November 26, 2014

What are the Politics of Your Family Tree?

stick_figure_ballot_box_400_wht_9471Here’s a fun online tool that points toward the political leanings of current U.S. residents with your surnames: What’s in a Name?

For example, when I enter my maternal grandfather’s surname, Felix, I find that this surname overwhelming votes Democrat (77%). My father’s surname, McClellan, is evenly split. There’s a cool (but slightly confusing) map that breaks down results by state. Of course I looked at the state breakdowns where my family lives now and in their ancestral home states!

Do  political leanings really run in a family? Here’s an interesting article about familial voting patterns (again for the U.S.). Based on your surname results and what you know about your family, would this be a FUN family history conversation to introduce at your next family reunion would it open a can of worms?

Just remember, this isn’t a historical picture of your surname but predicted figures for the next big election. Not everyone with your surname is a relative, and that you likely have lot of relatives from that same surname line who wouldn’t be included because their surnames have changed. There’s also no explanation on this page of where they get their raw numbers or how they calculate their answers. You’d want to check the supporting organizations for party or other bias. So this is JUST for fun! But think about it–what resources would you use to research the politics of your family tree? Obituaries? Newspapers? Interviews with older relatives? Even naming patterns? My husband’s grandfather is named Franklin Delano–I wonder who his parents voted for….

 

 

See what this intriguing census taker had to say about the neighbors

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Eagle eye Genealogy Gems reader and listener John Roberts ran across some very unique entries in a Kansas State Census. John writes: “I thought you might find the professions listed for the people on lines 13, 16 and 33, out of the ordinary, to say the least. It appears this census taker had a critical nature. I found this census page very amusing. Hope you enjoy it too.”

Indeed I did John!

In 1875 census enumerator Frank Wilkeson made his way through a Gypsum, Kansas neighborhood making usual note of the locals as sculptor, wagon maker, and carpenter. However, his attitude changed when he reached the Law household, where he listed 27 year old Job Law as…

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“Loafer”

genealogy census family historyHe didn’t think much more of the next Head of Household 55 year old James Coleman who he labeled “Blow Hard.”

Appearing to have settled down after that visit he went on to list the blacksmith, farmers and miller…until he reached J. Lockwood’s house where he called it like he saw it:

census genealogy family history

So who exactly was the guy who used the role of census enumerator as a platform to share his personal opinions on this Gypsum, Kansas neighborhood? I couldn’t help myself and did a bit of digging.

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According to the Gypsum Hill Cemetery Historical Walk, published by the City of Saline, Parks & Recreation and the Saline Public Library (and posted to Franks’s listing on Find A Grave), Frank Wilkeson led an interesting life that took many twists and turns. He was born in Buffalo, New York, on March 8, 1848, the youngest son of journalist, Samuel Wilkeson, and Catherine Cady, sister to suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton.Wilkeson“Wilkeson was only 15 when he ran away from home to join the Union Army during the Civil War. When the war ended in 1865, he had been brevetted a captain. He later published Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac, a starkly realistic view of war” (and early indicator of his brutally honest views.)

His exploits included working in Pennsylvania and Colorado as a mining engineer, working as a civil engineer for the Northern Pacific Railway and exploring the river valleys in Washington State, to which he returned many times. He then married and went to Saline County, Kansas in 1871, buying land in Gypsum Township where he established a cattle ranch and raised two sons.Frank Wilkeson

From 1887 to 1893, he wrote fishing and hunting pieces for the New York Times and the New York Sun. The last twenty years of his life, Wilkeson wandered between Kansas and Washington, writing promotional articles and dabbling in politics and various business ventures.

As a man who worked hard, was adventurous, and enjoyed putting pen to paper to share those experiences, I guess it’s no surprise that this page of the Kansas state census went down in history as it did.

Frank Wilkeson died in Chelan, Washington on April 22, 1913.

How Grandma Betty (& Family) is Leaving a Legacy Using Social Media

Think social media sites like Instagram and Twitter can’t really be used for family history in a meaningful way? Grandma Betty will change your mind!

Jeffersonville, Indiana’s Grandma Betty has become an Instagram Grandma Betty Instagram Family Historysensation thanks in big part to her Grandson. Betty is fighting cancer, and her family wants to ensure her memory is preserved – so they turned to social media.

I love this social media merriment on so many levels!
It celebrates:

  • love of family
  • family history
  • battling cancer head on
  • and the coming together of very different generations

If you want a dose of super awesomeness and inspiration, click the video below to learn more about Grandma Betty:

Then visit Grandma Betty’s delicious Instagram site here.

Now it’s your turn: How are you using social media to further family history?

Inspire others by sharing this video and your story on Facebook (or any other social media site) using the buttons at the top of this post. Sharing through social media is one simple way you can make your voice heard – just like Grandma Betty.

Learn how to discover and preserve your family history using technology

Listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast available in iTunes. Or get the app:Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family History

iPad App: Click here for iPad app
iPhone App: Click here for iPhone app
Android App: Click here for the Android App 

You will get Bonus content, streaming and all my Genealogy Gems in one convenient app.

Just Because…

…it’s Friday…this is awesome…and it’s Christmastime. Enjoy!

Texting fave OMG! has Roots Back to World War I

If you have teens in your family then chances are you have heard the phrase OMG which stands for oh my God. But have you ever wondered who started it? You may have thought it was Alicia Silverstone in the 1995 movie Clueless, but actually you have to dig much further back in history to find its origins. All the way back to 1917 in fact.

George Mason’s University’s History News Network website says that the folks at the Oxford English Dictionary discovered a use of “OMG” from 1917. It comes in a letter by British Admiral John”Jacky” Fisher, who wrote and I quote:

“I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!”

According to the site “Fisher was famous for being the driving force behind the creation of the HMS Dreadnought, an advanced capital ship which, when it was launched in 1906, seemed revolutionary. This, the world navies agreed, made all other capital ships obsolete, but, distressingly to the British, destroyed their long-standing lead in naval power, if temporarily. The result was an enormously expensive Anglo-German naval race, which did much to bring on World War I.”

The letter was published in his book  Memories, published in 1919 (below in Google Books. Enter OMG into the search box to see it for yourself)

The Answer to a Plaguing Genealogical Problem

Have you ever wondered why you’re just not making as much progress on your genealogy research as you would like? In many of my live presetations I often ask the audience to raise their hand if they have enough time to climb their family tree, and nary a hand ever goes up. It’s a problem that plagues family historians almost without exception.

Thank goodness you’ve come to Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems because I have a gem for you that I think will cast a bright light on the problem and provide you with a better understanding of what’s really happening.