Published January 2, 2015

In today’s atmosphere of polarization in U.S. politics, it’s hard to imagine Democrats and Republicans on the same side of an issue as controversial as war. While reading period newspaper articles on members of my family tree, I recently came across an article about a NY state resident from the…

Read More NY at the start of the Civil War – Strange bedfellows

Published November 29, 2014

I just learned that there was a custom in the US of dressing up in costumes on Thanksgiving. This practice seems to have been popular in some areas of the country from the 19th century until the early 1950s. This solves a mystery about a photo of my grandparents, labeled…

Read More That explains it! Thanksgiving masquerade

Published November 1, 2014

I’m having trouble finding much information about my great grandmother Catherine. She died young in 1913, at age 42, and there isn’t a long life’s worth of documentation on her. Catherine Agnes was born in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1861, of Irish parents. Her surname shows up sometimes as McElmeel, McElmee,…

Read More Consumption – a romanticized death

Published September 29, 2014

On my Brewster/Betterton family tree, there is a large branch of Dutch and English ancestors who lived in the area of Albany, NY and the Hudson River valley. One such ancestor was Peter (Pieter) Mees Hogeboom. He was a Dutch merchant and landowner who lived during the 18th century in…

Read More Mum Bett – early civil rights figure