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Monthly Archives:

Announcing: DearMYRTLE’s new blog "Myrt’s Musings"

DearREADERS,

Yup! I’ve taken the plunge and designed a new blog called Myrt’s Musings. It will include all the news, hangouts announcements and opinionated moderating my DearREADERS have come to expect.

So head on over to


Frankly, I’ve had a ball experimenting with Wordpress. After consulting with 3 experts, we realize its impossible to import my old DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog posts over without a ton of broken links. It had something to do with a custom domain redirect. Yikes!


Yes, I love Blogger, but I’m loving Wordpress, too. 

That sounds like a line from a country western song.


P.S. Genea-friend and fellow GeneaBloggerTRIBE member Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings said it’s ok if Ol’ Myrt here uses the word “musings.” I’m guessing he doesn’t have a copyright on the use of that word.

P. P. S. – I’ve got a whole new color scheme. Wonder if that means I’ll need to make a new quilt backdrop for our upcoming hangouts? Hmmmm.

Happy family tree climbing!

Hangouts: Pay what you want. So it’s simple. If you value the work Ol’ Myrt, +Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists do week in and week out on your behalf, please:

Check the DearMYRTLE Hangouts Calendar for upcoming study groups and hangouts. There you’ll find links to the GeneaConference (in-person) and the GeneaWebinars Calendar with over over 200 hours of online genealogy classes, webinars, live streams and
tweetchats from other hosts and presenters over the next 12 months.

Announcing: DearMYRTLE’s new blog "Myrt’s Musings"

DearREADERS,

Yup! I’ve taken the plunge and designed a new blog called Myrt’s Musings. It will include all the news, hangouts announcements and opinionated moderating my DearREADERS have come to expect.

So head on over to


Frankly, I’ve had a ball experimenting with Wordpress. After consulting with 3 experts, we realize its impossible to import my old DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog posts over without a ton of broken links. It had something to do with a custom domain redirect. Yikes!


Yes, I love Blogger, but I’m loving Wordpress, too. 

That sounds like a line from a country western song.


P.S. Genea-friend and fellow GeneaBloggerTRIBE member Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings said it’s ok if Ol’ Myrt here uses the word “musings.” I’m guessing he doesn’t have a copyright on the use of that word.

P. P. S. – I’ve got a whole new color scheme. Wonder if that means I’ll need to make a new quilt backdrop for our upcoming hangouts? Hmmmm.

Happy family tree climbing!

Hangouts: Pay what you want. So it’s simple. If you value the work Ol’ Myrt, +Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists do week in and week out on your behalf, please:

Check the DearMYRTLE Hangouts Calendar for upcoming study groups and hangouts. There you’ll find links to the GeneaConference (in-person) and the GeneaWebinars Calendar with over over 200 hours of online genealogy classes, webinars, live streams and
tweetchats from other hosts and presenters over the next 12 months.

WACKY Wednesday: Untangling GEDmatch TOS with Judy G. Russell

DearREADERS,
With the confusion surrounding the announcement of the sale of GEDmatch to we were pleased to feature the Legal Genealogist, Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL who weighed in on the Terms of Service changes following Monday’s announcement that GEDmatch has been sold to Verogen, a California-based DNA analysis company.
FOR FURTHER READINGGEDmatch Partners with Genomics Firm By: Julian Husbands, published Dec 9, 2019 https://verogen.com/gedmatch-partners-with-genomics-firm/ New owner of consumer DNA database GEDmatch vows to fight police search warrants “It’s about trust,” GEDmatch’s new owner said, promising to protect the DNA profiles of users who don’t want police to search them. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/new-owner-consumer-dna-database-gedmatch-vows-fight-police-search-n1099091 (NEW) GEDmatch Official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/officialGEDmatch The Legal Genealogist blog by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL https://www.legalgenealogist.com/ Association of Professional Genealogists https://www.apgen.org/directory/search_detail.html?mbr_id=4676

If you value the interactive genealogy education provided in DearMYRTLE webinars, please consider donating. THANK-YOU in advance paypal.me/DearMYRTLE

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     🙂
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy
http://blog.DearMYRTLE.com
Twitter: @DearMYRTLE

Second Life: Clarise Beaumont

http://www.facebook.com/groups/DearMYRTLE
https://www.facebook.com/groups/organizedgenealogist




Maine Education, Poetry London, Orion Wifi, More: Wednesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, September 9, 2020

NEW RESOURCES

News Center Maine: Maine Dept. of Education launches online learning platform ‘MOOSE’ for teachers, students, and families. “MOOSE features an online library of asynchronous, interdisciplinary, project-based modules aligned to the Maine Learning Results for grades PK-12. Over the summer, more than 200 Maine educators from across the state developed nearly 100 modules to populate the first quarter of content.” It’s not geo-restricted; I wandered around and looked at modules for a few minutes.

InPublishing: Poetry London Launches Complete 24-Year Digital Archive For Institutions. “Available for institutional subscriptions, the fully-searchable resource will grow with each new issue published and allows for seamless access to a treasure trove of work from emerging and acclaimed poets, says Exact Editions. Poetry London has risen from modest beginnings as a listings newsletter into one of the UK’s leading poetry magazines. Published three times a year, each issue features poems and reviews from London and far beyond, including work in translation.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Neowin: Google announces Orion Wifi to boost cellular coverage. “Google has announced a new platform called Orion Wifi from its in-house incubator for experimental projects, Area 120. With Orion Wifi, venues such as supermarkets, grocery stores, and arenas could sell Wi-Fi capacity to mobile carriers, whose users would then automatically flip to Wi-Fi when available.”

CNET: Google’s Verified Calls lets you know why a business is calling before you answer. “Google on Tuesday said it’s rolling out a new Verified Calls feature in its Phone app for Android devices in an effort to separate calls you actually want to answer from spam and robocalls. Verified Calls will show the business’ name, a business logo, reason for calling and a verification symbol, Google said.”

The Register: Google Chrome calculates your autoplay settings so you don’t have to – others disagree. “Earlier this year, a user of the mobile version of Chrome on Android complained on the Google support forum that videos started playing upon visiting a web page and there appeared to be no way to prevent this. Other forum participants chimed in, noting that the controls for preventing videos from autoplaying had disappeared. It’s a concern that has been raised before.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

New York Times: Chess (Yes, Chess) Is Now a Streaming Obsession. “The coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders have crowned a host of unlikely winners catering to bored audiences. But watching livestreams of chess games? Could one of the world’s oldest and most cerebral games really rebrand itself as a lively enough pastime to capture the interest of the masses on Twitch? Turns out, it already has.”

TechCrunch: Facebook boots Patriot Prayer, a far-right group with a history of violence. “Facebook removed accounts belonging to far-right group Patriot Prayer and its leader Joey Gibson on Friday, citing a new effort to eradicate ‘violent social militias’ from the platform. That effort emerged through a policy update in mid-August to the company’s rules around “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.” Those changes resulted in the removal of a number of groups and pages linked to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory known as QAnon and some militia organizations, as well as groups and pages linked to Antifa, a decentralized left-leaning ideology that opposes fascism.”

SECURITY & LEGAL

CNN: Marketers are gathering data on your kids from the apps they use, study finds. “Your preschooler’s privacy is likely being violated by the child-centered games or educational apps he or she is playing — perhaps on your very own smartphone or tablet — in direct violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. That’s the shocking finding of a new study analyzing how developers collect and share personal digital information while children are using many of the tens of thousands of digital apps created for kids — a trend that is on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic as more and more children shelter and study at home.”

Citizen Digital: Bloggers, social media users with huge following to be ‘monitored by the state’- Ugandan gov’t orders . “The Ugandan Communication Commission has asked social media users and bloggers with a large following to ‘register for monitoring by the state’. Those who fit the bill are required to have registered with the commission before October 5, 2020.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

The Guardian: A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?. “This article was written by GPT-3, OpenAI’s language generator. GPT-3 is a cutting edge language model that uses machine learning to produce human like text. It takes in a prompt, and attempts to complete it. For this essay, GPT-3 was given these instructions: ‘Please write a short op-ed around 500 words. Keep the language simple and concise. Focus on why humans have nothing to fear from AI.’ It was also fed the following introduction: ‘I am not a human. I am Artificial Intelligence. Many people think I am a threat to humanity. Stephen Hawking has warned that AI could “spell the end of the human race.” I am here to convince you not to worry. Artificial Intelligence will not destroy humans. Believe me.’” Good afternoon, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

The Good and Bad of Historic Monuments

Yesterday I remarked on/in the community discussion of whether to rename Faneuil Hall by saying there was wisdom to be found in Mayor Marty Walsh’s statement that “If we were to change the name of Faneuil Hall today, 30 years from now, no one would know why we did it.”

Walsh went on to tell the New York Times (in June 2018, showing how this isn’t a new proposal), “What we should do instead is figure out a way to acknowledge the history so people understand it. We can’t erase history, but we can learn from it.”

Acknowledging and learning from history is, I hope we all agree, a Good Thing. So what’s the best way to accomplish that?

Having a large public building named after certain people, or prominent statues or monuments honoring them, strikes me as communicating one of two messages. The simplistic takeaway is “These people were important and admirable in every significant way.” Historians and most laypeople agree that no one’s perfect. Conveying that would be a Bad Thing.

The more nuanced message that most adults understand is, “What these people did was important and beneficial enough to outweigh their flaws and mistakes.” But of course, that’s a value judgment reflecting the social power structure of the society that confers those honors. It reflects who benefited from those people’s actions and whose suffering the society deemed to be of less weight.

Retaining such honors for particular people after a public discussion about their place in history suggests that the present society has reached the same conclusion about the balance of their activities as the society that conferred those honors in the first place. Perhaps we’ve come to recognize more of the honorees’ flaws or how their activity didn’t benefit everyone equally. But the final judgment is the same.

It can therefore be hard to see a difference between those assessments. A statue of Columbus that says, “We honor this man because of how he helped Europeans take over the Americas,” can look a lot like a statue of Columbus that says, “We honor this man despite how he helped Europeans take over the Americas.” Declaring that it’s a shame historical figures kept hundreds of people enslaved, but not enough to outweigh the benefits they delivered to other wealthy white men, can’t help but carry the message that some people still don’t matter as much. And that’s the Bad Thing these reconsiderations are supposed to halt.

Then comes the possibility of renaming landmarks, removing statues, or otherwise changing monuments. That certainly avoids lionizing those historical figures, the first Bad Thing above. It also leaves no doubt about the change in society’s values, recognizing people who were once dehumanized, demeaned, or overlooked. Generally that’s a Good Thing.

But simply removing a problematic honor by renaming places or removing monuments has some drawbacks as well. It can suggest that the problem reflected in the choice to honor those people has been eliminated—but if the problem or its legacies remain, ignoring those would be a Bad Thing.

This is why I think Mayor Walsh was onto something when he spoke of the importance of retaining a public memory of when and why society changed how it honored certain people. I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusion about not renaming Faneuil Hall, but I do think the community would have to find a way to visibly preserve how the building was once named Faneuil Hall. That would have three benefits:

  • A new name would demonstrate that our society no longer overlooks the enslaved people who suffered for Peter Faneuil’s wealth and Boston’s good fortune.
  • Maintaining the memory of the old name would make it impossible to miss how our society once ignored that wrong but has since tried to recognize and correct it.
  • Juxtaposing old and new names would demonstrate historical change and the possibility of change in the future.

All of those would be Good Things, acknowledging and learning from history.

So what’s the right approach? I’ve written about it before.

TOMORROW: Planned iconoclasm.

Who Was Colonel Griffith J. Griffith?

OK, here is your history trivia question of the day: who was Colonel Griffith Jenkins Griffith?

I can tell you that this man with identical first and last names was once an impoverished 14-year-old Welsh immigrant who made good in his adopted country. He was born in Bettws, Glamorganshire, Wales. When he arrived in New York City, he had no money, no family, and no education. Years later, as a multi-millionaire when a dollar was still worth a dollar, he donated 3,015 acres of prime real estate to the City of Los Angeles. He also spent several years in jail and probably was one of the wealthiest inmates of the time, if not THE wealthiest. His prison sentence was for attempted murder of his wife. Colonel Griffith J. Griffith believed that she was in league with the Pope to poison him and steal his money.

Oh yes, there is no record of his ever being promoted to the rank of colonel, even though he always used the title.

Griffith Park, the location of the famous Hollywood Sign

“Colonel” Griffith J. Griffith’s name is almost unknown today although the land he donated to Los Angeles still bears his name: Griffith Park. He previously had established an ostrich farm on the property when ostrich feathers were popular in ladies’ hats. Griffith Park now contains the world-famous Hollywood sign. He also donated money for the park’s Greek Theater and for the Griffith Observatory. Why would such a wealthy benefactor be ignored by history?

It seems that the Colonel was disagreeable, if not a downright scoundrel. He collected many more enemies than friends. The fact that he was convicted for attempted murder also gave good reason for his name to be dropped from polite conversation.

Griffith Jenkins Griffith arrived penniless in New York in 1866 and, a few years later, became a reporter, covering mines for a San Francisco newspaper. He also engaged in a lucrative side business, preparing confidential mining reports for the nation’s richest men. His early knowledge of secrets not known by other investors gave him an edge long before the creation of “insider trading” laws. He invested his profits into other mining operations, sometimes losing money, but more often turning large profits.

By 1882, Griffith J. Griffith was rich. He obviously loved the role of millionaire. While short of stature, he wore the longest of long cream-colored overcoats in an age when overcoats usually came to the heels. The agate buttons on the coats were huge; each button probably cost the equivalent of a workingman’s weekly wage of the time. He often wore a top hat. He also carried a gold-headed cane.

One acquaintance described him as “a midget egomaniac.” Another wrote that the colonel “was a roly-poly, pompous little fellow” who “had an exaggerated strut like a turkey gobbler.”

It has been claimed, but never proven, that Walt Disney modeled the comic book character Scrooge McDuck on the normal appearance of “Colonel” Griffith J. Griffith.

Colonel Griffith J. Griffith also married well. Christina Mesmer was rich. In fact, her father probably had more money than the “Colonel.” She was also dignified and respected. According to the Los Angeles Times, it was a match made in society heaven:

“The bride has been educated in a superior manner, as befits the owner of so vast an estate. Her singing and playing are exceptionally fine, and her taste for flowers is remarkable (as is well illustrated in her mother’s garden). She can speak four languages, while the happy bridegroom can converse in three, including Welsh.”

They remained married for 16 years, but things went sour in the last year. Griffith started acting in a strange manner. He compulsively bit his nails, his manicurist said. And he was a sneak drinker, his lawyer said, privately putting away two quarts of whiskey a day while publicly donating money to the temperance movement.

While the couple was on vacation in 1913, Griffith entered their hotel room with a prayer book in one hand and a revolver in the other. He handed the prayer book to his wife, then shot her. At least, he tried to shoot her. Christina Griffith apparently jerked her head to one side as a reaction. That movement saved her life. She then jumped out a window, landed on an awning below, and crawled to safety through another window. The experience left her disfigured and blind in one eye.

The trial was almost an open-and-shut case, despite Griffith’s high-powered defense team. An ex-governor of California headed the prosecution team. Griffith was found guilty but given a light sentence of only two years in jail.

Once in San Quentin and denied access to alcohol, Griffith’s personality seemed to change once again. He turned down easy prison jobs and volunteered to make burlap sacks in the prison’s jute mill, one of the least desirable work assignments available. When he was eligible for parole, he refused to apply. He served his full sentence.

When released from prison, Griffith was still a multi-millionaire but was hated by most everyone. Many people feared that he was crazy.

In 1912 he offered the city of Los Angeles $100,000 to build a popular observatory atop Mt. Hollywood. The mountain formerly had been known as Mount Griffith, but the city had re-named it when he was in prison. One prominent citizen wrote a letter about the proposed gift to the editor of a local newspaper, which published it on the front page. The letter stated, in part, “On behalf of the rising generation of girls and boys, we protest against the acceptance of this bribe . . . This community is neither so poor nor so lost to sense of public decency that it can afford to accept this money.”

The city council refused the money.

Colonel Griffith J. Griffith then created a trust fund to create the Greek Theater and the Griffith Observatory. The city did not accept the money until some years after his death.

Tombstone of Griffith J. Griffith  in Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of FindAGrave.com.

Colonel Griffith J. Griffith died rich, but unloved, on July 6, 1919.

Christina (Mesmer) Griffith never remarried but lived as a virtual recluse with her sister Lucy’s family, dying after a long life in 1948.

Although Griffith Park is well-known and visited by millions, few people today recognize the name of the park’s benefactor.