Old News – Ice Skating

This winter has been cold and great weather for ice skating and other winter sports. This article refers to Eastern Widewaters which was a basin on the Erie Canal where boats could stop overnight. What is left of the Eastern Widewaters is now called Lake Riley in Cobbs Hill Park. For ice skating in Rochester in 2015 see this page

Rochester, NY

Wednesday, February 19, 1915

Please Do Not Telephone Mr. Laney at His Home; Skating Is Good

lady-1915-02-19Superintendent of Parks C. C. Laney says he is glad that so many people in Rochester like to skate on the on the park ponds and he tries to keep then as thoroughly unformed as to the status of the ice day by day as is humanly possible, but he does think that skaters should have enough consideration for his comfort to refrain from dragging him to the telephone from his meals and even from his bed to inform them if the sport is “toward” upon their favorite lakes.

The superintendent says that within the last three days, he will bet he has answered no less than three score such calls at his own residence and he says that there are sufficient inquiries at the park board office to keep both his telephones humming until midnight.

And now for the benefit of those skaters who get their information from the newspapers Mr. Laney announces that there is good skating on every park except Highland. So many blades have been cleaving the ice at Eastern Widewaters that it has become badly cup up and is being planed t-day in preparation for the horde of skaters this evening. All the other ponds, except at Highland are in ideal condition.

There is, however, no coasting and the park authorities are of the opinion that that sport has passed for the year. (Note: In this case, “coasting” refers to sledding.)

Local History & Genealogy Dept. Closed for Renovations

local-historyThe Local History & Genealogy Department of the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County will be closed for renovations on Thursday, February 19 and Friday, February 20. The department will re-open to the public at 10:00 am on Saturday, February 21. The renovations will accommodate the new Walter F. Becker Digital History Center, providing patrons state-of-the-art access to scanning equipment and other cutting-edge digital technologies. The new center will include seven ScanPro digital microfilm/microfiche readers, as well as a variety of photo and document scanners– all of which will be available free of charge.

Road Blocks Researching Mental Patients

pittsburgh-post-gazetteThere was this article  in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this last Sunday which tells of trying to investigate family members that were former patients in mental hospitals. Some of the road blocks are related to government restricts of records from even over a hundred years old.  Some very basic information, such as burial locations are sometimes withheld. The article tells of the frustrations that family genealogist have when trying to get even the basic information on their relatives.

RootsTech Blog Posts and Videos

rootstechRootsTech 2015 is over and you there are many blog posts on what took place at the convention. Randy Seaver has collected blog posts from 47 genealogy  bloggers. As some bloggers have many posts, there are over 100 posts to read, in total. That list may increase over the next couple of days as some of the bloggers may not have made it back home, yet.

If you weren’t able to see all the streaming videos from RootsTech, then you will be able to see the recorded sessions. Currently this page, has all of the recorded sessions from Thursday and some from Friday. Within the next few days, the rest of those recorded sessions from Friday and Saturday should be added to that web page. Hopefully they will include the full session with Donny Osmond where he not only talks about doing family history but also sings a few songs.

FamilySearch has this “channel” on You Tube that has 10 short videos from RootsTech 2015.

Dear Myrtle has this “channel” on You Tune where she did what she calls her “Ambush Cam.” These are 12 short interviews that she did on the exhibit floor.

It may take you a few days to read all of the blog posts and watch all the videos from this year’s RootsTech. It will be worth your time to find out what is new in genealogy.

RootsTech Streaming Schedule

rootstechRootsTech has announced the schedule of genealogy sessions that they will be streaming for FREE online. All these listed times are Mountain time zone. So adjust for your time zone. The live stream will be right on the homepage; RootsTech.org.

I think there is a mistake on this schedule. It doesn’t list the Friday General Session which should be listed from 8:30 to 10:00.


Feb. 12:

8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Thursday General Session (Dennis Brimhall, Mike Mallin & Tan Le)
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 30 Pieces of Tech I Can’t Live Without D. Joshua Taylor
1:30 p.m.-2:20 p.m. You’ve Mastered the Census and Basic Search, What Next? Karen Auman
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. What’s New at FamilySearch Devin Ashby
4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy Diahan Southard

Feb. 13:

10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. Innovator Summit Challenge Event
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox Thomas MacEntee
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Bring Your Ancestor Back to the Future Anne Leishman
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. The Write Stuff. Leaving a Recorded Legacy: Personal Histories, Journals, Diaries, and Letters Valerie Elkins

Feb. 14:

8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m. Saturday General Session (A. J. Jacobs & Donny Osmond)
10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Finding the Living among the Dead: Using the Internet to Find Your Living Cousins Amy Archibald
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Family History on the Go Using Phones and Tablet Apps Crystal Beutler
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Personal History Triage: How to Tell the Best Ten Stories of Your Life Alison Taylor
4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m. Finding Your Family on Newspapers.com Peter Drinkwater

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.