Saturday, November 15, 2008

Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy Submission Reminder

I just want to remind everyone that you have about a week left to submit your article to this upcoming edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy. The topic for this edition is on, "What research resources are you thankful for?" You can submit your entry here.

Ancestry Has Added Some Croatian Records ...

I just happened to take a look at's recently added databases and noticed that some vital records for Croatia have been added. You look here, at their updated list. I hope you are successful in finding your ancestors. Enjoy!

A Mini-Mystery at the Moment ...

Several weeks ago, I decided to browse through the Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania newspapers that are online again, and this time, I happened to notice an article that I had missed in past searches. Of course, I did not mention this discovery at the time because I was extremely busy with schoolwork, but as you can imagine, this brief article has generated some questions in my mind.

So, what was this article? Well, the article happened to be on court cases that had reached verdicts by the point of the article's printing, and it listed whether or not the defendants in the cases had been found guilty or not. Well, in that list, my ancestor's brother, John Oswalt, happened to be found guilty along with another man of assault and battery of a woman. Unfortunately, the article does not mention any of the facts of the case, but it does list the punishment the men received:

"Com'th vs. Henry Harker and John Oswalt. Indictment for assault and battery on Elizabeth Kyler. Verdict, guilty. Sentence of the Court, that Henry Harker pay a fine of $1.00 and be imprisoned in jail 24 hours - John Oswalt pay a fine of $1.00 and be imprisoned in jail one week, pay costs, &c. ... August 23, 1845."
- Taken from "Proceedings of the Courts of Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas," in the Huntingdon Journal, 27 August 1845, page 2.

To be honest, I wasn't expecting to find this article, but either way, I'm curious as to what the circumstances of the case were. Obviously, I want to obtain the transcript of the case so that I can answer that question, but I also want to obtain that file to see if it might shed any light on the daily life of my Oswalt ancestors. For all I know, there might be some important details on my ancestors and their families, and since I know that some of my Oswalt ancestors were illiterate, this might be one of the few sources that I'll find on my ancestors. Since I'm still up at school, I won't have time to get this court case right away, but I hope to get the file as soon as I get a chance.

And just when I was beginning to think my ancestors were getting boring, I'm thrown another curve ball ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

29th Shades Of The Departed Guest Column Posted!

The 29th Shades of the Departed guest column has been posted! The author of this week's column is Denise Levenick, and you can read the article here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

90 Years Ago Today ...

It is hard for me to believe that World War One ended ninety years ago today. I think for most people my age, World War One is a part of the distant past, yet when I think about the war, I realize that it has been less than a century since it ended. If my grandfather, who was born before World War One ended, was alive today, he would be ninety years old. As I mentioned before, his father, my great-grandfather, served in the British Army in that war, and since I'm only a couple of generations away from my ancestor who served in World War One, I feel a bit emotionally connected to the war. What I mean is that, World War One is just more than another war in history because I had an ancestor who served in that war, and as a result, I sometimes wonder what he experienced and went through during his experience. In short, I'm interested in the war because of my great-grandfather's service, and because I do not know what his wartime experiences were like.
Of course, until this past week, I did not know very much about his service. What I did know was that he had been in France, as the occupation listed on his marriage certificate was "a soldier in France," and from my grandfather's birth certificate, I was able to find his military service number. The certificate also stated that he was in the motor mechanics. In addition, my grandma showed me some of photos of my great-grandfather in his uniform. Outside of those pieces of information, however, I had no idea what regiment he served in nor when he entered the service. As I was trying to figure out if I could obtain my great-grandfather's service records, I learned that a large portion of the records were destroyed during the Blitz in World War. Since the information I read indicated that most records for soldiers did not survive, I believed my chances of obtaining records would be quite slim. Of course, I did not give trying to find out what I could, though. At one point, I joined a yahoo group on World War One, and inquired if anyone could tell what regiment my great-grandfather was in by looking at a photo of him in his uniform. One man suggested that it appeared as though he might have been a member of the Army Service Corps, but he couldn't tell for sure because the buckle on my great-grandfather's hat was not detailed enough to make a conclusion.

Then over this past summer, I learned that ancestry had posted the images of the Service Medal cards that listed the types of medals a British serviceman had earned during World War One. By using my great-grandfather's service number, I was able to find his card, and I discovered that he did serve in the Army Service Corps. Unfortunately, I was unable to narrow down the exact regiment from that card, and I was at a loss again. That is, until Ancestry made their British World War One Service Records available for free viewing. Only then was I able to get a better idea of the regiment my great-grandfather was able to serve in. So, what have I learned about my great-grandfather's service? Well, from what I have been able to read so far, I have learned that:
  • My great-grandfather was living in Luton, Befordshire, England at the time he signed up for service. Before I found his records, I did not know where he had signed up. I wasn't sure if it was Glasgow, Scotland ,where he was born, Luton or some other place in the United Kingdom. (I'll explain why in another post as this post is getting too long.)
  • My great-grandfather's brother was living around Manchester, Lancashire, England at the time my ancestor signed up. Plus, I was able to confirm one of the names of my great-grandfather's siblings.
  • My great-grandfather was promoted twice.
  • My great-grandfather did serve in the Motor Transport unit of the Army Service Corps.
  • His point of disembarkation was at Rouen, France.
  • My great-grandparents' marriage, and the birth of my grandfather, were recorded in his service records as well.
  • My great-grandfather's place of employment and occupation before he entered the service.

Of course, there is also other information in his records, such as when he went on leave, but I don't know how to interpret the information. I don't understand all of the codes listed, and I can barely make out some of the handwriting. The records show signs of having been damaged by fire, and some of the handwriting appears to have faded. Hopefully, I will be able to make out some of the information someday, but at the moment, I do not have the time since I am in school.

As for searching the service records, I would advise that you look before and after the images linked to by ancestry. If I had not looked at images previous to the two pages ancestry had linked to, I would have missed most of the information in his records. Ancestry had only linked to the pages that had been updated to include information on my great -grandparents' marriage and the birth of my grandfather. Therefore, I would not have found the letter from his employer nor the information on his service in his records.

And last, but not least, here is a photograph of what I believe to be my great-grandfather's regiment:

The photograph was printed on a postcard in both French and English. (The back side was blank other than the postcard format.) Since there was French on the back, I suspect the picture was taken in France. Could it have been taken in Rouen? Of course, one cannot see the faces of the soldiers in the picture too well, but last year my grandma did get the picture blown up to see if we could find my great-grandfather in the picture. We believe he is one of the soldiers sitting, and that he happened to be the one smiling in the picture. Of course, when I look at this picture and think about how deadly World War One was, I wonder how many of those men survived the war. Since I only know the name of my great-grandfather, I have no idea who the other men are. Maybe someday I will find out, but until then, those men will be a mystery to me.

To Those Who Served and Are Serving ...

I just want to thank all those out there who have served, and all of those who are serving today, from the bottom of my heart on this Veteran's Day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Who's That Baby?

For the seventh edition of the Smile For the Camera Carnival, I thought I would post another mystery photograph. As you can see, there is a baby sitting on the bush with a bottle. I do not know who this baby is, nor do I know where or when this picture was taken. I have no idea if this baby is a relative or if this baby is the child of one of my great-aunt's friends. All I know is that this photograph was in my great-aunt's photo album that is in my grandmother's possession. If anyone has any idea who this baby is please, e-mail me at: jess_history at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

Snowing or Sleeting?

I just happened to take a look out of the window in my room, and it appears as though it might be snowing, or at least possibly a snow-sleet mix. For the past couple of days, it has been rainy and windy, and now it looks like the temperature has dropped. (It had been in the forties for the past couple of days, and now it is about 36 degrees Fahrenheit.) Of course the ground is mostly still too warm for it to collect on the grass, but a little bit of snow has begun to gather on the roof and parts of the pavement outside. Oh, yeah. It is almost time for me to start wearing my winter coat ...