Ancestry Blog http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm Wed, 04 Mar 2015 23:39:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Bizarre but True Facts: Canada in WWIIhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/04/bizarre-but-true-facts-canada-in-wwii/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/04/bizarre-but-true-facts-canada-in-wwii/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:49:59 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7028 From the Holocaust to the famous Christmas Eve armistice, war tends to bring out the worst and the best in people, and it sometimes takes decades before those stories are ever told. Here are some crazy (but completely true) facts you may never have heard about Canadians in World War II. Canadians voted for conscription… Read more

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Canadian War Poster, Director of Public Information, Canada (public domain)

Canadian War Poster, Director of Public Information, Canada (public domain)

From the Holocaust to the famous Christmas Eve armistice, war tends to bring out the worst and the best in people, and it sometimes takes decades before those stories are ever told. Here are some crazy (but completely true) facts you may never have heard about Canadians in World War II.

Canadians voted for conscription

When Canada declared war on Germany at the outbreak of World War II, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King promised Canadian citizens that he would not impose conscription for overseas service. As the casualties mounted, rather than to renege on his word, King decided to hold a plebiscite—a general election—on the issue of conscription.

The measure passed, with two-thirds of Canadians voting in favor of conscription. However, this seemingly straightforward majority belies the divisiveness of the issue: while 78 percent of English Canadians voted for conscription, 72 percent of French Canadians voted against. This incident furthered the divide between French-speaking Canadians and their English-speaking counterparts.

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Canadians boasted the first zombie soldiers

Long before The Walking Dead or World War Z, Canadian “zombies” served in World War II. “Zombie” was the term given to conscripted soldiers who refused to serve overseas. Although the government promised that no conscripts would be forced to fight overseas, there was enormous pressure for them to volunteer to do so. Those who remained in Canada were in charge of home defense and were derogatorily called “zombies.”

POWs loved Canada so much, they wanted to stay

Throughout the course of the war, Canada housed more than 35,000 prisoners of war in 27 prison camps spanning the country. Though they were called “prison camps,” they were hardly run as such. Prisoners were provided with dormitories and nice clothing. There were dining halls where prisoners were well fed and recreation centers where they could play football or handball, skate, or wrestle. They had their own band and orchestra, access to books and education, and even paid employment. Many prisoners were so happy with their treatment that after the war ended, more than 6,000 of them requested permission to stay where they were rather than return to Europe.

Thousands of Italian Canadians were classified as enemies

When Italian dictator Benito Mussolini declared war against France and Britain, the Canadian government ordered the arrest and detainment of any Italian Canadians that might be considered a threat to homeland security. Feared to be spies or Fascists, 31,000 Italian Canadians were designated “enemy aliens.” Italian Canadians also suffered the effects of prejudice, from loss of work to verbal and physical abuse.

James Bond was “born” in Canada during WWII

Nestled away in Whitby, Ontario, “Camp X” served as a real-life, secret agent training camp. It was conveniently located right on the waters of Lake Ontario, serving its purpose to unite British and American intelligence. At Camp X, spies-in-training were instructed in parachute jumping, writing in code, using explosives, and hand-to-hand combat. Five future heads of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) trained here, but even more famously, it’s believed that author Ian Fleming did as well. Ever heard of James Bond, 007? It was Fleming’s experience at Camp X that helped inspired his creation of the famous fictional secret agent.

—Connie Ray

Start a free trial today and search for your own family war stories in the World War II military records at Ancestry.

 

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Kicking the Bucket: What Killed Your Ancestors?http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/04/kicking-the-bucket-what-killed-your-ancestors/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/04/kicking-the-bucket-what-killed-your-ancestors/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:06:59 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7140 We know we’re living longer than our ancestors did due to the benefits of modern medicine and public health initiatives, but what exactly did folks die from in the past? Mortality information was collected with U.S. census records starting in the mid-1800s, but the further you go back in time, the more difficult it can… Read more

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We know we’re living longer than our ancestors did due to the benefits of modern medicine and public health initiatives, but what exactly did folks die from in the past?

Mortality information was collected with U.S. census records starting in the mid-1800s, but the further you go back in time, the more difficult it can be to determine the exact cause of death for your ancestors. While you may not have an exact cause, here are some of the likeliest causes of death from different eras in our past that may give you a clue.

Colonial Period: 1600-1775

New world, new problems: Colonists brought a host of diseases along with them from Europe. Many wiped out native populations — but the newcomers also nearly wiped out themselves.

Smallpox — The name might sound like some minor malady (as opposed to “greatpox” or something), but smallpox was actually a highly infectious virus that left the body covered in fluid-filled blisters and caused long-term scarring in survivors. The bad news gets worse: Smallpox could survive in inanimate objects, so if your family was affected, it’s likely that heirlooms or documents were destroyed in an effort to prevent its spread. The good news: You won’t find this cause of death in your family tree after 1979, the year the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated.

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Yellow fever — If your ancestors lived in a coastal area during Colonial times, they may have been affected by one of several major outbreaks of yellow fever. Boston, Charleston, Philadelphia, New York City, and New Orleans were all hit. The disease was likely carried to the U.S. in the water aboard slave ships coming from Africa and the West Indies, but it isn’t transmitted from human to human, only from insect to human. The disease was such a problem for the country’s military that the U.S. Army formed a Yellow Fever Commission in the early 1900s to study the disease.

Other major causes of death during the Colonial period included malaria, dysentery, respiratory infections, and typhoid fever.

Industrial Age: 1800-1900

By the 1800s, it was all about the lungs in the mortality department. Respiratory diseases dominated, helped along by the movement of the U.S. population from rural to more crowded urban areas and the rise of the pollution-spewing industrial complex.

Consumption — Sounds like more of an obesity-related disease, but this was actually a term for tuberculosis and related conditions. The only treatment at the time was to check into a sanatorium, sometimes in a resort-like atmosphere with clean mountain air, but more often in an institutional setting. The disease so permeated 19th-century life that it became a major plot point in creative works of the time, such as Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. Artist Aubrey Beardsley, composer Frédéric Chopin, actress Vivien Leigh, and even former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt all succumbed to forms of the illness.

Pneumonia — One of the few diseases listed here that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives, it’s not usually fatal today unless you have a compromised immune system. Pneumonia was the No. 2 killer in Victorian times, though. With both bacterial and viral strains, it’s no picnic of a disease.

Unknown causes — Ignorance apparently isn’t bliss, as lack of medical knowledge meant thousands of deaths each year in the 19th century were simply unclassifiable. We know that heart disease and dysentery clocked in at No. 3 and 4 on this list, but unknown causes followed on their heels at No. 5.

Modern Times: 1935-2010

Vastly improved public health measures, like vaccines and better sanitation, have moved infectious diseases down the cause-of-death list. Now it’s more “lifestyle” diseases we have to look out for.

Heart disease — It’s been the No. 1 killer for 75 years as we’ve been getting fatter and more sedentary. With the advantages of more detailed statistics, we know that the rate among women especially is rising rapidly.

Cancer — This one’s a biggie, including so many different body parts that it’s almost gaming the system. Different cancers have taken prominence during different decades, with lung cancer peaking in the 1970s (between the large populations of mill workers and smokers) and breast cancer and digestive tract cancers (pancreatic, colon) today.

Stroke — Strokes are a sudden loss of blood flow to the brain and (at least to this author) are probably one of the scariest causes of death, since they can happen at any age. Accidents and chronic lower-respiratory diseases, such as emphysema, come in at No. 4 and 5.

How did your progenitors meet their end? Search death records on Ancestry to find out.

— Melanie Linn Gutowski

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How to Find a Woman: Tracing Mottie Winters Through 1800s Kentuckyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/03/how-to-find-a-woman-tracing-mottie-winters-through-1800s-kentucky/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/03/how-to-find-a-woman-tracing-mottie-winters-through-1800s-kentucky/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:52:59 +0000 sdalton http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7121 I am new to Ancestry.com and I am hoping you can help me. My great-great-grandmother is S. Mottie Winters. She was born 22 January 1866, possibly in Tennessee, and died 18 May 1891 in Murray, Kentucky. She is listed on Find A Grave, but that is the only mention I can find of her. She… Read more

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I am new to Ancestry.com and I am hoping you can help me. My great-great-grandmother is S. Mottie Winters. She was born 22 January 1866, possibly in Tennessee, and died 18 May 1891 in Murray, Kentucky. She is listed on Find A Grave, but that is the only mention I can find of her. She died shortly after she married Peter Gardner Winters. They had one daughter, Gladys (my great-grandmother).

Peter married Sallie (Ellis, I think). They had five or six children and there is no more mention of Mottie. I’d like some help in finding out more about her. — Barbara Cassell

_________

Dear Barbara,

It’s completely understandable that you are having a difficult time locating information on Mottie. Until recently, when women married, their identity became cloaked under their husband’s surname. To compound the problem you face, you have only an initial for your ancestor’s first name and the name “Mottie,” for her middle name, which is most probably a nickname; in fact, “Mottie” is sometimes a nickname for Martha. Another challenge you’re facing is the gap in documentation left by the destruction of the 1890 U.S. federal census after a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C., in 1921.

Finding Mottie’s death record would have been our ideal starting point. But when we searched Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 on Ancestry, we were unable to locate her death. As we browsed through the years available for Calloway County, where the town of Murray is located, it was easy to see why. There is a gap in the records between 1878 and 1902. Although the first legislation aimed at the civil registration of all births and deaths in Kentucky was passed in 1852, compliance was sporadic until the 20th century.

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Since we won’t be able to find the family in the 1890 census, the one census year when they would most likely have been enumerated together, we started our search with Mottie’s daughter and husband, Gladys Winters and Peter Gardner Winters in the 1900 census. Even though Mottie had died by this time, finding father and daughter together would give us details about each of them that will help us identify the family in other records that we might find. Murray is in Calloway County, Kentucky, and we found Gladys and Peter (listed as P.G.) Winters living in Liberty, Calloway County, Kentucky. Peter has already remarried to Sallie and they have two additional children by this time.

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Jumping back to the 1880 census, we find a Peter G. Winters living with his parents. Because of Calloway County’s location along the Kentucky/Tennessee state line, we searched for Peter Winters in Tennessee as well and located only one other Peter Winters in either state. Details in that record made it easy to eliminate him.

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Knowing that Peter was in Calloway County, Kentucky, in both of the censuses surrounding the couple’s marriage, we worked on the assumption that this was the most likely site for their marriage. Searching for a marriage record, we found a marriage index entry for P.G. Winters and S.M. Tucker. Knowing that the actual record could include important details not found in the index, we obtained a copy of that record. (This is very, very important, when searching for any ancestor; indexes only go so far.) On the marriage bond, the ages are relatively consistent with the records we have found to date, and Calloway County is listed as the birth place for both the bride and groom. Although the parents are not named, their birthplaces are given, and the record tells us that the couple was to be married at “T.J. Tucker’s.”

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Turning back to the 1880 census, we found an entry, also in Liberty, in Calloway County, Kentucky, for Thomas J. Tucker. Thomas is the father of a daughter named Sarah M. Tucker, and Sarah is of the correct age to be S. Mottie Winters! We found this entry in the same township where Peter and the Winters family were enumerated, and the entries are only three census pages apart, which means that they lived fairly near each other, a good sign that this is indeed S. Mottie Winters.

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While there is an inconsistency in the birthplace of the father listed on the marriage record and the birthplace listed on the 1880 census, because weddings at this time in our country’s history were often held at the home of the bride, we believe that Thomas J. Tucker is her father. That said, further documentation should be sought to identify Thomas’ actual place of birth as well as further details about this relationship.

As we searched for these families in earlier censuses, we had some difficulties locating some of the relevant parties. For example, we were able to locate Peter’s father, Dr. Solomon Winters, in Calloway County in 1860, but not in 1870. In 1860 we also found the marriage of Thomas Tucker and Carolina Skaggs, Sarah M. Tucker’s parents, in Stewart County, Tennessee, which is just to the southeast of Calloway County, Kentucky. Carolina’s family is living in Calloway County in 1860, and interestingly, her father is also a doctor.

In fact, there seemed to be a lot of doctors in this rural Kentucky county! Dr. Solomon Winters’ neighbor was also a doctor. Why so many doctors? This is quite fascinating. The area around Liberty Township was in the northeastern section of Calloway County. The county boundary to the east is the Tennessee River. An article about this area’s role in the Civil War, published by the Jackson Purchase Historical Society, The Civil War in Murray, Calloway County, Missouri, by Robert W. Caldwell, describes the prevalence of malaria and typhoid here at this time. The need for doctors would have been critical, and at this time when anyone could hang out his shingle without a license, many men may have seized the opportunity to become “doctors,” regardless of their qualifications.

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Dr. Solomon Winter seems to have ministered to a good number of residents; according to the 1860 census, he held real estate valued at $1,500 and his personal estate was valued at $3,000. When his estate was settled in 1890, it records a lengthy list of debts owed him, mostly likely by his patients.

During the Civil War between 1861 and 1865, Calloway County was not a safe place to live. Soldiers and ex-soldiers from both the Union and the Confederate armies roamed the area, looting and killing residents. At one point the county seat at Murray was burned. So it is perhaps not surprising that some of the residents are missing in 1870. In the 1860 census, there were 9,915 residents in the county. In 1870, that number had surprisingly dropped to 9,410 – a loss of 515 residents (5%), a possible indication that the residents here suffered through a great deal of violence. (Census Bureau Report, page 65.)

Another possible explanation is that residents in this Confederate-leaning area may have been resistant to being enumerated in the federal census following the war. Calloway County is part of what’s known as “The Jackson Purchase.” According to the Caldwell article, this area was sometimes referred to as the “South Carolina of Kentucky,” an area deeply sympathetic to the Confederacy in what was officially a Border State.

At any rate, a next step would be to do a more thorough canvassing of Calloway and neighboring counties to see if perhaps the families are hiding behind a mis-transcribed record, which happens more often that one would imagine. As we searched the 1870 census for this area, we noticed that some of the images are rather faded, but you can enhance these images by inverting the colors, and that could help you find the families if you browse through them carefully.

We’re also at a point in the history of Kentucky where the parents of many of your ancestors would have been born in another state. Make note of associates of the family and neighbors in the census who share the same state of birth as your ancestors do. Families often moved in clusters and sometimes neighbors moved through chain migration, which is when one family (or several families) from a community would venture ahead, then write home about their new circumstances, enticing other families to follow. Be sure to make note of migration patterns that are sometimes evidenced in the birthplaces of the children.

You’ll want to conduct thorough research on siblings and collateral relatives of your direct ancestors as well. The clues to your ancestor’s origins may be found on death and other records of their relatives. Plus, they’re a part of your family story, and their stories could be quite fascinating.

Another rich resource would be church records. The Find A Grave entry you found for S.M. Winters gives her burial location as Friendship Church of Christ Cemetery. She may have been affiliated with that congregation and they may have retained records of baptisms or other religious records.

Your ancestors lived in interesting, but difficult, times and places. We wish you the best of luck in discovering the rest of their intriguing story!

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Virtual Genealogy Gets an Update in The Simshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/03/virtual-genealogy-gets-an-update-in-the-sims/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/03/virtual-genealogy-gets-an-update-in-the-sims/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:35:13 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7114 Video games and genealogy are two of America’s favorite pastimes, separated by what might seem like a wide generational divide. Unless, of course, you’re talking about The Sims. Virtual Genealogy In this life simulation game, where no one wins or loses, family tracking is a way of keeping tabs on your progress, says senior producer… Read more

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Genealogy gets an update in The Sims

Video games and genealogy are two of America’s favorite pastimes, separated by what might seem like a wide generational divide. Unless, of course, you’re talking about The Sims.

Virtual Genealogy

In this life simulation game, where no one wins or loses, family tracking is a way of keeping tabs on your progress, says senior producer and creative director Lindsay Pearson. In early February, a new, free “Genealogy” update was offered to all players of The Sims 4.

“Players really like preserving their history, and we always are looking for an opportunity to give them different tools to preserve that history and what they’ve done,” says Pearson. “For us, it’s a game, so it’s a way of sort of keeping score.”

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Family tracking has been a part of the game since The Sims 2. The latest genealogy tool lets players get a quick glimpse back through their history — and their characters’ history — with the game, which just turned 15 this year. In the family tree, you can see the name of a character, his or her place in the family tree, and how they died.

Family ancestry is, after all, something we as humans, have in common. The idea of tracing our roots, discovering our heritage, and learning more about ourselves is a way of gaining perspective on our place in the world. The same goes, it seems, for the virtual world.

Legacy Players

“’The Sims isn’t about winning and it doesn’t have an end, but each player has a different definition of what they want out of it,” says Pearson. While some players may be more interested in building and designing houses, others, whom she refers to as “legacy” players, focus on building families and documenting their legacy.

Pearson illustrates using this scenario: Say you start with one Sim named Jane Smith. You can have her meet someone and build a family, and the genealogy function will trace that tree for 10 full generations. By the time you get to, say, Smith’s great-great-great-grandson, you can look back through his family tree and see that Jane Smith lived a long happy life and died of old age.

“You get to actually preserve some of those story elements. It’s a really popular feature because of the storytelling. You get to see these Sims that you’ve invested all this time into and keep track of them.”

Family tree in The Sims

Do Sims Have DNA?

Looking back through the generations, players will also see that family members subtly look like one another. While genetics have played a role in the game since The Sims 2, the latest version is the most advanced yet when it comes to passing along shared traits through the generations.

“It’ll take a nose from one Sim and put it on another, or the hair color, or it’ll take the skin tone of one of the related family members,” says Pearson. The software doesn’t go into dominant or recessive gene territory, but it does bring a fun element into the game when a player gets pregnant: surprise.

“The mom will actually go through a little pregnancy and have the baby, and as the baby grows up, it will look more and more like its parents, it’s really cute,” says Pearson. “So you don’t actually quite know who [the baby] will look like, just like with a real baby. And when they get older you can change their hair color, but the underlying features, like the face and nose, that all stays the same.”

Apparently, just as we’re drawn to genealogy and genetics in real life, so are our avatars.

The Sims is produced by Electronic Arts. To see the genealogy tool for yourself, visit TheSims.com. To discover your real-life family story, sign up for a free trial from Ancestry.

— Kate Silver

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5 Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Kicked Out of Collegehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/02/5-famous-people-you-didnt-know-were-kicked-out-of-college/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/03/02/5-famous-people-you-didnt-know-were-kicked-out-of-college/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 20:21:49 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7111 Even successful people hit bumps along the way. It’s reassuring to see that these famous people went on to do very well, even though they were expelled from college, whether for academic reasons or…other circumstances. Check out some of these fantastic—and entertaining—finds from the School Lists & Yearbooks collections on Ancestry. Edgar Allan Poe The author had… Read more

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Ted Kennedy

[Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr]

Even successful people hit bumps along the way. It’s reassuring to see that these famous people went on to do very well, even though they were expelled from college, whether for academic reasons or…other circumstances.

Check out some of these fantastic—and entertaining—finds from the School Lists & Yearbooks collections on Ancestry.

Edgar Allan Poe

The author had already left the University of Virginia after drinking, gambling, and working up a pile of debt. When he enrolled at West Point, he did fine academically. But he collected more than 200 offenses and demerits and then was dismissed—this after he had a falling out with his foster father and decided to intentionally get himself kicked out. Before he left, he talked some classmates into donating money to help him print his third book of poems, which he later dedicated to the U.S. Corps of Cadets (talk about an early version of Kickstarter!).

William Randolph Hearst

The American newspaper publisher and mogul attended Harvard and worked on the school’s humor magazine, the Harvard Lampoon. He was known much more for his pranks than his academics. As the story goes, he once sent his professors chamber pots with their names inscribed inside. Another time he left a donkey in a professor’s classroom with a note around its neck that read, “Now there are two of you.” He went on to become a media tycoon and one of the world’s richest men.

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Ted Kennedy

The senator was expelled from Harvard in his freshman year when he arranged for a classmate to take a Spanish exam for him and was caught. Both he and the friend were expelled. Because Kennedy was no longer eligible for a student deferment from the draft, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. After two years, he was discharged. He took two summer classes at Cambridge and then was readmitted to Harvard, where he finished his undergraduate education.

Samuel L. Jackson

The “Pulp Fiction” star was suspended from Morehouse College when he led a protest demanding a black studies course in 1969. Along with others, he took faculty members and Martin Luther King Jr.’s father hostage and locked them in an office. Jackson was arrested on a charge of unlawful confinement and suspended from college for two years. He did return later and finished his degree. And the college did start a black studies course.

Paul Newman

Depending on your source, the actor (and salad dressing magnate) was expelled from Ohio University after he rolled a keg of beer down a hill. Not only was that banned on campus, but the keg also accidentally hit and dented the college president’s car. Whoops!

You can search for your own academic luminaries and shooting stars in the School Lists & Yearbooks collections on Ancestry.

— Leslie Lang

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Finding Your Family History on the Printed Pagehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/28/finding-your-family-history-on-the-printed-page/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/28/finding-your-family-history-on-the-printed-page/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 02:05:14 +0000 sdalton http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7101   I am stuck finding more information about my grandfather, Leland Wright. From a 1930 U.S. Census I know he lived in Florida and was born in Ohio about 1883. Can you help me? ~ Edmund ________________ It’s a safe bet that you should always start with the United States census when you’re beginning the search… Read more

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  I am stuck finding more information about my grandfather, Leland Wright. From a 1930 U.S. Census I know he lived in Florida and was born in Ohio about 1883. Can you help me? ~ Edmund

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It’s a safe bet that you should always start with the United States census when you’re beginning the search for an American ancestor. The federal census, which actually was first taken in our young Republic in 1790 and then every ten years after that, can give you the nuts and bolts you need to start a more extensive search: names, ages, places of residence, and the names of a person’s children, relatives, and even others living in their household. But in the case of your grandfather, another repository of records contains the information you need to discover much more about his life before 1930. Leland’s birth date makes him a likely candidate to have been included in one of the most significant collections of information about Americans in the early 20th century.

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When Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare at the end of January 1917, it became increasingly clear that the United States would be joining the fight across the Atlantic. The United States had an army of less than 150,000 men at the time, nowhere near the force that would be needed to help win the Great War in Europe. To address the need for more soldiers, the government passed the Selective Service Act in 1917, which required all men between the ages of 21 to 30 to register for military service. The law was later amended in August 1918 to include all men between the ages of 18 and 45. By the end of World War I, more than half of the 4.8 million Americans who served in the armed forces had entered military service through the draft.

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Just like the scope of the census, draft registration was meant to be universal–in this case, all men in the United States (under certain ages at certain times during the War) were required to register, whether they were native born, naturalized, or an alien living in this country. And for those of us searching for ancestors a century later, that registration effort left behind a genealogical goldmine: 24.2 million draft cards–all digitized and all available online! There were three registrations over the course of the war, and the third captured information about the largest range of men (ages 18-45), including your grandfather, 32-year-old Leland Wright!

Our initial research through death, marriage, and other records revealed that Leland’s birthdate was actually 2 June 1886. We also found that he usually went by the name “Lee.” With his actual birthdate and alternate name, we were able to find his WWI draft registration card. And that’s when things got really interesting.

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Looking over Lee’s registration card, we took note of the details recorded on the form. He was tall, of slender build, and had gray eyes and brown hair. He lists his nearest relative as Ella Bertha Wright, his new wife of less than three months. (This was Lee’s second marriage. His marriage to your grandmother in 1927 was his third.) But the most intriguing fact appears under the Date of Registration on the right-hand side. Under the date “Sept 12th 1918″ is written “Co Jail.” Could Lee have been in jail when he registered for the draft? We turned to local newspapers to see if we could find anything that Lee might have done to warrant incarceration.

Long before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all of the other sorts of instant status updates that come with modern technology, and the seemingly nonstop stream of celebrity gossip on internet websites, television or radio, newspapers were the way a person stayed in the know. And newspapers contain much more than the stories that made front page headlines–especially local newspapers, which, in their way, are also treasure troves of information about our ancestry. Visits from an out-of-town relative, divorce decrees, neighborhood parties and local social events, political rallies, and–yes–arrest announcements are just a few of the interesting stories that found their way into our local daily and weekly hometown newspapers.

A search of the local newspapers in the region where Lee Wright lived turned up a fantastic article dated 4 September 1918, only eight days prior to Lee’s WWI draft registration. According to the article, Lee had originally been arrested for trying to sell alcohol. While Lee was in jail for this alleged crime, the chief of police ordered the deputy sheriff to raid Lee’s home. During the raid, the authorities discovered a “still and a quantity of moonshine.” But wasn’t this two years before Prohibition began nationally in 1920, you may ask?

For many of us, the word “Prohibition” brings to mind romanticized images of the Roaring Twenties or the gangster era of Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, and Dutch Schultz. Those images have been shaped by Hollywood’s numerous interpretations of the era, from the comic brilliance of the trio of Lemmon, Curtis, and Monroe in Some Like it Hot (1959) to the gritty violence of The Untouchables (1987) with Robert DeNiro as the infamous Al Capone, and more recently, of course, with HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

making-booze

The reality is that alcohol prohibition was a hotly debated issue that traced its root back to the temperance movement of the 19th century. Proponents made a case for public morals and health, while opponents believed it violated rights and freedom of choice. While the 18th Amendment mandating national prohibition didn’t go into effect until January 1920, many states adopted “temperance laws” long before. Florida, where your grandfather lived, was one of those early temperate states. Statewide prohibition didn’t begin until 1919, but before that, individual counties could decide whether they were “dry” or “wet.” Leland, apparently, and much to his great misfortune, lived in a dry one.

Not only does the newspaper article tell us why Lee was in the county jail when he filled out his draft card, it gives us a quote from Lee himself. He is said to have told authorities, “I knew the police didn’t have anything on me [in reference to his original arrest], but that discovery of the still is another thing altogether.”

Lee was unable to make bail, which is why he filled out the required WWI draft card sitting in the county jail.

We don’t know what ultimately happened when Lee got his day in court, but some research into county criminal records might shed more light onto his case. We do know that Lee carried on with his life and nine years later, in 1927, divorced Ella and married your grandmother, Leath Fisher. We are sure they toasted their marriage, one way or another!

Prohibition remained in place until 1933, so Lee lived to see that. But he lasted only two years longer: he died of pneumonia at the age of 49 in 1935. When Lee passed away, his youngest child (your father) was only about nine months old, so he may not have heard the more colorful stories about his father’s colorful history. But with the help of military records and newspaper articles, we have been able to help you, his grandchild, catch a rare glimpse into your grandfather’s life during one of the most notorious and interesting times in American history.

Try starting your own family tree for free today with Ancestry. Or check out the AncestryDNA test and make some incredible new discoveries of your own.

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Summer Scorchers: America’s 9 Worst Heat Waves Ever Recordedhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/26/summer-scorchers-americas-9-worst-heat-waves-ever-recorded/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/26/summer-scorchers-americas-9-worst-heat-waves-ever-recorded/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 01:50:27 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7038 The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a record of heat waves starting in 1895. Since that time there have been nine major heat waves to hit the U.S., and each has left damage and destruction in its wake. 1. Heat Wave of 1896 New York City experienced tragedy during the summer of 1896.… Read more

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EPA heat wave index

[Credit: EPA]

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a record of heat waves starting in 1895. Since that time there have been nine major heat waves to hit the U.S., and each has left damage and destruction in its wake.

1. Heat Wave of 1896

New York City experienced tragedy during the summer of 1896. Nearly 1,500 people died during a 10-day heat wave as temperatures reached 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity. Most of the people affected were tenement dwellers with little help from the government. It wasn’t until the end of the heat wave that then little-known Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt came the rescue of the urban poor by distributing ice to the residents.


2. Heat Wave of 1934

The United States’ hottest year on record saw 29 straight days of temperatures hitting triple digits. To top it off, during the summer of 1934, an extreme drought affected over 70 percent of Western North America.

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3. Heat Wave of 1936

1936 was one of the worst years for the American people. Battered by the Great Depression, drought, and dust storms, the area of the Dust Bowl was hit especially hard by the heat wave. Temperatures hit record highs, going well over the 120-degree mark in some regions. By the end of the summer, more than 5,000 Americans had died from heat-related causes and drownings that occurred when people tried to cool off.


4. Heat Wave of 1954

From Colorado to the Carolinas, a significant portion of 11 states cooked under the 1954 heat wave. For 22 days, temperatures reached over 100 degrees. The heat damaged crops, caused power and water shortages, and generally wreaked havoc over the entire region. Three lakes dried up in the St. Louis area, and water was rationed. The estimated 300 deaths recorded mostly affected people ages 50-99.


5. Heat Wave of 1980

A mix of drought and heat made 1980 a terrible summer for the U.S. Though not as bad as earlier heat waves, this one stood out because of the damage. The economic losses were estimated at $16 billion, while the death toll was at least 1,700.


6. Heat Wave of 1988

Another heat wave coupled with a massive drought occurred in 1988. With the loss of anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 lives, the catastrophe was devastating. The agricultural damage was estimated at $71.2 billion. Wildfires hit national parks like Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore, and rainfall from April through June registered even lower than the Dust Bowl years.


7. 1995 Chicago Heat Wave

Chicago lived through five sweltering days that resulted in approximately 700 heat-related deaths. The temperature reached 106 degrees, and record humidity levels made things worse. The tragic deaths also brought to light the disparity of wealth during times of national emergencies. The deaths mostly affected elderly, poor residents of the inner city.


8. Heat Wave of 2006

Spread throughout most of the U.S., the heat wave of 2006 saw heat-related deaths from New York to California. Temperatures climbed to over 100 degrees, and California saw the most lives lost with 126.


9. Heat Wave of 2012

The most recent heat wave is one of the worst on record. Failed crops across the Midwest cost $30.3 billion. The shortage drove up food prices, affecting the rest of the country. Combined with 123 fatalities, the loss was devastating.

Find out which of your relatives beat the heat, or explore the historical newspapers on Ancestry.

—Shanna Yehlen

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5 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About the American Cowboyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/20/5-amazing-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-american-cowboy/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/20/5-amazing-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-american-cowboy/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 23:08:53 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7019 Though there were cowboys both before and after, the golden age of the American cowboy, really started in 1866. The Civil War had just ended, the Union Army had exhausted the supply of beef in the North, and a steer that was worth $4 a head in Texas—where millions ran wild—could bring $40 in the… Read more

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An American cowboy at sunset

[Image: Shutterstock]

Though there were cowboys both before and after, the golden age of the American cowboy, really started in 1866. The Civil War had just ended, the Union Army had exhausted the supply of beef in the North, and a steer that was worth $4 a head in Texas—where millions ran wild—could bring $40 in the North.

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So in 1866, men began driving herds of longhorn cattle—4 million of them!—toward the railroads and the hungry North. The long cattle drives, and the almost mythological era of the American cowboy, had begun. In fact, hundreds of men listed their occupation as “cowboy” on the 1880 U.S. Census (which you can search free on Ancestry).

Here are some facts about cowboys you might not have gleaned from John Wayne movies.

  1. Many cowboys had been Civil War soldiers, from both the North and the South, and many others—perhaps up to a quarter of all cowboys—were freed ex-slaves. Some cowboys were immigrants from Europe, and others were Mexicans and American Indians.
  2. 8 to 12 cowboys could move 3,000 head of cattle along the cattle drives. They might travel 15 miles in a day. Any more than that and the cattle would lose too much weight and arrive too thin. There was also a trail boss and a camp cook along on each drive.
  3. Cowboys considered “Cookie,” or the camp cook, the most important person in camp. Sometimes called “biscuit shooters,” “belly cheaters,” and “bean masters,” camp cooks fed the cowboys three hot meals a day, no matter what. One of the cook’s jobs was to note the North Star each night and turn the tongue of the chuckwagon toward it. This way, the drive would know which way to head out the next morning.
  4. Cowboys often wore their clothes for weeks without changing. They wore denim jeans with chaps to protect their legs from the thorny branches their horses rode through. Their wide-rimmed Stetson hats protected them from the sun’s glare and also served as a cup—they’d use it to scoop up water for both themselves and their horses to drink. They wore a bandana around their neck, which they could pull up to protect their nose and mouth from trail dust.
  5. At night, once the cattle were bedded down and quiet, two men on guard might slowly circle around and sing to calm them. They worried about the danger of stampede from thunder and lightning or other unexpected noises, and singing calmed jittery cows. Sometimes one man would sing the first verse of a song, and the second cowboy would sing the next verse, trading back and forth. Some of the songs American cowboys commonly sang to their cows included “Old Dan Tucker, “Nearer My God To Thee,” “In the Sweet By and By,” and “The Texas Lullaby.” Lucky cows.

— Leslie Lang

Do you have a cowboy, cowpoke, or cowpuncher in your family’s past? Find out today by starting a free 14-day trial of Ancestry.

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You Won’t Believe Who Abraham Lincoln’s Relative Ishttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/18/surprising-abraham-lincoln-relatives-discovered/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/18/surprising-abraham-lincoln-relatives-discovered/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 05:26:43 +0000 sdalton http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=7001 After researching more than three centuries of Abraham Lincoln’s family tree, Ancestry family historians have revealed a Lincoln family secret: famous actor George Clooney is related to the former president. The family bloodline for both notable figures links to Lincoln’s maternal grandmother, Lucy Hanks. Due to this common ancestor, Clooney is Lincoln’s half-first cousin five… Read more

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Abraham Lincoln

[Image: Library of Congress]

After researching more than three centuries of Abraham Lincoln’s family tree, Ancestry family historians have revealed a Lincoln family secret: famous actor George Clooney is related to the former president.

The family bloodline for both notable figures links to Lincoln’s maternal grandmother, Lucy Hanks. Due to this common ancestor, Clooney is Lincoln’s half-first cousin five times removed.

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For those interested viewing records about Abraham Lincoln himself, Ancestry offers free access to more than 20,000 documents showcasing Lincoln’s life, his presidential papers, his family tree and the most pivotal moments of his presidential career.

Lincoln enthusiasts can discover a whole new side of the former president and his family, with information spanning the 1700s through the early 1900s. Records featured on the site include:

  • Handwritten Civil War documents and records:  One standout document is a personal letter from Lincoln to General Ulysses S. Grant asking for his son to be stationed in a safe location during the Civil War.
  • Emancipation Proclamation: Handwritten drafts and an illustration depicting the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the cabinet, which declared that all slaves residing in Confederate territory were to be free.
  • Lincoln’s family in 1860: See how the census has evolved while learning more about Lincoln’s family. After starting a free trial with Ancestry, you can view this 1860 census record, which includes Lincoln’s Springfield address and lists his wife Mary; sons Robert, Willie and Thomas; and two servants living in the household.
  • Famous speeches: Find rare drafts of historic speeches throughout the legendary presidency.
  • Rare photos are worth a thousand words: Images from centuries ago showcasing historical events during Lincoln’s life are included in the image gallery.
  • Lincoln’s Taxes: The original IRS tax assessment listing Lincoln’s presidential salary as $25,000 a year in 1861.

“Abraham Lincoln is a monumental figure in America’s history,” said Dan Jones, VP of Content at Ancestry.  “We want these records to give people a new perspective on key public and private moments in Lincoln’s life. We hope this will encourage people to begin researching their own family history.”

If these Lincoln records inspire you to do a little more digging into your own family history, Ancestry offers a 14-day free trial for all new members.

Discover your family story. Start free trial.

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​7 Famous Sons of the American Revolutionhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/17/7-famous-sons-of-the-american-revolution/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/17/7-famous-sons-of-the-american-revolution/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 17:23:13 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6979 A person’s heritage can influence so much in their life, from the kinds of foods they prepare to the groups they associate with. The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) is a lineage society made up of men who can prove their descent from a Patriot ancestor. The organization’s earliest iteration started in 1876 as… Read more

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A person’s heritage can influence so much in their life, from the kinds of foods they prepare to the groups they associate with. The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) is a lineage society made up of men who can prove their descent from a Patriot ancestor. The organization’s earliest iteration started in 1876 as a fraternal and civic society created to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who helped the United States gain freedom from Great Britain.

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Today, the group has over 32,000 members represented in various countries around the world. Their history is a great one, with some members who helped make our country what it is today — similar to their Revolutionary ancestors. Here are some the group’s most famous members, past and present.

1. Theodore Roosevelt

The Sons of the American Revolution boasts 16 presidents among their brotherhood. Perhaps the most significant for the SAR was Theodore Roosevelt. He signed The National Society’s charter in 1906, allowing state societies to charter the SAR chapters.

SAR Connection: Jacobus (James) I. Roosevelt

2. Sir Winston Churchill

Connecting a famous British prime minister with the Sons of the American Revolution might sound like a bit of a stretch. However, Churchill proved his eligibility to join the society in 1963 through his American-born mother.

SAR Connection: Lieutenant Reuben Murray

3. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Famous for his genealogy show “Finding Your Roots,” Henry Louis Gates Jr. was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution in 2006. He traced his ancestry back to a free black man named John Redman, who fought during the Revolutionary War.

SAR Connection: John Redman


4. General Douglas MacArthur

MacArthur’s family’s military service began well before his decorated career. Looking back through his lineage, MacArthur found an early member of his military family had a hand in America’s freedom — John Barney, a private in the Massachusetts Militia, fought during the Revolutionary War.

SAR Connection: John Barney

5. John McCain

Senator John McCain has served his country in the military as well as Congress. In fact, just like MacArthur, McCain comes from a military family, tracing all the way back to the American Revolution. His ancestor John Young served as a militia captain before joining George Washington’s staff. Excelling in both military and politics must run in his family.

SAR Connection: John Young

6. King Juan Carlos I

The first king to become a member of the SAR, Juan Carlos I may have the least traditional path to membership in the entire group. His relative, King Carlos III, held the crown during America’s fight for independence, and he gave gifts and loans to help the Patriots even before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

SAR Connection: Carlos III, King of Spain 1759-1788

7. Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted created some of the most famous parks in the world. The landscape architect designed everything from Central Park to the landscape for Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.

SAR Connection: Benjamin Olmsted

Interested in joining the Sons (or Daughters) of the American Revolution? Or just want to see your family’s involvement in the birth of our nation? You can search an archive of Sons of the American Revolution applications on Ancestry.

— Shanna Yehlen

Discover your ancestors: Patriot and otherwise. Start a free trial.

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