Tenth Great-Grandparents Nicolas and Sarah (Travers) Wallington

Going so far back in time, there are a few theories out there as to when Nicolas
Wallington was born and who his parents were, but I don’t have a very high confidence in
them at this point. Also, I realize that there are some records and indications of
Nicholas’ various dealings in his life that I have yet to research. The following is
what I know so far.

It looks like as a boy, Nicholas arrived in Boston, Suffolk County, MA from Southampton,
England on April 24, 1638 aboard the Confidence. He was likely a servant to Stephen
Kent, who eventually settled in Newbury, Essex County, MA. Nicholas eventually was no
longer a servant and married Sarah Travers, daughter of Henry and Bridget Travers, on
August 30, 1654 in Newbury.

1663 finds Nicholas and family living in Rowley, Essex County, MA. In 1670, he became a
freeman (not a “free man” from being a servant, but a citizen in good standing
and able to vote). On November 26, 1675, he became co-administrator of his
mother-in-law’s will. I suppose this demonstrates the level of trust that his extended
family had in him.

From what I can gather, Nicholas and Sarah had a great number of children:

  • John, born September 16, 1655; died January 6, 1656
  • Nicholas, born January 2, 1657; married Elizabeth Palmer, December 4, 1678; died May 10,
    1682
  • John, born April 7, 1659 in Newbury, Essex County, MA; married Mary Tuttle on December 6,
    1687 in Dover, Rockingham County, NH; died 1709
  • Sarah, born May 20, 1661; married Caleb Hopkinson, November 25, 1679
  • Mary, born August 20, 1663
  • James, born October 6, 1665; married Deborah _____
  • Hannah, born November 1667
  • William, born February 7, 1670
  • Joseph, born April 20, 1672
  • Elizabeth, born June 23, 1674
  • Esther, born June 8, 1676
  • Benjamin, born June 27, 1678
  • Abigail, born June 24, 1680

The most interesting thing I find about Nicholas is his mysterious death. Every source
tells me that he was taken captive and died at sea. I don’t know what prompted him to
travel or how anyone found out he was taken captive. In any event, his probate was
opened on March 28, 1682 and was not closed until 1703 I suppose that the circumstances
of his death and his large number of children contributed to this long period.

Meanwhile, Nicholas’ wife Sarah moved on in her life. On May 18, 1691, she married
Onesiphorus Marsh as his third wife. Onesiphorus, according to his gravestone, died on
May 15, 1713 and is buried in Pentucket Cemetery in Haverhill, Essex County, MA. I don’t
know where Sarah is buried.

We’ll take one more step back through Sarah’s line just to find another mystery!

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Ninth Great-Grandparents John and Mary (Tuttle) Wallingford

John Wallingford was the third child (and the second named John!) of Nicolas Wallington* and Sarah Travers.  He was born in Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts on April 7, 1659.

John married Mary Tuttle (daughter of John Tuttle and Mary _______) on December 6, 1687 in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire.  Though married in New Hampshire, it appears that they remained in Essex County, Massachusetts.

Their children were:

  • John, born December 14, 1688; married Charity _______; died between October 16, 1761 and January 27, 1762
  • Nicholas, born October 28, 1691; married Rachel _______; died between 1715 and April 14, 1719
  • Sarah, born December 29, 1693; married Joshua Roberts
  • Ebenezer, born September 30, 1695; never married; died between August 19 and September 6, 1721
  • Thomas, born July 28, 1697 in Bradford, Essex County, Massachusetts; married Margaret Clements, 1717; died August 4, 1771 in Portsmouth, Rockingham County, New Hampshire
  • Judith, born March 16, 1699
  • Abigail, born September 27, 1702

John spent some time in the Essex North Regiment in 1690, but I don’t know if he ever participated in battle.

Abraham Adams House, built circa 1705-1707, contemporary to when the Wallingfords lived in Newbury. Courtesy Wikipedia.

There is an empty probate packet in Essex County, Massachusetts dated April 4, 1709.  I don’t know if this is John’s death date or will date, but I’m sure he died sometime around then. 

*For some unknown reason, John began to use the surname Wallingford.

Honor Roll Project: Norwalk, CT – World War I (part 6)

In recognition of those who have served our country in the military, Heather Wilkinson Rojo of the Nutfield Genealogy blog started the Honor Roll Project. It’s an opportunity to publicly document the names on military memorials around the world, thus making them easily searchable on the internet for people who are looking for them!

WWI Memorial on the Norwalk Green. Author’s collection.

This is a continuation of the names on the World War I memorial on the green in Norwalk, CT; Previous posts are as follows:

Below is the sixth panel and its transcription.

World War I Memorial. Norwalk, CT. Author’s collection.

1917 – THE WORLD WAR – 1919

McSALLY EDWARD L. MOORE DAVID NEWELL WILLIAM ORICO GIOVANNI PHILIPPOPULOS THEMIS
McSALLY JAMES MOORE FRED H. NICASTRO ANTHONY ORGOVAN FRANK PICKERING CHARLES T.
MEEHAN HOWARD A. MOORE FRED M. NICHOLS CHARLES P. OSBORNE FRANK H. PILON HARRY
MEEHAN HOWARD WEBSTER MOORE THOMAS F. NICKERSON LESTER H. OSBORNE LEWIS CLARKE PINKNEY WILLIAM JR.
MEEKER CHESTER P. MORGAN WILLIAM NIELSEN LOREN E. OSSI EDWARD PISACRETA GUISEPPE
MEEKER HOWARD J. MORGANTI JOHN S NOCERO MAURO OSTERBANKS ROYAL E. PLAITANO CARMINE
MEEKER JOHN B. MORIARTY MICHAEL E. NOONAN WILLIAM OSWALD HENRY A. PLATT GEORGE HOWARD
MEEKER WILLIAM F. MORITZ CARL A. NORRIS RICHARD T. JR. OUELLETTE ALFRED J. PLATT ROLAND A.
MERCER PAUL O. MORITZ ERNEST NOVIELLO JOHN PLUNKETT JOHN HENRY
MEREDITH WILLIAM H. MORRELL FRANK E. NUTTING ALFRED R. PLUNKETT RICHARD F.
MERRIAM ARCHIBALD MORRISON FREDERICK J. M.D.

P

PLUNKETT WILLIAM F.
MERRIAM PHILIP M. MORROW WILLIAM H. PALADINO JAMES PODZELNI RICHARD
MERRIFIELD ROY

MORTON JOHN

O

PALASTRO ALEXANDER POHLMAN CHARLES L.
MERRITT EDWARD S. MOSES ALAN M. OAKES FREDERICK C. PALINKAS PAUL J. POLLAK ERWIN
MERRITT WALTER W. MOSHER NELSON H. OAMULINSKI JOSEPH PANTALLO GIACOMO POLLEY JUDSON J.
MERRITT WALTON MOSSMAN ALBERT N. OBERLANDER HARRY W. PAQUA ANTONIO POLLEY SAMUEL C.
MICHEGAN MIRAN MOTT JOHN EDGAR O’BRIEN EDWARD PAQUA JAMES POWELL DONALD A.
MIDDLETON FRANK A. MORRISON ARTHUR H. O’BRIEN EDWARD J. PARIS MAXWELL H. POWELL NELSON W.
MIDDLETON FRANK A. JR. MUGAVERO EDWARD M. O’BRIEN WILLIAM D. PARKINSON HENRY F. PRATT CHARLES
MILBURN RICHARD MULLINGS ROBERT M. O’BRIEN WILLIAM J. PASKO JOHN PREMRU KRISTJIAN
MILLARD JOSEPH J. MULQUEEN GEORGE J. O’CONNOR JOHN A. PASSAFIUME VINCENZO PREUSSER CHARLES F.
MILLGER JOHN MULVEY ROBERT EDWARD O’CONNOR SHERMAN E. PASSAFUME ANTONIO PRICE CONRAD C.
MILLER EDWARD H. MULVIHILL DANIEL F. ODELL WILLIAM H. JR. PASSAFUME JAMES PRICE HERBERT
MILLER ERIC H. MULVOY ANTHONY JAMES O’GRADY HUGH PATTERSON WILLIAM PRICE JOHN
MILLER JOHN J. MUREN G. MORGAN M.D. O’GRADY WILLIAM B. PAUL ERNEST R. PRICE THOMAS
MILLER PERCY MURPHY CHARLES A. O’HARA CLIFFORD J. PAUL LAWRENCE PRICE WILLIAM
MILLS CLARENCE W. MURPHY EDGAR G. O’HARA WILLIAM H. PAULINE PETER A. PSYHOJOS GEORGE
MILLS RUSSELL S. MURPHY FEDERICK P. OLEAN JOHN A. PEARSON ALBERT G. PULCINO GIOVANNI
MILLS STANLEY A. MUTH THEODORE J. OLEAN JOHN A. PEDEN THOMAS J. PURDY LEROY MEAD
MILNE WILLIAM C. OLEAN JULIUS A. PEET WILLIAM F.
MISERENDINA BAGILIO OLEAN MICHAEL P. PELHAM GEORGE J.
MISERENDINA SANTI

N

OLIVER ROBERT B. PENNELL ALOYSIUS W.
MISKY STANLEY NADIN HOWARD N. OLMSTEAD FRANK

PENNY LOUIS A.

Q

MISLENSKI TONY E. NASH DOUGLAS E. OLMSTEAD HARRY F. PEPITONE GIACOMO QUAGLIONE PASQUALE
MONKLEY GEORGE NATHAN JACOB O’NEILL EUGENE A. PERDUE ROBERT E. M.D. QUITTNER JOSEPH
MOELLER JOSEPH M. NATTEFORD BERNARD M. O’NEILL JAMES P. PERKINS EUGENE F. QUINTARD JOHN H.
MOFFETT CHARLES NEGUS THOMAS S. O’NEILL JOHN P. PERKINS MURRIE A.
MOHR CHARLES H. NEILSEN JOHN W. O’NEILL JOSEPH C. PERKINS WILLIAM A.
MONAGHAN JAMES NESLINE ALFRED JAMES O’NEILL TIMOTHY J.

PERRY ANDREW B.

R

MONAGHAN JOHN T. MESTOR MANUAL OLSEN WILLIAM PERSCHINO JOHN F. RACANELLI MICHAEL F.
MONTGOMERY GEORGE E. NEVAS BERNARD AARON OLSON HILDON O. PESAK JOSEPH W. RACKETT MERSON
MONTGOMERY HOWARD A. NEVAS NATHAN OLSON WILLIAM F. PETRAKIS JOHN L. RADFAN EDWARD A.

“WE HONOR THOSE WHO DO US HONOR”

Eighth Great-Grandparents: Thomas and Margaret (Clements) Wallingford

Way back on June 19, 2016, I mentioned that my seventh great-grandfather James Goodwin had married Margaret Wallingford. Since that time, I’ve been exposed to some of the awesome work of the Great Migration study on AmericanAncestors.org, which has led me to more ancestors and more stories. Today, I’ll pick up the story with Margaret’s parents, Thomas Wallingford and Margaret Clements; and again, the information is to the best of my knowledge.

Thomas was born July 28, 1697 in Bradford, Essex County, Massachusetts. He was the youngest son and fifth child of John Wallingford and Mary Tuttle.

On March 2, 1716, Thomas bought land from Daniel Gordon of Kingston, NH; I assume this land was in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire, because the following year he married Margaret Clements (daughter of Job Clements and Abigail Heard) there. They subsequently went on to build their family. The following are Thomas’ children that are ascribed to Margaret:

  • Margaret, born in Dover; married James Goodwin, circa 1740; died February 1803 in Berwick, York County, Massachusetts (now Maine)
  • Hannah, born May 5, 1720; married _____ Brown
  • Judith, born March 25, 1722
  • Ebenezer, born July 21, 1724; married Mary Wentworth
  • Abigail, born September 30, 1726; married Edward Sanders

It was sometime after Abigail’s birth that Margaret died, for by February 18, 1728 Thomas had remarried a woman by the last name of Pray (some assume her name was Mary).

At this point, Thomas’ public life began to pick up, He was a selectman in Dover for various years between 1733 and 1748. He also served as a representative in the colonial assembly between 1739 and 1748. One interesting story I found was that during a session on February 13, 1744, “Cyprian Jeffrey, of Portsmouth, storekeeper, made an assault upon him and drawing his knife said ‘he would cut his (Wallingford’s) throat, if he got forty men to do it.’ ” Jeffrey was arrested but later, when Thomas complained of the attack to the House, admitted his wrongdoing. Thomas forgave him after Jeffries paid “costs”. What precipitated all this, I have no idea!

In 1748, Thomas took the most significant office of his life: judge of the Superior Court in Dover. The FamilySearch Wiki seems to indicate that there are no court records archives prior to 1773, so I don’t know if I’d ever be able to see what kind of cases he was involved with.

By 1755, Thomas was married yet again to Elizabeth (Swett) Prime. Supposedly Elizabeth was the inspiration for naming the land on which they lived: “Madam’s Cove”. This land was along the Newichawannock River (today, the Salmon Falls River), kind of across from the mouth of the Great Works River.

Thomas died on August 4, 1771 in Portsmouth, Rockingham County, NH at “Capt. Stoodley’s”. Though I couldn’t pin down exactly who Capt. Stoodley was, I strongly believe that it might have been James Stoodley who ran a tavern in Portsmouth (which still stands and has been moved to the Strawbery Banke Museum campus). After all, it makes sense that this would be a place that Thomas could stay in Portsmouth if he had business there.

Stoodley’s Tavern. Courtesy Library of Congress

Thomas was buried on August 6 in what is now the Old Town Cemetery in Rollinsford, Strafford County, New Hampshire. His wife Elizabeth was also buried there, having died on December 3, 1810.

I was surprised to read that Thomas died intestate, for he had a lot of land throughout New Hampshire and what is now Maine. It seems that my ancestor, Margaret (Wallingford) Goodwin, inherited quite a bit of land in New Hampshire and in Berwick, York County, Massachusetts. (I wonder how she ultimately disposed of all that land?) There is a good summary of his extensive estate was divided here, but it would be good to look at these records myself someday.

One significant point I want to make is that these records reveal that Thomas was a slaveholder. His estate reveals four names:

  • Richmond
  • Phillis
  • Dinah
  • Cato

I don’t think that these slaves were ever freed, although it’s believed that Cato actually fought in the Revolutionary War.

U-Turn: Redmans

In the years since I last wrote about my Redman line, I’ve learned more about them and entered that information into my database. And to my horror, I found that I’d mixed up some of my facts in my blog post. So I’ve done a little editing there and will be expanding on the Redmans here.

Starting with the first Robert Redman (“Robert 1”): he seems to have immigrated from England about 1652 and settled in Milton, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. By 1658, he married Luce or Lucy, and their known children were:

  • John
  • Mary, who died April 24, 1669
  • Ann
  • Ruth, who married Walter Everendon
  • Charles, born August 16, 1666; married Martha Hill on February 10, 1688 in Milton; died 1725 in Suffolk County, Massachusetts (I wrote more about his life in my earlier post)
  • Joseph, born October 20, 1668 in Milton, and died May 7, 1669 in Milton
  • Mercy

One interesting fact I learned about Robert 1 was that on February 24, 1672, he sold some land to the town of Milton for a “burying ground”, which is still there today.

Map of Milton Cemetery. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Robert 1 wrote his will on December 30, 1678 and he subsequently died on January 13 in Milton. His son John was the executor of his will.

To expand on Charles and his family, I was able to color in more details on his children:

  • Mary, born December 3, 1689 in Milton
  • Martha, born March 27, 1692 in Milton
  • Robert (“Robert 2”), born March 30, 1694 in Milton; married Mary Kenner (or Kennee) on August 1, 1722 in Boston; died November 8, 1760 in Suffolk County, Massachusetts
  • John, born May 8, 1696 in Milton
  • Marcy (or Mercy), born July 8, 1698 in Milton
  • Thankful, born 1700; married George Blackman in 1728; died 1783

I also found out that Charles held the office of constable in 1724 in Dorchester (of which Milton was a part). Not too bad, considering it was the year before his death!

Skipping down to Robert 2, I wrote about how he received a land grant in 1737 in “Dorchester Canada” (now Ashburnham, Worcester County, Massachusetts), but I didn’t know when he might have disposed of it. It now seems that he must have sold it rather quickly: by 1738, Samuel Hayward owned this particular plot of land.

So those are my newest discoveries on the Redman line. I still haven’t hiked on the Punkapoag Trail, but it is on my ancestral bucket list!

#genchat: Reclaim the Records

Graphic courtesy of SirLeprechaunRabbit, co-host of #genchat

On February 1, we had a very special guest at #genchat: Brooke Schreier Ganz, to discuss Reclaim the Records.  (In case you don’t know, Reclaim the Records’s mission is to “identify important genealogical records sets that ought to be in the public domain but which are being wrongly restricted by government archives, libraries, and agencies. We file Freedom of Information and Open Data requests to get that public data released back to the public.”)  The discussion was so informative, I felt I had to capture much of it for future reference; thus this blog post!  I will feature our questions, Brooke’s answers (with permission), and other useful information that was shared.

As during #genchat, the following abbreviations will be used:
FOI = Freedom of Information
records = government-generated/curated records
RTR = Reclaim the Records
ICEBREAKER:  What is “Freedom of Information”? Who does it apply to?
Freedom of Information generally provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information.
Q1.  How do you know which records you should legally have access to?
Brooke:  First of all, you need to know which law applies to your situation. Is it the famous FOIA, which covers only federal records? Or is one of the 51 state (and DC) FOI laws, which all vary a bit? If so, you’ll want to check out that law’s details.
These state-level laws all have different wacky names: FOIL, OPRA (no, not *that* Oprah), GRAMA, Sunshine Law, Public Records Act, Right-To-Know Act, and so on. They’re all pretty similar, but some are better at what they cover, or what they exempt.
The best websites to find out what the law you’re interested in is called, and what it covers, and what its quirks are, is the BALLOTPEDIA page on state Sunshine laws:
 
Another great website that has a round-up of these state laws is @NFOIC, the National Freedom of Information Coalition. They’re kind of aimed more towards journalists who need to use these laws, but their info is still very helpful.  
  • @mdiane_rogers: 1. Share facts / concerns/ Freedom of Information how-tos for your jurisdictions widely [Note: Diane is from British Columbia, Canada; so even though RTR only covers the United States, the principles here can apply just about anywhere!]
Q2.  What steps should you take to obtain records?
BrookeOkay, so you know you want to get a copy of certain record set under a state FOI law. Go you! So what now? Well, you need to read that state’s law thoroughly. See what it explicitly says is NOT covered.
For example, Maryland’s state FOI law, which they call the Public Information Act (PIA), explicitly says that all kinds of educational records are exempt. So you can’t use the MD PIA to get copies of your great-grandma’s high school records.
But on the other hand, Maryland is one of the rare states where the judiciary is covered in their state FOI law! (Most states exempt it entirely.) So you can use the PIA to get copies of court-related genealogy records, such as naturalizations, wills, and so on.
In short, go read the law. The whole thing.  
  • @mdiane_rogers: 2. Join together with other individuals / groups with similar historical interests (e. g. in BC, Canada, I’m a member of the BC Historical Federation’s Advocacy Committee )
Q3.  What things should you do if you get pushback?
Brooke:  Of course, if every government archive or agency followed the law, there would be little need for a group like Reclaim The Records in the first place. But, they don’t. And so here we are!
If you make a request for a certain records set, like a copy of a microfilm or a database, and you get pushback — or get ignored entirely — don’t panic. There are people and groups who can help you. First off, double check with a “helper organization”, if possible.
Some states have publicly-funded groups or ombudsmen or records councils, or things like that, who you can literally just call up on the phone and talk to. Or e-mail them, whatever. They give free advice! And they’re usually very nice. You can literally just call them up and be like “hey, I wanted X and the archives are saying no, are they breaking the law?” In NY, there’s the Committee on Open Government: dos.ny.gov/coog/ In PA, there’s the Office of Open Records: openrecords.pa.gov Other states, but not all, have publicly-funded helper groups like that too. They’re experts in their own state law. They can even do research for you in their previous caselaw. And they can write Advisory Opinions for you, should you need to file a lawsuit. Advisory Opinions are basically a letter from the state organization saying that they think your request was totally legit and fine, and citing cases X, Y, and Z. The opinion itself isn’t legally binding, but it’s great to have one in your pocket, should you sue. And these state organizations will be happy to help any government agencies with questions too, not just requestors. So you can always tell your archive or city clerk’s office “uh hey, before you keep saying no to me, how about you call this org and double check?” 
  • @seekingsurnames: I just requested military records through FOIA, a virtual stranger (expert in military research) helped me. #genchat #thepowerofsocialmedia
    @_genchat: That is great! Use your connections (remember, your #genchat friends are all over the world!)
  • @packrat74: #genchat Just like graduate school, know all the rules and be persistent.
    @Ghyxion: And polite
Q4.  When should you contact RTR?
BrookeWell, first off we should emphasize that we’re not lawyers! No one on our board has a law degree. So we can’t immediately assess whether a records request is truly valid or not. We need to call out the big guns, with the JD’s. We’re happy to take suggestions and talk on the phone or over e-mail. And if it sounds reasonable, we add it to our “to-do list” and eventually start work on it. But we’re also limited by time and budget. Non-profit life, you know. But we have so much we want to do!
Q5.  When should legal action happen?  What kind of attorneys deal with FOI requests?
BrookeWe’ve been fortunate to find awesome attorneys for all our cases, but that was honestly one of the hardest parts of our very first case, in 2015. We were so lucky to find @DaveRankinNYC after initially chasing down many false leads. He led a NY Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) case to get the Hart Island burial records released. That’s the New York City potter’s field, an island that has been use for burying the indigent for over a century. He got the books for his client, an artist! And when we stumbled across a newspaper mention of that case, we were like THAT’S THE GUY WE SHOULD HIRE. And we did.    
Fun fact, but totally a coincidence: his mom is a genealogist! We’ve also found some of our attorneys through diligent web searching for new stories about lawsuits for their particular state FOI law. For example, in New Jersey, we found the awesome @CJGriffinEsq at Pashman Stein who is THE top lawyer for their state law, OPRA. Another good place to find a lawyer for the state you’re interested in is the FOI-L listserve run out of Syracuse University by @nfoic. It’s a low traffic e-mail list with the top FOI (mostly FOIA, but not all) attorneys and journalists: https://www.nfoic.org/about/programs-services/foi-listserv
That’s how we solicited recommendations for a Missouri attorney to help us with our MO Sunshine Law requests for the state birth and death index. We got several names sent to us, some with personal stories attached, and we called up Bernie Rhodes at @lathropgage. And by the way, for those of you wanting to hear updates about Missouri, which is our longest-running FOI lawsuit (two years and counting!) there’s some news: we are JUST about to submit the paperwork to ask for summary judgment. *crosses fingers*
  • @cferra1227:   These types of lawyers seem to specialize in it: https://www.rocketlawyer.com/article/how-to-file-a-freedom-of-information-act-request-cb.rl as do http://www.foiadvocates.com/  Legal action should happen when all other avenues have been explored.
  • @packrat74:   If you’re doing #genealogy on the cheap, it helps to touch base with your local society — local to you, or to where your research is.
  • @JoAHenn:  or contact local Facebook genealogy group for that area, often someone will volunteer to go get it for you and/or find it and snap a pic to send you. Over 3000 Facebook genealogy groups, bound to be a relevant one.
Q6.  How can we help RTR’s efforts?
BrookeWe at Reclaim The Records are so thankful for all the support we’ve gotten in the community over the past few years! We became a registered 501(c)3 non-profit org in February 2017. And yes, we gratefully take donations. Our work is funded by donations from fed-up genealogists and historians and journalists — like all of you.
Every record set we win goes online for free public use: no paywalls, no subscriptions, no usage agreements, none of that stuff. It’s public data!
Q7.  How do we fight against existing & forthcoming restrictions?
BrookeOkay, first of all, let’s give a shout-out to another group of genealogists doing great work, who are keeping their ears to ground for news of potential restrictions in every state: RPAC, the Records Preservation and Access Committee. RPAC is a joint committee of @FGSgenealogy, @ngsgenealogy, and @IAJGSConf. They are a great early-warning system for news about potential records restrictions that may be coming down the pike in various localities. Learn more about RPAC here: https://fgs.org/community/rpac/
But once a vital records jurisdiction is starting to make noises about restricting records, what can genealogists do? Well, for one thing, we can write letters, we can petition, we can make calls, we can use the traditional persuasive methods to try to stop that. But if that doesn’t work, if the government agency totally ignores the public outcry — see, for example, what happened in NYC in October 2017 with their awful new rules — there is something else we can do. We can sue.
Now, this is not traditionally what genealogists do. We tend to be homebodies staying up too late with our records, or who are the most happy in quiet archives. We’re usually not rah-rah activist types. But we need to be, or else we risk losing more records access. And so one of the things RTR has been thinking about in the past years is not just “how do I get record set X using that FOI law” but also “how do we push back against the erosion of public records access?” And lawsuits are, frankly, an underused tool for that.
  • @packrat74: Know your elected representatives, for whatever level of jurisdiction that applies. If you hear about bad legislation, let them hear why you think it’s bad. You’re a constituent and they’re *supposed* to be representing you.
  • @milhistbuff3: Get/stay educated & active. Will second @halfacadian‘s suggestion re: existing/ pending legislation/regulations, for all levels of governance & making your opposition heard. e.g the NYC Dept of Health issue last fall.
  • @milhistbuff3: Genealogy may be our primary interest in these records, but would suggest expanding the scope to modern day business/personal uses as well. E.g need to trace for health history/prove citizenship, wider social history etc. That may be more likely to cause rethinking it.
  • @packrat74: In addition to following RTR, read The Legal Genealogist (Judy G. Russell’s blog) — look for the posts tagged ‘Records Access’ — to get news about what’s happening around the country.
For more information regarding Reclaim the Records, be sure to visit their website at reclaimtherecords.org.  And to see some of the records they’ve reclaimed, be sure to visit their section on the Internet Archive.  You may find an ancestor waiting for you there!

Maternal-Side Christmas: Christmas Eve

My maternal grandparents (Bruno and Viola (Biliunas) Markoski) lived on the other side of the state, so I don’t think I ever saw them at Christmas time. However, my mom carried on the Polish tradition of pierogies on Christmas Eve.

Being good Catholics, we were not to eat meat on Christmas Eve, so the Polish often made pierogies for dinner. Folks would later ask me, “Were they stuffed with potatoes?” I’d never heard of such a thing! My mom’s family made their pierogies stuffed with farmer’s cheese (which is kind of like ricotta) or kapusta (a sauerkraut mixture). (Personally, I prefer the cheese-stuffed pierogies slathered with melted butter spooned over them!)

Cheese pierogies on the top, kapusta on the bottom! Author’s collection.

Both my sisters have made pierogies, as well as a few of my first cousins on that side of the family (as reported on Facebook). Me? I do have my mom’s recipe, but I’ve never made them. Maybe someday! For now, I’m enjoying everyone else’s!

My side of the family continues this cooking tradition, as well as opening presents on Christmas Eve. It all started with our opening the gifts from our parents on Christmas Eve (which included the obligatory matching jammies that we’d put on that night), then Santa gifts on Christmas Day. As we got older, the Santa gifts faded away, and we were just left with Christmas Eve. Usually, we had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing classics in the background as each of us took turns opening our gifts. When my dad was alive, and if we were really lucky, he’d play some Christmas songs on the cornet. He had a really awesome tone! (And yes, I would say he inherited his musicality from his ancestors!)

We continue these traditions to this day on the years we have Christmas with my side of the family. For my own family (husband and kids), we have our own presents on Christmas morning as well as a yummy Christmas dinner on a table with Great-grandmother Bertha’s tablecloth and my aunt Cheryl’s silverware set that Great-grandmother Eva gave her.