: All right, welcome back! It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and I’m very excited to have Maggie Stevenson on the show today. She is with our sponsors Legacy Tree Genealogists and she’s recently written a blog about ancestral pets. And you know, they do become parts of our family but I was really amazed how deep in the weeds you got with this Maggie. Tell us how you got started on this.

Maggie: Yeah. Thanks for having me on, Scott. So, a couple of years ago I was going through my great grandfather’s diaries which are at my dad’s house in Scotland. And I found a eulogy that he had written to the family dog, a little mongrel which had died unexpectedly. It was beautiful. It was full of real love and affection for the animal and showed the distress any family goes through when they love a pet and lose a pet.

Fisher: Yes.

Maggie: So, I thought it would be interesting to try and find out if other people and other families had any documents or photographs, or stories that they would like to share about their ancestor’s pets or experiences with animals, or anything like that, that could show us that animals and humans have been inseparable for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Fisher: Well, you know, you’re absolutely right. When you deal with say for instance, a pedigree chart, we don’t include the pets obviously among the children of the people.

Maggie: Right.

Fisher: But when you do stories about families, pets often play a prominent role in them.

Maggie: That’s right. Yeah. And that’s what I found when I decided to ask the Legacy Tree team if they would share any stories. The Legacy Tree team are big pet lovers. We have cat owners, dog owners, probably a couple of horses in there as well. The team was very happy to share stories and photographs from their family histories of their ancestors’ connections with animals.

Fisher: I’m curious how far back some of these stories went?

Maggie: That’s a good question. I think we have photographic evidence of a connection to an animal for example, we have somebody hugging a calf and this is from the 1930s, I believe.

Fisher: Okay.

Maggie: This is from a farm where obviously the family had livestock that presumably were not meant to be pets, but the family become attached to some of them. I think there is one from the mid 1800s which was a newspaper report, Utah in 1862 about an encounter with a wild cat.

Fisher: Wow.

Maggie: So, that is the oldest one that I was given. I’m sure that there must be other newspaper reports of anybody’s ancestors meeting some kind of interesting animal when they’re out walking or horse riding and I’m sure there are interesting stories attached to that too.

Fisher: Well, I have one in my own family where my fourth great grandfather who was in the Revolution. He had his first little girl and she was two years old and they were riding a horse, and the horse tripped over something. The horse threw them both down and the little girl was killed and this was like in 1788.

Maggie: Oh, no!

Fisher: It was just a horrible thing but you know, this is the roles the animals played in the humans’ lives and its part of their story, you know.

Maggie: Yeah. And was that something you found in a newspaper?

Fisher: I did, yes. It was actually reproduced in several newspapers in the New England area at the time. The way they used the language back then was really quite unique. I think the last phrase was, “And it put a period to the little girl’s life.”

Maggie: Yes. I found that reading the report about the encounter with the wild cat. The story and the way that they wrote it, although, it was quite a young boy I believe who had the encounter, the way it was written was clearly not the young boy’s words. It was a very newspaperly journalistic tone.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

Maggie: It wasn’t necessarily the complete firsthand account, but yes I didn’t have any tragic stories come out other then obviously, the death of pets but finding this interaction with animals has led to the death of a family member is also something I’m sure that there are other stories like that out there.

Fisher: Sure. So, I’m curious if some of the team talked about perhaps writing things about their pet when they passed? I mean, I went through this eight years ago, we had to put down our dog of almost 16 years that we were very close to and it was just devastating. And that night, we just sat around and we started just writing down all these memories we’d had about this dog. About the nicknames we’d call it. About how it liked to play soccer and balance a soccer ball on its nose. And play with children out on a playground.

Maggie: Right.

Fisher: And how it would chase a squirrel under a bunch of rocks. And one time actually had to be rescued by the fire department. [Laughs] They came out with their hook and ladder and punched a hole in the ground and pulled her out.

Maggie: Right.

Fisher: Then she wanted to go right back in there after being stuck in there for three hours. She said hello and wanted to go back after the squirrel.

Maggie: Right. [Laughs]

Fisher: I mean, just insane stuff, but when we got done we had pages, and pages, and pages of amazing memories of this dog. Then we started going through photographs to create a folder around it and we found it really comforting to go through that process. But, that’s a part of our story. It also helped in the grieving process.

Maggie: And I think that’s a really interesting point and truly beautiful that you did that as a family, to memorialize your pet and the memories, the good times that you spent with it. We did have a team member who told me about the eulogy that she had written for the family dog when it died a few years ago. It was really beautiful and it was exactly as you described. Thinking about the memories, the good times, the times the dog was naughty, and I think that’s a really important thing to think about when you’re documenting things for the future. Why not document and record the memories of your families’ pets. We’ve elevated pets to the position of a family member. So, why not keep those records and write eulogies for them? As you say, it also helps with the grieving process. So, I think it’s a really lovely thing to do.

Fisher: Yeah. I think there’s so much interaction there that can add to the stories of the family, not so much to the family tree or pushing that back, but actually just figuring out the stories because I think what kind of animals you own, how many you own, that all tells a lot about an ancestor as well if you can track that down.

Maggie: Exactly. And I’m sure that some people after hearing this start digging around, they may find that their ancestors had pets or animals that they didn’t know about. I think it’s a really fascinating area of research but probably many people haven’t considered.

Fisher: Right. And I think if you went to a county archive somewhere, you might also discover that there are applications for licences for animals that your ancestors may have applied for, some of them going back to the late 19th century. 

Maggie: Right. I know that in the UK we had to have dog licenses for a long time. I’m not sure if we still do. So, there are certainly records of those. Although, I believe the ones that are publically available tend to be the Irish dog licenses. And I’m not sure that those dogs were pets, perhaps more working dogs or guard dogs. It’s unlikely to have the name that was given to the animal or anything like that. But still it’s an interesting resource to consider that you could go looking for something like that.

Fisher: Yeah. When you consider you know, you might be able to determine what kind of dog your great grandparents owned or how many of them that they had. I mean it does tell something about that ancestor.

Maggie: Exactly. And I think it would be interesting also, I’m sure there must be ancestors out there who had more exotic pets. I didn’t come across any of those when I was talking to the team. But I know from information about the way the pets were memorialized and in Victorian times, certainly in England there were monkeys and snakes, and bears. Some of these animals ended up in pet cemeteries.

Fisher: Sure.

Maggie: There is a famous dog cemetery in Hyde Park in London. And I read earlier today that there are actually some pet monkeys that managed to be buried in the dog cemetery. Pets were given their own cemetery because the church did not want animals to be buried on consecrated ground.

Fisher: She’s Maggie Stevenson. She’s with our sponsors Legacy Tree Genealogists and has written a blog about ancestors and their pets. We appreciate the conversation Maggie. Thanks so much for joining me.

Maggie: Thanks for having me, Scott. Thank you.

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

Segment 4 Episode 368

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: And we are back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David Allen Lambert is in the house, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And Dave, this question comes from Ron in Lexington, Kentucky. He says, "Fish and Dave, how do I find where my ancestor served during the Civil War for two and a half years before he was injured?"

David: Okay.

Fisher: Great question, Ron. Thank you very much.

David: The place you want to go first are the official records and that would be the compiled military service records for the Union Army that are at the National Archives in Washington DC. Now, some of those are starting to be digitized already by Fold3. So, Fold3.com, which is owned by Ancestry have gone through, for instance, Massachusetts, all the compiled military service jackets for each soldier are done. And what these basically are is, they went through with the war department years ago and the muster rolls, which is, line by line by line for each soldier each time there was a muster. And they put them on individual cards and they would put, "David Lambert, July to August 1862, present 12 Massachusetts." or "Absence" or "AWOL" or "Dead".

Fisher: Or sick or injured or wounded, yeah.

David: Exactly. But there was always a place on it that would say where the regiment was, so that’s usually where the muster was taken. The other thing is a pension file.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: In my estimation, the best $80 you could ever spend for 100 pages of a time capsule of your ancestor's military career, both during and after the war, but what you would find in it are letters and affidavits about maybe an injury or hospitalization or some event that they were at a particular battle and were injured. There's great detail in that as well, even if the service record doesn't have a lot.

Fisher: And I had a great experience with that myself with my wife's Civil War ancestor who was thought to have died in Libby Prison down in the south. Well, it turned out that in his folder was a statement from five of his colleagues explaining how he was shot off the back of a horse riding a supply train at the rear of Sherman's army. And so, we'd had never had that story without that folder. But Dave, Ron is in Lexington, Kentucky, so I'm wondering if his soldier was from the Confederacy?

David: And you can find Confederacy records on FamilySearch as well as some on Ancestry. So that should be helpful. They are not as detailed, but you will find them. And sometimes you will find the first initial of the person, so it might say, "D. Lambert". Sometimes it’s hard to know if you're dealing with a Douglas or David or a Donald.

Fisher: Right.

David: So, that can be tough. But a lot of times, it will be spelt out later on, the full name. The other thing is, the National Parks will help both Union and Confederate with their soldiers and sailors database, which is free from the National Parks. You just Google search "soldier and sailors" search "National Park NPS" and then you will find this database, which was compiled by volunteers well over 20 years ago. This database will give you the enlistment date and the rank, etc of the particular person. But the best part of it is, you want to know where they are, all you have to do is click on the regiment. It hyperlinks you right to a description of the actual regiment and then within that description of when they started the regiment to when they mustered out finally are all the battles and those are hyperlinked and will take you to the National Park site or to the history of that actual battle.

Fisher: Wow, that's a lot of stuff! And then you can get into actually tracing down other descendants and seeing what stories existed in those particular lines, you know, oral histories.

David: It’s very true. I mean, especially with the pensions, because you get the affidavits in finding collateral people that may have been in the same regiment. And I always say, it’s good to look up the pensions of those individuals, because you never know if your ancestor scratched his back, because he did him a favor and wrote a story, "Well, I was at the battle of Shiloh. I remember when Thomas Gillen was injured." Well, Thomas Gillen had talked about an injury at Gettysburg for your ancestor. So returning the favor, an affidavit search and looking at both soldiers is great.

Fisher: All right, great question, Ron. Thanks so much. And we've got another question coming up next as we continue with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 368

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And Dave, we have a question from Pam in Phoenix and she's saying, "Guys, my great uncle was a bit movie actor in the 1930s. How might I find some of his movies? They sure as heck aren't on Netflix!" [Laughs]

David: Well, that sounds like a question directed to you, because of your dear sweet mom who was in the movies back in those days.

Fisher: Well yeah, 1940s for her and also, there was a first cousin of my grandfather who was a bit player in the '20s and '30s and even in silent films.

David: Oh, those are often harder to find, because a lot of those have disappeared.

Fisher: They have. But he did survive long enough to do some talkies in the 1930s. In fact, some serialized stuff. But it was really interesting, when I went to try to search for some of these things back before the internet was a big thing, it was really difficult. But, I have found on eBay, here we go again with that, David, actual DVDs made of these old movies that are often now out of copyright and people were selling them for $5. And so, I would pick that up and I was able to obtain movies of my mother that way and also movies of this first cousin of my grandfather. And it was really funny to see him in these, because he had more prominent roles than my mom did. But there are also IMDB listings for these individuals, so if they were ever involved in the film business, you'll often see listings for them there. I will say, though, that those do not necessarily include every flick that they were ever in. They should, but for some reason, not everybody is given credits for movies that they appeared in. But I've also found on YouTube that you can find movies. And my mom was in a movie in the late 1940s with Cornel Wilde and Linda Darnell and it was a time period piece and it was a real long movie, so they broke it down into pieces, but all of its on YouTube. So I was actually able to go through and just watch the movie, and where I would pick her up, I would stop and do a screen capture. So I get a photograph of her basically in the movie with the stars. And I remember some of the stories that mom would tell about being in these flicks, how for instance she would walk back and forth behind the scene of the action, so she could make sure that she was seen in the movie.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: She was in it for like a year, year and half or whatever, but she got a lifetime of stories out of it. So there're really just a ton of places you can look. Do a Google search on it. It’s amazing how many people skip the Google search. They never think of that. Oh, and one other thing that crosses my mind is, local newspaper stories.

David: Oh sure.

Fisher: Everybody loves the story of the local kid who makes good. And when my mother was making her breaks and getting her opportunities, they did stories on her all the time, one with a very glamorous photograph of her and talking about the latest pic that she's in and my grandparents made sure that the local papers picked up her stories so that their friends and neighbors could go see her at the local theater back in the 1940s.

David: Oh that's great.

Fisher: And it was a big kick for all of them. That's a good clue. The other one is, if you have old family letters, I found out from some letters my mother had saved from her brother, my uncle Wayne the names of some of the flicks that she was in and some of the roles she played and how exited he was about it. So, you really have to take almost an all encompassing look at this, not only the research that's available online, that's on YouTube that might be on eBay, but what's within the family as well and on newspaper sites. I hope that helps, because it’s a whole heck of a lot of fun to find these old movies that your relatives or your family members are in. So, thanks for the question. And David, thank you for coming on again this week. We'll catch you again next week.

David: Talk to you then.

Fisher: And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, all you have to do is email us at [email protected]. Well, that's our show for this week. Thanks for joining us. If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast on ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio, iTunes, iHeart Radio and Spotify. Talk to you next week. 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