Friday, July 18, 2008

Carnival of Genealogy, 52nd Edition

"And in the end, it's not the years that count.
It's the life in your years."

~ Abraham Lincoln

Welcome to the 52nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted for the first time here at 100 Years in America. This edition focuses on the simple topic of AGE. As family historians, we take time to carefully mark the birthdates of our forebears and to print out family tree charts including this important data. We make it a point to note at what age family members have married, had children and passed away.

This is a collection of tales and trivia, stories and statistics. Thanks to these contributions by various family historians, we have a look into the lives of others who stand out from their family tree (and society in general) because of their age.

Young brides and old grooms,

young and old mothers giving birth
(and of course, their husbands' stories),

hard-working immigrants who died young,

octo-, nona- and centenarians who lived
to see the world change more than most,

young boys helping to support their family,

and more...

I hope you'll enjoy reading about these people, many of whom must have lived by Mark Twain's maxim:

"Age is an issue of mind over matter.
If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
~ Mark Twain

I've chosen to separate our carnival's entries into various topics. Enjoy browsing through these interesting biographical sketches of individuals as well as some fascinating statistical compilations of family tree data with regard to the factor of age. The subjects of this carnival all share one characteristic: their life experiences stand out in some way because of their age.

Wedding Bells: Married at What Age?

Dear Myrtle: Your Friend in Genealogy tells the twisting and turning story of the marriage of one of her Civil War ancestors and his wife, whose birthdates were separated by many years. After much research, including the tedious copying of pension files at the National Archives by a team of three, the resulting conclusions are that this man and his wife were... how many years apart? Read Myrtle's full story to find out: What's age got to do with it?

Steve Danko writes about another couple with disparate ages. Steve's post about his 4th great-grandfather Tomasz Niedziałkowksi is an interesting look at the life of a Polish man born into nobility in the 18th-century. His presumed arranged marriage may have found him waiting for eighteen years for his spouse to "come of age". Read Born at the Right Time posted at Steve's Genealogy Blog for a look at Tomasz' life. I especially like Steve's well-crafted timeline that weaves his ancestor's personal life story between the current events that affected his homeland in Europe.

In Age: By the Numbers Donna Pointkowski of What's Past is Prologue provides us with an assortment of stories about different family members and their ages. Particularly interesting is her description of traditional marriage ages of Bavarian and Polish couples. It seems that if a Bavarian man wanted to marry young he would have to jump borders and feign Polish heritage!

Apple asks a question about previous generations at Apple's Tree for this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Did They Marry Young? Looking at the marriages of her great-grandparents, her grandparents, her parents and herself, she runs the numbers to determine who married young and who didn't. It's an exercise that many family historians would find interesting.

I wonder how many young newlyweds might have felt that it would be advantageous to "fudge" when filling out an application for their marriage certificate? Terry Snyder, our Desktop Genealogist, shares the story of her grandparents and the ages they listed on their application. Read A Question of Age for the story of Walter and Anna Sloan.

Saying Goodbye Too Soon: Untimely Deaths

Dawn Thurston, the Memoir Mentor, shares the saga of her grandparents who moved from Scotland to Pennsylvania and finally to California in the hope of bettering their lives and the lives of their children. Dying Young: The Story of a Scottish Coalmining Family is an inspiring story of the dedication of a mother and father who sought a future for their children that they never lived to see because of their untimely deaths at an early age.

Bob Kramp's family has also had its share of early deaths. In his article The Negative Impact of some Early Deaths of my Ancestors posted at Life's Journey, Bob shares the stories of his family's losses and wisely suggests to readers to, "Go now, hug your children or your mother." Check out Bob's post (his first entry for the Carnival of Genealogy) to read his story and view the chart he made to illustrate the ages at which his ancestors died.

Jessica writes of Ages and Ancestors at her blog Jessica's Genejournal and does a tally of ages within her family tree with regard to two categories. Sadly, one branch suffered from a tragedy that occurred in three successive generations: the loss of a mother at a young age.

The Bearing of Children: In Young Age and Old

Within this category we'll start with an entry from our Carnival of Genealogy queen: Jasia (who is off on a well-deserved break). At Creative Gene she has posted her entry entitled Born An Uncle. Jasia shares a few statistics from various branches of her family tree, including stories of a few parents that had babies after already taking on the role of grandparent.

Marue of Life at the Home20 tells the story of William William Womack, 1846 - 1925 who had quite a record number of children over a period of forty-one years. He fathered nineteen children (thirteen with his second wife during their first twenty years of their marriage). His wife Sallie was a very young bride and he a seasoned husband and father when they married. Read Marue's article to learn the full story of W.W. Womack and his family and to view a picture of twelve of his sons together the day after his death in 1925.

The Loss of Childhood: Little People Doing Big Things

In Robbed Of His Youth, daughter footnoteMaven writes of her father's childhood: one marked by the loss of his father and the trials of a family struggling to make ends meet. Taken out of school shortly before the age of thirteen to work odd jobs in support of his family, Raymond Campbell found he had to grow up quickly. Read footnoteMaven's story to learn more about Raymond, including the one toy that he wanted as a child which his family could never afford to buy.

On my blog A light that shines again I've shared the similar story of young George McCue. He lost his father at the age of ten and worked odd jobs to help his mother, aunt and grandmother to support the family. Read my story From "hard knocks" to Harvard to learn how this young man, who followed many generations of hard-working ancestors (including survivors of the Great Famine in Ireland) went on to achieve what no one in his family had been able to do before him.

A young boy named David seemed lost to Laura as she traced his family in mid-19th-century New York. However, the young lad turned out to be in a place she least expected him. Laura of the Virtual Dime Museum shares this story of how persistence in family history research can bear fruit. Missing family members do turn up, as in the case of this young lad sent by his family at a young age to a boarding school in another state. Read The English Boarding Student for the full story of David Barnett.

Living to a Ripe Old Age: Centenarians, Nonagenarians, Octogenarians and More...

Those that live longer than others often have acquired the wisdom of years that would not be possible to those who have lived shorter lives. In my own family, that has been the case with the three generations of mothers and daughters who have lived into their nineties. Read A tribute to long life lived well here at 100 Years in America where I honor a few women in my family, including three sisters, who have left a legacy of longevity and love.

William "Billie" Sanford, great-great-grandfather of GeneaBlogie's Craig Manson, takes the award for our "eldest" subject in this age-related edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. Born a slave in Virginia in 1809, Billie was laid to rest in Milam County, Texas in 1916 at the age of 106. Read Craig's post Carnival of Genealogy: 106 Years in America--And More! for Billie's story and that of a few other centenarians in Craig's family tree.

Known to her great-grandson Bill as "the old lady" at the home of his grandparents, Sadie Weiner Kadin lived to the age of 92. Read Rebecca Fenning's story about sadie (and bill), ca 1924 posted at A Sense of Face to learn more about a woman who braved the trials of immigration while a widow in her seventies.

Robert Lord of Lord and Lady shares the story of his great-great-grandmother Adah Nancy Bell, and his "archaeo-genealogical research" into her life. His discoveries turned up not only the foundation of her old homestead but a family cemetery and broken shards of family dinnerware. It is a story not only of his forebear, who lived to the ripe old age of 93, but of her family's dinnerware, which is still "alive" at over 150 years of age. Read 100 Year or More of American Independence for the story.

An nonagenarian who traveled across the Atlantic in the 1600's, Lori Thornton's 10th-great-grandfather was quite a wily character, it seems. One of his wives may have even been the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Read Lori's article Rev. Stephen Bachiller: Ministry and Adultery at a Ripe Old Age for more of the story at Smoky Mountain Family Historian.

Speaking of nonagenarians, how about the feat of Miriam Midkiff's great-great-grandfather George Emmett Lewis? While in the process of building his home (while he was in his nineties), he had an accident. Read Miriam's article What's Age Got to Do With It? at AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors to learn the conclusion of George's housebuilding endeavor. Miriam also shares lots of other tidbits from her family tree with regard to age, including four young ladies who found themselves wed at the age of fourteen.

John Newmark takes the award for most mathematical calculations in his post Age is Relative posted at Transylvanian Dutch. He calculated the average lifespans of his male and female ancestors and the percentage of family members who died during each decade of life. John does a comparison of the life expectancies of several branches of his family that I found interesting. John also shares the stories of the centenarians and nonagenarians in his family. Watch out: reading his post might get you inspired to do some number-crunching of your own. Better get out your calculators!

Another genealogist who did a good amount of "geneaccounting" is Becky Wiseman of kinexxions. In Live Long And Prosper... Becky also took a statistical approach to the question of age and gives us an overview of interesting stories of age within her family tree, including two pairs of father-son nonagenarians. Becky took the time to calculate the average age at death for her ancestors and shares her findings with us.

Kathryn Lake Hogan's grandfather was quite a fine sailor, so it seems. Read her post At The Helm Once Again at LOOKING4ANCESTORS to read a letter sent to her grandfather in praise of his skills as a sailor while still in his eighties.

Dru Pair's Aunt Della had questioned her own birth year ever since the family's Bible and its records had been destroyed in a fire. Consequently, she didn't know her true age until Dru set out to find out. Read about her discovery and how she shared it with her Aunt Della, now close to the age of 100, at Finding Aunt Della’s Correct Birth Year posted at Find Your Folks.

Clay Pipe and a Shot of Whiskey: the daily remedy for longevity? According to Susie Sherman, who lived to the age of 102, that was her secret. Whether or not that was truly the case, Sue Edminster shares the story of Susie and her husband Moses and their colorful lives (and some charming photos) on her Echo Hill Ancestors Weblog.

Wendy Littrell at All My Branches Genealogy does some accounting regarding ages at marriage and at death in her article Statistics on Age. Wendy's theory, according to her personal family research, is that longevity is genetic. Read her article to learn about the centenarians and other long-lived family members in her tree.

Mrs. Augusta Last: the family member whose life lasted the longest in Brian Zalewski's family tree. Brian's post Been Around Awhile over at Zalewski Family Genealogy tells what he knows about his great-great-grandmother, the only centenarian in his family. She passed away two weeks after her 100th birthday (and the party that her family threw for her in celebration).

Janet Iles (Janet the researcher) presents a look at the eldest members of her family tree for our carnival at Age - Depends on your vantage point. Janet provides a few brief biographies of family members who lived into their nineties (and two to age 102).

Randy Seaver, ever the muse, presents his entry for the aging edition of the Carnival of Genealogy on...himself! Instead of choosing to write about others in his family tree, he shares his personal ideas on aging and how he feels as the years pass by. Read his post Age - mind over matter? for his thoughts and some well-known quotes by famous people on the topic of age.

Also waxing poetic on the subject of aging is Thomas MacEntee in his article Well-Aged But Not Ripe posted at Destination: Austin Family. Thomas, inspired throughout his life by his great-grandmother who lived to the age of 94, shares his thoughts on aging and how attitudes have changed toward "age" in today's society. I found particularly interesting his comparison of the advent of various new technologies that his great-grandmother had lived through and the ones that he has seen in his own lifetime.

Taking a similar approach to our carnival on aging, Bill West of West in New England describes the amazing events and technological changes witnessed by his 3rd great-grandmother Arvilla Ames West of Maine. In his article WITNESS TO HISTORY Bill lists the wars that her country faced, the presidents in office, the financial panics, the innovations, and more that happened during Arvilla's 97 year lifetime which spanned most of the 19th-century.

Lastly, Janet Hovorka, The Chart Chick, questions when she should be planning a mid-life crisis based on her own ancestral history. Her MidLife Crises-- But what age? uses a tally of her ancestors' average life spans to determine just when she might be "over the hill". Janet's is a humorous look at one way (which many family historians may not have thought of) to put our hard-earned genealogical data to use.

Call for Submissions

The next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be a “carousel” edition. Just as carousels have a variety of animal figures so, too, will the next edition of the COG have a variety of topics. All subjects are welcome but please limit yourself to one submission. Submit any article you’d like (genealogy-related of course!) and if you'd like an introduction for it, please write your own. Jasia will be hosting the next edition on the Creative Gene blog but she won't be writing any introductions this time around. The deadline for submissions is August 1.

Submit your blog article using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found at the blog carnival index page. Want to know more about the Carnival of Genealogy? See Jasia's Frequently Asked Questions page.

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you at the 53rd edition of the COG.

In the meantime, check out the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture's upcoming edition: the Small-leaved Shamrock summer reading challenge, deadline July 25.

Thanks to Jasia for the opportunity to host this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy here at 100 Years in America. Thanks also to footnoteMaven for the eye-catching Carnival of Genealogy posters.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A tribute to long life lived well

Magdalena (Bedenica) Bence was 97 years old at the time of her death in the Croatian area of Hungary in 1957.

Her daughter, Ilona (Bence) Ujlaki, also lived to the age of 97, passing away after seventy-two years in her adopted country, the United States of America.

At this time, three of Ilona's children remain, all nonagenarians and beautiful inspirations to the generations that follow them on the family tree.

100 Years in America salutes the three beloved surviving daughters of Ferencz and Ilona Ujlaky and wishes them each continued health and joy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Hungarian genealogy research guide

Lisa Alzo's article on Hungarian genealogical research just arrived in my mailbox yesterday as part of the September 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine. I haven't dug through the entire "Hungary for History" article yet, but it looks to be pretty comprehensive - certainly a good place to start out your search for Hungarian family history.

According to Lisa Alzo's bio at the end of the article, she has "sampled Hungarian records while researching Slovak ancestors". Looks like she's made quite a diversion into Hungarian genealogy along the way. Her article gives a step by step approach to searching for family in Hungary which includes gaining a background understanding of its history and geography, using U.S. sources to find the place of origin in Hungary, and then moving to Hungarian church and civil records. The guide is full of good tips, some that I have learned the hard way by trial and error in my own Hungarian family history search.

Want to get started but don't have a copy of the magazine? Download Family Tree Magazine's PDF file with all the weblinks from the latest issue including those related to Hungarian genealogy.

You can also check out a few other tips in articles that I've posted here at 100 Years in America on Hungarian genealogy such as:
Happy travels into Hungarian family history!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The "aging" Carnival of Genealogy

No, you shouldn't be concerned about Jasia's Carnival of Genealogy feeling its age, although it will be hitting a respectable 52nd edition on July 18.

What I'm referring to is the topic of the next edition. The 52nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, which I will be hosting here at 100 Years in America, will focus on the simple topic of AGE. As family historians, we take time to carefully mark the birthdates of our forebears. We print out family tree charts including this all-important data. We make it a point to note at what age family members have married, had children and passed away.

Take some time to look over the data that you have collected on members of your family tree, and share a story of age with us for the upcoming edition of the carnival. Do you have a member of the family who went to work to support the family while still of a tender age? Someone who accomplished something that was typically done by others beyond his or her years? A couple who married young? A couple with disparate ages? A family member who accomplished something of note at an advanced age? How about family members that lived many years, outlasting many of their relatives and friends?

With the understanding that "age is often a state of mind", share your family story about someone whose story stands out because of their age, either young or old. The deadline for this edition is July 15, 2008. Submit your blog article using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found at the blog carnival index page. Want to know more about the Carnival of Genealogy? See Jasia's Frequently Asked Questions page.

Don't be afraid to "show your age" at our next carnival! See you there!

Thanks to footnoteMaven for the COG 52nd edition poster.

Friday, July 4, 2008

"When we seemed to walk in freedom as in the sun..."

The Fourth of July, the celebration of our nation's birthday, never quite lives up to its ideal for me. Full of sun and fun, parades and flags though it may be, somehow I usually find myself wondering on this day what it was like for Americans in generations before me to celebrate the birth of America and wishing that I could make a visit back into their times.

I love this family photograph in my collection that takes me back half a century ago. It includes several of my family members, including the little flag-bearer.

Just above and to the left of my great-grandmother's shoulder is posted an ad that helps to date the picture. It reads:



Every Thursday Evening - ABC Television Network

Presented by OLD GOLD Cigarettes

You may have seen reruns of those famous commercials with the "dancing cigarette packs" from so many years ago. Those were Old Gold brand. (A decade or so after these began to run, cigarette advertisements were banned from television entirely.) Stop the Music ran at the very beginning of the 1950s during a time when America (and American television) was very different than it is today.

Only five years had passed since the end of World War II. It was a joyful time for the country and the world. The Great Depression and the war were both in the past, and there was hope for the future.

I enjoy looking back at this moment in time as it is preserved in this treasure of a family photograph. The ladies in their fine hats, the children so serious and proud... I wonder: where had the group just come from and where were they going? Why the little flag-bearer? Was it the Fourth of July, 1950?

In honor of today's celebration of the birth of our country, I'd like to share a poem that speaks to me of the joy of the nation as it celebrated the end of the war back in 1945. Written by Phyllis McGinley, an American poet active during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, it speaks of the patriotism felt by a people reveling in the successful preservation of freedom. Those of us tempted to take for granted our nation's peace and prosperity today would do well to remember how Americans "savored the hour" in 1945 when they realized that they were assured of freedom once more.


by Phylllis McGinley

Savor the hour as it comes. Preserve it in amber.

Instruct the mind to cherish its sound and its shape.

Cut out the newspaper clippings. Forever remember

The horns and the ticker tape.

The flags, the parades, the radio talking and talking,

Ceaselessly crying the tale on the noisy air

(But omitting for once the commercials), the sirens shrieking,

The bulletins in Times Square,

The women kneeling in churches, the people's laughter,

The speeches, the rumors, the tumult loud in the street.

Remember it shrewdly so you can say hereafter,

"That moment was safe, sound and sweet.

Safe was the day and the world was safe for living,

For Democracy, Liberty, all of the coin-bright names.

Were not the bomb bays empty, the tanks unmoving,

The cities no more in flames?

That was an island in time, secure and candid,

When we seemed to walk in freedom as in the sun,

With a promise kept, with the dangers of battle ended,

And the fearful perils of peace not yet begun."

"V-Day" from Times Three by Phyllis McGinley, 1960, 5th printing October 1961 by The Viking Press, New York.

For more images of "celebrations of home", see footnoteMaven's 3rd edition of I Smile for the Camera.

For more from Lisa, visit

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