Episode 371 - Strange Happenings in the Woods/ 109-Year-Old’s DNA Test/ eBay Challenge FindApr 12, 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 begin with news of a second wave of photo animation with Deep Nostalgia from MyHeritage.com. Catch the review. Then, David talks about the discovery of the deepest sunken ship from World War 2. And it has a personal impact. Next, hear the story of the journey of a World War 2 pilot’s log. It’s a fascinating story. Pirate talk dominates the next portion of the segment with a tale from Port Royal, and word that Fisher’s ancestor pirate, William Downs, is part of a pirate story that has just gone international.
Fisher then visits with Kimberly Morgan, a researcher with Finding Your Roots on PBS. Kimberly had a shocking experience that led to research that has shaped her life. Don’t miss this one!
Shelbie Drake of Legacy Tree Genealogists then talks about her genie-journey, including finding an 109-year-old great aunt who took a DNA test!
Robert Warren of Alaska checks in to reveal his discovery of an ancestral item on eBay. Have you taken the eBay Challenge yet?
Then, David returns for Ask Us Anything, taking one of your questions.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 371
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 371
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. Boy, we’ve got a bunch of guests going on today. We’ve got Kimberly Morgan here, this is a woman who’s had, shall we say “mysterious experiences” and discovered a tombstone in the woods on a former southern plantation on a military base. You’re going to want to hear what all that turned into. Plus we’re going to talk to Shelbie Drake, she’s with Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’s 24 years old, started researching at 15 recently found a 109-year-old great aunt still living, got her to do a DNA test. I mean, there’s a lot to talk about with Shelbie. And then later in the show, we talked a couple of weeks ago about the “eBay Challenge” to try to get you to go out and find things related to your ancestors on eBay. And Robert Warren, an Alaska resident, has checked in and he made a great discovery. You’re going to hear all about it later in the show. Hey, if you haven’t signed up yet for our Weekly Genie Newsletter, it’s about time you did it at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. You get a blog from me each week, a couple of links to past and present shows, and of course links to new stories you’re going to find fascinating as a genealogist. Right now, let’s check in with Boston. David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David. How you doing?
David: I’m on vacation. I’m doing really well.
David: I can do more genealogy.
David: And I can also do stranger things with my family photos thanks to Deep Nostalgia Part 2. Or I like to call it “Deeper Nostalgia” by MyHeritage. Now my ancestors can blow me kisses, be with passion.
Fisher: Yes! I saw all this.
David: How did your photos turn out?
Fisher: I’m going to be honest, a little weird. But I can see where it might be fun for some people, and I haven’t run, you know, male and female through or more recent relatives compared to the really old ones. I think for some that were way, way back, you look at it and go “I doubt that they would look like that blowing a kiss or giving a wink” but maybe –
David: You need to find a grumpy ancestor photo and have them blow a kiss. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah [Laughs] Well, that’s true. I will say this though regardless, it’s a lot of fun to play with and see if something makes sense, and you can keep the various ones that you like and maybe try it on something else. But again, I love what they’ve done, certainly the first round. The second one is a little more entertaining and not as realistic, but a lot of fun from MyHeritage and you just go to their page and you can find it under “Family Tree” and under “New.”
David: The AI technology they’re doing is great stuff.
Fisher: It is.
David: Well, you know, technology is what’s responsible for the next story I want to talk about. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II 77 years ago, there was a vessel called the USS Johnston. Well, the USS Johnston slipped beneath the waves 20,000 feet into the ocean and it is now determined as the deepest shipwreck ever found.
David: They found it, Fish. A dear friend of mine in my hometown, his mother was pregnant at the time when her husband to be passed away on the vessel.
Fisher: Oh my gosh.
David: Never came home.
Fisher: So this is really personal to him. And to give it a little perspective, 20,000 feet is 8,000 feet deeper than the Titanic.
David: Than the Titanic. Exactly.
Fisher: Yeah. Amazing.
David: And that’s two and a half miles down, so doing a little bit of the math there. It won’t be a vessel that will ever be raised. I’m sure of that.
David: But it’s very sad.
Fisher: I had an uncle who was actually in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. You know those Pacific battles were nasty.
David: Well, you know, I’ll tell you, World War II stories I just love. And the next one is about a fellow named Nicholas Devaux and he lives out in Saint Lucia, and his father was in the Royal Air Force in World War II and kept a log book of all his flights. He read a story about a Japanese pilot who actually had been one of the ones who attacked Pearl Harbor. And he sent the book to the get the person to autograph it. He figured because now this pilot has embraced peace post war. Well, the pilot had died by the time he got the book out to Japan. But that hasn’t stopped him to get other pilots from World War II and he has over a hundred signatures in it and it’s traveled around the world. And he’s now got people filming as the signatures are occurring, but what a nice memento as we have the twilight years of World War II veterans upon us.
Fisher: Wow! And he’s getting them from all the different countries, all combatant countries. Amazing.
David: Correct. All pilots in fact, so it’s quite amazing. I love when I find a story that kind of mixes fiction with history. And of course we’ve always heard of Atlantis, you know, I still remember The Man from Atlantis, the TV show with Patrick Duffy years ago. [Laughs]
David: And you know, this next story has a connection with work. We have a portrait of Rebecca Rawson at NEHGS and she perished in 1692 on the island of Jamaica in the port of Port Royal. Now, that may mean nothing. You think she could have just died from disease, no. Port Royal had an earthquake and many people died. The earth underneath the port basically liquefied and the tsunamis came and destroyed most of what was there. But it’s an interesting port, Fish, because your ancestor may have been there. He was a pirate, right?
David: This was basically pirate central. Privateers and buccaneers of the 17th century were at Port Royal quite a bit. And so your ancestor, I think he may be in the news again.
Fisher: Yeah, yeah, yeah, in fact, Jim Bailey who I’ve had on the show before is going to be on next week and we’re going to talk about this more. But the story of the crew of Henry Every coming back to North America after their plundering days were done, they were being pursued by the king of England, and the royal navy was the first world wide man hunt. Yeah, the story’s gone international now. It is all over the place. You can look it up online, but we’re going to have Jim on to talk about that how he made the discovery of this tiny little coin, about a third the size of a dime, and how it turned into this amazing research that has essentially rewritten the final chapter of this pirate story. So, it’s a lot of fun because one of my ancestors was a crewman on this ship.
David: I’m going to have to meet up with Jim because the best I ever found with my metal detector was a couple of quarters and some pull tabs.
David: Well, that’s about all I have from Beantown this week. But remember, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors you can save $20 with the coupon code EXTREME on AmericanAncestors.org.
Fisher: All right David. Thank you and we’ll talk to you again at the back end of the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Kimberly Morgan. She has had, shall we say interesting experiences. It’s coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 371
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kimberly Morgan
Fisher: Well, anybody who’s been in genealogy for any time at all is familiar with the term “serendipity” those weird things that happen when you’re researching your dead. And we have another case of it here. It took place a while back and yet it is something that has kind of shaped the genealogical career of Kim Morgan, a genealogist for Finding Your Roots on PBS. And Kim is on the show. And Kim, it’s great to have you.
Kim: Thank you so much for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Fisher: Now, I’m thinking back now, how many years ago was this?
Kim: 2004 or so, about 17 years ago.
Fisher: 17 years ago, and you were on some military base? Tell the story.
Kim: Correct. I lived in South Carolina near a military base, and I grew up in this area. And at the time I was dating a gentleman, he’s not my husband now, but we were dating and he had just returned from a deployment and I would go over to the base to pick him up so we could go out to dinner or whatever. And when I would park at the barracks he lived at, I would have to park my car and walk past a wooded area to get to the door of his building to knock on the door.
Kim: And because of my work schedule at the time, I was a 911 dispatcher, we often ended up going out at night, so I would be walking by the woods. And the woods were to my right as I walked up to the building. And more than once as I walked past the woods I felt like someone was watching me. And it was an uncomfortable feeling. It wasn’t a malicious feeling. It was a very intense uncomfortable feeling to the point I would put my right hand up to the side of my face so I couldn’t see out of my peripheral vision the woods, the wood line.
Kim: And one night when I was walking by the woods I will swear to you that out of the corner of my eye I saw a black man and a black woman and a young child at the woods line. And they were sad looking. They just looked lost and they were wearing clothing from the late 1800s, and the little boy was about seven or eight years old and he was kind of like hugged up on his mother’s leg. And I can still see that image vividly in my mind even today. It was just a flash. A quick flash out of the corner of my eye and I just remember I just started running and I beat on the door, and my boyfriend at the time came to the door and he said, “What’s wrong?” and I told him and he was like, “You’re crazy. Like, you’re imagining it. There’s no people in the woods. There’s nobody watching you, and I’ll prove it to you. Tomorrow we’ll get a machete and we’ll go back in the woods and I’ll show you that the only thing back there is wildlife, and there’s a creek back there, and that’s it.” So, the next day he got a machete and we put on some boots because the woods were quite thick. You couldn’t see three feet in front of you. And he started hacking a path into the woods straight back. And about a couple of hundred yards into the tree line we came across an old dirty tombstone, all by itself in the middle of the woods. Having grown up in a military town, my father was in the Marine Corps, there’s a national cemetery in my town so I’m very familiar with what military tombstones look like.
Kim: I instantly recognized it as a military tombstone. It said Stephen Binyard USCT. And I knew again from growing up in this area and being a history buff that USCT meant United States Colored Troops.
Fisher: Colored Troops. Yes.
Kim: And it was dingy and it was you know, full of moss and mold and it was by itself. There were no other stones around it. And I was just like, why is this man buried here in the middle of the woods on a military base by himself when there’s a national cemetery down the street in town? So, that’s what ignited, that’s what sparked my interest into I’m going to find out who this person is. That’s the moment my genealogy career started.
Fisher: Right there.
Kim: Right there.
Fisher: And did you ever find any other stones in the woods?
Kim: So, I found out several years later that he is buried within a community cemetery called Edgerly Plantation Cemetery. And there are multiple other people buried there, at least 15. They just don’t have existing tombstones or grave markers anymore. But I did get confirmation that two of the people buried there with him are his wife Jane and his eight year old son Timothy.
Fisher: Oh wow! Oh wow! So, what became of this? Because I know it’s kind of consumed you over the years and you’ve made some contacts with actual descendants.
Kim: I did. Like I said, at the time, in 2004 I was working as a 911 dispatcher and I’m still friends with my partner Norma from Dispatch, and she and I joke now she’s like, “I remember when you used to bring in that sad little binder and you would just sit there be like obsessed with finding anything you could about this man.” And I didn’t know how to conduct genealogical research. And it was a process. I left no stone unturned and I taught myself along the way. In 2013 my husband and I returned from Japan. We lived in Japan for four years, and my husband deployed to Iraq and I was alone, and I couldn’t sleep a lot at night so I started heavily researching Steven again. And one night, in December 2013 I found a message that had been posted on the Ancestry.com message board from someone named Akosua. She posted looking for information on the Binyard family at Beaufort, specifically Stephen Binyard. And I messaged this person back and I said, “You know, this is going to sound crazy, but I found this tombstone in the woods and I think it might be the person you’re looking for.” And very quickly I got a response back from Akosua Moore, and she lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and she said, “Oh my gosh! That’s my great, great uncle. His sister was my great, great grandmother and I’ve been researching him since 2004. And, can I call you?” We spoke on the phone and it was just an instant connection.
Kim: She came down to Beaufort a few weeks later to stay with me. She, her mother, and her children and I took them out to the grave, showed them all my research and we became very quick friends and research partners. And to this day, she’s the sister I never had. Her daughters are the sisters that my daughter will never have. And our families are very close and we’ve continued this research together since January 2014 is when we met, so little over seven years now that we’ve been friends. And research has a tendency to snowball, and genealogy. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes. Yeah it does. That’s right. In fact, it’s leading up to this opportunity for your story be shared with the public.
Kim: Correct. As I said, Steven’s buried within a cemetery called Edgerly Plantation. Steven was born around 1840, and he was born into slavery at a place called Edgerly Plantation, that was here in Beaufort. And Akosua and I began to piece together the genealogies of many of the other families that were on Edgerly Plantation with Steven. It started off with people that he was related to, or his parents were related to, and his wife Jane was related to. And then it just kept snowballing. We began to give presentations about Stephen Binyard and our story to literally anyone who would give us a microphone and a platform let us talk about it, libraries, groups, we would write about it, and eventually we caught the attention of the leadership at the International African American Museum, which is being built in Charleston. It’s to open next year 2022. And the museum will feature a Center for Family History so that people with African American ancestry can go and conduct genealogical research. And the Center for Family History will have a number of exhibits, and one of the exhibits with a lifetime instillation, will be Akosua and our story of how we met, who Stephen Binyard is, who’s Steven’s sister Dorcas is, and what’s come about from our partnership and our friendship and how that’s pushed the research forward.
Fisher: That’s incredible. I guess I’m sure a lot of people are wondering have you ever had any other experience where you’ve actually seen somebody.
Kim: [Laughs] Yes. When I was about 10 years old, my great grandfather in Mississippi has passed away and we went to my great grandparent’s house in McComb, Mississippi to visit my great grandmother. And I slept in a bed in the living area. I remember thinking that was weird. I woke up in the middle of the night and my great grandfather was standing next to my bed, and again, I can see in my mind exactly what he was wearing; striped shirt, navy blue slacks, and he was smiling and had his hand reaching out to me. And I blinked and he was gone. The next morning I told my great grandmother, who was the most down to earth, normal, rational person you can meet.
Kim: And she just smiled and she said, “Oh, he loves you. He wouldn’t hurt you.” And I said, “Oh, I wasn’t scared.” And she said, “Well, that’s what he was wearing right before he passed and you’re sleeping in the bed that he had passed away in.” It was like a hospice. And I go, “Okay.”
Kim: But yeah, so, I saw my great grandpa, his name was Simon. And there’s been a couple other little things I’ve heard that I can’t really explain. I go to see Stephen every month. I put flowers out and just sort of like make sure that the grave is cleaned up and you know, neat. And there’s a couple of other cemeteries that I do that with. I go around, I call it “making my rounds” and one morning I went out and I was putting flowers on a grave and I distinctly heard over my shoulder a deep male voice saying, “Well. Good morning. Nice to see you.” And I turned around thinking somebody was there, and there was nobody. Nobody was around.
Fisher: Oh, boy. You’re one of those people with those unusual gifts.
Kim: [Laughs] The creepy, yeah. I’ve been called “The Tombstone Whisperer” by the local newspaper, which is kind of funny.
Kim: But you know, it’s just there. I think that the ancestors are with us and I talk to them. I will freely admit that I talk to them just out loud you know. If you happen to see any of the videos, Finding Your Roots has a Facebook page and I’ve done a few videos for them, a question and answer type sessions, if you look at the videos you will see to my side photos and those photos are the ancestors because I always try to include them as much as I can because this is their journey as much as it is mine. So, in those videos you can see the photos. Everybody always ask, “Well, who are those black people you have in the photos next to you in the videos?” They’re the ancestors to the people that I’ve been researching. It just happened to be that I fell into specializing in African American genealogy because Stephen Binyard was a black man. So, that’s just how it happened so I try to include them in as much as I can in all the videos so that everybody can see their faces and maybe hopefully one day, through things like this, know their names.
Fisher: She’s Kim Morgan. She’s a genealogist and researcher for Finding Your Roots on PBS, and Kim has unusual things happen to her in her research, and maybe you do too. It’s not uncommon. It happens to a lot of people. Doesn’t it Kim?
Kim: It does.
Fisher: Thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story. It’s incredible.
Kim: Well, thank you for having me and letting me talk about this.
Fisher: And coming up next, have you ever had a 109-year-old relative agree to you a DNA test? Our next guest did. Wait till you hear the story. It’s coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 371
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Shelbie Drake
Fisher: All right, we’re back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And my next guest is a Germanic specialist over at our sponsors Legacy Tree Genealogists, her name is Shelbie Drake. And Shelbie, you got started in genealogy at 15 years old and look at this, you’re a nine year veteran and a Germanic specialist for a major research company at only 24-years-old. That’s amazing!
Shelbie: Yeah, it’s been a long journey but it’s been awesome. I have loved every minute of it and the story I have to tell you about today is my great, great grandmother and it’s all her fault that I’m kind of here in genealogy.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, what’s the issue with your great, great grandmother?
Shelbie: Well, with her we couldn’t figure out who her parents were. She was one of those ghost people.
Shelbie: We called her a ghost because it just seemed like she was spawned on the earth one day at 14.
Fisher: Yeah, but wait a minute, you were 15 years old. How in the world did you take an interest in this at that age?
Shelbie: I have five older siblings and about three of them are very involved in trying to figure out who her parents were, Annie Rice, and there’s a picture in our basement, we have two of them of her that I’ve just grown up with and the way she looks at you in one of them, I was like, I’m going to figure out who you are and where you came from.
Shelbie: And who your parents were. So, I remember very vividly going down to the Family History Center at 15 and just feeling so frustrated, I couldn’t figure out who her parents were because the records were not cooperating.
Shelbie: And a guy walked up to me and he was like, you’ve been here a couple of weeks just researching. Do you want to maybe volunteer? And that’s how I just kind of got into all of this.
Fisher: Wow! Well, what a fascinating story. The thing that’s interesting about this is you didn’t quite achieve your goal with that as I understand.
Shelbie: I did not.
Fisher: But you discovered something unique about your grandfather.
Shelbie: Yes. So, fast-forward four years, I would have been 20 at this point. RootsTech happened in 2016 and my sister and I decided to take an Ancestry DNA test and then we got my mother to take one as well. My mother’s maiden name is Miller. So, you’d expect to find a million Miller matches.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.
Shelbie: And we had none.
Fisher: Oh, wow.
Shelbie: Not a single one. And we’re sitting there going, “Oh no. We need to have a very awkward conversation with our mother because her grandfather is not her grandfather. So, we go and talk to her and she goes, “Oh yeah. I remember he told me when he was really little, he remembered sitting in front of a judge and the judge going, do you want this man to be your father?” And we’re like, okay everything is good. It’s not some awkward story that we need to uncover.
Fisher: So, she was talking about her own father then?
Shelbie: Yeah, her own father.
Shelbie: So, his name was James [?] Miller, everybody called him Jim. So, we’re sitting there going, okay, that’s great. We know that this wasn’t some weird family story, but now, who’s his father?
Fisher: Yeah, that’s quite an issue here and you’re just 20-years-old and of course at this point the whole wave of genetic genealogy has hit. Had you ever done a genetic genealogy case at that point?
Shelbie: I had not. I was still very new. I had gotten my acceptance letter into BYU to join their family history program there but I had yet to go to BYU and all of this is happening.
Shelbie: So, I was very new. My sister had a bit more experience than I did and we just started this whole journey of, okay, who is Annie Rice’s parents? Who are her grandson’s parents? And we just dived in.
Fisher: Wow! Right. So, were you actually able to zero in on who your great grandparents were?
Shelbie: We did. So, we have this one match that made no sense, she was a second cousin to my mother. So, we’re sitting there like, who are you? So, we go and talk to this individual who I will call “Living M.”
Shelbie: And Living M, we built out her tree after talking to her, and there were some surnames we recognized and this was a problem, because that surname was DeWeese, so, my great grandmother was a woman by the name of Irene Franklin, so Annie Rice’s daughter, and her sister Helen married a man named Ell DeWeese.
Fisher: Uh, oh.
Shelbie: So, yes, here’s the thing, the surnames match. This could not be very good.
Shelbie: The problem was, no descendants of Ell DeWeese had taken a DNA test. But we Elbert, so, the brother of Ell, his descendants had and we only shared about 291 centimorgans with that descendent. So, then we’re thinking, okay, that’s where we need to go and find a descendant of Ell DeWeese to take a DNA test so we can figure out who is the biological father of my grandfather. So, we did that and that individual ended up sharing 665 centimorgans of DNA which is a measurement of how much DNA you share with somebody.
Shelbie: And it was obvious, oh yes, Ell DeWeese was the biological father of my grandfather. Now the problem was Ell DeWeese was 27. My great grandmother’s sister Helen was seven months pregnant at the time my grandfather would have been conceived. And the other issue was my great grandma was 14.
Shelbie: So, she got sent off to an unwed mother’s home run by the Salvation Army in St. Louis, where at the age of 15 she gave birth to my grandfather and she made the courageous choice to keep her baby in a time that wasn’t very popular to keep in 1929.
Fisher: Sure. Incredible. And then you went on and you found out that you had, shall we say a rather aged aunt?
Fisher: Now which side is this on? This is the sister of your grandfather’s mother, is that right?
Shelbie: Yes. So, we have Helen who was the sister that was married to Ell DeWeese. And then we have my great grandma who was Irene Franklin who was my grandfather’s mother. And then we have Lucille Franklin. She was born in 1908. So, in this whole process, my sister is messaging tons of people to figure out if anybody knows anything and they knew just about as much as we did or even less in most cases.
Shelbie: So, we get this message one day from one of our, I think she was a third cousin. And she tells us, oh yeah, I remember my mom talking about Bertha which was a sister of Irene, Aunt Helen and Lucille, and some other siblings. And she also talked about Lucille who was 107 and living in St. Louis.
Shelbie: Yeah and she put that little bit in parenthesis, as an afterthought and just didn’t elaborate on it at all. Sure enough, we Google Lucille Ham, because that was her married name, St. Louis, and she popped right up, except this cousin was wrong about her age. She was actually 109.
Fisher: Oh, wow! [Laughs]
Shelbie: Yes. We thought she was dead. We put her as dead in every single tree we had because who lives that long?
Fisher: Sure. Right.
Shelbie: No one in our family tree had lived over the age of 100 that we knew of except for her. So, Annie Rice who was born in 1876, daughter who was born in 1908 was still alive. [Laughs]
Fisher: That’s insane. So what did you do with this?
Shelbie: We immediately started researching if she had any relatives that were living and she had a granddaughter. And we got in touch with the granddaughter and started back and forth and it was just this serendipitous amazing moment because the granddaughter had all the information we had been searching for forever about Annie Rice’s parents. She knew who they were. She had names and dates. And since we did get in touch with her granddaughter we had all that information. It was just incredible.
Fisher: Yeah and you did a DNA test too.
Shelbie: We did. So, this proves that any age can take a DNA test. Lucille took a DNA test for us at the age of 109. She passed away sadly in August, 2018, at the age of 110.
Fisher: No, that’s not sad. That’s a celebration there... 110! That’s fantastic. Well Shelbie, thank you so much for this. This is a great story. What a journey. And congratulations on getting started in all this so young because you’re going to benefit from that throughout your entire life and now you’re a Germanic specialist and Legacy Tree and you obviously know your stuff. So, congratulations and look forward to talking to you again sometime.
Shelbie: Oh, thank you so much.
Fisher: And coming up next, we offered the eBay challenge a couple of weeks ago and one of our listeners is checking in with another great find. You’ll hear it coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 371
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Robert Warren
Fisher: Well, it wasn't all that long ago, just a few weeks ago that David Allen Lambert and I came on and challenged everybody to check out eBay. It was the eBay Challenge to find out what you could find related to your ancestors there. And I heard from Robert Warren. And Robert, where are you located by the way?
Robert: In Palma, Alaska.
Fisher: Alaska! Wow! And you went on eBay and what did you find taking this challenge?
Robert: Well, to lay the foundation, my third great grandfather was born and raised in Denmark and fought in the first Schleswig War between the years of 1848 to 1850 and as part of that, he received two medals, one was the Dannebrog Cross for bravery and another was a commemorative medal that was given to all those who participated in the war. And so, I had seen pictures of it on Family Search. Someone has those medals in a frame and I'm not sure if they're still at a family member or possibly even in a museum. But at any rate, I thought, that would be really neat to have, even just a copy of one of those medals. And so, I went onto eBay and sure enough, there was one of those commemorative medals!
Robert: And unfortunately the ribbon was gone from the medal and the clasp had been broken off. I don't know if it was unintentionally or intentionally to make it have the appearance of a coin, the medal itself. It’s between the size of a quarter and 50c piece. So there it was and it was only $18!
Fisher: $18, wow! Well, that's the thing too, so many of these things are so inexpensive. What are you going to do with it now?
Robert: Well, you know what, right now it’s sitting on my genealogy table with lots of things that I need to figure out how to curate. And so, a tip that was given to me was maybe that I should take a photo that I have of my third great grandfather with his medals and put that with the medal and frame it. And possibly even a little clip about the story of the medals, so that it means something to somebody besides going though and saying, "Oh, here's a cool old coin looking thing, but it’s probably not worth anything." And then it ends up out in a dumpster somewhere.
Fisher: Yeah, that's exactly it. And I had a similar thing with a bunch of little trinkets that came from my mother and she was in this big marching band in Oregon when she was in high school. So every year they gave them a little medallion and I had them in a little cardboard box. And I figured, well, these are just going to go away when I'm gone, because nobody knows what they are, what they mean, unless you look at them closely. And so, I did just that. I took a photograph of my mother in her marching band and another smaller one of her alone with her clarinet in her uniform and then framed this all with these medallions and a little explanation of what they were. And that way, it gives them all context and they all kind of stay together. But I always have felt that there's different levels of discovery on eBay and this is one of those levels and that is finding something related to your ancestor. As you say, this is not his medal, but it’s the exact same medal he received. And when you can't get somebody's individual medal, to find one identical to it, that's a great find!
Robert: Oh, it’s a great find and I think they even spoke of this at one time or several times during your show about a medal I believe that your grandfather had received as a firefighter in New York.
Fisher: Yeah, there were a bunch of ribbons they were given as they were hosted by other fire companies as they crossed the country in 1887 from New York to San Francisco in their parade in all the major cities. And they would exchange these ribbons. Now I don't have any of the ribbons that he received, but I found three ribbons on eBay that were all from that same trip, one of them with the initials of one the fellow firemen on the trip. So I have them framed in my office on the wall, because I think they're a real treasure. Well, Robert, thanks so much for sharing your story and congratulations on it. And I think the eBay Challenge is really worth anybody’s while to try, you can't lose!
Robert: Absolutely, you can't lose. But even if you can't have the exact one and often times because, you know, another family member might possess it and there's only so many of one medal to go around.
Robert: So, it’s exciting to have one in possession.
Fisher: Thrilled to hear the story. Thanks so much, Robert. Have a good one. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert and I will do another session of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 371
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, this is our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Ask Us Anything. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on Extreme Genes with David Allen Lambert back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, we have an email here from Rick Mitchell from Nashville, Tennessee. And Rick says, "Guys, my grandfather had a cousin who I understand was in Alcatraz by the name of Loyal McCready." Wow!
David: That's a great name.
Fisher: [Laughs] It is a great name. "Where might I find a photo of him or a prison record better yet? Thanks, Rick." Good question… Dave?
David: Ooh, well, you know what, it’s funny that you mention that, because I kind of bumped around with Alcatraz stuff. I have actually a friend who's one of the last prisoners from Alcatraz, Bob Schibline down in Florida. He's almost 90-years-old. That's a story for another day. You can find Alcatraz inmate lists from the National Archives at San Francisco on www.Archives.Gov/San-Francisco and you’ll find leads and you can find out that record group of 129 holds all the records essentially over 540 cubic feet. Now this is administrative records, equipment material, but more important, the warden's notebooks and all of the black and white photos of prisoner identification, including inmate files. Now, let's take a peek at the database here, because it actually lists everybody. So let's see on McCready, is he in here, and yep, sure, yep, here he is! His name is Loyal Dean McCready and his inmate number is 612, so he must have been in Alcatraz pretty early.
Fisher: Wow, yeah.
David: In the '30s or early '40s with a number like that. So he probably knew Robert Stroud, the Birdman at Alcatraz and everything.
Fisher: Or Burt Lancaster.
David: Or Burt Lancaster or maybe even Bob Schibline depending on how long he was there.
David: Both of these records go from 1934 to 1963 when they closed Alcatraz. And it’s funny about Alcatraz and Bob told me an interesting story. He had already been in prison and if you screw up in a regular prison, you're sent to Alcatraz. So basically if you're a rebel rouser or you try to break out or escape from another prison, you were sent to Alcatraz, which of course we know maybe wasn't successful, but there were people who did escape, apparently two in history's point of view. So if you want to learn more about that, the National Archives has this finding guide and you just have to keep in mind that they are restricted even under the Freedom of Information Act, provision to keep the privacy of living people, so I couldn't order Bob's record without his permission. But because of a number for your cousin, Loyal there, chances are you may be able to put in for a request. And if you do, let us know. We'd love to see what his mug shot looks like with nostalgia.
Fisher: [Laughs] And you know, it’s funny too that you bring this up, because I had a half first cousin once removed who I'd never met before drop by this past week and she was a delight. We had a great visit and her dad is a first cousin to me, a half first cousin to me. And she was talking about her grandmother who was my mom's half sister. And it turns out that the first husband was in San Quentin. So we went online and looked it up and sure enough, there's his mug shot! Never seen a picture of the guy before, but he got in trouble back in the 1920s and he was in there for two years. So yeah, that's a great resource and what a great question, so thank you so much, Rick, for asking that. David, thank you so much for coming on and we will chat at you again next week. Have a good one.
David: Always a pleasure.
Fisher: That is our show for this week. Thanks for joining us. Thanks to our guests by the way! Wow, what great stories this week! Kimberly Morgan of course talking about the strange sightings and the discovery of the tombstone and what it’s all led to. Shelbie Drake from Legacy Tree Genealogists, talking about that 109-year-old great aunt who's still around to give a DNA test and all the things she discovered there, and Robert Warren for telling us about his great success with the eBay Challenge. If you missed any of it, catch it on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio or Spotify. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!