Monthly Archives: October 2014
By Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian
Yes, I know – most of our ancestors were farmers – but certainly not all. Genealogical sources are filled with references to many that were not farmers. Up until about 1800 legal document usually, though not always, included a man’s occupation following his name. The same custom of including one’s occupation is also found in early wills. Some good examples of occupations in legal documents are found in Baltimore County, Maryland Deed Records Volume One 1657-1737, transcribed by John Davis: (in Special Collections)
- 15 Nov. 1725 Melchizedeck Murray, planter (farmer) to Thomas Hughs, innholder;
- 4, Jan. 1726, Robert Cruickshank , merchant , of London, England, power of attorney to George Walker, merchant, of Maryland;
- 7 Feb. 1726 John Stokes to Stephen Wilkenson, minister, of St. George’s Parish, Baltimore Co.;
- 2 June 1726 John Powell, taylor (tailor) to Peter Whitaker, planter;
- 3 Aug. 1726 George Buchanan , chyrugeon (surgeon = doctor) to Benjamin Jones;
- 8 June 1727, James Maxwell to James Preston, barber .(5)
- 22 June, 1727, Thomas Stone, shipwright, to Richard Gist.
Another source of our ancestors’ occupation is military records. In some cases our ancestors actually followed certain occupation while serving in the army. In the book Tennesseans in the War of 1812 (in Special Collections) a list of abbreviations used include:
- Artif= Artificer (craftsman),
- Drm maj= Drum Major,
- Fgmstr=Foragemaster ,
- Mus =Musician,
- Tptr= Trumpeter ,
- Wgnr, Wagoner,
- Wgnmstr =Wagonmaster.
More occupations were added were added in the Civil War, such as sappers & miners (engineers), carpenters for building winter quarters, and especially shoemakers. A good example is the Confederate service record of Nicholas P. Holt of Williamson County, accessed on “Fold Three” through the Library. Nicholas Holt enlisted on May 18, 1861. He served with the 17th Tennessee Infantry up until Aug.12, 1863 when he was ordered detached from his regiment as a shoe maker and sent to Loundon County, Virginia, As of December 10 he returned to his regiment in the field but continued as a shoe maker and also a bridle maker for General Bushrod R. Johnson’s brigade. This brigade consisted of the 17th, 23rd, 25th and 44th Tennessee Infantry Regiments.
The final primary source for occupations is of course the census records. The 1840 census has columns to check for number of people in a family employed in: mining, agriculture, commerce, manufacturing and trade, navigation of the ocean, navigation of the canals, lakes, and rivers, and learned professions (teachers, lawyers. doctors) and engineers. In the census that followed there are spaces to write in one’s occupation. Coming closer the present these include such work as hod carriers in mason work and elevator operators in a department stores which I recently saw on the 1930 census.
Come join us in Special Collections to see how your ancestor made his living.
If you like humorous science fiction, I recommend The Sheriff of Yrnameer. This is Mr. Rubens’ first novel, but he has had plenty of experience with comedy while working on the Daily Show with John Stewart.
Cole is an opportunist, shady pilot and a thief; when we meet him he is between a rock and a hard place. A relentless tentacled bounty hunter named Kenneth has found him and his spaceship has been particalized by a robot for parking illegally. He really needs a way out. And he finds it unexpectedly—he high jacks a ship going to Yrnameer. The only problem is Yrnameer is known to be non-existent, and then there’s the whole issue of the twelve (no, make that eleven) bad men and becoming the sheriff…
Mr. Rubens writes like Douglas Adams with a dose of Terry Pratchett. Imagine an American version of these two authors writing about a much seedier Han Solo, and you can imagine the fun involved in reading this book.
By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Librarian
We all love It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, but were you aware that the first Jack O’Lanterns were carved out of turnips?
Did you know that the horrifying mask worn by Michael Myers in the Halloween movie was actually a William Shatner Star Trek mask?
Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts Halloween spending this year—including candy, costumes, and decorations—will hit $7.4 billion. Candy will account for more than $2 billion of that amount and a quarter of all candy bought in the U.S. is for Halloween.
But what are the origins of this creepy holiday? Here’s what we do know about the history of Halloween: it wasn’t created by the Candy Companies, although they’ve certainly profited, nor was it created by the toilet paper companies (though I do wonder how much money they make with all the teepeeing).
The history of Halloween is a rather vague and confusing tale, mainly because no one can seem to agree on how Halloween evolved from a harvest pagan New Year celebration, to the candy gorging and anything goes costumes of today. One thing that everyone seems to agree on, even though there has never been a proven connection, is that modern Halloween begins with the Celtic festival of Samhain (although, they don’t know much about that either).
Scholars are pretty sure that Samhain was an annual celebration of the end of the harvest months to honor the Celtic deities (as well little green leprechauns and tricky fairies). It was also a time to gather resources and slaughter livestock (or maybe they were sacrifices – who knows) in preparation for the upcoming winter months. Some say it was the Celtic New Year. It was also believed that this was the day that the veil between the dead and living was thinnest, and the dead could cross over. They would celebrate this day with bonfires, food laid out for the dead, and costumes to blend with the spirits. Strangely enough, they’re not sure whether these actions were to honor and welcome the dead or to ward off the visiting spirits. Either way, the dead were a big part of the pagan festival.
The second part of Halloween’s history that seems to be agreed on is the attempted Christianization of a pagan celebration. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III assigned the Christian feast, All Saints Day, to November 1, as a day was to honor all Christian saints and martyrs. It is generally believed that this edict was meant to cause All Saints Day to replace Samhain. However, instead of killing off the pagan traditions, these two celebrations combined to create All-Hallows Eve. The holiday was no longer about the Celtic deities, or about the Christian Saints. The previously celebrated supernatural creatures were now thought to be evil and the main focus of the holiday was about the wandering dead.
The third fact that seems to be agreed upon is that trick-or-treating came from another two practices that eventually combined. The first is “mumming”, a medieval practice where people would disguise themselves and go door-to-door asking for food in exchange for “tricks” (basically they were putting on shows and clowning around). The second is the practice of leaving out food and offerings for the dead in order to gain favor with them, which is believed to be part of the original Samhain tradition. So basically, we give kids candy in exchange for entertainment, and to satisfy the little goblins that knock on our door.
By Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian
I will be retiring Oct. 31st and it has been a wonderful 16 & 3/4 years. Upon my announcement of my retirement, the blog master asked if I would be willing to share some of my most rewarding experiences here at the library.
The first was in 2002. I had a family call me on a Saturday morning. They had an uncle who had died in California and could be buried for free in the Military Cemetery at Pegram, Tennessee, if it could be proven he was born in Tennessee. But he had no birth certificate, though he was born in 1929. My immediate reply was “Oh you need this in a hurry!” I took their phone number and said I would do my best. The 1930 census had just come out and the library had had the microfilm about two weeks. This was before any census records were on the Internet, or indexed. Before closing time, I did find him on the census which showed he was a year old and “born in Tennessee.” I printed it off, stamped it with the Williamson County Public Library hand stamp to make it look very official, signed my name and dated it. They came and picked it up and got their uncle buried back home in Tennessee.
My second most rewarding experience was via a phone call from Indiana. This was before the day of constant e-mail. A young man wanted to find for his uncle, the uncle’s sister whom the family had lost contact with fifty years ago. The woman had divorced and remarried but they did not know her married name. All they could give me was the name of her first husband. The last information they had was that she was then living in Franklin, Tennessee. I found a fairly recent obituary for her first husband, and whoever compiled the obituary was very thorough, not only giving the name of the former wife of fifty years ago, but the first name of her second husband. I picked up the phone book and there he was. I called the young man and said “Here is her phone.” They later called me and told me about the big family reunion they were having.
The next two experiences were not near so dramatic but rewarding just the same. Some library patron found a glossy black and white photograph of a young girl dated 1950, stuck in a library book that had not been checked out in 6 years. There was a name on the back of the picture but that was all. I found where the girl had married in Marshal County, Tennessee in 1954. Now knowing her married name, I checked our library card holders and sure enough she had a Williamson County Library card. We were able to get the picture back to where it belonged.
My last rewarding experience was just a couple of weeks ago. We had a patron come in with one question and leave with the answer to another that she had not dreamed was even possible of knowing. She was a big talker and happened to mention she wanted to get her father’s World War II medals. She had been to Veterans Affairs in Nashville and they had told her they could do nothing without his social security number, as his name was W.C. Brown and there would be a million veterans by that name. When she said that, I said “Oh I can get his social security number.” She had no idea the retired Social Security numbers are on Ancestry.com. As she knew his birth date and that he died in Franklin, (that is the last benefit was sent to Franklin) we could pick out which W. C. Brown was his social security number. And she left thrilled that she could go get her father’s World War II medals.
By Julie Duke, Youth Services Manager
The Book Release Party was a drop in program for families. We had both soldiers and civilians, including ladies in beautiful hoop skirts, for the visitors to meet and greet. General Grant was also there, and President Abraham Lincoln (aka Dennis Boggs, who to me is the quintessential Lincoln, charming and personable) gave the Gettysburg Address. My husband, Lawrence, brought some of his collection of original Civil War artifacts, and the Tennessee State Museum loaned us a trunk of hands on CW clothing and equipment. It was delightful to see the kids dress up in the period clothing. On the Foundation’s Facebook page, you can see photos of the event, https://www.facebook.com/wmclf. I lost count, but there was about 100 patrons on Sunday.
By Julie Duke, Youth Services Manager
The Library’s Foundation’s ticketed event, An Evening with Storytellers, brought in over 60 library supporters, and the Foundation made over $1,000. Speakers were Eric Jacobsen, CEO of Carter house and Carnton Plantation, Thomas Flagel, History Instruction at Columbia State CC, and Bryan Lane, who recently published a book on General Adams, on of the Generals killed at Franklin.
One gentleman, who had purchased a book at this event evening, was also at the Book Release Party. He said he had read the book cover to cover, and it was “excellent”. A woman who was at the Storytellers evening was back on at the Book Release to buy another book! She said that she had company visiting from out of town. They were seeing the sites in Franklin, and used our book as a guide as they toured.
Two of the authors and one of the editors for Bullets and Bayonets had requests for book signings.
Imagine waking up in a park with a ring of dead people around you. You have no memory of who you are, where you are or why you are surrounded by dead people with latex gloves on their hands. As you go through your pockets, you find an envelope with a letter inside. “Dear You, the body you’re in used to be mine…” is how the letter starts. Decisions need to be made and many letters have to be read. Agent Thomas learns she works in a secret organization—kind of like Her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service (think British Men in Black.)
The reader learns along with the amnesiac what happened and who she is. She finds out through letters written by her former self that she has lots of money, some sort of pet named Wolfgang and deadly enemies. She has to get up to speed quickly—people are trying to kill her.
I enjoyed this book—hard to believe this novel is Mr. O’Mallye’s first book. If you like wry humor, interesting paranormal monsters, and great fantasy fun, you should read this book. It is a little long, but moves quickly.
It’s on the news every night and plastered all over the internet. We can’t turn on the TV without hearing about the thousands of people who have died of the Ebola virus in Africa, the man who died of the virus in Dallas, or the two nurses who became infected while treating him. After being bombarded with news about the Ebola virus, it’s easy to become anxious about how it might affect our lives. Making matters worse, the market is full of self-published books and articles about the virus that play on our fears, but offer little reliable information.
How afraid do we really need to be of the Ebola virus? Before you rush out to buy a Hazmat suit, find out the facts. There’s plenty of good information out there. Here are links to a few helpful resources:
- MedLine Plus is the National Institutes of Health’s website with articles produced by the National Library of Medicine. It offers numerous articles on the Ebola virus, and has several articles written for children, with additional information for parents and teachers. There is also a Spanish-language version of MedLine Plus.
- Health and Wellness Resource Center — This database offers access to carefully compiled and trusted medical reference materials, including nearly 400 health/medical journals, hundreds of pamphlets, health-related videos and articles from 2,200 general interest publications.
- World Health Organization — The WHO has a helpful fact sheet on the Ebola virus.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of information resources related to the outbreak.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website includes the organization’s latest efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in the United States:.
- For more local information, check out the Tennessee Department of Health website. The information on the site is also available in Spanish.
Here are some basic facts about the Ebola Virus that you should be aware of:
- Flu is a bigger threat — Yes, there are vaccines and medicines for the flu, and there aren’t for Ebola. But Ebola is much rarer and harder to catch. Your chances of getting Ebola are almost zero unless you’ve traveled to a place where there’s an outbreak or you’ve been directly exposed to the bodily fluids of someone who has symptoms.
- As with any illness or disease, it is always possible that a person who has been exposed to Ebola virus may choose to travel. If the individual has not developed symptoms they cannot transmit EVD to those around them. If the individual does have symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention at the first sign they are feeling unwell. This may require either notifying the flight crew or ship crew or, upon arrival at a destination, seeking immediate medical attention. Travellers who show initial symptoms of EVD should be isolated to prevent further transmission. Although the risk to fellow travellers in such a situation is very low, contact tracing is recommended under these circumstances. While travellers should always be vigilant with regard to their health and those around them, the risk of infection for travellers is very low since person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with the body fluids or secretions of an infected patient.
- The virus doesn’t spread through air or by water. You can’t get it just by breathing the same air. The Ebola virus can only be passed through bodily fluids. To infect you, the virus has to go into your body, such as an infected person sneezing in your face. The most infectious are blood, stool, and vomit. Bodily fluids also include breast milk, urine, semen, tears, and saliva. You can also get it from contaminated needles, sheets, soiled clothing, and other objects that have come into contact with infected bodily fluids.
- People with Ebola can’t pass it along until they start to feel sick. It can take 2 to 21 days for symptoms to appear, but it usually happens in just over a week. The first signs — fever, muscle ache, headache, and a sore throat — can look like malaria, typhoid fever, and even the flu. Later symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding inside the body and from the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth.
- Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. The main debilitation of this virus is dehydration, and patients will be given oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids. There is currently no specific treatment to cure the disease. Some patients will recover with the appropriate medical care.
- People are infectious only as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. For this reason, infected patients receive close monitoring from medical professionals and receive laboratory tests to ensure the virus is no longer circulating in their systems before they return home. When the medical professionals determine it is okay for the patient to return home, they are no longer infectious and cannot infect anyone else in their communities. Men who have recovered from the illness can still spread the virus to their partner through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery. For this reason, it is important for men to avoid sexual intercourse for at least 7 weeks after recovery or to wear condoms if having sexual intercourse during 7 weeks after recovery. Likewise, women should not breast-feed during that time, in case it’s in their breast milk.
- To help control further spread of the virus, people that are suspected or confirmed to have the disease should be isolated from other patients and treated by health workers using strict infection control precautions.
The Zombie Run, sponsored by Friends of Bethesda Library, will begin at 8 am on Saturday, October 25. It’s a 5K run/walk that begins in front of the Bethesda library!
No preregistration required.
The fee will be $10 for individuals and $15 for families.
All proceeds will benefit Bethesda Public Library.