30 March 2009

Western Jewish History Center Archives

Did you know that the San Francisco Bay Area is home to the 3rd largest Jewish community in the United States? It's no wonder then that The Western Jewish History Center and Archives, part of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, is the world's largest repository of materials documenting the contribution of Jews to the history of the American West. Located at 2911 Russell Street in Berkeley, California, the Magnes is housed in the Historic Burke Mansion in a quiet residential neighborhood. I have to warn you though, wear your hiking boots. From the street you must climb up 2 1/2 flights of stone steps to get to the front door. I was just barely able to wheeze out my name to the man at the door. Lara Michels, PhD (Head Archivist and Librarian) came to greet me and led me up 2 more flights of stairs, this time in a narrow hallway. It took almost 10 minutes for my calves to stop screaming and the color of my face to return to normal. I have to tell you though, it was well worth the pain.

I had contacted Lara ahead of time to let her know my area of research interest. When I arrived I found that she had pulled several folders and photo albums on the families I was researching. Lara also showed me the card catalog that is the index for the Bay Area Jewish Newspaper Emanu-El. Founded in November 1895, it eventually became the San Francisco Jewish Bulletin and is now the JWeekly.com. This newspaper is full of society news that is a goldmine for family historians.

As you may remember, I have been researching my SIL's family who ancestors are all Jews from Bavaria who immigrated to San Francisco in the 1850's. They are among the very social elite, or as Frances Dinkelspiel likes to call them - "The Reckendorf Aristocracy" - and have been so much fun to research. SIL and I had decided to focus the research on her ancestors every day lives. I came across the following article in the Emanu-el newspaper society column that will give you an idea of what her folks did for a good time on an ordinary evening.

You need a little background first. SIL's 2nd great grandfather is D. N. Walter. D. N. Walter and Isaias Hellman were boyhood friends from Reckendorf, Bavaria. The Walter's have a party and the guest of honor is Hellman's daughter Clara. Below is a photo of the Walter Home, courtesy of the Bancroft Library.

From the Emanu-El Newspaper, 17 December 1897, page 16:

"One of the pleasantest entertainments ever given in San Francisco was that given one evening last week by Mr. and Mrs. D. N. Walter at their home, 1700 Van Ness avenue. It was complimentary to Miss Clara Hellman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. I. W. Hellman, and the invitations asked a hundred and more friends to meet the young guest of honor "at a gathering of the gypsies." Following the plan of the hostess, Miss Mary Bates carried it out in most picturesque detail. The handsome dining-room of the Walter mansion was converted into a gypsy camp. There were tents of skins and canvas, the tripod with the kettle and all sorts of things that go to make up the typical settlement of the Romanies. the other rooms were canvased for dancing and appropriately decorated. Miss Hellman was not with Mrs. Walter to greet the guests, but made her appearance in a beautiful tableau surrounded by a dozen young ladies like herself in gorgeous gypsy garb, she being the queen. After this pretty general introduction she received "in camp," graciously dispensing its hospitality. Interest was added to this scene by the presence of "real" gypsies from a camp on the outskirts. They told past, present and future to the great amusement of the young people. Dice were shaken for prizes. An Italian supper prepared by a chef of that nationality was served before midnight, after which dancing was resumed."

Well what do you think about that? Over 100 teenagers, tents made of animal skins and real gypsies. I love this stuff!

A Noble Life In Southeast Kansas

The 12th Edition of Smile For The Camera asks us to share a photo that is the embodiment of A Noble Life.
I didn't think I had a photo that would represent a noble life until I came across this one in my collection.

c. 1910, George Wesley Harris, Hillery T. Harris and John Fletcher Harris; Allen County, Kansas

It occurred to me that a noble life did not have to mean royalty, fame or wealth. It could mean a life that was lived honestly and proudly. My great great grandfather George Wesley Harris (pictured on the far left) certainly looks proud in this picture. One hand over his heart and the other pointing to the ground as if saying, "This is my land and I worked hard to come by it, by God." He did not have the money for modern farm equipment, but his son (my great grandfather Hillery T. Harris) looks like he knows how to handle those horses. I do not know what kind of crops they grew, but I know that there was only 40 acres. That 40 acres was George Wesley Harris' kingdom.

26 March 2009

John Hope Franklin 1915-2009

I was very sad to learn of the passing of John Hope Franklin. I absolutely adored this man. A brilliant scholar and researcher. My introduction to Mr. Franklin came from a 2 hour segment of Booknotes. For two solid, commercial free hours I listened to him talk about his life and his accomplishments. For every obstacle he had put in front of him, he found a way to stomp right over it while staying true to himself. I can't begin to do justice to his life achievements, but found a couple of good starting points for learning more about them here and here.

I still smile when I remember learning that this great scholar still used index cards for notes and wrote his papers out in long hand. John Hope Franklin will remain for me an everlasting inspiration to be the best that I can possibly be. The world is a better place because of him and he will be missed.

21 March 2009

Seaver's Saturday Night Fun - Who's Your Daddy's Mama's Daddy?

I am extremely pleased that I could say the title to this post 3 times in a row before screwing it up. I probably could have gone 4 or 5 times if I hadn't previously fortified myself with a wee bit of cold medication. It's an old family recipe that you can now purchase over the counter - Jose Cuervo with a couple slices of lemon (for the vitamin C needed to fight off colds).

It's a good thing I am medicated because it is Saturday night and we all know what that means - Everyone's over to Seaver's place for some
Saturday Night Fun at Genea-Musings. Randy's challenge to us this week:

Provide a list of your paternal grandmother's patrilineal line by answering the following questions.

I have checked and I can tell you with 100% certainty that my BORGSTADTER family are the only ones in the entire United States. Do not know why I felt the need to share that with you but Jose C. was telling me that I should mention it.

1. What is my father's mother's maiden name? - BORGSTADTER

2. What is your father's mother's father's name? - HENRY FRED BORGSTADTER

3. What is your father's mother's father's patrilineal line?

The father of HENRY FRED BORGSTADTER is JOHN FRED BORGSTADTER. John Borgstadter immigrated to the U.S. about 1872. I have never found his passenger arrival, never located any siblings or parents. When John was required to register as an "Enemy Alien" during WWI, he was asked the date of his arrival in the U.S., the name of the ship he came on, what port he arrived at, his place of birth, the names of his parents and whether he had any relatives in the U.S. or corresponded with any in Germany. I was shocked at his answers.

He was not sure of the date of his arrival to the U.S. probably September 1871 or 1872.
He did not remember the name of the ship.
He is pretty sure that he arrived at the Port of New York.
He stated that he was born in Hitzhausen, Germany.
When asked for the names of his parents his answer was "I do not know".
When asked if he had any relatives in the U.S. or still corresponded with any who were in Germany he answered, "It is possible, but I do not know".

Can you imagine giving those answers to Homeland Security in this day and age?

4. Can you identify male sibling(s) of your father's mother, and any living male descendants from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of the next generation back, or even further

My father's mother had 1 brother - Fred Louis Borgstadter who had 2 daughters and 0 sons.

So if I go back a generation to my father's mother's father - Henry Borgstadter - Henry had 1 brother - Herman George Borgstadter. Herman had 3 sons -[a] Gerald who was killed in action in WWII (he had no children), [b] An infant who died at birth and never named and [c] a son who is still living. This still living son had 1 son who is alive.

20 March 2009

The One-Room Schoolhouse

Coming across this photo in my collection of family pictures got me to thinking about one of my favorite topics - Education. The little girl holding the chalkboard with the date is my 2nd great aunt Elizabeth Hazel Harris, sister to my 2nd great grandfather Hillery T. Harris. The students are from Maple Grove School in Bourbon County, Kansas. The photo was taken about 1911.

Look for my upcoming article about the rise and fall of the one-room schoolhouse in southeast Kansas.

17 March 2009

More Sidewalk Photography

It is encouraging to know that someone actually reads my articles. Brett Payne, who is the Photo-Sleuth, was inspired to share his collection of sidewalk photographs after reading about mine .

In his post,
"Sidewalk Photographers, Bournemouth & Great Yarmouth", Brett shares some fantastic photographs of his ancestors that are one-of-a-kind.

Brett's blog is on my list of must reads, always well written and loaded with brilliant photographs. Take a few minutes and head on over to The Photo-Sleuth to read a series of articles about old photographs, photographers and their subjects, you won't be disappointed!

14 March 2009

Groovin' - On A Saturday Afternoon

L to R = Jennifer Jones Regan, Cheryl Palmer, Me, Kathryn Doyle

Just returned to Sunnyvale after one of THE best days I had in a long time. Dragged my SIL with me to Oakland, California to the California Genealogical Society to hear Frances Dinkelspiel talk about her book "Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California"

Frances spoke to a full house about her research journey and shared some stories from the book. Anyone can gather facts and figures, but it takes a gift to take those facts and figures and turn them into a compelling and entertaining story. Frances has that gift. That and a great last name, do you know how fun it is to say Dinkel-schpiel!

Best of all was getting to meet some of the Genea-Bloggers grooviest people. Cool, cool Kitty - Kathryn Doyle author of the CGS blog is one of the bounciest, happiest, friendliest people you'd ever want to meet. Ah, to be that young and skinny again. Oh well, a girl can always dream.

A lady in a purple sweater was at the reception desk and turned around as I walked in and was pleasantly surprised to see Cheryl Palmer who authors the Graveyard Rabbit of South Alameda County. Cheryl surprised us all by later revealing that she is also the author who writes under the pen name of Msteri over at Heritage Happens. I honestly had no idea that she was two people at the same time. Between you and me, she looks perfectly normal in person!

Jennifer Jones Regan who authors Rainy Day Genealogy Readings and The Graveyard Rabbit of Contra Costsa County was another CGS member and Genea-blogger who I met. Jennifer is a Brain-ee-ack and one of those girls who never have to wear makeup to look great. Jennifer wrote a scholarly article for the Louisiana Genealogical Register about Yellow Fever that is a well researched, well written piece.

I also met Jane Lindsey, president of CGS who puts on a great show for CGS each and every month. Carolyn Steinberg was there as well. I am hoping Carolyn brings her CGS Roadshow to the San Joaquin Valley soon!

The last surprise for me was Jeffrey Vaillant who is a member of the grooviest ProGen group - Group D. Jeff, Randy Seaver, Mark Tucker, Tina Sansome and I are the infamous Group D. We have been together for over a year now and while I feel as if I know all of them, I had never met any of them except for Tina. Tina and I met while at Samford last year. This year we will be roommates at Samford. I had to promise I wouldn't get us thrown in jail while we were there. Ha! I am a pro at walking on the edge without falling off. My brain is dizzy with all the possibilities......

Guess Where You Can Find Me Now!

Go on....Guess! You give up much to easily. Aw Jeez, now I'll have to tell you.

I am hanging out over at footnoteMaven's place -
Shades of the Departed. You'll find me in the Friday From The Collector's department. I'll only be there for a few days so you really should visit soon.

Can you believe that Klassy Maven asked me to be the guest author for the week? You think you're surprised, imagine how I felt.

Got a few minutes? Then come on over and give me a read. Next week I'll be back on my own turf - in the frozen food aisle at the S-Mart grocers

07 March 2009

Sheri Goes To Santa Clara and Oakland and San Francisco and...

Intermission time at the Educated Genealogist. I will be in Santa Clara, California attending the California State Society Daughters of the American Revolution annual state conference. Elizabeth O'Neal from Little Bytes of Life is a DAR member and will be attending as well. Any other genea-bloggers out there who are DAR members and attending state conference? Let us know and we'll plan to meet up and see what kind of trouble we can get ourselves into!

Since I will be in the bay area, I have other genealogical events and on my itinerary that I am really looking forward to . The visit would not be complete without stopping in at some of my most favorite places to do research as well.

Saturday, March 14th at 1:00 PM - The California Genealogical Society presents - Frances Dinkelspiel, author of "Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California". I am thrilled that I finally have the chance not only to listen to Ms. Dinkelspiel's research adventures but even more jazzed at meeting Kathryn Doyle live and in person. Kathryn is the author of the CGS blog, a fellow genea-blogger and all around cool, cool kitty.

The following Monday and Tuesday I will be researching at the Judah Magnes Library in the Western Jewish History Collection . The museum and library are located in Berkeley so time at the Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley is on the agenda too. I am hoping to squeeze in one or two more days so I can visit the California Historical Society, the Sutro Library and the National Archives in San Bruno.

The month of March just keeps getting better all the time!

05 March 2009

Learn What Your Name Means Day

We are halfway through the week long festivities of "Celebrate Your Name Week". Today we were asked to learn the meaning of our name.

I decided to start with the traditional meanings of names. I was well aware of my name having a French origin - cherie = loved or dear one. Louise also has a French origin being the female version of Louis.

At Behind The Name, I found these results for my names:

SHERI - pronounced Shur-ee, a variant of Sherry
LOUISE - pronounced Loo-eez, french feminine form of Louis

Then I found this website - Discover the Hidden Meaning in Your Name and could not resist.
I entered my first name and here are the results of the hidden meaning of my name:

You have great self-confidence and a charming personality which attracts many friends and admirers. Your innate sense of personal power and ability to lead are ideally suited to positions of authority. Being so versatile and seeing the big picture your ambitions are high and much is usually expected of you. With patience and tenacity you will certainly fulfill the great potential you have for success.

04 March 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Maryellen Harris, age 4, c. 1920
My maternal grandmother
Original photograph privately held by author
(Address for private use) Stockton, California, 2009

Unique Names Day

Day 3 of "Celebrate Your Name Week" is designated as "Unique Names Day".

Well.....you should know me by now. I couldn't let this one go without having some fun with it.

I used the services of some great name generators. I used my own name - Sheri Fenley and let the generators work their magic. I thought it was like using a Magic 8 Ball - "Say My Name, oh Magical One." My husband (who is a down to earth kind of guy - no magic baloney for him) says the name generators are a crap shoot. Either way you look at it, it was alot of fun.

The Vampire Name Generator

The Great Archives determine you to have gone by the identity: Selene Oleander
Known in some parts of the world as: Lilith of The Balkans

Hillbilly Name Generator

Your Hillbilly Name Is: Kissy Cissy Houston

Fairy Name Generator
Your fairy is called Feather Hailwitch She is a protector of the lonely. She lives in high places where the clouds meet the earth. She is only seen in the enchanted moment between sleep and waking.
She wears pale blue like the sky. She has cheery turquoise wings like a butterfly.

Dirty Bess Rackham

OK, for this one I used my husband's name.
If he were holding a fishing rod instead of the
egg, this would be a almost an exact
replica of the man I married.

Mousie Bunny-bun-buns

03 March 2009

Fun Facts Day

Today is Day 2 of the "Celebrate Your Name Week". It has been designated as "Fun Facts Day".

Randy Seaver over at
Genea-Musings, led me to a website called "is this your name?"

After I entered my name into the generator it gave me these fun facts about my name:

55% of the letters are vowels. Of one million first and last names we looked at, 1.1% have a higher vowel make-up. This means you are extremely well envoweled.

In ASCII binary it is... 01010011 01101000 01100101 01110010 01101001 00100000 01001100 01101111 01110101 01101001 01110011 01100101

Backwards, it is Irehs Yelnef... nice ring to it, huh?

In Pig Latin, it is Erishay Enleyfay.

People with this first name are probably: Female. So, you are constantly
overcharged for beauty products.

Name Origin and Meaning:
Forename: Origin: French (Root: Cherie)Meaning: Beloved

3 Things You Didn't Know:

Your personal power animal is the Sphynx Cat

Your 'Numerology' number is 5. If it wasn't bulls**t, it would mean that you are adventurous, mercurial, and sensual. You seek growth through adventure and different life experiences. Although you are a critical thinker, you can sometimes over-ponder an issue.

According to the US Census Bureau, 0.042% of US residents have the first name 'Sheri' and 0.0006% have the surname 'Fenley'. The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there are 1 Americans who go by the name 'Sheri Fenley'.

It's so comforting to know that in all probability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is only one of me!

02 March 2009

"Celebrate Your Name Week" Promotes Genealogy

Janet the Researcher said that it is "Celebrate Your Name Week" so, not wanting to miss out on a week of festivities, I decided to look a little further into this.

There is an actual website for this event and it is called (as if you didn't see this coming) "Celebrate Your Name Week" . They have a planned activity for each day of this exciting week.

And, as if this wasn't enough to make one giddy with glee, They have devoted the last day of the celebration to GENEALOGY!

Here is the lineup:

March 2 - Namesake Day: Today is for thinking about where you got your name and if you were named after a particular person, place, etc.

I clearly remember asking each of my parents why they gave me the name I have. Was I named after a dear family member? No. Was I named after a famous person? No. So why was I named Sheri? The story I got was that my father was reading a Playboy magazine in the waiting room of St. Joseph's hospital (See, I think that my wickedness is a genetic thing). After I was born and it was decided that I was a girl, Daddy told my mother that he saw the name in the magazine and that it sounded very cool. Mummy Dahling was given the task of selecting my middle name. Her exact words - " I chose Louise because it sounded better than Esther when yelling the two names together. I had anticipated, and quite correctly I might add, that I would be doing quite a bit of yelling."

March 3 - Fun Facts Day: Celebrate names today by finding fun facts about names.

March 4 - Unique Names Day: This is the day for all people to appreciate friends, acquaintances and loved ones who have a unique name. Let's acknowledge them for going through life without seeing their name on things such as ready-made key chains, etc.

March 5 - Learn What Your Name Means Day:

March 6 - Nametag Day: Celebrate your name by wearing it proudly!

March 7 - Middle Name Pride Day: Today’s name celebration requires honesty and boldness. Tell three people who don’t already know it, what your middle name is.

March 8 - Genealogy Day: Join in on one of the world’s fastest growing hobbies and celebrate names at the same time. There's a lot of genealogy information online. Libraries generally have a good assortment of books on genealogy (look in the 929 section).

Ahhh, I can tell already it's going to be a great month, March is definitely coming in like a lion.