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GenealogyClassBlog » Conversation

Old Sailors Never Die…They Just Get a Little Dinghy

May 31st, 2013 Posted in Conversation, Family | 3 Comments »
Tulsa Sail-Craft ad in The Tulsalite

Tulsa Sail-Craft ad in The Tulsalite

Old Sailors Never Die…They Just Get a Little Dinghy – that was one of my Dad’s favorites, back when those sayings were popular. He wasn’t really a jokester, but he enjoyed lots of little things, like telling stories and hearing stories told about him – mostly sailing stories. His memory doesn’t help him recall everything lately, but he’s been comfortable and happy.

Sometimes he is concerned because he would like to solve some problem out there, but there isn’t much he can do now. He tries to work out how to find someplace to stay, or how he could make some money. Today he said something about trying to improve the wheelchair. I asked him whether he wasn’t the one who designed the centerboard lift system that the members used at Sequoyah Yacht Club to store their boats above the water (instead of having to pull them out after the weekly races), but he said that he doesn’t remember.

He developed a mast carrier for the Catalina 22, and we used to sell them at Tulsa Sail-Craft. With one device, which had a pair of pintles to hook onto the C-22’s gudgeons, he could not only carry the mast, but could lift the mast high enough that he had a good start on raising it the rest of the way by standing on the cabin. He called it his “six-foot friend.”

He designed some other sailing solutions like a way to determine the depth of the water at the boat ramp, and even submitted some to a national sailing magazine (probably Sailing World), which published at least two. He designed a keel guide for helping to load the retractable-keel Catalina 22s onto their trailers, and he loved to design mast-raising systems for larger boats.

I remember staying up late one night at the old “boat yard,” as he built some sturdy, wooden steps so that potential buyers could step up alongside a soon-to-be-displayed boat on a trailer – probably a Catalina 22. The Boat Show would be the next day and so when it was about time to head for home, he started designing and building those steps. I would probably have been too young to drive, and had tagged along with my dad to work that day. I was an unofficial helper, and he probably asked me to hold this, or hand him that, which I did, and he did the hard part. We were in the very small building which housed the “office” and “shop,” at the boat yard on Latimer Court, behind Burkhart’s Marine. Burkhart’s owners, Art and Ruth Burkhart Obermire, sold marine hardware and rented us the space in the back.

Tulsa Sail-Craft would have two more locations after, and had occupied at least one rental space and our backyard before this one, where my dad sold boats in the early 1970’s. My grandfather (and my sisters probably) helped sometimes, and there were a few paid employees, too. Dwayne Nelson told me that he had worked for TSC when it was on Latimer. We visited after the memorial service for his dad, Charlie Nelson, who had taught our sailing school later.

Actually, I had been on the payroll earlier, as well. My sister and I would assemble the sail rigs for the Dolphins that would arrive at our house by the dozen or so, fastening the sails to the spars, and then the spars to the masts, and adding the main sheet and halyard to each rig and binding the long rig together by a chain of slip knots. The photo that shows a newly-arrived Catalina 22 loaded on the back of a pickup truck, also shows some of the Dolphins leaning against Burkhart’s.

If I ask my dad about all of this tomorrow, though, I’m not sure he’ll feel like discussing it. He was feeling very tired tonight.


Class is in Session

October 5th, 2011 Posted in Conversation, Speaking, Tulsa Events | 4 Comments »

I am putting the final touches on today’s talk. I hear that we have 18 registered and that we will be in room J228.

After today’s class, and some time before next week’s class, be sure to comment on this post. Give your classmates an idea about what interests you by posting your first research objective.

From Liverpool to New York, 3 June 1844

February 21st, 2011 Posted in Conversation, On the Internet | Comments Off
Ships Passenger List for the Hannibal, arriving in New York 3 Jun 1844, from Liverpool

Ships Passenger List for the Hannibal, arriving in New York 3 Jun 1844, from Liverpool

On last week’s episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Rosie O’Donnell traveled to County Kildare in Ireland. Her great-great-grandparents had lived there in poverty just after the Irish Potato Famine until the early 1850’s, when they emigrated to Canada and eventually came to the United States, settling in New Jersey. Watch the episode, or others that have already aired, at

Sometimes when I have a few minutes, I spend some time online, searching on the website of the program’s sponsor, After watching the show on Friday night I was in the mood for a little Irish searching — for my own great-great-grandparents who also reportedly came from “near Dublin, Kildare, Ireland.” County Kildare is, in fact, just outside of Dublin. And the parents of my mother’s grandmother, Anna Carr Regan, had left there around the time of the Irish Potato Famine, as had Rosie’s ancestors, Andrew Murtagh and Ann Doyle Murtagh, and their four children.

My mother had put together most of the dates and places several years ago.  I opened the family view in my genealogy software file in Reunion (for the Macintosh), so that I could find what I needed as I searched. Patrick Carr, who lived and died in Cleveland, Ohio, was reportedly born in 1805 and his wife, Bridget in either 1814 or 1824. Their first two children, both girls, were supposed to have been born in Ireland in 1842. The eldest was Mary and the next Bridget. My mother thought that the third child, Kathleen or Katherine, was either born in Ireland or in New York, in roughly 1848, and the fourth, also a daughter, named Helen, was born in about 1849 in Ohio. I was a little fuzzy on the dates we had established that the family was in Cleveland, but I was pretty sure that the date of immigration could have been anywhere from the early 1840’s to maybe 1856, when Anna Carr was born. We were not sure about the dates or places of birth of Katherine and Helen, and we still do not have the maiden name of Patrick’s wife — unless it really is Carr — what one vital record showed for mother’s maiden name: Bridget Carr.

Patrick Carr is not an uncommon name and when my mother and I were in the thick of the Carr research several years ago, the New York Passenger Arrivals were not indexed to the extent that they are today. Of course, New York was not the only port, but it seemed to be the most likely for this Cleveland family, especially because of the family tradition. Searches on for Patrick Carr resulted in lots of hits for the wrong Patrick Carr, but eventually I was able to find one passenger list that included all four members of the Carr family that immigrated. I did this by using one of my Power Hitter tricks — I searched for others of less common names who were probably in the same record, in order to locate the record.

Genealogists can often find a record of someone with the same name as their ancestor, but what they really need is something in the record that can help them to identify that they have found a record of the actual ancestor. I knew that if I found a Patrick Carr, I wouldn’t be sure whether he was my Patrick Carr unless he was with his wife Bridget, and better yet if they were together and had some of their children with them. I located this little family after a little perseverance:

  • Pat Carr 30
  • Bridget Carr 38
  • Mary Carr 2
  • Bridget Carr Inft

And I was glad that they had immigrated together. The arrival date was 4 Jun 1844 and the ship was the Hannibal, which had departed Liverpool and arrived in New York City. This was too early for the Carrs to have been processed at Ellis Island (which wasn’t established until 1892), or to have seen the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor (because it wasn’t erected until 1886). They did probably enter through Castle Garden, at Battery Park in New York City.

Looking back to try to determine why I wasn’t able to find Patrick Carr very quickly, I think there were a few reasons. First, there is a significant difference in the estimated date of birth. Instead of 1805, this Pat Carr was 30 in 1844, or born in about 1814. In addition, rather than Patrick Carr, he was listed as Pat Carr. And, when I searched the index to New York, 1820-1850 Passenger and Immigration Lists for all Patrick Carrs, I found that the one who arrived on the Hannibal was 28th on the list.

So how did I find the family without looking at every Patrick Carr in the results list? The name Bridget is not as common as is Patrick, so I searched for Bridget Carr, born in about 1842, and for her sister, Mary, born in about 1842, and compared the results lists for the two. I found the Hannibal on both results lists and then checked the digital image to see whether they had parents, Patrick and Bridget. Without the rest of the family, the age of Bridget (the mother, at 38), or the age of Pat (30) would seem to eliminate them, but considering that the information about their daughters is what we would expect, and given that the 3 June 1844 falls within a likely date range for their migration, I believe that I have found the boat — and I have called my mother to give her the news. I will continue to search for all related records, as good genealogists do, to either strengthen the case or to disprove it. I hope to establish that this family is mine, so that I can pursue them in County Kildare. But if it isn’t, then I’ll keep looking until I do find them.

I’ll be watching “Who Do You Think You Are?” again this Friday night, highlighting Kim Cattrall. If you miss it, be sure to watch the online episode.

Germany map

January 13th, 2010 Posted in Conversation, On the Internet | Comments Off

I used this post to see whether I would be able to put up a link to a map I had made with Google Maps. The map is one I created a year ago as I was planning my first trip to Europe. I used the markers to keep track of the places as I located them. Berwangen is the small town that I wanted to visit. It was the home of my great-great-grandfather, Johan Georg Mayer before he came to the United States in 1853. He was christened in the church there in 1826.

View Germany in a larger map

After posting, I tried editing my Google Map by adding a red place marker for Ittlingen, which I just last week learned was the home of one of Kathy Huber’s German ancestors. Kathy Huber is the Genealogy Librarian at the Genealogy Center in Tulsa. I still can’t believe how close her little German town was to my little German town.

As for my test — the red place marker now appears on the posted map, so the above link to the “Germany” map will take you to the latest version of the Germany map, even as I make changes to it in the future. Pretty cool.

Boston Avenue School of Continuing Education

October 11th, 2009 Posted in Conversation, Speaking | Comments Off

The new year of genealogy classes at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church has begun. I am again teaching five weeks of classes, with two different courses scheduled each Tuesday evening. The first is called “Genealogy:  Family History Basics” and meets from 6:30 to 7:30. And the second session, which is designed to complement the first (and give me a place to enhance and improve genealogy lectures), is called “Five Genealogy Talks,” and meets from 7:45 to 8:45.

The topic of last Tuesday’s first hour was “Important First Steps.” The class members and I introduced ourselves to each other and we discovered that most of class consisted of beginners, who are just starting out. We have a mother-daughter couple and a grandmother-granddaughter couple, but no husband-wife couples this time.

The second hour was made up of almost the same group of students. The topic for the week was, “How Do You Know? Understanding Evidence and Citing Your Sources.”

I plan to post some more details about each of these sessions very soon.

Next week’s first hour topic will be “The Census,” about one of my favorite genealogy resources. This is a resource that many beginning genealogists can use, but that experienced genealogists use as well., and some other commercial and private sites, offer access to the digital images of the United States Federal census or to transcriptions of the contents of the census. We’ll learn what the census contains and about how we can access it.

The second hour’s topic will be “Information Overload:  Organizing Your Genealogy Records.” We’ll learn about how to organize the names, dates, places and relationships, as well as how to organize research plans and notes, and how to organize the stacks of paperwork genealogists seem to generate.