Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Practicing Christian Education


Maddix, Mark A. and James Riley Estep, Jr. Practicing Christian Education: An Introduction for Ministry. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.

Books designed specifically for Christian educators are not as plentiful as they once were, particularly when it comes to introductions. This introduction is really more of a theories approach than an overview as many others are. The authors correctly state Christian educators must be students of both theology and the social sciences; however, their book tends to rely more heavily on the social sciences than on theology. The authors illustrated the ignorance of today's generation in Biblical knowledge, yet their approach still relies more heavily on application of Biblical truths than on imparting the truths to them. The authors never really delved into the methodologies to be used in Christian education. It is my observation that in our attempt to make Christian education "less boring" for students, we created learning experiences more memorable for the activity than for the truth it sought to impart. While I don't advocate a return to reading a lesson and answering questions based upon it, I do believe we need to focus more on teaching the Bible and creating informed students who hide the Word of God in their hearts, particularly as we see increasing intolerance for Biblical worldviews in our society. We need to address the problem of Biblical illiteracy in the church. Opportunities for service need to exist, but we need to make sure we are equipping those who are charged with making disciples. This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes. I should also disclose one of the authors is a friend of mine from years ago.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Britain's Tudor Maps County by County



Speed, John. Britain's Tudor Maps County by County. Introduction by Nigel Nicolson. County Commentaries by Alasdair Hawkyard. London: Batsford, published in association with the British Library, 2016.

I love maps! This gorgeously illustrated book of county maps produced by John Speed in the Tudor period provides today's researchers a great tool for understanding our British ancestors who lived then. Each county map is accompanied by a commentary written by Alasair Hawkyard, providing insight into the county's history and the people who resided there. Many maps include offset maps depicting specific places, much as modern-day atlases include maps of larger cities. It's a large over-sized "coffee table" book, but it is so full of useful content for genealogists and historians dealing with the period and place.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thoughts on Private Trees

Tree image used courtesy of ClipArt Panda.
Private trees generate much discussion in the genealogical community, particularly when it comes to DNA. Those with private trees provide a number of reasons for making their trees unavailable to others--adoptions and non-paternal events, work in progress, plagiarism or unauthorized use of their data and images in books or publications by others, the way they use their tree (such as to sort out multiple persons with the same name), and an admission of the tree's messiness.

I agree with the right to keep one's tree private, but I also believe many with private trees who took or manage DNA tests could benefit from a stripped-down public tree which would provide useful information for their matches. I used this option when I realized I wanted to use Ancestry to  review of older genealogical data and expand my tree. My main tree is private. I plan to make it public at some point, but not until I am far enough back in my review to make it useful.

Adoptees and persons with non-paternal events have valid reasons for keeping their trees private. It is absolutely the right thing to do when the situation demands privacy because of sensitive information regarding living individuals which might be revealed because their identity might be deduced through those who are no longer living.

All trees are a work in progress. If you are uncertain about a conclusion, find a work-around. Add notes and comments. I often do this in one of the viewable options such as the birth field. For instance, I might want to include a note to let others know the parents of an ancestor is a built case rather than one relying on documentation. Although no evidence located to date overturns the conclusion, it is a case which needs to be reviewed in light of DNA evidence. It is a conclusion I feel needs to be strengthened. A note in the birth field for the ancestor and a note somewhere on his parents' individual pages asking other descendants to contact me might actually be helpful.

Many persons are concerned with other individuals copying their work or using their images in books, blog posts, and other works. The typical reply to those persons is, "If you do not want your work or images used by others, do not post it online." For those of us who began our genealogical quest before the days of the Internet, we remember this was a concern even in the days of print media. Some persons who sent information to cousins always found "their work" showing up in other publications, usually without attribution. It even happened to me a few times. In the digital age, it is easier to do. If we make information available online, other people will look at it, and use it. Some will cite it; others will not. Is making the tree private the solution? I personally do not think so. I grew more discerning when others requested information. I simply did not offer to send "everything" to individuals. I asked what information they were seeking, offering an answer to their specific need. I might be able to help them through a brick wall so they could continue their own research. In fact, I sometimes asked them if they had looked at a specific set of records where I uncovered the answer rather than giving it to them. To me, the Ancestry default view is a presentation of facts. Facts must be documented and correlated. It is difficult to steal facts. Adding images from personal collections is completely optional. If a person posts these and makes the images publicly available, other people can and will benefit. I suspect all of us use scanned images of records others provided on their trees, particularly when a visit to a particular repository would be required to obtain them. Most of us just attach them to our own trees without downloading them since Ancestry offers the option, but some people download them. When downloading, it is good practice to add a citation to the image in your photo-editing software so you know the provenance of the image. If you are still concerned with plagiarim or with others using your work, utilize the private option, but also create a stripped-down public version of the the tree.

I often run across trees where identities of two or more persons with the same name are merged into one individual. In this morning's discussion, one person admitted to placing information on seven men of the same name and approximate same name in the same location in one individual to sort it out. While I think better tools for sorting exist, some researchers feel this works for them. I usually use Excel spreadsheets or Word tables, which are color-coded as I assign information to one of the individuals. The old-fashioned note card method also works. Why not have a second public tree which contains only proven information on direct lines?

If your tree is messy, would it be easier to begin a second tree containing only proven information and document it as you go rather than trying to sort through the mess? Would a third tree containing only proven direct line ancestors with stripped-down information help you and your DNA matches in the meantime?

I mentioned a stripped-down public version of a tree in several places. This tree needs to contain the full name of the person along with any nicknames. (For example, Salome Olive "Ollie" Lantz.) It also needs to include birth/marriage/death dates and locations. Sometimes geography is the key to locating the match or the line from which the match is likely to come. My stripped down tree only contains direct-line ancestors. I do, however, build out the tree to other relatives who tested so I can get by with only a single tree. I even build their direct lines back a few generations.

You have a right to keep your tree private, but please consider offering a stripped-down public version of your tree for DNA matching purposes.


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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Can Potential Members Locate Your Historical or Genealogical Society?


Several months after sending a mailing to historical and genealogical societies in the state of Tennessee to make sure they knew about the then upcoming National Genealogical Society Conference in Raleigh, I continue to receive some back which were undeliverable. I tried to locate current information on each society through their web sites. If I was unable to locate it, I used the address we had on file from the 2009 conference. Each packet included a copy of the 16-page brochure as well as a letter from me, a fellow Tennessee genealogist. While I did not make an official calculation, based on the number returned to me and the approximate number I sent, about ten percent were returned.

Many societies are in a "dying state." Could it be because they are not reaching potential members? In the 21st century, an online presence is essential. Some societies lack one. In many cases, web sites look abandoned. If your site's design is from the 1990s or early 2000s, people question whether it still exists. Setting the "last updated" code to read the current date does not fool those who stumble upon your site. Many apparently up-to-date sites lack a means of contacting the society.

Your society's web site should include both an email address or contact form and a current "snail mail" address. If your society has a dedicated facility, be sure to include a phone number as well. Your web presence can attract new members. Describe the benefits of joining the society. List the benefits of membership--your newsletter or journal (and its frequency), publication discounts, discounts to workshops, a library for members, etc. Include information on categories of membership (individual, family, life, etc.) and the current price of each of these. Some societies offer PDF forms which may be printed and mailed or options to purchase memberships online using PayPal. Offer a sample newsletter or journal to site visitors.

I located a few societies relying only on a Facebook presence. They are missing a chance to reach many potential members who do not use social media. If your society does use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, be sure to include information on your web site so people know how to follow you.

If your society sells books or back issues, make sure to have an up-to-date page providing information on the publications along with costs (including shipping and tax, if applicable) so libraries and individuals know of their availability. Some societies offer PDF order forms to mail back and/or the ability to order using PayPal.

Make sure your web site is not contributing to your society's demise. Provide and keep contact information updated.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Israel Matters


McDermott, Gerald R. Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land. Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2017.


Author McDermott shares why he changed his thinking on Israel in relation to Biblical prophecy. He offers reasons why Christians should care about what happens to the nation of Israel and attempts to dispel the error of replacement theology. He also discusses the land occupied by the Jews and offers reasons it belongs to them. While McDermott does a fairly good job, I find myself wishing my pastor would write a book on the topic because he does a far better job of explaining the Jewishness of the Gospels and discussing Israel in relation to prophecy. I received an electonic advance review copy of the title from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mexican Ice Cream



Gerson, Fany. Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories. California: Ten Speed Press, 2017.

This is an amazing collection of recipes for sorbets and ice creams from different regions of Mexico. The author spends time discussing traditions, the regions, and the ingredients. It includes traditional recipes as well as some more modern takes on the favorite dessert of summer. While I'm not likely to make the ice cream that featured grasshoppers as an ingredient, it was interesting. The author includes a recipe for sugar cones as well as for several toppings. The recipes do require an ice cream churn/freezer. I received an electronic copy of an e-galley for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. However, I liked this book so much I'm certain I'll be ordering my own copy before summer.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The Blue Cat of Castle Town


Coblentz, Catherine Cate. The Blue Cat of Castle Town. 1947, reprint. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2017.

Note: The reprint is scheduled for release on July 19, 2017. Because older editions may be available in libraries, I decided to release the review ahead of that date.

How did I miss this book when I was younger? Today's readers can thank Dover Publications for bringing this Newbery Honor book back into print. It's the story of a blue cat who must teach his song to others to find his place on a hearth. His song is the song of the river. He wanders around Castle Town, Vermont where he witnesses village life. It's from a simpler time and place. It's a place where spinning wheels and weaving still exist. It's a place where the local carpenter still feels the need to do his best work on the pulpit in the Lord's house, even if it means losing his $1.50 in daily wages or using some of his savings even with a baby on the way. This book gave me a sense of that time and place, and I loved it. The illustrations by Janice Holland were well-done. I received an electronic advance review copy of this title from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Special note for genealogists: I think you'll enjoy this one. It does provide that census of place and connectedness we love.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

50 Essential Books for My Home Genealogy Library

Yesterday I came across a post on Facebook that was headlined "50 Titles Considered Essential to Your Personal Library." It was linked to an article entitled "Build the Perfect At-Home Library." I knew the post would mostly include great works of literature with a few non-fiction works thrown into the mix.

I pondered what would be included if this were a genealogical library. I realized immediately that each genealogist would come up with a different list because of research specialties or where ancestors lived. What follows is a list of fifty that works for my own research interests. I invite others to come up with their own list of fifty.

1) Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills. (Yes. We need to cite those sources!)
2) North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History by Helen F. M. Leary. (Everyone needs this one regardless of whether or not one has North Carolina ancestry.)
3) Genealogy Standards by Board for Certification of Genealogists.
4) Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones.
5) Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose.
6) A Law Dictionary: Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America and of the Several States of the American Union by John Bouvier. (This one is online in multiple places and works really well for those of us researching in Southern States. Black's Law Dictionary, 4th edition, will also fulfill this requirement.)
7) Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
8) Evidence!: Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills. (I still use those first two chapters.)
9) Rand McNally Road Atlas by Rand McNally Corporation. (Any good road atlas with lots of small towns will work.)
10) The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger.
11) Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne.
12) Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin by Joan Ferris Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray.
13) Land & Property Research in the United States by E. Wade Hone.
14) The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy by Ancestry.com.
15) The Handybook for Genealogists by George B. Everton.
16) The Amish in America by David Luthy. (I love this one because of the sketches of the Amish communities.)
17) Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide.
18) The Formation of North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943 by David Leroy Corbitt.
19) The Genealogist's Guide to Researching Tax Records by Carol Cook Darrow.
20) Understanding and Using Baptismal Records by John T. Humphrey.
21) They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record by John Philip Colletta.
22) Inheritance in Colonial Virginia by Barbara Vines Little.
23) Tracing Your Mississippi Ancestors by Anne S. Lipscomb and Kathleen S. Hutchison
24) North Carolina Wills: A Testator Index by Thornton W. Mitchell.
25) Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures by Christine Rose.
26) Military Pension Laws, 1776-1858: From the Journals of the Continental Congress and the United States Statutes-at-Large by Christine Rose.
27) Military Bounty Land, 1776-1855 by Christine Rose.
28) History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestor by Judy Jacobson.
29) Pitfalls in Genealogical Research by Milton Rubincam.
30) Virginia Genealogy: Sources & Resources by Carol McGinnis.
31) Tracing Your Alabama Past by Robert Scott Davis.
32) Locating Your Roots: Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records by Patricia Law Hatcher.
33) Georgia Research: A Handbook for Genealogists, Historians, Archivists, Lawyers, Librarians, and Other Researchers by Robert Scott Davis.
34) Genealogy and the Law: A Guide to Legal Sources for the Family Historian by Kay Haviland Freilich and William B. Freilich.
35) The Chicago Manual of Style. (16th edition.)
36) Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants: Awarded by State Governments by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck.
37) American Settlers and Migrations: A Primer for Genealogists and Family Historians by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck.
38) Guide to County Records and Genealogical Resources in Tennessee by Richard Carlton Fulcher.
39) North Carolina Taxpayers, 1701-1786 by Clarence E. Ratcliff.
40) North Carolina Taxpapers, 1679-1790 by Clarence E. Ratcliff.
41) Forever Dixie: A Field Guide to Southern Cemeteries and Their Residents by Douglas Keister. (Gives some great info on the symbols on tombstones.)
42) Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide by Frazine K. Taylor.
43) Genealogical Research in Ohio by Kip Sperry.
44) Estate Inventories: How to Use Them by Kenneth L. Smith.
45) Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide by John Grenham.
46) Guide to County Records in the North Carolina State Archives.
47) The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe by James M. Beidler.f
48) American Naturalization Records, 1790-1990: What They Are and How to Use Them by John J. Newman.
49) New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians by Diane Rapaport.
50) Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research by Michael J. LeClerc.

Many of the next fifty slots would go to National Genealogical Society's Research in the States series. A few of them could easily have been included in this list, but I opted to include none without including the others I frequently use. I also find DeLorme's Atlas & Gazetteer series for individual states quite useful. I use my Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee ones frequently.

I'm certain I left out something I should have included. It is not necessarily in order of importance. It's just my feeble effort to come up with a top 50 list when there are so many great resources out there from which to choose.

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Heading Out: A History of American Camping



Young, Terence. Heading Out: A History of American Camping. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2017.

Terence Young looks at the phenomenon of camping in America, tracing its evolution over the years. He discusses problems the national parks had with campers and how that led to individual campsites. He also discusses how camping evolved from fairly primitve conditions to RVs. Young's work focuses mainly on camping within the national park and forest systems. The book needed to spend time discussing privately-owned campgrounds, including those with memberships, and chains, such as KOA, or affiliation of privately owned campgrounds with networks such as Good Sam. In spite of this one weakness, it was a very interesting and informative read. I've been reading quite a bit about the formation of Great Smoky Mountain National Park in preparation for an upcoming lecture I'm giving. I was delighted to see the author included some information regarding the way land was acquired for it and Shenanadoah National Park to give the system an Eastern United States presence, although it wasn't new information for me. This review is based on an advance reader's e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Foundling



Fronczak, Paul Joseph with Alex Tresniowski. The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Faily Secret, and My Search for the Real Me. New York: Howard Books, 2017.

This is a fascinating story, solved in part by DNA. Paul Fronczak was kidnapped in a Chicago hospital shortly after his birth by a one pretending to be a nurse. About two years later, a child was left in front of a McCrory's store in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Police wondered if it might be Fronczak. He was put in a home with a family who often cared for children in such circumstance. The family formed a special bond with the child, but he was ultimately destined to live as Paul Fronczak. Years later, Paul wanted to determine if he was the Fronczak child, and if not, who he was -- and what happened to the real Paul. DNA tests confirmed his suspicions he wasn't the real Paul, but that's just the beginning of the story. It's an interesting, although sometimes repetitive story, which could have used better editing. "Paul" needed a better balance between his own family life and his quest for his identity. I think he probably tries too hard to convince himself it was "in his genes" instead of owning up to his familial responsibilites. Still, it is a captivating story of abandonment, but I would be remiss if I didn't warn people parts of the story are not pretty. "Paul" was fortunate to have a team of  genetic genealogists and DNA testing companies assisting in the search for his identity. It's not something most adoptees will have as they approach their quest. Still "Search Angels" and "DNA Detectives" are out there to help many adoptees uncover their true identities. It is unfortunate a list of resources was not included at the end of the book to help persons who might wish to pursue it.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Carson Crosses Canada



Bailey, Linda. Carson Crosses Canada. Illustrated by Kass Reich. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.

Carson, the dog, crosses Canada with his owner Annie Magruder to visit her sister who is sick. They begin along the Pacific. They cross the Canadian Rockies, visit Lake Winnipeg and Niagara Falls, stop in Quebec where Carson learns he is a "chien", and then cross to Nova Scotia, eventually taking a ferry to their destination in Prince Edward Island. At the end a "surprise" is awaiting him. I don't want to give the surprise away, but I will say Carson loved it. It's a book I can imagine preschoolers wanting to revisit often. I received an advance electronic copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Tips & Quips for the Family Historian


Mills, Elizabeth Shown and Ruth Brossette Lennon. Tips & Quips for the Family Historian. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2017.

Elizabeth Shown Mills and her granddaughter Ruthie teamed up to provide genealogists everywhere with a book of quotations pertinent to the field. The quotes are attributed not only to genealogists, but also to authors, entertainers, historians, and other persons, even fictitious characters, such as "Frasier Crane." The book will be an asset for genealogists and genealogical speakers for years to come. While the quotation categories are too numerous to include, the quotes are wide-ranging--from accuracy to writing--including such categories as document analysis, family trees, genetic genealogy, maps & mapping, plagiarism, and standards. Some quotes were included more than once under different relevant topics. Each attributable quotation is cited in the endnotes. An index of persons quoted is included. Keywords to locate relevant quotation sections are also provided. It fills a void in genealogical reference. Its creation by a granddaughter-grandmother team, particularly when the grandmother is one of the world's most respected genealogists, is a bonus for genealogists.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Boy



Chevalier, New Boy. (Hogarth Shakespeare.) New York: Penguin, 2017.

This is the most disappointing installment of the Hogarth Shakespeare series I've read to date. The author reimagines the setting of Othello as a sixth grade classroom in 1970s Washington, DC. Osei is a new kid from Ghana who makes friends with Dee. Ian is the class bully. Other children, the teachers, and a principal all carry on the other parts. The handkerchief of the original play is now a pencil case. The re-imagining did not work for me. I felt I was reading a book marketed for middle schoolers. I felt the sixth graders of the 1970s were a little more like modern sixth graders than ones of that era. This retelling does not make me want to grab any of the author's other works. This review is based on an advance review copy received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Scars of Independence



Hoock, Holger, Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth. New York: Crown, 2017.

Hoock's main purpose is to show the Revolutionary War for the violent war it was. He feels most histories sugar-coat the war. He does a good job showing conflicts between Patriots and Loyalists. His descriptions of the persecution faced is often graphic. He also discusses why many Loyalists chose not to return after the war. The author does a good job with documenting his work. It's a bit too academic in tone and too gory to really be as readable as some histories of the war. Academics and military history enthusiasts are likely to find it far more enjoyable than I did. This review is based on an electronic advance review copy received by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Lion, King, and Coin


Nam, Jeong-hee. Lion, King, and Coin. Illustrated by Lucia Sforza. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017.

This is an informative children's book about how we came to have money. It discusses bartering, exchanging goods, and the difficulty of finding someone who actually wanted what you had to trade before currency. It talks about some of the precursors to coinage. The illustrations seem to fit the period of history being discussed.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bone Soup and Flipped Bread


Larkey, Sue Spertus. Bone Soup and Flipped Bread: The Yemenite Jewish Table. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2017.

The author gives readers insights into both the cultures of Yemen and of the Jewish people in this volume. A great deal of cultural and background material is woven into the book  -- from the introductory chapters which are almost entirely cultural to the recipes grouped in two sections. She shows the reader the importance of food to the Yemen Jews in normal things in the life cycle -- birth, circumcision, Bar/Bas Mitzvah, betrothal, marriage, days of blessing, and mourning. She also shows the importance of good in the feasts and holidays and on the Sabbath by the Jews. This is a winning combination for anyone interested in more than just a recipe book. The cultural foodways shine in this volume. I received an electronic advance review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Old Testament Is Dying


Strawn, Brent A. The Old Testament Is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.

Strawn creates an analogy of the Old Testament being a language which he carries throughout the book. The only problem is the analogy is a flawed one. He makes many of his points with illustrations from linguistics. He uses data from studies showing less biblical knowledge. In spite of the author's deep research, I'm not convinced he made his point in a convincing manner. I'm not certain his solution is practical. The Old Testament is alive and well at our church because our pastor uses it to deepen our understanding of God in all three persons. There are riches and treasures in its pages, and Strawn tries to become too philosophical about the problem when the truth of the matter is that studying the Old Testament is the only solution for what he sees as the process of dying. Pastors and Sunday School teachers need to teach the Word of God -- and all of it. Too many churches got away from using curriculum that takes readers through the entire Bible within a certain amount of time and began using topical studies. Don't get me wrong. There is a time and place for topical studies, but church members need exegesis too. I receivved an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Cousins You Meet Online

When I first began researching my family history, I knew very little about researching beyond my own family. I was fortunate to live in a city housing one of the country's best genealogical libraries at the time. I grew up in the South and just assumed I came from a deep line of Southerners. Imagine my surprise when I found a census record with my maternal grandfather in it which identified his place of birth as Illinois. I then began to get the family stories. 

My great grandfather who was of Amish-Mennonite heritage married a woman who grew up Methodist. They began attending the Christian Church after marriage. Her line was an interesting one to me. Her mother's line was clearly New England. The only information I really had about her father's line was something published in one of those "vanity" publications. While parts of it were greatly embellished, it identified her father Stephen's father as Stephen and her grandfather as Isaac. It was said Stephen Sr. went off to fight in the War of 1812 and never came back. Some people say he died in Michigan. No records of his War of 1812 service exist. Stephen Sr. was in Washington County, Ohio by 1804 when he married Lovica Rathbone. Stephen Jr. was born in February 1814. Most people say Stephen Sr. died in 1814 in or near Detroit. We do not know exactly when Stephen Sr. was born, but it is estimated as being around 1780. Stephen Jr. said his father was born in New York. (Some accounts say it was in Little Hoosick, Albany County.)

I was intrigued by my connection to New England and New York. I began to communicate with other researchers via the various mailing lists and message boards that began to crop up. One person answered my query about Stephen, Stephen, and Isaac. He was descended from Isaac's son Cornelius and had been researching the line for many years. Cornelius and Stephen had a sister Debora who married Edmund Rathbone, Lovica's brother. 

My newly found cousin told me about the Taylors and Rathbones ownership of a mill in Ohio County, Virginia. (See the Find a Grave story about Private Edmund Rathbone.) This cousin was never one to share everything he knew. I think he wanted to see if you reached the same conclusion he did. However, he provided hints. Where was Isaac in 1790? My newly found cousin had researched all of the options and was leaning toward Isaac being the one in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania that year. He later concluded that was the case. He never provided a proof argument to me for this. It doesn't really go all that well with Stephen Jr.'s alleged birthplace in New York State.

My distant cousin Edgar Rives Taylor, Jr. died January 31 of this year. His son Gary contacted me earlier this week with the sad news as he was going through his father's email correspondence. When I resume work on the Taylor line, I need to go through my correspondence to pick up any clues or hints provided over the years. The proof argument will be my own, based on my own research, when I am able to clearly identify my ancestor. I will, however, miss Edgar's knowledge and the ability to ask him if he found anything that would negate a conclusion I make. His son Gary posted a lovely tribute to his father which includes part of his father's autobiography.


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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Adam and the Genome



Venema, Dennis R. and Scot McKnight. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2017.

My hopes for this book exceeded what was presented. I expected more from genetic science than the very basic information presented. I supposed the authors think Christians know nothing about genetics, because that is how they treated the matter.  The book is really more about how we should view Genesis 1-11 in view of modern science. Findings of the human genome project are taken into account in the author's argument of a theistic evolutionary approach. The writers incorporate too much from apocryphal works for their conclusions to be accepted by many Evangelicals. They spend a lot of time discussing the literary Adam, the historical Adam, and the genealogical Adam. Ultimately they were not very convincing in their arguments. While I received an Advance Review Copy from the publisher through NetGalley, I forgot I had pre-ordered a copy. I compared both and am basing the review on the completed copy.

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The Barrowfields



Lewis, Phillip. The Barrowfields. New York: Hogarth, 2017.

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. On the one hand, the book was well-written. On the other, I really could not identify with the characters, making it tedious. The book focuses on the Aster family of Western North Carolina. The father is a lawyer with a great love for books and aspirations of becoming an author. They live in a house where the previous tenants were murdered. Tragedy takes the father. The narrator is the son Henry who eventually goes off to the university, promising his sister Threnody he’ll return home. He meets a woman named Story at the university. Henry can’t bring himself to go back home. His mother and sister eventually move away. Although the story line goes much further, I’ll leave readers to discover the outcome for themselves. Although the two books are really not that similar, my mind kept being drawn to William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying as I was reading it. I think the writing and some of the themes reminded me of the book. It’s a great first effort by an author. I received an electronic advance copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

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