“In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause.” ~ George Eliot
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→
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.
[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 VitaBrevis, 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→
As a custodian of Our Old House, I’m always conscious of how to maintain it and still make twenty-first-century changes without drastically altering or (gasp) destroying the historic integrity of the property. Making those decisions is not always easy, especially when there is clearly no choice in the matter. Cue the drafty ancient windows, the continually-aging floorboards, the old garage with the “waving roof,” and the 90-foot rotting maple trees.
We still deal with the windows and the floors (not a level inch anywhere in this house!), but the garage is gone, and so are the trees, those huge maple trees that graced the front of the property, blocking dust, noise, snow, wind, and the hot summer sun while shading the front rooms. They provided sap for maple syrup and sugar for even the earliest generations of my family, bushels of leaves for mulch, and perches for multiple varieties of birds. Continue reading Tree begone→
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. 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. 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→
[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→
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→
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→
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?→
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→