Tuesday, March 3, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 8 The Tragic Life of Charles Pittard Cummings

I was recently working on cousins - and ran into Charles Pittard Cummings.   He married my 5th cousin, 6x removed!   Not exactly a close relative.     I happened to do a search in newspapers.com and came across a couple of articles about Mr. Cummings.    Namely - the story, the sad story, of his death.

Mr. Cummings lived a short life in New York.  He was born in 1834 and died in 1879.   Here is his story:


This article was followed by another article the following day:

I was amazed at the lengths that the writers of these articles went to put the life and death of poor Mr. Cummings in the best possible light!

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.  Brooklyn, NY, Tuesday August 19, 1879.  
The New York Times, New York, NY, Wednesday August 20, 1879.

Monday, March 2, 2015

#52Ancestors Week 7: Benjamin Jackson - Where do the facts end and the story begin?

I'm still playing catch up for #52ancestors     So we'll pretend I'm writing this 2 weeks ago!!

I've been delving a bit more into my maternal grandmother's family the last little bit and came across the most amazing story.    Completely undocumented, of course.    I decided I wanted to see how much of this I can actually find documentation for.

Benjamin Jackson (from www.jacksonfamilyhistory.com)

First - the story.   I've seen this story several places on the internet - in several blogs, on www.familysearch.net, family trees, etc.  I don't know for sure where it originated - or from whom.     Since I'm not known for my creative writing skills - I'll just quote the story as found on the www.jacksonfamilyhistory.com web site.    On the image of the document - it is attributed to Donald L. Haynie.   The link directly to the document is here.

"Benjamin joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints in the early days when the Gospel was first taught in England by Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and others.  After he joined the Church, he was very faithful and, quite naturally, he wanted to "gather to Zion.".
Benjamin was a carpenter by trade.  He and his family decided that he should go ahead to America and, there, he would work as a carpenter to earn money which he would send back to England to pay the way to America for the rest of the family.  In 1849, he boarded a sailing vessel bound for America.
He was not heard from again until the late 1860s.  About the year 1870, he came into Nephi, Utah, riding a mule, hunting his family.  It was as though he had been raised from the dead.  He told the story of his life while he had been away from his family.  He had successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean but, while crossing the Plains, he had joined a group of "Forty-Niners" on their way to California to search for gold.  He never wrote to his family in England or, if he had written, his family never received his letters.  And, he seemed to have been satisfied to live without his family for many years.  It is believed that he lived and worked in the area of Grass Valley, California, Near Sacramento.
When the Jackson family arrived in Utah in 1856, they took action to have Benjamin declared legally dead, since the had not heard from him for seven years.   His wife, Ann Grimshaw Jackson, was declared a widow.  Later she married a Brother Jenkins with whom she was living when Benjamin arrived in Nephi.
Benjamin built a small house on the north side of Nephi, and married "Old Lady" Scoggins with whom he lived for some time.  He turned his mule out on the range.  It is said that he left the bridle and saddle on the mule, so that it would be ready to ride in the spring.
Later Samuel and Hannah built a lean-to onto their home and Benjamin lived in it for a few years until 1880, when he moved to Salt Lake City to live with his oldest daughter, Elizabeth Jackson Kirkman where he died on January 4, 1887.  His Body is buried in Salt Lake city.
Benjamin's children were not satisfied with their mother being sealed to Brother Jenkins, so, on October 12, 1894, all of the children who were members of the Church, met in the Salt Lake Temple, where they had the sealing annulled, and had their father and mother, Benjamin Jackson and Ann Grimshaw, sealed to each other, and the children, in turn, were sealed to their parents."

In addition to this story - there were others that popped up when searching that mention that Ann, along with the youngest of the children arrived in America in 1856 aboard the ship Horizon and made their way to Nebraska.   One story mentions that the oldest son - John was living in Boston already by 1856 and that some of the family wanted to visit him before heading west, but Samuel, another son, prevented it because he was afraid some or all of the family would stay with John.    The stories also talk about how the family was assigned to the Martin Handcart group.  This is the group that was trapped in the mountains in winter and was rescued when Brigham Young received word in Salt Lake City that they had departed Winter Quarters much too late in the fall.      The location which seems to have the most information about this is www.findagrave.com.   Though, again, there is no documentation or indication as to the source of the various stories.    The Find-A-Grave link for Ann Grimshaw Jackson Jenkins is here.

OK - now the facts - that I have been able to confirm:

  • 1849 - Benjamin Jackson came to America.     False.   Benjamin Jackson appears on the 1851 census living in Manchester, England with his wife, Ann and children:  William, Elizabeth, Martha, John, Joseph, Samuel, and Nephi.
  • 1854 So when DID Benjamin Jackson come to America?    There is a Benjamin Jackson coming to America in 1854 aboard the ship:  John M. Wood, leaving Liverpool on 12 March 1854 and arrive in New Orleans on 2 May 1854.  Benjamin is listed in the ships manifest with an age of 53, occupation of plasterer, address of 8 Welsley St. off Butler St., Manchester, England.   The log indicates his passage was paid by the P.E. Fund - which I assume is the Mormon Church's Perpetual Emigration Fund.   He is the only Jackson listed on this manifest.     Is this the same Benjamin Jackson?    I'm going to have to say yes on this - - - the age is right, the occupation of plasterer is reasonably close to carpenter.   But - the most convincing evidence is the address - 8B Welsley Street, Manchester, England is the address from 1851 census.    
  • 1849 - Joined up with some "forty-niners" and headed to California to find gold.  False - though its possible he may have gone to California between 1854 and 1870 - since we don't know where he was during that time.
  • 1856 - Ann Jackson and children arrive in Utah as part of the Martin Handcart Company.    This is confirmed by the Pioneer Overland Travel website.   Click here.  Did Samuel really stop the family from visiting John in Boston?   No idea.    John was in England as of the 1851 Census, and married in Massachusetts in 1859.    I was not able to determine when he came to America.  He would have been 18-19 at the time the rest of his family headed to Utah.
  • 1856 - Declared Dead.    I cannot find any documentation of this.  I'm not sure what the requirements were in 1856.  The stories I read all specify that he had not been heard from in 7 years.   This clearly is not the case.
  • 1850-70 Ann marries "Brother Jenkins".   It appears that "Brother Jenkins" is James Jenkins.   I don't find any marriage confirmation but James Jenkins does appear on the 1870 census living with someone named "Ann".   I have not been able to find any indication of a marriage or confirmation that the Ann in the Jenkins' household is Ann Grimshaw Jackson.
  • 1860's - Heard from in the late 1860's.    No documentaton - first sign of him after leaving England is on the 1870 census from Nephi, Utah.
  • 1870 - Came to Nephi.   True - he shows up on the 1870 census living in Nephi, Utah.
  • 1870-1880 - married "Old Lady" Scoggins.    I cannot find any documentation of a 2nd marriage.  I did look through the 1870 census and found a Samuel and Mary Scriggins.  When I looked at the actual document - it could be Scoggins.   I was able to determine, however, that Mary died in 1872, and Samuel in 1879  - so Mary could not have been "Old Lady Scoggins".   I did not find any other Scoggins in Nephi in the 1870 census.  This does not rule out the possibility that "Old Lady Scoggins" appeared sometime after the 1870 census.   By 1880 Benjamin is living with his son - so presumably if there was an "Old Lady Scoggins" - she died prior to 1880.
  • 1870-80  - Samuel built a lean to next to his house and Benjamin lived in it.    Benjamin does show up living with Samuel and his family in 1880.   No idea if it was in an adjacent lean to or not, he is enumerated as part of the family unit, no indication he was in a separate dwelling.
  • 1880 - Moved to Salt Lake City and lived with daughter Elizabeth (Kirkman).   Unknown - he is still living in Nephi with Samuel's family as of the 1880 Census.
  • 1887 - Died and buried in Salt Lake City.  Benjamin is buried in Salt Lake City at the Salt Lake Cemetery.   The 1887 Record of the Dead for Salt Lake City does show a Benjamin Jackson, born in Manchester England, who died on 4 January 1887 of Old Age.  Presumably that is him.

What an interesting story.  I suspect it has become somewhat embellished over the years.   Who really knows if he kept a bridle and saddle on his mule?    


Monday, February 16, 2015

#52Ancestors Week 6 (4 days late!!) A tragic mule ride in Hawaii.......

I did not have a chance to finish week 6 before I headed to RootsTech last Wednesday - so here it is!!

I was working on updating some records this week and ran into a person who never married, and died quite young,

I was quite intrigued what the story was went on a mission to find the story.....

John Edward Kirkman is my great-grand uncle.   He was born in 1886 and died in 1910.

Mules Grazing in Hawaii
After poking around a bit - I did find out what happened.   John Edward Kirkman was killed while serving an L.D.S. mission in Hawaii.   He was riding a mule between settlements, along a path that bordered the ocean, and the mule slipped and it and John fell into the ocean below, and John drowned.  At first - there was no body to be found, but later  his body was recovered.  What a sad event for this family.

Here are the articles I found which say what happens much better than I could:

Later on - this appears in The Improvement ERA

Published in the New Improvement ERA, Volume 14 in Nov 1911.

The Logan Republican, 12 January 1911, accessed on newspapers.com on 16 Feb 2015
The New Improvement ERA, Volume 14, accessed on books.google.com on 16 Feb 2015

RootsTech - Day 3 (2 days late!!)

Sorry for the late post - I had no time to post an update on Saturday, and was too lazy to do it on Sunday!     But Monday is here - and it is a work holiday!

This day was fully of annoying and dumb people!   Those that know me - know that I will give you the evil eye and/or say something if you are too annoying - and the filter was thin this day!

#1 Those people who sign up for the Family Discovery Day (Free) - then try to "sneak" into the RootsTech (Paid) breakouts with the other 20,000 of us.      Case in point - the ancestry.com breakout re: Tips and Tricks.   No fewer than 5 times since I had entered the room did the room host say that if you have the bright green band - YOU NEED TO LEAVE.   Yet - behind me sat a large group of women - their bright green bands clearly displayed, pretending not to hear, or assuming that they had the green bands with special powers and surely the announcer was not referring to THEM!!    This break out was standing room only - with people being thrown out.   Finally after several evil eyes from me and some others around them - they stood up and announced they "guessed" they should leave.   /sigh  You think?    This was a guess?

#2 The people sitting next to me in the hosted lunch by Ancestry.dna.  Turns out they both have ancestors from Germany - and they were VERY excited about this.  Yes people, you 2 are the ONLY people here with ancestors from Germany, and you managed to find each other - AMAZING!    So amazing that they couldn't seem to SHUT UP about it - even after the presenters were trying to present.    After several evil eyes from me, and a few Shhhh's from ppl behind/next to me.  I leaned over and asked them to either be quiet or go outside.    They looked shocked!  But to their credit - they did shut up.

#3 Same lunch - the woman behind me who is SURE that the DNA did not give her the correct results - who stated as much, and had her answer from the panel, but still could not shut up about it.   She didn't catch on to the evil eye either- and I asked her to shut up.

#4 The award goes to the person sitting behind me.  Evil eye would not work here because we were at round tables, and her back was to my back.   She answered her phone at least 3 times, and chatted - because yes, that is appropriate, and yes - everybody near wants to hear her obnoxious stories, and yes - when everybody else in the room is being quiet - it's fine for YOU to speak.     The best, however, is when her phone rings - YET AGAIN - and the person at the table next to me starts talking.  And the idiot behind me gets all excited because GUESS WHAT!?!?!   She's so excited that her and her long lost import telephone caller are actually in the SAME FREAKING ROOM, sitting at tables next to each other and isn't that AMAZING??!!??

Day 3 started - as usual - with a general session.   2 key note speakers in this one - A.J. Jacobs and Donny Osmond.

A.J. Jacobs is a funny guy!  I've heard him on NPR before, and he is even more interesting in person!  He talked about how he got the idea for the Global Family Reunion.  He also talked about his year of living biblically.   Fascinating!

Next up - Donny Osmond.    I was unsure what to expect from him - since I didn't know of any obvious connection to family history or genealogy.    He was surprising.  Very funny.   He has no shortage of ego!  And the occasional break out into song was entertaining!

First break out session - Ancestry - Tips and Tricks:  I love hearing Crista Cowan present, and after the utter disappointment when another Ancestry employee obliterated this class at the Family Search conference at BYU last summer - I was excited to hear someone who knew what she was talking about.   Other than idiots in the room (see #1 above) and some technical difficulties - she did not disappoint.  I learned much!

Next was lunch - - -this was hosted by Ancestry.com and the topic was AncestryDNA.    I love this topic.   There were some issues - see #2,3 and 4 above - but it was fascinating.   The science people attend this lunch - so you get a different view.  That being said - some sciency people should not be allowed to interact with the general public - and I'm sure there were a couple of people offended in this session.

Janet Hovorka was next - with:  6 steps to Choreograph Your Research Across the Internet.   This was an interesting class, and she always does a  good job.   I didn't learn anything earth shattering in here though.

Next - Nifty and Powerful Technologies for Genealogical Analysis and Documentation, hosted by Ron Arons.   This was interesting - and I would love to hear more about his work on forensics.   But  this could have been a hand out.  He listed sites, costs, and refused questions, and had very little explanation as to what these sites do.

Last class - You Don't Own Your Ancestors hosted by James Tanner.   This was a fascinating class that had quite a few people in the room upset.    Basically - the name says it all.   That research you think is "yours" really isn't and you need to get over it.  His message - learn to share and play nice with others.

All in all - it was a great meeting and I'm looking forward to next year already!!!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

RootsTech Day 2

Day 2 at #RootsTech began with a general session.     There were 2 key-note speakers.   D. Joshua Taylor and former First Lady Laura Bush, who was joined by her daughter Jenna for an interview on stage as well.

I love hearing and watching Joshua Taylor - he's a great speaker - very knowledgeable, but super funny.     He told a story about how he used to steal cheese as a child, and later learned that one of his ancestors had been transported to Australia for theft...... of cheese.

Next - Laura Bush gave a phenomenal presentation about family and life in the White House.   I haven't heard her speak before - she is funny, and terribly sarcastic.   The audience was touched by her presentation, particularly the part the covered the events of September 11th.

My first break out what - 6 Things you Need to Know about Picture Sharing On Line.   I had higher hopes for this class - it was more like being lectured too, and nothing other than common sense and warnings to be careful.  Thanks - I knew that part - I'd like a little clarification here - its confusing!   

Next - New Innovation at Ancestry:  Better Research and Powerful Stories.      I heard a little bit about the BETA going on with Ancestry during the Innovators Summit.  I signed up for it.   But I had not figured out yet how to get my account to actually show it.     I read that this presentation was going to talk about some new things at Ancestry - including the BETA underway.   This breakout did not disappoint!  The presenter, Dan Lawyer, was funny and the session was very informative.   During the presentation I figured out how to get into the BETA on my iPad and was able to follow along - and I must say - I LOVE IT.     I spent most of the evening working in the BETA version of Ancestry - and I quickly got used to it - - - the links for FamilySearch are not yet in there - so once I needed to access that, I went back to the regular version.

Next up - AncestryDNA.   Another phenomenal breakout - and this one was FULL.   We were packed like sardines in here!   One of the big reasons I wanted to go to this session was to learn more about "Circles" - how they were made, how they worked, and what you can do with them.       I walked away with yet more ideas to research with DNA  (some of which I was working on all evening!!)

Next - Genealogists, Technologists, Privacy Advocates:  We Really Need to Talk!   I was hoping this would be a better discussion about how to handle privacy concerns in genealogy (Can you right-click and copy those pictures?   Put them on a blog?)   Nope.  This is definitely not what this session was about.   The purpose of this session was for the presenters to push their position on some legislation that is being proposed regarding the SSDI.     I can see both sides to this story - but I fear these guys are a little on the conspiracy theory side of things, and their efforts may damage the cause.   Their focus is on one aspect of this case - and they are missing some really big points.      Had it been a larger room, I would have slipped out - unfortunately - it was not possible to do without being really really obvious!

After that - I headed back to the hotel.............  I passed this-which I thought was a parking meter - but turns out it's a clever way to donate money to help the homeless!

It's late - and I'm headed to bed!  Final day tomorrow!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

RootsTech Day 1

#RootsTech day 1 started early.........

I went to breakfast and met Barb.    Barb makes jewelry - really lovely jewelry.   She uses a couple different mediums - but the most interesting is old spoons!   Yes - old spoons.   She hammers them out flat and designs tree of life type patterns then hand cuts them out.     You can find out more about Barb and Barb's Branches here.

I ended up visiting Barb's booth and I bought myself a new pendant - I love it.   This is one she made out of copper.   I think I'm going to head back tomorrow and check out rings!

There were 2 key note speakers again today.    The first one was Dennis Brimhall, President & CEO of Family Search.   I've heard him speak before.  He is a great speaker.  Very knowledgeable and funny!     

Next was Tan Le.  She told an incredible story of her journey from Vietnam to Australia and later to the United States.    It is an incredible story - and the audience was mesmerized. 

Next - I headed to my first break out of the day - Map My Ancestors.    This one was OK-nothing earth shattering or particularly new.   The presentation was a little dry.  It was being filmed and I got the impression that the presenter was a little nervous.

After lunch at Olive Garden, I headed to break out #2.    Genetic Genealogy:  The Birth of the DNA Revolution.   This was one of the best break outs ever.     It was presented by Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA, and one of the most interesting and informative presentations on DNA I have ever heard.   The history, the process that led him to be one of the pioneers in the DNA for genealogy movement, and his ability to present complex material in an amazingly easy to understand format blew me away.   I debated between 3 breakouts - I am so glad I selected this one.     I walked away with a few ideas for tackling some of my own DNA mysteries.

Next - more DNA information - this time with CeCe Moore.    This presentation:  Exploring Family Stories with DNA from PBS' Finding your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - was another one of my all time favorites.    The audience got a glimpse at the process that CeCe Moore uses to solve genealogy mysteries and some of the stories that never make it to the show.    Incredibly informative!  And yet more ideas to deal with some DNA mysteries I am working on.

Last break out of the day was:  Using Technology to Uncover your Genealogical Treasure Trove.    Somewhere I missed the boat on this one - I didn't realize that it focused specifically on tracking down the genealogy of African Americans.    But - despite this not being a topic that I've struggled with personally - this presenter was AMAZING.   This session was hosted by Janis Forte.  I've never heard of her.   She was fantastic!   Super funny, and down to earth, but with a lot of experience and hints of how to research this topic.   I could have listened to her for another hour easily!    

After the sessions - I headed to the opening night social - The One Voice Children's Choir with Alex Boye.  The kids were amazing and a pleasure to listen to............    I had to give the evil eye to the couple behind me and finally flat out told them to go talk somewhere else.    SOME PEOPLE!!!!!

Tonight - I'm going to log into Ancestry.com and check it out - I signed up for the beta today and I'm anxious to see what is out there - though it's so late I won't have much time!

Tomorrow I will be there early - as First Lady Barbara Bush is one of the key note speakers and I expect it will be PACKED!!!

Oh - check this out - a water fountain with a water bottle filler!     Made me chuckle!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

RootsTech 2015 - Innovator Summit

This year - I decided to attend the Innovator Summit at #rootstech.  This summit is held on Wednesday, the day before the official first day of RootsTech.   It is devoted to more "techy" related topics in the genealogical community.   Since I work in the software industry - I thought this would be a great blend of both work and hobby - and it was!!

Welcome to Innovator Summit Day!

Even though I live close enough to commute to RootsTech - I like to stay downtown anyway!     So - last night - I got out my suitcase to pack - and was presented with 2 very sad faces!!!

Bella and Peanut

This morning - I went downtown and intended to leave my suitcase at the hotel - and then come back later to check in.   To my surprise - there was a room ready for me.  Go Marriott!!!  At 8am!!!   So I was able to get checked in, drop everything off in my room, grab a coffee at Starbucks and head over to the Salt Palace for the 9am

Sunny Hotel Room at 8am!

Salt Palace

There were 2 speakers in the general session.    Scott Sorensen, the Chief Technology Officer at Ancestry.com spoke first.  He talked about the history of Ancestry.com, and the ways they innovate, despite being a fairly large company.

Next, Nathan Furr spoke about innovation, what it means, how to do it, etc..  He was an amazing speaker - I have a few ideas I will be taking back to work with me - since innovation is a key focus this year where I work.

Next I headed over to the first breakout:  Inside Look at Ancestry.com's Innovation and Product Development.      This was a presentation of several key people at Ancestry.com and provided more information and details about the process used to innovate.    I have even more items from this presentation to talk about at work.  This was phenomenal!

Following the breakout - lunch was served and the top 8 finalists of the Innovator Challenge presented their projects to a panel of judges.  The top 4 will be determined and present later this week.   Some interesting ideas here - and one "miss".    The miss was a project to keep medical history for your family and be able to deliver it to various members of the family quickly when needed - say during a medical emergency.     Perhaps they did not get the overview of the audience that attends RootsTech...........


Next - I left the Innovator Summit - and headed on over to the FGS track to listen to a presentation by Judy Russell, about ethics and genealogy.   I heard Judy Russell speak last year at RootsTech and thoroughly enjoyed it and have followed her blog - http://legalgenealogist.com/.     This was a fascinating presentation.  I am never quite sure what the rules are about using pictures from something like Ancestry or FamilySearch.   This presentation was more an overview, I will be attending 2 more related breakouts later on as well.

Judy Russell - The Legal Genealogist

After this - I headed back over to the Innovator Summit side of the Salt Palace with the intent on attending a break out about automation.   This was supposed to last 2 hours - and it was not what I thought it was........  I was expecting something along the lines of automating processes, tasks - in a techy software type discussion.  What it actually was - several genealogists with a wish list for the developers in the audience asking for help with research, etc.    I was starving and left after an hour to head back to the hotel to do a little work and get some dinner!

View from My Hotel Room - Salt Palace is on the Right-Middle

At 7 - I headed back to the Salt Palace to attend the FGS evening social, which I have been looking forward to ever since I heard about it!    Behind the Scenes:  Family History & Television.   I watch every genealogy related TV show on - Finding your Roots, Genealogy Roadshow and Who Do You Think You Are.    I LOVE those shows.   And this evening social was with some of the "stars" and researchers for those shows.      

Salt Palace at Night

The first part of the evening was watching excerpts from the various shows - including a clip of an upcoming episode of Genealogy Roadshow.  Next - the panel answered audience questions.   It was fascinating!   One of my favorite questions was about whether the shows were scripted.   The answer was yes and no - there are outlines, and writers, but the people presenting have a lot of latitude.    And it was a resounding no scripting at all for the people who are highlighted - across the board, all the reactions are real.     The panelists from Who Do You Think You Are told us that the celebrities they highlight don't know what to expect - including where they will be going, or what they will be hearing.  They are told what kind of clothing to pack and whether they need a passport or not - that is it.

Behind the Scenes Panel
Now - I'm back in my room - and looking forward to Day 1 tomorrow!!!