Category Archives: Genealogical Writing

Round and round

After reading a recent news story regarding Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, his name immediately caught my attention. I know two other men named Mike Rounds, and we are all distant cousins through our descent from John Round (ca. 1645-1716) of Swansea and Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

Descendants of John Round are treated in the 1983 work by H. L. Peter Rounds, The John Round Family of Swansea and Rehoboth, Massachusetts, which won the Donald Lines Jacobus award the following year. The South Dakota State Historical Society had published a partial ancestor table of the Senator several years ago, identifying him as an eleventh-generation descendant of the first John Round. There are some errors on the ancestor table, so refer to the chart and sources below, but the table serves as a good start.[1] Continue reading Round and round

ICYMI: Research strategies for 2021

[Author’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 20 January 2021.]

A new year offers a new chance to look at old problems with a fresh eye – and to consider fresh methods for breaking through well-established brick walls. Here is a chance to put the word out: What are your favorite approaches to beginning new research or to resolving long-standing problems?

As the editor at Vita Brevis, it is my job to write up my own research successes (and failures), and to edit the similar – but invariably different – accounts of travails and victories from the blog’s 100+ contributors. Over the years I have recommended a variety of hints and how-tos, starting with pointers on how best to utilize Google searches. Continue reading ICYMI: Research strategies for 2021

A case of mistaken identity

German Evangelical Home in 1925. Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, v1974.001, courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

My grandmother, Emma Mueller, never really knew her father. Her mother, Marica Michelic Muhvic, a widow – born in Stari-Tsg, Slovenia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1873 – had emigrated alone to New York in 1903 to seek a better life.[1] Marica changed her name to Mary and found a job working as a housekeeper in the German Evangelical Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, New York, where she was living in 1905.[2] Here she could interact with people that made her feel like she was in her home country, since they shared a common language and culture. Continue reading A case of mistaken identity

ICYMI: A problem in perspective

Culter Kirk. Courtesy of Wikipedia

[Author’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 26 March 2021.]

Sometimes one loses perspective on one’s researches, so when I say that the identity of Master James Livingston, a younger son of the 4th Lord Livingston, is a problem for the ages – a quandary for which many await resolution – I may be overstating things a little. Still, he is one of several men in the ancestry of the American Livingston family whose life, and whose marriage(s) and child(ren), has long been a puzzle. Continue reading ICYMI: A problem in perspective

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

2021: the year in review concluded

[Author’s note: Part 1 can be found here.]

In July 2021, Christopher C. Child reviewed a surprising feature in his ancestry: that he has 1 (one) ancestor who resided in northern New England during the seventeenth century:

“…My connections to Vermont are even briefer. A great-great-great-great-grandmother, Julia (Vaughan) Perry (ca. 1814-1899), was born in Allegany County, New York. Her parents William and Elizabeth (Foster) Vaughan were born in Massachusetts, Vermont, or Rhode Island (sources vary). Continue reading 2021: the year in review concluded

2021: the year in review

“May you live in interesting times” is supposed to be a curse – it’s certainly an exhausting way to go through life. As 2021 rolls over to 2022, here is a look back at 2021 in Vita Brevis:

In January, Ann Lawthers urged genealogists visiting cemeteries to apply some of the insights garnered from their research, in this case about how the changing cultural norms around death translated into stone: Continue reading 2021: the year in review

Where’s Waldo?

Over the fall, our daughters took an art class at the Museum of Fine Arts each Sunday. This gave my wife and me two hours to stroll around the museum, enjoy a leisurely lunch or, weather permitting, enjoy the outdoors. While visiting a section of Japanese art, I noticed a lot of the art work was donated by American art collector Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935), a trustee of the museum. I have encountered Ross’s middle name of Waldo several times over the years, and for New Englanders this usually indicates a descent from Cornelius Waldo of Ipswich and Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Continue reading Where’s Waldo?

I’ll be home for Christmas

During this festive time of the year, magical Christmas “villages” seem to pop up everywhere, transforming nooks in the home as well as entire downtowns. It is a loaded word and whenever I see “village” attached to a place (and not only during the Christmas season), be it a village inn, pub, green, or a village itself, I am immediately enchanted. The word conjures up all the nostalgia of yesteryear with the hope and anticipation of reclaiming a bit of quaintness, simplicity, and charm. I live in an area of many of the country’s oldest towns and, because they were “unplanned” towns that grew organically, often in a haphazard way, even the busiest of these places retain pockets of their “village” atmosphere, complete with narrow streets, clustered old buildings, bricks and cobbles, town clocks, and Dickensian lampposts. Continue reading I’ll be home for Christmas

A Christmas anachronism

Like so many people during this season, I’ve been (slowly) decorating Our Old House for Christmas. As I arranged the mini-“Dickens Village” on the kitchen hearth today, I realized that it was more than a little anachronistic. This old Maine farmhouse, built in 1788/89 by American Patriots, would never have seen such a British or Victorian display of Christmas! Continue reading A Christmas anachronism