Episode 450 - Newspaper Stories and Tricks For Finding Them / Black History Month: Family Story Brought To Live By Artist

podcast episode Feb 20, 2023

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 with swapping stories from their explorations of the past week. Fisher made a great find in an unusual way, and David ran into a cousin at a lecture whose head he caused to explode (not quite literally… but close!) with what he had to tell her. In Family Histoire News, David notes the appearance of Fred Miller on 60 Minutes recently, who bought a house, only to learn it had once been owned by the man who had been the slaveholder of Fred’s ancestors. Then, an organization in New York is finding grave stones of Jewish service members whose graves are marked with Christian markers and is replacing them with Star of David markers at no charge to the family. (This sometimes occurred when the cemeteries only had Christian markers in supply.)

Fisher then visits with Jenny Ashcraft of sponsor Newspapers.com. Jenny and Fisher both talk about stories they have found in newspapers, and share a few tips for finding more.

Next, Karen Batchelor joins the show. A long time “friend of the program,” Karen shares a story from her enslaved ancestry which has been memorialized by her artist brother-in-law, Ron Fortier, in a series of amazing paintings. Hear Ron explain the emotional impact the story has had on him which inspired his efforts.

Then, David returns for Ask Us Anything, answering your questions.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 450

Fisher: And welcome 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. Ohh, we have stories to tell today! So glad you're here. Welcome in, we got Jenny Ashcraft coming in from our sponsors over at Newspapers.com. We're going to talk about a few tips and tricks that you can use to kind of pull some stories out of there. And I've got some to share from that, Jenny's got some stories to share that you're going to want to hear. And then later in the show, we've got Karen Batchelor here. She's got a great Black History Month story from her ancestry and a follow up to that with her brother in law, who's an artist who actually took the story and turned it into incredible art. You're going to want to hear this coming up later on in the show. Hey, if you haven't signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, just go to our Facebook page or ExtremeGenes.com and get signed up. You get a blog for me each week, couple of links to past and present shows, and links to stories you'll appreciate as a family historian. And speaking of family historians, off in Boston today, it's that Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. It's David Allen Lambert. Hello, David.

David: Hey, Fish, how are you doing?

Fisher: I am doing so well. I have had an amazing week of discovery. I think I told you last week, you know, I'm trying to turn the story of my great grandfather, Andrew, the New York fireman into a novel. And what I'm learning from this, because I've never done it before, I've always just collected facts and kind of put them all together, and here's a little piece of the story and all that. But if you're going to write a novel, you got to get a lot of background. So you research, you know, who was president at a certain time or mayor of their city or what was going on politically at that time. So, I started actually researching the addresses of houses the family lived in, in the 1850s and ‘60s in New York. And the reason you do this is because, sometimes even if they weren't living there at the time, you'll find, oh, it's for rent. It's got 14 rooms, its three stories. It’s made of wood and brick. It's got a back entrance. I mean, you can get all kinds of things from that. And was I ever shocked to find a lost and found ad that my great grandfather put in the New York paper in 1856, because he had lost his fireman's badge, number 1475. And he wanted it back and he was offering a reward. I couldn't believe it!

David: Wow!

Fisher: Yeah!

David: That's amazing.

Fisher: Yeah, it was pretty incredible. And I even went and tried to search it by his name again, to see how I had possibly missed it. But as we know, sometimes the optics don't pick this up. But when I put it in by address, there it was. So it was a real exciting experience. How about you? Did you have a good week?

David: I did, actually. I gave a lecture to a local DAR chapter, just talking on Native American research. And lo and behold, my cousin's daughter, we are close in age, but a different generation apart. She is researching my fourth grade, her fifth great grandfather, who I'm already in the SAR with. And I went up to her and I said, “You know, I have his diary from the Revolutionary War, and I have his discharge papers, and I have his certificates.”

Fisher: You just wanted her head to explode, didn't you?

David: Pretty much.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And then all the people in the room, they said, “Great. Your work is already done.”

Fisher: Pretty much it.

David: I like to think that it's not done, because I still have a lot more to do myself. But it's nice to know another person is sharing the journey.

Fisher: Well, let's get on with our family Histoire News, Dave. What’ve you got?

David: Well in honor of Black History Month, I think the touching story on 60 Minutes that we covered last year about Fred Miller, the 57 year old Air Force veteran who purchased a white gothic revival home in Southern Virginia, which turned out to be owned by the enslavers of his own family. Talk about a really ironic story.

Fisher: Yeah, and a great one.

David: Oh yes, it’s great. Well, you know, I always like doing herald groups that are doing things for free that benefit veterans. In this case, it's benefiting veterans who have passed on. Operation Benjamin is out of Monticello, New York and their website, OperationBenjamin.org is working to preserve the memories of American Jewish servicemen woman who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. Now, they're going all around America and the world and replacing gravestones that may have been given a Christian cross for a Jewish veteran, because that was what they had at the time of death.

Fisher: Sure.

David: And putting a correct marker on it with the Star of David. So, I tip my hat to them. I think that's a wonderful effort they’re doing.

Fisher: It is.

David: And they're doing it for free. Well, DNA. Every week, we hear something new. Now, I already thought that the human genome had been sequenced completely.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: From beginning to end, right, you know, years ago, because it's been over 20 years since we started hearing about this and where DNA came into our geological world. No, wait! It's going to be the end of this year and Leon Peshkin, a biologist at Harvard Medical School will be the first person in the world to have his whole genome sequence without any gaps! But now everybody on your block will want to have a full genome sequence. And I can just see RootsTech booths next year.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, right.

David: Well, you know, I always like to dig into history. And of course, archaeologists go a lot with the stories I've given you over the years. And this one is in Amsterdam, where they're putting in train tunnels. Well, they have found over 700,000 artifacts dating back to the medieval era of the 13th century while digging through the mud. And it's amazing. They stop the work, they find things from coins of the 20th century, all the way back to pieces of pottery, pieces of furniture, signs, even cell phones, so you just never know what you're going to find under the ground. They have placed all these display cases showing all the amazing artifacts that they have found from the 21st century back to the 13th century.

Fisher: Wow! It makes you wonder if they're really paying to dig train tunnels or just excavate, because this sounds like with 700,000, it's never going to stop.

David: Well exactly. And just think, maybe it was an archeological dig that just got out of hand and they really weren't intending to dig that deep. But that train tunnel was accidentally, “Well, we’ve got a big hole, might as well put a train in here, too.”

Fisher: Correct, yes.

David: Well, that's all I have for this week. And don't forget, if you're not a member of American Ancestors, we'd love you to be one and save $20 on your membership by using the coupon code “Extreme.” See you at the back end of the show!

Fisher: All right, for Ask Us Anything. Absolutely, David, thank you very much. And coming up next, speaking of researching newspapers, Jenny Ashcraft from over at Newspapers.com is going to come on and talk about some of the amazing stories that you can find there, some tricks and tips for getting the most out of your subscription and the things you can find. It's going to be a lot of fun hearing some of her stories, coming up next in three minutes when we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show

Segment 2 Episode 450

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jenny Ashcraft

Fisher: All right, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, so pleased to be welcoming Jenny Ashcraft from our sponsors over at Newspapers.com. And Jenny, you know, this is a product I use every day. I love what we can get from newspapers.

Jenny: I'm so happy to hear it because I use it every day too. And I love it.

Fisher: You know, that's kind of fun, isn't it, where that's your job. And yet, when you're done with your job, you go home and hop right into your own product. That's pretty good.

Jenny: That's exactly what I do, too. I love it.

Fisher: And we always hear that the stories are the things that people enjoy hearing most about ancestors, right? It's the difference between being a family historian and simply a genealogist who tracks the names, dates, and places. And I got to tell you, if you really want to know your ancestors versus knowing who they are, this is the way to do it.

Jenny: Well, that's exactly right. You have to have vital records when you are doing family history research. Those are important. And to me, those are like the bones. But the stories, the stories are what are the flesh and blood and that's what brings our ancestors to life, and makes them real and relatable and we feel connection, and we feel gratitude. I'm just always so grateful when I read about some of the things that my ancestors endured, that allow me to be where I am today. I just feel absolute gratitude.

Fisher: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, and you know, we talk about DNA all the time. And it's in the news all the time because of the fact now that it's helping so many cold cases get solved, and we're finding birth families, but Newspapers is where most of us can really gather all kinds of information that we couldn't get even 12-13 years ago, because Newspapers.com came along what 2012, right?

Jenny: 2012. Yes.

Fisher: And look at how many pages now are available.

Jenny: We do. We have more than 825 million pages that date back to 1690. And these are papers from every single state and internationally. We have Canada, the UK, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Panama, so there's really a lot of content here and just hundreds of millions of family stories.

Fisher: Well, that's the thing, you know, you think about, oh, gee, if I had only had a journal that was kept by one of my ancestors, well, there's the word journal. And journalism is what Newspapers is about. And so really, we have the stories of mankind all gathered in this one place, and you can go through and harvest the stories that apply to your family. You know, I always wondered Jenny, why my great grandfather Andrew was a volunteer fireman in New York City. What was it that inspired him to do that? And then I discovered a story on Newspapers.com from 1844 that talked about his older sister. She was 21, had a one year old baby, and she and her husband were really quite happy. He was a tailor. And they lived in Williamsburg, New York right near Brooklyn. Well, one evening setting up for supper, she went to light a lamp with a certain type of fluid called a patent fluid, which was like one part turpentine, four parts alcohol, and a little camphor oil in there from the camphor tree to give it a little scent. Well, it was getting a little dim in the house so she asked her servant girl to provide a little light by holding a candle. And the servant girl got to close and just as she said, “Don't come so close” the fumes lit, she dropped the can of fuel, her dress caught on fire, the baby was dropped on its head, lots of burns on all these people. She wound up dying five weeks later from all of this. And I just can't imagine the impact that had on my great grandfather, who was 11 years old at the time.

Jenny: And went on to become a volunteer firefighter.

Fisher: Yeah. As did two other brothers.

Jenny: Wow! Those stories, they just get you in the heart, don't they? They're so heartbreaking.

Fisher: I remember reading it and choking up and thinking, Okay, this gives me the why, you know, in journalism, there is who, what, when, where, why, and how. And in family history, often we don't get into the whys. It's just this is what they did. And we don't often understand what the motivation may have been behind it. And this is where the newspaper stories can answer your questions like that.

Jenny: That’s exactly right. I constantly find stories about my ancestors that just make them a personality that it's no longer just a name in the tree.

Fisher: Right.

Jenny: This is somebody who I know and I get. I came across a story the other day, I have a lady in my tree named Maggie Davis, and her dad within the Civil War and died in Andersonville prison. And if you know anything about Andersonville, you know that's a rough place, and this young woman shortly after her dad died, she moved to Rock Island, Illinois, and she was one of the first settlers in that area and she went there to be a teacher. Well, years later when she was 80 years old, the newspaper interviewed her and asked her about her life and her experience of what it was like. And she gave the most detailed description. I guess at the time it was common that a teacher would board for three weeks with each student's family. So she went from one home to another to another and was a boarder at the home of her students. And she was just dedicated to her teaching. And she described that she lived in one of two houses in the entire valley. And one day there was this deluge of rain that came down. And soon there was a dam, that dam within the Mississippi and it broke, and floodwaters went rushing down. And she found herself on one side of the river and all of her students and the schoolhouse on the other side of the river. And she's getting a firsthand interview. And she describes that she was determined to get over to her students. So, she got a rowboat, and she latched her horse to the boat and rode across, made it to the school house only 20 minutes late. And I just read, I just okay, this is a woman who had grit and determination. And I'm so proud of her.

Fisher: I can only imagine, you know, these are not stories that are often passed down in that kind of detail. And this is the beauty of journalism, these stories are written down in a lot of places. And the fun part too is Jenny that you can go from these stories and find the names of other people in there. They will reveal family members, for instance, you don't need a census sometimes. Sometimes children are born between censuses and die between censuses. And the only way you're ever going to find them is through a newspaper story.

Jenny: That is so true. I have come across that so many times that had it not been for the newspaper, I would have not known a child was born and died.

Fisher: And then you can follow from that newspaper story over to the cemetery, right? Where maybe you find someone else buried there, or somebody who else is related. So, I mean, to me, this is why newspapers are so darn valuable. And they're the funny stories too, that we get like this one that I found not too long ago from 1882. It said “Two naughty boys in Toronto, Canada, tied a kitten to the tail of their kite on Tuesday and sent it up meowing pitilessly. When it had ascended about 400 feet, the string broke and the kitten was blown away toward the clouds. Neither kite nor Kitten has since been seen!” How'd you like those kids to be your ancestors, right?

Jenny: Oh my goodness, the personality, right? You just can imagine these mischievous little boys.

Fisher: And that was 140 years ago. I think the earliest one that I found was from 1785 and it talked about my fourth great grandfather who had been in the Revolution. He had a two year old girl and he was riding on a horse and taking her for a little horsey ride. And the horse stumbled on a rock and threw them both. And the little girl hit her head and she was killed.

Jenny: Ohh!

Fisher: Yeah, just tragic. This story was duplicated throughout newspapers in Connecticut. And some of them would give a little more detail than some others. And that was the thing that's fascinating is to try to put together the best version of a story as it was told.

Jenny: Well, and I don't know if you've ever done this Fisher, but oftentimes newspaper articles about your ancestors will list an address, that was a common thing to do. This little story I just told you about Maggie, that story had her address. And just out of curiosity, I took that address. And I searched it in Newspapers.com. And I started to see a bunch of stories about a wedding taking place in this home. I realized that her same home stayed in the family for almost four generations.

Fisher: That’s incredible.

Jenny: Just by searching in newspapers for that address. But to kind of have that context, and realize this was a family home and it was a family home for many, many years.

Fisher: Well, you know, there's a practicality to what you just described also, because sometimes it's just a reality that things don't index because maybe when the microfilm was taken of the newspaper, the paper was a little crinkled, and the scanner doesn't quite pick up the name properly. And so there's information in there that is not necessarily indexed. And so if you search by address sometimes it'll pull up some of the stories with the names of your ancestors in it.

Jenny: And that is such a good point. Because things are OCR, these newspapers or optical character recognition, a computer reads all of that text. And so maybe the ink was low that day and it's very faded. Maybe you don't quite pick it up. But if you just keep trying variations of your search and back to Maggie’s story again, when I started searching her on Newspapers, I searched by her name, which was Maggie Davis, and then she married and became Maggie Divan. So I'm searching by her name and I tried three or four variations Maggie, Margaret, Maggie Davis, Margaret Davis. But when I put in Mrs. Charles Divan, then that's when everything came up because the custom at the time was to refer to women by their husband’s name.

Fisher: Yes.

Jenny: And so that is a great tip. When you're doing your searches, try every kind of variation. Think about different ways you could say a name. If your ancestor was Charles, he might not be in there as Charles. He might be in there as Chas, which was common.

Fisher: Chas, or Chuck, or Charlie.

Jenny: Yes, So, don't try just one name and think, Oh, I didn't find it. Because you have to kind of think how would the newspaper in that time in that era have referred to him? Maybe a census record might give you a hint on what name he used in a census record. But particularly with women, often try Mrs. Charles Divan, or try all kinds of variations.

Fisher: Or just Mrs. Divan, right? You don't need the first name. Otherwise, you can just search the husband it would bring that up as well. She's Jenny Ashcraft. She is a senior content copywriter over at Newspapers.com and Jenny, we're out of time, but it's been a delight chatting with you, and just exalting in all the marvelous things that newspapers bring to us in researching our family history.

Jenny: Thank you. It's been a delight for me too and I loved hearing your stories. Thank you for sharing.

Fisher: And coming up next, a family history tragedy story and the artwork that commemorates it, when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show

Segment 3 Episode 450

Host: Scott Fisher with guests Karen Batchelor and Ron Fortier

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is black history month and I am so glad to have my good friend Karen Batchelor back on the show. Karen was the first African American to join the DAR back in the 1970s. And Karen, I thought we’d talk about this amazing, heartbreaking story of your second great grandmother, and the artwork that resulted from your telling it. First of all, welcome back to the show, it’s been a while!

Karen: It has and it’s great to be back on Extreme Genes with you Scott.

Fisher: Tell me about this ancestor and her story.

Karen: Well, when I was a kid, probably the major oral family history story that we would hear was the story of my great, great grandmother Charity Ann Parker. She was an enslaved woman who lived in Harris County, Georgia. And she had been sold away from her mother and sold into Georgia from Virginia. Then she ended up having a life relationship with the slave owner’s White son who was my great, great grandfather. So, I was lucky to grow up with Charity Ann’s granddaughter who was my grandmother. My grandmother lived to be 97 and she would tell this story of Charity Ann.

Fisher: Wow.

Karen: I mean, it’s just something that is part of our whole family history. There is over 300 descendants of that couple to this day. We celebrate Charity Ann all the time.

Fisher: Sure.

Karen: But it was a sad story.

Fisher: Ugh, what a heartbreaking story. And there were more details too about the departure, as I recall, right?

Karen: Yeah, because when my grandmother would tell us the story it was so graphic. She said that Charity Ann and her sister had been sold and they were taken away in a big wagon with the big black horse. And grandma would do this like, the horses hooves went, clippity clop and clippity clop, and their mother ran behind the wagon crying out, “Bye bye my babies! I’ll see you in the by and by.” And this is my grandmother telling us the story that her grandmother told her, which just in itself is so profound that we have that kind of trail of a real story.

Fisher: Yes. So close in time, generationally, obviously.

Karen: Yeah, exactly.

Fisher: So, really you’re only one person away because she heard it right from the mouth of that individual and passed it on down to you.

Karen: She did.

Fisher: So, I would imagine that story just lives in your family as this iconic thing that’s happened to all of you as a result.

Karen: Yeah, yeah. Before COVID, we would have our family reunion every couple of years and people came from all over the country and from as far as Europe, to be there for this Parker family reunion which is on my dad’s side of the family.

Fisher: Now, you have an artist in your family who married your sister.

Karen: I do.

Fisher: And I’m going to bring him in right now, Ron Fortier is on the phone. And Ron, you've been a painter all your life, and you've actually taken it upon yourself to do a series of paintings about this separation of Charity Ann and from her family forevermore. They're phenomenal.

Ron: Thank you. There's a big back story to it, but the long and short of it was that I was enraged. I was actually physically ill hearing that story. I could just imagine it. And the kicker for me was, “Bye bye my babies, I’ll see you in the by and by.”

Fisher: Hmm.

Ron: Imagine a woman so resigned to her positions. She just had two daughters stolen away and she knows that she will probably never ever see them except maybe by the grace of the God she believes in, in the hereafter.

Fisher: Yeah.

Ron: The challenges were that the third great grandmother, we don't know what she looked like. We don't know her name. We just know that this woman was a victim like countless victims of slavery. There are eight pieces in the series. I did six of them based on different scenarios about what happened. But the wagon taking away the daughters is always in there, except in one of the pieces. And that's a piece where you see cows grazing in the field. And there are two cows and there's a calf and the reason why I put the cows and calf is to show that they had more dignity than this woman did.

Fisher: Right.

Ron: The cow gets to stay with her calf. This woman didn't.

Fisher: Yes.

Ron: And it really took a lot out of me emotionally. I just really threw myself into it. The two larger paintings are of Thomas Jefferson Parker, Karen's great grandfather, painted half Black, half White. He was biracial and he was very, very light skinned, and he had a lot of challenges, obviously as well. He was at one time in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was there for the oil rush and for statehood. And then the pendant piece, which is her grandmother, Beatrice, it shows her when they left Harris County because she witnessed the horrible hangings there. They hung three men and a woman. And she and her husband, Willie fled Harris County, Georgia, and went to what was the promised land of Detroit and worked for Henry Ford,

Fisher: Right. And that's how Karen and her family wound up there, ultimately. I think the painting that really struck me in that series that you did was the two arms being held up in the air waving goodbye with the chains between the two arms. You captured this almost as if you were there witnessing it, although it's an abstract style. But at the same time, it's almost as if you were there with a camera, except the camera's not capturing it, literally. But it's capturing it also emotionally at the same time is the only way I can really describe it. But I'm really impressed by what you can do. How did you develop this over time?

Ron: I've done several forays into this kind of imagery back when I was at the University of Miami, a friend of mine who is a pure renaissance man. He worked for NASA General Motors. He retired from advertising and went to graduate school so he could teach. And he was very much in the southwest indigenous culture or First Nation culture and had an incredible collection. And that's what I learned about Geronimo, and Washita, and all those disasters and murders.

Fisher: Hmm.

Ron: And I started developing that, but my thesis advisor told me that I came in to the University of Miami with the benefit of a full write scholarship on my abstract work. And that's how I was going to leave. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow!

Ron: It was because of an incident where I sold an older painting. I was really trying to have a clean up the studio sale. And just once sold, it was the New Bedford Arctic Whaling Disaster of 1871. There's a lot of back-story there as well, something that's mesmerized me since I was a kid because I grew up in New Bedford, being in a situation that you cannot control. You're in a whale ship that's being crushed by the ice. What do you do next? You set up a tent on the ice. What do you do next after that or once the ice starts to go?

Fisher: Sure.

Ron: So, all of those things, it was all about emotion, which was my abstract. I really thought, I tried to block all those emotions. But as Karen said, most women would tell me I was absolutely wrong.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! So Karen, how has this series of paintings impacted you and your family?

Karen: Well, I've been doing family history a long time. And over the years, I've seen graphic depictions of family histories, you know, samplers, watercolor painting, and people have done portraits. But I had never until Ron did this series about Charity Ann, had I ever seen artwork that captured the emotion.

Fisher: Yes.

Karen: The emotional impact of my family history. It's just amazing. And I have prints of each one of the paintings on the series that my brother-in-law and sister have given me over the past year or so and they hang prominently in my living room. You know, I never want to forget what my ancestors went through. And I'm very proud to have that heritage.

Fisher: And you should be. Ron, thank you so much for coming on and talking about this, and Karen, this is a fabulous thing to think about that we can create artwork to commemorate these moments in our history that we want to remember.

Karen: Definitely.

Fisher: All right, thanks so much for coming on both of you.

Ron: It was an honor.

Karen: Thanks for having us, Scott.

Fisher: Take care. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert joins me as we do another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 450

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we're back on the job with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert is back from Boston. And here's our first question for this week, Dave. It's from Nicola in Wheeling West, Virginia. She says, "Fisher and David, my grandmother was a girl scout around World War I. We have some of her pins. What more might we be able to learn about Grandma and the girl scouts?" That's a pretty straightforward question, Dave.

David: Wow! So she's a really early girl scout. In fact, they started as Girl Guides when Juliette Gordon Low of Savanna, Georgia started the group in 1912. So, I mean, this is in the first few years of it. So, first off, she is probably in some archive. And actually, the girl scouts of America do in fact have a page for an archive if you go to Archives.GirlScouts.org, you can get some of the information about the collections that they have. But you may also want to look where your grandmother was a girl scout, in the state she was from. Now, I know you're from West Virginia, but who knows, maybe she was from Georgia where they first started. I would find where the state headquarters are and ask them if they have records, because back then, you paid your dues, you probably had to record the girls in the different troops. So you may find some records that go back a century or more and catch your grandmother when she joined and how long she stayed in it. The other thing, we all love Newspapers.com and newspaper research is phenomenal.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Try using girl scouts and your grandmother's name or the hometown, the troop number or one of the pins might have a number on it that might associate that. And the other thing is social media. Why not create a social media group like on Facebook. Researching the girl scouts of, blank state, circle World War I.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Google will pickup that type of search and you could populate it, make it a free public group, so other people can go and chime in, maybe post photographs of your grandmother from around that era. Maybe other people have pictures or a group picture. Photography with brownie cameras were the in thing and one of them may have taken some pictures. So, you never know what's out there.

Fisher: That's so true.

David: Now I know that many of our listeners are probably girl scouts, so I always say, ask a girl scout, she'll give you some good advice. And maybe a genealogical group in your area has some former girl scouts who've done the same type of research. So, do a little digging on a local level and see what you can find.

Fisher: Sure. There's probably somebody out there who's tried this for some place somewhere and they can give you some good advice for what you're trying to do there. But certainly there's nothing really uniform about how to research the girl scouts or for that matter, the boy scouts, right?

David: That's very true.

Fisher: I mean, there's no uniform record keeping that goes back to the beginning that I'm aware of.

David: No. And there's no database that I'm aware of that you can just plug in a name and find out, like on Ancestry.com or any of the websites that catch that. But again, on the local state level, they may have card index, there may be ledgers, who knows. I mean, maybe one of the girl scouts your grandmother served with kept a scrap book and maybe the family has donated it to a local historical society. The analytics of when you're digging into a catalogue for a local society or a state historical society may actually add Girl Scouts for a search term of years and you may find something that somebody kept around the same time.

Fisher: You know, I have a son who actually became an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts and I had a picture of me around the same age. I was all of a second class scout. [Laughs] And I had a picture of my dad back in the 1920s as a Scout. And so, I Photoshopped a picture of all three of us together with my son with his arms out around us and it was really fun. I turned it into an 8x10 photo of him with us, so that we had that intergenerational picture of all of us about the same age and all of us in Boy Scouts, but it was really a lot of fun. And I think Scouts means a lot to people. In fact, we have the sash with all my father in law's merit badges and I know we're speaking about Girl Scouts here, but it's pretty much the same. Hey, great question! Thank you, Nicola. And we'll get another one going next when we return with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 450

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, question number two coming up on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I'm Fisher, that's David. Next question, David is from Kaylin in Albany, Georgia. And Kaylin writes, "Guys, when you talk about creating timelines for your ancestors, how much detail do you go after? I find I can learn probably more than I need to know. Where do I stop?" That's a great question, really, you know, because we've been talking about how recently I just started working on a novel on my ancestor. And when you do that, you have to know a lot of things, you know, where were the streets around him and maybe where were the businesses at that time that he may have gone by in his daily travels. How about the politics? How about who was president and the mayor and all these things? But you can get really deep in the weeds and really never stop, Dave, don't you think?

David: One of the things I started doing this year is trying to gather up everything I have and digitize it, so I can make a sense of organizing and writing up all these little facets and details from the poll tax records to ads in the newspaper like you found for your relatives and trying to centralize all the information. I've never stopped collecting. I've been collecting for nearly 50 years!

Fisher: Right.

David: And I don't think there's an end to it till you write the book and then away and you write the addendum, and volume two, and volume three, because it's a never ending process. I guess it really comes down to making a deadline for what your objective is.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right.

David: Genealogy, I mean, I lecture about what time is it on your genealogy clock, because you might want to set a time to publish one version of it, at least version one and then continue on with it with an addendum, because you may find new information, because you know, we're human, we do make mistakes, there's typos, you may have got a middle name wrong on one of your cousin's kids and there's corrections.

Fisher: Yes.

David: So, it's a continuing process. I mean, I don't know many genealogists that stop doing genealogy until they're that person in the genealogy with that final gate. [Laughs]

Fisher: That's really true. You know, I think what you're saying makes a lot of sense. I mean, the reality is, we just continue to collect facts. The timeline is simply the act of taking those facts and putting them in sequential order, because when you do that, it reveals things. When you find some of that material, then you start to understand who these people were and why they did certain things and some of the motivation. For instance, if you did some research into the town of an ancestor in the Midwest and maybe they moved someplace in 1867 and you found out, oh, the town they were in burned that year. Maybe that explains why they picked up and moved, right? And that's not something you're going to find in their personal record, but if you do the deep research into the area that they were in, the history of it, what was going on at that time, you can get into the why's, and I think once you gather that kind of information, then it becomes a little more obvious and they start to become a little more human.

David: I always heard the story about my grandmother's older brother back in the 1880s. He got scolded for not coming home to read the bible with the family on Saturday. When he lived two blocks from where the Boston Braves played in the 1880s, it would make sense that temptation would be before you to look through the knothole of the baseball game.

Fisher: Yeah, that's it. And if you didn't know that, you might wonder, well, why didn't he come home to be with his family? Well, maybe he had a little more taste for baseball.

David: [Laughs] it’s true, but it has the research to backup your oral traditions. Like when I found my great grandfather on a whaling ship. Well, until I found the whaling ship records, I didn't know the name of the vessel.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: But he was on a whaling ship.

Fisher: There you go. Good stuff. Good answers too, Dave. And thank you so much for the question, Kaylin. And Dave, we'll talk to you again next week.

David: Until then, my friend.

Fisher: All right. And that's our show for this week. Thank you so much for joining us. Thanks to Jenny Ashcraft from Newspapers.com. Karen Batchelor, Ron Fortier, the artist. We had some great stories this week and I hope you caught them. If you want to hear them again or for the first time if you're a little late to the show this week, just join the podcast, you can do it on Apple Media, Spotify, iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. We'll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!


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