Blame it on expediency and not paying attention, but I’ve misrepresented myself. Yes, I know occasionally we all do such things, but in this instance I need to clarify and correct – so as to set ‘the Record’ (pun intended) straight. It involves a statement I made for my “bio” here at Vita Brevis.
My bio states that I enjoy “helping [my] ancestors to complete their unfinished business” (certainly true) and that I “successfully petitioned the Secretary of the Army to overturn a 150 year old dishonorable Civil War discharge” (not true!). Continue reading John Henry’s honor→
Some of my ancestors are just plain pesky. We all have them, those ancestors who refuse, for seemingly no good reason other than to annoy us, to cooperate with our efforts to document them. For years I had tried to verify the parents of my maternal great-grandfather, Daniel McLeod, without any success. That he was born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1834 without any known church affiliation did nothing to help. Communications with the helpful staff at the Provincial Archives proved to me that I did not have enough information for a specific search of church birth records, so I searched all available church records, still without success. Continue reading Pesky people→
When I begin organizing a collection, I start with a quick survey to help determine what types of material are in the collection. For me, this involves listing the formats in the collection, identifying the creators (if it is a collection of family papers), and the general years of the material. I also make note of any torn/damaged records, as I prefer to know about them before I start moving things around and possibly separate the pieces or completely tearing an item that only had a small tear because it snags on something. Continue reading Arranging your family papers, part 2→
Recently, I had the opportunity to drive through the breathtaking Pennsylvania countryside to teach a group of middle schoolers about family history and genealogy at Penn State University. The kids were attending a genetics and genealogy summer camp cleverly named “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings,” where the primary goal was to stimulate interest in science by getting kids to study themselves – their DNA, their bodies, and their family histories – as scientists. Continue reading Finding your roots→
The month of January 1865 brought further deaths to Mrs. Gray’s circle, but also allowed her a welcome respite in visits to local galleries to see the latest paintings.
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 15 January 1865: …Dr. Gray has just come in (noon, Jan. 15) with news of a great public loss – the death of Mr. Edward Everett this morning. We have not heard what his illness was – but probably apoplexy. He spoke at the Savannah relief meeting this week, and has been arguing his own case against the Mystic Water Works – seemingly well as usual. We have no such orator left as he. A man of wonderful eloquence and as wonderful erudition; with a celebrity not merely local, but national, and world wide. He held among other high public offices that of Minister at the Court of St. James. Last week died in Philad[elphia] Mr. George M. Dallas who also held that office.
Thursday, 19 January 1865: …To-day (Jan 19th) was Mr. Everett’s burial-day. His death is felt a great public loss. We have no such golden mouthed orator left – no one in any way competent to fill his place. Continue reading ‘Broad, high foreheads’→
Sometimes in the course of studying family history it helps when the right sort of inspiration knocks at our door. Blog sites like Vita Brevis and different forms of social media allow ways for like minded people of similar genealogical concerns to reach out to one another. And while I would not exactly consider Findagrave.com a “social networking site,” a recent experience reminds me that the inspiration to study family history can come from many different sources.
Seven years ago, I placed virtual flowers on-line for the memorial to my great-uncle Ernest Bedford Payne (1902–1970). I find placing virtual flowers on findagrave memorials does two things: (a) it allows me to pay respect to my loved ones, and (b) allows me a trail of bread crumbs letting me know if I have previously visited a memorial I might not readily remember the next time around. I must confess I hadn’t been back to visit Uncle Ernest’s memorial in quite a while. Continue reading Flower power→
While my article about arranging your family papers in the winter edition of American Ancestors was meant to provide readers with the sense that they could preserve their collections on their own, I thought it would be helpful to go back and provide information that had to be removed from earlier drafts, beginning with defining some of the archival terms that I used.
The first word that I use is “record/s.” As genealogists, we are used to identifying a record by the purpose for which it was created, such as vital records or census records. The Society of American Archivists (SAA) lists multiple definitions of what an archival record is, but the basic definition that applies to family papers is: Continue reading Arranging your family papers→
The next new Early New England Families Study Project sketch to be uploaded will be for Roger Goodspeed of Barnstable. Roger is a first-generation immigrant who arrived in New England sometime before December 1641, when he was married in Barnstable to Alice/Allis Layton.
Roger and Alice settled and lived in Barnstable for the rest of their lives; they had twelve children. Their daughter Ruth has a cross connection to Early New England Families subject Nathaniel Bacon through Nathaniel’s second wife, Hannah Lambert/Lumbert?, who became the third wife of Ruth’s widower, John Davis! Roger and Alice’s granddaughter, Alice Goodspeed, married Benjamin Shelley, son of Robert Shelley. Continue reading Cross connections→
Each year, on the first Sunday in August, we celebrate National Sisters Day. Growing up together, we often take our sisters for granted. The older we become, the more we tend to cherish our shared experiences and the more we realize that our sisters (and the sisters in each generation) may hold the keys to learning more about our direct ancestors.
[Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 8 March 2016.]
When researching a family, one can quickly become focused on names, birthdates, and death dates. It is easy to get caught up on going as far back as possible until reaching the metaphorical brick wall, and being left with a “well, what do I do now?” mentality. Seventeenth-century immigrants can be incredibly difficult to trace and track, but learning about them in public records can help add meaning to and information about their lives. Continue reading ICYMI: Middlesex County court records→