Monthly Archives: March 2012

Genetic memory or hardwired preferences: Questions for the family historian

Egg Rock Lighthouse

Egg Rock Lighthouse, at entry to Frenchman’s Bay

Genetic memory is explained as follows in Wikipedia:

In psychology, genetic memory is a memory present at birth that exists in the absence of sensory experience, and is incorporated into the genome over long spans of time. It is based on the idea that common experiences of a species become incorporated into its genetic code, not by a Lamarckian process that encodes specific memories but by a much vaguer tendency to encode a readiness to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli.

As a child, I longed for New England.  Not that I had any logical reason to be drawn to the area.  A native Southern Californian, I’d never experienced the east coast until my mother and I visited Maine in 2004.   Continue reading

Chronicling America chronicles the Stanwood family

Friday night I continued my search for the Stanwood surname on the Library of Congress’ web site, Chronicling America.  What an awesome site!  My great-great grandparents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, appeared several times in the Princeton Journal – typically when visiting their daughter Georgianna (Stanwood) Cravens.  Here are some of my finds:

Benjamin Stanwood recovers from Typhoid

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill. This is curious - as Lavina died in 1920, and Albert was residing in Minneapolis at the time.

Albert Stanwood takes A.M. Palon to St. Louis lumbering district

Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood ill

Martha (Bursley) Orrock learns her sister, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood is ill.

Melvin Stanwood nearly drowns

Albert Stanwood's team drowns in St. Louis river; son Melvin narrowly escapes.

Don’t throw the baby (or the paper) out with the bath water….

Family History Binders

Some of my labeled binders.  

I really enjoy finding stuff.

I really hate filing stuff.  (I believe I’ve mentioned that a time or two…or ten…in previous posts, lol.)  Hence, I’d made (the unfortunate) decision to go digital in my filing system a couple of years ago.  Of course, I kept all of the documents I had currently, as well as any new paper documents obtained from the courthouses or other places.   I dutifully scanned those documents, and numbered them using reference number by document type.  For example, all death certificates were numbered, beginning with the first certificate, which was DEATH 001, and the next DEATH 002, and so on.  The paper copies were kept in a binder of death certificates, and the electronic copies were kept similarly.  It seemed to make sense at the time.  I stopped printing things I’d found online, and only saved those items electronically.

This left quite a few problems, but it took a couple of years for them to surface. Continue reading

Two Thumbs Up – “Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research”

Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research

I received my copy of the fifth edition of the Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research  today, and have to say I’m impressed!  When I originally ordered the book last Fall, I wondered if this would mirror the Handybook for Genealogists (a wonderful resource), or would it offer new content.  (Surprisingly, I’ve not ever seen the previous four editions.  How have I missed it all these years?)  It certainly didn’t disappoint.

For each state, the book provides a summary of the state’s history, and then has a section discussing each of the following:

  • Vital Records
  • Church Records
  • Probate Records
  • Land Records
  • Court Records
  • Military Records
  • Other Records

State repositories are listed with contact information, hours of operation, and types of records found within each.  Next is a list of counties, followed by a helpful list of extinct counties.  (From this I learned of Maine’s extinct county, “Old Lincoln”, which was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1652-83.  I would have otherwise incorrectly assumed Old Lincoln referenced the present-day county of Lincoln.)

What I like best about this new NEHGS publication is the many county maps that include details of the towns therein.  This book will definitely be sitting on my desk for regular reference, as most of my research is centered in New England towns.   Thanks, NEHGS, for a wonderful book.  It was well worth the wait! autosomal DNA test – Part II

“Baby’s Family Tree” from my mother’s baby book, written by my grandmother in 1942.

Family trees are full of mysteries.  The one thing we can be sure that we know is that there is a lot that we DON’T know!  🙂  That’s a good reason to have a DNA test done.  Hopefully it will help link us to others who DO know something about lines we are researching.  Sometimes, instead of providing answers, DNA testing presents more questions.   Continue reading

My (free) DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA

My Genetic Ethnicity (per DNA testing)

It seems like an eternity ago I received an email from offering me a free autosomal DNA test.  (Still don’t know why I was selected…were all subscribers offered the free DNA testing or only their most neurotic users that spend most of their non-working, waking hours searching family history?)   I immediately signed up, and shortly thereafter received my DNA kit, swabbed my cheek, sent it back and have been waiting.

This afternoon I received an email from Ancestry letting me know the results are finally in. Continue reading