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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

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.

“I was then the Servant of the Town”

Gov. Francis Bernard first moved the Massachusetts General Court to Cambridge in 1769, and the house immediately started arguing with him about it.

Acting governor Thomas Hutchinson convened a session in Cambridge early in 1770, renewing the argument.

So when the house took up the same issue in June 1770, there wasn’t a whole lot new to say.

House members demanded to know why they weren’t meeting in Boston. Hutchinson said he had orders from the king (really the government in London) to convene the legislature in Cambridge. The house asked to see those orders. Hutchinson said he wasn’t authorized to share them. On and on.

On 7 June, 250 years ago today, Lt. Gov. Hutchinson sent a message down from the temporary Council chamber that added a new wrinkle. He wrote:

In 1747 or 1748, when the Court-House in Boston had been consumed by Fire, the major Part of the then House of Representatives was averse to Re-building it, and disposed to build a House for the General Court in some Town in the Country.

Being then one of the Representatives of the Town of Boston, I used my influence in every Way I could with Propriety in Favor of Re-building the Court-House in Boston, but finally could prevail thus far and no farther. The House upon the Question whether a Grant should be made for Re-building the Court-House in Boston was equally divided, and I being then Speaker of the House gave my casting Voice in Favour of the Town.

I have still a very good Affection for the Town of Boston. I was then the Servant of the Town, and know I was acting the Mind of my Constituents. I am still satisfied that I did my Duty.

I now consider myself as the Servant of the Crown. I know his Majesty’s Pleasure, and I am doing my Duty in acting according to it, and if you should finally refuse to do Business at Cambridge, which I hope you will not, all the ill Consequences will be attributed to you and not to me.

Hutchinson used that historical moment to argue his record showed he had long supported Boston’s interests, that he wasn’t personally upset at the town. (Despite that incident in 1765 when his neighbors ripped his house apart. And then the legislature balked at compensating him. No, that was all in the past.)

The Massachusetts house leaders responded that that discussion in 1748 showed the legislature did have a say in where the General Court should sit. The impasse continued.

While we wait for that disagreement to clear up, we might as well look at the moment back in 1748 when Massachusetts flirted with making some town outside Boston the capital.

TOMORROW: Fire in the Town House.

The Debut of Representative John Adams

The Massachusetts General Court managed to get back to their usual meeting place on 4 June 1770—but only for that one special day.

That was King George III’s birthday, a holiday across the British Empire, on the previous week the legislature resolved to “joyously celebrate the happy Anniversary…in Token of their Loyalty to his Majesty…at the Representatives Chamber in the Town-House in Boston.”

This wasn’t an official session of the legislature, so the location wasn’t under the control of acting governor Thomas Hutchinson. But no one could complain that the move was unpatriotic.

The next day, Tuesday, the lower house had to go back to the campus of Harvard College in Cambridge, and it went back to quarreling with Hutchinson over having to meet there. The legislators asked to see his instructions from London. He answered that he was “not at Liberty to lay a Copy of those Orders before the House.”

On Wednesday, 6 June—250 years ago today—Boston held another town meeting in Faneuil Hall. This was necessary because one of the gentlemen the town had elected to the General Court in May, James Bowdoin, had just been elevated into the Council again.

The selectmen called for votes for a new representative, warning that “no Votes will be received but such as are unfolded.” Eligible voters lined up for the ballot boxes to the number of 536. When the ballots were tabulated, the officials announced that the town’s new representative, with 418 votes, was the lawyer John Adams.

Adams had served on a couple of important town committees that spring. He had also started to represent Capt. Thomas Preston and the British soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre. While he later claimed that job made him unpopular, there’s no doubt that at this time the town’s leading Whigs and voting populace strongly supported him.

The meeting filled a couple more town offices, voted to ask the representatives to seek a day of “fasting and prayer through this Province,” and adjourned.

That afternoon, Adams entered the chapel in Harvard Hall and took the oath as a new representative, administered by his childhood acquaintance John Hancock.

The business of the house that day was how to respond to Hutchinson’s insistence on the Cambridge venue. By a vote of 96-6, with Adams recording his first vote in the majority, the house approved a long report repeating its complaint. Its last act that day was to create a committee of Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, James Warren, and Daniel Leonard to deliver that complaint to the acting governor. Yes, this was going to be a productive week.

Managing an Online Study Group

Over the past 8 years, DearMYRTLE has hosted various types of online study groups. We might have a guest instructor or we’d take one chapter a week from a book like Mastering Genealogical Proof or Genealogy and the Law. Once, with a particularly difficult chapter, a second week was given that extended the entire course by one week. Although we’ve happily used a variety of virtual meeting platforms, currently Cousin Russ and I recommend the Zoom Webinar format rather than Zoom Meetings if the audience is public as we wish to provide tighter control. Although this description of  how we set up and manage our online DearMYRTLE genealogy study groups is long and detailed, most items are quick and easy. These events prove both fun to produce and educational for all participants. Our process can be boiled down to these basic points.

  • The Host (DearMYRTLE) creates and promotes the virtual event and opens it 15 minutes before the live event.
  • The Co-Host (Cousin Russ) assists the Host by keeping the meeting running smoothly and bringing in comments where an attendee cannot use a mic or webcam.
  • The Instructor/Moderator pushes content. Sometimes this is also the Host.
  • Panelists have been chosen in advance and provide weekly homework to enhance the discussion of a chapter in a book. 
  • Attendees may interact via typed text or where available via mic and/or webcam

Here’s a partial list of various DearMYRTLE study groups archived on DearMYRTLE’s YouTube Channel.


  • Host – usually also the instructor/moderator
  • Co-Host
  • Instructor/moderator
  • Guest instructor – rather than handouts, guest instructors add items to the shared Google Sheet. See for example from the GreekGen Study Group Shared Google Sheet
  • Panelists – active participation in the conversation
  • Attendees – typed chat participation, optional Q/A.


  • A virtual meeting platform, currently Zoom
    — Zoom Webinars provide for a dedicated set of panelists, while attendees may pose questions and type in the chat. Confirmation email after registration and 3 reminder emails automatically sent to all registrants 1 week, 1 day and 1 hour before the scheduled event.
    — Zoom Meetings allow everyone to enter at the same level – with the ability to turn on their own mics and web cams. Confirmation email after  registration is the only notice the attendee will receive with his personal URL for joining the scheduled event. This option works fine in an institute format, but not where the general public may attend.
  • Webcams
  • USB Headset with earphones and mic
  • Wired internet connection
  • Creating Google Docs: For DearMYRTLE Study Group Homework (video)


The Host uses a Google Form for prospective panelists to sign up. Ten are selected. Most usually attend, but as few as six provide a good discussion when others are away due to illness or family responsibilities.


Since our study group sessions are to be recorded, we cannot not use the author’s examples. All panelists view a short copyright and fair use video featuring The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell titled
Study Group Copyright Guidelines.



  • Each study group series has a secret Google Group or Facebook Group created by the host who invites the co-host and panelists to participate.
  • Homework assignments are posted there.
  • Panelists may report illness or a conflicting appointment.
  • Questions about the chapter or homework are discussed there.
  • The link to the final compiled homework is posted in advance of the class session so panelists may review everyone’s contribution and understand the flow of the discussion by how the instructor/moderator arranged the submissions.


  • The instructor/moderator and panelists read the chapter in advance of each session.
  • Panelists submit a chapter’s homework two days before the session.
  • Each week’s homework assignment is to take a single concept from the chapter and provide a multi-page report about how that concept related to a specific project in one’s personal research. Images of the ancestor(s) and related document(s) are to be included.
  • The instructor/moderator compiles homework submissions in logical order into a single document, makes notations, scans and uploads the final pages to Google Docs. 
  • — The link is shared with the panelists a day before with viewing participants in the secret back channel.
    — The link is shared with attendees by the Co-Host several times during the session to accommodate late arriving attendees.
  • Amazingly, though specific chapter sub-topics are not assigned, little overlap in homework has occurred.

The host, co-host, panelists and instructor/moderator meet 30 minutes before the first class session to:

  • perform sound and web cam checks
  • clarify the anticipated flow of the discussion

Thereafter, a green room of 15 minutes is adequate before the class session goes live. 


  • The Host or Instructor/Moderator shares the full-screen branding graphic before the event begins.
    — The graphic is on a second screen, readily shared at the beginning and end of the event.
    — In another setting, the graphic could be added to a PowerPoint slide deck in the first and last position.
    — The combined homework in Google Doc is opened full screen, but minimized until a 1-minute welcome is completed.
  • Attendees view the panelists and the instructor/moderator’s shared screen of the combined homework during class discussions.
  • Each panelist shares his thoughts while his homework with the instructor/moderator notes is displayed on the shared screen.
  • The instructor/moderator invites conversation among other panelists.
  • The co-host brings in comments typed by attendees.
  • If in Zoom Meeting format, the attendee could turn on his webcam alerting the instructor/moderator that he wishes to speak next.


  • Since the screen, not just a window, is shared, the instructor can seamlessly open up a website mentioned to clarify a way point citation or demonstrate a search.
  • When additional books or software are mentioned, the instructor/moderator provides a view to the product on the web for colorful brand recognition.
  • Using a blank word processing program the instructor/moderator may, for example, 
    — copy/paste a submitted citation
    — follow suggestions by panelists and attendees to add, remove or rearrange citation elements, color coding certain points for emphasis.
    — Note this works best with at least 20 point Arial at 200% magnification in MS Word. Anything smaller was difficult to read. Anything larger and its impossible to view a typical full citation.


  • Sometimes applying an idea from the chapter provides before and after scenarios for a panelist to describe.
  • Panelists are surprisingly candid about admitting where their blind spots are and how the chapter provides a breakthrough in research.
  • Amazingly little overlap in homework topics occurred.


  • The host sets up the meeting or webinar registration, in our most recent years using Zoom.
    — The host creates a 16:9 promo graphic and distributes it with the link through various social media channels, currently the DearMYRTLE Facebook Group and Twitter.
    — If it’s a Zoom Webinar, the Host creates the list of panelists with their email addresses so Zoom can send “panelist invitations. This permits the panelists to join the green room before the attendees arrive. Attendees arrive when the Host hits the broadcast button.
  • The Host starts the virtual meeting, first in green room mode. 
    — If a Zoom Webinar the panelists plan to arrive 15 minutes earlier using their individual panelist invitation URLs. The Host changes the status of one from panelist to Co-Host.
    — If a Zoom Meeting, all attendees are in a waiting room. From the list, the Host admits the intended Co-Host, changing his status from attendee to Co-Host and other panelists are admitted before the attendees.
  • The Host adjusts setting for simulcasting to YouTube or Facebook as desired.
  • If the virtual study group session is to be recorded, the Host adjusts settings to record locally or in the Zoom cloud and hits the record button.
  • Activates polls.
  • Sets parameters for Zoom breakout rooms, either assigned or random, and activates them.
  • The Host may visit any breakout room.
  • Activates the white board, though attendees must be advised who may use it.
  • Reverts back to the branding graphic as the instructor/moderator briefly concludes the meeting.
  • Presses the stop record button.
  • Presses to end meeting for all.

To put it plainly, everyone needs a “Cousin Russ”. 
🤗 A Zoom Co-Host has the same authority as a Host within the event itself. He cannot schedule events on the Host’s account.

He serves as the technology expert in any type of virtual meeting or webinar by

  • Informing the group of software updates, currently Zoom, Chrome and Windows 10, on the morning of the event.
  • Providing a count-down clock so the meeting starts and ends on time.
  • Reminding the host to turn on branding before the event starts.
  • Admitting attendees to a Zoom Meeting one by one or in groups.
  • Assisting anyone with sound or video issues in voice during the green room or via typed chat later.
  • Monitoring and muting attendee sound interference.
  • Monitoring and muting attendee video.
  • Monitoring chat.
  • Banning if necessary.
  • Hosting for the 10 minutes allowed before shutdown if the Host gets bumped out of the virtual meeting.

Though this description of DearMYRTLE study groups is long and detailed, it can be boiled down to this:

  • The Host (DearMYRTLE) creates and promotes the virtual event and opens it 15 minutes before the live event.
  • The Co-Host (Cousin Russ) assists the Host by keeping the meeting run smoothly and bringing in comments where an attendee cannot use a mic or webcam.
  • The Instructor/Moderator pushes content. Sometimes this is also the Host.
  • A Panelist has been chosen in advance and provides homework to enhance the discussion of a chapter in a book.
  • Attendees may interact via typed text or where available via mic and webcam. 

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

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     🙂
Your friend in genealogy
Twitter: @DearMYRTLE
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont

Sunday CoronaBuzz, March 22, 2020: 26 pointers to articles, new resources, useful stuff, and more.

This newsletter now has its own Twitter account at @buzz_corona. I’m only doing one of these newsletters a day so they’re going to be enormous. Wash your hands. I love you.


TNW: Learning during the quarantine: You can read JSTOR’s Open Access content without an account. “Yesterday, JSTOR, the famous digital academic library, tweeted that 6,000 of its eBooks and over 150 journals are open for anyone to read. The organization noted it’s bringing out 26 public health journal archives, which you can read until June 30. For folks who previously haven’t had access to JSTOR’s library, you can now rifle through all its open access content without having to create an account.”

Zywave: Zywave Launches COVID-19 Resource Center. “Zywave, the leading insurtech provider powering agency growth, today announced the launch of its COVID-19 Resource Center, an online library offering insurance professionals access to free compliance, HR and employee-facing content and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

TechCrunch: Volunteer group develops a COVID-19 testing location database for the U.S.. “A new group of volunteer coders and medical professionals, including Air Force software organization Kessel Run‘s Chief Data Officer Andrew Kemendo, and data-driven doctor and researcher Jorge A. Caballero, have created a new website, which aims to provide up-to date location info for all testing sites in the U.S. Immediately, please note that a resource like this is not meant as a directory for private individuals who are looking to show up at a test site, expecting to receive diagnostics.” Emphasis mine.

Hunterdon Review (New Jersey): State will match talent with opportunities on coronavirus outbreak front lines. “The state is building a centralized resource to match talent with opportunities in industries on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. The state is starting the roll-out of this new tool with critical industries like grocery stores, shipping and logistics, healthcare, janitorial services, and warehousing, but over time it will expand to work with all industries that need to tap into New Jersey’s best-in-class talent pool during this extraordinary time.”

Just Launched: Project N95: The National COVID-19 Medical Equipment Clearinghouse. “Rapid response teams have been coordinating with manufacturers globally with the capacity to produce. Within weeks, millions of units of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be available for distribution. We are working with governments to determine where demand is and where it is most urgent. This is a tool designed to gather data as efficiently as possible to assist in distribution efforts. Please note this process is rapidly evolving and we are doing our best to be as responsive to emergent needs as quickly as possible. However, please bear with us given the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic.”

Daily Comet: New website connects Louisiana restaurants with customers during coronavirus crisis. “A new one-stop website is connecting Louisiana restaurants with their customers during the coronavirus crisis. With so many Louisiana restaurants scrambling to alter their menus to accommodate take out and delivery service, is compiling a listing of Louisiana restaurants offering take out, curbside and delivery options while a state order has shuttered their dining rooms through April 13.”


From RadioTimes, with a big thanks to Dori S. Listen, if you see something you think I should include in this newsletter tag me at @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Yes, I am normally very good on staying on top of things. Right now there is so much news flying around I know I’m missing more than I used to. And if I’ve already seen it, so what? I’d rather see it ten times than miss it once. So anyway: Audible just made hundreds of titles completely free to help during coronavirus crisis. “Good news for those stuck at home in isolation: Audible is making hundreds of titles available for free during the coronavirus pandemic. The audiobook platform has said that, for as long as schools are closed, anyone can listen to a vast selection of its titles. This means books read by Westworld’s Thandie Newton and Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens are available to stream at no cost at all.”

CBS News: How to donate personal protective equipment like masks and gloves to health care workers. “Public health experts have advised people not to stockpile masks — they say only people who are already sick and medical professionals should wear masks. But panicked members of the public had already exhausted existing supplies, leading to widespread shortages. Desperate doctors and nurses are taking to social media to plead for donations of much-needed supplies using the hashtag #GetMePPE. However, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how to get these supplies into the hands of the people who need them.” Good-sized list.

Vox: Here’s how you can help people who’ve lost jobs or housing in the wake of coronavirus. “Social distancing measures recommended by authorities mean helping in person isn’t an option for the vast majority of Americans right now, but there are many worthy organizations seeking monetary donations to continue their work for a variety of affected communities. For many, money has never been tighter. But for those with a few dollars to spare, they can help vulnerable communities have a buffer long after the spread of Covid-19 is contained. Here are a few ways you can assist.” Good, well-annotated list.

Stylist: How to start an online book club, and the top Instagram accounts to inspire you. “As many of us turn to reading during self-isolation, here are tips on how to start an online book club. And, if you need a little inspiration, we’ve rounded up some of the best ones already out there.”

New York Times: I Spent a Year in Space, and I Have Tips on Isolation to Share. “When I lived on the International Space Station for nearly a year, it wasn’t easy. When I went to sleep, I was at work. When I woke up, I was still at work. Flying in space is probably the only job you absolutely cannot quit. But I learned some things during my time up there that I’d like to share — because they are about to come in handy again, as we all confine ourselves at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a few tips on living in isolation, from someone who has been there.”

Entrepreneur: 65 Free Tools to Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic. “In response to the pandemic, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan recently reminded us that we can all help each other in our own ways. He has provided K-12 educators with free access to the videoconferencing platform so students can continue learning. Inspired, I shared an idea with Jason Feifer, editor in chief at Entrepreneur: a simple, organized list of free product and service offerings from all types of companies. Access to these powerful tools can help organizations, teams and families.” Middling annotation but lots of resources.

Parade: 50+ Places Where Families Can Get Free Meals for Kids During COVID-19—By State . “Right now, there are millions of school children who are at home with the new reality of keeping up with their studies remotely and navigating educational goals and expectations. Making sure kids are well-fed should be at the top of all our lists. Working together to keep kids fed is just as important as ever as we get through this Coronavirus pandemic. That’s why so many restaurants, both local and fast-food or fast-casual chains, have stepped up to provide free meal resources for kids in need.” There are also national resources here. The list is being updated.

Rhinegold Publishing: How to watch piano recitals online. “As concerts across the world are cancelled and artists face strict social distancing and self-isolation measures, many are taking to the web to share their music-making with us. From live social media streams to archive concert recordings, here are a few ways to watch fantastic piano performances online.”

Pitchfork: You Can Read Every Issue of Wire for Free This Week. “The long-running British avant-garde music magazine The Wire has announced it has opened its online archives to the public for the next week.” The magazine’s been going since 1982, so this is a lot of content.

School Library Journal: School Library Journal Offers Free Full Access to Content, Digitized Magazines. “School Library Journal (SLJ) is offering temporary free access to digitized editions of SLJ, as well as all content on its website, ‘We want to support you as you grapple with the challenge of advancing your work through the COVID-19 crisis,’ says Rebecca T. Miller, group publisher of Library Journal, School Library Journal, and The Horn Book.”

Morocco World News: COVID-19: Moroccan Museums Stream Live Visits for Art Lovers. “In light of Morocco’s state of emergency and the closure of several art events and institutes such as museums, the Moroccan National Foundation of Museums (FNM), decided to offer free online museum visits through a 360° virtual immersion.”

MLB TV: We’re Opening The 2018 And 2019 Archives. “Stream the 2018 and 2019 ARCHIVES free on MLB. TV for a limited time. Log in or create an account to start watching today.”


New Lenox Patriot: New Facebook group created for children to virtually read to seniors. “And since creating the group on March 17, more than 300 people have joined from all around the country. The group allows people to join upon approval by Green where parents can then sign their child up to read on a certain day. Multiple children read each day.”

Business Insider: Google says it has removed ‘millions of ads in the past week’ relating to coronavirus, but users are still seeing ads for products like face masks. “Weeks after Google said it was banning ads from companies attempting to profit off of panic surrounding the novel coronavirus, users still reported seeing ads for products like face masks served by Google Ads.”


Hollywood Reporter: Costume Designers Guild Sewing Masks for Health Care Facilities. “IATSE’s Theatre Wardrobe Locals, the Hollywood Costumers Local and Costume Designers Guild are leading an effort through which its members will sew protective masks for immediate distribution to health care facilities. The effort addresses the enormous shortage of masks, gloves and additional protective gear that doctors and other health care workers rely upon as they treat individuals with coronavirus symptoms.”

DishaBytes: From Yoga To Dance Classes: Bollywood Goes Online Amid Corona Crisis. “The novel coronavirus outbreak in the country may have brought the ever-bustling film industry to a halt, but it hasn’t stopped Bollywood celebrities from utilising their massive online influence to entertain their followers as well as engage them in fitness, dance and yoga routines. As government encourages more social distancing, people from the film fraternity are finding ways to connect to people and ensure their self-isolation isn’t wasted.”

National Geographic: Fake animal news abounds on social media as coronavirus upends life. “People are compelled to share posts that make them emotional. When we’re feeling stressed, joyous animal footage can be an irresistible salve. The spread of social phenomena is so powerful, 2016 research shows, that it can follow same models that trace the contagion of epidemics.”

PSFK: The Pandemic Inside the Pandemic: Leveraging Social Media to Fight Disinformation. “Misinformation is commonplace in today’s digital- and social-first media landscape. Here’s how consumers and creators alike are putting existing platforms to new uses to creatively halt the spread.”


University World News: Hunt for coronavirus cure is making science more open. “…while cities are locked down and borders are closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, science is becoming more open. This openness is already making a difference to scientists’ response to the virus and has the potential to change the world. But it’s not as simple as making every research finding available to anyone for any purpose. Without care and responsibility, there is a danger that open science can be misused or contribute to the spread of misinformation.”


Hurriyet Daily News: Turkey detains 64 over sharing ‘unfounded and provocative’ posts on social media. “Turkey has detained 64 people for sharing ‘unfounded and provocative’ posts on social media about the deadly coronavirus outbreak, according to the Interior Ministry. The Interior Ministry on late March 19 said that 64 of 242 suspects have been detained for allegedly making unfounded and provocative coronavirus posts on social media since March 11.”

CoronaBuzz is brought to you by ResearchBuzz. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment, send resource suggestions, or tag @buzz_corona on Twitter. Thanks!

Glimpses of Early Blandford

As long as we’re out in Blandford with Henry Knox, we might as well enjoy the town’s eighteenth-century history.

Most of the first British settlers in the area were Scotch-Irish, moving west in a bunch from Hopkinton in 1736. They named their new community “Glasgow” or “New Glasgow.” The town’s first meetinghouse was Presbyterian rather than New England Congregationalist.

However, when the Massachusetts government formally incorporated the town in 1741, the new governor, William Shirley, insisted on naming it after the ship that he had just arrived on—the Blandford. Reportedly he had leverage because the town proprietors had claimed more land than they were entitled to, so they needed the governor’s approval more than the inhabitants’.

The name “Glasgow” survived in a few geographic names such as the “Glasgow or Westfield Mountain” that Knox referred to in his diary. The town reportedly lost a church bell that the city of Glasgow, Scotland, had promised if it kept its original name.

Blandford was on the Massachusetts frontier, thus at risk from the French and their Native allies. During 1749, almost every household fled to other towns for safety. In 1755, as war loomed again, the town petitioned the Massachusetts General Court for a swivel gun, a type of small cannon. It was stored at the house of the Rev. James Morton.

The town straddled one of the few roads through the Berkshire Mountains, so it saw a lot of traffic. In 1762 a tavern keeper named Joseph Clark petitioned the legislature to be forgiven for selling alcohol without paying the excise tax. His excuse:

That in the Year 1760 He purchased a licensed House and purchased a barrel of Rum, but being sick in August when he should have applied for a license, and his House lying in the Road used by Soldiers sold the same, out to them: and he boght the said Rum of a Retailer who had paid the Duties of excise thereon—

The Massachusetts House bought that argument. The Council disagreed.

Blandford grew quickly after the Revolutionary War. Growth brought change, as preserved in this family anecdote from local historian William H. Gibbs. He said that around 1791 Isaac Gibbs (1744-1823)

brought into town the first single wagon used here. The neighbors regarded it as a curiosity, and their horses as he drove to church the first Sabbath, being affrighted, fled with as much precipitation as they do in our own day at the sight of the steam engine. It was a matter so strange to the people, that they actually proposed to call a town meeting to prohibit the use of wagons.

But the problems of growth didn’t last long. In the 1800 U.S. Census, Blandford had a population of 1,778—the largest the town ever was.

Seavers in the News- Noted Violin Maker George F. Seaver Dies in 1902

t’s time for another edition of “Seavers in the News” – a weekly feature from the historical newspapers about persons with the surname Seaver that are interesting, useful, mysterious, fun, macabre, or add information to my family tree database.

This week’s entry is from The Boston [Mass.] Globe newspaper dated 10 January 1902:

The transcription of the article is:

George F. Seaver, Dead at Dover, N.H. — Won Repute Also as Inventor.

“DOVER, N.H. Jan. 9 — George F. Seaver, age 66, one of Dover’s most esteemed citizens, died this morning at his home, near Granite State park, after a long illness.  Since early in the 80’s Mr. Seaver had been an invalid from paralysis, and since last fall he had been confined to his bed.

“Mr. Seaver was born in Lebanon, Me. of long-lived ancestry.  His maternal grandfather lived to the age of 104 and his mother died at 89.  For the past 30 years he has been a resident of this city, coming here from Haverhill, where he resided several years.  He married Miss Hannah R. Ham of Rochester.

“He was best known as a violin-maker, but was an inventor as well.  Among his patented inventions were a cane umbrella, a lasting machine and a car-heating apparatus.  For the past 16 years Mr. Seaver had been making violins, at first in an experimental way.

“During a long course of experimenting and study he solved the problem of making an instrument that from the first possessed the mellowness, richness, and breadth of tone of some of the best of the productions of the old makers.

“His latest productions are not excelled in beauty of wood and workmanship, and are pronounced by musicians to be of rare quality.  In his collection of old violins is a Stradivarius formerly owned by Ole Bull.

“Mr. Seaver was a veteran of the civil war.  He enlisted in Co H, 1st N H volunteers, and served at fort Constitution nearly the full period of enlistment.  He there received an injury to his back which necessitated his discharge, and which resulted in the paralysis which caused his death.

“He is survived by his wife, three sons, William H., George F. and John D., all of Boston; two daughters, Mrs. Roscoe G. Kilham of Boston, and Mrs. Ada F. Patten of Lynn; also a sister, Mrs. Ellen Ayer of Lynn.”

The source citation for the article is:

“Well-Known Violin Maker” The Boston [Mass.] Globe newspaper, obituary, Friday, 10 January  1902, page 11, column 4, George F. Seaver obituary;   ( : accessed 5 September 2019).

What an interesting life.  An inventor, a violin maker, a Civil War veteran, a wife and 5 living children.  
George Freeman Seaver (1835-1902) was the son of John D. Seaver (1798-1861) and Sarah Maddox (1805-1895) of Portsmouth, N.H. and Lebanon, Maine.  He married Hannah R. Ham (1835-????) in 1855 in Rochester, New Hampshire, and they had five children:
*  Ada Florence Seaver (1855-????), married George Lincoln Howard (1865-1920) in 1903.
*  George Freeman Seaver (1858-????), married Ella R. Waterhouse (1855-1919) in 1882.
*  Lola Estele Seaver (1859-1934), married (1) Roscoe Green Kilham (1859-1921) in 1882, and (2) George Edward Tibbets (1863-????) in 1929.
*  John D. Seaver (1867-????), married Nellie P. Norris (1876-????) in 1895.
*  William Harrison Seaver (1873-????) married (1) Marie E. Carlton (1878-????) in 1896, and (2) Alexandrina Wishart (1871-1976) in 1923.

George Freeman Seaver is my 3rd cousin four times removed, with common ancestors of my 6th great-grandparents Robert Seaver (1702-1752) and Eunice Rayment (1707-1772).

There are over 8,000 Seaver “stories” in my family tree – this was one of them.  George Freeman Seaver had an inspiring and interesting life.  Life happens, accidentally and intentionally, and sometimes it is noble and good.


Disclosure:  I have a paid subscription to and have used it extensively to find articles about my ancestral and one-name families.

Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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“All the strength and beauty of the antithesis”

Yesterday I quoted “Bradshaw’s Epitaph” as first printed in December 1775. No American politician liked its final line—“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”—more than Thomas Jefferson.

In late 1776, that statement was one of two possible mottoes that Jefferson proposed for the independent state of Virginia. As governor of Virginia in 1780, he had it engraved on a medal to be shared with Native American allies.

(The other possible motto was “Rex est qui regem non habet,” words from a Latin satire by the Dutch scholar and statesman Janus Dousa. I think for Jefferson that translated into “Whoever doesn’t have a king over him is a king.”)

Jefferson also had the “Rebellion to tyrants” line engraved on one of his personal seals, shown here, courtesy of Monticello. He was using this seal on his letters by 1790.

In an 1823 letter discussing the value of bending grammatical rules for the sake of style, Jefferson wrote:

to explain my meaning by an English example, I will quote the motto of one, I believe, of the regicides of Charles I. ‘Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.’ correct it’s syntax ‘Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God,’ it has lost all the strength and beauty of the antithesis.

Jefferson famously died on 4 July 1826. Two years later, Nicholas Philip Trist, a grandson-in-law, went through his papers at Monticello researching a legal question. Trist later wrote a memo about what he had found, quoted by Henry S. Randall in his 1858 Life of Thomas Jefferson. Here’s the relevant bit:

It occurred to me to ascertain what might be the contents of a little trunk, evidently very old, which, on visiting a closet over the alcove containing his bed, I had noticed among the many old things collected there. Ascending once more the steep step-ladder which led to this omnium gatherum, I raised the lid of that little trunk, upon which lay a thickness of dust, indicating that it had not turned upon its hinges for a long period. It was filled with papers—law papers almost exclusively. . . .

The bundles were, of course, all examined by me—the tape around them giving way in the act of untying it. In one I found the epitaph of John Bradshaw; and, in its company, copies of several letters bearing date years before the earliest of those contained among his papers as arranged by himself, which, to the best of my recollection, began in 1779. Among them was one to his old preceptor Dr. [William] Small, two to John Randolph, and one to Dr. Franklin; the three former written in 1775, the last in 1777. . . . These MSS. were in Mr. Jefferson’s hand-writing of that period; the most beautiful, to my taste, I have ever seen.

The page also included a note at the bottom, “evidently a remark by Mr. J. himself,” Trist wrote:

From many circumstances, there is reason to believe there does not exist any such inscription as the above, and that it was written by Dr. Franklin, in whose hands it was first seen.

Wait. So the whole epitaph was a hoax by Benjamin Franklin?

TOMORROW: What did Jefferson really think of “Bradshaw’s Epitaph”?

AWS Announces General Availability of Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive — the Lowest Cost Storage in the Cloud

If you want the security of backing up your important data files to a safe and secure off-site web storage service in the cloud, you might be interested in the new press release from Amazon Web Services (AWS):

SEATTLE–Today, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced the general availability of Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive, a new storage class that provides secure, durable object storage for long-term retention of data that is rarely accessed. At just $0.00099 per GB-month (less than one-tenth of one cent, or $1 per TB-month), S3 Glacier Deep Archive offers the lowest cost storage in the cloud, at prices significantly lower than storing and maintaining data in on-premises magnetic tape libraries or archiving data off-site. To get started with S3 Glacier Deep Archive visit:

Organizations in many market segments (e.g., financial services, healthcare, and government, etc.) are required to retain data for long periods of time to meet regulatory compliance requirements. In addition, there are organizations, such as media and entertainment companies, that want to keep a backup copy of core intellectual property. These datasets are often very large, consisting of multiple petabytes, and yet typically only a small percentage of this data is ever accessed—once or twice a year at most. To retain data long-term, many organizations turn to on-premises magnetic tape libraries or offsite tape archival services. However, maintaining this tape infrastructure is difficult and time-consuming; tapes degrade if not properly stored and require multiple copies, frequent validation, and periodic refreshes to maintain data durability.

Additionally, it is difficult or impossible to do machine learning and other types of analysis directly on data stored on tape. Now, with S3 Glacier Deep Archive, customers with large datasets they want to retain for long periods will be able to eliminate both the cost and management of tape infrastructure, while ensuring that their data is preserved for future use and analysis, such as in oil and gas seismic exploration and developing autonomous vehicles. Customers can still use S3 Glacier when they want retrieval options in minutes for archive data, while S3 Glacier Deep Archive is ideal for customers who want the lowest cost for archive data that is rarely accessed. In the event that recovery becomes necessary, the objects can be recovered in as little as 12 hours with S3 Glacier Deep Archive versus days or weeks with off-site tape.

“We have customers who have exabytes of storage locked away on tape, who are stuck managing tape infrastructure for the rare event of data retrieval. It’s hard to do and that data is not close to the rest of their data if they want to do analytics and machine learning on it,” said Mai-Lan Tomsen Bukovec, Vice President, Amazon S3, AWS. “S3 Glacier Deep Archive costs just a dollar per terabyte per month and opens up rarely accessed storage for analysis whenever the business needs it, without having to deal with the infrastructure or logistics of tape access.”

With six different storage class options, Amazon S3 provides the broadest array of cost-optimization options available in the cloud today. All objects stored in S3 Glacier Deep Archive are replicated and stored across at least three geographically-dispersed Availability Zones, designed for 99.999999999% (eleven nines) durability, and can be restored within 12 hours or less. S3 Glacier Deep Archive also offers a bulk retrieval option that lets customers retrieve petabytes of data within 48 hours. Customers can upload data to S3 Glacier Deep Archive over the internet or using AWS Direct Connect and the AWS Management Console, AWS Storage Gateway, AWS DataSync, AWS Command Line Interface, or the AWS Software Development Kit. S3 Glacier Deep Archive is integrated with Tape Gateway, a cloud-based virtual tape library feature of AWS Storage Gateway, so customers using it to manage on-premises tape-based backups can choose to archive their new virtual tapes in either S3 Glacier or S3 Glacier Deep Archive. S3 Glacier Deep Archive is available in all AWS commercial and AWS GovCloud (US) Regions.

Deluxe is the world’s leading video creation to distribution company offering global, end-to-end services and technology. Through unmatched scale, technology and capabilities, Deluxe enables the global market for video content. “As the demand for higher quality and increased amounts of content continues to rapidly grow, we will now have the ability to eliminate the limitations of a hybrid on-prem tape model by using S3 Glacier Deep Archive to reduce access time and rapidly shift the availability and workability of content sources exclusively on the cloud,” said Andy Shenkler, Chief Product Officer, Deluxe. “AWS’s S3 Glacier Deep Archive addresses the challenges that have previously existed around the economics and timelines associated with accessing and utilizing large media assets throughout every step of the content creation and distribution process.”

Vodacom is a leading communications company providing a wide range of services, including mobile and fixed voice, messaging, data, financial, Enterprise IT, and converged services to over 73 million customers across the African continent. “We are a data driven organization and use current and historical information to provide personalized customer offers, improve user retention, and ensure a higher quality of network service through analysis,” said Willie Stegmann, Group Chief Information Officer, at Vodacom. “We identified archive and backup storage as key candidates to migrate offsite in an attempt to reduce the time we spend managing storage infrastructure. S3 Glacier Deep Archive provides us with near limitless secure and durable capacity at a cost so low that we no longer need to consider deleting critical data. The use of S3 Glacier Deep Archive also means that we can easily meet recovery time objectives of 12 to 48 hours for the identified backup and archive storage sets.”

The Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) is a consortium of higher education institutions committed to providing both a preservation repository for digital content and collaboratively developed services related to that content. APTrust helps address one of the great challenges facing research libraries and their parent institutions—preventing the permanent loss of scholarship and cultural records. “We accept all types of digital content from member institutions—print, audio, video, encrypted, and other types of files,” said Chip German, Program Director, APTrust. “Our members deposit with us all sorts of data they consider valuable, including data that’s required by funders to be preserved and made accessible for a set period. The copies we store are usually secondary ones in case a disaster damages the primary copy, but that level of assurance comes at a cost that researchers and their institutions often haven’t fully anticipated. Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive gives APTrust members a much more affordable option to preserve their data for as long as they desire, and to do so confidently and conveniently.”

Commvault, an AWS Partner Network member, is a recognized global enterprise software leader in the management of data for cloud and on-premises environments. “Our customers need to be able to move, manage, and use data in a way that promotes business agility and contains costs,” said Karen Falcone, Vice President, Worldwide Cloud and Service Providers, at Commvault. “With Commvault’s support for AWS, customers get single, comprehensive data management platform with full data protection, backup, recovery, management, and eDiscovery capabilities—all tightly integrated with AWS services. And now, S3 Glacier Deep Archive will allow us to provide the lowest cost storage available in the cloud and have it accessible, if necessary, in the future. For our customers in regulated industries, that can mean petabytes of data going back years. Customers can use S3 Glacier Deep Archive today as an Early Release feature.”

Veritas is an AWS Partner Network Advanced Storage competency partner and the proven industry leader in data protection and software defined storage solutions for over two decades. “Our customers need to be able to harness the power of their information with solutions designed to serve the world’s most complex and largest heterogeneous environments while accelerating digital transformation, reducing risk, and delivering cost savings,” said Cameron Bahar, SVP & CTO, at Veritas. “With Veritas solutions supporting AWS, we continue to extend our support for cloud usage models and provide our customers simple and agile solutions to solve complex data management issues for backup/recovery, archiving, primary storage, and disaster recovery use cases. With Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive, Veritas will be able to help customers increase their savings even more significantly. Veritas customers can use S3 Glacier Deep Archive Standard tier with the latest NetBackup version as of today.”

About Amazon Web Services

For 13 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 165 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 61 Availability Zones (AZs) within 20 geographic regions, spanning the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK. Millions of customers including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies—trust AWS to power their infrastructure, become more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @AmazonNews.

“A People not insensible of the sweets of rational freedom”

On 13 Jan 1777, the Massachusetts legislature considered a petition from eight black men on behalf of “a great number of Negroes who are detained in a state of Slavery in the Bowels of a free and Christian Country.”

That petition drew on the natural-rights philosophy that underlay the Declaration of Independence and similar documents in the preceding years. The authors wrote:

That your Petitioners apprehend that they have, in common with all other Men, a natural and unalienable right to that freedom, which the great Parent of the Universe hath bestowed equally on all Mankind, and which they have never forfeited by any compact or agreement whatever—But they were unjustly dragged, by the cruel hand of Power, from their dearest friends, and some of them even torn from the embraces of their tender Parents, from a populous, pleasant and plentiful Country—and in Violation of the Laws of Nature and of Nation and in defiance of all the tender feelings of humanity, brought hither to be sold like Beasts of Burden, and like them condemned to slavery for Life—Among a People professing the mild Religion of Jesus—A People not insensible of the sweets of rational freedom—Nor without spirit to resent the unjust endeavors of others to reduce them to a State of Bondage and Subjection.

Your Honors need not to be informed that a Life of Slavery, like that of your petitioners, deprived of every social privilege, of every thing requisite to render Life even tolerable, is far worse than Non-Existence—In imitation of the laudable example of the good People of these States, your Petitioners have long and patiently waited the event of Petition after Petition by them presented to the legislative Body of this State, and can not but with grief reflect that their success has been but too similar.

They can not but express their astonishment, that it has never been considered, that every principle from which America has acted in the course of her unhappy difficulties with Great-Britain, pleads stronger than a thousand arguments in favor of your Petitioners.

The ask was for a law to free all adults enslaved in Massachusetts, and to ensure the liberty of all enslaved children when they reached the age of twenty-one (essentially treating them as apprentices).

The legislature didn’t enact such a law. The Massachusetts courts eventually made the first big step to making slavery unenforceable in the state.

Here are the signatures and marks of the eight men who submitted the petition, as shown in its digital form, courtesy of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery and Anti-Segregation Petitions project.

The most famous of those men was Prince Hall. Others joined with Hall in the first African-American Freemasons lodge.

Today I’m focusing on the sixth man, whose given name was Nero. I’ve seen his surname transcribed as Funelo, Funilo, and even Suneto. I posit that that surname was Funels, a phonetic spelling of Faneuils, and that this man had been enslaved by one of the Faneuil family.

TOMORROW: Nero Faneuil in court.