The Year Was 1826

Thomas Jefferson.bmpThe year was 1826 and it found Thomas Jefferson in a financial crisis. The former U.S. President and his grandson, in desperation, appealed to the Virginia General Assembly to hold a lottery to dispose of property to pay off debts and provide for his old age and family. Even his beloved Monticello was to be included in the prize. Patriotic organizations from throughout the country began soliciting donations and the money raised helped put off the need for the lottery, temporarily.

On 4 July, Thomas Jefferson died, followed hours later by John Adams. Their deaths cast a shadow over the fiftieth anniversary of the country they helped to found.

The temperance movement blossomed in 1826 with the founding of the American Temperance Society. With many churches getting involved there were soon 2,220 societies in the United States
In England, the rail industry was taking off and in 1826 work began on the Manchester and Liverpool railway that included the first railway tunnel. The line was completed in 1830.

In Manitoba, Canada, a record spring flood wiped out the Red River Settlement and forced the Hudson Bay Company to relocate its operations to a site further downstream. The devastation prompted a migration of Swiss-German settlers from the area to the U.S. The extent of the flooding has been a consideration in flood prevention plans in the area to this day.

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Photo Corner

Ernest Stanley and Florence May WattContributed by Ann Davis
This is a picture of our grandparents, Ernest Stanley and Florence May Watt, who moved to Canada and married in British Columbia in 1913. They came back home to England where they had my mother, but tragically Ernest Stanley was killed in a shipyard accident in Northeast England.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

James Hughes, (1738-1823), Town Major of Montreal from 1767-1822Contributed by Terry Chapman
This is an oil painting of my 5th great-grandfather, James Hughes, (1738-1823), Town Major of Montreal from 1767-1822. He fought with General Braddock in Battle of Fort Duquesne in 1755 during the French and Indian War and was a prisoner of war in several U.S. states including Maryland.

Photo Corner: Catherine Murphy Neville and her family, Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Catherine Murphy Neville and her family, Woonsocket, Rhode IslandI received this beautiful photograph from Priscilla Scalley, but it was a bit too wide for the newsletter, so I’m posting it here. Thanks for sharing it with us Priscilla! Click on the image to enlarge it.

This is a picture of my grandmother Catherine Murphy Neville taken in 1910 in Woonsocket, R.I. She is pictured with seven of her children.( She had four more) She ran a fruit market with her husband, Michael. My father Cyril Joseph (1900-1985) is on the right.

Priscilla Scalley

If you have sent me a photograph, but haven’t yet seen it in the newsletter, I’m working on it. I have a pretty big backlog, but will try to get extras up here on the blog. Please include any information you have, as we love reading about the people in the photographs. Must be a genealogist thing!

Reader Question: To Air Dirty Laundry or Not?

I received the following from one of our readers. It’s an interesting question so I thought I’d throw it up on the blog so that you could weigh in.

I have been searching for my family history  for 36 years.  When ever I am interviewing someone there always comes a time when the person says, “Put down your pencil, this is a “family secret.”  After that all the “good stuff” comes spilling out. It usually involves some sort of scandal.  I have heard about abandoned children, peoples’ ashes being thrown in the ditch, “under-the-counter” liquor sales, a questionable death, and a whole lot of unexpected pregnancies, which are not reflected in census  records.

Many of these people are still alive, or it was their parent, brother, etc. they are talking about.  My dilemma, and I imagine some other genealogists too, is what do I do with this information?  Some of it is too sensitive to print, but I also think it needs to be saved.  Does anyone have any good ideas?  What do you do with the families “dirty laundry?”

M.Jo Werling

What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Weekly Planner: Learn About Your Ancestor’s Environment

Use the Internet, read books, or visit your local library to get to know the area in which your ancestor lived. What geographical features are in the area? Hills, mountains, streams, rivers, desert? What is the weather like? Are there long winters or no winters? How far did your ancestor have to travel to go into town? Was there a geographical hazard between your ancestor and the closest town that might have made it more convenient to do business in a town further away? How would he have traveled? By horse or perhaps by boat? Did waterways freeze over in winter? Getting to know the lay of the land will give you a better understanding of your ancestors’ lives and will add interest to your family story.

Tackling That To-Do List, by Juliana Smith

In my last column, I was working on my “to-do list” for 2008 and I’ve been energized by the goals I set. Despite some really annoying computer problems over the past couple weeks, I’ve set about accomplishing some of the tasks on my list. My diligence has been rewarded with some interesting leads and I thought I’d share some of the lessons that were driven home as I worked.

The Importance of Inventory
As you progress in your research, it’s important to go over the records you have collected for each individual in your family tree–not just the information you have. This week I was reminded that just because that death date is filled in, it doesn’t mean I have exhausted all death records. I have a copy of a cemetery burial record for my third great-grandmother, Eliza Jane Dyer. It gives her address, age, marital status, date of death, date of interment, the lot and grave numbers, cause of death and a note that she had been “removed to lot 22311 on 2 August 1876.” With it, we had much of the information on her death. But as Mom and I were going through her file, we realized that we had never gone after her death certificate. Mom was in Salt Lake City this past week, so she went after the missing record and found additional information that had not been included on the burial card. Even if you don’t expect any surprises, it’s important to go after every record you can get your hands on.

Even the Briefest of Mentions Can Grow Your Timeline
As I went through the tidbits we had collected over the years on Eliza Dyer and updated her timeline, I found clues in even the briefest mentions. For example, as I try to close in on the date she moved from New York City to Brooklyn, a newspaper clipping with a list of letters at the Brooklyn Post Office from 1846 that included only her name was helpful in placing her in Brooklyn at that time.

I was able to expand on another tidbit we had on Eliza’s daughters by putting it into context. We had photocopied pages from The History of Plymouth Church, which is now also available on Ancestry. Eliza’s daughters were included in a list of members of that church, and that bit of information added a historical element to our family history. The famous Rev. Henry Ward Beecher was pastor of the church at that time, and it was exciting to find a family link to this historic (and sometimes scandalous) parish. Since the photocopy I had was fading, I decided to get a new one from Ancestry that would be easier to read. When I found the new copy, I also found a few more details. It turned out that there were several lists of parishioners in the book: List of Members of Plymouth Church, January 6, 1867; List of former Members of Plymouth Church, who have Died or left the Church by letter or otherwise, prior to January 6, 1867; and List of Members of Plymouth Church, admitted January, 1867, to January, 1873. Since Eliza’s daughters were in the latter list, I can now pin the time they joined the church to a six-year window. Continue reading

Stories as Survivors, by D.G. Fulford

When I lived in Nevada, there was a flood that washed away entire lives. Whole houses and households were destroyed. Everyday life was drowned.

I spoke to a woman, an engineering professor at a university, who lost most of her possessions. All of her professorial files containing years of research, data, knowledge, were gone. So were her clothing, her dishes, her pictures–everything.

Her biggest heartbreak, however, was the loss of her family history. Her late mother had collected anecdotes over the years; she wrote some, while family members added others. The stories grew 250 pages, and this engineer, with her logical bent, kept her sentimental possession in a drawer in her nightstand so it would be beside her while she slept.

Her mother had died a few years before the flood; all the aunts and uncles had passed on also. Their stories were in the nightstand, though, still a family. Ancestry on paper, ever present like a light on in the hall.

The flood took the nightstand with the rest of the possessions. The rest of the possessions the engineer could live without. “The river could have my clothes,” she said.

The loss of her mother’s stories was too much to bear. She prayed.
She asked for her mother’s handwriting back.

“And the river gave it back,” she said.

More than a month after the flood, a rancher found the nightstand drawer stuck in his barbwire fence six miles downstream. And in the drawer were the stories that her mother wrote. Her mother’s handwriting, soaked and sodden, but still there.
At times we feel frustrated, trying to write family history. At times we wonder why we’re even working on the project. At those times, remember this.

Our stories can survive us. Our stories can survive anything. Our families live forever in our stories. Write them down, write them down.

D.G. Fulford is the bestselling author of the classic To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come, which she wrote with her brother, Bob Greene; Designated Daughter: The Bonus Years with Mom, written with her mother, Phyllis Greene, and Things I’d Love You to Know: A Journal for Mothers and Daughters will be published in April by Voice, an imprint of Hyperion. She is also cofounder of that helps people tell their life story.

Your Quick Tips, 21 January 2008

Save Documents to Scrapbook in Your Genealogy Software
Here’s a really useful technique for quick retrieval of your documents. In the scrapbook portion of my genealogy program, I not only enter photos, but scanned images of documents, census records saved from, obituaries, and whatever items I have. Each one then is always at my fingertips. If your photos aren’t saved in an FTM-compatible format, you may need a good photo-editing program you can use to save the picture in the correct format. I also keep all of my verbal and written correspondence notes in the Notes section of FTM, including who I received it from and when.

I have a very large hard drive, and I save all of my images in the highest level of resolution in the scrapbook. No longer do I say “Where did I put that marriage certificate or census record?” If you use the book feature of FTM, all of these images are available to you for insertion. Mind you, it takes forever to do it, but then I never have to rummage through all my files to find what I want.

Take care,
Jerry Wear Continue reading