Sunday, December 27, 2015

Published Letters from Frank D. Bemis to His Parents in Clear Lake, Iowa (1945)

SS Monterey
In World War II the SS Monterey served as a fast troop carrier, often operating alone so she would not be slowed by formation navigation in a convoy. The United States Maritime Commission chartered her in 1941 before the US declaration of war to carry 150 Chinese, Korean and Japanese missionaries and stranded US citizens back to San Francisco. Once home she was quickly refitted to hold 3,500 soldiers. On 16 December 1941 she steamed to Hawaii with 3,349 fresh troops, returning with 800 casualties of the attack on Pearl Harbor [Wikipedia].

This mighty ship came to my attention when I found a series of letters printed in the Mason City (Iowa) Globe Gazette. The author was Frank D. Bemis, and they were written to his parents, C. F. and Addie Bemis of Clear Lake, Iowa, AFTER the end of WWII. What was Frank doing on this ship? Maybe I thought that WWII ended, when it ended, but his letters describe the process of bringing the troops home! A huge undertaking. What's more, Frank had served in WWI, so how could he be on a ship after WWII?
Please take a few minutes to read his account. You will gain a much better understanding of the effort, and the remarkable speed of this mighty ship. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Client Report - William W. Converse

I had a wonderful time presenting information to my client Brian last night. With a few months of research, I was able to determine who his second-great grandfather was, and find a line through his second-great grandmother, that connected him to a Revolutionary War patriot - James Morrison. If you are interested in learning more about this journey, I have posted a copy of this report. I would love to hear your questions and comments.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Genealogy Articles That Caught My Eye:
Price Increase at Newspaper Archive
For those of you who subscribe to will notice a huge increase in their pricing. However, there are a couple of options: check with your local library to see if they have a subscription, subscribe to which includes NewspaperArchive information, or join the Southern California Genealogical Society which offers access free to their members (membership is $35/year).
From Ellis Island to the Department of Homeland Security, our history is the history of United States immigration and nationality law and policy. This section explores the roots of the nation’s legal immigration system and the immigrant roots of your own family. [Click here]
Every genealogist and his sister wants to find one. But after years of searching, many find a document that raises as many questions as it answers. This is especially true of passenger lists dating after 1892, which are frequently found to have a variety of markings, codes, and annotations squeezed into the margins and small blank spaces above and behind information written in the list form's columns. [Click here]
FamilySearch recently published an online image base containing 5.776 million Massachusetts deeds from 1620-1986. It contains land and property records from the Massachusetts Land Office and county courthouses. The records include land grants, patents, deeds, and mortgages. This collection includes all counties in Massachusetts. [Click here]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

George Waitt: a Chain of Links to Malden, Massachusetts

It is with great pleasure that I announce publication of my first journal article, "George Waitt, a Chain of Links to Malden, Massachusetts." Included in the current edition of MASSOG, the journal of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, it is the result of a year-long journey of research and refinement.

Any project of this scope relies on the cooperation, support and input of a team whose goal is to provide a quality analysis of the facts, and arrive at a well documented conclusion. During this process, I have had outstanding support from the following individuals and organizations:
  • To Robert “Bob” Waitt, for writing his wonderful book about George Waitt and family of Stevens County, Washington.
  • The Stevens County Historical Society, who searched their archives and found documents and newspaper articles about George Waitt.
  • To Edward Lewis, of Northeast Family Research, Salem, New Hampshire, who worked tirelessly to help eliminate possible matches, and located the “deed” at the Registry of Deeds for the South District of Middlesex County, in Cambridge.
  • Luana Darby, of Lineages by Luana, West Jordon, Utah, who retrieved copies of Nathaniel Waitt’s probate file from microfilm at the Family History Library.
  • The Washington State Archives, Eastern Region Branch, Cheney, who helped locate the marriage records of George and Josephine.
  • To the Boston Public Library and the Library of Congress for helping locate legal notices from Boston area newspapers.
  • To Liz Loveland and the Boston BU Alumni group, who reviewed draft research and gave valuable input on further resources.
  • Sue Waite-Langley, of, whose tremendous knowledge of DNA research helped support the early hypothesis that George’s family came from the Malden, Massachusetts, area.
  • To George Martin, editor of MASSOG, and to Helen Ullmann, who did the final edits, for their professionalism, and gentle suggestions.
  • Finally, to Dick Waitt, for his support, encouragement, and confidence in the outcome; he was a pleasure to work with.

Dahlstrom, Steven L. "George Waitt: a Chain of Links to Malden, Massachusetts." MASSOG Vol. 37, No. 1 (2013): 24–31.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Finding Evidence to Support a Conclusion

Algernon Ridley’s wife Margaret Hilton Ridley, died 23 August 1948 at Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, California. Her death certificate lists her parents as D. C. and Margaret Hilton, and her birth place as Salisbury, Missouri.[1]

This is a classic example of finding all of the records that pertain to a particular question and building a case for a genealogical conclusion. In this case, the question is, "Who were Margaret's parents?" Her death certificate provides one piece of evidence and gives her parents names as D. C. and Margaret Hilton.

However, there is more to the story. I have compiled all of my research into a "Draft" proof summary, and invite you to read through it and give me your help. It appears as though her parents are Jacob Eccles (Ecles) and Mary K. Riddell (Riddle). But, the evidence is inconclusive.

I would LOVE to hear your comments and suggestions for solving this mystery. Please contact me directly, or leave your comments.

Click here to view the document.

[1] California, Department of Public Health, Certificate of Death, no. 12414, filed 25 August 1948 (5 October 1948); Margaret Hilton Ridley, died 23 August 1948 at Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, California; digital image, "California, County Birth and Death Records, 1849-1994, Los Angeles, Death Certificates 1948 no. 10900-13250," FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 February 2013), image 1587 of 2447.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Newspaper Accounts Tell "Interesting" Story

While researching one of my Bemis relatives recently, I happened upon a series of newspaper articles that help fill in those gaps between birth, marriage, and death. Mary (Hughes) Culp's first husband was Wilson Culp. She later married George Bemis. Upon initial inquiry concerning George Bemis, it was apparent that his new wife Mary had been married before, as there were several Culp children living in the household in 1930. Little did I know more about the story until I found these newspaper articles telling "the rest of the story."

"To Trace Fleeing Parson and Girl He Eloped With by Radio; To Give Reward,"
Daily Clinton (Indiana), 12 July 1922, p. 1, col. 6.
  Spring Valley, O., July 12 -- An attempt will be made by radio throughout the United States and Canada to locate Rev. Wilson Culp, Methodist "circuit rider" of this place, and Miss Esther Hughes, with whom he eloped several weeks ago. The father of the girl will bear half the cost of the hunt, Green County the other, and a cup is to be awarded by the county in case the man is found. George McKay, radio operator at Xenia, will broadcast the message.

"Pastor Forgives Wife After He Elopes With Another,"
Rockford (Illinois) Republic, 18 July 1922, p. 1, col. 6-7.
  Xenia, O., July 18. -- Rev. Walter Wilson Culp, former supply pastor of the Spring Valley Methodist Episcopal church, brought back from Port Huron, Mich., last night to answer to a charge of desertion, is to appear before Judge J. Carl Marshall to be arraigned.
  "I think I could love my wife better now than ever before," said the father of nine who deserted them and the wife of his youth to seek pleasure and peace in the arms of Miss Esther Hughes, 18, pretty music teacher. "She looks better to me today than she has for years."
  The deserted wife and her nine children, including the twins of seven months, were among those who stood on the station platform and saw husband and father brought back to face the law. Mrs. Culp waved to her husband. In response he raised a manacled hand, and smiled back at her and the children. No words were exchanged. None was permitted.
  Arriving there, he was willing to discuss his troubles.
  "My wife wasn't a Christian," Culp asserted. "When she was angry she would curse and no Christian can do that. I pleaded with her and prayed for her but to no avail. She made us leave, but I am willing to forgive her," he declared magnanimously.
  Culp hotly denied charges made by T. J. Hughes, father of the girl with whom he forsook home and family, that he had ever had an affair with another girl.
  "I think I ought to be given a chance," he contended. "I am willing to give Esther up. I have given her up."
  When Culp pleaded guilty to abandoning his family in probate court, he was sentenced to one year in the Dayton workhouse and fined $500.
  "Oh, God forgive me," were his last words as he was taken back to jail.

"Culp in Workhouse, Has Truck Patch Job,"
Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, 19 July 1922, p. 1, col. 5.
  Dayton, O., July 19.--Walter Wilson Culp, Spring Valley parson who took a flyer into the realms of love with Miss Esther Hughes, today began his sentence in the Dayton work house of one year for abandoning his wife and nine children. He also was fined $500 and costs.
  Culp will be put to work in the truck patch. He says he expected to go straight and do what he can for the moral well-being of those around and about him.

"Local Pick-Ups,"
Wakarusa (Indiana) Herald, 26 July 1923, p. 5, col. 6.
   Born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Culp of Mishawaka, Friday, twin babies. The one baby died and the funeral services were held at 3 o'clock Tuesday, Rev. H. E. Miller officiating. Burial at North Union.

"Report Culp Has Returned To His Home,"
Oil City (Pennsylvania) Derrick, 07 April 1925, p. 1, col. 6.
Wife Denies Former Minister Husband's Return, But Others Say He Has
  South Bend, Ind., April 6 -- Reports that Wilson W. Culp, former Mennonite and Methodist minister had returned to his home here following an elopement with his sister-in-law, Mrs. Dorothy Culp, led police to begin an investigation tonight. Culp's elopement with the 19-year-old choir leader of the Spring Valley, Ohio, Methodist Episcopal church, was a sensation two years ago.
  Mrs. Culp, mother of 10 children born to her and the former paster, denied that he had returned, but neighbors familiar with Culp insisted they had seen him about his home today.
  William L. Miller, St. Joseph county probation officer, confirmed late Saturday that Culp had left his home and that the wife of his brother, Clio Clup was also missing from her home at Nappanee, Ind.

"Former Pastor Deserter Again,"
Steubenville (Ohio) Herald Star, 16 July 1925, p. 14, col. 8.
Wilson Culp Is Still Most Ardent Lover; Joins Sister-in-Law Again
  South Bend, Ind., July 16. -- A.P. -- Wilson Culp, former Ohio pastor, still is a most ardent lover.
  The pastor who has twice deserted his wife and nine children, only to be forgiven each time, has again left his family and is believed by his wife to have left home with Mrs. Dorothy Culp, a sister in law, of Napanee, Ind., who disappeared at the same time as did Mr. Culp.
  It is the second time the pair have deserted their respective households in favor of each other. Last spring they cast their lots together only to break up when Mrs. Wilson Culp obtained a warrant charging non-support. When the latter refused to prosecute, each returned to their homes begging forgiveness. Their requests were granted and each promised not to do it again. However they are believed to have broken their promise and Mrs. Wilson Culp believes they have fled to Mexico.
  On previous occasions when Mr. Culp was in charge of a church in Ohio, he is said to have ran off with a choir singer only to be returned and sentenced to an Ohio workhouse on a charge of non-support. A similar charge is now pending as the result of a warrant obtained yesterday by Mrs. Wilson Culp.

"Pulpitless Pastor Can Marry Again,"
Lethbridge (Canada) Herald, 14 November 1925, p. 1, col. 2.
  South Bend, Ind., Nov. 14. -- Rev. Wilson Culp, pulpitless pastor, who twice deserted his wife and ten children to elope with Mrs. Dorothy Culp, his sister-in-law, is free to marry again, his wife having secured a final decree of divorce here.

"Eloping Minister Weds Sister-in-Law,"
Evening Independent (Massillon, Ohio), 24 December 1927, p. 1, col. 5.
  Chicago, Dec. 24, (/P)--Issuance here for a marriage license to Dorothy Culp, 24, and Wilson Culp, 49, has recalled the case of Wilson Culp, a minister who in 1925, eloped three times within a few months with his brother's wife, Dorothy, in South Bend, Ind.
  Culp was forgiven twice by his wife for the sake of their nine children, but the third time she sought a divorce, naming Dorothy Culp.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Looking for Help?

As many of you know, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has been gone for a year or two now.

I just wanted to let all know there is a new website out there that looks like it will be a great replacement for Random Acts.

Please check out Gen Gathering.  Be sure to volunteer wherever you can help.

Please share it with all of your friends and relatives.