Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday: What Would My Mother Think of This?

My mother used to say, "Fools' names and fools' faces appear in public places."  This was usually said to assuage my feelings of unpopularity -- at least by being obscure (relatively speaking), I was not a fool with my name and face in public all the time.  Then there was Emily Dickinson:

I'm nobody.  Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Well, look at us today.  All over the internet, blogging, commenting, being listed here, there, and everywhere.  What would my mother think?  Emily, I believe, would just shake her head, draw her drapes, and write a poem about all of us who go skittering about the Web, croaking our names to the admiring bog.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's in a Name? Or: Clues are where you find them

One problem genealogists run into, of course, is names.  Spellings, variants, two people with the same name -- these occur across cultures and across the decades and centuries.  It is no different in St. Augustine from 1783 to 1821.

One potential problem is one I was unaware might even exist until, in connection with my research on the project, I read Patricia Griffin's Mullet on the Beach: The Minorcans in Florida, 1768-1788 which is the story of the in-migration of several hundred residents of the Balearic island of Minorca, in the Mediterranean just off the coast of the Spanish autonomous region of Cataluña, to work the indigo plantation of Dr. Andrew Turnbull during the British Period (1763-1783).  Griffin mentions one woman who married a fellow named Matias Pons.  Next page she renders the husband's name as Marcial Pons.  I have come across both names in my research, but did not have any idea that there might be a problem.   Were these two different people that the woman was married to (serially, we hope!)?  Or was this one person known by two different names?  I will have to do further research to resolve that one.  Either possibility could be the case; it was not unusual in colonial times, either in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine or in my own ancestral Massachusetts colonies, for a bachelor-man to marry the widow of his deceased brother, nor is it that unusual for a man to be known by two different names.  My own great-great grandfather Matthew Hale Packard was known by his first name in some areas, and by his middle name in others.  In the case of Matias/Marcial Pons, I found a valuable clue in one of my derivative sources.

Another problem is the perennial one of two people, usually men, with the same name.  I have my two fellows named Diego Hernandez and my two others named Bernardo Segui, among others.  These do happen to be father and son, in both cases, but that is not always so.  In the English colonies, Sr. and Jr. often did not carry any indication of family relationship at all, but were just a way to distinguish between an older man and a younger man of the same name in the same town.  The case is (to over use a word) the same in Spanish St. Augustine, where we find "el mayor" (the older) and "el joven" (the younger) used whether or not there was any familial relationship.  There are instances when I do not know whether it was "el mayor" or "el joven" unless there is some clue somewhere in the sources.

Some of the clues are overt, as in the case of tax collector Fernando de la Maza Arredondo and his son of the same name.  The elder had to be away on city business, and his son took over doing the quarterly town accounts, which he was courteous enough to sign "Fernando de la Maze Arredondo, el joven," and sometimes added a phrase indicating that he was temporarily doing the job in his father's absence.  Other clues are not so overt, and I have learned the value of not skipping over the most mundane parts of the documents I am using from the East Florida Papers.  In one testamentary proceeding, that concerning the legal consequences of the passing of one Juan Lauren (or Jean Laurent, in his native French language)., there is the problem of which man of the same name is the one mentioned in the document.  Lauren died intestate, and his effects were sold at public auction.  One of the purchasers at the auction was Bernardo Segui -- but which one is not indicated in the recording of the sale.  It is only in the mundane attestations made by the scribe that he duly notified Señor Segui to come pay for the stuff he bought and haul it away that the answer appears.  These are the boring little notations that the scribe dutifully made, one after the other after the other, to indicate that he crossed all his t's and dotted all his i's, where I end up with my eyes crossed.  The notification in this case is attested to have been sent to Bernardo Segui el joven.  This time, reading all the "doy fes," as I call them because they all end with the phrase "doy fe" (I give faith, or I attest), paid off.

Finally, there is the problem of the multi-cultural nature of the St. Augustine colony and some of the quirks of naming that show up from other languages and cultures.  A case in point is the Irishman John McIntosh, grandfather of the troublemaker John Houston McIntosh of the "Patriot War" of 1812-1813 in Spanish East Florida in which Americans tried to invade Florida and take it over with the intent to hand it over to the United States.  John McIntosh the elder was known as John McIntosh, Mor or John Mor McIntosh, "mor" being a Gaelic naming convention meaning "the great" or "the elder."  One writer rendered the name as John Mohr McIntosh, as if it were a middle name.  It likely was not, but rather this Gaelic naming convention.  I would not have known about that had I not also added to my reading list Charles E. Bennett's Florida's "French" Revolution, about an earlier coup attempt to grab Florida for the U.S.

We all know about the problems that can crop up with names.  We also need to be aware that clues about these name problems may turn up in the darnedest places!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nothing to do with Genealogy, but . . .

. . . It's intriguing, all the same.

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I participate in a private mailing list of people I've known in cyberspace for over 30 years, some of whom I've actually met face to face, and from whom I've experienced kindness and true friendship.  One of them took this little test.  So I thought I would, too.  I entered three paragraphs from my blog a couple weeks ago about the doctor in St. Augustine who committed suicide in the first decade of the 19th century.

And the badge above is what I got.  So I write like Vonnegut, eh?  Well, well.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tom MacEntee's "What Do I Do" Meme

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers, found at, has come up with a "meme" which can be found at, asking what technology we use to do our genealogy and other stuff.  Here's mine . . .

But first, you may ask why I didn't use HTML to just put live links in the last paragraph.  I am not doing that because Blogger's HTML editor is very bad, and is driving me to dangerously high blood pressure.  I know enough to be able to troubleshoot my own HTML, and I am doing it right.  Blogger's HTML editor is just bad.

Done with the rant (and that is a very short version); now to the "meme."

* Hardware:

1.  Desktop computer put together by my husband, running Windows XP Professional.
2.  HP Dv6000t laptop running same.
3.  Asus Eee PC running Linux.
* External storage:
1.  Several 1-2 gigabyte USB drives.
2.  1 130 gigabyte portable hard drive (made to Department of Defense specifications for durability -- I could run over it with my car and it would be unharmed).
* Online storage:
No.  I do not do this.  I will not put my work, the product of my effort and time and knowledge, into "the cloud."  I don't trust it.  So . . . I'm a dinosaur.
* Backup:
1.  HandyBackup
* Firewall:
1.  hardware firewall installed at the cable
2.  ZoneAlarm
* Virus protection:
1.  Symantec
* Spyware:
1.  AdAware
2.  MalwareBytes
* File cleaner:
None yet, but shopping
* Printer:
HP Deskjet F4280, which I am very unhappy with because of unnecessary things it does!  My next printer is likely to be a Kodak!
* Phone:
1.  Landline
2.  Nokia Communicator 9300 (I think)
* Mobile media:
1.  I just do not want to mess with this!  I really don't care.  I have enough patience to wait until I get home.
* Music player:
1.  Cowon iAudio 7
* Car audio:
1.  The radio and CD player that came with it
* eBook Reader:
I don't.  I don't want to.  I like my eyes too much, and I like the feel of real books, thank you.  The readers are too expensive, and they can break or fail.  Books don't break.
* Browser:
Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.  I avoid IE whenever possible.
* Blog:
Here it is, right here.
* RSS:
Google Reader, or Feed Demon.
* FTP:
Not very much.  My husband gave me something-or-other, I don't know what it's called.
* Text editor:
Programmer's File Editor, which you cannot find any more.
* Graphics:
Only in the games I play.  Oh, well, I do use Paint Shop Pro 7.
* Screen capture:
I use Paint Shop Pro 7
* Social media:
* Social bookmarking:
* Social profile:
I'm not very.  I try to release as little personal information into the wild as possible.
* URL shortener:
* Office suite:
Microsoft Office (grudgingly); (they could make some components better)
* E-mail:
Mozilla Thunderbird, though I find something wrong with all of them.
* Calendar:
No.  Just can't make 'em work for me.  (Well, we have a paper calendar that we use)
* Accounting:
TurboTax when the time comes every year.  Other than that, paper files in the file cabinet. (Hey, at least we're not using a shoebox!)
* PDF generator: does it just fine for me, and in fact Microsoft Office 2007 will, too.
* Genealogy database:
The Master Genealogist.  I tried Family Tree Maker 2010, but it just wasn't there for me.
* Genealogy tools:
Pen, paper, forms, reference books. 
* Other tech stuff:
I do a lot of transcription of Spanish documents from past centuries, and I find a little program called Transcript (about which I've blogged before) to be super for the task!  I love it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

How many genealogists . . .

My husband and I get into some silly discussions sometimes, letting our minds run free and make all sorts of associations and come up with all sorts of stuff.  On the trip back from Tampa on Saturday, after my presentation for the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa, I came up with this bit of silliness:



One to screw it in.

One to create the original document describing the event and all the participants in it, tracing the lineage of each one back seven generations.

One to write the source citation for the document, in accordance with Evidence Explained.

One to transcribe the document.

One to abstract the document.

One to index the document.

One to place the document in an archive.

One to write it up in a peer-reviewed journal.

One to write a subsequent article in the same journal, disputing the findings of the first author.

One to digitize the document and upload it to, Footnote, and

One to blog about the document, the event it describes, its creator, and the participants.

One to write a source guide to the document and all similar documents which describe this event or similar events, or which contain information about the participants in the event, and their families.

One to give a presentation about the event, the original source document, its creator, and the participants and their family lines at the Federation of Genealogy Societies conference.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

3 July: Paleography and Praise

Blogging from the John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa, Florida:

3 July is my day for paleography, it seems.  Last year on this date, 3 July 2009, I was speaking at the national convention of the Sons of the American Revolution in Atlanta, on the subject:  "Paleography: Interpreting Old Handwriting, Spanish and English."

Today I gave that same presentation to the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa.  Wonder where I'll be talking about paleography next July 3?

The presentation went well and was well-received.  This one of my favorite talks to give (the other one being "Our Black Sheep Ancestors: How to Approach Them").  I had some new examples, which worked very well.

That's the paleography; now the praise.

One of the members of the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa is George G. Morgan, author of a number of books on genealogy, leader of guided tours to Britain for genealogical research, columnist on, and one of the "Genealogy Guys" podcast.  He introduced himself and told me, "I love your book on the Florida censuses."  He told me how he has told a number of libraries they need the book.

I consider that high praise, and a good review.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Google Books

From Amy Coffin, this week's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy challenge is:

Take a stroll through Google Books. Most of us have probably used Google Books in our genealogy research, but have you really taken the time to explore what’s there? Look at the magazines and featured books. Check out the subjects offered. By taking the focus off research for a bit, your mind is open to see other ways this tool can be used. Bloggers can discuss any interesting items they found on Google Books during this exercise.

The chief benefit in my mind of Google Books is providing the text of classic works in all fields, those which are now in the public domain.  I will not go into the recent lawsuit concerning the posting by Google of excerpts from books which are not in the public domain (one of which is mine, and I'm of two minds about that).  But the contribution Google Books has made to history, genealogy, and a host of other research fields in posting these old -- some of them VERY old -- books is nearly unparalleled.

I hope you have read my entries on the documents in the East Florida Papers concerning the death by suicide of a doctor in St. Augustine in 1810.  There is an inventory  in the file of his clothing, personal effects, and the small bit of furniture he owned.  There is also a separate inventory of his books.  There are books on diseases of the tropics, books on surgery, and books called "materia medica," descriptions of disease symptoms and treatments of the day (there are modern materia medica works, as well).  

Among the materia medica works is one by Boerhave and one by Cullen, both published in the mid to late 1700s.  These books are on Google books.  The Boerhave is in Latin, so is a bit of a rough go.  The Cullen is in English.   Seeing the actual texts has an immediacy that just cannot be beat.  Here they are, two of the titles the doctor had in his collection in St. Augustine.  Others that were in his collection may have copies in Google Books, as well, but I don't have time right now to go look extensively.

Just seeing those two books for myself is a pleasure.