Sunday, December 23, 2012

Friends with Family in the Right Places: Thanks!

While putting some research into my American Revolutionary Patriot ancestors, my 5th great grandfathers who were also brothers, Colonel Daniel Moore and Lt. Colonel Robert Moore of New Hampshire, I learned that Robert Moore (or Moor) was born on May 26, 1726, in Londonderry, NH and died on  October 25, 1778, also in Londonderry, NH.

Londonderry, New Hampshire is now known as Derry. And it just so happens that some of my very best friends have family in Derry. So this past summer, June 2012, my friends Andrea and Laszlo along with their children and mothers traipsed to the Forest Hill Cemetery in Derry, NH for me to find Moore family headstones.

From what I understand, it made for quite a field trip. Laszlo wasn't so sure they'd be able to find the graves. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to find graves if the cemetery lacks a directory or someone of the staff present to help you find the headstone. Nine out of 10 times my relatives don't even have headstones. They were generally a poor people who couldn't afford stones. Next time your walking through a cemetery and come across an "empty spot" in the middle of rows and rows of headstones, that empty spot is probably a relative of mine. In any case...

Andrea was kind of astonished that headstones from the late 1700s still existed. I was kind of astonished that she was astonished. See, in Hungary where Andrea was raised, gravesites must be financially maintained by the family in order to stay intact. I am hoping that Andrea will read this post and use the comment section below to explain the European practices in more detail.

Additionally, I think the adventure also provided her children with some fun. I think it was kind of neat that they got to see some history of their grandparent's town; a town that my family helped to found but that I have yet see.

Colonel Robert Moor(e) is interned in the Forest Hill Cemetery right near his parents; my 6th great grandparents John and Janet Moor. Colonel Daniel Moore is buried in a different location in a nearby town. When I have the opportunity to venture up that way I will be sure to visit his gravesite too.

Its incredibly wonderful to have real friends; friends who will take the time of their travels to do a genealogical kindness. Here are the pictures the family took for me of the Moore Family headstones in Forest Hill Cemetery in Derry, NH:

 Gate to Forest Hill Cemetery, Derry, NH
A memorial stone for my 5th great grandfather, Revolutionary soldier, Colonel Robert Moor(e)

 Headstone of my 5th great grandfather Colonel Robert Moor(e).

 Headstone of my 6th great-grandfather, John Moor(e), the father of Robert and Daniel Moore
and my 6th great grandmother Janet Moor(e)
 The nearby church

A little history about the settlement of Londonderry, NH (now Derry, NH).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

More on my Moores

On pages 40 and 41 of J. Clifford Moore's book, The Life and Times of a High School Principal in Rural Quebec, Mr. Moore writes the following about my 4th great grandparents, William and Eleanor Moore of Kingsey (outside today's Drummondville), Quebec, Canada by way of Londonderry, New Hampshire, U.S.A.:
"The Moores, the second settlers
"The second settler to arrive in Kingsey was William Moore, with his wife Eleanor, from Londonderry, N.H. in the year 1802. They staked out their claim on Range 3. Lot 22 or 23 on land later acquired by Joseph Henry Moore, about a mile distant from the Wadleighs [the first settlers in Kingsey]. After they had built their cabin and cleared some land, they returned to Londonderry. There, they gathered up their household goods, loaded them on the backs of oxen and, with their children, made the return journey to their new home. When they arrived there, Eleanor and the children had to wait while her husband cut a door into the cabin. Their first night was spent with only a drape for a door. Before long, William and his sons had erected a fine cluster of buildings. The house was a veritable mansion with a crescent-shaped driveway, bordered by some beautiful pine trees. The barns were sufficiently large to house their livestock, equipment and drygoods. All that remains of this once beautiful property is the Moore cemetery on the river bank across the road. Due to the interest and care of some concerned friends, this cemetery is kept in a state of good repair. Recent vandalism has spoiled their good work.
"William and Eleanor were first cousins. William, born in 1763, was the son of Lt. Colonel Robert Moore. Eleanor, born in 1767, was the daughter of Colonel Daniel Moore of Bedford, N.H. They were married in 1784. William died on July 8, 1817. Eleanor died in 1836 [October 19]. Both were buried in the Moore cemetery."

Moore, J. C. (1996). The life and times of a high school principal in rural Quebec. Lennoxville, Québec: Townships Sun. 

William and Eleanor Moore begat a daughter, Ann Moore.
Ann Moore married Peter Sharp. They begat a son, Daniel Sharp.
Daniel Sharp married Lydia Ann McLean. They begat a daughter, Mary Elizabeth "Mayme" Sharp.
Mayme Sharp married Almond Desjardins (a.k.a. Albert Gardner). They begat a son, my grandfather, Clarence Albert Gardner.
I do so love begats.

 The Moore Family Cemetery

The headstone of my 3rd great grandmother, Ann Moore-Sharp, 
and her son, my 2nd great grandfather Daniel Sharp

Photos of the Moore Family Cemetery provided by Mr. Guy Dussault.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Examine "Facts" Relative to the Sources: Finding my Patriot

For at least a decade now I have longed to join the Daughters of the American Revolution; the DAR. Don't ask me why really. I'm not a joiner for the most part. I guess I just think it would be cool for someone to acknowledge the quality of my genealogy research.

To become a member of the DAR one has to unquestionably document her direct connection to a soldier who fought for the cause of American independence from Great Britain. In many instances the women who belong to the organization enter on the coat-tails of their mothers or grandmothers; someone else had their genealogy accepted by the DAR. My mother, neither of my grandmothers, nor were any of my great-grandmothers members of the DAR. I'm on my own here and I just know, in my gut, that I am descended from a patriot.

One line on my father's side is well documented as early settlers in the New World. However, at the time of the American Revolution those ancestors of mine lived on Long Island, New York which was a loyalist stronghold. In other words, those ancestors of mine were probably shooting at the Daughters' ancestors; that's not going to get me into the DAR.

Earlier this year I started trying to push past my 3rd great-grandparents. Yes, I can name all 32 of my great-great-great grandparents. Some of their lines I can take back much further but still others of those 3rd greats represent the brick-walls in my research. In the push I began working on finding more information about Annie Moore-Sharp, my mother's, father's, mother's, father's mother (how is that for a wiggly branch?).

All I really knew was that Annie Moore was the mother of Daniel Sharp, the wife of Peter Sharp, that she lived in Kingsey, Quebec, Canada, and she was born around the 1780s. I knew that based on church records I found pertaining to her marriage and the baptism of her son, Daniel. That's quite a lot actually but I wanted to know more. I wanted to know who her parents were, where she was born, and when exactly she died.

I hit the ground running with the last ditch effort of broad Google searches; the "Hail, Mary" play of genealogy research. I uncovered a Google book, The History of Bedford, New Hampshire from 1737 being statistics compiled on the Occasion of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town, May 15, 1900. There on page 995 of the 1903 edition was a Moore family genealogy which included the following:

"IV. Ann, dau. of William (3), b. 1785; m. Peter Sharp; res. in Kingsey, P. Q.  Had two ch.: Daniel (5) and Christopher (5)."

I had no reason to doubt that this was my Annie Moore-Sharp. The most interesting part was that reading back through that genealogy I learned that Annie's father William was the son of Lieutenant Col. Robert Moore of Londonderry, NH. Annie Moore's mother, Eleanor Moore, was the daughter of Col. Daniel Moore; yes, Annie's parents were first cousins and yes, her BOTH of her grandfathers had served in the American Revolution on the side of the Americans. I had not one but two patriots and of all places on a line that I considered to be my Canadian line.

The question is though, can I back up this clue from this secondary source with factual evidence from primary sources? 

At this point I have found any primary sources to connect Annie to her parents. I have, however, several secondary sources. I have not yet applied for membership to the DAR and thus have not had my resources evaluated by them so I do not know the definitive answer to that question...yet.

Further investigation turned up another published Moore Family genealogy. This one included in a book titled, The Life and Times of a High School Principal in Rural Quebec by J. Clifford Moore. In this secondary source the following information was provided on page 89:
"William was born in 1763, while Eleanor was born in 1767, and they were married in the year 1784. We know little about their movements prior to their coming to Kingsey. However, four of six children were born in the United States, probably Londonderry.
"Ann, who was born in 1783, became the wife of Peter Sharp;..."

Later on in the same text, on page 107, the author records the headstones in a Moore Family cemetery situated mid-way between the towns of Richmond and Drummondville, Quebec.:

"Sharp. Daniel Sharp, died October 12, 1898, aged 76 years 7 months.
Anne Moore, wife of Peter Sharp, died January 14, 1868, age 85 years".

A few more internet searches led me to a man who lives not far from the cemetery who offered to photograph the headstones for researchers; I took advantage of his genealogical kindness. Headstones, for all intents and purposes, are also secondary sources though. They're usually created close to the time of the event of one's death but the information they provide about age and dates can be just as erroneous as a death certificate. The photos do serve as yet another secondary source, though.

Will these secondary sources be enough to replace the evidence of a primary sources?
As a group they provide much more proof than they do independently.

Will they be enough to secure my membership in the DAR?
In conjunction with other primary sources about Annie's son, husband, and brother, I may have enough of a case to satisfy the DAR.

We shall see.

But the lesson is that in the absence of primary sources gather as many secondary sources as you can. Conduct what is often termed a "reasonably exhaustive search." Search a variety of documents; obituaries, church records, census records, land deeds, etc. Examine the facts relative to the sources; understand where the information is coming from and why it was recorded. That birth date on that death certificate could very well be 100% correct; can you find the birth date on other resources from various points in time?? That is the best one can do to "know."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources

I think I speak for all genealogy researchers when I say that primary sources get me all jazzed-up. I'm over the moon when I get my hands on an original document especially one written in an ancestor's own handwriting. Letter, diaries, family bible entries put me in such a state it would make you blush.

A primary sources is a source of evidence created at the time of the event. For example, a death certificate is a primary source for an individual's date of death, the cause, and the location at which the death took place. A death certificate is NOT a primary source for the individual's date of birth even though it often contains an accurate date of birth. A diary is a primary source for the writer's day-to-day experiences.

A secondary source provides interpretation and analysis of primary sources. Secondary sources are one step removed from the original event. So back to that death certificate, that is a secondary source for the date of someone's birth because the informant provided the most accurate information that they knew which of course is not always accurate. My grandfather always lied about his age; at the time of his death his own children weren't sure what year he was born. A book is a secondary source; the author may use that diary mentioned above as a resources for insight into writing about a historic event but the book produced is a secondary source.

There are even something called tertiary sources which I won't bother your pretty little head with...

As a genealogy researcher, one wants all the primary sources he/she can get; not only for that super tingly feeling one derives but also to be able to state facts. A death certificate let's a researcher say, "He did die on June 1st. His birthday may have been March 2nd. He was probably 90 years old when he died."

Facts are what researchers want. There are many instances though when primary sources just don't exist though. For example, civil registration of births did not begin in New York state until the later half of the 1800s. So your relative that was born in New Amsterdam in 1640 isn't going to have a birth certificate. A birth register may have been kept by the religious institution your family belonged to and perhaps you'll be fortunate to find such a resource still in existence in some archive somewhere. However, a lot of primary sources have been lost to the ravages of time; fires, floods, poor conditions, and handling.

So how do you know?

Well, you may never know. That is just the coldest hard fact. You may never know.

Can secondary sources be trusted?

Genealogy research does, however, require a wee bit of trust. Just because a source is not a primary sources does not mean it is wrong. If that were the case, why would we have any books at all?? Secondary sources CAN be incredibly reliable. Just remember to examine your "facts" relative to the sources.

In my next post I'll provide and example that clarifies exactly what I mean by "examine your 'facts' relative to the sources." Until skeptical. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Great-great-great Grandma Mary Something-Henry

There is some confusion about my great-great-great grandmother, Mary Henry's, maiden name. Mary died on the 8th of January in 1907. Her son August Henry was listed at the informant on her death certificate. Noted on the certificate is that August could not ascertain his mother’s maiden name.

On April 16, 1906 August Henry married Mary Arsenault at St. Elizabeth's Church in Woodhaven, Queens, New York. On his marriage certificate his mother's maiden name is listed as Carrion; as opposed to Carrian which is listed on her death certificate above. I am not hung up on the spelling of the name. Every genealogist knows that the concept of correct spelling is  a 20th century notion. I just wonder if August was correct about this mother's maiden name at the time of his marriage.

August's best-man was a gentleman by the name of Harry Carillion. Could Carrillion been his mother's maiden name? It does soundex the same as Carrion and Carrian. Could Harry have been a cousin on his mother's side?

According to all the census records I have found listing my Mary Henry, she was born in the U.S., in New York in October of 1855 to parents of French origin; not Swiss. On her death certificate above it says her parents were Swiss but we know August was unclear about other facts at the time of her death; did he make a mistake there too? Mary's husband, Victor Henry, was of Swiss descent. Were Mary's parents French speaking Swiss?

I did attempt to find a Mary Carrion/Carrian in the 1870 census; before she was married. I did find a possible match; a Mary Carrion, line 36 below, aged 13 years old which would have put her birth in about 1857. That could be, however, her parents are listed as being born in Ireland. Eh, this is probably not my Mary since she lists her parents as being born in France in later census records. Interestingly enough though, this Mary's older brother works in a tin factory and my great-great-great grandmother Mary's husband, Victor Henry, was a tinsmith. Hmm...

For now Mary's maiden name will remain a mystery but it saddens me that our mother's lines are often lost to the patriarchal conformity of our culture. When women marry they traditionally give up their maiden names; granted those names are taken from their father's but still that tradition can make maternal research extremely challenging. And so researching Mary Something-Henry's family line has hit the brick wall. Don't worry though, Mary, I won't give up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Inheriting Estrangement

Several years ago I became enamored with a documentary called Traces of the Trade and a book titled Inheriting the Trade both of which were about the descendents of the largest slave trading family in the United States; the DeWolf Family of Bristol, Rhode Island. Both really examine what history we inherit as individuals, as citizens, as a society.

I remember the first time I read a family will in which among the bedding and silverware were the names of people. I was 16 at the time and devastated, absolutely devastated that my family, family here in the great state of New York, owned slaves and treated humans as property. Devastated.

The DeWolf's story began to make me ponder what other intangible things we inherit; what other qualities are passed down through our families. For me I have discovered a history of estrangement. It's really a rather painful issue for me. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, estrangement is the breakdown of a once harmonious relationship into one that is characterized as, at worst, hostile but at the very least, indifferent. To say one is estranged from someone else is to say they no longer have a functioning family relationship. It is usually a devastating process. I am estranged from my mother.

It wasn't until the passing of my maternal grandfather in 2004 that I began to research my mother's genealogy. Grandpa wasn't keen on talking about family and I never knew my maternal grandmother, she died before I was born. I consciously chose to wait to investigate mom's side. I didn't outright state I would wait until grandpa died; I never wanted to think of that day but I did always sort of think, "well, I'll wait." After grandpa passed away though, my interest in mom's line began to gnaw at me.

I came to learn that my grandfather was estranged from his older sister, Lois. That my grandmother's father, James Fay, along with his other siblings, shunned a sister for marrying a man of Chinese descent. My grandfather's paternal grandfather, Damase Desjardins, had a son from a first marriage that he left with family in Montreal when he moved to the U.S. I don't know what their relationship was like but considering Damase did not attend his son's wedding I suspect they were estranged.

All these relationships clarified for me that my family has passed down an acceptance of such behavior. We've learned that it is okay to lob off the limb of the family tree that, for whatever reason, we just can't get along with.

Well, I don't think that it is okay.

It is rapidly approaching the 1st anniversary of my Aunt Nancy's death. She was the one of my mother's siblings that really did obviously try to keep family together. Her passing was a dramatic event on many many levels. The day she passed I had an epiphany; a striking revelation that I will never lose...

The lesson of family is to learn to accept one another as they are.

You don't have to love them. You don't even have to like them. What you need to do is learn to accept them as they are with some sort of respect. They don't have to live in your house. You don't have to go out of your way to see them. But what you really really shouldn't do is turn your back on them. You might really be all they have; the only person they have any sort of connection to; a connection that was assigned to you.

As the holidays approach, while you're rolling your eyes at the repetition of some family story at some family function you might not really want to be at, remember that this is what you have inherited. Pass on something greater. Teach acceptance. Teach tolerance. Love.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Well-connected and Psychic Friends

I have a friend who's sister is a medium. Regardless of how you feel about psychics, this woman is no joke. I had never had a reading before until I sat with Mary. She said the most amazing things to me; things no one could have possibly know. And I am sure everyone who goes to a psychic and is taken by what they say says just that, "She told me things no one else could possibly know." But could they tell you the story I am about to share with you?

Several things really stand out to me from that reading but most memorable was Mary saying to me that it was wonderful to read someone who knew their family history. It made it easy for me to understand who she was connecting with. Without getting into all the details she shared with me, towards the end of the session Mary said to me, "You're going to come across two family names in your research; Williams and Evans." It didn't strike me as remarkable at the time; I mean, they aren't that uncommon of names. In fact, I completely dismissed the Williams name because my Cousin Kelly has recently married into a Williams family. I took what Mary said with a grain of salt and filed it away.

She asked me, "Who is David?" I shrugged. I didn't really know a David. I had worked with a few. My father's cousin had a son named David, but I don't really know him well. Nope, I didn't know any David really well.

Not more than 3 days later I was going through some family papers, papers I had looked at a hundred times if I had looked at them once, and there on my great grandmother, Mayme Sharp's boarder crossing card from Canada into the United States I noticed a name. Mayme listed that she was headed to Lowell, Massachusetts to see her Aunt Belle EVANS. EVANS. And Mary's words floated back to me.

Who was this Evans woman? I don't recall finding an Aunt Belle in the research I had done. Now I was on a mission. A mission that would take me a very long time and depend upon the kindness of well-connected friends.

I began searching census records for Aunt Belle. I came upon a Belle N. Evans married to a Fred Evans in Lowell, Massachusetts. Since the time of my reading I had befriended a genealogist in Massachusetts; whose name was...wait for it...wait for it....David. It never really struck me that now I knew a David. Sincerely, I had almost forgotten that Mary had asked me about a David.

I called upon his expertise to helped me locate a marriage certificate for this couple even though I was not 100% sure that this Aunt Belle was really my great-grandmother's aunt; she could have been a friend of the family as is often the case with that side of my family. There are many instances when very close family friends are called Aunt and Uncle despite the fact they are not related; it can and often is just a term of respect. Sometimes Aunt and Uncle are titles given to near relatives too. For example, I call my father's first cousins Aunt Ro, Uncle Charlie, Uncle Ed, etc. So was this Aunt Belle really an aunt to my great grandmother?

David helped me to secure this document:

If you look at the details about Isabelle you'll see her last name is listed as no-other-than Williams. What?!?! Yes, Williams, the surname of her first husband. And in parentheses after the Williams you will see the name McLean. 

Great-grandma Mayme Sharp-Gardner's mother's name was Lydia McLean-Sharp. My great-great grandmother's parents were Donald McLean and Elizabeth Walker-McLean; this I knew! Without a doubt I also now knew that Isabelle Nancy McLean-Williams-Evans was the sister of Lydia McLean-Sharp. Aunt Belle was absolutely the biological aunt of my great grandmother Mayme Sharp-Gardner.

And there it was; Williams and Evans. Staring me square in the face were the names I was told I would research. A document I probably would not have seen if not for the help of David. Mary is no joke.

And Aunt Belle played a pretty critical piece in my family's history. She was the person who facilitated my great-grandmother's move from Canada to the United States. Several generations before this line had lived in New Hampshire but moved up to Canada for land. Here they were moving back to the U.S. in the 1910s for work. Had great-grandma Mayme stayed in Canada someone else would be writing this blog. I'm grateful to Aunt Belle.
As I always tell my researching cousins and friends when their hit their genealogical brick walls; some ancestors just do not want to be found but some, oh some relatives most definitely want to be found, definitely.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Power of the Sea

It has been a long time since I have written. My only excuse is that I have been overwhelmed with the end of the semester. As a post-graduate student I am only taking one class, but still it was a rough semester battered mostly by Hurricane Sandy which caused havoc in my homeland of Long Island, NY. 

My family, in general, fared well. We all lost power at some point. My Uncle Thomas was the hardest hit being that he lived on a canal. My sister was also displaced for sometime. She gave birth to my niece, her first child, just days before the storm and returned home to a house filled with 5 feet of water. My niece, Sofie, spent the first two weeks of her life living in my childhood bedroom with my sister, my brother-in-law, and their dog. Needless to say it all seemed normal to Sofie.

But all this talk of storms and the ravages of the sea has made me think of my great-great grandfather, Abraham Earle who died at sea. The Earles were a seafaring people who lived in Twillingate, Newfoundland until my great-grandfather Abram Thomas Earle emigrated to the United States at the turn of the century with his sisters; he was about 8 at the time and his mother had died. 

Abram never knew his father. He was born after his father's death. Often when I say that people seem confused. Yes, that can happen. His father died while his mother was pregnant. His father, Abraham took to sea on a ship called The Rise and Go in the fall of 1890. Abram was born in January 1891 and on March 21, 1891 this article appeared in the Twillingate Sun.

"When on the wide and boundless path Of desolation doom'd to flee, Say, sunk she mid the blended wrath Of stormy cloud or raging sea? Or where the laud but mocks the eye, Went drifting on a fatal shore? Vain guess all ---- her Destiny was dark ---- She ne'er was heard of more, Oh! were her tale of sorrow known, 'Twere something to the aching heart; The pangs of doubt would then be gone, And fancy's dreams would then depart. It may not be ---- there is no ray By which her face we can explore, We only know ---- she sailed away, And ne'er was seen or heard of more."
"The beautiful lines of the poetess bear a most faithful and painful resemblance to the fate of one of our fleet of schooner, the Rise and Go, of Twillingate, Thomas WARR, master, which left this harbor late last fall with a cargo of fish from W. Waterman & Co., and bound for St. John's, and has not been heard of. Doubtless, she succombed to the fury of the gale which sprung up a few days after leaving this harbor, but no positive or definite account of how, or where, or when she was lost or disappeared, has ever reached the anxious and sorrowing relatives of those on board, and all hope that any such news will ever reach them must now be abandoned.
"In the meantime we would offer to the afflicted mourners our deepest and heartfelt sympathy in this their day of sorrow and suffering, and we feel certain that a like wide spread sympathetic feeling exists in the hearts of the general community, where the lost ones were well known and esteemed. It might not be a difficult, but it would be a very melancholy and painful task for the imagination to picture the anxious waiting, the harrowing suspense, with the fitful gleams of hope that must at times have agitated the hearts of those despairing mourners, looking --- oh how vainly looking for the return of the missing and beloved ones to the homes now, so desolate and deserted; but we confess our inability to enter on such a painful task, or to dwell on the irreparable loss they have sustained. The missing ones are now we trust in "That land of pure delight, Where Saints immortal reign." And we know that all will reverently join us in commending the bereaved families to the guidance of One who has promised (and his promises are Yea and Amen) to be a husband to the widow, a father to the fatherless, a friend to the friendless, and a very sure refuge in every time of need.
"The six men composing the crew of the ill fated Rise and Go were the master, Thomas WARR, and two sons George and Daniel, Abraham EARLE, Elijah SHARPE, and Thomas SIMMS, who have left four widows and fifteen children."
Note: The dates on this headstone are wrong. Erected by his children long after his death, Abraham Earle died at sea in the fall of 1890. His body is not interned here.

The sea is a powerful and mighty force. It has affected lives then and now and will continue to do so for as long as humankind exists. Nature always wins.