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When a Family Dies

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

A few days ago I was reading a compiled genealogy that speculated about an epidemic. It is a quite reasonable speculation. Several members of an extended family as well as some neighbors all died in the space of a few weeks. What the contagion was, or even if the speculation is correct at all, may […]

The Chicago Cubs and Deep Time

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

This is an odd time of year for any fan of the Chicago Cubs. October is the time to consider who should be traded, wonder if there is hope for next year, wonder if they will ever return to the World Series, and generally think off season type thoughts. Yet, somehow this year there are […]

Who Did They Think They Were?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

I’m in the planning stages of a new presentation about questions of identity in genealogy. With that in my mind, I found a copy of LAS News (from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at The University of Illinois) waiting for me in my mailbox. I flipped to the first article, Thinking Outside the […]

The Forgotten Plague

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

By the dawn of the nineteenth century, the disease had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. That is a statement that will catch one’s attention. I heard it at the opening of a recent edition of American Experience. The disease in question is tuberculosis, or, as we often read in […]

The Christmas Truce

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

There has been a bit in the news lately about what happened on the Western Front 100 years ago. That one front alone would eventually cost 12.5 million casualties, but The Great War was only a few months old in December of 1914, and, at least from the soldiers point of view, it wasn’t clear […]

Macabre Beliefs

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

I’m always fascinated by the beliefs of our ancestors. Sometimes people say that our ancestors were “just like us” and on other occasions we hear that, if we could travel back in time, they would seem totally different from us. Neither is true and yet both are true. Sometimes they will seem surprisingly modern and […]

A Place is not Just a Place

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

One of the thoughts that occurs to me regularly is how tricky the word “place” can be. We use it without really thinking about what lies underneath. It seems like such a simple concept. I’m in one place as I write. You are in another as you read. Those places have names. They have latitudes […]

If April Showers Bring Mayflowers…

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

It is that time of year when children’s thoughts veer from pumpkins to Pilgrims to prancing hooves in rapid succession. Genealogical research won’t put a jack-o-lantern or a flying reindeer into their family trees but what about a Pilgrim? Through a child’s eyes, the level of reality is about the same and, even to many […]

Bait and Switch

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

I state the utmost force of the wild Yankees, as they are called, at 200 men They “came to her house and threatened to set fire to it. Being afraid for her life” she fled. When she returned “she found the roof tore off and the house plundered.” They “told me that my half hour […]

Mortgages, Magnetism and Shoes

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Any documents that can show names, dates and places can be used for genealogy. Some may provide better genealogical evidence than others but where there are names, dates and places there is possibility. A Mortgage I’m now staring at one less used document type, mortgage papers. The man I’m investigating loaned some money. It gives […]

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