Your Quick Tips, 30 July 2007

Ladies’ Indispensable Assistant
I recently came across a book that is amusing, interesting, and informative all at the same time. Last year my wife and I arrived early at a local charity dinner theater. The hostess directed us to a waiting area with a couch and a coffee table with a few books on it. My wife picked up a small black bound book and began flipping through the pages. It took only a page or two for her to realize that this was a find. The book she picked up was a reprint of the Ladies’ Indispensable Assistant, Being a Companion for the Sister, Mother and Wife, originally published in 1852.

The section entitled “Family Physician” is a list of information, cures, and treatments for a plethora of sicknesses or maladies that might befall a family in the mid-1800s.

For example,

“Dropsy of the Head. Take considerable blood from the temples by leeches, give powerful cathartics, shave the head and apply to it ice in bladders, apply mustard to the feet and inside of the thighs, and make the diet light, mostly of barley. This is about all that can be done.”

We also have decided that flannel must be a cure-all for most ailments because it says many times to clothe the child in flannel as part of the treatment.

There is also information on “Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen,” recipes, and other important instructions.

Though we did receive a chuckle, this book is a look back at how far medicine and home health care has come (or maybe not). Either way it is an eye opener as to the thinking and ideas in the 1800s. Reprints and be found on Amazon or eBay but there are some original copies out there if you’re into collecting antiques.

Randy Bonds

Spelling of Surnames
My understanding has been that state records are supposed to be the most accurate and legitimate records to consider while doing genealogical research. However, my father was born in Cicero, Illinois, to Polish parents and was delivered by a midwife who apparently knew no Polish whatsoever. When I finally managed to track down his state birth certificate, I realized this English-speaking midwife had filled in all the information about his birth as it sounded phonetically to an English speaker! Consequently, nothing–not even the surname–was even close to accurate!

Thankfully, my grandparents were Polish and Catholic and living in what was then a Polish neighborhood. I found accurate information from my father’s baptismal records at the Catholic church where he was baptized. Those people obviously all spoke Polish and understood my grandparents (whom I never had the privilege of knowing). It was there that I learned the correct Polish spelling of our surname, and found to my surprise that my father had simplified it somewhat as an adult. In this case, the church, not state, was more accurate and of more help to me.

Christine Ceszyk (original Polish spelling: Czeszyk) Eckhardt

Rochester Democrat Chronicle Online
I enjoyed your article about the Tobins. I too have a Rochester, New York, connection. Recently, someone gave me the address for a website for some old postcards and newspapers, including the Rochester Democrat Chronicle. It has been quite helpful to me. I fortunately have many ancestors from Rochester and have found quite a few articles from the newspapers of old. I thought you might like it.

Many of my relatives were tailors and seamstresses. Several made shoes and I know of at least one who worked with hats so perhaps there may be a connection between our relatives, at least as competitors.

Ann (Haefner) Wizinsky

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