Saturday, 31 May 2014

Widen the Search: a Genealogy Success Story

Source: South-East Queensland cemeteries photo collection
Many genealogy 'brick walls' can be overcome by
  • researching the subject's siblings or other relatives;
  • searching outside the geographical area where the subject lived.

A friend of mine is interested in descendants of Walter and Elsie CHATTERTON, who lived in England. A family tree on Ancestry suggests that they had a son, Reginald Walter CHATTERTON, who went to Australia. My friend was not able to contact the owner of that tree. This is how I helped her to find out more about the family.

  • FreeBMD:
    • Marriage: Reginald W. CHATTERTON and Doris A. MUNNINGS, Dec qtr 1940
    • Birth: David M. CHATTERTON, mother MANNINGS, Mar qtr 1943
    • Birth: Colin M. CHATTERTON, mother MUNNINGS, Sep qtr 1945
    • Birth: Johannes CHATTERTON, mother NUNNINGS, Dec qtr 1946
    • Birth: Maria CHATTERTON, mother MUNNINGS, Jun qtr 1948

    I found three of those entries easily, but variation in the spelling of the mother's surname meant that I only found the other two after seeing the names in the shipping record mentioned below.

  • A Google search for the surname led me to a reference on I copied the text into Google Translate, which said, 'According to immigration records, Reginald Walter Chatterton nationality was English, his birthplace being more specifically Hull. Farmer by profession, arrived in Argentina on the boat Highland Chieftain having embarked in London.'

    Argentina?! That was unexpected.

  • Passenger Lists leaving the UK 1890-1960:   The image of the original passenger list gives these details (and more):

    Name: Reginald CHATTERTON
    Date of departure: 29 January 1949
    Port of departure: London
    Passenger destination: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Age: 33
    Occupation: Farm Worker
    Ship: Highland Chieftain
    The following people with the same last name travelled on this voyage: Colin M., David M., Doris A., Johannes and Maria CHATTERTON.

  • Queensland Registrar-General's online death indexes:
    1978/C2007, Reginald Walter CHATTERTON; father: Walter Frederick CHATTERTON; mother: Elsie Gertrude NEWTON

  • '1978' is the registration year. I could have found the exact death date by repeatedly changing the search's date range to narrow it down to a month and then a specific day; but I found the date by other means.

  • Web page for Gheerulla cemetery:
    An entry for 'Doris Amy & Reginald Walter Chatterton' leads to a photo of a different headstone, which says 'Doris Amy Chatterton nee Munnings 19.12.1919 - 23.10.2007. Reginald Walter Chatterton 24.1.1916 - 10.6.1978. Rest in peace.'

  • Australian Commonwealth electoral rolls 1903-1980 on Ancestry (some are missing):
    I found multiple entries for the CHATTERTON family. The 1980 Commonwealth roll for the electorate of Bowman lists Colin Michael CHATTERTON, Doris Amy CHATTERTON and Susan CHATTERTON at Edith St, Wellington Point. (So we now have the second given name, not just an initial, for Colin; and Susan is an extra name to research.)

The next step would be to get death certificates for Reginald and Doris CHATTERTON. In Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, death certificates are very informative. Family historians in the UK will be pleasantly surprised by the list of details shown on our certificates.

Other suggestions:
  • Search indexes to Supreme Court wills and intestacies, and the most recent Commonwealth electoral rolls and State electoral rolls, as explained on Queensland Genealogy and Archives Research Tips.

  • If there is no will/intestacy file with a copy of the death certificate, look for other Archives files that may include the certificate (see 'Free Certificates in Archives Files').

  • If all else fails, buy the certificate from the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

  • Sources listed above, and others including the Ryerson Index to recent newspaper notices, may help to locate living descendants.

I am passionate about using original records in Archives, but as this case study shows, the Internet can certainly speed up the research process.
~ ~
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Friday, 30 May 2014

Preparing for the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) ~

By:  Tina Marie

Over the past month, I have been very excited about attending the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR).  Although I have been working on my family history for many years, I have never attended a formal institute.  Most of my learning has come through reading, local study groups, library research, webinars and mentoring from more seasoned genealogists.  This year, I enrolled and was accepted to the NIGR that will be held July 14 through 18, 2014, in Washington, DC.

The NIGR was founded in 1950 and incorporated as a nonprofit in 1989.  It is well known in the United States as being one of the premier leaders in genealogical education.  It offers an annual week long institute in Washington, DC.  The course focuses on federal records held at the National Archives with optional lectures in the evening at the Library of Congress and the Daughters of the American Revolution Library.

The institute is an intensive program and is not an introductory genealogy course for newcomers.  For the most part, the lectures run from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday with time for personal research before and after the daily course work.  Although most of the day-time lectures are held at the National Archives in Washington, DC, one day of lectures is held at the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

To prepare for the program there is a number of assignments given from registering online for a visitor’s card to reading material on each library.  The topics of the lectures include military, land, immigration, naturalization and American Indian records (just to name a few).  On Friday, the last day of of the course, there is an evening Alumni-sponsored Banquet in Arlington, Virginia to welcome the new alumni group.

Although I am excited about the institute, I am more excited about the military records section of the course.  As a veteran and an employee of the Veteran’s Administration, I have a great love for military history and have planned my own research itinerary.  I hope to view the Revolutionary War and Civil War records of three of my direct ancestors at the DAR Library and the National Archives respectively.  I have complied my dad’s World War II records to hand deliver to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.  I have two family graves to visit at Arlington National Cemetery, and my trip just would not be the same without visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  It will be a jam-packed trip and I will surely be exhausted by the end, but I am really looking forward to it.

National Archives, Washington DC

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bankruptcy in England in the early nineteenth century

Shrewsbury Prison main entrance
Shrewsbury Prison main entrance
It seems that my fourth great grandfather, William Pulteney Dana (1776-1861), went bankrupt and was gaoled for it. Notices in the London Gazette include insolvency and I found some concerning William Dana that give some of the story of his financial experience. The Gazette commenced in 1665 and is now digitised and searchable. 

(On their own Petitions.)
Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), Publication date: 18 August 1840 Issue: 19885 Pages: 1921-2 retrieved from
A few months later he was out of gaol and living in lodgings. We learn that as well as being on half-pay from the army, Dana was running a printing business.

Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), Publication date: 13 November 1840 Issue: 19913 Pages: 2558-9 retrieved from
Some months later his case was adjourned.

Recorded in The Gazette (London Gazette), Publication date: 5 March 1841 Issue: 19958 Pages: 627-8retrieved from
I have found no further mentions of the case. I assume Dana settled his debts. At the time of the 1851 and 1861 censuses he was living with his married daughter and her husband in a terrace house in Shrewsbury. It would seem his finances did not recover.  It was quite different to living in Roughton Hall.

Bankruptcy featured a lot in Victorian literature. Charles Dickens's character of Mr Micawber springs to mind. In 1824 Charles Dickens's father, John Dickens, was imprisoned for debt under the Insolvent Debtors Act of 1813. It wasn't until 1869 that debtors no longer went to prison. For a brief history of insolvency law in England the Wikipedia article at is useful. However I found the chapter on the subject of Bankruptcy, Debt and Money lending in What Jane Austen ate and Charles Dickens knew : fascinating facts of daily life in the nineteenth century by Daniel Poole very readable and informative.

Pool, Daniel What Jane Austen ate and Charles Dickens knew : fascinating facts of daily life in the nineteenth century. Robinson, London, 1998.

Earlier this month, Susan Donaldson wrote about a book on Victorian life and this is another but containing many references to novels of the era. Bankruptcy and debt featured in many novels and this presumably was based on the experiences of living in the era. My forebear was one of those who experienced this misery.

Anne Young blogging at

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

DNA Projects -- What Genealogical Help Can We Expect?

During the past few weeks, I have been trying to understand what genealogical information we can ascertain from DNA testing.  We have had over thirty family members tested so far using Family Tree DNA.  The company provides us with exciting charts and lists of "matches" and it is easy to get carried away and jump to conclusions.  So far, we have found new cousins whose family trees match with ours and we have confirmed other cousin relationships.  But, we have not filled in ANY of the holes in our family tree.  I want to formulate questions that the DNA tests can help us answer.

I have decided to focus on three DNA missions:

1. Find information about the ancestry of my great-grandfather, John Edgar Riley.

2. Try to find the name of my missing great- great-grandmother, Atinahona (Austin's woman).

3. "Map" my parents' chromosomes as much as possible to help categorize their autosomal DNA matches into ancestry lines.

Mission #1: John Edgar Riley, why can't we find you?

One of the most stubborn lines in my family tree is that of my great-grandfather, John Edgar Riley.  He supplied his third wife with detailed facts from his early life:

He was born in Broad Brook, Connecticut on April 21, 1892.
His parents were Timothy O'Riley and Elizabeth Brennan.
He had three older sisters, Rose, Julia and Maude, who were born in Ireland before the family immigrated to the USA.
The family spent time living in Manhattan at 350 E. 88th Street.
His father owned a pub in Manhattan.
His father worked for the railroad.
He was Catholic and served as an altar boy and one of his sisters was a nun.
Before he turned 20, his whole family was dead.  His father and two sisters died in two separate railroad accidents.  His mother fell down the back steps and hit her head.  His other sister drowned.
He had a paternal uncle, Michael O'Riley, who moved to Texas, but returned to Ireland.

John Edgar Riley - Union Pacific Railroad
My mother spent years on this line (it's my dad's side) and so have I, but we have not been able to verify even one of these clues.  There are no records on John Edgar Riley until his army files in Kansas when he was about 20.  We have found nothing on his family of origin.

So, I hope that eventually, my father's Y-DNA will show a match with another man who shares the same male lineage.  For this, I depend on some unknown relative doing a DNA test.  I hold out hope.

My father, his aunt (John Edgar Riley's youngest daughter) and cousin have also had the autosomal DNA test.  So there is a possibility that we may be able to tease out a member of that line through those matches.  So far, though, the people who match do not mention Rileys or O'Rileys in their ancestral surnames or in recent generations of family trees.

So my John Edgar Riley DNA strategy is to wait and hope for Y-DNA matches while recruiting some of my dad's second cousins and second cousins once removed to get the autosomal DNA test done.  The more second cousins we can get, the better we can group his close matches into family lines.

John Edgar Riley in his later years with his wife, Frances

Mission #2: Atinahona, who are you?

Another very frustrating stumbling block we have is on my mother's side.  My great- great- great-grandmother is listed with her husband, Samuel Austin, as "Atinahona".  This is seems to be a transliteration of the Choctaw words for "Austin's woman."  We would like to find out Atinahona's real name. 

Through DNA testing, we have found that our male Austin line goes back to a Choctaw man.  Originally, we thought a man of European ancestry might have married into the line, but apparently Samuel Austin or his ancestor adopted the name.   

My strategy to find Mrs. Austin, or at least narrow down the possibilities, is to analyze DNA results and family trees of cousins known to share common ancestors as well as Choctaw tribal members who come from the same community and are likely to be distant cousins.  We have started to do this. The community members (2) who have been tested match my mother and her relatives.  The problem is that matches could be from other than the Austin line, and the matches could be from multiple lines.  This DNA analysis is to be done along with studying historical documents and rolls which is mostly done by my mom.  She is an expert on Choctaw genealogies from the time of removal to the Dawes rolls.  

Mission #3: Mom and Dad, what genes were you dealt?

My mother and grandmother

My dad's parents and relatives

I have started to read about DNA genealogists who map their chromosomes so that when they get a new match, they can make a good guess about which line it is on.  Also, it may be possible to identify missing surnames from branches.  One website I've used as a reference is: Chromosome Mapping.

I am just getting started with this process.  It looks like a lot of work, but I hope it will be useful, especially for my other two missions!  To fill in the chromosome map well (it will never be totally filled in), I need to have more cousin data.  I will update in a future post.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Asking Some Adoption Questions

My great great grandfather, James Muir, immigrated to the U.S. in 1887. I have been researching my Muir ancestors from Scotland for the past several months as I promised my father I would write a book about family history this year. When Dad worked on our family's genealogy, he had no real way to access Scottish records. I thought writing a book about ancestors he knew little about would be more interesting for him.

I absolutely love the ScotlandsPeople website and have attended several classes at the Fairfax Genealogical Society's Spring Conference and the National Genealogical Society's 2014 Family History Conference about researching Scottish records. I also participated in the Family History Writing Challenge, writing about the Muirs, earlier this year in preparation.

A few days ago, on Tangled Roots and Trees, I wrote a post about discovering my first cousin three times removed and his wife Anne "Annie" Hutton adopted two sons. Learning about the adoptions answered several questions I had, such as why I couldn't find them using the Muir surname on ScotlandsPeople, but it also raised other questions about their oldest son, Nathaniel Muir (1895-1908). So I thought I'd pose those questions here since I have access to so many people smarter than me about Scottish records.

I first discovered Nathaniel as the 6-year-old son of Nathaniel and Annie on the 1901 census. I could not find his birth registration. He was not listed on the 1911 census so I assumed he may have died and went looking for his death record. I couldn't find that record either. The 1911 census did list two adopted sons, Andrew Murray and Robert Stewart. Then I found a photo on of a memorial Nathaniel and Annie erected in Bathgate Cemetery. The inscription provided death dates for sons, Nathaniel and Andrew. According to the inscription, Nathaniel died on 19 Mar 1908 at age  13.

Portion of Nathaniel Muir McGregor's birth registration
from ScotlandsPeople

Monument created by Nathaniel and Annie (Hutton) Muir at Bathgate Cemetery;
photograph courtesy of

I went back to ScotlandsPeople and searched for any Nathaniel that died in West Lothian in 1908. By removing the Muir surname from my search criteria, I found Nathaniel's death registration, which listed McGregor as his surname. His name on that registration was Nathaniel Muir McGregor and his mother was Christina McGregor. With that information I went looking for his birth registration and found it, too. His name at birth was Nathaniel Muir McGregor. He was born on 25 January 1895 to Christina McGregor, an unmarried domestic servant. No father was named on the registration. He was born Whitburn, which was less than 3 miles from Armadale, where Nathaniel and Annie, his adoptive parents, lived.

When I found his other two adopted brothers, their birth registrations had been changed to reflect the name change at the time of the adoption. Nathaniel's birth registration had no such alterations.

Does this mean Nathaniel Muir McGregor could have been the illegitimate child of Annie's husband, Nathaniel Muir? Or does it simply mean Christina McGregor knew before her son was born that Nathaniel and Annie were adopting him? Or should I research Christina McGregor to see if she is related to the Muir line somehow? What should I think about this situation?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

There Be Dragons – Finding Tithe Maps for England and Wales

Tithe maps are often the earliest detailed maps of parishes in England and Wales. They are important for genealogists, as well as historians of all kinds, cartographers, and other disciplines.

Tithes were a tax levied on land owners by the established churches, the Church of England and the Church of Wales in their respective countries. The property right to collect tithes, traditionally one tenth of agricultural produce, was a claimed by the church for the support of the clergy. In 1836, tithes were commuted (changed) to money payments rather than payments in kind. The Tithe Act 1836 set out the transition process, and established the Tithe Commission to oversee it. For each parish, the total revenue due was apportioned between the landowners, taking into account the area and productivity of the land. As the area of land was a factor in the calculation of the monetary amount due by each landowner, a survey was required. The tithe commission used the maps to check the accuracy of the survey, hence the fairness of the apportionment.

The Tithe Apportionments that accompany each map, record the owner, occupier, area, land use, tithable value and plot number for each land parcel. The plot number corresponds directly with the map, so people’s land ownership and occupation is precisely located. This is a genealogical treasure chest!

Archive Catalogues locate original Tithe Maps

Three copies of each map were produced for each of the parties involved: the Tithe Commission, the diocese (the bishop oversaw the clergy), and the parish (the rector was usually the main tithe owner).

The Tithe Commission copies at The National Archives (TNA), a collection of 11,785 tithe maps, were described in Kain and Oliver’s seminal work, The Tithe Maps of England and Wales.1 Many of the descriptions have been incorporated into the TNA catalogue.

TNA catalogue entry for tithe commissioner's copy of Llanychan tithe map

The diocese copies for Wales are at The National Library of Wales (NLW), and the catalogue descriptions benefit from Davies’ work, The tithe maps of Wales.2

NLW catalogue entry for the diocese copy of Llanychan tithe map & apportionment
 The diocese copies for England and parish copies are likely to be found in the relevant county archives, which vary in the availability of online catalogues and detail of description. Denbighshire Archives has an index that includes the third parish copy of tithe map for Llanychan, the example shown in the TNA and NLW catalogues above. An example from England, the parish of Claverley, Shropshire, is in the diocese of Hereford. The diocese copy is at the Herefordshire Archives, but is not included in an online catalogue, so I had to enquire to locate it.

Shropshire Archives’ catalogue includes copies of the tithe apportionment for Claverley, but no map. Enquiries have revealed that when the church deposited its records in 1955, no map was found. In Claverley, there were several tithe owners other than the parish incumbent. Consequently, the ‘parish’ copy of the map may have been kept by one of them and never deposited in the archive.

Which of the three tithe maps for any particular parish was the original?

In the case of Llanychan, it is hard to tell, as both the commissioner’s and diocese copies are manuscripts, or hand drawn. The diocese copy was apparently drawn from a new survey, so was current in 1838.

In the case of Claverley, the commissioner’s copy is a lithograph, a kind of printed copy, dated 1840, and the diocese copy bears a date of 1842. So, neither is the original.

Archives often make photocopies of tithe maps to prevent damage from handling the huge originals, which may be measured meters. Such copies may be reduced in size so do not faithfully reproduce scale and detail.

Scanning and photographing maps large in both scale and physical size, in a way that preserves both the detail and cartographic accuracy, is challenging. The resolution of this problem underpins the quality of digital copies, especially interactive online versions.

Online Editions and Peeling the Onion with GIS

Traditional maps pack lots of information into a flat piece of paper. There are multiple types of features like the roads, rivers and water bodies, buildings, and land parcels depicted on tithe maps. Think of these types as the layers of an onion.

The land ownership and occupation information could have been written on the map, but that would have made it difficult to use for tax purposes. Instead the plot number provides the key for the apportionment data, which is presented as a separate document. When the tithe maps were produced, this was the only practical option, but modern map making tools can handle this with ease.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have revolutionized map production from the 1960s right up to today. This is also the technology behind familiar online mapping like Google Maps and Bing. GIS editions of tithe maps online include:

East Sussex
Leeds area, West Yorkshire
University of Portsmouth, a selection of parishes

Try them out. Do you prefer outlines of land parcels overlaid on a current map, or viewing old and new side-by-side? Which maps are easiest to use? Did you experience performance issues like slow responses? Can you pinpoint great-grand-daddy’s tiny hovel?

Each map has some advantages and drawbacks. These websites are limited implementations of the technology. If you know of website that does really impressive mapping, please share in the comments. I am impressed with the United States website Atlas of Historical County Boundaries which even offers the GIS data for download. I would like to see something similar for the tithe maps.

In February 2014, the UK-based genealogy subscription website The Genealogist announced that they will offer the TNA copies of tithe apportionments and maps online. Some apportionments are available now, and the maps are due to launch in 2015. It is not clear how the maps and apportionments will be linked. The time scale seems too short for the production of GIS editions.

According to the minutes (Item 6.1) of the TNA’s User Advisory Group meeting on 18 March 2014, in answer to questions in about the tithe map digitization, Commercial Director Mary Gledhill stated that
“the digitisation being carried out by S and N is targeted towards a genealogist market. They are paying for the work to be carried out, and make the decision on how the work is produced”. 
S and N are the company that runs The Genealogist. I am perturbed by the TNA’s apparent lack of engagement with the digitisation of the tithe maps. Done well, it could be an important research resource for all disciplines. Family and house historians need a high quality, and cartographically accurate rendition. Then you stand a real chance of locating the small dwelling of a peasant ancestor.

My comments on the production of GIS versions of tithe maps is based on personal experience of digitising tithe maps gained during research for my Master’s degree dissertation.3


1 Kain, Roger & Oliver, Richard (1995) The tithe maps of England and Wales : a cartographic analysis and county-by-county catalogue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2 Davies, Robert. (1999) The tithe maps of Wales :a guide to the tithe maps and apportionments of Wales in the National Library of Wales Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales.
3 Adams, Susan Yvonne (2012) To what extent can Cartographic, Land and Genealogical data be combined to establish Land Ownership in England and can a Geographical Information System (GIS) tie it all together? unpublished MSc thesis, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Don’t Be Reluctant to Say “I Was Wrong”

I have met those that meet a suggestion that the information about and an ancestor’s information could be wrong with hostility, derision, or just ignoring you.  I can say, I am not one of those.
The research on Jasper Newton Wells has never stopped since I first began trying to find the Hero’s family in 1980.  It started out as a granddaughter telling her memories of her grandmother, Martha Ann Maloura Wells, and the little information she had on her grandmother’s parents.  From there I turned to the Clayton Library Center for GenealogicalResearch in Houston for more information.  Mom said they were in Alabama.  My search began with looking for Jasper Wells in Alabama 1860. I searched the Alabama AIS Census Index for him.  I could not find him.  I was beginning to doubt.   Each time I went to the Library, I went back to the index in hopes.  This went on for a couple of years.  Then one day, when I opened the index, my eyes strayed to the other page, and there he was!  His name had been entered in the index out of alphabetical order.  This was one of my first research lessons; don’t trust an index to have all the information or even the correct information.  The second lesson on the same principle was searching through a book on Henry County, Alabama, “History of Henry County I”.  Jasper’s name was not in the index, but his daughter said he served in the Civil War.  I decided to browse through the different troops they had listed from that county.  There I found Jasper listed as a private in the Irwin Invincibles, subsequently called Henry Light Infantry with at note that said they were dispersed to Georgia 25th Infantry, Co. E. 
I sent to the National Archives and Records Service requesting information on his Civil War Service. I received the information back that left me at 1862 and a big question mark.  Jasper in Nov. 1862 was at “St John’s “ sick.  
This is now found on Fold3 
Knowing that he was sick, and following the Georgia 25th Infantry Co. E, I found a Jasper Wells who died in Virginia in 1864 of Typhoid. That seemed logical, hence pencil in death in 1864 Virginia…  Then later I found Nancy in the collection “Alabama, Confederate Pension and Service Records, 1862-1947” with Jasper listed and a death date of Dec 1864.
Nancy Wells of Henry County, Alabama
Eureka! Hi Five! I was sure I had nailed it now.  It was down to finding St. John.  The Family was told of the find and I was doing the happy dance.
 Fast forward one year…  As I was doing some clean up on Jasper’s sourcing, I decided to search some more.  Lo and behold, someone had posted a picture of J N Wells’s tombstone from the Georgia 25th Company E.  Whoot! 
The person who shared on Ancestry never gave his name dwightbrooks2, this is also on FindaGrave
There it was, so pretty, but wait, it was in Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia in April 1863.  How could this be?  This must be a mistake!  I did some more digging, (I still have inquiries out), only to find out that the Henry Light Infantry was in Savannah in 1862 from where they dispersed. There was a St John’s Church in Savannah, which could be the St. John’s I was looking for.   I looked inquired of the person who had posted the picture of the tombstone where he had found it and who had taken the picture.  He said lived in the area and was looking for Wells in the Civil War area and found it.  He was researching Wells, so he had added it in his tree as an unrelated person until he could research it more.  I then turned to FindaGrave who had more information about the cemetery Laurel Grove Cemetery (North).  Sure enough the grave was listed there. 
I admit it.  I erred.  He apparently never made it out of Savannah, Georgia and was lost in the shuffle.  My only assumption is that Nancy was giving when his death was confirmed to her.  I have not quit digging on harder proof, but I am sure this is our Jasper this time.  Hopefully the vial records were not burned, since the City of Savannah has burial record of his death and burial date. 

And that is me saying, I made a mistake.  It is okay, new information is coming out all the time.  Who would have known that a random save by a non related person would have pointed me to solving the mystery of where Jasper died. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

So, What Can You Find in a Month of Travel and Research?

Man and I are back in our stick built home in SE Michigan.  We took just about one month to travel from East Tampa through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and back to Michigan.

After we cleared the Florida/Georgia state line our first stop was in Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia. We have been there before, there is a nice campground close to town and the Statesboro Regional Library has one terrific genie research room.  Many volunteers over many years have created a researchers dream in that room, resources abound!  Bless the volunteers!

I also paid several visits to Springfield, Effingham County, Georgia.  Even though Effingham is right next door to Bulloch County, in our prior visits to the area we had not driven over. We stopped at the library, the historical society and several cemeteries.

We stayed in Statesboro for a week.  Between the 2 libraries, the cemeteries and the historical society I visited, as well as a private guided tour by a cousin and some driving around, I have well over 550 images on my camera alone to play with over the summer.  I think about 300 of those images are obituaries.  I have shared those with a fellow family researcher.  She may still be downloading them from Dropbox!

One cemetery that I visited, the Mizpah United Methodist Church, is where I suspect my ancestress Mariah Grant Remley and her husband, William H. Remley are buried.  The cemetery is in Effingham County Georgia, very near the county line of Colleton County South Carolina.  If they are buried here, their gravesites are unmarked.  However, visiting the cemetery gave me a sense of closure, seeing it in person helped me understand.  A very good thing.

From Statesboro we drove north to the Atlanta area where I had the opportunity to meet two special cousins.  One I had met just days before in Statesboro, the other I met in Atlanta for the first time. Hard to beat personal meet ups with cousins. What a special day that was, the memories will last forever.

Next stop on our ride north was Chattanooga, no research, just a week to play tourist. Leaving Chattanooga we drove 2 days to Fort Wayne Indiana where we spent 4 nights, and I had the opportunity to research for 3 days at the Allen County Public Library.

Busy with that research stuff:  Lap top, iPad, books, books, fabulous books:

I cannot tell you how many wonderful hours, days, weeks, I have spent researching at the Allen County Public Library.  They are always adding new resources and I found some to have a look at this time.  I came home with 50 pages or more of printed matter and uncounted digital images made with that iPad.  I learned the maiden names of at least two of my previously known as "Bride (mnu)".

(MNU stands for maiden name unknown, it can be a controversial factor in genie data bases, many find fault with it, but, that is a discussion for another time and place. In fact, I have written about MNU before, at Reflections.)

Now, slaying the MNUs:

Below:  A book of extracted data from a early newspaper from Ontario Canada where one of Man's lines lived for 50 to 75 years.  Prior to finding this extraction I had no idea of Margaretha's maiden name.  I have not found a marriage record for them.  1868 sometimes can be problematic in Ontario.  Now, with her maiden name, I will go searching again.  I am thrilled to have a maiden name.  AND, a marriage "event" date.  Great leads for future research.

Since this one is a bit hard to read, it is a marriage between Johannes Gerth and Margaretha Dietrich on April 12, 1868.  At some point, I will see if I can locate the actual papers, maybe digital??  I can hope.

Below, another maiden name is found.  This one is the name of a Lashbrook bride's mother.  I love fleshing out the family tree and will add parents and such if I can find them.  I was more than a bit interested in this McLaughry lineage as there were some rumblings on the internet and elsewhere that this line may connect with the McLaury brothers who are buried at Tombstone Arizona in Boothill Cemetery.  Frank and Tom McLaury were "murdered" on the streets of Tombstone in 1881 during the shootout at the OK corral (involved Doc Holiday and the Earps, including Wyatt.)  I did not find proof of it during the short time I had to spend with this HUGE book, but, hey, I found a maiden name!  Can't beat that!

And, that is part of what you can find in a month of travel and research.  Special cousins, maiden names, obituaries, cemeteries that may or may not be the final resting place for your ancestors, and enough leads and research fodder for months to come.

Research on - -

*The pages I have marked with yellow highlighter and pencil are photocopies from the book. I did not write on the original.  Just sayin - -

**By the way, Calvin's surname is spelled McLaury on his mausoleum wall.  Photo from my personal collection taken during a visit to Blackwell, Kay County, Oklahoma a few years ago.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Hunting ancestors using old maps

I love old maps! Do you? They're such a good genealogy tool. They can help make sense of the census, correct wonky transcriptions and show how a great-grandparent's village became a suburb of a big city. If you're lucky, they may lead you to a place your ancestors lived.

And they can guide us in our travels into another dimension - back in time. Old maps can help put flesh on the genealogy skeleton of names and dates. They can confirm or challenge our ideas about how our ancestors lived. They can make our forefathers and mothers come to life. And for me that's one of the most fascinating parts of my genealogy journey.

I’ve used an old map before to try to make sense of the movements of one of my convict ancestors, James Thomas Richards, on the evening in 1835 when he stole a pub till and earned himself a free one-way ticket to Australia.

Hand-drawn map of Deptford. Creative Commons via
Map of Deptford, 1623, with John Evelyn's notes, late C17th
James was a Thames waterman, and lived in Grove Street, Deptford – then part of Kent, but now definitely in London. His father and he had both been born in that street, perhaps in the same house. So I thought it might be interesting to look at this small part of Deptford through maps.

Deptford is an interesting place from a worldwide perspective, too. In the Deptford dockyards ships were built and fitted up to sail to North America, Australia and many other far-off places.

It was from the wet dock in Deptford that Captain Cook set off in 1768 on board the Endeavour to ‘discover’ Australia. Convict hulks (prison ships) were moored in the Thames off Deptford. It was at Deptford that the prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry, waved goodbye to the Maria, a ship full of women convicts who she had helped. And two of Australia’s earliest convicts of African descent, Billy Blue and John Caesar, lived in Deptford before they, too, were transported to New South Wales.

Grove St, Deptford
I started my time-travelling with a map of modern London, because it’s easier to search. Of course, some streets have been re-named and others no longer exist, but I was lucky with Grove St. There it was, a longish street going almost north to south, close to the Thames. I wondered where James and his family might have lived. Had it always been this shape and length? Were there any old houses left?

A quick virtual trip via Google Street View squashed my dreams. Two Victorian pubs, a car breaker’s yard and a lot of post-war housing.

I wasn't really surprised. I hadn’t expected much to be there, thanks to the Blitz, which targeted London’s docks with great dedication . To give you some idea, have a look at this map, from the excellent Bomb Sight project. Some 650 people were killed in crowded Deptford during the Second World War, including 168 in Britain’s worst single V2 rocket attack on 25 December, 1944. Also killed that year were 13 US naval officers and ratings at an amphibious base supporting the D-Day landings. Such was the war in London’s East End.

It was time to look at old maps. My great-great grandfather, James the till-nicking waterman, was born in 1815 and convicted 20 years later. I wanted to find Grove St as it was in his lifetime.

Grove St in 1827. Website © Mark Annand
Now I'm not asking for much, am I? Only a 200-year-old map with enough detail to be able to make sense. And which reaches beyond the edges of what was then London.

Luckily, there is one. Greenwood's 1827 map, which can be seen online at the brilliant Motco and also at Bath Spa University's site.

So here it is - Grove St when my 2x great grandfather lived there. It looks very different. In fact I only recognised it because it starts at a T-junction just south of the larger dockyards.

It's much shorter, too. Only the northern part is called Grove St. To the south it's Victualling Office Row and skirts the huge warehouses where ships' stores were stocked, ready for the voyage.

Deptford in Mogg's map,
1806. Image via
What thrilled me was seeing that there are only a few houses in the 1820s Grove St, right at the top end. So my Richards ancestors will have lived in one of those. Now that's a bit better than the long snaky road in the modern map!
And there are open fields to the east side of the street. 

It's surprising to see just how much it was still in the countryside. I went to another favourite map to get a better idea of how rural Upper Deptford was. 

Mogg's Pocket Map of London was published in 1806. Here's a view of the area just before James was born. It's hard to square that country  with the overcrowded slums of 1944.

It doesn't look as if it had changed much even in the years since the 'Evelyn' map, right at the top, was drawn. Incidentally, if you'd like a proper look at that one,try here. And yes, it does look upside down.
1861. Thanks to the The East London History Society
In fact not a lot happened to the Grove St area for a while. Cross's New Plan of London, published in 1861, shows the new railway line terminating in Mr Dudman's Yard, just to the right of the street.

The dockyard closed in 1869. Sailing ships were superceded by steam, the same steam which drove the other new, fast form of transport - the train.

And with the docks no longer employing people, Deptford lost its purpose and began to slide into
poverty, and the grand shipbuilders' houses became overcrowded. There were hard times on the way.

Irritatingly, I haven't found any maps from the middle of the century which are detailed enough to show buildings apart from Cross's.

Charles Booth Online Archive
So I'll have to shift my time machine up a gear and zoom forwards to 1889 and Charles Booth's famous 'poverty maps'. The Descriptive Map of London Poverty concentrated on the East End - the poorest part of London, it was generally agreed.

Booth based his classification of Londoners' economic status on visiting each area and talking to local people as well as looking around.

This snippet of his map shows how Upper Deptford was then, with better-off streets (in red or pink) to the south-west, poverty (dark blue) in the south-east and Grove St (a muddy-looking purple) described as 'Mixed. Some comfortable, others poor.'

You'll see that Grove St is now the same length as it is today, stretching all the way from the Wet Dock down to Evelyn St, where the red shading begins. It's built up along its entire length. And there are terraces of houses where the fields had been.

I've learned a lot writing this blog post, and I've enjoyed it, too. I'd add a lot of links, but this post is long enough anyway. So I'll be coming back to old maps on my own genealogy blog, A Rebel Hand, before too long.

And I'd love to hear what old maps you like, and if they've helped you in your genealogy journeys.

Unfortunately I am unable to respond to comments at the moment. I have attempted to credit all illustrations correctly and to use only images which are out of copyright when possible. If you would like to make any amendments, please email me and I will correct them.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Is it just coincidence?

Don't we all love birthdays. Even if you no longer celebrate yours as you used to I am sure that most of us will have someone else whose birthday we celebrate . Maybe it is your children or grandchildren with whom you enjoy sharing a day of celebration.

We also celebrate other occasions such as weddings, christenings and graduations.

For us genealogists these can be dates we spend many hours trying to confirm.

However we must not forget there are many other days which can be significant in our lives and they may not always be recorded in so much detail, but may hold great memories for us.

Have you ever looked at all these dates you have collected and thought to yourself why that particular date.
So exact dates for birth and death are not usually predictable, although nowadays even these can sometimes be planned.
All those other dates however can to some degree be planned.

Every month has 28 days a few only 30 but most 31. So you would expect something of a spread of dates for events such as marriages or christenings. People tend to get married or christened at weekends. Was this true in the past?

At some time, years back, I noticed that some days in the month seemed to be more popular than others for family events.
For some reason the 26th of the month seems to be very popular for marriages. Among the ancestors and siblings we have 9 marriages on the 26th  of the month, 1 March, 2 April, 4 June, 1 July and 1 September. Three of the four sets of grandparents for my husband and I are included in this group. It was not as though they got married on a birthday, only one ancestor was born on the 26th of the month and although he also married on the 26th it was a different month.

My husband actually shares his birthday, day and month, with his great grandmother. She died after he was born so it must have been a special birthday for her that year to have her eldest son's, eldest son have his eldest son born on her birthday. What would have made it even more special that year was the fact that his younger brother had also become a father, of a baby boy, only 3 days earlier.

Elizabeth Agnes Gadsby nee Clarke

So just look at those dates as you record them.
Could they have been chosen?
Did they hold some significance for the family?

We may never know the answers but it could all be just a coincidence since before they married they were not related, or were THEY.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

What Did Your Ancestors Do? – Shepherd Family Carriers in the Braidwood District

Lynn Shepherd III Bullock Team in the Main Street of Braidwood taking boiler to Araluen

In my last post "Visiting Past Connections- a Reflection on the Influence of the Gold Rush on our Family History" I mentioned that my father’s family were involved in the carrier business in the Braidwood district. Last week, quite by coincidence,  I received a phone call from a cousin who advised me that Braidwood was celebrating their Back to Braidwood 175 Years”.  Deciding that this was too good an opportunity to miss, I made plans to return to Braidwood for the celebrations.  Seven generations of the Shepherd family have lived and worked in the Braidwood District since the late 1840’s and it was a good chance to catch up with relatives and follow up on some family tree research.

Braving a cold wet drizzly day, my sister and I set out to join the community to celebrate 175 years of the old gold mining town of Braidwood.  We had a wonderful day watching the parade which featured modes of transport through the times, even a bullock waggon hauled along by  a band of very content cattle.  During the parade there was a re-enactment of the  local bank being held up by a band of whip cracking bush rangers on horseback.  However, the display that really caught my attention was organised by (coincidentally) another distant cousin in the old Braidwood paper shop.  This display featured over 500 large photos of local families and their connection with local industry.  The Shepherd family featured strongly in this display with amazing pictures of the family members and their involvement in the carrier industry. Photos and a description of my return to Braidwood can be found in my recent post "Thankful Thursday - Back to Braidwood 175 Year Celebration".

A little back ground history on the Shepherd family.  (This is very abridged as the Shepherd Family branches now spread far and wide).  Lynn David Shepherd(I) (1795-1845) came to Australia with his wife Elizabeth Mariner and family in 1825 as a member of the Veteran Corps. When he retired from the regiment he was given an allotment of land at Bongbong.  Following Lynn Shepherd I’s death the family moved to the Araluen a gold  mining settlement in the Braidwood district. Elizabeth Shepherd remarried Richard Chappel in 1848 in Braidwood and they continued to live in the Araluen district until their death.  Initially the family were attracted by farming and mining for gold, however they soon recognised that there was an opportunity to provide carting services within the community and out to other centres such as Goulburn and Nelligen.*  
Lynn and Elizabeth's sons, followed by their grandsons worked together, helping each other in the carrying and logging business, transporting wool, gold, timber, mining equipment and stores between the various settlements, gold fields and even as far as Sydney.
The carriers played an important part in supporting and establishing the economy of the district carrying goods to the mining settlements and in later years the timber cutting industries, carrying produce such as timber, wool to the commercial hubs of Goulburn or to Nelligen for shipment to Sydney as well as the transport of mining equipment and boilers between mining centres.  This was a tough way to make a living, camping by the side of the road and travelling on substandard roads that were no more than dirt tracks.  The road over the Clyde Mountain from Braidwood down to Nelligan was particularly hazardous, with many horse teams coming to grief over the side of the mountain. 
Shepherd Brothers resting before taking their teams over the Clyde Mountain
The horse teams and bullock waggon teams were critical to the survival of the early settlers in the remote outlying areas of this area. They travelled along the tracks through all types of weather, some coming to grief as they traversed the precarious roads. One such incident is described "On the evening of October 11th, 1915, the 11 horse team of Johnny Rogers went over the precipitous side of the Clyde Mountain road, near Cabbage Tree Creek.  In the morning all except for 2 horses were found dead.  Such a tragic accident was nothing new in the history of the district, as the steep mountain ridges and flooded rivers and creeks had been a danger and a barrier since the first days of settlement."** 

They travelled through dust, snow and floods with mud up to the axle of their waggon.  One of these hazardous journey's is described in my blog about Angus Shepherd "Angus Shepherd - A story from TROVE"

Searching through TROVE  there are numerous articles that mention the exploits of the Shepherd Family  and other carriers of the district, describing their arduous journey's, pulling extremely heavy loads and providing much needed supplies for those in the outlying areas.

There are many many stories to tell about the escapades, hardships and adventures that were experiences generations of the Shepherd family in the Braidwood district. They lived in a colourful and exciting time, a time of bush rangers, gold mining and discovery.  They along with the other carriers of the district played an important and pivotal role in the settlement of the district.  

I am sure others have some interesting stories to relate about their ancestors and the industries and work they were involved.  It would be great to hear some of these tales!!!

Waggon fully laden with sSupplies at Nelligen on the Clyde River - ready to make the journey over the Clyde Mountain to Braidwood.
* The Shepherd Book, (2001) compiled by Helen Jamieson.
**Braidwood Heritage (1983) Historical Photos and text by Netta Ellis, p.46.