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Memorial Day 2015

Bitter is in Oklahoma for a family emergency, so I’m on my own this memorial day. I saw this meme from someone on Facebook, and boy does Facebook need it:


I never really used to care about the distinction until I got into genealogy. As is the case for most families, I have several soldiers in my tree who died in combat. For most of them, that was the end of their family tree. We remember the surviving veterans because we’re all descended from them, but those killed in action tend to be cousins, uncles, and sometimes even aunts. Most of the time I try to do thorough research on these folks when I find them, as if they were my ancestors. They deserve it, and they never had the opportunity to have descendants of their own that will care decades or centuries later because their lives were cut short in service of their country.

I found I have a first cousin, twice removed, who was part of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment who dropped into Normandy June 6, 1944 and was KIA June 8, 1944. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. I found a Christmas card to my grandparents that he sent from Camp Blanding, Florida in 1942, before he was shipped to Europe, and before my grandfather entered service. The card said he was having a great time in training.

My cousin’s name name was Pfc. William McKnight. Even my father did not know of him. My grandfather talked about his war experience only very reluctantly, and even then not much. He certainly did not volunteer anything, including that he had a first cousin killed in the early days of the invasion of Europe.

Not Deliberately Ignoring You

My apologizes for the light posting since I’ve returned from Annual Meeting. I’m working on a deadline to get a report done for a client. So far it’s looking like 20+ pages. Probably more by the time it’s all done. It’s good to have clients with lots of problems, since that’s how we make a living, but since this requires me to write all day, it kind of saps all my writing energy for the blog. I’ll have several news stories and a news dump once I get some time. It’ll be an epic news dump. The tabs are quite constipated!

Bottle Shows & Gun Shows

For the past year, I’ve been on the hunt for bottles from my 4x great-grandfather’s bottling business, so I’ve been to a few antique bottle shows. I had no idea antique bottle collecting was really even a thing until I discovered I am descended from one of the larger Philadelphia bottlers. Today we went to a show just north of Baltimore to see what we could find.

I’m generally surprised by how similar they are in look and feel to a gun show. Standard gun shows are a bit more of a commercial enterprise, but if you’ve ever been to a decent gun show that caters to collectors, an antique bottle show is more like that. There are people who specialize. I seek out bottle collectors who either specialize in Philadelphia bottles, or who have large numbers of them in their collection. One guy I saw specialized in poison bottles. I’ve discovered that it’s a local market. You wouldn’t generally expect to find a bottle collector from Georgia with a bottle from Philadelphia, though I do check. Most bottle collectors source new bottles by digging privies, which of course is different from how gun collectors find their guns. I doubt many people dropped their roscoe down the shit hole after squeezing off a fresh one, but they did that with bottles a lot.

Demographically, the shows are more similar than you would think, bottle shows also feature a plentiful percentage of middle aged and old white guys (racist!). Bottle shows seem to have more older women than gun shows, but gun shows seem to have more young women. I’d say there are also younger men and families at a typical standard gun show. Though, I can see why someone might not want to bring their kids to a place where there’s a lot of fragile valuable things.

I doubt I’ll ever be a true bottle collector, but I can see the appeal. I didn’t think at any time that the guy who collects poison bottles did so because he wants to poison people. It’s a shame there are some people on this planet who don’t give the same consideration to people who collect firearms.

Sorry for the Dead Air: Winter Doesn’t Wait

Had to spend a good part of the day shoveling 9 inches of global warming off the driveway, so I don’t have to get up in the wee hours to do it before getting off to the office. In truth digging the cars out, then scraping the layer of ice off the windows, took more time than the driveway. It sucks when snow follows rain.

Where’s Al Gore when you need him?

A different kind of wearable

Inspired by (Disney’s) security theater, Leatherman will be bringing a “wearable multitool” out this year. I feel for the guy who designed this; one of the minor annoyances of being a low-level road warrior (3-5 flights a year) is not being able to bring my own Skeletool with me. I’ve seriously considered buying a pack of the cheap $2/unit in bulk at the local home despot to be able to drop one in my checked luggage and not care too much if it doesn’t make it past baggage handling. This won’t fix that annoyance completely, since it won’t have a blade, but the “cutting hook” would deal with most of what I actually use a blade for (opening packages without having to use my teeth). And, of course, the most important tool, the bottle opener.

OTOH, the fine folks at TSA will probably make something up on the spot to “ban” this…

Taking a Blog Holiday (Obviously)

If the lack of posting this week hasn’t given it away, I’m taking a holiday off from the blog, probably until Monday there won’t be much on here. It’s not so much a break from the blog, but a break from having to follow everything, which is really most of the work. Sometimes it’s just relaxing to take leave of the RSS reader and bathe in the blissful ignorance.

Christmas time was down in Nashville with Bitter’s family, but we took a route through Southern Virginia to do some genealogical research. Then on the way back from Nashville we spent two days in D.C., one day at the National Archives, and the second at the Daughters of the American Revolution Library. I have most of my family back to the boat. My mom’s side was easy to research, because they are all recent immigrants, except two lines. One line are technically recent immigrants from Canada, but they ended up in the land of snow and beavers because they were Quaker loyalists on Long Island who were kicked out after the Revolution for supporting the crown. The other is possibly tied to a Colonial Delaware family, but I’m not making any headway on proving that.

My dad’s side, on the other hand, has four Revolutionary War Veterans, and one additional patriot who paid supply taxes. There are also four Civil War veterans, one with the 71st Pennsylvania Vols., two with the 29th Pennsylvania Vols., and one with the 1st West Virginia Vols. All were Army of the Potomac, though the 29th was assigned to the Army of the Cumberland later in the war and participated in Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea (sorry about that, to any of my Georgia readers).

Researching colonial lines is difficult, requiring old fashioned research in libraries, and careful examination of historical documents. isn’t of much help for people prior to 1800. Fortunately for me, my entire family stayed in Philadelphia, which makes it easier than it is for Bitter, whose family moved every few generations. I managed to gather quite a lot of clues at the DAR Library from a compiled index of Philadelphia church records from 1644-1780. I feel I don’t have very long to get back to the boat, since I’m starting to get back to the time period where the only people in the Delaware Valley were Indians, Swedes, and Dutchmen. William Penn didn’t arrive in the New World with his charter for the Province of Pennsylvania until 1682. Whether I have ancestors who were original settlers of Pennsylvania will be difficult to prove or disprove, since Penn’s passenger manifest from his first voyage did not survive.

History Buffs and Family Stories

Yesterday afternoon, my best friend from college met Sebastian and I at the DAR library since she knows she’s DAR-eligible, but doesn’t really know much about that family history. It was handy that she brought in the insignia from various family members so I could easily look up their numbers, and it was amazing to see the men who she can call 6th great grandfathers. Two of them were part of the Lexington Alarm.

Yup, my best friend from college actually descends from two different men who were part of those shots heard round the world. As Sebastian put it, she can actually say she’s from a family that used firearms to defend their guns and ammunition from being seized by the government. It’s really quite amazing the risks they were taking at the time.

In her family, the son of one man married the daughter of the other, and I don’t find that surprising at all. One of the first tips I see in researching Revolutionary War patriots is to look for more of them in the in-laws. In my research, it’s very common to find that families actually engaged in supporting the cause tended to see their kids marry. I guess when you take such a radical position on something, your family tends to find other families who are just as passionate.

Yesterday, I found notes on a distant cousin’s application that showed one of my ancestors served under his future father-in-law. I’m not sure if the marriage was before or after the shared military service yet. I also found through these notes that a woman I believe to be my 5th great grandmother is considered a patriot in her own service because she defended her house during a British attack over their attempts to get the ammunition that was being stored there.

I know that genealogy of someone else’s family isn’t high on the reading list, but it really does remind me of something Sebastian said a while ago. At some point, a personal family history is your country’s history.

Merry Christmas

Sorry for being offline the past couple of days, but doing the family thing this week so posting will be a bit light. To all who celebrate, Merry Christmas to you and your family, wherever you are. But wherever you are, I’m sure you’d probably rather be in Hawaii, so Merry Christmas the Bing Crosby way:

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving holiday. I am out at my dad’s in Berks County, with a gallon of my latest home-brew (Belgian Dubbel). My sister is allegedly coming, who I have not seen in some time.


Serendipitous Scripture

This weekend, Sebastian and I had the chance to tour Christ Church in Philadelphia. I had never been before at all, and he had never really been on a real tour of it.

The history there is just amazing. It’s quite humbling to realize that the baptismal font still in use today has been around since before most people have paper records of their family’s baptisms – over 600 years old and it was used to baptize William Penn in 1644. As the tour guide pointed out, the chandelier they planned to light that afternoon for a wedding is the same chandelier that was in place (and likely lit) for Benjamin Franklin’s daughter’s wedding.


Another bit of history that I did not know stuck out to me after seeing incredible artwork in the form of stained glass. One of the scenes featured in the glass is the prayer given before the Continental Congress on September 7, 1774. The delegates asked the local Anglican minister open the session with a prayer. Following tradition of the time, the 36-year-old opened with the scripture that happened to be designated for that day, Psalm 35.

1 Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the Lord persecute them.
7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.
15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:
16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.
21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.
22 This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.
23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
24 Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

It’s rather amazing how that so perfectly fit the circumstances of that very day. However, the real highlight of our visit was getting to see the actual book of church meeting notes from July 4, 1776.


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