Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Surprise in a Christmas Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drudge Work After Hunting-Gathering in the Family History Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 8, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

No Myth: A Phenomenon Occurs 15 Minutes Before Leaving the Family History Library

Looking back at my research trip of the past 11 days to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I have to laugh at what can now be documented as a true phenomenon. It is no longer a myth.

Every year our group from the Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society emphasizes a saying: 15 minutes before you have to leave the library, you will find something great!

This phenomenon couldn't be more true for me this year. For about eight days I was on the British which is the second floor of the basement. I was doing a lot of grunt work i.e. verifying, filling in, and taking digital images of my Lincolnshire, England finds. Nothing exciting was happening, especially doing that type of research work.

Yesterday, I saw my last few hours at the library. I decided instead of cranking away at microfilm for the five plus hours, I would look through some books and do a little background research on the history of Lincolnshire, England. That all went well and I got the information I wanted from one large book with much to much history to take on in a couple hours. So I just took digital images of the pages! Something more to do when I get home.

Being done with the books and with about 30 minutes left before I had to pack up to leave, I started poking around in Since I was in the family history library, I figured there might be a few things available on the website we can't get at home; ProQuest Obituaries is one.

Over the past few years, I haven't been able to find my great grandfather August F. Buschick's obituary or death notice. I was sure there was one of them but I've tried many times searching in various obituary indexes and came up empty. Not this time! Literally, with a little over 15 minutes before I had to pack up to catch the van for the airport, I typed into the search field just BUSCHICK... first person on the list was an Agnes F. Buschick. Who? That's a new name I thought. Then I noticed the date -- 16 Dec 1883. Hmmm, that's the same day as my great grandfather's burial... On closer look at the death notice once I had downloaded it to my laptop, Agnes' name was hard to read, but on second closer look, it actually turned out to be August F. Buschick! No wonder I couldn't find it! It was transcribed wrong...who would have thunk?

BUSCHICK – Saturday morning. Dec. 15, August F. Buschick, in his 58th year, from pleura-pneumonia. Funeral Sunday, Dec. 16, at 1:40 o'clock, from the residence 34 Orchard-st. Carriages to Rosehill. [Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922); Dec 16, 1883]
August Ferdinand Buschick as identified in the family album.

With a few moments remaining of my time in the family history library, I did manage to find and download several other Buschick's death notices. There are several more I didn't harvest from the site, but I'll do that some other time. Maybe my city library has an account, too.

So you see -- the phenomenon of 15-minutes isn't a myth!

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's too big.

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.

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 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 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!

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."