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Honoring Our Ancestors
January 27, 2020


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Happy 2021, y'all! This month's issue features a fellow I've been looking for a very long time – Arne. Many of you know about my grand obsession with Annie Moore, the first to arrive at Ellis Island. Well, Arne was the last to depart Ellis Island when it closed in 1954. For years, we've been wondering what became of him, and I finally figured it out. Turns out he was a colorful fellow!

Aside from that, you'll find the usual variety of genealogical topics ranging from still more uses of DNA to old teeth found in walls (yes, really).

Here's to fresh beginnings and genealogical discoveries for all of us!



Solving the Mystery of Arne Pettersen, the Last to Leave Ellis Island

Annie Moore and Arne Pettersen were Ellis Island’s bookends. An Irish teenager, Annie was the first to arrive when the immigration processing center opened its doors on January 1, 1892. 62 years later on November 12, 1954, Norwegian seaman Arne would be the last to depart. Both experienced a fleeting moment of fame before falling through the cracks of history for decades to come.

Annie re-emerged in the late-1980s in conjunction with the re-opening of Ellis Island as a museum site, but working on a PBS documentary in 2002, I discovered that the Annie being touted had been born in Illinois rather than Ireland. That was the easy part. Finding Ellis Island’s true Annie Moore would take me another four years.

Now that Annie’s story was known, it was only natural that I would turn my attention to Arne. Had he become an American citizen? Did he return to Norway? Maybe he settled elsewhere or died at sea. I had to know what happened to him.

But like Annie, he was evasive — at least in part for the same reason: his name was so common, especially when you considered all the potential spellings (Pettersen, Petersen, Petterson, Peterson, etc.). Time after time, I scoured both online and offline resources, but came up empty or uncertain. Until now. Years later, Ellis Island’s last has finally surrendered his secrets.

Click here to continue reading.

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Follow Me on Medium!

Hey, y'all, For those of you who follow me on Medium, you can now subscribe to get an email whenever I publish a new article. Not necessary to subscribe by any means (I'll share many of my Medium pieces in this monthly newsletter), but since I'm so random about when I write, I thought some might find this handy.

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Genealogy Roundup, January 20

Photo Credit: PA

Why Joe Biden probably won’t be marking his West Sussex roots any time soon – I got the last word in this article. 😆

Biden sworn in as president with a massive family heirloom Bible dating back to 1893 – And here’s more information about where his Biden roots are from in England: link.medium.com/FJCpJAh8lcb

Joe Biden’s Irish Roots – ☘️

Hundreds of teeth found in Downtown Valdosta wall – You know you’re a genealogist when you read something like this and your first thought is genetic and isotopic testing. 🦷 🧬 🦷

Pretty cool getting quoted in Danish:

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Genealogy Roundup, January 13

Photo Credit: Johnson County Museum of History

The Record Keepers’ Rave – If you're not on Twitter yet, you might want to join just for the Archives Hashtag Parties.

Pharmacogenetic and Genealogy Pioneers Merge for Historic Partnership – Was wondering when something like this would happen. Family Tree DNA merging with an Australian company. 🧬

Philip Reed, The Enslaved Man Who Rescued Freedom – Seemed a fitting time to remind people of this chapter of American history.

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Joe Biden’s Roots – Thinking there might be a surprise or two in here for everyone. Here's one snippet:

"The more you explore the branches of the family tree, the more living cousins you’ll find with ancestry of all stripes — Japanese, Russian and German Jewish, Puerto Rican, and so forth. And like Barack Obama, he has Hawaiian cousins. When I reached out to one to explain the connection, not surprisingly, the reaction was, “What!?”"

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Genealogy Roundup, January 6

Photo Credit: Colin Crowley

Researchers uncover foreign aid workers who fathered children abroad – Genetic genealogy being used for yet another purpose

On January 1st, 129 years ago, Annie Moore of Ireland was the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island. This video is her long overdue 2008 memorial service when I had the honor of reading a letter from almost-POTUS Obama. Let's hope that 2021 is the year when we once again welcome immigrants.🗽

Am I the last one who still has one of these?:

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Genealogy Roundup, December 23

Photo Credit: Anson Chan

DNA Is Now Solving Decades-Old Newborn Killings – Another factor that should have been given greater consideration before widespread use of genetic genealogy for crime-solving.

Tantsuj tantsuj vikruːtsaj. Online library will teach you how to sing Slovak songs

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