Recent reading

Two Dead Christs

I’ve been cleaning up some sloppy citations I made to the records of St. Finbar’s South Church in Cork, Ireland. St. Finbar’s South, dating back to 1766,  claims to be the oldest Catholic church in Cork which is still in use. The church is famous for a marble sculpture by John Hogan of Dead Christ, which is installed under the altar.

St. Finbar's South (Wikimedia Commons)

This was Hogan’s most famous statue, and he made three versions of it. There was the one above in Cork, another one in Dublin, and the last one is in, of all places, St. John’s Basilica in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Basilica of St. John the Baptist, St. John's, Newfoundland (Wikimedia Commons)

I have records of both churches in my files, and I like that they’re also linked by this sculpture.

From my scant Wikipedia reading, it seems that these sculptures were highly valued during a 19th-century boom in church building following the upheaval of Catholic emancipation.

Is it me or is it the software?

Lately I’ve been experiencing a disquieting little glitch when using my generally lovable Reunion software. Source citations are attaching themselves to facts in an apparently random manner. For example, I will look at a family in the 1890s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I will click on the citation number to see what my source was for that date of birth. I am expecting a census, or maybe a Massachusetts vital record. Instead I get a Newfoundland town directory. I recognize the Newfoundland town directory, which is a source for a completely different family not even related to the one under consideration.

Of course I delete the Newfoundland town directory from the record as it’s the wrong source, but now my date of birth lacks any source at all.

Did it have a source and somehow the source numbers got swapped around? Is there a Newfoundland family linked to a Massachusetts census? Or did my Massachusetts person never have a proper source for date of birth and somehow a record was randomly attached?

The first time I saw this I thought it was user error; that I must have clicked the wrong thing when adding sources. That is still a possibility. But now that I’ve seen it three or four times, I’m getting a little worried about the integrity of my source list. The only thing I’ve done differently of late was to sync the Reunion database to the Reunion iPad application. However, I haven’t done any real researching with the iPad. I doubt I’ve made any changes at all to the source list on the iPad, so I don’t think it’s a syncing problem.

I don’t know what it is and there are no references to similar issues on the Reunions website or chat forum.

I would love to know if anyone has run across this. I wish I knew whether it was a software bug or whether I’m doing something wrong when I input and link sources. I don’t really want to switch software because otherwise I have Reunion all set up the way I like it.

Butte, Montana

NASA satellite image of Butte, Montana minepit

In the first few decades of the 1900s, several of my ancestors traveled from Newfoundland to Butte, Montana to work in the mines there. According to Wikipedia, Butte was one of the most unionized towns in America at the time, due to labor activism among the miners. I wonder how that experience shaped the Newfoundlanders’ responses when they came back East and worked as longshoremen, another industry with serious labor organizations. My grandfather worked at different times as a fisherman (where he lost a finger), a miner, an ironworker (where he lost an eye), and finally as a longshoreman. His longshoremen’s union pension was a big part of my grandparents’ retirement security. I remember how angry my grandparents were during the Reagan years when they heard anti-union arguments. Their Newfoundland brogues would get thicker and they would try to explain how the bosses always wanted to get rid of the unions and the workers always suffered without unions.

I’ve been thinking about them a lot during the recent weeks of attacks on teachers’ unions.

Coombs scans

I’m still scanning old family photos. Here is my first cousin twice removed, Elijah Coombs (1891-1984) of Harbour Grace. He must have given this photo to my great-grandmother because the back reads: “To Aunt Bridge with best regards to all, Elijah”

Elijah Coombs

And here he is again as an elderly man. My great-uncle Sandy had gone up to Newfoundland for a visit and brought back this snapshot.

L to R: Elijah Coombs (much older than the picture above), his cousin Alexander (son of Eli), and his wife Edith

I’m not sure who the woman inside the shed is – maybe their daughter?