Episode 389 - Connecting To Ancestors Through Food / Ancestry.com Makes A Game Changing Database Release

podcast episode Aug 30, 2021

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher begins with a listener story of how he found a key genealogical puzzle piece on eBay after hearing about the strategy on the show. Fisher also announces the full searchability of all past and present episodes of Extreme Genes on the new ExtremeGenes.com website. David then notes his upcoming appearance on the WikiTree Challenge! Who knows what the WikiTree researchers will discover for David next month. Then, a marriage certificate from 1875 has been discovered in a thrift shop and the people there have done something very special with it. David then talks about how another Pearl Harbor victim’s remains have been identified through DNA nearly eighty years later. And finally, hear about the remarkably preserved remains found in Pompeii. David will tell you what researchers know about this person.

Next, Fisher chats with Sarah Yeoman of Portland, Oregon. Sarah has started the new company The Family Cookbook, which allows you to connect to your ancestors through family recipes. Each cookbook she makes Is unique.

Crista Cowan then joins us from sponsor Ancestry.com to talk about the highly significant new database release that dropped this past week. It’s the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau Bank and the Freedmen’s Bureau Marriages. These incredibly important records for African-American research are now available for free at Ancestry. Crista explains what might be found in them.

Then, David is back for more listener questions on Ask Us Anything!

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

Transcript for Episode 389

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 389

Fisher: And welcome America 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, we've got some great guests today as always, lots of things to talk about. First of all, coming up in about ten minutes, we're going to talk to Sarah Yeoman. She has done a little study about how you can find out more about your ancestors through food! Yeah, so we're going to talk to her more about that coming up in just a bit. And then later in the show, Crista Cowan is here from our sponsors over at Ancestry.com. They have released a game changer of a database you're going to want to hear all about it, why it’s a big deal. That's coming up later on in the show. Right now it’s time to head off to Boston and David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, I've got to tell you about this email I got from Raymond Janis in New Jersey the other day.

David: Oh.

Fisher: Because you know, we've been talking so much about things you find on eBay, especially recently with that whole incredible collection of people writing their ancestry back in the 19th century, those letters.

David: Oh yeah, I remember them.

Fisher: So, Raymond says, he says, "After hearing you talk about eBay finds, I thought I'd give it a try and I'm glad I did." He said, "My whole family is from New Jersey, mostly Essex County, but also the Trenton area and I decided I would look at the vintage photos for Newark since that's where many settled after emigrating from Germany. None of the photos I found listed names other than the studio except one. It was titled, Agnes Vos, geb Teal, meaning of course geboren, which is the German word for “born.” So, her maiden name was Teal. And it listed her birth and death dates and all the information was written on the front of the photo and he said, "Since both those names are prominent in my family tree, I went over to Ancestry, did a search for Agnes using the dates. Sure enough, I found her. And in the search result, there were two people with an Agnes Teal who married a Hans Vos. So I was excited when I saw the dates and matched the woman in the photo. I was even more excited when I clicked on the owners of these trees and discovered they're both distant cousins." So he's now going down the research rabbit hole with this and having great time. And yes, David, he bought the picture.

David: Wow! That's amazing.

Fisher: Isn't that great! So, congratulations Raymond, way to go! We're always encouraging people to check out what you're going to find on eBay. He wrote at the end, he said, "What are the chances?” Well, the chances are actually a little better than you think. You just never know. And David, before we go any further, I want to remind you, last week we talked about how we finished all the episodes for Extreme Genes, loading them to our brand new shiny website, ExtremeGenes.com. As I've been playing with it a little bit, I'm really excited about how searchable it is now. Not long ago, I got an email from a listener who said, "Hey, can you index the shows for all the topics?" Well, this is even better than an index, because you can go to the podcast archive at ExtremeGenes.com, put in any keyword you want, it brings up every single episode going back to 2013 that ever mentions that keyword based on the transcripts and the summaries. So, it’s all there for you and I'm really excited about it, so check it out at ExtremeGenes.com.

David: Well, you know, it’s interesting, you were on WikiTree Challenge and I told you I had a little bit of a surprise to tell you. I'm actually going to be on WikiTree Challenge on September 15th, so I'm very excited about what things they may discover!

Fisher: Let me tell you, these WikiTree Challenge people are relentless in their research over the week that they're doing your tree, David, and you're going to find some new things that maybe you overlooked yourself that's amazing. I was very appreciative.

David: Well you know, I think that's true and I think a lot of times people have thought that, you know, because we're professionals in the field. But you know what another set of eyes cast over genealogy may find things that could have been staring us in the face all along. So, I'm excited about it. It’s like genealogical Christmas comes early!

Fisher: Exactly.

David: So, you know, we talk about stuff on eBay all the time and of course you never know when things are going to show up, and in this case, it showed up in a thrift store. And they were cleaning an old frame and it looked like there was something behind like a document. And sure enough, that document was an 1875 marriage certificate. This was found in a North Carolina thrift store earlier this summer. And this dated marriage was from a New Jersey couple. So it showed up all the way in North Carolina from New Jersey. And the nice thing is, there person tracked down a genealogist and together, they found the family that was related to them and gave it to them.

Fisher: Oh, how cool is that! That is such a good thing to do.

David: It always goes to show, one man's trash is another genealogical treasure.

Fisher: Yes, something like that. [Laughs]

David: Or something like that. Well, DNA did it once again and last year, another sailor was identified from the USS Oklahoma, one of the vessels that was attacked September 7th 1941. At the end of August, a US navy veteran by the name of Paul Ed Saylor was only 21 years old was laid to rest 79 years later. So, probably close to anniversary he would have turned 100 years old.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right. He'd be about 100 years old now. And as a result of this DNA work, they're still identifying the unknown from that attack. So this is a great thing for the family. This guy got a lot of awards, didn't he?

David: He did. He got the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and of course World War II Victory Medal, and this poor fella qualified for all of them, but he was only there for the opening hours of the first shots of World War II at Pearl Harbor.

Fisher: Boy, and we lost what, 2000, I think there… 2300 or something like that. It was a lot of people.

David: And you know what, we still have a handful of them left and every time I get a chance to talk to one of them or read about them turning 100 years old, I smile.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: We still have some out there. I have a story about “mummy.” Well, not my mummy, but actually somebody's mummy. Well, this is a partially mummified skeleton found of a former enslaved person in Pompeii. This was actually someone who had already died. It was in a tomb. So the tomb is encased, but so protected because of everything. They even found hair on it.

Fisher: Ooh!

David: So all those DNA tests, maybe this person might turn out to be somebody's ancestor. Well, that's all the mind blowing news I have for this week from Beantown, so I'm going to sign off. But before I do, just remind our listeners that if they're not a member of American Ancestors, use a coupon code "Extreme" on AmericanAncestors.org and save $20 on membership.

Fisher: Very nice, David. Talk to you at the backend of the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we're going to talk to Sarah Yeoman, talking about how to connect to your ancestors through food, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 389

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sarah Yeoman

Fisher: All right, my first guest this week is in Portland, Oregon. She is the creator of a new company - it’s called “The Family Cookbook” and her name is Sarah Yeoman. And Sarah, it’s great to have you on the show because I don’t think that I’ve ever run into anybody in the family history field basically, who has built a whole business around family food and recipes.

Sarah: Yeah. I haven’t really run into anybody who specializes in this either, so it’s a different fun thing to do.

Fisher: What got you started on it?  

Sarah: Well, I’m a photographer. Mostly, I’ve always been interested in photography but I actually have a degree in linguistics. But after college I worked for a non-profit that documented indigenous languages around the west. And so I saw this really important aspect of documenting knowledge through language and that career, and then I went on to work for a magazine, a food magazine specifically. I started photographing food. And all of these things just kind of came together a couple of years ago. I thought oh, there’s this food identity, you know. I grew up kind of half Jewish in a small town of Utah. My only identity through that side of the family was through food.  And so all of these things just kind of came together and I thought well, I should make cookbooks for families and give them beautiful photos and bring their food into this kind of modern book that they can pass on to the next generation. And so that’s kind of how it started. 

Fisher: Wow! That is a fabulous idea. Now, you’ve been in business since 2019, how’s it gone so far?  

Sarah: It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster. It was good in 2019, and then unfortunately the pandemic shut down everybody’s lives, and so it’s starting to pick back up a little bit. People I think are realizing the value of documenting this type of knowledge. Especially, a lot of people have been separated from their families for a year and food is one of the major connectors we have with our families. 

Fisher: Sure.  

Sarah: So, people want to get that down and pass it on.

Fisher: So, how does this work? Somebody has a bunch of recipes that grandma and great grandma left, do they pass these all on to you, and then what do you do with them?   

Sarah: Yes, there’s a couple of different scenarios depending on what your family situation is. So, if you have all these recipe cards or notes and stuff written down, I have online space people scan them and they just upload pictures of them and I got to type them out and make sure that there are legible. And then we schedule a photo session in their own kitchen. I’m based in Oregon but I travel all over the country to make this happen for people. So, we get everybody together in the kitchen, we photograph their favorite dishes, and then we get them cooking together to get that connection, that really lovely family photos. And then those recipes and the photos get designed into this beautiful book. And then if families don’t have physical recipes written down, I have guides and I help them from my linguistics days to translate their family’s intuition onto paper. If grandma has those recipes in her head and she’s never written them down before, it’s definitely a skill to have to get that down.    

Fisher: Wow! And I would imagine you’ve covered pretty much all the cultures out there. What are some of the more unusual ones?

Sarah: You know [Laughs] unusual is an interesting term. Because you know, everybody’s family is their family, right.

Fisher: Right. Yeah.

Sarah: I think some of the more exciting ones for me that are different from the traditions that I grew up in – I just did one in February for a family in San Diego. They invited me over for Chinese New Year, which I had never celebrated before, and it was really cool to see them cook these really, really traditional dishes that have been passed down from their family in China. They’re third generation immigrants into San Diego. So, that was really fun. And then also, there are quite a lot of Jewish families here in Portland and just seeing how everybody does things that I am familiar with, a little bit differently. That’s been really cool.     

Fisher: How fun. Do you take pictures say, of great grandma from back in the day if there are pictures of her cooking in the kitchen, do you add those to the modern ones?   

Sarah: Oh yeah, absolutely. I have a lot of families who have a lot of pictures, old pictures or just people who couldn’t be at the session, and they can absolutely add those to the cookbook as well so it’s kind of a really, really personalized heirloom.  

Fisher: What is the oldest photo that you’ve actually added to one of you cookbooks?  

Sarah: Oh man, I’m not quite sure if it has a date on it, but it looks like it’s from the early 1900s. 

Fisher: Okay.  

Sarah: It’s pretty far back there.

Fisher: Is it just a portrait or is it actually somebody cooking something?  

Sarah: It’s a portrait. It’s a formal family portrait. 

Fisher: And do you actually type up maybe little histories of these people as part of it?  

Sarah: Yeah. Anything that families want to supply me with about the stories of their food, notes, just general stories about their family, absolutely happy to include those in the book.

Fisher: That’s incredible. So, what’s the furthest you’ve actually travelled to put one of these things together?  

Sarah: I have a session in Rhode Island coming up in the fall. 

Fisher: Oh wow, okay.   

Sarah: I’m on the East Coast twice a year because I have New York, Connecticut, all that area. I have quite a lot of interest from there as well as California. But I received inquiries from probably as far as Singapore, might be the furthest one. But again, pandemic, haven’t been able to travel and make that happen yet so, hopefully.  

Fisher: Well, hopefully in the not too distant future. And you can write it off, right? [Laughs]  

Sarah: Well, no benefits. [Laughs] 

Fisher: So, what is the oldest recipe in terms of years and generations that you’ve dealt with so far?  

Sarah: Ooh…for ones that haven’t been written down, they’ve just been passed on really, it’s probably like five or six generations back I think. 

Fisher: Wow! That’s pretty good. So, you’re talking the mid 19th century maybe earlier?   

Sarah: Yeah. Our lives have changed technology wise so much that this oral tradition of passing food on is kind of mind blowing to us now because we write everything down, it’s all on the internet, we put it on our phones. But like, that’s how it was. You just cooked and the next generation watched you cook and then they passed that on. And so, it’s kind of mind blowing to think that the traditions go back the far.  

Fisher: All right, so in all honesty now, what was the most disgusting recipe that you came upon, not that you’d say that to your client, but something that you looked at and went “Oh my gosh! I wouldn’t get near that with a 10-foot fork”?

Sarah: You know, this is a little more just specific to me. Like, I’m allergic to eggs. 

Fisher: Okay.   

Sarah: So, eggs disgust me because of that because you know, they make me feel like crap. I did a session with an Italian family and one of their dishes was like layered meat sauce and whole eggs. It was just like so much egg that I was like, I can’t. I can’t do this.                                                      

Fisher: All right. So, let’s go the other way. What was the recipe that was just one of the biggest “Ah ha” moments you’ve ever had in your life and you couldn’t wait to make yourself?  

Sarah: Ooh. I was photographing a Chinese family in New York and, this is more like a tip rather than a recipe honestly, they started peeling fresh ginger with a spoon , and it blew my mind that they weren’t using a vegetable peeler. And they’re just slicing ginger with the spoon and putting it into this really lovely stir-fry with like bok choy and whole peas and stuff. And I just got so excited I was like, “This has changed my life.”  

Fisher: [Laughs] So, overall, how many books have you done?  

Sarah: Oh man. A couple of dozen, I think. It’s hard to count with 2020 because it just kind of dropped off.

Fisher: Sure.  

Sarah: But yeah, a think a few dozen. But hopefully that will pick up. This is like a four month process from start to finish.

Fisher: Okay.  

Sarah: And so the capacity for how many books I can do a year is actually not that many. So, I say to families, hey, if you think about doing this, you may want to get on it sooner rather than later because it does take quite a while. 

Fisher: Yes. Especially if you’re going to have them ready for a family reunion or something like that.   

Sarah: Yeah. If people have a deadline like Christmas, Hanukkah, Birthdays, Mother’s Day is another big one, if they want to actually present the book we got to get on it because it does take quite a while.  

Fisher: What was the best reaction you to one of the books when you presented it to the family?   

Sarah: Oh, so, I was working with this family in Washington DC and I couldn’t deliver the book in person because I don’t live there. So, I mailed it to them and she filmed the reaction and they like started crying. It was really sweet the video that they sent me, and they were so excited. And this just kind of cements the specialness of having something that’s tangible that have your family history basically in it.   

Fisher: Yes. It really does beat the internet as far as a place to store your recipes in life because it is a history and it is a tradition. You do want something physical. I love physical books. And I’ll make books about my family that are digital because I know some people that’s how they want to consume them, but I love having the physical books.   

Sarah: It’s so much more like an emotional journey too and it’s more active. You know, if you’re looking at your stories online, like yeah you’re reading them but it’s a little more passive. There’s something about it that you’re just not as engaged as you would be if you’re physically turning a page. 

Fisher: That is true.  

Sarah: You know, I don’t really know how to explain that but I think the families, once they get the books in their hands then they understand it. 

Fisher: You know why, and I’ve never thought of that that is an excellent point. I think the reason would have to be because you’re touching it. You’re turning pages. You are actually interacting with this physical object whereas when we’re online we’re just staring at it and maybe clicking on something.    

Sarah: Yeah, clicking, scrolling, it’s not as engaging. 

Fisher: What do you do with the covers on these?  

Sarah: There’s a couple of different options. Most families they just pick their favorite photo and then we put it on the cover. There’s also an option where you just put text. You can say “Our family recipe collection” or something like that. But everything is so customed there’s a lot of things you can do.  

Fisher: So, are you a graphic designer as well?   

Sarah: Not necessarily. I do have templates I’ve been working with a graphic designer. I have a little bit of experience with it when I worked back at this food magazine that I used to work for, though enough to make this a really beautiful looking book. There are plans to make the even more beautiful in the future.

Fisher: That’s awesome. Do you find that you have a busy season each year? What’s the busiest time?   

Sarah: The holiday season is busy for orders because I do gift boxes. And so people can order a gift box and surprise their grandma whoever they want to give it to, with this experience. And then we plan the rest of the year based on you know, who ordered gift boxes and where they’re located. That’s how I plan my travel schedule out. But I’d say the holidays and Mothers Day are probably the busiest times and then people just schedule their photo sessions whenever after that.  

Fisher: Wow! So, that’s mostly for the travel more than anything else, right?  

Sarah: Yeah. But I regularly go to California and the East Coast because that’s kind of the hotspots for me, but yeah, if somebody’s in Chicago, somebody’s in Texas, like we’ve just got to plan it and we’ll make it happen. 

Fisher: She’s Sarah Yeoman. She is the creator of The Family Cookbook. And you can go to TheFamilyCookbook.co (not .com) .co to find out more about what she’s doing. And Sarah, congratulations! It sounds really fun. A really unique niche and I wish you the best of luck with it.

Sarah: Yeah. Thank you so much. 

Fisher: And coming up next, Crista Cowan from our sponsors at Ancestry.com. They have a major announcement about a big release this week you’re going to want to hear next, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.   

Segment 3 Episode 389

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and right over there is Crista Cowan from Ancesry.com. And Crista we’ve got so much to talk about in this segment. We could do the big build up, but I’m thinking dessert first. Let’s talk about this amazing release that’s just happened actually.

Crista: Yeah. Just this past week Ancestry unveiled the world’s largest digitized and searchable collection of Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedmen’s Bank Records to date. It has more than 3.5 million records available and it is free for anyone at Ancestry.com/freedmens.

Fisher: Now this is really significant because as anybody knows about African American research, we’ve got a big problem. Around the year 1870, that is the first census after the end of slavery but before that it gets really challenging and the Freedmen Bureau’s records are really the standard, the gold standard for breaking through that brick wall of 1870 and going backwards. Let’s just talk about some of the facts that you’ll find in the Freedmen Bureau’s records and they’re free. I love this.

Crista: Yeah. The Freedmen’s Bureau was established near the end of the Civil War and he point was to help formerly enslaved people transition from slavery into full citizenship in their communities and it was designed to help provide food, and housing, and education, and medical care. It also provided support for some of the impoverished white people and veterans from the U.S. Color Troops. And really crucial information was contained in these records like labor contracts, rations they received, apprenticeships, and letters, marriages are documented in these collections. So, it’s this really rich collection of all kinds of different material that were collected by these Freedmen’s Bureau field offices throughout the Southern United States.

Fisher: Boy, they were really busy too because some of the detail in there goes back… I mean, some of these will take you back to like the 1820s, the 18 teens. It gives you the names of other family members, where people were last located. I mean, it’s just a wealth of information. One question I have for you is, not too long ago I was working on one branch and I found a white relative whose name came up in the Freedmen Bureau’s records. What’s that about? New York.

Crista: Yeah. So, there were like I said field offices throughout the Southern United States and each office could have handled the local communities. And some of those people who came out of the Civil War severely impoverished or completely displaced by the war, some of those white families are included in these records. And then, in these records you’ll also find the names of sometimes former slave holders. You’ll find information sadly about some of the disputes that were occurring between the white and black members of local communities and those names of the perpetrators and victims of crimes, sometimes we’ll see that in there which is not always a pleasant story but you have to really dig into the records to figure out why your white ancestor might be listed, and you need to be prepared that it might not be a pretty story.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. You know, when you consider the challenges after the Civil War, because as Sherman marched south he either ordered, or many of his people on their own went and burned everything in sight, including court houses.

Crista: Yeah.

Fisher: And the records that came along with them and I don’t know what percentage of court houses burnt but it was a lot.

Crista: Yeah, and it’s interesting because in some of these places where these field offices for the Freedmen’s Bureau exist, those court houses that were burnt these Freedmen’s Bureau records are the only records that exist for that time period. We call it the era of reconstruction but these records help to reconstruct some of the lives and the community goings on because of the loss of those other records.

Fisher: And we often talk in genealogy about certain records that were lost like the 1890 census and how we use, say, directories as a substitute for that. Well, likewise, the Freedmen Bureau actually covers a multitude of censuses potentially for those people who were enslaved before 1870. So, this is a huge thing and very exciting and I love that fact that it’s available to anybody whether or not they have a subscription to Ancestry.com.

Crista: Yeah. Ancestry has kind of a long history of philanthropic efforts. For example, it made a lot of Holocaust records for free. Years ago, we just determined that any records that dealt directly with slavery and that era of American history needed to be made available for free. So, all of the slavery records are available for free on Ancestry already. Last year, we released the Dutch West Indies collection for free. So, this is just the latest contribution to those philanthropic efforts to make sure important critical moments of history that adversely affected people, that those records are available for free. For anybody who wants to search their family history or just learn more about that period of time.

Fisher: You know, at one point I remember about ten, fifteen years ago I was wondering, how many more records can we gather? How much more is really out there? But I’m still convinced Crista that there are probably still more records out there than we’ve actually digitized to this point, not only at Ancestry but on all the sites.

Crista: Yeah, for sure. Ancestry alone has about 30 billion records on our site.

Fisher: Wow!

Crista: We add an average of about 3 million records a day. So, for the last three consecutive years we’ve added over a billion records a year to the site. As a genealogist I get excited about it but it’s also kind of mind boggling. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. What do you consider a record? Is it one entry for a person or a page, what is it?

Crista: Yeah, it’s usually a name. So for example, on a census record you’ve got 50 names per page that will be 50 records. But in like a marriage record you might have six names. So, the bride, the groom and all four of their parents, and that will be considered six records.

Fisher: Yeah, and potentially witnesses and things like that. So, yeah, that’s amazing. So, getting back to this then, we’re covering a lot of states at a very crucial time in African American research and now it’s the largest one ever released at three and half million records.

Crista: [Laughs]

Fisher: It’s going to help a lot of people not only now but in the future.

Crista: Yeah. You think about the fact that those field offices cover the entire Southern Unites States, Virginia to Texas. And these records are goings on of what was happening in those field offices. So, as you start going to through these records you’re going to realize that they’re all different types of records. We’ve indexed every name to make it fully searchable, but when you click that search result you never know whether you’re going to be staring at a labor contract of a formerly enslaved person signed with their former slave owner to continue to work the land, or whether it’s going to be a marriage record for a couple who had been living together and not able to be married and now were able to be married and maybe they already have children, or you’re going to find letters that people were writing to the field offices looking for family members that they had been separated from. So really rich detail, officially, it covers from the end of the war at about 1865 through 1872, but the effect of that seven years of record keeping extends both directions far beyond into the lives of those people.

Fisher: Absolutely. And the bank records too are fascinating. To actually see these people go from enslavement to start to have their own possessions, their own growth as citizens. It’s just absolutely fun not only to find out what’s on the records but just to see the names as with anybody’s records, right?

Crista: Yeah. Those bank records are particularly important because they’re applications for a bank account and in the days before photo ID and a power bill, you had to open a bank account by listing a lot of really personal details. So, they list birth dates, places, parents’ names, the names of siblings, spouses, children, and who the former slave owner may have been, and places they may have lived. So, you’ve got these really rich applications to acquire a bank account, that gave a lot of biographical detail.

Fisher: Have you seen parents on there?

Crista: Yes, parents, siblings, spouses, children, all relationships.

Fisher: It’s really the best record ever for African American research coming out of the Civil War.

Crista: It is.

Fisher: For people who have not started working on African American research before because they’ve been too concerned that it’s not going to lead anywhere. This has got to give you some hope and there’s no reason not to get on it right now because it’s out there on Ancestry.com for free. So Crista, thanks so much! We appreciate your sponsorship on the show and we appreciate of course everything that you do to help to make things better for all of us as we continue to search our ancestors.

Crista: Thanks so much, Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, David returns for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes.

Segment 4 Episode 389

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert is back over there at NEHGS. And David, our first question this week is from Pat in Irvington, New Jersey and she says, "Dave and Fish, I have some military documents and equipment from my World War I great grandfather. How would you suggest I go about preserving and displaying these cool things?" Great question and congratulations that sounds fun!

David: It really does. And you know, it’s amazing so many of us actually remember that World War I generation, maybe a parent or grandparent or in this case a great grandparent, but to know who the items belonged to add an important provenance in genealogy. And of course you want to get these preserved and of course you want to display it. And there's no point in keeping something in a box, but you want to be careful. I mean, for instance with documents, and I know that I've been in your house, Fish that a lot of the things that you have framed and on the wall are not the originals.

Fisher: No.

David: But good quality copies that are acid free and framed and you use UV glass on originals.

Fisher: I actually use UV glass on the copies as well, because I want them to last a lot longer. But yes, acid free matting, all this type of thing. And if you go to a professional framer, they can usually do a great job for you.

David: They really can. And I think it’s worth to spend that extra money versus, say, go to your local Walmart and buy a frame and just slap it in there. Because I mean, the one thing, they're both glass. I mean, if you use real glass and it breaks, it can tear the document. And if you're using the original and not a copy, I mean, once it’s faded, it’s hard to bring it back.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I mean, then you're talking about all sorts of preservation. You know, and with equipment, I mean, it’s hard to know, Fish. I mean, I'm not sure she's talking about a uniform or a gun or a bayonet or a belt buckle.

Fisher: Right, yeah.

David: So, it’s going to vary. I mean, obviously with a rifle, like an 03 Springfield, you can just hang the thing over your fireplace, you know, obviously.

Fisher: Sure.

David: But if it’s something that might be light sensitive or maybe needs preservation, you might need to look into that before you put the original on display. So, its lasted this long, you know 100+ years, you want to make sure it lasts another 100 years. So, improper display just for the sake of having it out to show people might cause more damage.

Fisher: You know, this is an interesting thing. We had a carriage seat that was in my house when I grew up. I had pictures of my brother and me sitting in it when we were four years old. I still have it to this day. But about 20 years ago, we had to get it repaired, because the original slats in the seat bottom were cracking from people sitting in it now and again. We wanted to get it supported, so we took it down to a preservationist to shore it up and to our horror, when we picked it up a few weeks later, they had replaced all the slats with modern wood.

David: Oooh!

Fisher: And we were just devastated with it, because that is not what we wanted, not what we asked for. And so, it’s really important that when you talk to somebody who might restore something that may be as corroded or is in ill repair that you really check out who these people are and make sure that they really know what they're doing and that you communicate very well to them what you're willing to accept and what you're not willing to accept.

David: Check your references, because anybody can hang a shingle nowadays and say, "Oh yeah I can fix that up for you!" and maybe not do it correctly, case in point with that carriage seat that you had.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah it’s really disappointing.

David: Well, so I like to say that everything that you have, if you photograph it, that is going to be a great way of sharing your information and the story of your ancestor. But maybe you take these artifacts and bring it to the family reunions and let people see them. So, if you're having them hanging on your wall, that's one thing. But if you're taking them around to show people that are also descended from them or maybe it’s a helmet, let the great, great, great grandchildren try it on. I think it would make even more fun for the family.

Fisher: Absolutely. Good stuff. Great question too, Pat and congratulations on that and good luck with whatever you decide to do with it. That's kind of the fun of having it is figuring those things out. All right, when we return in three minutes, another question from around the same era, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 389

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're back on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. This is Ask Us Anything. David Allen Lambert is here. And this time we have a question from Pamela Sykes, Boise, Idaho, David. And Pamela writes, "Guys, my grandfather's diary mentions filling out a census in 1917 when he lived in Connecticut. Now I thought state census years ended with a five and national years ended with a zero. Could he be writing about some other type of record? Pam."

David: Yes, she is dead on. There is actually a 1917 census. The Connecticut legislature in February of 1917 created a form which all males had to fill out and it is basically to be prepared in case America went to war. Of course we had it in April of 1917. Now, what does it give? It gives a genealogical goldmine and things that if you could have ever interviewed your relative alive in Connecticut in 1917, you'll love some of them. So, obviously the basic stuff is, where they're living, what's your address, what's your present trade occupation or profession? So you find out what your ancestor's doing in 1917 in February. "Have you had any experience in any other trade or occupation or profession?" So then it’s either yes or no or they list what it is. So you're getting previous jobs, you're getting your ancestor's age, their height, their weight, their marital status if they're single or a widower. And it doesn't say it here, but I bet you, if you were divorced, then they would write that down too.

Fisher: Sure, yeah.

David: Well, maybe you’ll be single. "How many dependents?" So you get to find out how big the family is.

Fisher: Wow!

David: "Are you a citizen of the United States and if you're not, what's your nationality? Have you ever done any military or naval service in any other country?" Where are you going to find that anywhere?

Fisher: Right.

David: Former military service in any other country, that's great. So then it goes on to ask you where it was, how long, what branch and what was your rank.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s really good. I've seen these before on some of my relatives and it’s fascinating.

David: We've got health questions on here too. So, question 10 asks, "Have you had any serious physical disability before? If so, what is it?" So, basically for some reason that maybe you couldn't be drafted when the draft came in, in April of 1917. Question 11 is a multiple question, but I think it’s great and I can't think of any way we could find this out on any other census or form. You know, somebody wrote a really good bio. Ready for this?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: "Can you ride a horse?"

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, maybe you've got a picture of your ancestor on a horse. How about if they can handle a team of horses. 1917 not many people owned a car, but they're asking, "Can you drive an automobile?" Did you ever think about your ancestor riding a motorcycle?

Fisher: Interesting.

David: That's a yes or no question.

Fisher: Okay.

David: And then it gets into more things that are more technical, like "Do you understand telegraphy? Can you operate a wireless?" Now if there's any yes to any of these, I think I would be so intrigued. This would be such a great thing to investigate further. "Any experience with a steam engine? Any experience with electrical machinery? Can you handle a boat, power or sail?" like a motorboat or whatever.

Fisher: Wow!

David: "Any experience with simple coastwise navigation? Any experience with high speed marine gasoline engines?"

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But for the navy, one other really important question, "Are you a good swimmer?"

Fisher: Interesting. You know, the thing about this is, is it really makes you realize that World War I was actually more like the Civil War than it was like World War II in terms of how they fought it. Unbelievable! Great question, great answer, David. So, thank you very much for that, Pam and hope that helps you out. If you have any questions for us for Ask Us Anything, email us at [email protected]. David thanks so much. We'll talk to you next week.

David: Sounds good to me.

Fisher: And that is our show for this week. Thanks so much for joining us, genies. If you missed any of it or you want to catch it again, of course catch the podcast on all the usual places, iTunes, AppleMedia, iHeart Media, Spotify, ExtremeGenes.com but of course. And we'll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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