Friday, December 4, 2009

85th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Orphans and Orphans

Many thanks to Jasia for all her encouragement and to footnote Maven for coming up with another wonderful COG poster.

Welcome to the 85th Carnival of Genealogy. I cannot describe how excited I am to be hosting this edition, which deals with a subject that is very dear to me, particularly in the context of genealogy: Orphans. (Even the problems with the blog carnival site have not been able to dim my enthusiasm.) Participants were invited to write about one or both types of “orphans” we encounter in genealogy:

The first type of orphan refers to those ancestors or relatives who lost their parents when they were young.

The second type of orphan would be those siblings or cousins of our ancestors who could be called “reverse orphans.” They are the relatives who, for whatever reason – death at a young age, never having married or had children, or having children who did not survive to provide descendants – have no direct descendants of their own, so it falls to us, their collateral relatives, to learn and write their story.

And, with her usual ingenuity, footnote Maven has come up with a third type of orphan in genealogy!

No matter what type of orphan, their stories are touching and often inspiring. In addition, these tales often carry a mystery within them. I am delighted to see what a strong emotional hold our “orphans” have over those of us who do genealogy research. The message comes across loud and strong in these articles – whether expressed in so many words or demonstrated by the loving care devoted to the research – that the stories of these people deserve to be told. As these articles demonstrate, studying these relatives also improves the quality of our research as a whole. It was also striking how groups such as the Graveyard Rabbits and geneablogging themes such as “Tombstone Tuesday” help to perpetuate the memory of people who might otherwise be forgotten.

If you submitted an article to the Carnival of Genealogy using the submission form and do not see your article below, my profound apologies. The blog carnival submission site stopped worked after the first few days. Just let me know and I will include your blog in this article as well as post it in its own separate article.

Now let the stories begin:

In “Tombstone Tuesday – John S. KINNICK,” Dr. Bill Smith of Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories describes a mystery involving a “reverse orphan” ancestor in which a family legend is smashed by a tombstone. You’ll have to read the story to see what that means!

Cathy Palm of Cameron Collections tells of a wonderful relative she was privileged to know personally in “Who Else Would Tell Her Story? Adelia McCrea – Renowned Mycologist.” Adelia, a pioneer in the field of science, was quite an accomplished woman - you can even take a look at one of her patents! This is not Cathy’s first Carnival post, but it is the first for Cameron Collections.

Over at the Folk Archivist’s Blog (this is a new blog to me, and am I glad to find it!), in “Spinster and Bachelors, not just lifeless limbs in our family trees,” Liza Painter provides a superb analysis of the importance of our spinster, bachelor, and childless relatives, emphasizing equally the important roles they played in family life, the contributions they made to society as a whole, and how they enrich our family research.

Dorene from Ohio has written a touching tribute to a young football player who life was cut short by an automobile accident in “Chester John Thompson, Football Star” at the Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay. This article illustrates how the work of Graveyard Rabbits and GeneaBloggers can help to preserve the memory of people like Chester, who died too young to marry and have a family.

The Carnival provides an introduction to another interesting new blogger: J. Mulder over at Tracing My Roots. Her “Orphans” COG entry is “The Forgotten Uncle” – love that title! J. M. writes: “I choose the second definition of Orphans, the reverse orphan. This ancestor fits the bill exactly, and so I decided to write an article about him. It brought some surprises, to say the least!” Imagine finding out that you had an uncle you had never heard about before. J. M. was able to locate pictures and several documents, and has used them to put together an informative and moving portrait of her “forgotten uncle.”

Far from being forgotten, the memory of an aunt who died as a baby has been preserved and cherished, as described in Joan Hill’s article “Carnival of Genealogy’s Orphans and Orphans: Baby Irene” at Roots’n’Leaves. Joan’s telling of the story of Baby Irene’s short life packs a powerful emotional punch and skillfully conveys the “need to tell the story” that compels us to write about these orphans. It involves a picture of a beloved family member, family stories, and, what is quite fascinating, the possible genetic explanation behind Baby Irene’s death and the family childbearing pattern.

At Reflections from the Fence, Carol’s story of her “orphan” relative in “85th Carnival of Genealogy, Orphans and Orphans” is particularly intriguing because the relative to whom she has written a wonderful tribute is both a “reverse orphan” and a “regular orphan.” Carol’s story of a talented and witty woman whose life was cut short too early has some dramatic twists and turns that will draw you in.

John Newmark at TransvylanianDutch, who seems to have a full plate of orphan relatives of both types, need no prodding to preserve the memory of “reverse orphan” relatives; he has already posted a number of articles on his great uncles Mandell Newmark and Samuel Van Every. Moreover, in “Orphans” he outlines a fascinating “orphan-related” (or more precisely, “orphanage-related”) mystery in his family history. The ultimate fate of another family of orphans also remains unknown. Given John’s sleuthing skills, we can look forward to reading about how he gets to the bottom of these mysteries.

Apple’s touching story of “Rose” at Apple’s Tree really tugged at my heart because it reminds me so much of my own brick wall great-grandmother. It is an irresistible combination of mystery – actually, several mysteries – with a heartrending tale of how her great-grandmother had to experience the fate of an orphan even though her parents were still living. Apple has done some outstanding detective work to fill in the blanks in Rose’s life, and her yearning to learn the remaining “whys” and “what-ifs” is contagious.

Katrina’s tale of the McQuarrie twins at Kick-Ass Genealogy, “Ausker and Olive McQuarrie: Carnival of Genealogy 85 (Orphans and Orphans),” demonstrates how compelling we find the stories of those we research, even when we’re not quite sure that we are related to them. Katrina details her efforts to explain discrepancies in records and we are left wondering if the continual reappearance of the twins in her searches is their way of telling her that they want their story told. You’ll have an itch to learn the true story of these twins.

Ruth Stephens’ thought-provoking and affectionate article at Bluebonnet Country Genealogy, “85th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Orphans and Orphans,” poses the question that must nag at so many researchers: “What if?” Ruth has orphans of both kinds in her family history and has compiled a brief photo history of each of them. By the way, I am embarrassed to admit that I did not original include Bluebonnet Country Genealogy in my list of Texas-connected GeneaBloggers (“The Texas Team”); that has been corrected.

In “Miss Johanna Tieking,” Bev Bird of Tieking – Stevenson Families pays tribute to one of the very people who accumulated the family treasures that Bev is now able to use to learn and write her family history. Bev eloquently expresses the sense of responsibility many of us feel for keeping our childless and single relatives’ memories alive.

At The Pieces of My Past, Tracy spins the tale of how a paper with seven names gave but a hint of the tragedy-laden story that lay behind the list in “COG 85: Orphans and Orphans.” Tracy also makes a good case for looking at all the family circumstances when we form our definition of an “orphan.” An excellent example of weaving a story from all the little bits of information!

In “Orphaned by Another Means,” TCasteel of Tangled Trees presents the challenge of learning more about a great-grandmother who lost one parent and was abandoned to a harsh fate by the other parent. There is a family legend and some conflicting scraps of information – a familiar paucity of information to anyone who has researched a brick wall. As I also have a great-grandmother who was said to have had to work for another family at a young age, this story touched me and I am eager to learn more.

In “COG: Lee Rutter – How Do You Connect?” Jen of ShawGenealogy shows the tenacity that genealogists need to have when they pursue the story of an “orphan” relative whose story consists of puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together. And, of course, the compulsion to learn more never goes away, no matter much meticulous research may have uncovered, as Jen so ably demonstrates.

Bill West of West in New England pulls together all the pieces of information on his Grant Aunt Winnie, who died at around age forty without every marrying, in “Winifred McFarland.” Bill’s article is a good example and reminder to assemble and record all the documents, photographs, and oral history about each of our relatives who may still be present in the keepsakes and memories of the living.

The beautifully told and poignant story in Tonia’s article for the COG, “Orphans and Orphans: A Sad Bit of History,” at Tonia’s Roots, begins and ends with headstones. What I especially love (among other things) about this article is that it puts the story of the family in question into historical context.

At Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver’s “Orphans of two kinds” recounts the histories of both types of orphans who have appeared in his family tree. He has posted previously on these orphan relatives and you should click on the links to the articles if you have not read them already in order to experience the full poignancy of all these short lives. The recounting of the causes of death alone is enough to make you grateful to be alive in the 21st century.

Jasia of Creative Gene honors her Aunt Gee in “Remembering an Aunt with Many Names.” This beautiful tribute is a wonderful way to remember a generous and beloved aunt who had no children of her own and at the end of her life did not even have a funeral or memorial. My wish for all of our “orphan” relatives would be to be remembered in just this way.

footnoteMaven, ever alert, has caught an omission in my typology of orphans. There is yet a third type, described in her contribution, “An Orphanage.” I am definitely eager to follow fM’s progress as she tries to identify her orphans. (From now on I will always think of any collection of orphan photos as an orphanage.) Good luck with your quest, fM, and please keep us updated on what you learn and how you learn it!

Preston Moore was the first “reverse orphan” ancestor I ever researched and he is the one who pulled me into this obsession. It just did not seem fair that my cousin and I knew what happened to all of his siblings and knew nothing of his fate. My ignorance about Civil War military units and lack of experience in genealogical research probably made my search for him more circuitous than it needed to be, with some false starts and dead ends along the way, but I am glad I never gave up. I have recorded the tale of this search and its results in “Orphans and Orphans: Searching for Preston Moore” and “The Two Preston Moores.”

As I suspected, there is at least one “Orphans and Orphans” post I missed, and it has several intriguing twists, so you won’t want to miss this one: Charles Hansen’s “Orphans for the Carnival of Genealogy #85” at Mikkel’s Hus. (This is cross-posted in the main Carnival post and as a separate post). The biggest mystery in Charles’ story of his great-uncle Laurits Hansen is this: How can one of a pair of twins, the one who was reported as dying at five days after birth, have survived to become father to a family of a family of 11 children? The path to the solution of this mystery involves twins, an early christening, a flood, and one of the pitfalls of research using microfilm. My apologies for missing this one, Charles - it's a humdinger!

That concludes the 85th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. My thanks to all who participated; I am certain that readers will enjoy your submissions and learn from them, as I have. And now, you all know what comes next:

Call for Submissions! The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: The Other Holiday Happenings! Often times December to mid-January birthdays and anniversaries get over shadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we're going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries on your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys and gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples. Share it in the COG!

And this edition will have a Part 2 as well (separate blog post)! We can't go into the Christmas holiday without our genealogy wish lists for Genea-Santa!!! So write up a list of what you'd like Genea-Santa to bring you and share it in the COG :-) The deadline for all entries is December 15th. This edition will be hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blog carnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


  1. Wow - Greta you did a great job with this edition of the COG! I love the stories and posts people submitted.

  2. I loved the topic! You have done a great job putting this together, despite the problems with Blog Carnival. Thanks!

  3. Greta, agree with others, FAB job! and done under less than optimum conditions. I read till late into the night, and did not finish. Some great posts! Can't wait to finish reading. THANX!!

  4. Beautiful job, Greta! I can't wait to start reading the posts.

  5. Greta -

    What an interesting topic!

    Thanks for putting this all together!

  6. Hi Gretta! Wonderful job with a very interesting Carnival! Congrats!
    And thanks for adding my blog to your "Texas Team"!

  7. Greta Love:

    As someone who knows the tremendous amount of effort it takes to produce any carnival edition, let me just say, "You look mah-velous!

    A beautiful job of writing, compiling, and producing! Bravo!


  8. Aw, garsh guys, thank you so much! It was a labor of love. I really had a blast reading all the submissions. Also, I wanted to do something worthy of Jasia, who created one of the firstest and bestest of the GeneaBlogger traditions. I don't how Jasia and fM do it every month.

  9. Bravo Greta! You've done a terrific job with the COG!!!

    I am very impressed with how much time and effort you put into it. I know how long it takes to read and comment on every post. You really went the extra mile and it shows. Thank you once again for hosting the COG!

  10. Thank you, Jasia, for your generous comment and also for your encouragement - you'll never know how much it means to me. One thing for sure - this was a real eye-opening experience for me! I loved doing it, but I am in awe of you for doing it regularly!

  11. Greta,

    Thanks for the nice opening comment and referral. Nice Carnival all around - good work!