One of the things that I inherited from my mother, besides her love of writing and an indifference to cooking, was a box of genealogical notes on many, many pieces of paper.
A grandfather listed here. A birthplace recorded there. A photograph. A partially completed family tree. Anecdotes. All in her small and careful script. This was the project she'd been working on in her retirement.
Somewhere along the way, this box ended up with me, as did the silver and china. And in one of my bursts of "Let's organize this place!", I purchased a genealogy program that I was quite sure would convert those hundreds of scraps about dead people and sort them onto a new-fangled DOS program called Family Roots.
As is the way of things, those scraps multiplied like rabbits, and I now have several tons of paper of my own. (Lest you think me hopelessly behind the times, I do have Family Tree Maker 2011, a most excellent software program for those who would seek dead people. Can't quite manage to tame the piles of paper, however.)
Through the years, I have been unable to make a lot of headway. My friend Gary has his family going back to the Norman conquest. As for me and mine, we are stuck in 1819 in New York City.
But occasionally, something miraculous does happen to rev up the hunt. This morning I discovered a fantastic website that is a New York newspaper database. And it's searchable! And free! Called Old Fulton New York Post Cards, it has 17.5 million newspaper pages from my old state.
This morning, instead of doing what I should do, I stumbled on this:
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle front page from June 18, 1915: "Brooklyn Boys Who Were Graduated From Pennsylvania."
And who is smack dab in the middle? My grandfather.
Here he is a little less newsprinty:
I knew he went to the University of Pennsylvania to become a dental surgeon, but frankly, this newspaper wasn't among anyone's stash of memorabilia.
I may be the first Littell in 96 years to look at this newspaper.
I'm glad to see you, Pop.
You wouldn't be able to confirm your grandfather was George, veteran of the War of 1812, by any chance?