Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Murder at Hawthorn Cottage

Rowlands, Betty. Murder at Hawthorn Cottage. n.p.: Bookouture, 2018.

Writer Melissa Craig moved to the Cotswolds. Soon her neighbor discovers a corpse near her home. A reporter seeks Melissa's help investigating the person whom he believes to be "Babs Carter" who worked at a local nightclub and disappeared without a trace. A young man interested in Babs suffered an automobile accident leaving him impaired a couple days after her disappearance. Melissa's investigation for her own novel conveniently yields clues for the puzzle at hand. Unfortunately the plot is not very believable. The prostitution and drugs concepts in the novel are not "cozy" at all and seem a bit seedy to include for people who enjoy this genre. While the Cotswold setting is nice, the seediness somewhat negated the sense of place that might have been achieved if the author had stuck to typical cozy plots. I received an electronic galley through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review. This book was originally published as A Little Gentle Sleuthing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Blue Water Hues

Delany, Vicki. Blue Water Hues. Custer, Washington: Orca Books, 2018.

The paramedics on the Caribbean Victoria and Albert Islands receive a call to a fire at a beach resort. They treat a couple of persons for smoke inhalation before assisting in the recovery of a body. The investigation rules the fire arson. Soon the victim's boyfriend is found dead of a gunshot wound which is too quickly ruled as self-inflicted because of a printed suicide note. Police Sergeant Alan Westbrook knows the investigation was likely closed too quickly, probably due to influence from political officeholders with interests in the resort. Darlene, the hotel manager where paramedic Ashley Grant resides, wants to see justice for the person who killed her relative and enlists Ashley's assistance. With the help of a hotel employee, it finally reaches a solution. This is part of the Rapid Reads collection. As such, the plot is less developed than in some. In some ways this story really needed to be a little longer because it felt some points were rushed or glossed over, needing further development. Still it will provide an enjoyable mystery jaunt for those with limited time for reading. This review is based on an advance reading copy provided through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.


Jonasson, Ragnar. Blackout. New York: Minotaur Books, 2018.

A man found beaten in his apartment provides a policeman and a reporter with an opportunity to investigate. The book, however, focuses more on personal issues than on the investigation. I never really got a feel for the book. I finished it aboard a plane about a week ago, and the details no longer stand out. I never really warmed to either the policeman or the journalist. The book is unremarkable and not memorable.  I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Reflecting . . .

Earlier today I read the hospital in my hometown was filing for bankruptcy. It's where my mother worked for many years. In those years, the hospital was owned by a private foundation. The foundation continues to operate and provide funding for things in my hometown. The administrator during her years of employment championed the foundation's operation of the hospital. During those years the hospital's reputation for women's health (ob/gyn) and pediatrics brought patients from all over.

After his retirement (and mom's), the hospital was sold. It's changed hands several times over the years. The doctors who created the reputation retired and/or died. What was once a great hospital is now filing for bankruptcy protection. Its parent company plans to sell it. It saddens me to see the deterioration of an institution which brought such pride to our community. I hope the new owners can turn it around, making it a great facility once again.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

An American Author Challenge Discovery

This month's American Author Challenge is devoted to books by Louis L'Amour. For some reason I decided to look him up at Wikipedia, discovering his middle name is "Dearborn." Since Dearborn is one of my family lines, going back to New England, I immediately suspected we might be related.

Using his WikiTree profile I traced his line back to our common ancestors:

Louis Dearborn LaMoore/LaMour/L'Amour (1908-1988)
Emily Lavisa Dearborn (1870-1954)
Abraham Truman Dearborn (b. 1835)
William S. Dearborn (1803-abt 1852)
Levi Dearborn (1769-1857)
Reuben Dearborn (b. 1738)
Reuben Dearborn (1707-1790)
Samuel Dearborn (1676-1748)
Thomas Dearborn (1632-1710) and Hannah Colcord (1643-1720)

My line:
Lori Thornton (Me)
Dorothy Ann Lantz (1924-2010)
Irving Lee Lantz (1885-1971)
Laura Lucy Taylor (1854-1922)
Betsey Dearborn (1818-1899)
Nathan Dearborn (1785-1847)
Samuel Dearborn (1745-1833)
Benjamin Dearborn (b. 1713)
Ebenezer Dearborn (b. 1679)
Thomas Dearborn (ca 1634-1710) and Hannah Colcord (d. 1720)

I left the differences in dates in the WikiTree data and my own research, but it's similar enough one can tell it is the same person.

This makes us 7th cousins once removed.

Of course, I need to verify the information in WikiTree, and I'm not placing all the documentation for my own line in this post--and some of the older stuff probably needs some "shoring up."

However, the kinship to this month's author was an unexpected discovery for me I wished to share. I chose to read Westward the Tide, much of which is set in the Big Horn Mountains.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back to the Grind

As the beginning of the academic year draws near, those of us who serve as faculty return to the "grind." The dreaded annual day-long faculty workshop is today. Tomorrow is an all-morning meeting of faculty and staff. 

Don't get me wrong -- I love seeing my colleagues, but I get tired of listening to general information things year after year. Some speakers are more engaging that others, and we're certain to find a few snooze-worthy persons delivering addresses or extended announcements.

If I could just take my fur boys with me, I'd be entertained.

My three fur boys enjoy a can of Fancy Feast.
I can just see it. Speaker gets up. Mr. B takes one look and runs under my chair getting as near to me as possible because there is no safer place in the room. Barney decides he'd better join Mr. B but not before he arches his back and gives a quick hiss at the speaker. Sherlock gives the speaker a little bit longer but decides the speaker is boring. Not being shy, he hisses loudly and repeatedly. He then looks at me. Decides I'm not afraid, and knows he should not be. He jumps down and begins approaching the speaker, retreating once in awhile because of all the other strange people in the room, but making steady progress. When he draws near to the podium, he knows he is the best detective and wants everyone else to admire him. He gets on the podium and poses in his smug way. After thunderous applause, he returns to my lap.

Yes, my cats would make faculty workshop much more entertaining!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Rest Area Find

On the way back from Florida, I stopped at the South Carolina Welcome Center on I-95 to use the facilities and stretch a bit. As I glanced over the travel brochures, I spotted this one. It's filled with repositories and resources for researching the counties in South Carolina's "Olde English District." When I posted it to Facebook, others wanted a copy. I wish I'd picked up additional copies.

I looked at the website listed on the back of the brochure and discovered, they have this brochure and several others of historic interest posted. Check out the Vacation Guides page.

The seven counties in the region include Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Union, and York. One brochure contains information on the Revolutionary War in the area and includes a very useful timeline. Others include African American historical sites and Civil War sites

Friday, August 10, 2018

St. Augustine

I spent Wednesday in St. Augustine.

A lot of the "historic" attractions sadly are not worth paying the extra money to see them.

For example, the oldest school is ruined by mechanical creatures.

Oldest Wooden School House, St. Augustine

Mechanical figures in the oldest wooden school house

The colonial quarter was also underwhelming.

DeMesa-Sanchez House

Printing press in colonial quarter
One of the things I enjoyed was free--the St. Photios Greek Orthodox shrine. It's not as elaborate as the Greek Orthodox Church's frescoes in Knoxville, but it was interesting and beautiful all the same.

St. Photios

Priestly garment display

I did not try to tour Fort Matanzas this time, but here's a view of it from the watchtower in the colonial quarter.

Castillo de San Marcos
Although I went to the Fountain of Youth on my last trip, I went again this time. I remembered thinking it was a bit of a waste of money, but I remembered they had some new exhibits going in. They really weren't worth the expense, and I was tired at the end of the day. I'd already paid that morning so I at least went and did a quick tour of things. Of course, they treat the water a bit now. It had less of a sulfur taste this time than last.

The Fountain of Youth -- an artesian spring

Filling my cup at the Fountain of Youth

Do I look younger now?

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

Tuesday I visited the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Here are a few photos.

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

Entrance to Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

Principal Lighthouse Keeper's Dwelling

First Assistant Keeper's Dwelling

Second Assistant Keeper's Dwelling

Bronze US Lighthouse Service Bell

Cuban Refugee Rafts

Original First Order Fresnel Lens for Ponce Inlet (or Mosquito Inlet) Lighthouse

Fresnel Lens from Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

Oil Storage Building

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

The Adoptee's Guide to DNA Testing

Weinberg, Tamar. The Adoptee's Guide to DNA Testing: How to Use Genetic Genealogy to Discover Your Long-Lost Family. Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2018.

Weinberg's useful guide intended to assist adoptees in their quest to identify birth families is beneficial to anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of genetic genealogy. She explains the types of tests offered, the testing companies offering each, and a bit about the differences in the results. She then offers information on how to reach out to matches, how to make use of GEDmatch's tools, and using other third party tools. She closes with several case studies designed to inspire those seeking their families. Appendices include frequently asked questions and worksheets which could be adapted to Excel spreadsheets to help keep track of genetic genealogy research. The book contains an index. Any book on genetic genealogy will likely be out-of-date on at least one or two points by the time it is printed. Her frequently asked questions poses a question about the safety of testing results. It is clear the section was written before the announcement concerning the Golden State Killer's discovery through using genetic genealogy databases. Several more arrests were made using the databases after this. I suspect the next edition will include a "caution" statement although it won't discourage the use of the databases for most individuals. I wish she had covered more third party tools, although I'm certain the editors were trying to keep the book a manageable size. The illustrations help the reader visualize the information presented. This book belongs in most libraries and private genealogy collections along with Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne's Practical Genetic Genealogy and Blaine Bettinger's The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. Leading genetic genealogists found problems with early iterations of the book. We are not sure if those were corrected in the edition I read and reviewed or if I just failed to catch the things because I don't work with it at the same level they do. This review is based on an electronic advance copy received through NetGalley with the expectation an honest review would be written.

Weekend at Thrackley

Melville, Alan. Weekend at Thrackley. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2018.

Edwin Carson invites several persons to spend the weekend at his country house in Surrey. Captain Jim Henderson is among those invited. He does not know why he is on the guest list but decides to go for the adventure and food if nothing else. Adventure they get. Jim discovers a microphone hidden in the chimney in his room and in his friend's room as well. The rest of the novel concerns stolen jewels and even includes murder. The question is not so much whodunit as "will the victims escape the country house." I imagine the puzzle was quite good in its day, but it is unlikely to resound with modern readers as much. I received an electronic galley from the publisher (Poisoned Pen Press) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Vacation in Daytona Beach - Monday Post

I doubt you will get any genealogy-related posts this week. I'm on vacation, and I'm trying to make myself stay away from genealogical research so I can truly relax before the academic year begins.

Here are a few photos from last night and this morning.

The view from the patio outside my hotel room Sunday late afternoon.

Sherlock and Barney began their exploration before Mr. B, who was more skittish.
Aunt Catfish's on the River was recommended by a couple of folks from church who'd loved it.

Live entertainment outdoors while you wait to be seated.

At the end of the pier -- a giant catfish!

Salad bar was great. I wish I'd gotten more of the black-eyed pea salad.

The catfish comes with one side, a hush puppy, and a cinnamon roll that melts in your mouth.

Monday morning. Sun coming up on the beach.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Better Late Than Never

I intended to create a post last night or this morning for today, but I didn't get it done. Today's agenda involved packing. I'm looking forward to a "real vacation." I expect to do very little research because the purpose of the vacation is to relax. Yes, Ancestry and FamilySearch sometimes call my name even when I'm trying to avoid them, but I do hope to make lists of those things I think about doing and make myself wait to do them. I really need to unwind before the academic year begins.

Now, you and I know that I'm not going to succeed in refraining from genealogy for an entire week, so I've tried to come up with ways to indulge without doing research.

I remembered a second great grand-uncle resided early near where I will vacation. There is a museum in the town he helped found. It is open only two days a week, and only one of those days is while I will be there. I guess I know what I'll be doing that day.

Although I have no ancestors there, I love the historic town of St. Augustine. I plan to make a day trip up there one day.

I really don't know which books will tempt me. I have several audiobooks downloaded for the drive, but I mainly downloaded mysteries. I don't know think any involve genealogy. I only packed a couple of print books--one of those is Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves, a mystery; the other is a literary work on gardens. It's pretty short. I may have packed a third book, but I don't remember what it was. I downloaded a couple of e-books from the library, The Blackhouse by Peter May and Harmless as Doves by P. L. Gaus. The Amish mysteries by Gaus are almost like genealogy for me because they are set in an Amish community where my ancestors once lived. My Kindle app has lots of options on it, including some genealogy mysteries. I only have one advance review copy at the moment on my BlueFire app. It is The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull. I suppose that qualifies since it is family-related.

Of course, I did pack a two NGSQ and one TAG issue. I knew better than to try to pack more. I'll be lucky to make it through those.

I hope my cats are ready to curl up and read with me. They may prefer looking out the window at the ocean.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

A Strange Courthouse Visit

Yesterday I visited a courthouse in another county. I'll avoid mentioning the exact location because it could easily be one of many, and it is probably best to protect the officials from angry genealogists. I was seeking early probate records, and in reality, the main purpose was to check information published in a narrative family tree and obtain a citation for the information beyond "according to a record in the ___ county courthouse." It really should have been an easy lookup. I knew the name and date from the record as well as the information it allegedly contained. What should have been easy turned out to be a nightmare.

According to online information, the county clerk's office held the needed record. I began there. They told me they didn't have it, sending me to another office. That office stated their records began in the 1970s and that probate matters used to be handled by the county judge so they were probably in his office. I went to the county judge's office. They didn't house any records; however, they were the most helpful office. They took me back down to the county clerk's office where they took me to the records room. I noticed no file cabinets, so I inquired about loose records. The employee did not even know what a loose record was. "Everything we have is in this room." (Of course, the deeds and mineral rights books were in a separate room, but that's okay.) I began examining the room. I knew the courthouse suffered a fire in 1930, but the fact someone supposedly examined the record in order to write about it made me keep seeking it.

A thorough examination of the room revealed no estate records at all except for a few guardianships and administrations from the 20th century. I found a handful of 19th century records, but they were few and far between. The records remaining were an odd mix. I did create myself a guide to earliest available records so I will know what they have if I need to research in the county again. FamilySearch contained more records than the county did.

Several comments made while I was getting the "run around" made me realize few, if any, genealogists visit that courthouse. One person mentioned hearing a recent county clerk threw away some old records once. Another person in the office then commented, "That sounds like something ___ ____ would do."

I ended up calling several other researchers to ask them if they had researched in that county and if they had seen estate records. Based on the responses I received from these researchers and the state archives employees, I am confident I made a thorough effort and did not miss records on site with the possible exception of a few which were available through FamilySearch. It is possible these were discarded after they were filmed. Certainly none of the offices admitted to owning these volumes which included early will books. It would be nice to know where they might be hiding if they still exist in hard copy.

I doubt I will forget my visit to that courthouse anytime soon. I hope more genealogists will visit it so they begin to understand what we do and so they understand the importance of maintaining old records. The fire in that county was devastating. I hope record neglect does not worsen it.