Monster Report

One last group of little monsters just now, and I think I’m done for the night. 126 kids (according to a quick review of my Arlo cameras), so I went through 55-60 pounds of candy. The porch cats were determined to hang around even though they wouldn’t let any of the kids within ten feet of them. During one of the lulls, Scrawny even came into the house and poked around a bit before heading back out, which was a first for her.

Some things never change. About ten years ago, my next-door neighbor’s daughter picked a Halloween costume that showed off a sudden growth spurt highlighting her growing resemblance to her hot mom. New neighbor in the same house, and this is the year their daughter was ready to show off. If dad doesn’t already have a shotgun, he really needs to pick one up soon…

(and, yes, I overbought, but not as badly as last year, so I won’t be feeding the office well into January this time…)

Porch Cats update

(previously, previously, previously, previously)

Scrawny has become sufficiently comfortable that she not only accepts skritches every day, she leans into it. She hasn’t reached the point of initiating contact, but she keeps getting closer to it.

Whitefoot has been joined by another similar-looking cat who’s still not the white-socks-and-soul-patch cat from the original crew. This one actually has some bouncy kittenish behaviors, but is also dumb as a post when it comes to figuring out where the food is. His behavior has earned him the name Dumas.

Whitefoot and Dumas are playing dominance games with the others, although no one has been stupid enough to challenge Scrawny over the cushions. They do try to take her food, though, which has led to some hissing from her and interference from me; there’s a good chance that her increased tolerance for affection is related to this.

Tubbs has been frozen out. The other three basically camp the porch all day, and he’s too skittish to approach when I’m putting out food, so he just sits in the bushes looking hungry. Haven’t seen Caramel for months, and Smoky hasn’t shown up since Dumas joined the crew a few weeks ago. I’m thinking of changing the timing of the automatic feeder to give them a chance to at least get some dry food, but I expect Whitefoot and Dumas to quickly adapt; they seem to always be close enough to hear my front door or car door, so they’ll definitely hear the noise from the feeder.

If I ever get some cover installed over the back porch, I could put a second automatic feeder back there, but I keep putting that project off (17 years and counting…).


Found a dead rat conspicuously placed in the yard near the front door. Big healthy one, too, so the gang is earning their keep.

Also, Dumas turns out to be skritch-tolerant as well.

All three are showing signs of wanting to find out what’s on the other side of the front door…

Pruning the family tree

I’m a bit surprised ancestry.com doesn’t draw this correctly.

It’s a functional pedigree chart, at least. The vertical family-tree view is completely busted, with two copies of Rachel and her parents.

Cousin marriage isn’t particularly rare, so you think they’d at least mark the duplicate family members with a little icon:

Space aliens in the family tree

Ambrose R. French enters the record at age 35 in 1870, working as a plasterer in Auglaize Township, Paulding County, OH. No parents, no siblings, allegedly born in Ohio.

15-year-old Nellie Sarah Snyder appears out of nowhere in 1872 when she weds Ambrose. No parents, no siblings, allegedly born in Ohio.

Their son Harrison Rice, born in 1873, is thoroughly documented: birth, baptism, census, draft card, city directories, Social Security, etc. Daughter Hattie A., on the other hand, exists only as a line on the 1880 census setting her age at 4.

Harry’s wife, Lula Forest Peters, can be traced back to early-1700s New England on both sides, but Harry’s tree ends at Ambrose and Nellie.

Four years before her death in 1924, Nellie’s last appearance in the census lists her father’s birthplace as “unknown” and her mother’s as “no way to find out”.

This is all based on scanned documents; if there’s someone who’s done actual legwork on this family, I haven’t been able to find it online. I’m hoping that filling in siblings and spouses will eventually lead to a DNA match that includes their parents.

Of course, those tests only work on human DNA…


Funny thing about living 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean: there’s no evidence of an eclipse-in-progress, thanks to the heavy overcast this time of year. I might see some sunshine around 1pm. Maybe.


Jean-François Draime (b 1795) married Marie Madeleine Lallemand (b 1800) and had ten children with her that we know of. Marie died at the beginning of 1835, and younger sister Mary Catherine (b 1809) helped him through this difficult time. So effective was her help that she was about three months pregnant when he married her on February 24th, given that the first of their six children together was born on September 2nd.

(some trees have a wife before Marie, but then again, they have Mary’s second kid being born in Ohio two months before their ship reached America; it looks like the 1835 kid didn’t live to make the trip, and likely the 9-year-old and 5-year-old sons (scribble and Albert) listed in the ship’s log died young as well, since they’re not in anyone’s trees)

In 1837, the family moved from Belgium to Ohio, settling in Frenchtown. A year and a half later, daughter Marie Christine became the (possibly second) wife of Jean-Pierre Bergé. They allegedly had 22 children, but since Marie Christine would have been in her fifties for the last four, I suspect data-quality issues.

mumble years ago, my mother actually went to Frenchtown and got a copy of the Barger/Barga/Bergé family book, but it got boxed up in a move and hasn’t resurfaced yet. Fortunately, by combining DNA matches with family trees, ancestry.com has provided pretty decent confirmation that Jean-François and Marie Madeleine were my fourth-great grandparents. Five of my great-great grandparents are still dead ends (Switalski, Nowak, Michalek, French, and Snyder), so eventually someone will have to do some actual field work. And learn Polish.

(a lot of the online family trees get pretty iffy before around 1850, with mismatches, duplicates, mis-merges, and impossible parentages (pro tip: when both parents died years before a child was born, something ain’t right), but the DNA testing provides a nice sanity check)

Spitting on my ancestors

Well, according to ancestry.com’s DNA tests, my mother and sister are my mother and sister, so that’s nice. The claim that we had Shawnee heritage has been shot to hell, though, and now we’re trying to figure out who the Scandinavians are in the family tree. Especially since I can go back to around 1800 up several branches and still be in Ohio.

Things that are not surprises: 24% Great Britain, 19% Ireland, 17% Western Europe, 17% Eastern Europe.

Surprises: 14% Scandinavia, 6% Iberian Peninsula, 2% Italy/Greece, 1% Finland/Northwestern Russia.

Ancestry.com singalong

With apologies to anyone who gets the Brady Bunch theme stuck in their heads…

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶
Here’s the story of Nancy Heath Daniels
Who with husband Marques cranked out five healthy girls.
Mary, Eva, Eliza and Becca,
And youngest Susan B.

Here’s the story of George W. Peters
Who with Cynthia had one boy and two girls.
All four grownups shared a house together
Until Marques up and died.

Three months later George got busy with the widow.
Married her and knocked her up with Lula F.
Cynthia lived for another five years.
It’s not clear if George became a bigamist.

My family tree, on Mother’s side,
It’s not the oddest thing about this bunch.
🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”