Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wood and Winsor

I always found it interesting that my great-great grandma, Lemuel Augustus Wood, and great-great grandma, Georgianna Winsor, married later in life and had only one child at a time when it seems like most families were having upwards of 10 children.

Lemuel was born 1 November 1845 in Blue Hill, Hancock County, Maine. Georgianna was born 6 February 1851 in Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

When they married on 2 September 1884 in Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Lemuel was 38 and Georgianna was 33. Lemuel was married previously around 1865, but his wife died in 1879 and they had no children. Georgianna had no prior marriages.

Since they were married in 1884, I wonder if my great-grandma, Lewis Preston Wood, came as a surprise to them on 15 February 1892. That's quite some time between marriage and child!

Lemuel and Georgianna lived in Plympton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts for the remainder of their lives, until 1925 and 1926 respectively. I love the photographs I have of them, because they look like hardworking people.

Lemuel Augustus Wood of Blue Hill MaineTheir son, my great-grandpa Lewis (sometimes spelled Louis) was also a hard worker. He had several jobs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I only had about 6 years to get to know him and I was a little scared of him, as he was quite tall, solid and imposing. But he was a sweetheart.

My grandpa Wood also had a strong work ethic. The men in this family worked with their hands, whether on farms, in factories or in construction. I admire that. It's not something you see as much on the east coast anymore, though it's prevalent out here in the Midwest, where I now live.

Georgianna Winsor of Duxbury Massachusetts
Then again, back in the 1800s and early 1900s, we didn't have an instant gratification culture. You had to work for what you wanted, and often build it or grow it yourself.

That's definitely something we've lost these days!







Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Griswold Family of Halifax, Nova Scotia

I've mentioned the loyalists in my ex-husband's family often. They fascinate me and they remain a mystery.

However, I do have loyalists in my family. Very little is known about the past or heritage of Samuel Griswell, found on the Ward Chipman Muster Roles in 1784 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. There are theories as to his ancestry and DNA links him to the Griswolds of Connecticut.

Samuel's wife was Ann or Nancy, and they had at least 2 children:

Samuel Griswold, born about 1783
Emery Alexander Griswold, born about 1785

And, of course, it is very possible they had more, but we will focus on Samuel and Emery, who married sisters.

Samuel Griswold married Mary Doane on 8 February 1811, the daughter of Nathan Doane and Abigail Perry. Samuel died 3 July 1866 in Cape Negro, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia and Mary died 26 March 1872 in Yarmouth, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. They had at least one son - Emery John Griswold - born about 1817.

My ancestor, Emery Alexander Griswold, married Hannah Doane on 22 November 1810 at St. Paul's, Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia. I do not have a death date for Emery, but Hannah died 4 March 1868 in Halifax. They had at least 11 children.

Hannah was Mary's sister and their parents, Nathan Doane and Abigail Perry, both had old Massachusetts roots. Nathan Doane came from the family that settled in Plymouth and Barnstable, while Abigail Perry came from the family that settled in Sandwich. Abigail is also a descendant of William Brewster of the Mayflower.

The grandchildren of our loyalists, Samuel and Ann/Nancy Griswell/Griswold, mostly returned to Massachusetts.

My 4th great-grandfather, George Emery Griswold (son of Emery Alexander Griswold and Hannah Doane) and his wife, Rebecca Parks, had all 14 of their children in Porter's Lake, Halifax, Nova Scotia. An illness took the lives of 7 of their 8 living children in 1861. After they had 6 more children, they settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

I wonder why George, as well as his siblings and cousins, came back to New England after his grandfather left Connecticut. Maybe life in Nova Scotia wasn't so great for the descendants of the loyalists or perhaps they wanted to "return to their roots" in New England.

Regardless of the reason for so many Griswolds to return to the U.S., it is interesting that George, his siblings and cousins did so. My third great-grandmother, Agnes Jane Griswold, married Charles Otis Bartlett and that side of my family remained firmly rooted in Plymouth County after the brief foray into Nova Scotia just a generation prior.



Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Church Record Sunday: Agnes Griswold's Baptism

As I worked my way through my family tree in the early years before so much was available online, proving births in Nova Scotia seemed daunting. However, I really needed to prove a Nova Scotia birth as part of my Mayflower Society application many years ago, so I emailed the church, let them know what I was looking for, and asked what their fee is, so I could send a letter with the appropriate amount of money.

It was easier than I feared it would be to get the baptism of Agnes Jane Griswold, born 10 November 1864 in Porter's Lake, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was baptized on 15 January 1865 at Christ Church in Dartmouth, Halifax County, Nova Scotia.


This is such a great record, because it gives me the date of birth, date of baptism, name of child, the names of her parents, where they lived, occupation of the father and the name of their sponsor.

Because many churches have historic records that are not online, writing to them or visiting them is often your best bet. So far, I've found that any churches I've reached out to are very receptive to assisting with family history requests.



Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Started You Actively Researching Your Family History?

Tonight Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings asks what started you actively researching your family tree?

For me, it was partially fascination with my mother's side of the family and partially fascination with the photograph you see on the right side of my site.

I was about 12 when I found a leather wallet full of family information and photographs, and it turned out to be the Blake family of Wrentham, Massachusetts - my paternal grandmother's mother's ancestors. That got me wondering about the stories about the people in the photo and the family trees my great-great Uncle Erwin Felton Blake had taken the time to type.

It also made me wonder about my mother's family. After all, I knew their surnames were Haley and Bartlett, but I didn't know a thing about who these people were, since she and my dad had divorced when I was only about 3 1/2 or 4-years-old, and my dad raised me.

So I started digging and asking questions, poking around at the library, not really quite sure of what I was doing at first. But as I turned 18, moved out, and got married, I persevered in my quests. I can't remember what my first genealogy software was or when I got it, but I think it was Generations in the mid-to-late 1990s.

It's interesting to see how far I've come from that leather wallet full of family documents and wondering about my mother's family, to what I know now!

By the way, I ultimately did get to reunite with the mother I hadn't seen since 1979 or so (as you can see, I'm much taller than her!). We finally met in 2008 and it was a wonderful family reunion.




Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Tidying the Genealogy Database

As genealogists, we often focus on a particular ancestor or family who is especially fascinating or on whom we have a difficult time gathering all the facts (yay, brick walls!). But sometimes our genealogy database needs a going-over to check for tidiness. This can be very difficult when you have thousands of names in it, not all of which are direct ancestors.

The problem of having only a name and no facts isn't too difficult to remedy. Maybe we were lazy that day and didn't bother learning more about a particular person before we moved on. Or maybe we decided there wouldn't be much of interest after a certain point. I know I got very lazy with certain ancestors in the 1600s, mostly in the Boston area. (Yes, bad genealogist. Bad.)

Having only a first name listed, however, is particularly vexing and that issue generally happens with female ancestors. How many people have surname-less Abigails, Elizabeths, Sarahs, and others in their file? I'm sure I'm not the only person.

I even have one lone fellow who is nothing more than a nickname to the family members who knew of him! That's right - no first name, no last name. Just, "We called him Mac. He was in the Navy." Oh dear...

So this is why at least once or twice a year, I like to comb through every name in my database. It's a tedious process, of course. But as I add facts and focus on being more conscientious when I add names in the future, it gets easier. I usually do this after I've exhausted a large amount of time and energy trying to scale brick walls. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to finally get the facts for Jane and John Doe entered properly.

Where to start? If it is someone living after 1850, I always see what I can glean from the censuses first and then delve into vital records, cemetery records, and newspapers. If they are pre-1850, that's trickier. I look at vital records, court records, and land records in that instance.

Women's maiden names aren't a total loss, even if you can't find a marriage record or death record that gives it. Look closely at census records - one of her parents or siblings might have resided with her at some point after marriage.

Also, look at her children's birth, baptismal, marriage, or death records could give their mother's maiden name. Military records, especially pension files, could also list it, since family members might have provided affidavits in support of the pension claim.

I often look at land records, as well, especially if I'm looking at a pre-1850 family. There are plenty of instances of a married woman's father as a party to land transactions with his son-in-law. Probate records can help immensely if they list the names of family members who are paid out under the estate.

Sometimes you can even learn more about the first-name-only person by simply searching for them in records by just their first name and date range. If they have a fairly uncommon first name, this technique can be surprisingly useful.

Well, I'm off to see if I can finally discover anything about Mac, and the various Abigails, Elizabeths, Sarah and others in my database!


Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan