Category Archives: Genealogy Societies

A “Found” Patriot

Heritage. As a youngster, I always wondered of the heritage that resulted in me.  The culture at home was a simple one when it came down to family stories and history. “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!” Well, I guess I won’t ask THAT question again!

What follows are a few descriptions of discoveries I’ve made since I began my genealogical journey.

My father, Henry Dunn Robison (Find A Grave Memorial# 33567770), went into the Navy exactly 3 weeks after Pearl Harbor at the “insistence” of his maternal grandmother, Gilma Cecilia Robertson Dunn. She went so far as to have his birth record destroyed (there’s no record of his birth to this day!), falsify his age and ship him off at age 15!

My father and the previous 4 generations had lived in Alabama and Tennessee. As I discovered years later, my 4th great grandfather, Hezekiah Robertson/Robinson/Robison/Robrson (Find A Grave Memorial# 7048152), was a veteran or the War of 1812 having served with the East Tennessee Volunteers then settled in Limestone County, Alabama. There were a few Confederate ancestors who served in the “War of Northern  Aggression.” One of my 2nd great grandfathers died at the Rock Island Confederate POW camp in Rock Island, Illinois (Find A Grave Memorial# 5092694). During World War II,  while Henry was in the Caribbean, his mother divorced her husband and moved to Massachusetts.  As far as I can tell, this was the reason they wanted Henry out of the way. The short version here is the “Granny” lived with us in Springfield for a while until she entered a nursing home in the mid-60s where she died in 1970.

I never knew my paternal my grandfather, Cecil Lee Robison (Find A Grave Memorial# 5092687), who remained and remarried in Alabama. I was only marginally aware of the fact that I even had a grandfather.  My father would make a 5- or 10-minute call “down south” around Christmas-time every year. I never saw “Papa Lee” nor did I ever speak with him. He died in 1964.  My first view of him was his obituary on the front page of the Anniston (Alabama) Star. While I shouldn’t have been surprised, he looked exactly like my father and it was a little unsettling.

My maternal grandfather, Clement Alexis Dickson (Find A Grave Memorial# 11132523), died when I was about 3 years old but my maternal grandmother lived until 1962. Of all of my grandparents, she’s the only one with whom I had ever had any semblance of a conversation.

The upshot is that my father didn’t care to talk about his side of the dysfunctional Robison family and my mother thought it best to hold the same line with regard to her side.

Now, enter the genealogist! I wouldn’t say that I was desperately seeking anything necessarily. But the lack of information led me to feel that we were all dropped off on earth by an alien spaceship back in the early 50s! Then, as I began researching for details, I was able to interview some of the prior generations of relatives: 3 aunts, 1 great-grandaunt and a couple of second cousins. If I only knew then what I know now!

In 2001, I got the bug to join a lineage society. If successful, that would “install” a heritage that was there all along but of which I was totally unaware. Maternal family lore stated that we descended from Pilgrims. Okay, but who, what, where, why, and when? There was a box of spoons that were allegedly made from the silver buckles of their shoes. Spoiler: hardly any pilgrims had silver buckles on their shoes! More on that some other time.

Paternal lore stated, well, nothing! But after a comparatively short period of time, I began to suspect that there was some validity to the Pilgrim story, underscore “some.” At the same time, I uncovered real evidence that my paternal lines stretched back to at least the War of 1812, as I mentioned earlier, and possibly the Revolutionary War.

So, here we go! Let’s join the Sons of the American Revolution. I downloaded an application and worked on it sporadically for about 15 years. Yes, not 5 or 10, but for 15 years, the application languished in my desk. In my defense, I was certainly busy with dozens of projects, nearly all of which involved genealogy. Then, in 2016, I was a co-chair for NERGC, a relatively large genealogy conference to be held in Springfield, Massachusetts in the spring of 2017. We normally brought in 2 featured speakers along with several dozen others. It was  my intent to solicit Kenyatta Berry, one of the very personable hosts of the PBS program “Genealogy Road Show.” It was to be filmed in Providence, Rhode Island. So off I went to Providence, Rhode Island. Short version, Kenyatta Berry became the third and very welcomed featured speaker. Score 1 for Dave.

In the meantime, many of my fellow genealogists were at the filming representing various clubs and societies in the vendor area of the venue. A friend of mine introduced me to the Registrar for a chapter of the DAR. I told her my story of profound procrastination with my SAR application. She eagerly said, “I can help!” OK, that’s great but I can’t join the DAR, I would qualify! She asked if I had a daughter which I most certainly do. As a result, my daughter is now a member of the Lexington Chapter of the DAR. For my purposes, I merely had to finish my SAR application, exclude my daughter’s generation and I could qualify.

But here, finally, is the most interesting part of the story: I have identified at least 24 ancestors who are age-appropriate to have served in the War, all would have been between their late teens to their early 40s. The specific ancestor we picked was a Patriot who had only most recently been identified as such. Timothy Blodgett’s (Find A Grave Memorial# 74484986) story involves mostly obscurity. He was a family man who, with his wife ran a small farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts while raising a small brood of 14 children. He was born in 1740 in Lexington, Massachusetts and was involved in the first battle of the War. The Lexington engagement occurred on 19 April 1775 then shortly thereafter came the battle at Concord. My ancestor was one of the registered Minute Men under Captain Charles Parker who confronted the British at Lexington, his hometown.

The singular reason that he was finally identified as a Patriot is that he lost his musket during the battle and petitioned for compensation at the Lexington Town Hall the following morning. The record of that petition was only discovered in 2012.

From www.wickedlocal.com:

     “Bill Poole, executive officer with the Minute Men, said he discovered Blodgett when he was researching local militia in the archives of Capt. Parker’s Company in Lexington. Blodgett had  moved to Shutesbury the year after the fateful morning on April 19, 1775 and his name was    never included on the official “muster roll.”

     But Poole said he found several documents confirming Blodgett’s post, noting he even           applied for a reimbursement from then selectmen for a firearm he lost on the Battle Green.     The young militia man lost the musket when he attempted to jump over a fence to while           fleeing from the Regulars, Poole said.”1

Here is the photo from the article clearly showing the addition of Timothy Blodgett’s name to the bottom of the second column:

Timothy Blodgett added to the Memorial at Lexington Green. Photo: http://bit.ly/Blodgett_Lexington

The proof of my ancestor came fairly easy as I already had nearly every document necessary. We used the documentation first for my daughter’s DAR application, then for my own SAR application. Success with both apps!

But wait! There’s more! In early 2016, I was giving a presentation on genealogy to the East Longmeadow (Massachusetts) Historical Society. It was a basic introduction to family research that was scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm. Apparently, the members of the East Longmeadow Historical Society are in the habit of showing up just a little late for their meetings. So at 6:58, I was “concerned” but not showing it. Then in walked our first guest. A delicate woman, a senior citizen, who I greeted with a smile. Her name is Ruth Washburn, my first guest that night. I smiled because I had at least one person for the audience. She said, “I’m so glad I could make it. I usually don’t drive at night.” I offered her a ride home as I was sure there would be someone there she knew but she turned me down, flat! As I walked her to the front of the room, I sat her in a seat that was directly in front of where I would be speaking. When I mentioned the SAR, I also mentioned that my Patriot Ancestor was Timothy Blodgett. At that moment Ruth gasped and covered her mouth. Naturally, I suspected that something was wrong. I stopped and asked if she was OK. With a tear in her eye (really…she teared up!) she said that she, too, was a descendant of Timothy Blodgett.

As it turns out, Ruth Muriel Blodgett Fisher Washburn is a very energetic 91-year-old cousin who, in her own right, is a well-established family historian.  She’s pictured here in front of the window that was in one of her cousin’s family’s home. When her cousin asked if there was anything in the house she would want, she said she’d love to have the window from her bedroom but knew it was impossible. She had spent a great deal of time at this house during the summers of her youth and remembered the happiness that the sunlight brought her when it came streaming through the multicolored window. The window is a real piece of art!

Ruth Muriel Blodgett Fisher Washburn

I’ve spent time with Ruth to hear her stories and learn more about the Blodgett line. She has an extensive database which she has been more than willing to share with me.  But more important to me than a database, she has extensive personal knowledge and a clear, sharp memory.

Now, if I ever have the time, I just might prove more Patriot ancestors from both my maternal and my paternal side.

And one more thing, I’ve found 4 direct Mayflower ancestors. All I need to do is prove those lines and I’ll have a unique way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the 1620 Mayflower landing in 2020.

  1. “Lexington Minute Men add new name to monument,” website, (http://bit.ly/Blodgett_Lexington : accessed 18 July 2016).

Missed RootsTech?

RootsTech is the largest genealogical conference in the world. In 2017, more than 30,000 genealogists of all stripes attended what has been described as a phenomenal event. Their website describes the event: “RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover, share and celebrate their family connections across generations through technology. At RootsTech, there is something for everyone, no matter your experience in family history or your skill level in technology.”

But, of course, most of us missed it for a variety of reasons. Well, there’s good news!

RootsTech has put up most of the presentations that anyone can view. BUT!! It’s only for a limited time.  I’ve searched around the site and there’s no indication as to how they define “limited time” so my advice is to check out the website and view what you can while you can. You won’t regret it as the conference was chock full of presentations by the best in the business. As far as subjects are concerned…best to check out the website!

Click here RootTech to access the home page and read about the conference itself and plans for RootsTech 2018 and RootsTech 2019 in the FAQ’s section accessible from the menu in the upper right-hand corner. Or just click here: Frequently Asked Questions.

And since we’re talking about genealogy conferences, don’t forget about NERGC 2017 being held this year in Springfield, Massachusett from 26 April to 29 2017. Wednesday the 26th  is “Library and Teacher’s Day with a track on Technology. Thursday through Saturday is the main event with 130 presentations, workshops, lunches and banquets.  NERGC takes place in venues around New England on the odd numbered years. Organized by the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium, the event is quite a bit smaller than RootsTech with a usual attendance of approximately 1,000. However, with 70 speakers, there is no shortage of quality presenters and with 130 presentations, no shortage of subjects covered.

Interested? Early bird registration ends on 28 February 2017!

 

NERGC

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with gene...

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with genealogical information about King Eric the Pomeranian of Scandinavia, as released by image creator Ristesson; Place: Darłowo, Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re all talking about NERGC here in the North East.  NERGC?  So what’s NERGC?  It’s the acronym for the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium.  NERGC orchestrates a biennial conference at strategic cities here in New England.   Now it’s not RootsTech..nowhere near the size.  I believe RT had approximately 30,000 registrants this year, give or take 10,000.

No, NERGC is quite a bit smaller but of no less significance or importance to the genealogical community here.  Speakers, sponsored luncheons and dinners, workshops, society meetings, exhibitor hall with unopposed exhibit hours, speakers with national, regional and local recognition… NERGC has it all.

I can tick off a list of reasons why I took 4 days out my own very busy schedule to attend.

First, the opportunity to network with people who I know well, but only via social media: Facebook, Google Communities, Webinars, Google Hangouts on Air, the whole spectrum! I can tell you that it’s one thing to communicate virtually, but there’s nothing like looking across the table with a genealogy friend and sharing a meal or just a cup of coffee.  It’s what I would call a mini-conference.  There were mini-conferences going on all day, every day.

Second, I’d have to count the sessions that were held on all aspects of genealogy, family research and technology.  As a matter of fact, the entire first day was devoted to librarians, teachers and technology.  Not a bad place to be on Wednesday!  And I know that those who attended would agree.

Next, I’d count the individual specialty programs such as the “Ancestor Road Show.” This program is well attended and by reservation only!  A busy time for the NERGC volunteers,

And on the subject of volunteers, there are dozens of devoted genealogists at all levels of knowledge and experience in every field, volunteers who spend hours and hours in the planning and execution of each conference.

The Exhibition Hall was jam packed with representatives from many vendors and societies. The

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry ...

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

genealogy website  MyHeritage was represented as well as the American-French Genealogical Society, Heritage Books, Lisa Louise’s Genealogy Gems, the Gravestone Girls, New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, New England Historic Genealogical Society, citation software vendor Evidentia, and many, many more.

So now we all have to wait until April of 2017 for the next NERGC conference which will be held at the MassMutual Center

in Springfield, Mass.

See you there!

Switched at Birth—Really!

Today I want to share with you a blog, “The Legal Genealogist” by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL who writes an amazing amount of information, all of which is useful and interesting to genealogists.  She is a lawyer, but speaks and writes in English, not “lawyer” so she’s easy to understand.  She is also a very accomplished genealogist with expertise in a variety of areas including DNA.  She lectures all over the country and is quite busy.  So I don’t know where she finds the time for all of this!

As a matter of fact, I invited her to speak at the February 2015 meeting of the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society (WMGS) in a virtual, interactive format (Google+ Hangouts on Air) which was not only very successful, but very informative.  She was in her office in New Jersey and our meeting was held in Agawam, MA.

So that’s why I’m going to recommend that after you visit this her blog, that you subscribe.

Here are the links to a remarkable story.

The Legal Genealogist: What DNA Can Tell Us

A Strange Kind of Pilgrimage 

Switched at Birth: Unraveling a Century-Old Mystery with DNA

English: The structure of DNA showing with det...

English: The structure of DNA showing with detail showing the structure of the four bases, adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine, and the location of the major and minor groove. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL “Visits” Western Mass Genealogical Society

If I’ve ever prepared for a monthly meeting of WMGS, it’s this month’s meeting. It will be our 4th virtual meeting, each with an increasing level of technology and the resultant learning curve.

English: British genealogist and heraldist Sir...

English: British genealogist and heraldist Sir Arthur Vicars (1862–1921), Ulster King of Arms and Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve had some high profile guests in virtual environments over the past year interspersed with local genealogists.  For example, Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, was our guest late in our 2013-2014 season.  Big success!  Great program!  We’d love to have her again!

A few months later, our next virtual guest was Dick Eastman, genealogist and publisher of the monthly Eastman’s Online Genealogical Newsletter. You can subscribe to the basic account at no charge with a small fee for the “Plus Edition.” He spent the evening helping our members understand how far MyHeritage has grown and the ins and outs of using it as a research resource.  Very informative and helpful. And he’s right…MyHeritage has grown by leaps and bounds and through that growth is challenges the “big guns” such as Ancestry.com.

Last November, we were challenged to organize our research in 12 months with one project per month by “DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy.”  She had 12 challenges with 3 bonus challenges that were handed out at random to 15 WMGS members.  They each took the “hot seat” to be personally challenged by DearMYRTLE to tackle the project they had been handed when they walked in the door.  in addition to her genealogical community, you can visit her public Facebook page.

Keep in mind that these guest presenters were nowhere near our meetings which take place at the Agawam Senior Center in Agawam Massachusetts.  They were each sitting comfy at home while they talked to us in real time and we were able to interact with them.  What a world!

This Wednesday, 4 February 2015, our guest will be Judy G Russell, the Legal Genealogist. I’ve

Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL

heard Judy speak many times and I’m always impressed.  She’s a trained attorney and a highly respected genealogist.  You can tell from her post-nominals: JD, CG and CGL.  JD is her law degree, “Doctor of Jurisprudence“.  CG is her designation as a Certified Genealogist, not a small feat!  CGL refers to Certified Genealogical Lecturer, another professional milestone.  I always have told my genealogy research classes that the easiest ancestor to research is a criminal.  Judy is here to prove that concept with “Rogues, Rascals and Rapscallions: The Family Black Sheep.”  Can’t wait for this one!

She’ll be visiting with us via Google+ Hangouts on Air.  Our membership is certainly invited to come to the meeting in person, of course.  But if anyone cannot make it for any reason whatsoever, they can sit at home and actually participate live!  Most of our members belong to our “WMGS Google+ Community” as well as having paid memberships in the Society.  Only paid members will have access to the program after it is archived at YouTube.

If you haven’t experienced a Google+ Hangout or joined a Google+ Community, it’s worth

thetime…there are thousands that cater to nearly every interest.  You should take a look at the technology and the different types of Hangouts: private, one-on-one hangouts, business meetings, applicant interviews, educational broadcasts…all with FREE technology!

If you can be with us Wednesday night, great!  We’d love to have you.

One more thought:  If your in or near New England, please consider attending the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, April 15 – 18 in Providence, Rhode Island.  Get the details here: NERGC.

 

Where’d They Go???

This is getting a little frustrating!  I’ve put up…or tried to put up…a few new posts.  Then POOF!

English: American genealogist Joseph Lemuel Ch...

English: American genealogist Joseph Lemuel Chester (a.k.a. Julian Cramer, 1821–1882). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They’re gone and I can’t find them.  And WordPress can’t find them!

But, I’m going to just soldier on and hope for the best.  Lots of interesting things are going on. That was the inspiration to post “Busy Year.”  But I have no idea if it’s out there somewhere.  So here goes.

First, I was nominated for and elected to be the president of NEAPG, the New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists.  High regional profile and I’m getting to know some of the best known and most talented genealogists throughout New England.

But I also want to tell you this little story. In early January, I was invited to join a private Google+ Community, “NEAPG Lunch with Dave.”  It came from a highly credentialed and well known genealogist, Barbara Mathews.  Barbara is a Certified Genealogist, author of several genealogical books and articles,  and was recently named Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. I’ve known Barbara for about 2 years mostly through NEAPG.  I also participate in her NGSQ study group once a month.  So, in order to maintain good relationships, I accepted the invitation naively unaware of which “Dave” she was referencing.  I had to wait to see who else was invited.  Turns out, 3 other well respected and highly accomplished genealogists were also invited. I mean, to be invited to meet with this group was flattering to say the least.  As it turns out, the purpose of the lunch was to provide me with some background and working knowledge of the status of NEAPG and offer me their assistance in my new role.  I was not a complete stranger to NEAPG.  I had been a member for a little over a year before taking the Vice President’s role.  But the “top spot” carried with it quite a bit more in the way of responsibilities.

So on a Friday a couple of weeks ago, I met with Barbara, Kate Lowrie, Tim Firkowski and Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt, all past board members of NEAPG and equally accomplished professional genealogists in their own right.  Lunch, or more accurately, school was at Amici Trattoria in Shrewsbury, Mass.  I admitted to them that my visceral reaction to the invitation for “Lunch with Dave” left me wondering “Who’s Dave” but I was quick to figure that out!

The lunch was great and the help they collectively provided was priceless. Polly invited us all back to her house for some socializing so the day turned out to be quite an “event,” at least from my perspective!

Now all the pieces are coming together nicely.  I’m accompanied in this adventure by Michelle Fontaine our new Treasurer, Jennifer Shoer as Secretary and Brent Chadwick, Vice President.  We’ve already begun a good stream of communication, held a few “virtual” board meetings and our new Program Committee co-chaired by Polly and Cathi Wiest Desmarais has the year pretty much mapped out!  I’m determined that as a group, we’re going to put together an interesting, educational and mutually helpful year for all the membership!

More later, especially if I’ve fixed the phantom blog-post problem!!

One more comment: Go PATRIOTS!!