Monday, May 25, 2015

More Newspaper Links Added to Wikipedia Page

I was stunned when I discovered I had not written about new links on the Wikipedia newspaper archives page since last December.  It has been on my list of things to do, but somehow it kept slipping further down the list.  I'm glad I have caught up for a while, at least a little.  This batch has some locations with little available online, such as Kenya and Puerto Rico, plus I personally found the Belvidere newspaper obituary index very useful for my own family research.  If you're researching in Iowa, there are six new archives listed.  And all of these new links are free, just like last time!

• British Columbia, Canada:  The Bill Silver Digital Newspaper Archive on the Vanderhoof Public Library site has three digitized area newspapers.

• Ontario, Canada:  Digital Kingston has a site with newspapers going back to the early 19th century.  It overlaps with Kingston papers in the OurOntario.ca Community Newspapers Collection but has some earlier and some additional newspapers available.

• Ontario, Canada:  Thunder Bay Public Library has several downloadable PDF index files available on its site for birth/marriage/death notices, obituaries, social news, and even some World War I references for 1914.

• India:  The University of Heidelberg has digitized copies of most of the 1781 issues of Hicky's Bengal Gazette, or the Original Calcutta General Advertiser.

• Israel:  Five newspapers have been added to the online holdings of the National Library of Israel, three published in Israel and two in New York.

• Kenya:  Virginia Tech hosts a digital archive of the Kenya Gazette.  Currently the collection runs from 1972–1989; plans are to digitize all issues of the Gazette, going back to the 1890's.

• Puerto Rico:  The Gazeta de Puerto-Rico has been added to the Chronicling America collection.  The date range is 1837–1893, but there are gaps.

• Arkansas:  Index to Benton Courier (Saline County) obituaries from 1930–present, downloadable as PDF files.

• California:  The San Mateo County Genealogical Society has downloadable PDF files with indices of newspaper birth/marriage/death notices and of obituaries (along with indices to various county records).

• Illinois:  The Evanston Public Library has a searchable index for the Evanston Review that currently covers 1925, 1966–1972, and 1999–2004.

• Iowa:   The Appanoose County Historical Society has an online archive of Centerville newspapers.

• Iowa:  The Monroe County Historical Society has an archive of newspapers for Albia and other locations in the county.

• Iowa:  The Museum of Danish America has digitized some Danish-American newspapers and a scrapbook.

• Iowa:  Sioux County has a second historical newspaper archive site, this one through Advantage Preservation.  The coverage is not the same as that through Newspaper Archive.

• Iowa:  Taylor County has an online collection of digitized historical newspapers ranging from 1859–2009.

• Iowa and Missouri:  O'Dell's Abstracted Newspaper Index covers southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri for 1859–2014.

• Minnesota:  The Great River Regional Library has an obituary index for the St. Cloud Times that covers 1928–2013, which is helpful, because the Times itself is available only for recent years via a ProQuest subscription database.

• New Jersey:  An index of obituaries and other death announcements has been created for the Belvidere Apollo/Intelligencer/Apollo Journal (as with many newspapers, the name changed over the years), downloadable as PDF files.  So far the index runs from 1826–1914, and the volunteer creating it plans to finish the entire run of the paper, through 1953.  I am thrilled this index is available online, because my 3rd-great-grandfather Franklin P. Sellers published the newspaper under the Intelligencer name.  The index includes obituary listings for him, my 3rd-great-grandmother Rachel G. Sellers, my 2nd-great-grandfather Cornelius G. Sellers, and a few more relatives.  (Though I unfortunately did not find a listing for Cornelius' step-brother, William/John Mathews.)  I will soon be sending a request for photocopies to the Warren County Library!

• New York:  The Troy Irish Genealogical Society has created an index of death notices appearing in Lansingburgh newspapers from 1787–1895.  It also has an index of death notices collected by the Burden Iron Company in Troy.

• Ohio:  Obituary indices for the Akron Beacon Journal from 1841–2012, downloadable as PDF files.

• Ohio:  The Barberton Public Library has indices to obituaries in four local newspapers, covering 1892–1960.  They are downloadable as PDF files.

• Ohio:  The Huron County library has online birth announcement and obituary indices for the Willard area.  I can't find a way to tell what years they cover.

• Oklahoma:  The Muskogee County Genealogical Society has an index to all deaths that were found in Muskogee newspapers, not just from obituaries and death notices.

• Pennsylvania:  Pennsylvania State University is hosting a 1937–2014 obituary index for the Centre Daily Times.  Many years also have images.

• Pennsylvania:  The Lititz Public Library has a downloadable PDF file with an obituary index for 1877–1998 for two local newspapers.

• Rhode Island:  The Cowl, the student newspaper of Providence College, has been digitized from its beginning in 1935 through 1980, except for 1944–1945 (which I suspect will be added soon).

• Washington:  The Bainbridge Review 1941–1946 has been digitized and made freely available on the Kitsap Regional Library Web site.  The newspaper is significant because its publishers consistently published editorials railing against the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.  The project is also special because volunteers transcribed the articles instead of relying on OCR.

• United States National:  Transport Topics, the national newspaper for the trucking industry (I had no idea there was such a thing), has begun to post archival content free on its site to celebrate its 80th anniversary.

In other newspaper news, there was another sighting of a rare newspaper on Antiques Roadshow. In Charleston, West Virginia, a woman came in with issues of the 1945 Oak Ridge Journal bound in two books.  Oak Ridge, Tennessee was the town created to house people working on the Manhattan Project.  The woman's mother was the editor of the newspaper.  Looking at the paper's listing on Chronicling America, it seems that mostly a few scattered copies are known to exist, and certainly not the entire year for 1945.  As I said when a four-year run of the Confederate newspaper The Family Friend was appraised last year, how do we find this woman and convince her that these papers should be digitized and shared with others?  At least in this situation I think it's less likely she'll be tempted to turn around and sell them.

Unfortunately, I've had a negative experience recently with online newspaper listings.  I read a blog post where someone copied an entire section from the Wikipedia newspaper page, literally word for word — even including the internal Wikipedia links — and wrote about it as though it were their own work.  So many people believe that because something is on the Internet, they can just copy it and not credit where it came from.  Conveniently for the "author", the blog is not set up to accept comments.  Well, if nothing else, I consider this type of behavior a great way to learn who I would not want to work with or trust for research.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Custom Maps

This week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver told everyone about a fun site that lets you customize maps of the U.S. and Canada based on how many times you have visited states and provinces.

1)  What states in the USA and what provinces in Canada have you visited or lived in?  

2)  Either list or make a map of them (at the http://www.defocus.net/visitedstates/us-canada.html Web site) and indicate the following:

 red for states/provinces where you've not spent much time or seen very much.
*  amber for states/provinces where you've at least slept and seen some sights.
 blue for states/provinces you've spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.
*  green for states/provinces you've spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.

3)  For extra credit, you could make a map to show where your ancestors resided at any time (e.g., in 1900), or perhaps where your 16 great-great-grandparents or 32 3rd-great-grandparents married, or where your ancestors were born, all with an appropriate legend.

4)  Tell us, or show us, your "Where I've been" map and any other map that you created having fun tonight.  Put them in your own blog post, on Facebook or Google+, and leave a comment on this blog post so that we all see them.


When I made the map for the states and provinces I have visited, I was a little disappointed.  I thought I was closer to having been in all 50 states, but I'm only at 43.  Obviously, I have a little work to do, even if I do have a lot of green states!  Unfortunately, I don't have any family research that I know of in any of the states I'm missing.  On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I have been in four Canadian provinces.  Here's how my "where I've been" map turned out:


I have lived in California, Florida, and Nevada.  I have visited all the other green states multiple times.  The red states are generally places I either drove straight through or landed in an airport for a layover.  For New Hampshire and South Carolina, however, I deliberately went over the state border (from Vermont and Georgia, respectively) specifically so I could say I had been in the state.  Both times I did a little dance (not the genealogy happy dance, though!).

I created one more map.  Instead of showing where my ancestors were in 1900, I used the information from last week's challenge, since I had already determined where my ancestors were in 1865.  That's when I figured out that I'd really like this fun little map function for Europe, as that's where half of my ancestors were then.  The legend I decided on for my 1865 ancestor map is:

 red for states/provinces where I had only one ancestor.
*  amber for states/provinces where I had 2–3 ancestors.
 blue for states/provinces where I had 4–6 ancestors.
*  green for states/provinces where I had more than 6 ancestors.


It turns out that I didn't need to be that detailed.  In 1865 all of my ancestors save one were in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.  The one ancestor who wasn't, my great-great-grandfather Cornelius Godshalk Sellers, was somewhere near Washington, D.C., which doesn't even appear on the map!  I put a marker for him in Virginia, guessing that was probably the side of DC he was on.


If I did a map of where my U.S. great-great-grandparents or 3rd-great-grandparents were married, or where they were born, it would probably look pretty similar to this one, with almost everyone (if not everyone) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  If I added births of more recent ancestors, I would at least be able to include a few in New York.

I did notice on the description page of the map site that the Canada map was added to the original U.S. map because someone else created it.  Maybe someone will create a Europe map??

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wordless Wednesday


"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Melissa Etheridge

It is amazing how easy it is to fall behind on things!  But I have finally rewatched the final episode of this season of Who Do You Think You Are? enough times that I think I caught all the information I wanted to, and made enough time in my schedule to write about it.

WDYTYA closed out the season with Melissa Etheridge.  The opening voice-over tells us that she will dig into her French roots and learn about a family shaken by scandal, a turbulent relationship touched by tragedy, and a young adventurer who prospered in Colonial America.  Etheridge herself is a Grammy-winning, multiple-platinum singer with a celebrated career.  Her best known songs are "Come to My Window" and "I'm the Only One."  Her twelfth album, recently released, is This Is M.E., and she won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2007 for "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth.  She lives in Los Angeles with her wife, Linda Wallem, and four children from her previous relationships.

Etheridge tells us that she was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1961; her parents are Elizabeth Williamson and John Dewey Etheridge.  She was very close to her father, who died at the age of 60, when Etheridge was 30 years old.  He grew up in a small town outside of St. Louis, Missouri, in a family of migrant farmers.  From nothing he created something, improving his lot in life to where he had a two-car garage and a house, living the American dream.  The price of achieving that dream was that the family didn't talk about what was required to get there.

Etheridge's mother did some family history research at some point in the past on her father's side of the family and had learned that his mother's line came from Québec.  Etheridge's first large concert was at a convention center in Québec, so she thinks it might be something in her blood (I hope she wasn't serious).  Because she and her father were so close, she wants to learn more about that part of his family and maybe bring a little bit of him back to share with her children.

Apparently basing her search on her mother's research (I hope she did a good job!), Etheridge begins her journey in Québec City.  She meets historian Jennifer J. Davis (of the University of Oklahoma), whom she has asked to look for anything connected to her French-Canadian ancestors (not asking for much, is she?) at the Québec National Archives.  She has brought with her a family tree printout from her mother's research 15 years ago; it looks like it came from a very old version of Family Tree Maker, so it's impressive that Mom has kept it all these years.

We see only parts of the tree, and only the direct line of Janis ancestors is discussed.  First is her paternal grandmother, Golda Martha Janis, born February 8, 1901 in Wayne County, Missouri, died April 1982 in St. Louis, Missouri.  Golda's father was James Felix Janis, born 1868 in St. Francis County, Missouri, died 1957 in Missouri.  His father was Jewell R. Janis, born 1844 in Missouri, who married Martha, born 1849 in Missouri.  Jewell's father was Pierre Antoine Janis, born October 27, 1809, died July 29, 1883.  Pierre's father was Jean Baptiste Janis, born 1759 in Randolph County, Illinois, died 1836 in St. Genevieve, Missouri; he married Marie Reine Barbeau, born 1781 in Randolph County, Illinois.  Jean's father was Nicholas Janis, born January 7, 1720 in Québec, Canada; he married Marie Louise LaSource.  Lastly, Nicholas' father — Etheridge's 6th-great-grandfather — was François Janis, born 1676 in France; he married Simone Brussant.  (A couple of other names on the tree appeared on screen.  Above Jewell's name was Sarah Loving, born 1787 in North Carolina, died October 21, 1871 in Jefferson County, Illinois.  Above Jean Baptiste was Polly Stroop, born 1757, died in St. Clair, Alabama.)  This was similar to Bill Paxton, in that the celebrity already had a good deal of information about the family history.

Etheridge deduces that since Nicholas was born in 1720 in Québec, François was probably there also, and therefore it's a good place to start her research.  Davis says they should start with the census, which has pretty good data.  She takes out a book for the 1716 census of Québec (Recensement de la ville de Québec pour 1716, available freely online, so Etheridge could have looked this up at home).  In the index, Etheridge finds Janis on what she says is page 401, but is actually family #401.  On finding the family in the book, she begins to butcher the French (for which she apologizes, but which unfortunately continues throughout the episode).  François was an aubergiste, which Davis explains was an innkeeper.  His wife was Simonne Brousseau (mispronounced horribly), which Etheridge realizes is her 6th-great-grandmother.  They had children named Charlotte, Antoine, Thérèse, Jacques, François, and Marie Aimé.  Etheridge comments that Nicholas wasn't there but realizes it's because he wasn't born until 1720.  The fact that the family had a servant is not mentioned.

Recensement de la ville de Québec pour 1716, page 50
Etheridge asks where the family lived.  Davis shows her it was on the Rue du Cul de Sac (two pages before that on which the family appears) and says that the street is still there.  (Since the census did not list house numbers, however, there is no way to tell exactly where on the street the Janis family lived.)  Etheridge wants to know where she should look to find more information about the family and is directed to a computer to search in the archives' catalog.  After entering "Francois Janis" Etheridge exclaims, "It's all in French!  Can you tell me what it says?"  Of course Davis can; the result is a short synopsis of a court case.  (Not mentioned is that the synopsis identifies François as no longer a mere innkeeper but the second chef to the governor general.)  David retrieves the file, #720.  (It is also online, in its entirety, for anyone who wants to read the fifteen pages in French.)

François had brought a case against a Jean Debreuil, accusing him of seducing and impregnating François' daughter Charlotte under false promises of marriage.  The case was heard in the ecclesiastical court, not a civil court.  The Catholic church was dominant in Québec.  Davis says, "I believe we have a translation," which was probably a good thing, becaues it was painful to hear Etheridge trying (and failing miserably) to pronounce French.  (Sorry, I was a French major in college.)

The case, dated October 19, 1724 (which date I could not find anywhere on the pages online), states that Debreuil, the son of the royal notary, a government position, courted Charlotte under the pretext of marrying her.  Charlotte was about 15–16 years old.  The suit was essentially asking for Debreuil to marry Charlotte or pay up.  (Not brought up is that the actual documents state that François was the chef de cuisine for the general, which doesn't sound like a slouch position.)  Etheridge and Davis discuss the fact that Charlotte's parents (actually only her father) are speaking for her and there's no way of knowing what she herself wants.  She is the center of the case but is the only one who doesn't speak.

The narrator pops in with a comment that in 18th-century France, women were the property of their fathers until marriage.  Losing one's virginity could put the family's reputation at risk.

In the court documents, Debreuil called Charlotte a streetwalker, which means he made that statement in court before the bishop.  Davis says this could have affected the reputation of François' inn, which he wouldn't want to have the reputation of a brothel.  (But since the documents say he was the chef de cuisine of the general, was he even still an innkeeper?)  The end result was that Debreuil was fined 20 livres, about what a skilled artisan might earn in a week, payable to the poor of the Hôtel Dieu.  The fine was going to the hospital or to poor relief, not to the family.  Debreuil was held responsible only for not following through on the promise of marriage.  So the settlement provided no income or marriage to poor pregnant Charlotte.

From the church suit we move to a civil suit, dated January 5, 1725.  François was again suing Jean Debreuil, this time for seduction of Charlotte and theft of her virginity.  Debreuil had effectively stolen the Janis family's ability to contract an advantageous marriage for their daughter.  François argued that it was a capital crime, meriting a death sentence (that might be a bit of an overstatement).  Davis says she doesn't know how the suit ended; there are no more documents after that.  (What an anticlimax!)

Davis does have another document to share, however.  This one is a marriage contract dated September 15, 1726 (I can't find it through the archives search), for Jean Etienne Debreuil and Marie Charlotte Janis.  About the only thing Debreuil brought to the marriage was the clothes on his back; he may have been disinherited by his family.  No mention was made of the child.  Etheridge wants to know if this means they actually were married.  Davis says she should go to Ancestry.com and check their records (9:17 into the episode).  Etheridge finds the October 25, 1726 marriage, and François was even a witness.  (I recognized the record immediately as being from the Drouin Collection.  I have no idea how they managed to find it the way that Etheridge searched, but I eventually found it myself another way.  The image I found looks worse than the one I saw on TV, though.)


Because François was a witness, Etheridge wonders if her family was supportive or if they were simply telling her what to do.  At that point, she actually brought more to the marriage than Debreuil did, so there might even have been some love between the two of them.  But what about the child that started all this?  Davis tells Etheridge she should look at the parish registry records at Notre Dame Basilica and offers to meet her there the next morning.

In the interlude Etheridge talks about how moved she is that Charlotte's father defended her in court.  She is certain that her own father would have done the same for her.  (The father-daughter dynamic explains why the show spent so much time researching a collateral line, which is unusual.)  She wonders whether Charlotte was really in love and what happened to the child — did it survive?  Was the child the only reason for the marriage?  What was Charlotte's relationship with Debreuil?

The next day, as promised, Etheridge meets Davis at Notre Dame Basilica in some sort of side room.  On a table is a book.  Davis tells Etheridge that the priest has asked them to wear gloves (the infamous conservator gloves) because the documents are delicate.  The book is a chronological list of baptisms in the parish.  On April 29, 1725, Anne Françoise, daughter of Jean Debreuil and Charlotte Janis, was baptised.  So when the ecclesiastical suit was started, Charlotte was about three months pregnant.  The next record Davis goes to is the burial of little Anne Françoise on May 6, 1725, saying she was buried eight days after she was born (so the baptism must have been the day after her birth).  (I found Anne Françoise's baptismal record on Ancestry but not the burial.  It should be in the Drouin Collection; maybe it's because Ancestry's index is that pathetic?)  The surprise here is that the marriage was a year and a half later, so the pregnancy couldn't have been the reason.  Maybe Debreuil actually did love Charlotte!  Maybe his family had prevented the marriage the first time.

Etheridge asks if there's anything more about Charlotte.  Davis says that she died on June 14, 1733 at 26 years of age.  The records don't show the cause of death, but a smallpox epidemic was going on at the time, and about ten percent of the population died due to the disease, so that's the most likely reason.  (I also couldn't find Charlotte's burial record on Ancestry.)

After discussing Charlotte's death, the subject suddenly reverts back to Etheridge's ancestor, Nicholas, who was about 13 years old when his sister died.  Davis said she could not find anything in the parish records for Nicholas as an adult (although showing the baptism of her ancestor apparently wasn't important, that record I managed to find on Ancestry), which indicated he had probably left Québec by that point.  Etheridge brings out the family tree her mother had created, which shows that Nicholas' son, Jean Baptiste Janis, was born in 1759 in Randolph County, Illinois.  Davis says that Randolph County will almost certainly have more records on Nicholas, because Kaskaskia (which is in the county, but she doesn't say that) was a social hub and economic trading center.  It sounded like a huge leap to me, but of course I hadn't read the script.

As she leaves the basilica, Etheridge talks about how she believes in love and how despite existing customs and mores love conquers all (obviously reflecting on her own life).  Now she will follow the trail of her 5th-great-grandfather.  Before she leaves Canada, however, she goes to the rue du Cul-de-sac and realizes that when she visited Québec with her father many years previously, the two of them had walked down that street together, without knowing that their family had lived there.  I find it pretty amazing that she was able to remember going down the street, but maybe I'm being cynical.

And the next stop on Etheridge's research tour is indeed Randolph County, Illinois, specifically Chester.  She heads to the county archive-museum, housed in the courthouse addition built in 1864, to meet historian Alexandre Dubé (a specialist in early French North America from Washington University in St. Louis).  And of course, she has asked him to look for any documents he can find on Nicholas.  In the museum, they look in an old-fashioned card catalog (I miss them!).  Not only are there several Janises, Nicholas has three cards with lots of references.  The name also appears as Janisse (which would give the same pronunciation in English as the name has with the French spelling).

Before following up on any of the references from the card catalog, Dubé shows Etheridge a 1740's map indicating that Kaskaskia was a large territory in the Midwest.  (I could find no online reference for Kaskaskia other than for the city in Illinois, not even in the David Rumsey map collection; the closest thing I found to the territory shown on the map was Illinois Country.)  Québec is at the top of the map.  They trace Nicholas' journey to the Randolph County area, following the Great Lakes and then down the Ohio River.

The narrator explains that in the first half of the 18th century Kaskaskia was a strategic trading hub in New France, which spanned territory from Hudson Bay all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Then we finally get to a document, for which Dubé fortuitously has a translation ready.  Dated September 26, 1747, it relates to a business partnership between Nicholas and a man named André Roy and was witnessed by a notary.  Roy apparently was ill, and the document was "just in case" something happened ot him.  (See the end of this post for the text of the translation.)  As Dubé and Etheridge are talking through the translation, Etheridge asks what the word "voyageur" means, and Dubé explains that while literally it translates to "traveler", in this context is means a long-distance trader.  (So why didn't they actually translate the word in the translation?  Just to give Dubé a chance to explain?)  They were working in the fur trade.  As a voyageur, Nicholas had some experience and skills under his belt.  He would have known what types of items could be traded with the Indians, who supplied the fur pelts.

From the items listed in the contract, Nicholas and Roy appeared to have had some sort of store.  Many things listed were quality trade items, and they seemed to have been pretty successful.  Etheridge reads "idem" as "item" for "one idem old with diamonds", and Dubé does not correct her; it most likely meant the same type of item as had previously just been mentioned, so it was a pair of diamond buckles, not just a generic old "item" with diamonds.  Nicholas was doing very well at 27 years old.  To learn more about him and his family, Dubé recommends that Etheridge look at parish records from Immaculate Conception, the parish for Kaskaskia.

As she leaves Chester to head to the next stop on her discovery tour, Etheridge talks about how much she loves the adventure she is having.  She knows more now about what Nicholas was doing in the area, and he had a great business.  But did he have any family?  Etheridge's father grew up near this area, and learning about her family is breathing life into the history she has here.

After talking about it so much, Etheridge is now finally in Kaskaskia itself, at the Church of the Immaculate ConceptionJohn Reda, a historian of Colonial America, is there to greet her.  They are going to see if parish records shed any light on the family life of Nicholas.  Reda shows her an entry, but of course she "can't read the fancy French", so another translation is nearby.  On April 27, 1751, Nicolas Jannice (Etheridge does notice the different spelling), son of the late François Jannice and Simone Brussant, married Marie-Louise Taumur, the daughter of Mr. Jean-Baptiste Taumur dit LaSource, a former office with the militia, and Marie Françoise Rivart.  (We saw Marie-Louise's name on the family tree created by Etheridge's mother, with the maiden name LaSource.  "Dit" names among French-Canadians are a fascinating subject.)  Somehow, the discussion segues from the marriage to how things would be crazy soon due to the British and the upcoming war.

The narrator explains that in 1754 the Seven Years' War would begin, pitting the British against the French in a fight to control the land in North America (in the United States the conflict is commonly called the French and Indian War).  After their defeat in 1763 (yes, I know that makes it 9 years, but the 100 Years' War actually lasted 116 years, so these things aren't very precise), the French lost all their land east of the Mississippi River.

Reda points out that after 1763, the Mississippi River became an international boundary, separating Spanish territory to the west and British to the east.  Because he was on the east side of the river, Nicholas was now a British subject.  He owned a substantial amount of property, but this was a volatile period.

To learn what might have happened to Nicholas during the American Revolution, Reda says he thought of George Rogers Clark, the general who led British forces into Kaskaskia in 1778, and the diary of John Todd, the civil commandant of the area after Clark captured it.  Todd's diary shows that on May 14, 1779, Nicholas was made the captain of the 1st Company for the District of Kaskaskia (not mentioned is that "Batiste" Janis, probably Jean-Baptiste Janis, Etheridge's 4th-great-grandfather, was made an ensign on the same day).  Nicholas was not a young man — Etheridge says he was about 59 years old (another celebrity who likes to track ages) — and Reda agrees, saying that he was not going to fight but would serve as a liaison and an administrator.  He became one of the leading figures collaborating with the Americans.  This was not easy, though, because they were fighting a war for the survival of their new country.

The John-Todd Papers and John Todd Record-Book,
Part III, Early Illinois, page 164
The narrator jumps ahead to the end of the war, pointing out that residents of the Mississippi Valley were British subjects until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, when they became citizens of the United States by virtue of the fact that the Americans won.

Reda picks it up from there, saying that with the war over, there came a push for westward expansion.  Americans were coming into the Kaskaskia area in large numbers.  What would Nicholas do for himself and his family?  Would he move again?  Reda says he likely would go to Spanish Louisiana, across the river, but doesn't give any reason why (the only thing I could come up with is "because we found him in records there", but maybe an actual, legitimate reason was cut in editing).

He then produces a census of the Spanish territory which enumerated immigrants coming from the United States during December 1, 1787–December 1789.  Nicholas ("Nicolas") Janis is indeed on the list; his household consisted of nineteen people, fifteen of whom were slaves.

Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1945,
Volume III (Pt. II), page 290
Etheridge appears very deflated at learning this and finds it disturbing.  Reda admits it is part of our past, attempts to gloss over it by saying it was the way of the world in the 18th century, and ends by conceding it is still troubling.  He then focuses on the fact that Nicholas had moved a good-sized household to a different country, across the river, but in reality only a few miles.  Nicholas moved to Sainte Geneviève, the oldest European settlement in the Mississippi Valley on the west side of the river.  Etheridge realizes that Nicholas was living under his fourth national government — starting in Québec and moving to the Illinois Country as a Frenchman, then British rule after the French and Indian War, for a short time in the United States after the American Revolution, and then to Spanish territory.

Always wanting more, Etheridge asks Reda how she can find what happened after that.  He tells her she should go to Sainte Genevieve, where she should be able to find records for Nicholas for the late 1780's.

Leaving Kaskaskia, Etheridge is still disturbed over the revelation that her ancestor owned slaves.  She had never felt that slavery was part of her father's side of the family, and it has really thrown her.  Learning it was part of her family's past just four or five (actually seven) generations ago is eye-opening for her.

As Etheridge drives to the Sainte Genevieve County courthouse, about 15 miles from Kaskaskia, she says she has asked local historian Robert J. Mueller to help her find out what happened in Nicholas' final days.  (How does she know she's going to learn about his final days?  I thought they didn't tell the celebrities ahead of time what was coming up.  Hmmm . . . .)  Mueller says he has a couple of documents to share with her.  He has her put on conservator gloves to handle the 220-year-old paper.

On the document we see, Etheridge recognizes Nicholas' signature at the bottom.  A second signature is from François Janis.  The document is a deed dated April 20, 1796, by which Nicholas Sr. was giving his property to his son François.  Etheridge surmises that François was named for his grandfather, and Mueller agrees.  After nine years in Spanish Louisiana, Nicholas was giving his son a house, barn, stable, garden, and orchard.  Nicholas was then about 76 years old.  Mueller says that François was going to take care of Nicholas as he got older, but we weren't shown anything in the document about that.

We don't see any other document (so much for "a couple" and poor continuity editing), but Mueller says he has one more surprise for Etheridge:  The house that Nicholas deeded to François is still there.  It is the oldest in Sainte Genevieve, and some people believe it to be the oldest house in Missouri.  Mueller adds that he can arrange with the owner of the house (possibly Hilliard and Bonnie Goldman?) for Etheridge to see it.  She is obviously thrilled.

Leaving the courthouse, Etheridge seems somewhat in awe that four generations of her family helped build this part of America.  She feels as though she belongs, especially since her father was born a hundred miles from where she is.  She had believed that her father's family was always poor, but now she knows they were wealthy in the past, not just monetarily but with history.

The house is a big, old, wood building with a porch running the length of the front.  Etheridge walks around and through it, musing about her ancestors.  She used to joke about her heritage being just poor white people forever, but she can't do that now.  Nicholas had so much prosperity, but four generations later (really six) her father was in complete poverty, so wealth just comes and goes.  Now she is successful, so maybe that will last for a while.  She thinks again about how François stood up for Charlotte, because the father-daughter relationship is so important to her (even though she says the mother defended Charlotte also, of which there was no evidence), and she's looking forward to sharing all of this with her own children.

Janis House (Janis-Ziegler House or Green Tree Tavern;
site of first Masonic lodge west of the Mississippi River (slide 3);
and house used in Under These Same Stars:  The Celadon Affair)
Two things I noticed we didn't find out were when Nicholas died and what happened to his slaves.  It's easy to guess that he probably died soon after he deeded his property to his son François, because it often happened that way; when people knew they were very ill and might die soon, they suddenly made out wills and took care of that type of thing.  But since nothing else was said about the slaves, I suspect they were not freed for some time, perhaps not until 1865 and the end of the Civil War.

===

As promised, here is the text of the translation of the contract between Nicholas Janis and André Roy, or at least as much of it as I could work out:

Settlement of the partnership in case of death of André Roy or Nicolas Janisse, 26 September 2747

Today, I the undersigned notary, in presence of the undersigned witnesses, went at the request of André Roy, dangerously ill at Joseph Brassau's place, and Nicolas Janisse, partner and voyageur to the Illinois country with the said André Roy, who, considering the said illness, wanted to put their affairs in order in case God wants to take the said André Roy from this world. . . . They have asked Joseph Brasseau, Jacques Gaudefroy, and Louis Trudeau to please transport themselves along, with the said notary to the house of Widow Jean Baptiste Girard where the said partners hold shop [I]n order to draw up in writing the effects belonging to the said partnership as well as the money, pelts, and other movables, household linens, clothing, of their said partnership that they have mentioned to me in the following manner

Firstly, two pairs of buckles, one large for shoes and one for garter, one idem old with diamonds, one pair Spanish buttons marked with needlework, all in silver

Item - each a capot of cadis [wool cap], half new
Item - each a strongbox
Item - three quarts of limbourg in two pieces
Item - a bottle trunk of twelve bottles of a pint each
Item - each their gun
Item - A stoneware jar of six to seven pots
Item - 108 pounds of gunpowder
Item - a vest and velour breeches, used with gold buttons
Item - a two-point blanket of white wool
Item - a set of goat hair buttons for a complete suit and 19 skeins of goat hair
Item - an old cloth jacket
Item - a silver goblet and one of glass
Item - nine men's shirts trimmed good and bad
Item - one pair of breeches and a jacket of cotton dimity
Item - a cotton jacket embroidered in wool
Item - five pairs of silk stockings, good and bad
Item - two pairs of wool stocking
Item - two hair purses
Item - two pounds seven skeins of Rennes thread
Item - one and a half dozen fixed blade knives
Item - 165 pounds of beaver
Item - five and a half pounds of deer skins used
Item - a bear skin
Item - 20 pounds of beaver
Item - 50 pounds of plate lead
Item - 59 1/2 pounds of game shot
Item - five pairs of military shoes
Item - two iron molds for bullets
Item - a covered stockpot of around four pots in [cut off]
Item - two idem of which one is half new and the cover(?) of tin
Item - around 400 pounds of brown sugar
Item - 39 pounds of tobacco in carrot
Item - one tierçon of 56 pots of brandy
Item - a barrel of vin d'orange
Item - the sum of 226 livres in Spanish dollars and [cut off]
Item - the sum of 717 livres 15 5 deniers
Item - 130 livres owed [cut off]

===

This was another episode where I found a transcript online, so if you want to read pretty close to the verbatim conversations, you can.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Where My Ancestors Were 150 Years Ago

This week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver suggested people locate their ancestors 150 years ago:

1)  Determine where your ancestral families were on 16 May 1865 - 150 years ago.

2)  List your ancestors, their family members, their birth and death years, and their residence location (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?

3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.


I discovered I don't have any specific information for where people were living just after the American Civil War officially ended.  I've found most of the U.S. ancestors in the decennial censuses but not the in-between years.  For my Jewish ancestors, who were all still in Eastern Europe, I have no real information on locations but could make educated guesses.

Rachel (Godshalk) Sellers (1809–1894), my 3rd great-grandmother, was probably living in Belvidere, Warren County, New Jersey (where she was in 1860) or in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where she lived in 1870).

Cornelius Godshalk Sellers (1845–1877), my 2nd-great-grandfather, had not yet been mustered out of the army after the end of the Civil War; he mustered out on June 6.  He was somewhere in the Washington, D.C. area.  (I really need to get his unit's morning reports.)

John Fox (1786–1880) and Catherine (Fisher) Fox (1789–1877), my 4th great-grandparents, were living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I don't know exactly where.

William Owen (~1809–1878) and Sarah Fox (1816–1878), my 3rd-great-grandparents, were living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with their daughter, Catherine Fox Owen (1849–1923), my 2nd-great-grandmother.  I don't know exactly where.

Catherine (Stackhouse) Armstrong (born 1796–1800), my 4th great-grandmother, may or may not have been alive.  I have narrowed down her death to 1860–1870.  If she was alive, she was living somewhere in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Franklin Armstrong (1825–after 1870), my 3rd-great-grandfather, was living in Mansfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey with his son, Joel Armstrong (1849–~1921), my 2nd-great-grandfather.

Abel Amos Lippincott (1825–after 1885) and Rachel (Stackhouse) Lippincott (~1825–after 1885), my 3rd-great-grandparents, were living in Burlington County, New Jersey.  I don't know exactly where.

Sarah Deacon Lippincott (1860–after 1904), my 2nd-great-grandmother, was almost definitely living somewhere in Burlington County, New Jersey.  In the 1860 census she was not yet born and in the 1870 census she was not with her parents, however.

James Gauntt (1831–1889) and Amelia (Gibson) Gauntt (1831–1908), my 2nd-great-grandparents, were almost definitely living in Burlington County, New Jersey.  I don't know exactly where.

Frederick Cleworth Dunstan (1840–1873) and Martha (Winn) Dunstan (1837–1884), my 2nd-great-grandparents, were living in one of the suburbs of Manchester, Lancashire, England.  I don't know exactly where.

Zvi (died before 1903) and Esther Mekler, my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living in Kamenets Litovsk, Russia (now Kameniec, Belarus), with their son Simcha Dovid Mekler (died before 1924), my 2nd-great-grandfather.

Bela (died before 1924) (I don't know her maiden name), my 2nd-great-grandmother, who would later marry Simcha Mekler, was probably somewhere in the area of Kamenets Litovsk, but that's just a guess.  She would have been young, maybe between 5–10 years old, and probably living with her parents, but I don't know their names.

Abraham Yaakov (died before 1896) and Sirke (died before 1893) Nowicki, my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living in Porozowo, Russia (now Porozovo, Belarus) with their son Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (~1858–1948), my 2nd-great-grandfather.

Ruven Yelsky (~1838–~1898) and Frieda (Bloom) Yelsky (~1838–~1898), my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living in Porozowo, Russia with their daughter Dora Yelsky (~1858–1936), my 2nd-great-grandmother.

Gersh Wolf Gorodetsky and Etta (Cohen) Gorodetsky (died before 1891), my 3rd-great-grandparents, were almost definitely living in Podolia gubernia, Russia, probably near Kamenets Podolsky (now Kamyanets Podilskyy, Ukraine).  Their son Isaac/Avigdor Gorodetsky (died 1925), my 2nd-great-grandfather, may have been with them; I have approximated his birth year to 1864–1868.

Joine (died before 1893) and Chane Etta (died before 1891) Schneiderman, my 3rd-great-grandparents, also were likely living in Podolia gubernia, Russia, probably in the area of Kamenets Podolsky.

Solomon (died before 1909) and Yetta Brainin, my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living near Kreuzburg, Russia (now Krustpils, Latvia) with their son Mendel Hertz Brainin (~1862–1930), my 2nd-great-grandfather.

I don't have photographs of any of the residences and don't know if any of them still exist.  (I hardly have any photos of the ancestors in this list!  I think I have photos of eight of them.)  I suspect none of the homes in Eastern Europe are still there, though.

It appears that I had 36 (maybe only 34) ancestors who were alive on May 16, 1865.  The breakdown is:
• 3 4th-great-grandparents
• 18 3rd-great-grandparents
• 15 2nd-great-grandparents

None of my great-grandparents had been born yet.

This was an interesting exercise.  It really pointed out to me how many birth and death years I am lacking for my mother's ancestors.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Favorite Photo for Mother's Day

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this weekend was to post your favorite photo of your mother:

1)  This is Mother's Day weekend, so please go through the photographs you have of your mother and share your absolute favorite photograph of her.  Just one.  Oh, tell us why it's your favorite, and tell us something about your mother, too.

2)  Share your photograph and story in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or on social media (e.g., Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.).

It wasn't very difficult for me to choose my favorite, because I'm a sucker for multigeneration photographs.


The photo is not dated.  I don't know what the occasion was for the photograph, and the three people in the photo have all passed away, so I'll probably never learn.  I can make an educated guess that it was taken in Miami, because that's where my grandparents lived, and my great-grandmother moved there after my great-grandfather died, which was May 2, 1955.  I suspect my grandfather took the photo; he took most of the photos in the family.

My mother, Myra Roslyn Meckler, is on the left.  To me she looks to be about 20 years old, which would mean it was taken around 1960, the year before she married my father.  In the middle is my grandmother, Lillyan (Gordon) Meckler, and on the right is my great-grandmother, Sarah (Brainin) Gordon.

This is a great photo for Mother's Day, because I can honor three generations of mothers on that side of my family.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Modern Census Bureau Flub

I was so excited when I finally received an American Community Survey (ACS) in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau.  I was, after all, one of the vast majority who received only the (very) short form during the 2010 census, which asked for minimal information.  Being a genealogist, I was disappointed that I would not be leaving a detailed census form such as the ones I rely on for so much of my research.  Here was my opportunity to have more detailed information about myself be recorded for posterity.

My excitement over the ACS quickly turned to frustration.  At the very beginning of the survey, I had to settle for giving the Census Bureau inaccurate information.  Considering how many historical censuses have wrong information (albeit a lot of it likely due to simple communication problems between census takers and residents, as opposed to deliberate obfuscation), that really annoyed me.

The Bureau has apparently chosen to save some money by allowing each ZIP code to map to only one city, so I had to submit that I lived in Emeryville, California.  I actually live in Oakland.  My ZIP code, 94608, covers part of Oakland and also the city of Emeryville.  While I concede that limiting the number of cities a ZIP code can match will save some money and make programming easier, in the long run it gives inaccurate information by (statistically) taking people out of one city's population and adding them to another's.  (And let's not even talk about Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates, all being lumped under "Palos Verdes Peninsula", which isn't even an incorporated entity.)

How much of a difference does that make, you ask?  Well, according to the cover letter I received with my instructions for the ACS, "[t]his survey collects up-to-date information used to meet the needs of communities across the United States.  For example, results from this survey are used to decide where new schools, hospitals, and fire stations are needed.  This information also helps communities plan for . . . emergency situations . . . such as floods and other natural disasters."

In the 2010 census, Emeryville was enumerated as having about 10,000 residents.  Oakland, on the other hand, has a little more than 400,000 (and we're still smaller than Fresno, something which pains me deeply :( ).  If I estimate that as low as 2.5% of Oaklanders live in the 94608 ZIP code area, that equals 10,000 people.  Counting them as Emeryville inhabitants effectively doubles the population of the small city, and removes that number of people from the Oakland population total.  Do you think that could skew emergency planning?

Thinking of future genealogists, assuming the ACS information ever becomes public, researchers would probably assume that I lived in Emeryville because, after all, that's what the government information would say.  Those researchers would quickly become as frustrated as I am now when they didn't find any information about me in Emeryville and in fact couldn't even find my street address there.

There's enough inaccurate information out there already.  Does the government have to deliberately create more by unwarranted shortcuts?