Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Prickly Summer: Witnesses to Wedding

Cropped witnesses to Wedding

Prickly Summer: My Paternal Grandparent's Wedding

Some years ago, my late cousin, who inherited a box of items when my father's sister, Annie passed away, discovered the marriage certificate of our mutual grandparents.  Seeing that my birthday was near, she took it and had it photocopied for me and put it in the mail as a surprise. I didn't know the exact place or date of my grandparent's marriage. 

Copy of Marriage Record

When looking at a marriage certificate from a church ceremony, you should record the people who attended the service, including the the name of the clergy and the name of the location of the church or the justice of the peace or courthouse ceremony. Location matters.

In this case, it was not my paternal grandfather's Broadfoot family that witnessed the service, it was my paternal grandmother's family. I admit I was surprised. My grandfather arrived at Ellis Island 2 Apr 1904 and was "going to see" his great uncle Tom who lived in Westerly. By 28 Nov 1907, he had met and married Annie Aiken. I have no idea how they met or where he lived in that time period. That's prickly. I do know she arrived (back) from Scotland on 1 May 1905 and was "going to see" her brother Alex who lived in New York after arriving in 10 Jun 1904.

Making a timeline is in order but for now I am glad to see Jessie Taylor Aiken and her brother Alex's signatures.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Prickly Summer: DNA in the family

Screen Shot of DNA Match of Midge and Jennifer
Used with her permission with her screen name blocked out, 2018
Despite prickly family troubles, I choose to remember that my late great aunt Georgina was a strong woman who managed to overcome some obstacles in her life. When I inherited some snapshots of Aiken family members who were from the South, I went seeking out living family to help me with this line. They were willing to exchange emails with me. 

My late uncle Bill's middle name was Beveridge. I'm so glad. Our surnames are important to remembering our ancestors. Thank you Uncle Bill and Aunt Hannah for caring about our family.

As Georgina was alive in my lifetime, I still feel that she is the "Aunt Teeny" I remember. My dad took me to Westerly one day, perhaps a Memorial Day, and when we got out of the car, I looked up at the house and a lady flung open the window and shouted out to my dad.

As I remember, the lady called my father Harcomb (his middle name) and said, "It's Harcomb and the wee bairn!" What she said after that, I didn't understand. Later, I asked my father if she was speaking French. I knew my dad spoke some "school French". He roared and said that was the Scottish accent. I might have 3 or 4 years old. 

I looked at the house on Google Maps and it doesn't look like what I remember at all. However, this could have been anywhere in the Westerly area at any house that hosted Memorial Day.  I wish my Dad had told me that the lady was his mother's sister.

Georgina left me a great new cousin to communicate with and we have had a great time along with Rosalie piecing together our Aitken/Aiken/Aikin family. Through Ancestry DNA, we have added another "proof" of DNA. 

It's not prickly at all. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Prickly Summer: What's the name?

Carve Names in the in the family, one in RI and one in Georgia
Prickly Summer: What's the Name?

Over the years, names in families change. Genealogists shrug and say that this is expected. But, when families came to this country they expected life to be different. My great grandparents, David and Annie (Beveridge) Aiken married in 1881 in Woodside in Aberdeen in Scotland. She was a rag worker and he was a granite dresser. They came to America in 1884 through Castle Garden and returned to Scotland in 1898. 

David became a US citizen in 1892 and his name is typed as Aiken.

They must have wanted their children to be born in the United States because only the last son was born in Scotland. They moved around a lot when the children were small. They lived in New York and Rhode Island during those years. By 1901, David is a settmaker in the granite industry living back in Scotland. Why they went back is a mystery because they did return in later years.

A family member told me that they loved going to Georgia because of the warm climate and the red granite which makes beautiful stone monuments. In fact, they did retire to Georgia and died there. They are buried in  Lithonia City Cemetery, Lithonia, DeKalb, Georgia and the name renamed without the T.

As I researched back, I did find family born in Scotland under the name Aitken and when they came to the US they kept the T. One man I knew and he was my cousin. 

But, none of that explained the middle name of my grandmother's sister, "Watt Moir". Only one family member seems to have it. His name was George Watt Moir Aitken and he was the brother of my great grandfather David. He came to America, raised a family and died in North Carolina.

I used to think Georgina was named for the state of Georgia but now I think she is named for her uncle George.

Names are prickly genealogy.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Prickly Summer

Cactus Shelf (photo by Midge Frazel, 2018)
Prickly Summer

We all know that some ancestors and their families can be troublesome to research and write about. They don't mean to be vexatious, it is just that they are more work than others. It can take years to get them in the right order with the right records. 

In the past, people used to get prickly heat (heat rash) when it was hot and uncomfortable in mid-summer. Babies cried, tempers flared, tummies got upset, people argued. Of course, unless a diary was kept or there was a newspaper article written, it isn't something people like to remember. Our ancestors who came to America needed tender loving care in a new place and they often didn't find a good job or a decent place to live. It is the same trouble people have today. Life can be prickly.

I was lucky. My family took care of each other as much as possible. My maternal family hired my paternal family and gave them a better life. There was less hunger and when families gathered there was good food, a roof overhead and simple fun to be had. They took photographs. I treasure these tremendously when new ones are shared with me. 
Aiken family photo shared with me by the late Virgil Veal and his wife Annie Dow. Annotated by that family.

But, the troubles can be thorny and stinging even in the good times. Like the cactus plants, they can look beautiful and still be hard to touch. So, this summer, I want to focus on finding out more now that we have more resources. I want to appreciate them from my cool, comfortable home and keep calm and research on. Here's the notebook I am going to use to plan the posts. Some of what I am going to write won't be public but I feel that people need to know about good times and bad.

Cactus themed for the Prickly Summer, 2018

Monday, May 7, 2018

Hopped on a Canoe

Hopped on A Canoe
My Third Great Grandparents
18 Feb 1817
Isaac Denison, Jr, and Levina Fish

The Day, 20 Aug 1999, page A1 and A5
"Keeping Mystic in its Natural State"

Would you ever think that your New England ancestors would get married in one home in one town and have a reception in another town and travel between the events in canoes in February? This seemed like an unlikely event to take place so I began to look for evidence that this actually took place. This 1999 newspaper article can be somewhat authenticated and even I am surprised. 

This wedding tale was found in the bride's newspaper funeral notice as located by Elsie Barstow and told again in a slide presentation, "The Fish families of early Mystic" by Warren Bourque, dated 17 May 1974.  Elsie lived in the house that belonged to Isaac and Levina at 6 Willow St. Mystic and was intrigued by Levina's long life.

It might be derivative evidence but it is all we've got since the bride (a long time widow) died in 1890. The wedding and reception are certainly not unlike ones today that are held in two locations and considered a "destination event."

For help with this "hopped on a canoe" tale this I enlisted the following people to help me: Dorothy Hanna, Mystic River Historical Society, 2 May 2018 and in the Mystic Press newspaper 24 and 29 July 1890 by Barbara Fallon and Nina Wright of the Westerly Public Library on 1 May 2018. No canoes were involved in the research.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

I.W. Denison, Shopkeeper

The Mystic Press, 29 July 1890 page 3
from the archives at  The Westerly Public Library
1 May 2018 from Barbara Fallon and Nina Wright.
My ancestor, Dudley Wheeler Stewart (1822-1886) was a merchant shopkeeper in the town of North Stonington, Connecticut. He did not marry until he was 33 years old. 

His wife Eliza Fish Denison (1833-1909) was my 2nd great grandmother and in 1909 when she died, she was living in Pawcatuck, Connecticut with her only living son and his family. That family included my maternal grandfather, Evans Stewart, who listened to all the family stories. 

This man in the ad above, I.W. Denison (1817-1895) was Eliza's eldest brother. There are photos of this storefront in many books on Mystic that I own. This ad tells me that although his store was larger and served a bigger town, this store had the same type of goods to be sold as Dudley's store.

Ever since I learned of this store, I have wondered if I.W. and Dudley knew each other. There are not very miles between the location of both stores. I suspect that Dudley, the last child born in his family, was introduced to his future bride by this man, known as I.W. or Isaac Wheeler Denison.
Photo taken in the Dension Homestead in 2009 by Midge Frazel

Eliza was educated at Portersville Academy and at the age of 17, she was living in nearby Groton with her uncle Simeon Fish (1799-1863), attending school and probably helping out in the household. Simeon Fish and Eliza's mother Levina Fish, were close in age and for sometime, his occupation is listed as merchant.

That's three men who were merchants who knew each other. 

In this time period, women were expected to marry, become a school teacher, or to nurse aged family members. Eliza was wise to marry Dudley. They married in 1856 and lived near his store in North Stonington, Connecticut. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Blogiversary to Me

Photo of cake by Midge Frazel
Writing blog posts is hard work. I started this blog in 2015 after returning from a conference with the thought that I needed to separate my genealogy research from the cemetery research. I enjoy doing this blog as much as I do writing about gravestones. 

This winter and spring, I have been transcribing and analyzing obituaries and funeral notices of as many of my ancestors that I can locate. They fit in well with the gravestone blog so that is where I have put them. 

Everyone seems mesmerized by DNA. It doesn't seem that despite the best effort of those who do fine work in DNA research, people are not getting that they must do research on their ancestors. I am getting a lot of questions about my ancestors who may or may not have lived in other countries. 

I refer them to my tree at Ancestry to see if they have a match to me. (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/890183/)

Right now, I am writing a family history book for my descendants about my family.  I find I am enjoying doing that and blogging is taking a "back seat" to that work.

I am impressed with my fellow bloggers who continue to put out well-documents, interesting and important blog posts. As I no longer travel or go to conferences by choice, my free time is spent doing things I love to do.