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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Orange County NY Probate Records go online

Thanks to an Agreement between the Orange County Surrogate's Office and the Genealogy Society of Utah, the early Probate Records are being digitized and made available to the public. This is an ongoing project. 
To view these records, go to http://www.orangecountygov.com/history and look for the Genealogy Section.
For more information about the Orange County Surrogate Court and its records, go to http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/9jd/orange/surrogates.shtml

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Commonwealth Approves Changes to Royal Succession

I applaud this decision of the British Commonwealth, recognizing both the abilities of women to lead, and the inappropriateness of its former anti-Catholic position which dated back to the fall of the House of Stewart hundreds of years ago. Thank you, Mr. Cameron.

"PERTH, Australia—In a historic move that ushers in a new era for Britain's monarchy, rules governing succession to the throne will be changed to allow first-born females to succeed ahead of their male siblings and allow future rulers to marry a Catholic.
British Prime Minister David Cameron secured the agreement with the 16 nations that share Queen Elizabeth as their head of state during a meeting here of Commonwealth nations, a loose association of 54 countries that owes its origins largely to the British Empire.
Mr. Cameron said the changes will overturn hundreds of years of tradition but were needed to ensure the monarchy better reflects modern society.
'Attitudes have changed fundamentally over the centuries," the prime minister told reporters. "The idea that the younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter, simply because he is a man, or that a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic, this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries we have all become.'
In effect, Mr. Cameron said if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a first-born female, that child would be in line for the throne."

Friday, September 23, 2011

DNA studies of aboriginal hair point to 2 waves of migration

"In comparison with DNA from other humans, the DNA in the Aboriginal genome revealed the paths taken by the Aborigines' ancestors when they first migrated out of Africa as the first group to split away from the main group before Europeans and East Asians split from each other, according to the findings.
The rate of mutation in DNA indicates that the Aborigines moved out of Africa possibly 62,000 to 75,000 years ago toward Australia, and that the ancestors of Europeans and East Asians split from each other around 25,000 to 38,000 years ago.
'Aboriginal Australians descend from the first human explorers,' said Willerslev, whose work was published in the journal Science Express on Thursday."
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thomas Jefferson, the man

Anyone who attended the University of Virginia was taught to revere President Jefferson. 
So, when questions arose about the parentage of Sallie Hemings' children, a heated debate ensued. 
A DNA test, pointing to a Jeffersonian genetic connection, proved to the satisfaction of some but not all, that the President was the father. 
As I pointed out in an earlier posting to this blog, "Did he or didn't he... Thomas Jefferson and DNA", 10 May 2010, DNA testing points to the family, not to the man.
This debate will apparently continue for some time. 
What does it mean to be descended from a President? Does it inspire someone to become President himself? Does it create the motivation to be a leader? What difference does it make in someone's life to know that he or she is descended from a particular someone? Genealogy, the study of our ancestors, is more than a passion. It has become a national obsession. And, in the end, we are all one family...

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Japanese-American Intern Camp opens as Museum

"During World World II, as the United States battled Japan and the other Axis powers, 14,000 Japanese-Americans were incarcerated at a remote camp. Ex-internees, their descendants and local residents worked together to develop a place that would tell the stories of the forced relocation and teach its visitors lessons for the future. "

Click here to read the article on Voice of America

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Are we extra-terrestrials?

This morning, as I perused the news, I came across another article about Human DNA, and was surprised that I was not surprised, as it were, by this assertion.

The article on the Christian Science Monitor can be found via this link:
Are we all extraterrestrials?

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Monday, July 25, 2011

“Disponendo Me Non Mutande Me” – “You may displace me but you cannot change me.”

"The bigamist Duke and his three wives...After the 13th Duke of Manchester’s marital misdemeanours were aired in the High Court, his (very) extended family talk about the trials that the ignoble aristocrat has put them through."


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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Royal Watcher's link to the Grimaldi family of Monaco

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco celebrated their marriage this month with both a civil and a religious ceremony.

For the official website of the Prince's Palace of Monaco, visit here:

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Please join me in sponsoring Father Joe

Please join me in sponsoring Father Joseph Tyrrell of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in the NYC Marathon, as he raises funds for the National MS Society.


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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Prince Philip turns 90

Recognizable instantly for his tall frame and piercing gaze, Prince Philip, consort of Her Majesty Elizabeth II of Great Britain, looks back on a life lived entirely in the limelight.

For the article, go to:

The Duke of Edinburgh

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Her Majesty visits Ireland

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Ireland is the first visit by the head of the British Royal Family in 100 years. For an excellent explanation of the historic implications of this event, please see historian Diarmaid Ferriter's article:


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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tartan Day on Ellis Island, 01 April-03 April, 2011

Everything you ever wanted to know about tartan but were afraid to ask....
Think of tartan and many colorful images appear. 
Like a flag, tartan evokes the Scottish nation and its kilted clans. One look at tartan, and you can almost hear the skirl of Highland bagpipes. 
Tartan, more than anything else, is the symbol of Scotland. 
Yet, tartan – thanks to Scotland’s gift of it – is beloved throughout the world. No other fabric or pattern is so steeped in tradition. 
Or, paradoxically, so consistently at the forefront of fashion. 
Historians study it. 
Designers design in it.
Branders use it to sell products– think Scotch Tape.
Tartan – so steeped in history – just seems to appeal to something deep within us all.
Rockers and royals alike agree– tartan rules.
So, join us on Ellis Island as we explore and celebrate tartan–this national fabric of Scotland which has managed to capture the world.
To learn more, visit the website for Tartan Day on Ellis Island

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Scottish clans: cadets, septs & more

A Scottish Clan is a tribal concept, generally meaning an extended family all related by birth. A Clan is usually named for one person -- for example, Clan Mackenzie derives its name from Kenneth, its Progenitor. In theory, all Clan members are descended from him. In reality, some may not be, as over time a Clan may have been joined by other people. The seniormost branch of the family is the direct line of descent from the Progenitor to the current Chief [this is where the concept of tanistry meets the concept of primogeniture]. The senior branches of the family, or cadets, generally signify a subgroup, or family, that each descend from one of the Chief's sons. The affiliated branches, the septs, are often said to be unrelated by those who assume that a sept's allegiance to the Chief was a matter of safety during dangerous times. In fact, members of the septs are often the descendants of the Chief's daughters. Only DNA tests can show these relationships, but descendants of the septs would then show up as having the Y DNA of the men the daughters married, not the DNA of their father. It would take a very detailed DNA analysis to prove all the links.
Finding the above confusing...? Many Clans today welcome new members based on a mutual desire to respect and preserve Scottish heritage. A good place to find your Clan is in the Highlander Magazine, where they list their mailing addresses. Many Clans have a presence at the Highland Games. See also Electric Scotland.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

SCOTUS and Snyder v. Phelps

The US Supreme Court, sometimes referred to as SCOTUS, has issued an historical opinion regarding free speech, from which Justice Alito dissented. I am grateful to him for being the lone voice of reason. Hate crimes and free speech are not the same thing. This case appalls me, and my deep sympathy goes to Mr. Snyder for his suffering.

To read the Court's documents on the case, follow this link:

For other information about the Court, visit:

And for the National Archives' link to the United States Constitution, visit:

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Monday, February 28, 2011

DAR breaks ground on Women Veterans' Memorial

On Friday last, the Daughters of the American Revolution broke ground for a Memorial to honor women veterans.

“With the support of the 7,500 Illinois Daughters and the Illinois Department of the American Legion Commander Richard C. Groharing, we set out to erect a tribute to encompass the first women veterans of the Revolutionary War to today’s women veterans who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and world-wide,” said Luanne Frosch Bruckner, Illinois State Regent DAR. 
“The faces of Molly Pitcher, Margaret Ludwig Hays from the Revolutionary War to today’s women veteran, represented by Tammy Duckworth, deputy director of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C., an Iraqi veteran who lost both of her legs after being shot down in Iraq, were used for the sculpture. Tammy is also a member of the DAR."
...“Many years ago, a DAR, a former Army nurse, Gertrude Peterson of Rockford, told of her experiences as her group of nurses landed a few days after D-Day,” Bruckner said. “She inspired those listening with her matter-of-fact story of the incredible services given by these women. As an active member of the DAR, (I) have seen much of Illinois, and nowhere could (I) find a statue erected to honor only women veterans. A dream of creating such a tribute formulated and in 2008, upon accepting the nomination to lead the Illinois State organization as the Daughters of the American Revolution, a project was born.”

To view the article, visit Mt. Vernon Register-News

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Conservation of family papers

For those of us with records sitting in boxes in the attic, basement or garage, take heart -- there is a professional service which may be able to rescue your precious documents.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center provides helpful information about their services as well as a convenient Resources List
While its primary focus is on organizations, the individual family historian will find the programs helpful and informative.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Git yer kilt on!

Countdown to Tartan Day!! In approximately 80 days, Scots will take over downtown Manhattan and participate in a number of events including a kirkin' of the tartan, parade, live music, dancing, and perhaps some imbibing! To attend the events which make up the annual NY Tartan Week, go to http://www.tartanweek.com/ and be sure to sign up to participate in the parade with your Clan or your band (or your wee Scottish doggie). If you don't have a kilt, wear something tartan! 

Join your fellow Scottish-Americans as we celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, the document which was signed at Arbroath, Scotland on 06 April 1320. The Declaration was addressed to the Pope, and specifically describes the special relationship that Scots have had with the Church, as being under the protection of "the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter's brother."

To the most Holy Father and Lord in Christ, the Lord John, by divine providence Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman and Universal Church, his humble and devout sons Duncan, Earl of Fife, Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of Man and of Annandale, Patrick Dunbar, Earl of March, Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, William, Earl of Ross, Magnus, Earl of Caithness and Orkney, and William, Earl of Sutherland; Walter, Steward of Scotland, William Soules, Butler of Scotland, James, Lord of Douglas, Roger Mowbray, David, Lord of Brechin, David Graham, Ingram Umfraville, John Menteith, guardian of the earldom of Menteith, Alexander Fraser, Gilbert Hay, Constable of Scotland, Robert Keith, Marischal of Scotland, Henry St Clair, John Graham, David Lindsay, William Oliphant, Patrick Graham, John Fenton, William Abernethy, David Wemyss, William Mushet, Fergus of Ardrossan, Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Alan Murray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie, and Alexander Straiton, and the other barons and freeholders and the whole community of the realm of Scotland send all manner of filial reverence, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.
Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner. The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles — by calling, though second or third in rank — the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter's brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever.
The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and bestowed many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom and people, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peter's brother. Thus our nation under their protection did indeed live in freedom and peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English, Edward, the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom had no head and our people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or invasions, came in the guise of a friend and ally to harass them as an enemy. The deeds of cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning prelates, burning down monasteries, robbing and killing monks and nuns, and yet other outrages without number which he committed against our people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, no one could describe nor fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.
But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him Who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King and Lord, the Lord Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Macabaeus or Joshua and bore them cheerfully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand. Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
Therefore it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your sincerity and goodness consider all this, that, since with Him Whose vice-gerent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look with the eyes of a father on the troubles and privation brought by the English upon us and upon the Church of God. May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more, to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling-place at all, and covet nothing but our own. We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our condition, that we can, to win peace for ourselves. This truly concerns you, Holy Father, since you see the savagery of the heathen raging against the Christians, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and how much it will tarnish your Holiness's memory if (which God forbid) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time, you must perceive. Then rouse the Christian princes who for false reasons pretend that they cannot go to help of the Holy Land because of wars they have on hand with their neighbours. The real reason that prevents them is that in making war on their smaller neighbours they find quicker profit and weaker resistance. But how cheerfully our Lord the King and we too would go there if the King of the English would leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden well knows; and we profess and declare it to you as the Vicar of Christ and to all Christendom. But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our prejudice, then the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be surely laid by the Most High to your charge.
To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as duty calls us, ready to do your will in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar; and to Him as the Supreme King and Judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nought. May the Most High preserve you to his Holy Church in holiness and health and grant you length of days.

Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month of April in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth year of the reign of our King aforesaid.
Endorsed: Letter directed to our Lord the Supreme Pontiff by the community of Scotland.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year's Honours List

Have you ever wondered what a Knight Bachelor was, or the letters CVO or OBE? Confused about Orders of Chivalry?
Wonder no more, here are the official links for the List, which include an explanation:
Types of Honours and award
And for a downloadable current list of the recipients, please go here:
London Gazette

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

A guid New Year to ane an` a` and mony may ye see!

Presumably everyone knows that the traditional song with which we welcome the new year is Scottish, Auld Lang Syne. The poem by Robert Burns is just one part of Hogmanay, along with bonfires, first footing (good luck is associated with the first visitor of the new year) and fireworks. To learn more, go to RampantScotland's website, and have a great 2011!

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Who came first...

In the North, we have early settlements in Maine (English), Massachusetts (English) and New York (Dutch & Huguenot). In the South, we have them at Jamestowne, Virginia (English & Welsh) and at St. Augustine, Florida (Spanish).
Occasionally, I have to remind people of the order in which these events took place (and the fact that there were people already waiting on the shoreline when the Colonists arrived).
And, occasionally, an interesting find takes place at one of the sites, such as the recent discovery at Jamestowne of a cache of tobacco pipes allegedly made by Robert Cotton circa 1608, each bearing the name of the owner or intended owner of the pipe.

Click here for the news article. and click here for an excellent overview of the Jamestowne project.

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