Episode 438 - Ordinary People With Extraordinary Finds- Chicago Man Finds Ties To Execution of King Charles I / Long Island Man Learns Dad Fought Nazis... In The USA!

podcast episode Nov 07, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Family Histoire News begins with a fab news concerning one of the Fab Four… Ringo Starr. Hear how the remarriage of a great grandmother likely changed pop history! Then, over 100 people are each inheriting $60,000 from a man they never met and likely never even heard of. Catch the story. Next, a Canadian woman who lost her Swedish-born mother decades ago is reconnecting with her through a stash of her mother’s letters shared with her by a relative in Sweden. Now, the daughter is learning Swedish! In Scandinavia, some more Viking graves have been found… but two of them are remarkable for what was found with them. Finally, hear why the “Black Death” may be causing you health problems today!

In Segment 2, Fisher talks with Scott Norrick of Chicago. Scott’s research has led him to a New England ancestor suspected of playing a key role in British history, but his altered identity still presents challenges.

Then, hear Long Island, NY resident Andrew Malekoff talk about what he learned about his father and his activities as a teenager in the 1930s. It was an eyebrow raiser for Andrew and it will be for you too!

David then returns for two more of your questions on Ask Us Anything.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 438

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. Great guests today! A couple of ordinary people with extraordinary finds and I think you’re going to love these stories. First of all, we’re going to talk to a man out of Chicago who has linked his ancestor to the execution of King Charles the first. And as much as we’re talking so much about the royal family these days you’re going to want to hear this story, and the hidden identity of his ancestor and how they’re kind of figuring out who he really was. It’s great stuff coming up in about ten minutes with Scott Norrick, and then later in the show, Andrew Malakoff from Long Island talks about his dad fighting the Nazis back in the 1930s, in the United States of America. We’ll tell you all about that coming up as well. Hey, if you want more great stories and more great shows past and present, then you’ve got to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter on our Facebook page or at ExtremeGenes.com. You get a blog from me each week as well. Right now, off to Boston, David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David.

David: I have some fab news for you.

Fisher: Really?

David: It’s genealogical fab, in fact.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: If you remember the term fab you would remember the Fab Four. And one of them, Ringo Starr, of course people know him as Richard Starkey.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: You know, that’s really not his family name. It turns out, his grandfather on his dad’s side was born John Parkin.

Fisher: What?

David: He changed the name to John Starkey when his own mother had remarried. So, you could have Ringo Parkin or Ringo Perkins.

Fisher: Ringo Parr! [Laughs]

David: That’s true!

Fisher: It doesn’t work. That’s really interesting.

David: Yep. So, those Fab Four could have had a different spin on it if Ringo’s great grandmother didn’t remarry so many years ago.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: Well, I love when you can find a scratch ticket that wins. How about when you win $60,000 from a relative you never knew?

Fisher: Wow!

David: Well, 119 people are related to Joseph Stanczak of Chicago. He had died back in 2016 and he left his 11 million dollar estate amongst 119 distant relatives who never even really knew him.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. It actually had to be researched to find these people. They never knew the guy, never laid eyes on him in his life, and they’re each going to get sixty thousand dollars. I actually had this happen once in our family, somebody related to my wife had a common ancestor born in the 1780s and had no descendents. So, as a result of that our kids and some of my wife’s cousin’s kids wound up getting like 1,700 bucks a piece. [Laughs] So, it was kind of fun money but it was amazing because we never knew this person either.

David: Well, you know, I love when old family letters reconnect distant relatives and cousins. But in this case, Antonia Ried who grew up in Canada had actually lost her mom when she was 20. Well, a relative in Sweden sent her a pile of letters that you would think this is normally going to be an easy thing; you can kind of pull a diary apart of your mother’s life. Yeah well, actually the letters are written completely in Swedish. So, she’s now had to embrace her heritage to know her mother’s past and learn a little Swedish on the way.

Fisher: Yeah, isn’t that amazing? And this woman has been missing her mom a long time, and kind of felt she wasn’t very good at speaking Swedish when she was a kid and her mom tried to encourage her at their home in Canada. So, some of her relatives when she would visit Sweden would kind of make fun of her. So, she had to go back and go at it again and seven years later she’s still doing it and feeling very competent now in her Swedish and learning more about her mother’s thoughts from these intimate letters, a huge pile of them, by the way.

David: Well, you just never know when you’re going to dig up the past. Well, digging up the past in Sweden is my next story I want to share with our listeners. And this is because two Viking graves were found. Well, Viking graves are found all the time, but in this case they found swords straight up in the ground.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So, these are in there as a symbolic way of basically preventing the dead from rising.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Has a heart back to horror movies with Dracula and wooden stakes through the heart.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But this is straight from a cemetery 1,200 years ago and these are two graves found in the same sight and they both had swords arranged the same way. So, interesting stuff! Well, you know, digging into the past also brings in some gruesome history and that of course is the black death. In fact, recently in London, at East Smithfield plague pits in London, they found mass burials from 1348 to '49, Fish, chances are because so much of the population affected, most of our listeners will probably have an ancestor or some relative that died. 30 to 50% of the population from Europe, Middle East, and North Africa was wiped out. But they're saying now that if your ancestor survived, obviously they have descendants, but you may be suffering from Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus because they survived the Black Death. That hyper immune system that kept your ancestors from dying 100s of years ago during the Black Death may be causing health problems today. And now they're saying that there may be something in the future they'll have to look at for people that survived Covid.

Fisher: Yeah, really true. And of course we have all these variations of Covid and of course Covid has affected people from different ethnic backgrounds differently, too, so yeah, it's going to be interesting to see how that develops, but I doubt, Dave, we'll be around to find out the results of that study.

David: I'll leave some letters and send them to Sweden.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: That's all I have from Beantown this week. I'll catch you with Ask Us Anything in just a little bit as always. And remember, if you've never been to Boston before, we welcome you to visit American Ancestors in person at 101 Newbury Street. You can use the $20 code, "EXTREME" to save on your membership. And you can also benefit by going to our website, AmericanAncestors.org and virtually do your research with us.

Fisher: All right, David, very good. We will talk to you in just a little bit. And coming up next, it's a man who discovered that his ancestor may not have been who his ancestor claimed to be. In fact, he may have been involved with the execution of a king. You're going to want to hear the story dug up by Scott Norrick of Chicago, coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 438

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Scott Norrick

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to the show, Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and we’ve talked a lot this year about the royal family. Of course, we’ve lost Queen Elizabeth. Now we have King Charles the third on the throne. And my next guest discovered he had a tie to King Charles, but it was King Charles the first and it led to an amazing story that only in recent years has been cracked. Scott Norrick is on the line from Chicago, with another ordinary person with an extraordinary find. Scott welcome to Extreme Genes.

Scott: Hey Scott, it’s a pleasure to speak with you today.

Fisher: So, how did you get started in this chase with royalty in your family?

Scott: Yeah, well, it’s an interesting story. A number of years ago I started tracing my family history, and started with a grandmother of my father’s. And I knew her name, but I really didn’t know anything more than that. Through following the paper trail, I was able to go back to Colonial America and traced her back to a gentleman named Theophilus Whalley (or Whaley) that was living in colonial Rhode Island in the 1600s.  He would have been my eight times great grandfather.

Fisher: Okay.

Scott:  And as I found him, I saw that there had been a lot that had already been written and researched about him. And it became a fascinating story, but it was a story that required me t o dig in to learn a little bit more about English history because it seemed that he may have been tied in some way to King Charles the First and Second.

Fisher: Right. Well, on the first of course was executed, then you had the Cromwellians come in, and then Charles the second came back and took out revenge on all those people who had taken down his father all those years before. And the Whalley (or Wale) family in New England is really kind of well known. I know that there was an Eleazer Wale who was one of the people who kept track of the finances of the Revolution in Connecticut. So, I don’t know if he was tied to this man, but it seems it was a prominent name at that time. 

Scott: Yeah. Well, Theophilus ended up having five children that lived into adulthood and a lot of people descend from him, and he did have a lot of prominent descendants. I don’t know about that particular one, but it very well could be.

Fisher: Sure. So, let’s talk about now this dual identity that you discovered through your research.

Scott: Yeah. Well, it goes back to, you know, as you mentioned what happened with King Charles the first and the second. King Charles the first was by all accounts not a great or popular king. The English economy was not good under his reign, taxes were high, there were at war. And the English parliament had been trying to negotiate with the king for him to change his ways and to not be so tyrannical. And King Charles the first believed in the divine right of kings that you really only had to answer to God.

Fisher: Right.

Scott: And just wasn’t open to listening to anyway else. So, this story really goes back to the English civil wars. So all of that controversy between the king and parliament led to civil wars in England in the 1640s, and on one side was the king and the royal family and their army, and on the other side was the English and Scottish Parliament. And they raised an army and the kind of leader of that group was Oliver Cromwell.     

Fisher: Yep.

Scott: And Oliver had a first cousin named Edward Whalley. They were both members of parliament. And for a number of years there were battles in England that the parliament’s army ultimately won that war and captured the king. And once they captured him they once again tried to negotiate with him, and if he was going to continue as the monarch, he had to change his ways. He refused to do that, and parliament ultimately put him on trail, found him guilty of treason and executed him in 1649.  

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: And Oliver Cromwell and Edward Whalley were two of the big folks involved in that. And so, you had mentioned, you know, Cromwell then became the leader of the republic so for a little over a decade there was no monarch in England and it was run as a republic as you with Oliver Cromwell at the head. But things really didn’t get much better in England. Cromwell was also a controversial figure.

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: And when he passed away in 1658 that sort of opened up a leadership vacuum in England. And King Charles had a son who had been in exile. And once Cromwell died, he rallied his support for those that were loyal to his father and to the royal family and he was able to reestablish the throne in 1660. And so, England has had a continuous monarch since 1660. And so England has had a continuous monarch since 1660. But once he got on the throne, one of his first orders of business was to get retribution from those that had executed his father. At the time they called them regicides, which is the term for someone that…

Fisher: Kills the royal family. Yeah.

Scott: Exactly. Right.

Fisher: And think about it too, I mean, they had the long arm of the law. They had the best navy, there wasn’t really anywhere in the world that you could hide that somebody couldn’t find you.

Scott: Well, that’s right. And there were 59 members of Parliament that signed the king’s death warrant. Many of those were captured after King Charles the second took the throne and were either executed or imprisoned for life. A number of them though were known to escape and go to different lands. And there were three that were known to have escaped to New England, and those three were Edward Whalley, William Goffe, and John Dixwell. And you know, at first you wouldn’t think escaping to New England was a safe place for them because at the time New England was still part of England, English colonies. The good news to them, there were a lot of prominent colonists that were sympathetic to what they had done. King Charles the first was not a popular figure. Some of the Colonists were not necessarily in favor of the monarchy, and so they found help in sort of hiding them out.

Fisher: Yeah.

Scott: And they all changed their names and they all had to be very careful and lived in mystery and obscurity. But all of them eventually lived the remainder of their days in New England.

Fisher: Interesting. And then with the changed names of course, that kind of causes problems for family history researchers.

Scott: It does. And there’s still not ironclad proof on who is who today. That’s what makes my research in some of this history so interesting. But the things that were known about Theophilus his family knew that he did have a secret past that he would not talk about. He was known to come from a prominent English family and he was extremely well educated. He was proficient in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, yet lived a very modest life as a fisherman in Weaver in Rhode Island. And the one story that the people in the community and the family members knew about is one that led them to believe that he was one of the regicides. During the time that he was in Rhode Island there was a ship that anchored off of Rhode Island. The captain of that ship sought out Theophilus, and Theophilus met with him and they embraced as two relatives that hadn’t seen each other in a long time. The captain’s last name was Whalley, and Theophilus did say it was one of his cousins that he hadn’t seen in a long time. And the interesting part of that story is that the captain invited Theophilus to come back to the ship and join him for dinner on the ship. Theophilus originally agreed to that. The captain went back to the ship and Theophilus was going to meet him later. But after thinking about it a little but further, Theophilus thought it could be a trap to capture him and take him back to England for trial.

Fisher: [Laughs] Of course.

Scott: So, he sent his regards, but he wasn’t going to come for dinner on the ship. But there are several stories about Theophilus similar that led people to believe that he was one of the regicides. Part of the story though is that after Theophilus died, about 50 years after that there was a scholar named Ezra Styles who actually wrote a book about these regicides. He did a lot of scholarly research on who their real identities were.

Fisher: He was at Yale, right?

Scott: Yeah. Well, he eventually became the president of Yale, yes. A lot of the regicides at one time or another actually were living in New Haven, Connecticut. And there are a number of streets in New Haven that have been named for the three regicides that lived there at one time. So, he did a lot of research on it and he researched Theophilus, and because some of the dates didn’t line up real well, he’s conclusion that Theophilus really wasn’t Edward Whalley, the regicide that was a member of parliament that signed the king’s death warrant. But he did strongly believe that Theophilus was Edward’s younger brother Robert Whalley. And Robert was also a first cousin to Albert Cromwell, so he was tied into that family. But Robert was a military officer that was in the unit that captured the king and oversaw his execution.

Fisher: Ooh.

Scott: And the commander of that unit was ultimately caught by King Charles the second and executed. So, Robert certainly had reasons to fear for his life.

Fisher: Sure.

Scott: And be very guarded with who he really was. So, again, we may never know the exact identity of him, but most of the evidence lines up that he was probably Robert Whalley and the first cousin to Albert Cromwell. 

Fisher: Unbelievable story. So, have you ever found out if any of the male line descendants have done say, a Y-DNA test to try and tie into the Whalley family?

Scott: I have not. I have not. I thought about that and that would be obviously one way to try to solve this mystery once and for all.

Fisher: Really, really interesting. And when you think about how many of us tie into royalty, you know that’s one thing. It’s always fascinating to learn about the kings are how far back you can go. And you can tie into Charlemagne and to William the Conqueror and all that. Boy, but when you get into specific incidents like this of history where you have an execution, you have a world-wide man-hunt. You have the regicide. I mean that’s just unbelievable stuff. 

Scott: It is. It’s what makes family history research so fascinating. You know, you find a lot of really inspiring great stories, you find some negative stories. Every person has both good and bad in their ancestral past, but you find a lot of interesting stories like this. I never would have imagined tying into an event like this. And obviously now with King Charles the third about ready to have his coronation and taking the throne, it reminded me it reminded me of my links or potential links to King Charles one and two.  

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s strong work first of all Scott, so, nicely done. And good luck with your research in the future. It sounds like you really have a handle on what you’re doing. I hope you write this up for your kids. 

Scott: Yeah, I will. I definitely will.

Fisher: All right. Thanks so much for coming on Scott Norrick in Chicago, another ordinary person with an extra ordinary find. And you can do the same.

Scott: Thank you Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, another ordinary person with an extraordinary find. Learning about your dad fighting Nazis, in the 30s, in the US, hear all about it coming up next when we return in five minutes.

Segment 3 Episode 438

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Andrew Malakoff

Fisher: We are back. It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. And as you know, I love to find ordinary people with extraordinary finds, find out how they did it and get some of the details. One of those people is my next guest Andrew Malakoff. He is in Long Beach, Nassau County. He’s on Long Island in New York. Andrew, welcome to Extreme Genes. It’s great to have you.

Andrew: Well, it’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me. 

Fisher: I’ve been cruising around the internet and I ran into this great story about your discovery about your father and a little of his background you weren’t familiar with. Let’s talk about that. What got you going on this?

Andrew: Well, my father is the oldest of four siblings, two younger brothers and then below both of them a sister and they grew up in North New Jersey. Their parents were immigrants from Russia around the turn of the 20th century and my uncle was the last surviving brother. He just died one year ago, and my aunt is still alive. But when I used to spend time with him, I always loved it because he was the family historian and a great storyteller. He would rapid fire tell stories and there was one that he told me that kind of stuck in my head and I needed to know more about it. And what it was that he told me was that my father, who was actually a great high school athlete, all the boys were, they grew up poor but they had a great close family and they were all very athletic, that when he was graduated from high school sometime in the late 1930s that this was around the same time that Adolf Hitler had been about six years into his power. He came to power in ‘33. Around that time, this group formed in the United States, which was first known as the Friends of New Germany and then it became the German American Bund.

Fisher: Ooh.

Andrew: They represented the center of Nazi activity which was very active in the Newark, New Jersey area where they grew up which is the biggest city in New Jersey. 

Fisher: Now what do these guys do? What do they call them, the Bundists?

Andrew: Yeah, they called them the Bundists. That was, you know, the later name, the German American Bund. They dressed like the Brownshirts in Nazi Germany and they were probably at their peak around 25,000 of them in this area.

Fisher: Ooh.

Andrew: They held rallies. There’s a famous rally people could find if they did a search at Madison Square Garden. And in the Newark area they also had meetings and rallies. And so, the story my uncle told me was that my father was recruited by an infamous local gangster. He recruited some young guys. I suppose guys who were fit and tough and he had them rounded up and taken over to where these Bund meetings would be held. And if there was any kind of anti-Semitic rhetoric, they would throw stink bombs, which is kind of like ammonia sulphide into the window.

Fisher: Ooh.

Andrew: And that would get everybody scattering out like cockroaches when you turned the lights on.

Fisher: [Laughs] It’s a good comparison.

Andrew: Yeah. And as soon as they would go outside, they would just beat the heck out of them. So, these were, you know, young, tough Jewish guys who were taking on the Nazis here in the United States.

Fisher: Wow. And so your uncle said your dad was a part of this whole thing and you’ve been researching it ever since.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s right. You now, he just mentioned it as I said. It was almost in passing because he had so many stories. So, I didn’t know too much about it. So, I had not too long ago read the novel that Philip Roth, who was a great Pulitzer Prize winning author, wrote, and it was called, “The Plot against America” which incidentally was a HBO miniseries that aired just this past March.

Fisher: Yes, I saw it.

Andrew: The idea of the story was, if there was a national threat similar to what the European Jews confronted in the 1930s, what might happen to a Jewish family living in the neighborhood he, Roth, grew up in, which incidentally was the very same neighborhood that I grew up in as a child in Newark. And reading the book, it was as if I was revisiting the house I lived in, the neighborhood, the elementary school I went to because it was all right there.

Fisher: Sure.

Andrew: Again, it was as if there was a rise of Nazis here in this country, but I had to do a little bit more research. So, I just plugged in a few keywords and I came upon a couple of articles that were written recently, specifically about the German American Bund in Newark.

Fisher: Okay.

Andrew: And then, as it turned out, what my uncle told me validated these stories. And the gangster whose name is Abner Longie Zwillman. He was like the top mob guy in the New Jersey area, operated out of the Newark area. And again, he’s someone, if someone does research, they’ll find out all about him and his connections and he was Jewish. Despite all the criminal things that he did, he was a staunch defender of his people, and he felt something had to be done. So, he recruited some Jewish gangsters, boxers and, I assume, other people. The word got out and somehow my father and, I would assume maybe some of his friends became involved in this.

Fisher: Wow! And did they have a name for the group that this gangster put together?

Andrew: Yeah, that’s really interesting. My uncle did not tell me about this, but through the research what I found out is that they called themselves the Minutemen.

Fisher: [Laughs] Oh, a little throwback to the Revolution.

Andrew: Exactly! Because that name signified the readiness during that time to fight the British at a minute’s notice. And so, this group wanted to emulate them and fight against the Nazis and so that’s how they referred to themselves.

Fisher: And was this group repressed then over time as a result of these efforts and maybe others from the government?

Andrew: You know, I don’t know specifically, but it was just a couple of years later that my father joined the army in 1941 and served there till 1945. And I think as things started to look bad for Nazi Germany that their influence, I’m sure waned over that time. But of course, we all know that there continued to be elements, Neo-Nazi elements, here in the United States. So, it was never a group that really disappeared. It just morphed into different shapes and forms that we hear about now, even if you recall the Charlottesville incident.

Fisher: Sure.

Andrew: There were these young guys wearing khaki short sleeve college shirts with torches chanting “Jews will not replace us.” So, they haven’t disappeared completely.

Fisher: No. Tell me about your uncle. Was he pretty proud of your dad?

Andrew: Yes, he was. He was about six years younger and they were both pretty talented athletes and he looked up to him and I’m sure when he was younger, idolised him. And he never missed an opportunity to tell me that. He actually lived, my uncle, till 96. He died a year ago. I, fortunately, got to see him a few months before that, but you know, he did look up to him. They were a very close-knit, tight family.

Fisher: What a great story. Thank you so much for sharing that and how you found it because I think those are the kind of things that inspire a lot of people to dig into some of those things they may have heard or maybe an article they found somewhere in a box. You never know what you’re going to come across.

Andrew: That’s right and I really appreciate you recognizing that and I was pleased to be able to share this with your listening audience.

Fisher: He’s Andrew Malakoff. He’s from Long Beach, Long Island. Thanks so much for sharing the story Andrew and maybe we’ll talk to you again sometime.

Andrew: Looking forward to it.

Fisher: Sometimes the things we find about our parents surprise us just a little bit when we thought we knew them so well. Well, David returns here in just a few moments as we go through your emails for more of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 438

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, it is time once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, David Lambert back from NEHGS over there. And David, this is from Troy in Richmond, Virginia. He says, "Guys, I often hear you talk about researching descendants of ancestors. Why would I want to spend time on that when I'm trying to push my ancestors' lines back?" That's a reasonable question, Dave.

David: That really is and I think that I always think that's what's going through people's minds when I go an Ancestry and I find DNA matches.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: It’s like, you know, "Hi, I'm your distant cousin. I have photographs of your ancestor." And they don't respond back to me. I think that people are so set on wanting to go further back, they don't look at the living generation for clues, you know, like that 97 year old cousin of your grandfather that's still alive that has all the family bibles and all the pictures?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, you don't know, because you've never thought to go collaterally. And that's the FAN approach, Family, Associates and Neighbors. You've got to do that in genealogy.

Fisher: Absolutely.

David: The genealogical treasure.

Fisher: You know, I was stuck, David for eight years trying to figure out where my Fisher family came from in England. I couldn't get anywhere, and I was still eight years in, pretty new to this stuff still back in the late '80s. And so, I decided, okay, well, I'm never going to find out where they're from. I'm just going to try to find out about all their descendants and what happened to the family and the children and the grandchildren and the great grandchildren. And I found one guy who ran for lieutenant governor of New York, and I found somebody else who was involved with the Academy of Music in New York during the gilded age and some other really interesting people. But then when I started finding living people, guess what, they had an archive in the attic! And they had hand written letters from their great grandmother who knew my great, great grandfather and had written down where in England they came from and the names of the parents of both my second great grandfather and my second great grandmother. And then another branch had the family bible and another branch had all kinds of photographs and another branch had letters and photographs. In fact, I wound up getting nine Daguerreotypes from this branch of the family, from descendants. And this, to me, was a revelation. I had no idea that this could be done. In those days, this kind of thing was a very isolated occupation, right? I mean, we didn't all collaborate and talk about this with lots of other people. It just wasn't done. So, I kind of felt like, hey, I just invented some brand new technique here!

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: But the reality is, it’s easier to do it this way today than ever before, but you've just got to be willing to reach out and see what people have. But I always call it the archive in the attic, because collectively, all those descendants out there probably have those missing puzzle pieces that you're looking for.

David: You know, and the other side of the coin, you may have an old family photo that you know that's identified. They have the same one, but they don't know who is on the photo. So, you know, you reaching out to them may give them clues. Obviously it expands your holiday card list as well.

Fisher: Well, and those connections are often really fun. You know, often times you'll actually find a cousin and maybe they're not that interested, but they know the one who is, it’s already within their circle, right? And so, they help you connect with that person. And as a result then, you get in touch with a likeminded person and then you start exchanging, you know, what you've got with what they've got and then everything kind of blows up from there. And I'm still in touch with people I met through that round of research back in the late 1980s. We're still very close, we still exchange information. And what I'm amazed at is, some of these people still find things that they have in their home that they didn't know they had before. And so, 35-40 years after meeting these people, I'm still finding things from them that are just unbelievable. So, it’s a really important thing to trace the descendants of your ancestors, especially if you're trying to figure out who their parents were and where they were from, especially if you're trying to push those lines back. This is the archive in the attic, so go find it! And Troy, thanks for the question, it’s a reasonable one and I hope that helps you out. And coming up next, we've got another question from Coos Bay, Oregon when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 438

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go, another question for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your congenial host with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, Pamela asked this question from Coos Bay, Oregon. She says, "Fish and Dave, one of my people in the 18th century was institutionalized for insanity. How do I find those records and are they likely to have survived?" Good question.

David: Well, generally speaking, I'll go back to my days working at the Massachusetts State Archives. They do survive. But because of HIPA, which stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPA will often prevent us access to these records. Now, every state is a little different on the flexibility of their state department of health. There are some institutional records that have been digitized, some have even been indexed. Also, it really depends on the timeframe. So for instance, genealogists complain to the department of public health and human services back a decade or so ago in regards to why can't these records be released. And in most cases, if the person has died beyond 50 years ago, the records are a little bit more flexible. Now that doesn’t mean that the general public can go down and start looking at everyone who was institutionalized. But if it’s your direct family member, this is where you can maybe get your grandfather's case or your grandmother's or, you know, even your parent for instance. They're valuable records for a variety of reasons, because of course mental health may be some concern in your genealogy that you're trying to track down where did it stem from, or you know, just knowing where someone is born and they have been recorded in a record in 1896 for your German ancestor. Or the maiden name of a great, great grandmother that was institutionalized that may talk about her arriving from Ireland years ago on a vessel and that she had contracted something and being in an institution. Because my grandfather was institutionalized, Fish. He was institutionalized for tuberculosis.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Now, my grandfather would be 135 years old and I know that James Albert George is familiar in thoughts and minds of all of our listeners, but I still can't look at his record and it’s from 1940.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: He would not be alive. So, it really is going to depend on the state Pam, as to what their rules are. So, I would contact first the state archives. That is generally where state institutions go to. Now, if it’s a private asylum, that's where the problem might be, Fish. They may just not exist if the records are, you know, not turned over to a historical organization. I mean, the state may have not mandated it, because it wasn't under state control.

Fisher: Sure.

David: The other thing is, knowing another way around the story. I mean, if you have somebody who died in an asylum and you want to know what they died from, just get their death record.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: That won't be padded. It will say what's on it. How about you? How about in your research? Have you had any luck getting these types of records?

Fisher: Yes, actually, I have a third great grandfather who was institutionalized as insane back in the 1830s. So there are a lot of records from the New York AlmsHouse online and Bellevue Hospital that goes back to the 19th century. And then there was the mother of my grandfather's first wife, and she was institutionalized, died in the 1920s in California. And I was able to find for instance in the census records that she was on the list, she was accounted for as being in this institution. So really, there are some things you can find. Obviously some a little deeper than others in terms of, you know, what has ailed these folks and why they're there, but you really just have to keep looking. And it’s nice to know some of these records are online. You can find them on Ancestry and on other sites as well. So, great question. Thanks so much for it, Pamela. And Dave thanks so much for your help again. We'll talk to you next week.

David: I look forward to it, my friend.

Fisher: All right, and that's our show for this week. And thanks again to our guests, Scott Norrick of Chicago and Andrew Malakoff from Long Island talking about their extraordinary find as ordinary people. If you missed any of the show, of course catch the podcast version. It’s available on TuneIn Radio, AppleMedia, Spotify, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!


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