23 May 2006

My Advice: Don't Lie About Your Age

According to an article in yesterday's WSJ, Marie Manning is considered the first American newspaper advice columnists. Writing for the New York Evening Journal as "Beatrice Fairfax," her column debuted in 1898. Manning later recalled, "If I had been 10 years older, I might have hesitated over the Frankensteinian monster I was invoking. But 20 is a fearless age."

Here is Marie in 1880 with her father and several maternal relatives; she is 10 years old. In 1870, she is with her parents and some of the same relatives; she is 1 year old.

Known as witty and astringent, Manning must have been enjoyed supressing a laugh when she said, "If I had been 10 years older...."

15 May 2006

Nothing Under the Sun Is New

Someone forwarded an e-mail to me yesterday that started out with the news that this week in 1850, California became a state. California was admitted to the Union in September and this is May, so things are off to a bad start.

Then it says that back then, the state had no electricity, no money, almost everybody in the state spoke Spanish, and there were gunfights in the streets. The e-mail continues by telling us that things are pretty much the same today as they were then but then points out that one real difference between now and then is that back then the men didn't hold hands.

I don't know if this e-mail is saying that California would be out of the 19th century were it not for deregulation, Prop. 13, and the National Rifle Association or if California should be given back to Mexico or what. Though I can't tell what the point of the e-mail is, I can check out some of the facts -- and you know I will.

The population of California in the 1850 census was 93,171. Of those, 6,440 were born in Mexico. For comparison, 10,301 were born in New York, over 5,000 in Ohio, and 4,300 in Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 were born in Germany and a bit more were from England. Though the census did not ask what languages people spoke, I wouldn't be surprised if more people knew German than Spanish.

Of the total population, less than 4,000 were women -- so who were all those men holding hands with?

03 May 2006

Tom Cruise's Baby's Questionable Ancestry

Born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, Tom Cruise single-handedly tracked his family tree back to his great-grandfather, Thomas Cruise Mapother I. Great sleuthing, Tom!

A couple years ago he was reportedly "staggered" when handed a pedigree chart on national TV which had his immigrant ancestor, Welshman Dylan Henry Mapother, arriving in 1850. If he had been able to do any research on his own further than his namesake ancestor, his being staggered would have been justified: records from Castle Garden show his immigrant ancestor was born in Ireland, not Wales.

Census records of 1860 and 1870 corroborate the Irish ancestry.

Although news to Tom, his Irish ancestry is not news to those who keep track of these kind of things: