Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher shares with David his recent discovery that an ancestor, William Downs, sailed with the “King of Pirates,” Henry Every, in the late 17th century. David then moves on to “Family Histoire News,” with world of a Connecticut town filled with Scottish “Lords and Ladies.” Why is this? He’ll explain. Then, a man is helping local authorities trace down family members of individuals whose remains have turned up in abandoned cemeteries. You’ll be amazed at what they found to identify the dead. Then, it’s the story of an Australian town whose historians missed the mark, creating for a rather awkward celebration. And, if you’d like a free old family house, the guys can point you in the right direction!
Then, Fisher visits with author Gloria Merchant of Rhode Island. Since his recent discovery of his ancestor’s pirate past, he’s learned that he is not alone. Many genies have pirates back there. In two parts, Gloria explains why Rhode Island was a major pirate haven in the 17th century, and what tools you might use to learn more about your ancestor’s swashbuckling ways!
Then, Tom Perry talks about CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, and some new devices that could change the way we do all kinds of things, including genealogy. Tom also helps you understand how to get a fair price and how to know you’re dealing with the right people when getting your materials digitized.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 221
Fisher: Hey, welcome to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. I’m very pleased today to have Gloria Merchant on the show. She’s the author of a book called “Pirates of Colonial Newport in Rhode Island.” And the point of this whole thing is, recently I discovered that my seventh great grandfather wasn’t just a pirate. He was on the pirate ship of the “King of the Pirates,” Henry Every, who sailed out of England and they took the biggest treasure haul ever. And so, I started researching this a little bit and as I posted things on our Facebook page, found that many of you have found that you had pirates in your background. So, Gloria has written a great book about the pirates of colonial Newport. And Newport, Rhode Island, by the way, was a pirate “haven” and she’s got a lot of insight, not only on that and some great stories, but also maybe how to research your potential pirate. Anybody who’s a mariner back in those days might have been one, so we’ll find out more coming up in about 8 or 9 minutes. Just a reminder by the way, if you haven’t done it yet, get signed up on our Patron Club. You can do it through ExtremeGenes.com. Just click on the button there or go to Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes. We give you all kinds of bonus material. We do a monthly “Ask Us Anything” segment with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and early access to our shows after they air. And speaking of David Allen Lambert, he is on the line with us right now from Boston, Massachusetts. How are you doing David? Welcome back!
David: Hey, I’m doing good. We’re digging out after having a terrible snow storm early in the year, but we’re all still standing and the icicles are falling off.
Fisher: Well, that sounds like a fun way to start out the New Year. [Laughs] And of course it’s been stupid cold. You know, I‘ve got a sister who lives in Boston and she’s been reporting on it. I’m sure there are a lot of busted pipes in all of that but more importantly, the good news is you can stay indoors, you can work on your computer and do a little research and find out about your people. This is very cool by the way. I was just talking about the pirate thing, David, and I found an actual proclamation from King William of England in 1696.
Fisher: And it was the first worldwide hunt for a pirate, or for anybody for that matter. And he was putting up a 1,000 pounds of reward and then they mentioned 25 crew members. And my seventh great grandfather was one of the crew members mentioned. So, that tells me he was in on the entire voyage of this particular ship and it’s an “ugly” history. But, we’re digging it up and having some fun with that and that’s why we’re talking pirates today.
David: Oh, that’s great. Well, argh! [Laughs]
David: Well, this doesn’t deal with Rhode Island but it does deal with the UK and with New England. If you were from Scotland, Connecticut currently, you probably already know that you are now a Lord or a Lady because of the Highland Titles a Scottish Land Preservation company is giving all 1,694 residents of Scotland, Connecticut a plot of land and a title in the Glencoe Wood in Scotland.
Fisher: Isn’t that cool? And it’s one square foot and they get these titles along with it. And this organization is basically trying to preserve woodland. And anybody can do this. So, if you have Scottish ancestry as I do, and I know you do too David, you can actually pick up a square foot of land in Scotland and a title for just $44.
David: I think that was what I have to buy my wife for her birthday present next month.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
David: So, I’ll tell her she’s already a lady to me but now she’ll technically be a lady.
David: Fun stuff! All right. Well, the next story deals with a town in Hastings, Minnesota where Jeremy Jackson was working to help identify remains from a long abandoned cemetery, and some of them actually had the casket plates on them. I actually own a couple. So, it’s interesting, some were put on the caskets and some were saved as mementos of their loved ones. And these were helping people find who are actually buried there, and they found some of the descendants.
Fisher: That’s incredible! You have casket plates?
David: I do, and they weren’t dug up by me personally in a cemetery search. [Laughs] They were taken off the casket before the burial. I have my great grandmother Bessie Taylor Clark and I have my dad’s sister who died in 1930. My uncle had them in a drawer and said, “Hey, do you want these? I was going to sell them in the yard sale.” I’m like, “No, no, no.” [Laughs] Those are mine.
David: My kids are a little spooked up, but I don’t have them on display, but I do have them.
Fisher: Suitable for framing, right David?
David: Literally, literally.
David: But it’s fascinating to have that type of thing in your family. But yeah, good luck to this group trying to find their descendants. Sometimes we miss those birthdays for relatives. What happened to a community in Australia, they missed its 150th anniversary by three years. [Laughs]
Fisher: I heard about this, yeah. They don’t have very good historians there apparently.
David: And also, they had a flood so you have to give the historians a little break a little bit.
David: So Charleville in south-western Queensland, Australia has now planned a big celebration for this year. They’re going to have it anyways, but it’s going to be three years too late.
Fisher: Yeah, the 153rd anniversary celebration. [Laughs]
David: So that’s what she’s celebrating. It’s a set square centennial plus three. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.
David: All right, if you’re living out in Iowa and you’re looking for a home you might want to contact a couple in Ringgold County. They have a valued property worth $52 700 and they’re giving the house away. The catch? You have to take the house with you.
Fisher: Yeah, you have to move it. And this is a house that they actually raised their own kids in and it doesn’t look to be in very good shape from what I’ve seen. You can see the picture of this at ExtremeGenes.com by the way.
David: It’s a two and a half story structure, looks pretty sound but just like any house they could move it and well, part of it could stay there.
David: We haven’t focused our blogger spotlight this year, but Ellen Thompson-Jennings has a blog called blog.familyhistoryhound.com. And she uses the phrase “Don’t bark up the wrong tree.” She did a post early in January on a New Year’s resolutions. Hers is called a “genealogy rewind.” So, she’s going back and going through her genealogy, something we all probably could do once in a while. And of course NEHGS would love to have you as a member of AmericanAncestors.org. You can sign up as a guest user. If you decide to join remember the checkout code “Extreme” for Extreme Genes and save $20. Well, that’s all I have from Beantown this week. Hopefully, we’ll get a little warmer and I can take this jacket off and talk to you.
Fisher: Ooh boy, I can only imagine. All right David, thanks so much. We’ll talk to you again next week. And coming up in three minutes, I’m going to talk to Gloria Merchant. She’s the author of a book called “Pirates of Colonial Newport.” It was a pirate haven. If you have a pirate in your background or a suspected pirate, she’s going to have some ideas to help you research that scoundrel. It’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 221
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Gloria Merchant
Fisher: It was about six years ago where I first discovered that I had a pirate in my background, and [Laughs] since I started talking about this on Facebook and other places relating to Extreme Genes, I’ve run into a lot of you genies who have the same type of background as well, and it’s fascinating to explore that background. Hey, it’s Fisher here, its Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. This segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And as I’ve gone about my research into this pirate, who goes by the name of William Downs, I ran across a woman who wrote a book a couple of years ago that’s doing very well, and it should be because it just is excellent, relating to the pirates of Colonial Newport in Rhode Island, which is where my guy is from, and I have her on the line with me right now. Gloria Merchant, welcome to Extreme Genes!
Gloria: Well thank you, happy to be here.
Fisher: What got you started on the pirates?
Gloria: I grew up in Rhode Island, right on the ocean. On Narragansett Bay, and much of my childhood I heard stories about pirates, local pirates, Captain Kidd being around, pirate treasure, pirate ghosts, these were just ghost kind of stories you grow up with. Well, few years back I wondered where there’s smoke maybe there’s fire. So that’s really how I started with the legend.
Fisher: And didn’t they just recently find some ancient coins that would relate to pirate treasure, you know, Spanish cob coins?
Gloria: Yeah. I know the area in Newport where they dug them up and it was coins that date back to the colonial era. The colony itself, and I’m sure all of the colonists at that time were cash-starved. England kept their colonies cash-starved to encourage dependence on the mother country. So when gold and silver coins came up they were foreign. And the ones that I believe were unearthed in a farm in Middletown, Rhode Island which is just north of Newport were gold and were Spanish I’m thinking.
Gloria: There were just one or two, it wasn’t like a big bunch. It was like something that fell out of someone’s pocket rather than buried intentionally.
Gloria: But I bet they just came up within the last year.
Fisher: You know, the fun of discovering history through your ancestors is that so many new things open up that you suddenly relate to yourself that you wouldn’t have maybe when you were a school kid in 8th grade in Mrs. Helms’ history class. Sorry Mrs. Helms! But [laughs] I was fascinated to learn that Rhode Island was a haven for pirates, that they were protected. And my guy in 1698 was actually let out from jail by the sheriff at the time under the pretense of having to “ease himself” and the sheriff, whose daughter was married to another pirate, looked the other way and off William Downs went. Never to be seen again as far as pirating goes.
Gloria: Um hmm, absolutely. And he wasn’t the only one.
Fisher: This happened a lot, didn’t it?
Gloria: It did. In the late 1600s not much past the turn of that 1700, that century, Newport, Rhode Island was indeed a pirate’s haven. There are several reasons for that. One is that everybody profited from piracy. The governments profited, merchants profited by selling black market goods, and just folks profited because they bought things at bargain prices. It was just part of the culture at the time. Also, Newport Harbor is fabulous so there was an awful lot of maritime activity in terms of legitimate trade and pirating trade. But the main feature that encouraged the colony to harbor pirates was that the local pirates did not attack local shipping. They attacked Red Sea shipping. They sailed to Madagascar. Madagascar was a pirate base, so they attacked foreign shipping and foreign shipping of non-Christian people. So the local Christian community did not really have a problem with that and that brought wealth into the colonies.
Fisher: And that’s interesting you say that because I questioned in my mind why, after escaping from jail or prison, I guess the words were kind of interchangeable at that time, why would a Puritan girl marry this pirate? Well, apparently they were fairly respectable and probably rather dashing figures to some of these women at that time, don’t you think?
Gloria: [Laughs] Well, they were. And they were, well you can’t call them heroes because they were also poorly behaved, even locally they would get drunk and irritate the local authorities, but they weren’t the only ones doing that. But because of the wealth and because of the dash, their dashing lifestyle and they dressed to the nines, they were very conspicuous characters and they spent a lot of money in the colony so local businesses thrived, local taverns, they rented when they were unsure, they had to rent places to live. So they were part of the community really. And as long as they didn’t break any local laws and offend anyone locally by their behavior, they were accepted. In fact many returned home from piracy and bought farms and businesses and became quite respectable citizens, church going respectable citizens.
Fisher: Yeah. In fact yes, some of them actually were founders of your church there in Newport, right? Pirates! [Laughs]
Gloria: Yeah, Trinity Church.
Gloria: It was an Anglican Church to begin with. It transformed since the Revolution, but yes, they were two retired pirates that were part of the founding members and three other men that were associated with piracy in one way or another, either a family member was involved or they consorted with pirates, did business with pirates, so the sixteen founders of the Trinity Church, five of them had a very clear connection to piracy.
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s crazy!
Gloria: I know.
Fisher: The other thing learned, and you and I talked about on the phone the other day, was that Jones Beach, which is a very famous beach on the south shore of Long Island in New York, was actually named for a Newport pirate, Thomas Jones.
Gloria: Thomas Jones. I learned this from a man who read my book and he contacted me because he wanted to know more about Thomas Jones, and he hadn’t seen the name in too many sources but mine was one of them. This man is from New Jersey. He was researching the town that he lived in doing historical research, and Thomas Jones apparently founded the town and the beach was named after him, which I did not know about.
Gloria: I mean Thomas Jones kind of left Newport when he was escaping the long arm of the British admiralty, much like your ancestor was, so he left Newport and did go to Long Island. That little bit I did know because his father-in-law owned whatever property it was that he landed in, and none of his father-in-law’s children wanted it because it was out in the boon docks and there was nothing to do there, so Thomas Jones went. And founded this little town and yes, there’s a beach named after him. I wonder if the locals know he was a pirate. Well they do now because the guy that wrote the history knows.
Fisher: Right. And it’s out there for anybody who cares to look for it.
Fisher: So, of the people who lived in Newport at the time, were there a tremendous number of local pirates, I mean born and bred, grew up, become mariners and become pirates, or were most of the pirates’ harbored in Rhode Island? And I would assume specifically in Newport largely, were they from out of the country?
Gloria: They were colonists prominently not foreigners. They were Anglo Americans. And while we only know names of pirates because the captains or even his privateers, you know they would get honorable commissions and then become pirates, we know the names of the captains and sometimes a few members of the crew. The only way we’d get to know all of the members of the crew is if they were arrested. So for every captain, let’s say there are almost forty members of a crew, definitely over forty for any given ship, and if there’s a fleet of pirate ships, two or three of them, well then that’s times three. So the names that we know, because that came down to us, there’s a Paulsgrave Williams who was from Block Island and moved to Newport. He was a jeweller in Newport, he was a pirate outlawed. He was born in Rhode Island and worked in Rhode Island. A member of his crew named Cavally comes up in a newspaper article so we know his name from that. Thomas Tew was notorious and he was a local man, and we know some of the members of the other captains who sailed with him and members of the crews, because legend and the stories have come down to us from Baldrich’s account in Madagascar.
Gloria: And newspaper accounts, that was a wonderful resource to me through a local college. I found America’s Colonial newspapers. A site with America’s Colonial newspapers that go right back into what was read and posted at the time, you know, pirate captures, who was captured by pirates, who was executed somewhere on an island that, you know, somebody came from Rhode Island and, the name Rhode Island in colonial times referred exactly to a Quidnick Island which is Newport.
Gloria: The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, when we figured out when we were in the states, the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, colonial Rhode Island was a Quidnick island which is where Newport is located. When somebody is said to have come from Rhode Island, they came from Newport, so they came from, you know, that island itself. If a ship fitted out in Rhode Island, that ship fitted out in Newport, because Middletown and Portsmouth, the other two towns on Quidnick island wouldn’t have the facilities.
Fisher: Sure. And that’s the other aspect too. These pirates brought a lot of jobs to this area, right? Because they didn’t have a lot of other sources of economy. So you had ship builders, and everything involved with that. Do you have a pirate ancestor of your own?
Gloria: Not that I’m aware of. It would be my husband’s family, and you know, when I wrote the book, the name Merchant does come up, but they were captured by pirates and they witnessed against pirates, and I always have friend’s speaking, my sons would probably have been happier, they would have enjoyed it more if they were the actual pirates.
Gloria: I mean, I don’t know all the names in my husband’s family, both sides. They’ve been here since the 1600s. Some names come up in a book. Whipple. Abraham Whipple who was accused of piracy in 1772. There’s something called the Gaspee Affair, enforcement ships from England were attacked by colonists because they were enforcing London’s dreaded laws, and they were doing it unfairly. They were, you know, confiscating ships and cargo that had nothing to do with avoiding, with smuggling that was the whole point of the ships being here, to attack smugglers, which, by the way, was another large aspect of Rhode Island’s economy and New England in general. But we’re proud of that one.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Gloria: It’s nothing like not allowing the king to take your prize, but you know, so Abraham Whittle, his name comes up because he was part of the gang that attacked this ship and so, he was accused of piracy by England. The colonists accused the ship itself of piracy. It was a lot of back and forth.
Gloria: But the Whipple name does come up in my husband’s ancestry, as does a man named Rhodes, the Rhodes name, and they were both associated with harboring pirates or being pirates.
Fisher: All right. Let’s take a break, and when we come back, let’s talk about how people can research their mariners to see if they might have a piratical past, and talk about Henry Every and his incredible journey, because he was known as the King of Pirates for some of the things he did. That’s coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 221
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Gloria Merchant
Fisher: And welcome back. It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA. And as we talked about in the previous segment, I discovered not long ago a lot more about my pirate ancestor. He was in Rhode Island when he escaped from jail as the sheriff allowed him to leave the jail to “ease himself” but as we’re learning from our guest Gloria Merchant, Rhode Island was a haven for pirates. And I thought we’d talk a little, Gloria, about how people might want to research their own ancestors who they suspect may have been pirates. How many of the mariners of Rhode Island would you say were pirates? Was it the majority?
Gloria: Well, that’s still very tricky. What you can find officially are privateering commissions.
Fisher: Okay. And that’s just for the captains, right? You can’t necessarily find the crewmen.
Gloria: Not necessarily. You’ll find the captain, but then I have not taken deep dives into privateering commissions because it wasn’t part of my research. But what little I sought may make reference to names that are associated with the ship itself for whatever reason.
Gloria: I mean, when a captain got a privateering commission, he didn’t necessarily know who his crew was going to be yet, but they accumulated them later, so you know, that’s an official place to look.
Gloria: You’ll find the names of captains and maybe quartermasters or people who would be important members of the crew. But the catch with the piracy connection is, no one would have admitted to being a pirate.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Gloria: [Laughs] They admitted to being privateers or mariners, or, you know, as your ancestor did, he called himself a mariner, which he was, but so often the line was crossed back and forth while these mariners did whatever it was they were doing.
Fisher: They felt justified, didn’t they? They felt that, like you said, if it was against non-Christian groups, they were justified in doing this. They’d come back home and be just normal citizens in many cases.
Gloria: Well, truly yes, for that early period of the 1700s. Once we get into the history of Caribbean piracy, they were considered criminals outright even by Newport’s standards. They were not given safe-havens. Another way which you found your way to your ancestor was if you find trial records.
Fisher: Right. Yes.
Gloria: And they are out there. I’ve tripped over John Quelch and his crew, Boston pirates. What the admiralty consisted on during pirate trials was getting them documented in writing and printed up, so there are accounts of pirate trials that the admiralty kept.
Fisher: And these pirates would often reveal other crew members, right?
Gloria: They were listed. If they were in trial, they were listed. The crew members were all listed in these pirate trials. Newspaper articles of arrests of pirates, the entire Gravelly Point Pirate crew that was arrested was listed in the local newspaper.
Fisher: If they got them all, but if they had one individual, wouldn’t you say, who else was on your crew? Wouldn’t that be in the testimony?
Gloria: Well that gets to documents from the time of privateering and piracy in the colonial period. You get examinations, depositions, Adam Baldrich who pretty much ran the pirate haven in Madagascar kept a log and much of that log is quoted. Jameson is the editor of that. So it is a collection that you can find. I think printed mid-19th century. I’ve found it in libraries.
Gloria: It’s not that easy, but you can find it, and all of those documents list many names of people who either were arrested or those that were interviewed, you know, gave names of others. There was a man who was a prisoner on a ship, the captain of whom was Captain Hoar, came out of Newport. While his prisoner wrote letters and documented, he literally made a list of who the pirates were on-board the ship, so all of those names are in a place, and that collection of documents, you know, Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period by Jameson, the editor of Jameson. So an awful lot of first-hand material can come from sources like that.
Gloria: Newspaper articles that come from the colonial time will list either people who were captured, pirates who were captured, and later tried, and an awful lot of the New England pirates, the survivors of the Whydah, the wreck of the Whydah, on Cape Cod. It’s a very famous wreck locally and in the neighbourhood. It was legend forever until the actual wreck was discovered, but it was a real thing and it was a real trial for the half a dozen men that were captured. Most of them were killed during the wreck itself.
Gloria: In the storm off the cape. Over a hundred bodies washed ashore, but half a dozen men that escaped were eventually rounded up and tried.
Fisher: And their names were out there. So we only have a limited amount of time. I do want to talk about Henry Every, because he’s not a pirate we know like Blackbeard or Captain Kidd, but at the time he was known as the “King of the Pirates,” and so he was basically the first mate on a ship called Charles II that was doing some runs for the Spanish government at the time, and then they’re stuck in Spain, they’re not getting paid, and they mutiny. And off to sea they go, and you could better pick up the story than I, Gloria.
Gloria: Well they do. Off to sea they go. They head for Madagascar. He landed there. Well he had a connection to Newport’s pirates, which is why I followed up on his story.
Gloria: When he landed there, he began attacking shipping from the Red Sea, which was the Great Mughal predominantly, Indian and Arabian shipping. He ultimately connected with Thomas Tew and his company, five ships out of Newport and they all raided together. Now, his reputation as the “King of the Pirates” comes probably from the capture of the Great Mughal ship.
Gloria: That’s what made his reputation.
Fisher: That was like the greatest treasure haul ever for a pirate, as I understood it, and that then caused the problem, because now Every starts going after English shipping, Dutch shipping, and of course, they’ve ticked off the Great Mughal who does trading with the English, and so they set out this broadside around the world, it’s the first world-wide search for a pirate captain and his crew, and that’s where I found my ancestor’s name on the list, which blew my mind. We are so proud. [Laughs]
Gloria: I think that’s fabulous (laughs) that you found your man on the list.
Fisher: I did. I actually did better than the British government, because they couldn’t find him. [Laughs]
Gloria: There you go. No, they couldn’t.
Fisher: No, and they wound up hiding down in the Bahamas in Nassau, and then split, and many of them came to America, and many went back to England, and the ones who went to England, six of them got hung at trial, and Every disappeared, and legend has it that he died poor and broke.
Gloria: Yes, exactly. Legend also has it that he was fabulously wealthy and ran some little kingdom somewhere in the West Indies, but that’s probably not true.
Fisher: [Laughs] Right.
Gloria: He no doubt died poor and broke. And many of them did. Pirates spent their loot. You know, they ran through their loot one way or another, because they had to pay for safe-havens, you know, pay bribes, and something came up in a conversation with you earlier about why didn’t they just all change their names, and I realized later that some of them did, including Every, Breckenridge or something.
Fisher: Yes, yes.
Gloria: He did change his last name from Every to something else, and a number of them did, and just assumed new identities and moved on. Your ancestor didn’t bother.
Gloria: So I guess he didn’t have to.
Fisher: I think he must have felt safe, is what the deal is.
Fisher: But they were bribing the officials, seems to be the way that a lot of these guys got away with all this. Well, we’re running short on time here, Gloria. I want to plug your book here because it’s a real good one, and you can get an e-version of the book, you can get a hard copy of the book. It’s “Pirates of Colonial Newport” a 2015 book by my guest, Gloria Merchant. You can get it at Amazon.com. Another great reference by the way for a lot of this is one that you used a lot for your book, Gloria, Alexander Boyd Hawes: Off Soundings: Aspects of the Maritime History of Rhode Island. It doesn’t just cover Rhode Island, though, it covers all kinds of things that went on in New England concerning pirates and privateering and everything relating to that, and what great tips you’ve given us, Gloria, on how to track down some of our pirate ancestors. It sounds like you’ve got a long journey yet ahead in this.
Gloria: [Laughs] Well thank you, I’m glad I could be helpful, and it’s endlessly fun. I learn from people like yourself that read my book and then tell me your story.
Fisher: Well thank you so much for coming on, Gloria, and we look forward to hearing more from your computer in the future.
Gloria: Thank you so much.
Fisher: And coming up next, it will be time to talk preservation once again with our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com, answering your questions about how to preserve your precious documents, your photographs, your videos, your home movies, and it’s all on the way coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 221
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: It’s time to talk preservation once again on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Tom Perry is in the house, he is our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. Hi Tom, how are you?
Fisher: From Mexico over the holidays to Las Vegas, you’ve been at the Consumer Electronics Show, what do they call it, “CES” now?
Tom: Right, yeah. They dropped the name, Consumer Electronics Show and just called it CES, because there’s so many electronic things that are not related to consumers, there’s all kinds of things. For instance, it’s almost like an auto show part of it now, they have all these new cars. Can you imagine running your car on water? You know, I am waiting so much for when I can run my iPad on water and don’t have to charge it up anymore, just pour some distilled water in and rock and roll.
Fisher: [Laughs] Boy that would be fantastic wouldn’t it! Well, what are some of the things that you saw there that caught your eye?
Tom: Obviously Google, Apple and Amazon are really pushing their voice technology and each one of them wants to be in every device out there, so they become the prominent thing. It’s just like the old VHS and Beta wars all over again and the DVD wars. So we’ll see if all three stays strong. The neat thing today is, in electronics, you don’t have to have it one or the other. You can have all three in your devices and just have a way that it can differentiate between one or the other. So it’s great that you’ll be able to one day maybe talk to your scanner and say, “Hey, scan this photo at 120 dpi. Scan this photo at 6000 dpi” instead of having to go into the menu, changing things, because everything is going to be voice activated. You can talk to your faucet, you can talk to your shower, say, “Hey shower, turn on and warm up to 98 degrees” or whatever, and if you’re in there, “Hey, cool down, heat up.” It’s just absolutely incredible where all this voice technology is going.
Fisher: And then you mentioned something about laundry here a little bit ago? My wife’s going to love this.
Tom: This is perfect for all you people out there that want to do family history that just don’t have enough time with all the chores you have to do. It is a box that folds your clothes automatically.
Tom: Dump your clothes in, it’ll fold them, so you can go away and get on your scanners and scan your photos regarding family history, all these kinds of stuff. It will save you so much time.
Fisher: And then you’ll be happy, I know, yeah.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right, let’s get onto some listener questions here. June has dropped us an email and she said, “Are you able to transfer a video of about 1 and 1/2 hours in length from my iPhone to a CD and can you enhance the image quality?”
Tom: You know, that’s a really good question and with today’s technology, we’ve talked about it before, it’s not really that hard to do. What I would recommend you do, if you totally don’t want to do it yourself, you want to turn it over to somebody like us. You have a couple of options. First, send us your phone, but that’s going to be a hassle, you’re not going to have your phone for possibly a week. Something that’s really easy to do, especially with an iPhone, you should have iCloud automatically.
Tom: If you don’t, go setup a free Dropbox account, plug in your phone, tell it to automatically go to Dropbox.
Fisher: Google Photo.
Tom: Exactly! Any of those where you can get it online, then you can give us the code to it, setup a specific password just for that folder. And then we can go to it or you can burn it to a disk and bring in the disk, send the disk to us, or if you’re the ones that are a DIY type person, all you need to do is get Wondershare, which we’ve talked about a zillion times. You can take that file off your phone, put it in Wondershare and it will turn it into anything that you want. And for editing, we’ve talked to you about DaVinci. You can get that software, clean it up, do all kinds of fancy stuff to it. So it’s pretty much unlimited what you can do. You can do whole thing by yourself, you can have us help you however you want to do it, we’re more than happy to help you.
Fisher: Yeah, but you know, there really isn’t much need for people to go to people like you for something like this.
Tom: Exactly! And we tell people that all the time, if you can do this yourself, do it. If you’re a DIY person, do it yourself, don’t worry about sending the stuff to us. And there’s a lot of pleasure that comes when you’re doing something yourself. It’s just incredible what you can do now.
Fisher: Well, I know it’s intimidating to a lot of people when you’re dealing with different programs and technology, especially folks who didn’t grow up with that. But you know, your kids, your grandkids can figure this stuff out, and it really is simple.
Tom: Oh, I tell people that all the time. When you have problems with your iPad, go to the local kindergarteners and they’ll be able to get you all setup.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right, we’ve got to take a break. What are we going to talk about when we get back Tom?
Tom: Let’s do some more emails after the break.
Fisher: All right, we’ll get to it in three on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 221
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I’m your Radio Roots Sleuth. And we’re talking with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority. Tom, we have an email from Chuck Grosvenor. That’s a good eastern name there, I recognize that. And he’s saying, “Hey, I have 8mm and 16mm film to be digitized.” Sounds like home movies. “And I also have a reel to reel recording to be digitized. It’s all personal, so nothing is copyrighted.” Well, that’s a good point, isn’t it?
Tom: Exactly, oh yeah.
Fisher: And so he wants to know how does pricing around the country typically work?
Tom: Okay, what you always want to do is, make sure you do your background check, read some reviews on their Facebook page, see if they have an online presence. And one thing I always recommend is, get their address and do a Google search and find out, is this a house, is this a business, what is this? And people that work out of their house aren’t necessarily a bad option, but you want to make sure you check it out. Does it look like a good neighborhood? Check with the local licensing. See if they really are licensed, because even if they’re working out of their house, they need to have a license, otherwise they’re not liable for anything that can go wrong. And most importantly, if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. We have people always telling us, “Oh, I found this price. I found this price. I found this price” and we’ve actually sent tapes to them just to see what would happen. And what they are promising is not what you’re getting.
Fisher: So you’re talking about using Google Street View.
Tom: You can go right in, look in their driveway, look in their business, see what their hours are, because nowadays with technology, one of the bad sides is, anybody can be anything they want to online.
Tom: They can say they’ve been around for 150 years and they’re in a brand new sub division with houses that aren’t six months old. So you need to really check. That’s why I always suggest trying to find somebody local. Go over the questions we’ve talked about before to make sure you ask the right questions, to make sure you’re getting what is going to last you forever and isn’t going to disintegrate in a year.
Fisher: All right, so getting back to the pricing question then, we have 8mm, 16mm and reel to reel tapes, how is pricing typically done with a quality person?
Tom: Okay, if you want the very best, which is high definition, you’re going to be looking in the 20s, like it can be 20c, 21, 22 up to 25c generally.
Tom: Per foot. That’s how much it is a foot. If you have the little 3 inch reels, like the 50 feet, you can go on our website and we have a little thing that will tell you how many feet you have.
Fisher: So for 50 feet, it would be about $10.
Tom: Right, exactly. So if you want to go that way, that’s the best way to go. If that’s out of your budget, it’s best to do something with them right now. You can get as low as 15c, but that’s either going to be standard definition or what I call “pseudo high def.” Some people advertise that they do high def at 15c, but they have this little machine they got on eBay or on Amazon that’s really, really slow, but they start it, they walk away from it. It doesn’t give you the true frame grabs that you want when you’re doing good quality film, because we don’t run it and shoot it off of a wall. We actually scan it frame by frame like a slide and then the software knits it together in a cohesive format.
Fisher: Wow, and what about reel to reel audio?
Tom: Reel to reel audio, you’re going to want to again make sure somebody knows what they’re doing, they didn’t just buy a machine. And it usually runs about $45 a reel, depending on what size your reels are, how many you do at a time. And that’s for good quality transfer where you’re going to get a machine where they keep their heads clean, they’re going to transfer, make it sound good, because if they have dirty heads, all its going to do is affect your sound. You’re not going to be able to hear Uncle Marvin really talking about what his history is or funerals or anything like that. You want it to be good quality. It’s worth the little bit more you’re going to pay.
Fisher: And they’re going to do that in real time, right?
Tom: Exactly. So many people do it in high speed, because they can cut their costs by 70%, but you’re going to lose some fidelity by doing it in high speed. If that’s all you can afford, it’s better than nothing, but try and see if you get one less trip to Starbucks and have some money to do it right.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right Tom, we’ll see you again next week. Thanks so much.
Tom: We’ll be here.
Fisher: And of course if you have a question for Tom, you can email him at AskTom@TMCPlace.com. Hey, that’s our show for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. Don’t forget to check out our Patron’s Club with all kinds of great benefits, bonus podcasts, early listening to the podcasts after they air on radio. And signup for our free Weekly Genie newsletter as well, just go to ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Thanks so much for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!