Fisher and David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.com open the show with a question about politics. Do you know how your ancestors voted? Fisher learned about how his great grandfather voted in New York City in 1880 in a unique way. Hear how he figured it out. David then talks about a medieval ship that has been rescued from the bottom of a river in the Netherlands. Plus, the 8th century Viking treasure trove found in England last year has been given a new status. Find out more about both of these incredible discoveries. David then shares his weekly Tech Tip, and another free NEHGS guest user database.
Fisher then visits with Richard Boston from the Loveland, Colorado area about how he and a third cousin in California discovered one another, and the adventure they are now on together. They are researching a quilt made by their common great-great grandmother, stitched with 320 names from the Civil War period, some common, some famous. What are they learning about the mystery of the quilt? Check out the podcast!
Then (starts at 25:16), Fisher welcomes Henry Z. Jones back to Extreme Genes, author of the book series “Psychic Roots.” “Hank” has been working on this series since the ‘90s, and he’ll share three Twilight Zone-type stories from the genealogy trail that will blow your mind! (Visit HankJones.com.)
Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, wraps up the show visiting with Fisher about the various damaged and partially destroyed items he gave advice on at the Roots Tech Conference a few weeks ago. His thoughts just may revive a few of your treasures that you thought were toast!
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 128
Segment 1 Episode 128 (00:30)
Fisher: And, welcome back to another spine tingling edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com
I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. On the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out.
I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got some incredible guests today as always!
One person linked up with a distant cousin to find a quilt, a Civil War era quilt put together by an ancestor. 320 names on this thing and they’re doing research into each of those people and what their involvement was with the Civil War. It’s great stuff coming up with Richard Boston, out of the Loveland, Colorado area. In just a little bit, about eight minutes.
And then later in the show Hank Jones is back! He is the author of the Psychic Roots series, and if you’re not familiar with this, it’s a series of books about the strange serendipity things that happen to people who do family history research, and he’s got three stories that just might make your skin crawl. I mean just strange stuff, coming up later on in the show.
But right now let’s check in with Boston, and our good friend David Allen Lambert. The Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org
David: Greetings from Beantown, Fish! How are you doing?
Fisher: I am doing so well! First we have to congratulate our affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona, that being KTAR-FM, they’ve been nominated for the NAB Crystal Radio Awards, recognizing radio stations for outstanding year round commitment to community service. So this is a great honor for them just to be nominated, and I hope you win guys! Good stuff.
David: That’s a wonderful station! My sister in law listens to me on it all the time.
Fisher: I know. We’ve got a couple of emails this week before we even get started with you, and this is an important one because you mentioned a few weeks back about doing some research on the relationship of the Kardashians, and I said “This a Kardashian Free Zone here” on Extreme Genes, and Kathy Craig, dropped me an email that said “Thank you for not going the K way!”
Fisher: She said “I can’t stand to even say the family’s name. Thank you for leaving them out of my life in one of my favorite places, “Extreme Genes!” So, thank you for that Kathy, and a little reinforcement there David, we do not go there.
David: Kardashian Free Zone, you’re the boss, let’s follow the rules accordingly.
David: I will bow to the listeners.
Fisher: [Laughs] Then I got this one from Maxine Yarborough. Maxine is an antique dealer and she said “I recently heard on the program that someone’s ancestor was executed by hanging, and she said, I would like to politely correct the past tense of the word hang/hung. The correct verb when referring to a person is ‘hanged.’ Pictures are hung, people are hanged. Thank you for all the good work.”
David: That is true.
Fisher: All right David, what do you have for us today in your Family Histoire News?
David: Well, you know the first thing I want to just toss out there; we always talk about what we should not do in public. One of them is not talk about religion or politics. But have you ever wondered who your ancestors voted for?
Fisher: Yeah, that’s a good question. Actually I was able to determine one of them by the names my other ancestors were given. For instance, my grandfather was named Winfield Scott Hancock Fisher. Well, Winfield Scott Hancock was running for president the year that my grandfather was born, so I figured that kind of made it very obvious that my great grandfather was a Democrat.
David: And the oral tradition my grandmother told me that they had been Republicans since the time of Lincoln. So I don’t know if that meant every election but it does give us a clue. That’s why it’s so important to keep a journal and write things down.
Fisher: Yeah that’s right.
David: Well, getting to news; the first thing I want to say is, congratulations to James Mather, who found this amazing Viking hoard in Wallington, England… jewelery, coins, silver. We talked about this before but yet for James, it is now considered a British treasure.
Fisher: Well that’s awesome!
David: You don’t know what you can find when you’re looking for another man’s junk from long ago.
Fisher: That’s true! [Laugh]
David: So you know, bury a bag of coins and some bottle caps in your backyard, Fish, you never know, someone might dig them up and find them as treasure some day.
David: Okay, back in 2012 a large 55 ton ship called the ‘Medieval Cog’ was found in a river in Holland. This vessel dates back to the medieval era and most of it was stripped and it looks strongly that the ship was put into the harbor to deter traffic, but it laid in the silt and most of it is still preserved. A lot of the fittings were taken off but they found a brick kiln oven in the hulk of the ship and the galley.
David: So they’re trying to dry it out, the process could take up to three years. But they’re hoping to preserve this ancient wreck from long ago.
Fisher: That’s incredible.
David: I’d like to give my sympathies to the family of Tomie L. Gaines, 93, who passed away recently. He was a Buffalo Soldier, and reported to be the last from South Carolina.
David: He served in World War II, in the all black unit, the 27th Calvary, and you look at a lot of the different units that had served since the time of the Civil War and it’s sad to think that the twilight on these brave African-Americans is coming forward.
But again on the positive side, the units were then integrated. So the segregation of the Buffalo Soldier became a thing of the past after World War II.
Fisher: That’s right.
David: Now, I want to just jump into my Tech Tip or I can call it ‘Gen Tips’ which is the hashtag that I use for Twitter, which I’ve been going crazy on to promote both Extreme Genes and things going on here at NEHGS in Boston. The old hand writing that we look at week to week as genealogists and as historians sometimes can be puzzling. When you study a handwriting example from one person, after a while the letters will become unrecognizable or words can be applied to the curvature of letters and the words you’re having trouble with and often that will solve the problem. But the National Archives in England offers a free palaeography course, which is a study of hand writing, and I put the tip right up there under ‘Gen Tip’ and nationalarchives.gov.uk and it’s a great course!
At NEHGS every week we offer a free user database on AmericanAncestors.org and in this case I have the 1850 United States slave schedules available, in honor of ‘Black History Month.’ So this is a great free database, go to AmericanAncestors.org, signup as a guest user and these are waiting for your use right away.
Fisher: Well that’s great.
David: That’s all I have from Beantown this week, and we’ll catch you next time around, and I promise no more Kardashians!
Fisher: No more Kardashians! Thank you David!
David: Take care.
Fisher: And, coming up next we’re going to be talking with a man whose ancestor created a quilt from the Civil War era with 320 names on it! Who were they, what was their relationship to the family, what’s he finding out about it? We’ll talk to Richard Boston, in Colorado, coming up next on Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 128 (25:20)
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com
It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth.
As you know, we kind of describe the show sometimes as like a Drudge Report for family history news. We go looking in places like The London Times, The New York Times, and often some little gazette in Kentucky. But I found one recently from the Republican Herald, in the Loveland, Colorado area written by Pamela Johnson, about a man who made a connection with a relative, and they have this quilt made by this common ancestor, and I have him on the phone with us right now, Richard Boston.
Richard welcome to the show, nice to have you!
Richard: Well thank you Scott, how are you?
Fisher: I’m doing great, and I don’t want to spoil anything about what you’ve done. Tell us a little background about how you connected with this cousin and this project that you’ve developed around this quilt.
Richard: Okay, I was recently retired or semi-retired, was trying to update our family tree and I was on Ancestry one day in November of 2014, and found a great-great grandfather, James, and his wife Caroline Boston, on the family tree, that was actually on the Kite family tree.
Richard: It started as a great-great grandmother to this person as well, so I got interested but there was a note, the person had a family Civil War quilt that had been tucked away for about forty years, so I got really excited, tried an email contact, thought nobody would answer, then lo and behold within a day it turns out a third cousin, Gladys Irene Kite from Stockton, California, answered, and started to explain about this Civil War quilt that she had inherited. That explanation as it evolved was a quilt that had 320 names hand embroidered into patches on the quilt.
Fisher: Now the common ancestor for you, it was a second great grandmother to each of you, right?
Richard: That is correct.
Fisher: So a third cousin
Fisher: The interesting thing about this to me is, all these names on there, they couldn’t all be related to your ancestor as family.
Richard: Yeah, it turns out the only two names that are related are James and Caroline, both have their names embroidered in but the other 318 are Civil War soldiers, their names and the years in which they served.
Fisher: And so what have you been able to determine about these other 318, why are they on this quilt? What was your great-great grandmother’s connection?
Richard: We don’t exactly know yet. We’re still trying to figure that out and some other questions. Gladys said the story from her grandmother was that the quilt had been made by Caroline who actually had become a Civil War nurse at Benton Barracks during the Civil War and that the names were all patients of hers. Her husband James, our great-great grandfather was wounded and sent to Benton Barracks and spent time there. So that’s where we started.
Fisher: Now that’s the St. Louis area right?
Richard: Exactly, St. Louis, Missouri, Benton Barracks, General Hospital. So that’s where we started, and as we started to do research, currently medical records are very difficult to find but I’m undaunted [laughs]. We started to look at all these, it doesn’t appear that most of the soldiers were in Benton Barracks or cared for there by Caroline, but we say that because I think as of this morning it was 191 individuals we’ve done a good amount of research on. 125 of them actually wound up living in Kansas at least for a time after the Civil War.
Fisher: So there might be a connection there as well?
Richard: Exactly. Because the great-great grandparents originally homesteaded in Nebraska but by 1894 they’d relocated to Smith Center, Kansas, so we think there’s some connection there.
Fisher: So you have basically done this research nearing 200 of the 318 other people in here to find out who they were, and I remember seeing in Pamela’s article something about somebody tied to Lincoln was on there, what was the story behind that?
Richard: Yeah. John Holmes, the Union lifeguard, Ohio Cavalry in 1863, that unit was selected to be bodyguard to President Lincoln. He was a Private in the cavalry and now he was bodyguard to Lincoln, but on the night of the assassination, John Holmes was on guard outside of Ford’s Theatre and was unable to change the course of history basically, but he also later that night, after Lincoln was shot, stood guard over Lincoln’s body until Lincoln passed away.
Fisher: So he was in his presence at that time. Unbelievable.
Richard: That’s correct.
Fisher: Now have you been in touch with the families of any of these individuals?
Richard: We have, and that’s part of our intention is to connect with at least a few living descendants of soldiers and fortunately we were able to locate descendants of John Earl Holmes. After the war Mr. Holmes and his wife settled in north central Kansas near where the great-great grandparents lived, and subsequently then moved to Topeka. Well we located living descendants of John Holmes, one who actually started a shoe store in town about seven miles from where he currently lived. But we also found that the original John Earl Holmes was buried in Topeka without a headstone. So we actually had a headstone made for him and his wife and then ordered one from the Veterans Administration, a Civil War headstone and had those put in place in Topeka, and so the living descendants have been invited to attend a dedication of those two headstones in Topeka this coming Memorial Day.
Fisher: Oh how fun, are you going to go?
Richard: Yes I’m definitely going to be there.
Fisher: This is kind of a project that could go on for years and years and years.
Richard: Well it could, yes. It’s going a little faster now than when we first started after you start to see some patterns but we intend to publish a book and to teach history in a little more detailed way than the ordinary high school class remembers the dates of certain battles and so forth. We want to use our family, the quilt, and the connection of these soldiers to teach what was going on before the war, during the war and after the war, a lot of huge events that were happening. I think the quilt allows us to do that with. So the research to that could take several years.
Fisher: So, obviously you’ve spoken to your cousin on the phone many times and you collaborate with her. Have you actually seen her, met her, and handled the quilt?
Richard: Well, the answer to the first couple of questions is, not seen her, just photographs, telephone and email. Last August, I was headed for a research trip back to Kansas and Nebraska to do some research on the family, and hopefully find out the origin of the quilt, but for that trip, Gladys was kind enough to send the quilt back to us and so, yes, I have held it with cotton gloves and actually had it appraised at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska at that time and had it professionally photographed as well. Photography is just great, and some of the challenge of doing any genealogy – as you know is, especially when things are in a cursive, is trying to determine exactly the spelling or what is written, and it’s kind of exacerbated as people were not just writing, but the names were embroidered by someone who was probably working from a list of names, so it really helps to look at the quilt, and it also has told us a couple of things. There are three distinct kinds of stitching styles, so that we just believe there’re at least three people helping to make this quilt, based on the cursive style of writing or embroidery.
Fisher: Any idea who they were and why would they do this? What’s with the collaborative effort? Can you figure anything about that?
Richard: Well, we know that in Nebraska, Carolyn was having quilting parties. There’s no mention of this quilt. It was kind of a popular thing to do… to get together with friends or family or neighbors to do quilting. This particular quilt, we don’t know exactly why or we don’t know exactly know who, we believe it was Carolyn. And one of her daughters and possibly a granddaughter got some reasons for that, but we need to find some proof of it, I guess.
Fisher: And maybe the way to do it is to kind of match up some of the hand writing styles of the people you suspect might be involved in it.
Richard: Yeah, that might work. You know, I don’t know for sure if that’s going to work. We’re hoping still is, local newspapers from the Nebraska… we were able to get thirty years worth, and found lots of titbits about, like they said, quilting and other activities, and I need to go back to Smith Center to look at the microfilm of the local newspapers, see if they have columns there that might have some reference to this quilt being made.
Fisher: Have you gone through Newspapers.com or the National Archives, Chronicling America?
Richard: Yes, both of those, and unfortunately, the two small newspapers, one in Nebraska and one in Smith Center are not on either of those sites.
Fisher: Okay. Have you checked GenealogyBank.com?
Richard: Have not checked that yet, no.
Fisher: Yeah, they have different ones. That’s the thing. There’s an overlap on a lot of these services, but most of them have some that are unique to each site, so you might want to check that out. I hope that works out for you, because these small towns, there is an awful lot of minutia that was published in these papers back in those times.
Fisher: Well, this has obviously changed your life, Richard. What was it like when you held that quilt for the first time?
Richard: Well, I really had literally butterflies thinking about the connection, way more than a hundred years ago, with all of those soldiers and the grandparents that are on there. Yeah, it was just unbelievable because I grew up thinking our family had never done anything great. And what I’ve realized in the last couple of years is that all families have done something great, even if it was doing what you’re supposed to do, paying taxes and going to work and raising a family. That’s something in itself. It’s great.
Fisher: Well, you’re absolutely right. All right, before we go, one or two little stories about people you’ve found out of those 190 some odd that you’ve researched so far that stick in your brain.
Richard: Oh boy! There’re a couple of scoundrels on here. There’s one that was married and forgot to get divorced and got married again and had nine children. He found out his wife was already collecting his pension when he went to file for it.
Fisher: Great stuff. I hope you’re able to find some photographs of some of these people for your publication down the line, and let us know when you write your book.
Richard: All right, I definitely will.
Fisher: All right, great stuff. Richard Boston from the Loveland, Colorado area, working on a Civil War quilt made by his ancestor when he connected with a cousin, and Richard, you’ve got to listen to the next segment coming up here with my friend, Hank Jones, the writer of Psychic Roots. He’s got an incredible story relating to that very hospital in St. Louis. It’s coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 128 (44:45)
Fisher: And we are back, America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with my good friend, Henry Z. “Hank” Jones. He’s one of those guys with an awful lot of letters after his name, which means he’s really, really smart. Hank, how are you? Great to have you back!
Hank: I’m fine Scott. Good to talk to you. Thank you, thank you, and hello to all your listeners!
Fisher: And Hank is the author of just a ton of books, relating not only to family history, but his show biz life as well. He was in Disney movies and TV shows back in the day. So, it’s kind of like you’re two people, Hank.
Hank: Tell me!
Hank: [Laughs] It’s very, very spooky. Very spooky. It’s nice. Actually, what was fun is show business, you know, you work in spurts. And I would do a movie or a TV show, and then sometimes you would have a couple of weeks off, sometimes you’ve had a month off. And so, what did I do? I went to the library, did research and climbed the family tree, and it actually was very therapeutic to have two loves of my life in the sense of careers, and I could go back and forth in it. It got me through some slow times. It was great.
Fisher: Well, and think about it too, I mean, one involves being out there in front of everybody and the other is just you by yourself and a machine.
Fisher: You know?
Hank: You know, don’t talk anymore about that. I think I’ll hang out and go back to my machine.
Fisher: Yeah, right, right. Well, Hank is the author of a series of books on Psychic Roots, serendipity and intuition and genealogy. And last spring we did a segment with you, Hank, and talked about some of the crazy things you’ve run across, and thought we’d go back to the well and see what else you’ve got for us, because you’ve got a long list of stuff here.
Hank: Well, what I did back about 1994 or so, weird stuff was happening to me as I was doing my research. I just couldn’t explain it, and I wanted to know if I was the only one getting a little too close to the butterfly net. So, what I did is, I wrote to 200 of my colleagues around the world, you know, the really sharp people in genealogy, “Has any of this stuff ever happened to you that you couldn’t explain?” And the responses are still coming, I’m up to about 1,300, Scott, around the world, that are telling me their stories that, you know, they all usually start with, “Well, I’ve never told this to anybody before, but here goes…” and they lay one on me. And, they’re just amazing, some of these things.
So this was written to me by Betty Williamson Chan in Lynnwood, Washington. About twenty years ago, she says she was in St. Louis with her family, and they had some time to kill before a baseball game, so they went to the top of the Gateway Arch, and they were looking around from that beautiful arch down below and what did they see but a big building down below that had turned out the be the St. Louis County Courthouse. And, to any genealogist worth his salt, it’s almost ‘well, goodbye ballgame, I’m going to see what’s in this courthouse’. So, Betty said she led her kids all the way down there and they had this wonderful exhibit of the Westward Movement, dioramas and exhibits all through the courthouse. And as they’re walking around, looking at these wonderful exhibits, all of a sudden, Betty started to hear something, and she was the only one hearing it. And she said; what it was was a voice saying, “No! No! I won’t let you cut off my leg! Under no circumstances can you cut-off-my-leg!”
Hank: And as she was hearing this voice, she started to smell something and it was the weirdest most unpleasant smell, I mean, it was a sort of like a formaldehyde smell. A very bad medicinal smell and it started to make her sick. So, as she told me, she ran outside the St. Louis County Courthouse and lost her lunch in the bushes, she was so sick. Well, about twenty years later, she says, she was doing research on her great, great grandfather, Williamson, that was his last name. She finally had his pension application, and it turned out that he was wounded in battle in the Civil War and was taken for hospitalization to the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis Missouri.
Fisher: Oh my gosh!
Hank: And it turns out that Jefferson Barracks today is the St. Louis County Courthouse. And in the pension papers, it said, “The applicant complained so much that we not cut off his leg, that we decided not to do it, and he will have to walk with a limp for the rest of his life.”
Fisher: Ooh, my hair just stood up!
Fisher: What was her reaction when she found that?
Hank: ‘Totally stunned’, she said. And she didn’t know what to do with it. And she said, “It was one of these, you won’t believe this, but honest to God, this is what happened”. So, that was one of them.
Fisher: Wow! You can’t make that up.
Hank: No, no, you can’t make that up. David Rencher, many of you know, David is an officer in the family history libraries all around the world, and Dave told me a story. It was told to him by a man named Lee Davidson who works at the Family History Library in suburban Maryland, one of them. And Mr. Davidson was sitting at his computer in the library, all of a sudden, a lovely black woman walked in and sat at the computer right next to him, and she was wearing clothes, he said, of a very colorful African tribal design that suggested that, well, she might have been a Muslim. And so, they worked side by side for a whole hour, until Mr. Davidson just happened to look over at her computer screen right next to his, and Mr. Davidson, it took his breath away, because on his own screen was the exact same information that was on her screen.
Fisher: Oh, wow!
Hank: It was about a Maria Beeks. Born almost 400 years ago in Holland, Maria Beeks was his tenth great grandmother, so, Mr. Davidson leaned over to the lady and asked her kind of an obvious but maybe kind of a strange question. He said, “Are you looking for Beeks in Holland?” And she looked up, startled and said, “Why, yes, I have Beeks ancestors”. Well, he turned his computer monitor to the left, she turned her computer monitor to the right and there, indeed, on both screens was the same information. Yes, the black Muslim woman, and a white Mormon man were both tenth great grandchildren of Maria Beeks, born 399 years ago in Holland. Some of Maria’s offspring immigrated to the Netherlands, some had slaves, some were slaves. And it reinforced in me two licence plates personalized that I saw in California one time. One said, ”We are one’ and the other said, ‘I am you’. And Genealogy gives us the chance to do this every so often.
Hank: It makes us realize we are part of the human family.
Fisher: Isn’t that incredible?
Hank: Yeah. And then there were ones that I think Rod surely would have put on his Twilight Zone episode. My favorite was told to me by Clifford Neil Smith who was one of the deans of American-German Genealogy who passed away in Arizona a few years ago. And also by the way, I phoned Mr. Smith about a month before he died, saying, “Clifford, is this a real story or is this just genealogical grapevine stuff?” And he said, “Hank, honest to God, this happened to me.” Well, Clifford Neil Smith for years had found many of our German ancestors that came to America, but he couldn’t find his own ancestor’s ancestral home in Germany. The trouble was, his name is Smith, but originally, it was Schmidt in German, and so, you know, it’s as bad as my Jones.
Hank: So, one day, Mr. Smith was sitting on his porch in Arizona, put his feet up on the rail and he said he was leaning back in his chair and all of a sudden, appearing before him was a man dressed in a Hessian uniform that looked very revolutionary, the Revolutionary War, and the man told Mr. Clifford Neil Smith, “Clifford, you’re looking for me in the wrong places. I came from this village in Germany.” And he gave the name of the village and then, he disappeared like that.
And Clifford didn’t know what to do, but he remembered the name of the town the man said he came from, looked it up, and there, after 50 or 60 years of looking was indeed his ancestor’s ancestral town and his ancestor’s name. And again, I double checked this, because this is so weird, and he said, “It happened, Hank. It really, really happened.” Now, these, these are the extreme stories. These are the Twilight Zoners.
Hank: But what really happens, I think, Scott, is that the little gentle ones, the little prods, the little nudges, I think the most common response that has come in from people around the world that are sort of interested in this and genealogy, is that they say, “Once in a while, I feel, I feel kind of led. I feel like something is pushing or prodding or nudging me along to look in a place where information has no reason to be, and I follow it up and many times that’s where the information is that I’ve been looking for all my life”. So, it does happen. It does happen, and it sure is fun.
Fisher: It really is.
Hank: I think our ancestors want to be remembered. I don’t know how it works. I think one of the successes with the Psychic Roots books – by the way, we are on our ninth printing now – is that, I have no agenda. I’m not trying to push anything, because this happens to young, old, every ethnic group, very religious people, atheists, nobody’s got a hold on it. It happens to the humans. We’re human, it happens to us.
Fisher: It’s happened to me. Good stuff, Hank. It’s always just a pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks for sharing some of your very strange but fascinating stories from Psychic Roots!
Hank: Okay. By the way, du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du
Fisher: [Laughs] and by the way, you can check out Hank’s books at HankJones.com. And coming up next, it’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority, on how you can fix the unfixable, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 128
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show
It’s Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority and every week we talk about what’s going on in that world and Tom, in the world of Roots Tech, you’re getting a lot of visits at the conference at Salt Lake City Utah, with people bringing you all kinds of things.
Tom: Oh absolutely! We had people bring us boxes and tubs of things and said “Hey, you know, I didn’t want to ship this. I feel a little uncomfortable so I brought it on the plane with me, what can we do with this?”
Which is awesome, it’s an awesome idea if you can’t find somebody local that you can trust that can do these for you. We had a lady that was doing some genealogy research on eBay and found somebody that had some old photographs that had glass on them, glass type positives. By dumb luck she found out these are family people so she bought the whole box.
Tom: So she brings it home and she’s looking at it and thinking “Oh I need to get these scanned.” She took it to a place which will remain nameless, but what happened is, she took them all in and they looked fine when she went back to pick them up, some of them had turned yellow.
Fisher: Oh dear.
Tom: And she asked us what could have happened to these.
Tom: And the only thing that I could think of that could turn these bad in such a quick time would be some kind of heat, so since she had them all in a stack, it was just the ends I could see somebody set them on a heater or something.
Tom: But since they’re weren’t in order or whatever the only thing we can figure out is they must have spread them out on a table, there must have been a heat duct right above the table they were working on and maybe this individual got called up front to help somebody or got started on another job and left them there and there was enough cycling of the heat coming on and off that yellowed some of these.
Fisher: Oh my goodness! Where they permanently destroyed or was this something you could fix?
Tom: Well, of course the original is permanently destroyed, nothing you could do about it however the good news is, that’s not that hard of a fix. We can rescan it, take that scan, clean it up, get rid of the yellow in it, and as kind of a note on this, a sidebar which we’ve talked about in the past. Whenever you scan black and whites, still make sure you scan them in color, don’t think “Oh this is black and white I’m going to scan it in gray scale.” No- big mistake! Always scan everything in color and at first people say is “I don’t want it in color, I want it in gray scale.” Okay wait… scan in color so you have more information, now once you have that information make a duplicate of that and turn it into gray scale and it will look like you originally scanned it.
So maybe 10 years from now or even a year from now you might want to go back and say “You know what, there are some cracks and some spots in here I want clean up.” You go back to your original color which has more information and do your editing then, same thing if you have a jar of sand or a jar of pebbles, you have a lot more stuff in the sand so you want to always do it in color, so that’s important.
So we can take these, we can rescan them and we can take the yellow out so your prints wouldn’t look great but you’ll always have in the back of your head these glass positives some of them are yellow, and if you’re like me, you’re OCD, it will drive you nuts.
Fisher: [Laughs] just the idea of it though, I mean they were antiques, what year do you think we’re talking about?
Tom: These were from… I believe she said they started in the early 1900’s so I mean they were old stuff, they were like her great grandparents.
Tom: And you know, some of them she still doesn’t know who the people are because you know there’s websites out there that you can upload things and they will go and search and sometimes they’ll find face recognitions and find out who these people are. I also told her once we scan all of them put them on your Facebook page, put them in any public places you can think of and put a little note that says “Hey, we’re trying to find out who these people are.” And maybe somebody else will have the same luck you had, like you, looking at this one and going “Hey, that’s my great grandfather! That’s incredible.” And somebody else will find out and you’ll be able to help somebody else fill in some holes in their genealogy that will make it nice.
Fisher: Yeah, post to a local area that you know they’re from.
Tom: Exactly! Because you never know whose going to stumble across those, I mean you hear all kinds of miracle stories. Another photograph we had come in, was really, really sad. Somebody put a thumb print right on a family photo and as the years went by it kind of destroyed that picture. So after the break we’ll tell you how we can go in and fix that too.
Fisher: Oh boy! Sounds like you had a very busy booth at Roots Tech.
Tom: Oh it was!
Fisher: All right. We’ll get caught up with it in 3 minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 128
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are back! Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com
It is Fisher here, final segment with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority and talking about all the strange, interesting and fascinating things that people were bringing to Tom’s booth at the recent Roots Tech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tom, you were talking about a picture that somebody brought in that had a fingerprint right over the face of somebody, and I guess the acids in the finger were actually causing the face to disappear. What did you do?
Tom: You know, you never know what’s on somebody’s finger or thumb, but over the years this was compounded… plus it was put in a frame that was facing a window, an open window and so it had faded, it had the UV problem. So basically this girl’s face didn’t exist anymore.
Fisher: Oh boy. Was it a group thing?
Tom: Yeah it was a group photo, like a family photo and she happen to be in the photo. She was one of the people in the photo when she was young. So that helps us a little bit because we know who the person is, however she has searched and searched and couldn’t find any other photos of this person even close to this age. So we can’t just go and say “Oh this is what she looked like” and have our artist go and redraw her so we going to have to kind of make it up as we go. Kind of look at the face structure, it may not look like her but we’re going to make something that looks good.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well because you can’t trash the entire picture there are lots of other people in it, it’s an era photograph.
Tom: Oh exactly! Exactly. We’re going to do the best we can and another thing that’s important, if you ever send anything to us or have a question just write me at AskTom@TMCPlace.com and just send me a little jpeg or PDF it doesn’t matter, so I can look at it and see what I can do with it. This picture has been so faded we can’t even tell what color the people’s clothes were originally.
But she can remember to say “Oh I remember Sally, who is bottom left, used to have this yellow dress. So that way we can go back and try and make it as pure as possible. However, if this picture had been older and she didn’t know any of the people we have to go and say “Well, let’s make her dress yellow, let’s make hers pink, let’s put this guy in Levis you know.
Fisher: Right. Or you just make the whole thing black and white.
Tom: Right and you can always do that too but a lot of people are purists… they like the color pictures. I’m not in to the old black and white movies they made color, if they’re black and white, leave them black and white.
Fisher: Right. I feel the same way. Yeah.
Tom: But some people want color, so we’re going to go in and do this for her. Now, she didn’t want to leave the photo with us because it’s the only one that she has, so what she did it, she took it back home and sent us a scan. Now one thing about scanning too, you want to have the best scan possible. It gives you as we talked about in the first segment more information that you can edit from.
So then what you want to do is take it to one of these places that do large format printing, that do billboards and such because they’re going to have big drum scanners, so have them scan it for you and then either text it to us, put it on disk send it to us whatever then we can work with it. But sometimes it’s not just a scan like this one photo with a finger print on it, there’s little tricks that we know, we can sit and look at the picture, try something, scan it, do little changes on it, scan it some more whether we’re doing filters whatever and sometimes we can actually enhance a photo in the scanning process. So it’s not always about dpi.
Tom: So if there’s any way you can bring it in to us that is always going to be the best way to do it. Because our artists are amazing at little tips and tricks that they’ve learned and if you do decide to go ahead and send it to us, make sure that you do scan it first just in case, it’s never happened in over 40 years, we’ve never had anything lost sent to us. But just do that for your own piece of mind, ship it in a way that you can track it, and then a lot of times like I say our scanners can go in and as they’re scanning it they can do things that’s going to save them time.
And a lot of people say “What’s the cost of this?” This one picture’s only going to cost about a $100 to have it fixed which may sound like a lot, but what we’re doing is incredible. We’re taking this photo where a face is missing that’s all faded and going to make it look beautiful once again. So that’s what you want to do, end result what’s important to you and that’s what we need to do.
Fisher: And how much it’s worth, ultimately.
Fisher: All right, great stuff, Tom. Good to see you!
Tom: Good to be here!
Fisher: That wraps up our show for this week! Thanks once again to Richard Boston, from the Loveland, Colorado area, for sharing with us his story of his great, great grandmother’s quilt and all the names on it relating back to the Civil War and what his research is telling him.
And to Hank Jones the author of the Psychic Roots series for sharing those incredible Twilight Zone- like tales on the show! If you missed it, make sure you listen to the podcast.
Take care, we’ll talk to you again next week and remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal, family!