Episode 474 - Scottish Rookie Genie Finds Arsonist Relative / NYG&B On Latest New York City & State News

podcast episode Sep 25, 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 David talking about a treasure trove of new information that kept him up til 1 am! Speaking of treasure, David then talks about visiting a museum for the pirate ship, Whydah. Next, big news about RootsTech 2024! Then, a Virgin Galactic rocket has taken the remains of two ancient men into space. David explains. How would you like to be eight years old and find an artifact that dates back a thousand years or more? It’s happened in Sweden!

In segment two, Fisher visits with NEHGS intern Kim Taylor, talking from her native Scotland. Kim is a rookie genie and has made a remarkable find about a relative in her line who got a little too angry one night. Hear about her find of an attempted arsonist.

In segment three, New York Biological and Genealogical Society President Josh Taylor brings us up to date on what is happening in New York City AND New York State records.

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

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


Segment 1 Episode 474

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: And hello America! And welcome 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. Great guests today! It's great to have you along for them. They're both named Taylor. One is Kim Taylor. She's from Scotland. And she made an interesting find about a black sheep in her family. And she's going to talk about the discovery because she's kind of a newbie to our field. And she's pretty excited. It'll be great to talk to Kim coming up here at about ten minutes. Later in the show, we're going to talk to Josh Taylor, not related, president of course of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, finding out what's going on in New York City and New York State these days. Right now, let's talk to Boston because David Allen Lambert is standing by from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David has been a busy man here the last few days, haven't you, Dave?

David: I really have and I'm totally exhausted. But I have enough energy to tell you what I did last night till about 1am.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.

David: I happened to call up my local public library to ask a question. I said, by the way, did you ever digitize those newspapers on microfilm that we have? And they were like oh, yeah, they've been up for about a month. Didn't you know?

Fisher: Ohh.

David:  Wow! So Public Library has taken all the microfilm, had them digitized, but it gets better. It's also partially OCR.

Fisher: Okay, so you can search it as you wish.

David: Uh huh. So I put in my street address. My house was built in 1897. I found over 40 advertisements from one of the farmers from 1916 to 1934. Everything from him selling his 1926 Model T truck for $25, to selling a cow, 150 Rhode Island Red chickens, milk, I found the name of the dairy, which is where I live, which I've never knew the name, his phone number, which was 309R and his 1500 mile trip. He told his wife more than two or three times each year they accounted up to Prince Edward Island Canada, and a couple of times where they almost had a run in with a bull moose on the road.

Fisher: That's funny. Funny! Did you find anything new about your house you didn't know?

David: Yeah, in 1919 the fire department came to my house because there was a chimney fire.

Fisher: Ah ha. Wow. That's great stuff. And because all of this hasn't been indexed yet you may yet find more.

David: I plan on doing more of it this evening.

Fisher: Oh, that's fun.

David: And in the morning.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And probably the next evening.

Fisher: But this isn't the only thing you've been doing the last couple of days.

David: No, actually, I got to touch pirate treasure. Since 1984, I've wanted to go to the museum that once was down in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Barry Clifford found the Whydah. It’s the only identified pirate ship that had treasure on it. They've talked a lot about Blackbeard and whatnot, but Sam Bellamy's wreck of the Whydah occurred in 1717, and the nor'easter destroyed it. And Barry Clifford discovered it and thousands of silver and gold coins, human remains, Fish, I saw the femur of somebody in a concretion of all sorts of stuff that's kind of glued itself together from the sea bottom.

Fisher: Sure.

David: They’re hoping to do DNA on these remains, and maybe figure out which pirate it might be, or at least know if he's African American or European, or Native American.

Fisher: Interesting. Yeah.

David: So that was real fun. And I got to hold a silver coin from the pirate ship. And I said, is that okay to hold? He says, As long as you don't run away with it. I said, No, I can't steal a pirate coin.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, and you're not that fast. I've seen you run.

David: I’m a little faster now that I've lost weight, but not that fast. Well, you know, I also want to give a big shout out to our friends in RootsTech because registration is now open. February 29 to March 2nd will be RootsTech both virtual and in person in Salt Lake City, Utah. And myself and my colleague, Melanie Macomb are now selected to give lectures once again. We're looking forward to it.

Fisher: Yeah, this is going to be a great time. And it's always a big reunion of everybody in the space and a chance for you to meet some of the genealogy celebrities out there. We don't know who they're all going to be yet. And of course, usually very famous keynote speakers, like we had Sean Astin last year, which was an amazing guest.

David: That's very true. It's always fun and a great way to network too.

Fisher: Yep, and sign up at RootsTech.org.

David: And the first thousand people even get a special prize. Well, Fish, for Family Histoire News I've got an interesting one. You know, I would so love to be the first genealogists in space. *Hint* *Hint*If you're listening out there, Virgin Galactic, but maybe one of my family members already went well, because a 2 million year old human ancestor went into a spaceflight, a collarbone and part of a phone were launched into space by Timothy Nash who is holding the fossilized bones of this ancient him that went up on September 8th. So I guess that makes them older than John Glenn.

Fisher: Yeah, yes, that would be true. Yeah. New record,

David: There you go. Walk along the beach in Gotland, an island in Sweden and you never know what you might find. An eight year old boy by the name of Bruno picked up a piece of metal and held it in his hands and his parents said, “What did you pick up over there?” You know, worrying it was something dangerous. Turns out it was only a Viking belt buckle from about 800 to 1100 A.D. made in bronze.

Fisher: Oh, wow! But of course he can't keep it because that's the rules over there.

David: I know. I mean, and I think I would probably be upset as a child if I had found something and they wanted to have me give it up. But I hope they took him out for ice cream or something like that.

Fisher: Yeah, something like that.

David: One thing I wouldn't want to find on a beach is of course a skull but there are people like Huw Morris who specializes in bringing the dead back to life. He basically uses technology, such as CAT scans and photographs of skeletons and skulls and recreates the face for the faceless. I also use his paintings and busts and sculptures when available, also DNA analysis. Why? Because I can help them tell what the hair color and the eye color of the person may have been.

Fisher: Interesting. And of course it helps with cold cases.

David: It does indeed, puts the face back on the deceased. Well, that's all I have from Beantown this week. And don't forget if you use a coupon code EXTREME on AmericanAncestors.org you'll save yourself $20.

Fisher: All right, very good, David. And of course, we'll talk to you later in the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we're going to make a phone call to Scotland and talk to Kim Taylor. She is an intern for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and she recently made an amazing find as a beginning genealogist of a black sheep in her family over in Scotland. She'll tell you how she found it, what it's all about, and how it's impacted her and her family when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 474

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kim Taylor

Fisher: Hey, we are back on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it's always fun to meet younger people getting deep in the weeds in their family history. And one of those people is Kim Taylor. She lives over in Scotland. I got her on the line right now. She's a recent graduate of the University of Stirling. And Kim, it is great to have you on the show.

Kim: It's great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Fisher: Now you're an intern for American Ancestors and NEHGS and I loved your recent write up in their vita brevis on AmericanAncestors.org about the skeleton in your closet that you found in Scotland. Let's talk about this guy. Who was he? What was his relationship to you?

Kim: Of course, yeah. So, John Lynch Breslin Jr., he was my third great grandfather, Daniel Breslin’s, brother.

Fisher: Okay.

Kim: So my uncle far removed I’d say. [Laughs]

Fisher: Something like that. Yeah.

Kim: So he's definitely an interesting character. I found out that he was definitely Daniel's brother. Because for a great long time, my family's all lived in Old Machar in Aberdeen, and his address is in Old Machar.

Fisher: Okay.

Kim: So, brilliant. That's a fantastic find. I love those.

Fisher: Yes, absolutely. When they match up correctly in every way, it gives you a little bit of confidence, doesn't it?

Kim: Oh, absolutely. It solidifies that in your mind because there's a lot of people with the name Breslin who live in Scotland. So you go looking for Breslins along my family line, and it's just okay, is this person mine, or is this someone else?

Fisher: Sure. Well, there are a lot of people with the same names in Scotland and Ireland.

Kim: Absolutely. There's a lot of common names. I'm a Taylor and a Smith, my two names that my mum and dad come from. So you can imagine, I've got people I could or could not be related to all over the place.

Fisher: Yeah, but Scotland has some great research assets online, one of them called Scotland's People. And that is just amazing for anybody in the world who wants to research Scottish records. And you had a nice little dive into that.

Kim: Without question. Scotland's People carries birth records, death records, but most importantly for me, it carries prison records. It’s a bit of an interesting one. But Scotland's People Center, it's open and you're able to just go in and sit down in their center on for free look at their records, which is an incredible service. And I'm so grateful that my country has this because it means that people, especially my age, can go in and sit and learn about their ancestors without a cost getting involved.

Fisher: Right.

Kim: So, I was incredibly lucky as part of my internship with NEHGS I got the chance to go to Edinburgh and sit down in this People Centre to go and do some more research on my family, which was where I found John Lynch Breslin Jr. in the prison records.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wait, were you looking for him in the prison records, or were you just looking at prison records and stumbled on him?

Kim: I was first of all looking for him in his birth, death and marriage records, which was what I was doing as a standard for all of my other ancestors.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: But I checked the prison records for the last couple of them just as a sort of side glance, because it gives you a little more information about the person you know, where they're living, what their background is, who they're related to. It gives you more information than a marriage or a birth or death record.

Fisher: Or descriptions usually, right too?

Kim: Yeah, height, their health status, it gives you all sorts of information that birth and death record just won't tell you. So I'd gone looking for more information just as a side thing and I’d very much gotten used to the fact that I was getting no answers on that, which was A-okay with me. But John's name cropped up, which was interesting, because the family to my understanding, had had John just years before, which didn't make any sense to me, which is when I found out that the family had two John Lynch Breslins, which I had to go and find.

Fisher: Okay, well, you are becoming a great sleuth already.

Kim: Oh, gosh, NEHGS was very good at teaching me the skills that I needed to get started I'll tell you that much. But I found his name under an attempted fire starter charge.

Fisher: Arson.

Kim: Arson. It's interesting. Arson isn't one of those crimes that you think of immediately when you think of a criminal. You know, you think of theft, you think of murder.

Fisher: Yeah. It’s a little further down the list, isn't it, you know? [Laughs]

Kim: Yeah. And the thing is too, in the UK, I mean, there's not a lot of acreage there, right? People are packed together. So that's, that's considered a very serious crime there. Yes?

Kim: An incredibly big deal. I mean, back in the day, it used to be one of the few charges that could land you with a death sentence in Britain, because it was such a massive deal to set fire to what limited land we have.

Fisher: Sure. And you made a great comparison in your article for the fact that the acreage in the UK, not counting Ireland, is roughly the size of Oregon here in the United States.

Kim: Yes, which is a mere small part of the land you guys have over there.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kim: It's just one state. That's all we have.

Fisher: Yes. And was he successful in his arson attempt?

Kim: No, he wasn't. Thank goodness for that.

Fisher: Tell us the details.

Kim: Of course. Well, I was lucky enough to find a newspaper article that told me all of the details about it, which was published in the Aberdeen Press and Journal, which is the paper that my family still reads to this day. On the sixth of November 1903, there was a woman who saw him do it and witnessed the whole event so we could tell what he did.

Fisher: And what did he do?

Kim: What he did was he took fuel and put this into a barrel filled with straw. The fuel was paraffin. He poured the paraffin into a barrel full of straw and attempted to ignite it.

Fisher: Okay, and what was he trying to burn down?

Kim: A stable.

Fisher: Ohh!

Kim: Now, stables were used for lodging back in the day in Aberdeen. So a lot of people used to live in the upper attic areas that used to be where he slept. And to my understanding, John Lynch Breslin Jr. was kicked out of this stable, and it was being leased to someone else. This fueled the anger and the crime at the end of the day, so he attempted to set fire to it. Unbeknownst to him, there was a woman sleeping in the upper lodging,

Fisher: Oh boy.

Kim: Who was actually awake at the time, and managed to stop the fire before it blazed down anything.

Fisher: Wow! Lucky for her and lucky for him, because obviously, if he'd actually killed somebody or something that would have likely been the end of him.

Kim: Oh, absolutely. The fact of the matter is he got the minimum charge sentence solely because he was unsuccessful.

Fisher: And what was that?

Kim: Six months.

Fisher: Six months, as a young guy, as a teenager. Yeah. So what about the rest of his life? Have you learned what he did with it?

Kim: I don't know much. However, I do know that he went to working in steel, which was quite common in my family line. So I'm not all that surprised.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: And wouldn't be surprised if family ties managed to get him something after his sentence. But he did go into steel working, thankfully kept himself out of prison for the rest of his life.

Fisher: Learned to control his temper a little bit. That's good.

Kim: [Laughs]

Fisher: So what was your family's reaction to all this?

Kim: Oh, I got all sorts of different reactions. There was shock, there was shame, there was laughter, There was just a touch of everything. But it's one of those things you can't really believe so it connects to that shock within us. I'd imagine it's the first thing you feel when you learn about an arson charge in your family.

Fisher: Oh yeah. I'm sure it was a pretty good gasp when you found that?

Kim: Oh, yes, absolutely. No doubt. I was just beyond shocked. I think possibly the best reaction, my family historian at the moment is Paulette, she's my aunt, she was shocked as anything because she didn't know about this and she’d been detailing names in our family tree for decades before me.

Fisher: Had she known him as an old man?

Kim: She knew of him. She didn't know he had an arson charge.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]

Kim: [Laughs] So, I gave her the details of that. She was more excited than anything else. It was a nice change of pace. Then again, I suppose that is a thing when it comes to family history and you’re a practiced hand at it, these skeletons in the closet they're exciting, they're interesting, more than they are shocking as they first were to me,

Fisher: Well, you're talking about a case 120 years ago, but I can understand people feeling like somehow they have this connection to it. Like they had something to do with it, which is really kind of an unnatural reaction, right?

Kim: Oh, yeah. You think of it as unnatural or slightly odd until you feel it yourself?

Fisher: Yeah. But it's kind of like time travel, right? We feel like we're there as we're reading it. And I've had that experience myself. And then you get to the end, it's like, wait a minute, wait a minute, I live in a whole different time and place. I had nothing to do with it. I've never met this person. But somehow, periodically, we like to take it upon ourselves.

Kim: Oh, yeah, that's exactly the case.

Fisher: What's been the reaction to your article?

Kim: Oh, it's been absolutely amazing. I can't thank people enough for engaging with it. There's so many people who are curious as to what became of John, people sharing their own stories, I mean, I've had people who've come back to me and told me about pirates in their past.

Fisher: Ahh yes. I have one of those myself. Yeah. [Laughs]

Kim: Yeah, which is amazing. It's lovely to see these people come in and connect because everyone has skeletons in their past.

Fisher: That's it.

Kim: In their family history, and to see people look at me, sharing off. This is the first one I found and share of theirs, it's brilliant. It's lovely to see.

Fisher: I think you found yourself a career, Kim.

Kim: [Laughs] Oh, I would absolutely love to make this my career. You have no idea.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it's so nice to meet you and I appreciate your taking the time to come on Extreme Genes.

Kim: Of course. It's been absolutely lovely speaking to you.

Fisher: You too. All right, thank you so much from Scotland, that's Kim Taylor. And coming up next, we're going to talk to the president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society what's going on in New York research coming up next, when we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 474

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Joshua D. Taylor

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is a great pleasure to bring back my friend, Joshua Taylor, D. Joshua Taylor, don't want to leave your initial out, Josh, I know it's very important to your identity.

Josh: [Laughs] It's not that bad.

Fisher: [Laughs] He is, of course, the president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. And boy, you've been stirring up trouble here lately I’ve been seeing.

Josh: That's right. But a good kind of trouble.

Fisher: Yes! Good for us. Those of us who are who are trying to keep up with our New York ancestry and we've been having problems with this at the state level. And you've gone to bat for all of us. Tell us about this.

Josh: Well, so this past summer, in response to an article on the Albany Times Union, I wrote a letter to the editor that essentially expressed our dismay at the delays in getting vital records from the Department of Health in New York State. And also encouraged the thinking that those materials should actually be in the safeguards of the New York State Archives, rather than the Department of Health.

Fisher: Yes.

Josh: And so we're hoping that that might cause some thinking and some traction. Just as everyone else, we don't have any magic button to get the records faster. It’s the state but we know that the delays are sometimes 18 to 24 months now, which is just not acceptable.

Fisher: Wow! No it is not. You know, the thing is to about New York and records I mean, the records in that state and that city are monstrous, the number of them and to try to ever obtain all of them in a timely manner. It's like kind of turning around the Queen Mary, don't you think on a dime? It’s very difficult.

Josh: I do. Yeah, and you know, the alternative method to accessing those records now is to write to whatever jurisdiction actually had the local records, so, a town clerk or a county in some cases. I will say as a complement to the various town clerks and village clerks that I've reached out to in the past year for my own research, they've been incredibly responsive and quite quick actually in getting records back.

Fisher: Yeah.

Josh: So, you know that there is an alternative route to getting them but it'd be nice if we could get them from the state.

Fisher: Well, don't you think at the local level though, they're dealing with a smaller number of records and a smaller number of requests and the people at the local level are often much more into what we do and want to be a part of the solution, don't you think?

Josh: Yeah, they do. I think that's exactly right. I mean, I've had some lovely phone conversations and email conversations. And, you know, one or two clerks asking more questions about the people that I was researching. And it's nice to know that at that local level, there's still that interest and a willingness to assist us.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. Well, hopefully, you'll get some response from that. What have you heard from your letter to the editor?

Josh: So, we've had a couple of responses, some things that I can't necessarily talk about yet, but we've had enough response to know that it was read by people that we intended for it to be read by.

Fisher: Okay good.

Josh: And I think right now we're sort of sitting back and seeing what might happen in the next couple of months. So we're not going to give up on this one.

Fisher: No, no, just hang on to the tail and pull that thing in. So, let's talk a little about digitized New York with NYG&BS.

Josh: Yeah. So, speaking of the helpful local historians and local clerks, digitized New York is a project that started with just a focus on one region of the state, a couple of years ago. And then this summer, we expanded it to include the entire state of New York. And the concept is, essentially, we are working as much as we can with local record holders to digitize materials they have in their possession.

Fisher: Right.

Josh: So, many of these items they haven't been microfilmed by Family Search, they're not online at Ancestry. They are treasures that are sitting on a local area.

Fisher: And this has been going on for a while. Last time we talked about it, it was kind of a concept at that point.  So, as you've begun this project, what have you obtained as a result of it?

Josh: So, we have a lot of local cemetery records, actually a few local religious records, some account books that are actually fascinating, you know, the local account book of a doctor essentially can be a substitute for vital records.

Fisher: Yes, it can.

Josh: So that's been nice. And we've even found one town’s 1855 state census.

Fisher: Oh, wow!

Josh: It that was a copy that they had. So that gave us some hope, and the idea that there are more gems like this that are just sitting out there just waiting,

Fisher: You know, there's so much stuff you think about the state of New York. And for any listener, who has dealt with upstate New York records, it's very difficult. I mean, like you say, they're generally paper copies, not something microfilm, not something digitized. I know that I have some on my wife's side that I've tried to figure out. And I know that something is out there, but I don't know where to find it. And hopefully, some project like this will reveal what we're looking for.

Josh: Yeah, so we're giving record holders different options. So, we'll actually put a small camera and equipment with them so they can do the work themselves, or they can send it to our offices in New York City, and we'll use our equipment and digitize it and send it back to them. So, it's been successful thus far, and I can't wait to see what fruit it will bear in the in the coming months.

Fisher: Yeah, have you had actually some people come in and do some research and make some discoveries with this new material?

Josh: You know, we have. We launch a new collection every single week.

Fisher: Wow!

Josh: So, there's always something new to find at the NYG&BS website. And we get emails all the time from people who have never thought to look at that account book, or here’s that church record I've been looking for forever. So, we've had some great discoveries.

Fisher: Yeah, that's just so enormously satisfying to start a new project and see people are making discoveries. And, you know, the fun part about it is and then it goes up on a website somewhere and other people find it and it's like, oh, look at that I can extend my line a generation. They have no idea how much effort it took to break that one generation back and open things up. That's really exciting. And speaking of which, you've got a great family history conference coming up here in a couple of months covering New York, not only the city but the state.

Josh: We do. The 2023 New York State family history conference is going to be November 2nd through the 4th. It is online and in person. We're actually going to be broadcasting live from our offices in New York City, and we're going to be in Buffalo, New York as well for the conference and on demand sessions.

Fisher: Wow!

Josh: So, we're literally going from each edge of the states and bringing everyone information about New York genealogy. So it should be a really, really fun event.

Fisher: And so you can sign up online a real easy thing to do and the live component must be really fun too, because I know you've got some great guests coming in to speak.

Josh: It is. We have New York experts. We have Skip Duett and Jane Wilcox coming in, and we have Blaine Bettinger who's going to join us, and it's really going to be a fun event. I particularly like the live broadcast element to it. And of course, those are recorded. So if you miss a moment of it, you can dive back in and catch it after.

Fisher: Yeah, isn't that the joy, we can move time now. And that's very convenient for an awful lot of people. So, in New York City, right now, of course, we've had a lot of challenges now to say the archives are hanging on to records and they're opening up and we're seeing some great things happening right now, like the vital records, the original colorized versions. It's fantastic what's going on there right now. Any other record set that you're aware of that has come forward that's making a big difference as a result of all the efforts to get things revealed publicly?

Josh: You know, I'm trying to think of the most recent one that that came out I know that the municipal archive has been putting on a lot of records. I can't name a specific set that comes to mind right now. But I will say that we have seen the positive impact of the vital records being made available. People are solving long standing questions they had and discovering more about their families. And it has just been a really positive thing for New York City genealogy as a whole.

Fisher: You know, it's so nice to see these digitized original records, because the ones we've typically seen over the years were microfilm first, and black and white. And then they're digitized and they got the lines through them and all that stuff. But the original ones in the colors and the original ink colors, I mean, it's like a piece of art, especially with the old handwriting, and it's almost as if you get to own the original, which I think is fantastic.

Josh: I completely agree that full color version of that image is it's like discovering it, even if you've seen it years and years before seeing it in color for the first time. It's brand new.

Fisher: Yeah. And some of those off the microfilm were pretty much faded. You know, you'd have to do all kinds of Photoshopping to give it the right tone just to be able to read it, but you can pick things up to when you get the full original look. So you know, there's a lot of reason for hope. And, Josh, you've done so much to revitalize the New York G&BS. And we're so appreciative of that those of us who have so much New York research to do, and now moving it more and more statewide. So best of luck on that have a great conference coming up in November and I appreciate you coming on Extreme Genes.

Josh: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: All right. 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 474

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, we continue with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It’s our chance to answer some of your questions about family history research. David Allen Lambert is back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. And Dave, this question actually comes from your part of the country. Angela in Framingham, Massachusetts says, “Hi, guys. Recently, my aunt was put into a nursing home. And so now I am charged with clearing out her house. She has no kids. What do I do with the family things I find? I am not a genealogist, but I listened to you guys on WRKO in Boston.” Thank you for that, Angela. What do you think, Dave?

David: Well, the first thing you want to do is get rid of the perishables and then you want to start looking for the family photos.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: I mean, I have plenty of people who are not genealogists who've asked similar questions to this, like they'll contact the local historical society, “Hi, my aunt died. What do we do with this stuff?” Well, luckily the aunt is still alive and maybe she could help out with the identification if her cognitive ability is there.

Fisher: Right.

David: I would set aside anything there were photos, letters, diaries, anything that you think has family connections, because you may not be interested, but maybe one of your other cousins. Reach out to your other cousins and say, “Listen, I have all this family stuff. Are any of you interested in genealogy?” Now, the other aspect of that is, if she's lived in a town for a long time, she may have amassed things of a local history interest.

Fisher: Yep.

David: So contact the local historical society and say, “Hey, listen, we have all of this stuff.” And maybe you don't want the photos or don't speak to your other cousins and you just want to offload it all. If she's resided in the community for a long time, there's a good chance that the photos may have connections, snapshots of parades or scouting events that maybe she attended a parade and took pictures. So, there are local history angles that a local historical society will usually take things, and then they'll sort it out and determine what is valuable and what is not.

Fisher: You are absolutely right about all of that, David. I recently had that experience with a historical society in Indiana that ties to my wife. And one of her distant cousins got old. And his wife went and took these pictures down to the historical society. And they not only scan them all, but they also posted them on their Facebook page. And as a result of that, we found photos we had never seen of the family, including a group picture of the entire family, of my wife’s second great grandfather, the one who ran off with the farm hands wife, that story from back in 1875. But nobody had ever seen it before. And there it was, posted there. So, these pictures, even if it's not of interest to you or your own immediate family or people that you know a little more distantly, it can be of great value to people, much further distance, like this was to me.

David: You know, I think that they're going to go through those images and they're going to find some picture of their parents or their grandparents. And, you know, maybe they might become a genealogist after all.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, I think so. Angela, that's really a good bit of advice. You might want to get started. If you like what you hear here each week, then get going on this, because there are free accounts, Dave to be had all over the place.

David: Oh, yeah. Family Search is one place that you can create a free account on. And start sharing the things, scan it as well. You could be benefiting someone by sharing a photo of their grandparents that they didn't even know existed.

Fisher: Yeah. So, you’ve got history, you’ve got your own family history, other people's family history, distant cousins. So, there's really a lot of reason to hold all this material and get it into the right hands, so that it can be of benefit.

David: Exactly. And please, until you do all that, don't rent a dumpster.

Fisher: No! [Laughs] Exactly. Well, you can do that for cleaning out the kitchen.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: All right, Angela, thank you so much for the question. Hope that helps. And coming up next, we have another beginner type question, when we return in three minutes with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 474

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, time for our final question on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. David Allen Lambert back with me, Fisher. And David, our question comes from Alex in Montana. He says, “Hello Fisher and Dave. I am just getting started in genealogy and family history and would like some advice on the best sites to subscribe to and get going. Love your show. Alex.” My first thought Dave is, what are you doing signing up for anything if you're just starting from scratch?

David: Right, because you have to start with what you know. And if you are the oldest person in your family, it's really doing a mind dump of what's your parents’ names, what’s your grandparents’ names, what's the family stories you know? Really interview yourself is always my first choice to do.

Fisher: Yep.

David: Even if you have parents and grandparents alive. That's where you turn to the next generation parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, whatever the case. You have a 92 year old second cousin and then have them help fill in the blanks, before you go online and just assume what you're finding there is correct. Use those living sources first.

Fisher: Yep, get going. And if you do have parents and grandparents, like you say, Dave, they're the ones you want to get to next, because often they'll say, “Oh, I knew that person. Yeah, they were really old. And they used to do this. And they were at that.” And you can get those things down, too. Keep in mind that genealogy is just a part of family history. They are not the same thing. They're not one and the same. Family history encompasses photographs and documents and the stories of course, but also the genealogy. It's kind of the bones of everything you're trying to put together. But it's the stories that makes it so much fun. And we hear that, of course, every week on Extreme Genes.

David: We do. And I think that's the best part of the experience in genealogy, you can fill in names and dates till the cows come home.

Fisher: Yep.

David: But if you know the story behind an event or how your great grandparents met, at the 1906 carnival in Chicago, I mean, that's where the ancestors come to life. You're breathing life back into their story, and they become more human. For me, the story of my great grandfather being on a whaling ship is what got me interested when I was seven years old.

Fisher: Yeah, seven.

David: Just knowing that he was born in 1848 and died in 1921. Yeah, that's nice. But that he was on a whaling ship, that hooked my interest, no pun intended. So, I would say that if you find your stories, sometimes you then want to prove them. Look at the census. Were they living in Dayton, Ohio in the 1930s? Well, look at the 1930 and the ’40 census. That's when you turn to your online sources to confirm family stories. Are vital records available online? So your great grandparents met in 1906 and they were married soon after? Is there a 1906 or 1907 marriage for that county available on Ancestry or on Family Search or do you have to write to the county and get the record?

Fisher: Yeah. You know, nicely some of the public libraries in the county library systems, they have the censuses for free. All you have to do is just sign up, because you're a local resident, so you don't really have to go to subscribing to any major place until you have laid this foundation to your work. And once you've got that, then the questions start to multiply and multiply and multiply. And the next thing you know, you're just like us, big geeks who have been doing this for decades on end and never giving it up!

David: Nope. And get less sleep every day.

Fisher: Yes! [Laughs]

David: Back to my newspaper research tonight.

Fisher: Absolutely, David, that's a great story. I look forward to hearing more of what you find as a result of that. So, thank you once again, Alex for your question. And thank you, of course, David, for coming on. We'll talk to you next week.

David: Until then, my friend.

Fisher: All right, that is our show for this week. And thanks so much to Kim Taylor for coming on all the way from Scotland to talk about the black sheep in her family that she discovered, plus Josh Taylor, president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, filling us in on what's going on in New York City and New York State right now. If you missed any of the show or you want to catch it again, it's easy to do. Just listen to the podcast. It's available on Apple Media, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify, we are all over the place. We will 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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