Published April 5, 2015

One of the founding fathers of the United States was an ancestor on my mother’s family tree, named Robert Coles. He connects to my maternal ancestors of Western Pennsylvania through his daughter Ann, who married into the Townsend family of Long Island. Robert came to the American colonies with the…

Read More Robert Coles – skeletons in the colonial closet

Published March 5, 2015

Because many genealogical records from the island of St. Kitts have not been digitized and put online, I have often turned to civil registry records on microfilm. While looking through page after page of Kittitian death records from the mid 1800s, I suddenly noticed that over the space of just…

Read More St Kitts – The Flood of 1880

Published March 1, 2015

As the northeast United States experiences record cold temperatures this winter, I have been reading about how the brutally freezing European winter of 1709 led to the immigration of a number of my ancestors from the southwest area of Germany known as the Palatine region. The surnames of Palatine Germans…

Read More Cold enough for you?

Published February 10, 2015

Known for beautiful scenery and stately mansions, the Hudson River was once home to some pretty radical thoughts and actions. Among my paternal ancestors in this area was a family of 18th century Dutch settlers called Dederick. Jury William Dederick lived in Saugerties, NY, and was active in local politics…

Read More Hudson River Valley – radical hotbed?

Published January 25, 2015

One of the US’s fears during the War of 1812 was that the British would invade the Great Lakes region and move down through Ohio to the Mississippi River, thus gaining easy access to much of the mid-west. After Fort Detroit fell to the British, General (later President) William Henry…

Read More Fort Meigs and the War of 1812

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 December 8, 2014

While researching some of my husband’s Kittitian ancestors who settled in Harlem in the early 1900s, I have been coming across lots of information about immigrants from the West Indies, and their influence on the Harlem Renaissance period of the 1920s. Escaping the decline of the sugar industry and looking…

Read More West Indians and the Harlem Renaissance

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 24, 2014

Researching my husband’s maternal grandfather’s British tree was a daunting task. Due in part to his non-combat death during World War II, I had almost no information to go on – just his name and two or three random facts. One of these random facts eventually opened up a wonderful,…

Read More Depending on the kindness of strangers

Published November 1, 2014

I’m having trouble finding much information about my great grandmother Katherine. She died young in 1913, at age 40, and there isn’t a long life’s worth of documentation on her. Family lore was that she was from County Tyrone, Ireland, from the area of the “Tyrone Trenches”. It’s now looking…

Read More Consumption – a romanticized death