Old News – Letters from the War

WWI still is going on a hundred years ago. These are excerpts from letters from men that were in the thick of the fighting.


Wednesday, February 10, 1915


Chief of Police of King's Lynn, England, examining unexploded shell dropped in German air raid.

Chief of Police of King’s Lynn, England, examining unexploded shell dropped in German air raid.

The mail bag is just now a prolific source of interest. Vivid letters from soldiers at the front or in hospital bases and scrappy notes from the tars with the “silent fleet” mirror the causalities of war with a wealth of intimate detail and picturesque personal touches impossible to the harshly censored was correspondent.

The following is written from the front by Corporal Trainor:

“We have had German cavalry thrown at us six time in the last four hours, and each time it has been a different body, so that they must have plenty to spare. There is no eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep and eight hours for play with us, whatever the Germans may do.

“The strain is beginning to tell on them more than on us, and you can see by the weary faces and trembling hands that they are beginning to break down.

“One prisoner taken by the French near Courtral sobbed for an hour as though his heart were broken, his nerves were so much shaken by what he had been through.”

Sergeant Major McDermott does not write under ideal conditions, but his style is none for the worse for the inspiration furnished by shrieking shell:

“We are waiting for something to turn up to be shot at, but up to now, though their artillery has been making a fiendish row all along our front, we haven’t seen as much as a mosquito’s eyelash to shoot at.

“There is a fine German airship hanging around like a great blue bottle up in the sky, and now and then our gunners are trying to bring bring it down, but they haven’t done it yet.

“It’s the quantity, not the quality of the German shells that is having effect on us, and it’s not so much the actual damage of life as the nerve rocking row that counts so much.”

Equally interesting are some of the men with the British fleet. Tom Thorne, writing to his mother in Sussex, says:

“Before we started fighting we were all very nervous, but after we joined in we were all happy and most of us laughing till it was finished. Then we all sobbed and cried.

“We were in action on Friday morning off Helogoland. I had a piece of shell as big as the palm of my hand go through my trousers and as my trouser legs were blowing in the breeze. I think I was very lucky.

“We call the Germans the chocolate soldiers,” writes a soldier from the front, “because they appear to be always eating chocolate. When they attack or are attacked, when they are wounded or sick, by night and day, it’s all the same. We have found some of their dead with cakes of chocolate between their fingers.

“During one of our Christmas armistices one of the German soldiers told me that the chocolate ration had bee recommended by scientists as a convenient and exceedingly nutritious food and had sustained them very well in some of their marches where other foods were not available.”

RootsTech Conference this week

rootstechThe big RootsTech Conference is taking place in Salt Lake City from the 12th to the 14th.. As in previous years, some of the sessions will be streamed online for free. I tried to find what sessions will be available for viewing but couldn’t find a list. For sure, the keynotes talks will be available each morning at 8:30 (mountain time; 10:30 eastern).

On the Thursday keynote will  be Dennis Brimhall who is Chief Executive of FamilySearch International. Also Mike Mallin, Chief Product Officer at MyHeritage and Tan Le, technology innovator, and founder of Emotiv Lifesciences.

The Friday keynote talk includes D. Joshua Taylor who is Director of Family History at Findmypast. He has also been seen as a professional genealogist on both Who Do You Think You Are? and Genealogy Roadshow. Then also on that keynote will be former First Lady, Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager who is a correspondent on NBC’s Today show

The Saturday keynote speakers will be A. J. Jacobs and Donny Osmond. A. J. is an author that is currently helping to build a family tree that connects the entire world. And, on June 6, 2015, he will be holding the Global Family Reunion, which he hopes will be the biggest, most inclusive, most entertaining and most educational Family Reunion in history. Donny Osmond has been an entertainer since the 1960s. He currently performs in Las Vegas alongside his sister, Marie, in their show “The Donny & Marie Show” which earned “Best of Las Vegas” award. Donny has said that “Family and family stories are obviously very important to me. This is a chance to connect to something that is a part of who I am. RootsTech is just the perfect place to celebrate that.”

So set aside time Thursday through Saturday to watch the live streams of the genealogy sessions. Note that if you miss the live sessions, they will be available later on the RootsTech website.

Genealogy Roadshow – St. Louis (again)

roadshow-2This week Genealogy Roadshow is back in St. Louis but this time at historic Union Station. The team of genealogists uncover fascinating family stories from the River City. A musician hopes to find connections to a famous St. Louis jazz composer; two sisters explore links to a survivor of the legendary Donner party; an Italian-American woman finds out if she is related to Italian royalty; and a schoolteacher who has all the answers for her students has very few about her own past.

Genealogy Roadshow airs on most PBS stations at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Top Songs of 1965; #2

The second song to hit the top of the record charts in 1965 was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers. The song was written by Barry Mann, Phil Spector and Cynthia Weil. It is an example of Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ production technique. Among the background singers on the song is a young Cher.

The Righteous Brothers weren’t brother. They were Bill Medley (the baritone voice) and Bobby Hatfield. They had a string of hits in the 60s but the only other song to hit the number one spot on the record charts was “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” in 1966. They broke up in 1968 and Medley recorded a few albums which were not well received. They got back together again in 1974 and toured on and off until Bobby Hatfield’s death in 2003. The Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” was the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the weeks of Jan. 31 to Feb. 13. It topped the Cash Box chart for the weeks of Jan. 31 to Feb. 20.

Download Righteous Brothers songs (for a small fee) from Amazon.com.

Old News – Transcontinental Telephone

An Historic technological event from 100 years ago.


Wednesday, February 3, 1915


The Telephone Carries Speech From the Empire State to the Golden Gate and Bell and Watson Talk Across the Continent.

ad-1915-02-03Less than 40 years ago, Alexander Graham Bell, standing in a little attic at No. 5, Exeter Place, Boston, sent through a crude telephone, his own invention, the first spoken words ever carried over a wire, and the words were heard and understood by his associate. Thomas A. Watson, who was at the receiver in an adjacent room. On that day, March 16th, 1876, the telephone was born, and the first message went over the only telephone line in the world–a line less than 100 feet long. The world moves a long way ahead in the span of one man’s life. On Monday, afternoon, January 15th, the same Alexander Graham Bell, sitting in the offices of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company at New York talked to this same Thomas A. Watson in San Francisco, over a wire stretched 3.4000 miles across the continent and part of a system that includes 9,000,000 telephones connected by 21,000,000 miles of wires.

Monday January, 25th, 1915, has taken its place among the momentous dates in the annals of science and human progress. On that day, in the presence of groups of prominent men on either coast, the Transcontinental telephone wires were given their first public test, and the completion of the line was formally celebrated. Distinguished men in the offices of the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph company in San Francisco conversed freely with distinguished men on the Atlantic seaboard, and one more great chapter in the history of telephony was finished as Bell, sitting in the offices of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company talked with Watson across a continent.

There was no hitch in the program or any doubt as to the immediate success and practicability of the new line. Those who talked over the telephone did not raise their voices above the usual conversational pitch, and the replies came back from across the continent, clear and instantaneous. There was no more effort, delay or indirectness than talking across the table.

What the Transcontinental means to the future of the country, what it will bring about by drawing the East and West, closer together, how much of increased prosperity and happiness these thousands of miles of wire will insure, no man can gauge.

Genealogy Roadshow – New Orleans (again)

roadshow-2Genealogy Roadshow is back in New Orleans tonight. This time, the episode is filmed at the New Orleans Board of Trade. There is a man who hopes to recover family history that he lost in Hurricane Katrina. A woman learns of her family links to both sides of the  Civil War. A woman discovers the story of her grandfather’s adoption; and a man uncovers his link to the “voodoo queen” Marie Laveau (1801-81).

Genealogy Roadshow airs on most PBS stations at 8 p.m. (eastern).

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Top Songs of 1965; #1

downtownThe first new song to hit the top of the record charts in 1965 was “Dowtown” by Petula Clark. It was the first hit song in the US for Petula but she had a singing career long before that in the UK. As a child she was on BBC radio to entertain the troops during WWII. She then had some success with numerous songs in the UK during the the 1950s. In the late 1950s she started recording songs in French, German, Spanish and Italian establishing herself as a multilingual performer.

With the success of “Downtown” her career rocketed to fame in the US. She also won the Grammy in 1964 for Best Rock and Roll Recording. This would be the first of fifteen consecutive Top 40 hits for Petula. In the 1970s she cut back in part to spend more time with her family. Petula released a new album. “Lost In You” in January 2013. She is also appearing concerts in Europe in 2015.

Downtown” was the number one song on both the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Cash Box record chart for the weeks of Jan. 17 – 30, 1965.

Download Petula Clark songs (for a small fee) from Amazon.com.

Updating an Old Genealogy Submission

About the year 2000 I submitted a GEDCOM of data on my Wilklow family to the LDS Ancestral File. That data eventually was passed over to FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT). Sometime around the beginning of 2014 I started going through all the data that I submitted to FSFT. So far I have only made it through about 75% of the people I submitted.  I am making corrections to my old mistakes plus I am also adding any new information that I have found since my original submission.

When I submitted my original data, I didn’t include any sources. I don’t think very many other people did either. Then again sources weren’t handled very well in Ancestral File. FSFT makes it easy to attach sources, especially for records that are on FamilySearch..


Notice on upper right corner of the record for Charity Alice Wilklow are some “Record Hints” (click on image for a larger view). She mostly used her middle name of Alice. If you click on those hints then you can add these sources to the person. For records like census records you end up adding the source to each member of the family. Two of the census hints have figured that it was her using her married name. There is a hint from Find A Grave that shows where she was buried. I didn’t have the listed so I added her burial location. Two of the hints were from a collection of Massachusetts marriages. Those turned out to be marriage records of a daughter in which it named Alice as the mother.

I ended up attaching 8 sources to the record for Alice. A couple of the census sources were before she was married and was still living with her parents. Those the sources are good enough proof that the data that I had for many years is correct.

I like FSFT. Anyone can correct data or add to a person’s record. So if you had some information that I don’t have, you could add it. Some people are concerned that someone might change a person’s record. If you attach a source that is very unlikely to happen. If you think that a record has been changed in error, you can reverse the change but I think if you are  going to do that then you should definitely include are source.

Another blogger, Randy Seaver, did a survey at a genealogy society meeting and found that only 5% of the people were using FSFT. One of the best reasons to use FSFT is that it will be around for many years because it is sponsored by the LDS Church. It is also a free service.

Old News – Shipping on the Railroad

Note the number of carloads of cans that were shipped. Those were cans manufactured by the American Can Co. of Fairport.


Thursday, January 28, 1915


The Largest Amount of Car Load Business of Any Village on New York Central Between Buffalo and Syracuse.

ad-1915-01-28At the meeting of the Fairport Chamber of Commerce, Friday evening, the commercial committee made a very interesting report showing the amount of of railway shipping done here. The report deals only with carload lots and does not include miscellaneous supplies to farmers living outside the corporation, nor the iron work and machinery of the Main street lift bridge.

The report shows there were received 3,292 car loads and that there were shipped over 4,662 car loads a total of almost 8,000 cars of freight shipment, which is said to be the largest of any village on the main line of the New York Central between Buffalo and Syracuse, Rochester and Batavia excepted..

The car load shipments received included:

  • 250 cars of coal for retail trade
  • 172 Cars of coal for manufacturing purposes
  • 643 cars of tin plate
  • 580 cars of shooks and boxes
  • 20 cars of machinery
  • 42 cars of cans
  • 38 cars of miscellaneous products
  • 14 cars of cement
  • 45 cars of fertilizer
  • 4 cars of tile
  • 1 car of ground lime stone
  • 1 car of hydrate of lime
  • 11 cars of shavings
  • 7 cars of oats
  • 32 cars of feed
  • 103 cars of dried waste
  • 563 cars of apples
  • 4 cars of grain
  • 12 cars of wood
  • 8 cars of flour
  • 4 cars of hay
  • 4 cars of straw
  • 400 cars of barrels
  • 64 cars of lumber
  • 33 cars of beans
  • 34 cars of berries
  • 21 cars of peas
  • 12 cars of cherries
  • 2 cars of peaches
  • 14 cars of glass jars
  • 28 cars of sugar
  • 126 cars of miscellaneous supplies and merchandise

The total number of cars shipped out included:

  • 119 cars of potatoes
  • 51 cars of carrots
  • 126 cars of cabbage
  • 21 cars of onions
  • 29 cars of apples
  • 86 cars of celery
  • 3 cars of grain
  • 4 cars of dried waste
  • 30 cars of victim
  • 179 cars of canned goods
  • 3046 cars of cans
  • 122 cars of scrap metal
  • 112 cars of machinery and miscellaneous cans
  • 40 cars of miscellaneous supplies and merchandise

There were many other products and supplies which are not included in the above, but the figures give some idea of the amount of business done in Fairport.

Genealogy Roadshow – Philadelphia

roadshow-2Tonight on PBS at 8 p.m. (EST) is the third installment for this season of Genealogy Roadshow. This time the episode was filmed at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia with the same team of professional genealogists.

In this episode Josh Taylor helps a ma who believes he may have viking ancestors. Kenyatta Beryy researches the reason that a man’s whole family moves from South Carolina to Philadelphia. Mary Tedesco digs into the story of a mother and son that an ancestor was a loyalist during the Revolutionary War and later moved to Canada. Then Kenyatta also checks out the story of a lady’s ancestor that might have come to the US as a stowaway.

If you missed the two previous episodes from this season or want to watch them again, go to this web page. They also have some clips on that PBS web page.

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