Wednesday, March 18, 2015

1915 - Great-Uncle Jesse J. Porteous Farming in Montana

This post is a little added information that goes to my June 5, 2012 posting “We looked at noses, ears, eyes last Friday night! where I talked about cousin Sharon showing me an image picturing a few people, a horse, and small animals standing in front of what looks like a pile of grain. It looked like they were out in a vast wide open space, too. We wondered where it could have been taken. When you read the post, we did figure out they were standing on land in Montana. Sharon's picture was accompanied by a description note which was a godsend because without that note, cousin Sharon and I could never have identified the family.

“Vera is holding the horse Dean is in the saddle Florence stands by me the thing standing in front of Vera is our dog we have killed the little one that stands between Vera and the horse the other dog that stands under the horse belongs to Fred Hepp. The boy that done the shooting.”  Searching the name "Vera" in my family tree database, there was only one family with children Vera, [George] Dean, and Florence... the Jesse James Porteous family. I suspect it was great-uncle Jesse who wrote this identifier note. 

We were also given a little bonus…Sharon’s image reminded me of a long-time unidentified picture I had of a horse, children, and adults! We matched my image to Sharon’s, and even though the people posing were in a little different positions, it certainly was the same family with the addition of great-aunt Mabel. There are a two children missing from the picture... Charles Dean and Dorothy Marion. They may have been in school. We have no idea who took the picture either.

I believe great-uncle Jesse was seeking a good piece of land for farming and since he could get double the acreage at a reasonable price he went for it. According to “History of Montana” on Wikipedia: <Farming"By 1908, the open range that had sustained Native American tribes and government-subsidized cattle barons was pockmarked with small ranchers and struggling farmers. The revised Homestead Act of the early 1900s greatly affected the settlement of Montana. This act expanded the land that was provided by the Homestead Act of 1862 from 160 acres (0.65 km) to 320 acres (65-130 ha). When the latter act was signed by President William Taft, it also reduced the time necessary to prove up from five years to three years and permitted five months absence from the claim each year."

Great-uncle Jesse James Porteous and wife Mabel (Hubbard) married in 1896 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Seven children were born to them between May 1897 and July 1908. All were born in Libertyville, Illinois. Two died in infancy. Jesse was a carpenter. A few years ago, I found him in a 2006 newspaper article titled “100 years ago…” and he was a tax collector in 1906. I had no idea he had been a farmer until we identified those images.

Almost 20 years after they married, they were homesteaders in Montana near Billings. I don’t know when they first arrived in the state, but they were there in 1915. Cousin Sharon sent me a copy of Jesse's “claim” to land under the Act of Congress of May 20, 1862 for the land “south half of Section thirty-four in Township one north of Range twenty-one east of the Montana Meridian, Montana, containing three hundred twenty acres,”; President Woodrow Wilson was in office when Jesse laid claim/purchased his land dated 4 June 1915.

I haven't been able to pinpoint where exactly this piece of property is located, but they posted a birthday greetings (postcard below) in Park City which is almost 25 miles southwest of Billings. Of course, settlers would use the nearest P.O. and Park City was the one. On Google Maps, I-90 runs through Park City. The Yellowstone River runs not too far south of there either. In the late 1970s, much before I was doing research, I was on a trip to Alberta, Canada, and went through that area...if I had only known...

We know they were in Montana in 1916 because of a postcard with birthday greetings to Jesse’s father John in Area, Illinois (now Mundelein). Postmarked Park City, Montana, July 17 1916, to John Porteous, Area, Ills., R.F.D. [John is my great-grandfather and Sharon's great-great-grandfather.]

Dear Father this is to show that we remembered your birthday   But a little late, we are having hot weather now and awful dry to.   charlie has gone to the mountains to fish   been gone 9 days every thing looks good around here but some of the wheat is only half crop.   how is every body and every thing back there. J.J. Porteous (Charlie was about 17 years old at the time he went fishing in the mountains.)

Evidently they didn’t stay in Montana very many years. They can be found in the 1910 census for Libertyville, Illinois, and in 1920 census, McHenry County, Harvard Ward 1, Dist. 119. I looked for an agricultural state census for 1915, but had no luck. 

According to the Wikipedia article History of Montana For several years after 1918, droughts and hot winds destroyed the crops, bringing severe hardships and driving out all but the most determined of the settlers. Much of the land was acquired by stockmen, who have turned it back to grazing cattle.” This could be the reason we find the family back in Illinois in 1920.

Jesse and Mabel seemed to not stay in one place very many years at a time. I've searched and searched the 1940 census on Ancestry for a couple years now and finally today I found them in Pasadena, California, indexed as Jesse J. PORTESU. That is the strangest spelling of Porteous I have found in all my 20 some years of research!

In the mid 1950s both Jesse and Mabel died back in Illinois and are buried in the Lakeside Cemetery, Libertyville, Illinois. Jesse's memorial and headstone image are on Find A Grave.

If anyone can add to this story about Jesse in Montana, I would love to hear from you. Please e-mail to my address in my "ABOUT ME" profile on the right.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

1832: Smidth Family Comes to America; Great Grandmother Born At Sea

Was my great grandmother Wilhelmina (Smidth) Snyder really “born at sea” on 2 Aug 1831? That’s what I’ve been told, but I’m not sure. What do you think?

A little fact mentioned by my grandma Porteous in one of her stories – her mother was born at sea. I’ve often seen that written in relation to Wilhelmina as I researched my Lake County German family history. The most recent was in the story “St. Mary of the Annunciation Celebrates 150 Years” by Tom Wagner, written for the L.C.I.G.S. Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1, July-September, 2014, under subhead PIONEERS AND FOUNDERS on page 27. For many years I’ve wondered if she really was born at sea. This sparked a desire to settle it once and for all.

My grandmother Carrie Snyder Porteous was the daughter of Wilhelmina Smidth Snyder. Grandma grew up on the farm on the Gilmer-Volo Rd. It was the original home of her grandparents Jacob and Barbara Smidth. The farm was a couple miles west of Ivanhoe, Lake County, Illinois close to Volo. They settled in Fremont Township sometime in the mid 1840s migrating from Pennsylvania.

Great grandmother Wilhelmina (Smidth) Snyder’s 1903 obituary has supplied me with many statements and facts to research and verify.

Lake County Independent newspaper - Fremont Library “100 years ago”.
March 6, 1903 --
     The funeral of Mrs. John Snyder on Friday was very largely attended in spite of the stormy weather. The sermon was preached by the pastor of the Ivanhoe church of which was a member. Will Knigge was funeral director. [and then included the obit] Willemina Smith was born on the Atlantic Ocean, Aug. 2, 1831. Arrived at Pittsburg, Penn., when three weeks old.
     Her home was in Pennsylvania until she was thirteen years of age, when she with her parents came across the country to Illinois. They settled on a farm about three miles west of Ivanhoe. Here most of her life was spent. She was united in marriage with John Snyder at Waukegan in 1850. With the exception of one year they lived on the farm which was her early home until two and one-half years ago when they moved to Rockefeller and have since made their home with the youngest daughter, Mrs. W. D. Porteious [sic]. She united with the Ivanhoe Congregational church March 5, 1865. She was always in good standing and regular in attendance until the last few years when her ill health often prevented her from attending. The deceased was a loving christian wife and mother. She died at Rockefeller, Tuesday evening Feb. 24, 1903, aged 71 years, 6 mos, 22 days. Besides her aged husband she leaves to mourn her loss a sister, Mrs. Wm. Ehninger, of Libertyville, and five children, twenty grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. There were two children who died in early childhood. The surviving are: John S. of Ivanhoe; Chas. H. of Gages Lake; Mrs. James VanPlew, of Wheaton, Ill.; George A. and Mrs. W.D. Porteous, of Rockefeller.

My aunt Violet Porteous Chandler identified the great-great grandparents Smith who are Jacob and Barbara Smidth, and great grandparents Snyder who are Wilhelmina (Smidth) and John Snyder. Both sets of images are from the family album that was in possession of my aunt. I wish the images were better, but that is the best I have. I don’t know who in the Chandler family would have the album now. I have had no luck in tracking it down.
About 20 years ago, cousin Ruth gave me some information. She said the name of the ship was Hope. It took me a long time before I found the Brig Hope and its passenger list with my Smidth family on it. Not a lot was online back then. Since this side of the family is German, I first searched the ship under the name “Hoffnung” which means “hope.” I didn't know if it was a U.S. ship or Germany's. It wasn't German. Finally I found the information online under Brig Hope.

This is what a “brig” looks like. This image can be found on a
website for pirates call Brethren Coast <>

The Jacob Smidth family immigrated to the United States, left Rotterdam, Netherlands [ indexed the departure country as Germany.] on board the Brig Hope arriving at the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, sometime in July or August 1832. The date was indexed as July 7, 1832. This conflicted with the birth date I was given of 2 Aug 1832. The July date would have made her born on land, possibly Massachusetts soil.

Looking at the first image below, there are three passenger lists in it. The top is for the ship George Porter which arrived New Bedford on “July 7” and the middle list is ship South Carolina, arrived New Bedford on “July 11.” The last passenger list is for the Brig Hope, but the bottom of the sheet, where the arrival date should be, is cut off, thus on first look, I don't know what the entry date is. It is clear Ancestry’s indexer just took the top date as being for all three lists. The family’s arrival could have been in early August since it seems the dates run sequential.

The Smidth family [of four] is shown on the manifest as three adults and one child. Jacob is 28 and Barbara 32. Jacob is a vintner as is the fourth entry, Johan George Werner age 66. All four are from the same “Country to which they belong” which is Württemberg. [Johan George Werner I’m sure is Barbara’s father. He is shown with the family on the 1850 census.] There’s an eight-year-old child named Fredericka. I believe she is their daughter, but can’t verify as I haven’t researched in Germany yet. You would think Wilhelmina would be listed, but there is no mention of a baby or infant. Was she with them upon disembarking the ship in New Bedford?

Cousin Ruth, who has since passed away, wrote 2 Aug 1831 as the “at-sea" birthdate for g-grandmother Wilhelmina. Clearly this year is not correct since the ship arrived in 1832. If 1831 the actual date, that would mean the Brig Hope was sailing for over a year before it reached New Bedford, Mass., sometime after 11 July 1832. That is crazy. I needed to find the bottom of this passenger list to prove the arrival date.

I searched online some more for the ship, hoping the actual arrival date would be disclosed. I found a transcription on the “Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild” website for the Brig Hope which gives the date of arrival as 2 Aug 1832. [ISTGTM website]. Having that date means there really is a bottom to that image. How else would the transcriber get the arrival date?

Can I be sure of the date? The next thing I did was to find the closest place which holds the microfilm containing the full image. I googled a little more and found it to be up in Madison, Wisconsin. An easy drive, but not in this unpredictable February weather. So I asked a friend of mine who lives up there if he could get me a digital image of the complete passenger list. My family history colleague volunteers at the Wisconsin Historical Society where the film was housed. He was the right source to contact and with luck on my side, he came to my rescue by finding the full passenger list and sent me the following. The circle on the top is the Jacob Smidth family, and the bottom circle is the rest of the page which shows the actual arrival date as “New Bedford, 2 Aug 1832 signed Jno Howland Jr.” [I combined two images.]

Bottom circled New Bedford August 2 1832 – Signed Jno Howland Jr.  

If the ship arrived on 2 Aug 1832, and Wilhelmina’s birthday is 2 Aug 1832, was Wilhelmina really born “at sea?” Was she born at the dock? If she were born on board ship, why wouldn’t she be listed on the passenger list? Could Wilhelmina have been born prior to coming into port and was just not put on the list?

There’s approximately 5572 km from the Netherlands to Massachusetts. At the speed of about 20 km/h that a “brig” could travel— depending on conditions, the approximate length of time of sailing is around two weeks. Therefore, Brig Hope probably left Rotterdam about the middle of July. Therefore, Wilhelmina’s birth could have a July date! More than likely, whoever originally gave the date just picked the arrival date as Wilhelmina’s birthday. Did dates really matter that much back then? I don’t think I will ever know her exact birth date unless an unknown descendent has the family bible with an entry to share.

[additional information from New England Historic Genealogical Society's "NEHGS Ask-a Genealogist" -- 17 Feb 2015]
In addition to a transcription of the passenger list [from the ISTG], you will find that the transcriber has also included a number of notes, including a death of someone who was on the ship. There are no mentions of a birth on board the ship. If Wilhelmina was born in Württemberg, then she would at least have been listed with the mother as “and infant,” if indeed Jacob and Barbara Smidth are her parents. Additionally, in the notes by the transcriber, it does state that this was a copied list, that the signature of Jno. Howland Jr. was not a true signature. So it is possible that information did not make it from the original list.
 [This will take more time to uncover.]

Like I said earlier, I’ve seen this reference of born at sea many times. Eventually it shows up in a census? From reading Wilhelmina’s obituary, it said the family lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for 13 years prior to coming to Lake County. I’ve looked for an 1840 census for Jacob Smidth in Allegheny county where Pittsburg is situated, but there are so many heads of family by that name it is hard to pick out mine. Besides, there are only tick marks denoting members of the family which makes it even harder to determine who’s who. I found a couple families who fit closely, but had too many male children too old to be my Smidths.

The first census I found with no tick marks with a little more information was the 1850 census for the Town of  Fremont, Lake County, Illinois, enumerated on 5 Dec., with the number 148 written in hand in the upper lefthand corner

This is my Smidth family. I’m not worried about the spelling differences — Smith for Smidth; Mena for Wilhelmina, etc., genealogists expect it. The country “Germany” as we know it today was not unified until early 1870s, but that doesn’t matter either because I’m pretty sure the place of birth is the germanic state of Württemberg. What did I find interesting, Wilhelmina’s age is shown as 19. Again, age discrepancies are common, and if you do the math, nineteen years from 1850 is 1831 even though we know the ship’s arrival date is 1832 — it’s close enough. It also shows she was born in Penn. That’s interesting... Could whoever told the enumerator be mistaken about Wilhelmina’s birth place? Even though this is also common occurrence, it does cause a little confusion which hopefully will be sorted out with more research.

The Smidth family, cousin Ruth said, lived in the Pittsburg [area] for over 10 years before coming to Illinois about 1845 based on information in the obituary. That would satisfy Hannah’s birthplace as Penn. and being shown as 12 years old which puts her birth date about 1838 well after their arrival in the U.S. and before their arrival in Lake County. [Johan] George Warner, 85, is listed as farmer, born Germany. I would suspect he is Barbara’s father. Fredericka is not shown in the family unit. Did she marry prior to this census? She would have been about 26 years old in 1850. Maybe she died prior to moving to Illinois? Or since she was only eight years old in 1832, was she just traveling with the Smidths, but belonged in another family already in the U.S.?

When searching censuses on, I always check a couple images before and after the one I need just to see if there are relatives living close by.  Well, as suspected I found a Snyder couple at the bottom of the previous page with #147 written on lefthand side, and enumerated 4 Dec. Who do you suppose was at the bottom of the census page…my grandma’s parents — the newlyweds Wilhelmina and John Snyder! 

Wilhelmina enumerated twice — what gives? The enumerator is the same person on both pages, wouldn’t you think he’d notice? The “Married within the year” column wasn’t checked on either page. I know they were married by then, too.

John and Wilhelmina were married in Lake County, Illinois, 22 September 1850. This can be found online at the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900. The date on the 1850 census page is 4 Dec 1850. They are newlyweds of about two months. There is no other explanation for Wilhelmina being listed twice other than she may have been visiting her parents that next day. Probably the enumerator just didn’t pay attention even though his name was on both pages. Here on this page image, Wilhelmina (spelled Wilmina) is shown born in “Penn,” but is now shown as age 17! Don’t you just love it?

The 1860 Federal census for the Town of Fremont shows Wilhelmina (Mena) 37, again born in “Penn.” I know the names and spellings can change from document to document and we can see it here because husband John is now Jacob! Also dates and ages don’t seem to mean much seeing Mina was both 17 and 19 in 1850 and is now 37 in 1860 when she should be age 27.

The names of three children who had died young [see 1900 census later on]; this was new information for me. By now, Mina’s sister Hannah married Wilhelm Ehninger and is listed in the family above the Snyders; they are neighbors. I see a Jacob Smith above the Ehninger’s, he could be Mina’s father, but the woman listed — Ann — could that be Barbara or a new wife? I did a quick search and found an Anna Barbara. It is conceivable Barbara is now going by her first name. [Here’s another research opportunity because I haven’t found the vitals on Mina’s parents yet.] Three times great grandfather George isn’t listed with the family. Did he pass away? I have no vital information on him either.

The 1870 Federal census for Fremont shows Mina 37 [finally the right age for birthdate given earlier], but now born in Germany! My grandmother Carrie is nine months old. Wilhelmina’s mother Barbary [Barbara] is living with them so great grandfather Jacob has passed sometime after 1860 census. The Ehningers are still in the next farm over. I think John and Wilhelmina have moved to the original Smidth house, based on the position of family entries in the 1860 census. According to Wilhelmina’s obituary, she and John moved into her “earlier home” after a year of marriage. This is the house grandma Carrie grew up in. I believe it is still standing. There is another Smith family below the Ehningers, but I have no idea who they are. 

Next, the 1880 Federal census for Fremont shows Wilmina [Wilhelmina] 64, born in Germany and her parents both born Württemberg. Shouldn’t she be 47? Grandma Carrie is 11 years old and great-great grandmother Barbara is 82 and is living with daughter Anna [Hannah] Ehninger on the next farm over.

Since there is no 1890 census, the last census we find Wilhelmina on is the 1900 Federal census for Fremont Township which shows her and John, 75, with son George, 38. On this census she is entered as born “At Sea” and her birthday is shown as Aug 1832. She is shown as 67 years old [close enough], married 49 years, with eight children being born alive and five children still living. The three who died young were Jacob, Ann, and Hannah. [Here is another research opportunity.]

Well, I know Wilhelmina was born in 1832 not 1831. Other than that, I think I’m back at square one. What do you think?

NOTE: I have hardly begun researching this family. I had started many years ago, but got discouraged not knowing how to go about looking for my Germanic families' history. There is so much to learn and I am sorry I didn't continue a long time ago.
Looking at the headstone image: Wilhelmina (1832-1903) is buried alongside her husband John (1815-1908) in the Ivanhoe Cemetery [arrow on far left]. Their son George A. who died 1930 is buried in the family plot, too. The far right two arrows show where their two of the three young children Jacob and Ann who died before the 1870 census [see 1860 census image]. I have no information on their third child, daughter Hannah, yet. Looks like there is enough room for a grave between George and the child’s headstones.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Our Hunch Pays Off -- Mary Neale's Baptism Date Found!

In my last post A Surprise in a Christmas Card, my curiosity about George and Mary's family history was getting the better of me because I found Mary's baptism date and place to be in error. Since I like to be accurate, I worked through how it could be in error. This launched an email to cousin Margaret whose more direct family line includes George and Mary.

As you can guess, we were both a little distressed at this news. I didn't want to open a can of worms, but I had no choice because cousin Margaret and I like our research to be accurate. We both knew Mary's surname was Neale and not Scales as was written about in the last post. Neither one of us wants to be researching the wrong family as it can give way to building a brick wall not to think about all the wasted time spent. We both realize our research can change at any given moment, too. Then new challenges ensue which can be exhilarating to the family history researcher. Sometimes one needs that stimulation.

It's been a couple days now since I wrote that post and consulted with Margaret. The holiday festivities and excitement of a new year has past. I felt free to spend a little time looking on Lincs to the Past website's parish register of Muckton, Lincolnshire, England -- the first parish Margaret and I suspected as Mary's baptism place.

The Muckton Parish Records has 28 images starting with 1695 and ending with 1812. Knowing that Mary was 24 when she married George in 1810, that would make her baptism to be about 1786. Guessing where to start looking, I toggled to image 20 only to discover I was one image too far. I was hoping Image 19 -- Muckton Parish Records - Marriages, Burials & Baptisms (1775-1788) would yield the information I was seeking. I was right. Not only did I find Mary's baptism but along the way, I found her parents names and entries of some of her siblings!

The image shows two pages of PR entries. The first Neale I found was John son of George and Elizabeth, baptized 31 March 1776. Scanning further on down the left side and then the right, I found more sibling entries every couple years. The sixth was Mary's: Mary Daug.r of Geo: and Elizabeth Neale baptized July 17th [1785]. The date was in our range based on her age at marriage. By finding this, I felt like I had a charmed life, but I didn't do anything special, the entry was there all along just waiting for me. 

Entry for Mary Neale baptized 17 July 1785 Muckton, Lincolnshire, England.
[Screenshot from Lincs to the Past.]
The Neale siblings' entries I found on this image 19 are:
John baptized 4 Feb 1780
George baptized 4 Feb 1781
William baptized 8 Feb 1781 
Joseph buried 3 Oct 1783 
Joseph baptized 1 Jan 1784 
Mary baptized 17 July 1785 
Joseph buried 6 Apr 1787
The next image number 20 yielded three more entries:
Elizabeth baptized 10 Apr 1789
Susannah baptized 6 Mar 1791 
George baptized 9 Jun 1793
It's not unusual to "recycle" the name of a child dies and give it to the next born of the same sex as you can see by the three entries for Joseph and two for George. I couldn't find a baptism entry for the first Joseph. He may have been baptized in another parish. Nor did I find a burial for the first George. There were several areas on the images which were faded and difficult to read. 

Looking at earlier images for the same parish, I thought maybe I would find George and Elizabeth's marriage. No luck. They may have been married in another parish. Any more searching on this family history is out of range for my researching collateral lines.

All in all, there is a sense of accomplishment and closure to that little mystery of Mary's baptism place and date. Yet, this wasn't all the good news to start the new year. While looking on other pages for Neales. I stumbled across a baptism entry for a William (1762) son of Isaac and Ann VAMPLEW! That is another family I am interested -- Isaac is my 5x great grandfather on my dad's side. I had nine children listed for Isaac and wife Ann (Cuthbert), and now there is 10! Nice little bonus!

This is starting to be an interesting new year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Surprise in a Christmas Card

It's those little things that come in Christmas cards that are so precious to a family historian/genealogist. A few years ago, I received a copy of a death record which launched a new research project on my mother's side of the family. This year I received a beautiful card from England and cousin Margaret's card held a photocopy of a Settlement Examination dated 1811 for George Portas and family. This also launched an interesting search into one of my collateral lines – Margaret's family. 

George, my second cousin five times removed [2C5R] was baptized 1783 in Benniworth, Lincolnshire (A), and died 1868 in Hainton (B). Hainton isn't too far from Benniworth as you can see in the map below. Benniworth is not one of the parishes we visited this past July on our trip. I wish it were, but our next trip I will have it on our schedule for sure. Proximity of places is important when researching a family's event history.
"A" is Benniworth, "B" is Hainton, a little over 2 miles away,
and another 5 miles to "C" - Wragby which is mentioned in the Settlement.

[Image is from Google Maps, UK.]
Because George is a distant cousin on a collateral line, one which comes down from my 6x great grandparents William and Isabel (Salmon) PORTAS through their son Thomas, I am slowly adding that information to my tree program. George's family information was part of my "fill-in" fun at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City last October which has now turned into part of my "drudge work" fun since I've been home.

What is a "settlement examination?" It is a way of one parish to accept a person or family from another parish thus transferring the responsibility of taking care of that family if they needed the welfare from one parish settlement to another. According to Lincolnshire pages on GENUKI
Not all Examinations were for Poorlaw entitlement. However, on this web page we will stick to those that were for Poorlaw purposes. Some Examinations Papers still exist, but are organized by Riding or section of Lincolnshire. For example, the Kesteven Quarter Sessions Settlement Examinations from 1700 - 1847. The main towns in Kesteven are Sleaford, Bourne, Folkingham, Stamford and Grantham. Many examinants gave their age and place of birth, place and date of marriage, names of former husbands or wives, relatives and employers. The Board of Guardians for a Poor Law Union might want the local parish to "show cause" for why someone was not "settled" in the parish. 
The examination I received is one page, written in a very legible script. Even though this isn't for a direct line relative, I thought it was pretty interesting and it helped me verify the family unit I had questions on a few weeks before. (A transcription is further on in this post.)

The question I had asked of cousin Margaret was about the children. That's what started me on this little adventure. On the family card in my tree program, I have four children listed. Between Frances baptized 1810 in Muckton, Lincs, and the next child Thomas baptized 1816 in Hainton, there is a large gap where other children could possibly have been born. I have not been able to find any children to fill the gap. I thought maybe Margaret had more information. 

Maybe George and Mary lived in another parish which both Margaret and I haven't discovered yet where more children could have been born, but with Margaret's research prowess, I'm sure if there was another place, she would have found it in the last 40 years of looking.

I was also miffed by Frances being baptized in Muckton, Lincs. George and Mary (Neal) were married 25 Aug 1810 in Louth, Lincs, four months prior to the baptism of Frances. George may have been in service in Muckton where he met Mary. Muckton (A) is close to Louth (B). While looking for Frances' baptism entry I did see a few Neal surnames in the register in Louth. Or could Muckton be where Mary was from? 

"A is Muckton, "B" is Louth, a little over 5 miles away,
and another 11 miles to "C" - Benniworth.
 [Image is from Google Maps, UK.]
I was given Mary NEAL's baptism date 10 Oct 1794, Louth, but no source. I'm sure I got it from Margaret, but didn't enter any source. I turned to the Lincolnshire Archives Lincs to the Past website for some verification. If this were the date, Mary would have been about 16 years old when she gave birth to Frances. That is fairly young, but not a possibility.

The LA has been busy digitizing parish records and putting them online free for the viewing. Even though there are watermarks on the view, they don't obstruct the words written on the page. If I want to order an image, I can do so online and the image -- without watermarks -- will be sent to me by e-mail within a few days for a nominal cost in British pounds. That's a far cry from the old way of waiting several weeks for "snail" mail.

Well, I went to the Louth parish record page for 1794. There I did find that date recorded for a Mary...Mary daughter of William SCALES and Mary his wife. SCALES? Hmmm. I looked closer. Yes, it said SCALES. Could this be a mistake in the surname I was given? Could it be a mistake of the curate in the church who recorded the baptism? 
Scales was a surprise surname. It isn't NEAL. Compare the "Sc" in
 Scrivenor at the top of the image above -- they are the same. 

[Screenshot of entry on Lincs to the Past.]
Yet George & Mary's marriage record clearly states Mary NEAL. Someone is mistaken. Looking at the image below, I can see how it could be taken for Neale.
Fourth entry from the bottom is the marriage entry for George Portas & Mary Neal. 
[Screenshot of entry on Lincs to the Past.]

I contacted Margaret who was sure she had so many years ago found the right baptism date for Mary Neal, but a few days later she wrote in an e-mail that she had a copy of their marriage bond which kind of proves we need to look for Mary Neal somewhere else. (We are both up to the challenge.)

Margaret writes in a 23 Dec e-mail: "That Mary Neal is causing real problems. I know it is definitely Neal because I have the marriage bond details. George and Mary were married by Licence at St James Church Louth on 25th August 1810. They were both 24. Bt and Sp. making them both born 1786.
George Portas was buried 3rd Jan 1868 at St Mary Hainton age 87 and Mary was  buried 14th May 1849 age 64 at St Mary Hainton.
Going by these ages at death, that makes Mary born 1785. We have her bap as 25th Oct 1794. If Mary was 24 on her marriage in 1810 that makes her born 1786. George was 87 that makes him born 1781. George Portas was 55 on the 1841 Census and Mary was also 55 on the 1841 Census. so that makes her  born 1786, and George also 1786. George was bap in 1783.  I know you cannot trust dates or ages." 

In this document both Mary and George were 24 when they married. That would mean they were born about 1780s and not in the 1790s. Finding Mary's baptism record is our next task. I have a feeling her baptism is in Muckton, but then again it could be in Louth. 

Does the examination tell me anything? Could there be any clues for me to go on?
Burgh on Bain 13/1/7: Lincolnshire Archives Lincolnshire parts of Lindsey to wit: The Examination of George Portas of Burough cum Girsby [Burgh on Bain] in the said parts touching the place of his last legal settlement taken on the complaint of the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the Parish of Brough cum Girsby aforesaid that he and Mary his Wife & Frances their Daughter aged about 6 months do now inhabit there not having produced a certificate owning them to be settled elsewhere and are likely to become chargeable to the said parish before us George Lister Esquire and William Chaplin Clerk two of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the parts aforesaid this fourth Day of July 1811.
    This Examinant upon his Oath saith that he was born at Benniworth in the County of Lincoln as he has been informed and believes that he is 28 years of age or thereabouts that sometime before May day 1810 he hired himself to William Brooks of Hainton in the said parts Farmer for a year that he entered upon and duly performed the whole of the said Service in the said parish of Hainton and received the whole of his Wages accordingly that he was hired at Wragby Statue held previous to May day 1810 & after he had been in his Service a few months he intermarried with his present Wife but continued in his said Masters Service during the Whole Year in the said parish of Hainton under the Contract made at the Statute without any fresh or new hiring in consequence of his said Marriage and duly performed the Whole of his Service as aforesaid & hath not since to his knowledge done any Act to gain a Settlement elsewhere.
[not shown on front]
Taken & Sworn Before Us   George Lister    Wm Chaplin
George X Portas [his mark]
The document does reveal a few things, but nothing about Mary's baptism. 

May day 1810, George hired out with a farmer in Hainton and was with him for the whole year. He had been there a few months before he "intermarried with his present Wife" [Mary]. That 25 Aug 1810, Louth. Gives proof to the name of their daughter Frances and about when she was born. Frances was baptized 16 Dec of that year in Muckton. A good guess is that Mary was pregnant sometime around April and told George sometime around July. He made good and married her. 

The word "intermarried" according to Anne on the Lincolnshire Mail List, "It's simply just another way of saying 'married'. The word appears so often in old documents that it cannot mean anything else." I wasn't sure, so I posed the question to the "Lincs List" in order to be sure to have the meaning in the right context.

This PORTAS family of three asked permission to settle in Burgh on Bain, dated 4 Jul 1811 when daughter Frances was about six months old. Could there have been others born in Burgh? I've looked on Lincs to the Past, but that register hasn't been digitized yet for those years. So I will have to put it on my ToDo list for my next trip to Salt Lake City. I checked -- nothing; -- nothing. 

As you can see in my tree entries below, the family was in Hainton by Thomas' 1816 baptism. It is curious there are three gaps in the baptism dates. Frances to Thomas - six years; Thomas to Elizabeth - four years; Elizabeth to Sarah - six years. Were there any more children born and baptized and possibly died within those other two gaps? I haven't been able to find any to fill those gaps...yet.

There is a possibility that Muckton is where Mary was baptized. Many times the pregnant wife goes to be with her mother for the birth of her child(ren). Or was Louth Mary's home parish. Since we know her age from the marriage bond, it should be easy to check both parishes quickly.

As you can see, there is a little more work to be done on this little mystery. It is going to be interesting to see what can turn up. It is also good to be able to correct anything found to be less than accurate. As research progresses, we all have to be ready to make those changes, or to go in a different direction if it calls for it. This is what makes our research so interesting.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drudge Work After Hunting-Gathering in the Family History Library

Just some of the hundreds of images I hunt and gather as a PORTAS researcher in the
Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
One of the 500 plus images I brought home from this year's trip. On the left side, you can see one of the Post-It arrows I use to mark "John Portas & Elizabeth Baldock married Feb: 1st 1780." It is easy to spot on a page with so many names on it.
I'm not doing any fun research. I'm not finding anything new. I'm not looking for anything either. I'm doing some drudge-work research. You know what that is... I come home from my 10-day trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City with several hundred images from parish registers along with many notes to match those images and now I have to enter my findings. I'm a "hunter-gatherer" type of researcher and that means a lot of grunt work when I come home.

It has to be done. Checking all the PORTAS names I've gathered against what I already have entered in my family tree program, is a long, dull, job that only I can get satisfaction from. No one can help me. It would be nice if someone could, but would they know all the nuances and connections, or for that matter, catch a person entered into the wrong family and set him right? Would someone not connected to my extensive research of over 20 years be able to make the necessary corrections like I could? Many times as my research progresses, I have had to switch various people around to another family... it's those similar names, dates, and places that throw one off. It's easy to get mixed up, yet it is easy to correct, too. Taking the time to do the grunt work is the hard part.

I try to do a lot of the preliminary grunt work while I'm in SLC, but this year for some reason, I was afraid I hadn't put the current tree program on Dropbox, my cloud storage. For some reason the file date didn't match up with when I put it up in the cloud at the last minute before I left for SLC. Once I saw the date it didn't seem right, I didn't want to enter new information and then have to do it over again once I was home. This now has caused me extra effort and time to get everything into my main program.

Just a sample of my notebook pages with my entries of what was written on the parish
pages for baptism, marriage, burial. I also record the raw image file name for quick
referencing when I get back home to do the grunt work.
So you can see, I still use paper, but this is about all I carry when I'm go to SLC.
There might be an easier way, but I'm used to this and sometimes it is nice to have
that tried and true paper copy when I get home.
So after I enter all the information I need for a couple hundred PORTASes, I have to fix the images, catalog them, take pictures of the note pages which correspond to the images and then upload to my computer and the "cloud." Because I am doing this in between non-genealogical projects, it will take a little longer to complete, even though this last trip to Salt Lake City was one of the least productive of all. I only came home with a little over 500 images. In previous years I've exceeded that substantially. I guess I've gathered as many as I can in the parishes I have prioritized to hunt in.

I still have some of those past year's images to go through, too. I usually enter my direct lineage ancestors and their images first and leave the collaterals for later. Well, now it has caught up with me. If you remember, I connected to cousin Margaret's lineage which I am currently entering data also. What I had left for later far exceeds what I have to do now! 

Most of what I found this year is "fill-in" or to verify information I already had; some information in my program also needed sourcing because many years ago my program deleted all my sources and I'm still finding information I have no idea where it came from. This happened when I was first starting out. I think my problem is a combination of the technical glitch and of my naivety to sourcing genealogical research. In other words, I am cleaning up my act!

I receive information from so many people from all over. Can I trust their information? Most of the time yes. But, there is a saying "Trust but verify" which we should all adhere to. I verify everything I get -- eventually. I have to prioritize my information to do the direct lineage first and collaterals after that. I also like to correct as many mistakes I have made which could mean having a person in a family they don't belong in or just a plain typo.

Basically my research is a one name study. Researching this way, so many families are being put together and hopefully they will eventually connect to mine. I can follow them from parish to parish. I get a feeling of joy when a couple gets married and then I see their first child baptized. I am saddened when that first child is soon buried. I'm overwhelmed when I see a couple in the same parish baptizing 18 or more children through 20 or so years of marriage...and I wonder how that would play out with some couples nowadays with a comparable job and stay-at-home mom. How many couples can afford that many children. Life is so different now.

I have found that nothing comes to me easily if I don't work at it. Drudge work is a necessary part of working on family history. I do get rewarded in the end. Now I have to stop writing on my blog and get back to work on those entries!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

WWII German Soldiers Buried in North Cotes, Lincolnshire, England Churchyard

In July of this year, the fields of poppies were still in full bloom.
What a beautiful sight as we drove through the Lincolnshire Wolds countryside. 

With this Tuesday being Veteran's Day (Armistice Day) I thought about all the fallen soldiers, the hundred of thousands of graves around the world. I thought of the poppy as the symbol which has been worn singularly on the lapel or amassed into a wreath to be laid on a loved one's grave. I thought about the parish churches in Lincolnshire, England, with all their memorials and lists of names of their soldiers who died serving their country. How proud these people were of their soldiers. Both world wars hit England hard.

I thought of North Cotes (St. Nicholas) parish church graveyard in particular. In and earlier post, I mentioned visiting this churchyard this past July and not getting pictures of my ancestor's headstones. I'd like to forget that blunder, but it is hard to forget the unassuming site of soldiers' headstones lined up, row by row. I was struck at the time seeing a couple German soldiers' headstones mixed into the rows of the local boys who had fallen during WWII. 

These German soldiers -- the enemy -- seemed to have received the same burial rights and headstones as the others. How striking that was to me. I could only think of a common American phrase to describe this plot of graves as "equal opportunity burial." I can only wonder what the loved ones of these German soldiers felt when they learned about where their son or husband was buried and how their honor was being preserved by people they were at war with. I was moved speechless.

This site was marked off by a neatly trimmed hedge. The graves were very well kept and there were flowers planted around the headstones. Even the German soldiers' graves had flowers. 

Peaking above the front hedge are some of the roses planted by the soldiers' graves.

The hedge zig-zags marking the war graves of local soldiers and a few German soldiers.

The pictures above were taken last July. As I'm writing this, it is a week past coming home from my annual trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. During my time down on the British Isles floor cranking away at microfilm I came across the entries for many of these soldiers. It was an emotional feeling seeing all the actual burial entries. I was most moved when I saw a couple of the German soldiers' names. They were written on the pages in the same respectful fashion as the English soldiers'. They all became a little more real to me as I read through each line.

Unknown German; Ober ? No. 147/57357; buried 26 Aug 1943; age unknown 

Helmutt Kress, Sergeant German Air Force, buried 5 Oct 1940, age 22

Both sides in war lose loved ones. May they all rest in peace. Lest we forget.