May 29, 2009 - No Capitals, Archy and Transcribing

29 May 2009


There has to be something wrong with my keyboard, and I'm beginning to feel like Archy... of Don Marquis ' fame.

As an introduction, Archy was, actually still is, a cockroach, who as a reincarnated poet used Don Marquis' typewriter to create his poetry. The one issue is that Archy, being a cockroach, could not simultaneously press a letter key and the shift key on the typewriter... hence no capitalization! Archy, albeit Don Marquis, wasn't texting... He didn't have a mobile phone or an iPod, and I believe not even an IBM Selectric typewriter. Archy could only press down one key at a time. And Don Marquis passed away in 1937. Forth-telling? Maybe?

And as I was saying, my keyboard has to have something wrong with it... It keeps missing, that is I keep missing or not typing hard enough, the first letter of every capitalized word that I attempt to place. It comes out like, "_rachy... of _on _arquis' fame"! And many moons ago I had a hard time reading Archy's compositions... They were not grammatically correct. I was, and maybe still am a product of my English teaching, a grammar snob... and probably still am. (Eh, Maureen? Liza? Bill? Paul? )

I am frustrated with texting. Actually I'm frustrated with reading today's text messages. I have a degree in English, and I attempt to be grammatically correct. I speak and can read three other languages... But I begin to stew when I see the new text lingo. I don't want to have to learn and decipher a new slang, or abbreviated language. I had a hard enough time trying to catch on to the various forms of Pig Latin. But I know that texting is a new form of communication... We are in a rush and Tweeter only allows us 140 characters. (But is Tweeter and the like, communication? Or are they a slick new way of online marketing? Another discussion.)

And Archy has a partner and compatriot, Mehitabel, an alley cat who claims to have been Cleopatra in a past life. And that's where my tangent is leading to... I have hundreds of images of documents of past lives filed. Documents, births, marriages, burials, etc. images that I must transcribe. I need to find the time to sit myself down and attack my tremendous collection.

Transcription of old documents I've found is also a necessary skill, in the pursuit of one's genealogy that one has to acquire, just like texting. I have to learn to think like the person who wrote the registration or copied the document to some stuffy mammoth register. And who should pop into my head but Bob Crachit... as he leans over his desk, quill in hand scratching away with cold fingers at Scrooge & Marley. (Scrooge and Bob Crachit insert borrowed from Portland Stage Company, Portland, Maine.)

When I mention that I have to learn to think as the person who has written an entry or copied an entire official document into a book or journal, I really mean that I have to learn the writer's idiosyncrasies, especially if I'm going to spend some time with a number of entries or documents that that one person did put pen to paper. How did they make a capital "T" different from a capital "J"? Is it the period of time when a long "s", which looks like an "f" without the little line that crosses through the "f" as " ʃ "?

It is through transcribing that I hope to come upon that clue that may lead me to next piece of this puzzle. And I must organize my files and set my transcription goals. It really does look like a lot of work... but maybe in it all I will find ggg-grandfather James Smith.



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May 29, 2009 - Obsessed!


I was called "obsessive" last night, and I'm not quite sure if the name-caller was using a correct slander of the word. I'm still puzzled as to why this person used this specific and chosen word. It may have been that in the course of the discussion, as I was attempting to be, what I thought, logical, it must of been the only word that came to their mind. It certainly couldn't have been in reference to my pursuit of genealogy. The individual is likewise "obsessed" with genealogy. And as the word was repeated a number of times I began to wonder how words and phrases at most time can mean different things, to different people, especially in this age of emailing, Twittering, online chatting, and blogging.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives one definition of obsessive as "excessive often to an unreasonable degree". The Free Dictionary defines the adjective as "excessive in degree or nature." And the Oxford English Dictionary has two thoughts for the word: "1. obsessed with someone or something"; and "2. affecting the mind continually and disturbingly".

As the context of the discussion was regarding genealogy, I can say that I am obsessive. I suppose the "unreasonable degree" and "disturbingly" parts of the definition are in the eye of the beholder. I would tend to agree about the unreasonable and disturbing parts would be in place if there is a chance of me causing harm to someone else... that is, if my obsession could cause some sort-of physical harm. The nice thing about technology today, one can change programs or turn off his PC. And communication, and conversation today has become more and more one-sided... sort-of let me get my thoughts out to the world of electronic wires and sound-waves. Today's lonely communication is not an interaction of ideas and thoughts, but a spewing forth of rational and, at a given times, irrational thoughts keyed in multiple fonts and pitch sizes, with the hope that there may be somebody out there in the tangle of digital and optical wires who will agree with me, the author.

I am obsessed with genealogy. I can also recognize those whose eyes "cloud over", so-to-speak, when I begin talking about my ancestral finds and stories. I'm sure at times they would just press a Delete button, if they could. I am guilty, and if words are the "weapon"... double-guilty.

My obsession is that I would like to find out from whence and when my great-great-great-grandfather James Smith arrived at the island of Grenada. I am guilty. I am possessed as well. It is a question that now began burning in my core a short while ago and, if you understand, I need to find the answer. I am obsessed!!!


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May 26, 2009 - A Smith Puzzle

26 May 2009


There's a bird in the conservation area in our backyard... Actually there are a lot of birds and other things just behind the house, and every time that "charming" bird tweeters, I get up out of my chair and I saunter over to the laundry room to check on the dryer. The bird has the same tweet as my dryer... And repeats it with, I'm sure, the same acumen as the dryer beeper-signal. (I know acumen is not the exact word I should use, but it just seems to fit!) And I know that this bird friend is an escapee from a Bosch cage someplace... And it sure knows how to push my button.

I found a 1912 St. Patrick's Parish baptism registration, from microfilm FHL1523752, Item 9, this past week of 2nd-cousin-once-removed Lilian, (could be Lidian), Grace SMITH. I've included the page from the Register. The Baptism entry is No. 1275. To my amazement this registration has eight relatives' names, that I know of, included in the entry. I'm not sure of the other three.

It gets somewhat confusing when I try to figure out that family connections. I come up with two 1st Cousins-twice-removed; one 2nd Cousin-once-removed; three 2nd Cousins-twice-removed; one 3rd Cousin-once-removed; and an Uncle who was the husband of a Great-grandaunt. Mathematically the numbers do not add up, but make sense; seven names and nine relationships to me; by blood and by marriage. And to Lilian Grace, I calculate six names, excluding her's, and 13 relationships. Confused? Trying to make heads-or-tails of ancestral relationships and connections can leave me, at times, listening for the Tweeter-Bird...

Check Cyndi's List, specifically the link at Cousins & Kinship. Links to related genealogical information and sites are provided at Cyndi's List. This website is a great resource.


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May 25, 2009 - Lest I Forget - Uncle Jimmy - My Namesake and Genealogy

25 May 2009

The navigator, Flying Officer Robertson was on the Flight Deck but failed to survive the ditching and was not seen again.1
I never mourned my Uncle Jimmy…
MISSING BELIEVED DROWNED. Flying Officer, James Duncan Alexander, ROBERTSON (D.F.C.) (R.C.A.F.).2
I was born about six years after... Six years after his young and untimely death. Missing, believed drowned...

Just when does it happen? Exactly where does one have to be? How does one become committed to a thing called Genealogy? Could be a ditching in the Indian Ocean? Don’t know? Could be that little question about the hook on your nose? Could be the two middle names? Maybe that strange handle of a last name you couldn’t spell properly until your teens? Maybe your name is as simple as Jim Smith?

Mine is… Actually, James Kenneth Lloyd Smith… And I’ve grown up with the most common English name on this planet… Just Jim Smith… Friends and family always made sure, when I was young, I was Jimmy… just like Uncle Jimmy. And then I decided I needed to find out as much as I could about my namesake, Uncle Jimmy.

I have spent quite a bit of time searching for information on Uncle Jimmy, James Duncan Alexander Robertson. He was lost in action in 1945, at the age of twenty-two, in the Bay of Bengal in the East Indian Ocean. And at this point of the search I'm pretty pleased with myself as I've been able to trace him all over the world, which sort of parallels my greater families' movements and travels.

Uncle Jimmy was born in Jamaica and lived there, and then moved up to Lachine in Montreal, Quebec, to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. Family lore praised his decision and my grandfather’s connections in Montreal assisted. Somehow through a web-surf I was able to link up with a gentleman in Manitoba, Canada, who had a collection of the records and documents of Squadron 160… the same Squadron Uncle Jimmy, flew. A review of the records revealed a three page summary of the final hours of the Liberator bomber, the crew, and my Uncle Jimmy.

Next, as Uncle Jimmy flew with the RCAF I contacted the Sergeant-at-Arms at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. I discovered that his name is recorded in the Book of Remembrance. He is memorialized every November twenty-third in the Memorial Chamber of the Parliament of Canada.

And then on to Kranji in Singapore… Uncle Jimmy’s memorial is at Kranji. There are 4,461 War Graves there with 1,289 being unidentified. The Memorial Panels are inscribed with the names of over 24,000 casualties who have no known grave, one of which is Uncle Jimmy. Via the Internet, a contact in London put me on to a friend in Australia who was on his way to Singapore. This Australian friend sent me pictures. He is posing, pointing to and touching Uncle Jimmy’s engraved name. Amazing stuff… amazing people!

I next received my grandfather's papers from a cousin in Fort Lauderdale who got them from a cousin in Vancouver, British Columbia, who got them from my aunt, her mother, who had brought them from Jamaica. And there in the midst of the pile was a folder that my grandfather had created on Uncle Jimmy. I've since discovered that my Uncle Jimmy was to have his name (including my Uncle Stuart, his brother) memorialized on a Clock Tower in Kingston, Jamaica...

So that we may remember. Cross Roads Clock Tower Memorial. £455 More Needed to Erect The Cross Roads Tower. A memorial to our War Dead, the estimate for which is £1600. THIS IS AN APPEAL to the General Public to subscribe to the above sum to this worthy effort to beautify this busy spot and to supply Public Time."3
Was the Cross Roads Clock Tower Memorial ever built? Yes it was. Subsequent reports in The Daily Gleaner which posted the public subscriptions and donations seem to indicate the fact. To date I’ve discovered over 45 articles from 1946 to 1991 describing the campaign and a restoration of the Clock Tower Memorial. I even discovered a copy of a letter from my grandfather; F. H. Robertson that he sent to ensure the spellings of the names of the two sons that he had lost.

A friend of mine, who was working in Kingston, and sat out the last two hurricanes with rum punches, checked out the Clock Tower at Crossroads for the Memorial. No luck… yet. But reading through the primary Jamaican newspaper, The Daily Gleaner, news clippings and my grandfather’s correspondence from 1946 and 47, I’m not sure if the Memorial part of the Clock Tower exists today. I need to check that out.

Recently, my mother, Uncle Jimmy’s youngest sister, discovered his name in the Book of The Royal Air Force at St. Clement Danes in London, England. St. Clements has been the central church for the RAF since 1958.

Now I am searching, with the help of the Montreal Anglican Church Archive Department, for a stained glass window in a church somewhere in Westmount, on the island of Montreal, that was put up in memory of my Uncle Jimmy. I’ve found a plaque with his name in another Anglican Church in Westmount, but no stained glass window…

News flash:

FLYING OFFICER J. ROBERTSON MISSING… The Gleaner regrets to learn that Flying Officer Jimmie Robertson of the R.C.A.F., second son of Mr. F.H. Robertson, Trade Commissioner, and Mrs. Robertson, was reported missing on operations on the Burma Front on May 1."4
Mother says that his name was never spelled “Jimmie” . The Daily Gleaner in 1945 must have got it wrong. Uncle Jim was Jim, like me, and Jimmy as me too. Goes to show how a record can get changed and how the change can reflect some difference through the years. And The Daily Gleaner continues:

It was only a few days ago that the news came that he had been decorated.

Flying Officer Robertson joined up in 1942 and a year ago was posted to the Coastal (Bomber) Command in Burma.

Mr. and Mrs. Robertson had eight children serving in the Armed Forces. Their eldest son, Squadron Leader Stuart Robertson, was killed in action in Britain in 1942.
Uncle Jim was in Burma – today’s Myanmar and eight children in the Armed Forces. That’s eight aunts and uncles, from one family, all serving in World War II. And one killed and one missing and I need to find out. I need to find out everything.

To date and thus far I’ve travelled the optic cabling of the Internet in my search for Uncle Jim. From Jamaica to Lachine, to Manitoba… to Burma and the East Indian Ocean, and on to Ottawa, to London and Singapore, on to Kingston, to Montreal and to Westmount, and from Vancouver, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, and I just keep searching and researching for all and any trace or hint. And sixty-four years later I am mourning and celebrating Uncle Jimmy. Celebrating as I build our family tree.

With thoughts,


1. Officer Commanding No. 160 Squadron Secret Written Report. Ref.160S/752/25/F.I. 17th May 1945
2. Ibid
3. "So that we may remember", The Daily Gleaner: 18 October 1946: Kingston, Jamaica
4. Flying Officer J. Robertson Missing, The Daily Gleaner: 8 May 1945, Page 9, Kingston, Jamaica
5. Ibid

1. Photograph - Uncle Jim before 1945, RCAF
2. Photograph - Uncle Jim circa 1938, Jamaica
3. Clipping - The Montreal Daily Star, 1st May 1942, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4. Page 559 - Canada's Book of Remembrance, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Canada
5. Photograph - Kranji War Memorial, Singapore
6. Photograph - Engraving, Kranji War Memorial, Singapore
7. Envelope addressed from Ceylon to his Mother in Jamaica
8. Letter to his parents
9. Clipping - The Daily Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica, circa 1946
10. Clipping - The Daily Gleaner, 8 May 1945, Page 9, Kingston, Jamaica

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May 24, 2009 - A Memorial - 2nd Lieut. Frederick Henry Abraham - Part 3

24 May 2009

And the question is, "Which grave marker is granduncle Frederick Henry's?" And that's how I started. I'm trying to begin at the end. It's a genealogy research practice. You have to kill off your ancestors. Sounds great! No! No! No! I didn't mean that it's great to kill my ancestors. Maybe that old crotchety uncle with a three-inch black hair sprouting from the bottom of his chin... Sorry, sorry I got side-tracked. But it's sort-of a rule of thumb, not carved in stone, but a great piece of advice, that when you start checking out one of your past ancestors, one of the first places to start is to start at his death.

And at this point I must make a small note that I'm stealing a thought from Norman Mailer -

"I do not know if the women who read this book will all be all that inclined to forgive me, but the alternative was to edit many old remarks over into a style I cannot beat - the rhetorically hygienic politically correct."

In no way do I consider myself in the same league as Mr. Mailer, it's just that I thought it may be a bit wasteful to type "he or she" or "s/he", and I compromise to what Norman Mailer has to say. (See The Spooky Art)

Oh sorry, about the tangent, but it seems applicable at this specific moment, that I used the "his" adjective as I referred to a past ancestor, that I needed to make an explanation. And now back to looking for granduncle Frederick Henry's grave marker.

And now to continue from Part 2...

So quickly summarizing I have discovered that granduncle Frederick Henry was killed by an enemy’s bullet on the 2nd of October, 1918 just east of Joncourt. Joncourt is in the department of Aisne in the northern part of France, near the Belgium border. Accordingly he and his fallen comrades were buried at the point where they fell. The name of the cemetery, maintained and preserved by the British Commonwealth War and Graves Commission, is the Joncourt East British Cemetery.

From various sources and information gathered there are 71 fallen men buried at the Joncourt East British Cemetery. One of the burials is my granduncle Frederick Henry. But which one?

I took a scan of the original photo of the grave marker on file, and I enlarged it with a PC photograph program. Examining the enlargement, I noticed a number of key points. These were, as indicated by the red ellipses:

A. No grave markers are seen behind the grave markers in the photograph.

B. There is a straight edge in the recessed carving.

C. There is carved text, behind twigs, on grave marker.

D. There is a carved straight line, behind twigs, on grave marker.

E. The grave marker on the right, facing F. H. Abraham’s grave marker has the similar cross and ribbon carving.

And where does that leave me? Did I resolve anything? Not yet. I just documented my notations.

I recently found a link to a website called Today is Free. The website provides a number of 360° panoramic photographic views of cemeteries in Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. It is an amazing website! And sure enough the Joncourt East British Cemetery is included. Eureka!

Using my observations from the original photograph, I was able to freeze the 360° panoramic rotation at the website and create a copy at a vantage point which I think may include the actual position of granduncle Frederick Henry’s final resting place.

Previously I had written that I had two thoughts, as to which the grave site location was. Those were:

1. The 3rd grave marker, from the left in the back row, in front of the car, and
2. The 9th grave marker, from the right in the back row with the small bush of purple flowers on the site.

Well a friend, who I consult with regarding a lot of my genealogical research pointed out that I had previously made note of a Grave/Memorial Reference Number – C.16. (Thank-you, Lynn...) I had actually found this piece of critical information at another website, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site. Well, slap my hand to my forehead! I had found the info! But I still could not determine which one was number C.16.

And then I found the next picture of information. It was a schematic diagram of the layout of the Joncourt East British Cemetery. Check it out! C.16 has to be in the third row, Row C, and location 16 has to be one of 24 grave sites. (I was able to count 24 grave markers as the photograph rotated at the website.) Mathematically that means that granduncle Frederick Henry is located nine from the right, when one faces the last row. And? And?

The frozen Today is picture of the Joncourt East British Cemetery, above, is an actual photograph of the grave location of granduncle Frederick Henry Abraham. Through the efforts of many people I am able to find the final resting place of granduncle Frederick Henry.

But there is another bonus to my search, and I tripped on this totally by accident. I was not looking for an updated photograph of his grave marker, so you can imagine my surprise when I chanced on this incredible new picture... a picture of granduncle Frederick Henry’s final resting place, taken in the summer of 2006. And I traced the origination of the 2006 photograph and the one at the top of this post to a lady who goes by the name of Soilsister and who lives in France. She had provided the same photograph to Paul who lives in North Carolina, in the United States. He had added my granduncle Frederick Henry's grave site information to the website, Find A And I was able to send the bio information and the black and white head shot to Paul to which he nicely added it the Find A Grave site.

Using the bits and pieces of data and information, and coupling the past with modern technology I have been able to discover and learn a little bit of the last few days of my granduncle’s brief life. I have been able to make an electronic journey and realize his final resting place… in a farmer’s field in the north of France.


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May 24, 2009 - A Memorial - 2nd Lieut. Frederick Henry Abraham - Part 2

23 May 2009

And good evening. My fingers can't tell the difference between a "." and "/". Neighbors on a keyboard and my clumsy hunt-and-peck. Sorry...

I mentioned that I would continue my research thoughts to my granduncle Frederick Henry Abraham. And again thanks to Zoe, Toni and David for providing me with images of family photographs. Our new technology certainly has given this generation the ability to forget about the worry of physical mail systems and lost packages. The picture, to the right we believe is that of granduncle Frederick Henry and grandmother Jeanne Lucie Ernestine Abraham. It would have been taken sometime prior to 1918 and his untimely death.

And now to continue from Part 1...

Through the General Register Office, in England, I was able to find granduncle Frederick Henry's Officer Death Registration. As you can see there really is not much information on the Death Registration on either the front or the back of the Registration as to his burial and final resting place.

The cross had been replaced by a marker, and I have had an image of an old photo of the grave marker for some time. We've also known that granduncle Frederick Henry was buried where he and a number of his comrades fell, at the time of the war. Today that location is in France at the Joncourt East British Cemetery in a field to the east of Joncourt, Aisne. His Grave/Memorial Reference is C.16. But what does this mean?

At a website I found some info regarding the Joncourt East British cemetery with directions and location in Joncourt. Part of the directions read as follows:

"Due to the location of this cemetery, it is necessary to walk for about 5 minutes before it is reached, access is therefore difficult and you should park at the bottom of the track which leads to the cemetery: Casualty Details: UK 71, Total Burials: 71"

And of course, this ties closely to Lt. Col. Smith's letter to great-granduncle Valentin Rénier, found in Part 1. But which grave stone is granduncle Frederick Henry's?

A closer look at the old photo of the grave stone gives me the image that there are no other grave markers behind that of granduncle Frederick Henry's. Any idea?

But you can imagine my surprise when I discovered online a website called Today is that provides 360 degree panoramic views of War Cemeteries and Memorials. And I found the Joncourt East British Cemetery. Check it out! It's absolutely amazing, and be prepared to be moved.

And which grave marker is granduncle Frederick Henry's? My thoughts - two possibilities:
  1. The 3rd grave marker, from the left in the back row, in front of the car as seen at the Today is site, and
  2. The 9th grave marker, from the right in the back row with the small bush of purple flowers on the site.
And your thoughts? I really cannot wait until we see holographic images transferred over the Internet.

Check back for Part 3.

As always,


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May 23, 2009 - A Memorial - 2nd Lieut. Frederick Henry Abraham - Part 1

22 May 2009

Good day,

And the question was, "Where is the final resting place of my granduncle Frederick Henry Abraham?" He was killed in World War I on the 2nd of October, 1918, and I wanted to find his final and exact resting place.

I had been told that granduncle Frederick Henry's grave was someplace in France, somewhere near the northern border in a place called Joncourt... and that's almost halfway between Brussels and Paris. I had gathered some bits of information, data, and photographs from family and friends. (Thanks Toni and Zoe.) These pieces most certainly held the keys to where granduncle Frederick Henry was laid to rest.

Granduncle 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Henry Abraham, pictured at the left, was born on the 4th of July, 1886 at Soesdyke, Demerara, British Guiana, which is now the country of Guyana.

His parents were Frederick and Catherine Marie Antoinette (née July) Abraham. Frederick Henry was the only son of five children. His sisters were: René Marie Hyde (née Abraham) Brebner, Edmée Blanche Émeline (née Abraham) Salmon, Jeanne Lucie Ernestine (née Abraham) Smith Mann (my Grandmother), and Cécile Blanche (née Abraham) Ham. He was my father's uncle.

Grandmother Jeanne had in her possession a letter dated the 30th of November, 1918. The letter is addressed to a Mr. Rénier and was written by a Lt. Col. Compton Smith of the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers. The letter is a letter of condolences to one Mr. Rénier on the death of his nephew, Frederick Henry Abraham. And no one had any idea who was this Mr. Rénier.

After much discussion and research I finally discovered that Mr. Rénier was married to one of my great grandmother Catherine Marie Antoinette's sisters, great-grandaunt Marie Eugénie Berthe (née July) Rénier Clergeau. And that would make Mr. Rénier, the husband of great-grandaunt Marie Eugénie Berthe, my great-grandaunt Marie Eugénie Berthe, my Great-granduncle. I had discovered this marriage from a notation added in the margin of her 1868 Birth Register from Cayenne, French Guiana, known today as Guyanne.

Transcribing great-granduncle Valentin Aimé Rénier's letter I understand a brief but detailed account of granduncle Frederick Henry's passing on the 2nd of October in 1918.

"Dear Monsieur Rénier

Your nephew 2nd Lieut Fred Abraham was killed on October 2nd, just South of JONCOURT, RAMICOURT road about 9.15 am.

The Battalion was attacking RAMICOURT, and your nephew was in command of the left front company (D). This company was checked by machine gun fire from the direction of WAINCOURT, and your nephew very gallantly endeavoured to bring a Lewis gun into position to fire on the hostile machine-gun. He was shot in the head while so doing, and passed away at once without pain.

He is buried just EAST of a sunken road, about 1000 meters EAST of JONCOURT. The cemetery where he lies contains about 130 graves of those who fell on the same day. The cemetery is marked by a cross on a mound, but the actual grave is only marked by a stick with a time disc bearing number 453. This number is, however, registered, and a cross with his name will be put up in due course by the British Graves Registration Commissioners.

I enclose a map on which I have marked by means of arrows the position of his grave, the place where he fell, & the position (approximately) of the machine gun which killed him. I hope this will enable you to identify the localities.

Your nephew was exceedingly popular with both the men & officers of this regiment, and much respected in account of his character & gallantry.

If there is any further assistance that I can give you in any way, I shall be most happy to do so, if you will let me know.

Yours sincerely,
Gd Compton: Smith Lt. Col.
16th Lancashire Fusiliers"

And no one has a copy, that I am aware, of Lt. Col. Smith's map. But today's technology, especially Google Earth, is a tremendous tool which helps in mapping directions and points of interest. And that's just what I did... I took the points as outlined in the letter and was able to find the location were granduncle Frederick Henry was shot by the enemy, and from what direction.

Check out the map. It was constructed with Google Earth and CorelDraw 4... It's a wonder of what we can visualize through today's modern technological innovations. My family history comes alive and at my personal computer I can feel the moments of my granduncle Frederick Henry.



To be continued... Check back.
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Evening, May 20, 2009 - Rain and a Red Hat

20 May 2009

Evening, from a cold damp Tampa. Not flooded, just bloody cold. Very unusual for this time of year. There are hints of humidity through out the day, but the weather is sort of like a climatic roller-coaster. Very strange. Hopefully it's not the prediction of things to come this summer and of a wicked hurricane season. One thing I am really confused by is those people who are asking for the lifting of watering restrictions... Why? The powers that be certainly are sending down ample. Just don't go driving through off-road puddles... please.

I'm saddened by the passing last night of my red-hat friend from across the street. At 84 years she certainly gifted me the hope of enjoying the strength of her life. I'll miss her.

I've been working on a new friend's genealogy. I am thrilled and astounded at the wealth of knowledge and collections that has been gathered over the years. I'm working on the organization and streamlining of the data and the choice nuggets of lives to assist my friend relate a life story to grandchildren.

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Early Morning, May 18, 2009 - The Season Begins and The Princess Gown

18 May 2009


And is our summer here? It appears so, and the sure-fire way I can tell, the tile floor is sticky all day, and the papers on my desk and tables begin to look like they been soaked and dried. You know that dry-but-wet look, sort of a damp buckling. Yup, that's it, for the next five to six months.

A little while ago I was surfing the Internet for the name of my three-times great-grandfather Victor ABRAHAM. He and his wife, ggg-grandmother Rebecca (nee LEVY) were the parents of my gg-grandfather Benjamin Victor ABRAHAM. GGG-grandfather Victor is of my father's mother's line. Thanks to cousin Bernard and others a classic compendium of relevant data and information has been and is still being collected. The portrait, to the left, is of ggg-grandfather Victor and can be found in Arthur Barnett's 1961 book The Western Synagogue Through Two Centuries (1761-1961).

Found at the Jewish Museum Collection, in London is one of two of ggg-grandfather Victor's Trading Cards. In today's vernacular that would be a business card. And I was particularly interested in the phrase on the Trading Card "Embroiderer To The Queen". The key words I used in my Internet search were "Victor ABRAHAM and Embroiderer".

The search did not take too long and I chanced upon a link from Kentucky that caught me eye. The link was to a publication from the 27th Annual Kentucky Book Fair held on the 15th of November, 2008 at the Frankfort Convention Center. On page 25 of the publication I was introduced to an author, Linda Leopold Strauss and of her new book, The Princess Gown.

To my amazement the children's book is "based loosely on the family of the author's husband. His great-great-grandfather, Victor Abraham, was Embroiderer to Queen Victoria..."

It was a Eureka moment! Here it is:
  1. I, Jim, living in Tampa, Florida in the United States, am looking for information,
  2. Of the father Victor, my ggg-grandfather, who lived in London, England,
  3. Of my gg-grandfather Benjamin, who lived in Georgetown, British Guiana, (now Guyana),
  4. From information received from a cousin, Bernard, living in Stockholm, Sweden,
  5. And found an author, Linda Leopold Strauss, listed at a Book Fair, in Kentucky in the United States, who has penned a book, who lives in Ohio,
  6. Of her husband's, my cousin's family, and
  7. Whose gg-grandfather Victor and family lived in London, England.
And this just continues to amaze me... how global-encompassing this search has been, and it doesn't end here. Four-times great-grandparents Victor and Rebecca (nee Levy) ABRAHAM had, based on various recordings somewhere between 16 and 22 children. That's quite a bit of researching, but I found it written that gggg-grandmother may have been one of 26 sisters!

So I continue, and hope you enjoy,

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Afternoon, May 17, 2009 - Mr. Green Jeans and Books

17 May 2009


And the rainy season has begun in Tampa. The humidity is not too thick as yet, but knowing the turn of weather these days that could happen any day, or hour. But the vegetables are still blooming. I'm just hoping that the whites, and shades of yellow, and purples, and oranges produce more than just a floral feast. And I start to feel like Mr. Green Jeans... And no, Mr. Green Jeans was not Frank Zappa's father!

I've been wondering about the posting of the titles of my books, hardcopy and on-line and other reference material to this Blog... cause the list is going to get extremely long. I'm not a librarian, but there has to be some good and fast way to list the books and allow for easy retrieval of referenced information. But for right now, unless one of you comes up with a good idea, I'll be listing them occasionally as a part of my Blog as a post and in the reference list on the left-hand side.

And here's the new list:

1. A Dictionary of Old Trades, Titles and Occupations; Colin Waters, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire, England: 2002 Book

2. The Origins of the British; Stephen Oppenheimer, Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York, USA: 2006 Book

3. Evidence!; Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: 1997 Book

4. Genealogical Research in England's Public Record Office: A Guide for North Americans; Judith Prowse Reid & Simon Fowler, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: 2000 Book

5. The Dictionary of Genealogy; Terrick V. H. FitzHugh revised by Susan Lumas, A&C Black, London, England: 1998 Book

6. Genealogical Resources In English Repositories; Joy Wade Moulton, Hampton House, Columbus, Ohio, USA: 1988 Book

7. Cite Your Sources; Richard S. Lackey, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi, USA: 1980 Book

8. DNA & Genealogy; Colleen Fitzpatrick & Andrew Yeiser, Rice Book Press, Fountain Valley, California, USA: 2005 Book

9. Essential Genetics; Daniel L. Hartl & Elizabeth W. Jones, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachuetts, USA: 1999 Book

10. Finding Your Family On The Internet; Michael Otterson, Silverleaf Press, Sandy, Utah, USA: 2006 Book

More to come... Next post, The Princess Gown, a book by Linda Leopold Strauss...


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Afternoon, May 15, 2009 - The Gentle Mystery Continues

15 May 2009

Good Afternoon,

Yesterday's search proved successful! And as usual I found more than I anticipated. But what the hell, I should always expect more.

My search yesterday included a 16mm microfilm FHL1523752. The 16mm microfilms are the little ones, with tons of images, and when I'm doing surname searches the amount of time spent cranking the viewer wheel can go on forever... and ever... and ever. And at this point the surnames that I had trained my eye to pickup were: GENTLE, REDHEAD, SMITH, and STEELE. And sometimes the search can be just out and out frustrating.

And that which is, at times, really frustrating is when an image to the right looks like this! No matter what ever knob I turn or button I push or toggle I slide, I can't read the entries.

On to the GENTLE mystery...

Last night I was able to find eight baptism entries to the St. Patrick's Baptism Register. The eight were found in Item 6 of microfilm FHL1523752. The unique thing about this find is that, all-things-being-equal, it could be deemed a primary source. Great-granduncle George GENTLE, apart from being the father of each one of the eight children baptized, he was also the minister who performed the Ceremony... as well as he may have been the one who recorded the entry in the Parish Register. A super primary source!

To date the data and information gathered are:

1. Family source - 5 children,
2. Family source - 8 children,
3. Family source - 5 children,
4. Family source - 9 children,
5. Civil Registration - 7 births,
6. Historical account - 7 children, and
7. Baptism Register - 8 children.

And when comparing all the above information I calculate nine children; seven females and two males. Amazing! I can now lay out the data and record at least a some documentation for the nine individuals, all my first cousins twice removed, born to great-grandaunt Grace Eliza (nee SMITH) and great-granduncle George Augustus GENTLE. But there are still missing documentation and a few unexplained, at this point, discrepancies. As follows, in order of birth:

1. Helen Myra Elaine; born 18 July 1874 and baptized 30 August 1874.

2. Nellie Agnese; born 15 February 1876 and baptized 5 April 1876.

3. Eva Marian; born 16 July 1877 and baptized 20 August 1877.

4. George Edwin Palmer; born May 1880 and baptized 9 June 1880. No event date is given in the Civil Register.

5. Gracie Louise; born - before 11 January 1882 and baptized 11 January 1882. I have not found a civil registration entry.

6. Evelyn; born 1 August 1883 and baptized 21 September 1883.

7. Harold Hutson; birth event of 16 January 1886 was recorded 11 February 1886, and he was recorded baptized 28 December 1885.

8. Elsie May; born 12 October 1888 and baptized 4 January 1889.

9. Margaret Lilian Greaves; born about 1892.

A descendency chart could be represented as follows:

Please free to contact me to discuss this work at


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Morning, May 14, 2009 - Early Smith Baptism/Birth Study

13 May 2009


Tampa is wet this morning. Hope you're enjoying that morning coffee. Does anyone know where I can get Jamaican Blue Mountain beans without paying through the roof?

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can... research the name Jim SMITH. Did you know that the name SMITH is the most common surname, at least in the English language? (Check out James alone, on the other hand is relative, but take a gander at the at the Long-Term Trends in Personal Given Name Frequencies in the UK paper at the Given Name Frequency Project. But coupled together, I'm looking for at least two ancestors with the same name as I have, Jim/James SMITH! A research nightmare... maybe?

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm working on a review of SMITH baptism images that I was able to capture from the microfilm FHL1523656 - Parish registers, 1784-1971. Based on this information, which I must reiterate is only from microfilm FHL1523656, I have been able to construct a three-generation descendency chart that begins with my three-times (ggg) great-grandparents James and Mary Ann (nee DORET) SMITH. Included is a part of my blood line from my ggg-grandfather James, my gg-grandfather James, Jr. and my great-grandfather William James.

Please understand that the information presented here in the included descendent chart is my reading and transcriptions of the baptismal registrations as presented in the registers. I have constructed these connections many times in different models in the hope that I may 1. see something that I may have missed previously, and 2. hopefully find some clue that would open a door that would lead to more historical information of ggg-grandfather James SMITH and the Smith family.

The information in the image, created with the software GenoPro, presented here is solely based on the baptismal registrations. The following are points, abbreviations and representations that I take into account when referring only to this chart. These points are:

1. A square represents a male and a circle represents a female.

2. The year above a square or a circle is the year of the individual's baptism and/or birth, exact or approximated based on the information provided by the baptism registration entry.

3. The number within the square or circle represents the age of the person would be today calculated based on the information and dates provided in the baptism registers.

4. A blank square or circle simply means that the reviewed baptism registrations do not provide a date, either at all or legible.

5. I use a question mark, "?", to indicate that the baptism register at this point does not include a specific name(s) or surname. An example is that of gg-grandmother Cecilia Jane ?. I do know that her maiden name was THOMAS.

6. A solid link between parents does not indicate at this point that the couple are married or not married. It simply means that these are the identified parents of a person.

7. A double dashed red link is my assumption that the two persons depicted are the same person.

I would certainly appreciate hearing from anyone who may have any SMITH information and or questions. And today is my volunteer day at the Family History Center.

Enjoy your coffee,


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Afternoon, May 13, 2009 - Reading Images


Poor Rescue Number 2... Bella did not appreciate the invasion by scalpel! And now she has to endure the "can't-get-at-the-itch, stuck-around-the-neck" doggy cone. Not a happy 12-pound puppy. Zucchini and eggplants and tomatoes and peppers and cantelope and watermelon are blooming.

I entered some new book and journal entries this morning to the Reference Library column at the left. I'm trying to add links to Internet location as to where a specific title may be available. The link hopefully will connect you directly to either a complete digitized image of the item or to a website where you may be able to obtain a copy. My apologies if a link may not always work, but I am not in any way marketing the linked website and therefore not responsible for its upkeep. I am just providing you an Internet address, where I may have got a copy of the item. Please note that I am also not responsible in any way for prices per posted on associated websites.

I'm working on images of SMITH baptisms from the Parish of Saint George in Grenada that I have been able to collect over the years. I believe I was able to obtain the images from a microfilm FHL 1523656, titled Parish registers, 1784-1971. The author attributed to the registers, by the Family History Library is the Anglican Church of the Parish of St. George in Grenada.

Some of the earlier registrations have been transcribed from original registers. The plurality of the registrations appear to have been microfilmed from the original documents. Generally I can make out the information provided, but at other times, due to what appears to be the "bleeding" of ink and the smudges, the registration is almost impossible to make out. Today's graphic and artistic software, like Adobe Photoshop and Corel Photo-Paint have tools that I can "extract" and "see through" the layers. With a bit, or a lot of manipulation of that which was written, and at various degrees of illegibility, I can "strip-away" layers, so-to-speak, to get a readable image.

The three images above are "renderings" of my original capture from the microfilm after I tried to "clean" it up. In this case the softwares I used were: Irfanview; FotoFinish; MS Picture Manager; and Corel Photo-Paint.

Just an FYI, this registration is the 1852 Baptism entry of great-grandaunt Grace Eliza SMITH, as discussed in my 9 May 2009 posting.


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Morning, May 12, 2009 - Bread, Spay, and Images

12 May 2009


The weather this morning in Tampa is just the way one would like it to remain every day of the year... No humidity, all threat of frost and hurricanes in the distant recesses of my mind, and all the windows and doors open.

First thing this morning took Rescue Number 2, Bella to be spayed. I started making bread today, white and barley, and am looking for the viability of planting heat resistant nasturtiums. Something else to add to the salad.

Today I am once again wading through my collection of files, images, and documents. I thought it might be a relatively relaxed way of trying to clear out the abundance of finds that I have piling up in the house and in my hard drives.

In many cases I have just stuck to surname searches when I am perusing a microfilm or some sort-of archive. I use either image capturing software or a camera to capture a suspect document, file it and then attack it at a later date. This of course means that there is a substantial number of images that are on file but yet to be examined... and this is shy of the fact that I know that it may relate to one of the surnames I research.

Over the past few years I have tried to figure out a sure-method technique of filing files of images in a way that I can review the file name and almost figure out whether it may be just the file that I need. The file naming technique I use now is somewhat simple and it certainly helps to reduce the time spent in going through my own files. An example of a file name may be:

- 1892 Birth James SMITH 1523480 I2 May 7 2009.jpg

Translated this would mean - An 1892 birth record for James Smith found on microfilm FHL 1523480, Item 2 and created 7th May 2009, as a jpeg image. Therefore when I now look at a list of files in a folder I can quickly check down the list of file names and find the image that I am looking for. This certainly cuts down on time when I, alternatively have to open each file, starting at the top of the list until I finally find the image I need.

And as a further note, I do provide a unique folder title as well, to help with my organization. The above named file was found in the folder:

- 1523480 St Patrick Births Item 2,

which was in a folder titled:

- May 7 2009 1523480.

It may seem redundant to repeat certain labels in the titles of folders, but from past experience and moving files around to different software and drives, this method seems to help me with some secure trail.

Enjoy your day,

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Morning, May 11, 2009 - Reference Books and Sources

11 May 2009


I've decided to proceed with the creation of a list of books, physical and on line, that I have and I have used in my research. This list should, all-things-being-equal, be never completed... sort of like my own personal basic card catalog. And as I am creating it as a part of this blog, the hope is that I will be able to reference it from any location that I can login to my blog... This list should help me to avoid purchasing the same book twice, but of course that's not a guarantee. Many thanks to those who directed me to the book and/or sent me a copy.

To start with here a just a few that are sitting atop the desk beside me:

- Before the Sunset; Eileen Gentle; Shoreline, Quebec, Canada: 1989

- Evidence Explained; Elizabeth Shown Mills; Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: 2007.

- Selected Vital Records From The Jamaican Daily Gleaner Volume 1: 1865-1915; compiled by Madeline E. Mitchell; Heritage Books, Westminster, Maryland, USA:2007.

- The Grenada Handbook, Directory and Almanac For The Year 1901-1902; compiled by The Colonial Secretary; Sampson Low, Marston & Company, London, England: 1901. (On-line...)

- The Grenada Handbook and Directory 1946; compiled by E. Gittens Knight, The Advocate Co., Ltd., Bridgetown, Barbados, B.W.I.:1946. (Thanks Steve...)

- The Island of One People; Marilyn Delevante and Anthony Alberga; Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston, Jamaica: 2006. (Thanks Heather...)

- The Laws of Grenada, And The Grenadines; From The Year 1766, To The Year 1852; edited by William Snagg; Thames Ditton, Surrey, England, 1852. (On-line...)

- The Western Synagogue Through Two Centuries (1761-1961); Arthur Barnett; Valentine, Mitchell & Co., Ltd., London, England: 1961

This is a start, and shortly, thanks Joel, I'll be including a self-contained list on this blog.

Enjoy your day,


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Evening, May 9, 2009 - Gentle Mystery

09 May 2009


Tampa's warming up. It's dry, and apart from the trace of smoke in the air I can feel the humidity is starting. Hurricane season also around the corner - June 1. Everyone moves into their weather-panic mode. I'm just thinking about how the downpours will effect the new plants. Suppose the best way to look at it... I can always start again.

The picture to the left is of great-grandaunt Grace Eliza (née SMITH) GENTLE.

Following up on the discussion I began about great-grandaunt Grace Eliza (née SMITH) and her husband great-granduncle The Venerable Archdeacon George Augustus GENTLE, on May 5, I discovered some new information and data Thursday night past... (New to me, that is.) As I had mentioned family lore had provided me with the information that great-grandaunt Eliza Grace and great-granduncle George Augustus had had five children: George; Nellie; May; Helen Myra Elaine, born about 1875; and Margaret Lilian Greaves, born about 1892. (Steve and Peter, I believe great-grandaunt Grace Eliza was your great-grandmother.) Another set of family history provided me with a list of eight children: Evelyn; Harold; Nellie; May; Myra; George; Daisy; and Louise.

Thursday night I found a Civil Birth Index on FHL 1523480 referencing the Birth Registrations in St. Patrick's Parish in Grenada of seven births registered to great-grandaunt Grace Eliza and great-granduncle George Augustus. From two microfilms FHL 1523479 and FHL 1523480 these are:

1. FHL 1523479, Item 20, Page 194, No. 173 - Female, born 18 July 1874;
2. FHL 1523479, Item 20, Page 256, No. 610 - Female, born 25 February 1876;
3. FHL 1523479, Item 21,Page 26, No. 176 - Female, born 18 July 1877;
4. FHL 1523479, Item 21, Page 123, No. 885 - Male, born 22 May 1880;
5. FHL 1523479, Item 21, Page 234, No. 1634 - Female, born 9 August 1883;
6. FHL 1523479, Item 22, Page 31, No. 212 - Male, born 11 February 1886; and
7. FHL 1523480, Item 1, Page 151, No. 1049 - Female, born 27 November 1888.

And now the issue is which birth registration belongs to which descendant. Also, is there another birth registration. As you can tell from the dates found, there are a number of dates when another GENTLE child could have been born.

I do have image copies of the above seven pages. Please drop me a line at either or if you would like me to send you a set. Please reference this blog title.

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Evening, May 7, 2009 - Tampa

07 May 2009


Today’s Thursday, my volunteer day, 1 to 9 PM… and sometimes no one shows up and I’m able to get a lot of viewing done. That’s the bonus upside to this volunteer gig. And I’m just back from walking the four dogs.

I’ve updated my Access database that I use to track the microfilms that I’ve checked out from the FHL from Salt Lake City. I try to ensure that I include the surname that I am researching as a record in the database. But sometimes as my research continues and I begin following up on a new surname I have to reorder the same film again. This seems to happen more and more frequently as I progress further back in time with my research.

Here’s what happens… When I first begin researching a surname, I zero into a town or area specific to that specific name. I find a relevant microfilm and then order it from Salt Lake City. My first review happens; I find what I think I need. In my case, usually it is SMITH, my paternal line, or ROBERTSON, my maternal line. I then return the microfilm back to Salt Lake City.

But of course, a SMITH that I’m researching may have married someone, and in my first search I may have found a civil or parish marriage registration. And the marriage registration includes another surname; as in the case of my great-great-grandfather James SMITH, Junior who married my great-great-grandmother Cecilia Jane THOMAS. The marriage registration, No. 93 on page 131, is dated 6 June 1840 in the Parish of Saint George in Grenada. I found the registration in the microfilm FHL1523656.

Transcribing the registration, I can read:

No. 93 James Smith the Younger of the Parish of Saint Georges, Esquire Bachelor, Master Carpenter, and Cecilia Jane Thomas of the same place, spinster were married by licence at the residence of Mr. Robert, in the Parish of Saint George and Island of Grenada aforesaid this 6th day of June in the Year of Our Lord 1840 by me J.C. Barker, Rector. This marriage was solemnized between us – J. Smith Jr, Cecilia J. Thomas. In the Presence of James McDonell, W. Thomas.

But at that time I wasn’t researching the THOMAS surname, and family lore offered that great-great-grandmother Cecilia was from Tobago. I was centered on Grenada and I really focused on the SMITH name, so I returned the microfilm back to the library.

A number of months later I began researching THOMAS. I first reviewed the documents and images I had in hand. I did note that in the 1840 marriage registration it was written “Cecilia Jane Thomas of the same place.” If the registration was correct then “the same place” should refer to the Parish of Saint George, in Grenada. I also remarked that one of the witnesses’ signatures was “W. Thomas”. And so I reordered the microfilm FHL1523656.

Estimating that great-great grandmother Cecilia may have been about 20 years old when she married great-great-grandfather James, Jr. I zeroed in on and around the year 1820 for birth registrations. And I found the birth registration number 618 on page 113 of a Register in FHL1523656. But this is a transcription from the original register. And my transcription of the transcription reads:

618 Cecelia Jane, daughter of William Thomas & of Maria his wife born on the 25th day of Septbr 1819 & baptised on the 26th day of Novbr. 1819 Sponsors:- Charles Gray Sgd. Francis McMahon”.

One never knows who or what one will find when they start searching in depth. I now keep that microfilm in residence at the Family History Center as I keep referring back to the same as new names and searches pop up.



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