historical pastimes, pastime, ancestors, ancestry, genealogy

Pastimes of our Ancestors

The following post, “A Lighter Side of History — A Timeline of Pastimes of our Ancestors,” is written by author Denise R. Larson. Ms. Larson is the acclaimed author of the recently updated and rereleased Companions of Champlain, which provides a concise historical overview of the founding of Quebec and French-Canadian culture. She has also authored other posts on this blog including the informative “Genealogy Isn’t Just Finding Dead People” about how to find “lost” relatives in your family history.

Please note that Ms. Jacobson’s book, History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors, has been recently released in e-book format and is available for purchase here

We hope you enjoy the following post by Ms. Larson below.

A Lighter Side of History — A Timeline of Pastimes of our Ancestors

Though it can be said that our ancestors did not have the economic advantages that most of us enjoy today, that doesn’t mean their lives were completely humdrum and colorless. They had their fun, too.

A new chapter in Judy Jacobson’s History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors gives hints on how average people in past centuries filled their free time with hobbies, entertainments, sports, and social gatherings. Was your great-grandfather a member of the Masons or Odd Fellows? Did your grandmother march for women’s suffrage or in favor of prohibition?

Genealogy was and still is a favorite hobby and pastime, and the recording of births, marriages, and deaths can be approached in creative ways. The pedigree charts typically used by genealogists to plot a person’s parents, grandparents, etc., is a generational timeline. A genealogist I once met diagramed his family lineage on a white window shade. He slowly unrolled it to show me generation after generation of his ancestors. Easily portable, he understandably was very proud of his ingenious family timeline. Continue reading…

history for genealogists, 19th century sports

New Book Release: History for Genealogists

The recently updated and rereleased History for Genealogists—Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors is a rare bird for genealogists: it’s one of the very few history books in print that is written for genealogists

As the subtitle to the 2016 expanded and revised edition of Judy Jacobson’s best-selling book indicates, this sought after book contains scores of historical chronologies that genealogists can access in order to place their ancestors in time and place. As Judy puts it, “Genealogy lays the foundation to understand a person or family using tangible evidence. Yet history also lays the foundation to understand why individuals and societies behave the way they do. It provides the building materials needed to understand the human condition and provide an identity, be it for an individual or a group or an institution.”

That said, we would not want readers to overlook the many valuable narrative elements contained in History for Genealogists. For example, the chapter on new arrivals to America contains a number of important tables showing 19th-century migration patterns. Similarly the new chapter on “Fashion and Leisure,” prepared by Denise Larson – who you may remember as the author behind Companions of Champlain: Founding Families of Quebec, 1608-1635or for her posts here on Maine genealogy or Canadian genealogy – discusses the 19th-century relationship between the growth of amateur sports and recreational swimming and the time constraints imposed upon workers by the industrial revolution.

One of the most fascinating chapters in the new edition is entitled “Even Harder to Find Missing Persons.”  Here Mrs. Jacobson tackles such thorny genealogical problems as finding slave ancestors, origins of the “Orphan Train” riders, record challenges created by boundary changes, and the matter of isolated societies. By “isolated societies” Jacobson is referring to groups such as the Mellungeons of Appalachian Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina; the “Cajans” of the Spanish frontier of Alabama; the Lumbees or Croatans of North Carolina; the Nanticokes of southeastern Delaware and others. Most of these groups possess mysterious origins and a number of them are mixed-race in make-up. According to Jacobson, as many as 200 multiracial groups of isolated societies could exist in the U.S., and for reasons that should be obvious, delving into the ancestry of any one of them could require the skills of a Sherlock Holmes.

So, whether you want to know when gold was discovered in Bannock City, Montana, when the first Scots Highlanders arrived in North Carolina, how to create a time line of your own or where do you turn when your ancestor lived in a “ghost town,” History for Genealogists may be the book you have been waiting for.

Image credit: Cricket, 1883 team, group photograph via the University of Pennsylvania Archives, Penn Library. Permanent link http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/archives/20050909001.

canadian genealogy, canadian census

Canadian Census Tips from Denise Larson

The following post is from author, Denise Larson, who has offered her expertise on other topics such as Maine Genealogy in two parts, as well as the recently posted piece about Canada’s upcoming anniversaries.

This year, 2016, marks the sesquarcentennial—350th anniversary—of the first official census taken in Canada. Only 163 pages long and enumerated in part by Intendant Jean Talon himself, the census of 1666 noted the name, age, and occupation of the French inhabitants of Quebec City, Montreal, and Trois Rivieres. In this post, Ms. Larson discusses the evolution of the census in Canada as well as some tips for researchers to keep in mind.

Enumeration can be more than general population

From that simple start in 1666, census taking in Canada expanded to Acadia in 1671. Canadian population censuses are either nominal, listing all members of a household, or partly nominal, listing the heads of household. Beginning in 1851, a listing of all family members became standard in Canada.

Some enumerations were very specific to a certain civil or religious group. In 1765 a census was taken of the Protestant inhabitants in the District of Montreal. A year later the merchants of Montreal were enumerated. A census taken in 1779 surveyed the Loyalists who fled the American colonies to the south, settled in the Province of Quebec, and received provisions from the British government to compensate for their losses. This type of census has proven to be very valuable to family historians who traced ancestors to early colonies but abruptly lost the trail during the turmoil of the American Revolution.

Library and Archives Canada offers a list of extant Canadian censuses on its website at http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx. The page lists the years of census returns, a finding aid, and searchable databases.

Not everything is as it appears in Canadian census records

The Library’s Finding Aid Number 300 warns of some pitfalls adherent in Canadian census returns. Users are cautioned that the source of the information written onto a census form might have been a neighbor, not a family member. Even if the information was correct, the spelling skill of the enumerator might be cause for confusion.

The native language of the person taking a census in Canada might be a factor in the correctness of the return. An enumerator whose first language was not French might record “Salway” for Saint Louis, which could have been pronounced something like “san louie” or “san-lou-eh.”

The personal creativity of an enumerator might cause misunderstandings in reading his notes if he used the abbreviation BC, meaning Bas Canada (Lower Canada) if it were misunderstood to be British Columbia and transcribed as such in an index.

The specific age of an enumerated person can sometimes be difficult to determine from a census return. Is the given age how old the person was on the actual date of enumeration (sometimes shown at the top of the page); or how old he or she would be on his or her next birthday; or is the age given as of  the “census day,” the date specified for that particular census on which all information was supposed to be based? Some censuses were started in one year but completed the next, which could throw off a calculation. Researchers should apply a grain of salt to a recorded age and look for proof positive in other sources.

Census taking is not an exact science, but the information recorded by hard working enumerators is a valuable starting point from which to launch a search for firm evidence about family names, ages, occupation, and location on a certain date — the basis used in the Canadian census of 1666 and censuses thereafter.

Image credit: 1911 Canadian Census – Archibald Campbell household, care of Howell Family Genealogy Pages.

 

 

Welsh surnames, Wales, Welsh Genealogy

Welsh Surnames – A Glimpse of “The Surnames of Wales”

Editor’s Note: The following post relates to the new edition of John and Sheila Rowlands’ The Surnames of Wales. Those interested in tracing their Welsh genealogy may find this to be a valuable resource. Researchers less familiar with the nuances of Welsh genealogy, should also consider the Rowlands’ Welsh Family History, A Guide to Research. Second Edition as a starting point, and Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry as a supplemental guide

A Glimpse of The Surnames of Wales

The revised and enlarged edition of John and Sheila Rowlands’ The Surnames of Wales seeks to dispel many of the myths which surround the subject of Welsh names. In this updated edition, evidence is taken from an exhaustive survey involving more than 270,000 surnames found in parish records throughout Wales in order to present the most complete information. The central chapters include this comprehensive survey of Welsh surnames and an all-important glossary of surnames. This is the core of the work, as it provides the origins and history of surnames from the viewpoint of family history, and also shows the distribution and incidence of surnames throughout Wales. When these genealogical implications are considered alongside the migration patterns to and from Wales, the possibilities for tracking elusive Welsh ancestors improve considerably.

To illustrate the extent of the well researched information contained in The Surnames of Wales, here are the Rowlands’ key to their Glossary of Welsh surnames, followed by a few surname descriptions taken from the Glossary itself.

Key to the Glossary of Welsh Surnames

The Glossary follows a standard pattern. First comes a short historical and linguistic paragraph about each name. An indication of the existence of earlier work on families is given in many cases. A key to these references is to be found in the list of Abbreviations, and also in the References and Select Bibliography. For the most part, the pre-1974 historic counties of Wales are referred to. Frequently included in the historical paragraph is a reference to the work of P.C. Bartrum  on personal names found in fifteenth century Welsh pedigrees (Bartrum, 1981), and also to the work of H.B. Guppy (Guppy, 1890). For an explanation of their work (and the work of others) see Chapter 6. The Welsh medieval divisions used in Bartrum’s work are quoted, and the figures are given as percentages.

Notes from Guppy are included where appropriate: i.e. where names are counted in Wales, Guppy’s figures (expressed as percentages here, to enable comparisons to be made) are shown in the Glossary; figures are also given for the English counties along the Welsh border, where they are included; for other English counties we have been more selective, indicating the figures where they seem to us to be relevant. Many names in this Glossary are totally unrepresented in Guppy’s work. The order chosen here is: North Wales, South Wales, Monmouthshire; the four border counties of Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire; other English counties. Continue reading…

Quakers

The Quak­ers – Records and Genealogy

Editor’s Note: The following article is excerpted from the Introduction to Ellen and David Berry’s book, Our Quaker Ancestors, which sets out to acquaint the researcher with the types of Quaker records that are available, the location of the records, and the proper and effective use of those records. This includes guiding the reader through the pyramidal “meeting” structure to the records of birth, marriage, death, disownment, and removal awaiting him in record repositories across the country.

Following is how to recognize towns where Quakers may have lived, an overview of the types or records Quakers have kept, and a brief introduction as to how the Quaker beliefs are intertwined with the method of record keeping. 

“The Quakers and Quaker Genealogy” by Ellen and David Berry

The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, has a rich storehouse of records kept from its beginning in the mid-1600s to the present. There are vast differences among Quaker records, and the genealogist must know which ones to use. The study of Quaker records is mechanically different from that of other religious organizations. More emphasis must be placed on historical context, because organizational history and record-keeping are closely related. Unless you are careful–and knowledgeable–you can become hopelessly lost and find yourself giving up on one of the richest sources of genealogical records you could ever hope to find.

Across the U.S. are small towns with names that have a certain rhythm or quality of sound. As you move south and west from the eastern seaboard to the Mississippi River and beyond, through Virginia and the swamplands of the Carolinas to Georgia, you will see names like Radnor, Con­cord, Salem, New Garden, Goshen, Cedar Creek, and others which combine Biblical and geographical origins. These names are a part of one of the most interesting facets of early Amer­ican history. They indicate that, at least at one time, the area was populated by The Religious Society of Friends. The Quak­ers were once an influential part of their communities. They moved from their early settlements in the original eastern colo­nies and called their new homes by familiar names, much as they had done when they arrived from England and Wales. In some of these towns, you might find a rectangular building, usu­ally stretching east to west and facing south, which might still be used as a meetinghouse. In all probability, it will have the same name as the village or town.

If you were to visit any of these meetinghouses today, you might find a record of almost every event which took place at that location from the time of its establishment. These records include information on births, marriages, and deaths, but they also note the names of residents moving to and from the area and their places of origin, as well as committee actions on a wide variety of topics, including requests to individuals to leave the meeting and the reasons for the request. In addition, there would be records of announced intentions of marriage, fol­lowed by the actual wedding record naming not only the bride and groom but all of those present, among whom may be found the parents, brothers, sisters, and perhaps other relations of the newlyweds. If the old records are not at the meetinghouse itself, it is possible to determine where they have been sent and where the original records or microfilm copies can be used by the general public. In other words, you will find a genealogist’s dream. There is an amazing number of these records in exis­tence. You only need to know where they are and how to use them. This is the focus of [our] book.

The Religious Society of Friends began in the same religious turmoil of 17th-century England that produced the Puritans. The Quakers also immigrated to America to escape severe religious persecution. Although Quakers first saw American shores during the 1650s, it was not until 1682 that large num­bers started to emigrate from the British Isles and smaller numbers from continental Europe. It was in this year that William Penn landed just south of what is now Philadelphia to exercise his proprietorship of the present states of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Because of their stubbornness or strong-mindedness (depending upon how you view it), the Quakers’ influence far exceeded their numbers. They were a study in contradictions. Although they espoused religious freedom, they required their own members to worship in a specified manner. No organiza­tion had more rules regarding removal from approved status than the Quakers. By today’s standards, these rules seem trivial and even arrogant. It now seems ironic that it was precisely this dictatorial image that the Society wanted to avoid at all costs. They were truly “plain people,” but at the same time they were shrewd merchants. Their honesty in personal and business deal­ings was renowned. Their treatment of the Indians is a classic study in how other white Americans should have conducted themselves. However, even in this area they were not com­pletely faultless. They abhorred slavery, but some families owned slaves. They were against war of any kind, but still some fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

The Quakers were a more mobile society than most religious groups that came to early America. Whether their travels through the South to the Midwest were prompted by religious fervor, the clash of political and religious beliefs (e.g. slavery), or simply the desire for land and opportunities is now a moot point. The fact is they did move in large numbers, and in doing so they left a trail of records unsurpassed by any other religious organization.

There is another side to this story. The same doctrine that required record-keeping also forbade religious rituals and any form of self-aggrandizement. In the early years even grave markers were prohibited, as were personal histories (although some histories do exist, particularly of people prominent in the movement). Therefore, it is often difficult for a genealogist to place an ancestor in the proper historical perspective. However, the voluminous records more than make up for these deficiencies. It is always safe to say that anyone interested in tracing ancestors is indeed fortunate if a connection can be made with Quakers, for it means there is a good chance that comprehensive primary records can be found.

To read more, please reference Ellen and David Berry’s book, Our Quaker Ancestors.

Image credit: The Quaker “Mary Dyer led to execution on Boston Common, 1 June 1660,” By unknown 19th century artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.