Monday, January 26, 2015

Electronic Newspaper Clippings

I have been doing some exploring on and have been making clippings.  There is a function which allows the clippings to be attached to profiles at  All of my clippings are also stored on my account.   Some of my clippings include a family reunion, marriage announcements, real estate transactions, birth announcements, and articles about club, sorority and youth group activities.  These newspaper clippings are a wonderful window on the world of our ancestors.  You should try it out!

One of my complaints is that the collection of digitized newspapers for certain communities is incomplete.  For example, my grandfather’s brother, Paul G. Mayne, and his family lived in Leavenworth, Kansas.  There were several articles which mentioned his daughter, Jane in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  The papers where I would find his obituary in November 1962 are missing.  Also missing were the papers from November 1971 where I would find his wife’s obituary.  Also missing were the papers from 1954-1961 where I would have found cousin, Jane’s marriage announcement.

There is a fairly large collection of digitized editions for the Cincinnati Enquirer.  The collection begins in 1841 and ends in 1923.  My Mayne and Banford family members appear occasionally.  Unfortunately, most of the obituaries date between 1930 and 1970 and those papers are unavailable at  But there were a few articles about their activities prior to 1924.  One search tip for this period prior to 1924 is to use the initials of the given names.  For example, a few articles for my great grandfather, Joseph Hanson Mayne were found in the Cincinnati Enquirer by using “J. H. Mayne” as the search term.  Here is an example:

Screen shot of clipping file at There is a typographical error: not should be now.
One of the limitations of the attachment tool is that you have to attach the article to one person at a time.  For example, the family reunion recap included the names of seven couples and seven single family members.  My workaround was to use the print function to download a PDF image, save it as a JPG and then attach it as an image to  The image attachment tool at allows you to attach to multiple individuals.  Here is the downloaded clipping:

I used the print function to save this as a PDF.  Then I saved that file as a JPG and then attached the image to all of the profiles for the individuals mentioned in the article.  Another typo: Branford should be Banford. Newspapers are notorious for their typos.
A problem that I noticed on the side of the connection is that all of the clippings are lumped under one link for each newspaper at  Therefore you have to have a account to see  the clippings.  However, if you attach the entire page rather than the clipping then there is a separate link for each page number.  The downside of the links for each page number is that it only gives the name of the newspaper and a page number.  There is no date on the link.  Furthermore, if you have two newspaper pages from different dates with the same page number there is only one link per page number.

This is a screen shot from the bottom of the profile of the Rev. Joseph Hanson Mayne at  The arrows show how the links to show on his profile.  You can either attach a clipping or an entire page.  The first arrow shows a link with a page number and two citations.  This is the link to an entire page but you can only access one of the citations from this link.  The second arrow shows a link that will take you to the clippings that I created.  See the next image to see where the link takes you.

The link on Rev. Mayne's profile at takes you to this clipping that I created at  Notice the thumbnails to my other clippings in the right hand column.  All of my clippings are lumped together rather than grouping  those that are attached to Rev. Mayne.

At times, I had trouble getting the clippings to save on  I made repeated attempts on several different clippings and never could get them to save.  My overall evaluation of the clipping function is that it is a great way to highlight and source newspaper clippings.  I like how they are displayed and the ability to add a title to the clipping.  They print nicely and you can create PDF or JPG files that include the source of the clipping.  However, the way they are attached to the individual profiles at seems clumsy at best.  It forces others that view my individual profiles to have an account on to view the clippings.  I recommend that you attach images of the clippings to the profile at rather than use the "Save to Ancestry" button.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Collecting and Indentifying Family Photographs

I prepared a slide show for my father-in-law, Bill Harrington’s memorial service this weekend.  I searched for all of the photos that I could find that included Bill.  One of the techniques that I found helpful was to put the approximate date as the first four characters of the file name.  This put the electronic images in chronological order which helped me to sort through the photos and guess the dates on the ones that were not already dated.  Based on this experience, I recommend that you gather photos associated with certain events into a folder and also place copies in folders for persons in the photos.

When I examine collections of family photographs, I often find batches of pictures taken at the same event.   For example, when inspecting some photographs in my mother-in-Iaw’s albums, I found several pictures that were taken at a gathering prior to the memorial service for Truman Harrington in February 1978.  Truman was my wife’s paternal grandfather.  The pictures helped to refresh my memories of the event.  Our daughter was only eight months old and there was a picture of the three of us as we were getting out of the car when we first arrived. 

This picture was taken in February 1978 in Boron, California.  I am on the left, my wife Robin is holding our eight month old daughter, Nicole and Robin is talking with her mother, Irma Harrington.  We had gathered in Boron for the Memorial Service for my wife's grandfather, Truman Harrington.  Scan your old pictures now before the colors degrade any further.
There was also a picture of Truman’s three sons.  In birth order they were Harold, Bill and Cleve.  In ascending height order they were Bill, Harold and Cleve.  I never noticed that Bill was the shortest until I looked closely at this photo of the three brothers standing together.

Bill, Harold & Cleve Harrington in the backyard at Cleve's house in Boron, California, February 1978.  Bill and Cleve look very similar in pictures when they were teenagers.  Now I know that Cleve was the tallest one.

Since I was at this event, I had no difficulty in establishing the exact date.  However, when I am attempting to date an older family photo, the children are the first clue to the date.  If you can identify the children, then it is usually pretty easy to estimate their age and thereby date the photo.  These are some of my casual observations from recent experience but if you want advice from a real family photo expert then I recommend you consult with Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective.

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at meetings and conferences of historical and genealogical societies, and other organizations both nationally and internationally.  She is the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show.  I highly recommend that you read her books and her column in Family Tree Magazine.  You also can get a free download of some of her best magazine columns at this link

Her website is  and she also writes a blog for the magazine at this link

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fun with Names, Dates and Places!

The basic building blocks of genealogy research are names, dates and places.  I have always enjoyed playing with the dates in my family history.  There are interesting patterns and rhymes that often times help us to remember the places.  There are also memorable dates in history that are associated with vital events in our family history.  Let's play a few games with names, dates and places!

"In fourteen hundred and ninety two (1492) Columbus sailed the ocean blue". 

You probably remember hearing this rhyme which helps us to remember a major date in the history of the Americas. This is what is called a mnemonic device which is defined as a technique to help you remember things.  History in its many forms is all about remembering.

Here is another mnemonic example that is not as well known: My Nice New Car Needs Re Painted. Maybe Dark Violet? No Shiny Gold!

This mnemonic device helps us to remember the original 13 states: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.  You can find several more examples like this one at this website:

When you look for patterns in the dates of your family history, you can create your own mnemonic devices.  For example, my grandchildren were born on December 16 and March 8.  My way of remembering these dates is that 16 ounces is a pint and 8 ounces is a "half-pint".  Those birth dates are etched in my memory forever!

My parents and siblings had some interesting coincidences in their dates.  My dad was born on March 5 and my mom was born on November 12.  They were married on January 17. If you add their birth dates 5 + 12 = 17.  My sister, Vicky was born on March 17, my brother Vince was born on November 17 and my brother, Faran was born on February 17.  I am the odd man out being born on July 29.

Another interesting pattern in our family history involves November weddings.  My wife's parents were married on November 25.  My wife and I were married November 20 and our daughter was married November 15.  They were not planned that way. It was just  a series of serendipitous coincidences.

The year of our marriage was 1976.   This was also a very important year for the historic celebration of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution.  The Bicentennial culminated on Sunday, July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  One of the events that was planned to commemorate the Bicentennial was the "Bikecentennial".  This was a bicycle tour across America from Oregon to Virginia.  As an alternative to participating in the Bikecentennial, I planned my own solo bike tour of California and Oregon.  I began at my dad's house in Santa Rosa.  I road my bicycle across the Central Valley into the foothills and headed north on Highway 89 which follows the ridge of the Sierra Mountains.  I headed north into Oregon along the route of Interstate 5 to Eugene and then out to the Pacific Coast Highway and went south back to Santa Rosa. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life but getting married was the best thing that ever happened to me!

Bikecentennial Trail
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another date that was momentous in our family history was 1989.  We were living in Reno, Nevada and had become die-hard fans of the San Francisco Giants.  The Giants were having one of their best seasons on record.  They were headed into the World Series with their cross bay rivals the Oakland Athletics.  This World Series became dubbed the Battle of the Bay and was also known as the Bay Bridge series.  The Bay Bridge opened in 1936 on my mother's first birthday.  My grandparents celebrated Mom's birthday by driving across the brand new Bay Bridge from their home in San Francisco  to visit Grandma Mae at her home in Oakland.

Source: Wikipedia
The World Series of 1989 was temporarily suspended due to the Loma Prieta Earthquake.  The Bay Bridge was severely damaged.  Many buildings were damaged including the State Office Building in San Francisco.  I became the building manager of the San Francisco State Office Building nine years later after it had been reconstructed and seismically retrofitted.

But the most momentous event of 1989 for me and my family was that I began researching our family history and I have never stopped.  Family history was a hobby at first.  Then it was a part-time job. I became the instructor for the family history courses at Truckee Meadows Community College in the early 1990's. Upon retirement as a building manager in 2010, I have devoted myself to genealogy education and research with a missionary zeal.  I see genealogy as a tool for reconciliation and reunion.  But most of all it is just plain fun!  Enjoy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Tribute to Bill Harrington 1929-2014, Part Two

During his basic training and cooking school, Bill was part of the Sixth Army based in the Western States.  The red star souvenir was the Sixth Army emblem.  He was also issued a travel guide by the Sixth Army which stressed the importance of representing the Army well while traveling in uniform.

Sixth Army Red Star uniform patch and travel guide.

The Thanksgiving menu from 22 November 1951 was a meal that Bill helped prepare.  In addition to a Roast Tom Turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce, the menu included stuffed celery hearts, shrimp cocktail, buttered whole grain corn, snow flake potatoes and candied yams.  For dessert the soldiers were treated to mincemeat pie, fruitcake and sweet potato pie.  These treats were supplemented with fresh apples, fresh oranges, hard candy and mixed nuts.  Four or five cooks were on a team.  They worked one day on and one day off.  The Koreans in the photo did the KP duty.

Mess Section, Korea 1951

Group of Koreans that performed K.P. for the Mess Unit.

His unit was Battery A 64th Field Artillery of the 25th Division.  A website has been created for this unit for memories and reunions at

Lt. Edwards was the mess officer.  He was good as he could be.  It snowed and Edwards had to relieve somebody.  Bill offered to drive if Edwards would get a weapons carrier.  This vehicle is a light truck designed to carry machine guns or mortars and their crews.  Bill also drove a water truck.  After Bill took Edwards to the front line, he was permanently assigned to driving the weapons carrier.   He had it easy on that assignment.  He only had to work an hour per day.

1943 Dodge Weapons Carrier
Every veteran who served in the United States Armed Forces during the Korean War was assigned a Military Occupation Specialty or MOS number.  Bill recalled that the MOS number for a cook was 3060. 
Hand drawn and mimeographed map of area where Bill worked.

The map shows the areas where Bill worked in Korea.  The most southern point on the map is Chuncheon (Chunchon).  Chuncheon is a Korean city with a long history. The city was largely destroyed during the Korean War during the Battle of Chuncheon.  Because of its strategic location, Chuncheon continues to be known for the large Korean bases in the area. Until recently there was also a US military base, Camp Page, in the city across from Chuncheon Station. Camp Page is still in use by the Republic of Korea Army as an army aviation base. Many reservoirs have been constructed in the area and they have become a tourist attraction. On the shores of Lake Uiam is the Peace Park, a memorial to the Battle of Chuncheon. . The battle was one of the first fought in the Korean War on June 25, 1950. South Korean defenders soundly defeated a superior North Korean force, stalling the invasion and allowing time for the South Korean army to regroup.

Bill wrote to Irma on September 4, 1951.  He wrote the letter on special stationery that folded into a letter.  He sat outside his tent and wrote on his shaving kit that Irma had sent him.  “…Honey this is nothing like what I thought war is like or maybe I haven't seen much yet.  I sure hope I don't see any more... There is a Korean that washes our clothes for us cooks every day now.  Sure is nice. I sure am glad that I'm a cook..."

Punch Bowl was the last place he was assigned.  The Punchbowl is a natural geologic bowl created by an extinct volcano.  It measures several miles across and is surrounded by steep mountains on three sides. The Punchbowl  contains some of the richest farmland in South Korea. One of the hardest fought battles for the United States Marines in the war occurred in late August through mid September 1951. Fortunately for Bill the area was somewhat more secure in 1952.

When Bill left Korea, he was sent to Japan.  The officers at the processing center stripped him down took all of his personal belongings and gave him a new uniform.  The only thing he got to keep was his helmet.  He had a picture of Irma inside the helmet. 

Bill Harrington, Korea 1951

Irma Harrington

Bill came back from Korea on the troopship USS General Randall.  Bill volunteered to work in the kitchen.  Somehow they got the key to the freezer.  They took a block of cheese and box of crackers.  The guys went up on deck and ate the cheese and crackers.

The ship docked at Fort Mason in San Francisco on July 2, 1952.  Bill and Irma saved a newspaper called the San Francisco News with the headline: “VETS HOME ON 2 SHIPS”.  There were 1825 passengers aboard the General Randall.  Of these, 565 were Army personnel; 11, Navy; 1088 Air Force; and 171 dependents and civilian employees, all from the Far East chiefly Japan.  The Army band welcomed the group home with “California Here I Come” and other popular songs.  The Red Cross served cookies, coffee and fruit juice to the returning soldiers and airmen.

Also on the front page of the San Francisco News that day was an article stating that American battle casualities had reached a total of 111,576.  Bill managed to avoid becoming one of those statistics.  The final figures for the Korean War were 36,516 dead, 92,134 wounded and total casualties of 128,650.

The Army personnel were taken in a ferryboat to Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg for processing.  The concession stand on the ferry boat sold out before they got to Camp Stoneman.  Then Bill went to Camp Roberts to be reassigned just before the 4th of July.  Everyone was gone for the holiday so all of the soldiers hitchhiked out of there.  Bill went to Jay and Ruby Fitzpatrick’s home in Daly City.

Bill was back to Camp Cooke after the July 4th holiday.  Irma was with him at Camp Cooke in September 1952 working as a stenographer.  Bill was discharged at Camp Cooke which later became Vandenbergh AFB.

Bill went on a bivouac to Hunter Liggett.  A bivouac is usually a temporary encampment under little or no shelter.  Bill advised on how to set up a field kitchen based on his Korea experience.  The recruiter offered him Master Sergeant if he would stay in but he did not want to return to Korea.
Bill was transferred to the Army Reserve on 25 November 1952.  He received his Honorable Discharge on 10 September 1956.

William Royce Harrington, Honorable Discharge 1956

 The Korean War is often called the "Forgotten War".  Bill and his brother, Cleve both served in this conflict and he had several friends from Boron who also served.  The conflict in Korea is not yet over.  Hopefully, some day German reunification can serve as a model for Korea.  In the meantime, we honor Bill and all those who served in Korea.  To learn more about efforts to memorialize Korean war veterans go here: