Monday, September 1, 2014

The Blue Pig Post in the Blue Pig Inn

Back in 2005, Bob and I stumbled upon this little lane in the historic district of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. We were parking our car when I spotted the sign. I yelled out "BLUE PIG!" I couldn't believe my eyes or our luck. We didn't know what type a place it was until we walked down to take a picture of Bob under the sign. It was a pub and restaurant -- more luck. We knew right away this was the perfect place to have a lunch, a "pint," and write a postcard. We were in town with a Canadian friend of ours who was to catch a train to Manchester for his flight home the following day. We had time for a light lunch before parting ways.

The little winding street is Vine St. which will end at Swinegate. The Blue Pig Inn is on the corner. It is a very old building which has been considered one of four remaining Tudor buildings in Grantham.

Once in the establishment, we found a table three steps up a little beyond the pub area. Perfect spot to sit and talk and not be bothered by the pub patrons. Looking around, there were every imaginable pig items EVERYWHERE! ... on the walls, on the shelves, in glass-front corner cupboards, and down the stairs in the restrooms! Everywhere!

For this year's trip, it was the perfect place for us to meet with our Porteous friends from Aylsham, Norfolk before the four of us toured the Belton House; email doesn't accomplish all we had to catch up on. What better place to have breakfast, too! Upon entering the dining area, walking to our old spot three steps up, we were a little disappointed. There used to be so many pig items all over, but not anymore. We inquired about the emptiness of the shelves and walls. We were told the business has changed hands. The previous owners had taken most of the pigs with them as well as the furniture. Oh well, at least the food was still good and plentiful and the conversation was great.

It was a perfect place for another reason, too. Besides it being the Blue Pig Inn, Bob was carrying his "Blue Pig Post" portable post office. He wanted to write out a couple postcards using our special commemorative stamps.

Bob's Blue Pig Post portable post office along with the Blue Pig's menu. Bob writes out a postcard to our kitties back home. There is a strip of Blue Pig commemorative stamps next to his hand. As Bob and I travel, we seem to always add to a vast collection of pig things like nick-knacks –- large and small, creamers & sugar bowls, ornaments, statues, etc., but this time we came home with six menus given to us by the chef along with lovely memories of hospitality and good food.
For each of our special trips, I create a stamp to commemorate that trip. I know it sounds crazy, but it's fun and adds to Bob's non-stamp cinderella collection. I also create a Christmas stamp. These stamps are never used as postage -- that would be illegal -- Bob always uses the correct rate for US postage per postcard. There are other collectors of the "local post" or "cinderella stamp" which is defined on Wikipedia as "virtually anything resembling a postage stamp, but not issued for postal purposes by a government postal administration." One time our stamps were featured in a Local Post club's newsletter.
Our trip this year was for close to a month starting out with a week in Berlin, Germany, a week in Venice, Italy which included Bob's International Ernest Hemingway Society's conference. Then since we were flying west to go home, we decided to stop off in Lincolnshire, England for the last 10 days.
For many years, even before I met Bob, everyone called him the "Blue Pig" because when he was selling stamps in the Chicago area, his business was called the Blue Pig Stamp Co.; he even had a big plastic blue piggy bank sitting on the sales table. 

This half-timbered building sits appropriately on the corner of Swinegate and Vine St. It is 16th century in origin. According to an entry on Wikipedia for Grantham, the "Blue Pig, one of many blue pubs, is situated on Vine Street, near the Church of St. Wulfram. The building is one of probably only four remaining Tudor buildings in the town and is a survivor of the disastrous fires of the 1660s. It was first mentioned as an inn in a trade directory of 1846, when the landlord was one Richard Summersby. The property was then owned by the Manners family (giving the derivation of Blue in the name)." Some famous people may have frequented this inn during their time, e.g., Thomas Paine -- yes, our Revolutionary War times author of Common Sense; Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady"; and Sir Isaac Newton, the gravity guy -- just to name a few. I have no proof they did, but if the building was around since the 1500s ...well, it is possible.

What a wonderful find in more ways than one!

The Blue Pig Inn is a Grade II listed building. It got that status on 20 Apr 1972. It is described on the British Listed Buildings site as: "One building, shop and inn. Probably C16; 2-storey, coursed stone rubble to ground floor, exposed timber framing 1st floor, which projects on ends of joists and is gabled on front to Swinegate. Shop window to No. 8 and 2 later dormers. Pantile roof."

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Tale of Three Knives

I have three knives – old knives. I’ve known about these knives for as long as I can remember – ever since I was a little girl. Since then whenever I see one of them, I wonder who all could they have belonged to? They were my grandma’s when I was growing up, but did someone have them before her? I remember my grandma Porteous said they were brought over from England, and I think I believed that until just lately when I found them again in a drawer. They aren't in use anymore but was when I was a little girl.

They aren’t very pretty, but I’m not going to clean them up for any pictures. I’ll leave them alone because I know they are old and I don’t want to ruin the "use" marks showing on them now. They have had plenty of use over the years which could very well be over 100 years now. Grandma was married in 1895. I know no one has used them in the last 25 since I acquired them and stuck them in a drawer.


Two of the knives have names stamped on their blade. The middle knife with the horn handle is labeled Landers Frary & Clark with words Bread Knife above a triangle mark with the words TRADE MARK going up one side and down the other and inside the triangle is an arm and hand holding a forging hammer. What looks like «ĘTNA WORKS under the company name.
A little web searching revealed and article in Toaster Articles “The Saga of Landers, Frary & Clark” by Earl Lifshey. According to the article, “George Landers, age sixteen, arrived in New Britain, Connecticut in 1829 looking for a job.” He went to work for a Josiah Dewey who had a small company “making cupboard latches and other hardware.” Dewey died and the company became Landers & Smith Manufacturing Company in 1853. By 1862, this “small but prosperous company made another of the many acquisitions” when it “acquired the firm of Frary, Clark & Company, of Meriden Connecticut.” The company name changed to Landers, Frary & Clark. Over the next century into the 1960s, the company was sold to the General Electric Company’s Housewares Division. “In the 1890s the trade name ‘Universal’ was adopted” and it introduced other “revolutionary household products.” After efforts to diversify, about 1965 the company was no longer. The cost of bringing new products to the market evidently was too much and “it was all over. Landers, Frary & Clark was now another famous name that had passed into history where, with the years, its former fame would soon fade away.”

This bread knife is fairly old because its trade name showed up in 1862 and was used until 1890 when the word “Universal” was stamped along with the trade name. My knife doesn’t have this word. This knife couldn’t be one from England because the company was located in Connecticut unless it was imported. I’m sure it was shipped to the midwest and sold in the Chicago area where my ancestors had settled. Who it belonged to before my grandmother is another question. My paternal grandparents William and Carrie Porteous were married in 1895. William’s parents John and Mary Ann lived on a farm on the west side of what is now Mundelein, Illinois and both passed away in the 1920s. Neither one came to live with my grandparents when or if they gave up the farm. Therefore I don’t think any of their household possessions were given to grandma. 

It looks like grandma’s parents John and Wilhelmina Snyder could have been the owners of the knife. They sold their farm in Fremont Center area west of Ivanhoe, Illinois and moved in with William and Carrie sometime after the 1900 Federal census. Great Grandmother Wilhelmina is the likely owner of the knife. I have the wooden bowls and paddles, etc. my grandma Porteous told me were her mother’s. I concluded the knife must have been great grandmother Wilhelmina's.

The top knife in the first picture has the stamped trade name I. Wilson, Sycamore St., Sheffield, England (barely make out England). The “I” actually is a “J” for John Wilson who inherited the company. It was common to see the letter exchanged like that in England. Next to the company name and street name is a trademark of four circles with a diamond next to it. They are called peppercorns.

The handle is two pieces of wood sandwiching the blade which extends in the middle of the handle; all is held together with six rivets in a pattern like 
. . :.
In 1937 there was an ad layout of a “medallion of knives” touting “John Wilson’s World Famous ‘Peppercorn & Diamond Brand’ which cuts as keen as pepper and carries an edge like a diamond – Butchers’ & Provision Dealers’ Cutlery Made from the Finest Guaranteed Double Shear Steel - Hand-Forged. The goods have an unbroken Reputation for Quality One Hundred and Eighty-seven Years. The Oldest and Foremost Firm in the World specialising in the Manufacture of Butchers’ and Provision Dealers’ Cutlery. “Established 1750.” Read about it at British Blades.

John Wilson is listed as one of the masters of the Sheffield Cutlers Guild, 1624-1905 (reference in the “Blade’s Guide to Knives & Their Values” page 117 found on Google Books . On page 323, there is a reference to how well-known John Wilson cutler was: “In 1803, on their transcontinental trek, Lewis and Clark had brought along dozens of John Wilson knives made in Sheffield, handing them out as presents and in trade, as well as using some themselves. We do not know what patterns the knives were. Evidently, both Indians and settlers considered I.WILSON to be a premium brand. Wilson butcher knives were made until about 1970, when thousands of unused examples were dumped on the collector market. The mark ‘HUDSON BAY Co.’ on some of the later knives is spurious [fake].”My Wilson knife more than likely is some sort of a small butcher knife, but it’s hard to tell because it has been sharpened so much its original shape is lost. 
The knife is from Sheffield, West Riding, Yorkshire, England. It could have been bought in the Chicago area; many Sheffield knives were shipped and sold in the States back then as they are today. It could also have been a wedding gift to William and Carrie. William was born in Sheffield when John was working there in the mid-1860s. Sheffield steel was considered the best for knives. So it is conceivable it was just a wedding gift from someone who knew.

That third knife will always be a mystery. I'm sure it is old. The blade's patina is similar to the other two. It also looks something like what Henkels could have produced late 1800s or early 1900s. I don't think their style has changed much, but without proof it's a Henkels, it is only a knife with three rivets holding two pieces of wood and the extended part of the blade together. There is no trademark stamped on it; I’ll never know if it is a vintage Henkels or not.

So, what does this have to do with genealogy? Well, not a lot except it would if you are a family historian who is just as curious about heirlooms you had been around all your life. It's putting "flesh" on the bones of your ancestors and not just about names and dates.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Where's Kelstern Parish Church Again?

Wandering around the Lincolnshire Wolds on a beautiful day was so pleasant. That area is so beautiful with its enormous rolling hills and small hedge-lined lanes, barely big enough room for two cars to pass. Our journey to that church had a little surprise for us. 

Bob and I were looking for the Kelstern parish church where in 1716 my 5x great grandfather Joseph PORTAS was baptized. He was more than likely born in neighboring hamlet of Lambcroft, but evidently this was the closest church which served a couple neighboring villages or hamlets. I wrote about finding his baptism entry in October 2012.

St. Faith's parish church according to Richard Croft is "In an idyllic wolds setting, St. Faith's has a Perpendicular tower, and Early English font and some good windows by Sir. Ninian Comper, all lovingly cared for." [Image: © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence]

Well, we knew it is on a narrow road little a couple miles north of A631 somewhere between Ludford and South Elkington in the middle of the Lincolnshire Wolds. I had my map out and we got to the Kelstern Hall gate, but couldn't see any church. We saw a few houses, but no church. 

Kelstern is in the middle of the above map. Ludford, Lincolnshire is about 5 miles west on A631. South Elkington about 5 miles to the east along A631. To show you here the words would be so small you couldn't make them out. [Screen shot from Classic Google Maps.]

In the above screen shot starting in lower left corner, we drove past the first house -- Kelstern Hall and proceeded on but couldn't find a road or a church. We could see a few houses, but no town. We turned around and called Cousin Margaret; she'd know. She was laughing as I explained where we were. She knew exactly how we were to get to the church. [Image above is a screen shot from Classic Google Maps.]

Evidently we hadn't gone far enough; we couldn't see the road through a hedge. We came down the road on the right and made a quick right turn and then another to be on the lane which goes between the houses we saw from the upper road. The red car on the left is pointed to the lower road which will take us to the church. According to a comment on the Rod Collin's blog post (see bottom of this posting) this triangle was the "site of a gibbet. Also that the bodies of those executed were buried under what is now regarded as the village green...a triangle of grass in the middle of three roads." [Image above is a screen shot from Classic Google Maps.]

Coming to the end of the road which SURPRIZE! lead us into a pasture, we are stopped by a sign claiming "NO THOROUGHFARE  ACCESS TO CHURCH ONLY" -- so should we venture forward or not? Of course! Why did we come all this way any how? [Image is by me.]

There were sheep where we would drive. Hoping they would move, we slowly drove through following the road past the first clump of trees. On our right was Kelstern Hall a little beyond the trees. The sheep did move, but were a little perturbed we disturbed their nap time and told us about it -- BA! BA! BA!.  [Image is by me.]

Anyway we turned to our left and drove slowly up the hill to where we got a glimpse of the church through the grove of trees and bushes. There was a white rail fence surrounding the churchyard. We parked under the trees in a spot where there weren't any sheep and immediately a swarm of flies attached themselves to the car. Since he could get in and out of the car faster than I can... I sent Bob with my camera out to get a picture of the church. Thinking maybe we could drive into the churchyard if the gate was open. No. The gate was locked. I guess the best time to come is in the winter when there aren't any flies, but then the road might be impassable. [Image is by me.]

Bob managed to only get this shot of the church through the only opening he could find before the flies attached to him. Refer back to the beginning to see a better church picture. Luckily for us when he jumped back into the car no flies followed him. [Image is by Bob.]

We turned the car around and headed back to the main road. If you look closely to the light green grass in the picture below, you can see a few flies still clinging to our window. There were less and less attached as we drove on through the sheep pasture.

Leaving the church we drove back down the rutted road and could get a better shot of the manor house... Kelstern Hall built around 1860. According to a book I bought at a second hand store in Horncastle on a previous trip to Lincolnshire called "The Buildings of England - Lincolnshire" by Nikolaus Pevsner and John Harris, published by Penguin Book 1964, "Kelstern Hall is virtually all of 1860, but preserving Georgian work on the W front. The E front betrays the rebuilding of an earlier one, i.e. with two projecting gabled wings and gabled extruded angles." So there was another house before the one we can see above. I wonder what happened to it. Did it burn down? Are there parts of the old building being used -- like the foundation?  [Image is by me.]

He headed back toward what we think is the village. The original village of Kelstern, according to Rod Collins' blog post and comments, was nearer the church, but during the medieval times the "Black Plague" virtually wiped out the town, the surviving townspeople buried the village, and moved about a mile away to what we see today. [Image is by me.]

Rod Collins has a wonderful blog called "Lincolnsire thro' History, Life, Lens & Words / A Site About Everything & Nothing!"  On October 1, 2010 Rod posted about Kelstern church and village history along with a little on Kelstern Hall. It is fascinating what he wrote and if you continue down to the comments, those are equally as interesting. I encourage you to click on the blog title to go to that posting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Mid-Summer Journey Through Time...Friends, Family, and PORTAS Research

Well, it's been awhile since I last posted a story. Not because I didn't have one or many for that matter, but rather because I was on a month-long trip to Europe with my husband Bob and I decided I wouldn't do anything but take a vacation.

Early in the year, Bob made reservations for the bi-annual International Ernest Hemingway Society's conference which was being held this year in Venice, Italy. [In two years it will be in Oak Park!] The conference was the catalyst for the extended trip. Here's how it happened.

I said to Bob, as long as we are going to be in Venice, why not go to Berlin, too? He agreed right away. I tacked 10 days onto the beginning of the six-day conference. It was logical because we have German friends who live in Berlin who've been wanting us to visit them for sometime now, but we didn't have a chance before. Now we do and will.

Well? Then a little later, I added more days onto the end of the conference using this logic... as long as we were going to fly home from Venice...and would have to the direction of England...why don't we go to Lincolnshire to meet some friends and relatives along with doing a little family history research and wandering around the parishes associated with my PORTAS families? Bob was reluctant to agree, but he did eventually after much more of my "logic." Another 10 days was added to the end of the six-day conference. All tolled -- 28 days we would be gone. This includes the two days of international flying time.

It was a wonderful trip. We did a lot. We were tired by the time we got to Lincolnshire, England. We enjoyed Berlin, Munich, Venice with my daughter joining us for the week in Venice. We actually met up with her in Munich and spent a couple days there before taking the train through the alps to Venice. 

And the last leg -- Lincolnshire, England (Lincs for short). This is where my family history research continues the story. [I lied about doing nothing but vacationing.]

We had booked a self-catering apartment a couple blocks from Lincoln Cathedral. This was the first time we stayed in Lincoln. It was an old red brick house in a quiet neighborhood and convenient to the Lincolnshire Archives and the Lincolnshire Family History Society's research room, but not necessarily for wandering or visiting folks most of which would be an hour away. 

East Gate road up a block from our road Langworthgate. You can see the Cathedral's tower in the background. The houses in front are part of the church grounds. This picture was taken by me 2014 as we were walking up to a restaurant for supper.

We rented a car at Heathrow airport and off we went to Lincolnshire. A missed turn-off on the M25 delayed our arrival to the St. Clement's Old Rectory -- our home for the next eight nights. This was on a Saturday. 

The next day we took our time getting up and ready for the day. We enjoyed hearing the Cathedral's bells chiming. We needed to have breakfast; the grocery store wouldn't open until 10 a.m. Not good to go shopping on an empty stomach. I forgot if we had anything until we went shopping. I had to do a little laundry before we could go to our 6 p.m. supper at cousin Alan's in Horncastle an hour away. We had to drive on the wrong side of the road. We had to find Alan's. It was a nice first-time meeting of him and his wife Ellen. Ellen had laid out all Lincolnshire goodies. We had stuffed chine, haslet, Lincolnshire poacher cheese, Myer's Lincolnshire plum bread, and more. We drank elderflower cordial - nonalcoholic. All was successful and we were home before 11 p.m. 

On Monday Bob and I drove over to Humberston to visit cousin Margaret. We had a wonderful "English" dinner of a salmon and haddock fish pie and veggies. She baked a cherry pie and made tea. I brought her an orchid for her birthday and a book about the famous people of Oak Park, Illinois. After dinner we drove to the Old Clee parish church and the Humberston parish church. Both of them are churches associated with the PORTAS family. Margaret and I believe this is where the PORTAS family had their early beginnings, but we have yet to prove our theory.

According to The Church of England website: "This ancient building is the oldest in Grimsby. Holy Trinity and St Mary served for many centuries as the parish church for the farming village of Clee and the fishing hamlet of Clee Thorpes. The Saxon tower dates from c1050. The nave was rebuilt and the transepts added in Norman times. St Hugh, the first Bishop of Lincoln, re-dedicated the church on 5th March 1192, during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart." Rod Collins' website is another to check out for a little history of this church.

Holy Trinity & St. Mary Old Clee (Cleethorpes) parish church. 
Picture taken by me 2014.
Humberston's parish church St. Peter's was open and we went in. I like to take pictures of the baptismal font because that is usually where the action was in my family history research. It was a lovely church. According to website: "Humberston (in some early record sources Humberstone) St Peter is an Ancient Parish. The Ice Age boulder Humber Stone deposited in the village gave the first name to the village but the original spelling is now archaic and to avoid confusion with Humberstone, Leicestershire was avoided." This church is the one where my 6th great grandparents William PORTAS and Isabel SALMON were married 4 Jun 1705.

St. Peter's Humberston's parish church.
Picture taken by me 2014.

St. Peter's Humberston's parish church baptismal font.
Picture taken by me 2014.
My main research objective in Lincs was to (1) look at one page of each original parish registers for Fulstow 1587 and Wold Newton 1679; (2) look at all the PORTAS Last Will & Testaments the Archives holds which is about 23 right now. I accomplished both. One of the regular researchers and transcribers helped me with the parish registers. I had found a Henry PORTAS in Fulstow on the PR when I was in Salt Lake City at the Family History Library cranking through the film. I wasn't sure if it was a marriage or a burial. I was pretty sure it was a marriage and I wanted to know who Henry's bride was also.

Anne called up the original book and the UV light. We paged to 1587; found the entry right away. Low and behold there was the entry, but it wasn't Henry – rather it was John. I had confused the 16th century writing of the first three letters as an "H" instead of "Joh" and thought it to be an abbreviation of Henry. Well that goes to show... This confirmed it was a marriage. John's bride is Ann LILBOW. I've never heard or seen a name like that; I'll check on it this October when I go to Salt Lake City again. Marriage date was 28 May 1587. John is the church warden and the spelling of surname is PORTASS. I couldn't take a picture of what we found because I didn't have camera privileges.

This Fulstow PORTAS bunch is prolific through out a couple centuries. I have been gathering film images of their events for several years and have put many families together, but haven't connected them to me. I'm sure it won't take long as I have a few clues for a connection. That will be for a later posting.

Wold Newton parish register was called up. I only wanted to know one thing on one page in that book. Last October in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I found the marriage of my 7th great grandparents William PORTAS and Syllina "What's-Her-Name." Of all the words on that page, Syllina's maiden name was the most unreadable. I also wanted to know what some of the Latin words meant. Anne provided me with the results I wanted. Remember I wrote about Syllina "What's-Her-Name" back in the November 3 posting

This image was taken by me at Family History Library in Salt Lake City last October 2013 and used in my November 2013 blog post. I have shaded the marriage entry. It says: Wm Portas et Syllina _______ Solus nupt Nov 26 1679. Of course the pursuit of Syllina's maiden name was on. I couldn't leave it alone. (Solus = alone/single, Nupt = married)

I enlarged the image. I asked one of the LDS floor personnel for help. We checked on names being used in Wold Newton during that time. Nothing came of our efforts. Names we came up with were Colbert, Cuthbert and others similar to that. I decided to get a high resolution image from the Lincolnshire Archives. When it came, my heart was pounding for the thought of the answer. Nothing. That image wasn't any better. I made contact with one of the Lincolnshire mail listers and he said the use of a UV light might produce the results. So almost nine months later the name was revealed by UV light. BIRKET. Who would have thunk? [Image was taken by me and use in my November 2013 blog post.]

I wanted to hug Anne. BIRKET is what popped out as clear as a bell using the UV light. I wish I could have taken a picture but as I said before, I didn't have camera privileges. 

My other priority at the Archives was to look at as many PORTAS Wills as I could and I did. Most of the two days I booked at the archives, I read over 20 Last Wills & Testaments dated from the 1500s to the mid-1800s. I have written down the highlights, but didn't analyze any Will too closely. I ordered images of about 19 of them to be put on a CD and sent to me. I couldn't get all of them because of copyright laws. I should get the images in a couple weeks. Then I can go over them in more depth at my leisure from my computer.

I got home to Oak Park and settled at my main computer, with my internal clock finally ticking Chicago time after a month of Europe time, I searched and for Syllina BIRKET. Of course I came up with several spellings in the process, but each one of them had Syllina as being baptized in Ludborough, Lincs, 20 Dec 1648. That would have made her 31 when she married William PORTAS in Wold Newton 1679. To be 31 is a little old, but she may have been "in service" and didn't have a chance to marry until then. 

I also searched through Lincs To The Past website's images of the Ludborough register. There were many siblings for Syllina and her parents are named... John and Margaret. Bonus. I'll get images when I'm in Salt Lake City again.

Ludborough and Wold Newton aren't that far apart either...less than six miles according to Classic Google Maps. Because of the proximity, it is entirely possible Wold Newton is where Syllina was in service, met William, and married in that parish. They would eventually move to Tetney which isn't too far northeast of Ludborough.

The church can be see on the left side of this screen shot. To get to the church we had to walk on a public path through a horse pasture, up to a covered gate, then climb up a short ways more to the church. [Image is a screenshot from the satellite view on classic google maps.]

This is All Saints, Wold Newton parish church. It sits high on a hill overlooking the town below. When Bob and I were there, we didn't see any headstones of any PORTAS ancestors. Of course it wasn't until 2013 that I found out William Portas and Syllina Birket, my 7th great grandparents were married here. It was in 2012 when I connected my family with this family through the baptism I found for my 5th great grandfather Joseph. If it wasn't for that find, the Wold Newton PORTASes still would only be Margaret's. My 8th great grandfather Thomas was buried her 19 Dec 1679.

This picture was taken by me in 2005.

Ludborough's parish church St. Mary. 

This picture was taken by me in 2005.
I have only begun my search on the BIRKET family and must now decide how deep I want to go. When I'm in Salt Lake City again this October, I will certainly pay closer attention to the Ludborough and Wold Newton film again. I already have them on my "To-Do" list!

There is so much to tell about our trip and all we did, but it would be like those proverbial "home movies" everyone likes to show. I won't do that to you. I may do stories in capsule form periodically in future posts.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rainy day brings back memories

It started raining this afternoon first as a drizzle. As the afternoon progressed, the rain increased to a steady heavier drizzle. It was nice. Our lawns and flowers will benefit.

It's dreary rainy days like these I think back to when I was a little girl. Even though my brother and I would rather be playing outside, we didn't mind being called in when it rained. Mom would grab the deck of Bicycle cards that were on the window sill in the ready for the next rain. She took the table cloth off grandma's wooden kitchen table. We knew then the fun would began as mom, John, and I would play Go Fish, War, or Rummy with her sitting at the end of the table. 

I usually sat with my back to the open window that looks out onto the back yard and the end of the driveway. I didn't get wet sitting at the window because there was no wind to push the drops through the screen; most of the time, our storms weren't really heavy or severe like we are accustomed to today. There was always a cool fresh air coming through the opening. Sometimes I could smell freshly cut grass, or the scent of lilacs wafting through the window.

Birds would be chirping from an old tree near the house. The distinct song of a robin sounded loud and clear. Mom would say he's calling for rain. As the rain fell, we kept track of the amount of water filling the puddle's spot at the end of the driveway. Our future fun that day would increase as the puddle expanded with the rain fall. Later as the rain came to an end, the robin would chirp again, loud and clear. It was a little different song maybe he was saying - the rain is over. When the robin gave the all clear, we knew it was safe to go out and run through the mud puddles!

During those card days mom taught us how to shuffle the deck or the best thing – fan the cards into a twirling stack. We weren't very good at either because our hands were too small, especially mine. Did you ever play 52 Pickup? I usually was the one picking up! 

As we grew older, we did become somewhat proficient at shuffling and dealing, and the card games changed; we graduated to Michigan Rummy with the board and all the rules. Never did learn them properly. I learned how to count my cards for my score, too, but mom would do the math for the scorekeeping. We also played "Authors." I became interested in some of the books those authors wrote and read a couple of them later on. I never liked Bridge and couldn't concentrate well enough to continue playing. I liked Canasta, but had a hard time holding on to all those hands were still small. 

Pinochle was my game. It was a fast game; I also liked to move the pegs on the board. Sometimes dad would join in if he was home. Or mom's sister Florence would play, too, if she were visiting at the time of our rainy-day card games. Aunt Florence was a serious player and probably the best player I knew (at the time). Mom was good, too, but I never achieved mom's level. Who cared, we had fun on those rainy days. 

Poker or Blackjack upset me; I could never pick the right cards to discard or to play. I never figured it out and still don't 60 some years later! Why would anyone want to get hit? I always laughed at the sound of Royal Flush, too, never thinking about cards at that point. Why would anyone call something that?

There was a lot of laughing during our card game. I was too small to sit properly at the table and so often I would almost have to climb onto the table to take my turn. My arms and tummy ached from hanging onto the table as I placed a card on the discard pile in the middle of the table. A couple times I remember slipping off the table bumping my chin much to the amusement of my brother. 

All in all, it was fun just playing. I won my share of those games and never got mad if I lost – a little disappointed maybe, never mad. My dad always said, it isn't the winning that counts most, it's playing the game by the rules and to my best to my ability. I still go by that in so many ways as an adult.

I kind of miss those days. Today I was sitting at my kitchen table having a cup of coffee as the rain started. Our back door was open and the rain was pitter-patting on our porch. A wisp of wind brought that familiar smell of newly cut grass and flowering bushes again wafting over the table like it did so many years ago in mom's kitchen. Funny, I heard a robin chirping outside in the neighbor's tree...I thought of mom and those rainy days long gone...he was calling for rain.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Revisiting: A 1770 Marshchapel Last Will & Testament for Thomas Porcas - Grazier

I've been "revisiting" my research of Portas families in the parish of Marshchapel, Lincolnshire (Lincs), England both online at Lincs to the Past as well as any data accumulated from my many trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. All this revisiting has been enlightening and worth the time I spend in what seems to be my retirement occupation -- sidetracking!

Of course, when I hit a brick wall or have a question, I contact cousin Margaret. It sure is nice to sort things out with someone. Margaret lives in Lincolnshire and is a storehouse of Portas family knowledge...a genealogical treasure. Everyone should have a cousin Margaret. Between the two of us, we have connected quite a few families, solved many mysteries and in the process my knowledge of Lincolnshire has increased. 

Sometime after 1749 when their last child was baptized, the Joseph Portas family moved from Wyham cum Cadeby to Marshchapel, less than 10 miles east. Joseph and Elizabeth Portas are my 5x great grandparents. They are my focus interest, but in pursuit of them, I found other Portas families living in Marshchapel, too. Some of them go as far back as the 1600s maybe even the 1500s. This sparked my curiosity to know if they were connected to my family thus driving me to look for more Portas families. Hopefully, I'll be able to connect to most of the ones I've gathered.

A = Wyham cum Cadeby and B = Marshchapel. The Mouth of the Humber and North Sea are just slightly north and east of Marshchapel. The land between the ocean and B is mostly marshes -- hence the place name. (Screen shot from classic Google maps.) 
Currently Margaret and I are working on a Thomas Porcas (Portas). There are two Thomases in Marshchapel -- a father (the elder) and his son. I don't know much about either, so I have many questions. Who better to ask than Margaret who has been researching Lincolnshire Portas families for 40 years or more? We have had a lively online email conversation in the past couple weeks.

My latest "revisit" is a 1770 Last Will & Testament for a Thomas Porcas - Grazier. You would think this would be a perfect document to get needed information about the testator and his family. There is a question though -- which Thomas does it belong? 

I don't think it belongs to the elder Thomas because as far as I know, he and wife Ann (Darwin) didn't have more than three children and there are five mentioned in the Will. Both Margaret and I agree the testator is their son Thomas who, by the way, also married an Anne. 

Thomas the elder and his wife Ann are both estimated to being born about 1673, based on their marriage of 1693 and the 20-year generation rule. They had three known children: Charles est. b. 1700, and Thomas est. b. 1702 both baptized in North Somercotes; William est. b. 1705 bap. Holton le Clay. Thomas and his family legally settled in Marshchapel 1701, but it is entirely possible Ann went back to North Somercotes to give birth to second son Thomas. It is also entirely possible they had moved on from Marshchapel to Holton le Clay and gave birth to William there. Or I've got the wrong family...that is also possible, but cherish the thought!

Son Thomas and Anne (Bennitt) had eight to ten children. I believe these children belong to this Thomas and Anne: AnneThomasElizabethWilliam, Mary, John, Hannah, and David. [I had another Ann entered, but she is questionable and has been ruled out of the equation upon further research.]

Being able to study then dissect a LW&T helps to sort out the family. Clues come from the list of the heirs and whose named as the executor(s). Was the testator rich or not? There is also a chance of realizing flaws in previous entries to our tree database, or even giving proof to some of those entries. Besides that, it tends to lengthen the to-do list!

So how much information can I glean from it? A little more than you would think.
Will 29 March 1770
Will of Thomas PORCAS Marsh Chapell 1770

This is the Last Will & Testament of me Thomas Porcas of Marshchapel in the County of Lincoln Grazier I Give & Bequeath unto my Son Thomas Ten pounds, to my Son David Five pounds, to my Son William six pounds, to my Daughter Elizabeth Holt Two pounds to my Daughter Hannah Marshal [sic] Four pounds All which above mentioned Legacys to be due and payable two years after my Decease. I Also Give & Bequeath unto my Grandaughter Ann Holt Four pounds to be paid her when she attains her Age of Twenty one years. I also Give unto James Stanaland Two Ginnys [Guineas] / in his charge of a Debt due to him from my son in law William Holt to be paid at two months after my Decease All the rest of my Effects, Goods and Chattels whatever after payment of my Debts Legacys and Funeral Expenses I Give & Bequeath unto my Son in Law Jeremiah Johnson whom I make and appoint Sole Executor of this my Wish and hereby -- revoking & making void all former or other will & wills by me at any time heretofore made I do declare this only to be my last Will & Testament In Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand & Seal this Twenty ninth day of March in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred & Seventy

Signed & Sealed & published & declared by the Testator Thomas Porcas as & for his last Will & Testament in the presence of us who subscribed our names as witnesses thereto at his request & in his presence 
Thomas Porcas X his marke
E Elberger    Thomas Chapman

   Thomas was a grazier [definition: a person who rears or fattens cattle or sheep for market.]: He had a little money saved up. He had "Effects, Goods and Chattels" of which he bequeathed after "payment of my Debts Legacys and Funeral Expenses." This LW&T hadn't been proved yet either. So there are the Administration or other papers to find which might give more information. There is a possible codicil, but in this case the Will was signed the end of March 1770 and Thomas was buried 11 April 1770. If there was time for a codicil it probably would have been attached to this Will. As explained to me, it isn't unusual for a Will to be made out shortly before death. Are there any old Wills not destroyed floating around somewhere?

No wife is mentioned: This leads us to believe Anne has died. I found an entry in the parish register for an Ann Porcas buried on 3 Jun 1763. Could this be Thomas' wife? Usually the burial entry would have said: Ann wife of Thomas Porcas buried...but it didn't. I think I can pretty sure it is her since I didn't find anymore Anne Porcas burials prior to 1770 date of the Will.

Sons: Thomas, David, and William are mentioned, but not John, which means John may have died or he fell out of favor with his father. That is a burial record to look for. I didn't know about a son Thomas so his baptism need to be found along with David's. Originally I had seven children and now it's up to nine. Interesting enough is the disbursement pounds to these three sons: Thomas gets 10 pounds; David gets 5; William gets 6.

Daughters: Elizabeth and Hannah are mentioned, but not Ann. She married Jeremiah Johnson. A death/burial record for Anne needs to be found. I don't think she fell out of favor since her husband is named in the Will as the sole executor. The disbursement of pounds is also a little interesting: Elizabeth gets 2; Hannah gets 4. Could it be Hannah isn't married yet and her father felt she should get a little more inheritance?

Granddaughter: Ann Holt is mentioned. We know she isn't 21 yet because of the statement "to be paid her when she attains her Age of Twenty one years." I haven't found her baptism information yet -- her mother Elizabeth married William Holt 1762 in North Willingham which is a possibility of birth date and place to look. No other children to this couple have been found so far.

Son in law: William Holt owes money and his debt will be paid after the death of his father in law as Thomas directed. I have no idea who James Stanaland is or the relationship he has with the Portas family other than holding a debt. [Years later, in another parish, there is a Staniland who married into another Portas relation to this one.]

Son in law: Jeremiah Johnson must have been a favorite person of Thomas since he was named the executor and was bequeathed "All the rest of my Effects, Goods and Chattels." Quite a haul, maybe. Why would he be the one to receive the rest? Was Anne still alive and just not mentioned? Her sister Elizabeth was mentioned. Have some more searching to do.

Witnesses: I have no idea who E. Elberger and Thomas Chapman are or if they are connected in anyway to the family. It could be they were just the associates in the law office. When Bob and I made out our Wills, two of the office people came in and signed as witnesses. So it does happen.

At least now by looking closely at the Will, I know what I have to find in the records. It gives me a clearer picture of this family. What direction would I be able to go in researching any connection to the Thomas Portas family? Which Thomas?

St. Mary's church in Marshchapel.
This image was photographed by Paul Fenwick and
can be found on Lincolnshire Church Photographs maintained by
Wendy Parkinson. She has over 500 images of Lincs churches.
Marshchapel is a small parish town tucked in the marshes (Poacher County) of northeast Lincolnshire. According to the Genuki web page for Marshchapel "The parish lies near the North Sea, just west of North Somercoates and southeast of Tetney, about 10 miles north of Louth and 10 miles southeast of Grimsby. The parish covers over 3,100 acres. West End is a hamlet in the parish, as is Eskham or East Holme. A place called Fire Beacon was near the Louth Navigation Canal." You can read about Marshchapel at the Genuki website or just google it. 

Most of the parishes in northeast Lincolnshire have been residences to Portas families at one time or another for hundreds of years. I call it the "hot bed" for Portas families. I am hunting and gathering these families. 

The next time I'm in Lincolnshire, I will be paying more attention to this area. I am anxious to get pictures of more churches and baptismal fonts. I want to roam the Portas hot bed country to get to know my ancestral lands. I am also anxious to visit cousin Margaret and talk to her without a computer keyboard at the end of my fingers.

Lincolnshire is circled in red, and the area where
my Portas families have been found is the gold shaded area.
All areas as approximate.
Looking east to the North Sea and the marshes from the road just above what is left of Wyham cum Cadeby parish. Wyham is just a church, manor house, and rectory. It is on the eastern edge of the Wolds (Chalk hills). Marshchapel is somewhere out there maybe where you see those trees in the distance. The North Sea is about 15 miles away. Below are oil tankers coming and going from the Mouth of the Humber. The tides coming in from the sea are swift and dangerous. There are warning signs posted along the shore.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Aunt Annette Buschick Stapleton

My aunt Lydia's great granddaughter who lives in California said she would go to some cemeteries to take pictures of headstones to share with me. She contacted me one day and asked why there was a wife "Eva" on the Find A Grave memorial for uncle Cluese Stapleton and not our aunt Annette? That got me to wondering also. I knew my aunt married Cluese, but I didn't know if she was his second wife or not. I went searching and FamilySearch for answers. I came across a family tree and contacted the owner. Turns out the owner is a descendant on the Stapleton side. She told me Eva Groover was older than Cluese and they were married in 1905, but it lasted only for a short time. Eva is buried in Georgia not California.

Aunt Annette was one of my mom's older sisters; aunt Lydia was the oldest, then came Annette. I don't remember too much about her. I think I only met her a few times, but I was very young. She lived in California so we didn't see her very much. Mom would talk about her often though. I wish I could remember some of the stories. There is no one left to ask.

I don't have any pictures of aunt Annette because all of mom's family pictures were destroyed in a house fire. The pictures in this post of aunt Annette were given to me by a Stapleton descendant from Georgia with permission to use them in this post.

 Aunt Annette is on the left, I don't know who "Mama" is, but believe she is a Stapleton. This picture is with permission from a descendent of the Stapleton family in Georgia.
 I am not at the liberty to give the name.
Annette Matilda Buschick was born 30 Jan 1893 in Chicago, Illinois, to Edwin L. and Laura (Voigt) Buschick. On the 1900 US Census she is listed as "Anna," second daughter age 7. The family was living in Lake View area possibly on Belle Plaine Ave. My grandfather Edwin was 35 and listed as an Order Clerk. Annette's other siblings were all girls, Lydia 9 yrs., Florence 3 yrs., Ruth 6 mos. Annette's middle name was probably for her great aunt Matilda Fowler the sister to Annette's grandmother Susan (Fowler) Buschick.

The 1900 was the first census I saw Edwin and Laura and family. They were married in 1889, and the 1890 census doesn't exist for Cook County, Illinois. By 1908 there were more children in the household -- eight in all, seven girls and one boy. Eleanor was the only one to die very young. All the rest became adults with families.

1900 US Census, Chicago, Illinois / source:
On the 1910 US Census, Laura was asked how many years she was married - 20; how many children were born - 8; how many were still alive - 7. That account of children holds true with what I have found. On that census, Lydia 19 had married and was living in the same house with the Buschicks at 1931 Belle Plaine Ave. Annett[e] was 17 and working as a "Helper" in a printing company. Florence was 13, Ruth 10, my mother Edna was 5, Edwin, the only brother was 2, and Alice 16/12 or 1 yr 4 months. Lydia's husband, John Helstrom, was shown as a printer in a printing company, presumably the same one Annette worked at. (Brother Edwin would become a printer after World War II, also.)

In 1919, Annette married Cluese Isaac Stapleton. I found them on the 1920 census in Baltimore where Cluese is shown as 29, born in Georgia, and he's a labourer in the ship yards. Annette was 26.  They spelled her name as I always knew it to be -- Annette. I think there is a little fibbing going on here. Cluese's first marriage was in 1905...fifteen years later he was divorced and married a second time. If Cluese is 29 in 1920, he would have been 14 when he married Eva. Do you think that is why they weren't married too long? Well, with a little more research I found he was born 1885, thus bringing his actual age to be 35 in 1920. That's more like it. See how accurate these censuses are?

Later that year, the Stapletons would become parents of Juanita A. She was born in Illinois October 1920.

I don't know how long they were in Illinois after the birth of Juanita, but by the 1930 census we find the Cluese Stapletons in Los Angeles County, California: Cluese is 44 and retired (In this census, his age is more inline with when he was born.); Annette is 39 and a saleswoman for patent medicine; daughter Juanita is 9  b. Illinois; and son Robert C. who is 6 and was born in California which puts them out of Illinois sometime before 1924.
Cluese Isaac Stapleton on right with a World War I buddy.
This image is from a public family tree on
The 1940 census shows Juanita is no longer in her parents' household. She could have gotten married. They lived at 2017 Camden Ave., Los Angeles. Cluese is 54; Annette is 47 and a postal clerk in the post office; Robert is 16 and is shown to be a "Little Merchant" selling newspapers. I found Cluese and Annette at the bottom of one page and Robert on the top of the next.

Juanita married Harry Stockwell sometime before the 1940 census. They had three children. The first child was born Oct 1940. I don't know much more about this family although do I remember their visits in the summer. A big, beautiful trailer pulled by a beautiful shiny car with California license plates would be down in our backyard and parked there for several days. We lived in Mundelein, Ill. and had a big house and yard. A day or two later, mom's siblings and their families would come out from Chicago and suburbs for a big family gathering in our yard. Sometimes there would be a carnival in the school yard behind our house and fireworks.

This picture probably taken in the early '50s was also given to me by the same Stapleton descendent from Georgia. The handsome man on the left is unidentified...he looks like Rock Hudson but I don't think he is, but who is he? Next to him is aunt Annette Stapleton & family (Bob, Juanita, Harry, Bob, & children). 
What is the doggie's name?
Even looking at the pictures of aunt Annette, I really don't remember her that much. I was 15 when she died in 1960. I don't know how long it was before that when she had visited last...I wish I would have paid more attention.

If anyone can tell me more about this picture and the family, please contact me at my regular email address found in my profile to the right. If anything needs to be corrected... I would love to hear from you, too.