April 10th, 2011

Genealogy and Pre-reqs

It seems like my whole life I've been making plans by figuring what I wanted, what was possible, and finding the possible thing that was close enough to what I wanted. Then, of course, there was the matter of plotting a path to the possible from the present. Usually, I figured out what was required in order to get the possible, and worked backwards from there. Viz, a job as a programmer, because good programmers are allowed to keep wacky hours and they'd tolerate absences and/or telecommuting when ill. Thus, a computer science degree. Thus, a set of classes required before applying to the major. Thus, a set of prerequisites to get into those classes. Thus, a high school career that would get me into the college and a good enough PSAT/NMSQT score to get me money. Etc.

That's just an example.

Genealogy has been very serendipitous. I need to know French to make sense of some of the records; I took French starting in 7th grade (mostly to bolster an excuse for not taking PE). I need to know Dutch to make sense of some of the records; I've been working on learning Dutch for several years on my own, primarily in support of a couple trips I took to visit family in the Netherlands.

Occasionally, I get handed sheets that are the-way-genealogists-organized-information, back-in-the-day. One of these things was labeled "inverse list" or something along those lines and it took me a few minutes of looking at it to figure out what it was since I'd not seen anything quite like it before. But it was basically a tabular representation of a family tree. Each line was a person with a serial number. There was were mother, father and sib columns, along with name, birth date, etc. (the death columns don't make any sense to me: either I'm misunderstanding them or they are just wrong; I prefer to believe the former). The person who gave me the table had had it for a while from someone else, but wasn't entirely sure how it worked. When she photocopied it, she cut off the serial number all the way to the left; that's fine, it was easy enough to reconstruct.

So we can add to the list of useful things to know about before attempting genealogy: data structures. Handy, that comp sci degree.

Part of why I was pursuing the 50th cousin thing (other than my grandmother's parents-are-first-cousins thing and pedigree collapse) was because I've been trying to visualize the larger human family tree. The 50th cousin argument isn't the _most_ foolish argument (that would be exponential growth _without_ accounting for pedigree collapse), but it's not that far removed, either. Call it a second cousin.

Here's what we all agree on about the human family tree: with the possible exception of the immediate past, it gets smaller as we go backwards in time (that is, there were fewer people alive Way Back When). If I look at my tree (all lines of ancestry, not just patri- or matri-lineal), it gets bushy, and then it shrinks down again. The questions lie in the nature of the bushiness in the middle. We know that, due to geography (that is, oceans, and the difficulty or at times impossibility of crossing them), some parts of the human family tree were isolated from one another. We know that, due to human culture (reproductive rules enforced by cultural groups), some parts of the human family tree are/were isolated from one another. MRCA, 50th cousinhood, etc. is an effort to get "above" that: to what degree are we _not_ isolated from one another.

I don't think that's interesting. I'm too young to have really _internalized_ any kind of belief system that I'm not related to everyone else out there (and while I hesitate to make any definitive comment about the existence or nature of divinity, I'm prepared to assert we are also related to every other living thing). I'm not of the generation that erases difference to show respect and love and equality. I'm of the generation that feels like aggressively ignoring difference is colonizing. Here's what I think the tree looks like:

It is lumpy. It is a directed, acyclic (you can't be your own grandpa) graph. It is weakly connected internally. It is self-similar at all levels. That is, isolation occurs of small groups (people marry fellow villagers), medium-sized groups (or that they meet at the county fair), and large groups (or someone who was posted in their village as part of the army). It's not a bowl of nuts, or even lumpy oatmeal, because each "lump" is made up of another graph itself made up of weakly connected smaller lumps.

I could write a simulation to express this -- you could take Rohde et als and if you make the 5 parameters all a lot weaker than they were prepared to believe in, _and_ you made a sim a family instead of an individual, _and_ you made migration dependent upon a group decision -- if you did all those things, you wouldn't be far off from what I believe is true. I believe this is true because I find people utterly incomprehensible most of the time, so in order to make any sense at all out of them I have to laboriously find patterns and then test them exhaustively to figure out their limitations. And _this_ is what people do. When I say "high school" and "automobiles" changed the way we mate, I say that because "high schools" became the new "village" for mating purposes (and has since been replaced successively by colleges/workplaces and, honestly, lately, probably the internet). But none of that changed our "lumpiness" when it came to picking people to make babies with.

I think our "lumpiness" has a lot of good effects and a few bad ones. I think for one thing, the universality of our lumpiness (and how lumps "fission" to produce related lumps) are worthy of study. I think ignoring reality is never a good idea and an especially bad one in this particular instance. And I feel _very_ strongly about this.

St. Francisco before 1663

Obviously, this cannot possibly be the San Francisco we are all familiar with, as it was not settled by Europeans until much, much later.

Nevertheless, Munsell's _American Ancestry_ refers to a record in the DRC Church of New Amsterdam,
New Netherland in which one Gerrit Deboog whose father was Hendrick married "Hendrickje Paden" of San Francisco. Further, the record can be found in Samuel Purple's transcriptions of those records AND EVEN IN GENLIAS! with some slight differents.

In Purple, it is "Gerrit Hendrickszen Boog" young man of Amsteram and "Hendrick Paden" of St. Francisco.

In Genlias, it is "Gerrit Hendrickszen Boog", place of birth Amsterdam, and Hendrick Paden, place of birth "Sint Francisco".

Here's the question: Where was "Sint Francisco"? Any takers? I've got a river port in Brazil as my best guess; I know the Dutch were in the area at the time, but I am not happy with this guess.

ETA: I have a boat "Sint Francisco" participating in:


for the Netherlands. I think it was part of WIC's fleet. That ship I think was lost but there's another "Sint Francisco" decades later, so there were probably a whole series of ships with that name.

I searched for "francisco 1663" (not in quotes there) on the Dutch-Colonies listserv archived at RootsWeb. That found me a whole lot of people with the last name Francisco, a few references to the same record I'm attempting to figure out (and who have absolutely nothing to contribute on the subject), and some people who have "francisco" somewhere else in the post but not in any way relevent.

*sigh* I also tried searching on "sint francisco" (in and out of quotes); nothing turned up there, either.

I'll take pretty much any suggestion at this point.

Mary Thomas Badie! aka Marritje Thomas Badye

But _not_ her husband.

MTB is another shared ancestor of R. and I! but we do not share her spouse: he is descended from the Pauli Vanderbee(c)k and I am descended from William Bennet. I'll need to poke at this for a while to be sure. Around the same time frame as Anneke Jans, so probably this will not change the number of generations involved.

ETA: She is improbable but well documented.

a small point from _Shaking the Family Tree_, Barbara Vines Little, complete genealogies

From about location 3377ish in the kindle version of Buzzy Jackson's _Shaking the Family Tree_: "On the genealogy cruise I'd heard one of the professional genealogists claim that she specialized in "complete genealogies," a term that struck me as an impossibility. I chalked up my reaction to my own inexperience, but over time I'd asked other, more experienced genealogists about it and they all scoffed. "What would that be?" one of my BGS [Boulder, CO Genealogical Society] friends asked. "A family tree going back to Adam and Eve?" There are no "complete genealogies.""

When I read this, I went, hmmm.

At the time I'm writing this post, the schedule for the cruise I believe Buzzy Jackson went on could be found here:


Barbara Vines Little was there. She did some hosted breakfasts and other meet-and-greet activities, in addition to some things about women and the law and land records. On various websites listing professional genealogists, she uses the term "complete genealogies" as a description of one of her specialities. I don't know Barbara Vines Little and I don't know the term "complete genealogies", but scoffing at Little is more appropriate to blogging than it is to a published work, and it isn't particularly appropriate in a blog, either.

If I were to speculate what Little is talking about when she uses what is clearly a term of art and based on Little's related specialties, here's what "complete genealogy means": all lines of ancestry (and possibly descendancy and probably some amount of siblings on the way up even if not their children down to the present), as far back as records exist in support of the activity. Specifically, however, _all lines of ancestry_.

Murchie, in the 1970s, really wasn't that far off when he said people trace a single male line of ancestry for hundreds of years and are unduly impressed with themselves. I was quite serious when I said "that's doing it wrong". By focusing on land records and other non-vital statistics records in doing genealogy, and offering to help people around brick walls in southern states like West Virginia, Little must certainly be offering to trace all the women ancestors as well as the men.

Buzzy Jackson, conspicuously, only traced her Jackson lineage, and honest to goddess, she had a chunk of it handed to her from the top; her major contribution was finding a cemetery to connect the line up from what she had to what had been offered her coming down. There's no indication that she had any interest in anyone whose surname wasn't "Jackson", or where they came from.

It's okay to do that, and even to get a book out of it. But making fun of people who are doing this the _right_ way, the way that actually helps you understand who was doing what when and where they came from before and why they moved somewhere else after -- that is just wrong. Jackson is a trained historian, and she mentions it more than once. She knows better.

ETA: Past president of the National Genealogical Society, no less.

ETAYA: Also, it is theoretically possible and sensible structurally to create a complete genealogy, if it is defined as all descendants of a particular person or persons to a particular level of generations or to the date at which compilation was closed. That's more or less the design of _Dear "Cousin"_, and of Aron C. Toews' Johann Toews Family Register. You don't suffer from the infinite past problem in that case.

how do you order a copy of a master's thesis?

Is there a typical procedure for this? I know the title, the author, the year, and the university (Leiden, in the Netherlands). I did a little digging on their website, but I'm not seeing anything obvious and I'm not sure I'm looking in the right places. If I knew the general procedure for this, it might help. I know people have gotten copies, because Olive Tree genealogy has yanked ship's lists out of it (which is, of course, why I want the book, too).

the massive failure of the "shelf of genealogies" idea

I've had a Family Register for one branch of my family since I was too young to drive, and a genealogy for another branch since I was 20. I've been good about keeping them together, but they have definitely had a tendency to migrate around shelves and other storage locations.

Lately, I've been buying them some company, and I've created a little enclave for them to live in. They have some history books to keep them company, Pearson's _Contributions_ for Schenectady (shortly to be joined by Pearson's _Contributions_ for Albany), all the Palatines by Jones, _Dear "Cousin"_, the 1954 Poage published by Higginson and the 193x Veeder, ditto. There's the two volume _Genealogies of New Jersey Families_ and some books about how to do genealogy as well (_The Source_, _History for Genealogists_, _They Came in Ships_). Oh, I see _Staten Island Church Records_, _Tracing Your Irish Ancestors_. . .

I had this lovely vision of beautiful, solidly built, acid free genealogies making my crappy little paperbacks look pathetic but beloved. But like every project I've ever undertaken, it is instead just threatening to take over an entire bookcase.