21 June 2010


Recently a cousin of mine sent me a newspaper item about a family marriage from 1942. It contained a word I wasn't familiar with.


I have been married three times and not once have I received a charivari. I asked my mother if she had received a charivari when she married my father. She must have thought that it was another of my family history pop quizzes because her reply was a heavy sigh and a dramatic eye-roll. As usual, I am on my own here.

A little bit of research and polling some members of my local genealogy society gave me the answer.

A charivari is not a gift. Well sort of not a gift. It seems that a charivari is a celebration of sorts. Shortly after a couple are married, a group of their friends will get together in the wee hours of the morning. Armed with pots and pans or whatever noise-maker was handy, they quietly surround the residence of the newlyweds. Once in place, a cue is given and then all hell breaks loose. These friends start whooping and hollering, banging on the pots and pans until the couple wake up and come outside. The ruckus continues until the couple invite all the people inside and serve refreshments.

Further investigation into this custom suggests that depending on where one is located, a charivari is not a happy dance.

In days past, the custom was often used to demonstrate community disapproval of adulterous relationships, wife beaters and remarriages. It was also sometimes used as a form of social coercion, to force unmarried couple to wed.

From Webster's 1913 Dictionary : Definition: (Char*ri 'va *ri) Noun. French. A mock serenade of dissonant noise done with kettles and tin horns meant to annoy. Generally when an older person married a very young person.

Sources referenced:

"An Oregon Charivari", Rex Gunn, Western Folklore, Vol. 13, No. 2/3 (1954), pp. 206-207 Published by: Western States Folklore Society.

"Charivari/Shivaree: A European Folk Ritual on the American Plains", Loretta T. Johnson, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Winter, 1990), pp. 371-387 Published by: The MIT Press.

19 June 2010

More Enemy Alien Registrations from World War I

Last year I wrote about my 2nd great grandparents Fred Borgstadter and Elizabeth Hobrock and how they both had to register as "Enemy Aliens" during World War I. I also discussed some of the places you could find these records. There are not many extant registrations.

But there is good news - The San Francisco Public Library has recently cataloged 6500 registration affidavits from 1918. You can read all about it here on their blog -
What's on the 6th Floor?

You can find the entry from their online catalog

14 June 2010

A Scavenger Hunt!

The topic for the July 2010 edition of the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival is: Scavenger Hunt.

If you have ever thought about submitting a post to a carnival, well here is a perfect opportunity and a pretty painless one at that.

Like a traditional scavenger hunt, the object is to find as many items as you can from the list below. In our case, those “items” are to be found in the cemetery. Grab your camera and head out to any cemetery of your choosing. As you locate each item on the list, take a photo. Then share what you found and where you found it on your blog.

Scavenger Hunt Item List

Fraternal symbol
Four-legged animal
Military gravestone

You do not have to be a Graveyard Rabbit to submit your post to the carnival, but you must use the submission form located HERE.

Submission deadline is Friday, June 25th

Many thanks to Julie Cahill Tarr who submitted the idea to the Graveyard Rabbit Carnival. You can find Julie all over bloggyland, but her usual hangout is at Genblog and Chicagoland Cemeteries .

What are you waiting for? Grab that list and go have some fun!

13 June 2010

It's Good To Be The Witch!

96 here in Stockton. Again. The weather has played a part in getting the three year old to warm up to me. He just falls to pieces when I pretend I am the witch in the Wizard of Oz and say "Help, I'm Melting!"

I have a few minutes before Conan the Destroyer wakes up so thought I'd get a quickie blog fix in.

As you know, all the cool kids are in Burbank at Jamboree this weekend. Randy Seaver over at GeneaMusings always has his favorite blog picks on Sunday. Since he is taking the day off, I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. Don't get used to this though. This is a one time deal.

What's on the 6th floor?
The San Francisco Public Library's San Francisco History Center and Book Arts & Special Collections Blog
Archives 101--Part 1: Appraisal

West In New England by Bill West

Photo Sleuth by Brett Payne
Researching a Cleveland Albumn - Introduction

Gtownma's Genealogy by Tina Sansone
Old Newspaper Fascination

What's Past is Prologue by Donna Pointkouski
The House Rules

Creative Gene by Jasia
Memories of Summers Past: The Ice Cream Man

TransylvaniaDutch by John Newmark
Weekly Genealogy Picks

Greta's Genealogy Blog by Greta Koehl
Follow Friday

Megan's Roots World by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
Genealogical Round Up


GeneaMusings by Randy Seaver

Circlemending by Jean Hibben

Steve's Genealogy Blog by Steve Danko


And the very best find of all?

That's right, Melting Witch Cookies!

OK I am back on kid duty . . . "Help, I'm Melting!" Bwahahahahah!

08 June 2010

An Unscheduled Break

Due to an emergency medical condition of a family member, I am now the primary caregiver of a 3 year old little boy. My life as I know it has come to a screeching halt. Instead of Jamboree-ing this weekend, I will be watching something called the Wiggles. I am told that it is way better than the purple dinosaur.
If I recall correctly, a three year old requires constant supervision and my undivided attention. God has taken pity on me however, the child comes to me potty trained.
If I survive this, I'll be back.

01 June 2010

Got Shades?

The May 2010 issue of "Shades of the Departed Magazine" has been published. This month you will find for your reading enjoyment:

Penelope Dreadful : A Dreadful Scheme by Denise Levenick

In2Genealogy: Discovering A Wildcatter by Caroline Pointer

Appealing Subjects: The Many Migrant Mothers by Craig Manson

The Year Was . . . The Year Was 1919 by Sheri Fenley

Saving Face: A Rare Book Is Not A Manuscript by Rebecca Fenning

The Future of Memories: Grandpa’s Letters by Denise Olson

Features: Let’s Use Our Family Photographs Project Ideas by footnoteMaven

Smile For The Camera: The Ties That Bind by Terri Kallio

So what are you waiting for? Get on over there and start reading!