Episode 417 - First Indexed States Of 1950 Census On Ancestry / Little Known UK Courting & Marriage Traditions

podcast episode Apr 11, 2022

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 by talking about their own experiences with the newly released 1950 US Census. David then shares a bizarre story about a photo found in an old box that led to a century old story of murder! Then, DNA is again coming through showing the migration of Europeans invaders some 1,500 years ago. Plus, really large (ten feet tall!) stone jars have been found in a jungle! Hear what has been learned about them.

Next, Fisher visits with Craig Foster of FamilySearch.org. In this segment (originally aired in 2016), Craig talks about little known courting and marriage traditions from the U.K. Little known AND unbelievable!

Then, Crista Cowan from sponsor Ancestry.com comes on to update us on Ancestry’s efforts to index the 1950 US Census that was just released. Already three states are 100% finished!

David then returns for a pair of questions on Ask Us Anything. One has to do with an old letter that revealed information about a whaling ancestor. The other writer may have found a birth father in the 1950 census and wants to know about connecting.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 417

Fisher: And hello America, and welcome to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher at this end, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Who do we have today? We’ve got a couple of great guests Craig Foster is going to be here from Family Search International talking about the little known United Kingdom courting and marriage traditions. And I will tell you, if you’re not aware of these things you’re going to want to hear what he’s talking about coming up in just a little bit. Later on in the show from our sponsors over an Ancestry.com Crista Cowan is back bringing us up to speed on what’s happening with the indexing of the 1950 census that was just released a few days ago. This is going to be so much fun and I’m interested in hearing what some of her discoveries are in this year’s census. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, come on in! Yeah, you can sign up on our website ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. We would love to have you there, for links to past and present shows, a blog from me each week, and links to stories you’ll appreciate as a family historian/genealogist. And speaking of which, let’s head out to Boston and talk to one who’s kind of engaged in that kind of work. It’s David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David!

David: Hey! I’m sorry I just got finished doing all of my third cousins in the 1950 census.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Have you found an age discrepancy yet? I’m finding them. People are still not right about their age.

Fisher: They’re still lying about their ages. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: As we all know, it’s just gone on historically. You can go back to the 1850 census when they first started listing them, and there’s plenty of them right there. It’s always funny to me. We see a 10 year leap, and then somebody in the household ages all of seven years and then again eight years the next 10 years. And pretty soon they’re completely offline with their birth times, you know?

David: Soon they won’t be even born. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Yeah.

David: Well, I found my mom and I found my maternal and paternal grandparents. My dad is still hiding out some place in Boston. Never found him yet. He hadn’t married my mother yet. And I found some cousins. I found some great aunts and uncles. How about you? Who have you found?

Fisher: I found my mom with her first husband in Ohio. She was there for all of maybe six months. [Laughs]

David: Oh wow!

Fisher: Right during the census. I found my grandparents in Oregon. Found my half sister and my half brother in New Jersey with their mom who was separated from my dad at the time. I haven’t found my dad yet so I’m going to have to wait till all the indexing is caught up. But I’m sure he will show up somewhere and I’ll know where he was.

David: You know, for Family Histoire news, I have a real doozy of a story to start with. This comes from Ohio where someone was going through family photographs for her husband’s side, and in this box of photos there’s one of Minnie Berndt who vanished in January 1906 after leaving her home. And she thought she was eloping but she didn’t end up with a marriage certificate. She ended up with a death certificate. She was murdered by her supposed love of her life and he shot her in a barn as he wasn’t given permission to marry her. So, if he couldn’t have her, apparently no one else was going to either.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I thought the old saying was, if you love someone, let them go. And if they truly love you, they’ll come back, right?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, in this case there’s no coming back.

Fisher: What a bit of research is going to come from that one.

David: Well, you know, I love research when they’re starting to mix in archeology and genealogy. And I have people that will call up occasionally and they’ll ask, “When are we going to be able to get permission to dig up great, great grandpa to get his DNA?” Well, if you want to dig up your 50th great grandfather it’s not bad if you’re an archeologist.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And that’s what’s happening in Leipzig, Germany where they found the graves of warriors known as Avars. Avars traveled to Europe approximately 1,500 years ago.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: And what they’ve done is, they’ve looked at the DNA remains on 27 sites throughout Hungary and found out they have a strong connection with graves of people found in Mongolia. 

Fisher: Wow!

David: DNA showed this migration pattern. And it’s not the first time this has happened where they find the DNA matches up and helps with the migration. Because you know, there is no Ellis Island to go through.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: There’s no naturalization - immigration situation so it’s going to be DNA so this is an aid to future generations. The next story, in India they have found these lime stone jars. In the middle of the forest they’re gi-normous jars, 10 feet high and six and a half feet wide!

Fisher: What? Wow!

David: These are the biggest urns you’d ever thought you’d find. Yeah, they’re or cremated human remains. And they were probably created during a funerary practice thousands of years ago. And they just, well, happened to be there and they’ve been found in the jungle.

Fisher: Wow! So nobody has seen them all these years and now they’ve just stumbled on them. That’s incredible.

David: Um hmm. Yeah, That’s what happens with jungles. You get a little overgrown so the next time you have a cremated remains in your backyard, remember to cut the grass every so often.

Fisher: Good point. [Laughs] You know, it’s funny though, you think about all the stuff that’s out in a jungle somewhere in Africa, maybe in South America that’s still waiting to be found. And every once in a while you come up on something that just makes you go, wow!

David: Well, I mean think of all the Mayan temples in Aztec.

Fisher: Right.

David: Temples they’ve found in the past 100 years that have just been overgrown. You know they’ve turned into natural mountains and all of a sudden wait a second, they have stairs. [Laughs] You know?

Fisher: Yeah. Where’d this stuff come from? It’s just amazing to think what might still be out there.

David: Well, I know what’s out here is my dad in the 1950 census. And after I’m done talking with you today I’m going to go look for him some more, so if anybody has found George R. Lambert born 1925 in Massachusetts, please return him to his son. He’s looking for him. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Genealogically speaking.

Fisher: Of course.

David: Well, that’s all I have from Beantown. And remember, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors we’d love to have you as a member. Use the coupon code EXTREME and save $20 on the membership on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right David. We will talk to you at the backend of the show or Ask Us Anything. And on the way next, from Family Search International Craig Foster talking about little known United Kingdom courting and marriage traditions. Some of the things he has to say are just absolutely bizarre. If you haven’t studied some of this stuff you’re going to enjoy the segment coming up next. Get ready it’s on the way in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 417

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Craig Foster

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And, this is very interesting. I went to a recent conference on family history at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. And, there are all kinds of great classes that are shared there, and one of them was taught by this man who’s on the phone with me right now, Craig Foster. He works over at FamilySearch.org in fact, one of our sponsors, and Craig, nice to have you on the show! And, you did a fabulous presentation on weddings and particularly from the British Isles, and some of the customs that were over there that might help us understand our ancestors a little better. And some of those customs that were actually brought over to the United States, I would imagine New England and probably Virginia in the south, yes?

Craig: Yes, thanks for having me on. Yes, there were various customs, both courting and marriage customs, that were in the British Isles and then obviously since so many British people immigrated to New England, Virginia, all along the eastern seaboard - they brought these customs with them, which would be expected, and sometimes the customs, while they eventually died out in England and Scotland and that they continued at least for a while longer over here in America.

Fisher: Interesting. And these don’t necessarily show up in records, right?

Craig: For the most part, no. Although you will find references sometimes, you know, in diaries, or even some local histories where they’ll talk about it to a degree, but not a great degree. So it’s a hint here and a hint there, and it’s a matter of piecing it all together.

Fisher: Sure. Now, one of those things that we’re going to talk about as far as courting goes was the consideration of what betrothal meant. Now, I think most of us today think of betrothal as being, like, engaged, right?

Craig: Right.

Fisher: But it was not that way in the 18th century.

Craig: No, absolutely not. It was considered much more binding. In fact, that’s why when a couple were betrothed, they were supposed to do it in a public setting, in front of a priest or minister of some type, and in front of male representatives from both sides of the family. And the reason why is because they allowed a degree of intimacy that was not allowed, or we would not expect to be allowed nowadays. And that is, they allowed right up to full sexual intercourse. In fact, that’s why we always tell people if you’re looking for a marriage because a child was born a certain date and you know that was the first child, then you’d better look right up to a week or so before the child was born, for the marriage to take place, because of this allowing this degree of intimacy.

Fisher: I actually found a record like that just a week or so ago, on a relative not a direct, but somebody who’d been married ten days before, and then the baby was born.

Craig: Right.

Fisher: But I don’t know if it had to do with this or not.

Craig: As long as the couple was married, that child was considered legitimate.

Fisher: Ah. Well, tell us some more of these things. This is kind of interesting stuff. What is this thing, “bundling”? Tell me about that.

Craig: Okay, so bundling was done mostly in pre-industrial Revolution times, and it took place mostly in the north of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Not so much in England, particularly down in the middle and the south part of England. And this was done mostly with the agrarian, or “working class.” Where, they would work all day, they didn’t have time to really do much courting, except at night. And, so they would come and the parents and family would bundle them into the bed. Usually it was the guy going to the girl’s place. And they would bundle them together in the bed. They would put the covers over them, and then they would put a rolled up blanket between them, or a board, or something like that. Sometimes they’d even put the girl into a very large stocking type thing and tie it.

Fisher: [Laughs] Really?

Craig: With the idea that they could talk with each other. They would talk until they just fell asleep. But there wouldn’t be any intimacy, because this was still in the courting.

Fisher: Yeah, this was dating. This was dating, and we’re talking 18th century here, yes?

Craig: This was 18th century dating, among the more, you know, the agrarian class, and this was brought over to New England and was done in New England until actually long past when it was given up in Scotland and other parts of the British Isles. And ironically, some British publications even kind of looked down on the New Englanders, commenting that they still practiced something like that. Yet, that’s where they got it from, was from their original homeland.

Fisher: So what made them actually end bundling in the British Isles?

Craig: Well, it grew out of style for a couple of reasons. One, particularly with the industrial revolution came better methods of heating, and so they didn’t have to bundle up into bed. They were able to heat the house.

Fisher: Ah.

Craig: You know, less expensively and for longer, plus there was a change in courting and all of that, particularly after what historians like Lawrence Foster and Peter Laslett referred to as the “first sexual revolution.” You know, everyone talks about the ‘60s being the sexual revolution, but they argue that the first sexual revolution actually took place in the 1770s, ‘80s. It started a little bit earlier in some places, but particularly 1770s and ‘80s. And they looked on it all in a different way, and they decided that bundling was just a little too risky, and that it encouraged illegitimacy a little too much. And, so that went and it was in reaction to this first sexual revolution.

Fisher: I’m talking to Craig Foster. He’s with FamilySearch.org, and we’re talking about some of the unusual customs in courting and marriage in the British Isles. Now let’s jump over to the marriage side of things here, Craig. And, you were mentioning to me off-air before we went on that there are a lot of records that just don’t show up, and this is really important for people to understand if they’re searching for ancestors in that part of the world.

Craig: That’s right, absolutely. And there are several reasons why the records wouldn’t show up. You know, usually when we’re doing research, we go to the parish where the bride was from or perhaps where the groom was from.

Fisher: Right.

Craig: And if we don’t find the marriage in the record right away, we decide, okay, they either were non-conformists, or they got married in a parish right nearby. So we do the usual radius search, and of course we try to get access to non-conformists’ records, but you have to keep in mind that with marriage they had to get married in the Church of England. And, you know, up until 1837.

Fisher: Right.

Craig: So we sit there and we go, well, okay, I really don’t understand it unless they were Quakers or something like that.

Fisher: Yeah.

Craig: But what happened was, there were some places where the marriages were performed, and so let me tell you really quickly, for example, “Fleet marriages.” There was a part of London that was within the sound or within the environs of the Fleet Prison, and these irregular and clandestine marriages took place in this area of London. And there were a couple of areas right around the same area all together where people would go, they would get married, and then the marriages weren’t recorded or they were put into another book. There would be a couple of books that would be available, or they would change the names. And so these were quick and irregular marriages that were technically… they were barely legal, if that and they were certainly not canonical. You know, in other words, the church really looked down on this.

Fisher: Sure.

Craig: There were also places out in the country. Some of these parishes where they were known as lawless churches, and they would be kind of the poor churches out there where the minister was happy to do anything in order to get a little bit of money, because they were barely making it, you know, economically. And so they would go to these churches and sometimes they were at least a number of parishes away, or even over into another county. And then of course after the laws were changed in the early 1750s, then of course you had the Marriage Act of 1753 changed it. People would go up to Gretna Green which lies across the Scottish border, because the Scottish laws were a little more lenient. And so couples wanting to get married and didn’t have permission from their parents, would rush up to Gretna Green for a quick marriage.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow. Well, that sounds like another place we have to start looking. That isn’t the best news that I’ve heard here, Craig, because I think most of us hope that at some point something’s going to show up on a website somewhere, and you’re saying “maybe not,” in many cases.

Craig: [Laughs] I’m saying maybe not. Because there were thousands of marriages that took place each year in the area of the Fleet Prison, and a good portion of those marriages were never recorded. That’s just one example. So, sometimes you just may not be able to find your ancestor’s marriage, because of a reason like that.

Fisher: I don’t like hearing things like that. But Craig, I enjoyed it very much. Especially the thing about bundling, that’s absolutely insane! [Laughs]

Craig: Yeah, it really was kind of crazy.

Fisher: I’ve learned something today. Thanks for coming on. Appreciate it and hope to talk to you again.

Craig: Look forward to it.

Fisher: And coming up next, Crista Cowan from our sponsors over at Ancestry.com. What could we possibly talk about? Well, how about the 1950 census? Yeah, it is out and the indexing process is underway. Certain states are already complete. You’re going to want to hear all about it. It’s coming up when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 417

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan

Fisher:  And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, talking once again to my good friend Crista Cowan from over at Ancestry.com. And of course Crista, there is really nothing to talk about other than the 1950 census release. And there’s going to be new news like every week for weeks to come on this.

Crista: Yeah. It’s a process. Sometimes people think that the release of a census is a sprint but really it’s a little bit more of a marathon.

Fisher: Well, it has been more of a marathon in the past, but it’s a lot faster this time around. Let’s talk about the fact that, first of all, you’ve already indexed three of the states after the release of what, 6.9 million images?

Crista: Yeah, 6.9 million images released by the federal government. Ancestry got them downloaded and then uploaded to our site within 48 hours and simultaneously we started running our handwriting recognition indexing tool on those images. We’ve already Delaware, Wyoming, and Vermont complete.

Fisher: Wow! So those are done and you’ve got more in the loop right now. Which ones are close?

Crista: Yeah. So, the way that this is working is Ancestry is running this handwriting recognition technology tool against those images. We’re then delivering those computer generated index to Family Search where the Family Search volunteers are reviewing those records. So, currently sitting at Family Search is Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona, with more streaming online every day.

Fisher: Most of the west. This is awesome. Let’s talk about this artificial intelligence because this is the first year that this has ever happened and I know you’ve been going over some of the names yourself. How many of them so far?

Crista: So far I’ve reviewed about four thousand names.

Fisher: Four thousand names. So, the question I’m sure everybody is asking right now is, how good is this artificial intelligence at reading the handwriting of how many thousands of enumerators from the 1950 census, what have you found?

Crista: You know, we have brilliant data scientists here at Ancestry who have developed this proprietary algorithm to read these records. I shouldn’t be shocked, but of the four thousand records I’ve reviewed, I have made very, very few corrections. It’s an almost pristine index. It’s fascinating to me that the technology can read the handwriting and handwriting of dozens of different enumerators with different styles and different pressure on the paper and all sorts of cross-outs, and re-writes.

Fisher: And colors.

Crista: Yeah colors. [Laughs] It’s amazing.

Fisher: It is. It’s a remarkable thing and hopefully, all those people who created this are patting themselves on the back today because we’ve never seen a roll-out like this. I mean, in the past, yes, you’ve wanted to get the entire state out so that people don’t go online and look for their relative in the index and then they’re not there and then they don’t go back, thinking, oh, it’s never going to be there. That’s why we roll them out one state at a time, so that you get the full complete deal right from the start. So, really very soon here we’re going to have nine of the states up.

Crista: Yeah and more every week. So, our plan is to release whatever completed states are every week. So, every Wednesday morning I’ll be going live at 11 o’ clock Mountain Time on the Ancestry YouTube channel to announce which states were completed and published that morning. So, we’ll give you weekly updates as we go.

Fisher: Now, is there any delay in larger states or is it just the smaller states are easiest to get out quick, or are they working on them all at the same time, how does this work?

Crista: Yeah. So, we are working on things simultaneously but the smaller states do just run through faster. So, Wyoming, Delaware and Vermont, that’s the reason for those. I’ve just checked on Family Search and it looks like Utah is about 98% done. I think that has more to do with the people who are volunteering their time and where their interests are than anything else.

Fisher: Sure.

Crista: So, really it’s just up to the volunteers and what states they select for the review process at Family Search.

Fisher: Wow! You know, I’ve been wearing these quite a bit lately.

Crista: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] These are the glasses that help protect your eyes because you’re spending too much time on screens. They’re absolutely amazing at keeping you going for long, long hours and it’s been a lot of fun. I found stuff right off the bat using your Ancestry district finder right in the front. So, you can actually go in, put in an address and find the people you’re looking for you don’t need the index. So, if you’re waiting for some of those larger states, I have a lot of people from New York, and New Jersey. You might have some folks from California. You’re going to put the address in there if you know it from where they were in 1950 and it will take you right to the very grouping of like 17 to 25 pages somewhere in there and you can pretty much go through those very quickly and find the people you’re looking for. I was able to find my dad’s first wife and my half sister and my half brother and learn that in 1950 they were separated at that time. I was aware that they had separated a couple of times before they were finally divorced, but I didn’t realize it was happening then. So, I found them but I haven’t found dad yet. I don’t know where he is so I’m going to have to wait for the index to pop up from one of those states. What about you found anything interesting discoveries, Crista?

Crista: Yeah, absolutely. So, my family is mostly in California, so, my dad with his parents. My mom’s parents and her older sister, but the interesting discovery that we made was my dad’s grandmother, she was widowed and she had an adult daughter who had just returned from World War II. She had a teenage daughter who was still living at home and we thought that was kind of their living situation, but when I found her on that 1950 census image she had two boarders living with her, which if you know anything about my great grandmother you know it was kind of shocking. She was a rather grumpy, anti-social woman. The thing we’re always telling the family is whenever she’d answer the phone she’d always just say “what?” no hello, nothing. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] How pleasant.

Crista: Yes, lovely woman. But, there are these two boarders in so I started looking into who they were and it was a younger widowed woman with a small daughter. They were from Minnesota and they had a very German name. So, what I suspect is my very German Lutheran great grandmother may have been encouraged by her pastor at her local church to take this woman and her child in, and that wouldn’t surprise me. But the fact that existed surprised me and nobody of the family knew that she ever had boarders. It was kind of a fun discovery.

Fisher: It is fun to go through these. This is the first census that’s really close to the time that I was born and I grew up on the same little lane my entire youth and into my early adulthood. So, I actually went through to see if I could find who was little on the street at that time. We had no sidewalks, there were no street lights. We lived out in the backwoods of Connecticut in Fairfield County. And it looks like that little lane was actually skipped, but there was another little street similar to it that was right nearby and I was going up the road and going, oh, well, there’s so and so parents, there’s so and so grandparents. I remember them. Names I hadn’t seen in years, and years, and years or even thought of or heard of and it was funny because here you are looking at these handwritten names on this street. The streets listed down the side on this 1950 census entry and it just took me right back to the road where they lived, what their house looked like. The little brook that went underneath the road and into this pond that I actually fell into once when I was trying to dip my hair into the water with one of my friends and had to get rescued by the neighbor lady who hauled me back up to the house and called my mom. So, you know it’s funny the things that come back to your mind when you go through lists like that. Well, good stuff happening right now, Crista, and everybody is talking about it. This is obviously going to be the highlight of the year no matter what because no matter what comes out nothing is going to be bigger than this. 150 what million?

Crista: About four, 154 million.

Fisher: 154 which is the biggest census ever released and of course they’ll just get bigger and bigger as time rolls on. But there’s a lot of discoveries to be made there. It’s easy to access if you’re looking by address or you’re looking by name as the index comes onboard. But it’s very quickly here and it’s going to be really exciting to see how fast Ancestry together with the volunteers from Family Search can put the entire index together and to see how accurate it really is. It’s really quite amazing. So, congrats to everybody over there!

Crista: Thank you so much! We’re excited and we’re fully invested in this marathon.

Fisher: Absolutely. All right, thanks so much for coming on, Crista. David Allen Lambert is next joining me for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 417

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, it’s time to open the letter bag! Of course we don't have any letter bags anymore, David now do we?

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: It is Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, that's David Allen Lambert, and with Ask Us Anything, we take your questions. And this question, Dave, comes from Les in Queens, New York, and he says, "Hey guys, thanks in advance for taking my question. I found my birth mother in the 1950 census in the same apartment building as the guy I have been told was my birth father. I went to FamilyTreeNow.com and found out he is apparently still living! I have contact information and would appreciate your advice on how best to approach him. Les."

David: Well, I mean it’s always good to approach people with a lot of evidence first.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I mean DNA.

Fisher: Right.

David: That first comes to mind, because you might have that theory that could be dad, but you don't have the DNA proof. That could open up a very odd conversation for the first time you talk to him. And I don't even think even picking up the phone or visiting is the best ideal. I mean, I would say writing.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: What do you think?

Fisher: Yeah, I think so. You remember when people used to take actual envelopes and write an address on it and put a stamp on it. You remember stamps, right?

David: Ohh, back in the old days.

Fisher: Back in the old days. And so, to actually do that and include maybe some photos of yourself that perhaps are going to resemble this guy when he was younger might also help him along. But you're absolutely right, David. I mean, you've got to deal with the DNA evidence first to make sure that it’s just not hearsay and speculations. I don't know about you, but I've worked with many people over the years who weren't sure of the identity of their birth fathers and they had varying theories about who it was. One aunt would say one thing, somebody else would say something else. And you really can't reach out to somebody with just that kind of hearsay.

David: Right. I mean, and you also don't want to make the person go back into the back of their mind and even try to recall. Have all the facts, the figures, the names, the dates, picture of your mother in fact, say, "Do you remember her?"

Fisher: Yeah, good call.

David: That would definitely be a good thing to start with.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. You know, the other thing is, not only do you want to prepare a little case so that they understand that not only are you not looking for money or something like that, just wanting to connect with a birth father. Prepare yourself for the possibility that they may not be willing to talk to you. This does happen periodically. I would say though for the majority of cases that I've been involved with personally, most of them come out very positive, but you do need to be prepared for the possibility that it’s not going to wind up that way.

David: That's very true. Unfortunately, the psychological repercussions of any involvement of a new person in your family tree, finding out about you or vice versa can sometimes be a hard thing to deal with.

Fisher: You've probably had the same experience, Dave where you reach out, you find a distant cousin. You want to talk to them about what they know. What photos they have. I mean, we're not talking about even a birth parent here, but I've had many people who are going, "Who is this guy? What does he want? What's he getting at? Why does he want this information?" you know. Even for something from a distant cousin sometimes they can question your voracity here when you're trying to reach out to them. So, you know, in the case of somebody that close, you want to make sure that you're really well prepared, emotionally and as far as the case goes.

David: Oh, I agree a hundred percent.

Fisher: You know, another thought, David is that perhaps you should be contacting somebody else within the family. Maybe there's a half sibling out there. You could approach them with the evidence, because maybe someone younger is also likely to be more understanding of exactly how you came to this conclusion and I think that could help the case as well.

David: Um hmm, completely agree.

Fisher: All right, so great question, Les and congratulations first of all. This is a real early find on the 1950 census and a good one. And we wish you the best of luck in making this connection and hopefully developing some sort of relationship or communication at the very least. So, good luck with that. Hey, we've got another question coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 417

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go again, another question for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. And David, question number two this week comes from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Alexa writes, "Dave and Fish, in a box from my grandmother's attic, my sister and I found a letter that mentioned her uncle being a greenie on a whaling ship out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Anyone know what a greenie was and how to research this whaling man?" That's a good question. I remember greenies were like amphetamines that baseball players used in the '60s. Well, what is this, David, do you know?

David: It’s an old slang term that I haven't heard in awhile. It’s like a green hand or someone who's green help.

Fisher: Ah!

David: A greenie is on their first voyage on a whaling vessel on any nautical trip that they may have taken. So, it could also be the color of their face on their first mission as well.

Fisher: [Laughs] Makes sense.

David: Well, that's great. I mean, that's a good letter and plenty of information, because you'll probably be able to date it, maybe know who this uncle is by looking at your genealogical notes. If it’s out in New Bedford, you're really in luck, because since the WPA worked on an index of all the whaling crew list a long time ago, you're going to search for free via the New Bedford whaling museum's website at WhalingMuseum.org. And you can search for crewmen. You can search on the destination and then sort it by vessel. You're going to get some pretty good information, even on the early ones that go back to the 1830s, right on down to 20th century.

Fisher: Wow!

David: You get the name of the person, their vessel, the type of vessel it is, you know, maybe a ship or a brig or a barque, you get the age of the person, you get their skin color, the hair color, their eye color and where they're from. So, you should be able to get enough information shy of not having a DNA test to match up with one of these people to know if perhaps this is one of the people in your family tree. And for me, I used this database when it was simply a card index over 40 years ago when I was a kid, because what started me in genealogy was a whaler out of New Bedford who was a greenie in 1871.

Fisher: Really?

David: And that greenie was my great grandfather, my nana's father who was who I had the tintype picture of and the story that he was on a whaling ship. So, this story came into port for me, I guess.

Fisher: [Laughs] That tintype you mentioned, wasn't that a gift to you that really got you triggered in this years ago?

David: Um hmm, yeah, actually my uncle had returned a book of genealogy that was written in 1881 and published. And when he handed the book to me, I was about seven years old and he's taking his coat off and I noticed sticking out of the book was this sharp metal piece, it looks like it was, you know, just a piece of tin. And I opened the book up, because it looked like it was bookmark of sorts and sure enough, there was a picture of my grandmother's father. Now, I had no idea at seven that an 80 year old woman could have been young enough to actually have parents.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So I asked my grandmother who it was, and she said, "Well, this is my dad." Well, I had only lost a goldfish at that point in time, so I decided to say to her, "Nana, where do I go from here to meet him? Where does he live?" Well, he died in 1921, so that was off the possibility scope, and I just started me in genealogy. So, needless to say, a whaling story in genealogy got me hooked in genealogy.

Fisher: Um hmm, yeah, very nice. And very good question, Alexa and what good luck, too that Dave knows so much about this stuff from his early roots. So, thank you for the question. And of course for anybody who has a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email us at [email protected] and maybe we'll answer it on the air. David thanks so much. We'll talk to you again next week.

David: Until later.

Fisher: All right, my friend. And thanks so much for joining us. If you missed any of the show or you want to catch it again, of course you can listen online to our podcast version, which you can find on ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify, AppleMedia, TuneIn Radio, it’s all over the place. We'd love to have you there. Take care. We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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