MD Genealogy Society luncheon and Walking Tour of Green Mount Cemetery

Ed and I attended the Winter into Spring luncheon sponsored by the Maryland Genealogical Society last weekend. We had a very nice lunch at Michael’s Restaurant on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore City. There were tables of 8 and we really enjoyed the conversation with everyone at our table. It was interesting that we had connections through the library world and through Johns Hopkins.

The speaker was Baltimore historian and educator, Wayne Schaumburg, and he spoke about “Baltimore: The Monumental City”. He always has interesting information about Baltimore and this time he talked about some of the monuments around town. Wayne has a website called “Wayne’s Guide to Talks, Walks, and Tours of Baltimore.”

Ed and I decided to sign up for Wayne’s tour of Green Mount Cemetery in May. The information below is from his website.

The next set of walking tours through historic Green Mount Cemetery will take place on Saturday, May 7, 14, 21, 28. - $Opened in 1839 as the city’s first urban-rural cemetery, Green Mount is the final resting place of Johns Hopkins, Enoch Pratt, William and Henry Walters, Mary Elizabeth Garrett, Theodore McKeldin, John Wilkes Booth, Betsy Patterson, Walter Lord, and other famous Marylanders. Tours begin at 9:30 a.m. from the main gate located at Greenmount Avenue and East Oliver Street, and are led by Baltimore historian and educator Wayne R. Schaumburg. Reservations are required. For information, call 410-256-2180, or email:

Posted in Conferences/Workshops | Tagged , ,

What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes?

Last week’s mission from Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings was:

“What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes? Book, magazine, hardware, software, website subscription, research time – what was it, and how will it affect your genealogy research?”

I have an ongoing quest to untangle the lives of several men with the same name during the same time period and in the same location. What a challenge!  My “gift” was the result of an act of genealogical sharing that resulted in a couple of chunks being knocked out of one of my brick walls. Thank you John McCoy!

As background, I used the will of John Ward “Inspector” in a recent ProGen Study Group assignment. My group members suffered through helping me decipher and transcribe a poor copy of his will which had been printed from microfilm at the Maryland State Archives. I learned a lot from that assignment but I still didn’t know the name of John’s deceased wife.

Last week I stumbled on “Cecil County, Maryland Wills 1777-1810”. This was a PDF posted by John McCoy. He borrowed a copy of the microfilm of Cecil County wills with Books CC 3 to FF 6 from the Family History Library and briefly abstracted the information and posted it on his website.  It is meant to be used as a finding aid to the full text on the microfilm.

The abstracted will of John Ward’s longtime friend and neighbor, Alexander McCloud, finally gives me the information I have been seeking for several years! This is a great example of why it is so important to research the friends, associates and neighbors (FAN club) of your ancestor.

I first noticed Alexander McCloud with John Ward (Inspector) on the 1766 tax list for Bohemia Hundred in Cecil County, Maryland. You can see that in this one small area there are four men with the same name. Fortunately they have identifiers that help to single them out.

1766 Tax List for Bohemia Hundred
Nathaniel Ward and 2 negroes
William Ward, Robert Pennington and 5 negroes
John Ward (son of Henry), William Hawkins and 5 negroes
John Ward (Surveyor), Richard Brown, William Calloishon and 6 negroes
John Ward (Inspector), Alexander McClouds, 4 negroes and 2 dogs.
John Veazey Ward, 6 negroes and 2 dogs

He also appears on the Assessment of 1783 for Cecil County, Maryland.

Alexander McCloud. CE 1st District, p. 6. MSA S 1161-3-7    1/4/5/46

Alexander McCloud(s)/McLoude then appears in the will for John Ward (Inspector). The abstract  of John Ward’s will was obtained from John McCoy’s document. As I mentioned earlier, I carefully transcribed this will from my poor microfilm copy. John McCoy was working from a different microfilm copy which must have been much easier to read! His abstract includes a son named William that I did not see in my copy! Obviously I need to look at the original of this will.  This new (to me) son named William may actually be the William Ward I was never able to place before. [William Ward (b. abt 1750) m. Rachel Ricketts (1752-1790).] One more project for 2011.

John Ward ―inspector (p. 81), 14 oct 1785, sons John, George, William, daughter Sarah Etherington, daughter Susannah Evertson. Executors sons John and George. Witnesses John Ward son of John, Joseph Stockton, Alexander McLoude. Proved 08 dec 1785.

Then I found the will for Alexander McCloud in John McCoy’s list of abstracts. I’m not sure I ever would have looked for it but Alexander McCloud’s will names John and William as sons of John and Henrietta Mary Ward. Could Henrietta Mary be a daughter of Alexander McCloud? Again, I need to obtain a copy of the original will and the administration of the estate to get more complete information.

167. Alexander McCloud (p. 291), 07 nov 1792, John son of John Ward and Hennerita Mary Ward, Elizabeth daughter of William and Sarah Walmsley, the said John Ward and Sarah his wife, James Logue, Sarah wife of Samuel Pennington, Elizabeth daughter of the said John Ward, William son of John and Henrietta Mary Ward. Residual heir the said John Ward. Executor the said John Ward. Witnesses Benjamin Porter, John Pennington, William Price. Proved 18 dec 1792.

I’ll also follow-up on the other people named in the will but it will be interesting to figure out why Alexander McCloud didn’t mention John Ward’s daughters Sarah and Susannah, and his youngest son, George. I suspect that John was first married to Henrietta Mary and married secondly to someone named Susannah.

According to a deed on 2 Feb 1767 John Ward of Cecil County and Susannah, his wife, granted to George Ward, 2 tracts of land situated on a branch of Duck Creek in Appoquinimink Hundreed in New Castle County former property of James Gano and on letters of administration on his estate granted to George Ward.

This cannot be John Ward and his wife Susannah Veazey since they had both passed away before 1750. Kind of a stretch to figure out these wives but it will also make a good project for 2011.

Next steps:

  1. Look for more information on the family, friends, associates and neighbors of John Ward “inspector” and Alexander McCloud.
  2. Obtain copies of the original wills and administrations for any of the FAN club.
  3. Transcribe and abstract these documents.

Any other suggestions?

Thank you to John McCoy and everyone else who works hard to provide finding aids and any other kind of genealogical information.

Remember to always check out the friends, associates and neighbors in addition to fully researching the family. You never know where you’ll find a gem of information. The other lesson to learn from this is to go back to the original document. I still want to make sure that William actually appears in John Ward’s will – I can’t believe I didn’t see him in my copy! If you can’t get the original, maybe another copy or micofilm has a better image of your document – as it did in this case. And last but not least, always keep checking! You never know when new clues will become available.

Posted in Ward

What Your Relatives Can Tell You about the Great Depression

Back in November, sent their newsletter titled “Genealogy Pointers”. It included an article about Emily Anne Croom’s  Unpuzzling Your Past. The Best-Selling Basic Guide to Genealogy.  

In the book she says, “Collecting family history also means trying to fit the family into the history of the community, county, state, and nation. You can find the political, economic, and social history of these areas in books and contemporary newspapers, but only family members can share their personal reactions to the public events. . . .”‘

Morrell Family, Durham, North Carolina; abt 1936

My mother’s parents immigrated to the United States from England in the 1928, a couple of years after they married in London.  Mom was born in West Orange, Essex, New Jersey
in 1928, her sister Sheila in Durham, North Carolina in 1931 and her brother Ian, also in Durham, in 1932. I asked my mother the questions about the Depression of the 1930s.

I remember what influenced my life. I “felt” the Depression, but I accepted the changes as normal, as young children do.

The family moved at this time to Philadelphia from Durham, since my Father left his job at Duke University and took another at Temple University. The job at Temple had evaporated by the time he arrived. We lived in Philadelphia for three years. My Mother did beautiful embroidery for a specialty shop for a little income, and my Father did several  small jobs in that time. We lived in a nice neighborhood and did not lack for conveniences, but had no luxuries. There is a lot that I realize I do not know, but I remember the vegetable man came around at the end of his route and brought us left over vegetables which were very welcome. We always had enough to eat and were happy children.

My parents were not citizens of the US at this time so were not involved in politics then, and what their thoughts were   on these subjects, I’m afraid I was not aware. I think everything in life was a sacrifice for my parents, but they made my life seem normal. They had no money. We did not have a car. We used public transportation. My Mother made most of our clothes and a lot were hand me downs or gifts.

Silent movies were before my time! And I did not see movies for a number of years.

These experiences had a huge impact on my Mother’s health, and consequently on my life. But otherwise, life went on, after jobs returned, in a very normal way. I think I learned to deal with most things that came along the best I could, for the rest of my life. 


The following “Questionnaire for the Great Depression and the 1930s,” comes from pages 70-72 of Emily Anne Croom’s  Unpuzzling Your Past. The Best-Selling Basic Guide to Genealogy. If you  have relatives who are over 80 years old, start with these questions and find out what it was like for them. How does life during the Great Depression compare to the financial problems we’re seeing now?

Questionnaire for the Great Depression and the 1930s

  1. To what extent did the Depression change your habits, way of life, school, plans? Did you “feel” the Depression? Did you observe a difference in the way the Depression affected people living in cities and people living in the country or small towns?
  2. Did the family move during this decade? Why? How frequently? Where? What household conveniences did you have or lack: electricity, telephone, indoor plumbing, others?
  3. Which family members had jobs? Doing what? Were they paid in cash, goods, or scrip? How much was rent? Was it difficult for the family to find housing or jobs?
  4. At the time, what did you or the family think of Presidents Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt? Have you changed your opinion since then? Whom did the family support for president in 1928 (Hoover or Smith), 1932 (Hoover or Roosevelt), 1936 (Roosevelt or Landon)? Why? How effective were Hoover and Roosevelt as presidents?
  5. Did any family member work for one of the New Deal agencies, such as the CCC, the WPA (Works Progress Administration), or the PWA (Public Works Administration)? If so, who? Which agency? Doing what? How long? Where?
  6. Did the family raise, hunt, can, or preserve any of its own food? If so, what? What food items did you find to be scarce or plentiful? Did you live on a farm, in a small town, or in a city? Did you observe or experience any difference in the availability of food in rural and urban areas?
  7. Did you experience the “Dust Bowl” that damaged so much of the middle of our country?
  8. What sacrifices did you or your parents make during the Depression? Why?
  9. Did the family have a car? What make or model? How much did it cost? How much did gasoline cost? Did you or the family limit driving? Did you or the family have to give up the car during the Depression? If you did not have a car, on what kind of transportation did you rely?
  10. Did you or the family have money in a bank before or during the Depression? If so, did you lose any of it because of the Depression? Did you or the family lose money in the stock market crash?
  11. Did the family make any of its clothes during the Depression? If so, what?
  12. Did you hear Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds” on radio on 30 October 1938? What did you think of it at the time? Did you fall for it? Why or why not? How did other family members react?
  13. What was it like to go to silent movies? What was your reaction to your first talkie or your first color movie? Explain.
  14. How have your experiences during the Depression affected your attitudes of the present?
  15. What further recollections and stories can you share about your experiences during the 1930s?
Posted in Books, Family, History, Morrell

Long To Do list

  1. Type up board meeting minutes
  2. WC – Review what needs to be done and assign
  3. Birthday cards and gifts
  4. Call to have the kids stay with us
  5. Order medicine
  6. Planning/update calendars
  7. July – Trip to New York – Cohen family reunion
  8. Music in August with Ron and Bonnie after Steve’s daughter’s wedding
  9. Aug – Bonnie Raitt
  10. Aug 1st- Steve’s daughter’s wedding
  11. July 19th – Trip to Scotland
  12. Oct 17th – MHS Genealogy conference
  13. Water House plants and greenhouse plants
  14. Phone call to Aunt Sheil
  15. phone call to Michael – community college
  16. Dog Schedule haircut and bath
  17. Give heartworm pill
  18. Flea stuff
  19. Get tag at Petco
  20. File dog license information
  21. Book stay for the weekends we’ll be away
  22. July in NY
  23. Aug 1st for Nicole’s wedding
  24. Oct on Eastern Shore
  25. Schedule Mammogram
  26. Respond about doing newsletter
Posted in Life in general

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Zookeepers WifeDiane AckermanWe decided to start a book club at Wyndham Commons. The first book we chose is The Zookeeper’s Wife A War Story by Diane Ackerman. This is a true story about a zookeeper and his family in Poland who end up helping Jews hide out during the war. Diane Ackerman’s attention to detail is amazing.

Here is a link to an interview with Diane Ackerman,

Diane Ackerman’s website,

In Brief
A true story—as powerful as Schindler’s List—in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her. (From the publisher.)

About the Author

Birth—October 7, 1948
Where—Waukegan, Illinois, USA
Education—B.A., Penn State; M.A., M.F.A, Ph.D., Cornell
Awards—D. Lit. from Kenyon College; Guggenheim
   Fellowship; Orion Book Award; John Burroughs Nature
   Award; Lavan Poetry Prize; honored as a Literary Lion by
   New York Public Library.
Currently—lives in Ithaca, New York

Diane Ackerman was born in Waukegan, Illinois. She received an M.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her works of nonfiction include, most recently,The Zookeeper’s Wife, narrative nonfiction about one of the most successful hideouts of World War II, a tale of people, animals, and subversive acts of compassion; An Alchemy of Mind, a poetics of the brain based on the latest neuroscience; Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden; Deep Play, which considers play, creativity, and our need for transcendence; A Slender Thread, about her work as a crisisline counselor; The Rarest of the Rare and The Moon by Whale Light, in which she explores the plight and fascination of endangered animals; A Natural History of Love; On Extended Wings, her memoir of flying; and the bestseller A Natural History of the Senses.

Her poetry has been published in leading literary journals, and in the books Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire; I Praise My Destroyer; Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems; Lady Faustus; Reverse Thunder: A Dramatic Poem; Wife of Light; The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral. She also writes nature books for children: Animal Sense; Monk Seal Hideaway; and Bats: Shadows in the Night.

Ms. Ackerman has received many prizes and awards, including a D. Lit. from Kenyon College, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Orion Book Award, John Burroughs Nature Award, and the Lavan Poetry Prize, as well as being honored as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library.

She also has the rare distinction of having a molecule named after her— dianeackerone. She has taught at a variety of universities, including Columbia, the University of Richmond, and Cornell. Her essays about nature and human nature have appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Parade, The New Yorker, National Geographic, and many other journals, where they have been the subject of much praise. She hosted a five-hour PBS television series inspired by A Natural History of the Senses. (From the author’s websit

Critics Say. . .
Nature is patient, people and animals fundamentally decent, and the writer, as she always does, outlives the killer—that is the message of The Zookeeper’s Wife. This is an absorbing book, diminished sometimes by the choppy way Ackerman balances Antonina’s account with the larger story of the Warsaw Holocaust. For me, the more interesting story is Antonina’s. She was not, as her husband once called her, “a housewife,” but the alpha female in a unique menagerie. I would gladly read another book, perhaps a novel, based again on Antonina’s writings. She was special, and as the remaining members of her generation die off, a voice like hers should not be allowed to fade into the silence.

D.T. Max – New York Times
Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses) tells the remarkable WWII story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. Using Antonina’s diaries, other contemporary sources and her own research in Poland, Ackerman takes us into the Warsaw ghetto and the 1943 Jewish uprising and also describes the Poles’ revolt against the Nazi occupiers in 1944. She introduces us to such varied figures as Lutz Heck, the duplicitous head of the Berlin zoo; Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, spiritual head of the ghetto; and the leaders of Zegota, the Polish organization that rescued Jews. Ackerman reveals other rescuers, like Dr. Mada Walter, who helped many Jews “pass,” giving “lessons on how to appear Aryan and not attract notice.” Ackerman’s writing is viscerally evocative, as in her description of the effects of the German bombing of the zoo area: “…the sky broke open and whistling fire hurtled down, cages exploded, moats rained upward, iron bars squealed as they wrenched apart.” This suspenseful beautifully crafted story deserves a wide readership. 8 pages of illus.
Publishers Weekly Wilda Williams – Library Journal

Barnes & Noble Editors

A lovely story about the Holocaust might seem like a grotesque oxymoron. But in The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman proves otherwise. Here is a true story—of human empathy and its opposite—that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful. Ackerman has a wonderful tale to tell, and she tells it wonderfully.
Susie Linfield – Washington Post


The 1939 Nazi bombing of Warsaw left its beloved zoo in ruins with many of its animals killed or wounded. Worse was to come when Berlin zoo director Lutz Heck had surviving rare species shipped back to Germany as part of a Nazi breeding program and held a New Year’s Eve hunting party for German officers to finish off the remaining animals. Witnessing this horror was the zookeeper’s wife, who wondered, as she recalled later in her memoirs, how many humans would die in the same manner in the coming months. As Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Jan, soon learned, the Nazis had targeted Poland’s large Jewish population for extermination, and the couple, who were already supplying food to friends in the Warsaw Ghetto, pledged to help more Jews. And help they did. Ackerman’s (A Natural History of the Senses) moving and eloquent narrative reveals how the zookeepers, with the aid of the Polish underground, boldly smuggled some 300 Jews out of the Ghetto and hid them in their villa and the zoo’s empty cages. Based on Antonina’s own memoirs and newspaper interviews, as well as Ackerman’s own research in Poland, the result is an exciting and unforgettable portrait of courage and grace under fire. While some critics might feel she glosses over Polish anti-Semitism, Ackerman has done an invaluable service in bringing a little-known story of heroism and compassion to light. Highly recommended.

Diane Ackerman has a molecule named after her (dianeackerone), but perhaps her greatest claim to fame is that all her works are wondrously different. Whether she’s writing about “sacred play,” the natural history of love, or the alchemy of the mind, she manages to arrest and stimulate our senses. (And, yes, she’s written a book about the senses, too. And we haven’t even mentioned her verse or her children’s books.)

The Zookeeper’s Wife is a war story unlike any other. A narrative about a Warsaw animal keeper who saves hundreds of Jews from Nazi gas chambers draws inevitable comparisons with Schindler’s List, but Ackerman’s artful, almost lyrical book occupies a genre of her own invention. Her narrative interlaces stories of Jan and Antonina Zabinski’s improvised sanctuary with telling glimpses into the animal societies their hunted benefactors shared. Ultimately, this is a book about what it means to be human.


Discussion Questions

  1. How does Diane Ackerman’s background as a naturalist and a poet inform her telling of this slice of history? Would a historian of World War II have told it differently, and, if so, what might have been left out?
  2. Reviews have compared this book to Schindler’s List and Hotel Rwanda. How would you compare them?
  3. Did this book give you a different impression of Poland during World War II than you had before?
  4. Can you imagine yourself in the same circumstances as Jan and Antonina? What would you have done?
  5. How would you describe Antonina’s relation to animals? To her husband? How does she navigate the various relationships in the book, given the extreme circumstances? Is her default position one of trust or distrust?
  6. Do people have a “sixth sense” and how does it relate to “animal instinct”?
  7. Some might judge Jan and Antonina guilty of anthropomorphizing animals and nature. Would you? Why or why not?
  8. Can nature be savage or kind–or can only humans embody those qualities? As science and the study of animal behavior and communication teach us more and more about the commonalities between animals and humans, is there still any dividing line between the human and the animal world? If so, how would you describe it?
  9. The Nazis had a passion for animals and the natural world. How could Nazi ideology embrace both a love of nature and the mass murder of human beings?
  10. The drive to “rewrite the genetic code of the entire planet” is not distinct to Nazism. What similar efforts are alive today? Are there lessons in Jan and Antonina’s story for evaluating the benefits and dangers of trying to modify or improve upon nature? Do you see any connection between this story of more than sixty years ago and contemporary environmental issues?
  11. Genetic engineering of foodstuffs is highly contentious. So are various reproductive technologies that are now common, such as selecting for–or against–various characteristics when choosing from sperm or egg banks. How would various characters in this book have approached these loaded issues?

The New York Times Book Review of The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Zookeeper’s Wife on NPR

Nazi Germany and Animal Rights

Virtual Jewish History tour of Warsaw

Jan and Antonina Zabinski in

Posted in Reading List | 1 Comment

My grandmother, Wilhelmina Charlotte Morrell


Mongie at home in Connecticutt.

This is a picture of my grandmother “Mongie” as I remember her. She is sitting in their backyard in Connecticutt. 

Mongie was my grandfather’s second wife but she’s the grandmother on my mother’s side that I remember while growing up. Tonight I was trying to find information about her and not having much success. Finally, I just googled her name, or rather as much of it that I knew. I found a whole web page about her and her family!

crans children

Jeanette (left), Wilhelmina, and Peter Crans.


FROM LEFT: Peter Crans; his sister Jeanette Crans; his sister Wilhelmina Crans Curtis; Wilhelmina's baby, William Curtis; proud grandpa, Willem K. Crans, holding the baby; and proud grandma, Francoise Tjaden Crans.

Back row:  Wm. Myrl McKindley, a fruit farmer who had just served in the Navy in WW I.  Jeanette's sister, Wilhelmina Curtis, who was the Maid of Honor.  Right:  Peter Crans, the bride's brother, who served as Best Man.  The little girl is Frances Curtis.

Back row: Wm. Myrl McKindley, a fruit farmer who had just served in the Navy in WW I. Jeanette's sister, Wilhelmina Curtis, who was the Maid of Honor. Right: Peter Crans, the bride's brother, who served as Best Man. The little girl is Frances Curtis.

Posted in Family, Morrell

Michael’s 18th Birthday Dinner, June 30th, 2009

Michael Saunders and Brittany YinglingEd and I took Michael and his girlfriend, Brittany, out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, Liberatore’s, in Owings Mills. This was for his eighteenth birthday, Tuesday being his real birthday. We made plans to do this on Satuday but I didn’t quite realize that when he said he was on his own that he really meant he was on his own for his birthday.

Michele had to organize and speak at a conference for work out in Deep Creek and Justin and the other kids drove up to spend some time through Tuesday. Michael had to work at home in Hanover, PA, so he couldn’t go with them.

Michael and Brittany came back and hung out with Ed and me until about 9 PM. I finally got Michael to update his Geni profile. While we chatted about genealogy, Brittany mentioned that one of her ancestors was Wyatt Earp! She didn’t quite realize how cool that was so we looked him up on Wikipedia. Then Michael wanted to know about his ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence, George Read.

Posted in Family