Maybe I have too much time on my hands. One of the projects I was working on this week involved finding the ancestry of my dad’s best friend, Cleve Henry.

One of my middle names — Cleve — is after this guy. He and my dad were cowboys together in the glory days of their youth. Then they married sisters. Then they divorced the sisters. By the time I was born Cleve counted still as my uncle but purists would snarl.

The way I heard the story, Uncle Cleve was named after a plantation his family had before the Civil War. And somehow he was a distant, very distant, cousin. So it was the name coming back to our branch of the family.

When I was doing genealogy in my teens this was one of the stories I wanted to know about.

It was easy to find the plantation. It’s famous. Cleve Plantation in Virginia belonged to Charles Carter, of Cleve (1707-1764). A very famous family.

But as it turned out, it would be very generous to say my family is related to those Carters. Charles Bowen Howry (1844-1928), an ancestral 2nd cousin, was married to a Carter descendant, but that’s as close as it gets.

Then I found out that there is a Henry family that uses the given name Cleve. They’re descended from Oliver Cleveland Henry (1805-1863). I couldn’t find Uncle Cleve’s father among them but his full name was Oliver Cleve Henry, so I was pretty sure he would turn out to be a descendant. So, that’s it, I figured. There’s no connection on that other side either.

This weekend I did another push to find Uncle Cleve’s missing father. As I often do. But this time I found him. Here in Denver.

And, now I know the end of that story. Uncle Cleve was not descended from the Carters of Cleve, probably wasn’t named after Cleve Plantation, and is not descended from Oliver Cleveland Henry.

He’s just some guy whose parents like the name Cleve. And that pleases me greatly.

Extinct Romans

This is a piece from Masaman about different ethnic groups in the old Roman Empire. Toward the end there is a brief bit about the Etruscans and Rhaetians in the Alps.

Of interest to the Hauri DNA project because our G-L42 haplogroup seems to be concentrated in this region and probably originated there.

  • Masaman, Extinct Romans (July 19, 2019), at, beginning at 10:18, visited July 27, 2019.

Utah Accent

For Pioneer Day, some quick examples of the Utah Accent, also called a Mormon Accent or a Pioneer Accent. It’s a little different from a standard American Midwest Accent. I don’t know why linguists so often ignore it. If you know how to hear it, you’ll find it in Utah, eastern Nevada, southern Idaho, southwestern Wyoming, south Idaho, and western Colorado:

  • When the letter T comes in the middle of word replace it with a glottal stop. For example, mountain is pronounced mou’uhn and kitten is ki’uhn. But sometimes a word needs a T at the end. Across is pronounced acrosst.
  • The letter R gets removed if it’s inconvenient. Library is pronounced lie-berry, and February is Febee-ary. An R can also be moved. Prescription is pronounced per-scription. And, an R can be added if needed. Wash is pronounced wahrsh, but water might or might not be wahrter.
  • And not just Rs. Sometimes other difficult consonants can be eliminated. Picture is pronounced pitcher.
  • The ending -ing becomes either -in’ or -ink. (I spend a lot of time workin’ on Geni.)
  • Diphthongs become single vowels. For example, sale and sail are pronounced sell, and real is pronounced rill.
  • Middle vowels are eliminated. Mirror is pronounced mirr, caramel is kar-muhl, and family is famlee.
  • Labor-intensive vowels get flattened. Miracle is muhr-kuhl or muhr-a-kuhl, creek is crick, milk is melk, pillow is pelluh, and well is wuhl. Then the classics: to is pronounced ta, for is pronounced fur, and your and you’re are pronounced yur.
  • But some vowels are just different. For example, the days of the week are Sundee, Mondee, Tuesdee, etc., and measure is pronounced mayzhure,
  • In some rural areas, OR and AR get switched. Barn is pronounced born, and born in pronounced barn. (This one is said to be the influence of Danish pioneers.)
  • And lots of unique phrases. The classic one is “Oh my heck.”

When I was little we visited my cousins quite regularly. But still it took some time for us kids to understand what they were saying through their thick accent. Nowadays I live in Colorado. I’d swear I can hear a Utah accent a block away. And it always brings a smile, even when it’s me I hear.

Edited Sept. 8, 2019 to add YouTube links.

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Findagrave Shenanigans

I’m increasingly convinced Findagrave is moving toward a naked power grab of our data. I learned this week that they have no scruples about taking away “added by” credit and giving it to someone else. Dates don’t actually matter.

The point of altering the facts seems to be rewarding the people who add masses of information at the expense of those who just add a few memorials here and there.

Here’s what happened to me. There’s a cemetery plot that has three graves in it—my step-mother and two step-brothers. The three of them share one grave marker. I added two of the memorials, then months later another user added the same memorials. Then on the third grave, she added the memorial first, and I added a duplicate without noticing.

There is no doubt that they were duplicates. This other user even added her photos to the memorials I had created.

When I requested a merge, Findagrave reversed the order of the merges so the other user got credit for adding them. Why? According to their email, it was because I had edited the memorials I created. Presumably they don’t like people adding things like obituaries and relationships.

I complained. And they came back saying essentially, “No, ignore our email. That wasn’t the reason.” The real reason, they said, was because of some confusion (on both our parts) whether the graves are in the main cemetery or in one of the sub-cemeteries. Since the other user added two of her three in the sub-cemetery she wins the credit. I had all three correct now but I had originally added them to the main cemetery so it didn’t count.

The tone deafness here is staggering. I don’t want to actually name names here since the other user didn’t do anything wrong. She’s added masses of memorials. One might wonder why she didn’t notice that the same marker was probably not located in two different cemeteries, but she didn’t. Findagrave did, though, and used it as a pretext to take my family memorials away from me and give them to a stranger.

The other user was exceptionally kind, as ordinary users often are. She transferred management of the memorials to me. And she still keeps photo credit. Nothing she can do about Findagrave giving her credit for adding the memorials.

I think the one thing I can do now that I’m aware I can lose credit for my work at any time is focus my efforts on Billiongraves instead.


I think probably the first time I heard the term Cracker was in Gone With the Wind. Maybe it’s a Southern word. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used by a Westerner, at least not un-self-consciously. Many people I’ve asked have no idea what it means even though most have heard it.

I read Gone With the Wind in high school, and got the basic meaning from the context and from asking around. A Cracker is a backwoods Southerner; poor, illiterate, and bigoted.

But really I learned about Crackers in a college history class. We had a professor who tried to give us some depth, something more than just events.

One of the things he told us, several times and in several ways, is that those of us from rural Western backgrounds come from a uniquely blended culture. He made it sound special.

Our cowboy culture and country music have roots in the rural South, as indeed we do ourselves in many cases, but our politics have been shaped by 100 years of Yankee schoolmarms. In short, our ancestors didn’t lose the Civil War, so we have a variant of rural Southern culture but with a dash of New England liberalism and without the chip on our shoulders.

Do I need to say it? Of course, this is a generalization. There are exceptions. Back then I thought my Utah Mormon background made me one of the exceptions. Nowadays, I don’t buy that that for a minute.

My professor was really talking about Crackers, although it would not have been politic to call them that.

After college, as a genealogist, I learned to recognize Crackers as being the descendants of 18th century Ulster Scot immigrants. They love God, guns, and now Trump.

Fischer developed this idea further. His idea was that immigrants from northern Britain (“the Borderlands”) 1715-1775 settled in America’s “Backcountry”, becoming one of the four British folkways that contributed to American culture. Crackers.

I have quite a bit of Ulster Scot ancestry, so I’ve been almost endlessly interested in the topic. Barry McCain posted an article yesterday. I always sit and pay attention when it’s him. For this article, I have three take-aways:

  1. A nice summary: “They were basically a semi nomadic group who were excellent hunters, kept free range cattle and pigs, and lived in the backcountry. They were normally of Ulster ancestry, but not exclusively so.” And, “The original Crackers are also associated with free range cattle and lived in the backcountry.
  2. McCain thinks the word “Cracker is the anglicised form of Creachadóir”, which in Ulster and Scots Gaelic means a “raider and freebooter”, but is “also associated with the free range cattle drovers in Ulster.” Same thing to the Elizabethan English, he says. I think he’s likely right about this. Until now I’ve accepted the theory Cracker is an anglicized form of Cracaire. They’ll talk your ear off. McCain considers this idea but he thinks the Gaelic usage is too recent.
  3. Contrary to my impression (and contrary to Wikipedia), McCain says the word Cracker is not derogatory. In fact, it’s a term of pride. He says: “It means you are indigenous to the South, ancestors from Ulster or northwest Britain, have roots in the Uplands or Backcountry, are independent, self-reliant, you act in an honorable way, are good with weapons, hunting, fishing, and are a man who knows how to do things.  As the Southern Crackers settled Texas and the Southwest they became the Cowboy, a cultural continuum of their unique lifestyle.

I hope it’s true the word Cracker is no longer offensive, but I’m skeptical.

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