"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

18 December 2012

Siegel's Shoes for Christmas

Green is in the mistletoe and red is in the holly
Silver in the stars above that shine on everybody
Gold is in the candlelight and crimson in the embers
White is in the winter night that everyone remembers 

-- "White Is In The Winter Night" by Enya 

Still got some last-minute Christmas shopping to do?  Here's a few suggestions from my 3rd-great-grandfather Charles L. Siegel.

The notice below appeared in the Richmond Daily Dispatch 132 years ago today.  It makes for entertaining reading:

C. L. SIEGEL, 241 Broad street, has holiday presents for everybody, and he admonishes the public not to throw their money away on trifles, when they can gain such a good understanding of the situation by calling at his establishment.   Now, we believe what Siegel says, for he is a man who never talks idly, makes manifest what he says, and always carries through what he undertakes.  He is pretty generally known as a musical director and a successful manager of musical ventures, while his shoe establishment has probably much greater fame;  yet the recent enterprise by which he is enabled to offer a large stock of Christmas shoes, boots, and the like, at prices that defy competition, deserves to be widespread.  His embroidered slippers for ladies and gentlemen are said to be the cheapest in the city.   Ah! the number of happy ones who will glide about the house in these pretty slippers on Christmas morning will be truly wonderful.   We know several who will be thus fitted out, yet it is a state-secret, which to divulge would be to incur the displeasure of Santa Claus.   But, dear reader, just you call upon Charley Siegel and he will tell you about them.

And another notice from the following year, 131 years ago today:

CHARLES L. SIEGEL. - The thoughts of all Richmond people who read the cognomen of this respected citizen will recur rather to Siegel with baton in hand leading some gigantic chorus (such as the Yorktown Centennial one, for instance) than to the Siegel of No. 421 Broad street, the modest dispenser of unlimited boot- and shoe-leather, done up in most seductive guise by the cordwainer's noble art.  And yet the musical Siegel and the boot-and-shoe Siegel are one and the same - a soleful man in either case.  As a man of melody, Siegel firmly believes that -
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus;
Let no such man be trusted.
This is Siegel when disporting himself before the pleased eyes of admiring fellow-citizens at Mozart Hall, or mayhap Yorktown.  At No. 421 Broad street he wields not the potent baton, but the equally potent and quite often more useful boot and shoe. Here it is in his home life, surrounded by the implements of his calling, that you will find Siegel -
Two soles with but a single thought.
Two hearts that beat as one.
He says that if in these festive, jolly Christmas times you do not feel like getting entranced with his superior exhibit of boots and shoes, you must succumb to the potent influence of his incomparable slippers, suited to either sex, and constituting a first-class present, or you will yield to the fascinations of the many other pretty and useful things he has congregated for your delectation.   In any event, Siegel will be on hand to serve you, pleased if you buy, and not mad if you do not.

Also, here are two ads that Charles Siegel put in the paper each of those years:

Merry Christmas everyone!

07 December 2012

Ancestry through DNA

"Listen, my child," you say to me
"I am the voice of your history
Be not afraid, come follow me
Answer my call, and I'll set you free"
-- "The Voice" by Brendan Graham

Growing up, if you'd asked me what nationality my family was, I'd probably have told you that I was Italian on my mom's side, and English (or American) on my dad's side.  I remember doing a family tree for some middle school project, going back only to my grandparents - though I had lots and lots of cousins to squeeze in :)

As I've researched, though, I've discovered a number of German ancestors in the family tree on my Dad's mother's side of the family, mixed with other lines that trace back to Revolutionary War times.  On his paternal side, the names seemed mostly English-sounding.

I can't trace my mom's side back as far, but all the names I knew were consistently Italian.  I asked my mom, and she said:
"Regarding my ancestry, I remember my parents telling us that all our family was Italian.  My father was born in this country but his parents were both from the Naples region of Italy.  My mother was born in Bari, Italy and came to this country as an infant with her mother and older sister."
This past summer, I took one of ancestry.com's new DNA tests. They sent me a small test tube to collect a saliva sample, and then I mailed it back and waited a few weeks for the results. This is the description from ancestry.com:
"The new test looks at a massive amount of your DNA, over 700,000 locations, and compares it to other DNA samples from around the world.  By detecting similarities, we can trace back generations to connect you to the lands your ancestors once called home.  AncestryDNA uses recent advances in DNA technology to look into your past to the people and places that matter to you most. Your test results will reach back hundreds—maybe even a thousand years—to tell you things that aren't always in historical records, but are recent enough to be important parts of your family story."
In August, I got my test results:

Nearly half was central European - this probably would be mostly German for me, but it was much higher that I'd thought.  The Italian side (southern European) was only 16%, lower than I'd have guessed.  And where had the 11% Persian/Turkish/Caucasus come from?  That was a complete surprise.

I showed the results to my parents, and Mom said that it'd be interesting to test her and Dad separately to see what the results would show.  So, about a month ago, when ancestry.com offered a "sale" price on the DNA test, Mom got one, too. 

Her results just came back:

Even more surprises!  Mom was almost half eastern European, and only about one-quarter Italian (southern European).  It seems likely the Persian/Turkish/Caucasus part came from her, and not from Dad.  Plus, she had a little bit of Middle Eastern heritage that apparently hadn't been passed onto me.

As part of the test, ancestry.com also compares your DNA to other samples they receive.  You're able to view matches and compare your family tree to your "new" cousins' trees to try to identify common ancestors.

Happily, when it came to matching with other members, ancestry.com predicted with 99% certainty that we were parent and child.  So that's a relief :)

We both have cousin matches with varying degrees of certainty.  Since Mom's just came in, I haven't yet begun to compare her matches.  I have gone through mine over the past few months as new matches appear, and most of them are far too distantly related for me to trace on the family tree.  Only on six matches have I been able to determine who our common ancestor is, but even then, they're mostly 5th- or 6th-cousins.

As a weird coincidence, though, one of my very distant cousin matches is a woman that I "met" a few years ago though the Find-a-Grave website.  We worked together to document a family cemetery in Gloucester County, Virginia.  Small world!