Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cemeteries - The Restoration of Hillside Cemetery in North Adams, MA

Why do we flock to cemeteries?  Why do we act like the dogs in the movie UP when the word cemetery is mentioned?

This is our last earthly connection to our ancestors, and the further back in time we go, sometimes the only earthly connection we have.  We go to cemeteries to find that connection to our ancestors, our great grandmothers and great grandfathers.  Whole families can be buried together in a private cemetery or together in several abutting lots in a public cemetery.

We tell ourselves that it is just good methodology, doing a reasonably thorough search of all the sources of information, but it's the connection we crave.  So why do cemeteries fall into disrepair?  Is it that we have lost interest?  Do we no longer care about cemeteries and the graves of our families?

No, I don't think that's true.  I think we get busy being busy in our lives.  We don't want to take the time to learn how to properly take care of the stones, because we are busy doing something else.  We don't want to take pictures of old stones, because our kids won't appreciate it anyway.  They're too busy texting.  But this isn't everyone, let me tell you about some extraordinary students from MCLA (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, formerly North Adams State College)

Students at MCLA spend time in the Hillside Cemetery of North Adams, Massachusetts helping to preserve these precious pieces of our history.  They choose to help Roger Eurbin of the North Adams Cemetery Commission preserve our precious past.  The college encourages all of their students to do something to give back to the city that hosts their college.  These students could choose a great many other venues to give back to their community, but they choose the hot sun and the extremely hilly cemetery as their place of choice to pay it forward.

Hillside Cemetery of North Adams is a marvelous cemetery and is listed as a National Historic Preservation site.  It spans both sides of Route 2, the older section being on the Brown Street side of the street, and the "newer" section being on the other.  Hillside is a closed cemetery, but those who own lots and wish to be buried there may still do so. Military graves of Revolutionary War heroes through possibly the Vietnam Era await remembrance in Hillside.  Roger and friends have slowly been trying to straighten memorial stones and footstones that are threatening to fall over or worse, fall down one of the steep hills in the cemetery.  Embankments have crumbled making traversing this beautiful cemetery more difficult, and some stones have disintegrated to the point of either being unreadable or have lost their bases and now lie on the ground or both. They are constantly cutting back the brush that threatens to swallow some of the graves and are working hard to make sure that those graves that are to have perpetual care actually get that care.  Roger, especially, tries to personally look after the veteran graves of Hillside.  He feels a duty to those who served our country from its very beginnings to now.

I first met Roger when I was looking for my 2nd Great Grandfather, John H Adams, and his wife Julia F Loomis, and Anna, who I thought at the time would be his mother.  It turns out that Anna was their daughter, who hadn't lived long.  He was able to lead me directly to their resting places.  What a thrill it was to see where they were!  No longer were they just names on a page, they were real.  While traversing up and down the greater and lesser hills and knolls of Hillside, I found Buckleys, other Loomis's, Briggs and other possible collateral lines.  It's going to be fun searching for these long-lost people and see if they're relatives of my direct lines.

As a newer member of the +Western Massachusetts Genealogy Society (WMGS), I volunteered to help out Roger and Hillside.  I am the Chairperson of the Restore Hillside Cemetery Project, and I am organizing a day of working on Hillside - righting stones with Cemetery Personnel Supervision, taking photos of stones before their faces are destroyed, and transcribing the cemetery stones.  This will not only preserve the cemetery and its remaining memorials, but will allow Roger and myself to create a searchable index, so the Cemetery personnel can more easily assist researchers in finding their lost family members.

I will be publishing a date for this restoration project as soon as the membership of WMGS vote on a day.  It will be in early fall of 2014, so keep your date books open, and spread the word.  The more the merrier.  Please feel free to contact me directly.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A story of a Professional Genealogist - Why we do what we do?

Once upon a time there was a professional genealogist who was asked why she became a professional genealogist?  What was her why?  Why her?  The genealogist sat back, took a breath, and then spoke from the heart.  Here is her story and why.

My why starts with why I started to study my family in the first place.  A quick background, my sister Marie and I are the only children of our parents, my mother was an only child, and my father only had one brother, Uncle Joe.  We are a small family, and we had moved away from most of our relatives before I was born.  Marie's teacher in high school asked her class to research a few generations of their families and present them in class.  She brought the assignment home and started asking questions.  I, being the very nosy little sister, listened in on all the stories.  They were fascinating people, these ancestors of mine.  I had heard the names, but unfortunately, I had only ever met them briefly or not at all.  With all the stories, these people started to come alive for me, but I still felt very disconnected.  
You see Marie and I are seven years and seven days apart.  This may not seem like a lot to some, but at times in our lives, it has been an expanse as large as an ocean.  Luckily most times, that generation gap has only been as large as a raindrop.  Finally, seven years later, it was my turn.  Same teacher, same class, same assignment and something happened as I did my assignment.  I fell in love with the knowledge, the discovery and the process.  I was NOT satisfied with just that little bit of history.  I wanted to know more.  A budding genealogist was born, which explains the how, but not necessarily the why.  You see; I still felt very disconnected to those names I couldn't keep straight.  
My family was still very nuclear.  My father's parents had passed during those seven years, and I still didn't know much about the family.  I felt a little like the proverbial red-headed step-child, which I find amusing since I am now a red-head.  Everyone knew these amazing people, and I was out in left field, feeling like I didn't belong, like I was playing catch-up all the time.  I didn't like that feeling, so I decided to do something about it.  I was going to go way past where my sister left off, and get to know our past as well as she did, so I wouldn't feel left out.  This may not have been the best reason in the world to start, but it was MY reason.  I am not going to apologize for it, because it has lead me to where I am today. I was going to be a knowledgeable and contributing part of those conversations if it killed me.  
My why for genealogy has evolved as I have, but feeling disconnected will always be part of the core reason.  And my why for becoming a professional  and "why me" stems directly from that, I want to help people reconnect with their families and their families' histories - not just through pure research, but by adding the family stories and local history into the final product whenever possible.  By being able to connect with my clients emotionally, I can use my 30+ years of research experience to help them find their place in the family history and maybe find that they take after someone in the family after all - a rebel, a genius, or maybe a hero, their hero.
So, that budding genealogist took as many classes, read as many books, and learned from as many local masters of genealogy as she could.  She joined genealogical societies and Listserv groups (That's all they had back in prehistoric times.  LOL).  She worked on that family of hers.  She learned, studied and researched, until she was an expert on her father's side of the family, and earned her place at the family discussions.  She and Marie often work together now.   They learned to collaborate and share the family history, and really enjoy working with each other.

This professional genealogist worked at a Family History Center and founded a PAF User's Group (Personal Ancestral File - a genealogical software program).  She gave presentations at various genealogical societies.  She just graduated from Dr. Thomas W. Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group with DearMyrtle, and is slated for ProGen at the beginning of June, pending her placement into a discussion group.  She will never stop learning to be a true master of her craft, nor stop helping people reconnect with their families and stories.

BTW, I changed the names to protect the privacy of those living.  I don't usually write in the third person, but this was an interesting exercise.  We should always know why we are doing something.  You should be able to convey to anyone, the why.  Here, I told the story, but my response to why - I know how it feels to be disconnected, left out, or apart from family, to not know your place.  I help people reconnect to their family and find their place in its history.

Leave a comment on your WHY!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Homework Chapter 1 Master Genealogical Proof

Jones, Dr. Thomas W.  Mastering Genealogical Proof.  Arlington: National Genealogy Society, 2013.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2014.

Chapter 1 Questions

1.  Merriam-Webster defines genealogy as such:
Full Definition of GENEALOGY
1:  an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms
2:  regular descent of a person, family, or group of organisms from a progenitor or older form :  pedigree
3:  the study of family pedigrees
4:  an account of the origin and historical development of something
— ge·ne·a·log·i·cal  adjective
— ge·ne·a·log·i·cal·ly  adverb1
Merriam-Webster then quotes the Concise Encyclopedia in the same entry:
 noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)
Study of family origins and history. It is found in most parts of the world and is international in scope. Originally concerned with tracing royal, aristocratic, or clerical lines, genealogy has broadened its scope over the centuries, and many ordinary people now pursue it as a hobby. In preliterate cultures genealogical information was transmitted orally, usually as a list of names; later generations recorded this information. Divine origins were often ascribed to kings and heroes. Modern genealogists use artifacts, including ancient records, coins, deeds, tapestries, paintings, and monuments, to help them in their work.2
Dr. Jones describes genealogy as “the accurately reconstructing [of] forgotten or unknown identities and relationships.”3   He goes on to say that “living people”4 are also part of genealogy and that it “emphasizes biological and marital kinships, but it also addresses adoptive, extramarital …within and across generations.”5
I agree with the above definitions, but I also identify genealogy as the study of and reconstruction of families and their stories, of how they relate to and interact with themselves and with others throughout history. 
1.     Thorough, reasonably exhaustive research
2.     Informative citations
3.     Analysis and correlation
4.     Resolution of conflicts
5.     Written Conclusion
3. Without Proof Statements, Arguments or Summaries, our work cannot be proven accurate or trustworthy, nor will it be useful for the coming generations.
4. All the parts are interdependent of one another
5. Question – Without questions, our research can become scattered and unfocused.  We can miss the very information we wanted to find.
1Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, accessed 1 March 2014), “genealogy.”
2Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2014), “genealogy.”
3Dr. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington: National Genealogy Society, 2013), 1.
4Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, 1.

5Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, 1.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

52 Ancestors: John B Adams Week 1 #52Ancestors

John B Adams

John B Adams was born in Germany about 1825, possibly in what is now Baden-Baden, Germany.  He was married to Anna and came here with his brother about 1860 or earlier.  He is found in the 1860 US Federal Census in Cohoes, Albany, New York, USA, (Online index and images,,, page 121 (stamped 815), lines 1-10, enumerated on 20 July 1860 by HB Segue, accessed 6 February 2014), along with his presumed wife Anna and brother Bernard. 

He's listed in the census as Jn. B Adams, age 35, a white male factory worker from Baden, Germany.  The family listed below are all born in Baden, Germany unless otherwise listed.  His presumed wife, based on placement in census, is Anna Adams, age 36, is a white female.  His presumed brother is Bernard Adams, age 28, a white male factory worker.  Bernard's presumed wife is Rosa Adams, age 20, a white female factory worker.  There are two non-Adams residents in dwelling # 471 and family # 976 - Frank Brown, age 36, a white male factory worker and Theodore Smith, age 24, a white male factory worker.  A presumed sister, Margaret Adams, age 22, is also present.  She is a white female factory worker.  There are also three children living in this household that says they are born in New York - Maggie Adams, age 10, a white female factory worker, John Adams, age 8, a white male, and Rosa Adams, age 2, a white female.

The next thing I went looking for was the 1870 Census (p. 13 (stamped 552 in upper right hand corner), enumerated on 23 August 1870 by WJ Grant, ( accessed 6 February 2014)).  I found John B in Guilderland, Albany, New York, USA this time.
He was in Dwelling # 101, Family # 106, preceded by Family # 105 which is Bernard's family.
Family # 106 Line # 34 - John Adams, age 46, a white male Cotton Batt Factory worker, with real estate worth $2000 and estate worth $1000 He was born in Prussia to foreign-born parents.
Ok. John is now 46 and was aged 35, ten years ago.  The census was taken in July in 1860 and August in 1870, so he may or may not have had a birthday during this time, but the age is close.  Parts of Germany were part of the Prussian Empire, and Baden-Baden on some historical Prussian maps looks like it may have been part of it.  It also looks like John B is the owner of the house in 1870, as his brother has no real estate value listed.
Line # 35 - Annie Adams, age 48, a white female keeping house, born in Prussia to foreign-born parents.
Anna or Annie is even more likely to be John's wife, as the two families are now separated into independent family units in 1870, but relationship to head of household is still not listed in the 1870 census.  There is an age difference between the censuses.  Differences of a year or two are not uncommon in census records, but we'll need more information.
Line # 36 - John Adams, age 17, a white male Cotton Batt Factory worker who was born in Prussia to foreign-born parents.
John the son is 8 in 1860 but only 17 in 1870.  The biggest discrepancy is the place of birth.  This matches all of my other information on John, that he was born in Germany (at this point in time part of Prussia).  It also fits the family legend.
Line # 37 - Margaret Adams, age 19, a white female born in Prussia to foreign-born parents.
Maggie was 10 in 1860 and 19 in 1870.  Again, she is born in New York in 1860, but in Prussia in 1870.

The missing people are Frank Brown and Theodore Smith, who may or may not be related.  Also missing is Rosa Adams, who would have been about 12 in 1870, so not likely on her own and a presumed sister Margaret Adams, who would be 32 in 1870.

Research Notes: Need to find Frank and Theodore in the 1870 Census, and see what records may or may not be available around Guilderland, Albany, New York, USA for deaths,burials and marriages.

Family # 105 Line # 29 - Bernard Adams, age 38, a white male Cotton Batt Factory worker, with $0 in real estate, but $2000 in estate, born in Prussia to foreign-born parents.
Bernard is found with his presumed brother John in 1870.  He is exactly 10 years older and still working in a factory.  He is now born in Prussia instead of Germany.  He has an estate but doesn't seem to own real estate.
Line # 30 - Rose Adams, age 29, a white female keeping house, born in Wirtenburg to foreign-born parents.
Rose was 20 in 1860.  She is still presumably Bernard's wife.  Wirtenburg is most likely the misspelling of Baden-Württemberg.  See link.  Baden was renamed Baden-Baden, because it was often referred to as Baden in Baden.  Baden-Württemberg is a state in which Baden resides.  (from Wikipedia)  She seems to refer to her home place by it's state name, which may have confused Mr. Grant, so he did not record it as Prussia.
Line # 31 - George, age 8, a white male born in New York to foreign born parents, is attending school.
George was born after the 1860 census.
Line # 32 - (Burbay?) Adams, age 4, a white female born in New York to foreign-born parents is not yet attending school.
Burbay is what the name appears to be.
Line # 33 - John Adams, age 1, a white male born in New York to foreign-born parents.
He is definitely not the John Adams from 1860.

Research Notes:  Need to find Bernard and family in the 1880 census.  Also, I need to search for any Lutheran, Catholic or Episcopal church records for the three births. Judaism is not likely, as John, the son of John B, was a member of the Episcopal Church in North Adams.  Lutheranism and Catholicism are the two most prevalent religions in Germany, and there is an Anglican church (the name used for the same church outside of the United States) in Baden-Baden

Saturday, February 1, 2014

OK, I am back to blogging every day, now.  So many great things happening in my life that were distracting me from my purpose.  First, I started my own company - Royal Genealogy Enterprises.  I am finally master of my own fate.  Second, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer,  but not even that could dissuade my happiness at becoming a business owner.  I had a hysterectomy on 26 December 2013.  Thank goodness it was a laparoscopic procedure with the Da Vinci robot.  Dr. Nada Kawar is a fantastic doctor and surgeon.  The lymph nodes were clear and I do not have to have chemo or radiation.  This is a very nice way to start the new year, actually.   I'm back at work now, and catching up on all my follow-ups.

I have been following a different branch of my family while I was recuperating.

John H or S Adams, born in Germany 1853 and died in North Adams, Berkshire, Massachusetts in 1926.  In Albany, Albany, New York, he was married to Julia F Loomis born in 1853 in Williamstown, Berkshire, Massachusetts and died in 1929 in North Adams.

I encourage people to jump in and help me out in my research.  I would love to hear from all of you.  I'll have more for later tonight.  Have a wonderful Saturday.