I’ve been busy updating genealogy records these last few weeks.
For Christmas, my wife and kids got together and bought me an Ancestry All-Access membership. That’s the big one that gets you international records on Ancestry as well as a basic Newspapers.com account and Fold3 account. I’m at the point in my research where a lot of my work is going to involve international stuff, so this will come in handy.
Tears were shed when I opened the note. I’ve wanted to do more research for years, and more than once it felt like my kids didn’t really care about family history. Reading that note though made me realize how much they support me, even if it’s not their thing right now.
The only problem with my new membership is that I’m so excited to use it that I end up spending far too much time researching and not nearly enough time writing. Such is life.
I’m going to try to write one of these update posts every month. TNG has a What’s New page that it automatically generates, which looks back 45 days. The only drawback is that it only tells you that a record has been changed. It doesn’t tell you what was changed, so I’m going to try to summarize things this way. We’ll see how it works.
I spent a couple of weeks working the Singleback line; as always, answers to one question seem to beget more questions.
In trying to sort out the information I had for Michael Singleback, I posted up at /r/Genealogy to make sure I was interpreting what I had reasonably. A fellow genealogist came back with a number of links and information that I didn’t have. They’d found a Michael and Jennie’s marriage license (which I already had) as well as a newspaper record of their divorce 13 years later. I note without further comment that Jennie was just over 14 1/2 years old when she married Mike (who was 26 at the time).
I updated Jennie Lewis’ record. For some reason, I had her maiden name as Edwards, but her marriage license for Michael has her maiden name as Lewis, which doesn’t match her mother’s last name. I changed her maiden name to Lewis.
I located the obit for George W Singleback. It mentions three brothers: George Smith of Erie; James Shetler of Kane; and Charles Shetler of Corry.
So this throws a bunch of new information into the mix. This is the first I’ve heard of George Smith or the Shetler brothers, but the Shetler name meshes somewhat with the information Mary Fulton had. I haven’t yet updated George’s TNG record though because I’m not clear who the mother is.
In going through some boxes I brought back from my childhood home, I located a bundle of letters to my mother, from her brother and mother. After graduating from Tulane, she moved to Natchez and taught piano and voice at the Kuenhle School of Music for $1,000 a year (about $11,000 in 2020) according to a contract I found. The letters cover mostly September 1948 to April 1949, with a couple of outliers on either end. I also found two bits of correspondence from my Dad; one was from ‘53 and the other from ’55. They were married in 1959, so they’d known each other quite a while.
The letters give a glimpse into their lives then, but again give me more questions. I know Mom was serious about someone before she met my dad, but I can’t recall any of the information. Letters from Nan and George both sound like they weren’t thrilled with the relationship Mom was in at the time. But it’s not clear from the letters I have exactly why anyone was unhappy.
One of the letters from George, dated March 1953, seems to foretell his death just less than a year later. He mentions “a little stomach trouble” where the doctor made him eat only soft vegetables and fruit like baby food. It’s my memory that he died from cancer.
Remember where I’ve talked about having the facts vs having the stories? Here’s an example. I’d had a lot of the dates around Uncle Bobby and Aunt Margaret. But Bobby never talked much about his service in World War 2. He was drafted after the war ended; that may have had something to do with it. He’d always told me (or let me assume) that he was part of the Judge Advocate General Corps, which made sense. He was firmly established as an attorney by the time I was old enough to know much about him, and the JAG Corps is military attorneys.
But he was actually part of a counterintelligence group, tasked with rooting out remaining Nazis who might try to sabotage the peace and reignite the war. My cousin Robin found dozens of letters home and photos from Bobby and compiled them all into a book about his service. Those 50-odd pages are now a rich part of his story, and I’m thrilled she put that together. I’ve been able to add several photos and fill in some gaps in his story.
So how’s everyone else these days?
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