Links, 11.29.10

Thanksgiving has a way of slowing the links down. Maybe everyone is busy digesting their turkey. Or maybe, with all those family gatherings last week, it’s really that everyone is busy digesting genealogy information. Meanwhile:

Collected works: This past week, Dick Eastman kicked off a new feature,  “From The In-box,” for his Online Genealogy Newsletter, dealing with the general queries that hit his email box on a regular basis. For instance: What To Do With Collected Data, a topic everyone discusses and agrees needs to be dealt with but then … it isn’t always dealt with. The comments section contains many thoughtful and thought-provoking suggestions.

What Not To Do: Whatever you decide to do with your stuff, Please Don’t Throw It Away, as Aillin from Australian Genealogy Journeys implores us in a saddening and sometimes maddening post about people who toss old photos out of impatience and ignorance.

This old house: Gena Philibert Ortega at Gena’s Genealogy suggests that Adding a House History To Your Genealogy can add depth and richness to the narrative, and lists a few good  ways to do it.

1905 NY census: This week, Pat Connors of the NY-Irish list shared useful information via for searching the New York State 1905 census. First, go to this link and scroll down to the 1905 New York census link. Clicking on it will give you the option to either do a records search on a specific name, or browse all the images. If you do the records search, you might get a specific location for your ancestor in the 1905 census, which will greatly speed your search. I  say “might” because in my case, my great-grandfather Joseph Haigney (naturally) was nowhere to be found. But his brother William was — so I still had success with this method. I haven’t given up on Joseph; I just suspect his surname has been creatively spelled in a way I haven’t sussed out yet.

Dept. of OT, Pointless Fun: In conclusion, permit me to say: “What ho?” (H/t my brother, Jim Haigney.)

Pip-pip and all that; have a nice week.


So When Were He Born Again?

We now have officially entered the holiday season, which means that if anyone is vaguely interested in all this genealogical poking around we’re doing, now is the time they’re going to ask about it.

Just before Turkey Day, in one of those feast-planning phone conversations, my sister Mary and I got to talking about the genealogy stuff and about our ancestor Martin Haigney in particular. (I know, I know:  The last half of this year has pretty much been MartinFest, but his Civil War pension file has just had so much interesting stuff in it.)

One of the questions my sister and I discussed is a classic: When was he born, exactly?

And even better: You mean he didn’t know either?

It’s so interesting to contemplate the radically different relationship our ancestors had with concepts such as vital statistics. Not being sure exactly when you were born? To me it feels dislocating, upsetting. How much in my life would be difficult, if not impossible, if I could not prove when I was born?

To Martin, it did not appear to be something one thought about at all. In fact, I’ll bet he didn’t worry much about it until his old age, when somebody at the Bureau of Pensions noticed a discrepancy in the ages Martin had reported on various pieces of paperwork.

The result was this 1907 affidavit, which neatly illustrates the vague relationship many of our ancestors had with their own birthdates, and the subsequent difficulties we can have trying to establish a timeline for them. In my Part II post, I’ll discuss Martin’s various ages, as stated by himself and others.



State of NEW YORK

County of STEUBEN

In the matter of Pension Ctf. #592,963 of Martin Haigney, Ord. Dep. U.S.A. – Claim for pension, Act of Feb. 6, 1907.

Personally came before me, a Notary Public in and for aforesaid County and State Martin Haigney aged 75 years Citizen of the Town of Bath (S. & S. Home) County of Steuben State of New York well known to me to be reputable and entitled to credit, and who being duly sworn, declares in relation to aforesaid case, as follows:

I am the above described claimant for pension under the Act of Feb. 6th, 1907, and in reply to official letter of March 18th calling for proof of my age, I have to state that I cannot get proof of same by record evidence or otherwise, and hereby wish to ammend [sic] my claim on account of a slight discrepancy and error discovered by me. I have figured back and well remember now that I was 22 years of age at my first enlistment in the Regular army on March 7, 1854. According to that I must have been born in 1832 instead of 1831 as I thought when filing my claim on age on or about Feb. 12, 1907.

Therefore, I wish to amend said claim so as to have my pension commence at the rate of $20 per month from the date of the filing of this statement in the Pension office; and that a rating of $15 per month be granted me commencing from the date of filing said claim, on or about Feb. 12, 1907, because I was more than 74 years old at the date of said filing, and supposed I was 75 years old, but as before stated, I now recollect well that I was 22 years old at the time of my first enlistment, and the records in Washington no doubt will corroborate my statement.

I am unable to furnish proof of my age, and respectfully ask that my claim be amended as above requested.

Witnesses  to Mark: Daniel J. Orcutt   Thomas B. Hannon


Martin         X            Haigney


[Receiving stamp at Pension Office: March 27, 1907]

Note: Martin sent this affidavit not from Watervliet (West Troy), his longtime home, but from Steuben County, New York, where he was a resident of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ home in Bath. I wrote a little bit about the home here.

Simple Gifts

Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

To bow and and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come round right.

When Elder Joseph Brackett of the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, Maine penned “Simple Gifts” in 1848, it is a fairly good bet he was not thinking about symphonic variations, pop-artist cover versions or theatrical dance extravaganzas.

Nobody else was, either — “Simple Gifts” remained quite unknown to general audiences for nearly a century after its creation. But then Aaron Copland fell in love with the clean sweep of its melody and worked it into his beautiful score for Appalachian Spring, and nobody has been able to resist it since.

If you’re interested in more about the history of the song, take a look at this page, which corrects many errors often perpetuated about “Simple Gifts.” The most obvious one is calling it a “Shaker hymn.” It is really a Shaker dance song, which a close look at the last two lines should have told us all along.

Although I have now been on three journeys to the Watervliet, NY area, I have yet to pay a visit to the Shaker historic site there, where Shaker founder Mother Ann Lee is buried. My ancestry hunts have always taken me to a very different side of Watervliet. But I hope to correct this oversight someday. Meanwhile, I’ll take a listen to “Simple Gifts,” which seems like an ideal meditation for Thanksgiving Day.

“Simple Gifts” is a perfect example of Shaker art: supple, clean-edged and just a little bit mysterious in its simplicity. No wonder singers and instrumentalists explore it again and again.

Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma have done “Simple Gifts” as a richly beautiful duet  that can be heard here.

And here is Judy Collins, singing it in February 1963:

Finally, how can you have a Shaker dancing song without dancers? This version from “Blast,” the brass-and-percussion theatrical event, brings it all together. A far cry from Sabbathday Lake, but still … enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving.

Wordless Wednesday: Coffee!!!!

Coffee pot and potbellied stove, Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, NY.

I cannot tell a lie. This was one of my favorite artifacts in the museum at the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, N.Y., where my ancestor Martin Haigney served as a soldier between 1854 and 1867.

Aren’t these superb examples of caffeine-producing equipment from the 19th century?

Oh yes, and they made armaments and stuff there, too.

Links, 11.22.10

The holiday homestretch looms. Your author has been in severe denial. She keeps looking at that huge turkey in the fridge and pretending it’s just a really, really big chicken on hold for Sunday dinner. No feast to cook here, no sirree!

We are thankful there are links to distract us.

Search me: I’d heard about this somewhere a couple of weeks ago — I think the link was shared on one of my email lists — but anyway, here’s a press release with a good summary of the new Genealogy in Time search engine. I’ve tried it a couple of times. It’s one of those meta-search type things a la My Cinnamon Toast or Dogpile (Dogpile! Yes! Does anyone remember Dogpile?). I did not personally experience much joy from it, but others have and I haven’t given up on it yet. I just need more time to play around with it, and let’s face it, Thanksgiving is not that sort of time.

Adventures in Aperture: A New Zealand columnist, Mark Webster, recently got curious about old family photos after a death in his family. He set about untangling their mysteries using his Mac and an array of Apple software applications like Aperture and iPhoto. An interesting journey through a problem so many of us face — organizing and identifying heirloom images.

APG results: Wanna know the results of the Association of Professional Genealogists board elections? Here they are.

DNA discovery: We’re at the point where if you want a seasonal DNA story, well, no problem. Here’s one for Thanksgiving: A woman whose DNA testing revealed she is descended both from a Pilgrim and a member of the Wampanoag tribe who attended the first Thanksgiving feast. Lindsy Stewart Cieslewicz says there was a longstanding family rumor that they were descended from both sides of the first Thanksgiving, although her grandfather, a historian, never thought there was much to it. Then the DNA came along …

Why do we do it? That, in a nutshell, is the question posed about family history research by Guardian (UK) writer Adam O’Riordan. I found his musings on the subject sensitive, truthful and only occasionally depressing. See what you think.

Small towns, big ideas: Julie Ardery muses about the ways in which genealogy and rural communities are entwined, and the ways in which they draw strength from one another. h/t The Rural Blog.

Revolutionary: At Dear Myrtle, there is a great overview of lineage applications to the Daughters of the American Revolution and what the information in them can tell you, even if you have no intention of joining the DAR yourself (and don’t think you know anyone who ever did). Includes a walk through the DAR’s Genealogical Research System.

Written up: I would like this article by Michael Hait about writing up your research if only for its answer to the question: What software program is recommended for writing up genealogy research? (Answer, via Thomas Jones of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly: “A word processor.”) But it also has sound reasons for why writing your findings is a good thing to do. Check it out.

Listen up: Finally, don’t forget that November 26 is the National Day of Listening. If you can, take the opportunity afforded by a family gathering to hear a relative’s story, and maybe share one of your own.

And for those celebrating in the U.S. this week (I know the Canadians already had theirs): Happy Thanksgiving!

Treasure Chest Thursday: At the Barracks

I don’t have a picture of my great-great-grandfather Martin Haigney, and I highly doubt I ever will, but it’s amazing how much pictorial material you can build up on somebody if you poke around enough.

Yeah, I’m bragging.

Entrance of Building 24 at the Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, NY, today an office building but in the 19th century a barracks for enlisted personnel.

Today’s Exhibit A is my photo of Building 24 at the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, N.Y. In the 19th century, this building was the enlisted men’s barracks, and Martin lived here for at least part of his military service from 1854-67.

Taking this picture was not exactly a slam-dunk, since the Arsenal is still an active military facility, and you can’t run around the place unescorted snapping away at will. People would look at you funny, among other things.

However, Scott, the museum curator at the Arsenal, kindly walked over to Building 24  with me so I could record it for my ever-growing files of Martinmobilia.

Then he suggested we take a look inside, warning me that Building 24 is a plain old office building today, and therefore not terribly exciting or atmospheric. He was quite right – think fluorescent-illuminated institutional décor, and you’ll be on the money. It must have been a far cry from whatever the barracks looked like in Martin’s day.

But, as Scott said, at least I can say I’ve stood inside the walls of the place where Martin lived so long ago. And yes, that did count for something.

Forsooth! That Yeare Wente Fast.

Author note:

It’s my first blogiversary. I didn’t know what to write about it, but happily a pair of (nonexistent) ancestors came to the rescue and channeled this conversation on the topic.


“Indede, you sholde starte a blogge, goodwife,” quoth the goodman. “It will kepe thy hands busy & thy thoughts from evil. It will also putte to good use the ancestral files that overfloweth the cellar and make it an offence to the eyes of honest folk.”

“Husband, that is a moste rotten idea,” quoth the goodwife.


“Because there are, lyke, ten zillion blogges? Surely the Almighty hath blest us with them in abundance?”

“Not about genealogy He hath not.”

“Oh, goody, goodman, that narrowes it down to three zillion. Three zillion and one, were I to starte one.”

“Verily, thou art a Debbie Downer with a curst tongue to boot, goodwife. A blogge mighte be funne.”

“Funne?! Husband, hast thou taken leave of thy senses? A blogge is not a frivolous thing of light amusement. A blogge sholde offer more.”

“What, then?”

“Moral instruction. Prudence. Wisdom.”

“And laughes. Forswear not the laughes.  A blogge with a laughe or two will be funne. Even if you keep that other stuffe.”

“Oh, you winne, I’ll blogge,” the goodwife groaned. “But I take unto myselfe the right to hogge all the coffee of a morning.”