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Honoring Our Ancestors
February 24, 2016


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

There's a little bit of everything here this month — Alex Haley's Scottish roots, A WWII vet's reunion with his wartime girlfriend, Springsteen's Irish hometown, grants, Susan Hadler's touching story about the father she never knew, a fellow who plastered his entire house with family photos (on the outside!), a few against-the-odds reunions, and — well, just take a browse when you have a few minutes!

Heads up to those of Irish heritage — as I predicted in an article I wrote last year (see pages 88-91), both FindMyPast and Ancestry are releasing an index to the estimated 10 million Irish Catholic parish records in the National Library of Ireland's collection. While it's been online since last summer, we'll have a comprehensive index from two separate sources (always a good thing!), making it exponentially easier to find those Emerald Island ancestors-in-hiding! This is worth getting excited about!

I'll end here to leave you to your browsing and research!



A Letter from Langston Hughes regarding Sgt. Henry Johnson

Here's a letter I found while researching Henry Johnson for the Army last year. Sgt. Johnson was an African American WWI hero who finally received the Medal of Honor from President Obama last year. All told, I dug up over 1,300 pages of material on this overlooked soldier. Among the more interesting finds was this letter by Langston Hughes seeking information on him back in 1958.

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grants

I'll be considering applications for my next genealogy grant before long, so here's a reminder to get yours in if you've been intending to. Submissions remain active candidates for six months from the date I receive them.

To apply for a Seton Shields grant, fill out and submit the form here. You can see examples of past grant awards here.

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Genealogy Round Up, February 17

Genetic Family Reunion: DNA Reveals Alex Haley's Scottish Roots — For those who haven't seen it, this is a video about how DNA revealed the Scottish heritage of "Roots" author, Alex Haley. In fact, you'll see his nephew, Chris Haley, meet his Scottish cousin, June Black. As a bonus, you get to see Chris out-sing London traffic! And not so incidentally, one of the cooler aspects of this is that DNA wound up confirming family lore. I thought I'd share it again in light of the upcoming May launch of the 21st century version of "Roots." Watch this and you'll know something most viewers won't!

The Manhattan Burial Crisis of 1822 Makes Every Cemetery Today Seem Amazing

How the Smithsonian Institution Is Crowdsourcing History

Lilywhites invite 'The Boss' back to his ancestral home — So now the folks from Rathangan are hoping Bruce will come for a visit since his great-great-grandmother hailed from there - maybe in May??

How Your DNA Can Reveal Your Surname — Well, I can believe that this works well in the UK, but I think it's much iffier in the US - though I wish it were the case! Otherwise, the 4 Smolenyak families in the world would share the same Y-DNA, when in fact, we're 4 different haplogroups! And in general, I've found quite a few cases where this hoped-for situation didn't materialize in the results. Still, very handy for our English cousins and those of us with UK heritage!

Places You Can No Longer Go: Nueva Germania — This is one of those weird pockets of history you never hear about - and one that will likely explain someone's unexpected DNA results one day.

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Genealogy Round Up, February 10

Virginia Beach WWII vet Norwood Thomas reunites with wartime girlfriend in Australia — Reunited and it feels so good! Virginia WWII vet back with his English wartime girlfriend in Australia! Thanks to The Virginian-Pilot who first shared this story!

VIDEO: Sneak Peek - TLC Premieres New Docu-Series LONG LOST FAMILY, 3/6 — You know how we've all been scratching our heads wondering about TLC's version of "Long Lost Family," which was piloted so long ago and then disappeared? Well, it's finally going to start airing on March 6th. And like every other genealogical show in the U.S., it's sponsored by Ancestry. Based on this preview, it looks more promising than other adoption-reunion shows that have run in America.

On the Prowl for Springsteen’s Irish Roots — So Bruce Springsteen is going to play Ireland in May. Wonder if he'll make a jaunt to Rathangan, Co. Kildare to explore his roots? Incidentally, his then-14-year-old gggrandmother came to the US in the winter of 1853 with 2 younger sisters in tow. Song-worthy, don't you think?!

Long White House tradition nears end for a family descended from a slave — What an intriguing family history! Thanks to Suzanne Smith for sharing this!

Photos: 70 Years Of Family Photos Are Plastered On This Manhattan Beach House — Fun story from Suzanne Smith! Who's going to decorate their house on the outside?!

What Race Is Bruno Mars? — For those who enjoyed the Half Time show during Super Bowl 50, here's a peek into the family tree of Bruno Mars. Good looking granddad, eh?

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Genealogy Round Up, February 3

12-Year-old’s Time Capsule From 1949 Returned to Him as a Man in His 70s

'Mr Big' Chris Noth lands in Ireland to research his ancestry — Chris Noth films in County Cavan, Ireland & Serbia for "Who Do You Think You Are?" So next season includes Mr. Big & Molly Ringwald.

A Father’s Invisible PresenceSusan Johnson Hadler shared her incredible story on the very first TV show I ever worked on - "Ancestors" on PBS. Recently, she wrote a book about her rediscovery of the father she had never known, and Utne Reader has included an excerpt. Take a read and a browse. You won't be disappointed.

Cameron Boyce Shares His Grandma's Story In a Black History Month Video for Disney — Loved this video. Hope you will, too.

Mother, daughter reunited after 82 years of separation

The Merry Cemetery — Who thinks ALL cemeteries should be merry ones?

Michelle Obama’s Ancestors: The Great Mixing

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Genealogy Round Up, January 27

Photo Credit: Loozrboy

New York’s Statue of Liberty is Just One of Many Worldwide — Lady Liberty gets around.

After wave of donations, D-Day vet plans to reunite with wartime girlfriend in Australia — I LOVE this! Look at the smile on his face! That is one happy 93 year old!

Woman abducted as a child is reunited with her mother 40 years later

Places You Can No Longer Go: The London Necropolis Railway

The World's Oldest Hotel Has Been a Family Business for 1,300 Years — Whoa! Hard to top 1,300 years!

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Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries, I decided to take a breather from the road to tend to some projects. That said, I'm sharing exceptions here. And by the way, you can see if I’ll be in your area any time by checking my Events Calendar.

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