Great-Great Aunt Winifred Margaret Atwell, aka Margaret Armstrong

Wedded bliss did not last long in the marriage of Arthur Vinton (formerly Arthur Holzel) and Margaret Armstrong (formerly Winifred Margaret Atwell). Later newspaper accounts alluded to Arthur not being very good with money (always a problem when there is a family to support). Perhaps this was Margaret’s incentive to continue to work in theater, for Arthur accused her of refusing “to give up theatricals and make a home for him” and stated that it was difficult for them to find work in the same town.

The Holzels separated in August 1922, with Margaret and Evelyn remaining in Long Island City, NY as Margaret continued acting in New York City. During the separation, Arthur wrote to Margaret that “The way to hold a man is to be his pal. Not to dance and raise hell, but to play the game with him.”

What was Arthur’s game? Margaret soon found out that he was living in Kansas City, Missouri with another woman, Mrs. Marie Pohl, née Marie Eugenia Welch, wife (or ex-wife; I haven’t found out yet) of August Pohl of San Diego, California. Margaret put her foot down during an August 1923 visit from Arthur, confronting him with her findings. Arthur seemed to waffle, asking for time to think things over and decide whether or not he wanted to reconcile or let Margaret pursue a divorce.

Margaret chose to file for divorce and did so in January 1924 (perhaps she gave him until the end of 1923 to make a decision, or perhaps she took the time to get her legal paperwork together). in the filing, she requested $125 per week for alimony toward child support for Evelyn. Meanwhile, Margaret continued her work on stage.

On January 9, 1925, the decree of divorce was granted. Margaret received $200 in legal fees and $40 per week for alimony. By the end of the decade, Arthur married Marie and got his wish for someone “making a home for him” in upstate New York, where he ran a side business of a cattle then a turkey farm. Apparently Arthur got to “play the game” with Marie, as he notoriously had numerous affairs and was often cruel to Marie.

As far as I know, Margaret never re-married. By 1930 she and Evelyn were living in Los Angeles, CA where Margaret launched a movie career as a character actress. Her film career can be found here. It seemed that the financial issues that Margaret experienced with Arthur were far behind her. She was able to provide Evelyn with a college education (Evelyn went to the University of California, Los Angeles) and trips abroad.

Margaret Armstrong in her role as Annie Oakley's mother.  Author's collection.

Margaret Armstrong in her role as Annie Oakley’s mother. Author’s collection.

Eventually Evelyn met and married Clinton A. White sometime before 1950 (I suspect during the late 1940’s). This marriage caused a permanent rift between Evelyn and her father, Arthur, for Clinton was African-American. (Indeed, in some states, such an inter-racial marriage was not even considered legal.) According to my grandmother, Arthur disowned Evelyn; online anecdotes seem to support this. Evelyn was not deterred; the couple raised a family, ran a family business, and spent the rest of their lives together.

Evelyn White in 1961.  Courtesy (Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards).

Evelyn White in 1961. Courtesy (Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards).

Sometime after Margaret’s movie career ended, it seems that she must have moved in with or close to Evelyn and her family, for she passed away in Alameda County, CA on December 15, 1961. I’m not sure where she is buried; with all the names she had taken on, it’s been difficult to find her final resting place.

Clinton White died on April 6, 1988 in Berkeley, Alameda County, CA, so Evelyn went to live closer to her family in Brookings, Curry County, OR. There she died on September 19, 2000.

Because of the very separate lives and physical distance between my great-grandfather and Margaret, I never personally knew that side of the family. It’s my hope that a curious cousin might see this and reach out!

A Visit to the Family History Center

I recently had a neat break-through totally by accident and came across a new-to-me second cousin! The best part was that she lives only an hour away from me in New York City. Since she is relatively new to family research, she wanted to visit with her local Family History Center, so did I want to come? I never went to an FHC before, so I figured why not? I’d get to check one out and meet my cousin at the same time.

The FHC we were to meet at was on the west side of the city, and Google Maps showed a nice big building there: Church of the Latter-Day Saints. Yes, most of the building was for the Mormon’s church, but the FHC was there as well. I’d done a little homework and found the number for a roll of microfilm that might give us clues about our Polish great-grandfather’s naturalization; that should be a good start, right? I had visions of genealogy books and rows of microfilm readers and computers!

Outside the FHC (which was conveniently across the street from the subway stop), I met my cousin with a hug, as well as a good friend of hers who was researching his family as well. We were ready for our field trip! We went inside, followed some signs for the FHC within the building…and came to a room no bigger than my living room with a bunch of computers (all occupied) inside. I briefly felt uncertain and could sense my cousin and her friend felt the same way.

Right away, a worker from the FHC saw us and welcomed us. She asked if we wanted to see the “other room” with the microfilm readers and a couple more computers. “Sure!” we said, eager to see if there was anything else. We were brought to the room, which had a couple of readers, a microfilm scanner (cool!), and a few more computers. (I could also see it doubled as a Sunday School room for little ones! They must have had a lot of self-control not to touch the interesting machines…) We were happy that, for the most part, we could have this room to ourselves. My cousin and I had a LOT of talking to do, as well as research.

We’d found a bunch of things online while we were there, and I showed her how to use the FamilySearch wiki as I explained how to find out what vital records might be searchable online vs. needing to be purchased. Meanwhile, our host tried looking for the microfilm I wanted to see. Sadly (so, so sadly), she could not locate it, even though their system said it was there. The host even let me look in the microfilm room, to no avail.

Nope, not in here! Microfilm at the Family History Center in NYC. Author's collection.

Nope, not in here! Microfilm at the Family History Center in NYC. Author’s collection.

In spite of not making any huge finds, it was still a good visit. We had enough space to ourselves to be able to tell family stories, ask each other questions, and do some on-line exploring together. There was even wifi, which enabled me to pull up my cloud-stored records on my iPad to show my cousin. My cousin’s friend even found some records he was not expecting. The host was very, very accommodating (she even let us use her own laptop while the computer we’d been using was needed for the microfilm scanner). She promised to email me if they found the missing microfilm.

As we were leaving, our host asked if we could please sign their guest book. The more people they showed as visiting the FHC, the more money and resources (including space) they could have. You bet we’d sign!

So although I was kind of let down by the size of the “center”, it was still a good visit. After all, I was with family and we were doing genealogy!

Global Family Reunion

Yesterday, June 6, the Global Family Reunion was held at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY and I got to go! Because it was so close to where I live and the price was right, I figured I should take advantage of the opportunity. If you follow me on Twitter, you got to see a lot of comments and pictures!

Let me first tell you how the day went for me personally, then I’ll give you my overall impressions of the event.

First of all, it was quite easy to get to. I just took Metro-North into Grand Central (about an hour), then the 7 Subway over to 111th Street (about half an hour), then a five minute walk three blocks away. Although I wasn’t overly impressed with the neighborhood, I realized it was just an urban working-class area. I arrived about 10:45am and immediately made friends with new “cousins”/genealogists in line, one being from Chicago! It took past the scheduled 11am start time to actually start checking people in, and I’m still not sure why. We were directed to the “Cousin Check-in” area, which had two lines; apparently I was in the wrong one, and the other was very long, so I said to myself, “I’ll check in later!” (which I did).

Waiting to get in.  Author's colleciton.

Waiting to get in. Author’s collection.

First thing was first: I had to stop in on the Find My Past booth to meet #genchat founder, Jen Baldwin. Her red hair made her easy to spot, but I was not easy for her to know right away (since my Twitter avatar is a gingerbread man). Once I introduced myself, though, she gave me a big hug and said we just HAD to get in the

#genchat friends:  Jen Baldwin and me!  Author's collection.

#genchat friends: Jen Baldwin and me! Author’s collection.

obligatory selfie. After that, the Find My Past booth was sort of “home base” for me throughout the day.

The Main Stage schedule probably varied the most from what was

Cousin AJ.  Author's collection.

Cousin AJ. Author’s collection.

on the website, so AJ Jacobs was not first up, but close to it. He apologized for the delay, saying we could forgive him since he was family, and gave us a hearty welcome and a little speech as to the Global Family Reunion came about.

Not able to decide what to eat, and still not terribly hungry, I downed an old-fashioned New York pretzel and went to the Theater area so I could catch Henry Louis Gates. Alas! The 300-seat auditorium was completely full and I couldn’t get in. Not to be deterred, I put in my earbuds and accessed the live webcast of Mr. Gates as I sat in the sun (which fortunately finally came out). Basically, he spoke of his background and how he ended up being a genealogist. The most exciting part was announcing his plans to help get genealogy into the classroom in science (through DNA) and social studies, starting with the inner city first (as they stand to benefit the most from it). Keep your eyes peeled for more on this development!

I spent a little time wandering around before catching D. Joshua Taylor (one of the hosts of “Genealogy Roadshow”, among many other roles) talk about Genealogy & Hollywood in the Viscusi Gallery room. Josh sure has a way of presenting! Not only did he tell us some neat things about genealogy and entertainment (such as the fact that Walt Disney made sure all his characters had a family tree), but he also drove home the fact that we must verify our on-line findings.

I was able to catch most of Dr. Oz on my way out. He spoke of what

Dr. Oz.  Author's collection.

Dr. Oz. Author’s collection.

motivates us to change, particularly from the perspective of staying healthy so we can enjoy our families.

Finally hungry, I had the biggest Falafel sandwich ever (delicious and filling for the rest of the day) as I watched the goings-on in the kids’ area. Boy, they were having lots of fun! Kicking soccer balls, hula-hooping, origami folding and other games. As I tweeted, I didn’t see one whining, crying kid. They were having fun! Older children and teens sharpened their storytelling and writing skills in the Storytelling Tent, and if that wasn’t enough, families got to play miniature golf or explore the museum itself (which looked pretty interactive and cool).

Origami fun!  Author's collection.

Origami fun! Author’s collection.

Paul Williams had just enough time to sing “The Rainbow Connection” before he had to leave. It was cool to see him, as I remember him from “back in the day”! Later on, I even got to meet Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogy Officer from MyHeritage. He was happy to hear that I was a MyHeritage user and I was happy to hear that he was able to find some family graves nearby in Queens.

Tammy Hepps, founder of Treelines.  Author's collection.

Tammy Hepps, founder of Treelines. Author’s collection.

As a Treelines user, I absolutely had to catch Tammy Hepps in the StoryTelling Tent as she spoke about her “Margarine Outlaws”. She

had given this talk during RootsTech, and I wanted to see what new developments she may have uncovered! (Needless to say, she learned a whole lot about margarine!) I also got to say a quick hello to her.

It was finally time for the big event: Sister Sledge on the Main Stage! Everyone gathered around, the music started, and out three of them came, singing a song to warm us up! One more sister came on stage and the familiar notes

Sister Sledge sings!  Author's collection.

Sister Sledge sings! Author’s collection.

started: “We are family!” everyone sang. The music, the joy, the hands holding up “I Am A Cousin” signs! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many happy, celebrating people in one place at one time.

Just part of the crowd!  Author's collection.

Just part of the crowd! Author’s collection.

Finally, we “posed” (?) for the big family picture and we listened to AJ’s lovely wife Julie talk about the fundraising portion of the event: supporting Alzheimer’s research and care. AJ was also given several bits of recognition, including an honorary membership in the New England Historic Genealogical Society and a double-helix guitar (which did not make it to the stage, but he promised he’d post a picture of!).

Afterwards, I went back to the Viscusi Gallery to hear Randy Whited speak on “The Future Is Now”. He spoke of everything from advances in technology to telling our own story. My favorite point was to make it obvious which part of the story comes from us versus which part comes from records (another score for well done genealogy).

Back to the Main Stage to see Marilu Henner speak on improving

Marilu Henner, memory extraordinaire!  Author's collection.

Marilu Henner, memory extraordinaire! Author’s collection.

our memory recall (important in light of the focus on Alzheimer’s).  One big tip I remember was using your primary sense to tap into memory: if a visual person, take pictures; if tactile, write it down, etc. What will I remember most from this talk? Her scolding the chatty security guards backstage for being too loud while she was talking! Ha, ha!

Well, it was closing in on 6pm and I had better start making my way home. I got another picture with Jen AND Josh Taylor, then had the

Me, Jen, and Josh Taylor.  Surrounded by genea-awesomeness!  Author's collection.

Me, Jen, and Josh Taylor. Surrounded by genea-awesomeness! Author’s collection.

honor of snapping the official Find My Past team photo! Said goodbye to Jen, until we “see” each other virtually again!

One screwy thing about getting back: there was no Manhattan-bound train from that subway station that weekend! It seemed we had to take the train to one stop up (where the Mets play), then take a Manhattan-bound train back. But this turned out to be a good opportunity, because I met some other genealogists (cousins!) who were headed back as well, and we got to talk about the day and our favorite online people (DearMYRTLE and Michael Lacopo were theirs). When it comes to genealogy, there are always friends to be made!

So that was the day. Here are my overall positive impressions:

  • fun, festival-like atmosphere
  • the genealogy tents (Find My Past/Mocavo, Family Search, and MyHeritage/Geni) were hopping with people who wanted to make discoveries, and they did!
  • good genealogy speakers, placed in the right rooms (for the most part), with topics designed to capture your interest if you’re new to genealogy and to encourage you if you’re not. It was sometimes hard to choose who to hear speak!
  • good non-genealogy speakers, with a great focus on strengthening family (we sure need that today, don’t we?)
  • good food, short lines
  • ample supply of port-a-potties; no lines, relatively clean, and wash-up stations too

What could have been better:

  • coffee. There was no coffee anywhere. We need coffee!
  • proper signage to direct folks to appropriate lines. When entering, there was a line for VIP’s and General Admission, but it was hard to tell which was which. Also, at Cousin Check-In, they needed signs for those who had sent in their family history info and who didn’t. It was kind of like being at the DMV.
  • more volunteers at the entrance gate and especially Cousin Check-In.
  • I wish I could have seen Henry Louis Gates; he was obviously the biggest draw there. If he didn’t have slides, I’d suggest he should have gone on the Main Stage.

Overall, a good time and worth the money. Next time, I want to bring some friends to spread the fun!

The Genealogy Event Recap

Author's collection

Author’s collection

Today was DNA Day at The Genealogy Event, which I opted not to go to, since I’m not just ready to leap into that in my research yet.  I still covered it the best I can via my  RebelMouse page, so be sure to check that out.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d reacap my experience and impressions of the third Genealogy Event.

What I liked:
  • Where it was located: 1 Bowling Green is in lower Manhattan, practically at the tip of the island.  All I had to do was take the train down to Grand Central, then the 4 or 5 line straight to Bowling Green.  No searching for the subway station, no transfers;easy-peasy!  Best of all?  Starbucks was right across a not-too-busy street!
  • The venue itself:  The Alexander Hamilton US Customs House is an absolutely gorgeous late 19th/early 20th century building.  The architecture inside and out was stunning, as well as beautiful artwork painted on the ceilings of the most public areas.  I could have spent all day looking at it, but that is not why I was there!  So I’ll just have to satisfy myself with this link  that our NARA tour guide recommended.  By the way, this is a new office for NARA in New York City and it still  doesn’t house their entire collection!  To learn more about NARA in New York City, click here.
  • Enclosed rooms:  In the past, the Genealogy Event sessions were merely curtained off in a large, kind of echoing room.  This year sessions were in separate rooms with doors that closed.  It was so much easier to hear the speakers!
  • Advanced Sessions:  After last year’s little advanced break-out sessions, it was discovered that there was a big demand for more advanced offerings.  I went to three of them:  Reading Old Documents, Understanding Our Families, and Passenger Manifests.  I learned even more than I expected to at each.
  •  New Topics for the General Sessions:  Some of the topics that I especially enjoyed were Lineage Societies, Old Fulton NY Postcards, and Caring for Keepsakes. It was nice to have new offerings and new speakers this year.
  •  Lunch for VIP’s:  One of the biggest reasons I signed up as a VIP this year was to have lunch on-site, which was in the Learning Center at NARA.  It was a great place to eat, socialize or just to hang out if there was a long time between the sessions I was interested in.
  • Social Event:  This was at the Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington gave his farewell address to his soldiers at the end of the Revolutionary War.  There is a museum here that I did not get to see, but now I know about it!  Anyhow, it was nice to unwind and talk genealogy with others that share that passion!
  • Meeting the Speakers and Other Attendees:  Yes, I got to be a bit of a fan girl with some of the big names in the business!  It’s a small enough venue where you can actually have a real conversation with the likes of Michael J. LeClerc, Maureen Taylor, Ron Arons and the ladies from Family Tree Magazine (and others, of course).  I even had a family connection:  Denise Levenick (aka The Family Curator) is very distantly related to me through our ancestor, Roger Williams.  I made some new friends and finally met up with a fellow #genchat tweep:  Molly Charboneau of  Molly”s Canopy.
What Could Use Improvement:
  • Exhibit Hall:  The exhibit hall was kind of scant this year, though I do understand it’s probably due to limited space in the hallway.  I wonder if there may have been another meeting room to stick this in?  I especially missed Maia’s Books from last year, although my wallet is probably grateful!
  • Temperature in the Auditorium:  The general sessions were held in the auditorium felt, quite honestly, sub-arctic.  Even though I attended several general sessions in a row, I had to step out between sessions just to warm up a little.
  • Handouts Available On-Line Ahead of Time:  Several times, speakers would say “in your handout”, though there was none (yet).  Perhaps having a special place so sign in and download (maybe with a code that comes on your paid ticket?) would be good.
  • Wifi was Spotty:  We were in the basement, so I don’t think a lot could be done about it.  It just kept me from updating RebelMouse as quickly as I would have liked, but it was not impossible.

As you can see, I did enjoy myself overall.  I want to thank everyone for following along on RebelMouse; there have been over 700 views!  I am humbled and flattered.  I think one of the biggest things that I learned this weekend was that genealogists come in all sorts of shapes and flavors.  Such a variety of skillsets and workstyle preferences!  Even outside the classroom, I have been given a lot to think about.

The Genealogy Event: Are You Going?

This Friday starts the third Genealogy Event in New York City, and I can’t wait! There is a Starbucks nearby, the venue is stunning and historic, and I’ll be meeting people I know only virtually! Best of all, of course, I will be immersed in genealogy with like-minded people.

Venue for The Genealogy Event.  Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Venue for The Genealogy Event. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Some of the lectures I will be attending are:

  • Reading Old Documents (Michael LeClerc)
  • Understanding Our Families (Ron Arons)
  • Lineage Society (Shannon Combs-Bennett)
  • Passenger Manifests (Phyllis Kramer)
  • DNA & Pop Culture (Blaine Bettinger)
  • Caring for Keepsakes (Denise Levinick)

And a few others as I am so led.

If you cannot attend the Genealogy Event, feel free to visit the Rebel Mouse page that I’ve set up, capturing the tweets and pictures of the conference. I’ll do my best to keep it as “live” as possible. If you haven’t visited Rebel Mouse pages before, I’ve found them to be very helpful in capturing the flavor of a conference; almost like being a fly on the wall!

Of course, I’ll be writing a blog post afterwards to reflect on the whole experience. I hope to see some of you there!

Genealogy Event: VIP Status

As I pondered whether or not to purchase VIP tickets for The Genealogy Event, I felt I needed more information, so I wrote to the founder and organizer, Bridget Bray.  She answered right away AND said I could share that information right here to help any potential attendees decide whether to go with that route!

Here are some of the benefits, verbatim:

  • Priority access
  • Lunch included and in a designated area (the space (i.e. the auditorium and the meeting rooms) don’t permit food in them and there is no food outlet in the building.  This means for non-VIPs they must step out to purchase their food and then re-enter via security so just needing extra time allowance to come back into the building)
  • Each of Fri & Sat there will be private tour/talk with NARA a “behind the scenes”, if you will, for VIPs
  • Pre-booking of one-on-one consultations will occur for VIPs approximately 1 month out from the event
  • Early communications
  • PLUS working on gaining some additional value adds in the lead up

I don’t know about you, but I’m licking my genealogy chops!

I’m sure as we get closer to October 17, there will be much more news.  I will keep you all posted!

Breaking News: The Genealogy Event NYC

I was going to post about my great-grandfather again this week; however, I just got such great news that if I don’t share it, I’ll surely pop. Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Genealogy Event in New York City!  It will be held October 17 and 18.

I’ve been attending The Genealogy Event since its inception in 2012. Since so many of the “big” conferences are usually so far away from the Northeast, I really wanted to support a more local conference, especially in the New York metropolitan area. After all, millions of people live around here, and there have to be a lot of genealogists in that population, right?
The Genealogy Event started out kind of small yet strong in 2012. In 2013 I convinced a friend to go with me and we were thrilled! There were some intermediate-level sessions that I went to, and my friend made some great discoveries with the help of none other than D. Joshua Taylor! (Oh, yes, I shook his hand and made a fool of myself!)
This year’s Genealogy Event promises to be even better. Here’s why:
  • it’s going to be at the National Archives in New York City, which is housed at its new historic location of the Alexander Hamilton Customs House at 1 Bowling Green in Manhattan. (Genealogy! Archives! History!)
  • there will be special advanced-level sessions for those who want more.
  • there will be awesome well-known speakers.
  • there will be a Friday social event so you can get to know your fellow genea-geeks!
  • although it will cost more than last year, it’s still less than one of the mega-conferences, and there is plenty of flexibility in the type of package you choose.  Plus, I believe you’ll be getting your money’s worth!
  • there will be a special DNA day on Sunday, October 19, with a session for beginners and advanced. (Final details are still being worked out.)
  • there is actually a hashtag this year: #tge2014 .  This makes it more tweetable, for sure!
Want to know more?  Go to and click on the links for New York City (NYC).
DISCLAIMER:  I’m not employed by or affiliated with The Genealogy Event.  I’m merely an enthusiastic cheerleader who wants more genealogy doings in her area!