[Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 20 January 2020.]
Internet trolls are people who lurk on social media and generally cause trouble for everybody else. I recently found a list of the ten types of internet trolls, and suspect I probably qualify under No. 5, “The Show-Off, Know-it-All Or Blabbermouth Troll.” Or at least that is how I feel whenever I chime in on one of the Mayflower/Alden-related Facebook pages or the like. It becomes my job to deflate the balloons of some of these wonderful newly-found Mayflower descendants, who have, most unfortunately, inadvertently gathered and believed all the dross of Internet information about their ancestors. Continue reading ICYMI: Mayflower trolls→
It would appear that I am not finished with my self-imposed task of sorting through my grandfather’s box of family papers. As I was preparing to put the box away, I found that I had by no means exhausted its treasures, from old passports and (miniature) Bibles to a copy of my paternal grandparents’ wedding certificate and the marriage service itself.
Such wedding ephemera is easy to misplace, lovely and important though it is. Several insights emerge from looking at my grandparents’ service and the accompanying certificate. One is that, while my grandfather is addressed throughout the service as Gilbert, my grandmother is Anne Beekman – I think the last person who thought of her in that way was her sister, my great-aunt Theo, who died in 1996. Once married, it seems my grandmother dropped the slightly cumbersome double name. Continue reading Family friends→
The following advisory was printed in the Virginia Gazette on 21 January 1775:
Prince Edward, Dec. 1, 1774
“Whereas my wife Delphia hath been a naughty, furious Housewife for some Years past, and hath invented, and reported certain Slanders, to the Prejudice of my Character, and hath often threatened to ruin me, which she hath in Some part effected; This is therefore to forewarn all Merchants and others, from crediting her on my Account, as I will pay no Debts of her contracting; and I do hereby forewarn all Persons from receiving at her Hand, any Goods or Chattels appertaining to me, as they will answer the fame at their Peril.” THOMAS COLDWELL Continue reading A ‘naughty’ wife→
Not too long ago, my daughter asked me if I would look into the Danish ancestry of a “new friend” of hers – a guy named Charlie. Now Jen’s usually quite secretive about father learning anything at all about her prospective beaux, so I jumped at the chance to take a look at the ancestry of her new fellow – a guy who just might easily show up to our house for Sunday dinner. I knew I had to be a bit careful about it all, too. I wanted to make sure that I researched Charlie’s Nordic connections as respectfully as possible, not only for his sake, but to make sure that my daughter would continue to value my counsel – and not summon one of my mother’s ancient curses against me. (Little did I know that in doing all of this, my hubris and I were about to experience an embarrassing genealogical gaffe…) Continue reading The genealogist McFly→
Every family historian knows that research can feel like investigating a series of cold-case mysteries: How did they know each other? Where did they move after leaving their home town? Are these people related, or do they just share a last name? What exactly is a chandler or an alderman? My own family history is filled with unsolved mysteries, like why did my great-great-grandmother change her name so many times? When faced with a seemingly endless series of questions, it is important to celebrate when you actually find an answer. Recently, while processing the Reinier Beeuwkes III Family Collection, I was able to solve a mystery: what was the Manzana Colony? Continue reading The Manzana Colony→
Jeff Record’s recent post on “A ‘Relative’ Hoax“ reminded me of a few genealogical hoaxes I have encountered. In our open houses to staff on Mayflower genealogy, one of the subjects I review is the various frauds that have occurred in the genealogical field over time.
Robert S. Wakefield (1925-2002) wrote a detailed list of many of these Mayflower fables in a 1993 article in the Mayflower Descendant. These include a fictional ancestry for passenger Edward Doty that was created by the well-known genealogical fraud Gustave Anjou; the claim that “Constance Dudley” was the first wife of passenger Stephen Hopkins (now identified as Mary Kent alias Back); and the false claim the Peter Brown of Windsor, Connecticut, was the son of the Mayflower passenger of the same name. (Brown of the Mayflower only had daughters.)Continue reading Mayflower hoaxes→
As we focus on the urgency of daily deadlines and details, it’s easy to forget the many moments that have brought us to where we are today. The 175th anniversary of NEHGS has afforded me an opportunity to step back and gain perspective – not only on the expansive history of our organization, but also on my own history as part of it. As I took a break from my normal tasks to reflect on my time at American Ancestors and NEHGS, primarily as creative director for American Ancestors magazine, I was surprised to realize that I am currently working on my eighty-third issue of the magazine! Continue reading Long perspective→
After my parents were married, my maternal grandmother gave my mother a dowry of a kind, one suited to her new life in New England: the gift of Boston cousins. My mother’s family was both Southern in background and, given my grandfather’s service in the Navy, coastal by experience, so the notion that my mother had Glidden cousins in Boston appealed to her. As it happens, other than her grandmother’s family in Baltimore, the sprawling Glidden family (originally from Maine) makes up the largest part of my mother’s near kin. Continue reading Fire and ice→
I love adding a bit of background to the places I’m researching. Recently I came across this entertaining story set in County Mayo, Ireland. I can hear the storyteller’s voice in the rhythm and words, and the humor brings a smile to my face.
“There once lived in Ballyglass a man named Patch Heskin who was a thatcher. One day Pat Heskin from Ballyrourke employed him thatching.
“At that time they used to stitch the thatch with rope. They used to have a big thatcher’s needle. The thatcher would have to be outside on the roof to put in the needle and another person inside to pull it in and put it out again. Continue reading ‘The Result of the Bad Dinner’→
We are well into our fourth month of isolation here in Boston in order to fight back against the Covid-19 virus. During this time, I think it’s fair to say people have been experiencing many emotions, most of them negative—fear, grief, hopelessness, anxiety, doubt, outrage, exhaustion, anger, sadness, stress, loneliness… I have felt these things myself, but there have been several instances when I was reminded that, even in extremely difficult situations, there can be moments of positivity.
The first person I heard use the term “silver lining” was my boss, Executive Vice President and COO Ryan Woods, someone I consider a wise and level-headed person. He said that, although the pandemic forced him to be at home while doing the difficult job of navigating our organization through an unprecedented crisis, he was happy to be able to spend so much time with his wife, young child, and new baby—an opportunity that he never would have had otherwise. Continue reading The silver lining→