March 29, 1998 in Features

Some Memories Forever Lost

Donna Potter Phillips The Spoke
 

I thought the movie “Titanic” was super, a fictional account based on fact.

As a family historian, the genealogy dilemma portrayed in the movie is worth noting.

In the movie, a very rich young girl boards the ship in Southampton as Rose Dewitt Bukater, fiancee of stuffy Cal Hockley. Presumably, both names would appear on the passenger list. During the voyage, Rose meets and falls in love with equally young Jack Dawson, a world-roaming Minnesotan, who won his Titanic steerage ticket with a winning poker hand at the very last minute.

Jack Dawson, the last person up the gangway, likely would not appear on any passenger list.

After the tragedy, survivor Rose gives her name as Rose Dawson. She never contacts her fiance again. She becomes an actress, marries, and, in the movie, is telling the story of the disasterous event to her granddaughter. She had never told the story before; nobody ever knew about Jack Dawson.

The family would have thought her maiden name had been Dawson.

This story parallels many difficult genealogy problems. We all have a Grandma Dawson, dead or alive, but with memory gone, whose past we cannot learn. And even if we somehow learned that Grandma was on the Titanic, we still would never find the documentation.

Just thought I’d give you something to really think about today.

On to trivia

An Ordinance No. 12 was posted in the July 3, 1896, issue of the Elmer Times, a newspaper for the town of Elmer, N.J. The ordinance, which was for grading and curbing Elmer’s sidewalks on a portion of Main Street, stated:

“Be it ordained and enacted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Elmer, that it shall be the duty of the owners and occupants of lots on either side of Main Street between and including the hotel property and Church Street, to grade and curb the sidewalks in front thereof within sixty days after written or printed notice of the Mayor and Council of said Borough shall have been served on them. The curb in all cases to be placed in the line of curb established by authority of the Mayor and Council; said sidewalks to be nine feet wide.”

Point of the story? In Elmer, N.J., in 1896, citizens were expected to do far more toward town maintenance than any of us would do today.

In a recent Nexus article (publication of the New England Historic Genealogical Society), author Ann Lainhart lists some strange things she found while transcribing the 1855 and 1865 Massachusetts State Censuses.

Some of the more unusual names were: Phantom Thompson, Amazon Dunbar, Cinderella Wheeler, Nymphas Chandler, Admiral Bailey, Millerson Miller, Ivory Snow, Ivory Keyes, Napoleon Bonaparte Puffer, Zebra Brownell, Czarina Goodrich, Luelladelaide Goodnow and Marionalfoette Jones.

Did you miss clipping out some Heritage Hunting columns last year? Or perhaps you’d like to share the columns with a genealogy friend or relative. A booklet containing all the 1997 Spokesman-Review columns is ready and available. Pick up a copy at Ancestors Plus, 825 W. Garland, for $6, or order a copy for $7.50 (includes postage) from me, c/o the address below. I’d be happy to get it right out to you!

, DataTimes MEMO: Donna Potter Phillips welcomes letters from readers. Write to her at The Spokesman-Review, Features Department, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. For a response, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Donna Potter Phillips The Spokesman-Review

Donna Potter Phillips welcomes letters from readers. Write to her at The Spokesman-Review, Features Department, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. For a response, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Donna Potter Phillips The Spokesman-Review


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