Abraham Lincoln & Coles County, Illinois

Today I visited the law library at Willamette University to check on something I’ve been meaning to do for some time: research Abe Lincoln‘s work as a lawyer. Lincoln’s father, Thomas, lived for many years in Coles County, Illinois, where some of my maternal ancestors, particularly the Parkers, lived also.

I first wrote about this in May 2008, when I was writing a research paper on the Civil War for the last of my college requirements. At first I thought two branches of my ancestors — the Parkers and the Goodells — likely knew the Lincolns, but it was probably just the Parker clan. But who knows what some scattered scraps of paper will reveal?

Thomas moved to Coles County in 1831 and, although their relationship was often strained, Abe helped him move. The future president did visit on occasion, though infrequently. He did have a good relationship with his stepmother, Sarah.

In 1847, Lincoln was working on a rather notorious case involving the Fugitive Slave Act (likely the 1793 law) at the Coles County Courthouse. He was defending a slave owner and the act.

While at the library, I didn’t find any evidence for much if anything on Lincoln’s legal career to be found physically there. However, I did find some potentially great books on the subject. Unfortunately, Willamette does not appear to have many of these books or other resources. The general search for this subject is ‘su:Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Career in law.‘.

Among the materials what I find to be most promising are: Lincoln the Lawyer by Brian R. Dirck, The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases by Lincoln himself and edited by Daniel W. Stowell, An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln by Mark E. Steiner, Lincoln as a Lawyer: An Annotated Bibliography by Elizabeth W. Matthews, and ‘The Lincoln Legal Papers and The New Age of Documentary Editing’ in the journal Computers and the Humanities.

Some older books on the subject are: Lawyer Lincoln by Albert A. Woldman, Lincoln the Litigant by William H. Townsend, and Lincoln, the Lawyer by Frederick Trevor Hill. A documentary film called ‘A. Lincoln: Attorney at Law‘ is available on DVD.

Willamette’s law library does have the ‘complete documentary edition’ of The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, although I am not sure about checkout policies. It is supposed to be comprehensive, covering the years 1836 to 1861.

The Parkers also have another distinct connection to American history: a rebel-rousing indentured servant who came on the Mayflower named Edward Doty. I’ll have to write about that more on another day.


History, Genealogy & Genetics Mailing Lists

Here are some of the mailing lists that I manage. Most are related to genealogy and some about genetics. My mother’s family was named Fromke and was from Pomerania, an area south of the Baltic Sea. They came from Kreis (the German equivalent of a county) Bütow, which is now in Poland.

Among the surnames related to the Fromkes which have a dedicated list are Radde and Milczewski. I also started a group for Kreis Bütow. Anyone who has an interest in these names or this part of Pomerania, I recommend browsing or searching the list archives, particularly Bütow and Fromke.

I just adopted the Hay list as well, as this is my paternal grandmother’s family name. A related family is Van Note, which is Dutch and was originally van Oort or van Noort. A few years back I came across an explorer with the name, Olivier van Noort. He was the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world. In fact, there are a few famous van Oorts: Bart, Eduard Daniel, and Jan. As for van Noorts, besides our seafaring friend Olivier, there are Adam, Roald, and Joël. And then there is NFL player Jeff Van Note.

To supplement my interest in genetics, the DNA lists I’ve started are specific to three groups at the moment: haplogroups T, I, and R1a. To understand what a ‘haplogroup’ is just click here. The T grouping is from my mother. It’s called mitochondrial DNA or usually shortened to mtDNA. My Y chromosome (yDNA), inherited from my father, belongs to group I1. I started the R1a list because my uncle, Burton Fromke, submitted a sample to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, commonly known by its initials SMGF. According to Whit Athey’s haplogroup prediction tool, his yDNA is R1a.


Genetics as a Way to Study the Past

So what are exons? And introns? Although I have been studying genetics for the past few years, I really had no idea before reading more about it. But these and other terms are part of the book A Primer for Genome Science. While the copy at the Chemeketa Library is certainly outdated, as it’s the second edition, there’s still tons of useful information, including a lot of curious links scattered throughout the text.

Genome science is being researched in all sorts of places and there are literally hundreds of great resources on the web. For example, ELSI provides background on the ethical, legal, and social implications of the Human Genome Project. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, commonly known as the Berkeley Lab, has some information, such as What is ELSI? and their main ELSI page.

A group of national databases is managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Human Genome Research Institute. Two such resources are the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man), a compendium of human genes and genetic phenotypes.

Stanford has been working in the field of human genetics, for many years led by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza. Stanford has a Human Population Genetics Laboratory and a Genome Technology Center, part of the School of Medicine.

Ensembl is the name of European project, a joint venture of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI). Both are located on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus.


Library ‘Rules’

I just learned that the central library has a limit on the number of minutes a person can access the Internet any given day. Currently it’s just more than an hour, at 65 minutes, which is just plain silly if you really want to get anything done. More than once, I was prompted that I could extend my session by five minutes, but the bottom line is that there really needs to be some change: more computers, preferably another lab, and more time per user per day.

For example, I can pretty much use the college library as much as want, so I will be there more often than the other branches. With spring break, a lot of my normal venues close at 5 PM. However, there are almost always options, and I just remembered another one that’s basically open twenty-four/seven.

Because I am currently cutoff from my fix, I decided to check out the ‘software only’ computers, used by an inordinate number of old folks for ‘word processing’ and other similar tasks. These computers appear to be connected to the network, but librarians seem to enjoy creating systems with rules upon rules.

I located three books on genetics which appear to have some promise. One, Genetics Demystified, did not impress. The others, Genetics for Dummies by Tara Rodden Robinson (who happens to teach at Oregon State) and Genetics by InstantNotes, give the impression of being among the better, if not the best, offerings the library has at the moment. I did happen across a DNA textbook, but left it behind for some reason. It appeared to be somewhat dated and stale, as in unreadable, dull and uninspiring.

As I have a bit of a headache and want to escape the germs and grime of this place, with its dirty, ill-fitting ‘keyboard condoms’ and greasy, fingerprint-laden temporary book covers, I will have to see about sending this via email so I can later post it. Or, if I am lucky, finding one my USB drives. At some point I’d like to test my iPod, to see if I can easily transfer files without messing up or completely obliterating my music.

This is the funny comment of the day by the techie nerd computer guy. Someone called on the phone and asked something along the lines of “Where are you?” He then answered, “Where am I at right now or where is the library located?”


The 168th Infantry of Iowa

Yesterday I came across what may potentially be a fantastic find for my World War I research. It focuses on the primary year of my interest, 1918, when my great-great uncle Leslie Warren Darling was among the thousands of Americans streaming into Western Europe. His unit actually arrived at the end of 1917, but didn’t see much action until much later.

The book is The Battle for Europe, 1918 by Hubert Essame, a British major general. It will join an already rather long list of materials I am using to write about my relative’s service and experiences. Google has digitized some of these. One of special note, The Price of Our Heritage, was written by the chaplain of the 168th Infantry. Darling was in Company E.

I’ve learned quite a bit about what happened to these fine, young men and to track them from the farm fields of Iowa to the battle trenches of France. They spent an incredible amount of time training (and waiting). Everything seemed to be slower than today, and, of course, it was. There were no computers, no networks of machines connected together to help with everyday tasks. The logistics were difficult, trying to mobilize and move so many men in a short amount of time.


The Design: Typefaces

Obviously I have neglected this little corner of my web presence for a long stint. Because of this there are some inconsistencies in the design. I am not all that up on the WordPress world, including how to easily change typefaces. At least I hope it is simple. Thus, you may have to squint to read the 10 point Verdana or the default font on occasion posts, particularly the older ones, until I get my junk sorted out that is. Meanwhile, checkout Typographica.


The World Wars, Hitler & Some Amazing Stories

Recently I have been looking through some library books on the First World War. One I happened to come across, Atlas of the First World War by Martin Gilbert, has some maps of interest. There is some detailed background on the Zeppelin airship L.59, which was sent to Africa with a mountain of supplies for von Lettow-Vorbeck, leader of a ragtag band of men in East Africa. Sadly, long after the mission to Africa, this mighty aircraft went down, probably in the Adriatic, and every one of the crew with it.

Ever since reading a brief write-up on him and the campaign in a Reader’s Digest book (Facts & Fallacies: Stories of the Strange and Unusual), I’ve been hooked. It’d make a great movie and I’d love to direct it, on location in Africa. From my copy I also learned about Sławomir Rawicz and his book The Long Walk, which would also make a terrific film, and one I’d love to do mostly on location in Poland, Russia, the Gobi Desert, Tibet and finally India.

Now returning to Gilbert’s Atlas, there are many maps I’d like to note. Of course, Hitler always brings a fair amount of attention, even well into the 21st century. I’ve never known much about his service during WWI, other than that he had a funny-looking mustache and was a corporal, but Gilbert dedicates a page in his book to tracking him during this period.

Young Hitler was in at least five major battles including the infamous Somme, and was repeatedly wounded. He spent time at the Pasewalk Military Hospital in Pomerania (the region where some of my ancestors lived) and at the Beelitz Military Hospital in Berlin. At Pasewalk Hitler recovered from a British gas attack and while there was apparently declared a psychopath by one of the doctors. At the end of war he was on guard duty at the Traunstein POW Camp in Bavaria keeping an eye on Russian prisoners.

Pasewalk isn’t too far from Szczecin (Stettin), where a few relatives lived in the 1930s and 40s. What happened to them during and at the end of World War II, I don’t know. Hopefully they avoided the Soviets and the resulting occupation of Poland. I am sure they either left or were forcibly expelled, as was most of the remaining German population in areas beyond the Oder River. They likely ended up being relocated to places within Germany proper, as we know it today.

During my research on the military hospitals I came across this site with several images: ‘Postcards from the Great War’. I also happened on this site about Hitler as a younger man and his connection to Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front, which is another among the books I’ve been reading.

Awhile back I watched the 1930 film on DVD with Lew Ayres, who I first saw in the original Battlestar Galatica pilot movie. I liked the movie, but like the book even better. Some of the scenes in the book are just too grotesque and horrific to really capture on film. Remarque has a remarkable innocence to his writing and displays a sad honesty. He portrays what my great uncle occasionally, yet briefly mentioned in his letters from France, although he never went into any detail. I cringe at the idea of watching the 1979 remake with Richard Thomas and Ernest Borgnine.

Tomorrow I will be writing about some of the genetics books I have recently discovered.


Message in a Bottle

The Spokesman-Review has a story on some people finding a glass bottle after 86 years since being cast into a creek. It had “an old-fashioned cork stopper.” The bottle contained a surprisingly well-preserved letter written in pencil and dated March 30, 1913. I came across the article reprinted in The Seattle Times. With a little leg work, the letter writer’s nephew was found and talked about his uncle, who died in 1978. The reporter ended the story with a nice touch: “Emmett, we finally found your bottle.”

The Other Parkers of Coles County, Illinois

Today I came across The History of Coles County, Illinois at the Internet Archive. There is quite a bit of material on the Parker family, albeit the wrong one. However, there is some information on my Parker line as well.

Another family of Parkers, and not related to those above mentioned, settled in this township in the winter of 1825-26, on what is called Parker Prairie, and from them the prairie received its name. George Parker and his sons, Samuel, Daniel, Jeptha and William Parker composed this settlement. They were originally from Butler County, Ohio, and removed to Crawford County, 111., in 1817, locating south of Palestine, where they remained until their settlement in this town, on Parker Prairie. Samuel Parker went back to Crawford Countv and died there, some of them died here, and Daniel and Jeptha are still living in the township, prominent farmers. George Parker is said to have entered the first land in Coles County.

In 1826, a settlement was made by the Parkers on what was known as Parker’s Prairie, and which lies partly in Hutton Township. George Parker and his sons Joseph, Daniel and Jephthah were the first in this immediate neighborhood, and from them this beautiful prairie received its name.

Joseph Parker killed a large bear, in 1828, near Buyess Berkley’s, and many other members of the Bruin family were slaughtered in an early day by the pioneers.

Blogging My Notes

This blog will serve as a place to post and organize my notes on genealogy and history. It can be difficult when at a library doing research to keep my little scraps of paper together, so I have decided to take most notes electronically and archive them for future use and reference.