“A Stranger Whose Name is Unknown”

While searching the wonderful fultonhistory.com, I came across this obituary:

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We all know our ancestors can be elusive…that obituaries weren’t always printed and documents didn’t always exist. And even when records exist, they can be extremely hard to find, to confirm, to cross-reference…it can take years of research and many of us will be unsuccessful in ever finding the right connections.

So this newspaper clipping gives me mixed feelings. This stranger whose name is unknown is likely forever lost to history, but someone found the man’s death—or at least his anonymity—worthy of coverage.


Family Recipe Friday

Mount Vernon NY Daily Argus 1942 - 3840Ok, so this isn’t my family recipe. I’ve never made this dish nor do I know of anyone in my family specifically making this dish.

However, I was intrigued by this circa 1942 “Victory Recipe” found in a New York state newspaper. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of fish and not at all likely to ever try this out, but I this advertisement caught my eye because it was a wartime recipe advertised by McCormick that incorporates the company’s spices.

Although the ingredient list is fairly long, the only items that are not spices are rice, canned peas, tomato consomme, evaporated milk, and the codfish. Sounds like it would have been an easy, economical dish—as promised by the ad.


Family Recipe Friday

I have no idea what family member this recipe came from, but it was with the large collection of recipe’s from my grandmother. I’m drawn to this “Jellied Grapefruit Salad” recipe card because of the interesting handwriting, the side-view drawing of what the salad should look like, and the terrifying mix of gelatin, juices, cream cheese, steamed prunes, and a garnish of mayonnaise. Yikes!

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Studying Stones

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, but I’ve always said my genealogy research has ebbed and flowed. It flowed a lot last fall and winter – partially because the colder months in Pennsylvania mean less time outside and partially because I lost a brother last fall. The death of a family member always pushes me into a period of heavy research.

But spring came, and I found myself returning to the outdoors and volunteering my time to help others in their genealogy quests. I’ve spent hours upon hours working at historic Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia, assisting the ongoing efforts to reclaim this neglected place. I’ve also spent many hours this spring and summer working section by section to photograph Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill – my own slow attempt to photograph the entire place. I’ve completed two sections and about half each of two more.

This coming weekend I am planning a “Community Day” meetup at Fernwood Cemetery in Lansdowne, PA that will hopefully bring about a dozen volunteer photographers together to fulfill about 250 photo requests. It’s especially timely that Findagrave has launched a beta version of their transcription system, which allows a photographer to batch upload photos and then lets other volunteers transcribe them to memorial. This is quite helpful for someone like me who can easily take 1,000 photos in less than two hours and then has little time to create memorials for all of them.

I hope to find my way back here a bit more regularly, as this blog is a good place to ponder those elusive ancestors!

Family Recipe Friday

Another find from the family recipe box, this time for a dish called “April Salad”. I love that none of the ingredients include an idea of how much to use, so I guess the idea was to just eyeball it. Also, I picked this one out because it’s labelled as “Mrs. Warner’s”. Since this recipe box belonged to my great-grandmother, Beatrice Felver Warner, I’m assuming the Mrs. Warner in this case would have been her mother-in-law, Minnie Manley Warner.

Minnie Manley Warner died in 1916, so I wondered if this could really be her recipe since it calls for lemon jello. Some quick research tells me Jell-O has been around since before the turn of the century and began to gain popularity between 1902 and 1904.


Preserving History in Philadelphia

I’ve talked about Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia before. I don’t have any of my own ancestors buried here, but the cemetery still draws me in. It spans a few hundred acres, straddling Philadelphia and Delaware Counties via Cobbs Creek Parkway. There are 1,000s and 1,000s of people buried here, poor and rich, unknown and famous. Many, many veterans–including those from the Civil War–are buried at Mount Moriah as well.

The cemetery was abandoned in 2011, leaving countless families wondering what would become of their loved one’s final resting place. It’s amazing to step from urban Southwest Philly, past the gates, and into this oasis of rolling hills and often jungle-like overgrowth of vines, trees, rose bushes, and invasive knotweed. It quickly becomes hard to believe you are standing within a huge East Coast city. It’s beautiful, but it was neglected for many decades before being abandoned.

There is a dedicated group of volunteers fighting to take back the cemetery. They are working hard to show the cemetery the respect it deserves–to give all the people interred here the respect of a well kept burial site.

So often genealogists are excited to find an ancestor’s burial spot…we make requests on findagrave, visit the cemeteries when we can, and keep searching. We hope for burial records, plot cards, and visible headstones with vital information. What do we give back?

You can help save Mount Moriah Cemetery. Even if a donation to this particular project doesn’t excite you, I urge you to take a look at the organizations working in your area to preserve history and pitch in what you can. I can guarantee you, even $5 will help these organizations.