Some of my third great aunts and uncles from the Parker family have been really easy to trace. Some have not. One of the latter is Thomas Parker, and one of the mysteries has been his second wife, Ellen Clinton. According to his marriage record, he married Ellen on 10 Sep 1868 in New London, Wisconsin. The record does not indicate who Ellen’s parents are, her age, or anything that is a direct clue as to who she is. The best clue from that are the witnesses on the record: Thomas Broove and E.P. Perry.
Some time ago I happened across a message board transcription of an obituary for a Mrs. Kate Hutchinson. The transcription, posted in 2002, mentions an Ellen Parker of Belmond, Iowa. A couple of weeks ago, I got around to requesting a copy of that obituary from the Waupaca Area Library and I received it today.
And while the main part of the transcription is pretty close to what was published, it appears the transcriber took liberties with the headline as well as a poem that doesn’t appear in the original. What’s even more interesting is that the original says “Ellen Parke” rather than the transcribed “Ellen Parker”. I’d be willing to bet it’s the right person nevertheless, but what luck in that it is a mistranscribed name that led me to the clue.
Why do I think it’s the right person still? In the 1900 U.S. census and 1905 Iowa census, there is no one by the name Ellen Park or Parke in or around Belmond. There are two Ellen Parkers, however. One is married to my great uncle Frank Parker and one is married to my great uncle Thomas Parker. The Ellen Clinton who shows up in Kate Clinton’s family in the 1860 U.S. census is about the same age, and New London is just a skip away from Waupaca. Worth pursuing.
What I still haven’t found is Ellen Clinton Parker’s death. She’s in the 1910 U.S. census in Belmond, but not the 1915 Iowa census. She’s got no marker in the Saint Francis Cemetery where many other Parkers, ostensibly including her husband, are buried. Did she die? Did she divorce Thomas Parker? Did she abscond? Currently a mystery.
I’m still working through my backlog of evidence, transferring it to my better-sourced database. Over the weekend, I worked on what I know about second cousin twice removed, Julia Charpiot. We share as ancestors my third great grandparents, Johann Theodore Voigt and Maria Agnes Thuernich. Julia’s mother is my relative, Louise Zimmerman. Louise married Henry Charpiot and the two of them lived in Denver where he was a lawyer and for a time the consular officer for the country of France.
Henry’s parents are Frederick Charpiot and Julia Riche, both born in France. Frederick became quite rich as a businessman in Denver, owning and operating Charpiot’s Hotel from 1860 to the early 1900s. The hotel entertained the rich and famous of the world, including many of the American West’s most notorious such as Buffalo Bill. It housed a pre-eminent French restaurant, which Charpiot styled The Delmonico of the West.
GenealogyBank has archives of both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, so I searched through them for information on the elder Charpiot’s as well as Julia (Henry is for another time). Both papers had extensive obituaries for both of them.
In 1903 or 1904, Frederick and Julia left their business affairs in the hands of Julia’s brother and retired to Branges, France. Frederick died there in 1907.
Julia lived several more decades, including through the first World War. She died in Branges in 1921.
Two of the interesting things revealed in their obituaries was where they were born. Frederick was from Bart in France’s Doub department, where he was born in 1829. Julia was born about 1834 in Joncherey in what what was at the time the Haut-Rhin department. After the two of them emigrated to the U.S., control of Haut-Rhin was subject to a treaty settlement between France and Germany in 1871 after France lost a war. The department was split and most of it became part of Germany. Joncherey remained part of France, but the new border was just a short distance away. This was still the case when the Charpiots returned to France. Rather than retire to their childhood home cities, they got somewhat away from the border in Branges. Julia would live to see the territory around her birthplace restored to France after the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I. Nevertheless, she was still close enough to the western front during the war that she saw some of the atrocities inflicted on the combatants.
Henry, with his second wife Edith and his daughter Julia, also relocated to Paris in the early 1900s where he established an international law firm. Julia benefited from a rich person’s overseas education and became part of Europe’s social scene. There she met Andre Sardou, son of famous (at least that’s what I gathered from the blurbs and the fact that he has a Wikipedia page) playwright Victorien Sardou, and they were engaged.
The following blurb from the Richmond Times-Dispatch in early May 1920 is representative of the short pieces that ran in many U.S. newspapers. I had a hunch it was the correct Julia Charpiot because of the reference to the French consular agent at Denver, but I had little other information in the newspaper archives I had access to when last I researched the Charpiots.
Until this weekend, that’s what I knew of what happened to her. But with my recent subscription to GenealogyBank and their archives of Denver papers, I took another look. And lo, there were items in the Denver Post with more details than what was published in other newspapers, one from 12 May 1920 on their engagement and one from 26 Jun 1920 on their marriage:
So the wedding did happen!
So far, none of my direct ancestors have come from France, so I’ve never spent much time researching French people. Ancestry and FamilySearch don’t have a lot of databases devoted to France so my two easy sources weren’t much help.
Some Googling this time around brought me to this post on a blog devoted to French genealogy. In the sidebar there are links to online departmental archives, and Alpes-Maritimes (where Nice is located) is near the top (hurray for alphabetical order!) so I clicked through.
And they have already digitized Nice well past the 1920 date of marriage for Sardou and Charpiot, and ten minutes of paging through those records brought up their marriage:
Not only did it give me the date and location of their marriage, but it also gave me their exact birth dates and cities of birth. In Julia’s case, it’s the first record I have that does so.
The birth registrations won’t have anything on possible Sardou-Charpiot children, as those records are confidential for 100 years. But death records are only confidential for 25 years, so there’s a possibility I can find those with some diligent searching.
I’ve previously written about my relatives Alfred and Mae Sorenson, who were involved in the Lemberger murder case, and their daughter Mary Evelyn. At their deaths in 1958, both Alfred’s and Mae’s obituaries stated that their daughter was living in Los Angeles as Evelyn Tanner. That was the latest I’d been able to track her.
Birth Date: 9 Mar 1914
Birth Place: Madison, Wisconsin
Father Name: Alfred Sorenson
Mother Name: Mae S Griffth
Death Date: Oct 1990
Notes: Feb 1937: Name listed as MARY EVELYN FREDERICKS; May 1944: Name listed as MARY EVELYN GRANTZOW; Feb 1955: Name listed as MARY EVELYN SORENSON; May 1956: Name listed as FRANCES MARIE SORENSON; Oct 1956: Name listed as FRANCES MARIE NEWTON; Nov 1957: Name listed as FRANCES MARIE VONHAUZER
That looks a lot like what I know about Alfred and Mae’s daughter. I have previously found a marriage announcement for Alfred’s daughter under the name Mary Evelyn Fredericks where she married a George Grantzow:
One of the reasons why I was unable to find her after 1958 is that it appears she started going by the name Frances Marie rather than Mary Evelyn. I now have a different trail of breadcrumbs to follow.
For years I’ve used the FavePersonal theme by CrowdFavorite for this blog. I really liked the underlying Carrington structure, which let me do different things for different kinds of posts.
Unfortunately, something has changed with how the CSS is displayed. My Chrome browser did something different with how it renders, and I don’t have the desire to debug and fix. It appears CrowdFavorite is no longer maintaining Carrington or FavePersonal, as the last public update was in 2013.
Reluctantly, I have switched to a new theme. For now, it’s the Twenty Fifteen theme by Automattic. We’ll see how I like it. I already tweaked how blockquotes are displayed, and I’m not sure I like how text flows around images, but for now I’ll deal. If, when viewing a post, something looks really bad, please comment to let me know.
And here’s the books I’ve read since my last reading update.
Sundown Towns by James Loewen
James Loewen is the well-known author of Lies My Teacher Told Me which is an excellent primer on the portions of history that aren’t really covered in school. Sundown Towns is his treatment of the practice of counties, towns, and suburbs that intentionally excluded blacks and other non-whites from living within their boundaries. Such towns popularly had signs at the city limits that stated things like “No niggers after sundown!”, hence the term.
I listened to the audio version of the book. I’ve found that in audio form, repetition in a book is really drilled into my brain. In a work of fiction, repeated story tics become extremely apparent and are distracting. In a book like Sundown Towns the sheer number of examples of sundown practices is a flood in my brain. I didn’t think about much else for the duration.
And Loewen’s examples in the book alone become a litany. The conception I, a suburban-educated middle-aged white guy, had was that they were ugly but not particularly common. The best examples Loewen has litter Illinois and Indiana to the point that non-exclusionary towns were in the minority in those states. In addition, descriptions of the practices themselves make me think that the North’s sundown towns were far more racist than the South’s Jim Crow laws. That’s an outside assessment by a white dude after reading this book, so I don’t think it holds a lot of weight. But I think it’s clear that us northerners can’t be smug about the South being the racist part of the country, which I often have been.
My criticism of the book is mostly that a lot of the book is based off hearsay and oral tradition. As far as a broad survey that this book is means that it doesn’t affect the conclusions on a broad basis. That there’s an oral tradition of a place being sundown is part of sundown practice itself. But when I am concerned about a specific place and the practices there, hearsay leaves a lot to be desired. I am very interested in specific places where my family is from. More than one is mentioned in the book, and I wanted to know way more than what oral tradition could pass on.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My ebook reader told me I was 56% of the way into this book at the point I gave up. In theory, mixing epic fantasy with Westerns should delight me, but in practice I was bored despite giving it a go. Roland Deschain is the gunslinger in a desert landscape, possessing some wizard like powers, chasing after a mysterious man in black. Why? We don’t know. Sometimes mysterious means my interest is piqued to find out more, but in this case it meant I couldn’t bring myself to care about one-dimensional mystery characters.
Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
A rich woman’s rich husband has a heart attack and spends some time clinically dead. On revival, he has realized that his distant workaholic ways can’t go on, so he resigns from the company he founded and starts giving away all his wealth, vowing to pay his wife the attention he should have over the years. Rich woman doesn’t take too kindly to this, as she views the wealth as her payment for putting up with rich dude’s years of neglect. Will they reconcile? Will things get really ugly? Engaging enough that I wanted to find out what happened, but I didn’t like either main character and mostly wished ugly things would happen to them. Minor spoiler that this is a redemption story, though not in the way I thought it might be. Still, I would have preferred ugly things happen to the characters.
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
Another fantasy book. It came highly recommended by a friend of mine. I also have followed Hines’ blog for many years and I really like that. However, it’s the first time I’ve tried to read a story of his. Libriomancers are basically wizards who have the power to turns what happens on the pages of a book into something in real life. Need a ray gun? Find old science fiction and go through the proper magical steps and it’s yours for a time. Of course there are opposing factions fighting a magical war. We need some sort of conflict in order to have a book, but this was so cookie cutter. Too much as-you-know-Bob. Too breezy. I gave up very quickly. I might try Hines’ work again some time, because I want to like his books because I love his blog. But I’m not hopeful.
I was away on holiday most of September, and that meant that I had a lot of travel time to listen to audiobooks. Brief notes follow, so I can remember what I read in my older age.
In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
I remember getting crap from girls in junior high when I read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. “But that’s a girl’s book!” The thing is, Judy Blume writes compelling characters, and so I liked the book despite it not being for boys. In The Unlikely Event follows a lot of characters living in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1952, when three planes crashed in the suburb while trying to take off or land at the nearby Newark airport. This isn’t a set of tales of surviving as told by the victims of the crashes or their family members (mostly). It captures the daily lives of witnesses, bystanders, and responders. A lot of it is just normal stuff, but Blume uses the crashes as a device to expose their psyches. Very enjoyable, though a bit hard to keep who is who and how they are connected straight sometimes.
The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbø
The concluding volume in the three book storyline of Harry Hole vs. the evil cop Tom Waaler. At the beginning of the novel, Hole is on his last legs as a detective. He’s convinced that Tom Waaler is behind the murder of his colleague Ellen Gjelten (in The Redbreast). Unable to prove it, he’s gone on an alcoholic bender that has his superiors draw up his termination papers. Even though he has only three weeks left before they are final, the brass has him work a case with the aforementioned Tom Waaler investigating a serial killer who leaves pentagrams at murder scenes. The reader, Harry, and Tom all know Harry’s got Tom pegged but has nothing to back it up. So how will they work together? Given that Tom Waaler has a history of murdering people who might finger him in the two previous books, I’m surprised he didn’t do the same to Harry Hole at the beginning of the book. But then, there wouldn’t be a story anymore, so we have to suspend some disbelief. Lots of tension here, and worth a listen.
How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston
Part memoir, part humorous “self-help” on race relations. The self-help is ostensibly directed at black people, but it didn’t really feel like that was his true audience. It really comes across more as a way to explain to white people what tics black people have developed as a result of micro-aggressive racism from white people, and what methods they’ve devised in order to deal. I don’t think the latter part meshed all that well with the memoir part. You constantly jump between intensely personal memoir chapters to more distant “hypothetical” how-tos on race. Hypothetical in quotes because, while I am sure the situations are all real, Mr. Thurston doesn’t talk about them in first person voice or even third person description of what’s happened to people he knows. Those parts are in second person. Still, had those points been made how we normally make them, the book might not have garnered the attention it did. I liked the personal bits more though, particularly the writing about Sidwell Friends and race relations at that school.
Update: It appears the NLI has changed their terms since I posted this. They now license some content with a clean Creative Commons license, and other content with their own license. Oddly, they also claim they have no copyright in the content licensed under their own license. I thought you kinda needed to own the copyright (or some other form of intellectual property) in order to license a work, but I what do I know?
Yet again, I find an organization doesn’t understand the terms of the licenses they purport to use. The latest is the National Library of Ireland (NLI), which released digitized scans of Catholic parish registers this summer. I’m interested in those, because I have Irish Catholic ancestors who appear in them.
The Materials are licensed by the National Library of Ireland (the “Licensor”) under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution 4.0 International License, as supplemented by these terms and conditions (together, these “Terms”).
But wait, there’s some terms of the Creative Commons licenses they appear not to have read:
No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
The NLI purports to be able to revoke the license as well:
The Licensor reserves the right to vary these terms and conditions at any time. registers.nli.ie will specify the latest date on which these terms and conditions have been amended.
which is in conflict with the following term of the Creative Commons license they link to:
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Those things are in conflict. Now, if the NLI does indeed hold the copyright on those registers, they can release them under whatever license they want. Organizations often release works under two or more licenses. For instance, the GNU Free Documentation License or a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. But making it a combination (e.g., “and” instead of “or”) of licenses, or a Creative Commons License plus additional terms makes it no longer a Creative Commons license. It’s something else. Which brings up a whole host of issues:
Second, and most important, I cannot publicly incorporate work released under this mish-mash of a license into anything. Why? Because as someone who doesn’t own the copyright on the original, I can’t say “no additional terms” (as is in the license) and “here are the additional terms”. I violate one part or another. I cannot modify the terms, so I cannot leave out the “no additional terms” part for the “here are the additional terms” part. The NLI can do so (though still violating the trademark policy), but I’m automatically in violation as I do not own the copyright. I also cannot offer a non-revocable license where someone else can revoke the license. That’s just nuts.
There may be a slick way to release a derivative work with this license, but that’s going to require a lawyer. That’s what Creative Commons licenses are supposed to avoid. I certainly can’t do it without violating Creative Common’s trademark rights like the National Library of Ireland did.
So, to sum up: what a mess! Don’t do this.
Image Don’t Wanna Work Together composed of an image from Wanna Work Together released under a CC Attribution 2.5 license by Creative Commons and the public domain No Sign published on Wikimedia Commons.
And here’s what I’ve finished reading since my last update in May.
Nemesis by Jo Nesbø
I consumed this one also in audio format. Replacing Robin Sachs as narrator was Thor Knai, and I quite enjoyed his reading. Audible reviewers didn’t like him, and he was very rough. But I was happy to hear Norwegian words and names pronounced like Norwegians do. Harry Hole works to solve both the murder of a bank teller in the course of a robbery, as well as the putative suicide of an ex-girlfriend with whom he’d recently been in contact. This is all about the Scandi-crime vibe, as both murder mysteries are of the extremely intricate variety that makes me repeatedly exclaim “Oh come on!”. Those only work as crimes if everything goes exactly as planned. They should fall apart well before Harry Hole gets involved.
Galileo’s Middle Finger by Alice Dreger
As I noted over on the book blog, one of the things I think should be included in any review of non-fiction is whether or not the stuff in the book is true. Ms. Dreger’s story is engaging and probably informative at some level. However, even a cursory listen to the audiobook raised some huge red flags for me. A large portion of the book is about conflicts between activists (mostly left-leaning) and scientists (supposedly fact-based) where the scientists lives have been ruined because the activists had no regard for the truth and also made personal attacks removed from the issues about the science. But… aside from some nastiness on the internet, not one of the scientists described had their life ruined. Not one lost a job. Not one had to live in hiding. Which isn’t to say scurrilous charges of unethical science should be encouraged, but I think her premise on the “ruined lives” front wasn’t backed up.
Central to Ms. Dreger’s book is the account of J. Michael Bailey and his book The Man Who Would Be Queen. In it, Mr. Bailey presented another researcher’s theory of transgender as transsexualism, that transgender people are of two main types: effeminate homosexuals and autogynephiliacs, or men who are turned on by the idea of being being women. Here’s the thing about Galileo’s Middle Finger: it presents the theory as being backed by science and so Mr. Bailey’s book was scientific and the attacks on him were activism. But I couldn’t help notice while listening that there’s little discussion in it of research that backs up the theory. It comes off as both Bailey and Dreger making up some sloppy categories to fit their notions and then working hard to slot transgender people into those categories. And that’s just from a cursory listen to the book. So the narrative of science versus activism didn’t hold up in my view, because there wasn’t much science described.
A few other chapters cover Ms. Dreger’s work on intersex people and intersex rights. As a narrative of her involvement nothing stood out as poorly as the activist vs. science part did.
I wouldn’t warn people away from the book, but I’d read it all with a huge grain of salt.
Mending the Moon by Susan Palwick
I’ve been Facebook connected with Susan Palwick since I purchased a hand-made scarf from her in 2014’s Con Or Bust fundraising auction. I subsequently read her book Shelter and quite liked it. She was in Seattle in July for Clarion West, and so I went to her reading and picked up Mending the Moon. Though published by Tor, it’s not heavily science fiction. Melinda Soto goes on vacation to Mexico where she is brutally murdered by a young fan of the comic book Comrade Cosmos. Melinda’s son is also a big fan. The book is the story of the characters’ grief processes. I had a mixed reaction to the book. On one hand, very little happens and I kept wanting some plot progression. But on the other hand, the characters are fascinating and the best portrayal of the many faces of grief that I’ve ever read. As someone who went through the deaths of my three closest family members in the course of 18 months, I learned a lot about my own grief. I very quickly became acquainted with other people’s stereotypes of grief and how I wasn’t doing it right. Each character in Mending The Moon has their own reaction, and all of them felt very real. Not one is the right way to do it. Highly recommended for these portrayals.
For nearly a decade, I blogged about the books I read, first on LiveJournal, then on a couple of blogs. But I tired of it and stopped. Lately I’ve been missing it and I’ve started forgetting what I’ve read again (if I write about what I read, I remember it better), so I’m going to attempt to do a monthly reading roundup here.
What I tried to read in May 2015:
Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
This was a did-not-finish book. I’ll try this one again some day, as I think I just wasn’t in the right head space. I couldn’t keep track of who was who when my mind has been on other things.
Tambora by Gillen D’Arcy Wood
Basically each chapter is devoted to a disaster that was probably caused by the Tambora eruption, framed by stories about Mary Shelley’s literary circle. For example, a chapter about crop failures in a Chinese province leading to farmers picking up opium production to survive and thus starting the international drug trade is introduced by the story of Mary Shelley’s brother dying of an opium addiction. The crop failures in question being the result of the three-year-long global cooling from Tambora’s eruption. A lot of interesting stuff, and I like disaster porn particularly when it’s several hundred years old so I don’t feel too much like a ghoul.
This reminded me that I had never read Frankenstein, so …
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Victor Frankenstein is a tedious, negative asshole. He spends years learning how to create life, and as soon as he’s done so decides the creation is an abomination and sets about abandoning it. Also, at the slightest thing gone wrong, he manages to spend months sick and feeling sorry for himself.
A Stranger In Olondria by Sofia Samatar
This was also did-not-finish. Eight chapters in, I hated the protagonist and nothing happened. The writing is beautiful, but it was just slow.
The Girls Of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
I thought this would be a Rosie The Riveter story of what women were doing on the home front for the Manhattan Project. It may have eventually gotten to that, but I gave up on the audiobook well before then. Just too much of everyone’s back story before it ever got to what people did at Oak Ridge.
The Big Bang Theory by Karen Fox
A really enjoyable dive into cosmology and details of various versions of the Big Bang theory, but I felt somewhat duped by Audible, as it slapped a publication date of 2010 on it, when the book was published in 2002 (the audiobook came out in 2010). There were numerous references to experiments due to be completed in the 2002-2007 time frame that by now have been completed. A lot of the discussion of dark matter didn’t incorporate news I’ve read about dark matter and had hoped to get an understanding of. The book was just too dated for 2015.
Coyote Rising by Allen Steele
Fun story, but man oh man did this seem to fetishize an American-style frontier, the antebellum American South (Robert E. Lee was fighting for freedom or something), and really rags on a straw-man version of socialism that the book calls social collectivism. Story-wise this was escapist fun. With regard to the themes and politics, it was one-dimensional.
Last year I my Droid 4 stopped working, and Verizon replaced it. The replacement Droid 4 was a refurbished phone, and the battery would not last me a full day. Righteously ticked off, I took the bus downtown to the Verizon store. In the 28 minutes it took me to get there, the phone’s battery dropped from 100% charge to 90%. I didn’t even turn the screen on. There was no reason it should use that much battery so quickly. At the Verizon store, rather than get my third Droid 4 in a year, I angrily paid full price for a Droid Maxx. Which I love, other than having paid an arm and a leg for it.
In December, I bought myself a Kobo Aura H2O e-book reader. I love the thing for lots of reasons. I got the bright idea to take the SD card out of my old Droid 4 phone and stick it in my Kobo so I could hold like a billion e-books. As I don’t use the reader daily, I didn’t notice something right away. The battery on the Kobo would last only several days. That baffled me for a time, until I Googled® battery issues with Kobos and SD card issues popped up as a possibility. After removing the SD card, the Kobo battery takes weeks to work through a full charge, even with frequent reading.
It wasn’t until several weeks afterward when I remembered where the SD card had been. So I charged up the Droid 4 still sitting unused on my shelf. It’s now been running 5½ days on that charge and is at 30%, albeit without any use except to periodically check the charge.
So now the Droid 4 is going to become a fancy alarm clock with a few useful internet capabilities like playing some podcasts I listen to in the evening.