Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Tribute to Bill Harrington 1929-2014

My father-in-law Bill Harrington passed away on Sunday, December 28, 2014 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Reno, Nevada.  He had been fighting a battle with pneumonia since Thanksgiving.

Bill Harrington, Korea 1951
In 1951 and 1952, Bill was fighting another battle in Korea.  He and his wife Irma put together a scrapbook of photographs and mementos from his time in the U.S. Army.  Several years ago I interviewed Bill about his Korea experience.  When we completed the interview, Bill and Irma lent me the scrapbook.   Here is the text of that interview interspersed with some historical context and a few of the photos and documents.  I share this with all of you as a tribute to my father-in-law.

Bill Harrington was an extraordinary fisherman.

Bill Harrington was living in Boron, California at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.  The North Koreans with the help of their Soviet military advisors had invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. The United States was initially reluctant about entering this military conflict between the governments of North and South Korea.   General Douglas MacArthur made a personal visit to Korea to assess the situation on the 29th of June 1950.   General MacArthur recommended the immediate commitment of American ground forces.   President Truman then authorized the employment of Army combat troops to ensure the security of a port and air base at Pusan, South Korea.  He also approved sending two Army divisions from Japan to Korea and the creation of a naval blockade of North Korea.

The Selective Service System ordered Bill to report to the Local Board in Bakersfield, California.  He was directed to bring sufficient clothing for 3 days.  In a foreshadowing of his future career as a Greyhound Bus Driver, he was ordered to report to report to the Pacific Greyhound Bus Station in Mojave, California at 8 a.m. on the 20th of February 1951 for the trip to Bakersfield.   Andy Fiore was the Greyhound driver.  Bill recognized him later when he went to work for Greyhound. 

From Bakersfield he went to Los Angeles for further processing.  He transferred to a special bus that ran to Fort Ord, California.  Bill arrived at Fort Ord on Washington’s Birthday.  By March 1, 1951 Bill had completed his Army processing and had been assigned to a training company at Fort Ord.  He was inducted as a Private to Company M of the 63rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Ord.  Bill completed eight weeks of basic training at Fort Ord and then stayed for another six weeks of cooking school.  Tutor Robinson was a friend from Boron.  He went into the Army a little earlier than Bill but they were together for a time at Fort Ord.  Tutor was in Charlie Company.

Bill Harrington and Tutor Robinson
Fort Ord, California 1951

Bill Harrington and Tutor Robinson
Fort Ord, California 1951

After he completed cooking school, Bill was transferred to Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California.  He was supposed to go to Fort Huachuca, Arizona but he was late getting back to Camp Stoneman.  The MPs took him straight to the boat for Korea.  They went from Camp Stoneman through Concord and Lafayette and over the hill to Oakland and across the Bay Bridge in the back end of an old 6x6 cargo truck.  He had to wait a week on the ship at the pier.  He could not even call Irma.  This experience had a lot to do with why he never wanted to be late to anything ever again.  TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, December 15, 2014

Preserving Christmas Memories

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season we need to take a few moments to relax, reflect and count our blessings.  When you think about the meaning of the nativity scene, you realize the gift of love that we all have been given.

Over the years we have collected a large assortment of nativity scenes.  Each one has a special memory for us.  Some were purchased in our travels.  Others were given as gifts by friends and family.  As we unpack them and put them on display, the memories of the people, times and places start to flood back.  We enjoy reminiscing about each little creche.

Perhaps you have special Christmas memories that you would like to preserve.  Write your memories down.  Put a note with those special Christmas ornaments recording how they were acquired.  When families are gathered together at Christmas, this is a good time to make a recording of stories and memories,   You could also record the family performing a favorite Christmas carol.

So as a way of practicing what I preach, here are few notes about some of our favorite nativity scenes:

Our First Christmas 1976

This simple little crèche was from our first Christmas together as a married couple.  I guess you could say that this one was the precursor for the many that have followed. 

From El Mercado in San Antonio in 1980s

When we were living in Reno in the 1980's, we traveled to San Antonio for the first time to attend a conference.  This was probably the first time that we were ever in Texas as a couple.  We purchased this at El Mercado in San Antonio.   Also known as Market Square, it is the largest Mexican market in the U.S. We have been back to San Antonio twice since we settled here in Texas.

From a bazaar at 1st UMC Reno 1990s.

Also while we were in Reno, we purchased this ceramic nativity scene from a bazaar at First United Methodist Church.  The church  built in 1926 is architecturally significant as it is one of the first poured concrete buildings in Reno and utilizes Gothic Revival architectural themes. Coincidentally, Gram Elaine and Grandpa George were married by the minister of this church in 1937.  We attended several services there too in the 1980's and 1990's.

Bilbao, Spain 1997

Our daughter, Nicole, got this scene in Spain during a semester abroad in Bilbao.  She gave it to us as a Christmas gift in 1997.

Sundance Film Festival about 2001

This little marble-size set was a gift from our daughter, Suzy.  She found it while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.  She was a student at St. Mary’s College of California at the time.

From a visit to Beaufort, South Carolina 2006

We purchased this ceramic nativity scene on a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina in 2006.  We were with our friends Mark and Bonnie on one of our January “Big Chill” reunions.

Nutcracker Market, Houston 2010

This set was purchased for our first Christmas in Texas in 2010.  We found it at the annual Nutcracker Market at the Reliant Center.  That was also where we found our metal sculpture of the “Yellow Rose of Texas” that we have in the backyard.

Kenya Methodist Mission Trip 2012

The most recent acquisition is from our friend, Chris, who purchased this set made of corn husks in Kenya.  Several of our friends from church were on a mission trip to the Methodist Hospital there.

I hope this inspires you to start jotting down a few of your memories.  Remember the reason for the season! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Family Tree at FamilySearch.org: Record Hints

If you are not using the Family Tree at FamilySearch.org, it is time to start.  Have you checked lately to see if your ancestors are in the FS Family Tree?  It is time to do it.

One of the great new features at FamilySearch.org is the “Record Hints” in Family Tree.  Here is an example of the Record Hints for John Caesar Kelly:

Clicking on one of these records opens a preview of the record which gives you the opportunity to decide if you want to “Review and Attach” the record to your ancestor’s profile.   I clicked on “Isle of Man, Births and Baptisms, 1821-1911” and here is the preview page that appeared:

 Once you decide if the record matches your ancestor you click on “Review and Attach” and you move to the “Source Linker” tab which is also entitled “Attach Historical Records to Family Tree”.  

In this example you can see that the birth date for John Caesar Kelly matches what I had on his “Person Profile” page.  One downfall for Family Search is that it does not give you the option to insert the better date or location into the Person Profile as you attach the Historical Record.  It does give an option here to add a “Residence” fact to the Person Profile.

The next step is to add a “Reason to Attach Source”.  By adding a reason here you will help other viewers and editors of this Person Profile to understand why the record was attached.  

My reason for attaching this birth record was that: This birth record for John Caesar Kelly approximates the information that I have on file for him including 1900 census in San Francisco and 1910 census in Tacoma. His mother's name matches the oral history that I received from Grandpa George Kelly.

You will notice that Family Search is creating Person Profiles from their digitized databases.  These Person Profiles will need to be edited to add information that you have on your ancestors.  You will also need to merge those Person Profiles with “Possible Duplicates” on the lower right hand margin of the Person Profile.

WARNING: you need to know that Family Tree at FamilySearch.org is a collaborative tree.  The idea is that each ancestor should only have one profile.  If there are duplicate profiles you are supposed to merge them together.  FamilySearch offers the following advice: "Merging is a complex process in which you decide if two people are the same person. If they are, you choose which information should be kept. Please take the time necessary to carefully review each possible duplicate."  I would add that if you are not absolutely sure that you have an exact match DO NOT MERGE THEM.  It is a complicated process to split a merge.

I do encourage you to start using the Family Tree at FamilySearch.org.  It is a great new FREE resource that is continually improving with new innovations.

Thursday, February 12, 2015:            Bear Creek Genealogical Society General Meeting
            Time:               1 pm to 3 pm
            Topic:              GENEALOGICA BRITANNICA-
Finding Your Ancestors in the British Isles
Location:         Bear Creek Park Community Center
                                    3055 Bear Creek Dr.
Houston TX 77084
           Cost:                Free
More information:       Tom Woltz

Friday, February 27, 2015:     Bay Area Genealogical Society General Meeting
            Time:               6:30 pm for coffee and socializing; meeting begins at 7 pm
            Topic:              ACHTUNG-
Researching  Your German Speaking Ancestors
            Location:         University Baptist Church
                                    Great Room on 2nd Floor
                                    16106 Middlebrook Drive 
Houston, TX 77059 (Clear Lake City)
            Cost:                Free
More information:       www.txbayareagen.org

Saturday, February 28, 2015:             League City Library
            Time:               11:00 am to 12:00 noon
            Topic:              An Overview of FamilySearch.org
            Location:         Helen Hall Library
                                    100 W Walker St
League City, TX 77573
            Cost:                Free
More information:       Lindsay  Henson, Librarian
281 554-1102 – Direct
281-554-1111 – General

Monday, December 1, 2014

Voting Registers Help to Fill Gaps Between Censuses

One of the new genealogy record collections on Ancestry.com is California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968.  Since my family history includes California, this is an exciting new database for me to explore.   I did a quick search to see if my mom, Jill Cimino would show up in the database.  I was disappointed that I could not find her.

I read the background information about the Voter Registers and learned why I could not find Mom.  The records for Sacramento County range from 1900 to 1944.  My mother did not reach voting age until 1956.  It appears that my grandparents would be better subjects for investigation given these dates.  I then searched Elaine Kelly in Sacramento County.  I immediately found previews of three results that matched in 1940, 1942 and 1944.  The actual register page for 1940 is below:

You can see here that Elaine Kelly is listed at the same address as her husband, George W. Kelly.  They apparently had differing political views since Grandma was a Democrat and Grandpa was a Republican.  This listing of both husband and wife show how the Voting Registers are similar to a census record because all the registered voters in the household will be listed.  

One of the great new features on Ancestry.com is the ability to open up a filmstrip view of the record set.  Most of the digital images that have been collected at Ancestry.com have originated from microfilm.  The ability to scroll back and forth with the film strip view speeds up the process when you need to move around in the microfilm.  In this case I wanted to page back to the beginning of the electoral precinct.  The header shows the information that you can get from these voting registers including: Name, Occupation, Address and Political Affiliation.  Here is the first page of the precinct which shows the precinct number and the Assembly District at the top of the page and the filmstrip view is shown at the bottom of the page.

To show an example of a father and son listed together in a household, I searched for the surname Fairbanks in Sonoma County.  I found Hiram Talbert Fairbanks, my 3rd great grand uncle listed in Petaluma Township.   The image below shows that his son, Dolphes Brice Fairbanks was listed.  These earlier registers give the full names, ages and post office address but not the street address.  A scan of the other names in the precinct reveals that there were several relatives on the list.  The Hill and the Higbee families were related to H.T. Fairbanks.  

One thing you might notice is that there are no women on this page.  Women got the right to vote in California in 1911 so they start appearing in these registers in 1912.  

When you look at the image you will see that the registers from 1900 to 1912 are grouped together.

The only way to figure out the exact year is to page back in the register  and look for the date.  The filmstrip view makes it easier to see the title page as you are scrolling through the images.  Each of the precincts was listed alphabetically in this case.  Here is the title page which shows that this register was dated 1902:

I hope you have enjoyed this little primer in the use of the California Voter Register collection.  Please contact me if you have any questions about your family history.