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Just Sayin’

In my Grandpa Leo Finlinson’s barn hung a hand written sign that read “Fear of Failure is Fatal to success” In my family, growing up,  there was a saying for every occasion. My Grandma Lydia Finlinson was especially witty. If you came into her house unhappy, she would say “don’t go into a molt” [she raised chickens].  If you were angry you could expect her to quip “go scratch your mad spot.” If you were a bit sassy with her, you were told “you need to know which side your bread is buttered on”.  Our family has actually collected pages of her sayings. The following are a few of the ones I find myself repeating to my own family.

  • A little flattery now and then makes husbands out of single men.
  • Every mother think her ducks are geese.
  • You can dance all night but you have to pay the fiddler [translation - you can stay out as late as you want, but you still have to get up early in the morning and do your chores].
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk – go milk another cow.
  • Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards.
  • If you want to kill time, why not try working it to death.
  • If you will not when you may, when you will, you may have nay.
  • Whatever be thy fate today – Remember “This too shall pass away.”
  • The longest odds in the world are those against getting even.
  • When in doubt tell the truth.
  • A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
  • A change is as good as a rest.
  • Necessity never made a good bargain.
  • He who goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing.
  • A wise man changes his mind – a fool never does.
  • Always learn to undo that which you have done amiss.
  • Two heads are better than one – even if one is a cabbage head.
  • If you want to lose a friend, loan him some money.
  • It’s a long road that doesn’t have a turn in it.
  • You can’t buy yourself rich.

When I was young and I would leave the house to go with my friends my parents would call out “Remember who you are!”  I remember leaving a dance one evening when I was at college and the same advice was shouted to me above the crowd, I knew that my 2nd cousin was watching me leave. I sometimes would love to be able to trace some of these sayings back to see how many generations they have been passed down through. I call most of these Grandma Lydia Sayings, and give her credit in hopes that my grandchildren will know they had a very wise 3g grandmother.

Penelope Stout and her Indian rescuer.

Penelope Stout and her Indian rescuer.

Penelope Stout 1st Lady of Monmouth New Jersey 1622-1732

Penelope Stout 1st Lady of Monmouth New Jersey 1622-1732

Last week at a Genealogy Conference where I was presenting, I was able to obtain a Coin that had been minted in honor of an 8th great grandmother Penelope Stout. She is a heroine and the 1st Lady of Monmouth New Jersey. The really short story:

As newlyweds, Penelope and her husband were shipwrecked, around 1640, on the New Jersey shore along with a group of Dutch settlers headed for New Amsterdam [New York]. Her husband was either ill, or injured in the wreck, and the other settlers, who believed her husband would soon die, tried to persuade Penelope to leave him, as they concerned about Indians. Penelope wouldn’t leave her husband, and so the group left the young couple near the woods, and made their way to New Amsterdam. Soon after, Indians attacked the couple, and Penelope’s husband was killed, she was scalped, and cut across her stomach so that her intestines were exposed, and she was left to die. She managed to push her intestines back into her body with her now one good arm, and then crawled to a nearby hollow log where she survived for several days by eating substances from the log [probably fungi, grubs, and dew]. Some days later two other Indians found her and one took her to his village where she was nursed back to health. After living in the village for some time, she was returned to the New Amsterdam Colony where she met and married a Sea Captain by the name of Richard Stout. Penelope missed her ‘Indian Father’ and she and Richard moved and helped settle the town of Monmouth, New Jersey.  An incident later on allowed Penelope to save her Village from Indian attack thanks to a warning from her ‘Indian Father’.  For her loyalty to her dying husband, miraculous survival, and heroism in the saving of her village the coin was minted.

That got me wondering about my less well-known grandmothers. 8 generations, for me, takes me back into the 1600’s, the time period when a majority of my ancestors came to America. Because every generation doubles your number of direct ancestors, it possible for a person to have 512 direct great grandparents in just 8 generations.–Doing the math, that makes 256 grandmothers, assuming that no one married an even distant cousin, which did happen often.

Math aside, I have located 116 grandmothers in my 8th generation. Penelope is well known because of the trials that she overcame, and her bravery; however, each of my grandmothers has a story that is important in determining who I am.

It is said that a person dies twice, once when they die and are buried, and a second time when they are forgotten. Most people fade from memory in just 3 generations. That means that your great grand children will not know much about you – unless you leave your story for them. Write down your story. You can add it to FamilySearch FamilyTree, and because you are living no one will be able to see it until you are gone. Then start moving back through your generations and find the stories. Chances are that you will have some stories already added for you. Read those stories and share them with your children and grandchildren. You are who you are because of those who came before.

My younger brother looked at his birth certificate and was surprised to find that our father’s occupation at the time of his birth, was a ‘cat skinner’. In today’s world we would expect to see my Dad being chased down the street by PETA people with pitchforks. However, at the time, ‘cat skinner’ was the term for a type of heavy equipment operator. My Dad mined uranium with  a D9 CAT [Caterpillar tread machine also made by the Caterpillar Company]. Today we still use the term ‘wildcatter ‘ to define a person as an  oil rig worker, and we know what that term means, however ‘cat skinner’ is not as well known. Part of the fun, when we locate our ancestors, is to get to know them, and that includes finding out how they made a living. There are a number of  ways to hone in on how our ancestors survived:

  • The US Census records from 1850 -1880 have non-population schedules attached which include Agricultural, and Industrial schedules. These records, for many of the states, can be accessed through Ancestry.com.
  • Most US Census records beginning in  1850 will include a persn’s occupation, or at least the occupation of males over 15. You will sometimes find occupations for women listed.
  • City Directories are the pre phone books- which were pre Google, and will often list the occupation of the people in the town or city.
  • US Vital Records –  Many birth certificates will list the occupation of the parents.
  • The UK did a much better job of collecting occupations. They listed a person’s occupation in their marriage certificates, census records, and death records.Parent’s occupations are also generally on a child’s birth and marriage  records.
  • Newspapers give wonderful clues to occupations- from the regular local news stories to the advertisements. My grandfather Norman Bliss owned a ‘Jackson Fork’, and advertised in the local paper that he would hire out to help other farmers get their hay in. He is also mentioned when he renewed his subscription to the local paper, where is states that “he has 320 acres of alfalfa and has all kinds of stock on his ranch – hogs, sheep, cows, horses and chickens”. There are enough clues for me to figure out how he made a living.
  • Wills and probate records will list an inventory of assets which can also provide clues to employment.

While many occupations can be understood as you read the word, many old terms  can be confusing. Some of the ones I had to look up are:

  • Victualler – tavern keeper
  • Hostler – stable man
  • Cooper – barrel maker
  • Ferrier – Blacksmith who shoes horses
  • Vulcan – (not what you were thinking)- it was another word for Blacksmith
  • Duffer – peddler of cheap goods
  • Collier – worked in the coal mines
  • Hooker -( again not what you were thinking) – This was a job in the early textile industry.
  • Yeoman – farmer who farmed his own land

While you can often Google the questionable occupation along with the word define, some  are more difficult to find. I have an old Black’s Law Dictionary where I look up unusual terms. If you don’t have access to something similar you might try Facebook, using the FamilySearch Research Help Page.

You can also find lists of old occupations,with a simple Google search.

 

 

To successfully track your early ancestors ‘across the pond’, you will need to know where lived in the ‘old country’. That information can often be found in immigration records,but  Ellis Island records won’t help you in this time period because they didn’t begin until 1892.

In the early days of American Colonization, existing lists of ships passengers are sporadic. It sometimes seems like your ancestor was suddenly dropped on the Convenient.  A great finding aid is a wonderful, comprehensive index that contains 5+ million individuals, and thousands of sources. Originally created by William Filby, it covers 1500-1900, is updated annually, and can be found on both Ancestry ancestry.com and World Vital Records worldvitalrecords.com. Both are subscription websites and, both can be accessed for free at most LDS Family History Centers.

This Index is called the  “U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index 1500s-1900s. To easily locate and search this list on Ancestry I like to go straight to the Card Catalog, which is  found under the search tab. I begin by typing in the word Immigration and searching. Currently this index comes up as the first entry. By going directly to the index I am searching only within that database, and my results are cleaner.

When you find an ancestor listed you may find not only their name, but also the year and place of arrival, and the source of the record. The sources include ships lists, [where they exist], compiled sources, town records, periodicals, newspapers, colony and court records, church and land records, journals and letters. These sources will often give you an ancestor’s place of origin.

My search for my 10th g grandmother Elizabeth Warren yielded 36 entries, for her each from a different source. She came in 1623 on the “Anne”, with her children. As her husband Richard came earlier on the Mayflower so I wasn’t too surprise to find records for her. A nice surprise was a 9th g grandmother Martha Holgrove, whose origins were more obscure. I found that she had several entries with sources attached. [HINT: you may need to look for women under their married name, or look for their husband and then access the sources.]

Ancestors who came after 1820 are a topic for another day. In the mean time, check out this resource. If you haven’t looked at it before you may be pleasantly surprised

Yesterday I downloaded a free story telling app called Adobe Voice. This is an ipad app that allows you to tell a short story, narrated in your own voice, with photos that you either add, or download through the application. In less than an hour I had my first short story finished. Now that I have the process down my future stories will take only a few minutes to complete. The app allows you to choose from a variety of  background music and photos which are part of the app, or add your own.  I used one of their photos, and downloaded the others from my dropbox. I then selected a background music that I was comfortable with and talked briefly about each photo. The result was a story in my own voice, to share with my children and grandchildren.

For those of you who have putting of writing your life story, your procrastination has paid off. You can now tell your life story in short easy to create videos, and in a  format that is easily shared with your family. The videos look and sound professional. A copy of the video that I created can be found at http://voice.adobe.com/v/-RuXouWnNAf.

I know I posted about research logs last fall, but I had an interesting experience last week while working on one of my lines in FamilyTree. The line was back in the 1600’s. It was the early New England line of John Ingalls, and there was conflicting information which had migrated onto his page. Children had been incorrectly added , and some of his children had been added to other Ingalls/Ingals/Ingols families. I had researched this family in the 1966, [I know that is scary to contemplate] and abstracted his will, which named his children. I  also kept a log of my research, which I was amazingly enough, able to locate. What I found was a bit of a surprise. I had logged the name of the book, call number, and page number – but neglected to indicate the Library. Since I had been in College in I did this research I went, online,  to the college library to search for the book- it wasn’t found. Maybe, I though,  I borrowed it from another library, but I couldn’t remember. I “Googled” the book  – again with no success. Apparently I copied the title incorrectly.  I  was able to document what I had abstracted, including my obviously incomplete source, but I wasn’t happy. I have gotten better keeping research logs, and sourcing as I’ve gotten more experienced.  My logs now probably have more information than they need, and I don’t have to abstract records anymore because I can keep a digital copy of what I find.

Research logs are not difficult to keep. It takes only a minute to record; the complete title of the record you found, the day you searched, the call number or url, or the name of the Library, plus the information that you found. Your goal is to be able to locate the record again. Genealogy Programs, allow you to keep your logs connected to your ancestor and let you attach a copy of what you found. I have an earlier post that goes into detail on how to keep a research log so I won’t cover it again. If you aren’t keeping logs of your research- just do it. If your logs aren’t complete – do it better.

In 2008 Google started an ambitious project in an attempt to digitize the world’s newspaper collections. In 2011 they scuttled the project. However, the digital content they have is still available, and can be searched on Google Newspaper Archive.

The Archive covers over 2,000 historic newspapers, and goes back as far as the 1700’s. Newspaper are from the US, Canada, and Europe, and consists of over 60 million pages covering 250 years

While the Archive is still there, it can be a bit tricky to search. The good news for family historians, who love newspapers ,is that the entire Newspaper Archive can be searched using the Genealogy Search Engine. This search engine can be found on the Genealogy In Time Magazine Website at genealogyintime.com, or by clicking on the following shortened link http://goo.gl/p5leIi.

In addition to the news archive, the Genealogy Search Engine has indexed around 2.7 billion records from over 1,000 websites, and it continues to grow. You can subscribe to the online magazine to receive the updates to its collection.

Both the Genealogy In Time Magazine and the Genealogy Search Engine are free.

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