Archive for the ‘Things I find interesting’ Category

Museum finds “secret” message in Lincoln’s watch

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A gold watch owned by Abraham Lincoln bears a message marking the start of the U.S. Civil War, but the president never knew of the “secret” inscription uncovered on Tuesday at the National Museum of American History.The engraving, by watchmaker Jonathan Dillon, is dated April 13, 1861, and reads in part: “Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels” and “thank God we have a government.”

The museum said it agreed to open the watch to find out if the message really was there after it was contacted by the watchmaker’s great-great-grandson, Doug Stiles of Waukegan, Illinois.

The American Civil War began when Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.

Forty-five years later, Dillon the watchmaker told The New York Times that he was repairing Lincoln’s watch when he heard that the first shots of the Civil War had been fired.

Dillon said he unscrewed the dial of the watch and used a sharp instrument to mark the historic day on the president’s watch. He told the newspaper that, as far as he knew, no one had ever seen the inscription.

“Lincoln never knew of the message he carried in his pocket,” Brent Glass, director of the National Museum of American History said in a statement. “It’s a personal side of history about an ordinary watchman being inspired to record something for posterity.”

Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States in November 1860. In the lead up to the Civil War, South Carolina and six other states seceded from the Union before Lincoln’s inauguration in March 1861.

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Patricia Zengerle)

For those that wore the gray CSA dedication, William Redding Byers

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

September 20th 2008 was the culmination of 3 years of research and 9 months of planning….we finally got to have the tombstone dedication for my husbands 3rd great grandfather, William Redding Byers “Redin” who fought with a SC regiment in the War of Northern Aggression and can I just say it was worth every stressful planning moment I had!!!  It was well attended by family, reenactors and the newspaper.

I finally got the website for the dedication service done, if anyone is interested in looking at it :)

CSA Dedication Service for William Redding Byers

comments can be left here by all registered users :)

Forum Discussion

Golden Rule of Genealogy

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

So last week I am scanning the bible pages I have had in my possession for well over  year so that I can give them back to the owner.  Seems I keep forgetting and I think sooner or later  he’s going to send the genealogy police after me for stealing his old crumbly pages that (to me) are worth more than gold and was my holy grail.  Took me 10 years to find this bible and it turned up at a home less than a mile from where I’d been living!!

See, I am unlucky enough to research the surname Adams.  Why do I say I’m unlucky? BECAUSE THERE ARE A BLUE BILLION OF THEM and NONE of them are related to mine lol so looking at other peoples Adams research is pointless to me (though I do it anyway because I can’t be a pessimist all the time right?)  This bible is the family bible of ONE of the Adams families in Gwinnett Co Ga and the first birth in there is from 1777 (John Lewis born in SC, his daughter Amanda married Elijah Adams). Col. Adams, the current keeper of the grail, had taken the birth, death and marriage pages out of the crumbling 20 pound hunk of leather and pulp a long time ago to try to preserve them in plastic sheets. He let me “borrow” them about a year ago and of course as things happen they got put aside… I never forgot I had them but I thought maybe if I kept them out of site I wouldnt have to give them back (I’m only 1/2 jesting about that).

Friday before last, I’m looking thru obits in the Atlanta paper for the last couple of months, because Col. Adams is an older gentleman and I’m always trying to keep an eye out to see if he’s passed on.  I dont find his, but I find that his wife passed away in July, and well the guilt finally gets the best of me and I call the house to tell him I would like to bring the pages back to him.  Turns out this very nice 89 year old is out traveling and wont be back for several days, but his grandson assures me that he will tell the Col. to call me. I’m thinking great, this gives me a few days to take them to work and scan them with my new scanner.  I get them scanned and Im trying to tweak them for optimal appearance.  I have the birth page blown up 300% and I notice something.  These 10 plus years I’ve been looking at these I always thought that one of the births listed said Henry John Lewis 7-27-1818.  Well lo and behold at 300% I see the name is not Henry at all its MARY.    All this time I have been keeping my eye’s open for information on Henry John Lewis, son of John and Sarah Lewis, talk about feeling stupid (specially when you’re a person KNOWN for being able to decipher old handwriting when others cant. This also tells me that the person listed on the Death page as Mary J Martin must be her!!

It turns out that Monday (labor day) is the day that works for everyone for me to take the pages back to the Col.  I get there and his son is there and while we’ve never met, we’ve emailed a few times over the years.  It never occured to me to take my “book” of Adams research with me, I just took the bible pages back, and when John starts asking me some questions I totally blank (I’m sure Im not the only one that does that when you’re trying to remember something about you research that you normally know backwards and forwards by heart).  Well, I dont live that far from them so I offer to go back home and get my book so we can go through it.

When I get home Im going through my piles of Adams stuff, and out of the corner of my eye I catch a loose copy  of a page of  Franklin Garrett’s Cemetery Survey.  Its of a cemetery that Elijah Adams was buried in (thankfully Franklin did this back in 1939 when the stone was still readable, because now all the text is worn off the stone) but the page Im looking at is the page with the M’s. I’ve never needed the M page, but somehow back when I copied the survey I copied the entire cemetery, not just what I needed. On this M page I see the transcription “Martin, Mary John Lewis  b 7-27-1818 married John Martin 1841 died October 1847″

In 16 years I’ve never known that one of Amanda Lewis Adams sisters married and lived near her in Gwinnett Co. I thought she was the only Lewis here.

Mary John has been found on several census with all her children and they match all the other Martin’s listed on that cemetery page!!

Moral to the story…..PLEASE make sure you go back through your old notes every so often because you NEVER know whats going to pop up that never made sense to you before, but does NOW.  Though its not a direct line, I now have a whole new branch of the family to research, simply because of the bible page.

 Feel free to discuss here:

Golden Rule of Genealogy

The birth of AncestralSpace

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

In June 2008 I had a brilliant idea….or at least it seemed a brilliant idea to me.  I was frustrated with the lack of “connections” trying to use facebook and myspace for genealogy.  I was (am) a member of which is a social network for people interested in all things renn faire, medieval etc and it occured to me there was no such thing for genealogy that I knew of.

I spent 2 days googling like mad trying to find something like that, there wasnt anything coming up.  I contacted the owner of Renspace to try to find out how he’d set his up….while waiting for his reply I found out there is a company out there that supplies it!!

One day later the ancestralspace domain is registered in my name (you have NO idea how many names I had to go thru to find one available.. my first choice was of course genspace but it was taken as were every other variation I could think of of that one and using words like “root” and genealogy (and I wasnt about to try ancestryspace).

My husband suggested ancestralspace… which actually kind of matches my genealogy forum ancestrally challenged, but it took a few hours for it to grow on me, but once it did, it was mine.

I spent all of June 13th programming, tweaking, writing custom html, getting my sis’s help in graphics etc.  By about 11 pm that nite it was ready to go (for the most part.. 3 weeks later I’m still tweaking lol).  I set up a “blog and recommendation” page and emailed the blog/page owners letting them know I’d featured them, and one of my recommendations actually took the time to respond (Thank you Stephanie from Southern Graves for acknowledging my email, that meant a lot to me,  AND for actually joining up, that was a bonus)

I got family and close friends to join up, I made a new myspace just to announce it,  I blogged, added it to my email signatures, posted about it on my message board etc.

Slowly people started coming over and joining..and I’m still nervous, waiting on people to tell me that it was a stupid idea and a waste of time.  (I’m used to thinking things are great ideas and having other people think they are pointless lol)

Then an amazing thing happened, what I thought, was being transmitted back to me.  I was getting comments from people telling me “great idea”  “wish I’d though of it” “I’m jealous it wasnt my idea” “I’ve been waiting for something like this” “this is SO much better than myspace”  “there is no “crap” here to put up with, just genealogist sharing a hobby they love” and… well you get the idea.

Word started spreading, its still spreading slowly.  People are posting it on their blogs, message boards, email groups, yahoo groups, and well they were posting it on ancestry message boards until they were told to stop as my site is considered “competion” and posting about me is not allowed lol (wow).  I want to give a special thank you, especially to Tammy and Cyndy for all the work I know they have been doing to spread the word, and a thank you to those that have done the same and I dont know who you are!!

At the three week mark (plus a day) we hit 400 members and they are still coming.  I can only imagine what membership is going to be like once word REALLY gets out.

And the best part?  People are actually using it and having fun with it!!!

This has totally blown me away, I had a vision, I took action, its a hit.

So.. stop by and visit!!  Joining is free (just like it is for myspace and facebook) and I’ll bet you 2 cents you find something interestesting there to read posted by a member!!

Hope to see you soon at

New genealogy website

Saturday, June 14th, 2008


Made especially for those that cant get enough of myspace/facebook type sites (and yes I realize some of you will have NO interest in this at all)

Some of you may wonder…why a site like this. Well I will tell you. Last year I made a myspace page for my genealogy forum and found lots of friends that have genealogy as an interest. Wednesday, I was “interviewed” about my thoughts on myspace and genealogy….did it help?

I got to thinking, nope, I’ve not found one piece of information or person with which to share information on myspace other than “genealogy news”

Then I got to thinking….I had seen a “myspace” type site for another hobby I’m interested in but I didnt know of one for one of the most widespread hobbies in the world. Why not have a social sight for people that were not looking to “find a date or a mate”.

People that know me, know I have a passion for research and for helping other people find things and for helping other people find living relatives that might help them break down their brickwalls.

Will this work? I don’t know…I have high hopes for it.

This site will be a work in progress for many weeks to come I’m sure, and suggestions are always welcome even if I might not always do what you suggest.

This is gonna be fun….yeah its gonna be fun

In Flew Enza

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Ever wonder about the spanish flu? One of our most esteemed members (who just happens to be my mother lol) posted something on the forum that she had written for our family history awhile back.

It was first printed in Paper Plates, Napkins and Other Musings:

In Flew Enza
I had a little bird
It’s name was Enza
I opened the window
and in flew Enza.

A simple little jump rope rhyme to commemorate the worst epidemic this country has ever seen. One quarter of the population was wiped out in this outbreak. I have no records which of our family members succumbed to Spanish Flu, but there were a number who died in this time frame. It was devastating enough to merit a few paragraphs in any family history.

There has never been absolute proof where the epidemic started. Evidence seems to indicate it began at Fort Riley, Kansas in early Spring 1918. Soldiers burned tons of cow manure. As this was being done a gale sprang up unexpectedly. It became a virtual dust storm. The sun went black. Two days later on March 11 a private reported to the infirmary with a fever, sore throat and headache. Less than a minute later another soldier reported the same symptoms. By noon there were 100 cases, by nightfall, 500. Forty-eight men died in this initial onslaught. Then it seemed to disappear.

This was a good time in this country. Women had the vote, we had airmail, smallpox, anthrax, diphtheria and rabies had all been identified and cured. The country was behind the war effort 100%, celebrating with parades and parties-breeding grounds for an airborne virus. Something no one could hope to identify. Virus were not visible until the invention of the electron microscope, still far in our future.

Continue reading here

Surname Suggestion List

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

In surfing around today, I found this website Surname Suggestion List

It’s a simple windows based program that gives suggestions for different surname spellings you might use to search for records. I have downloaded this and played around with it and thought you might find it interesting too

Star of the West, first shot or not?

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I have been doing a lot of reading the last few weeks regarding the War of Northern Aggression, and in one of the books I’m reading, Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz, I came across something I had never ever heard before…while I am sure a lot of people HAVE heard this, I am equally sure I’m not the only one to whom this story was “new”. I thought I would pass it along to those that may have interest in it. It is in no way meant to be an “opinion” piece; I am just passing along a story.

Were the shots fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861 indeed the first shots fired in the war? Some would say yes, some would say no. A lot of people in Charleston SC would definitely say no considering the events of January 1861 when cadets from the Citadel fired shots upon a Yankee supply ship called The Star of the West, to others the events starting at 4:30 A. M. on April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina was when War of Northern Aggression had begun.

Three months prior to that fateful day in April, Charleston was notified by a southern sympathizer by telegraph that a ship mean to resupply the troops at Fort Sumter had left New York carrying about 200 men with Charles R Woods of the 9th Infantry in command.

The story goes that cadets along with some militia were camped in a converted small pox hospital on Morris Island to work on fortification and in about 4 days installed 4 twenty-four pound siege guns at the northern end of the island. After the guns had been installed the cadets participated in drill exercises and a schedule was established for guard posts.

On January 9, 1861 Cadet William Simkins spotted the steamer “Star of the West” from his sentry post sailing towards Morris Island in the early morning light. Major P. F. Stevens was alerted and Cadet Simkins was ordered to take his position on Gun No. 1 to help prepare it for firing at the on coming steamer. The unarmed ship, The Star of the West arrived in the harbor and was fired upon by the cadets, the first shot a warning shot across the bow of the ship, at this point the ship raised a full sized garrison flag and continued towards Fort Sumter, who was unaware of the mêlée taking place and all told was fired upon at least 17 times, taking two or three actual hits. As the ship had no cannon and no support from the unalerted Fort Sumter, she aborted her mission, lowered her flag and turned around and headed back to New York taking all her supplies and men with her.

The next day, the peppery Charleston Mercury carried the headline: “THE CITADEL CADETS FIRE THE FIRST SHOTTED GUN. The Mercury characterized the firing on the Star of the West as the “opening ball of the Revolution” and expressed pride that “our harbor has been so honored.

It would be another 3 months before the “official” start of a 4 year bloody war that would change this country forever, but in the hearts and minds of many, this WAS the beginning.

I definitely think it makes for an interesting trivia question!!

If you would like to discuss this story, you may do so HERE

Memorial/dedication service help needed

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I have had a project in the works for a few years now….it was my goal to find out where my husbands 3rd great grandfather was buried so that I could see if he had a grave marker that notated his service during the War between the States, it took me almost 2 years to find where he was buried and he had no stone at all. I gathered all the necessary paperwork and ordered the free stone from the VA and it is back now and awaiting the monument company to install it for me.

This means I can start planning the memorial service and I’d really like to hear from people that have done this kind of thing before. I have a few ideas in my head and I have 5 months to get it planned (the service is set for September) but I REALLY want this to be something special….so if any of you out there have ever done this, or know someone that has planned one, I would really like to hear from you on what you did and how you went about it.

He didnt die in the war…he served almost the entire war and was at the surrender in 1865. He died in 1923.

Click here to add your ideas!!

Did Indiana woman get away with murders?

Monday, April 28th, 2008

LAPORTE, Ind. - Asle Helgelien didn’t believe Belle Gunness’ claims that his brother, missing for months after answering the widow’s lonely hearts ad, had left her northern Indiana farm for Chicago or maybe their native Norway.

Suspicious after a bank said his brother, Andrew, had cashed a $3,000 check — a large sum in 1908 — the South Dakota farmer came to LaPorte and discovered his brother’s remains in a pit of household waste.

A century later, modern forensic scientists hope to solve once and for all what appears to have been a web of multiple murders, deceit, sex and money orchestrated by a woman dubbed Lady Bluebeard, after the fairy tale character who killed multiple wives and left their bodies in his castle.

Many locals believed Gunness staged her death in a farmhouse fire, 100 years ago Monday, before Asle Helgelien’s arrival to cover up years spent poisoning and dismembering more than two dozen people.

Forensic anthropologist Andi Simmons grew up in the area east of Chicago hearing tales of the LaPorte black widow.

“There was always a sense of, what if she’s still out there? What if she’s lurking around,” said Simmons, who decided to explore the case as part of her thesis.

Story continued here

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