Thursday, September 20, 2012

This Joseph Portas Wasn't Hiding

As I've stated before, my main family history focus is the PORTAS family from Lincolnshire, England. I have been hunting and gathering PORTASes for the past 15 years or so. I have many families in my database from around the world – most are in Lincs. 

I'm back to my 5x great grandfather Joseph PORTAS, bp. abt. 1720-ish. I can only speculate who his parents are. I haven't found Joseph's baptism record...yet. Right now that is my brick wall. Advice was to leave it alone for a while, then come back to it with a fresh look. I'm taking that advice and working on updating information in my tree program Reunion 10, tackling the "piles" of printouts and photocopies, sorting and scanning images, spring cleaning (now?) my genealogy files on the computer. I'm finding information that didn't mean much a couple years ago, but now as my research has progressed, this stuff means a lot more and can be plugged into family data.


Since I don't have a lot of information on William 1754, and Joseph 1720-ish, I can show you Joseph 1786. He's not hiding information from me <grin>. He is the first Portas who I have recorded on the census starting with 1841.

JOSEPH 1786-1874


My 3x great grandfather Joseph was baptized 7 May 1786 in North Coates, Lincs. It was a chore finding this record. The image below was the first inkling I had found it. I was in the Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln, Lincs, England when I spotted this on one of the films with North Coates transcriptions. I put the "[Joseph son of]" in there several years later when I discovered the next image in Bishop's Transcripts of parish register. BTs are copies of the actual parish register.

Quiet fireworks went up inside me as I sat starring at the image projected downward from the film reader in the Family History Library – "I found him!" I said, proud of myself in my discovery. There it was squeezed between the word "Baptisms" and the first entry, "Joseph son of William and Elizabeth Portas was bapt. May 7th." It looked like the entry on the BT was a last minute entry before the BT was sent to where they were deposited.

St. Nicholas, North Coates, Lincolnshire, England   Photo by Paul Fenwick

Now I have established where and when he was baptized. The census you'll see later shows he was born in Marshchapel, that could be true also since it wasn't mandatory to register births until 1837 in England. North Coates and Marshchapel are very close to one another. As it is, Elizabeth was from Marshchapel. It was common for a daughter to go to her mother's for the birth of her children. This could be true in Elizabeth case.


Joseph married Mary DENNIS on 15 May 1809 in Alford, Lincs. They were married by Banns. I have to get the published Banns. On their marriage record it states Joseph is from Ludborough instead of North Coates or Marshchapel. That was curious. I would think he had been working there, but I haven't found any proof yet if he had settlement papers or apprentice papers, etc. He could have met Mary during that time. I haven't come across any records showing where he was employed. Manorial Records might tell the tale.

Joseph was 23 when he married Mary who was of the Alford Parish.  Don't let anyone tell you there wasn't mobility back then. There was, especially in Lincs. Alford is about 20 miles south east of Ludborough. That is a decent distance to travel for work.

St. Wilfred, Alford, Lincolnshire, England    Photo by me.


Joseph and Mary had been married 32 years. They are both 55 and born "Y" which means he was born in the county. Joseph was an agricultural labourer. John 30 is first son of six. John was widowed as I later found out. Benjamin 8 is the son of John. Mary 6 is the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary's first daughter. She had a son Thomas who would have been 4, but I don't know where he was on census 
night 6 Jun 1841.

This is the first census that shows were people were born, marital status, and relationship to head of household. We now can see Joseph is born in Marsh Chapel, he is the head of household, married, 66 (10 years later from 1841 should be 65), and an agricultural labourer. Wife Mary born in Mareham le Fen, is 69 (should be 65), living with them is grandson Benjamin 17 and is a labourer, born Bolingbroke. John I find out later had gotten married and is living out of this household. Granddaughter Mary is a house servant in the John Ellwood household on census night 30 Mar 1851.

This census is the really my family, which did throw me a little when I saw Mary is now shown as Sarah! Everybody is listed as born in Mareham le Fen – "Do" equals Ditto which refers to a person several families above. Benjamin is still living with them and is now 29, unmarried agricultural labourer. They are living on "The Green" this census night 30 Mar 1861.
On April 2, census night, Joseph and family are still living on the Green in Mareham le Fen. Joseph is still the head, 85, Pauper, and now showing he was born in North Coates. Mary isn't Sarah now, wife, 85, born Mareham le Fen. Their first daughter Elizabeth is now living with them at age 46. She is now a SANDERSON and is widowed. With her is daughter Hannah 15, and son William 9, both born in Burgh. William is listed as an "Idiot"! This is the first census which gives a medical status using the old descriptive words like idiot, blind, deaf and dumb, imbecile, lunatic... some of those words wouldn't be used today.


Joseph was buried in Mareham le Fen on 26 May 1874 at age 89, having died three days earlier. I'm still looking for settlement papers and records declaring he is getting parish support when he was considered a pauper. Mary did in 1876. Both are buried somewhere in St. Helen's churchyard.

St. Helen's, Mareham le Fen, Lincolnshire, England   Photo by me.
Joseph and Mary had seven known children: John 1810, Elizabeth 1814, Joseph 1816, William Dennis 1817, David 1822 died at three days old, David 1823, and Richard 1826. William Dennis is the only child I know of who has a middle name. William is my 2x great grandfather who emigrated from Lincs in 1875 and settled in Kansas in around 1878.

The naming conventions weren't practiced. If they were, William Dennis would have been the first born son's name instead of John. Normally you can go back one generation based on the naming practices.

This blog thing is fun. Thanks for getting this far without falling asleep!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I left my pink elephant in Ivanhoe Cemetery

I have been a little lax on posting lately. Besides having little to say, I have been on a trip. I really didn't do much genealogy or family history in the past few weeks. It was a nice break to clear one's mind.

This last Monday I met with Marty, my 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade friend! We met at the Ivanhoe Cemetery (1852), Ivanhoe, Illinois. She has been adding memorials onto Find A Grave and came up from St. Louis to visit with family and the cemetery among other things. I can't think of a better place for old friends to meet after 60 some years of being lost to one another! It was a wonderful few hours walking through the cemetery looking at headstones and discussing some history of the interred or getting some questions answered or solving a mystery. We also went to lunch and talked about Mundelein, Lincoln School, and our dear teacher Abby Dalton (1st & 2nd grade class picture on Aug. 6 post). It was a beautiful day and just the right time of day to get good pictures, too.

My parents, paternal grandparents, and paternal great grandparents are buried in Ivanhoe Cemetery. It was nice visiting their graves again...saying a little prayer, taking a few moments reflecting on the loved ones. Carroll & Edna Porteous (my parents); William D. & Carrie Ida (Snyder) Porteous (my grandparents); John & Willimina [Wilhelmina] (Smith) Snyder (my great grandparents).

My two sets of paternal great-great grandparents, SNYDERs and SMITHs, came to Lake County, Illinois sometime in the mid-1800s. I know the Smiths were there around 1843. I'm sure the Snyders were there about the same time, because I found the marriage record for Wilhelmina Smith marrying John Snyder in Waukegan September of 1850. I have a lot of fill-in work to do on these families. The pieces are starting to fit as I gather information.

The Snyders settled out on Gilmer-Volo Rd. (now just Gilmer Rd.) closer to Volo, Illinois than to Gilmer. This area was in rural Fremont Township. I do believe the house and barn are still standing, but then again, I can't confirm the ones standing are the original buildings. I'm not sure where the Smiths settled or even where they are buried to boot!

Wilhelmina (Smith) and John Snyder
Identified by my aunt Violet Chandler.
John and Wilhelmina had five children (all lived to be adults). I was told they also had two babies that died very early. No names, sex, or dates for these infants, but as of last Monday, I am sure I have images of their headstones! I don't know how many times I have visited that site and never noticed them to the right of George. I was fortunate to have Marty there to bounce thoughts off, we decided these stones could be marking the infants' graves.

Snyder family plot, Section B-East, Lot 55. Graves are all in a row.
As you look at this image, John and Willimina's [Wilhelmina] headstone is flush to the ground on the left. The next one (upright) to the right is their son George Albert. To the right of George are two small white stones. The stones are so worn out I could barely see "SNYDER" on the face of one. The other, well, there was so worn I couldn't even guess what could have been there. Because both are the same type of stones, we are sure they belong together. 

Very hard to see even enhancing this image.
Willimina 1831-1903 and John 1815-1908
(Great grandmother's name should be spelled Wilhelmina.)
I checked the copies of the Ivanhoe Cemetery graves' listings Marty brought with her. No babies were listed with John and Wilhelmina's plot on page 14. Yet, these graves weren't accounted for on any other family's plot listing either.

With the little evidence we have, we can only conclude these were the Snyder babies. If anyone has more information to add, can verify or dispel our conclusion, please email me. Having the correct information is very important to me.

When I was growing up, my parents and grandma Carrie would drive out to the cemetery to attend to the graves. While the adults planted geraniums or weeded the little garden near the headstones, my brother and I would play in and around the headstones... we would "ride" the horizontal cylinder-type stones (I saw those stones on Monday; they made me smile and think of an old story.)

On one occasion I took my stuffed pink elephant –– worn from love, tattered from play, and wouldn't survive another washing. I don't remember if it had a name, but I do remember hearing the story of when I left my dear pink elephant in the cemetery. We got home after visiting the graves; it was dark. I was crying because my pink friend was left at the cemetery. My dad wasn't about to go back with a flashlight to look for a pink elephant! My grandmother, who was close to 80 at the time called the caretaker "this is aunt Carrie. We were just out at the cemetery and left a pink elephant behind." The caretaker thought it was a hoax and hung up on grandma! Grandma realized that she didn't tell the caretaker the elephant was a stuffed toy. She and mom couldn't stop laughing at the thought of what the caretaker thought. Well, the next day, my mom called him to explain grandma's call. 

I guess he looked for my elephant the next day, but couldn't find it or so my mom said. Now that I think of it, I bet she didn't really want him to find it so she wouldn't have to wash it anymore. I believed that little white lie and didn't feel so lost without my friend the pink elephant. Mom never did admit the truth.