2021: the year in review

“Might you reside in fascinating occasions” is meant to be a curse – it’s definitely an exhausting option to undergo life. As 2021 rolls over to 2022, here’s a look again at 2021 in Vita Brevis:

In January, Ann Lawthers urged genealogists visiting cemeteries to use a number of the insights garnered from their analysis, on this case about how the altering cultural norms round demise translated into stone:

“There are substantial variations within the markers of the colonial interval and the stones of later centuries. The earliest grave markers have been the straightforward picket cross or a bit of subject stone. When the primary carved headstones have been created, they have been made from stone that was each native and simply quarried and carved. So slate, sandstone, limestone, and even soapstone have been typical supplies. The stones have been positioned on the head of the deceased and the grave was oriented east to west in order that on the Final Judgment, the deceased may sit up and face the East.

“Early markers, notably Puritan New England markers, confirmed a Dying’s Head with wings and an empty triangular nostril the place flesh and cartilage had rotted away. Puritans have been frightened of demise, as there was no assure that God would forgive their sins after demise and welcome them to heaven. Puritans additionally didn’t consider in making any lifelike illustration of the divine, therefore the unlifelike cranium adorning the grave markers. Starting about 1690, nevertheless, the cherub face begins to look instead of the cranium on grave markers. The cherub design is clearly a recognizable human face and the wings on this design signify the soul’s ascension to heaven.

“By the eighteenth century, grave markers grew to become taller and new shapes appeared…”

Rufus Jones reintroduced readers to James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) in February. Johnson was “an creator, professor, lawyer, diplomat, poet, songwriter, and civil rights activist; he stays a pivotal determine in American historical past and tradition. In January 1900, he wrote the lyrics to Elevate Each Voice and Sing for a celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s ninety-first birthday. The track was put to music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), and it was first carried out on February 12, 1900, by 5 hundred faculty kids in Jacksonville, Florida. This is able to not be the one time Johnson’s work was to be related to a president of the USA, as former Motown singer Kim Weston carried out the track in January 2001 for President George W. Bush’s inauguration. In 2009 and once more in 2013, President Barack Obama recited and sang Elevate Each Voice and Sing as a part of the inaugural celebrations. Most lately, in January [2021], for the inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the world listened to Johnson’s lyrics being recited as excerpts of Elevate Each Voice and Sing have been learn through the Present Giving Ceremony within the Capitol Rotunda…”

In March, James Heffernan supplied Vita Brevis readers inspiration couched in a plea:

“Navy data from Galicia (1865-1918) are as we speak held by the Central State Historic Archives in Lviv, Ukraine… The typical personnel file discovered within the assortment consists of the title of the person, the place he was born, and a short abstract of his service and rank. Sometimes, the file may also embrace the names of the dad and mom. Leaping round within the assortment, the data are most frequently written in German and Polish, however with some Ukrainian data additionally included. Along with data from Galicia, I’ve additionally discovered a number of data for people born within the area of Bukovina, a territory as we speak divided between Ukraine and Romania.

“The Austrian navy was not segregated by spiritual group, so these data maintain data for Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish males from Galicia. With most of the data of Galician Jewish communities now not extant, navy data have the potential to offer much-needed context and biographical element. The catch, nevertheless, is that past their free group by surname, there isn’t any unified index for the data. Finding a particular ancestor’s navy file can be akin to discovering the proverbial needle in a haystack.

“In scouring the online, I’ve discovered little or no written about this assortment and nothing to recommend it’s being lined up for a large-scale transcription mission. What a assist if it have been…”

Jeff File launched into a spherical of “Genealogical Clue” in “‘Evan Evans with a candlestick’” in April. His mom was a baby of divorce, with few recollections of her father throughout her childhood:

“She may recall solely the smallest quantity; a forlorn white cat who cried for her when she left for college, her dad and mom’ pals Ray and Lola, rumors about her grandmother’s early demise, and tales about an previous stagecoach, however little extra. Then, as if out of the blue, I bear in mind my mom perking up. It was as if a gorgeous reminiscence of a time along with her father had simply landed at her doorstep. She mentioned, ‘Effectively, I bear in mind my dad taking me to Denver as soon as to see “Uncle Evan.”’ Eureka! the eleven-year-old genealogist in me exclaimed. Nonetheless small it was, I lastly had a lead…

“Mother recalled a big home with a giant bay window excessive up overlooking Denver. I assume mother would have been about six years previous on the time she’d visited Evan, and it was a surprise she may recall this a lot – or, certainly, if any of her recollections have been true. (Actually, the home seems to be to have been fairly small, the window of common measurement and overlooking a metropolis park…) She sensed her father felt very near Evan and that this go to, no matter it was, was one paid out of gratitude and respect. Mother recalled that Evan and his spouse Grace have been type individuals, and handled her pretty, although it was evident even to a bit of lady that that they had by no means had any kids of their very own. No matter this was, no matter this reminiscence of my mom and her dad was, this go to to Even Evans was foundational, essential ultimately. However simply who the heck was Evan Evans?”

David Allen Lambert reflected on a forebear who fought, unexpectedly, within the Battle of 1812 in a put up revealed in Might:

“I used to be intrigued {that a} forty-four-year-old man with a younger household would have enlisted at his age. Once I lecture on navy data, I at all times stress the acute age ranges of troopers after they enlist. Nonetheless, this time I did not observe my very own analysis recommendation! The file of his service was not with the Massachusetts State Militia however with the USA Military Mild Artillery. Henry [Poor] enlisted 15 February 1814 at Newburyport (the file states January 15 or February 15), in response to the net doc from the database ‘U.S., Military, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914’ on Ancestry.com.

“Moreover now studying his peak, I realized that he had gray hair and eyes and a good complexion. With no portray or {photograph} these descriptive information would have been misplaced if he had not enlisted. The unit wherein he served was beneath the command of Captain Francis Stribling. Henry’s navy rank was that of an artificer. An artificer within the Mild Artillery would help with loading the cannons in addition to repairing them. Henry was a carpenter and a cabinetmaker in civilian life. Had been these abilities put to make use of to restore the cannon carriages in battle? Henry was energetic in his unit after they participated within the Battle of Plattsburgh, often known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, 6-11 September 1814. This battle was the ultimate British invasion of the northern area of the USA.”

In June, Jennifer Shakshober discovered sudden element within the lifetime of an ancestral aunt named Barbara:

“…I had initially been fascinated by Barbara Shakshober as a key to my German origins. In highschool, I contacted the New York Metropolis Municipal Archives to request her start file, however no file was discovered. But the Gaul divorce file [from Vermont] reveals the importance of Barbara’s story in its personal proper: a nineteenth-century younger girl born to immigrant dad and mom, compelled to marry for the sake of her unborn little one. It hints on the working girl she would develop into and the energy of her relationship along with her solely little one, Ralph. Barbara handed her remaining years within the dwelling of her youngest sister Sybilla Phillips, at whose dwelling she died on 29 November 1934.”

To be continued.