May 31st, 2014

Oh, Zillow: You Are So Cute When You Are Wrong

Zillow sent me email telling me that its zestimate (tm) of the value of something or other has changed! Often I ignore these things, but I was in a zillow kind of mood. Earlier today, on a walk around the neighborhood, R. picked up a check. We looked at who it was made out to and I thought, hey, I bet we can find someone with that last name in our town and deliver this to who it belongs to. I could (because genealogy has really helped me with the surname predictions) and we did and I called ahead before heading over and then we had a nice chat at the door. Anyway. The house to which we delivered it seemed to R. to have previously belonged to the cousins of someone he used to live with so when we got home, I thought I'd look up the last sale of the house, which turned out to be 1999 and then, because I Am That Person, I did a little further snooping on Mass Land Records.

While I was at Zillow, however, I looked something up, and ran across this highly entertaining paragraph:

"Among 01720 homes, this home is valued 41.6% more than the midpoint (median) home, but is valued 7.3% less per square foot. Foreclosures will be a factor impacting home values in the next several years. In 01720, the number of foreclosures waiting to be sold is 2.9% higher than in Acton, and 66.7% less than the national average. This higher local number may prevent 01720 home values from rising as quickly as other regions in Acton."

There's only one zip code in Acton and it is 01720. Zillow, you are so adorable when machine writing text.

The kids are hanging with the sitter (she met them at open gym). We had lunch at El Huipil, which meant we got a good look at the lack of a parking garage that is the newest feature of Maynard.

I've been trying out Duolingo, with Spanish. That's sort of fun.

Great-Uncle Hein's Second Wife

By way of context, I'm reading _Family Trees_ by François Weil, which as a history of genealogy in (mostly) the US, got me thinking about genealogical matters and related issues (I'm about half way through and it's pretty good). I'm not sure what precisely set me off, but I distracted myself for a while looking into how citizenship rules currently work in Canada, and found this lovely tool for answering the question, "Am I Canadian?", which sounds like a joke but is not (and apparently, the answer for me is yes, which led to further discussion with my sister about whether to do anything about that).

As we were plodding through the details of what paperwork we would each need, I went over to to track down some key dates in my sister's life which she had sort of misplaced, and then I went through some paperwork she stores with me to find some more (and then enter it into

While I was there, I poked around at some links and picked up some of the immigration records that were linking to some family on my dad's side, notably, Great Uncle Hein. Hein americanized his name fully in daily life (becoming Harry Smith); his brother didn't take such a large step, retaining his Dutch last name, but converting Simon to Sam (I still don't get this -- Simon is a perfectly good American name, but apparently Sam was even better). Neither bothered to change it legally, so their birth name is present in the immigration paperwork, altho the Americanized version is in the census.

And then I noticed that Hein's entry had picked up a hint for a death record. And wow, it was the right death record. There was a transcription error of his dad's first name (Aobe should have been Æbe which doesn't render real well, so I'll add: Aebe for clarity), but everything else was perfect. And there was an entry for the spouse.

Now, I went to some trouble to track down Hein's first wife and daughter and descendants, at the request of my first cousin once removed who I named my daughter after. I somehow missed the existence of a second wife. Is this real?

Today, I went over to Washington Digital Archives, where there is indeed a Harry Smith marrying a Mabel Berge. ("Mabel A." on the death record) The witnesses are Thelma E. Berge (her sister -- and I've found them in a North Dakota census record 20 years earlier, complete with middle initials for both girls and the marriage license indicates North Dakota) and Florence Pflueger. The officiant is E.R. Pflueger, and I can find a 1940 census entry at the address on the license for a minister named Edward Pflueger -- Florence was his daughter. And the address is within 2 miles of where Harry was living with his daughter from his first marriage, also on the 1940 census.

So looks like Hein married a second time, and the marriage was again sadly brief, cut short by the death of one of the parties. Mabel A. Berge Smith would have been 32 at the time of the marriage and 35 when Harry died, so it is possible there is a child or children. I know how I missed this, but it still seems sort of weird.