Falling For the Pulliams

Great Moments in Journalism Splat! That’s all I could think of when I saw the grainy newspaper photo from 75+ years ago.  The image accompanied the unfortunate (and somewhat disturbing) story of the death of Roy Pulliam, a distant first cousin (3x removed). Having spent most of his life in and around Fresno, Cousin Roy … Read more

The Story of Byrne Bros Hardware, Pt. 1

Byrne Bros Hardware, 46 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA

First of a three-part history of Byrne Bros Hardware in Santa Cruz, CA  An email arrived recently from an unfamiliar address, containing a photo of an old piece of wood.  But unlike 90% of my ByrneFamily.net inbox these days, this was neither spam nor a phishing project, but a delightful relic of long defunct Byrne … Read more

The data privacy threat lurking on your family tree

family tree data

If you keep your genealogy research online, you’ve probably got a data problem.  But unlike banking sites or Facebook, simply changing your password or deleting your account won’t solve the issue. That’s because the world’s largest for-profit genealogy services (the vast majority of sites exist to make money) are using your family-tree and DNA data … Read more

Fernald Byrne’s deadly roller coaster ride

Giant Dipper Santa Cruz 1923

Families are chock full of colorful characters, legends and tragedies. In our family, we have a famous science fiction writer, a skyjacker, Mayflower passengers, Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers, the founder of Brooklyn and many others. Genealogy research has its quotient of humble-bragging, and famous relatives and/or salacious tales are simply grist for the mill. As … Read more

Broom handles and traitorous china

My 10th gr-grandmother measured penises with broom handle. In the 1630s. It’s on Wikipedia, so it must be true, right?  But this one’s been well-documented by other historians, so I tend to believe it’s not a complete fabrication. Genealogy reveals some strange things about what constitutes fame.  When people find out it’s my hobby, they … Read more

Visualizing my family’s migration

Genealogy applications and software have gotten a little boring lately.  With all the fascinating technologies surrounding data visualization, machine learning, and otherwise, most people choose the path of least resistance and hand their data over to Ancestry.com.  And while Ancestry has some interesting visualizations for family trees and relationships, the closed-platform nature of it pretty … Read more

Was my gr-gr-grandfather George Austin legitimate?

Every family has secrets. Lots of them. Entire lifetimes can be colored by efforts to keep criminal records a secret, hide out of wedlock births, or bury marriages that ended unhappily. And in some cases, those secrets are maintained by subsequent generations, with only the occasional whisper between those in the know, until anyone and … Read more