Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Destination: Greece

Well, the time for our departure to Greece is coming closer. Now we’re getting out the checklists to be sure we have everything we need for a comfortable trip, including medicines, electronics, and travel clothes. But what helped us reach this point where we feel nearly ready to head for Athens?

By Gilberto Gaudio from Rome, Italy (Athens (Greece))
 [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First of all, this is not just a tourist trip but also a heritage journey. Thomas MacEntee explains what heritage travel is in his web article “You Can Go Home Again.” I am taking this trip in part to visit the home village of my Greek great grandfather, Peter Flesouras. He was born in a small village in the middle of the Peloponnese: Pigadakia, Tripoli, Arcadia, just a small dot in the mountains where he and his family herded sheep and goats. Pigadakia is 15 miles (24.3 Km) south of Tripoli.

"PeloponnesosMap". Licensed under Public Domain
 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/

My first step in preparation for the heritage part of the trip (as I described in my Feb 6, 2015 post) was to find and hire a heritage guide to search for existing Flessouras records and possible living relatives. Through connections on the Facebook Hellenic Genealogy Resources group, I was introduced to Marina Harami, and we have been working together for several months. It has been frustrating for her because the economic situation  in the country has hit most sectors including the registry offices, church offices and other research centers. Staff has been reduced or put on really limited schedules, which makes it very hard to reach anyone and to try to locate information. But she has persevered, and we may have some success yet.

For my part, I have contacted Americans with the surname Flessouras on Facebook. Since this is a rare Greek surname and all the people of this name hale from the same area of Arcadia, we probably are related, but we don’t yet know how. Some of these Americans of the Flessouras name have relatives in Greece, and I have arranged to meet two of them.

Along with planning for the heritage side of our trip, we are also preparing for the tourist part. If you are considering a trip to Greece and are looking for travel guides, my husband and I have found three in print and on-line that we recommend. First, is Rick Steves’ Greece Athens & The Peloponnese.

Rick Steves at the Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald,
Switzerland, 20 July 2007, Andrew Bossi, Wikimedia.

 My readers may remember how much we relied on Mr. Steves’ book on Eastern Europe to guide us through the Czech Republic and to help make our trip more rewarding and memorable. We especially like the walking tours, complete with “concise and simple” “black-and-white” (p. 495) maps, to introduce each destination. My husband describes Steves’ books as full of practical, everyday necessary information.

One of my husband’s favorite books is Insight Guides Greece with its stunning color photographs of natural beauty, icons, and monuments. He says this guide has the best photographs and maps and comprehensive coverage of culture, history and geography.

The third guide that I found very engaging on the subject of the Greek islands is by D. Haitalis: Discover the Greek Islands. This book delivers with stunning photographs, that make you want to fly tomorrow. It also has a brief history and sightseeing section for each island accompanied by small maps. For more detailed information on the islands, I would pair this book with the Insight Guide referred to above.

Just by luck and the grace of google, I came across Max Barrett’s  (online) Greece Guides. What a treasure trove of information! Mr. Barrett arranges his site as a virtual book with chapters ranging from “Matt’s Essential Greece Info” and “Honeymoon in Greece” to “Travel Agents & Tours.”  This is where we found one of the best discoveries in our travel planning: Fantasy Travel.

Many of you may be familiar with working with travel agents and arranging tours. Throughout most of our travel, we have created our own itineraries as we are doing for the Peloponnese. But for the island part of the trip, we decided to work with a tour company. The first step in working with Fantasy Travel was to figure out which islands we wanted to visit and in what order on what dates. After looking through our travel guides, Bert and I came up with this itinerary.

First we will visit Naxos:
"Naxos8" by Ildebrando - Own work. Licensed under
 Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.
How could one miss the island described by in the Insight Guide as:
"the largest, loftiest and most magnificent of the Cyclades, replete with high, windswept ridges, long beaches, remote villages, ancient ruins, medieval monasteries or towers, and a fascinating history." (p. 249)

Next on our island tour will be Santorini or Thira as it is known in Greece. In his book Greece Athens & the Peloponnese, Rick Steves calls Santorini  "one of the Mediterranean's most dramatic islands..." and goes on to say  "...this unique place has captured visitors' imaginations for millennia...." and is "...one of Greece's most scenic spots." (p. 429)

Santorini Scene by Understandingmedia13 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

 I am excited  because the island is what was left from a volcanic eruption around 1630 B.C. (p. 450) For fans of Pompeii, one can visit the city of Akrotiri that was buried under ash and was unearthed in 1967.

The final island we will visit is Rhodes.
Acropolis of Lindos on Rhodes by Norbert Nagel, 
Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany (Own work)
 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/
by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I found great information about Rhodes and all the islands in Frommer's Greek Islands, our last print pick.
What does Rhodes have to offer? Here's what Frommer's has to say:

"A location at the intersection of the East and West propelled the island into the thick of both commerce and conflicts. The scars left by its rich and turbulent history have become its treasures. Hellenistic Greeks, Romans, Crusader Knights, Turks, Italians -- all invaders who brought some destruction but also left behind fascinating artifacts." (p. 332)

 In addition to detailed descriptions of the islands, the book also contains 60 pages on exploring Athens.

Once we had our schedule of islands to visit, we simply e-mailed this to Fantasy Travel. They arranged our rental car and all hotels on the three islands we are visiting.  Then they set up connections by ferry and air from one island to the other. Someone from Fantasy Travel will be meeting us at the airport. What royal treatment! It makes me feel like this:

HM Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Perth, Australia for CHOGM,
 taken by Andrew Taylor, Oct 26, 2011, Creative Commons, flickr.com.

Traveling for heritage and/or tourist reasons can be made easier and more productive with the help of excellent heritage guides, travel books, tour companies and websites. I’ll have a lot more to share when I return from Greece.

Categories: genealogy tools, genealogy professional

Monday, July 6, 2015

Grave Disturbance in Early Chicago Cemeteries

It always amazes me what a rich resource we have in the genealogy community-- the people who generously share the information they work so hard to find. I am continually on the lookout for information on my Irish Chicago ancestors. Any records of these people from the nineteenth century are a godsend!

A few years back, I heard about the removal of many of the early Irish interred in the late 1800s in the Old Catholic Cemetery in north Chicago to the new Calvary Cemetery. I can’t remember which part of the genealogy community clued me into this resource. Did I hear this from the Chicago Genealogy group on Facebook or the Cook County message board or from one of my dear genealogy friends and mentors? I’m not sure of the origin of this record description, but I do remember accessing some names of the “removed” and writing them down.

As we often do with research, I put this list away and forgot about it.
Recently I have been researching my Carney/Duffy family again and re-discovered this Old Catholic Cemetery Removal list of names.  What a potential goldmine this was. Since recording the names, I have identified more cohort families. I wanted to take a fresh look at the source of this list with the benefit of my additional knowledge. Some questions came to mind:
  1. Where exactly was the Old Catholic Cemetery?
  2. When was it founded?
  3. Why were the bodies removed?
  4. What other persons of interest to me might be listed in addition to those I had listed?
I began investigating. First, I needed to return to the source from which I had copied the names. This was an article “Index to Part I of Removals to Calvary Cemetery,” published in the Chicago Genealogist, the journal of the Chicago Genealogical Society , Vol. 32 No. 2 Winter 1999-2000.  I was very fortunate that a digitized copy of this article was now on the Internet, courtesy of the Newberry Library. (Note that in the digitized list of volumes, there is no table of contents. For that, you need to go to the Chicago Genealogical Society.)

Newberry Library, TonyTheTiger, 2007, 
2.5-2.0-1.0), Wikimedia Commons.
To continue my search at the Newberry site home page, I clicked on the menu tab “Research.” Then I followed these steps: When the menu drops down; click on “Digital Resources and Publications.” Scroll down the page until you see “Chicago Genealogist” and click on it.  When the next page comes up, click again on Chicago Genealogist. In the search box, I typed “Vol 31 No 2.” The next step is to click on the dropdown menu next to “view” and highlight “complete print version.” Then a PDF  of the complete journal contents appears, and you can search the Table of Contents for articles of interest.

As I scanned the Table of Contents, I saw “Old Catholic Cemetery” Records by Helen Sclair. In this article Ms. Sclair answered my first two questions:
Q: Where exactly was the Old Catholic Cemetery and when was it founded?

Ms. Sclair: “In 1843, a cemetery complex was begun near Clark Street and North Avenue. The city of Chicago opened 60 acres for the  ‘City Cemetery’, north of North Avenue and east of Green Bay Road (now Clark Street). The Catholic Church consecrated one block: Dearborn, east to State Street, and North Avenue, south to approximately Burton. Eventually both of these cemeteries would expand, the City’s to 120 acres and the Catholics’ to 5+ city blocks.” (p. 51)

I also learned that from 1858 people began making efforts to stop any more burials and any further expansion of these cemeteries. I presumed that this was because the city was growing and needed the land. A second reason could be that this burial area was very close to Lake Michigan which could cause water issues. But I wanted to make sure that I was on the right track. That’s where my third question came in: Why were the bodies removed? Professor Pamela Bannos answers this question in her website: “Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery and Lincoln Park”:

One of the most important reasons to move the cemeteries, according to Bannos, was that the land near Lake Michigan was below the water table.

By United States Geological Survey
 [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
 A concern at the time was that bacteria from decaying bodies could contaminate the city’s drinking water. Also when graves were dug, water would often times fill the burial pit. Another reason was that the citizens of the fast growing city decided that building a park (Lincoln Park) for the living could be more advantageous than using the land for housing the departed.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs:
Photography Collection, 
The New York Public Library. "Lincoln Park, Chicago." 
The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Professor Bannos provides more historical background and maps of the old Catholic Cemetery on the section of her site “Mapping theCemeteries: Catholic Cemetery.” 

Now if asked “How does your country handle the deceased?” many of us would answer that there is great respect for the dead in our culture as evidenced by our funeral system and manicured cemeteries. But if we look a little deeper we find, at least in the instance of the early Chicago cemeteries, that concern for the departed sometimes gives way to the desires and needs of the living. On her site, Professor Bannos provides an eye-opening chronology of what happened to the remains of those buried in these early Chicago graveyards. She does this by presenting news articles from the time period. 
An article from the Chicago Daily Tribune issue of August 15, 1876 “Sad Scenes in a Cemetery”, truly captures the disregard given to the interred in the Old Catholic Cemetery as they are removed “…with a degree of recklessness almost criminal in its disrespect for the dead the laborers employed in the exhumation have scattered the remains of the late lamented all through the field.”

The whole removal process seemed slipshod from the first. Was it known exactly how many bodies were in the cemetery and exactly where they were buried? Was it a case of disrespect, indifference, lack of time, or poor records or a mixture of all three that caused many bodies to be left in their watery graves? What is known is that over the years and even up until this decade, bodies keep appearing when digging is done in the area. These occurrences Bannos has chronicled through more Tribune articles in the section "Hidden Truths: Catholic Cemetery." 

Now that I had learned about the history of the Old Catholic Cemetery, I wanted to return to the list of names of those who were fortunate enough to actually be removed and reburied in Calvary Cemetery. As I looked down the list, I saw the usual suspects: Carney/Kearney, Duffy, Cosgrave (Cosgrove), Devine, McKenna, Ryan, Sweeney, and Ward. This was another indication that these people were part of a community. 

This confirmation of the relationship of these families went along with the new information that I had recently found from studying pre-Chicago Fire maps, the 1870 Chicago Directory and Census and the 1870Chicago Illinois US Census. These records showed that members of the Carney, Duffy, Cosgrove, Devine, Sweeney and Ward families lived near each other on the Near North Side streets of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.

By OpenStreetMap and edited by w:User:TonyTheTigerOpenStreetMap contributors
 [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

On a final note, to get a great narrative and summary of Professor Bannos’ project, “Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery and Lincoln Park,” check out the article by Jessica Curry “What Lies BeneathLincoln Park” in Chicago Life Magazine.

Categories: genealogy community, genealogy tools

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getting Carded at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 
United States, West Front, right wing, CJStumpf, 2007, Wikimedia
In February of this year (2015) our close friends from California invited my husband and me to join them in Washington, D.C. for Spring Break (April 6-11.) Seeing our friends, the cherry blossoms, and several Washington museums were great draws. But as a family researcher, I was tantalized by the prospect of visiting the Library of Congress for the first time. As it happened, there was a book I needed that was at the Library of Congress.

During my research on the Hanneman family line (see my post of April 4, 2015), I found that the National Genealogical Society’s  (NGS) Annual Conference in 1997 had been held in Pennsylvania.

Image from page 4 of "National Genealogical Society quarterly"
 (1912), National Genealogical Society,
 nationalgenealog19131917nati, Internet Archive Book Images
A google search led me to worldcat.org which showed that the Library of Congress has a copy of this conference syllabus. Having attended NGS conferences in the past two years, I know how much information can be found in the syllabus. NGS always includes several workshops devoted to the city/state that is hosting the conference. I might find some real gems about Pennsylvania. So now I had a research need.

I have been accessing the Library of Congress Digital Collections section of the catalog at home to find wonderful photos for my blog. But I have never been actually in this historic building. Now was my chance. Since this was mostly a trip to see friends and go sightseeing, I didn’t really have time to prepare to do research. Usually I carefully study the museum/library/society that I will be visiting. This time I just checked the hours of operation and had the one resource that I wanted to request. This lack of planning almost proved to be my undoing and led to a few unwelcome surprises.

What????,  Robbie Grubbs, 2009, flickr.com
We arrived at the main (Jefferson) building of the Library of Congress in the early afternoon. First we took a tour of the building, and this was when we had our first surprise. The guide told us we could look down at the Library of Congress Main Reading Room from the balcony but that only researchers could actually enter the room.
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in the
 Thomas Jefferson Building, Carol M. Highsmith, 
LC-DIG-highsm-11604, Wikimedia.
In addition, the guide continued, a researcher could only access the room if he/she had a reader’s card. After the tour, I went to the information desk to ask where I could get a reader’s card.

Then came the second surprise. The staff member said that you had to go to the neighboring Madison Building,
James Madison Memorial Building of the
Library of Congress, Carol M. Highsmith,
 2011, Wikimedia
to the Reader Registration Station to apply for a Reader Identification Card. In order to get to the Madison Building, we were sent to the tunnel that joins the two buildings. The walk took about 10 minutes. 

Underground Passage, Tunnels connecting all main buildings
 of the Library of Congress, LilyyyB, 2012, flickr.com
Once you get to the Station, the process of getting the card takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on the number of patrons waiting. With our newly minted cards in hand, we trudged back through the tunnel. I was so excited to actually be on my way to the Reading Room at last.

Library of Congress Main Reading Room
 Entrance, brownpau, 2013, flickr.com 
The last stop before the Reading Room is the  Researcher’s Entrance  where you sign in.
When you step through the door, you are actually in the anteroom that now serves as the Local History andGenealogy Room  which adjoins the Main Reading Room. I was fortunate to find a reference librarian able to assist me in looking up the resource I needed. He introduced me to the Automated Call Slip on the Library of Congress' Online Catalog. You can fill out your own Call Slip on your laptop or by using the computers in the Computer Catalog Center, across from the Reader’s Entrance. 

The whole process has been digitized:
  • You request the material online.
  • The Library of Congress receives the request online.
  • You are notified online when the material is ready to be picked up.
This is where the third surprise happened. I decided to ask someone at the information/materials pick-up desk in the Main Reading Room what average turn-around time is. The answer was from several hours to a full day!!

New Zealand road sign Section: Permanent Warning -- 
Miscellaneous Meaning: Other dangers, UserFry1989, wikimedia

My experience at the Library of Congress led me to two caveats for my readers:
  1. Get your Reader’s Card early.
  2. Request your material on the Library of Congress’ Online Catalog using the Automated Call Slip (you must have a Reader’s Card first) early; if possible, the day before you want to pick up the material.

The last day of our trip, I was able to pick up my requested material: The National Genealogical Society 1997 Conference in the States Program Syllabus, “Pennsylvania Cradle of a Nation.” I had completed the process.

For more information on the Library of Congress' research treasures, view a video at familysearch.org.

Categories: genealogy tools