Royal Wedding Fun: Find Your Noble Name

Apparently only 6 percent of United States-ians really care about Will and Kate getting married tomorrow and whether they can save Great Britain, which last time I looked, seemed to be hanging in there.

But that shouldn’t stop us from playing silly Facebook games about this event! Priorities, people!

Here’s a funny one:

In honor of the big wedding on Friday, what is your royal wedding guest name? Start with either Lord or Lady. Your first name is one of your grandparents’ names. Your surname is the name of your first pet, hyphenated with the name of the street you grew up on.

I ended up with “Lady Eva CeeBee-Jackson.” (Which reminds me, I need to write that pets post about our dog CeeBee!)

But I am endlessly jealous of Mr. Archaeologist’s surname result of “Marmaduke-Farmingdale.” I am so stealing that for a fictional character.

(h/t to my Facebook friend Gigi!)


Wrong Source Or Wrong Turn? (Part 2)

In Part One,  I was tempted to visualize my way into a mistake by over-interpreting a perfectly innocent piece of census data: a prime example of the source being right and the perception going astray.

But investigating this family further has produced more confusion, as further investigation often will. Makes you want to retire your Sherlock Holmes deerstalker cap for good.

By carefully looking at data on Martin and Mary Haigney and their family in the period of 1860-1870, it was possible to establish that the big gap in ages between their first and second sons resulted not from a second marriage and a second family, but because three daughters were born and died between censuses. Step by step, I re-traced my way through the evidence:

First steps: U.S. Censuses of 1860 and 1870 and an 1890 affidavit from Martin Haigney’s Civil War pension file, establishing that his first child, Joseph, was born in 1859, with the next two surviving children being  William, born in 1867, and Margaret, born in 1870.

Second step: Re-checking my handwritten family genealogy gold mine, also known as The List. It listed seven children for Martin and Mary: Joseph F.; William;  “Mary I and Margaret I — died in infancy”; Mary “II”, Margaret “II”, and Martin. It did not include birth dates.

Third step: Baptismal records for the Haigney children, transcribed from the register of St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church, Watervliet, now in the archives at Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church. St Bridget’s listed baptisms for eight children, not seven:

  1. Joseph, 29 January 1859.
  2. Mary, 31 March 1861.
  3. Joanna, 26 July 1863.
  4. Ellen, 10 September 1865.
  5. William, 10 November 1867.
  6. Margaret, 16 January 1870.
  7. Mary Ann, 25 August 1872.
  8. Martin, 11 November 1874.

I nodded tolerantly when I saw these entries. The List had been pretty accurate so far. In fact, darn near 100 percent accurate. But now it had missed a kid. And it had listed a “Margaret” as dying in infancy, when clearly that child had to be named either Ellen or Joanna.

Oh, well; even The List is entitled to an off day. And off I went to the …

Fourth step: Finding this family in the New York State census of June 1865. Obviously a very useful resource, since it provides a glimpse of the family midway between federal censuses. Here’s what it said:

  1. Martin Haigney, 35, male, head of household. Born in Ireland. Parent of 3 children. Married once. Occupation: Soldier. Place of Employment: U.S. Arsenal. Currently in Army.
  2. Mary Haigney, 30, female, wife. Born in Ireland. Parent of 3 children. Married once. Status: Married.  Citizenship status: Alien.
  3. Joseph Haigney, 6, male, son. Born in Albany [County].
  4. Mary Haigney, [age mark illegible; might be a 4, judging from other 4s on the page].  Female, daughter.  Born in Albany [County].
  5. Margaret Haigney, 2, female, daughter. Born in Albany [County].

Fifth step: Huh????????

Somewhere I just know that my Aunt Catherine, compiler of The List, is crowing and saying that’s what comes of thinking you know it all.

Why is the child whose age corresponds to the baptismal register’s “Joanna” called “Margaret” by the 1865 census taker, and by Aunt Catherine’s source for her List?  Which piece of data is wrong?

I can tell you that the church archivist who is transcribing the St. Bridget’s registers mentioned that the recordkeeping can be sloppy. So maybe “Joanna” in the register is an error, plain and simple. Or maybe the little girl was called Joanna Margaret, and the family preferred to call her Margaret.

At the moment, I have compromised in my genealogy records by listing her as Joanna [Margaret]. Will I ever know her name for sure? Mysteries like this are infuriating, and addicting.


Program: All About Immigration

Immigration, Immigration, Immigration is the topic. (The Connecticut Ancestry Society wins the Forthright Program Title Award!) And if you are  interested in immigrant ancestors, Saturday, May 21 looks to be a fine time to head to Southport, Conn. to hear a trio of lectures on their experience.

Maritime history expert Norman Brouwer will deliver two talks: Immigration in Sailing Vessels and Immigration in Steam Vessels. Each talk will focus upon the realities of travel in these respective eras, including food on board, hazards at sea and what records survive. Typical ports of departure and arrival will be covered, including Castle Garden and Ellis Island, along with immigration from the closing of Ellis to the present day.

For the third lecture, author Leslie Albrecht Huber will talk about Methodologies for Immigration Research — drawing upon case studies from her recent book The Journey Takers. Her talk will consider ancestors’ lives on both sides of the Atlantic and how to use and evaluate a variety of sources in researching immigrants.

Immigration, Immigration, Immigration. Sponsored by the Connecticut Ancestry Society. 10 am. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 21 at the Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Ave., Southport, CT. Donation suggested. More information: Connecticut Ancestry Society website (go to left-hand column and click on May 21 “Meeting Announcement” link).


Wrong Source or Wrong Turn? (Part 1)

“Sometimes … the actual source is just fine: it’s our perception of that old document that may need a bit of work.”

“Yesss!” said I when this quote popped up as I was Google-Reader-ing the other day.

It comes from AGS fellow and author Henry Z. Jones, who gives a talk called “When the Sources are Wrong” that I’d dearly love to hear someday. [Note: If you’re going to the Chula Vista (CA) Genealogical Society meeting tomorrow, you can!]

Mr. Jones’ wise words remind us how easy it can be to take a wrong turn to Genealogy Nowheresville. I’ve flirted with disaster a few times (cough), but never more temptingly than when I was trying to unravel the mystery of an Irish great-great-grandmother’s maiden name.

I’ve written before about the search for Mary Haigney’s birth name. I started with death certificates for the two eldest of Mary and her husband Martin Haigney’s surviving children: my great-grandfather Joseph (1859-1938) and his brother William (1867-1930). They differed on the mother’s maiden name. Joseph’s said it was Mary Mahon; William’s said Mary Carroll.

That earlier post focused on analyzing evidence that was very specific and personal to my family: death certificates, an obituary, a handwritten genealogy and, ultimately, my great-great-grandfather’s Civil War pension file. But there was another, less personal source to consider: census data. And here’s where perception could easily have led me astray from reality.

Conflicting death certificates in hand, I revisited the census data I had on this family, which at the time was limited to the federal censuses of 1860, 1870 and 1880.

1860: Martin, age 28, laborer, born in Ireland, listed at two addresses: by himself in a barracks at the Watervliet Arsenal, and at a dwelling in West Troy (later renamed Watervliet) with his wife, Mary, age 26, born in Ireland, and their son, Joseph, four months, born in New York state.

1870: Martin, age 40, laborer, living in West Troy with wife Mary, age 37, and children Joseph, 11; William, 2; and Margaret, 6 months.

1880: Martin Haigney, age 53, laborer, living in Watervliet with wife Mary, age 50, and four children, William, 12; Margaret, 10; Mary, 8;and Martin, 6.  Joseph F. Haigney, age 21, was living in a boardinghouse across the Hudson River in the city of Troy.

Can you see the tempting wrong turn in this data? I thought the changes in Martin’s household between 1860 and 1870 were a potential red flag. There he was in 1860 with a wife named Mary and a baby son. There he was in 1870 with Mary and what amounts to two sets of children — an 11 year old and two little ones, separated from the first birth by 8 years.

And there I was with two Marys on two death certificates — a Mahon and a Carroll. Could the first Mary (Joseph’s mother) have died, and a second Mary (William’s and Margaret’s mother) have replaced her? A lot can happen in ten years!

Well, a lot did happen — just not that. In my defense, my original theory wouldn’t have been unheard of at the time. But the real story was also sadly common. There was only one Mary, as it turned out, and her name was Mahon. The reason for the big gap between Joseph and William was that Martin and Mary had three little girls after Joseph, none of whom lived to be counted in the 1870 census.

The “two Marys” theory officially died when I obtained a copy of a handwritten family genealogy compiled by one of my aunts. It listed two of the  children who died young, bringing the total of Martin and Mary’s offspring to seven. Then I found a 1958 newspaper story about their daughter Margaret, which asserted that she was one of eight children. Finally, on a trip to Watervliet last fall, I was able to gather the baptismal dates of all of Martin and Mary’s children — and there were indeed eight. The three daughters missing from the 1870 census were born in 1861, 1863 and 1865.

When exactly they died, I don’t yet know.

But I do know that for a time there, I had some perfectly good census data in hand — and was tempted to imagine my way into a perfectly wrongheaded conclusion.

(Coming up in Part 2: Another naming mystery!)


Links, 4.25.11

Happy Monday. This week I’m going to try to do something constructive with more of my photos. Which reminds me, I’m due to share an update of my successful rescue of a whole bunch of pictures from three old magnetic albums. Victory is sweet!

Meanwhile, the links:

Bunny hopping: In honor of yesterday’s festivities, Randy Seaver uncovered some Easter Bunnies (yes, people named Easter and Bunny) in various censuses. Not as many as you’d think, given what they say about bunnies, but then, Randy only had an hour or so to look. And he found some Peter Rabbits while he was at it.

Regular folks: Claire Santry writes about the Genealogy Roadshow being planned by Irish network RTE this fall. “Out go the celebrities. In come the tales of ‘ordinary’ families whose ancestors were caught up in extraordinary historical events or circumstances.” Always good to hear those stories, too.

Rediscovered: Great story in the Jerusalem Post about how two first cousins whose grandparents perished in the Holocaust rediscovered each other – one was raised in the Soviet Union, the other in Israel. As one of them said, “I was looking for information about dead people, and instead I found a living relative.” (Heads-up: The page spits out  some annoying pop-up ads but I found that reloading cured that.)

Class acts: At Genealogy in New South Wales, Carole Riley pulls highlights from a list of  140 Free Online Genealogy Research Courses recently announced by FamilySearch. Favorite class title: “If I’d Only Known: Beginner Genealogy Mistakes.”

Geek love: Wired magazine jumps on the genealogy bandwagon via the GeekDad blog with Genealogy for Geeks, Part 1. It’s written by a GeekMom, Jenny Williams, and I do wonder why Wired doesn’t call their blog GeekParenting or some such, but anyway, it’s a nice post.

Broadcast news: DearMyrtle provides a glimpse at the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Internet radio initiative. “My Society,” hosted by Thomas MacEntee and focusing on topics related to how genealogy societies operate and how they relate to the genealogy community at large. There’s more at Amy’s Genealogy Etc. Blog.

In the genes: The Deseret News reports that a new series of DNA tests provides a more targeted view of a person’s genetic heritage. Still pricey — a range of $150 to $450 was quoted — but apparently they provide more information on shared paternal heritage, along with additional markers for the X chromosone.

Cloud control: Dick Eastman, an enthusiastic reporter of cloud-computing developments, does not shirk from also reporting the occasional downside of the cloud. Here he tells us about a brief outage affecting Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service. (Edited to add:) For another take on this, see James Tanner’s Reliability of the Cloud?

Back to real life, back to the gym to work off the chocolate binge. What genealogy goals are you working on this week?


Happy Easter: ‘Festival Alleluias’

The Archaeologist spends a lot of time in choir, and never more so than in the Easter season, with its abundance of beautiful music. One piece that practically screams Easter (well, sometimes it just screams, if you aren’t singing it right), is ‘Festival Alleluias’, a choral arrangement by William Ferris (1937-2000) set to a famous toccata for organ by French composer Charles Marie Widor (1844-1937).

First, you take this awesome organist’s tour-de-force:

The Famous Widor Toccata (5th Symphony in F)

On The Righteous Organ at Notre Dame, Paris:

Add a pinch of percussion and a troop of choristers proclaiming “Alleluia” at the top of their respective ranges, which gives you:

2. Lots. Of. Singing. Oh, And Organ Too (Finale):

Judging from some of the comments on YouTube, many instrumentalists are outraged at the intrusion of vocals into this intricate piece. I can’t hate on them for it. Here you have this fantastic display of the organist’s art, and for what? To have all that beautiful ornamentation battle against a gale  of choral singing?

Yeah, a pretty thankless proposition if you’re an organist. And a lot of us choristers aren’t always thrilled by it either. The challenge of singing and not screaming those Alleluias at the end of a marathon week of choral services does not always … appeal.

But audiences love the choral/organ mashup. In the end, I do, too. There are always people standing around with smiles on their faces listening for the last echo of that last note at the end of the Easter Sunday service.

I can’t help smiling back.

That’s probably one reason why you’re always going to have non-organists who can’t resist this toccata. For instance, these determined percussionists at the University of Utah:

3. Chimes! Tympani! Xylophones! Sorry, Organists! P.S. Happy Easter!


Got NJ Images? Get Digitized

Do you have old family photos that help tell stories of New Jersey days gone by?

Then check out MyJerseyRoots, a project being  launched by the Rutgers University Libraries as part of Rutgers Day — Saturday, April 30, when all sorts of events run campuswide from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to Stephanie Bartz of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey list (and Rutgers University’s Alexander Library), MyJerseyRoots offers New Jersey citizens the opportunity to “document the everyday life of our cities, small towns and rural communities from past to present,” an excellent idea. Today’s family keepsake can be tomorrow’s historical treasure! If you think you can drop by the main campus in New Brunswick with some interesting old photos, read on.

On Rutgers Day you can bring up to five images to the Alexander Library (169 College Ave., 4th floor), where Rutgers Library personnel will scan, digitize and record information that documents the photos. The library says the sorts of images they’re seeking include:

  • photos of people, families, and/or neighborhood groups
  • street scenes
  • pictures at street fairs, parades, and other events
  • pictures of houses/farms/office buildings/businesses
  • pictures in and of religious institutions
  • school photos – either of classes or activities
  • photos of clubs, organizations, and civic groups

An added bonus: The first 25 participants in the digitization program will receive a free USB flash drive. There will also be brochures prepared by library staff, containing basic tips for photo preservation.

For more information on MyJerseyRoots, take a trip on the New Jersey Digital Highway. Full press release on the photo-preservation event is here. And for other interesting programs at the Library on Rutgers Day, click here.


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