Saturday, March 14, 2015

Podcasts, Historic Houses and Marketing, Oh, My!

I first "met" Marian Pierre Louis on Facebook, and we have been together quite a few times since then at genealogical events.  In one of our early conversations, Marian reminded me of the importance of valuing your professional services. Marian continues to help me evaluate my identity as a genealogist through one of her enterprises,  The Genealogy Professional Podcast. I have enjoyed the range of advice and experiences presented by her guests. Her professional focus as a genealogist has shifted over time from research to education, and we can all benefit from what she brings.

Conference attendees will have a chance to meet Marian at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Providence, RI in April  Her talk "Ten Brickwall Tips for Genealogists" will take place on Saturday, April 18.  I asked Marian about her session, and about what is going on in her life these days.

The NERGC presentation will focus on practical ways to resolve research challenges. The tips can apply to anyone, from beginners to more advanced researchers. It is a good one! Everyone should be able to walk away with at least one or two tips that they had never considered before. Beginners should find it a real toolbox for approaching genealogy problems.

Beginning her career in corporate marketing, those abilities permeate many aspects of Marian's life.  Her personal research involved ancestors in New York and Pennsylvania. As a professional, she realized that the distance from her Eastern Massachusetts home to repositories in those states would make it difficult to successfully specialize there. She redirected her research business to the southern New England states and was able to broaden her own family tree.

Marian turned her love of historic homes into a specialty as well. The physical aspect of touching and experiencing a home that someone also loved 200 years ago is intoxicating. She developed a niche, preparing histories of the houses themselves, not the inhabitants. On Facebook she found a community of like-minded historians by establishing a page called Explore Historic Houses. That passion for  the structures continues, and she looks forward finding time again to serve as a docent at a nearby museum-house.

Marian found a way to reach out to a wider audience through podcasting. She describes herself as "someone with no experience with audio production whatsoever" but that didn't stop her from embracing the technology. It was a first for me as well as a subscriber when she began "broadcasting" Fieldstone Common.  The ambitious weekly schedule brought a series of authors of historic books to an appreciative audience. We followed her through changes in platforms and equipment upgrades.  Her ace in the hole is that savior who many rely on for technical help: the teen-aged boy!

Legacy Family Tree Webinars are a popular offering from the Legacy software group.  Marian has been a presenter many times in this format as well. She has now joined Legacy part-time as Social Media Marketing Manager, which she describes as a dream job.

It is easy to set aside our family research as we get wrapped up in projects or life - is there life outside of genealogy?  Marian shared a recent breakthrough in her family research at her blog: Roots & Rambles.  She says, "I have had a re-awakening lately in terms of my own research. I feel like a kid again. I don't want to stop! Now that I don't do client research I have more time for my own family. And with the amount of digitized records that have come online thanks to Ancestry and FamilySearch,  I have been able to research my Pennsylvania and New York ancestors better without having to travel. I'm finding the thing that I love most is transforming names and dates into real people. I love learning about the people in a given generation and how they interacted. I still have quite a few brick walls so I think I'll have enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life!"

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Second Son

In the absence of a photograph, a signature on an old document can make an historical profile just a little more personal. I hope to find images of the Moores and look into their eyes someday.

Edward Moore was born on 25 October 1844 according to the Town of Erving, MA birth records.  His father, James, had come as a teen from Connecticut with his family to farm the land near the Millers River, to mill timber and find other ways to harness water power.   James had found more than farmland; he married Experience Root Holton 27 October 1841. She and her extended family lived nearby in the southern part of Northfield, known as Northfield Farms. Edward had brothers James, two years older, and Clarence, two years younger.  Before his fourth birthday, his mother gave birth to another boy.  Edward's life changed drastically when, two weeks later, his mother died of 'fainting fits' on 23 September 1848.  Although the infant survived, little Clarence died from dysentery ten days after his mother.  It had been a difficult period in the area.  James had written to his father on August 14,  "As to health, it is quite sickly in the neighborhood, disentary (sic) prevailing generally. Father Holton is on the verge of the grave and we now think he cannot live one week longer."  In fact, Edward's grandfather Hezekiah Holton died August 24. There were nine deaths from dysentery listed in the Erving records that summer.

Edward's father, James, was a young man with crops to bring in and had little time to grieve. The new baby was also given the name Clarence. Clarence would have needed constant care. Experience's family likely stepped in.  The four-year-old Edward lived for a time with his grandfather, Oliver, who had returned to Connecticut.  He had a 10 year old daughter, Emily, with his second wife to entertain Edward. A letter that James wrote tn May of 1849 to his father expresses that he hopes to see Edward soon, and asked that he be fitted out with some new clothes.  He reminded him not to forget his brother Jimmy.   It appears that young Jimmy and the infant Clarence remained in Erving.

By the time the 1850 census was taken, the children were reunited in Erving with James' second wife, Eliza Jane Austin. Between 1851 and 1856 Edward became the big brother to two more brothers and two sisters. Eliza Jane's parents and sister lived with the family in 1855, according to the Massachusetts census.  The household was stricken again when Edward was 14. He lost his step-mother when she succumbed to consumption in 1858.  James was left with young children again, and his teen boys. Two of Eliza's children went to  live with Experience's brother and his wife. Merritt and Caroline (ages 3 and 5 at the time of their mother's death) were later adopted by their uncle and aunt, Samuel and Samantha Holton.  The older boys would have been in school, as well as Lucinda, at seven.  Two year old Oliver needed supervision. Did neighbors or family take over his care?  In 1859 James remarried to Priscilla Chapin, and in the 1860 census Oliver was with the family.  In 1861 the last of the siblings, Mary was born to Priscilla and James.

By 1861, Edward's aunt Emily had married Jacob Bauer.  Edward maintained his strong connection to the family in Connecticut.  He and Jacob enlisted in the Union Army in Berlin and received a $100 bounty, as recorded in Oliver's diary. Edward was not quite 18 when the 16th Connecticut Volunteers sailed out of Hartford to New York and then on to Washington by rail.  A history of the regiment was penned by Lieutenant B. F. Blakeslee in 1875. He described the farewell: "It was almost entirely made up of men in the county, and of excellent material, some of the oldest and best families were represented in its ranks, and comprised many of the finest young men whom the commonwealth ever sent to uphold its honor in the field."

They immediately began marching with Army of the Potomac. Edward was injured at the battle of Antietam a month later. The regiment saw heavy action during the succeeding months.  By the time Fort William at Plymouth, NC fell on April 20, 1864 the formerly privileged recruits were seasoned soldiers. With their brothers in arms, Edward and Jacob were taken prisoner.  After being held at Andersonville until September 1, they were transferred to Charleston and Florence, SC before they returned home.  It has been said that Florence, which opened in September of 1864, subjected the prisoners to even worse conditions than Andersonville.  By the end of the war, over half of the 16th were dead. They were welcomed back to Hartford on 29 June 1865.  Although he must have suffered greatly, Edward was lucky to survive.

Edward married Laura Sawyer in 1866 in Phillipston, twenty miles to the east. She was a 28-year-old school teacher, living with her parents. It was the first marriage for both, and he listed his occupation as a mechanic.  Were they acquainted before the war? Or could her brothers have been their connection? The 1865 census lists two of Laura's brothers as soldiers and one as a machinist.  In the 1900 census, Laura states that she had two children, but none living.  I have found no evidence of their children.

Tragedy struck the family again in June of 1869.  Edward's father James was thrown from a wagon by runaway horses, while on business in Northfield. Newspaper reports state he was dragged and died almost instantly.  James' land acquisitions, and his efforts to develop a canal and industrial sites on the river left his heirs with significant holdings. 

1871 Beers Map

In 1870 Edward was listed in the Montague census.  He lived across the river from the family homestead in the village of Millers Falls. The 1871 Beers Atlas map shows his residence at the corner of Main Street.  He listed his occupation as carpenter. 

In 1879 he applied for a Civil War disability pension. More details should be gleaned from that file.  Edward died at 40  of consumption in Phillipston on 5 May 1885.  His wife is buried beside him in the Center Cemetery. 

Find a Grave photo-Memorial #36136947

Sunday, October 19, 2014

In Which I am Speechless

2003 US Postage Stamp features
Addie Card of Pownal, VT,
Joe Manning's first subject in the
Lewis Hine collection.

I have been a fan of Joe Manning and his research for several years. If you have never heard him speak about his work researching the subjects of the Lewis Hine photographs,  I will warn you: if you don't tear up at some point, you have a heart of stone.

In 1908, Lewis Hine was assigned by the National Child Labor Committee to photograph working children.  The organization was lobbying to end the employment of children. Joe was introduced to the collection by a friend and author. I contacted Joe last winter to arrange for him to speak at the spring meeting of the Polish Genealogical Society of Massachusetts. Due to illness, he rescheduled to October, and the talk took place at the Chicopee Public Library last week.

Until Joe told the story, we didn't know that he had become ill in March on his way back from an exhibit opening, celebrating the Young family of Tifton, Georgia. He had met 150 or so descendants at a reunion that started with an image of a little girl in a factory. Their story is here.

During his presentation in Chicopee, the 35 attendees enjoyed his description of the work he undertook to trace the descendants of child laborers in the Hines photos. He included case studies of local subjects from Chicopee and Easthampton, MA.  The collection of over 5,000 photographs can be viewed and searched at the Library of Congress. Over the past several years, Joe Manning has traced the families of 350 of the subjects.

The enthusiasm of the attendees at Joe's talk was evident in the Q&A following his slide show.  He was asked if he had researched his own family tree.  His reply astonished me.  Joe said that he had started with a genealogy class given at a local community college in 2002. The instructor had Polish heritage, as he recalled.  Heads turned to me in the audience.  "Was it Sara Campbell?" one asked.  "That's it!" Joe said, "She changed my life."

I have enjoyed lecturing on a variety of genealogical topics for many years. That has included non-credit courses at Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, PGSMa, and several libraries and regional groups.  Some students keep in touch and I am always happy to know I have "infected" another beginner, or energized a researcher who had reached a brick wall. I never expected the compliment that Joe gave to me this week.

Sara Campbell and Joe Manning, October 16, 2014
at the Chicopee Public Library, Chicopee, MA
Photo by Shari Strahan

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meeneghans in Mayo

Finding my first Irish census record for my mother's family has brought my attention back to that branch of my family. We are fortunate that my great-grandparents' Irish homeland was known by family lore.  "Granny" came from Mullaghroe on the Mullet peninsula  in western Mayo (God help us), as she always modified it. In telling what I have learned about my grandmother, Sarah Meeneghan, and her older sister, Mary, in early posts I pulled together much of what I know about the family. The digitized 1911 Irish census has added Irish names to my data base.

My great-grandfather, Dominick Meeneghan, emigrated from Ireland and married in Wheeling. WV in January of 1887. The marriage record lists his parents: William Meeneghan and Mary Riley. There is some evidence that he had followed his bride, Ellen Broderick, who may have come to work as a domestic.  A woman I believe to be her sister Margaret was working in a household across the river in Ohio. The couple moved north to Springfield, NY where their first child, Mary, was born in October of that year.

"Cousins" William and Hannah Meeneghan were already established in Springfield. What was their relationship? They must have paved the way for Dominick and enticed him to settle in rural New York.  The Meeneghan name is uncommon enough in the US that I can identify all but one or two of those currently in on-line phone directories.

I had no other information beyond the parents' names until I found an April 1906 obituary that lists a Mary Meeneghan as Dominick's sister.  It also mentions a "sister in the west." The 1900 census lists her as a servant in the household of William Festus Morgan in Cooperstown.

Another researcher had passed along an Irish birth record from LDS microfilm that lists a daughter, Sarah, to William and Mary in Manraghory.  That gives Dominick two sisters, both of whom have namesakes in his family.

This census record for Binghamstown, on the Mullet peninsula, fills out the family and adds several more siblings.

Combining these individuals we can construct what we know of the family unit.

William, b 1829
Mary b. 1835
William b. 1844 (not possible to be the child of William and Mary)
Dominick b. 1857 (Mary was 22)
Mary b. 1860
Sarah b. 1861 (was she the sister 'in the west?')
Catherine b. 1865
Margaret b. 1871
James b. 1874
Anne b. 1881 (Mary was 46)

Certainly, there could be additional children who had left home by 1911.  Gaps of more than 2 years could also indicate  early deaths. Could there be another William who was the eldest?  Naming convention would be to name sons after the grandparents before taking the father's name.

The Irish are not known for being imaginative with family names, and the names of Dominick's children mirror his birth family:  Mary, Sarah, Ellen, William,  twins Katherine and Anne, Margaret, and John were his children.

The next census schedule indicates that they owned their home, which was called one room, with two windows on the front.  It was solidly built of stone, brick or concrete, with a roof of wood or thatch.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dear MYRTLE's Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 CITE!

To illustrate the way a variety of documents, correctly cited, will support our research, we are challenged by describe an event in two paragraphs with three sources.  As my research has recently focused on one of the early families of Erving, MA, I choose to evaluate Oliver Moore's residence as a land holder.  Was he a speculator, or did he establish a home in Erving?

The Moores were a prominent family of Southington, Connecticut mentioned in many published histories, which take the family back to the 1600s and to England before that.  Written genealogies are tempting to absorb into our research in their entirety.  They have been published, after all.  We're not talking about the internet here. No shaking leaves. None of the reports that I have uncovered, including the published History of Erving from 1983, acknowledges Oliver Moore as an early settler.  "Early" is a relative term in this town that was not incorporated until 1838.

                          Under 5 - 1 0- 15 - 20 - 30 - 40 - 50 - 60 - 70 - 80 - 90    5-10 -15-20-30-40

The first source for Oliver's residence is the 1840 Federal Census of Erving 1.  As only the Head of Household is listed on the schedule, the ages of the remaining family members are analyzed based on the age categories given.  They match what has been published about his family in Connecticut fairly well:  Oliver, born in 1796 would have been 44; son James born in 1820 would have been 20; another male is listed aged 20-30 who could have been a brother or a hired man; Oliver's wife Abigail would have been 41; and their two daughters born in 1834 and 1838 would have been under 10, although both are listed in the 5 -10 category.  Secondly, the 1838 deed from Lucius Clarke for land on the north side of the Millers River in Erving listed Oliver as "of Erving's Grant." 2 He had purchased land in Wendell in 1838, but had relatively few other transactions.  They included known family members.  Only one Oliver Moore was in the deed indices until hs grandson came along. And thirdly, a transcription of obituaries in CT states that Oliver's daughter Nancy died in Erving in 1838. 3  

When their daughter Caroline died in 1842, the family had returned to Connecticut, based on her death record. More work will narrow the window that he lived in Massachusetts, but that is not for this challenge. Oliver's son James remained in Erving and prospered. That is another story. There is something very satisfying about primary research! 


 1   Year: 1840; Census Place: Erving, Franklin, Massachusetts; Roll: 183; Page: 39; Image: 86; Family History Library Film: 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

2   Franklin County Registry of Deeds, Greenfield, MA, Book 106, Page 213

3 Connecticut, Hale Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: The Charles R. Hale CollectionHale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut State Library.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ladies in the WPA

How do I love reading Annual Town Reports?  Let me count the ways.

We may be familiar with heavy construction projects which were the fruit of the WPA during the 1930s.  The 1937 Report for the Town of Greenfield, MA lists 20 projects, including "Sewing for the Needy."

It states that this project furnished employment for up to 64 women over 50,000 hours and $23,000 in wages during the year.  Statistics were tallied and resulted in 17,751 distinct articles being made from 49,000 yards of material. 

They made:
Boys' pajamas           609
Boys' pants                257
Boys shirts             2,333
Boys shorts               254
Children's sleepers   516
Girls' bloomers           72
Girl's dresses            647
Girls' pajamas          535
Girls' slips                 156
Infants' diapers      1,159
Infants' dresses          48
Infants' nightgowns  48
Infants' slips               96
Ladies' bloomers     240
Ladies' dresses         956
Ladies' nightgowns 382
Ladies' pajamas      340
Ladies' slips               39
Men's pajamas        375
Men's shirts         4,960
Men's shorts           528
Towels                   1,774
Pillow Cases           894
Sheets                      515

The Town Accountant's Report lists $216 expended in materials.  All of these items were given to needy families in Franklin County, mainly Greenfield residents.  Quite an achievement!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Midnight Mass

My father wasn't a church-goer.  He would drop us off at St. Mary's church in Clinton NY on Sunday mornings, and we would often walk down to Holland Farms for a doughnut afterwards, and meet him there.  I moved on to riding my bike to church, some weeks, and later we enjoyed attending Mass at Hamilton College, where the atmosphere was casual.

When I was in high school, my mother worked two nights a week at the Lutheran Home, a residential care facility.  She didn't drive, and one of us had to drop her off, but that is another story.  She would volunteer to work the 11-7 shift on Christmas Eve to allow the other nurses with younger children to be at home.  Around that time we started to enjoy Midnight Mass at Christmas and Dad participated.  Was it because I didn't have my license yet?   

You might think that with students on the holiday break there would not be a Mass at the college.  For some reason, Christmas remained on the schedule and there always seemed to be a good crowd. There would be candles, and someone played the organ.  I remember one year that we got a significant snowfall during the time we were inside.  It was magical to come out to the sparkling darkness with carols in our ears.

After the first year, I am pretty sure that it was the promise of breakfast with the Burns family in Franklin Springs that kept Dad coming, but it was a special time of togetherness for me.

(I'd like to credit the photo, but clicking it took me to an unsavory web site, so I'll just leave it at a google image search)