ancestryink fisherman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sleek Form Follows Smooth Function: FindaGrave Has a New App!, the international, searchable grave memorial and cemetery database, has now created an app for your mobile device that is designed as conscientiously and thoroughly as the website.  If that isn't enough joy, it has great colors and a seamless, user-friendly format, both for searchers of the deceased, and for those who contribute photos for the database.
Click on image below to download app from their website.

Based on location services, you can now search for cemeteries from wherever you happen to be standing, via a Google map-style format.  One of my only struggles with the website since I began using it years ago, was the inability to quickly identify all the cemeteries within, say,  one specific town.  Now you can see them all at a glance.

Open the app and you will see the option to do a Memorial Search or a Cemetery Search.  I have already signed in to my photo contributor account, so you can see my ID name in the upper left. To find cemeteries around you, click on Cemetery Search.

A map will pop up with green and orange headstones.  Green means there are photo requests pending for that cemetery.  Orange means no photo requests.  As you touch the headstone, the name of the cemetery will pop up. Touch that, and you will be taken to the cemetery itself, listing all the memorials, photo requests, etc.  It's great!

When you get to the Cemetery page (see below), you will find a bright green/orange menu and a super-clear photo of that cemetery provided by a contributor.  Even though all the photos are the same as the website, suddenly they look crisp and bright.   Maybe because my iPhone 5S screen has great resolution... but whatever.  It is cheery bright and a breeze to read.

The Bay View Cemetery in Waquoit (East Falmouth, MA)  happened to have one photo request for Lydia Childs.  I clicked on the appropriate link, and up pops her memorial page:

Look how sleek it is!  There is her name in a nice clear font. I like the colors - they are pleasingly organic yet ...dignified.

The camera icon lets you take a photo from within the app.  Just click on the camera icon, and you can snap the photo, decide if you want to use it, and then seamlessly upload it to Lydia's memorial page. right then and there.

(If a headstone photo already existed for Lydia, it would appear in place of the camera icon.)

You can also scroll down her page for info about her family, birth and death dates, etc.

In this way, the app works like if you are familiar with this other grave database.

BillionGraves is popular, functions much like a social network, and has contributed many valuable gravestone photos to the webisphere. It too contains the camera icon and the capability of a swift,  on-site photo upload.

 Perhaps it is because I have used FindaGrave for so long, but I continue to find its emphasis more weighted towards actual genealogical information included on the memorial page.  The photos serve as an adjunct to that historical and biographical sketch provided by whomever originally created the memorial page.

All I can say is, if you are truly engaged in genealogical research for yourself or others, the well-researched info provided by this network of contributors is absolutely priceless.

Never have the dead been so easy to find!  Kudos to FindaGrave.  Their cool new app is the creme de la creme.

Again, click here to get the FindaGrave app.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lost With All Hands - Prescient Words From 1937

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is a mystery.  New evidence appears hour by hour as to where the flight headed, who was at the controls, and today more news of a personal kind: descriptions contributed by family members about the individual passengers.

The following article from a Baton Rouge, LA newspaper, January 17, 1937 - 77 years ago - gives us a prescient and haunting glimpse at the future for 1937 - a future that is now our present world. 

In 1937, even without the specter of our current technological capabilities of radar, cell phones, satellite images, the basic facts are the same.  A plane still disappears at sea, all hands "lost." 

And as the writer of this thoughtfully-penned article points out, disappearances of ships at sea have been happening since Ulysses. Still, families wait for news with a mix of grief, hope, confusion, denial, and unending questions.  With all our technology, the stages of longing for missing loved ones does not seem to have changed one iota.   Seventy-seven years later, we still pace the "Widow's Walk," hoping against hope for good news from the invisible realm.

Here is the article in sections - author unknown: 

Source of Article:  "Lost with all Hands," Morning Advocate, Baton Rouge, Lousiana: January 17, 1937 edition: page four. Author unknown. Digital database:

Friday, March 7, 2014

This Week Russia Sunk a Ship - and an Historical War Time Tactic Resurfaces

This week the Russian Navy extracted one of their aged anti-submarine ships from a Naval metal pile, dragged it out into the Black Sea, and with little ceremony, sank this rust heap in the watery passage leading to Donuzlav Lake, home to a Ukrainian naval base. 

As the Ukrainian - Russian conflict inflates daily, this act of Russian recycling is  "the latest in a series of moves by Russian naval forces in the area that were jangling the nerves of Ukrainian officers." *

I love that term "jangling the nerves." Note it does not say "scaring the heck out of" or "angering into retaliation." Jangled nerves connotes mere irritation.

The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming.

I immediately thought of the hilarious 1966 movie based on Nathaniel Benchley's novel "The Off Islanders."  Growing up on Cape Ann in Massachusetts, the film was a beloved thing in my home.

Supposedly located on an "island off Gloucester," the fictional Russians, intent on checking out an American town, strayed too close to shore in their submarine, ran it aground. My parents had honeymooned on Nantucket, and were convinced it was filmed on this island. (Indeed, the location looked nothing like Gloucester's rocky coastline.)  In truth, the movie starring the likes of Alan Arkin, Jonathan Winters, etc. was filmed in California.

But I digress.  (Wildly.)

The Russians in the movie were funny and sweet.  And in all fairness, I should include here that the Russians involved in the harbor-blocking incident of the news this week, did approach the Ukrainian Naval commander and "invite" them to get with the Russians so to speak, " promising good pay and a bright future."   Then, proceeded to sink their rusty heap of metal and bolts.

Historically, the sinking or careening of ships was a tactic used in our own Civil War, beginning 1861. The purpose was the same as the Russians:  to block harbors and prevent movement of ships. Though, in our Civil War, also with the intention of preventing an invasion by the Southern navy.

Falmouth had her own "Stone Fleet," as did Charleston, Mass., New Bedford, Mass. and other Northeastern ports.  The tactic involved local mariners responding to their Union Naval commanders, loading old, leaky, aging wooden vessels - previously used for whaling, fishing, or trading - with tons of stone.

The first stone fleet sailed from New Bedford aboard the Leonidas in November of 1861, with the mission of blockading the harbor of Charleston, SC to prevent the Confederates from conducting trade from this key trade location.
Library of Congress image: Illustration:Stone Fleet Charleston, 1861
Although the Leonidas would set sail on a bright sunny November day, the stone fleets usually sunk their vessels under cover of night.  The men would heroically commandeer this creaky fleet of stone to the designated harbor, with metal augurs, open a hole in the hull of their ships, and then hastily jump ship as she sank "like a stone" to the bottom of the sea. A nearby Naval War ship would pick up the men after the deed was done.

But, just picture the actual act:  Sailing from New Bedford to Charleston, SC, in November, (potentially the end of a hurricane season) on an ancient, out of commission, fragile ship loaded with stone.  A voyage that could take days or weeks.  These men were revered for their bravery.

For five long years, the seas around Charleston Harbor was littered with underwater obstacles, from the attempted blockades.  The U. of South Carolina and the Nat'l Park Service continues to conduct archaeological dives to map out the maritime struggles that took place here.  From the U. of South Carolina website:

“The archives of South Carolina’s maritime history are under water. For years we have had these great resources that we should hold in as much respect as historical documents,” said James Spirek, a USC underwater archaeologist. “They are the physical representations of the state’s maritime legacies.”

Spirek directed the project that began in 2008 and wrapped up this spring. He applied the same approach that was used to understand the historic landscape of Gettysburg to understand the Civil War naval operations at Charleston Harbor.

And, from historic news archives at - the following is an 1861 news article outlining the technique to be used by a Stone Fleet:**  (click for closer viewing)

And as I am writing this blog post, CNN reports that the Russians have sunk yet another ship with the purpose of blockading the Ukraine navy.

Perhaps some moment in the future will find an underwater team of archaeologists diving into the Black Sea, searching for sunken hulks, to help map out their own historical struggles.

And how many years into the future will men (and women, now) sail forth in "Stone Fleets" to protect their nation's freedom? It seems a simple and enduring method that, oddly, may never go out of date.

*Source:   Loiko, Sergie L.; LA Times/World; March 5, 2014; web edition:,0,5215300.story#axzz2vH9k8YcB

**The Stone Fleet. Vessels to be Sunk In Southern Harbors: Date: Saturday, November 23, 1861; Albany Evening Journal (Albany, NY) ; page 2.