Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Family Heirlooms and Memories Traveling Style

This month Man and I will be wandering from East Tampa back to SE Michigan to our stick built home.  I hope to do a bit of research along the way, maybe visit some friends and family along the way and see some "new to us" sights.

Family history is a large part of who I am and what I do.  And, I live in a RV for months on end.  I don't want to just leave all of my memories, heirlooms and such back in Michigan.  I want them with me, if possible, in some form.

So, I thought I would share a few of my ideas with you, how I take my family history with me.

One way is the photo headboard in Tana's bedroom.  These are small framed mirrors, the mirrors being covered with family photos.  I can change them out if I want to.  Man and I get a lot of joy out of this "headboard", his parents, my parents, and our children and grandchildren reside here.

We also have some framed photos I can put out, and a digital photo frame.

Over the years I have been blessed to have been given a number of family heirlooms.  I have to leave them behind in the stick built home while we travel in our rolling home, Tana.  Sometimes I do miss having my family artifacts around me.  I found a way to get around the times that my heart yearns for connectivity to my family and the heirlooms.  I have on my data base, Legacy, a special field/fact I have developed called, "Heirlooms".  I photo heirlooms I have care of, and place the photos in this fact.  I can then look at the photos of them any time my little heart desires.  Here, for example are some old bottles out of the family farm in Virginia.

Or how about this lovely wooden bucket that was produced at the plant my grandfather worked at for many years, my father procured it and gave it to me:

When I am feeling a little homesick, open Legacy, have a long healthy look. Works for me every time.

(By the way, I wrote about this back in October of 2011 when I was still using RootsMagic for my data base.  You can read about it here.  This graphic is from the RootsMagic version, in reality, it is not that much different in Legacy.)

One of my favorite "take the family memories with us" tricks is to take plants with me.  Here is a box full in travel mode.  They are packed tightly in a waterproof box.  When we stop for a week, they are taken out and set about the RV.

Inside that box are two spider plants, here is one.  They were given to me by my grandmother many, many years ago.

This philodendron is from Man's mother.

This, which I cannot remember the name of, was a gift from one of our sons.  Yes, it is blooming.  This photo was taken during the first week of April 2014.

I also happen to carry another box of plants, violets, a favorite house plant of mine.

Carrying my family with me when I travel, a very good thing.



Monday, 14 April 2014

Ancestral April Fool

Laughing fool, c 1500 (via Wikimedia)
This April, I've been fooled by a name.

I've started researching my father's grandmother's family, who lived in the same area of West Wales for - well, if you believe old family stories, many centuries. I've been looking for great-grandmother Sarah Davies, born in Llandyssilio[gogo], Cardiganshire, between 1853 - 56. And I thought I'd found her in the 1861, 1871 and 1881 Wales censuses. In 1881 this Sarah was living in an old farmhouse that's been in the family for generations. Right name, right age, right birthplace, right-looking address.

Wrong Sarah. I found her in the same house in 1891, but with the married surname James. 'My' Sarah had married Rhys Lloyd of Llandyssil/Llandysul before then.

We can all follow false trails. It's so easy to be fooled by the 'right' details. The fact that my ancestors were unadventurous in their naming doesn't help. Half my foremothers were called Sarah or Elizabeth, and a lot of the men were Thomases. And of course finding a married woman's maiden name can just complicate things even more. Poor Sarah has gone back into my 'to do' file, and I'm picking myself up, dusting my research off, and starting all over again.

There's an up-side, though, with names and false trails. I'm guessing that if you've looked at online family trees which have your own ancestors in them, you'll have found some cuckoos in the nest. A John Jones married 10 years after he was buried, perhaps, or a Jane Smith who emigrated in 1865 when records show she never moved from her Scottish birthplace. They're in your family's tree, but they don't belong there - and you have the documentary proof.

I've got my own cuckoos in the family nests. For instance, my 3xgreat-grandfather, Nicholas Delaney - the one who got me interested in genealogy - was transported from Ireland to Australia in 1802, and married Elizabeth Bayly (Bayley, Bailey) in 1808.

Reed warbler feeding cuckoo (Wikimedia)
A look at some family trees have him married before, in Ireland, to a woman with a very 'modern' looking name. Now fair enough, a name could be spelled in plenty of different ways, like Elizabeth's surname in the last paragraph. But when it looks extremely 20th century, like Kathryn, Debra or Barbra, you have to go 'hmm'. And if her second name is also not what you'd expect in rural Ireland in the 18th century - Jay, Kay or Dee, for instance - well, it's time for a pinch of salt.

It turns out that this cuckoo wife was born in the US (and would have had to cross the Atlantic as a young woman to live in deepest County Wicklow in order to meet and marry Nicholas). Digging a little deeper into her history, I find she was born in the mid-20th century. How she ended up in Nicholas's tree in the 1790s, I do not know.

So in this case the name is a hint that you need to look very closely at the proof for this claimed 'relative' - which Worldwide Genealogists would do anyway, of course!

When I start searching for great-grandmother Sarah Davies again, I plan to use names as clues. I've said that my lot were all very traditional in the forenames they chose, so maybe they followed traditional naming patterns, at least for the first few children (many of them had traditional large families, too).

In many parts of the UK, couples would use this pattern, strictly or loosely, until the later 19th century:

1st son - named after the father's father
2nd son - mother's father
3rd son - father
4th son - father's eldest brother

1st daughter -
named after the mother's mother
2nd daughter - father's mother
3rd daughter - mother
4th daughter - mother's eldest sister

Of course, it's never that simple in real life. Some people used variations on this pattern. Some only followed it for the first few children. Some didn't use it at all. Parents who were firstborns could choose another sibling's name for baby number four. Children could be named after other relatives, a powerful local family, royals, role models or political figures. And if someone had fallen out with a parent or sibling they might well not want to name their baby after its spiteful granny or criminal uncle.

Still, I'm glad of any clues which might help me track down those elusive ancestors hiding away in the records.

I'm looking at you, Sarah.

Apologies to all my fellow Worldwide Genealogy bloggers - in its wisdom Blogger/Blogspot has decided not to let me make comments once again. I thought I'd sorted out the glitches! (Sigh...) So I just wanted to let you know that I'm enjoying your writing and all the inspiring ideas and information. And please do comment on this post. I'd love to hear from you - I just won't be able to chat!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Can We Step up to the Challenge

How Are Your Analysis Skills?


Pat Richley-Erickson Aka DearMYRTLE posted a challenge to any of her followers/readers on her blog on 2nd April 2014 (1) .
In this post I want to discuss how I approached this, and how on reviewing, I discovered I had issues when analysing my sources.
If you are not aware I am one of the panellists discussing Mastering Genealogical Proof (2) in Study Group 2 a hangout on air recording being held on Sundays. (Schedule available on DearMYRTLE blog (3)) So this challenge is putting any knowledge I have retained from these discussions to the test.


Deciding what to write about to create an interesting but not too lengthy post was my first challenge. I have plenty of sources but which ones do I use and should I approach this as a new researcher should and decide on what question I wanted to answer. One might think this was an easy thing to do but like many new researchers I found these sources with an almost "scattergun" approach and it can take something to look at them outside of what is recorded in the standard genealogy software programs.
After at least one failed attempt this was the question I came up with " Who were the siblings and parents of my grandmother who was orphaned? ".
The 3 documents were a birth certificate, census and orphanage document.

Reasons for not publishing

Before I finished writing my post whilst in the process of writing my citations I realised that 2 of the sources I was about to use had the same author.
Both the Birth Certificate and the letter for the orphanage were created by the Superintendent Registrar for Warminster and he had signed both documents.

My original hypothesis to the question about what siblings my grandmother had would have been incorrect. I only ever knew she had one brother, if you look at the census record she is the youngest of 5 children (4). The next question was why had I only ever known the 1 brother.
I should have laid out what I knew about my grandmother and possibly cited this as personal knowledge. I could have also cited her son and daughters for the additional information they had provided.

Also, in retrospect, I had set a question whose parameters were much too broad.
My research question could have been as simple as When was my grandmother born? or Who were her parents?.

In my attempt to show what I had found I had not considered how I had got there.
The records I have contain a large amount of useful information, much of it can be classed as primary. But the number of documents I will need to cite, to fully build my conclusions for the question I originally posed, will most certainly exceed the three I was initially going to use.

I hope that this exercise has shown that we not only need to analyse the documents that we use but we need to think about how we obtained them and have they answered the question that we originally wanted to answer. Why the records were originally created, is a question we need to ask if we do not wanted to duplicate sources from the same informant.

So are YOU and your ANALYSIS SKILLS up to the CHALLENGE if so then please join in.

We can all benefit from peer review and even if you don't plan to publish your research in a recognised journal it is well worth it for the thought process it takes to put your case.

When I get more time in the coming week I hope to step up to this challenge and I will post a link in the comments. 


  2. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]
  3. 1901 census of England, Wiltshire, Warminster, Christchurch parish, folio 37 recto, p.9, household 53, Edmond Compton; digital image, Find My Past ( : accessed 5th April 2014) ; citing PRO RG13 /1943

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Thoughts in the Midst of the A - Z Challenge

I am so bogged down in the A - Z Challenge this month, that I decided to write some of my current thoughts. For the A - Z Challenge this year I've been publishing postcards and letters that my grandfather wrote to my grandmother before they were married. They cover 1907 to 1912. I'm finding it frustrating to have to put them up out of chronological order in order to fulfill the A - Z part of the challenge.

One of the postcards I didn't use for "E"

 Even though I was able to do a bit of organizing before the challenge began, I find that I don't have time to do the research I usually do for posts.  In fact, I scrapped some of my original ideas and looked for simpler cards to post that would require less research. 

The visiting of other blogs in the challenge is a big hoopla part of the challenge, although for me the main reason for participating in the challenge is posting everyday and looking for interesting bits in my research I might not have noticed.  With over 2,000 blogs participating, I've found it difficult to find blogs that grab me. Maybe I'm just tuckered out! I'm all caught up so I think today I will take some time to interact with the living family members.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Visiting Past Connections - a reflection on the influence of the gold rush on our family history

Peter McGregor
Last weekend I was visiting family in Queanbeyan and to follow up on my family tree research on the McGregor and McDonald branches of my family tree I thought it would be a good idea to visit the old gold mining district of Braidwood, Majors Creek and Araluen.  My sister and I decided to take our mother on a Saturday afternoon drive.  Our plan was to see if we could find the gravestone of our great great great grandfather Peter McGregor (1809-1882) who arrived in Australia from Scotland in 1849  and along with his family settled in the Araluen district.  Peter McGregor is the grandfather of the "McGregor Sisters" who feature in my blog "The Other Half of My  Tree: stories of my female ancestors." 

As we drove through the undulating country side, past the rivers that still bear the scars of the bygone mining 
View of the Araluen Valley

days I pondered on the significance of past gold mining days and how it played such a significant part in the development our family history. As with many countries, the discovery of gold and other minerals has played a significant role in our countries.  In fact I would go so far as to say that the discovery of gold was a turning point in our history, and therefore pivotal in our own family stories.

The itinerant life of miners and their families leaves us with a difficult, though interesting story to trace.  Many of the gold miners left on a whim to seek their fortunes in the gold fields, and if at first they were not successful the moved on to new diggings.  Others finding the life too arduous or unprofitable, sought a living in other areas such as farming or providing services to the miners, while others moved on to the cities. One side of my father’s family made their living carting with horse and bullock trains in this district.  Three generations of this family were responsible for moving  mining equipment, timber and supplies from Araluen and other towns in the district, to Braidwood and from Braidwood down the Clyde mountain to the port village of Nelligen. 

our map
As we drove down the steep windy road into the Araluen valley I couldn’t help but think of how difficult this must have been for fully laden buggy on dirt tracks of the mid 1800’s.  The views down into the valley were quite spectacular, and we finally arrived in the sleepy settlement of Araluen with just a few houses scattered amongst the green fields.  It was hard to believe that in the 1860-1870’s this area was a booming settlement with the reputation as being one of the richest goldfields in NSW and Australia.  There were as many as 20 pubs scattered through the mine fields and by the 1870s the settlement could boast some 20 butchers, a number of general stores, bakers, shoemakers, blacksmiths as well as a number of churches to serve the different denominations of the population. 

After dropping into the small pub on the highway to get directions to the two cemeteries (nicely drawn on a
flooded creek
scrap of paper) we headed off to find Peter McGregor’s gravestone.  Luckily we had our little map as the cemeteries were certainly off the beaten track.  As I thought it was more likely that Peter McGegor would have been buried in the Anglican Cemetery we headed there first, turning off on to a dirt track, over a cattle ramp, as far as the small creek which was surrounded by mounds left over from the mining days.  To our dismay, the creek was flooded and we weren’t able to get through to the cemetery.  How disappointing!! 

catholic cemetery - Araluen
Not to be put off, we headed back out to the road and turned on to another dirt track, making our way through numerous puddles and over many bumps, till we came to the small Catholic cemetery, sitting on a hill out in the middle of the valley.  Quite a spectacular resting place with the hazy mountains in the background.

It was time to move on to another small mining town, Majors Creek. This was one of the small gold mining settlements that our forefathers had lived in, and there is still a working gold mine there today.  Here we found the lovely old St Stephens Church which was built in the 1870's. 

After snapping a few photos, we drove out of the town over the old stone bridge which was built by Peter Rusconi, the same master mason who build St Stephens Church.  As we crossed the bridge, we could see along the river evidence of the diggings that were once the gold mines of the 1800's.

main street of Briadwood
War Memorial
Our last stop was the beautiful little historical town of Braidwood . It was time for some refreshment and to take a few pictures of the lovely old historical buildings in the main street as well as visit the Braidwood War Memorial which has our great-grandfather Malcolm Michael Shepherd listed on it.

Unfortunately, we were not successful in finding Peter McGregor's grave. This will have to wait for another day, however, it was wonderful to drive through the area and visit the little settlements that were so important in the lives of our family members past and to reflect on how the discovery of gold in this area has shaped our family history.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Fascination of Old Newspapers: 1

I love browsing through old newspapers. They are goldmines, full of snippets of information that give a contemporary eye view The reports and the advertisements enable us to glean life as it was at that moment in time.  It  is not textbook history, recorded in the conventional manner, but the content  is full of vigour on many varied aspects of life for ordinary people in the 19th century - and essential background material in adding colour to  writing family history narratives, beyond the basic names and dates. 

The  “Random Gleanings” below have been drawn  from old newspapers of the Scottish Borders, grouped by topic.   In this first of a series,  I will be taking a look at:
Accidents,  Art & Entertainment, Crime and Punishment and Emigration

“SELKIRK - CARLISLE MAIL OVERTURNED.  On Saturday morning, about half-past one o’clock, the Carlisle mail, when about a mile and a half beyond Selkirk, on its way from Edinburgh, was suddenly overturned, and several of the passengers considerably injured.  In particular, one gentleman named Waterson, and another named Macdowall, both inside passengers, had each a leg broken. Among the inside passengers was Mr. R. B. Blyth of Edinburgh, who escaped with a slight bruise on the left side. Messrs Waterson and Macdowall being rendered unable to proceed on their journey were conveyed back to Selkirk, where they still remain under surgical treatment. It is not exactly known how the accident occurred.” (Kelso Chronicle:  12 April 1833) 

HAWICK - SERIOUS ACCIDENT AT WILTON MILL.  It becomes our painful duty to record a serious accident that occurred at the above establishment on the forenoon of Wednesday last. While David Fiddes, scourer, was in the act of oiling part of the shafting that propels one waulk-mill, a pump, and a washing mill, his right hand and arm unfortunately became entangled between two iron wheels, which completely crushed them to jelly. Fortunately, he extricated himself in an instant; otherwise his life would at once have been forfeited. Being immediately taken home, he was promptly attended by Drs. Douglas and Lee, who at once proceeded to amputate the mutilated limb, about midway between the wrist and the elbow. The poor sufferer stood the operation with unshaken firmness; and so far as the present is concerned, his life is out of danger. No blame can be all attached to the proprietors, as the wheels were completely boxed in; and the only cause of regret is the temerity of the suffering patient, who ought to have oiled the shafting when at rest, and by no means when in motion. We hope that in future greater caution will be observed, so that these calamities may be of rare occurrence, if not altogether obviated.”

(Kelso Chronicle:  7 March 1845).


“KELSO - PANORAMA OF THE WAR:   From an advertisement in another part of our impression, it will be seen that Mr Burford intends to visit this town next week, with his panorama of the war in the Baltic and Black Sea. This work of art, comprising 16,000 square feet of canvas, and moved by machinery, gives a representation of some of the most interesting events in the present fearful struggle. At the present time it can scarcely fail to be an object of attraction to our townsfolks.” (Kelso Chronicle:  3 August 1855) 

 “HAWICK – PHOTOGRAPHY:  Who will venture to say that this is not the age of inventions, and improvements on old inventions – decidedly an age of progress? Amongst the more recent discoveries in science, photography attracts at present more attention than perhaps any other. Every one has heard of it, and not a few of every class know something about it. Even men who, from the nature of their employment, were least likely to turn their attention to it, are nevertheless studying the art not only for pleasure, but many of them with a view to profit, and already have they to a certain extent realized their object.  Even in this comparatively small town several individuals, by remarkable perseverance, aided it is true, by good natural talents, have become adepts in the art..  (Kelso Chronicle:  3 August 1853)

“LILLIESLEAF - MAGIC LANTERN ENTERTAINMENT. A very interesting and amusing entertainment was given by Mr Birrell in the Currie Memorial Hall on Friday evening. Several short stories were read, and beautifully illustrated be means of a powerful oil lantern A number of comic and catastrophic slides were also exhibited. The whole entertainment was much enjoyed by over 250 children from the village and district, and several; ladies and gentlemen. Mrs Birrell rendered valuable assistance in the manipulation of the slides.”  (Southern Reporter:  10 March 1892)


 “HAWICK - DARING ROBBERY:  Betwixt Friday evening and Saturday morning last, two excellent webs of blue and white plaiding check, each of them upwards of 50 yards in length, were taken off the tenters of Messrs. Dickson and Laing, Wilton Mill. A reward of £10 has been offered for the discovery of the perpetrators of this heinous offence, who there is reason to believe, from the state the tenters were left, have not been unaccustomed to the work.”  (Kelso Chronicle:  16 May 1845) 

 “SELKIRK:  In the Sheriff Court of Selkirk, on the 11th inst,. Mary Bell, who was accused of theft at Mountbengerknow on the 29th January, last, was brought before the Court and a Jury, and having confessed her guilt, she was sentenced to three weeks’ imprisonment in the Jail of Selkirk, from this date. ----- James Dryden, residing in Selkirk, was brought before the Sheriff-Substitute on the 7th instant, on a complaint at the instance of the Inspector under the Poor Rates for the parish, for having deserted and failed to maintained his wife, and was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment in the prison of Selkirk. (Kelso Chronicle: 13 March 1846)

“HAWICK – PILFERING:  A boy of the name of Miller was taken into custody, and lodged in the jail here on Saturday, for stealing eggs out of a cart. We think some plan should be adopted for bringing the idle boys that frequent our streets into industrious habits, as it is a well known fact that all the boys who have been convicted and banished from this town for the last twelve years, commenced their career in crime by stealing from fruit carts and pilfering from shops.”  (Border Watch:  14 May 1846)

 “BERWICK - SMUGGLING OF WHISKY:  On Saturday last the excise officers made a seizure of six bottles of whisky concealed in a gentleman’s luggage, who came hither by the North British Railway, and was proceeding to London."
(Kelso Chronicle: 4 Sept. 1846)

 “STATISTICS OF GREENLAW PRISON FOR THE YEAR 1848.  Committals 148; males 186; females 12, of which there were committed for assault 71, theft 24, riotous conduct 13,  begging 7,  malicious mischief 7,  sheep stealing 1,  rape 1,  illegal fishing in the Tweed 1,  poaching 5, falsehood, fraud, and wilful imposition 3,  deserting wife or child, under the New Poor Law Act 2,  culpable homicide 1, contempt of court 1,  robbery 1, lying down on the North British Railway 1,  indecent exposure 1, harbouring vagrants 1, breach of trust and embezzlement 1,  bigamy 1,  females deserting their children 2, deserter 1, lunatics 2.  The committals for 1847 were 78 males and 19 females (97) - 1848 thus exhibited the startling increase of 51 over the preceding year. 

The number of cases of assault stands very high, 71, being 42 above the number for the same offences for 1847 – almost all these may be said to have originated in intoxication. While nearly one-third of the males in the preceding list could neither read nor write, it is worthy of remark that only one-sixth of the females were so deficient.

The greatest number confined at any one time during the year was 30, nearly double the greatest number in the proceeding year. In comparing this report with the return for 1847, and more particularly with some of the former years, the great increase (51) would seem to place the formally peaceable agricultural county of Berwick in a very unfavourable point of view, were not that a great proportion of the crimes have been committed by strangers called into the county by the demand for labourers on the lines of railway formed and in the course of forming.”  (Kelso Chronicle: 2 March 1849)

"DRUNK IN HAWICK. Yesterday- Before Provost Milligan. Gilbert Oliver, labour, Baker Street, who was considered to be past redemption, having made his 66th appearance, was sentenced to three days imprisonment for being drunk.” Hawick Express:  4 January 1890)

Note:  Bearing in mind that Hawick had around 15 churches, a Salvation Army Corps, several mission halls, Christian Brethren, and a long established Total Abstinence Movement, it is surprising therefore, that Provost Milligan should consider that Gilbert Oliver was “past redemption".


“HAWICK - EMIGRATION. There is likely to be a very considerable emigration from this Town to Australia during the present summer. The parties are generally masons, joiners, and mechanics, and the most industrious and sober men in the place. It is very probable that the circumstances of several parties from this neighbourhood having realised large fortunes in a very short period may have some influence in producing this movement.

As a proof we may state that upwards of 60 chests of drawers belonging to families about to emigrate have been sold by public roup during the course of the present spring, and there are yet a good many safes to come before Whitsunday. Many of those who have gone have left their families behind them, so eager are people to get away from the mother country. Nearly 50 have departed this week, all of them in good spirits. These are chiefly for Australia. Their departure has given occasion to numerous marks of respect. There have been emigrants’ balls, emigrants’ suppers, and not a few testimonials of a more solid description have been given.”.  (Hawick Monthly Advertiser:  4 May 1854) 



 FREE PASSAGES are granted to FEMALE SERVANTS, Housemaids, Laundresses, Cooks, &c., of good character, between 17 and 35 years of age, on payment of £1 for ship it, and fare to depot in London, all of whom are in great demand in the Colony, and receive wages from £20 to £50 per annum, and board and lodging. An experienced Matron accompanies each steamer, and on arrival, passengers are received into the Government depot, free of cost.

Assisted passages are also granted to approved females, such as nurses, seamstresses, &c., and to labourers whose labour is connected with the land, such as ploughmen, gardeners, miners, navvies.


Forms of application, rates of passage, handbooks, and all other information may be obtained on application to


Westminster Chambers,

                                          1 Victoria Street, London, S.W.

(Advertisement in the Hawick Express:  30 November 1889) 

Over the coming months, look out for further 
Random Gleanings from Newspapers Past

With a big thank you to local historian Gordon Macdonald  for his contributions. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Six Little-Known Fun Facts About Boston Patriot, Paul Revere

Paul Revere
1)      Paul Revere’s father, Apollos Rivoire, a French Huguenot, immigrated from France in 1715 at the age of 13. Desiring an anglicized name, he later changed his name to Paul Revere. It is evident that Paul Revere Jr. did not take pride in his French heritage. He never learned to read or write the French language, and he volunteered to fight against the French during the French and Indian War in 1756.
2)      Paul Revere was a jack of many trades, one of which being crafting false teeth from animal tusks and teeth. In 1776, he identified the body of his friend, Joseph Warren (a revolutionary soldier who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill), by the wiring Revere used on Warren’s false tooth. This little known fact made Revere the first person to practice forensic dentistry.
The Boston home of Paul Revere is open for tours today.
3)      Paul Revere did not ride alone during his famous midnight ride. British patrols had been set up along the roads so that if one messenger couldn’t make it through, another would be dispatched to carry on. On the night of April 18, 1775, Joseph Warren (who was mentioned in the previous fact) was tipped off that the British were coming to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. He brought the news to William Dawes, instructing him to head to Lexington by way of Roxbury, Cambridge, and Menotomy (now Arlington). Next Warren instructed Revere to head to go to Lexington by way of the Charles River. The men would alert towns along the way of the impending threat. Revere arrived in Lexington about a half hour before Dawes.
Once in Lexington, it was determined that the British’s actual plan may have been to attack supplies at Concord, Dawes and Revere headed to alert Concord together. On their way to Concord, they met a doctor, Samuel Prescott, who offered his help in spreading the word of the British’s intentions.
4)      Paul Revere, or either of the other riders, never shouted the famed phrased, “The British are Coming!” Firstly, the men’s mission was meant to be discreet as there were British soldiers hiding throughout the towns and countryside. Yelling any phrase would defeat their goal in remaining secretive. Secondly, before the Revolution, colonial Americans still considered themselves to be British. If the men said anything, it is more likely they quietly warned that Regulars - a term used for British soldiers - were coming.
5)      Paul Revere’s first job was as a bell ringer at the Christ Church, more commonly referred to as the Old North Church. The Christ Church is Boston’s oldest church, and still holds Episcopalian services, the same as when it was first built in 1723. In 1749, Revere, along with a small group of his friends, entered into a formal contract with the church in which they would be responsible for ringing the church’s 8 massive bells. Years later, on the night of Revere’s midnight ride, a lantern was placed in the church’s steeple to warn townspeople of the impending British attack.
Another note of interest regarding the church: Paul Revere was not a member of it. His family believed in the Congregationalist religion, which derived from Puritanism. 
Statue Depiction of Paul Revere that stands in front of the Old North Church

6)      Paul Revere is known for producing beautiful copper plate engravings, his most famous being his depiction of the 1770 Boston Massacre. Apparently Revere was not confident in his skill as an engraver because his works were actually traced from paintings done by other artists. The famous Boston Massacre engraving was traced from a painting by Henry Pelham. Paul Revere’s engraving was already flooding the market before Pelham’s prints were made available for sale.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ancestor Swap Challenge - are you in?

Last month, in my blog post "Sources - source of pride and envy" Tessa replied how she wished she could research someone from the Netherlands. She talked about the beautiful census and farm books that she gets to use in her Swedish and Norwegian research. Those sound very interesting and I would love to see them. Pauleen mentioned German Familienb├╝cher that are just superb. So I came up with an idea:
Let's research each other's ancestors to get a taste of records in other countries. 
I will give you the first challenge and post details about an ancestor of mine, with some clues about sources you can use. If you're up to the challenge, please leave a comment and describe an ancestor of your own. I will myself pick out one of these other ancestors as well. Next month, I will write about my experiences researching this ancestor. Everybody who claimed an ancestor is invited to place a comment to share her/his experiences.

Rules of the challenge

Research another person's ancestor:
  • Leave a comment at the bottom of this page, specifying which ancestor you are picking. This need not be the last one. Please pick a country where you do not have any ancestors yourself. 
  • Research this person using the sources suggested or other sources.
  • Write a comment about your experiences at the bottom of my blog post next month (5 May), describing for example:
    • What did you find?
    • What resources did you use? 
    • What challenges did you face? 
    • What was different from the area where you usually do research? 
    Alternatively, you can write a blog post about it and place a comment with a link back to your post at next month's article.
Give another researcher a challenge:
  • In the same comment where you claim an ancestor, share one of your own.
  • Give the name and identifying details about this ancestor.
  • Suggest some research questions.
  • Suggest some online sources to start with. If the ancestor is impossible to research online, please pick another one. The records need not be available in English although if an English website is available, please say so. 
Map of Made en Drimmelen, 1868

First challenge: Johannes Marijnissen

My challenge to you is to research my great-great-grandfather Johannes Marijnissen. He was born in Made en Drimmelen, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands on 6 July 1864 and died in Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant on 26 December 1943. 

Suggested research questions:
  • Who were his parents?
  • Who was his wife?
  • What was Johannes' occupation? Looking at the map above, what does that tell you?
  • Where did Johannes live on 1 January 1900? 
  • Who was the informant on his death record? What does that suggest about the place where he died? 
Suggested resources:
Who is up to this challenge? 

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Little Things Matter

Most of the time we are so focused on our specialized genealogy (one-name studies and one-place studies), our volunteer projects, or our educational pursuits (webinars, hangouts, seminars and conferences) that we forget to take a step back and focus on those living family members who can fill in the blanks, tell us the stories, or describe in detail the ancestors for whom we only have the basic facts.

Over the past year, I have had two great experiences to "chat up the living" and I suggest that you make a point to chat up the living too!

Our Family Reunion
Last summer we had our family reunion (held every five years) and being an A-type, I came up with a few games for our reunion. I should mention that we are a petty competitive bunch and we will do anything for a prize so it seemed like a good idea to get family members to interact a bit more and have some fun.

Friday evening was devoted to getting your name tag and finding your team members for the Saturday games. We separated family groups and age groups (how I love RSVPs and Excel worksheets) so there was a family elder, and a person from each generation on each team and no one was on a team with someone from their immediate family. We used containers of treats and had people guess the amount (skittles, pretzels, m&ms, goldfish) or the length (twizzlers). People had fun guessing and even more fun winning - luckily the winners shared their haul with everyone.  It helped to meet your teammates on Friday night because the games started bright and early on Saturday morning.

Warming up with the puzzles & mazes
Saturday morning, after coffee and breakfast, we started with word jumbles and an Ireland to USA maze (a children's edition and an over-10 edition). We used our teams for a scavenger hunt and a 20 questions game. The first game was to get extended relatives to work as a team and the second game was to help them learn a bit about our family history. The scavenger hunt was timed and it was amazing to see how the team members interacted and the ideas they came up with to find the items. The 20 questions game (since we are over-achievers there were 50 questions, some easy and some hard) was a four hour event and each team could get 5 minutes with an elder of their choice and one other person to "pick their brains" for the tough questions. The one caveat was that the person could lie. It was up to you to give their answers some serious consideration.

Working together on the Scavenger Hunt
We awarded a variety of prizes -  from gift cards to kitchen or home items, and chocolates to bottles of wine. We had a prize table and the winners got to select the prize they wanted. I can't tell you how thrilled I was, when with all the choices on the prize table, my 6 year old second cousin choose a Barnes & Noble gift card because he could buy some books!!

The 20 Questions game was so much fun because it was interesting to see what people knew or thought they knew and, more importantly, what they did not know. My cousins all went to my father (one of the family elders) to get him to answer questions - the only thing they didn't know was that my father was more than willing to (and did) lie because he wanted his team to win! (And they did!)

Taking names and giving away prizes - what's not to love!
Bottom line is that all the games were fun, they got family members to talk with others they might not have talked with, and did I mention prizes? Even better, some of the extended family members wanted to learn more about our family and share more about their families (I am always happy to expand that family circle). We got lots of comments - "best family reunion ever," "it was amazing to see my husband chatting with Aunt Peggy, he has never really spent time with her before, "and "let's not wait 5 years for the next reunion, let's start planning it for 2 years."

 Asking Questions & Letting Them Tell Their Stories
I have made a point of getting together with my parents on a regular basis and asking them questions. More importantly, I am trying my best to listen and let them tell their stories. It helps that I am recording our conversations on my smartphone and then listening and annotating the conversations soon after the meet-up. It helps to have some documents or photographs to share with them and nudge their memories. The journey we take during these short (30 minutes) conversations is amazing.

During one get together I showed each of them the 1940 US Census from their neighborhood. It was fun to nudge their memories of the neighbors (and then they wanted to look for extended relatives). My mother took a look at the farm community where her grandfather and aunts and uncles lived and had some great stories from her very early childhood. My father simply wanted to find his early childhood friends.

To help you get started, find a list of questions or areas you want to learn more about and then break those topics into manageable conversations. Whether you meet up in person, hangout via Google+, or get together via the telephone, chat family members up and get those recordings now. What would you give if you had recordings with the voices or images of family members who are no longer with you? Do it today, the chance might be lost to you tomorrow.

Get Everyone Talking!
image courtesy of ID-100203880
Spend some time with your living family members. You might be quite surprised to learn that they can be as fascinating as all those dead family members. How do you get family interested in talking about their family history and how do you preserve their stories?