Friday, February 27, 2015

Seeking Relatives of Unclaimed Persons

A person dies. No one knows how to reach the family. The coroner’s investigators have exhausted their resources. That’s when Unclaimed Persons starts to work.”

It sounds like opening line from a forensic program on TV, but Unclaimed Persons is a real group made up of volunteers who combine their love and understanding of genealogy research with investigative research techniques to try and locate the next of kin for those who have died without any one to claim them.

These aren’t necessarily people who have not been identified; rather it’s their family – their next of kin that are unknown. Although there are also those who have used a false identity, or several, and died without their actual identity known.

So how does Unclaimed Persons (UP) work?
1) A coroner’s office will send information to Unclaimed Persons. A submission  form can be filled out on line, or the coroner’s office can provide specifics in their standard format.
2) A case manager with the UP group will assign a case number to the submission.
3) The case manager then forwards the information to a case administrator, labeling it as an “active case.”
4) A conversational thread between volunteers and readers begins. (It is these conversations that usually bring about the discovery of those elusive next of kin.)
5) Information is investigated by UP volunteers using their genealogy research techniques. A social security application may be ordered to assist with difficult cases.

6) Findings are submitted to a UP case administrator who reviews the information.
7) That administrator will then submit the findings to the case manager.
8) The case manager will prepare a report that goes to the submitting coroner’s office.
9) And hopefully, the coroner’s office will share the outcome of the case (without violating anyone’s privacy) with the Unclaimed Persons group.

If the deceased has already been interred, the next of kin will be given the option of having the remains disinterred and moved. If the body was cremated and the ashes scattered, the next of kin will be given that information.

There is no set period of time for a case to be solved. A case can be returned to the group for a second attempt if the information did not produce the necessary resolution or if the relatives express no interest in getting involved.

In the past six years, since Unclaimed Persons began, volunteers have solved hundreds of cases.

If you would like to volunteer your time and expertise in assisting to help locate "missing" family members, contact Unclaimed Persons on their Facebook page. "Every life is worth remembering."

~ Joy

Friday, February 20, 2015

Remembering the First American Flying Ace of WWII

Edward O'Hare

It was February 20. 1942 when an American Naval pilot became the first U.S. Flying Ace of World War Two. Twenty-seven-year-old Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare made history when his F4F Wildcat fighter intercepted nine Japanese bombers, not far from the Solomon Islands, preparing to attack the USS Lexington.

USS Lexington
Dufilho and O'Hare's Planes
O’Hare’s plane was one of six fighters that took off from the Lexington’s deck to take on the nine incoming Japanese Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bombers. But only two of the fighters were within striking distance of the bombers; O’Hare and “Duff” Dufilho. Then Wildcats were flying in formation toward the Japanese bombers when Dufilho's guns jammed and he dropped off, leaving O’Hare to fly solo into the enemy's formation. With remarkable skill, O’Hare downed three of the bombers and heavily damaged two more in a matter of minutes, using about 60 rounds per bomber.

Lt Comm Butch O'Hare
The USS Lexington escaped without damage, and O’Hare was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He was also designated as the Navy’s first fighter ace. (The designation ace is only given to a pilot who had downed five or more enemy planes.) O’Hare was also the first naval aviator to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery.

For the next several months, O’Hare toured the country on promotional and war bond tours. In June 1942, he was relocated to Maui, Hawaii and placed in command of a group of combat pilots that he trained in fighting tactics.

Wake Island
O’Hare did not fly a combat mission again until October 1943 when he took part in the attacks on Wake Island. Then, on November 27, 1943, Butch O’Hare volunteered to lead a team of three fighters during the Navy's first-ever nighttime fighter attack.

USS Enterprise
F4F Wildcat
O’Hare and his group took off from the deck of the USS Enterprise. But the mission soon became muddled and radio contact with O’Hare was lost during the battle. It is not known what happened to O’Hare or his Wildcat fighter, but no trace of either was ever found.

In November 1944, one year after the attack, Edward Butch O’Hare was officially listed as dead. His wife Rita received her husband’s posthumous decorations, a Purple Heart and Navy Cross.

O’Hare continued to be honored, both during and after the war. A US Navy Destroyer was named after him in 1945. And in 1949, the Chicago Airport was renamed O’Hare International Airport in honor of the first Fighter Ace of WWII.

~ Joy

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Look At Funeral Prices: 1915 and 2015

Mankind has held funeral ceremonies since ancient times. Every culture has had specific rites and customs that would be followed for the burying of their dead.

Egyptian Mummification
Celtic Burial Ground

The Neanderthals decorated their graves with flowers and antlers as far back as 60,000 BC. Ancient Egyptians began using a form of body preservation now known as mummification (the first embalming) in 3400 BC. Egyptians along with Native Americans buried their dead with tools, pots, jewelry and other items that might be needed in the next life. 

A constant theme exsists in regard to death: There was always a ritual or ceremony held when someone died. Then the remains were entombed, placed or scattered at a specific place considered scared by the community, and a memorial or some type of monument, rock or plant was placed on the grave as a way of showing remembrance and respect.

A Modern Funeral "Parlor"
Today, we have funerals at a funeral home where a service is held before the body is consigned to a cemetery where the family erects a monument, plants a tree or marks the grave with a token of remembrance.

Civil War Embalming
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the process of burying the dead began to change. Embalming became accepted during the Civil War as a way to preserve bodies. The deceased was then placed in a homemade coffin so that family could say their last goodbyes in the parlor.  But then solid caskets began to replace these wooden coffins and the funeral home was the place where the body was "visited" - not in the "parlor" at home. Funerals became a professional business.

There are many ways in which we have changed our burial methods. Take a look at this listing that shows some of the changes over the past 100 years.

         Average Cost of Adult Funeral & Burial in 1915                              
Burial Details                                  Prices

Casket with handles and plate       $45.
Painted pine box                           $ 8.
Embalming                                   $10.
Laying out, shaving, dressing         $ 3.
Delivering box to cemetery            $ 1.50
Four pairs of grey gloves               $ 1.
Three dozen chairs                       $ 1.50
Four newspaper notices                $ 2.
Opening grave                             $ 3.
Shirt, tie, collar, cuffs                   $ 1.
Hearse to cemetery                      $ 8.
Four coaches to cemetery             $24.
Attendance, assistance
and removal of remains                $ 5.
Total Amount                               $113.

         Average Cost of Adult Funeral & Burial in 2015
Burial Details                                Prices
Non-declinable basic service fee    $1,975
Casket (metal)                             $2,300

Embalming                                   $700
Preparing the body                       $225
Refrigeration                                $50 per day
Use of funeral home for visitation   $400
Use of funeral home for service      $495
Media notices                                $300
Printed memorial cards                  $150

Grave site/plot                               $1,000
Opening grave                               $600
Grave liner or vault                        $1,300
Headstone                                     $1,500
Hearse to cemetery                       $295
Family cars to cemetery                 $225
Visitation Attendance                     $325
Removal of remains                       $285
Total Amount                                $12,125*

And, there could also be additional costs including burial clothing ($210) flowers ($260), flower car ($225), clergy ($200), death certificate ($12 each), musician ($150), guest book ($50), etc.

Where 100 years ago an average funeral service and burial for an adult could run between $100 and $200. Today that number can easily range from $9,000 up. Statistics given for an adult funeral usually average around $7,300 but this does not include the gravesite, vault, opening and closing fees, gravestone and other cemetery-related expenses which must be considered if the remains are to be buried.

"All good things must come to an end" and the days of the $100 funeral have gone the way of the horse and carriage. But you can still control how much you want to spend on your funeral by pre-planning, and shopping around. After all - It is your funeral!

~ Joy

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Salvation Army – Celebrating 150 Years

You would recognize that red kettle anywhere, and the holidays wouldn’t seem quite right without the ringing of that bell along street corners throughout the world, but do you really know what the Salvation Army does?

This year will mark the sesquicentennial of The Salvation Army, a Christian organization and international group that provides charitable giving to those in need. The organization is set up along the lines of a military unit with officers, soldiers and volunteers who work together to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the poor, destitute and hungry.

William Booth
London's Poor
It all began in 1865, when London minister William Booth decided to take his message to the streets so that he could better reach the poor, homeless and hungry. Realizing that the destitute were not welcome in Victorian churches of the time, Booth founded a church just for them – the East London Christian Mission.

Bramwell Booth
Catherine Booth
Booth’s wife Catherine, and son Bramwell worked with him. In fact, it was Bramwell who named the organization The Salvation Army in 1878. In 1880, The Salvation Army came to America, and by 1900, the group had established organizations throughout the world. Today, The Salvation Army can be found in 126 countries around the globe.

Capt. Joseph McFee
The red kettle did not come about until December of 1891. Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee needed money to pay for food for the free Christmas dinners to be given to San Francisco’s poor. While walking the waterfront, McFee saw a “Simpson’s pot,” a large pot placed near the landing docks where passerby’s tossed coins to the poor.

McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland ferry landing with a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.”  McFee received enough money to provide dinners for all of those in need that Christmas. By 1895, over 30 Salvation Army locations in the U.S. were using the red kettles to raise funds for the poor, and by 1897, the red kettle had spread throughout the country. The New York World newspaper dubbed the kettles “the newest and most novel device for collecting money.” And the kettles are still used today, mainly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year, over 58-and-a-half million meals were served to those in need.

But The Salvation Army does more than give holiday assistance, provide rehabilitation centers, and run thrift stores. It also offers emergency disaster services, provides senior, adult and child care centers, oversees group homes and temporary housing, provides youth camps, training programs, and supplies transportation, medical care, job referrals and substance abuse assistance to those in need. In the 21st century, human and sexual trafficking are major problems, and The Salvation Army also provides services and advocacy for those who have been victimized by this international crime.

Salvation Army Lodging
In the past year, shelter and lodging was provided for over 10.5 million people, and clothing, furniture and gifts were distributed to over 20 million people throughout the world.

The Salvation Army also provides assistance during  and after major disasters. There are ordained clergy in the group who comfort the bereaved, conduct funeral services and hold memorial services. To find out more, visit The Salvation Army website.

Commemorating 150 years of “Doing the Most Good” is indeed, something to celebrate.

~ Joy