Episode 453 - Woman’s Story About WW2 Hero Father She Never Knew / Sunny Morton Compares On Newspaper Sites

podcast episode Mar 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 Family Histoire News with an incredible new discovery about the family of Leonard da Vinci. David has details. Then, it’s a new web project tracking the movement of the enslaved of South Carolina. SoldDownRiver.com is doing great work in identifying those who were enslaved and sold out of their families. A new organization is coming together to recognize descendants of those with ties to the Boston Tea Party. David explains. Canadians are rejoicing in anticipation of the release of the 1931 Canadian census coming out in June. And the New York Times has written about the “DNA of a Donkey!” It has been learned that our earliest form of transportation goes back 5,000 years! Finally, we sadly announce the passing of Pearl Harbor survivor, Jack Holder, who recently passed at the age of 101. Hear Fisher’s 2021 interview with Jack next week.

Then, well known blogger and researcher, Sunny Morton, is back to talk about her comparison study of newspaper site that she presented at RootsTech. There are differences!  

Next, Fisher visits with author Judy Goodman Ikels whose book “Death in Wartime China: A Daughter’s Discovery” talks about what she learned about the father she never knew, whose heroism in World War II is still remembered in China.

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 453

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. It is so great to have you along. We’ve got some great guests today as always. Sunny Morton is here. She did a great job at RootsTech talking about a comparison of the major newspaper companies and what they offer. I think you’re going to find it very interesting what she has to say. That’s coming up in about ten minutes. Later in the show we’re going to talk to Judy Goodman Ikels. She has written a book about her birth father who was killed in World War II in China while he saved seven of his crewmen with his B-29 bomber. Yeah, it’s quite a story. You’re going to want to hear how she wound up going back to China and getting honored by the descendants of some of the Chinese people her father fought to protect. Right now let’s find out what’s going on in the world in our Family Histoire news by checking in with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestor.org. Hello David. 

David: Hey Fish! How’s things with you?

Fisher: Yep, finding all kinds of things, not only for myself but for many others the last few weeks. It’s been crazy and a lot of fun. It’s great to change people’s lives.

David: It really is. And I’ll tell you, one change, well, doesn’t really affect anybody who’s living, but the overall story of Leonardo Da Vinci has been changed. A document dating back to 1452 signed by his father essentially is the emancipation of his mother. Now Fish, history has always thought that his mother was a Tuscan peasant. Not so much. She appears to be an enslaved person from the Caucasus who was then the love interest of Da Vinci’s father and of course, they had Leonardo. So, history has changed. Whoever thought all the paint was dry on that story.

Fisher: Yeah, right. Research has been going on for decades and so that’s a fascinating new thing I know we’re going to be hearing a lot about.

David: Well, you know, enslavement is something that deals with many on the continent and specifically here in North America there’s been a lot of push in recent decades to research African Americans. And Norfolk University graduate Ms. Williams has actually been involved in a project called Sold Down River. It’s a website partnership between local historical societies and students to identify over 21,000 enslaved persons that came from Norfolk, Virginia. 

Fisher: What a great project. And hopefully we’re going to have some people who can plug into that database.

David: Exactly. So, you can go to SoldDownRiver.com to learn more. And I have some exciting news from Boston. NEHGS and American Ancestors have partnered with the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum for the Boston Tea Party Descendants program. Yeah. So if you have an ancestor who was part of the Boston Tea Party, you can now join. But even if you’re not descended from one, you might have an ancestor who lived in Boston in 1773 and be considered an eyewitness to that history, or you can be a co-conspirator, someone who is a researcher, educator, and just the general public who want to support the program. 

Fisher: That’s interesting.

David: So, more details on that coming up soon.

Fisher: Yeah that’s really fun. You know, the funny thing about that is there’s so many names associated with the Boston Tea Party. People who claimed to have been part of it, you know, among those who dressed up in Native American garb to hide their identities. But so many of them I think were fraudulent don’t you?

David: Well, you know, there are a lot of records that are around from the 18th century and it’s a matter of, you know, scouring through the documents, which our researchers have done in conjunction with the Boston Tea Party Museum. So, they would get the list narrowed down pretty well.

Fisher: Really?

David: Of course, there’s always margin for error and room for correction. 

Fisher: My wife had one ancestor from Virginia who had claimed to be in the Boston Tea Party. And I thought no, I think that’s a long way from home.

David: Exactly. It’s a little bit of a walk.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, speaking about a walk, let’s walk a little further north over the Canadian border and in conjunction with Family Search and Ancestry.com, as of June 1st this year we will now have the 1931 census of Canada.

Fisher: Yes. And you are part Canadian, are you not?

David: Yes I have both American and Canadian heritage so I am a citizen of both countries. And I am thinking of who will I find. I have at least two great grandfathers, a couple of step great grandmothers, and a whole lot of great uncles and cousins that are just waiting to be uncovered as of June. So you know what I’ll be doing the first week of that month.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, absolutely.

David: One of the things I always love is when there’s genealogy and DNA of, well, not just humans. In the New York Times recently the DNA of the donkey family tree and I don’t mean the one from Shrek.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This is a research of over 207 modern donkeys in 31 countries and skeletons going back as early as 4,500 years ago. They have found out that the earliest form human based transportation domesticated donkeys go back to 5,000 years ago when herders in the horn of Africa, which is now Kenya, began to tame these wild beasts.

Fisher: So this kind of ties in with the horses’ story we had last week. It was around the same time, right?

David: Exactly.

Fisher: Um hmm. The DNA of the donkey.

David: Well, you know, I’ve got some sad news. Our good friend Jack Holder, we had on the show, as you know has passed away at 101. A Pearl Harbor survivor and he narrowly died over 81 years ago.

Fisher: Boy, he had a narrow escape at Pearl Harbor. In fact, the first bomb that dropped in World War II was less than a football field away from him. And then he was strafed by a Japanese fighter, and he was so close to the plane he could actually see the grinning face of the Japanese pilot. Unbelievable. Jack’s going to be missed and you know what, we’re going to rerun our interview we did with him in 2021 as he personally describes his experience at Pearl Harbor. We’ll have that for you next week. We’re going to miss Jack Holder.

David: Well, you know, he’s not the last of the Pearl Harbor survivors. Our friend Lou Conter and Ken Potts, and my friend Horace Hamilton they’re still alive and well. Some news story said he was the last but we still have a bunch of our guys still around.

Fisher: Amazing. A few dozen, right?

David: At least. At least.

Fisher: Something like that.

David: Well, that’s all I have from Beantown this week. But don’t forget, at AmericanAncestors.org we’d love to have you join. And if you use the coupon code EXTREME you’ve save $20 off of membership.

Fisher: Very nice David. All right, we’ll catch you at the backend of the show as we do another round of Ask Us Anything. And coming up, we’re going to talk to Sunny Morton talking about newspaper sites. What do they bring to us? She does a great comparison. This was a presentation she did at RootsTech. Plus later in the show Judy Goodman Ikels is going to talk about her father who was shot down in World War II but saved seven of his crewmen in the process. Great stories coming up when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. 

Segment 2 Episode 453

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sunny Morton

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and it was so nice to be back live at RootsTech at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah here a few weeks ago, and to see great presentations like the one from my next guest Sunny Morton, great professional genealogist and blogger and writer. And of course, full disclosure, of course, Newspapers.com is one of sponsors. But Sunny did a great cross site comparison from smallest to largest, who does what, and Sunny, welcome back to the show. It’s great to have you. It was a great presentation.

Sunny: Thanks Scott. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.        

Fisher: You covered five sites. Two of them are free, and the other three of course are for pay. But the benefits of newspapers to me are just astounding because you can find things there, certainly secrets there, stories there that really no other type of record can reveal.

Sunny: That’s absolutely true. They really were the social media of our ancestor’s day. That’s where all the local conversations happened, and that’s where you’re going to learn about anything that anybody was talking about.         

Fisher: You know it’s funny you say that. Because you think about, for instance, letters to the editor that you can go through and see what people’s opinions were. That was very much like social media today. And there were also little articles about so-and-so was off visiting their family in California. They’ll be back in two weeks.

Sunny: Yeah, I found a lot of those.

Fisher: Yeah. There’s a lot of things like that that are very similar to what we do today on a very localized scale, and certainly a lot more polite.

Sunny: Yes, this is true.        

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Sunny: Sometimes. Not always.         

Fisher: So, let’s talk about the different sites and talk about the pluses and minuses. 

Sunny: Well, I started by talking about two of our free websites as you mentioned, both Chronicling America and Fulton History. They are worth talking about. Between the two of them, they’ve got millions and millions of newspaper pages. They’re kind of like a free gateway drug for any of us who wants to get started with newspaper research and see what kinds of things are out there. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. That’s a good way to describe it. Yes. 

Sunny: I think probably most of your listeners are most familiar with Chronicling America, don’t you think?

Fisher: Oh yeah, I would think so. It’s been around the longest. And the government started out with the promise of giving us digitized newspapers for everything in the history of the country, and then it kind of stopped.

Sunny: Well, it still made it to about 20 million digitized newspaper pages that we can search for free. And of course an enormous inventory of all the newspapers that had been published in the United States clear back when. So, it is a really valuable place and it’s a great starting place because its free. 

Fisher: Sure. Absolutely. 

Sunny: And something that I like about Chronicling America is that because it’s a federally funded project, it has scope nationally so there’s content for every state.

Fisher: Well, and the nice thing is too because it is a federal government site, all that content you can reproduce.

Sunny: Absolutely. So, it’s all free of all copyright restrictions. That’s what’s on Chronicling America and the other free websites that we want to talk about, Fulton History, is stuff that is not currently protected by copyright.            

Fisher: Fulton History is a remarkable place done by one guy in his retirement. How many pages are they up to now Sunny?

Sunny: 51 million. So if Chronicling America has 20 million, and they’re a federally funded project, and Fulton History has 51 million, two and a half times the content from one guy.       

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right. And it’s just his passion project and it’s free, but it’s really clunky to search. But I will tell you that I had a breakthrough there where I found the marriage record of my third great grandparents. Because in an obscure Upstate New York newspaper in 1886 that this guy digitized, they went through all the marriages performed by a minister in that area from the 1810s and 1820s and there were the names of my people and I finally obtained the maiden name of my third great grandmother as a result of that. And those lines went way back as a result of the benefit from that newspaper. 

Sunny: That’s a great find. And that’s just the kind of thing that you might find in an obscure newspaper, a small town paper. And you’re saying this was published several years later. That’s the other thing.       

Fisher: Yes. 60 years later. [Laughs]

Sunny: Yeah. So we might find the coverage that we’re looking for but it’s not going to be in the right place or maybe the right time.          

Fisher: Well, sometimes newspapers will say 20 years ago today, and they’ll write some little local news story or 50 years ago today and you can find your people’s names in those, right? 

Sunny: Yeah. That’s absolutely right. Now, you mentioned that was a New York discovery right?       

Fisher: Yes. Uh-huh, Upstate New York. 

Sunny: That doesn’t surprise me at all because that’s Fulton’s real strength is I think 950 or so of its titles are newspapers from New York. So, a lot of its coverage is going to be New York based but they do have a lot of other states they don’t cover all 50 like Chronicling America does. So, it’s a little more hit or miss. But you’re going to really find some great surprising stuff there.         

Fisher: Yeah. It’s free but it’s really hard to search.

Sunny: It is. It’s challenging.         

Fisher: Okay, on to the next ones. 

Sunny: All right. Well, the other three that I compared are our subscription websites that are real strong here in the United States: Genealogy Bank, Newspaper Archive, and Newspapers.com. So I’m guessing you’re pretty familiar with those sites aren’t you?        

Fisher: Oh, yeah. Of course. 

Sunny: I found some really amazing things. Take aways from each of these sites too. And I think one of the things that people most want to know is, are they going to have the papers that I want from my family’s time and place.        

Fisher: Yes. 

Sunny:  So, what I want to know is whether I could answer that question without being a subscriber. And you can. You can search each of these sites by their archive to see what they’ve got for each individual city or local and their time periods so that you’ll know before you subscribe if they’ve got the kind of coverage you want.       

Fisher: Right. Exactly, because you’re not only covering the place but the time period as well. And there are a lot of places that cover the same large cities for instance, but they don’t necessarily have the same time period.

Sunny: Yeah. That’s absolutely true. And one of the other things I found is that they do kind of vary in terms of their time period strengths. Some of them might have better coverage of earlier decades in the United States history, and some of them are a lot stronger on more recent coverage. They kind of skew that direction. Now both of those are really valuable. And I would almost argue that it’s the content for the last 95 years or so that’s still in copyright that we can only find at these premium websites that might be the most meaningful to us because those are our lifetimes, our parents, our grandparents, sometimes the later lives of our great grandparents depending on how old you are.      

Fisher: Yes. And they had to pay for those in copyright papers so we have to pay them obviously.

Sunny: Yeah. And that’s what makes it a premium resource. That’s why we have to pay something. But I’ll give you my favorite tip from this Scott, for your listeners.  

Fisher: Okay. 

Sunny: And this is that each of them has a monthly access available. So, if you’re interested in just checking it out, for about $20 a month for each of these you could go in and just spend a month getting to know the site and see if you think it’s worth it.        

Fisher: Yeah that’s a great tip. 

Sunny: And if you aren’t willing or able to put that $20 a month into your budget for that, you can also go to your favorite library and ask if they have the library editions of each of these. The title of the database is going to be a little bit different, but you can ask your favorite local library what collections they have and you can search those for free.        

Fisher: Yeah that’s right. Just go to the library, simple enough. And there’s different coverage on each of these. I love that Newspaper Archive covers a lot of the smaller papers out in the country.   

Sunny: Yeah, for sure. So, each of them does have a little bit different collection priorities and the way that they go about getting their content, which was really interesting to learn too. Because their priorities and the way they get their contracts really affects the kind of things that end up on their sites.         

Fisher: Yeah.

Sunny: Genealogy Bank has published some of its obituary indexes on Family Search, which is free. And you might have seen some of your own hinds have come up or search results come up in those Genealogy Bank collections. And then over on Ancestry.com their sister company is Newspapers.com, and Newspapers publishes its enormous indexes over on Ancestry. So, you can get some teaser content both places. And boy, if you consistently find that your family is appearing in some of that teaser content, that’s a real hint that you should be exploring these sites. On the monthly plan or on the library plan for free, or whatever it is you can do. I would make the effort to get over and check it out.         

Fisher: Oh, absolutely. There’s no question. You know, this is the thing about newspapers, it’s called journalism, right? And it comes from the word journal, which means we’re keeping track of things that happen day-to-day within the lives of the people we knew and loved, things that people might not even remember maybe some things that they do. I just was helping somebody here recently just a few days ago and discovered that a relative had had four children killed in a house fire, and just a result of this stray research and finding a death certificate that described the situation. And then when we went to the newspaper coverage of that story, there were three others. And it was just such a shocking thing. It’s funny how those things kind of hit you like they just happened today sometimes, you know?  

Sunny: For sure. You know, we’re used to seeing some of these obituary indexes of vital record indexes, but something really powerful that Newspapers.com is doing is they’re starting to create indexes for what they call stories and events. So, the rest of the newspaper, not just the obituary section, they’re creating enormous indexes with maybe over a billion entries just for the state of California, half a billion just for the state of Tennessee or Ohio.         

Fisher: Isn’t that crazy.

Sunny: You’re going to start finding more of the stories you’re talking about Scott.         

Fisher: Absolutely. A far as the number of pages go for these sites, what are we looking at?

Sunny: All right, well, I already gave you a little bit of a breakdown on our free sites. Genealogy Bank does not really release the number of pages on its sites, but the number of titles is fairly comparable with Newspaper Archive. Doesn’t mean it’s exactly the same amount of pages. But Newspaper Archive has about 280 million pages on the site. So, just let that sink in a little.    

Fisher: Okay. That’s a lot. [Laughs] Yes. 

Sunny: And then over at Newspapers.com their top-tier subscription with the most license content is in an order of magnitude above that over 800 million pages.        

Fisher: So we’re talking like four times?

Sunny: Yeah, nearly.        

Fisher: That’s unbelievable. You know, we’re out of time, Sunny. That is a great comparison and it’s important to know that there are places to find things that are free, even paid things that are available for free, and that you can find stories and surprises so easily. People are always asking, “Where do you get these stories?” A lot of it comes from newspapers. Thanks so much Sunny for coming on. 

Sunny: Thank you Scott.        

Fisher: And coming up next, I’ll be talking to a woman who found out about her birth father and his heroics in World War II by going back to China where he was honored. You’ll want to hear the story coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 453

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Judy Goodman Ikels

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher. And my next guest, wow, what a story she has to tell! She has written it in a book that you can find online, it’s called “Death in Wartime China: A Daughter’s Discovery.” She is Judy Goodman Ikels. She lost her dad back in 1944 in a B-24 Liberator bomber. Judy, welcome to Extreme Genes, it’s great to have you. Tell us how you found out about this story? Did you grow up knowing it the whole time?

Judy: Well, thank you very much, Scott. Happy to tell this story, of course I knew that my birth father had died in World War II and I knew that he had died in China. But, as a little girl growing up in Texas, I didn’t have very much ability to do research on it. It seemed so far away.

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: And life went on. My mother remarried. I had a wonderful adopted father. Although I thought about my birth father, Bill Wallace, I didn’t ever do any research. It all came together for me when in 2015 I was contacted just out of the blue, as we sometimes are these days because of online things. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: By an American researcher who had been living in China for more than 20 years, Dr. Patrick Lucas, who had run across this story of my father’s heroism in China. That he saved his entire B-24 crew but lost his own life in action when the United States was defending China against the Japanese in World War II. And he was wanting to find some family member to provide pictures or more detail that he could use on a website that he was building to honor these American Service men. And he had been very frustrated because he could never find anyone related to Bill Wallace. Further that is explained by the fact that I was adopted, that I was an only child and so forth.

Fisher: Sure, name changes.

Judy: Correct. So, after he had been looking for about ten years in frustration, he decided that the best thing to do would be to build a memorial for Bill. He got together some Chinese villages from the little mountain village where Bill died. Some American exchange students and together they raised some money and put a beautiful monument there, which is not small. It’s about four feet tall with limestone block that in English and in Chinese honors the friendship between China and the United States, and the hope for peace, and there’s Bill’s name written. I saw this online and I thought, good grief, here’s a memorial dedicated to my birth father some place in Southern China. I have to go see it.

Fisher: Wow!

Judy: So, in 2016, my late husband and I made that long trip, and we were greeted. I didn’t know what to expect.

Fisher: Oh, I bet you were greeted like heroes.

Judy: We were greeted like visiting royalty but it wasn’t just me. The memories and the reverence that people have for the Flying Tigers, the American Airmen who defended that part of China during the war are really still alive and well there. Flying Tigers is a name that appears everywhere.

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: There’s a security company that’s called the Flying Tigers. [Laughs] And there’s a community organization that welcomed us, as well as there is a wing of the museum there in Kunming, China, which is dedicated to the Flying Tigers, and where I found my father’s name. So, it was a real journey for me.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: And I just relish the opportunity not only to learn more about his role in the war and the role of the United States in the war, but also to reconnect with the person who gave me my life even when he lost his own to defend the country. So it’s been quite a journey.

Fisher: So, as an adoptee, was this kind of a conflict for you over the years because you obviously had a really great upbringing with your stepfather or was he your adoptive father?

Judy: No, he adopted me.

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: And changed my name. I can still remember when that happened. I thought it was very, very fancy, a little girl to get a new name, you know.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: And of course my adopted father and mother never had any other children. And I was Ernestine and Bill’s only child. So, I was the little apple of everybody’s eye there in Dallas, Texas.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Judy: So, with three sets of grandparents and a multitude of really wonderful Goodman cousins, I grew up. It’s not so much that there was a conflict, but when you’re a little child as I write in my book, even though I didn’t know the meaning of the word taboo, I very well understood that when I brought up certain things people got sad.

Fisher: Hmm.

Judy: It made them sad to think about Bill. It made them sad to feel his loss. So I just avoided it.

Fisher: Yeah, that makes sense. When you made this connection over in China, and you went over and saw that monument, did he change from just being, oh, there’s the birth father. To being, oh, that was my dad?

Judy: Actually, in some very profound way it did change. You know, I had always had a curiosity about what life was like in his final days. Where was he? What did the terrain look like? What were the people like? And as I began to think about those things and answer those questions for myself and see for myself, his personality and his image really came into high relief for me.

Fisher: Um hmm. Had to be a change.

Judy: There was a change. I reread all letters that mother had saved that they had exchanged during the war. I went back and looked at his high school records. I read everything I could find that he ever wrote. He loved to write poetry, especially to my mother. And being an amateur poet myself I really found a lot in common with that aspect of his personality. Again, I was reminded that he loved music and played the piano and sang in the school choir. I did all of those things. So, in some ways my life mirrored his, even though at the time I wasn’t thinking about it in that way.

Fisher: Well, I think just from my experience in dealing with a lot of people who’ve grown up with people other than their birth parents, there is some point at which you have to get past that sense of, oh, I’m betraying the ones who raised me to embrace the ones who gave me life.

Judy: Yes. And my adopted father was so open and welcoming, that whole Goodman family. And in my own case, I think it was more the sadness and the grief of my Wallace grandparents that kind of held things back.

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: Because they were always at our house. My adopted father really back in the day when men bought flowers for everyone on Mother’s Day, he always included all of my grandmothers. So, there was a real sense of inclusion there, but there’s always that little question, what would life have been like had he come home?

Fisher: Hmm. Well, it would have been entirely different for a lot of people. But look what happened, he saved seven crew members in losing his own life. My question to you is, are you aware of any of the families that he impacted through his actions?

Judy: I know their names. And the American researcher Patrick Lucas was able to talk with one survivor back in the early 2000s.

Fisher: Wow!

Judy: But, not all of the men who survived on June 10th, 1944, went on to survive the entire war.

Fisher: Hmm.

Judy: And all of them are gone now.

Fisher: Sure. Well, nonetheless, it would be interesting to know what has resulted especially with the survivor. He probably went on to have his own family and all that wouldn’t have happened had it not been for your father. 

Judy: Well, maybe you can help me find him.

Fisher: [Laughs] Oh boy, here we go… another project!

Judy: [Laughs] Another project!

Fisher: She is Judy Goodman Ikels. She is the author of the book, “Death in Wartime China: A Daughter’s Discover.” Judy, it has been a joy to talk to you. What an incredible story and congratulations on your journey. These are just the things that change our lives, right, to learn about our origins and to make sure that our people’s stories survive.

Judy: That’s it. You got it. Thank you so much! It’s been my pleasure.

Fisher: You bet. Of course we can get the book anywhere. It’s on Amazon, and all throughout the internet. Thanks so much Judy. And coming up next, another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 453

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, this is one of my favorite segments on the show each week. It is Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. David Allen Lambert is back in Boston from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, our question comes from Lillian Frankel in Lake Worth, Florida. And she says, “Hi, guys. I have a limited membership to Ancestry.com. And I've seen a hint to one of my French ancestors to a site called Geneanet. Is it worth getting a subscription there? What might I find? Thank you.” First of all, it's Genea and Net, right, David?

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: And so yeah, it's important to know that and they were actually recently bought by Ancestry.com, which is why you're seeing some of the hints there. But you don't actually have to sign up for Geneanet. But if you've got a full subscription on Ancestry, you would have access to that material.

David: And you know, Ancestry has acquired some companies that have had great material on a standalone, but it’s nice to get them all under the same umbrella.

Fisher: Yes.

David: I think I met Geneanet reps at RootsTech back maybe a few years ago.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: First time, I think that's when they came out.

Fisher: Well, I'll tell you this, they have the work on there of many French researchers. And just people like us Americans who like to do the same thing. And they are very thorough. They do a really good job at documenting where they find their material. They put in stories in there as well. And just the other day, I had a friend who was leaving in two days to go to Europe, and she wanted to find some place to visit over there. And so, we went on to Ancestry and looked at her earliest ancestor on her name line, which went back to 1851 in Germany, but as it turned out, the family was actually French. And when we plugged that in, we found a Geneanet link and it took her back six generations.

David: Wow.

Fisher: Along the German and French border. Yeah. Wow. And her head exploded. And so, it was great.

David: Not literally I hope.

Fisher: No. And what was interesting though, is somebody posted a legend surrounding this earliest name line ancestor of hers. And the story was is that he was out herding oxen or cows or something, one of them got lost, and he was terrified he was going to be punished by whoever he was responsible to. And he ran off into the woods and he couldn't find it, he heard a voice. And it said, “Go back home and you will find the calf. But when you do, make sure you pay your devotion to the Virgin Mary.” And so, he went back home and he found the calf or the oxen or whatever it was, and kind of forgot about the promise that he had made. And then when he went to go off to war a few years later, he remembered the promise. And he put up a little Virgin Mary in the hollow of a tree. And over time, this became a sacred place in this village. And they actually built a Catholic church there. And that Catholic Church remains in that place to this very day. And so now, she just left actually a few hours ago on this trip. And she is planning on spending at least a week in that village. And I told her I think, “You know, a town that small.” She had kind of an unusual maiden name, Fischesser. I told her, I said, “You're probably going to be received as a hero there, because your ancestor was considered the founder of that particular church.” And this whole thing came across because of Geneanet being tied onto Ancestry. And I, myself have had connections there. I think I mentioned a few weeks ago about the Dubois family of upstate New York, there was always all kinds of information, wrong information about the ancestry of Louise Dubois, and Jacque Dubois. But the folks over in France, they had the records, they solved it. And now we're just having the problem, David, as you can imagine of just trying to correct the past mistakes and keep them corrected. Because when you deal with any Wiki Tree, people want to go back and say, “Oh, it was in this book.” But of course when the books wrong, then what do you do, right?

David: That is very true. Try to have a conversation with somebody about how you cannot rely on a 1860s genealogy that doesn't have a footnote in it when you're trying to join the Mayflower Society.

Fisher: Right, exactly, exactly. So, great question, Lillian. Hopefully that will help you out. And we've got another question coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 453

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, welcome back for our final segment this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fish here, David over there in Boston. And David, our next question comes from Holly Rose Hall in Edmond, Oklahoma. And she says, “Guys, I recently discovered in the 1930 census that my ancestor had some kind of military experience, but not the Civil War or World War I. It says “spam.” Can you tell me what spam meant back then?”

David: Well, it's not that delicious meat in a can.

Fisher: No.

David: Some veterans would have eaten it. Actually, it refers to SP for Spanish, AM for American for the Spanish American War.

Fisher: Ah!

David: You know, I don't have any ancestors who fought in that war. Do you, Fish?

Fisher: No, no, uh uh, not one.

David: Well, it doesn't surprise me, because it really only went on for a little more than three months, three weeks, and only two days, between April and August of 1898. Of course, we always remember the term, remember the day when the USS Maine exploded in Havana, Cuba. Of course, you've probably heard of the Rough Riders of San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt. I mean, a lot of activity in a very short amount of time. A lot of what we know about that war is also combined with the Spanish American War and the Philippine Insurrection. And of course, that has Dewey and the attacks in the Philippines. And basically, it stopped the Spanish possession of a lot of places in the Caribbean. The annexation of Hawaii occurred in 1898 at the start of the war. So it's a fascinating time, but there are records. Now, the Spanish American War Veteran Pensions, which you're going to get all the post life are already indexed online, but you're not going to find it under Spanish American War. You're going to find it in the database on Ancestry of Civil War Pension Index.

Fisher: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! The Civil War Pension Index has the Spanish American War guys too?

David: Um hmm. Covers 1861 to 1934 on the card, it will be stamped in the upper right hand corner usually says war with Spain. So that would be one place to check. And of course, those records are still at the National Archives, Washington D.C. So are the service records for Spanish American War Veterans. So, you have to go through the records in person at NARA, but you can order them online. A pension right now is $80 from the National Archives for the first 100 pages. Service record is $30. And that usually doesn't take that many documents in it. So, as you move through the records, what else can you look for? There may be a gravestone for your ancestor in the Spanish American War.

Fisher: Okay.

David: They may have belonged to one of the organizations for the soldiers. I mean, the Spanish American War Veterans, there may be a medal in your family's possession or a photograph. You may even find documents associated with a pension file if they may have applied for it, like the possession of the soldiers certificate that they received. Looking at newspapers, I mean, the 1890s, putting your ancestor in 1898 and see if he comes up.

Fisher: Interesting.

David: He may have been in the service in 1900. He may have stayed with it, and then you'll find US military installations, be it fort or a vessel that they may connect him in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, etc. So you can find a bunch of things online.

Fisher: So David, going back to NARA, though, I mean, I haven't spoken anybody in a while who's tried to order anything out of there. How long is it taking to get any documents right now? Do you know?

David: Last time I heard, it was a few months.

Fisher: Okay.

David: I'm going to be there in a couple of weeks myself. So I was I was hoping that maybe you had a Spanish American War veteran you didn't look up. I was going to get you a little present before your birthday.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: That's a great question. And I think I might go have some spam for supper now.

Fisher: I think you might. All right David thanks so much for your time. Thanks for the question. Holly Rose. And thank you for listening to the show this week. Of course, thanks also to Sunny Morton to come on and talk about the various newspaper sites and a comparison, and to Judy Goodman Ikels for talking about her father, who lost his life saving seven of his crewmen in World War II. If you missed any of the show and you want to catch it again, of course listen to the podcast. You can find it on AppleMedia, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com and Spotify. 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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