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  • Sep9

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    This afternoon I was searching online for a reference to an event I helped run several years ago, hoping to see if I could find the name of a subject matter expert I’ve completely forgotten.

    FBI New York Metro Chapter InfraGard Meeting and Health Care Symposium While doing so, I ended up finding some old references to myself during a 12+ year period where I helped found and run a critical infrastructure security organization called InfraGard in New York. I thought, “Hmm, I should be saving these.”

    For quite a few years now I have pounded the pavement both figuratively and electronically searching for genealogical records to document our family history. But, you know what? I have not been a good archivist – Though I faithfully take several hundreds of family photos each year for our future family memory, I have almost completely forgotten to also keep track of our current professional and public lives in any structured and interesting way.

    I’m quite proud of the things I helped accomplish in that organization. And oddly enough, information on the Internet can have both a surprisingly long and a surprisingly ephemeral shelf life.

    While there may be some things in my online presence that may not reach that level of pride, there are other things that will certainly help give my great-grandkids a taste of now.

    (By the way, that’s a post-Hurricane Sandy tweet.)

    In the past, people snipped newspapers and pasted them into scrapbooks. I’m going to make an effort to go back and start some virtual scrapbooking and archiving so my descendents see that I was more than my <adjective> Twitter feed. (Which, of course, they’ll be able to find at the Library of Congress.)

    Now,  if you’ll excuse me, I have some college era photos to white out.

  • May20

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    I have been going back over some of my research lines lately and working on a few dead ends to see if I could revive them. One of my mysterious ancestors is my 2nd great-grandmother Margaret Tierney, whom I first learned about when I found her living with my great-grandfather and family in Manhattan in the 1900 US census.

    It took a fair bunch of research and microfilm spinning to find her death certificate as filed a few years after the 1900 census, and since then I have been trying to find her crossing from Ireland to New York.

    The 1900 census info for my Tierneys is particularly wonky, so is not of great help in providing a date I trust for her emigration. So I have been casting a wide net, logging all of the even-marginally possible records, and hoping I can trim them down to find the most likely one for her.

    Margaret Tierney, Grass WidowFrom a few clues, I find it likely that Margaret arrived before Ellis Island was operating, so have been looking through Castle Garden records. During that process, I found an interesting Occupation listed for one Margaret Tierney: Grass Widow.

    Well, that was a new one to me, so I began digging a bit more.

    Over on The Google Books I found an 1873 book entitled Long Ago, A Journal of Popular Antiquities, (Edited By Alexander Andrews, Volume 1, Issue 1 – Volume 2, Issue 17) with a few references to the phrase.

    In fact, I find the book as a whole very interesting, as it contains queries by researchers that are answered by other fellows in subsequent volumes. Kind of like an early Twitter Lazy Tweet asking for help from the masses.

    Grass Widow Inquiry, Pages 120-121 Beginning on page 120 of the book there is a request to others for more information about it by a Mister J.L.C.

    As you can see, he found burial entries, such as “1615-6, March 15. Anne Houghton, an oulde grass widow

    Good old JLC notes that in America, it is a slang term for a “widow of light character”, which is a description I love.

    He also references a work (by John Taylor, whom I am unfamiliar with) implying that a grass widow might be a woman left by a husband because she is unable to have children.

    Grass Widow - Responses
    Happily, in the next volume (Page 150 in this same compilation), a few learned gentleman provide responses.

    I leave you with the full responses at right, including the idea that a grass widow is a wife temporarily parted from her husband, some saying for innocent reasons, others not so much.

    Also, another description of the meaning that might apply to my great-grandmother – she is here in Manhattan, but I do not know what has become of her husband John. Did he remain in Ireland? Is he alive? Is she “a widow, whose husband is abroad and said, but not certainly known to be dead?”

    Perhaps one day I will find out. For now, I’ll just put the phrase “grass widow” in my pocket.

    For extra credit, a pre-published, postscript:

    After I had finished writing most of this post, I happened upon a short entry in the Irish Genealogicial Society International blog that also mentions the phrase.

  • Apr15

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    NY Times Article, The Census Taker
    While looking for articles on census enumeration in the 1890 time frame, I found what I thought might be an interesting article on the social aspect of answering enumeration questions.

    However, I quickly realized that it degenerated into a long, verbose advertisement for the health benefits of drinking Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey.

    Sláinte!

    Works Cited
    “THE CENSUS TAKER.” New York Times (1857-1922): 3. Jun 02 1890. ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2014 .

  • Mar5

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    I’ve been searching about to see if I could find some additional background for my great-grandfather Michael Tierney’s service in the New York City Police’s 25th Precinct.

    In an older post, Michael Tierney – Policeman, Part 2, I mention my truly serendipitous find of a photo of a group of policemen standing in front of the newly opened 25th Precinct, with great-grandfather Michael included.

    Article: The Finest Station HouseBeing your average man on the job, there isn’t too much specifically attributable to him in the newspapers. There are a few possible articles mentioning either an “Officer Tierney” or even “Michael Tierney”, but still hard to tie to him.

    So, with plans to write something with a bit of background in hand, I’ve also been looking for information on his precinct, the police force in general, and the city at the time between 1885 to 1913.

    Today I found this short, but sweet, description of the new 25th Precinct from the November 30, 1887 edition of the New York Times. In addition to a nice description of the facilities, it also offers information on an expansion of the precinct territory at the time. Read More | Comments

  • Feb1

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    Affected Through Excessive JoyYes, I know I have not posted anything particularly genealogical lately, and I apologize. I hope to remedy that situation soon.

    For now, here’s another random news article with a last line that tickled my fancy:

    “Since she saw him, Mrs. Woodruff’s heart has been affected through excessive joy and she is ill.”

    I do hope she recovered. and still had the $1,000 to repay the insurance company.

    Special to The New,York Times. (1910, Jun 22). ” Dead” brother reappears. New York Times (1857-1922).