Episode 448 - Accused and Hanged Witches and the Connecticut Exoneration Bills

podcast episode Feb 06, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher reveals David’s latest honor as a historian. Then, David shares his excitement over a gift he is receiving… a Bible gifted to a World War I soldier by a minister that caught a bullet that saved the man’s life. David has much more to say about it. Fisher next talks about a unique document he located tied to a relative jailed for forgery. FTDNA.com has revealed interesting news about the common male haplogroup R1B1. If you are part of it, listen to what David has to tell you. Next up… a shout out to the Boston Fire Department which just celebrated 345 years as America’s oldest paid department. In Rhode Island, a little girl has made headlines for her attempt to take the remains of carrots and cookies and get a DNA profile of Santa Claus! And the authorities were happy to share with her what they found. You’ll love this! On Finding Your Roots, it was an emotional episode for “Spy Kids” star Danny Trejo. David explains why.

In segments two and three, Fisher visits with Sarah Jake and Josh Hutchinson, hosts of the podcast “Thou Shalt No Suffer, The Witch Trial Podcast.” The two talk about the new things that are still being learned about Salem in 1692, researching your witches or accusers, and their efforts at an exoneration bill for the accused and hanged witches of Connecticut.

David then returns for another round of 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 448

Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. We’ve got a couple of great guests today, Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson. They are a tandem guests today because they’re with the podcast called Thou Shalt Not Suffer, dealing with the witch trials not only of Salem, Massachusetts, but in other locations including Connecticut. In fact, they’re right behind the Connecticut Exoneration Project for those who were accused and those who were hanged back in the day. So, you’re going to want to hear all they have to say and how you can be part of that exoneration project. Hey, first of all, I got to welcome our new sponsor to the show, very excited to have Newspapers.com sponsoring Extreme Genes. I have used them forever. I use them every day and it is such a great asset for anybody researching their family history. Right now it’s time to head out to Boson, Massachusetts where David Allen Lambert is standing by. Not only is he the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, he has just been elected as one of only 200 resident members of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, which was formed in 1892. David, that’s quite an honor. Congratulations!                                                                                                         

David: Thanks, Fish. It means a lot. I’m very honored being a historian to be accepted into that organization.

Fisher: Yeah. That’s going to be fun. Now David, this past week somebody said they’re sending you a petty special gift. What is this?

David: Well, I know what it is but I don’t have it in hand. It’s in the office. I’m working from home this week. It’s actually a Bible. A little New Testament that was give by a New Brunswick Canada minister to one of his flock that was going overseas to fight with the British in World War I. And this New Testament he said keep it in your shirt pocket at all times. Well, it’s a good thing because this New Testament, Fish, has the head of a bullet that lodged in the New Testament that only basically bruised the soldier and didn’t kill him. And the bullet’s still in the Bible.    

Fisher: No kidding. Wow what an item!

David: Yeah. The soldier’s name I know is A. Ellis. I know he’s with the British Army. I’ve got a lot more research to do on it but there’s a newspaper article on it when he sent the bible back home to the minister to thank him for saving his life.

Fisher: Well, I would want to go through the church records of the minister then and see if you can find him there, right?

David: Church membership list, and I also have a clue that he worked for a confectionary company. So, here goes the city directory of Saint John, New Brunswick, and my eyesight. 

Fisher: Wow! That is fun. I found an interesting little document this week, a second cousin of my grandfather, I kind f picked up on him a while back because he was a forger in the 1880s in New York State, wound up getting sent to prison in Auburn, And I found his commutation record just a few days ago where the governor of New York cut his sentence a little bit short. That governor signed at the bottom… Grover Cleveland. [Laughs]

David: Oh no.

Fisher: Exactly one year to the day before he was sworn in as president of the United States. That was just kind of an interesting little didleosee.

David: That is really cool. A fun fact is I actually used to talk on the phone with Grover Cleveland’s son.

Fisher: Yeah. He had a kid late.

David: Yeah. 66 years old. Francis Grover Cleveland. He died in 1995 when he was 92.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: Not too many 19th century presidents have living children these days.

Fisher: No.

David: Well, I’ll tell you, DNA is one of the things that we always talk about and most males out there if you’ve got Western European roots, chances are your result of your haplogroup are R1B1.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, now there’s a split. For millions of men we can now even define it better. So, in Haplogroup R, there’s actually a mutation out L754 now has a split in it and it ties into a man that came from Iran. Because of his Y-DNA with R1B1, they now have a split of the migration story for millions of men.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So it isn’t just oh your R1B1, now you even have a defining moment in your European history. So, read more about that online. Just a quick announcement to the brave men and women of Boston and the Boston fire department their origins are 345 years old, Fish.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Because Boston was the first place in the colonies that paid fire fighters back in 1678.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Yeah.

Fisher: Now, New York didn’t get a pay department until 1865. But your department, 345 years this past week they celebrated that anniversary. That’s amazing.

David: And that’s the early origins. That’s pretty amazing and great.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, you know, I’ll tell you, the fire department is important, but in Rhode Island the police department made the news because of a 10-year-old girl. No, don’t worry. She didn’t get caught shoplifting. Scarlett Doumato from Cumberland Rhode Island, after Christmas took samples of her gnawed on Christmas carrots and a cookie that she believes Santa took a bite out of, sent it for DNA forensic evidence to the Department of Health.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, the best part is they didn’t toss it away. They actually did a full report for her and they said, “They definitely could not confirm or refute the presence of Santa Clause in the girl’s home. She basically wanted to prove that Santa was real. But they did say that it came very close to a partial match” the 1947 case centered around 34th street in New York City.  

Fisher: Hmm. Very interesting.

David: What a miracle for her to get that information.

Fisher: Yes, yes, it kind of ties together. Fantastic!

David: A little Christmas in February.

Fisher: Yep.

David: And speaking of genealogy like we always do, we love Dr. Henry Louis Gates Finding Your Roots show, and so does Danny Trejo. The Hollywood actor found out more about his dad and mom’s side than he ever knew before, and it became very emotional for him. 

Fisher: Yeah, he was on Spy Kids, right? So a lot of younger people would remember.

David: He was. He was “Machete.”

Fisher: Yeah. Okay. And he didn’t know his dad, so what a great thing for him to choose to go on the show and find out what he did. So, if you didn’t see the episode yet, catch that. It’s really fun, but bring some Kleenex.

David: Absolutely. That’s all I have from Beantown this week. But remember, we’d love to have you as a member. So, use the coupon code EXTREME, save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right David. Thank you very much. We will talk to you in just a little bit when we come back for Ask Us Anything at the backend of the show. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson. They’re with the podcast Thou Shalt Not Suffer dealing with the witch trials in Massachusetts, and Salem and Connecticut. Plus they’re part of the Connecticut Exoneration Project for the accused and the hanged. We’re going to hear all about this stuff coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes. 

Segment 2 Episode 448

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and my guests today Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson, they’re with the podcast called, Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. And if you are a descendant of the Salem Witch Trials or other witch trials that went on, mostly throughout New England, you’re going to be really interested in what they’ve got to say today. So, Sarah, welcome, you too Josh. Great to have you both!

Sarah: Hey, thanks so much for having us.

Fisher: So, tell us about the podcast. How long has it been on?

Josh: We started the podcast in October of last year, 2022.

Fisher: Okay.

Josh: So, we’ve been on just about four months now.

Fisher: Very nice. And how many episodes?

Josh: We released episode 17 yesterday.

Fisher: That’s great! So you’re off and rolling with this whole thing. So, Sarah, tell me what it is that inspired you guys to do this podcast.

Sarah: We had both been working on social media history projects prior to this that led into our Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project. And when that got rolling, we were ready to take it to the next level and get the history out there further. So, we put our heads together and went for the podcast.

Fisher: That’s awesome! Well, let’s talk about that. First of all, you’re talking about an exoneration project in Connecticut. I do want to get to that here in a little bit. But the Salem Witch Trials of course is what has attracted so much attention through the centuries. And so many descendants now, because have access to so many records, are coming forth and recognizing oh my gosh, I descendant from one of those who were hanged, or one of those who were tried, or one of those who were simply accused, or one of those who were part of the jury, or maybe even the judge Stoughton. I’m hearing crazy numbers. Josh I think you heard something on this. How many people descend from somebody involved in the Salem Witch Trials?

Josh: Emerson Baker suggests there could be a hundred million or more descendants from all the people involved in the witch trials.

Fisher: That’s interesting. You know, you think about the Mayflower, we’ve got somewhere estimated around 30 million descendants and this is three generations later. And I guess the reason that you would hear so many times more descendants from Salem Witch Trials is because there were so many more people involved in it. Sarah, how many people were involved in the trials?

Sarah: Well, there were over 200 just accused.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Sarah: And beyond that, up to 1400 people.

Fisher: Oh wow! And so when you consider like with the Mayflower, there were only like 51 survivors and like 38 of them have descendants today. So you can see why there could be as many as 100 million people not just in the United States but all over the world, obviously over the last 300 some odd years. So, it’s of great interest and for those who aren’t familiar with the time period, we’re talking 1692 here. But this was not the first witch trial that went on in New England. There were others elsewhere.

Josh: Right. They started in 1638, the first accusation in Massachusetts. The first execution occurred in Connecticut on May 26th 1647. That was Alse Young.

Fisher: Yep.

Josh: Who we know from John Winthrop Jr.’s writing and from the Matthew Grant Diary that Alse Young, from Windsor, was executed.

Fisher: Yeah. And then they had witch trials in Fairfield, Connecticut too, and I know that because my own ancestor, Susan Lockwood, was one of the accusers of Goodwife Knapp, who they called “Goody” Knapp, and she was hanged that year as well. I’m just amazed by how many records there are from these trials that we can gather as we try to study our ancestors. Sarah how many have been found? It seems like they’re finding more and more all the time. I don’t know how that can be.

Sarah: Oh, yes. There’s around 950 Salem court related records. But you’ve got all the other types of records that are available. One of our guests on our podcast this last week, Margo Burns talked about how you can gain information about people just from things like their jailing bill, and other things like that. So, there’s lots of things to be looking for when you’re looking at archives. Keep your eyes peeled. Think about what’s being told in the information. Is it going to build the story about their life, where they were, when they were there, who they were with.

Fisher: And that would really apply to any ancestor yet alone somebody in the witch trials. Are most of the records from the Salem Witch Trials available online now, digitized?

Josh: Yes. Most of those are available through a website of the University of Virginia. They have compiled transcripts as well as the images of the records.

Fisher: Nice.

Josh: And there are over 900 records on there.

Fisher: And Margo was saying there’s some more that she’s actually discovered in the course of her research, yes?

Josh: Yes. That is correct. She’s uncovering more as she goes along. After they compile the book records of the Salem Witch Hunt, she and another linguist were at an archive and discovered several more records relating to one of the victims.

Fisher: Interesting. You know, I have found that in our own minds I think we kind of create this little trap for ourselves. If we’re going to research something, we find the archive that has most of the information on that, and there’s a certain assumption that oh, well it’s all right here. And if they don’t have it, then it doesn’t exist. But the reality is, especially in large urban areas, like New York City for instance, they might have firemen records in one place, more of them over like at the New York Library, some at the New York Historical Society, they’re not necessarily all in one place. And that really applies also to smaller areas because you might have county archives or town archives. And then you have what we call here on the show, “archives in the attic” because there are people who have records that go way, way back and sometimes they don’t even know what they have in their homes.

Sarah: And Scott, that really goes back to your comment that the matching is so important when you’re doing the DNA research because you may just find that cousin who has that attic with those important papers for you.

Fisher: Yeah. It was interesting the other day I was showing somebody how DNA works and his head was exploding. He was saying, “Well, I don’t know that I need to prove any of my lines necessarily.” I said, yeah, but think of the cousin that you might find out there who has something in their attic. An old family bible, something like that, that could provide you photographs that you’ve never seen before, documents you haven’t been able to find, maybe a duplicate of something that was burnt in a fire. I mean the opportunities are great. And DNA generally can’t reach back as far as 1692 but you can certainly pick up with some of the descent branches.

Sarah: Absolutely. We had the privilege of creating an episode with David Allen Lambert recently that’s going to be coming out very soon.

Fisher: I know him.

Sarah: You do?

Fisher: Yes.

Sarah: And he gave us lots of great reminders, tips, and places to look. So that’s going to be a really important episode for people to hear. You get to hear about witch trial research and genealogy together.

Fisher: Well, think about it. It’s been 330 years and what’s amazing to me is to think that anybody is finding anything new on this, and yet they are. And what does that tell you about more recent things that have happened where materials are still existing that we just don’t know about, you know? We just got to keep digging.

Sarah: Yeah. I absolutely am driven by that. I don’t believe the stories are over with the history, with the individuals, and that was one of the things that motivated me way back when I just individually started my little project of using social media to try to draw cousins and researchers together because I want us all to be ready when these important papers, or letters, or journals pop up.

Fisher: Sure. I mean there are some great books on the Salem Witch Trials. I have a couple of them here in my library. But I think they are always being improved. Sometimes people are misidentified. I think some of those misidentifications are now getting straightened out, which is good. I just wanted to ask, Josh who do you descend from, from the Salem Witch Trials that has kind of intrigued you in this particular topic? 

Josh: I descend from Mary Eastey who was the sister of Rebecca Nurse, and they were both executed but they maintained their innocence to the end. And Mary wrote a particularly moving partition saying that she knew her life would not be saved but she wanted to end the witch hunt.

Fisher: As I understand it, if they would admit to being a witch, sometimes they would be spared. Is that right?

Sarah: Well, that is something that a lot of people think. But there is more discussion on that because there were executed individuals who did confess. There is at least one in Salem.

Fisher: Okay.

Sarah: Samuel Wardwell was part of the Andover phase of the Salem Witch Hunt and he was a confessor and he was executed.

Fisher: So there are exceptions to that, but there are examples of the other way as well, yes?

Josh: Primarily, the confessors were spared. They were kept alive long enough that they could name names.

Fisher: Ah!

Josh: And give evidence against others. Several of them were convicted in September of 1692 and in January of 1693 and they were condemned to die. They were supposed to be executed on February 1st 1693, but the governor stepped in and reprieved them.

Fisher: Wow. And who do you descend from Sarah?

Sarah: In Salem I descend from Rebecca Nurse and Mary Eastey. They were sisters, town sisters. You might be familiar with the town Family Association.

Fisher: Sure.

Sarah: I’m really proud of that association because they have really kept track of the history. They have an archive themselves of records that they’ve pooled together and photo, but family records and information for cousins to look at and use for their continued research. And there’s lots and lots of collaboration and just that legacy of theirs is stronger and enjoyed more because there’s this association.

Fisher: Sure. Sure. So you two are distantly related then because you come from the same people.

Sarah: We are.

Josh: That’s exactly right. We are cousins. We learned that doing the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project and the podcast, coming together we had a lot of discussions about our origins and how we got interested in with trials and genealogy. And it’s really very similar. We found out we had these ancestors. I have ancestors on both sides of Salem so I have accusers as well as accused.

Fisher: Interesting.

Josh: My ancestor Joseph Hutchinson was one of the four men who complained against the original three victims.  

Fisher: All right guys. We’re going to take a break now. When we come we’re going to talk about the Exoneration Project for those who were accused and those who died in Connecticut that you’re working on, when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.   

Segment 3 Episode 448

Host: Scott Fisher with guests Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here with Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson. They are hosts of the podcast Thou Shalt Not Suffer, The Witch Trial Podcast. We wanted to talk about the exoneration project that’s going on in my home state in Connecticut. And Josh, this has just gotten underway, when?

Josh: Last year in May. It happened around the 375th anniversary of the execution of the first accused witch in the colonies.

Fisher: Okay.

Josh: Alse Young. And we noticed that there weren’t any events or even posts on social media commemorating that anniversary which is significant. We were following the exoneration of Elizabeth Johnson, Jr. of the Salem Witch Trials, which happened last year.

Fisher: Right.

Josh: And discovered that there were not exonerations in Connecticut.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. And I noticed at the time, it was part of our news that we had here on Extreme Genes that this was picking up there and you’ve got people in the legislator who were behind it. And you’ve also got loads and loads of descendents of both the accusers and the accused getting behind this now.

Sarah: That’s right. I am one of those descendents. Winifred Benham Sr. and Winifred Benham Jr. were two of the last who were accused, that was in 1697. But they are descendents of a lady name Mary Hale who was accused in Boston before the Salem Witch Trials. And there are just many more descendants. Alse Young, her daughter had 8 children.

Fisher: Okay.

Sarah: So, there are many, many descendants out there and we’ve all come together. And then there’s others that are interested in clearing the names of the accused as well. So, it’s not just descendants, it’s not just locals, we’re all over the country even all over the world looking to get the names cleared of those victims.

Fisher: Yeah. So, I think exoneration is an interesting thing. It certainly points out I think more than anything, the potential of human evil for whatever reason. And we can look at it today and say, okay, who else are we accusing of things today that would be comparable to accusing somebody of being a witch 350 years ago, right?

Josh: Right. We notice a lot of parallels in modern society where we scapegoat a group of other individuals for something that they really had nothing to do with.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Josh: Any time there is a problem economically somebody gets blamed for it.

Fisher: So, tell us about the process of this witch trial exoneration going on in Connecticut right now. How’s this working, Sarah?

Sarah: Well, in May we were able to team up with author Beth Caruso who is an author in Windsor, Connecticut. She’s written a story about Alse Young, that victim we were talking about here a little bit. Her state representative Jane Garibay took this up and partnered with us to propose an exoneration bill.

Josh: And Senator Saud Anwar has proposed a resolution in the senate. So we have two resolutions being worked on together now by the joint commission on judiciary. And they’re going to draft the language and then there will be public hearings before the committee votes to send it back to the House and Senate.

Fisher: That’s going to be a very interesting thing, isn’t it because you’re going to have a lot of people coming out of the wood work who are descendents and who feel somehow some connection, maybe even some responsibility for what took place back in the day with their ancestors.

Josh: That is absolutely correct. And we’re encouraging those individuals to write letters to their legislators in Connecticut and to attend the public hearing. We don’t have the date on when that’s going to happen, but it will be in the coming weeks. We want to have a strong presence and we’ll have speakers there.

Fisher: Are you starting to see some language being drawn up now at this point to deal with this exoneration?

Josh: We drafted language last year and submitted it to representative Garibay.

Fisher: Okay.

Josh: And now she’s working with the judiciary committee to get that in place in a formal bill.

Fisher: But this will be obviously, in a little bit of conflict with the senate version of it and then in the end hopefully you’ll come up with something that everybody agrees kind of hits it on the head. What is it that you would like to see said in these resolutions?

Josh: We’d like the state to apologize for the accusations. We want them to specifically exonerate everyone who was indicted and make amends for the executions.

Fisher: And then where do you go from there because there were actually witch trials in other states other than Connecticut and Massachusetts?

Josh: There are still five individuals in Massachusetts who were executed who have not been exonerated.

Fisher: Ha!

Josh: So it happened outside of Salem. So, that’s the next place we want to go with this. We also want to see the story continue to be told in those states that have had these witch trials including Connecticut. We’re looking for a memorial or memorials in each location where the accused who were executed came from. We’re looking at possibly a memorial trail between the towns that were involved and looking at how we can get this brought up in the curriculum of public education so people can learn from our past mistakes.

Fisher: I mean, really that would be the best thing that could come of this, right? I mean there’s nothing that you can do and words that can make this up to these people who died so long ago. But, what we can learn from it can stay with us for a long, long time, and give some meaning to those deaths.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely. And one of the ways that we’re going to go to keep pushing forward is we have organized a none-profit called End Witch Hunts and this exoneration project and other projects will all build so that we can keep that education out there in the forefront. The podcast allows us to talk to a wide variety of experts and historians. And all of this comes together so that this obscure history is going to be really clear.

Fisher: Right. Well you know, it’s very interesting obviously and I would imagine the attention Salem already has. A huge number of visitors to come to see the places where the trials took place and we certainly know that Emerson Baker’s group recently last few years figured out exactly where the hangings took place. So, I would imagine there’s still quite a few people who like to drive through that neighborhood. I mean, it’s a residential neighborhood today with houses right over it. That’s got to be fascinating to live in a place like that knowing what has taken place there. But, the more tourism also, the more talk, and the more hopefully comparing it to modern day circumstances sort of like you mentioned earlier Josh, hopefully that will just make people come to understand the dangers that we all face in maybe some of our natural tendencies as human beings. So, this will be really interesting to see how it comes out. When do you think that the Connecticut resolutions will take place?

Josh: Probably in late April or May. You’ll have it passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor. So, we’re hoping around the beginning of May.

Fisher: Well, this is a great effort and great work that you guys are doing, congratulations on it. Congratulations on the podcast! It’s really fun to see people just get passionate about whatever it is, right? Whether it’s the Mayflower or whether it’s the witches, whether it’s DNA, whether it’s something else. And then take the ball and run and help people to learn from history, and really that’s the bottom line with these exonerations.

Sarah: It is the bottom line. And your platform is doing so many great things to encourage people to find those roots and see what can be done with those roots, for worrying, for connecting with others, and for using that history to make our modern world better.

Fisher: Well, thanks so much Sarah and Josh thank you too for coming on. And we look forward to hearing the completion of this and whatever comes next for you guys as we continue to be fascinated by the witch trials and Salem in Massachusetts and throughout Connecticut, mostly in the 17th century. It never ceases to fascinate. Thank you so much for coming on.

Sarah: Thank you.

Josh: Thank you so much for having us.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 448

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: Hey, we're back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert over there. And David, this is a really interesting question from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Joel asks, "Fisher, you have a lot of experience in New York City. I had a Confederate soldier ancestor who supposedly died in New York on Davids Island. Any idea about the records I might find on that?" That is a really good question.

David: New York has some really great records, so I think that now with the digital ones, you'll probably be able to find something.

Fisher: It's true. And one of the places you can look, but I think this is going to be kind of disappointing for you, Joel is in the New Your Municipal Archives Authorise Guide that was put together by Aaron Goodwin of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society a few years ago. And he actually has some records in there under "bodies in transit". And this is a record in New York where Abraham Lincoln is actually in this when he was assassinated and took the tour through the city and the rest of the country. As he came through the city, he was recorded under bodies in transit. And the Civil War period will certainly be covered in this. And as they had prisoners of war come up, confederate soldiers, they were held on Davids Island. If they passed away, they often would show up under these bodies in transit. The issue is though, they're not mentioned by name. Just a quote from Aaron Goodwin in here, he said, "Davids Island was off the coast of New Rochelle in Long Island Sound and they said you can kind of tell who they were, because number one, they died on Davids Island. The bodies were being transported to Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn and the bodies were under the charge of a Mr AJ Case." So, they have no names in there, but those three facts tell you that whoever it is, is a Confederate soldier. And there were some 400 of them that are found in this record. There are also Union soldiers in there, David, people who were taken care of during the war who then passed away. So you can actually find sometimes the names of the people. You know those archives, David. Just loaded with so many things that, I mean, I don't think I could spend five years in there and go through everything that I would want to see.

David: Well, I'll tell you, we have a Fort Warren in Boston Harbor where the Confederate high officers that were captured before the fall of Richmond were held, including Alexander Stephens. And it's amazing, the soldiers that died, they obviously would be in the Boston records as well and I've never stopped to think to look for them.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Your question, sir has given me sight to look for more for my Boston people that were Confederate soldiers.

Fisher: Yeah, here's an example of another thing in the New York municipal archives, the Civil War volunteer soldiers family aid fund from 1861 to 1867. I have never heard of it. When you think about this, David, I mean, really all we've ever tried to do through all these years of researching, helping each other and helping other people and helping ourselves is to try to develop new sources. And so, here's a great way to do it. And I would again recommend you get this book, New York City municipal archives, an authorized guide for family historians. I keep it right by my side, because I have a lot of New York connections. It kind of gives you some idea of what's there in New York, which is just absolutely flooded with records. By the way, just this past week, I spoke to some of the ladies at the DAR and a chapter based at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, taking about the plethora of records to be found in New York. The biggest problem is, it’s kind of like going through a hoarder's garage, right Dave?

David: That's true.

Fisher: I mean, nobody has any idea what they have! And sometimes records are split up between a different library or an archive or a museum. So you don't know where all the records are. So, it's always kind of fun trying to make your way around New York. But to discover specially where a Confederate soldier died and that type of thing had to be very difficult I would think. So, anyway, that's your best shot. And good luck with that. David, we have another question coming up next when we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History.

Segment 5 Episode 448

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're getting down to it. It's our final segment of Extreme Genes for this week, America's Family History Show. It is Ask Us Anything. And Dave, this is an interesting question from Elizabeth in Tampa, Florida. And she says, "Guys I had a relative that was supposedly on George Burns and Gracie Allen's TV show back in the 1950s. How could I find out more about this?" Now that is interesting. There are some things you can do.

David: Yeah. You know, I'll tell you something. I know this show ran for most of the decade in the '50s. Take a quick peek here, 1950 to 1958. And you know, so there's all sorts of, you know, great sitcoms from the 1950s. But I’ll tell you, I love George Burns and Gracie Allen. So, the nice thing is, because people loved it, the episodes still survive.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: So, a lot of them, you can buy the DVDs. It's a 5 DVD set, so you could probably buy it.

Fisher: Yeah, watch every episode and then you will ultimately find them. But I guess if you wanted to narrow it down, maybe you could just discover the singular episode you're looking for on YouTube.

David: That's true.

Fisher: And there are some ways to do that as well.

David: Of course your mom was in movies years ago.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I mean, of course as an extra, if you're not known that you’re a lead, you may not even be in the credits, so it might be a matter of visually spotting them in the background or the neighbour that walks by.

Fisher: Good point.

David: IMDB is still a good place to search. The Internet Movie Database has a free component of it where you can actually go in and search to see if somebody appeared on a small little spot in a TV show or movie. I'm in IMDB under the couple of TV things that I did.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: So, using that, the other thing is, did they have a career outside of that TV show? Were they any other TV shows? There's plenty of different shows, like The Honeymooners come to mind. I mean, were they an extra living in Hollywood? Did they do theatre in New York? Variety Magazine is a wonderful place to catch little snippets on actors and actresses back in the day. And then the other thing is, are there any family members that knows this story as well? Do you have a cousin that may have heard more of this relative's escapades on TV?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: So, reaching out to other family members and comparing notes is always a wonderful thing.

Fisher: Well, and I think of, do a search on Newspapers.com, because they have the TV listings in there, just like they did the old radio listings in earlier decades. You could find it possibly there. I don't know about TV guide though. Have you ever seen that digitized anywhere?

David: I'll tell you, the Library of Congress probably has every issue of it. I've never seen it like digital anywhere.

Fisher: No, I haven't either.

David: I suppose there's probably a lot of good stuff in there, little stories. I mean, most of its going to be useless old television listings from years ago that wouldn't make any difference now, but if they had a lead story about whoever's on the cover, that might be useful as well. And the other thing is, you know, there are so many different archives out there. Did George Burns, Gracie Allen family papers, did they end up in an archive? Is there listing of people that worked for them and did they get checks? There's all sorts of angles to proceed on. It's just laying your hands on where the records are now.

Fisher: And It just depends on how anxiously engaged you're going to get in this, because it could be quite the rabbit hole to follow for a long, long time.

David: You know, it's a shame, George Burns lived so long. You could have called him up just a few years ago.

Fisher: [Laughs] That's true.

David: Over 100 years old. And didn't you actually meet George Burns?

Fisher: I was at a party with George Burns when I was 14 years old. And he was old then. [Laughs] So it's crazy!

David: [Laughs] I'm sure it was.

Fisher: (As George Burns) So, thank you very much, David. It's great to talk to you. Good night, Gracie!

David: [Laughs] (As Gracie Allen.) Good night, George!

Fisher: All right, and that's our show for this week. And thanks so much to our guests this week, Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson, talking about witches and exoneration. If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast on Apple Media, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, ExtremeGenes.com, we're all over the place. Talk you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!



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