The Year Was 1882

Thomas Edison (from LOC Photo Collection at year was 1882 and the United States passed several new laws regarding immigration, the first of which was the Chinese Exclusion Act. The legislation blocked the immigration of Chinese “skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining” and only allowed entry to non-laborers who could be certified by the Chinese government that they were qualified to immigrate. It also required Chinese immigrants who left the U.S. to obtain certification in order to reenter.

The second piece of legislation, passed in August of 1882, further excluded “lunatics, idiots, and persons likely to become a public charge.” A fifty cent passenger tax on each person entering U.S. ports was enacted to defray the cost of immigration regulation. 

These restrictions came at a time when the Jewish population began leaving Russia in response to the newly enacted “May Laws” of 1882. The May Laws restricted Jewish settlement, forcing many from their homes, and made it illegal to conduct business on Sundays and Christian holidays.

In New York City, Thomas Edison opened a power station on Pearl Street. The station, which provided electricity to one square mile in Manhattan, was the start of the electric utility industry, and its success increased the demand for electricity.

Newly emerging technology took a hit in November as a solar storm wreaked havoc on the telegraph industry, causing delays in the transaction of business. The New York Times of 18 November 1882 reported that “from 9 am until noon, telegraph business east of the Mississippi and north of Washington was at a stand-still . . . An aurora borealis was the first evidence of the overcharging of the atmosphere with electric fluid.”  Transmissions from Europe were also affected, as was the newly developed telephone system.

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Photo Corner

John and Ann Whelan family, Perry, New York, late 1880sContributed by Dan Mangan, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
This photograph shows the family of John and Ann Whelan, Irish immigrants, in Perry, New York, taken in the late 1880s. My grandmother, Mary Adeline Whelan Mangan, is a young teenager here, and is seated first row right. All the men were coopers, making barrels for, among others, the whiskey and salt industries in western New York State.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Dolores (Stenso) Engel and her sister Shirley (Stenso) Sibley, Drake, North Dakota, 1935Contributed by Monte Engel, Devils Lake, North Dakota
The attached photo is of my mother (right), Dolores (Stenso) Engel and her sister Shirley (Stenso) Sibley. They were about seven and five years of age in 1935 when this was taken in Drake, North Dakota. The dresses, stockings, and shoes were sent to them from San Francisco by an aunt. The outfits were only worn for this picture.

Photo Corner: Good Friends Alec Smith, Edward Everett Allen, and Newton Becklis

Alec Smith, Edward Everett Allen, and Newton Becklis, Reno, Nevada, ca. 1901-03Contributed by Cindi Allen Schmerber
Good Friends: Taken in Reno, Nevada, ca. 1901-1903.  The man on the left is identified on the back as Alec Smith, the man in the middle is my great-grandfather, Edward Everett Allen, and the man on the right is identified on the back as Newton Becklis.  I have no further information on Alec Smith, but with research have come to the conclusion that “Newton Becklis” was most probably Isaac Newton Bakeless, who is on the Reno censuses for 1910, 1920, and 1930. Edward Allen was born in Ohio in 1861, son of Washington and Mary (McConkey) Allen, and died in Modesto, California in 1934. 

Emigrant Savings Bank Question

James Kelly Account ledger - Emigrant Savings Bank database at AncestryIn last week’s column,  Spicing Up Your Family History with Detail, I mentioned looking at your ancestor’s finances. Taking my own advice, I realized that although I keep an eye on the real estate and personal estate columns in the census, I had overlooked an even better indicator for one of my ancestors.

One of my favorite finds in recent years (if you can really have a favorite!) was my fourth great-grandfather in the Emigrant Savings Bank database at Ancestry. Through that one record, I found his town of origin in Ireland, his wife’s maiden name, and that he had “arrived at Halifax 30 yrs. ago.” That information was found in the “Test Books” and although I had looked at his Deposit-Account Ledger, I had never really analyzed it. (I’m including images of his account with this post. Click on the image to enlarge it.)

So this week I took another look at it, and was wondering about a few things. First, does anyone know what the abbreviations following the date mean? Deposit transactions every January and July 1 have what looks like the letter I, presumably for interest. Many of the larger deposits have the letter B listed with them and withdrawals, the letter T (?). 

Also, the larger deposits for the most part seem to come in six month intervals, the first couple in May and November, and in 1862 and 1863, four $100 deposits, all around the end of April and the end of October/beginning of November. Could these perhaps be some kind of bond? We do have records of quite a few real estate transactions with this family and know that they were relatively well off.

It is interesting to note that towards the end of the account ledger, withdrawals were more frequent. The last withdrawal prior to the account closing was in April 1864, the month in which he died.

Anyway, I thought I would throw this out there and see if anyone had any ideas. If you’ve found your ancestor in this database, have you checked out their ledger? You may find similar transactions.

James Kelly test book- Emigrant Savings Bank database at

Who Am I? Bicycle Duo

These photos were with others from my great-grandmother, Gladys Lillyan Winterringer Garner Van Atta Christine Dilley-BicycleGuys.bmp(1899-1973).  We are not sure who these gentlemen are, but what a classy photo!  I really enjoy it and wish I knew who they were.  No relatives have been able to identify them.  Maybe they weren’t that close to the family and my great-grandmother enjoyed the shot enough to keep it as well!
The one on the left could be Ulysses Vanamberg Callahan.  He’s the only Winterringer/Callahan relation who even slightly resembles either gentleman.
Christine Susanne McKinney Dilley
Westerville, OH

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Beta Version of Family Tree Maker 2008 is Here!

ftm2008.bmpFamily Tree Maker 2008 is coming this August, but you can give it a try now by downloading and installing a beta of the program. Before you download the beta program please note the following:

  • This is a beta program; therefore there are no guarantees that the program will perform correctly, nor are there any warranties of any kind.
  • Since this beta version is still in development it may crash or fail to function correctly. Though unlikely, installing the program may also negatively affect the operation of your computer.
  • Files created in this beta may not open in the release version of the product. Always keep a backup of your data in another genealogy program (such as Family Tree Maker 16).
  • The beta will stop functioning on August 24th. If you have entered information into the program that you would like to preserve please be sure to create a GEDCOM export before the 24th of August.
  • The beta download is very large (170 MB). Please note that a considerable amount of time may be required to download the beta.
  • The automatic web search feature is on by default in the beta program. This means that information will be transmitted automatically from your tree to in order to search for relevant records. If you would like to disable this feature you can do so by clicking on the options link in the tools menu.   Continue reading

New at Ancestry

Ancestry logo2.bmpPosted This Week

Weekly Planner: Find a Good History Read

When it comes to putting your family history in writing, the more you know about history, the better. This week try to find a resource through which you can learn more about a particular time, place, or condition that relates to your ancestors. Learn about social conventions through editorials in historical newspapers. Learn about geography from a historical atlas. Learn about immigrant conditions from books found at your local library, or at used and new bookstores. Take it in small digestible pieces and slowly but surely you’ll build up your knowledge of the times and places in which your ancestors lived.

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Spicing Up Your Family History with Detail, by Juliana Smith

New York City - rich and poor; or, the two Christmas dinners - a scene in Washington Market, sketched from real life. Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, One of the best ways to stir interest in your family history is to write your family story, but as Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Easy reading is damned hard writing.”

Isn’t that the truth? Seeking out well-hidden records, deciphering hideous handwriting and faded ink, and making sure each fact is documented, often pales in comparison to the challenges of putting the facts into a narrative format. But if we want to really tell the family story, we have to do just that. This week, I thought we could look at some ways to make that process a bit less daunting by pulling interesting tidbits from the records we have found.

Start With an Outline
The hardest part of writing this column is getting started, so I typically begin with an outline. In the case of your family history the focus would likely be a person or family group and your outline can start out very basic. Timelines are a great place to start. I’ve created timelines for most of my family lines and not only are they helpful in beginning narratives, but they are also eye-openers when it comes to spotting inconsistencies as well as new avenues to research. For those of you who aren’t familiar with timelines, there is a step-by-step tutorial in the Ancestry Library.  

Look at Records With “New Eyes”
Once you get your basic events included in the timeline, it’s time to build on it. It’s tough to entertain an audience with “John Smith was born in 1850. In 1870 he married Jane Doe. In 1872 their first child was born . . . Z-z-z-z-z-z.”

Sorry, I dozed off there for a second, but you get the picture. So how do we liven up this family story? We want to look for little tidbits that will make it more interesting. Reading historical accounts of the times in newspapers, local histories, or historical books is always a plus.

Beyond the history books and newspapers you may find a lot of interesting items in the records you’ve already collected. You just need to look at them through “new eyes.” In other words, don’t look at just the names and dates–look beyond that to what those names and dates mean. How old was a couple when they got married? When they had their first child? Their last child? Did a parent die while the children were still young? How old were the children when they first show up in a city directory or census with an occupation listed? Continue reading