Ft. McHenry, War of 1812

The Forgotten War of 1812, Part I

Today and tomorrow, September 13-14, 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the defense of Fort McHenry and the City of Baltimore. As most of us are taught as children, it was the defense of the fort that inspired Francis Scott Key, a Washington, D.C. attorney seeking the release of an American prisoner and watching the bombardment from shipboard, to write the poem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” that years later became our national anthem. However, beyond our national anthem, many people are hard pressed to explain anything about the War of 1812.

In an article for Slate, “Happy 200th Birthday, War of 1812! A primer on America’s most bumbling, most confusing, and most forgotten conflict” James M. Lundberg, an assistant professor of history at Lake Forest College, says it so well:

Like Avogadro’s number or the rules of subjunctive verbs, the War of 1812 is one of those things that you learned about in school and promptly forgot without major consequence.

There are plenty of reasons for this. The War of 1812 has complicated origins, a confusing course, an inconclusive outcome, and demands at least a cursory understanding of Canadian geography. Moreover, it stands as the highlight of perhaps the single most ignored period of American History—one that the great historian Richard Hofstadter described as “dreary and unproductive … an age of slack and derivative culture, of fumbling and small-minded statecraft, terrible parochial wrangling, climaxed by a ludicrous and unnecessary war.”

When Congress declared war against Great Britain on June 18, 1812, the country was divided on whether or not to even fight it. The New England states that had been most affected by the offensive British practice of “impressment” seemed the least willing to pursue military action. In order to have the manpower, states put forth their own militias, whose records are a boon to genealogical researchers. Books like Virginia Militia in the War of 1812, Kentucky Soldiers of the War of 1812, Roster of Ohio Soldiers in the War of 1812, and Muster Rolls of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 (North Carolina) each contain thousands of names often with other pertinent details like rank, dates of service and where these men served.

When it came time for these militiamen to fight, the results were mixed. Some units were filled with unruly men loath to follow orders, while other units suffered from a lack of good leadership:

No one more fully embodied the pathetic state of early American military might than General William Hull, the bloated and incompetent governor of the Michigan territory charged with the initial matter of marching into Canada. Entering present-day Ontario from Detroit at the head of an ill-trained troop of 2,000 militiamen, Hull met with little initial resistance, but his triumph ended there. Upon hearing news that the British had taken Fort Mackinac at the northern tip of Michigan, Hull panicked and pulled his men back to the American fort at Detroit. When he received a bogus document warning of a vast force of Indians on the march, Hull lost it. Barely coherent, stuffing his mouth with so much tobacco that the juice ran down his face, and crouching to avoid imaginary artillery shelling, Hull yielded Detroit without any real fire from a smaller force of British Canadians and Indians. Incursions to the east didn’t go much better that fall. The war was just a few months old, and the entire Michigan territory had fallen into British hands.

Not all of the battles went as poorly as the infamous surrender of Detroit. The Battle on the River Raisin was fought in and around Frenchtown (now Monroe), Michigan from January 18 to 23, 1812, and was one of the four principal campaigns of the War of 1812 engaged in by the Kentucky forces. Following the massacre of American forces at Frenchtown – including as many as 60 Kentucky soldiers – patriots exhorted one another with shouts of “Remember the Raisin,” which gave the new nation the “vengeance-fired impetus” to wage the remaining battles of the War of 1812. The book Remember the Raisin! is a bipartite volume containing detailed biographical and genealogical sketches of nearly 100 officers and enlisted men who served on River Raisin, and complete rosters of the Kentucky soldiers who saw action there.

Please see Part II for additional discussion on the War of 1812.

Image credit: By Dr.frog at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

1853 map of Canadian Maritime Provinces

New England and Canada’s Maritime Provinces: Differences in Record Keeping, II

Editor’s Note: This post is by Dr. Terrence M. Punch, CM FRSAI, FIGRS, CG(C), the leading authority on immigration into Canada’s Maritime Provinces. In this two-part article, Dr. Punch explains the differences in record keeping between the New England states/colonies and the neighboring Maritimes, which some future New Englanders used as a stopping-off point. Part I of this article, originally published in last week’s “Genealogy Pointers” and here on this blog, concerned the differences between New England and Maritime census and citizenship records. Persons with Scottish or Irish ancestry should refer to the linked notes following this article for more information about possible family connections in the Maritimes.

A reminder from last week: There are four potential stumbling blocks when working with Canadian Maritime records. To reiterate them briefly (points one and two are in last week’s post): 1. Canada has no federal records prior to 1867. 2. Different citizenship – British subjects going and coming until 1947. 3. Canada has a different pattern of governance. 4. Canada is affected by a lack of/incomplete records.

 

Maritime Provinces – a Different Path to Governance

 

The third point is a different path of governance. Nova Scotia was founded as a royal province. Many of the thirteen colonies had been established by corporations, such as Virginia; by proprietary grants, as were Pennsylvania or Maryland; or by religious groups such as Plymouth Bay or Rhode Island. In Nova Scotia’s case there was no lord proprietor, nor a tradition of townships which elected their own officials and largely governed their local affairs. Control was vested in a governor and council appointed by the mother country. This model continued until the attainment of responsible government in 1848.

In 1759 Nova Scotia’s mainland was divided into five original counties: Halifax, Lunenburg, Annapolis, Kings and Cumberland, but merely for administrative convenience to permit the setting up of county land registries, probate courts and the appointment of local petty officials. Until the charter of Halifax as a city in 1841 there were no self­ governing municipalities in Nova Scotia, hence there isn’t much to seek in terms of local governmental records prior to the 1840s. New Brunswick was part of Nova Scotia until 1784.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick did indeed have townships, mainly in areas settled by New Englanders in the 1760s and 70s. There survive a number of useful township books, in which at least the births and marriages of the proprietary or shareholding families were recorded, along with such information as the earmarks of cattle and the like. Some books were well kept while others were not, or have been lost. Continue reading…

fair use copyright

Fair Use Copyright Explained in Carmack’s “Guide”

When you find information in a book, article, or online source and you want to quote or paraphrase it in your genealogy, when must you cite the source? If you quote the information and cite the source, can you use as much of the information as you want? The answers to these questions fall under the copyright principle of “Fair Use.”

According to “The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook,” by Lloyd J. Jassin and Steven C. Schechter, “Fair use is a privilege. It permits authors, scholars, researchers, and educators to borrow small portions of a copyrighted work for socially productive purposes without asking permission or paying a fee.”

Sharon DeBartolo Carmack addresses these and other concerns of fair use in her book, “Carmack’s Guide to Copyright & Contracts: A Primer for Genealogists, Writers & Researchers.” With this guide in hand, you will be able to determine:

  • What are your rights to your own genealogical discoveries?
  • What can/should you do if someone has infringed on your copyright?
  • When do you need to ask someone’s permission to reprint their work?
  • What are works in the public domain and how to find them?
  • Can someone tape your lecture without your permission?

While the guidelines of fair use are applied uniformly, as Ms. Carmack demonstrates, “the devil is in the details.” Fortunately, you can learn a lot more about the nuances of fair use and other important aspects of copyright law – especially as they impinge on the genealogist – in “Carmack’s Guide.” For example, while it is generally sufficient to cite the source you use, in some cases you must actually request the permission of the copyright holder. Similarly, even though a work may be in the public domain (e.g. the papers of George Washington), if an institution or an individual owns the originals, you may need to obtain permission and/or to pay a royalty fee before you can refer to the work in your family history.

In scarcely 100 pages, the “Guide” gently informs its readers about all aspects of copyright law. Each chapter lays out a specific principle of copyright or contracts and then addresses the topic with situations specifically applicable to genealogists.

Vetted by copyright attorney Karen Kreider Gaunt, “Carmack’s Guide to Copyright and Contracts” is the first comprehensive guide of its kind written expressly for genealogists. For more information on “Carmack’s Guide” click here.

Image Credit: By Columbia Copyright Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in an archived edition of Genealogy Pointers. You can subscribe to receive this newsletter via the signup box on the sidebar of this blog.

 

Your Family Tree Explained

Your Family Tree Explained

The video, “Your Family Tree Explained” does a great job explaining the basics of family relationships, like how you are related to your great-grandmother’s siblings.

Enjoy the video by CGP Grey below:

A visit to the C.G.P. blog allows you to download a handy Cousin Calculator spreadsheet.

Following is the the script to the video cross-posted from the C.G.P. blog:

This is you, this is your family tree and this is your family tree explained.

You have parents and your parents have parents, these are your grandparents who also have parents, your great-grandparents. Keep adding parents, keep adding adding ‘greats’.

For every ‘g’ in the name there is one generation in-between you and that person.

Grand parents? One ‘g’ one generational inbetweener. Great, great, great grand parents? Four ‘g’s four inbetweeners.

Continuing with the basics you have siblings and so do your parents: these are your Aunts and Uncles.

Up the tree you may call these people your great aunts and uncles, but your grand parents’ siblings are really your grand aunts and uncles. ‘Greats’ are reserved for the levels above grand. Your great-grand parents’ siblings are your great grand aunts and uncles.

Now down the tree your siblings’ children are your nieces and nephews — collectively niblings — and you are their aunt or uncle. Their children are your grand nieces and nephews and you are their grand aunt or uncle.

We’ve gone up and we’ve gone down and now it’s time to go sideways.

When you get married, you get everyone’s favorite: in-laws! You are on the same level of the family tree as your spouse’s siblings — you’re a kind of pseudo-sibling — all the new family’s relationships to you are the same as to your spouse, but they get the in-law suffix.

It’s pretty straight forward except for one case: your spouse’s siblings are your siblings-in law. But are your siblings’s-in-law’s spouses also your siblings-in-law? It’s a little unclear.

Alright: enough with in-laws, it’s on to the reason you’re probably watching this video: cousins.

Your Aunt and Uncle’s Children are your cousins, but there are many kinds of cousins and to better understand them we need to simplify this family tree and think downward.

Here’s you, your children and your grand children. The grand children are first cousins to each other. And their children, your great grand children, are second cousins to each other, and so on.

The cousin number is the same as the ‘g’ rule: it tells you how many inbetweeners until the connection on the family tree. Fourth cousins cousins, four inbetweeners a shared great-great-great-grandparent.

According to the rule, your first cousin and you connect at your grand parent. Second cousins share a great, grandparent connection. Just match the number with the g’s and you’re all set.

Simple, huh?

Side note here: continuing this rule in reverse means siblings can technically call each other 0th cousins. Which they totally should. And you are you own negative first cousin? Weird.

All done here now, nothing more to talk about… oh right… the once-removed thing.

You may have noticed cousins are all on the same level. ‘Removed’ describes how many levels apart people are. What’s the family connection between these two? Start by taking the smaller cousin number — 1st cousins — and count the levels down — ‘once removed’.

These are first cousins, twice removed. Thrice removed.

Second cousins, once removed.

Doing all this on our simplified drawing of your decedents is a bit too easy as most family trees look more like this. The rules are still the same, 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, and the removed — but it’s a bit harder to tell quickly who exactly is your second-cousin twice removed, or your great-grand aunt… in law.

To help there is a chart you can download which will both make it much easier to figure out what grand-nibling or cousin removed you are to anyone at the next family reunion more easily and, obviously, show how cool you are.

Now we’re really done… unless you start thinking about the math of all of these family members — just how many great-great-great-great- grandparents do you have? 64?

And those great x grand parents had kids, giving you a whole lot of cousins — this chart happens to stop at 10th cousins, of which if you do may have more than 2,000? Which seems like too many, but these numbers both have big, possibly unsettling asterisks attached to them which we will talk more about in part 2: family genetics explained.

This work is reprinted as it appears on the C.G.P. Grey blog. Please visit this blog for more interesting and educational videos on a variety of topics.

Image Credit: YouTube

brainpickings.org

DNA, Genealogical Research and Privacy

Building your family tree is a painstaking process, traditionally comprised of careful historical research. Using advances in science, direct to consumer DNA testing is gaining tractions as a new genealogical tool. You, the consumer, are sent a kit to collect a sample; the company will sequence and compare your results to those within their database. The idea is to match you to your genetic relatives, enabling the discovery of missing links and the ability to close doors on cold leads.

When a company can offer a quick and easy way to discover your heritage, it’s a tempting idea. That’s not to say one shouldn’t use new technologies to discover genealogy, or that there isn’t a place for DNA testing in the new research landscape. However, just as the expanding web comes with a heightened awareness of a long and lingering digital footprint, using a DNA testing service should carry at least equal caution.

What happens when you give away your DNA for testing? Do you know where it will end up, who will see it, or how it will really be used? An Alaska class action lawsuit against Family Tree DNA claims that the company posted personal information on very public websites, in violation of state law.

According to the complaint of Michael Cole, Family Tree DNA publishes the results of its genetic tests on a publicly available website, not just their customer site, as he believed. This additional access on their own site and that of an Ancestry.com subsidiary is what Cole claims is “unbeknownst to and without the consent of its customers.”

The suit claims “Family Tree’s practice of releasing information about its consumers’ genetic makeup without their permission, carries serious and irreversible privacy risks and violates Alaska’s Genetic Privacy Act.”

As with any piece of personal information, caution and good judgment should be exercised. Read the small print to learn how your DNA will be used and shared, as well as who may have access to it.

Source, Kyla Asbury, “Alaska class action lawsuit says Family Tree DNA posted info on public websites,” May 16, 2014.

Image Credit: Brainpickings.org