Message forum and guest book – gatvol

As you know, there is a message forum and a guest book that you can use for introductory messages and things that aren’t in reply to any particular blog posting.

Here are the usage statistics for your message forum service for 2007. Usage Statistics

Every time a message is posted in either the guest book or message forum I get a notification by e-mail and get all excited, thinking there’s a cousin with new news about the family, or even a new cousin that I hadn’t known about before, but 90% of the time it turns out to be some clown trying to advertise cheap cigarettes or steroids or something, and so most of the messages have to be deleted.

The statistics shown above are from before I deleted the last junk message — they now show no messages for March and April, though in fact there were about 10, all of which I had to delete.

The message forum was also for comments on my regular web pages, apart from the blogs, but no one really seems to be using them.

And now I’m gatvol. For those who don’t know, “gatvol” is a South African idiom. It literally means “hole full”, and is roughly equivalent to “up to here” in other English dialects.

If there was a significant proportion of genuine messages to all the spam it might be worth it, but since genuine messages are getting rarer and rarer I might close the message book and guest book altogether to save me the hassle of going in to delete the junk. The trouble is, that means that the useful messages that are already there will be lost as well. But it doesn’t seem as though anyone will miss them. I don’t know why the spammers bother, since hardly anyone reads these things anyway.

Comments? Will anyone miss the message forum or the guest book?

A quiet week

Not too much to report on the family history front over the last couple of weeks. We’ve been recovering after Easter and all the pigging out in bright week. You can say what you like about Easter eggs — I like mine fried, with bacon. Actually our Bright Week breakfast was the BEST breakfast: Bacon, Egg, Sausage and Tomato.

Taking some people back home after the Easter vigil at about 3:30 AM we fell into a hole in the road, because another car would choose just that place to come down the hill with its lights on bright, and the streetlights were out too. So I’ve had an enforced stay at home after buying two new tyres and waiting for the wheel to be repaired.

And then yesterday the Internet went off again. No, not again, we said. We increased out limit from 2 Gig to 3 Gig, but it still ran out. So while waiting to get that sorted out, I spent less time on line and played around with askSam for Windows, the program I use to record a lot of information in the archives etc. I used to use askSam for DOS — still do, in fact, and find it easier to use. But the new Windows printers don’t print from DOS programs, so you have to go through all, the schlep of outputting to a file, and then pulling it into a Windows program like Wordpad to print. So I thought I’d play with the Windows version, and it’s producing some quite decent reports now. But, unlike the DOS version, it’s not so easy to just pull the output into e-mail and send it to family members around the world. But if I keep playing with it, maybe I’ll find out. I’ve been using the DOS version for 16 years now, and it’s still hard to beat for sheer usefulness. I use it more than any other program.

And then we did get an e-mail from Val’s cousin Peter Decker, which was very encouraging. We visited his father 30 years ago, just after we got married, and pumped him for information about the family, but then he moved away and we lost touch, and so having his son contact us was a nice surprise.

Now our internet connection is working again, so I’m writing this after a couple of disconnected days, but looking at the usage I suspect that it may be caused by spyware or something like that. The uploads are tracking the downloads, which makes it look as though someone is using one of our computers to disseminate spam or something, so we’re updating our antivirus and anti spyware programs.

Robert Laing of Colington

The Scotsman Mon 19 Mar 2007 carries an obituary for a South African genealogist, Robert Laing of Colington, who died on 12 March, 2007, in Johannesburg, aged 58.

Robert Laing was sometime chairman of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, and was an enthusiastic researcher into genealogy and heraldry, though rather given to claiming dubious and even outright spurious titles for himself, though his friends and fellow genealogists usually good-humouredly granted them to him, and he was referred to in the Genealogical Society’s publications as Chevalier Robert Laing, and Robert Laing of Colington.

We had some common research interests as Dorothea Wilhelmina Katerina FLAMME (1816-1858) married Peter LAING in Cape Town in 1836, and they had three children, who went to Scotland with their father. Robert Laing never managed to establish the connection between himself and this Peter Laing, but he did spend quite a lot of time researching it. Dorothea Wilhelmina Katerina FLAMME was the sister of my wife Val’s ancestor Petronella Francina Dorothea FLAMME, who married Henry CRIGHTON.

Huguenot ancestors from Brandenburg

A little less than a year ago I blogged about the Falkenberg branch of Val’s family, where we discovered a couple more generations after more than 30 years of searching. But Val’s great-great grandfather Christian Falkenberg married as his second wife Justine (Jessie) Schultz, who was 9 years old when they came out on the ship together from Germany.

Back when we first started we found that the Schultz and Falkenberg ancestors came from what was then the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and we thought that that branch was a dead end. But a Mr Hans-Georg Bleibaum in West Germany said he could find a researcher who would look for us, if we would send him some cash for a parcel of groceries. So we sent the cash, and he sent the groceries over to East Germany, and several months later came a letter saying that Val’s ancestor Martin Schultz had married a Marie Payard, and he had traced her cancestry back several generations — all of them descendants of Huguenot refugees from France who had fled to Brandenburg after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

And for several generations they had lived in the same area, the Ueckermark, and married French, so their records were all in the registers of the French Reformed Church. And so we had the families: Payard, Bettac, Bevierre, Berthe, Varembourg, Devantier, de la Croix, Peronne, and several others. One thing that surprised us was that the earliest ancestors were tobacco farmers from the French/Belgian border.

For a long time it just remained a list of names until we made contact with Barry Alexander in Australia through the Fidonet BBS network. He was descended from Devantiers, and had a book about the family. Many of the Brandenburg Huguenots had gone to Denmark and from there to other places. So we had not only a list of remote ancestors, but had made contact with real live cousins as well.

There were so many in these families that we found quite a number of other people researching them, and have managed to compare notes. I’m trying to get all the ones related to us in one file, but they intermarried with each othert so much that it is sometimes hard to work out the relationships, and I keep discovering another researcher who has found some more somewhere.

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