Saturday, December 29, 2012

AncestryDNA part deux

So for Christmas I bought an AncestryDNA kit for my fiance - I think I was more excited about it than he was, so really, it was a present for me too, but with a daughter on the way, I see finding out a little more about his ethnic background as a gift for our growing family.

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, Sam is Honduran, so I'm fully expecting to see some kind of Native American ancestry showing up, based on his known-Mayan heritage. But the rest of his family tree is such an eclectic mix - Jamaican, Scottish & Sicilian that we know of, who knows what else that we don't - I'm just so excited to see what shows up. Because, a la my results, there could be some real surprises. The more I think about it, the more my Scandinavian roots make sense (all the countries my family is from were plundered/settled by Vikings) but I am still flummoxed by my Eastern European roots. It must be somewhere in my German roots, that they had family that came from Eastern European countries, but I have yet to find it. A mystery for another day.

But another reason I'm excited about this DNA kit for my fiance is that his family comes from a part of the world where record keeping is spotty at best, as is the case in many of the Central/South American countries where whole populations were conquered and destroyed or records for certain populations were deemed not worth keeping. I'm lucky in that I have a lot of paper records available to me for my own family research, but what do you do when you don't have that? You can rely on whatever paper records ARE available, family records, oral tradition & now, DNA.

So, can't wait to get that done. But in the mean time, I'm still personally trying to wrap my head around some of the aspects of AncestryDNA, particularly the cousin connect feature. Maybe one of my readers can help me with this - when someone is listed as being connected to you, especially as a close connection (4th-6th cousin), how accurate is that? Is that person really related to you? Whenever I look at their trees, I don't recognize any of the names - there's no overlap. However, while I can list many of my 4th-6th cousins, thanks to my colonial family tree, there are quite a few I can't and may never find - thanks to my spotty Irish ancestry. So maybe these are cousins on those missing branches? Or is it just saying that because I have Scandinavian DNA & THEY have Scandinavian DNA, we MIGHT be related?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rudolph Stutzmann's home: 109-50 Park Lane South, Richmond Hill/Kew Gardens, Queens, NY

Now that you've read through that long-ass post title, hopefully you'll keep reading the actual post! :)

Rudolph Stutzmann is my great-great grandfather on my dad's side (his mother's grandfather). He's your typical child-of-an-immigrant-inherits-an-entrepreneurial-spirit American story. Because he was fairly well off and a prominent member of local society, he's probably the ancestor I know the most about, at least public-life-wise, since his comings and goings are well-chronicled in local newspapers. He's the rare family member that history in general helps us recall - for the majority of us, the majority of our ancestors are only noteworthy to our own families (which is all the more reason to make sure somebody writes and keeps the records!)

Anyway, Rudolph lived and worked in Brooklyn and Queens, not more than half an hour from where I live and for years I've been dying to visit the home he lived in during his later years in life - 109-50 Park Lane South (just from the name you can tell its an upscale neighborhood). It's sometimes listed as being in Richmond Hill, Queens and sometimes as Kew Gardens, Queens - its right on the border and I'm not sure which is actually right. But my fiance works in Kew Gardens, so when I went to meet him there last week, I brought my camera and made a quick stop at the Stutzmann homestead. If you Google the property, you can find out the house itself, a two-story brick building, is about 2700 square feet and worth (today) $660,000. I think it's very cool that the house is still standing - It's a beautiful, neat building, nice sized but not the home of a wealthy person by today's standards - by far not the most beautiful nor the biggest house in the neighborhood (in my dreams, I'll have a house one day like the ones in that neighborhood!) But the location itself is beautiful - located right across from Forest Park, established in the 1890s, the third-largest park in Queens and partially designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It's not many places in Queens or the city that the view outside your windows is one of trees and nature!

The Stutzmann house was built in 1925 and Rudolph and his wife Augusta Lindemann Stutzmann were living there by 1930. Not too shabby of a home to live in during the Great Depression of all times. That's what I can't get over. How many people were hanging on by a thread, if at all, during that decade, and Rudolph, a banker and business owner, was doing well enough to purchase (he owned the house) a nice home in a nice neighborhood (he was very active in giving back to the community and helping those in need during those years, by the way, at least according to the newspapers, which makes me feel better).

109-50 Park Lane South was still his address when he died June 26, 1946.

Photo taken Dec. 14, 2012 by Mary Ellen Gorry.
View of Forest Park from the sidewalk in front of the Rudolph Stutzmann home at 109-50 Park Lane South, Queens, NY. Photo taken Dec. 14, 2012 by Mary Ellen Gorry.

Photo taken Dec. 14, 2012 by Mary Ellen Gorry.
The home of Rudolph Stutzmann & Augusta Lindemann Stutzmann from 1930-1946. 109-50 Park Lane South, Queens, NY. Photo taken Dec. 14, 2012 by Mary Ellen Gorry.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Remembering Pearl Harbor Day, 'a day which will live in infamy': Dec. 7, 1941

My fiance and I were watching "From Here to Eternity" recently - I had never seen it before, and didn't realize it followed characters in the months and days leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which happened 71 years ago today. I mentioned to him how, up until that fateful and terrible morning, it must have seemed like a dream assignment.

As I began writing this entry, I didn't realize that its been more than 70 years since the attack that ushered in U.S. involvement in World War II. No wonder when I had the opportunity to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial four years ago did the teens I was chaperoning look at me as if I were a crazy person because I was in tears the entire time. 70 years is a lifetime ago, ancient history to not just teens but to a lot of people. But for someone like me, and I suspect most genealogists, people who actively try to keep history alive and in the present, being in that spot was an incredibly emotional and intense experience. And while it might seem forever ago, it has impacted our lives - most of us have parents or grandparents who fought in World War II, who might have been injured or killed in that war. Our mothers or grandmothers might have been the first in our trees to work outside the home or be the sole breadwinners for their families while their husbands were off fighting. And because it impacted their lives, it impacts our lives. That's the way life works - the ripple effect.

Anyway, not a genealogy blog per se, but its important to acknowledge the role that events or time periods play in shaping our family trees, and this one was a doozy. Every generation has something - 9/11, Kennedy being shot, Pearl Harbor, and especially now that we're in a year where it was someone's GREAT grandfather who fought in World War II, a relative far enough back that they've never met him and might not even care to know about him, it's important for those of us who do care to make sure these people and these moments are not forgotten.

Happy weekend, everyone! :)

Photos from visit to USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii July 2008

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why Don't Parents Name Their Daughters Mary Anymore? - The Atlantic

Thanks to Cousin April for forwarding me this article. Not genealogical in focus per se, but whether we realize it or not, names are at the forefront of all the genealogy research we do. Whenever we're looking for that next generation, what are we looking for? Names. Anyway, as someone very interested in naming traditions and someone who loves her own name (which just happens to be Mary!), this article was right up my alley. It is also timely, as I just recently wrote about how my fiance and I are in the process of deciding what to name our daughter and all the factors that come into play (at least for me) with that decision - family tradition, cultural and ethnic heritage, and individuality. 


Why Don't Parents Name Their Daughters Mary Anymore? - The Atlantic

Monday, December 3, 2012

Little green leaves: hints

I recently renewed my subscription, yet again. Now that I lost my job, I really can't afford it for any more than a month at a time, but now that you can buy more than one DNA test, the discount given to members is worth it. I hope. I really want to know my fiance's DNA results, especially now that we're expecting our daughter!

Anyway, every time I check in on my tree, I have, as I'm sure you do, those little green leaves suggesting hints. In a way, I love seeing those leaves - Ancestry is always adding more records and I always have the hope that some new record will either shed new light on my family history or validate information I'm pretty sure about but don't necessarily have proof for. Every now and then, Ancestry comes through but more often than not, that green leaf is a frustrating dead end. Not that it doesn't pertain to the person it's attached to. For the most part, Ancestry does a good job of matching up appropriate records with the appropriate person (although not always). Unfortunately, a lot of those hints are not for primary records. Primary records are SOOO vital to genealogy - actual firsthand records or at least images of those firsthand records. I even slack a little and accept secondary sources when I just can't find a primary source - such as German OFBs, family history books that are transcriptions of primary sources. Sometimes that's all you have and while you can assume its fairly reliable, you still have to take it with a grain of salt.

But a lot of Ancestry hints are for other members' family trees. This is both frustrating and exciting. It's exciting because it provides you with potential family connections and so so SO many times those newly discovered distant relatives, people I never knew about and have never met, have provided me with the primary and/or secondary sources vital to verifying or adding to my family tree. But too many of these Ancestry trees are people who have copied their info from other trees they found on the Internet and are unsourced, unsourced, unsourced! Or they are sourced, and their source is another unsourced family tree. It makes me want to knock my head against the wall.

Anyway, this is not new info - I'm sure this is a source of frustration but also connection for all of us. It's just been on my mind. I'm using this time as an Ancestry member to save as much of my sources to my hard drive as possible, since I can't view them when I let my membership expire. It's tedious work, especially trying to record all the citations as well, but it has to be done and I might as well do it while I have the time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's 60th birthday. When I was little, I thought 60 was old. Heck, I thought 40 was old. Now I'm engaged to a 41 year old man. So that can't be old. And when I look at my dad, I think 60 can't be old either. I didn't learn genealogy from my dad, but he caught the bug early on when we started researching his side of the family. He's the one who ordered our first death certificates and who went through my grandfather's papers for old photos and obits and funeral cards. Everybody's eyes glaze over whenever I try to tell them about some exciting new family history find - except my dad! He's always excited for me...or very good at pretending! Either way, I always know I can show him all the things I've learned or discovered - it's nice to have a family member to share this stuff with. So today I wish him a very happy birthday, and many more, and thank him for being the best dad a girl (and genealogist!) could ever ask for!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Family names...cuz you know I love 'em!

I talk about names quite a bit in this blog, just because it's such an important part of family history. Names can actually be quite useful hints when you're researching a tree or branch - it can tell you where a person came from, it can tell you what a parent or grandparent was named, if the child was named after a family member, the repetition of a name can tell you you're on the right track when you're trying to narrow down potential relatives.

So now that I'm expecting my first child, names are again foremost in my mind. My family, especially the Gorry side, is very into name traditions, and I am the prime example, as I cannot even tell you what # Mary Ellen Gorry I am in a long line of them. While in one regard my name lacks originality, I love that it makes me feel more connected to this line of women who came before me - I definitely feel like a part of an important chain, and it definitely makes them feel more real to me. But aside from the name Mary Ellen, Mary and Ellen/Helen are important names that crop up by themselves in every generation of my family - my Aunt Ellen, my grandmother Mary (Elizabeth Cronin Raynor), my grandmother Helen (Meta Stutzmann Gorry), my great-grandmothers Ellen (Marie Casey Cronin) and Helen (Meta Haase Stutzmann), and my great-great grandmothers Ellen (Prendergast Tormey) and Mary (Agnes Enright Casey). Even my mother's middle name was Mary. And not to mention my aunt, my great-grandmother, my great-great grandmother, and my 3rd great grandmother who are all named Mary Ellen Gorry.

So, naming traditions are important to me. But equally as important is the cultural and ethnic background that my fiance brings to the table - both his parents were born in Honduras, and they speak Spanish. I would love my daughter to be bilingual, and am encouraging that side of the family to speak Spanish to her. And so I would also like something about her name to reflect her Latina heritage - her father's last name, even though it comes from Honduras, is very Anglo sounding, since it actually comes down from his Scottish ancestor, so it will have to be reflected in her first/middle name. So the trick is to meld my family name traditions with his Latin roots, and so far I think we've done a good job mixing the two together...but for now how we've done it will remain a secret! :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. 2012 has been a year of big changes for me, not all of which have been good. I was laid off last month from the only real job I ever had, but even that I'm thankful for because now my future is open to new things, to new opportunities, to anything I want. I'm thankful for the man who asked me to marry him this year and for the little girl growing inside me who will become a part of our family in four months. I'm thankful that for the most part my family survived Hurricane Sandy unscathed and that my grandmother, even though she remains in the hospital, continues to persevere. I'm thankful for good friends, the genealogy resources available to me that were never available before, and for all my helpful contributing cousins!

We all have trials and tribulations we've gone through or might still be going through - our ancestors had theirs; we all know or can imagine their stories. But we are who we are because of everything they went through, good or bad, because of everything WE go through, good or bad, and so I'm thankful for that. There are people I miss - people like my mom and my grandparents who are no longer with us, but on this day, let us remember all the good that was, that is, and that will be, whether we're celebrating with the families we were born into or the families we chose to surround ourselves with.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Adding branches to the family tree

Parents have children who grow up to have children who grow up to have children. If they didn't, we wouldn't have anything to research as family historians! And while usually I talk about the branches I've discovered going back in time, today I'd just like to announce that I am officially physically contributing a new branch to the family tree - I am 21 weeks pregnant with my first child, a girl, who should be arriving somewhere around April 3, 2013.

I'm very excited for my daughter. Besides having two parents and countless aunts/uncles/grandparents/friends who love her very much already, she has such a diverse and eclectic ethnic background. She is going to be a prime example of where I see the human family tree heading, a more global, diverse and integrated family tree. I think of her as my little Viking-Mayan princess. Between me and her father, she has German, English, Irish, Danish, Scottish, Sicilian, Jamaican, Honduran, and Mayan roots, that we know of. If that's not a mutt, I don't know what is, but I think that's so cool! And I can't wait to teach her about where she comes from, and to be proud of her family on all sides. After all, every generation needs a family historian. Maybe this little one will be the one. Or maybe not. But she's going to learn about all this stuff anyway! ;)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Family history places: the Teufelsmoor

God bless the Germans and their meticulous record keeping! Unfortunately, you usually need a PLACE name and not a FAMILY name to find the right book, but if you know the place, German OFBs, or ortsfamilienbücher, or sippenbuch, or family book, can be an absolute GODSEND in breaking down brick walls. I recently came across one with possibly reliable info on my Tiedemann/Buckmann family lines - my 3rd great grandmother, Meta Tiedemann, who was married to John Ricklefs (whose whole family is still a massive brick wall!!!) was born in Mittelstenahe, Hanover, Germany to John Henry/ Johann Heinrich Tiedemann and Meta Buckmann. Meta or Mette Buckman was born in Lamstedt, Hanover, but her father, Johann Friedrich, was born near Osterholz, which is close to the city of Bremen. Anyway, a helpful distant cousin had provided me with some of Meta's heritage when he came across me online, but this OFB I came across traces her family back all the way to the 1600s, which is very exciting. But I have yet to verify it - my gut is telling me its reliable, but I only just discovered it this past week so I need to do more work on it.

But this post is not about the Buckmanns. This post is about where the Buckmanns lived and came from. So often we forget that our family members not only lived, they lived in a place and in a time, both things of which affected their lives - what they did, how they lived, how long they lived, why they moved there or from there, etc. etc. So I found info in this OFB for the Buckmanns - Johann Friedrich was born near Osterholz around 1790, as was his father 30 years before, and HIS parents as well. But this OFB I found was for the Teufelsmoor, a name I had never come across before but was obviously the area of Germany where the Buckmanns of the Osterholz region lived. So, according to Wikipedia, the Teufelsmoor is a region of bog and moorland north of Bremen, Germany, forming a large part of the district of Osterholz. It is 190 square miles in size - literally, "Teufelsmoor" means "devil's bog" or "devil's moor," but really the name means unfertile or dead bog or moor.

"The outer edges of the Teufelsmoor were first settled in the 17th and 18th centuries. Around 1750 the colonisation of the entire moor began ... The settlers were simple farmhands and maids from the surrounding area, who were attracted by the prospect of having their own property and being freed from taxes and military service. Until well into the 20th century the living conditions in these moor colonies were anything other than quaint or attractive. An impression of the very poor circumstances is given by the Low German saying "Den Eersten sien Dood, den Tweeten sien Noot, den Drüdden sien Broot" (translates as something like "The first gets death, the second gets misery, the third gets bread."). Life expectancy in the dark, damp bog dwellings was short and the moor's soils were unsuited to farming."

"An extensive network of drainage channels was created, the main drainage ditches being built to act simultaneously as canals for boats. At that time massive inroads were made into the environment and millions of cubic metres of peat were cut. The peat was sold for heating fuel and shipped to Bremen using peat barges. The embankments running alongside these canals were used by burlaks to haul the barges and also opened up the 'long-street villages' (Straßendorf) following the practice in the fen (Fehn) regions. From the embankments the narrow and very long strips of land (Hufen) that ran out into the moor were farmed. ... By harvesting the layers of peat and draining the land the climatic conditions of the entire area were changed considerably. By the end of the 19th century the keeping of dairy cattle had spread to the area."

So this was a time period when my Buckmanns (and related families) lived in that area, and if you look at how old they were when they died, they were in their 30s-50s. I am not well versed as to the political and military situation in that area of Germany at that time, so I don't know why they moved to that region, and I don't know what they did for a living, but I can guess...if they in fact cut and sold peat, it sounds like a hard life that was unfortunately also a short life, and definitely gives some insight into why Johann Friedrich Buckmann eventually left the Teufelsmoor to move north to Lamstedt.

Anyway, I found it interesting to read about this place. As much as I'm learning about my German heritage, there's so much I still don't know about not just my family but about German history itself. A research project for a rainy day, perhaps! :) 

The Teufelsmoor.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day thank yous and remembrances

A quick thank you to all the veterans in all our families over ALL the years who fought for our freedoms and way of life, for all the sacrifices they made, especially if it was the ultimate sacrifice of their lives...and thank you to their families, the brave women and children, who sacrificed, too, while their husbands/fathers were away.

Today might be a good day to go back into your records and find your veterans and focus on them and their families - what war did they fight in? Where did they go? What did they do? What were their families doing back home? How long were they away? Did it having a lasting affect on them as a person, as a husband, as a father? Has that trickled down to you today? Obviously, we can't answer all these questions, but we can think about them, and remember these people, who by their actions made us, in even a small way, the people we are today.

My veterans (that I know of):

Charles Haase (1838-1891), my 4th-great grandfather, who served in the U.S. Civil War in the 33rd New Jersey Infantry regiment, company H. He enlisted Sept. 22, 1864 in New Jersey and was discharged Jun. 1, 1865 in Bladensburg, Maryland. He was about 36 when he enlisted, and was married to Barbara Reinhardt and had a small daughter, Louisa. My 3rd great grandfather, Edward, was born a year after he came home.

Charles Haase's Civil War discharge papers.

My grandfather, Clifford Monroe "Dick" Raynor (1914-1991), served in World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Oct. 21, 1943 at the age of 29. He served in the Pacific and if we hadn't ended the war by dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, he would've been part of the invasion of Japan. He was released from the Navy Feb. 26, 1946 and 9 months later, he married my grandmother, Mary Cronin.

My grandfather, Clifford "Dick" Raynor.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Memory keepers; surviving Sandy

It's now been about three whole days since we lost power when Hurricane Sandy hit. I consider myself lucky. I live on Long Island and I have no lights, no hot water, no working stove or fridge, and no heat, but I have a roof over my head and a dry room/bed to sleep in. It's giving me a little taste of how people used to live before all these things became standard in the First World. I guess you can't miss what you never had, but when it's 8 p.m. and there's nothing to do except play shadow puppets with a flashlight and I'm not ready for bed yet and I haven't had a hot shower in two days, it definitely makes me appreciate the lives our ancestors led.

But many people in my vicinity didn't fare as well. My father and grandmother live in Freeport, on the South Shore of Long Island, the village my ancestors have lived in for 350 years. They're right on the water, and at the height of the storm, there was six feet of water in the street and more than two feet of water in my grandmother's apartment. She has been staying in a rehab facility following a hospitalization, so she was safe, but my grandmother is my family's genealogy matriarch - she is 97 years old and the keeper of our family's memories - our stories, our documents, our photos. My father is very family history minded as well, so as the water was rising, he and my siblings rescued my grandmother's hope chest and all her photo albums. My brother told me yesterday though that as they were tearing up her destroyed carpet, they found more photos, old photos, that had been submerged in the storm surge. I haven't seen them, but I assume they're probably destroyed. And while I'm grateful my grandmother is okay, and my father and siblings are okay, and most of my grandmother's photos *were* saved, while I know that these are the important things, I'm a little heartbroken over the loss of these other photos. All over Facebook there are similar stories, though, of people having to throw out all their precious memories - photo albums, furniture, other possessions that have been passed down or may have belonged to a dearly departed relative. People lost everything. Not just all their memories - but everything.

But that's the way the story goes. We can't save everything. Records are lost in flood or fire, things that are meaningful to one person are meaningless to another and are thrown away, things erode and fade with the passage of time - life happens. All we can do is hold on to our loved ones while we can. All we can do is pass on what we can, keep telling our family stories from one person to the next, one generation to the next, be memory keepers...all we can do is the best we can.

Thoughts and prayers with everyone else affected by Hurricane Sandy - hope your memories are safe, but more importantly, that your family and loved ones are safe!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Monroe Raynor: a comparison

I am most familiar with my great-grandfather, Monroe Raynor, from my grandparents' wedding photos. That was in 1946 - Monroe was 65. Just this week my father e-mailed me a tintype he found in the Freeport Memorial Library's digital collection of Monroe with his family as a child. He is no more than 9 years old, but probably closer to 7 or 8 (circa 1888-89). Monroe, by the way, lived his whole life in Freeport, Long Island, New York, although I can't be sure where the photo of him as a child was taken. Anyhow, I couldn't help but notice that across the years, across more than 50 years, Monroe has the same face - I had only seen him as an adult in his 60s and 70s, but I recognized him in the face of that 8 year old immediately. It was amazing, and so very cool. I'm probably not the only one who does this, but it's very difficult for me to picture people I knew as adults (such as my grandparents and great-grandparents) or even people I never knew but who I just think of as my ancestors, and therefore as my elders, as children. But we all start there - we were all children before we were adults, before we were parents, before we were grandparents. So it's always quite a find to actually be able to *see* our "elders" as children. Especially when that child's face shows that they were the same person all along, whether they be 7 years old or 70.

Just one additional note: Did nobody ever tell this boy/man to smile when his picture was being taken???? :) 

Monroe Raynor, 1946
Monroe Raynor, circa 1889

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Raynor family photo surprise

Almost wordless; not quite! My father found this photo as part of the Freeport Memorial Library's digital collection, a collaboration with the Freeport Historical Society. The images have show people and places having to do with Long Island history and lo and behold, they happened to have a tintype of a couple and their two young children. The couple are my great-great grandparents, Joseph "J.J." Raynor and Annie Poole Raynor, and their kids are Lidie and my great-grandfather, Monroe Raynor. Before this, I had only seen photos of any of these people as senior citizens (I had only ever seen one photo of my great-great grandparents - and Monroe has the same face as an 8 year old as he does as an old man!). Based on their birthdates and apparent ages, I'd say this tintype is circa 1890 (probably 1889 because the Raynors' youngest son, William Poole Raynor, was born in July 1890 and Annie doesn't quite look pregnant yet). I love their old clothes and hairstyles - this is such a cool find! Thanks, Dad! :)

From left-right: Annie Poole Raynor, Monroe Raynor, Joseph J. Raynor, Lidie Raynor. Circa 1889. Courtesy Freeport Memorial Library

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

170th annual Long Island Fair - Sept. 30, 2012

Well now this is almost a month late but at the end of September, my fiance and I went to the Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island. He had never been, but I remember going once or twice when I was a kid. I love anything having to do with Long Island history and it was a beautiful autumn weekend to be outdoors.

According to the fair's website at "Founded in 1841 as the Queens County Agricultural Society, The Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau & Suffolk Counties is one of the oldest agricultural societies in the United States . The Society has sponsored a fair on Long Island since 1842. The earliest fairs sponsored by the Society were held on various members' farms and vacant lots in the Hempstead and Mineola area. Finally, in 1866, the Society acquired the original fairgrounds on Old Country Road at Washington Avenue in Mineola, and constructed livestock barns, carriage sheds, a business office, and surrounded it all with a castellated fence. The centerpiece of the new Fairgrounds was the large cruciform Exhibition Hall, with a high central tower capped by a grand eagle weathervane. Inside, a fancy iron fountain graced the center of the floor area that provided an exceptional exhibition space for the domestic arts, horticultural and agricultural displays of the fair.

The Queens County Fair was held nearly every Fall on the new Fairgrounds. In 1899, after Nassau County was created out of the three eastern towns of Queens County , the Fair became known as the Mineola Fair. As such, it continued to be held until the 1950s.  

As Nassau County grew, and lost much of its rural and agricultural character, the fair was displaced by the new County Court complex. The Mineola Fair then moved to Roosevelt Raceway.

In 1970 the fair returned to its agricultural roots when it moved to Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Now known as The Long Island Fair, it is held every year on a reconstructed fairground based on the original in Mineola . The fairground, like the original, is graced by a magnificent replica Exhibition Hall, complete with eagle weathervane and iron fountain. One of the largest wooden buildings constructed in the 1990's, it provides a marvelous backdrop for horticultural, agricultural, and domestic arts exhibits. The grounds also contain the only surviving 19th century building of the Mineola site - the small Superintendents' Office built in 1884.

After 170 years the Long Island Fair continues as the only county fair sanctioned by New York State for the counties of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk."

While it was fun, especially watching Sam learn how to dance with the Village dancers and getting to not only see a baseball game played with 1864 rules but also having some of the nice men involved in the old-timey league explain those rules to us, I would've loved for there to be a little more, well, history to the fair - maybe some more historical/homemade crafts, some old fashioned foods we could've enjoyed, some more historical exhibits. Also, the fair is geared toward families - so if you have kids, there are plenty of ways for them to be entertained. For two grown-ups, not so much...well, except for the entertainment of seeing Sam do-si-do :)

Listening to a band on the fairgrounds.

Sam in front of the reconstructed Exhibition Hall.

Sam do-si-dos!...

...and promenades! :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday's Obituary: Thomas Dauch, The Hempstead Sentinel June 25, 1903

Thomas Dauch was my third great-grandfather. I had an obituary for him but thanks to Fulton History's recent addition of The Hempstead Sentinel pages, I found a much more detailed obit (and a story about his birthday party from 1901, too, which was pretty cool - the obit was pretty much cribbed from the birthday story, but I'll post the birthday story at another time just to check and see if everyone listed in attendance is accounted for in my tree...and who knows, maybe the guest list includes someone from your trees as well!)

Anyway, on to the obit (italics mine): "Thomas Dauch died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Theo. P. Berg (my great-great grandmother, Delia Dauch Berg), corner of Front and Attorney streets, Sunday, after an illness of several weeks, from apoplexy. He was in his 78th year. The funeral service was held Wednesday afternoon, the Rev. Mr. Munson officiating. Interment was in Greenfield Cemetery"
       "Mr. Dauch had lived here some ten years. He was honored as a worthy citizen, valued as a good neighbor. When 25 years old he left Germany for New York, where he was employed as a cooper. Seven years later he bought a farm of ten acres on the (Hempstead) plains, and a little later increased it to fifty. Some time ago he informed a SENTINEL representative that he never has had a cent of indebtedness, always paying for everything in advance whether it chanced to be a farm or a loaf of bread. He owned considerable real estate. He has five children and 31 grandchildren. His wife died in 1871." Leave it to a German to value most his frugality!

Of course, the best part and an awesome surprise was that the obit, as you can see below, included a photo of great-great-great Grandpa Thomas. He looks like a good, upstanding German in this photo. I think he looks stern, yet gentle.

Always keep looking! You never know what you'll find! To check out the Fulton History newspaper website, go here.

Thomas Dauch obituary, 1903

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday's obituary: Theodore P. Berg, Hempstead Sentinel, Jan. 13, 1944

I would love to thank, my go-to New York newspaper archive website in my genealogy research, for recently adding a ton of old Hempstead Sentinel pages - because of that, I've found so much more information about my Hempstead, Long Island area family, including this newfound obit for my great-great grandfather, Theodore Peterson Berg. I knew a lot about him already, but this obit proves there are always new things we can discover! (I never knew he owned a deli in Brooklyn or that he ever flew in an airplane, or that he belonged to a mason lodge)

Hempstead Sentinel Jan. 13, 1944 p. 2

Service held for Theodore P. Berg

"Rev. Hubert B. Munson, Methodist minister who had served five generations of the Berg family, officiated at the funeral service of Theodore P. Berg, resident of Hempstead area for 62 years, Monday afternoon at the Pettit funeral parlors. Burial was made in Greenfield Cemetery. A Masonic service was held Sunday afternoon."
     "Born in New York City 90 years ago, Mr. Berg's first job was driving a horse-car in Brooklyn and later he was proprietor of a Brooklyn delicatessen store. He learned the mason trade and followed that business when he moved to the Hempstead area. His first home was near East Meadow, later moving to the corner of Front and Attorney street, where he and his family resided many years." (That house is still there by the way)
     "Illness detained Mr. Berg from spending this winter in Florida, the first time he had missed in 33 years. When he and the late Mrs. Berg first went south, they made the trip by train, but in recent years always drove down in their car. Mr. Berg made one trip by plane, but afterwards decided to continue motoring."
     "A member of Hempstead Lodge of Masons for over 60 years, he was at one time a member of Enterprise Hose Company. He was a devout churchman and was a member of the Hempstead Methodist Church."
     "His survivors include five sons: Thomas A. Berg and Edward T. Berg of Hempstead, Allen H. Berg of West Hempstead, Stanley D. Berg of Charlotte, N.C., and R. Howard Berg of Melborne, Fla.; also a daughter, Amelia B. Raynor, of Freeport, at whose home he died January 6; a brother Albert H. Berg of East Meadow; 24 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren."

Monday, October 1, 2012

AncestryDNA results are in...and I'm shocked!

I am, in a word, flabbergasted. First, I'd just like to commend AncestryDNA for how quickly they got my results. I was told it would take 6-8 weeks upon arrival of the specimen. I think they started processing my DNA on Sept. 19. My results were posted today, Oct. 1. So, not too shabby.

But to say I was surprised by my results would be an understatement, and I honestly thought I wouldn't be surprised at all. I thought, considering I know that everyone in my family hails from either England, Ireland, Germany or Denmark that my results would be pretty straightforward - British Isles, Western European, and possibly a hint of Scandinavian from the 1/32 Danish blood in me.

But how quickly I always forget that just because I know the countries doesn't mean I know the ethnicities...the United States is not the only nation of immigrants.

How much British Isles was in my ethnicity graph? Zero percent.

How much Western European was in my ethnicity graph? Zero percent.

How much Scandinavian was in my ethnicity graph? A whopping 88 percent.

And what made up the other 12 percent? Of all things - Eastern European! What??????

Now, if you're taking an autosomal DNA test, you have to remember that just because an ethnicity DOESN'T show up in your DNA, it doesn't mean it's not there. It just means it wasn't in that sample. But I was shocked by the amount of Scandinavian and I never expected Eastern European, which according to AncestryDNA covers the modern day countries of Poland, Greece, Macedonia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Belgarus, and Kosovo.

Reading the description for each ethnicity, though, a whole lotta Scandinavian DNA does make sense. The Vikings invaded and settled in the British Isles - that's where Irish red hair comes from. And I just learned, by reading the description, that the Goths, who eventually populated Germany, were originally from Sweden. And I have both German and British Isles ancestry...

The Eastern European has me a little mor flummoxed, although if I look at the pins for family tree members on the AncestryDNA map, several of my German relatives hail from the Eastern parts of Germany, bordering Poland and the Czech Republic (which isn't counted as Eastern Europe, but which used to be part of the same country as Slovakia, which is). So that's interesting.

In any case, I have a lot more to look at - AncestryDNA gives you potential relative matches within 4-8th cousins, which so far doesn't really look that promising, but I definitely have a lot more to digest. But my (surprising-wow!) results leave me with two thoughts - the first being that perhaps I'm really adopted, just as I always thought when I was little, and the second being...

...I always KNEW I was a Viking!! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Richard Lindemann, German enemy alien 1917

Sometimes, when I have nothing better to do (and even sometimes when I DO have stuff I actually need to be doing but I feel like procrastinating), I like to visit and just plug in random family members' names, just to see what newspaper stories come up. Not just people I'm looking for, but addresses associated with them, businesses associated with them, friends and family associated with them - you never know what keyword is going to find you new and/or important information.

Two people I've had a difficult time fleshing out are my third great grandparents, Caspar and Margaret Lindemann. I've found them in the census, I've found their death certificates, I've even found Margaret's obituary, but there are no probate records for them in Brooklyn, no passenger list manifests (even though they are two of my most recent ancestors to come over to America, sometime in the 1880s or 1890s), no immigration records, and Caspar especially has been elusive. Considering how high-profile their son-in-law (my great-great-grandfather), Rudolph Stutzmann, was in Brooklyn/Queens circles, I'm surprised I haven't been able to find more on them. I guess I'm looking for specifics like birth dates, an actual date of immigration, or a place name of origin in Germany - anything that could help me find them on the other side of the pond since they were both older with grown children when they came over, so they would've spent a large chunk of their lives in Germany.

Wow, I'm really digressing here, because while my search was for Caspar and Margaret, I was using their grandson, Richard Lindemann, as my keyword in my search. Richard is a mystery to me. According to Schlegel's, his mother was Caspar and Margaret's daughter Caroline, married name Werner, and yet he uses her maiden name. I have no records of her - she supposedly died young, and since Richard is always listed in the census records with his grandparents (and later with his aunt, Augusta Stutzmann), I assume they raised him. Anyway, he was born in Germany and came over as a child. I get positive newspaper search results for him, usually as an adult placing ads for his services as a limo driver (I believe he was also employed by Rudolph Stutzmann in his funeral home business as a hearse driver), but I found one newspaper record from December 8, 1917, that showed him listed as a "German Enemy Alien." I had never heard of such a list, but the page was full of names and the addresses where these men lived, and a note at the end basically said this was only a partial list, with more names to come.

So I Googled it. According to the German Genealogy Group's website, "on April 6, 1917 President Woodrow Wilson took the first steps to minimize the threat from German aliens residing in the United States by issuing twelve regulations for 'alien enemies,' persons of enemy birth who had not completed the naturalization process. ... The names and addresses of all German males from New York City who were not citizens were printed in a series of articles in 'The Herald.' The list was published between December 4, 1917 and December 9, 1917." Obviously, this was around the time World War I was going on, but the list of regulations is insane, paranoid, and frightening. Among the regulations are some that make sense in that the government was worried about spies or attacks from within, but others say the "enemy aliens" could not change their residence or travel freely, they weren't allowed to fly, they weren't allowed at all in Washington D.C., they were not allowed near U.S. waterways except on public ferries, and they were not allowed to own a firearm. The whole list can be found here. And any "enemy alien" found to be in non-compliance was allowed to be interned.

I realize the United States has a history of going overboard with people they see as internal threats (re: Japanese-Americans during World War II) during times of war, but I think of my great-uncle Richard, who, yes, was born in Germany, and no, had not become a citizen, but who had basically grown up in and lived his whole life in Brooklyn. For all intents and purposes, he was a New Yorker. It's a little sad and a little scary in general, but even moreso when it hits so close to home, in that your own relative was so blatantly targeted. I'm sure the men listed on those pages of The Herald were shunned and discriminated against by more than a few of their paranoid neighbors.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting, from both a family standpoint and an historical one, a little piece of national and family history I never knew about.

Friday, September 21, 2012

AncestryDNA: DNA sample has been received!

I apologize for the lack of blogging lately. Real life has been interfering with blogging life and there hasn't been a lot of opportunity/energy to blog, but I'm still here, never fear...I know you were worried and missing me! :)

So, I FINALLY sent in my AncestryDNA sample. I can't believe how long it took me to get that done. I had it sitting on my nightstand for forever, which is unbelievable, considering how excited I was when I got it. I had finally decided to let my boyfriend send in a DNA sample but almost immediately changed my mind. I guess I was having a selfish genetics moment. But this gives me the opportunity to beg to FINALLY open up AncestryDNA to everybody, so I can buy Sam his own DNA sampling kit (hopefully for a reasonable price!) because I really am beyond curious what his will reveal...I just know it's going to be exciting and shed some light on his wildly varied genetic history! Plus, why should I get all the spitting fun? (The first DNA sampling I ever did was a cheek swab...nowhere near as fun as Ancestry's spit sample!)

Anyway, I received word this week that Ancestry received my DNA the real waiting begins! 6-8 weeks, if I'm lucky...I guess I was able to wait almost that long to send the sample in, I can wait that long to get my results! I had a dream the other night that I got my results and there was a surprising find in the mix - I feel like it was Ashkenazi Jewish or something like that. I'm really not expecting that at all, but I guess anything's possible. I know for a fact that over half my genetics come from the British Isles (Ireland mostly and a bit o' old world English), but it's possible my German side (about 33 percent) might yield a surprising find, and it might be nice to see Scandinavian pop up courtesy of my 3rd great grandfather Peter Hansen Berg, who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. My sister totally looks like a Viking warrior princess, so even if Scandinavia doesn't show up, I know it's totally in there. Though I hope it does!

So, that's the deal with that. I'm curious - anybody out there do AncestryDNA or a similar autosomal DNA test and expect to know what they'd find but get some totally unexpected results?

And I promise, I'll try to write more frequently than once a month, because I've missed y'all, too!

Happy weekend! :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Attention all New York genealogists/anybody with New York family history...

Family Tree Magazine and will be hosting "The Genealogy Event" at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City Friday Oct. 26 & Saturday Oct. 27.

From the website it looks like there will be both speakers and exhibitors for beginners through more advanced family historians. There are sessions on ethnic-specific genealogy, using technology for research, fleshing out our family trees to include not just the facts but the stories, and a few New York specific genealogy resources such as the New York Public Library and Castle Garden/Ellis Island records.

Tickets are $15 in advance, which is a crazy awesome price. I've been taking a break from genealogy research lately just because of a lack of progress on most fronts and an overload of other fun (sense the sarcasm) stuff life has been throwing at me, but I'm intrigued by this event and might just have to check it out. It seems like a miniature version of the larger, national/regional conferences, and it's right in my backyard, so it's really kind of hard to think of a reason NOT to check this out!

For more details and info, check out or follow this link.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


So yesterday I FINALLY got my chance to buy an AncestryDNA kit from, only several months after my first e-mail (and second) saying I was eligible to purchase from their limited supplies. It was like being on hold for a company with really bad customer service. "Please hold, your call is very important to us..." Meanwhile, an hour later...

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know I already did my maternal DNA (haplogroup T) and my paternal DNA (through my brother - R1b) but the AncestryDNA test does autosomal DNA testing - that is, it doesn't just look at your maternal line or your paternal line, it looks at a bunch of your DNA and can tell you not necessarily what countries your family comes from, but what ethnic groups and the general areas from which they came. Now, I love my family tree -y'all know that - but as far as family trees go, it's fairly boring. I have family from Ireland, England, Germany, and Denmark, but in autosomal terms, that basically makes me 100 percent northern European. Still, my family has been in America for so long and there are maternal lines I just can't trace that who knows who else my family has intermarried with? So, even though I pretty much expect a fairly homogenous result, I've still been really psyched to do this test. You can do it through a whole bunch of genetic genealogy/genetic testing sites, but the test is still really expensive, and Ancestry has been offering it cheap, which is why I waited.

Anyway, I didn't realize that I was only going to be allowed to buy one test. Limited supplies - duh! The thing is, while I really want to take the test, I feel like I already know what it's going to tell me. What I really wanted was to also buy a test for my boyfriend because I think his genetic genealogy will be fascinating - both his parents are from Honduras, and he has known Mayan, Jamaican, Sicilian, and Scottish branches, and who knows what else!! So, part of me wants to just let him take the test when it comes in the mail - I've been dying to find out more about his background...I know it's going to show a fascinating and diverse mix of people and places...but part of me really wants to be selfish and keep the test all to myself!

Ah, genealogical dilemmas!

Anybody have suggestions of other companies to purchase a (relatively) cheap autosomal DNA test?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Not exactly genealogy, but happy 115th birthday Amelia Earhart!

File:Amelia earhart.jpeg

I didn't know anything about my family history when I was a kid, but I was always interested in history in general, and I used to read a lot. ::cough::nerd::cough::. That's right. I'm a history nerd. Anyway, as a young, impressionable girl, I used to devour books and through that I developed several strong, female heroes who I just thought were the coolest - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Annie Oakley, and Amelia Earhart. These were real life women who lived on the harsh frontier and challenged what was expected of them in particular and women in general. I wanted to be just like them.

Today is Amelia Earhart's birthday, and she's been in the news a lot lately because the anniversary of her disappearance (July 2) just passed and there was a research excursion to try to find the wreck or remains of her plane. I think Earhart fascinated me in particular because of her mysterious always made me kind of sad.

As I got older, I learned about my own family history and developed an appreciation for the heroines in my own tree - women who may not have become as famous as my other heroes or who may not have bucked as many trends, but who kept their families together in dire circumstances and did what they could to make a better life for their children and their children's children...people like me.

But I still remember my childhood heroes like Amelia Earhart, and even looked them all up on records such as census images, tracing their journeys and remembering the things about them that inspired me.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Budget Travel article: Find Your Roots in Ireland

Very nice article from Budget Travel about tracing Irish ancestry on today - read it here. On a personal note, the author consults with Paul Gorry, a leading genealogist in Ireland who not only has the same last name as me but uses the same spelling. Makes looking up Gorry Irish ancestry very difficult in Google, as every result has to do with him. Should contact him and see if he can help a girl out!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Third wife's the charm: Friedrich Stutzmann probate proceedings

I've been knee-deep in Raynor genealogy, using the Queens County probate records that are now online at, but today I decided to switch it up and take a look at my father's side of the family. I found a bunch of names in the index for Queens, Kings AND New York counties, though the actual records are not yet online (I know, I'm getting greedy) but I did find the index AND probate proceedings for my third great grandfather, Friedrich Stutzmann, who died Jan. 14, 1906 in Ridgewood Heights, Queens County. Now, my third great grandmother, Mathilde Rau, was Friedrich's first wife, and died very young in 1880 from yellow fever. With small children to raise, Friedrich married again, this time to Rosalie Goess/Goesz, who also died fairly young sometime in the 1890s. Looking at his probate proceedings today, I see that, who is requesting letters of administration for his estate, is his WIDOW Augusta. So great great great granddaddy Fred had a third wife that apparently nobody recorded, not even Schlegel's. I went to the Italian Genealogy Group's website,, as I usually do when I'm looking for New York City vital records, and there it is - on May 8, 1901, a Fred Stutzmann married an Auguste Sander.

Looking back, I realize I saw Friedrich with a wife Augusta in the 1905 New York State census, but for some reason, I assumed it was a mistake - that Friedrich's daughter-in-law, also Augusta, had mistakenly been listed as his wife. Because that sometimes happens. So today was twofold productive - the discovery of a third wife I never knew about (even if you're not related to them, second/third/beyond spouses can help you find family in future census records/directories/newspaper articles etc) AND I relearned the valuable lesson to NEVER assume in your research - if you see something that looks like a mistake, check it out. Maybe it is, or maybe it's brand new information.

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Local & family history: Demolition of Kings Park psych center buildings set

Newsday reported today that demolition of the old Kings Park Psychiatric Center will probably begin later this month. Though it closed officially in 1996, at the turn of the 20th century, this psych center on the North Shore of Long Island was home to many psych patients from Brooklyn (Kings County, hence the name Kings Park for the area - before that, it was known as St. Johnland. You can read details and history on the place here. It's all very fascinating, how people and families used to have to care for senior family members or members with senility or with actual psychiatric problems. Many of them couldn't, hence these psychiatric centers. And at the turn of the century, even they didn't know exactly how to deal with these people.

But the demolition of Kings Park hits particularly close to home for me because my great-great grandmother, Nora Donohue Cronin, lived there for at least 20 years. She emigrated from Ireland to New York shortly before the turn of the 20th century to be with her children - she had nine children here but something was wrong enough with her that none of them could care for her, or wanted to care for her. And she was about in her 70s when she died, which means she was institutionalized by the time she was in her 50s. I asked my grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor, once what she remembered of her grandmother or what she knew about her time at Kings Park, but she didn't know anything - she was young when Nora died and back then, mental problems just weren't discussed I guess. Psychiatric records are also almost impossible to get ahold of, so it looks like this is a family mystery that will forever remain a mystery, why Nora lived at Kings Park for so many years. I've driven past the center several times, never been, and I know that there's no reason NOT to demolish the facility, but as it's a part of not just local history but my own family history, it still makes me sad.

You can find the Newsday article here.

Building 123 sits abadoned, with its roof collapsing,File:KingsParkPC-Building 93.jpg

Friday, July 6, 2012

Where there's a will, there's a way: FamilySearch to the rescue again, New York Probate Records, 1629-1971

Cousin April and I have been on the hunt, seriously now, for months to find out or prove the parents of Jacob Raynor, our common ancestor. We looked at earmark records in the state archives in Albany, we looked at inventories of estate in the archives at Hofstra University, and our next step was to visit the Queens County Surrogate Court to look at wills. Well, the wills have found us. is constantly updating the records available online at their website and so I check back regularly. Yesterday I realized that they have probate records for many (not all) of the counties in New York State, including, that's right, Queens County. Hallelujah! The genealogy gods are finally taking pity on my broke, weary soul! The only problem is, if you like easy solutions, that these sections aren't indexed - they're organized, to an extent, thank god, but not indexed. But you wouldn't be into genealogy if you liked easy solutions, would you? It took me most of the day yesterday to find some of the things I was looking for, but find them I did, after checking the index for names, and then matching those names to either letters of administration for people who didn't have wills, or to actual wills. It looks like, at least in Queens County, the wills are transcriptions of wills, not the actual wills, but it's the whole deal, not just an abstract. Whitehead Raynor, god bless his racist soul, was quite descriptive about family relationships in his will, and Samuel Seaman, another great-plus-grandfather of mine, I was actually able to prove for the first time was my great-plus-grandfather thanks to his descriptiveness of relationships. I have only glanced at Jacob slightly - I'm not sure I have the will or stamina to jump into that without Cousin April's support. But if you have New York family history and more than a few hours on hand, I highly recommend looking at this set of records. I checked out Kings County and Westchester County as well to look at family there and the categories and breakdown of records are similar to Queens, though not exact. It, like everything else we do in this field, is a puzzle that you have to put together, but the pieces are there! I can't wait to get back to it...good luck in your searches!

Happy weekend, y'all! :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day, America!

Today is the United States' birthday - 236 years old, which, when you really think about it, is a very young birthday for a country. On July 4, the course of this nation's history changed, and most of my family was not happy with that course. But my family has been here so long - almost 150 years by July 4, 1776 - that I consider myself almost thoroughly American. Even when I research my German or Irish or Danish family, it's almost ancient history. I am American. My family history is American, is the history of this country. My family saw it all. And so today I'm inspired again to find out more about what life was like for my family when they lived in this colony, when they lived in this fledgling country, and as they watched the United States change and grow. Happy Independence Day, everyone - have a fun and safe holiday and hopefully you'll be celebrating with family, be it the family you were born into or the family of friends you chose, because FAMILY is what it's all about!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Zachariah Story and wife Mary

The graves of my 5th-great grandparents Zachariah and Mary Story, located in the Bangall Baptist Church #1 Cemetery in Bangall, Dutchess County, New York. I have so much Long Island New York family history that one day when I get a chance I'd love to delve deeper into some of my upstate roots - I think that would be fascinating. Zachariah was actually born near Charleston, South Carolina around 1732, and died in Stanfordville, Dutchess County, in 1811. His wife, though, Mary, is supposed to be from the upstate area, possibly Kingston - she died in 1812.

Zachariah Story headstone - very faded and worn.

Mary Story headstone - also very faded and worn.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Daughter of the American Revolution???

I never had aspirations to belong to the Daughters of the American Revolution. A cousin of mine did/does, but I always knew better - yes, my family was here 150 years before the Revolutionary War, but the Raynors, like much of the Hempstead English settlers, were Loyalists. The DAR wouldn't touch me with a 50-foot pole.

But that was okay. The American Revolution was a pivotal moment in American history but it was only one small part in a very long, varied, storied history. My ancestors weren't Patriots. They didn't come over on the Mayflower. But they shaped American history, from those who came here in the 1600s to my great-grandfather in the 1890s. My family and I are still shaping this country today.

Enter today.

The past couple of days I've taken to looking up people from my family tree in Google News and Google Books - great-great grandpa Rudolph Stutzmann turns up in all sorts of newspaper pages AND books, as it turns out. But I already know a whole lot about Rudy - he is fascinating to me, especially in a day and age when there's a lot of distrust and resentment for big banks and big bankers, as Rudy was at the turn of the 20th century. But he might be the ancestor I know the most about. Lately I've been obsessing about finding a colonial New Amsterdam Dutch link in my family tree, and I have some brick walls that might prove fruitful if only I could break through them, so I've been plugging in all sorts of names - Whitehead Raynor turned up in the news a few times - between his estate being auctioned and his estate inventory, I've learned much more about ole' Whitey and he was fairly well off for an early 19th century fisherman - heck, he's more well off than me! - but that's an entry for another day. So far, the New Amsterdam Dutch link is still proving to be a deadend, much to my chagrin... I finally plugged in the name "Elijah Sprague." Elijah was my 5th great-grandfather, and his father was also Elijah. This is all based on other people's works and conjecture and educated guesses from my own legwork. But wouldn't you know Elijah Sprague Sr. turned up in Google Books under a book citing Patriots who served in the American Revolution...what the what? I decided to check out the DAR website itself and there he is - serving in the Albany County militia and under Captain Benjamin Hewlett. He's in the database. He is an established Patriot. And apparently he died in Canada. I knew several of his siblings had settled in Canada, but I didn't think I had a direct ancestor who had settled in Canada. The thing is, I can't PROVE my link to him. Not yet, anyway. All the names are right, but the proof, the paper link, isn't there yet. But at least now I have a name to TRY to connect to. My Raynor ancestors must be rolling in their graves!

So, I figured, if I have one possible Patriot on my line, I might have another. I have very few non-Raynor lines in that time period that I can trace, but I plugged in "William Johnson" into the DAR database, and he turned up. William Johnson is a possible 6th great grandfather of mine. It's a common name, but I know this William Johnson in the DAR database is my possible William Johnson because he had a son with an unusual name - Gilbert. And William served under Captain Peter Nostrand and Colonel Josiah Smith. Oh, I also know it's my possible William because the year he died is correct - I have a will abstract for William Johnson for 1818, which matches up. I think I am related to William Johnson through my fourth great grandfather Richard Poole. William Johnson had a grandson Richard Pool. My gut tells me they are the same person - and all the circumstantial evidence will have to be addressed in a subsequent entry - but I have no PROOF they are the same person. But it gives me something else to work on, a concrete person to try to link to.

Will I join the DAR if I can prove any of this? Eh. Maybe. But I know my cousin will be very happy. And Cousin April has found her own unexpected possible DAR connection, so even though its different people for us, maybe this is another project we can work on together! (Genealogy is much more fun when you have someone to share it with!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great Migration Database at Connecting Edward Raynor to history

I got an e-mail today from the New England Historic Genealogical Society about updates to their Great Migration database, based on the publication The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635. That period of time is known as the Great Migration because immigration to Massachusetts surged in numbers - that happens to be the time period most of my early American ancestors came over, including my Raynor family, and since the new edition to the database was for immigrants with names starting with R and S, I decided to look up my immigrant ancestor, Edward Raynor.

There wasn't much there I didn't already know: from Elmsett, Suffolk, England, born about 1624, sailed from Ipswich, England on 30 April 1634 with his probable uncle Thurston Raynor and Thurston's family, settling first in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635, Stamford, Connecticut in 1641, and Hempstead, New York in 1644. I think about Edward all the time, sailing across the Atlantic to an unknown wilderness as an orphaned 10-year-old and then being continually uprooted for the next ten years, building settlements from scratch, navigating and exploring unknown lands, dealing with the sometimes unfriendly natives. I wish I could picture it a little more clearly, what it must have been like. But after all of that, no wonder, once he came of age, he refused to follow his uncle when Thurston once again uprooted his family and moved to Southampton, and no wonder Edward's descendants were perfectly happy to stay right where they were for the next 350 years.

The profile says he was a herdsman, which I knew, and that he signed his name with a mark, which I didn't. It also said he inherited his land at Hempstead, not from his uncle, but probably from John Strickland, another original proprietor. What I found really interesting though is that the profile says that on July 4, 1656, Edward made his mark on a petition from the inhabitants of Hempstead to Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam (even though they were English, they were in Dutch territory and had been granted the right to settle in Hempstead by Governor Willem Kieft.) Further research says the petition claimed that because the settlers were paying a tithe to Stuyvesant, that he should reimburse them for injuries received from the Indians. I thought that was fascinating - not only because it gives another tiny glimpse into what life was like for him 350 years ago - that he was sending part of his goods and produce to the governor of New Amsterdam, but that unfriendly Indians were a worry - but it connects my personal family history to the general, well-known history of New York and America. My ancestor, who is not a historical figure to anyone not related to him, signed a petition to a well-known historical figure, Peter Stuyvesant, someone we were taught about in school. Stuyvesant was his contemporary and was someone who had a direct influence on his life. It's not a strong connection, like having actually met him, but it's a connection. Stuyvesant may have held the same piece of paper in his hand that my ancestor did. How cool is that?

If you're a member of NEHGS and have immigrant ancestors from the Great Migration, you can check and see if their profile is in the database on the organization's website,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1940 U.S. Census: New York is here!

I went onto Ancestry today and all these tiny green leaves began popping up on my family tree - and surprise, surprise, they're legitimate! If you're an subscriber and you have family from New York, the New York records for the 1940 U.S. Census are now indexed and searchable by name! Definitely a pleasant surprise on what has been an otherwise stressful week! DC, Delaware, Maine, and Nevada are also searchable on Ancestry - but if you had family living in other states, be sure to check the FamilySearch website - their volunteer indexers have been unbelievable and are working at a breakneck speed; they have a lot more states than Ancestry already searchable by name. And that is all for now, because I have some 1940 census genealogy to do - off to find my grandmother, Helen Stutzmann Gorry, in a census for the very first time! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And the next generation comes along...

I have TOTALLY been slacking on this blog, even though there have been genealogy field trips and new records to talk about and all sorts of fun and infuriating Jacob Raynor updates, but work has been hectic and real life has been getting in the way. So there's a lot to catch up on, but today is a day when genealogy comes to life - family history is about generations past, but we collect it for generations future, and today was the start of a new generation on my mom's side of my family tree - my cousin Tina and her husband Thom celebrated the birth of their first child this morning, Lucas. Lucas is my Aunt Linda and Uncle Cliff's first grandchild, and he's the first great-grandchild of my 97-year-old grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor. Grandma told me several times of a woman her age who has more than 40 great-grandchildren, but as of last week she kept telling me how excited she was about the birth of her first. Lucas' birth reminded me that while we can get bogged down in the papers and the facts, genealogy is about real people, but more important than that, it's about families, OUR families. So today I say: Lucas, welcome to the family! (You are being added to the tree database as we speak!) :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Especially in genealogy, it's so important to remember our MOTHERS and maternal ancestors - after all, we get half our DNA, half our traits, half our stories, half our history from them! Happy Mother's Day everyone! Miss you, Mom, every day...

Me and my mother, Margaret Raynor Gorry, circa 1981.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy birthday to my grandfather, Elmer Gorry

Today would've been my grandfather's 83rd birthday. Hope you're having a rockin' party up in heaven, Grandpa...Miss you!

(My grandfather comes in at about the 4:15 mark in this video - he plays NBC president Robert C. Wright this time, not Grant Tinker)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The mysterious death of Tim Tormey

From the April 18, 1921 issue of The Daily Star...Tim Tormey was my great-grandmother's brother. I think I recall my dad saying that he was kind of named after Tim Tormey (Dad, is this right?) In 1921, my great-grandmother, Mary Tormey, was 25 and unmarried. Her father, Michael, had died in 1908 of pneumonia when she was 12; her brother, also named Michael, died four years later when Mary (also known as Marie) was 16. Three days after Michael died in 1912, Marie's mother, Ellen Prendergast Tormey, died of breast cancer. From what I can tell, from the stories and photos my dad has shared, Marie and her siblings, especially her sisters, were close - and who can blame them? They were all they had.

After Michael Jr. died, Tim was the only brother. In 1921, he was already married ... he had married Adelaide Finn in 1916. It seems he was a bit of a shady character, someone who liked to party and who may have owed some people money, who may have drank too much, who may have flirted with the wrong guy's wife...the official story, as you can see from the newspaper article, is that he fell down the stairs and fractured his skull. I may have a death certificate floating around somewhere,'ll have to ask my dad about that.

But the question remains - *how* did Tim Tormey fall down the stairs? It's not like he was old or infirm. Maybe he was drunk. Another theory is that maybe he was pushed during some kind of altercation. I'm not sure we'll ever know the real story. At least, not until I can ask Tim Tormey himself... ;)