Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Naval Documents of the American Revolution

Are you using United States government publications in your genealogical research? If not, you need to add them to your list of tools. Volume 12 of Naval Documents of the American Revolution just happened to cross my desk at work. The focus of this volume includes both the American and European Theaters for the months of April and May 1778.

Let's take a look at a few things that are included in this publication of interest to genealogists.

  • Roll of Officers and Seamen on Board Connecticut Privateer Ship General Putnam as recorded at New London, Connecticut, in May 1778. It includes about 183 men.
  • The journal entry of Capt. George Collier of the H.M. Frigate Rainbow from 1 May 1778 which tells about the weather conditions and the work of taking ships.
  • Several diary entries of Captian Frederick Mackenzie of the British Army.
  • Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War.
  • Court martial of John Gilfroy, boatswain, of the Pennsylvania Navy on 19 May 1778.
  • Invoices for supplies and other items.
  • Letters
  • Station Bill for Officers of the French Navy Ship of the Line Languedoc from May 1778. This interesting bill includes duties of the officers and enlisted men. It actually tells where each many was stationed and how many pieces of ordnance each had at his station.

These are just a few of the items spotted.in a quick look at a single volume in the series.

You will find this series cataloged in government documents sections at D 207.12: Some libraries may classify it in LC Classification or in Dewey instead of using the SUDOC classification.

You will find the first 11 volumes online at the American Naval Records Society's web site. The new 12th volume has not made its way there yet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Scratching My Head

On Sunday afternoons between our morning and evening services at church, I frequently look through new Ancestry DNA matches for me and my dad up to about the 50% mark. I had an unusually large group of matches yesterday so I continued working on them after I returned home from the evening service until I had managed to get through them.

I always find a few things like a mother being born after her child was born, linkage to "parents" who are born in distant places with no connection to where the child was born and died, having children at under ten years of age, women giving birth at advanced ages, etc.

I love those tips about surnames that you and the match share. I clicked on one of those yesterday to discover that her ancestor sharing a same name as mine was allegedly married in Massachusetts in 1611 and allegedly had a child born in 1612 in Tewksbury, Essex, Massachusetts. I kept thinking that the date on Plymouth Rock is 1620. Since the person in question was born in England, I couldn't even assume the person was of native American origin. Of course, Tewksbury and Essex County didn't even exist as early as that tree alleged.

That, however, was not the biggest thing that made me scratch my head. The trees in question are actually not those of the person to whom I shared in this case but some I found as a result of that DNA match. I discovered that my DNA match and I shared the surname Stump. I knew that my Catherine Stump was born about 1711 in Pennsylvania, that she married Johannes Peter Keim in 1732, and that she died around 1768.  I had never tried to identify her parents. I didn't recognize this person's Stump line, but it did have ties to the Lancaster/Berks County areas so I just decided to see if anyone had identified the parents of my Catherine Stump. I found a couple of interesting things. Although she died in 1768, one person had her residing in Elk Lick, Somerset, Pennsylvania in 1840 with a link to the census for that year. She'd already been dead 71 or 72 years at that point. I didn't know that censuses enumerated ghosts. However, that one is not the one that took top honors in the unusual things category.

So what was the strangest thing I found? There were probably at least 20 trees that gave her death location as Chongqing, Chongqing Shiqu, Chongqing, China. As you might expect, there were no sources for the locations. One person had several citations for Stump, but the one thing that wasn't cited was the death. I'm trying to figure out why a woman from Pennsylvania would travel to China in the 18th century. (Her husband died in Pennsylvania in 1782.) It would have been a difficult voyage, and I just don't see it happening when she was married and had a family. Why have so many people apparently blindly accepted that she died there?  I thought that persons perhaps thought she might have been a missionary. The Wikipedia article shows that the mission movement to China began in the early part of the 19th century. However, it was mid-century before that took really began to explode. Lottie Moon, a name most Southern Baptists will recognize, didn't go to China until 1873. This does not seem like a likely reason for Catherine Stump to be there. I will not be adding this location to my own data. I may make a note that I've found undocumented trees that say she died there but that I have found nothing to support that conclusion. If anyone can provide documentation that she ever set foot in China, I'd love to see it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Event in Autumn

Mankell, Henning. An Event in Autumn. New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2014.

Kurt Wallander receives a call from Martinson on his day off. Wallander really does not want to be interrupted, but he takes the call. Martinson is offering Wallander the first opportunity to purchase a property from some of his wife's relatives and wants Wallander to go out and take a look. He almost buys it but discovers a hand sticking up in the ground. Further investigation locates an entire skeleton that has been there for awhile. A good bit of time is spent awaiting the forensic report, and when it finally arrives the investigation must seek to determine the deceased woman's identify. I'll leave the rest of the book for you to discover. I enjoyed this visit with Kurt Wallander. The plot is not as action-filled as some of the others, partially due to the dynamics of this particular investigation, but it does not bog down because of the short length of the installment. Mankell's writing even in this briefer volume is a cut above that of many mysteries. The author actually wrote this book awhile ago as a free novel for those who purchased a crime novel in Holland during a particular month, and it fits chronologically before the last installment of the series, The Troubled Man. It is a short, quick, and enjoyable read that certainly foreshadows Wallander's retirement. Fans of Wallander will want to read this one. Those who are reading the series in order may wish to read this one prior to The Troubled Man. I received an uncorrected proof e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Torn Away

Brown, Jennifer. Torn Away. New York: Little, Brown, 2014.

Jersey's world is torn apart when a tornado rips through her Missouri town, taking away the only family she has ever known. The fatality toll is high for such a small town, and school ends early because the school is also destroyed. Jersey and her friends survive the first couple of days until her stepfather finds her and takes her to a hotel, but he's devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter and can't cope with it all. I don't want to say too much about the rest of the plot for fear of revealing spoilers. The first part of the story is probably essential but it is slow and hard to get into. After Jersey's life begins to drastically change, this novel turns into a real tear-jerker. It leaves the reader wanting to know more about what happened to Jersey during her senior year. The ending certainly makes it possible for the author to create a sequel that can tie up some of the things that may not have been fully resolved while exploring a slightly different theme. It's a book that many teens will enjoy reading and can certainly be used to explore themes relating to grief and disaster. I received an Advance Reading Copy of this title through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.