Sunday, October 12, 2014

Aunt Elenor Buschick 1902-1903 and Great Aunt Emma (Voigt) Volkman 1858-1928

Tricking the weatherman with a surprise trip to a couple cemeteries in Chicago worked again! The day turned out to be perfect for taking pictures, too. Bob and I headed for Montrose Cemetery where there were a couple relatives on my mom's side. On our way home we would stop by St. Boniface Cemetery where Bob's paternal great grandparents are buried.

We had no luck at St. Boniface. As we entered through the main gate, the sign alerted us the cemetery office was several miles north in Evanston. Evidently several Catholic cemeteries are serviced by one office. We will have to do our St. Boniface adventure another day because we would get up to the cemetery office before closed; we didn't have time to walk the cemetery either...it's too big.

MONTROSE CEMETERY FIND
Well, this post will have to be about our find in Montrose Cemetery located north of Bryn Mawr and Pulaski Roads on Chicago's north side. I knew who was buried there, I had a printout from a cousin of mine. So I wasn't surprised at all seeing the three flat headstones together. [I have put the images on Find A Grave.]

The cemetery office clerk was very nice and made copies of the gravesite information. It was interesting that the owner of the family plot was Edwin L. Buschick, but he is buried in Acacia Park Cemetery several miles west.

Photo taken by me.
There is a double headstone for two very young Helstrom children both dying in infancy. I don't know who they belong to -- yet. They could be my aunt Lydia (Buschick) and husband John Helstrom's infant daughters. Lydia and John married in 1910; one daughter died in 1910 and the other 1913, both less than four months old. 

Photo taken by me.
I knew who the other two headstones were for. The one on the right is for my aunt Elenor Buschick daughter of Edwin L. and Laura. Elenor died very young. She was born in March of 1902 and died in September of 1903. One of my cousins had sent me a photocopied picture which isn't too good, but it's the only one I have that's identified as Elinor. [Yes, there are several spellings of her name.]

Pictured below, Elinor is being held by my grandmother Laura (Voigt) with four of her older sisters and father also identified. I'm grateful to whoever identified these folks of mine. This picture looks like it was taken in the summer of 1903. Elinor died in September.



GREAT AUNT EMMA
The other single stone (on the left) is my great aunt Emma (Voigt) Volkman's. She was my grandmother Laura's sister.


Photo taken by me.
Great aunt Emma was born in 1858 to Henry and Anna (Arnold) VOIGT. Emma married William J. VOLKMANN April 1889 in Chicago. Emma and William had a son Robert born about 1893 in Chicago. A family "story" has it that Harry Volkman, the retired Chicago weatherman, is William and Emma's grandson. There is no proof of this connection. Maybe he's the weatherman I'm tricking for nice cemetery adventure weather.


Emma Voigt Volkmann, identified in family album by aunt Florence.
Emma died on 13 Jun 1928 in Kankakee, Kankakee Co. (about an hour south of Chicago). I was curious why down there when I was sure they lived in Chicago. The 1900 federal census shows them living on 58th St., with son Robert. The 1910 census shows them living on north Armitage Ave. In the 1920 census, I was surprised to find Emma in the Kankakee State Hospital.

I checked the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 and found she was a "resident" of the state hospital. The information contained place, date of birth and death; parents were named along with her husband. The "comments" Length of residence in town where death occurred 15y 1m 18d. She was admitted in 1913.

The Kankakee State Hospital which is now the Samuel H. Shapiro Developmental Center. In 1877, it was the Illinois Eastern Hospital for the Insane, but by the time Emma was admitted, it was the called Kankakee State Hospital. On the 1920 census, she was listed as a "patient," 60 years old, and married.

Yet in Florida, on the 1920 census in Fort Myers, District 0107 on 24-26 January William can be found with son Robert 28. William is listed as a Farmer/home garden -- and a widower. I guess Emma must not have been well enough to ever be released from the mental hospital. 

William shows up again (unmarried) living with son Robert and daughter-in-law on the 1930 census, but not on the 1940. I found his listing on Find A Grave, buried in Fort Myers, Florida [Find A Grave Memorial #49508461]. According to the headstone, William died 28 August 1934. 
William J. Volkmann, identified in family album by aunt Florence.
This image can be found on Find A Grave website.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thomas Whaples, a Witchcraft Trial...Sidetracking Can Be Worthwhile

Recently my husband was out at Mount Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst, Illinois, with his sister. They were visiting their parents' and uncle and aunt's graves. I didn't tag along, but sent a text message to Bob, I mentioned it would be nice to get an image of uncle Jim and aunt Jean's headstone. Several times in the past couple years, Bob and I have been out there and couldn't locate Jim and Jean's grave site even though we had the cemetery map with an X marking the spot. It is one of those flat-to-the-ground markers and it is easy to miss it in a huge area.


Bob looking up and down one of many rows
of flat-to-the-ground grave markers.
Anyway, on Sunday, Bob and his sister found the grave marker and did get a picture. I added it to Find A Grave with just barebones information... At least it is out there, right? [Find A Grave Memorial# 136529196]

Well, instead of getting off the Find A Grave website so I could continue getting organized for my annual trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I decided to search for Bob's mother's family name of WHAPLES on the site. How many more are listed on the site in USA? Lots. I skimmed through the list and found a few contributors. They are descendants of the Whaples ancestors and not just casual contributors going for quantity of graves uploaded to Find A Grave. I noted these contributors so I can make contact after I come back from my trip

With that done, I decided to try out a handy Google tip I learned on that Saturday from speaker Lisa Louise Cooke at an all-day conference in Naperville. I searched for "Thomas Whaples [between the dates of] 1600...1650." What could I lose? I've already spent time looking through Find A Grave. Why not practice my googling?

I haven't spent much time researching my husband's family because I am so involved with my side. Yet, I have to admit sidetracking is worthwhile when I come across something interesting, my curiosity disturbs my placid genealogy lake...like ripples after a stone is thrown into the pond. My sidetracking moves in ripples.

Because of the research done by others and a DAR application, I am confident I am on the right track, but I haven't seen the proof myself. That doesn't stop me from following a lead. All the signs are pointing to Thomas, born around 1625 in England. I don't know when or how old he was when he came to the colonies. All I know is he was part of the Puritans in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and in August of 1668, Thomas gave testimony against Katherine Harrison for being a witch or displaying tendencies towards the act. Because of a copyright law, I am unable to publish a picture of the handwritten testimony in seventeenth-century script, but you can find the image at the Connecticut State Library "click here." (It is part of the Samuel Wyllys Papers.) Below is a transcript of Thomas Whaples's testimony:

Tho: waples aged about 50: years testefieth that Katherin/ the late wife of Jon Harison deacesed. was noted lier/ and did report shed had read mr Lillies book in England/ and one that did spin more then he doth judge could be/ spun without some unlawful help: with yarn did not/ well prosper /as mrs caller sd\ and that the said Katerin told fortune/ matters that weare in future times to be a accomplish{torn}/ and evill conver=/ =sation. And further the said Tho: waples testefieth/ that Gooddy Greenesmith did before her condemna/ =tion accuse Katherin Harrison to be a witch dated/ the 7: of August 1668: Thomas T waples/ his mark/ sworn & exhibited in court octobr by John Allyn Secry/


From Thomas's testimony in 1668, we find he was said to be about 50 years old. Record accounts I've seen put his birth/baptism as 1625. I would guess age 43 could be considered "about" 50. While at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I'll be on the British Isles floor where I can do a little hunting and gathering of Whaples. That should be fun.
I was fascinated reading about Thomas Whaples, an ancestor of my husband, who was part of this historic trial. What drove people to testify against their neighbor or friend and with seemingly frivolous reasons to prove she was a witch!
There are more testimonies for that trial lasting about two years. The transcripts are from people of Wethersfield, Connecticut who were neighbors and friends. The range in accusations are quite interesting, too. I can't understand how anyone would have been convicted of witchcraft by such testimony. Click here to see the testimonies and transcriptions. [Copyright laws keep me from displaying them.] On the right side of the webpage you can click on any name to read their testimony. 

After I found those testimonies, I was curious if anyone had written anything on whether or not Catherine had been convicted and executed. I found an "extract" I can share with you about the trial. I also have a couple links to a PDF file of the full article.


Abstract found online "click here"  and  the PDF of full story found online "click here

Author: Liam Connell. published March 2011. Eras;Mar2011, Vol. 12 Issue 2, Special section p1. Academic Journal
'A Great or Notorious Liar': Katherine Harrison and her Neighbours, Wethersfield, Connecticut, 1668 - 1670

Katherine Harrison could not have personally known anyone as feared and hated in their own home town as she was in Wethersfield. This article aims to explain how and why this was so. Although documentation is scarce for many witch trials, there are some for which much crucial information has survived, and we can reconstruct reasonably detailed accounts of what went on. The trial of Katherine Harrison of Wethersfield, Connecticut, at the end of the 1660s is one such case. An array of factors coalesced at the right time in Wethersfield for Katherine to be accused. Her self-proclaimed magical abilities, her socioeconomic background, and most of all, the inter-personal and legal conflicts that she sustained with her neighbours all combined to propel this woman into a very public discussion about witchcraft in 1668-1670. The trial of Katherine Harrison was a vital moment in the development of the legal and theological responses to witchcraft in colonial New England. The outcome was the result of a lengthy process jointly negotiated between legal and religious authorities. This was the earliest documented case in which New England magistrates trying witchcraft sought and received explicit instruction from Puritan ministers on the validity of spectral evidence and the interface between folk magic and witchcraft -- implications that still resonated at the more recognised Salem witch trials almost twenty-five years later. The case also reveals the social dynamics that caused much ambiguity and confusion in this early modern village about an acceptable use of the occult. Finally, it is a striking example of an early modern accused witch whose circumstances coincided with many of the culpable aspects of the witch stereotype -- female, widowed, financially ambiguous, socially arbitrary, and self-assured to the point of combative -- who was not convicted, but who survived, due in no small part to a clergy and magistrate that intervened to effectively save her life.
It is interesting to note how important this trial was (bolded above) compared to the better-known witch trials in Colonial New England. It is also interesting Katherine was accused, convicted, and conviction eventually overturned; she did survive "due in no small part to a clergy and magistrate that intervened to effectively save her life." She was luckier than those who followed in other witch trials. This all took place almost 25 years before the infamous Salem Witch Trials. 
According to Liam Connell, author of article, on page 14 of the pdf, he states that Katherine's reputation was of her own making. Citing a particular instance: "However, the crux of the drama in the Cullick household centered on another female servant, 34-year-old Elizabeth Smith." Elizabeth, neé Bateman, worked with Katherine. (Smith also gave testimony at the trial.) It all stems from Smith hearing about Katherine's claiming she could tell fortunes. She decided to "engage the cunning woman's skill." Connell goes on to write: "The essence of the fortune that Katherine told Elizabeth was 'that her husband's name should be Simon.'" Elizabeth did go on to marry a man named Simon Smith. There is a twist to this because Elizabeth was involved with a man named William Chapman and they were to be married, but Katherine said they shouldn't. Elizabeth thought Katherine had "divined Elizabeth's future" in the fact she would marry Simon Smith.
Captain Cullick was against his servants courting. William Chapman had a "complaint against him taken to the Particular Court at Hartford on 2 March 1654, for trying to marry Elizabeth without Cullick's consent. The court heard the case and decided against Chapman, who was fined five pounds, and was jailed for fourteen days. The court also noted that two other servants in the Cullick house who helped Chapman and Bateman were 'accessories to the disorder.' These were none other than Thomas Waples and William Warren."
It seems, according to Connell "Katherine knew all of this. It thus seems likely that her divination efforts in this case were a successful attempt to break up Elizabeth and William on Cullick's behalf."
The jury's verdict was overturned and the Court of Assistants official response was they "cannot concur...to sentence her to death but do dismiss her from her imprisonment." Connell wrote: "Perhaps the court hoped to find a compromise between infuriating the townspeople by letting Katherine go without charge, and convicting her on grounds they had recently been informed were invalid. But in the end, the court appeased no one. And so very bitter Katherine Harrison departed for Westchester, New York, never to return to Wethersfield."
At the end Connell states: "The central theme in her [Katherine's] case was social control. The fear of control being forcibly removed encouraged a neighbor to retaliate with a particularly potent weapon in seventeenth-century New England –– witchcraft accusation."





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Don't Do What I Did When Visiting A Parish Church and Graveyard

I could kick myself! I thought I had it all covered. I was doing so well in checking off my list of things I wanted to research, take pictures of, visit relatives, get together with friends, etc. while we were visiting Lincolnshire, England. 

Well, I got my two days of research in the Lincolnshire Archives and  "checked off" getting the maiden name of my seventh great grandmother Syllina Birkett - check! That was the best check off. Next I spent majority of two-days time reading and ordering about 20 Wills of various Lincolnshire Portas Testators from the late 1500s to mid-1800s. That was fun - check! I've since transcribed about four...the older they are, the harder to decipher. 

One of the boxes I wanted to check off was a visit to the North Cotes parish church where my 4x great grandparents William Portas and Elizabeth (Knight). I've been there before, but I thought it would be nice to take some pictures of cousin Alan and I next to the headstones of our 4x great grandparents. I also wanted better pictures of those headstones to put on Find A Grave. 

Bob and I were with 4th cousin Alan and his wife Ellen. The four of us had just left our 7th cousin Margaret's and we were heading for supper at the Splash which is a lovely restaurant in Little Cawthorpe. To get to the restaurant, you have to drive through a creek running over the road. Good thing it wasn't a heavy rain that day.


On our way from Margaret's to the Splash, we stopped at North Cotes parish church. Camera in tow, I was determined to check off another box on my list.

I took a picture of the church sign for St. Nicholas in North Cotes.


I took a picture of the church...

I took a picture of a black cat in the graveyard... scary


I took a picture of veterans' graves which included a couple German soldiers' headstones...


I took a picture of graveyard flowers...cute little things


All these are fine. Okay. I get that. The four of us got into the car and headed for the Splash, where we enjoyed a lovely supper and conversation. We really enjoyed being with Alan and Ellen and for this trip being the first time we met, we hit it off as if we had known each other since we were kids. We weren't at a loss for words.

The next day was our last day in Lincolnshire. We did a little sightseeing after going to the Lincolnshire Family History Society research center. Then went to say goodbye to Alan and Ellen and take pictures of their gardens.

Lovely, both an ornamental and an edible garden.

The next day we headed for Manchester airport and checked into the hotel next to the terminals. The flight home was good. Weather was good even when we got home.

The day after we got home, I downloaded and looked at my pictures again separating out all my Lincolnshire images from the Germany and Italy ones. As I went through and labeled them...I got to the North Cotes few -- you got it! There were NO pictures of William and Elizabeth's headstones, there were NO pictures of Alan and me with those headstones! I totally forgot to do what was the main reason for stopping at the church in the first place!

Don't do what I did. I didn't even remember to look at the checklist I had on my iPhone! DAH! It took me looking at the images when I got home in the USA to realize my mistake. Should I blame the black cat in the graveyard?

Oh well, whatever, I guess I'll just have to go back!


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!



WE MET FRIENDS AGAIN AT THE BLUE PIG INN
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. 

A LITTLE ABOUT THE INN
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.


LET THE SLEUTHING BEGIN

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 ǢTNA 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]


SO WHERE IS THIS CHURCH?
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 east...in 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 FamilySearch.org 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 Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org 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.