A Letter from Henry

Week 40: #52 Ancestors - Oldest By Eilene Lyon I believe the oldest document in my possession is this letter written by Henry Z. and Abigail Jenkins, dated October 19, 1855. The entire letter runs to over 1500 words, so I won't give a full transcript here - your eyes would be glazing over long... Continue Reading →

Philadelphia Firestorms

Week 33: #52 Ancestors – Troublemaker By Eilene Lyon Henry Z. Jenkins rose before dawn one morning in June 1827 in his single room in north Philadelphia’s Penn Township. His workday normally began at sunrise and ended at sundown – just like that of every other journeyman in the city. The master tradesmen dictated the... Continue Reading →

Back to the FANs

Week 1: #52 Ancestors - Fresh Start By Eilene Lyon To genealogists, the FAN acronym stands for Friends, Associates, Neighbors - people we should be researching alongside our ancestors to provide context and clues to family connections. My knee surgery rehab time on the exercise bike prompted me to start watching some Legacy Family Tree... Continue Reading →

Good Intentions

Week 46: #52 Ancestors – Poor Man By Eilene Lyon He had to be desperate – it was such an insane thing to do at his age. Traveling to California and mining gold was for the young and strong, not for 49-year-old family men. But Henry Zane Jenkins made that difficult choice: to leave his... Continue Reading →

Wrong-Way Emily – Part 1

Week 39: #52 Ancestors – Map It Out By Eilene Lyon Note: This three-part series is adapted from my California gold rush book. Sources will be listed at the end of Part 3. Background The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in January 1848 set off the largest mass migration to a single destination up... Continue Reading →

St. Anthony’s Fire

Week 22: #52 Ancestors – At the Cemetery By Eilene Lyon There is a cemetery in New Orleans that I have not seen, and probably never will. Why? Because there are no grave markers, and the buried remains are merely a bony tangle in the delta silt. Still, it is hallowed ground. This is the... Continue Reading →

A Slow Death

By Eilene Lyon A 19th Century Scourge In my gold rush research, I’ve come across a couple cases of milk sickness – a deadly disease that was common in the 19th century throughout the Ohio River Valley states. I made the erroneous assumption that this was some bacterial illness that was neutralized by pasteurization. Rather,... Continue Reading →

I Want Answers, Dammit!

Week 4: #52 Ancestors – I’d like to meet… By Eilene Lyon First off, my 4th-great-grandmother would probably not be pleased with that title – she was a deeply religious woman, after all. But I do know she had a sense of humor, which I’ll share with you later. Ann Widdifield Zane was born in... Continue Reading →

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