Sunday, August 21, 2011

Virtual Cemetery for all my ancestors

Francis S Dane headstone.  Virtual Cemetery

So, family and friends, yet another project to let you know about. I have created what's called a "virtual cemetery" at a website called This is a listing of all the memorial records for my ancestors that are located on that site.

Many of these records already existed on the site and I have simply located them. But I have added many others. I also have added photos from my personal collections to many of the records. For my family, the most immediate interest will probably be the records for each of my grandparents, all of which I added.

Let me know if you have anything you want to add to any of the records.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Edith ''Edie'' Thacher Dane - Obituary from Ojai Valley News

Edith Thacher (Dane) - Wedding Day
Edith Thacher - Wedding Day

Edith "Edie" Thacher Dane, 89, died Sunday, June 23, 2002 at the home of her daughter in San Jose, Calif. She was born May 4, 1913 in Ojai on the campus of The Thacher Preparatory Boys School, where her father, William Larned Thacher, was associate head master and her uncle, Sherman Day Thacher, was head master.
She attended Vassar College in New York, and married and settled in Sierra Madre, Calif., where her mother, Hilda Blumer Thacher, was born. Her maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. John George Blumer, were of the original group of residents of Sierra Madre when they arrived in 1886.
Mrs. Dane lived in Sierra Madre for more than 60 years and was an active and dedicated volunteer in her community throughout her adult life. She received numerous honors and awards for her service in the areas of early childhood development, the "War on Poverty," and a variety of human rights and social justice initiatives. She was active in the Democratic Party and, in her later years, was active in efforts to preserve the hillside of her hometown. As a social activist, she was committed to the health and well-being of all members of society and to her local communities of Sierra Madre, and surrounding Pasadena-area cities.
She is survived by her children, Bill Dane of Albany, Calif., Frank Dane of Forestville, Calif., and Nancy Dane Peña of San Jose, Calif.; daughter-in-law Nancy Dulberg; seven grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and several cousins and in-laws.
Memorial services will be held Aug. 16, 2002 in Sierra Madre.

© 2002 The Ojai Valley News

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Photos for the Fourth

I collected some of my favorite patriotic shots for this post:
Edith Thacher (Dane), Francis S Dane and William Thacher Dane
My grandmother Edith Thacher (Dane), my Dad Francis S Dane (left) and uncle William Thacher Dane

These two are my grandfather Francis S Dane II, in 1916 and 1918 in his color guard outfits.

Daniel Coonradt, Civil War

Civil War photo of Daniel Coonradt, my 3X great grandfather.

Grandfather "Duke" Dane, this time in his World War II uniform.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The People I Met in My Genealogy Research Part 2

I was a teenager when another important event in my life of genealogy research occurred. My grandmother Edie beckoned to me, asking that I come with her to her study, a little desk area she had set up in her bedroom. “I want to show you something,” she said. From a folder, Edie lifted three large pieces of paper, each the size of two regular sheets of paper. She unfolded all three sheets and laid them out on her desk. A shape ran across one sheet and over to the next. It looked like a Chinese fan – a half circle with many spokes leading out from the center. On virtually all the spokes leading out from the center, a name was hand-written. On the “handle” of the fan was the name Elizabeth Baldwin Sherman (here's a photo of her).

Elizabeth Baldwin Sherman (Thacher)

Reverently, Edie explained to me what the fan was. “This is a family tree. It was created and researched for my grandmother by her children. Elizabeth Sherman was my father’s mother. Her grandfather is the man who signed the Declaration of Independence.” I followed up the spokes of the fan to her grandfather, Roger Sherman. I knew this name well, as everyone in the family did. Roger was the red-haired man from Connecticut, a great leader in the formation of this country. I found out much more about him later, including the fact that he also signed the United States Constitution, but that’s a story for a different chapter (or book). But there were so many other names on this fan, hundreds of them. Names like Prescott, Wellington, Perkins and Standish.

“Edie, is this right?” I asked. “Is this really Miles Standish, captain of the Mayflower?”

“Yes, I imagine it is.” She said as if she was mildly surprised, but surely she already knew. Perhaps she wanted me to discover him for myself or to test my knowledge of U.S. History. In any case, I could see that she was pleased that I was so interested.

I can’t tell you now why she chose to give a copy of “the fan” to me, a fan that detailed her own genealogy back to the early American colonists. Perhaps it was the way I’d sometimes stared at the old pictures on the wall in her hallway. Perhaps she remembered how much fun I’d had with that earlier genealogy project. Whatever her reasons were, I felt at the time that she was entrusting the family genealogy records to me and that she was passing the torch to me as the family historian.

Now, I have to tell you that I idolized my grandmother. She was smart and worldly and wise and inspirational. And yet she was comfortable allowing me as a youngster to sit in on and even participate in the philosophical discussions that occurred over glasses of wine around her pool each summer. So if I felt at the time that she wanted me to be the family historian, sure as anything I was going to take on that role. And so I have.

By the way, I have to give a ton of credit to the people who researched and compiled “the fan.” Now that I’ve been able to compare the information it contains, the fan matches up remarkably well to the consensus of what is published in overlapping trees I’ve found on the internet over the years. The only differences I’ve found have been the spelling of some of the names. It’s a remarkable work of genealogical research and I’m greatly in debt to them. Unfortunately, I can’t even name them since I don’t know which of Elizabeth Sherman’s children participated in the project. The next two pages present the bulk of the information contained in the fan, though certainly not all! I’ve catalogued the remainder of the information in a database that resides both on my computer and on the internet. if you have an account there: family tree starting place

If not, Rootsweb here: Starting place #2. For more detail, click on "Display pedigree in text format".

Go to Part 3

Monday, May 30, 2011

Genealogy Book Photos on Flickr

Over the last two weekends, I have taken digital photos of all the small photos that are found in my Dane and related family genealogy book. I have cropped them and cleaned them up as best I can and I have now uploaded all of these images to Flickr. Here's an example photo of my great great grandmother Caroline Lydia Goodwin but there are many more like it. Take a look:

Caroline Lydia Goodwin (Dane); Caroline Goodwin
Caroline Lydia Goodwin

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Sports Set at Flickr

I posted a small set of old sports photos to Flickr. This one's particularly fun, the 1895 Bowdoin College Varsity Baseball team, including my great grandfather Francis Smith Dane I, their trusty 2nd baseman:
1895 Bowdoin Baseball Team; Francis S Dane I

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The People I Met in My Genealogy Research - Part 1

In 2004, I got the idea to collect my own family history and genealogy stories into a book, and decided to give the book to my family as a Christmas present. I am going to post this story piece by piece here on my blog. I'll also update the stories as much as I possibly can. These stories are also posted on my home page. I'll include links to those stories as well. Here's part 1:

Perhaps some teacher I had way back when should get the credit for getting me involved and interested in genealogy and family history research. My introduction to family trees was through a school project when I was ten or eleven years old (my memory is hazy now and I don’t recall which teacher assigned this project). I was handed a couple of blank family tree outlines and told how to get started. Place your own name in the first blank on the left side of the page and list your date of birth and place of birth in the proper places. Then your parents’ names go into the next two positions to the right of yours, and so on. “Fill out as much of this page as you can, kids,” I can imagine my teacher saying, “Ask your parents to help you, and your grandparents, too, if you can speak to them.” So I did. In fact, I still have the original form that I filled out and turned in to my teacher for that project (completed in erasable pen!). Ultimately, though, I don’t believe it was the project itself that piqued my interested in genealogy. Instead, what fascinated me and inspired me were the conversations that I had with my grandparents while I was filling out those forms. The people they were, the stories they had to tell and the mysteries that were sometimes left behind after our conversations were complete provided the fodder for decades of interest in researching the histories that they’d introduced to me.

Initially, it was my grandfather’s storytelling that captured my interest the most. Grandpa Conrad (that’s what we called him) became an accomplished yarn spinner in his grandfatherhood. He would keep his many grandchildren fascinated for hours with stories from his youth and young adulthood in South Dakota. Fighting prairie fires, playing with Indian kids on the Sioux reservation nearby, cutting down dead bodies from trees while assisting an undertaker, these were all part of his repertoire. Grandpa told me that the Conrads had been Pennsylvania Dutch and had moved out to the prairie in the 1800’s. “Originally the name was Koonradt,” he said, but the family had changed the name to make it more American (as so many families have done over the years). He also reveled in telling us that he was part Indian, Iroquois, he told us. He was a quarter Indian, so that made us one-sixteenth Indian. I used to tell people when I was a kid, “Yes, I’m mostly white, but I’m also one-sixteenth Indian.” It was a point of pride for all of us (more on that later). What went somewhat unsaid, but which still managed to come through in my grandfather’s storytelling was a lingering resentment and estrangement from his family back in South Dakota. He never hesitated to mention that his twin brother Harlan was a nasty ol’ son-of-a-gun and how they didn’t get along. These were some of the parts of the package that made my grandfather fascinating to a young boy who’d never been outside of suburban California and whose family was happy and free from resentments (or so I thought).

By contrast, Grandma Conrad was quiet and reserved. She let her husband do most of the talking, only scolding him occasionally to let others speak and telling us kids to make sure to finish our helpings of her famous three bean salad. I don’t recall my conversations with her or her storytelling much at all. I feel a bit sad about that now because Grandma was one of the most loving and appreciative people I’ve ever been around. The pride she felt in her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was the dominant feature of her character in my memory. When she spoke of cousin such-and-such who had a successful new job in a new city, her face would light up and the glow would shine through. And when new great-grandchildren were born… well, you can imagine her beaming smile for yourself if you knew her. I’m sad she didn’t get to enjoy that pride in my daughter when she was born. I know how happy this little one would have made her. At the same time, now I regret that I didn’t make more of an effort when she was alive to make sure I heard her stories, because I know she had them – we all do.

Grandma Edie had her stories as well. They came in two types. There were the stories of her youth and the stories of her family history. These seemed to be completely separate in her mind. The stories from her youth mostly revolved around the Thacher School in Ojai, California and what it was like to grow up there in the early parts of the 20th century after both her mother and brother had died. It seemed a lonely youth, even though Edie Thacher grew up surrounded by cousins and uncles and aunts. On the other hand, there was the pride of her family history – particularly that of the Shermans. We were all aware from the earliest age that one of our ancestors had signed the Declaration of Independence. This was a point of tremendous pride for my grandmother, and became one for us as well. It seems like everyone has one, doesn’t it? Anyway, Edie was serious about family history – we all knew that. She had pictures of her ancestors on the wall in her hallway at home. One was a very serious looking man in profile. Beneath the picture was a caption: Thomas A. Thacher, Professor of Latin, Yale University. It gave the years, too, but I don’t remember them. There were other pictures, of course, but that’s the one I remember. Edie was fairly somber when she talked about these ancestors, like they were important, but not “loved ones.” I think her reverence made these historical people seem intriguing – their histories tied up with our own, but not at all like my grandfather’s firsthand stories (or yarns, depending on your perspective). In any case, my grandmother’s background of educationally oriented ancestors made a major impression on us - virtually everyone in our family has an advanced degree. These pictures left me curious. Who were these people? What made them important?

Ultimately, all of my grandparents’ stories got me started on a journey of genealogical and family research that has led to this book that I’m writing. The book combines portions of my family tree, as much as I know of it, with my own personal stories of genealogical and historical discovery. I will tell you about these things as I remember them, so those who read these pages will almost certainly disagree with me on the details (my memory isn’t that good). I make no promises as to the accuracy of the genealogical information I present here, or on the stories I recount. I am not a professional researcher, and I recognize that I have not cross-checked many of the “facts” I will list here either in my stories or in my family trees. I treat them as a roadmap to our family history rather than a textbook. Hopefully the information here will help other family researchers and the book will provide a fun read for both my family members and anyone else who happens to read it.

The first page of my family tree that I will print here is pretty close to what was on that original sheet that I turned in for that school project so long ago with one exception. The Dane sections, beyond Francis S. Dane I and Annie Edmonds (which I later discovered was spelled “Edmands”), were not filled in. I place the full first page of that project here as the starting point for my genealogy. I think that is as it should be.

The best starting point is at, but you have to have an account there. If you do, start here: family tree starting place

If that doesn't work for you, start at Rootsweb here: Starting place #2. For more detail, click on "Display pedigree in text format".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Family History Photo Galleries

My cousin Scott has a number of family photos of the Conrads here: Cousin Scott Conrad's albums at Picasa This picture is Leo Conrad and Daisy Murray (Conrad) my great grandparents:

My Dane treasure trove is at Flickr This one is my great grandfather Francis S Dane I:

My Thacher photos are at Flickr This picture is a Thacher family photo including mostly Sherman Day Thacher's family (my grandmother's uncle and cousins):

The Blumer trove is also at Flickr This is my great grandmother Hilda Blumer (Thacher):

Monday, May 9, 2011

Useful web page: John Dane & Family
"John Dane 1587-1658
Born: 1587 in Little Berkhampstead, Herts, England

Died: September 14, 1658 in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Spouse: Frances (Bowyer) Dane m. October 19, 1605 at Colchester, England. (More Below)

Children: John Dane
Elizabeth (Dane) Howe (More Below)
Mary Dane, Christened May 1, 1617, died May 28, 1617
Rev. Francis Dane (More below)

2nd Spouse: Annis or Annie (Bayford) Chandler, married July 2, 1643 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, born June 12, 1603 in Farnham, Essex, England, died in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She was the only child of Francis Bayford Chandler and his wife, Johan. Francis Bayford Chandler, born April 13, 1597, was the son of Henry and Anne (Bayford) Chandler. Henry, born about 1560, was the son of Thomas and Joane Chandler. She apparently first married her uncle, William Chandler, who died June 19, 1641. William and Annis had 4 children. Secondly to John Dane. After John Dane’s death, Annis married a third time to John Parminter or Parmenter.

Occupation: Tailor

Father’s name: William Dane of Little Berkhampstead, Herts, England, b. about 1561.
Mother’s name: Alicia Pennefather"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stories of William Larned Thacher

William Larned Thacher or William L Thacher

William Larned Thacher was my great grandfather, his daughter Edith Thacher was my paternal grandmother. Here are some facts about him from the biography of his brother, Sherman Thacher and His School, by Leroy McKim Makepeace, 1941. The photo is also from the book.

Page 45: "The childless widow of Professor William Larned, one of Professor [Thomas Anthony] Thacher's closest friends at Yale, had offered to give $5,000 and her husband's collection of books to a baby son of the Thachers if her were named for her husband. The offer was made at the time of Sherman's birth, but that the first son should bear any name but Sherman was unthinkable. On the arrival of a second son, Mrs. Larned repeated her offer, and this time it was accepted."

Page 99: "Following graduation from Yale College, William had spent one year at the Yale Medical School, then transferred to Union Theological Seminary, where was graduated in 1891 with honors. For three years he worked at the Y.M.C.A. in New York City. In the Autumn of 1894 he was called to fill the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church in the little oil town of Bradford, Pennsylvania. Unable to subscribe conscientiously to some of the tenets required, he was never ordained but did receive a license to preach after a rigorous examination.... But he was not happy in Bradford, and resigned after less than seven months. He went to Ojai to pay his mother and two brothers a second visit which was to last more than forty-five years.... So well did he fit into the life and work of the place that Mr. Thacher invited him to remain as Associate Headmaster. He accepted, sent for his belongings, and prepared to join the faculty in the fall."

Page 118: "Interest in tennis was negligible until the arrival of Mr. William Thacher, but his enthusiasm and skill soon made it the most popular game at the school and in the valley. He had been champion of Yale, runner-up in the national Intercollegiate singles, and doubles champion. Not only was he a first-rate player himself, but he enjoyed teaching everyone else. New courts were built at the school, a tennis club was established in the village, tournaments were organized, and matches arranged between the valley and the school and with teams from other towns. Mr. William Thacher, however, was so much better than the next best that the visiting teams would inquire whether they were to play Ojai with, or without, Thacher. For the same reason he was often barred from local tournaments, and the result when he did compete may be imagined from this description by a local wit:

And over the heap raged a Form in white duck
Like a Berserker wild; till a voice from the ruck
Wailed, "Terrible Thacher is running amuck!"
And panic was wedded to frenzy.

Oh, the shake of the earth and the terrible sight
When Forster and Hubby rushed into the fight,
And over the stricken there danced in delight
The form of the Terrible Thacher.

The Ojai Valley became famous for its annual tournament.... More than anyone else, Mr. William Thacher was responsible for the original impetus and for carrying it successfully, serving as president of the club from 1895 to 1928.... But the tournament was also a social occasion.... Mr. William Thacher, with the social grace which he had demonstrated as a committeeman for the Yale Junior Promenade, contributed largely to making visitors welcome. He always met strangers with ease, an ability which his elder brother envied."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Excerpts from "Sherman Thacher and His School"

My Grandma Edie (That would be Edith Thacher Dane) passed along to me a book about her uncle Sherman Thacher, the founder of the Thacher School in Ojai, California. In it are many excerpts detailing the lives of various family members. I'm going to pass some of them along here.

Sherman Thacher and His School, Leroy McKim Makepeace, Yale University Press, 1941

Page 2: "He (Sherman) left New Haven in 1887. He had graduated from Yale college four years before and now had no job, almost no money, no purpose and apparently no interesting future. To him the journey to California led down a blind road with no opportunity at its end. He undertook it without enthusiasm and solely for the purpose of his seventeen year-old brother (George), whose heart was failing rapidly."

Page 8: "Sherman's position in the family was unusual. By a previous marriage to a daughter of Jeremiah Day, president of Yale, Professor Thacher already had five sons, so that Sherman was in a way a youngest child. And yet, as first born of his father's second marriage, to Elizabeth Baldwin Sherman, a granddaughter of Roger Sherman, he was in some ways the oldest... the younger children, William, Bessie and George, looked up to him as their guide."

Page 8: "His mother (Elizabeth Baldwin Sherman) was an energetic and high-spirited lady with a penetrating wit. To the end of her long life she was a delightful conversationalist. Full of optimism and cheerfulness, she was never daunted by the daily problems which arise in large households. As if the family were not enough to keep her busy, she filled the house with guests at nearly every meal. She enjoyed people and appreciated the good things in life."

Page 9: "Sherman's father, Professor of Latin in Yale College from 1842 to 1886, ruled with the authority of an Old Testament patriarch."

Page 10: "Professor Thacher was not a particularly broad-minded man... Professor Thacher continued to interpret the Bible literally and to believe implicitly, for instance, the story of Jonah."

Page 11: "The strongest of all the prejudices shared by father and son was an aversion to people of wealth."

---> More to come as I read more of the book, Kyle

Monday, February 28, 2011

Search on finds relative at Spadra

So I was searching for the siblings of my grandfather Leighton Conrad in a fruitless search to find a piece of information on another relative. Anyway, I found Leighton's parents Leo and Daisy out in San Gabriel, California in 1930. I had originally thought that they'd come out from South Dakota perhaps to be near my grandfather, who I understood had come out to California when he was about 21 or so.

But, wait a minute, didn't they have another daughter Marcella who was only 8 in 1920 when they were all back in South Dakota? Okay, so putting the name Marcella Conrad into search. Oh, here she is! 1930 Census she's in a place referred to as Pacific Colony, Spadra near Pomona in Los Angeles County. In the record she is listed as "inmate." Inmate!! Okay, maybe it's not her. But... how many Marcella Conrads were born in South Dakota in 1912? I'm guessing only one, this must be her. So I go searching through the census all the way to the beginning of the Pacific Colony/Spadra records and the first several people have titles that sound very hospital-like: nurses and doctors and such.

I look up this Pacific Colony a bit further and here's one of the descriptions I found: "Pacific Colony - Thinking "feeblemindedness" to be a menace, the California Legislature created Pacific Colony as a Southern California facility to detain the "feebleminded". People with developmental disabilities were "inmates", needing to be locked away from society forever because of their "insanity". The present location welcomed it's first 27 "inmates", on May 2, 1927."

Now, time for Kyle to theorize. My grandpa came to Southern California right about 1927. His parents also came here some time between 1920 and 1930. I know that in later years, Grandpa's brother Harlan also lived in San Marino. It's not a huge stretch to think that one by one, the family gravitated to this area because of Marcella. It's certainly suggestive of a family narrative that revolves around this relative who was "locked away".

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

History for Joseph Dane of Maine

This is a biography I found of the brother of my great-grandfather. It also includes information on two of his ancestors, who are also my ancestors. Sheds a lot of light on why I'm drawn to the banking world!! I copied this from a book I found on Google called Maine Biographies by Harrie B. Coe, page 260:

"Joseph Dane- The name Dane, as told within itself, is of extremely ancient origin, and applies to the sturdy natives of Denmark, who have played an important part in Nordic affairs since the days of mythology. Danes under the command of the ancient conquerors of England settled in the then known West, and not only preserved their name, by which they were called by the English, but gave their name to many others not of Denmark.

Gradually, representatives of this family settled in America and found their proper place in everyday affairs. In more recent days we find Joseph Dane of Kennebunk, worthily living up to the reputation of the line as a constructive citizen and treasurer of the Kennebunk Savings Bank. Mr. Dane was born March 16, 1864, at Kennebunk, son of Nathan and Caroline L. (Goodwin) Dane, of the same city. His father was a leading farmer and later became treasurer of a savings bank, a course that made him not only independent but highly respected for his scholarly attainments. His grandfather, a typical product of New England soil, was also a prominent man, having been treasurer of the State of Maine during the Civil War.

Mr. Dane attended the public schools, and on completing his studies there followed in his father's footsteps on the farm. He farmed until 1903, when he accepted a position with the Kennebunk Savings Bank. He soon learned the various details of the banking business, and won a commendable place among his superior officers. It was an interesting circumstance that Joseph Dane, his great-uncle, became the first president of this institution, having joined a group of business men in its establishment in 1872. Mr. Dane was succeeded by Robert W. Lord. Later Nathan Dane, the father, became treasurer, and he was succeeded by his son, the incumbent. Its recent statements show assets in excess of $2,000,000.

Mr. Dane served as town treasurer fifteen years and superintendent of Hope Cemetery for twenty-five years. He is a member of the York Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, and is likewise a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Mr. Dane married, in 1893, Loucinda L. Bragdon, of Kennebunk, and their union has been blessed with a son, Joseph Dane, Jr."