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November 28, 2020

Historic Black DC Cemetery Headstones Wash up on Potomac River in Virginia

Headstones from a historic Black DC cemetery wound up along the Potomac River in Virginia. The headstones were from Columbian Harmony Cemetery, a historic African American burial ground that was dug up and relocated in 1960 to make way for commercial advancement. 

According to the online article "Columbian Harmony had been the final resting place for a century’s really worth of D.C.’s most illustrious Black citizens. Amongst them: Elizabeth Keckley, confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln Philip Reid, who aided develop the statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol dome and scores of Black Civil War veterans from the Union Army. But it was not just renowned names. Some 37,000 individuals have been laid to relaxation there among 1859 and 1960. "

Many descendants of those blacks buried in the cemetery, and whose stones are now among the discarded stones in Virginia, are hoping to see as many stones as possible rescued and placed in another cemetery, while others hope to erect a national park to memorialize the dead. 

Continue reading at

November 26, 2020

Adriaen Vincent, a Walloon from Belgium


Adriaen Vincent, a Walloon from Belgium, made the perilous journey to New Netherland with his wife Magdaleen and their young family in the early 1640s. A former West Indies Company soldier, Adriaen was embarking on a new life.

The family settled in the village of New Amsterdam, which would one day become the city of New York. Life could not have been easy for the couple, faced with a different culture and language.

November 25, 2020

1910 Hertfordshire Inland Revenue Maps Available

There is a helpful guide to finding records of the UK Valuation Office Survey which was carried out between 1910 and 1915. The survey provided a unique snapshot of land and property in the Edwardian era, assessing its worth, how it was used and by whom 

The survey took place as a result of the 1909-1910 Finance Act which provided for the levy and collection of a duty on land in the United Kingdom based on any increased value of the land as a result of public money spent on communal infrastructure – a so-called ‘increment value duty’.

The Valuation Office was set up by the Inland Revenue in 1910 for England and Wales (and in 1911 for Scotland) to carry out the work of the survey.

118 valuation districts were established in England and Wales, each in the charge of a district valuer and each comprised a number of income tax divisions. It was by these valuation districts and income tax divisions that the work of the survey was organised and carried out.

Some 1910 Inland Revenue map and forms are being indexed and can be searched through Hertfordshire Names Online.

November 23, 2020

Boston asks for help restoring historic gravestones to appropriate burying grounds


Edward Lillie, Sr., died 12/27/1688 in Boston

Boston historians are asking for help reuniting several centuries old gravestones with the appropriate graves in the city's historic burying grounds. Historic Burying Grounds Initiative said it is asking historians, researchers and genealogists to check their records and help determine where the individuals were originally interred. 

During the 20th century, gravestones and pieces of stones were removed from various cemeteries for preservation purposes. Sometimes they were removed to prevent theft, with the full intention of restoring and replacing them at a future date.

Please take a look at the 9 photos provided on site and see if you can help  identify where each stone belongs. 

November 20, 2020

Ancient Manuscripts Sewn into 17th Century Purses

Between the seams of a beautiful 17th century silk purse are found bits and pieces of an ancient document. The parchment document thought to be from the 14th or 15th century was cut into pieces and used to reinforce the interior lining of the purse.

According to AtlasObscura

 "Whoever made the bag, likely in Italy in the 17th century, started by deconstructing a volume and snipping the bifolia—the sheets of parchment that were folded to make the pages—into four tapered triangles. They stitched these together around the edges to form a little skeleton to build the rest of the bag around. The fragment is “an integral part of the purse itself,” says Jay Moschella, curator of rare books at the Boston Public Library, who recently acquired the object from Bernard Quaritch Ltd., a London dealer. "

According to expert historians, many early manuscripts were re-purposed, often cut up and used to reinforce newer books. Continue reading this fascinating story at


November 18, 2020

The Van Alstyne Family of New York

 My 8th great-grandfather, Jan MARTENSE (Jan s/o Marten) was also known as Jan DE WEVER (the weaver) in Colonial New York. He is the immigrant ancestor of the VAN ALSTYNE family. 

His wife was identified as Dirkje (sometimes written as Dirckien) Harmensdr. (or Harmense, meaning daughter of Harmen) BOERTGENS, in a notorial paper dated 24 May 1658 at Amsterdam.

I have found baptism and marriage records as well as notarial records for the family in the Netherlands.Continue reading at The Van Alstyne Family of New York

November 16, 2020

Autographs on Sydenham High School Classroom Wall 1901

My friend Karen owns an amazing antique store called Barriefield Antiques. One of her finds was this cutout from a classroom in Sydenham, Frontenac County Ontario. 

With her permission I am posting all the photos she kindly sent me so that  an interested descendant can look for a name of interest. You can contact Karen on her Facebook page at  or her Instagram account