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