Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words: Peter McIntyre

Peter McIntyre - Photo from FamilySearch.org memories
Sometimes a picture says it all...

Peter McIntyre was born 17 March 1790 in Succoth, Argyllshire, Scotland, to Archibald MacIntyre and Mary McGlashan.

He was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840 and served as a Christian missionary for years throughout the Highlands. 

He eventually immigrated to Tooele, Utah, United States, where he died on 10 April 1872.

Something unique about Peter is that he wrote his autobiography, giving details about his time fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, being a missionary and travelling to Utah.

One of my current projects is writing a historical fiction novel from his autobiography. A labor of love that is taking me a long time!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Extreme Genes Podcast - Thank You!!!

I just have to give a huge thank you to David Lambert, and everyone at ExtremeGenes for spotlighting my blog on their fantastic podcast! The online family history and genealogy community has been so incredibly supportive and welcoming and I am so excited to be apart of it!

If you don't already listen to their podcast, you should!!!


Friday, March 29, 2019

Connected in Strykersville

Once, when driving through New York a couple of summers ago, in a small town called Strykersville, my mom and I saw a small sign on the side of the road: "Strykersville Pioneer Cemetery." Though to our knowledge we had no ancestors from Strykersville, the quaint sign with the old swinging gate, surrounded by tall trees, called to me, and we decided to park the car on the side of the road and explore.

As we entered, there seemed to me to be a feeling of untouched hallowedness. Some headstones were still standing and readable, while others were broken, covered with moss, grass, and dirt - only a faded remembrance of the people they had once honored. 

There were several stones near the front, belonging to Revolutionary War veterans, a discovery which delighted me! Growing up in the west, I had never come across such old relics of the past, and my imagination wandered to far off times and places where freedom and liberty was so valiantly sacrificed for. I wondered what all the tall trees I then stood in the midst of, had seen.

I was saddened that so many of the headstones in this solemn place had been forgotten and left to decay. But, standing  among them, I felt strongly connected to these seemingly forgotten people. I was not related to them, did not known their names, yet they, whoever they were, were real to me. I realized that you don't need to be related to someone or even know their name, to be able to feel connected to them. And really, isn't that why family history and history are important? So that we can be connected through the ages?

On that same trip to New York, in a small shop, I came across a plaque with this quote:

"The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make." - William Morris

How fitting to find this quote only a few days after being in Strykersville; a place where, though not on the records of my family tree, I made a tender connection.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mother of a Princess

A little girl looked up as her mother walked through the door. At the mother’s call, both the girl and her little brother rose, and each took their mother’s hand. “My dears, I have an important matter to discuss with both of you. Come with me.” As she spoke, she led the children to the adjoining room and there, before their eyes, was laid out an assortment of the most beautiful toys. Dolls of different sizes with the most detailed, beautiful clothing, and various mechanical toys made the children’s eyes grow wide. The mother’s eyes saddened for a moment but became firm with determination as she thought about the importance of what she was about to do. “Children, I had intended to give you some handsome New Year’s gifts, but I am afraid that because of the cold weather, the poor are in so much need of blankets, clothes and bread, to protect them from the rigour of the season, that my money has been spent.” Kneeling so that both of her children could see her face clearly, she said, “This year you may only have the pleasure of looking at these new playthings, as it is a duty to succor the unfortunate.” The young children, though highly disappointed, nodded their heads. Their mother then led them back to her sitting room and sat with them, one on each side. “Now children, as many other mothers this season will not have enough money to buy their children toys, as I have not, I am rather afraid that the toy man will not be able to sell as many toys. Therefore, do you not think that perhaps we should pay him for his journey here today in bringing those toys, as well as console him that he was not able to sell them?” Forgetting her own loss for the moment, the little girl eagerly nodded her head saying “Oh yes mother please! I should feel sorry if we did not.” Perhaps the little girl had learned a lesson from her mother that day. Her mother was Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.[1]

Image from WikiCommons
Many opinions of Marie Antoinette and her life have been shared throughout time. While I do not in any way claim to be a well-researched scholar of her, the little I have studied fascinates me, especially what I’ve read about her as a mother. I’ve wanted to write about this topic for years, and now that I have, I don’t believe that I have in any way done it justice. Years down the road, when I have done more research, maybe I’ll be able to rewrite this. But in the meantime, here are my thoughts.
While the memoirs of Marie Antoinette, left by those who probably knew her best, are probably considered biased, part of me believes there is something to believing in what the people who knew her best had to say.

Many royals through the ages have seemed aloof from their children, however, several accounts display the opposite of this queen. It is said that when her first daughter was born, she said: “Poor little one, you are not desired, but you will be none the less dear to me! A son would have belonged to the state--you will belong to me.”[2] Professor Hugo Thieme wrote that “After this event the queen gave herself up to thoughts and pursuits of a more serious nature. In 1779 the dauphin was born, and from that period Marie Antoinette considered herself no longer a foreigner.” “During these years she was the most devoted of mothers; she personally looked after her four children, watched by their bedsides when they were ill, shutting herself up with them in the château so that they would not communicate their disease to the children who played in the park.”[3]

Later, when the family were prisoners it was said that both the queen and king tutored their children in academics, and both were loved dearly by their children.[4] Princess Marie Therese Charlotte wrote the following of her mother:

“On the 3d of July, they read us a decree of the Convention ordering that my brother be separated from us and lodged in a more secure room in the Tower. Hardly had he heard it when he flung himself into his mother's arms uttering loud cries, and imploring not to be parted from her. My mother, on her side, was struck down by the cruel order; she would not give up her son, and defended, against the municipals, the bed on which she placed him. They, absolutely determined to have him, threatened to employ violence and to call up the guard. My mother told them they would have to kill her before they could tear her child from her. An hour passed in resistance on her part, in threats and insults from the municipals, in tears and efforts from all of us. At last they threatened my mother so positively to kill him and us also that she had to yield for love of us…”[5]

When finally, the queen was herself taken, away her daughter wrote:

 “My mother, after tenderly embracing me and telling me to have courage, to take good care of my aunt, and to obey her as a second mother, repeated to me the same instructions that my father had given me; then throwing herself into my aunt's arms she commended her children to her. I answered nothing, so terrified was I at the idea that I saw her for the last time; my aunt said a few words to her in a low voice. Then my mother went away without casting her eyes upon us, fearing no doubt that her firmness might abandon her. She stopped once at the foot of the Tower, because the municipals had to make a procès-verbal to discharge the concierge from the care of her person. As she went out, she struck her head against the lintel of the door, not thinking to lower it. They asked her if she was hurt. ‘Oh, no,’ she said; ‘nothing can hurt me now.’[6]
...she went to death with courage, amid curses which the unhappy, misguided people poured forth against her. Her courage did not abandon her in the cart, nor on the scaffold; she showed as much in death as she had shown in life.”[7]

Life is full of misunderstandings, difference of opinion, and biases, but all in all, the opinions which will matter most to me in my life, are those of my family. I don’t believe Marie Antoinette was perfect, and I don’t know as much about her life as I would like, but in the eyes of those close to her at least, she was a woman who had their love and respect.

[1]Jeanne Louise Henriette (Genet) Campan, Memoirs of the Court of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, Book 1, E-book, Amazon Kindle, pages 2780 and 2801. Creative liberty was taken, especially with the dialogue, to help create the narrative. I have tried to stay close to the idea the original author was suggesting. 
[2]Hugo Paul Thieme, Woman: Women of Modern France, Vol. 7, online book, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32727/32727-h/32727-h.htm, Chapter 12.
[4]“Ruin of a Princess,” The Story of My Life, accessed January 28, 2019, http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/wormeley/princess/princess.html#90, 127 and 245.
[5]Ibid, 266-267.
[6]Ibid, 269.
[7]Ibid, 278.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

My Luck of the Irish

Dublin Castle
In honor of St. Patrick's day, I decided to publish another post, though it is shorter than usual (which is probably a good thing! Sometimes short and sweet is best).

This last weekend I attended the "Irish Gatherin" research seminar, taught by Fintan Mullan, and Gillian Hunt from the Ulster Historical Foundation, and boy was I lucky to attend! (See what I did there 😉)
Mullingar Cathedral

I've had a special love of Ireland ever since I was a very little girl, and surprisingly only a very small percentage of my ancestors are from Ireland. When I went to Ireland last summer however, I absolutely fell in love with it, especially with the country town of Mullingar, and I think I left part of my heart there. Maybe someday I'll be fortunate enough to live in that beautiful country! And maybe someday I'll write a story about my adventures there.
But, back to the point. When I started the Family History Program at BYU, 4 years ago, I always knew that I wanted one of my specialties to be in Irish research, but as I continued through the program, my specialty in New York research came to the forefront. After visiting Ireland, and attending several Irish research classes at this last RootsTech, my fire for Irish family history was rekindled. Imagine my delight when I heard about the "Irish Gatherin," hosted by Heritage Consulting. I now feel as if the sun has come out, showing me where the path begins for my Irish family history journey. I learned so, so much! But, I will just share a few of the highlights here:
  • After the Poor Law Act of 1838 Ireland was divided into about 163 Poor Law Unions. Workhouses were most often built in the main city of each.
  • Valuation office Books information at www.genealogy.nationalarchives.ie
  • The Belfast Newsletter, an Irish Newspaper, has been digitized by Ancestry.
  • Some of the records at the National Library of Ireland (www.nli.ie):
    • Land & Estate Records
    • Newspapers
    • Manuscripts
    • Sources Database (guide to where records are)
    • Newspaper database
    • Genealogical office records
  • www.irishgenealogy.ie is another source for Church and Civil records
  • The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni) in Belfast, has records not only for Northern Ireland, but for the Republic of Ireland as well.
  • The National Archives in Dublin, also has records for Northern Ireland, so look in both places!
  • Most important piece of advice: Look for your family's surname in Ireland even in the time period after you think, or even know, that your ancestors emigrated somewhere else. It often happened that some family members stayed, and researching for other family still in Ireland will help you find clues about your ancestors and their homeland!
I would definitely call myself a beginner when it comes to my knowledge of Irish Family History, but I hope that someday I'll learn enough to tell some wonderful Irish stories. Though it will always be true that the best storytellers are the Irish themselves ☺️

That's all for now, but as always, céad míle fáilte and thanks for visiting my blog today!

1916 Centenary Memorial Park, Mullingar

Friday, March 15, 2019

My RootsTech Story (and a little recap)

This isn't necessarily a story, although I suppose it is part of my own life story, so scratch that!

Flash back to RootsTech 2015: I had never heard of RootsTech, but I had just applied to Brigham Young University’s Family History and Genealogy program, and so when my parents suggested I go, I was all for it. While I had always enjoyed doing family history and genealogy as a teenager, I was still very much an infant in my knowledge of it. RootsTech was my introduction not only to many of the basic skills of family history, but also to the genealogical world. I also met many of the BYU Family History faculty, and between that and all the classes I went to, it was confirmed in my mind that the decision I had made to apply to the program was the right one for me. Two weeks after RootsTech, when I got my acceptance letter to BYU, I was beyond excited to begin my journey into the Family History and Genealogy profession.
After my first RootsTech and
acceptance to BYU

RootsTech 2016, 2017 and 2018, my class schedule and finances only made it possible for me to attend the free Family Discovery Day at RootsTech while volunteering at the BYU booth in the Expo Hall. But each year I learned something new and my increased knowledge from all of my classes during the year, gave me a new perspective each RootsTech.

Now to RootsTech 2019: I was finally able to attend all four days and my perspective was a little different going into RootsTech this year than it was my first year. As a graduated student, hoping to find my niche in the Genealogical world, and with more of a focused view of which classes I went to, I couldn’t help but compare in my mind the differences and similarities of my first year and this one. The most notable, and obvious difference, was that unlike my first year, I was able to attend intermediate to advanced classes and understand the lingo 😊 

The other difference was definitely networking. My first year the thought of introducing myself to anyone other than the professors from BYU didn’t occur to me, but this year it was a constant thought at the back of my mind. That being said, was I very good at networking this year? Probably not. As a naturally reserved person networking is something that is harder for me than other things and something I am working on one step at a time. But the good thing is I can already see some improvement in myself in that area, small though it may be.

I was surprised at the similarities I found between the first year and this year. Just like 2015, this year of RootsTech filled me with so much inspiration and motivation! If you ever feel that you need to put some more fire back into your family history life, RootsTech is the place to do it. Just like my first year gave me the courage to continue on with my decision of studying Family History, this year, what I learned at RootsTech gave me the courage to put myself out there more on social media, and to start working towards accreditation. After RootsTech this year I feel renewed, and I am so excited for the future!

Apart from my personal self discoveries explained above, I also learned so much from each class! I decided I would share some of the highlights from a few of my favorite classes. Hopefully they will inspire you as they did me 😊

Hear Them Sing! Social History in your Family Narrative - Rebecca Whitman Koford
  • Social History: The study of ordinary people
  • Writing -
    • Tune Up: Gather facts
    • Theme Song: Personality
    • Weave in Melody: Research general history
    • Harmonize: Research specific history
    • Hear Them Sing: Bring out their voice
Uncovering Family Stories with British & Irish Historic Newspapers-Myko Clelland
  • Return to findmypast.org often, because new newspapers are added frequently
  • Use wildcards in your search
    • + before a word = the word must be present
    • - before a word = the word is not in the result
    • "word or phrase" = get it exactly
  • Avoid dates as much as possible, they can narrow it down too much.
New York Research Essentials - Ashley Lish, D. Joshua Taylor, Frederick Wertz
  • State census records
    • 1825-1845 - Names of the household
    • 1865-1875 - Includes more information
    • 1855-1875 - Includes special schedules, including some marriage and death schedules
  • Fultonsearch.org - a better way of searching the Fulton Postcards website
Finding 17th Century English Ancestors - Else Churchill
  • Tax Records
    • Subsidies
    • "Free & Cheerful Gift" 1625
    • Ship money 1630-40
    • Poll Taxes 1641-1697
    • St. Paul's Cathedral Fund 1677/8
    • Hearth Tax 1662-1689
Perspectives on Accreditation - Diana Elder, Julie Stoddard, Lisa Stokes
[This class convinced me to start working towards accreditation!!!]
Level 1
  • 1,000 hours experience
  • 500 of those in the region of interest
  • 80 hours in each administration district
  • Four generation project
    • Pedigree Charts
    • Family Group Records
    • Key Source documents
    • Research Log
    • Report
      • Clear Strong objective
      • Evidence Analysis
      • Source Citations (not specific style, but consistent)
      • Transcriptions & Abstracts
      • Future Research
Level 2
  • Document Interpretation
    • Create a research plan based on the document
    • Some regions have language requirements
Level 3
  1. 4 Hour Research Project
  2. Oral Review
How to Prepare:
  • Start now!
  • Attend classes and conferences
  • Keep track of your hours
  • Use ICAPGen resources
  • Read, research and write!
Finding the Poor & Destitute Irish - Brian Donovan
  • In 1922, the records building was destroyed
  • Land & security records survive because Britain wanted to keep track of the Irish
  • Registry of Deeds - irishdeedsindex.net
  • There are maps on Trinity College's website
  • The Land Commision
    • Founded in 1881 to establish fair rents
    • 1885 Ashbourne Act - broke up the estates
  • For Northern Ireland you can get the records on PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland)
These are only a few of the classes I went to, and only a very small bit of what I learned from each class! I'm already counting down the days until next year's RootsTech!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Life of Mary Jane was not Plain

I have to give the credit of this story title to my mother. I’m a bit of a sucker for things that rhyme (I blame the Princess Bride), and considering my mom plays a part in this story it only seemed fair to let her name it.

This story begins with a family tradition. We all have them, and they range in their believability and preposterousness (did I just make those words up?). There are some people who would seem to stake their lives on the truth of a story told to them by their great, great-grandmother, even when it’s not proven truth. And then there are people like me who basically refuse to believe any tradition unless I have proof. I’d always rather have the truth even if I find out the truth is uglier than the family tradition. You might say it sounds like I have personal experience with this? Why yes, yes I do.
I remember once hearing a tradition from someone in my family (can't remember who) when I was very young. My not remembering who it was might tell you how old I was at the time it was told to me. A perfect example of the “telephone game” aspect of family traditions. However, what I remember is that my ancestor, Addison Winch, a school teacher wanted a better schoolhouse built for the children, and when no one did anything about it, he decided to burn down the old school so that they would have to build a new one. That was my distant, faded, and even fragmented childhood memory of the story. Like I said, it is very possible that I am remembering what my family told me all wrong. Imagine my mother's and my surprise when she found a newspaper article on the Old Fulton Postcards website (http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html), a fantastic tool for New York research. What she found I have since transcribed. This article not only shatters the family tradition's perception of Addison, but also sheds light on the life of his wife, Mary Jane Hall Winch. I thought about telling the story in my own words, but in the end, I decided the language of the article was too interesting not to share.

"The Buffalo Express Tuesday Morning November 21, 1898
Family Affair
Barn was Burned and Horse was Shot
Narrow Escape of House
Farm of Addison Winch of Marilla Turned Out A Sensation for the Neighbors-No complaint has been Lodged with Authorities
 Wales Center... -  The barn on the farm of Addison Winch, in the town of Marilla about three miles from here, was burned about 6 o’clock this morning. The house also was damaged by fire. Mr. Winch is alleged to have set fire to both house and barn. Incidental to the burning of the barn and the attempt on the house it is said that a horse was shot by Mr. Winch.
 The story of the affair at the Winch farm as told by neighbors and uncontradicted so far as known by anyone is to this effect. Mr. Winch is about 62 years old. With his wife and two children, one a boy and the other a girl, both in their teens, he lives in a comfortable house on his farm. He has been a semi-invalid suffering from dyspepsia, for several years. This morning he wanted to take the horse to drive to Porterville, about four miles from home. He said he would take his daughter with him as far as her school. Mrs. Winch wanted to take the girl to school herself. Mrs. Winch went to the barn, it is related, to harness the horse. Mr. Winch followed her. Mrs. Winch led the horse from the barn. In what followed, Mr. Winch is said to have been upset both bodily and mentally. He drew a revolver from his pocket and shot the horse.
 Mrs. Winch and her daughter are said then to have gone to the house of a neighbor. Soon after their departure the barn was seen to be burning. When neighbors arrived it was too far gone to be saved. The house was found to be burning in two places, but the flames there were extinguished.
 A neighbor sent word to Winch’s son in school in this village. The son called on Dr. J.D. Wooster, the family physician, who advised him to see a justice of the peace. The justice sent words to Mrs. Winch to come to town and lodge complaint and he would issue a warrant for the arrest of her husband, but the invitation was not accepted. Mr. Winch himself came to town and is now at the home of a friend. To the correspondent of The Express, he said he was sorry that he had been led by his temper. After shooting the horse he gave the revolver to Charles Blood, a neighbor.
 No one seems to be disposed to proceed against Mr. Winch on a charge of burning his own barn and shooting his own horse."[1]

Quite the revelation, isn’t it? While Mary Jane and Addison were still living together with their two children in 1892, by the time the 1900 census was taken, Addison is a patient in the Buffalo State Hospital, where it is possible he still was in 1905 and 1910.[2] In 1915 Addison lived in Alden, New York as a boarder; in 1920 he lived with extended family, and in 1925 he lived in Armherst, New York.[3] Mary Jane lived with her children in 1900, 1910, 1920, and most likely until her death in 1925.[4]
When I visited Mary Jane and Addison’s graves, I was amused to see that while they were next to each other with the rest of the family in a row, there was a big gap between their headstones. Whether or not this was intentional, this seemed to fit very well with how they could have felt about each other.
So why am I telling you this “disgraceful” family story? Firstly, to prove you can’t believe family traditions without doing some research. And secondly because, while dear Grandpa Addison is hardly someone to look up to, I think Grandma Mary Jane is an example of someone who made it through hard circumstances. While I have no evidence that she wasn’t just as cantankerous as Addison, I just get that feeling that she wasn’t. It’s a special feeling one can get about their ancestors now and then. I don’t get it very often, and when I do, I take it seriously. It’s as if that ancestor wants you to know something about them when there is just simply no other way to hear their voice. I also believe in Mary Jane because I have seen similar experiences of women throughout history and even in those around me. Lest I seem biased to my own sex, I must also say I’ve seen the same in the lives of men who have had their own equally trying family members. Perhaps what it all comes down to is that people are people. We all make mistakes. And if Addison is any indication, sometimes life will seem downright crazy. I can't know exactly what life was like for Mary Jane, though I can wonder and suppose. I think in some ways she must have felt very alone. But in a way, I feel that my thinking about her, even though it’s now years down the road, has made her not as alone as it may have seemed to her at the time.

[1]The Buffalo Express, “Family Affair Barn was Burned and Horse was Shot,” Tuesday Morning November 21, 1898, online image, database, (http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : accessed January 21, 2019).
[2]"New York State Census, 1892," Marilla, Erie, New York, United States, Pg. 6, ED 02, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 21 January 2019).
"United States Census, 1900," Buffalo State Hospital, Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States, ED 267, Sheet 16B, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 21 January 2019).
"New York State Census, 1905," Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States, Ward 24, E.D. 06, pg. 38, database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org : 21 January 2019).
"United States Census, 1910," Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States, ED 188, Sheet 18B, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 21 January 2019).
[3]"United States Census, 1920," Alden, Erie, New York, United States, ED 2, Sheet 3A, Line 2, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 21 January 2019).
[4]"United States Census, 1900," Holland Township, Erie, New York, United States, ED 248, sheet 9A, online image, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 January, 2019).
"United States Census, 1910," Aurora, Erie, New York, United States, ED 246, sheet 17A, database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 January 2019).  
"United States Census, 1920," Buffalo Ward 25, Erie, New York, United States, ED 249, sheet 4A, database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 January 2019).
"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 January 2019), Mary Jane Hall Winch, 1925; Burial, Marilla, Erie, New York, United States of America, Marilla Cemetery; citing record ID 184570493, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.