All posts by Jeff Record

About Jeff Record

Jeff Record received a B.A. degree in Philosophy from Santa Clara University, and works as a teaching assistant with special needs children at a local school. He recently co-authored with Christopher C. Child, “William and Lydia (Swift) Young of Windham, Connecticut: A John Howland and Richard Warren Line,” for the Mayflower Descendant. Jeff enjoys helping his ancestors complete their unfinished business, and successfully petitioned the Secretary of the Army to overturn a 150 year old dishonorable Civil War discharge. A former Elder with the Mother Lode Colony of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, Jeff and his wife currently live with their Golden Retriever near California’s Gold Country where he continues to explore, discover, and research family history.

A letter to Paul

Paul Charles Doerr, 1931-1985

Dear Paul,

As far as letters go this won’t be much of one. After all, it’s a bit unusual to write letters to the dead; still, there seems much to say. I just wanted them to know who you were, Paul. I hope you can forgive me this along the way…   

Jeff

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In the summer of 1968, my parents were well on their way to what would otherwise be an amicable divorce. Continue reading A letter to Paul

Introducing Martha

“Only trust your heart,” ca. 2010, courtesy of the artist Martha Wakefield

I’ve been wanting to tell you about Martha. She’s my best friend of sorts, both before and after there was ever anything of me to call a life of my own. She certainly knows me very well, or at least half of everything, anyway. Thinking about it, I can’t say as she hasn’t heard all of my innermost thoughts and confessions. And while I don’t always heed her counsel or advice, I always feel it in my bones. Hers is a great concern for my well-being and survival. Truth be told, Martha is in the deepest recesses of my ancestry. Oh, she can be a bit shy and defiant, and it’s true that she often thinks she’s a lot funnier than she actually is. Yes, I’ve been wanting to tell you about Martha, and just what Martha means to me. Continue reading Introducing Martha

Picturing Maggie

Margaret (Ricketts) (Wright) (Willin) Witzke (ca. 1882-1948)

This past couple of weeks a lot of the old ghosts have decided to haunt me. Just when I think I’ve got them all figured out (especially a significant one like that of my paternal great-great-grandfather John Henry O. Record), a surprise comes along to teach me that I still have much to learn. Now, I’ve studied John Henry’s ancestry until I’m blue in the face. I’ve looked at journals and notes handed down from his daughter Grace[1] to her daughter Barbara.[2] I’ve studied Civil War era pension files and been privy to deathbed letters from his mother Susanna[3] to his brother George.[4] But a few weeks ago, something very rare and unexpected showed upending most of what I thought possible to know or discover about my Record family. I happened to stumble upon Maggie. Continue reading Picturing Maggie

Ghosted

It sat there like the apparition of a chad from some long-ago election. I stared at the blank lines somehow expecting immediate changes to the record of his life, changes I’d reckoned should be there. There were none. What the heck? Couldn’t they see that all the information they had about Frank was wrong?[1]

I had reached out to them the moment I first saw mention of Cousin Frank: Hey, Frank didn’t die in ‘29. He’d lived, disappearing into a simple and solitary life. Further, he’d somehow put into motion posthumous wishes to be buried under the name of Tom nearly fifty years later. Yep, old Frank; he’d simply ghosted them all. Then at this, at my notion to reach out and tell the family about Frank, his descendants simply did the same thing. They ghosted me.[2] Continue reading Ghosted

Karmic roses

Clayton Echard. Courtesy of stylecaster.com

Please, let’s just keep this between us: Sometimes I watch television for my wife.

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I have to say, though, that while I’m always happy to spend time with her, the idea of being sucked into one of those romance reality TV dramas she enjoys can really be tough. Let’s just say that they aren’t my go-to choice for entertainment. Continue reading Karmic roses

The ‘last’ aunt

There was no mention of Emily. No mention of her in any yellowed letters or penciled-in pedigrees, or in any “clippings” of scandal or gossip. Indeed, the only snippet of her was as a young girl “with ague” found among census records. There she was, “Emily A. Ginder” in 1870, and 1880 again, living in the household of my great-great-grandparents Jacob and Martha (Lacy) Ginder. Yet there wasn’t the slightest clue as to who Emily was, or what had become of her. There seemed to be no further trace of Emily Ginder. Surely she’d married early on or, as we genealogical types like to say when we don’t have the answer, she simply ‘died young.’ Continue reading The ‘last’ aunt

Cutting loose

Elbridge Gerry. Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums via Wikipedia

Reading Chris Child’s last post inspired me to look at some of my own patriotic connections among ye olde branches. Unfortunately, most of what I find are the same mythic characters and stories I’ve looked at before, and those contain little to no proof. I tend to discover individuals and/or “stories” that (only) might connect my family to patriotic acts or kinfolk. As with any aspect of genealogy, discerning what’s real (patriotic or otherwise) or that which boils down to wishful thinking can be tough. Because of this, I figured it might be a good time to attempt some of what I like to call family history “myth-busting.” Continue reading Cutting loose

Outside the lines

“In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause.” ~ George Eliot

Aaron Merritt Clark

From the days of hungry lions in the Colosseum to Keeping up with the Kardashians, the world of entertainment has always been a curious mix. In historical terms, and carrying over into genealogical ones, what constitutes “entertainment” isn’t always an easy place to re-visit or understand. It can be difficult to research persons, places, or anything of a ‘Thespian nature’ (sans those lions) without using modern-day judgments or, at the very least, a ‘present tense lens.’ One could say that the evolution of civilization demands this, that the value in what’s found to be ‘entertaining’ must also evolve. It could also be said that it’s much easier to stand on a moral high ground when looking backward. The implication here is that what’s moral in entertainment isn’t always static, but something that must necessarily change and improve. While I guess there isn’t any way that this can’t be true, at this juncture, the outcomes of such future changes and/or musings must be left to persons far better and wiser than I. Continue reading Outside the lines

Comic relief

Sometimes the better part of a genealogical journey is exploring threads linking to the simplest of distant memories. Most ‘normal’ folks might call this going down the rabbit hole, and in this regard they’d no doubt be correct. Nevertheless, there’s a great deal of satisfaction in revisiting the thoughts and images that float through our family consciousness-at-large. These are the memories and images that often remind us of just who we are and where we’ve come from. Continue reading Comic relief

“Miss Ida with a smile”

“This is war, Peacock. Casualties are inevitable. You can not make an omelet without breaking eggs, every cook will tell you that.”

~ Martin Mull, in the role of Colonel Mustard in Clue (1985)
My first cousin three times removed Ida Florence (Lee) (Sullivan) Barager (1891-1967).

Please forgive the irreverent quote above! It’s just that a quote like helps me muddle my way through Ye Olde Branches in my attempts to go up against Chris Child in yet another game of “Genealogical Clue.” Imagine if you were setting out to countervail Curt DiCamillo in a discussion of classical architecture, or engage Scott Steward in talking through the relationship of Louis IV, the Grand Duke of Hesse, to “Archie.” (Hey, I had to make it easy on myself, right?) In any event, I think you can see where I’m going with this. Suffice it to say: It just ain’t easy. Continue reading “Miss Ida with a smile”