< Go back to newsletter archive

Honoring Our Ancestors
January 15, 2014


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Wow, 2014 is starting off with a bang! I’ve already researched Army cases, spoken up on behalf of forensic genealogists at a session in the U.S. Senate, helped solve the riddle of a 100+-year-old set of cremains, and picked up the trail of a woman who’s about to celebrate her 112th birthday. And for good measure, Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing was just released in audio format (8.75 hours if you need something to keep you company on your next road trip). I can tell this is going to be a fun year!

Here’s hoping 2014 delivers on its promise and explodes with genealogical discoveries for each and every one of us!



December 2013 Seton Shields Genealogy Grant Awarded

A grant has been given to Cathy Horn of Rochelle, NY to purchase archival quality supplies for her research on a tragic event at Grand Central Station (NYC) in 1902 which resulted in the deaths of 17 people and the destruction of the old Grand Central Depot, triggering the building of the present-day Grand Central Station. Once completed, Cathy will turn all documents and reports over to the Westchester County Historical Society in order to make them accessible to others.

Back to top^

They Say It's Your Birthday -- But It's Not

A hundred and twenty-two years ago, on Jan. 1, 1892, Ellis Island opened its doors and welcomed its first immigrant, Annie Moore of Ireland. As the first to arrive, Annie was briefly famous making headline news across the country and even overseas, but she quickly vanished until re-emerging decades later when the restoration of Ellis Island triggered a fresh round of curiosity about this immigrant pioneer.

Unfortunately, a curious confluence of events at the time led to the identification of an entirely different Annie Moore -- a woman born in Illinois -- as Ellis Island's first. This error was finally rectified in 2006 when the true Annie was discovered, but some misinformation persists, including the notion that she arrived on her 15th birthday. In reality, she was 17 and her birthday was in May, so not even close to January 1.

Annie Moore with her brothers Anthony (l) and Philip (r) at Ellis Island

It's easy to spot the origin of this mistaken belief as newspaper accounts of the day touted the happy coincidence of the Irish lass arriving on her 15th birthday, and this article from the New York World is likely the one that started it. Supposedly based on an interview with Annie's father, Matt, it claimed that he hoped that she would arrive on January 1 since she "was born on New Year's Day, 1877." Of course, the article also mentions her brothers Joe and Tom, who were actually named Anthony and Philip, but why let accuracy get in the way of a good yarn?

2 January 1892, New York World (newspaperarchive.com)

At the time of Annie's rediscovery in 2006, it required some effort to learn the truth, and it was Tim McCoy of Cork who invested some shoe leather to ferret out her Irish records to learn that Annie was born in May 1874, and not January 1877 as is so widely reported. Fast forward to today and it would have been far easier to figure this out as seen from this search result at FamilySearch.org.

And yet, in spite of the fact that this can now be found online in mere seconds at no cost, the myth persists. A search of "Annie Moore," coupled with "Ellis Island" and "birthday" or "15" turns up tens of thousands of hits no matter which engine one favors.

Poor Annie had to wait 114 years after she arrived to be correctly identified. Let's hope that 2014 is the year we finally get her age right!

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, January 6

Almost time to hold the wake for that critical 3 years of data. (SSDI)

Century-old remains returned to Ceres family

Can't get enough of stories like this: Holocaust Survivor Meets Her Liberator Nearly 70 Years Later

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, December 30

History comes calling as soldier's dogtag surfaces

Why shouldn't children have their mother's surname?

Cool! I'm in CostCo Connection Canada! p. 66

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, December 24

Breast cancer caught super-early. Shows the power of what 23andMe offers. "How Genealogy Saved (or Significantly Changed) My Life"

Back to top^

Genealogy Round Up, December 16

Family history in a public restroom - seriously.

Sweet video about a restored photo. Apparently folks on Reddit are helping others for free. Very generous of them.

8 generations and lots of variations on David & Davis: Carbon copy: Utah family re-creates 110-year-old, 4-generation photo

Back to top^

Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries since 2000, I’ve decided to take a breather from the road to tend to some long-neglected projects. There will likely be a few exceptions, and those will be shared here, but you can see if I’ll be in your area any time by checking my Events Calendar. A thousand thank you's to the thousands of you who have been kind enough to come to my talks over the course of these road warrior years!

Back to top^