17 September 2014

Your Family Photos

A recent post on "For Better -- Or What?" reminds us of the importance of labeling family photos. Without labels, future generations will not know who is who. Even if you took the picture, the day is likely to come when you can't quite remember when this was taken or exactly where you were. Photos should be labeled with the names of all the people in the picture, the date the picture was taken, and the location. If you have room, include additional details about what made the event special. Your descendants are much more likely to appreciate and keep family photos if they include meaningful information.

18 August 2014

Lost in a Sea of Names

I have over 26,000 people named Newcomb or some variation on Newcomb in my database. With the spouses, ancestors, and descendants, the total number is over 120,000.

Here are some statistics from my collection:
  • Approximately 860 men were named John (or Johnathan, Johnnie, etc.) Newcomb
  • Around 660 men were named Charles Newcomb
  • 326 women were named Sarah Newcomb
  • Over 600 Newcomb men had a wife named Mary
  • 151 Newcombs married someone named Smith
  • Close to 3,000 individuals have unknown parents

I enjoy helping people find information on their ancestors. But I am sometimes overwhelmed by the numbers.

Keep in mind that if you write to me and say, "My great-grandparents were John and Mary Newcomb," I won't be able to find them. Inquiries should contain as much specific information as possible. Include whatever you know, such as dates of birth, death, and marriage, names of children or siblings, names of parents, etc.

03 August 2014

John Newcomb's Cane

According to the old Newcomb genealogy, written in 1874, Jonathan Newcomb (b. 29 Jun 1796) of Braintree/Quincy had in his possession a cane which had been given to his 3-g-grandfather, John Newcomb, in 1712. The cane was described as "of mangrove wood with an ivory head and a band of silver 3/4 inch wide, upon which is the inscription, 'John Newcomb March 1712.'" John Newcomb (1634-1722) was a member of the Francis Newcomb line.

It appears that Jonathan Newcomb had no descendants. Upon his death the cane may have been passed to one of his brothers (William, Benjamin and George) or to a nephew or some other relative.

I have received an inquiry from a member of the Francis Newcomb line who wonders what happened to the cane. It would certainly be interesting to find this item still in possession of a Newcomb descendant.

If you know anything about what happened to the cane, please respond in the comments or send me an email. Thanks!

02 January 2014

Paul Z. Burrell

Are Paul Z. Burrell and Paul Zanfrey Burrell the same person, or is it just a coincidence that there were two men with such similar names (including the unusual middle initial) of about the same age in the same place at the same time?

Paul Zanfrey Burrell was born 7 May 1890 in Columbus Ohio, but seems to have lived most of his childhood and youth in Nashville. His parents were Benjamin Franklin Burrell (1864-1941) and Annabell Zuck (b. 1886). Paul died 17 April 1936 in Nashville TN and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. He was married to Rose Shields (or Shield), (b. approx. 1900), and they had two daughters. They seem to have lived in New York throughout most of their marriage. Paul worked as a telegraph operator and/or railroad dispatcher.

Paul Z. Burrell was born between 1888 and 1900 in Ohio, but lived in Nashville. The 1910 census lists his occupation as railroad operator. Paul married Hazel Delight Newcomb (1889-1975) 3 August 1909 in Chicago IL. They had one son, Theodore (1910-1955), probably born in Illinois. According to Hazel (as recounted by her daughter-in-law), Paul died young (some time between 1910 and 1914) and she moved to California, where she married her second husband. I have not yet been able to find the record of Paul's death or burial.

I am hoping to determine whether Paul Z. Burrell is the same person as Paul Zanfrey Burrell. It is possible that Paul and Hazel divorced and that she lied about his death (I have found that divorced people in the past often claimed to be widowed because they were ashamed of the divorce). It is possible he kept his first marriage a secret, or that he simply didn't talk about it, so descendants might not be aware of it. It is even possible that they never got a formal divorce and simply remarried bigamously. All the more reason to avoid mentioning the first marriage or to claim the spouse had died. All of this is speculation, because I simply don't know whether or not the two Pauls are the same person. Aside from all the other things they have in common (probably the same age, born in Ohio, lived in Nashville, railroad dispatcher) it's that middle initial that really gets to me.