Saturday, September 27, 2008

Whipple's Penstemon

This is a photo of a Whipple's Penstemon that appeared on the front of a packet of seeds I purchased last year, hoping to grow some of these wild flowers.
Unfortunately, our attempts to grow them were unsuccessful. They are a native wildflower of the southwestern United States.

Although I'm not certain of the origin of their name, they are probably named after Major General Amiel Weeks Whipple. In 1853-54, Amiel led an expedition in search of a railroad route near the 35th parallel to the Pacific Ocean. (The 35th parallel passes through Albuquerque, NM and continues westward through Arizona to California.) The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (often abbreviated to Sante Fe) appears to have later followed that approximate route across New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another Episode in the Sad Saga of Diane Whipple

Seven years ago Diane Whipple, an athlete and LaCrosse player living in San Francisco, died when mauled by dogs owned by neighbors. On Monday (following a series of legal proceedings), the dogs' owner was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. 

Diane was born 21 Jan 1968 in Princeton, NJ.  She died 26 Jan 2001 in San Francisco.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Approximate Dates in the Whipple Genweb

I sometimes read email from Whipple relatives who might not realize the idiosyncrasies of how approximate dates appear in the Whipple Genweb. I offer this post to (hopefully) clarify approximate dates that appear there.


Abbreviation for about. When "Abt" precedes a date, it generally means that the event likely occurred within a year or two of that date.

This is common when censuses give an age but no birth year--I just subtract the age from the census year and use "Abt [year]" as the birth date. When I find actual vital records, I generally update the dates to be more exact.


Abbreviation for after. It can sometimes mean "a long time after."

It probably appears most often when I don't know a death date, but found the individual listed in a census. I will often use "Aft [year]", where "[year]" is the year of the census that lists the individual.

To illustrate: I might find a person mentioned in a 1910 census, but don't have time to do additional research (at that moment). I might, then, record the death date as "Aft 1910" (even though the person might have actually lived until, for example, 1950 or 1960).

This also occurs when an obituary lists survivors: I will use the death date of the person who died (preceded by "Aft") for the survivors.

"Bef" and "Bet"

Abbreviations for "Before" and "Between". These (like "Aft") can be very inexact. (See above)


In just about every case, "Abt" dates are the closest to the actual date. Other dates can be far from the actual dates.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Whipple Research Society?

Nearly four years ago, I (the Webmaster of the Whipple Website) posted this on my own blog:
Since the Whipple Website came online in 1997, we have watched that site grow from a few pages to over 100,000 pages [currently over 125,000] , with individual pages (in the Whipple Genweb) for over 95,000 [now 122,000+] Whipple relatives.

What is to become of the Whipple Website if the webmaster dies or becomes incapacitated? Will someone just pull the plug? ... or should we create a non-profit organization of some sort to ensure that the site continues in perpetuity? (If we do establish such a corporation, will it guarantee that the Whipple Website will continue?)

Several years ago someone created a 501(c)(3) corporation, hoping to provide some sort of ongoing existence for the web site, but the IRS denied tax-exempt status, so it was dissolved.

Should we try again? How about naming it the Whipple Research Society? Whipples can be a cantankerous lot. Do you think enough of us could get together to organize such a society? Is it worthwhile?

Well, last week Blaine Whipple (undoubtedly the most prolific writer of Whipple genealogies) found the above post. (See his web site at He responded with this comment:
If you are successful in organizing a Whipple Research Society, I would be happy to join and suggest the first project be a DNA study with the goal of determining if there is a relationship between Capt. John of Dorchester-Providence and the Ipswich brothers.
I responded by telling Blaine that I would post the original post on the Whipple Website's blog. What is your response? (Although I'm aware that DNA testing has become a hot topic in genealogical research, I'm not quite "up to speed" on it. The thought of using DNA to determine the common ancestry of the two main U.S. Whipple lines is intriguing.)