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Honoring Our Ancestors
March 24, 2021


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Well, this has been a busy month in the genealogical world, eh? How many of you got pulled into the "creepy cool" world of ancestor-animation? You'll find several links involving my experimentation here. African American and Irish genealogy also feature this issue, as do DNA, serendipity, windows of the world, and a quilt - specifically, the one I had made of all the family history t-shirts I've accumulated over the years. Oh, and Barry Manilow. Yes, you read that right. I innocently went digging in his family tree, having no clue what was waiting for me. I suspect you'll be surprised, too.

Until next month, happy hunting!



Finding Barry Manilow’s Mysterious Grandfather

Harry Pincus mug shots (New York Department of Correction as seen in Walloomsick Review 22)

I should have known better when I decided to write an article about Barry Manilow’s Irish roots. As an Irish American fanilow, I wanted to know which town or city could lay claim to him (shout-out to Limerick!), but that’s not where the real story was — or where 80% of my research effort went. I only made it as far as his grandmother, Anna “Annie” Sheehan, before getting derailed when I accidentally tripped into a retro, true crime tale featuring a central character who disappeared.

When Harry Met Annie

A New York-born child of Irish immigrants, Annie married young, seemingly to escape a floundering household, but it turned out to be a fire-to-the-frying-pan situation. At the age of 16, she wed Harry Pincus, the son of Russian immigrants, at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Burial of baby Harry Pincus, Montefiore Cemetery

Two months later, their son — also named Harry — was born, and just two weeks later, he died. The young couple buried their first born on Christmas day at a Jewish cemetery.

Somehow, they soldiered on. Their second child, Harold, was born in 1920. He would spend life as an only child, just as his future son — Barry Manilow — would.

About this time, Annie’s husband began venturing from their Brooklyn home. His brothers moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts where they would establish themselves in the glass and automotive businesses, and he joined them — sort of. Though Pittsfield was his home base, he worked largely as a salesman and was said to have spent long stretches of time on the road. He also had a side hustle that occasionally kept him away from home — one hinted at by this photo of him with a woman believed to be Annie.

Berkshire Evening Eagle, 15 August 1930 (Newspapers)

You may have noticed that he’s attired in swimming garb of the day, but I doubt you guessed why. Harry was a strong man, but a very specific kind. Most of the stunts he did involved swimming long distances (one to two miles was typical) while pulling — with a rope in his teeth — up to five rowboats with men in them. He was even known to occasionally do this with his arms tied behind his back.

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Genealogy Roundup, March 17

From Ellen to Eileen – A tale of Irish American genealogical serendipity for St. Patrick's Day!

Joe Biden’s Irish Roots – A refresher on POTUS Joe Biden's Irish roots ☘️

Heaven help me, I could spend hours on this site:

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Genealogy Roundup, March 10

Animate Your Ancestors: Welcome to the world of retro reality – You know that piece I wrote recently about MyHeritage's Deep Nostalgia tool? I updated it to include advice about how to make the most of it, as well as some thoughts about the deepfake aspect.

Please consider reading and sharing your thoughts and experiences. Bonus points if you do so on Medium itself (article linked above), rather than on Facebook, but either place welcome.

In case you're not aware, the app has exploded well beyond the genealogical world and is now #1 with more than 8 million images having been processed, so I thought a serious update was warranted!

She found her birth father via DNA. He’s a fugitive accused of killing his whole family. – When it comes to genetic genealogy, I've always said don't ask if you don't want to know. Fortunately, she's taken this in stride, but this is still 😬.

National Personnel Records Center Prepares for Expansion of Onsite Workforce – Good (and long overdue) news for the genealogical community.

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Genealogy Roundup, March 3

Photo Credit: Caroline Johnston

A Proclamation on Irish-American Heritage Month, 2021 – It's that time of year! ☘️

Barry Manilow Is a Limerick Man – Would you have guessed that Barry Manilow has roots in Limerick, Ireland? ☘

MyHeritage to be Acquired by Leading Private Equity Firm Francisco Partners – So much happening in the genealogical corporate world these last few months. Now it’s MyHeritage’s turn.

19 Crimes wine and app – I just realized why I'm more comfortable with ancestor animation than some others. I've been using a variation of it since 2017 with the 19 Crimes app. From what I can see, the mouth is the hardest bit to animate, so I wonder if and when the ability to put words into our ancestors' mouths will arrive. 😬

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Genealogy Roundup, February 24

Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama launch new podcast – Tickled to have traced the roots of both of these men to Ireland! ☘️

I've had the privilege of researching a number of Black heroes for the Army. This thread features five of them (this post and the first 4 comments), starting with Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson. Killed in 1944, he's the first missing Tuskegee airman to be identified.

Name Game: Celebrities Have Nothing on the Rest of Us – "there were a whopping 2,323 people named Paris in the 1900 census, along with New Jersey Cannon, New Orleans Boice, Newark Berkowitz, Prague Sherman, Moscow Beard, Cairo Izard, Munich Miller, and Bombay Pasquale."

Torchon Portrait de Famille – How's this for a family portrait?

Philip Reed, The Enslaved Man Who Rescued Freedom – There's been a lot of coverage over the last month or so about the horrific discovery of tombstones from Columbian Harmony Cemetery, an African American cemetery in DC, being found in the Potomac, and while notables from the cemetery are often mentioned, I haven't seen any mention that Philip Reed, the once enslaved man responsible for placing the Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol, was also interred here. And that was *after* he had been moved from another cemetery.

Michelle Obama’s Jumper Roots: Proving Your Freedom Over and Over Again – Imagine that you're free, but you have to keep proving it. That's what happened to ancestors of Michelle Obama and countless others.

You know so many have been decluttering during COVID-time? Well, I did a bit of that as well and decided to have a quilt made from a bunch of my genealogy t-shirts, and I'm really tickled with the outcome. If you look closely, you'll see DNA, companies I've been associated with, Ellis Island/Annie Moore, shout-outs to my Irish/Rusyn heritage (including several Osturňa reuions), and assorted genealogy commentary we can all relate to. What do y'all think?

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