Episode 392 - Civil War Reenactor Makes Amazing Ancestral Find/Joining Lineage Societies

podcast episode Sep 20, 2021

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David begins with the story of his recent family history oriented trip. The guys then give a 100th birthday shout out to “friend of the show” Lou Conter, one of the last two survivors of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. David then reveals a major name that will soon be featured on the BBC version of Who Do You Think You Are. Next, have you ever wondered what you should keep among all those old family papers and trinkets? There’s a new list out there that might help. Hear where you can find it. Then, scientists are talking about bringing back Wooly Mammoths! Why would they do this other than (maybe) they can? There’s a very practical reason that could affect all of us. A Bronze Age log coffin has been found in the strangest of places, complete with original cargo! Hear more about it. And finally, a first time metal detectorist has made a remarkable find in Denmark. David has the details.

In the next segment, Fisher visits with Civil War re-enactor Calvin Osborne. Calvin has been part of an African American reenacting group for 28 years and recently made a mind blowing family history discovery that ties into his hobby. Hear his story in his own words.

Then, Adrienne Abiodun, a researcher with sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists talks about lineage societies and how to join them. Fisher reviews some of the more unusual groups available for you to join.

David then rejoins Fisher for two helpings of Ask Us Anything.

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

Transcript of Episode 392

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 392

Fisher: And welcome genies, 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 aboard genies! You’re going to love the guests we have today. First of all, coming up in about ten minutes we’re going to talk to Calvin Osborne. Calvin has been a member of a black Civil War reenactors unit for the last 28 years. And he learned something not too long ago that just blew his mind and you’re going to want to hear the story coming up. And then after we talk to Calvin, we’ve got Adrienne Abiodun. She’s a researcher with Legacy Tree Genealogists, one of our great sponsors and we’re going to talk about what it takes to join the various lineage societies out there. And you’re going to be amazed by the names of some of these, those that are available for you to join. If you have interesting ancestors there’s always a place for you in one of these societies. And don’t forget to check out our shiny new website at ExtremeGenes.com, where we’re offering basic genealogy courses for those just getting under way and a genetic genealogy course too, to learn how to use those matches to break through brick walls and validate your paper trails, all kinds of great stuff there at ExtremeGenes.com. Right now, let’s check in with David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David. How’re you doing?

David: Hey, I’m doing great. I went on a nice little family field trip over the weekend to Old Mystic in Connecticut, your home state.

Fisher: Yeah, my home state and I went there many times. I loved it. That is one of the great places to visit and it’s outdoors so it’s safe.

David: You know, one of the fun things about it is they have over 400 vessels there. But the one that always draws my attention is the Charles W. Morgan. It’s the oldest and only surviving whaling vessel from the 19th century. It’s 180 years old and I brought my kids on it because I wanted them to see what a whaling ship was like. Not because of the horrors of whaling, but their great, great grandfather who was my influence into getting into genealogy, was on a whaling ship back in the 1870s in New Bedford.

Fisher: Wow, great story!

David: It’s great to find a connection to your family tree and then to let your kids go aboard. So that was great. I understand that you got a nice find and not on eBay, this week.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Yes, I did. In fact, it’s a former neighbor of my grandparents’ family in Oregon and it had four, oh, wow, pictures dating back to the 1910s and early 1920s, including a picture of my mother at age one, in 1925 standing on a running board of a Model T Ford.

David: That’s wonderful and of course you already have these blown up to like full wall sized photos, right?

Fisher: [Laughs] Nah, I don’t think so.

David: [Laughs] Well, for Family Histoire news, I’ve got some exciting news for those fans of the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? BBC is set to return the series and one of the stars will be Dame Judi Dench. They’re going to explore her Danish roots and a connection with a Shakespearian era ancestor.

Fisher: Ooh, that sounds fun. Can we watch that here?

David: We sure can. I find that I’ve been able to stream it over the internet and of course BBC if you have a connection to BBC they’re streaming that. You can watch from home.

Fisher: Nice.

David: Well, you know, I love when people find things genealogically relevant but not all of us are genealogists. I don’t understand how that’s possible.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Our friends at Family Tree Magazine put out a nice little article which is a list of what to do with that inherited and this checklist may help you decide what to keep and what not to keep. Now as genealogists we’re probably going to keep all of it. But, if you’re not a genealogist this may help preserve some precious family history for another generation or two.

Fisher: Nice. That sounds like a list that many of us should look at because that is a tough decision to make, what to keep and what not to.

David: I think that’s one of those things to try to have a little bit of a minimalistic lifestyle but still preserve our family history.

Fisher: Right.

David: Well, speaking of family history, one man who is a good friend of our show had a milestone birthday and I understand you got on the phone with Lou.

Fisher: Yes. Lou Conter. He is one of the last two survivors of the USS Arizona, at Pearl Harbor. He just turned 100 years old last week on Monday. And I got to talk to him and he was just delighted. He still lives at home alone in California. He said, “Yeah, I’m sitting here with a little cup of coffee I just made and I’m watching The Price is Right!” [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Got to love it.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, happy birthday, Lou. And hope he has many more. This is a little earlier than Lou’s memory but our ancient ancestors may have hunted wooly mammoths. Well, maybe they might have that opportunity again because a new company, Fish, is looking to use the DNA of the wooly mammoth and bring them back to Siberia.

Fisher: Yeah, isn’t this crazy. And they’re actually talking about doing this because they would eat all the brush up there in the North, which keeps the earth warm. They think the earth could actually get cooler if they brought them back and they were able to return this to the actual original form up there in the North.

David: Wow, that’s amazing.

Fisher: It’s crazy.

David: Well, I thought of going up there with my lawn mower and help out and do my part.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: They found something interesting in Lincolnshire, England, a 4000 year old log coffin. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow!

David: Yeah and it wasn’t empty. They found the remains of the man and his axe. They believe it was ceremonial axe. And it was made out of an oak tree and lined with plants. It was in the middle of a pond and that is what kept this wood preserved and well, the man preserved for so long.

Fisher: Wow!

David: It’s amazing.

Fisher: That is incredible.

David: Well, you know, people with metal detectors they’re always finding things and sometimes you can spend years going through and looking for things. In fact, I had a metal detector for years and didn’t find much of anything, maybe a couple of silver coins. A first time metal detectorist out in Denmark found two pounds worth of solid gold, 22 pieces in total, including jewelry and coins that dated back to the 700s. That’s amazing.

Fisher: That is incredible. A first timer?

David: Uh huh. First time he had been out there with a metal detector. He thought that he had found a herring can. [Laughs]

Fisher: That’s insane. I mean, think of it this way, you get a new interest like metal detecting, you go out and find a hoard that’s in a museum. What are the chances you’re going to find anything that’s nearly as exciting for the rest of your life? Nothing! I mean it’s already peaked.

David: Yeah, that’s the Andy Warhol metal detectors moment of fame I suppose.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: That’s amazing. Well, that’s what I have from Beantown for you this week. And don’t forget, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors you can use the coupon code Extreme and save $20 on membership. Talk to you when we discuss Ask Us Anything real soon.

Fisher: All right David thanks much. We’ll talk to you at the back end of the show. And coming up next, I’m going to be talking to a man named Calvin Osborne, an African American Civil War reenactor and you’re going to love his story. Wait till you hear it, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 2 Episode 392

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Calvin Osborne

Fisher: My next guest on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show is Calvin Osborne. Calvin, where are you located?

Calvin: I am in Fort Washington, Maryland.

Fisher: Fort Washington, Maryland. He’s a longtime member of a reenactors group from the Civil War called Company B. It’s an African American company representing those who fought for their own freedom back in the Civil War. What got you into that?

Calvin: Well, in 1989 I saw a movie called Glory

Fisher: Oh, yeah.

Calvin: Starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and a bunch of other very fine actors. And I was absolutely blown away by the movie. Number one, the movie was a great movie. I was already a Denzel Washington fan and Morgan Freeman fan. And that movie shocked me because I was unaware, as an educated man, that black men fought in the Civil War. It was totally new to me. 

Fisher: And so you decided at that point that I want to do something to honor these people in our past and you wound up with Company B. How did you find them?

Calvin: Well, at the time of the movie, I was actually living in Kansas City.

Fisher: Okay.

Calvin: Kansas City, Missouri, and I was practicing alone there. Just a couple of years after that I moved to Washington DC. I was really happy. I always loved the whole Civil War history and era, and I’ve always appreciated what I could learn about the Civil War in general. But to learn that African American men actually fought, just blew me away. I’m thinking, I have to find out more about these black men who fought in the Civil War. So, in Kansas City I began reading all that I could about United States Color Troops. There wasn’t very much that I could find out there at the time. But a couple of years later, 1992, I moved to Washington DC, actually I moved to a DC suburb, Arlington, Virginia. And as you probably are aware, Virginia has a lot of Civil War battlefields. In fact, about two thirds of the actual battles in the Civil War took place in what was Virginia. At the time, Virginia and West Virginia were one just called Virginia. A lot of battles took place at Virginia so when I moved to the DC area I knew that Battle of Bull Run or Battle of Manassas was not too far from me. So, I began visiting these Civil War battlefields sites, and then I also began looking up the Civil War reenacting groups that made the movie Glory.    

Fisher: Were they located near you?

Calvin: They’re located here in the DC area. At the time they were meeting at the Charles Sumner School. Some abolitionists from I believe Boston.

Fisher: Yes.

Calvin: But they were schooled here in DC and they were meeting at the Sumner School on a monthly basis. What I did was, I watched the movie again for the second time. When the movie was finished I watched the credits, and the credits there says something about thank you to Civil War reenactors in Arlington, and so I knew I was close to these guys.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Calvin: So, I began looking for them in all kinds of ways, and I called, I think one of the museums here in DC that had a Civil War presentation, and they connected me with the Civil War reenactors, the person who was leading the group at the time, the captain of the group and so I was able to reach out to Jack Thompson and asked if I could qualify and join the group, and the rest is history.

Fisher:[Laughs] I bet he was thrilled to have you. So, as a result of this now, of course you’ve become more and more aware but you’ve become even more aware since you discovered that you actually have a great, great grandfather who was one of the actual soldiers for the Union.   

Calvin: That’s correct. So, for 28 years I have been doing Civil War battle reenactments all across the country. From Virginia, all the way to Texas, all the way to Colorado, and we’ve even had people go out to California to do Civil War reenactments and sometimes even history where you just talk about the Civil War. Part of that reenactment includes first-person impressions of specific soldiers that you might be somehow interested in. So, for 28 years I’ve been doing battle reenactments and also particular specific reenactments of particular soldiers. I study their personal life. Where they’re from, what they do. What their particular hardships were. What their family life might have been in a particular city. For example, if you were a soldier from Boston, I would think about what a strong abolitionist type city that was and just sort of integrate into my speech or into my discussion whatever it is I’m doing. But I think what the personality of the soldier would have been who was from Boston, or from Norfolk Virginia, or from Alabama, whatever.  

Fisher: Um hmm.

Calvin: And I will go across the country doing it and giving histories and bringing that soldier’s voice to life. And I’ve been doing that for 28 years and didn’t know that my own great-great grandfather was in fact a Civil War soldier who had escaped from Alabama all the way to Kansas and signed up to fight in the Civil War. 

Fisher: So, how did you discover this man? What was his name?

Calvin: His name is William M. Lacy, and he was originally from a place called Lacy Springs, Alabama. And Lacy Springs sits on the border between Morgan County and Madison County, Alabama. The biggest city nearby is Huntsville. The Lacy Spring is on one side of the Tennessee River, and the city of Huntsville, Alabama is on the other side of the Tennessee River so it’s very close to Huntsville, Alabama, although it’s a different county than what Huntsville is sitting in. And so, he’s from Lacy Springs Alabama, and he’s born in 1847 and he’s there until what I believe is about early 1863. And I’ve got quite a bit of information that tends to lead me to believe that he escaped from the enslavers by traveling with the enslavers to a place called Fort Smith, Arkansas. There were several brothers with the name Lacy, and they owned a number of slaves in that county. And one of the brothers moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, his name was Thomas Lacy. And when he moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, I surmise that he took some of his slaves with him. And William Lacy either went with him or went to visit him at some point, but what I can tell from my research is that he escaped from Fort Smith, Arkansas and into the Indian Territory, which we now call Oklahoma.  

Fisher: Right.

Calvin: And so, he escaped into the Indian Territory. He spent some time out there and he picked him out a woman by the name of Lucinda. She was a woman who was Black and Creek Indian mixed. Her master was a Creek Indian and she was the daughter of an African slave. And William and Lucinda met somehow and decided to move to abscond up to Kansas to a tiny town called Mound City, Kansas where they lived for the next 25 to 30 years. 

Fisher: Wow! Have you started reenacting him and telling his story as him?

Calvin: I have. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, which is not far from there, it used to be part of the Creek Nation, now it’s Tulsa County, I think. So, I discovered recently where he’s buried and I used Ancestry and FindAGrave to figure out where he and his wife were buried. I went out there just last year for the first time in my life. Didn’t know it was there. Saw that the cemetery was in significant disrepair. Saw that his tombstone had been somehow vandalized and broken in half down to the point that you couldn’t see his name. But his wife’s tombstone was still next to his and hers had been pushed over. She had a really large tombstone. She lived seven or eight years longer than he did so I knew that was him next her. I knew the records said that he was buried there. And so, what I decided to do was have both of their tombstones revitalized. Have his replaced. The Veteran Administration agreed to replace his since he was a Civil War soldier. I could prove it and he had been buried there. The record showed that he was at that location. So, they gave me a new tombstone and we had it placed in Thomas Smith Cemetery in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma just a couple of weeks ago. And part of that process included a presentation by me in his voice. 

Fisher: Ah!

Calvin: And so I spent 20 minutes there bringing his voice to life to all of my family who didn’t know he existed, number one, and did not know anything about his life. And so I spent an hour explaining to everyone what William Lacy was about, where he was from. How he got from Alabama to a grave site in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma by way of Kansas. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow! I bet you went through a few boxes of Kleenex during that presentation.

Calvin: Oh my goodness, when I talked about him coming home from the Civil War and finding out that he has a little baby girl, his oldest child named Eliza, yeah, the tears, I did become emotional as I was telling his story. I was trying to do it in first-person so that the story would be good and would be riveting. I think the people who were there appreciated my effort.

Fisher: Well, I hope somebody videoed it because that’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing.

Calvin: Yeah, we had the introduction company called Black Wall Street, which is interestingly enough run by my cousin James Harden. He videoed it for me, and CBS This Morning - the Gayle King Show they came out to video it as well and they had a presentation on CBS This Morning a couple of weeks ago.

Fisher: Wow! You’ve really had an experience with all of this, haven’t you? From the movie, to Company B, to the research, to finding where he’s buried, to the recreation of his life for the family, I mean, that’s full circle.

Calvin: It really is Scott. And to have spent 28 years studying Civil War soldiers just objectively and in general, prepared me to know how to research him when the moment came that I realized that he was out there some place in a grave and that there’s a trail for him that leads from Alabama to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I knew that it was my job and my calling at this point to discover that trail to understand what he went through to get as close to this guy as possible, and to let other people know what he had done. So, 28 years ago I thought I was picking this hobby. Turns out now that I’ve learned, Scott, 28 years later that I think this hobby picked me. I didn’t choose to be picked. William Lacy, my great, great grandfather I think he chose me.

Fisher: He’s Calvin Osborne. He’s with Company B, a group of reenactors of the Civil War of Black companies from the North who fought for the Union, fought for their own freedom of their own people. And Calvin what a great story. I so appreciate your time coming on and sharing it with us. I think you’re absolutely right, you know when you talk about the calling. There is a feeling that comes with this work that only those who do it can describe.

Calvin: I think you’re right about that. The average person doesn’t think about hey, I’m looking for a hobby, I think I’m going to be a Civil War reenactor.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Calvin: Most people say well, I’m going to collect rocks, or stents, or maybe I’ll take up basketball or something in the evening, or a job, or go biking. This is Civil War reenacting. You have to be someone who is somewhat irregular or unique to say I want spend time, energy, money, and effort learning about people who lived 150-60 years ago. But for me, it is a calling. And I think of these people, especially the African American soldiers as America’s truest freedom fighters. I don’t know how the results could be more stark and more clear, or the stakes could be any higher. We had the most to gain and the most to lose. And so for me, it’s a no brainer to try to honor these guys as much as possible and to know that the American history system really hasn’t even told people that they existed. It’s painful sometimes and that’s why we feel like it’s our job to something no matter what.

Fisher: Calvin thanks so much for coming on. It’s been a pleasure to hear your story, and good luck as you move forward because I know you’re going to find a lot more stuff.

Calvin: Thank you so much Scott. Thank you for having me and thank you to Extreme Genes here for having me on the show.

Fisher: And coming up next, Adrienne Abiodun. She’s a researcher for Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’ll be talking about what it takes to join lineage societies, and wait till you hear the names of some of those societies. It’s coming up next when we return on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in five minutes.

Segment 3 Episode 392

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Adrienne Abiodun

Fisher: And we are back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and my next guest is a researcher at our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists. She is Adrienne Abiodun and Adrienne is in Tampa, Florida, a beautiful place. Adrienne welcome to the show. It’s great to have you.

Adrienne: Thank you Scott. It’s great to be here.

Fisher: You know, one of the things that Legacy Tree likes to do is help people join various lineage societies. And I was looking at some of the ones that you belong to. One of them I’d never even heard of was the “Daughters of the Union Vets of the Civil War 1861 – 1865” that’s got to be really tough to fit on a business card.

Adrienne: [Laughs] Yeah, a lot of these are a mouthful to say, which is why we have these wonderful acronyms for them. Yeah, Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War is one of the societies I’m in. DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage is also another society that I’m in.

Fisher: Wow!

Adrienne: So, all of those are a mouthful. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow. And over the years you’ve joined these or has this been a recent effort?

Adrienne: Well, I would say it was a recent effort as of five years ago. I became a DAR member.

Fisher: Okay.

Adrienne: Then after that it became DUVCW shortly after.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Adrienne: And then Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage after that one. And then I kind of hit a pause. I got my brother into the Society of the Cincinnati.

Fisher: Oh, wow!

Adrienne: So he got into that. Then, I just paused for a little bit and said, okay, that’s enough for now. [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, we’ve all been pausing for quite a while lately. I can understand that. And I’m SAR as well, and the Mayflower Society. I thought we’d talk a little today on what it takes to join some of these. I think the one thing that’s common with all of them is they really want you to prove that you descend from a qualifying ancestor.

Adrienne: That’s correct.

Fisher: So, the work that really has to go into this is connecting back into the information that you need to prove that on a paper trail, usually paper trails. Although some of them are starting to get into a little bit of DNA as well to help prove your connections.

Adrienne: That’s right. Depending on how far back the ancestor you’re using to join the society, as you mentioned Mayflower, that’s pretty distant for a lot of people to get back that far on their family tree.

Fisher: Yes.

Adrienne: You have to prove starting from yourself all the way back to that ancestor each generation with documentary evidence and vital records, birth, marriage, and death records, those types of things for each generation showing the links between the generations that connect you to that ancestor.

Fisher: And it seems that most of these societies have somebody to kind of help you through the process of making sure that everything is being followed procedurally correctly and sometimes with the wording by which you send in your information.

Adrienne: Correct. I think every society that I’ve joined there’s been a registrar there to help, perspective member need a lot of help. Sometimes there are some like myself that have done a lot of the work but we just need some of the application, making sure that it’s on the right paper we find in black ink or we may have missed something we needed to turn in with it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Adrienne: And then, sometimes people will seek out professional help as well because it becomes too much for a volunteer genealogist with the lineage society.

Fisher: Well, especially with the more distant ones like the Mayflower Society because most societies don’t go back 400 years. There are some that go back much further than that when you get into the royal lines and that type of thing.

Adrienne: Correct.

Fisher: But nonetheless, it’s really quite a challenge. It’s actually The General Society of Mayflower Descendents, but it’s shortened for the Mayflower Society, people call it that.

Adrienne: Okay.

Fisher: But, for many people they apply multiple times.

Adrienne: Yeah, it is a process. And for me, it never even fell onto my plate until a cousin of mine got into this conversation about joining the DAR and I mentioned that, yeah, I have ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War. And he was shocked that I had never attempted to join the DAR. And I said, well, if it’s a lineage society, my understanding is you’re going to need documentary evidence to every generation and I said, I’m pretty sure I can prove my way to this patriot, except for my grandfather. He’s going to be my challenge. Usually, people have the challenges later on.

Fisher: Yeah.

Adrienne: But my grandfather was a very recent challenge because I knew his birth record had the name of a father who was not his father and the whole wide community in Mississippi knew that. But he was born in the segregated South and they couldn’t the name of a white man on his birth certificate.

Fisher: Ah!

Adrienne: So, they made a fictitious name of a black man up and that was my challenge. And I had to prove to them no, this man is indeed his father and I don’t have that on paper. There’s no document that says that but I did have DNA, I had affidavits, I had my grandfather’s nephew who was willing to write a statement and say, yeah, I understood this man was my father’s half brother. So, there are a lot of ways and I share that story so that people if they have a similar situation don’t be afraid to talk to a registrar and ask, what can I do about this?

Fisher: Yeah.

Adrienne: I had an in-family adoption or I had whatever it might be, his name just wasn’t included on the birth certificate. What do you do about it?

Fisher: Wow. Yeah, that’s right there are a lot of challenges that way. The good news with the Mayflower group, by the way, is that they’ve done the first five generations for you. All you have to do is connect back to about the mid 1700s link into that and the rest of it is already taken care of. So that’s kind of helpful in that case. I thought Adrienne, we would look at this list of some of the more unusual societies that people can belong to because there are just hundreds of these things. There’s the Flagon and Trencher Society. Have you ever heard of the Flagon and Trencher Society?

Adrienne: I don’t think so. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, this is for those who have colonial ancestors who were tavern keepers.

Adrienne: Oh, okay!

Fisher: I don’t know what they do at their meetings but it’s got to be interesting.

Adrienne: [Laughs]

Fisher: There’s the Associated Daughters of Early American Witches.

Adrienne: Yes.

Fisher: Could you belong to that?

Adrienne: I could. That one has been on my radar to join. I’m hoping to ride the coat-tails of my DAR cousin who joined not too long ago, and use her application as a vehicle to help me get in because that’s another way of helping with your application. Like you said, Mayflower had the first five generations done and then you can utilize like a cousin if you have a relative in there, they’ve already done the work with their application. You can piggyback on those.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. You could join by just connecting into a grandparent or a great grandparent and you’re done, really simple.

Adrienne: Exactly.

Fisher: Here’s another one, The Descendents of Whaling Masters.

Adrienne: Yeah.

Fisher: There’s, The Order of Daedalians, which are people who were aviators in the US military.

Adrienne: Um hmm.

Fisher: Oh, there’s the, RoyalBastards.org. That’s the Descendents of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain.

Adrienne: [Laughs] Oh my gosh.

Fisher: The list is really long here. There’s, The Society of Lady Godiva. It doesn’t say what they do there, but those meetings must be really interesting.

Adrienne: Right.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Adrienne: Some of them have meetings. Some societies don’t have a lot of meetings, or an annual meeting, so they’re all very different. We mentioned before in a previous conversation about joining and some people are like, oh, I just want the certificate. Others really want to get hands-on involved. So there’s definitely something for everyone depending on your level of interest.

Fisher: That’s right. That’s the thing, some take a lot of time. Some take no time at all. Some just want some dues once in a while. I have one friend we’ve had on the show here before Karen Batchelor.

Adrienne: Oh, yeah!

Fisher: She was trying to join 20 of them in a single year. I don’t know that worked out so well. But she got in on a bunch of them. Do you know Karen?

Adrienne: I do. And I remember her saying that. I’d love to know the follow up on it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Adrienne: That’s very ambitious. After three I was a little tuckered out.

Fisher: Yeah.

Adrienne: But it is something that I want to get back into, at least with one or two more of them.

Fisher: There’s a society for an awful lot of things. So, check it out and see if you can find one that you might find is a good match for you based on who your ancestors were and they could be from other countries as well. So, thanks so much Adrienne it’s great to talk to you. I know you’re there for anybody who wants to join. Legacy Tree does this all the time.

Adrienne: Yes.

Fisher: So, it’s really a great service provided there and look forward to having you back on the show again some time.

Adrienne: Thank you Scott.

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

Segment 4 Episode 392

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher. That is David Allen Lambert from NEHGS. And David, our first question today comes from Jenny in Orange, New Jersey and she says, "Guys, my ancestor ran a business in New York City in the late 1800s. Is there a way to learn more about what he did?" Good question and I think we have some experience with that, David.

David: Yeah, urban genealogy is one of my favorite things to do. And of course the first thing is to find out more about the occupation your ancestor had and that might give you some clues.

Fisher: Yeah. You can do this a couple of ways. First of all, I'm not quite clear from the question whether you're talking about the specific business or what he did for an occupation. There are lots of ways to look up what somebody did if that had that occupation. Sometimes the words describing the occupation don't really explain exactly what they did. So you can find a lot of things even on Google to explain what that occupation was. What that person did. But when it comes down to a specific business in New York, there are lots of things you can do.

David: Oh, sure. I mean, city directories are the first thing that pops into my mind, but there's obviously newspapers that you can Google search that you can search for that address in the newspapers. That can give you some remarkable hints.

Fisher: Absolutely. There are often ads in there. I had an ancestor who had a business in New York at the same time period and found lots of ads relating to the company, not only what they sold and when their hours were and that type of thing, but they actually had one of their carts stolen.

David: Oh no.

Fisher: And so they describe the cart and exactly what it looked like. I've never seen one, but they wanted to get that back. That was kind of interesting. There was another ad where they were hiring people and it said who to contact in order to look for the job. And there were others also that talked about their incorporation on new partnerships in there. So you can get quite a history of the business just through the newspapers. And also match it up, as you mentioned, Dave with the city directories, because that can really give you an idea of when your people were involved in it and maybe when they became owners or if they started it from scratch.

David: You know, you may also find that an account book may exist within your family that maybe somebody had saved that or some other business papers. Sometimes these even show up in historical societies, like the Brooklyn Historical Society is one place that I can think of that has a tremendous amount of different records that could be business related.

Fisher: Well, it’s funny you mention that, because there was a company in Wisconsin and they apparently did business with my great grandfather's company and all of their papers wound up being saved and several of them wound up on eBay, including four invoices from my great grandfather's business from the 1870s and 1880s. They were selling them on eBay, so I bought them all of course, and what a great thing to have, because it also shows what the logo was and how they laid these things out, which helps market the company. I should mention also, another place that's a little lesser known source and you might have to get up to Boston for it. It’s the Baker Library at Harvard University. They have the RG Dun and Collection Reports. And this is the forerunner to Dun and Bradstreet.

David: Oh yeah.

Fisher: So, all this information would be in there about when the company was established, how they went about doing business, who the partners were, where they lived, what was their financial situation. Sometimes they would actually ask people who did business with them or some of their competitors about them and put that information that they were given into the report. In fact, you can find sometimes if a partner was married, what their age was. What their background is. So they kind of give them a rating about how good they are to do business with. Unfortunately however, they don't like you to use these for genealogical purposes. You actually have to be potentially writing a book.

David: Yes, you're not the family historian half, but historian half.

Fisher: Exactly.

David: Well, you know, the other thing is, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, use those with the internet and you can overlay and figure out where the place is. Who knows, maybe even part of the building or the whole building is still standing.

Fisher: Thanks for the question. I hope that's helpful to you, Jenny. And we'll be back with another one on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 392

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, one more time around for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Fisher and David here. And David, this question comes from Rob in Anaheim, California. He says, "Guys, I had an ancestor who was a minister in the 1750s in Connecticut. Is it likely there are special records of clergy that can give me a good story or two? Love your show. Thanks. Rob."

David: Wow, that's a good question! I would say that the first thing you want to do, Rob is see maybe the town that he may have preached in. if you know the town he's from, good chance that's probably where his church was or one of his churches. And I think that would be the place I would start, because a lot of old England town histories will have these great biographies.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Now that being said, American Ancestors has a database called, Colonial Collegians and it catches all of the early ministers that were going to college, as well as other individuals like lawyers up until 1775. So you can go all the way back to the 1600s. So, he probably went to Yale, maybe he went to Harvard and then moved to Connecticut. So, in not knowing his full story, I would try that and that's on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: That's very cool, that's a great database. And you know, those ministers were revered as town leaders, so yes, there are just tons and tons of biographies in the town histories from those early days. And they were small towns, so there were a lot of well known people within the community that they would highlight and maybe you can find something there. They'll often even give a history of his family, because typically, this kind of occupation ran in the family.

David: That is very true. And the other is, you can look on FindAGrave.com. He probably has a gravestone and sometimes those early gravestones have a little bit of a biographical slant on them as well, so that might help you. Or if he lived long enough, there was a local newspaper, when a minister dies, often times you'll find that in the paper or when he was invested into the first church and the other ministers came to that celebration. You might find him joining a particular church. So, colonial newspapers in New England go back to 1704.

Fisher: Isn't that interesting, too. And because of their prominence in the community, often you're going to find pictures, etchings of course, not photographs, but etchings of these individuals. Obviously when you get into the photographic era, you're going to start seeing some of those. I found etchings of the ministers for instance who married my second great grandparents in the 1820s. And you'll find some from the 18th century as well, not uncommon.

David: You know that's very true. And by the way, one clerical change, there was a newspaper in 1690 called, Publick Occurrences, but it existed for one issue.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, 1704 with The Boston News-Letter would be technically the first. And I want someone to say, "But David, you've got that one wrong." So, your ancestor also probably left a probate. Looking for the Last Will and Testament may talk about the different books that he had and may give clues to other family members and it may even be like you say, an etching, but maybe there's even a portrait in one of the churches that he preached out of.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, those can go way, way back. I descend from Everardus Bogardus, the 2nd minister among the Dutch at New Amsterdam, and there's one portrait of him and his wife, Anneke Jans that is out there. And sometimes these images are now licensed, but you can actually buy a copy of the photo, and they're pretty interesting. So, you can really paint a word portrait of your ancestors fairly easily. This is not a difficult thing at all. I mean, obviously some people, there's not a lot of information out there on them. But ministers and high profile people in a small town in New England in the 18th century, yeah you should be able to find quite a bit of info.

David: Happy hunting!

Fisher: Good luck to you. David thanks for joining us. And of course thanks to you, Rob for the question, hope that helped you out. And if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, it’s always easy to ask us, just email us at [email protected]. Well, that's our show for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the interviews with our special guest today. If you missed any of it or you want to catch it again, we're always available on podcast just go to ExtremeGenes.com, iHeart Radio, Apple Media, Spotify or TuneIn Radio. We're all over the place. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. 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