Family History Outing: Laws Railroad Museum

The Laws Railroad Museum is located outside of Bishop, CA. Certainly, the museum is of great genealogical interest to researchers who had family in the railroads in the early 1900s, and for those who had family in the area. There is much to learn for those who had family in the gold industry.

 

 

But the displays in the Pioneer Building are unexpected in a railroad museum. One of the displays held a well preserved, well displayed, interesting set of military uniforms, equipment and memorabilia.

 

 

There was a selection of uniforms, equipment and memorabilia from multiple wars.

 

 

There was a display of memorabilia from the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

 

 

The WWI artifacts were from the 7th Regiment Michigan Calvary.

 

 

The WWI Soldier’s equipment was also included in the display.

 

 

The exhibit included a bag annotated with battle information and a victory medal.

 

 

Remember when you visit any regional museum to look for exhibits about the military.

 

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Family History Outing: U.S.S. Midway

If you have a U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps ancestor, the chances are he or she may have spent some time on an aircraft carrier. They might have been stationed on, landed on, refueled, resupplied or protected a carrier.

 

 

Touring the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego, CA, brought some of our family’s history to life.
Our family has some carrier history. In addition to having an uncle and cousin who served on carriers, my husband landed on one.

 

 

My husband was a Naval Aviator in the USMC, flying A-4s. His service included qualifying to land on carriers. My son had seen videos, pictures and models of the A-4. Seeing a real one on the deck of the Midway was much more real. It was a chance for my husband to show him around the plane and put context to the stories of getting into the airplane without a ladder.

 

 

The experience included standing on a flight deck and climbing up to stand on vulture’s row, and sitting in the chairs occupied by the air boss and commanding officer.

 

 

The launch officer signals when to fire the catapult to send an accelerating aircraft from the deck.

 

 

The hangar deck was full of airplanes; airplane cockpits and ejection seats to sit in; and exhibits to explore.

The carrier is a city at sea. In addition to the sleeping accommodations from the lowest ranked seaman to the captain, the walking tour takes you through the chapel, medical offices, laundry, galley, eating messes and gedunk (ship store).

My cousin died on July 29, 1967 in the fire on the U.S.S. Forrestal (CV-59). He was one of the fifty men who died in the berthing space immediately below the flight deck. They had participated in night operations and had been given permission to sleep in. He was assigned to VF-11. He died in the berthing spaces, while he slept. You can view a Virtual Wall: A Memorial to the men who died in the Forrestal fire .
As part of my systems engineer certificate training, the video of the fire on the carrier’s deck was required viewing.

 

 

This berthing can be contrasted with where the Captain sleeps.

 

 

 

Strategy to make the most of your trip:

  • Research your U.S. Navy ancestors
  • Know their ranks
  • Learn their jobs on the carrier
  • Visit all the locations, but be sure to identify and photograph typical berthing, where they ate and worked
  • Share what you learned with your family in pictures, a pdf document or web page

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Get Children Involved: Revolutionary War

My son had to do a PowerPoint presentation for his social studies class about the Battles of Lexington and Concord. His Father’s family has been involved in many of the military conflicts throughout the history of the United States. I recalled one ancestor in Massachusetts, so I dug out the details.

I looked at the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Membership Applications on Ancestry.com. The application I found included both John Fife and his Father-in-Law, Return Strong.

Sure enough, John Fyfe (Fife) had been a minute man in Groton, CT, and appears on the Lexington Alarm Roll. They marched on 19 Apr 1775 from Groton. (The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought on 19 April 1775.

 

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My son recognized the name of Col. William Prescott from his research of the event.

How amazing it is to be able combine his family history with what he is learning in school!

But let’s dig a little deeper.

I searched the DAR Ancestor (Patriot) Index.

Select Genealogy in the upper right.

Under Genealogical Research (GRS), select Ancestor Search.

Alternately, you can go to the DAR Descendants Search page.

I searched the DAR database for Fyfe, and it was suggested I try the alternate spelling of Fife. There he was, with a reference.

 

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I searched for the book that was used as the source on Google, using the search terms:

massachusetts soldiers and sailors volume 5

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The pdf with the Guide to Sources on the American Revolution looks interesting, so I will try that, too. It has background information about Maryland’s role in the American Revolution.

The Internet Archive has a copy of the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors Volume 5.

 

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The book could be downloaded, so I chose the pdf format.

 

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After I downloaded the pdf and began searching for Fife. Naturally that brought up fife players, so looking at the format of the names, I searched for: Fife, John

On page 664 of the book (page 658 of the pdf document) we find the correct John Fife.

I wanted to be able to find the file when I searched for it, and to know the page number. I saved the file with the filename:

massachusettssoldfoymass – rev war p664 (658) – Fife, John

This is the John Fife who matches the details on the SAR application. The SAR application also gave the lineage, so I could match it against what I knew about the family.

 

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Note: This volume had Duarell – Foys

Then I went back to the DAR Descendants Ssearch page to look for John Fife’s Father-in-Law, Return Strong. There are several listings for that name.

There is a Return Strong listed with no ancestor number. His wife is Elizabeth Andrus.

Ancestor #: A111710 This Return Strong’s wife is Elizabeth Andros. I have seen her family name spelled in a variety of ways.

Ancestor #: A111712 This is a different Return Strong. His wife is Hannah Harman.

You can click on the name (shown in blue) and see the Descendants. By clicking on the icon next to a Descendant’s name you can open the Descendant’s List. The Descendant’s List is the submitted lineage, but the webpage does not include the proof documents. Those would have to be ordered from the DAR.  See the “Associated Applications and Supplementals”.

My son looked up the information about the trip from Groton, CT, to Lexington, MA. According to Google Maps, the trip is at least 109 miles by car. He clicked the walking icon and learned that it is 100 miles when walking, and that the trip takes approximately 33 hours. We will need to learn more about how John Fife traveled, but now we know more about the routes.

 

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Armed with this knowledge and a tricorn hat, he did well on his presentation.