Saturday, August 23, 2014

TreeSync issues

Okay, I'm getting seriously irritated with Family Tree Maker's TreeSync feature. Several times now, my uploaded tree on has become unlinked from FTM. I've continually re-uploaded my tree on, but either the tree doesn't show up under my tree lists, or eventually, my FTM says that my uploaded tree has been deleted (meaning that they have become unlinked).

What makes this particularly annoying is that there is no way to actually re-attach the trees once they've become unlinked. You have to re-upload the tree on, and then this means that you have to start all over with media uploading, hints, and re-inviting people you have "invited" to view your tree.

The only other option I can think of is to download my tree to FTM.

TreeSync has frankly had continuous problems (for me, anyway) from the beginning. It would be a great feature if it weren't so buggy.

I love, but they're not very good about letting their customers know of system SNAFUs they're having.

Anyone else experiencing issues?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?: Valerie Bertinelli

Yeah, this is way late. As I've mentioned before, I don't have cable, so I'm waiting until the episodes get uploaded to youTube to stream to my TV. Also been pretty busy, so didn't get around to watching this episode till last night.

I've always liked Valerie Bertinelli; she seems like a classy lady.

For the program, she investigates two of her lines-- the first was her paternal great-grandmother who immigrated from Italy (and who narrowly escaped being shot to death by pretending to have been hit and playing dead). Talk about quick thinking and terrific acting!

The second was of more personal interest to me, because she traces one of her mother's English lines-- the surname was CLAYPOOLE-- to some common ancestors: the Wingfields, a prominent noble family which descend from... wait for it... Plantagenet royalty, in the form of Edward I.

Valerie and I can both trace ourselves back to Sir Robert WINGFIELD and Elizabeth GOUSHILL, who were my 18th great-grands. It is through Elizabeth's line that we go back to "Longshanks."

Here's my ancestry line:

Edward I PLANTAGENET (1239-1307) m. Eleanor BURGUNDY of Castile & Leon
Elizabeth PLANTAGENET (1282-1316) m. Humphrey de BOHUN
William de BOHUN (1312-1360) m. Elizabeth de BADLESMERE
Elizabeth de BOHUN (1348-1385) m. Richard FITZALAN
Elizabeth FITZALAN (b. 1371) m. Robert GOUSHILL
Elizabeth GOUSHILL (b. 1402) m. Robert WINGFIELD
John WINGFIELD I (1430-1481) m. Elizabeth FITZLEWIS
John WINGFIELD II (b. 1457) m. Margaret DORWARD
Thomas WINGFIELD (b. 1484) m. Elizabeth WOODHOUSE
Elizabeth WINGFIELD (1528-1621) m. Geoffrey DOWNING
George DOWNING (1552-1610) m. Dorcas BELLAMY
Emanuel DOWNING (1585-1658) m. Anne WARE
Susan DOWNING (1622-1666) m. Robert ROBERTS
John ROBERTS (1655-1714) m. Hannah BRAY
Susannah ROBERTS (1680-1719) m. David DOWNING
Hannah DOWNING (1703-1771) m. Ebenezer DAY
Hannah DAY (b. 1726) m. Jacob LUFKIN
Hannah LUFKIN (1752-1790) m. Amos HILTON
Jacob Lufkin HILTON (1775-1855) m. Hannah TRASK
Mehitable HILTON (1796-1865) m. John BAKER
George Albert BAKER (1842-1914) m. Hannah Melissa SPECHT
Jessie May BAKER (1873-1927) m. Thomas Parker SIMMONDS
Estelle May SIMMONDS (1893-1930) m. Horace William HOWES
Henry Richard HOWES (1913-1987) m. Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father
Me (b. 1974)

Whew, that took awhile to type out!

I also descend from a John DOWNING who married Mehitable BRAYBROOK, but there is some doubt as to whether this John Downing was the same John who was the son of Emanuel or not... therefore, I'm leaving this out.

But Elizabeth FITZLEWIS, my 17th great-grandmother, also descends from "Longshanks":

Edward I PLANTAGENET (1239-1307) m. Eleanor BURGUNDY of Castile & Leon
Joan PLANTAGENET (1272-1307) m. Ralph MONTHERMER
Thomas MONTHERMER (1301-1340) m. Margaret de BREWES
Margaret MONTHERMER (1329-1395) m. John de MONTAGU
John MONTACUTE (1351-1400) m. Maude FRANCIS
Anne MONTACUTE (d. 1457) m. Lewis JOHN
Elizabeth FITZLEWIS (1436-1500) m. John WINGFIELD

So Edward I was my 23rd great-grandfather through two Wingfield lines. Sir John Wingfield and his wife Elizabeth FitzLewis were both 4th great-grandchildren of the king, making them 5th cousins.

And it makes Valerie Bertinelli and I something like 19th cousins.

Dang, genealogy is fun!

Sir John Wingfield and Elizabeth FitzLewis, my 17th great-grandparents

Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, my 23rd greats; if I were Edward,
I would have had whatever artist rendered this executed.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pathological musings

So Ebola is back in the news lately, and I've just watched a couple of documentaries on YouTube about the Black Death of the 14th century... hence the topic of this blog post.

I've always been interested in diseases-- what causes them, how they are spread, what people of the past believed about them, and how they affect society.

Basically, western medicine until just a couple of hundred years ago was based on the following beliefs:

1) that good health depended upon the balance of human body fluids, called "humors." Blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. If you were sick, it meant that your humors were out of balance. This is why people, even up through the 19th century, often tried to "cure" people by bloodletting. If you were feverish, it was because you had excess blood.

2) that, in general, when something bad befell you, it was a judgement from God. Needless to say, when the Black Death arrived on the shores of Sicily in 1348, people were convinced that God was punishing them. This would give rise to weird fringe groups, called Flagellants, who didn't think that the Church was dealing decisively enough with the crisis, and who would walk through the streets whipping themselves. Considering that they were roaming around populated areas, and that they were literally getting blood all over the place while mortifying their flesh, they were probably actually helping the disease to spread.

3) That diseases were caused by foul-smelling air, called miasma. Even in the 19th century, people believed that the disease malaria was caused by breathing noxious night air (malaria literally means "bad air") instead of by the bites of the mosquitos which occupied that air.

This is why plague doctors of the 17th and 18th centuries wore those strange-looking costumes and  creepy-looking masks with beaks. These beaks were stuffed with sweet-smelling herbs and flowers to prevent the wearers from breathing in the stink of the plague patients, and thus, it was thought, to prevent them from getting sick. These outfits inadvertently functioned like modern-day decontamination suits, and so actually did offer protection.

I can only imagine that, if a victim of plague didn't die directly from his illness, opening his eyes to this vision of Big Bird from hell might have given him a heart attack.

Germ theory gradually replaced the miasma theory from the mid to late Victorian era, so people of the 14th century would have had no idea that coughing and sneezing spread disease; most people today automatically know that they should cover their noses and mouths. I imagine that this basic rule of courtesy and health didn't exist back then, since there would have been no reason in their minds to do so.

This brings us to another question: what exactly was the Black Death? It's thought by most to be bubonic plague, transmitted by the fleas which accompanied rats. Many scientists believe that the disease had to have become airborne to have spread as rapidly as it did in Europe. This form would be called pneumonic plague.

But we can't be completely certain what the disease actually was.

The plague would return periodically after this initial epidemic, once about every ten years, but never as virulently as before. Makes me wonder how a pestilence like this started, why it finally ended, and what caused its periodic resurgence?

As nightmarish as the initial three-year rampage of the Black Death was, in which Europe's population was almost cut in half, it did have benefits for those who survived-- and would dramatically change European society. Before the Black Death struck, labor was plentiful and cheap. Peasants, called serfs, had worked for lords, in return for a small share of property and protection. After the epidemic was over, peasants could afford to demand better pay and more rights. The Black Death, in short, ended feudalism-- and those who had escaped the disease found that they were much better off than they had been before.

It also changed the psyche of Europeans... making them more individualistic and questioning of authority; they had seen how little the Church and their rulers could do for them in this crisis.

Strange to think that a single but devastating epidemic of disease could have such a huge impact on a civilization.

Canadian newspapers online

I've recently written about the importance of old newspapers as a resource for genealogy research. They are also fantastic historical time capsules; perusing old papers is about the closest we can come to traveling into the past. It's absolutely fascinating to read about historical events from the perspective of those experiencing or witnessing the events instead of that of a modern person's second or third-hand perspective.

This week I was contacted by a potential Howes cousin; she linked me to a site hosted by Bowling Green State University that gives access, via Google, to many archived historical Canadian newspapers. 

So far I've found a death notice for my 4th great-grandfather, John BAKER (1792-1861) in the Yarmouth Herald, but haven't had much time until today to explore. We'll see what else comes up!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

PERKINS of Hampton, New Hampshire

This post traces the Hampton branch of my PERKINS ancestry.

Isaac PERKINS II was born in Hillmorton, England, in 1611, the son of Isaac I PERKINS and Alice UNKNOWN. Isaac I was the son of Thomas PERKINS and Alice KEBBLE of Hillmorton. Isaac II was a first cousin of John PERKINS who settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, both being grandsons of Thomas and Alice.

PERKINS memorial stone, Founder's Park, Hampton, NH
Photo courtesy of Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy

Ancestry line:

Thomas PERKINS (1527-1592) m. Alice KEBBLE
Isaac PERKINS I (1571-1629) m. Alice UNKNOWN
Isaac PERKINS II (1611-1685) m. Susannah WISE
Hannah PERKINS (b. 1655) m. James PHILBRICK
James PHILBRICK II (1677-1706) m. Sarah SILVER
Rachel PHILBRICK (1704-1767) m. Ephraim BROWN
Enoch BROWN (1728-1768) m. Elizabeth CLOUGH
Rachel BROWN (b. 1765) m. Robert GIBSON
Elizabeth GIBSON (b. 1784) m. Asa BLY
Sophronia C. BLY (1818-1905) m. John MACE
Elizabeth A. MACE (1846-1907) m. James W. WINSLOW
Bessie Maud WINSLOW (1886-1970) m. Frank Bailey PALMER
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father
Me (b. 1974)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Using newspapers in genealogy research

In this past week's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, Jesse Tyler Ferguson utilized old newspapers to follow the life and misadventures of his great-grandfather.

In my own research, I've found newspaper archives to be invaluable on many levels.

Firstly, they can "fill in the blanks" when vital records are not available. For example, no death record can be found for my 3rd great-grandfather Joshua PALMER, either online or by the New Hampshire vital records department. But on, I found a death notice for him, showing that he died in Concord, New Hampshire on 25 May 1864.

Another newspaper archive I found confirmed the identities of a 4th great-grandmother's parents.

Death notice for Joshua Palmer in the New Hampshire Patriot And State Gazette on June 8, 1864

Secondly, newspaper articles can supplement the bald facts we have about our ancestors, making their lives three-dimensional and not simply names and dates. The death record of another 3rd great-grandfather, William WINSLOW, gives his cause of death as "intemperance and exposure" (translation: "he froze to death while drunk"). I found-- again, on GenealogyBank--  an article describing how he had been socializing with friends the evening prior, and had left to walk home. When he hadn't made it home by the morning, a search party was formed. They found him in the woods, and rushed him to his house, but it was too late.. he passed away. The article made no mention of his being inebriated, probably out of respect for his widow and children.

Thirdly, and unrelated to genealogy, old newspapers are simply fantastic historical time capsules. On the same page as an article about the tragic death of my mother's uncle in a fire was an interesting blurb related to the U.S.'s increasing involvement in Vietnam, as well as a restaurant advertisement for an Easter dinner special.

So don't forget to explore old newspapers when looking for information about your ancestors! A few sites to get started:, GenealogyBank, and

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?: Jesse Tyler Ferguson

So I'm finally getting around to writing about the WDYTYA episode from Wednesday; again, I don't have cable, just Apple TV, and thus no access to the Lobotomy Learning Channel. TLC is not showing the full episodes on their site as they did last season, either, so I'm having to download it via iTunes on Thursdays.

This past Wednesday the program featured actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who should be familiar if you watch the show Modern Family.

Jesse researches the father of his beloved paternal grandmother Jessie Uppercu Ferguson. Her father's name was Jesse, thus this name has apparently been passed down. I'll henceforth refer to the actor as JTF so there's no confusion.

The rest of this entry contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet and don't want to know what happens, you might want to stop here....

I have to say that this was one of my favorite episodes of WDYTYA to date. JTF discovers that his great-grandfather Jesse Uppercu (pronounced "Upper-cue") was something of a con man, with scandal following him wherever he went: charges of murder and embezzlement, and then an expedition to the Klondike gone horribly wrong.

Hey, who doesn't have a bad apple-- or two-- in his/her family tree?

JTF tries to give his ancestor the benefit of the doubt, but the more that is discovered about Jesse Uppercu, the more difficult it becomes for him to do that.

One scene that made me laugh enough that I had to back it up and watch it again was when JTF learns that Jesse Uppercu sued for divorce from his first wife: Jesse's given reason was that she complained too much about the condition of the streets and the water in St. Louis. JTF just sort of rolls his eyes like, "Really?" And then right after this he finds that Jesse Uppercu is, yet again, arrested.

JTF, now exasperated with his great-grandfather, exclaims, "Pull it together, Jesse!"

Then, during the gold rush in the Klondike region of Alaska in the 1890's, Jesse Uppercu led an expedition of about 60 men there... only to find that his planned route was not going to work because the terrain was unexpectedly rough. He, along with about 25 others, abandoned the plan and left.

It seems that Jesse turned over a new leaf after his failed expedition to the Klondike, settled down with his third wife, who was JTF's great-grandmother, and let a quiet life from then on... much to the actor's relief.

From a research perspective, this episode focuses on using old newspapers to discover details and stories about one's ancestors; such articles and blurbs can fill in the blanks when vital records are not available.

Many old newspapers are archived online at sites such as and

So far this season, WDYTYA can't be accused of featuring boring stories...