Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014

I know it's cliché, but I can't believe how quickly 2013 slipped by. It just seems like yesterday that I was saying the same thing about 2012. There's something about the passage of time that makes me want to set New Year's Resolutions. I think it's the idea of a fresh start or clean slate.

I made only a few resolutions this year, most of them centered around genealogy. I've decided that 2014 is the year I go digital. I took the scary step of going paperless for all my banking, credit card and other household invoices. My current system relies on receiving paper invoices and bills. I started paying bills online some time ago, but never took that next step. I took some time and figured out a system to keep track of my paperless bills, scan all my documents and reciepts and then file (store) them. Going paperless has extended to my genealogy, too. If my document is already in digital format, I just save it, name it and file it. When I get a hard copy of a document, it will go through the same treatment, but I will also scan it and save it in digital form.

Another resolution is to make sure all my citations are complete and accurate. I've just switched programs from Family Tree Maker to Legacy, and I'm loving Legacy. It has a wonderful SourceWriter feature built in that makes keeping this resolution a breeze. I find it so much easier to come up with the correct citation format. Legacy's tagging system helps me keep track of whose citations I've already cleaned up.

Following on the heels of that resolution is one for continuing education. I'm looking forward to deepening my knowledge of all things genealogical. I joined a study group to study the tome, Mastering Genealogical Proof. The group starts mid-January, so look for some blogs about that. Once the study group is complete, I plan to take the National Genealogical Society's Family History Skills course. I figure brushing up on my skills can only help me become a better genealogist. I have left the option of a third (and maybe a fourth) course of study open depending on where my interests are mid-year. If you have a favorite course, let me know in the comment section below.

Although I have a tendancy to make too many resolutions, I'm stopping at these three. It's a doable list, and, given my passion for genealogy, should be easy to keep. So what's on your list? Tell me about your New Year's resolutions. Oh, and if you can recommend a good genealogy book, tell me about that below as well.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Boxful of Memories

One of the first things I learned when beginning to research my family history is to begin by collecting all the information you can from your living relatives. I started gathering information from them what I was twelve, and I'm glad I did. As I grew older, other pursuits got in the way of my research. Life became more complicated as I went to college, got married, and raised a family. My research was put on hold; my files gathering dust. Now, as I'm reaching the half-century mark, I find that I have more time to devote to research, but most of those family members are gone. The information I gathered years ago is helpful, but now with an adult perspective, there is so much more I would like to ask.

The holiday time is a perfect time to reminisce and talk about family. I like to ask open-ended questions, such as, "What was she like when you were growing up?" Family photos are also a great memory jogger and are usually an enjoyable way to learn little family details. It's amazing how much a person will recall about the circumstances behind the taking of that photograph. My mother could remember the color of every single item of clothing in every photo. It's also a great time to find out how Cousin Allen is related to you. "Is he Grandpa's or Grandma's nephew?" "Who were his parents?" "Whose house is that in the background?" "What street was it on?" Not only is it fun to learn these tidbits, all the answers give clues for research as well as enriching the family history.

I have learned to keep asking the same questions; each time I learn a little something new. Over the years, I can't tell you how many times my dad and I spoke about his father, who had died when my dad was a boy. I'd update him on what new bit of information my research revealed. Only recently during one such conversation did my dad mention that he had his father's Boatswain's pipe from World War 1. All those times talking and something I said that time sparked a memory so he could remember to tell me that he had that pipe!

Sometimes a sad event, such as a funeral, will prompt family stories. Recently, my maternal grandmother died. Although I had seen photos of my dad as a child, I didn't have any of my mother. After attending the funeral, my mother came home with a box full of photos. After going through them with her and learning about the other family members in the photos, she revealed that she's had her baby book all along. Amazing! Inside that baby book is a list of people who visited and gave gifts, as well as a small family tree.

So, a lesson I've learned — keep asking questions about family. Sometimes, something you talk about will make that memory connection in your relative; you may wind up with a box full of memories to serve as clues for research, as well as wonderful stories that will make your family history come alive.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Catharine Conklin, wife of Jacob Lamb?

A current research conflict I am trying to resolve is in my Lamb line from Westchester County, New York. I am trying to prove or disprove 1) that the wife of Jacob E. Lamb (my 4th great-grandfather) was Catharine Conklin; and 2) that her parents were Francis Conklin and Hester Brown or John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker.
The Unpublished Works of G. MacKenzie, a loosely documented genealogy, states that Catharine Conklin was the daughter of John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker and the wife of Jacob Lamb[1].  This genealogy also states that Francis Conklin and Hester Brown had a daughter named Catharine and she married John Sloat. This is in direct conflict with information on a proven descendant list from The Daughters of the American Revolution which states that Catharine Conklin was the daughter of Francis Conklin and Hester Brown, who married Jacob Lamb in 1807[2].
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (NYG&B Record) has transcripts of baptisms recorded in the Reformed Dutch Church (RDC) of Cortlandtown, and confirmed my suspicion that there were two Catharine Conklins, one (Catharina) was born on 15 Mar 1789 to John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker[3]; the other (Catrina) was born in Sept 1790 to Francis Conklin and Hester Brown[4]. It also verified that Catharine Conklin was the wife of John Sloat[5] and the other Catharine Conklin was the wife of Jacob Lamb[6]. So how am I to distinguish one Catharine from the other and determine which is the wife of Jacob Lamb?
My approach is to create a FAN list from the church, census, probate and land records. In doing so, I’m hoping to see possible family connections that may lead me to additional clues for further research, and maybe provide enough information to determine which Catharine Conklin, if either, is the wife of Jacob Lamb.
Since census records prior to 1850 only list the names of heads of households, Catharine’s name does not appear in the census as Jacob’s wife. The first document where they are named as a couple is from the church records, referenced above, where in 1809 they baptized their daughter, Leah. Locating marriage records for this church will be added to my to-do list.
According to the Journal of Reverend Silas Constant, Francis Conkling and Esther Brown were married in Peekskill, New York, on 20 May 1787[7]. I searched, but there was no entry for Jacob Lamb and Catharine Conklin. The RDC of Cortlandtown church records show that Francis Conklin and Hester Brown had the following children baptized:
  • a daughter, Catrina, born Sept 1790, baptized Sept 1791;
  • a daughter, Elizabeth, born 26 Sept 1792, baptized 30 Jun 1793;
  • a son, Hendrick, born 17 Aug 1795, baptized 22 Nov 1795[8]; and
  • a son, Thomas born 4 Jun 1797, baptized 30 Jul 1797[9].

The MacKenzie genealogy includes an additional daughter, Mary, who was born 5 Apr 1789, but I was unable to find her in the church records I was searching.
John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker baptized the following children in the same church:
  • a daughter, Catharina, born 15 Mar 1789, baptized 1 May 1789;
  • a son, John, born 15 Aug 1791, baptized Sept 1791;
  • a son, Abraham, baptized Jun 1793;
  • a daughter, Weinthe, born 8 May 1796, baptized 22 Nov 1795[10]; and
  • a daughter, Peggy, born 16 Feb 1799, baptized 21 Apr 1799[11].

An error in both transcriptions of the MacKenzie genealogy and of the NYG&B Record regarding Weinthe’s birth and baptism casts doubt on both documents, and I need to locate another source for the original records to verify the information.
I’ve found that probate records can be a rich source of genealogical information and sometimes lists heirs or next of kin by name and relationship to the deceased. FamilySearch has the New York probate records for Westchester County online and I found an Eleanor Conklin as administratrix for the estate of John Conklin, intestate, in 1800[12]. His estate files are a two-page document, signed by Elenor Conklin, Thomas Clarke and Henry C. Varht, but unfortunately lists no heirs or next of kin. I did not find probate records for Francis Conklin or his wife Hester in Westchester County. The one entry for Esther Conklin appears to be an unrelated family.
A look at the 1790 census for Cortlandt, Westchester County, find two John Conklins[13], but neither have household compositions that correlate with the ages of the children in baptismal records. I did not expect to find John Conklin on the 1800 census since it appears he died in 1799. Instead, I find Eleanor Conkling, a widow, enumerated next to Francis Conkling[14]. It is unclear if either of them is from the families I am looking for since neither of their household compositions match those of the children in the baptismal records.  Jacob Lamb doesn’t appear on the census records as head of household until 1810[15], which is what I would expect given his first child was born in 1809. The composition of his household does match with the ages of his children found in the baptismal records, although there are two additional people—an unidentified young man, aged 16-25, which could be a younger brother; and a woman over the age of 45, which could be an older sister, mother, or mother-in-law.
Further research and analysis of these records should be done, as well as a continued search for new ones. I certainly have not exhausted all the available resources; my research so far has been limited to what I have found on the internet. A good place to start is the MacKenzie genealogy which gives a brief bibliography of sorts. I would also like to find others who are researching this family in the hope we may combine our efforts to solve this conflict. I’m open to suggestions, so feel free to leave your ideas or comments below.

10 Jan 2014: In reviewing the original Dutch Reformed Church Records of Cortlandtown, now on Ancestry.com, I confirmed that Weinthe, the child of John Conklin and Lena Heliker, was born on 8 May 1796, but her baptism was 22 Nov 1796 and not 1795.

[1] Long Island Genealogy, The Unpublished Works of G. Mackenzie (http://www.longislandgenealogy.com/mackenzie.html : accessed 3 Dec 2013), Catharine Conklin (1789). 
[2] National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, "DAR Genealogical Research System," database, Descendants Database Search (http://www.dar.org : accessed 17 Mar 2013), Francis Conklin (NY service); citing Anna Reynolds Bradley, national member no. 335870, ancestor no. A024989.
[3] Samuel Burhans Jr., "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 73 (Apr 1942); digital images, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (http://cdm15648.contentdm.oclc.org.nygbs.idm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15636coll26/id/364/rec/2 : accessed 23 Sep 2013) 140; Records are accessed through the online eLibrary.
[4] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Apr 1942) 73:142
[5] Burhans, “Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York,” (Oct 1942) 73:281.
[6] Burhans, “Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York,” (July 1942) 73:197.
[7] Josiah Granville Leach L.L.B., editor, The Journal of the Reverend Silas Constant; online book, Open Library (https://openlibrary.org : downloaded 4 Dec 2013), p. 98 and p. 372.
[8] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Apr 1942) 73:142, 143.
[9] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Jul 1942) 73:191.
[10] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Apr 1942) 73:140-143.
[11] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Jul 1942) 73:191.
[12] "New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971," database and images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 16 Oct 2013); John Conklin (1800); citing Westchester County Surrogate Court Probate, Administration, Guardian and Estate Tax Files, file no. 3-1800; Westchester County Courthouse, White Plains.
[13] 1790 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, p. 215 (penned), col. 2, line 1, John Conklin Jr; and  p. 218 (penned), col. 1, line 25, John Conklin Sr; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Dec 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M637, roll 2.
[14] 1800 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, Cortlandt Township, Pound Ridge, p. 100 (penned), line 38, Eleanor Conkling; and p. 100 (penned), line 37, Francis Conkling; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Dec 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M32, roll 27.
[15] 1810 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, Cortlandt Township, Pound Ridge, p. 1009 (penned), 182 (stamped), line 29, Jacob Lamb; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Oct 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M252, roll 37.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lambs and the FAN Principle

      One of the common problems in genealogy is finding just where your ancestor is hiding from census to census. Location is important because it determines jurisdiction and tells me where I am most likely to find the paper trails of that ancestor. I’m lucky because for many generations, all of my paternal grandmother’s family have stayed in one location—Westchester County, New York.  Since they’ve lived there for so long, the names of the neighboring families have become quite familiar to me as I search page after page of land deeds and census records. It’s like finding old friends when I see those same names decade after decade. 
      I’ve learned to pay attention to those names and keep a FAN[1] list. FAN stands for Family, Associates and Neighbors. Quite simply, this means that I collect the names of those people who lived near and worked with my ancestors and of those who were witnesses during land transactions, wills, and marriages.
      Lately my research focus has been my Lamb family. They’ve been in Westchester County at least as far back as the American Revolution and probably further. Finding documentation for people during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is difficult enough, and then there is my Lamb family. Neighbors are important as I try to distinguish one Jacob Lamb from another Jacob Lamb. My grandmother’s grandfather was Jacob Lamb, whose father was Abraham Lamb, whose father was Jacob Lamb, whose father was Abraham Lamb. To further complicate matters, two of them married women named Catharine and another two married women whose maiden names were Lent; and they continued to reuse those names for their children. These naming traditions make it difficult to pick out my ancestor from his cousin in documents, and when the document contains just names without dates, sometimes knowing who the neighbors and witnesses are helps determine which Lamb is the subject of the document.
      I have a copy of a land transaction, dated 1867, which is a crucial document because it names Jacob Lamb with his wife, Emily; so I know it is the correct Jacob Lamb, my grandmother’s grandfather. This document also stated he was a son of Abraham Lamb, deceased, and that he was the grandson of the late Jacob Lamb (the elder). It is one of the few documents I’ve found that links the three generations. Comparing the names of the neighbors and witnesses from this transaction to a second transaction helps me determine that the second document is indeed a transaction of my ancestor.
      In 1807, Jacob Lamb (the elder) married Catharine Conklin, but there are two Catharine Conklins born about the same time in the same place to different sets of parents. So I’m now in the process of making that FAN list for them in the hopes of determining which Catharine Conklin married my ancestor. So keep checking back here to keep tabs on my progress.

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Quicksheet: The Historical Biographer’s Guide to Cluster Research (The FAN Principle) (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Co., 2012), outside panel 1, “The Principle.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Edna Marie (Outhouse) Schwarz (1915-1992)

It’s Thanksgiving Day and I can’t help but think back to those family holiday dinners of the past. It isn’t the preparations, the decorations or even the turkey that I remember the most. I'm thinking about my Aunt Edna.
 I can hear her cheerful greeting, her laughter, and her asking me to get her a cup of tea; I remember the walks into town and feel her arms giving me a hug. She was ever-present in my childhood. When I was a baby, she lived upstairs; then later, she lived with our family for a few years until I was a young teen; then she got an apartment nearby. She was always there.
Holidays were special because of all the preparations for visiting relatives and the big dinners. Aunt Edna made the best coleslaw I’ve ever tasted. I would stand on a chair next to her at the kitchen sink and watch
Thanksgiving   c. 1977     Edna (front far right) at kid's table   
her chop the cabbage. I didn’t really help; I think I just wanted to be near her to listen to her talk. Our dining room table wasn’t large enough for everyone, so additions were made to make a big L-shaped table. All of us children sat together at the far end away from the adults. Aunt Edna always sat at the kids’ table with us. After dinner, she and I would help clear the tables and then we would wash all the dishes, chatting, sharing news, and telling stories. Even on New Year’s Eve, all the kids were at her apartment, playing games and listening to music, while the adults went to their parties. She taught me how to play pinochle, let me taste her blackberry brandy, and listened to my childish woes.
Aunt Edna always had gray hair for as long as I’ve known her. She was more like a grandma than an aunt—she had hard candies in her pockets, Melba toast in her cupboard, and talcum powder in her bathroom. She had a caregiver’s heart, and an infectious laugh. She rarely got angry, and when she did, it wasn’t for long. One time, my brother and I crawled up beside her in bed when she was sleeping. Aunt Edna snored very loudly. We found a downy feather from the pillow and tried to float it over her mouth, just like in the cartoons. When she inhaled it, we laughed hysterically, waking her up. She didn’t even get mad; she saw the humor in it and laughed right along with us.
Another time, we were getting ready to go somewhere, and I remember her franticly looking all over for her glasses only to discover they were on her head. We laughed about that for a long time. When my brother and I asked her to take our shortcut “over the river and through the woods” to her apartment complex, she hesitated, but only a little. She followed us on that crazy shortcut, brushing brambles aside, crossing over a log, and laughing all the way. We spent many hours going for walks to the store, to the library and around the neighborhood. Aunt Edna had never learned to drive; she never learned to ride a bicycle; and she never learned to swim. But she had a big heart and a great capacity for love.
My memories of her are mostly the memories of a child. Having moved away as a teen, I never really got to know her as an adult. It’s only when I look back, seeing her life through a genealogist’s eyes that I can appreciate what she’s been through. It’s then that I realize just what a remarkable person she was.
Edna Marie Outhouse was born in Peekskill, New York, on 27 January 1915, the only child of Lester [i]
Edna (Baisley) Outhouse with daughter, Edna Marie c. 1918
Outhouse and Edna Baisley. Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States and Congress had just rejected an amendment to give women the right to vote.
In September 1918, when she was almost 4 years old, the Spanish Influenza hit Peekskill. Between the months of September and November, there were over 3000 cases. The local newspapers reported over 30 deaths each week. [ii]  My Aunt Edna lost both her father and her uncle, Franklin Baisley, in the same week—both just young men in their early twenties.
A widow with a young daughter, Edna’s mother moved in with her in-laws, Ralph and Annie Outhouse.[iii] She lived with them until the early 1920s, when she met and married a young sailor, Albert Pastoor, with whom she made a home in Peekskill.[iv] In the years that followed, three more children, all sons, were born. The family managed to make a living during the depression. Edna, being the oldest and the only daughter, had many household chores and helped raise her young brothers. She told me of a time she killed a neighbor’s rooster because it attacked her every day as she walked to school. One day she got tired of being harassed by it and killed it with an ax. She got in trouble for killing the neighbor’s prize rooster and had to work to pay off its cost.
In 1949, Edna again lost a father, and in another six years, her mother was gone as well. By that time, Edna was married and pregnant with her only child. Five years later, she was a single mother trying to raise a daughter in Jersey City, New Jersey, the handsome US Marine she married having deserted them. She never remarried.
I never once thought about the hardships she had faced in her life. Maybe it was just because we never saw
Aunt Edna   c. 1978
that side of her. She was never bitter but always happy. She never had much money, but she was a generous person, especially with her time. She devoted her life to her family, to being a foster grandparent, and to volunteering for 15 years at a Home for Battered Women. She never knew a stranger and would talk to everyone.
She’s been gone 21 years now, and I miss her dearly. I think about her often and wish she could see her family now. She would love watching her grown grandchildren, nieces and nephews with their own children. I know if she were here this Thanksgiving, she’d be sitting with the kids, playing games, teaching them how to play cards, handing out hard candies from her pockets, and asking me to get her a cup of tea.

[i] The New York Times, "Jan. 12, 1915 - Congress Votes Against Women's Suffrage Amendment," The Learning Network, 12 Jan 2012 (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/jan-12-1915-congress-votes-against-womens-suffrage-amendment/?_r=0 : accessed 23 Nov 2013).
[ii] "Influenza on the Wane," The Highland Democrat, 2 Nov 1918, p. 2, col. 4; digital images, Old Fulton NY Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 22 Nov 2013).
[iii] 1920 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, population schedule, Peekskill, enumeration district (ED) 18, sheet 6-B (penned), p. 220-B (stamped), dwelling 106, family 151, Edna Outhouse in Ralph Outhouse household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Jan 2010); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1,275.
[iv] "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," database and images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Apr 2013), entry for "Pasteur, Albert (Edna)"; citing Richmond's Peekskill New York Directory, 1927, p. 160; Ancestry.com image 86.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rinse & Repeat

One of the things I really like to do is to organize—really. As a kid, I had hundreds of books, all organized on shelves alphabetically by author. My records (yes, those vinyl ones) were also filed alphabetically. My husband laughs at me because even today, my spice rack is alphabetically arranged. Organizing things is just part of who I am and gives me great pleasure.
So you would think organizing my genealogy would come naturally. Unfortunately my need to organize is a bit too compulsive. I find a system, then read about another system I think I might like better. So I re-organize my system and in between, my paper piles continue to grow. The advent of the computer and the internet should have made my life easier. Hah! Not for a compulsive organizer like me.
For a long time I used both computer software and a color-based paper file and binder system. Being old school, I tended to trust my paper files more than my computer ones. I could find my paper files; I forgot where I put the digital ones. But as I’m becoming more computer savvy, I really like the idea of going completely digital. I have developed a system of labeling my digital photos and scanned documents and filing them by surname on my computer. Then I learned that best practice means I should have a citation on every document and photo—which I don’t.
At the same time, I realized I was working too hard to make my natural organizational style fit with my current software. I found a program which uses Sourcewriter, a built-in tool that helps cite my sources properly and the way citation goddess, Elizabeth Shown Mills in Evidence Explained suggests. This appeals to my inner organizational bone and I have now transferred my research from one software system to the new one.  I am currently going through my direct-line families first (followed by collateral and off-shoot families) and cleaning up my citations and adding my digital files. I’m taking the time to go back and add citations to those un-cited digital photos and documents as I come to them. 
Some might say I’m stuck in the rinse-and-repeat cycle, but I’m improving my process all the time. I think the biggest perk in doing it this way is that while I am again going through my data, I am seeing it with new eyes and making new discoveries in my old data.
Now, I not only collect data, but I analyze it before adding it to my tree. Keeping Evidence Explained by my side helps with proper citation technique, but also reminds me that I need to think through each piece of information, not just for additional clues, but for the reliability of the source.
So while I am seemingly in an endless data-entry cycle, not only am I learning new things along the way, I’m also refining my research technique. And this continues to appeal to my inner organizational nature…and probably why I will continue to work genealogy in this way. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Albert H. Pastoor (1898-1949)

On this Veteran’s Day 2013, I am thinking about my grandfather, Albert Herman Pastoor who served during World War I in the U.S. Navy. Sadly, I never got the chance to meet him; he died long before I was born.
Albert H. Pastoor was born on January 30, 1898, in South Brooklyn, New York, the third child of his German immigrant parents, Albert and Anna (Kolb) Pastoor. The family was not wealthy, as evidenced by their moving frequently from one tenement house to another. As a cook, Albert senior probably did not make much money. Since he worked in the transportation business, it seems likely he worked along the Brooklyn docks, maybe working in a kitchen to help feed the longshoremen. My grandfather had two siblings who died in early childhood. A sister died just months after his mother gave birth to another sister, and a brother died as an infant from pneumonia. I imagine the living conditions were crowded and unhealthy and life at home was a struggle.
In contrast, during the time he lived there, industry in Brooklyn was booming. Brooklyn was one of the nation’s leading producers of manufactured goods. It also had sugar refineries which produced more than half the nation’s sugar. The Williamsburg Bridge, the world’s largest suspension bridge at the time, was built, as was the city’s first subway, and Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Work was plentiful, but it wasn’t always safe or healthy. Chances are good that Albert worked at odd jobs when a boy to help make ends meet at home.
When Albert was ten years old, his father became so gravely ill that he was sent away to a state hospital, never to come home again, and died three years later. Shortly after, his mother started to display signs of illness, eventually dying when Albert was 16 years old.
From a young age, my grandfather’s parents were negligent or absent, not from choice, but because of poverty, sickness and death. Between the ages of 10 and 16, Albert had to deal with both parents being ill and probably struggled to make ends meet, especially after his father fell sick and could not work. I imagine my young grandfather roaming the streets of South Brooklyn and winding up on the waterfront. By the time he joined the Navy, he had numerous tattoos. I imagine tough streets and wonder if he knew Al Capone, who lived there at the same time as my grandfather. I wonder if Albert watched the freighters sail into the busiest freight port in the world or stood looking at the Statue of Liberty across the Bay. I wonder if he ever visited the U.S. Navy Yard, where the USS Arizona was being built, or if he ever crossed the Brooklyn Bridge.
In 1915, Woodrow Wilson was president and Europe was engaged in World War I. Earlier that year, the Lusitania was sunk by the Germans. By that time, Albert was 17 years old and living with his married sister in Annapolis, Maryland, and it was there that Helen signed his consent to join the U.S. Navy. When the United States became involved in the war in April 1917, Albert was a seaman serving aboard the battleship USS Texas.  
Victory Medal w/Transport Clasp
On December 6, 1917, my grandfather was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, aboard the USS Old Colony which was dry docked for boiler repairs.  That was the day two ships collided near Halifax harbor. One of them, a French freighter, the SS Mont-Blanc, was carrying wartime explosives. Shortly after the collision, a fire broke out on the Mont-Blanc causing a “cataclysmic explosion” that was deemed to be the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons. The USS Old Colony had received little damage and was converted to a hospital ship to care for the estimated 9000 wounded.  My grandfather received a commendation for his work during the Halifax disaster.
Albert also served aboard the USS Wachusetts, a cargo ship sailing to Brest, France, to bring supplies to the US Army in 1918.  For his service aboard both the USS Old Colony and the USS Wachusetts, Albert Herman Pastoor was awarded the Victory Medal and Transport Clasp.
My grandfather reenlisted two more times, serving out the rest of his military career at the Naval Ammunitions Depot on Iona Island, New York. He was honorably discharged on December 17, 1922 with a rank of Boatswain's Mate Second Class. 

He left a legacy of which he could be proud. All three of his sons joined the military, his oldest serving during WWII.  Of his three grandsons, two have made careers in the military, both serving during peace and wartime.  
So this Veterans’ Day, I salute and honor my grandfather, Albert Herman Pastoor. I don’t know much about him, but what I do know makes me proud to be his granddaughter.


Compiled service record, Albert H. Pastoor personnel file, service no. 1521327, (discharged 1921); Official Military Personnel Files, World War I; Enlisted Personnel, 1885 - 1951, United States Navy; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis; photocopies supplied by Center without citation.
Ebay. US WWI Victory medal with "TRANSPORT" clasp. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/EXC-US-WWI-Victory-medal-with-TRANSPORT-clasp-hand-engraved-rim-/111032568835 : accessed 10 Nov 2013
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Ships of the Halifax Explosion. https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/research/ships-halifax-explosion: accessed 10 Nov 2013
Reilly, Michael. Life in Brooklyn: 150 years in History. http://www.oocities.org/thereillyfamily/history.htm : 2006.
Thirteen WNET New York Public Media. History of Brooklyn - Early 20th Century. http://www.thirteen.org/brooklyn/history/history4.html : 2012.
Time: Disasters that Shook the World. New York City: Time Home Entertainment. 2012. p. 56.
New York. City of New York. Death Certificates. New York City Municipal Archives, New York City.
New York. Kings. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2004.
New York. Kings. 1905 New York State Census, population schedule. Digital images. FamilySearch. http://familysearch.org : n.d.
New York. Kings, Brooklyn. Birth Certificates. New York City Municipal Archives, New York City.
New York. Kings Park State Hospital. Death Certificates. Town of Smithtown, Smithtown.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Paperless - Evernote or OneNote?

Having decided to move to paperless genealogical research, I’m trying to choose between the two main note-taking programs, Evernote and OneNote. Since I don’t know how to use either of them, I’m having lots of trouble deciding.  So I had to figure out just what I want to do with the program. Basically, I want to duplicate my existing paper and notebook method. I want a place to store bits of information and notes that I’m not yet ready to input into my family tree software. I want a holding place where I can analyze the data I’ve collected. I’ve been using Clooz to organize my documents and link them to my people, but I haven’t yet been able to find a method that works for me for analyzing the documents and writing down my ideas and thoughts about each document or potential research avenue.
So what do I want in a note-taking/notebook system?
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Good organization
  • portable - an app for my iPad
  • Searchable notes
  • Not too expensive

Evernote can sync across many devices, and the app seems to function almost fully like the desktop version. It also has a great add-on web-clipping tool for desktop that will automatically save items I clip from the web to Evernote. It has three levels of organization: stacks of notebooks, individual notebooks, and notes. Evernote relies on a tagging system for searching and there seems to be an unlimited amount of tags one can create. The program is free to use across all platforms, however if I want extra features like more storage and no ads, the cost is $45 per year.
OneNote is organized like a virtual notebook.  Each notebook can have a section, which can be divided into subsections, and then into pages. Hyperlinking notes to other notes, webpages, or notebooks are a nice feature. I don’t see a web-clipper, but digital images and audio files can be dragged into the notebook. OneNote also employs tags for easy searching, but supposedly has an instant search feature. Notes are automatically saved as I type and syncs to all devices if I sign in to SkyDrive. The app is free, but I learned that after 500 notes, you must pay $15 for the iPad version, which has limited functioning. OneNote 2013 is reasonably priced at $69.99 for standalone or it is included in the Microsoft Office Suite bundles.
I think the choice depends on style rather than features. I’m leaning toward OneNote because it mimics my own style of organization a little bit better. What do you think? Which program do you use and why? I’d love to hear how you use either program for genealogy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Ancestry.com DNA Ethnicity Estimates

I finally received my new and improved DNA ethnicity estimates from Ancestry.com.
This particular test looks at autosomal DNA from a saliva sample. Autosomal DNA is the 22 pairs of chromosomes we inherit from our parents, one set from our mother and one set from our father. They do not include those that determine sex, the X or Y chromosomes. If I test other members of the family in addition to my own testing, I can determine which segments have been inherited from whom. So if my brother were to take the test, through comparing our results, I might be able to determine which parts of DNA I didn’t inherit from my parents and which he did.  That would also hold true if I tested my parents, aunts and uncles; I could determine which parts of DNA I didn’t inherit from my grandparents.  It’s important to realize that this DNA test only reflects what I’ve inherited from my parents; it doesn’t reflect the entire potential DNA that exists in my ancestral line.

In general, my results seem to fall in line with what I already know about my family. They show that by far the greatest percentage of my genes is from Eastern Europe. A typical Eastern European native born in this region today has 82% of their genes from here. My DNA reflects 65% of genes from this area, which is actually within the range of the DNA of a typical native. This makes sense to me since both of my maternal grandparents are from Poland; the surnames Chrzanowski and Dabrowski have long roots in this region. Instead of being half-Polish, I guess I’m more like 2/3 Polish.
The other influences reflected in my DNA show a mixture of ethnicities: 17% from Great Britain, 13% from Scandinavia and 1% each from Western Europe region and Italy/Greece region. I think this must come from my paternal grandparents. My family history research is revealing my Conklin, Lent, and Outhouse surnames to be of Dutch origin. The Passtoor and Kolb surnames have Germanic origins, and the Baisley and Lamb surnames, whose origins are yet unknown, are likely from England via Scandinavia. History tells us early Scandinavians, or those who we call the Vikings, invaded England (among other places) and some settled there, so maybe I have some of that Viking DNA in me.  
The remaining bits reflect traces of Finnish/Northern Russia, North African and Irish DNA. The migration of people into North Africa is perhaps from Arabic and Moorish conquests, and it’s likely they brought slaves from other regions with them as they migrated. This could be the source of that less than one percent of DNA. Whether it is from the paternal or maternal side, I don’t know; however it’s likely that the Finnish or Northern Russian traces are from the distant ancestors of my Polish relatives. The biggest surprise was to find I have minute traces of Irish ancestry. None of my research reflects any Irish relatives, but I would guess it’s from the paternal line because of the cornucopia of ethnicities—but I’m glad I can celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day legitimately next year!
Besides learning about my ethnicities, the whole other point of taking the DNA testing was to connect with cousins. Although others have reported receiving a large number of matches where they can determine a common ancestor, I haven’t been so lucky. So far, I’ve only had one meaningful match where we share a common 2nd great-grandfather. This has been disappointing. So now I’m weighing the option of asking more relatives to test or upload my data to another company in hopes of connecting with more cousins.
What do you think? Is DNA testing worth it?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jacob Baisley

Jacob Baisley was the eighth child of James and Caroline Baisley[1]. I first discovered that Jacob Baisley was my great-grandfather in 1993 when I had a renewed interest in researching my family history. I have never met my paternal grandparents, both of them having passed on when my father was still a teen. My father told me that his grandfather's name was James Baisley and remembered visiting the Baisley farm in Wappinger’s Falls in Dutchess County, New York, when he was a boy. 

1900 US Census, Westchester County, Town of Cortlandt, New York
When I found my great-grandmother as the wife of Jacob Baisley enumerated on the 1900 census[2] , you can imagine my surprise—and my father’s surprise—and the numerous questions that followed. The census listed my grandmother, Edna, and her siblings, Fannie, Florence and Franklin. I immediately searched for birth records for my grandmother and her siblings in the Town of Cortlandt. Turns out, my great-grandmother, Jennette "Nettie" Baisley, née Lamb, had indeed had children with Jacob. My grandmother’s father was Jacob Baisley, not James Baisley[3].

The birth records created another mystery. I received records for four children, but Fannie’s wasn’t among them; instead I discovered a son, Alonzo Van R. Baisley[4], but he doesn’t appear on any census records; and Fannie never appears on another one after 1900; maybe she married or died. However Van Allen shows up in all of the later censuses, usually with his father and aunt. Was Alonzo Van R the same child as Van Allen? The date of birth for Alonzo Van R. Baisley is only one day off from that listed on Van Allen’s WWI draft registration card. I suspect Van Allen is a nickname for Alonzo Van R. Baisley.

Sometime between 1900 and 1910, Jacob and Nettie were no longer a couple. Nettie is the wife of James Baisley on the 1910 census[5], and all of Jacob’s children, except Van Allen, were living with Nettie, plus two more children were listed, Bessie, age 9, and Raymond, under one year old. Also noted on the census was how long they were married—2 years—and number of children born and still living. Nettie noted that she had birthed seven children and six were living. I suspect Fannie, who was Jacob and Nettie’s first child, died sometime between 1900 and 1910.

So who was this James Baisley?

A marriage record for James Baisley and Nettie Lamb[6] revealed that they were married in Oct 1910, stating this was the first marriage for both of them. If true, this means that my grandmother and her siblings were born out of wedlock. And it also means that they told the census taker they were only married for 2 years when, in fact, they were not married yet. I thought it interesting to note that Nettie was ten years older than James and she used her maiden name.  It also means that the father of Bessie and Raymond—Jacob or James— is in question until I can obtain their birth records. 

James’ birth record revealed that James Baisley was the son of George Baisley[7], whom I discovered was Jacob's brother[8]. Nettie Baisley had married her ex-husband’s nephew, James. I can only imagine the scenario at family gatherings. This may explain why most of his grandchildren never knew Jacob existed. Apparently he was estranged from the family, and one can hardly blame him; however, I have no idea what the circumstances were during that time in their lives. Maybe Jacob wasn’t a very good partner or an absent parent.

There is much I don’t know about my great-grandfather. Even his birth date is questionable. No one seemed to know exactly when he was born and so far I haven’t found any documentation of his birth. The census and his death record all give me different dates. The closest I have come to finding his date of birth is on a note included on Alonzo Van R.’s 1891 birth transcript[9] which states that Jacob was 23 and Nettie 18. This gives me a birth year for Jacob as 1868 and for Nettie as 1873, which is only a few years older than what is stated on their death records.

Photo courtesy of Albert Baisley, Peekskill, 1993.
Jacob Baisley (far right) on his farm in Montrose, NY, about 1937 [16]
I haven’t been able to find a marriage record for Jacob and Nettie, either. I can surmise that they might have married as early as 1888 since according to the 1900 census, Fannie was born in July 1889; but that would make Nettie’s marriage age at 15 to Jacob’s 20, which seems a little young for her.  I have wondered whether she and Jacob were even married, but I think it would be unusual for them to have lived together unmarried for over 10 years and have had five children.

My impression is that Jacob was a lonely man. After his separation from Nettie, he was living alone[10] until moving in with his son, Van Allen, and widowed sister, Jennie, in her home in Crugers[11]. He lived there with his son, even after his sister’s death in 1936[12]. He seems to have had little contact with his other children. His death in February 1943[13] is barely a one-line mention in the paper and only mentions he is survived by one sister, Mary Decker, and one son, Van Allen, even though all of his daughters were still living[14]. Jacob never remarried. He is buried in Cedar Hill cemetery[15] in Montrose, where I have yet to find his marker. He rests in the cemetery where his sisters and his parents are buried. It appears that even in death, his estrangement from most of his family remains. 

[1] Surrogate's Court, Westchester County, New York, Record Group 4 - Judiciary, Series 16, Estate Records 1775, 1782-1921, James Baisley estate inventory file no. 1897-16, Box A-0303(36)L, folder 7; Westchester County Archives, Elmsford.
[2] 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, New York, Westchester, Town of Cortlandt, p. 76B (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 57, sheet 39B, dwelling 638, family 790, Jacob Baisley household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Oct 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1,174.
[3] Town of Cortlandt Clerk's Office, Westchester County, New York, transcript, birth certificate no. 314892, local registration no. 3634 (1892), Edna Baisley; Town of Cortlandt, Town Clerk's Office, Cortlandt Manor, New York.
[4] Town of Cortlandt Clerk's Office, Westchester County, New York, transcript, birth certificate no. 314891, local registration no. 3178 (1891), Alonzo Van R. Baisley; Town of Cortlandt, Town Clerk's Office, Cortlandt Manor, New York. Clerk wrote a note attached to certificate stating mother, Nettie Lamb's age was 18 and father, Jacob Baisley's age was 23.
[5]1910 U.S. census, population schedule, New York, Westchester, Cortlandt, Peekskill, p. 100-B and 101-A (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 10, sheet 18, dwelling 284, family 383, James Baisley household; digital image,  Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Oct 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1,089.
[6]"New York, Marriages, 1686-1980", FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : 30 Apr 2012; database and image;   marriage record no. 5472, James Baisley and Jeanette Lamb, 1910; citing: New York Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Albany. Microfilm of original records at the Municipal Archives of New York, New York City.
[7] New York, Department of Health, Birth Certificates, birth certificate no. 9923 (1884), James Baisley; New York State Department of Health, Albany.
[8]Surrogate's Court, Westchester County, New York, Record Group 4 - Judiciary, Series 16, Estate Records 1775, 1782-1921, James Baisley estate inventory file no. 1897-16, Box A-0303(36)L, folder 7.
[9]Town of Cortlandt Clerk's Office, Westchester County, New York, transcript, birth certificate no. 314891, local registration no. 3178 (1891), Alonzo Van R. Baisley.
[10] 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, New York, Westchester, Cortlandt, p. 232-A (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 18, sheet 9 (penned), dwelling 156, family 168, Jacob Baisley in George Albert household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1089.
[11] 1915 New York state census, population schedule, Westchester County, Cortlandt, election district 14,  p. 22 (duplicate), line 30, entry for Jacob Baisley in Jennie Hennion household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed  8 Feb 2010).
[12]"Henion," (Peekskill, New York), The Evening Star, 1 Dec 1936, "Deaths" page, no page number; Field Library, Peekskill. The Field Library supplied photocopy of front page and obituary page.
[13] Westchester County, New York, death certificate (registered) no. 12 (1943), Jacob Baisley; Town of Cortlandt, Town Clerk's Office, Cortlandt Manor, New York.
[14] "Baisley--At Crugers, N.Y.," (Peekskill, New York), The Evening Star, 24 Feb 1943, no page number; Field Library, Peekskill. The Field Library supplied photocopy of front page and obituary page.
[15] Westchester County, New York, death certificate (registered) no. 12 (1943), Jacob Baisley.
[16] Jacob Baisley and Elmer Baisley family, ca. 1937; digital image, ca. 2012, privately held by Hiztorybuff. Albert Baisley, son of Elmer Baisley, gave a copy of the photograph to Hiztorybuff, his second cousin, once removed, with permission to scan it and use it in publications. The location and condition of the original is not known. Photo is of  (left to right) Albert Baisley, Willard Baisley, Thusnelda (Winkelman) Baisley holding Karl Baisley, and Jacob Baisley.