Menstruation through the ages

We are taking a break from Levi Savage and instead will focus on an issue that is uniquely female. I recently came across a post in one of the Facebook history groups that I follow. The post asked how women in the medieval period dealt with menstruation since they didn’t have the sanitary products available today. This post raised all sorts of questions about beliefs in menstruation and led me to a couple of blog posts that describe it well:His story, her story & Rosalie’s Medieval Woman.

Up until the 20th century (in some cases), menstrual blood was considered poisonous. Under the humoral theory, menstruation was deemed necessary to get rid of excess humors. Without menstruation the humors would build up, with potentially disastrous health effects. Due to the poor diet in the medieval ages, menstruation did not always occur monthly. I showed in a research paper that, based on 2 books from the medieval period, the medical treatments to provoke the menses were very good, since it was such an important thing to take care of.

Even after the humoral theory fell out of favor in the 18th and 19th centuries, menstrual blood still retained a negative connotation through the early 20th centuries.

What did your female ancestors have to deal with re: menstruation? Not only did they have to deal with the inconveniences we know today (pain, leaks, etc.), they also had to deal with very negative connotations about something that is very natural.

 

 

Posted in Women's history | Leave a comment

Indian depredations: Levi’s description of what he lost

800px-Josie_Morris_Cabin

800px-George_Wood_House

Levi, along with some witnesses, came to the court house in St. George Utah on Jan 14, 1896 and responded to multiple questions in front of a notary. I don’t know what his property looked like, but I wonder if it looked like any of the pictures above.

He said that he lived in Kanab Utah during the fall of 1865 and until 1866 (when depredations were claimed to have occurred) and his occupations were farming and stock raising.

“I lost thirteen cows, they were excellent good cows, worth thirty dollars a piece, one calf, worth ten dollars, six yarling cattle woth eleven dollars a head and nine two year olds worth eighteen dollars a piece, one yoke of oxen worth fifty dollars a piece, nineteen young steers worth twenty eight dollars a head, also three head of horses, two horses at seventy five dollars each and one fine carriage and saddle horse worth two hundred dollars, also the possession of twenty acres of land with the improvements on it, a dwelling house, fencing, water right and the making of dams and ditches on it, and corrals, these were the improvements. they were worth six hundred dollars. I also lost thirty acres of land, the possession of it, with its improvements, worth seven hundred and twenty five dollars.”

He also mentions “the building of a fort with a house with two rooms in” which we valued at six hundred dollars, along with a “strong serviceable corral” valued at one hundred dollars.

After feeling threatened in their remote location and “to make ourselves more secure, we vacated the fort and joined the settlement in Long Valley, twenty miles distant; here I made other improvements, I lost the possession of land, five acres, the tilling of it, planting the crop corn and other grain, building material gathered and then left that part of the country and moved out to Toquerville, Washing County, under a strong guard, because of the danger of Indian depredations.”

There follows a series of questions about who was doing the depredating and the details of why he left, which will be covered next time.

Finishing up this post, I wonder about the building of a fort and other structures in what seems like such a short time. I re-read his son’s autobiography and he said they moved to Kanab in the fall of 1863 and his father purchased much of the land and improvements in July 1864 from other settlers. It turns out it wasn’t such a short amount of time after all, and many of the improvements had probably already been started, if not finished, when he bought the property in the summer of 1864 for $1000.

I do wonder where he obtained the $1000 needed to purchase the land and improvements from the other settlers. He was a day laborer, farmer, and dairyman throughout various parts of his life–none are occupations that give easy access to cash or allow accumulation of wealth. It is possible he owned land in Salt Lake and made enough money when he sold that land.

Fort_Utah_c1850

I also wonder how big the fort was. Above is a picture of Fort Utah (what would eventually become Utah) in 1850. I think the fort in Kanab was probably much smaller, but would love to find a picture or a description of what it would look like.

As usual, reading through this document has raised as many questions as it has answered.

What do you know about the land and buildings that were owned and/or built by your ancestors in the mid 1800s? Do you have an idea of what they looked like?

 

Information from the Indian depredations claims are from: Record Group123, Records of the United States Court of Claims, Indian Depredation Case File #9173, Levi Savage (this is how NARA referred to it when asking if I wanted a copy).

 

Posted in Court Records, Indian depredations, Material history, Resources | Leave a comment

Vacations

Bridging the Past is on vacation this week so won’t be posting other than to ask you to ponder the following questions:

What kind of vacations did your ancestors take (day trips became popular towards the end of the 19th century)?

Do trips to see extended family count as a vacation?

How do vacations today differ?

Have you written about your favorite family vacations?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Writing family history narratives

I was recently asked to participate in a writers blog tour to showcase the blogs of writers from a variety of genres. I decided that the questions we were to answer as part of the tour were best featured on my personal blog, but it did inspire me to think about writing for this blog as well. We will be taking a short break from Levi Savage and Indian depredations claims to think about writing up our findings.

One relevant question from the blog tour is “Why do I write what I write?” From a genealogy/social history perspective, the answer to that question dictates how and what we will write. If it is to engage family members who may not be interested in genealogy, a narrative is a good choice. It is even better if pictures, memorabilia and relevant documents are included. And it is best if social history is included, including pictures of fashions of the time, pictures of the neighborhood, etc. if those can be found.

One of my friends epublished a book about her grandmother that was about 150 pages. She used digital scrapbooking software to create the book. Each page was split into two columns to help break up the text and to allow inclusion of pictures and documents. She included her grandmother’s personal history as well as family memories and stories as her text. She included census documents, pictures of her grandmother and her home and surroundings, and even a menu from the diner that her grandfather owned. It was chock full of information, but was fun to read and the pictures and documents were there for those who were interested.

What tools or techniques have you used when writing family history narratives?

Posted in Getting Started in Social History, Writing | 4 Comments

Indian depredations claims Part I

The National Archives in DC very quickly turned around my request for a copy of the file that Levi submitted with details about his Indian depredation claims. I first looked to see what he claimed and what he was awarded.

His original claims, and the documents presented to the court don’t exactly match, but they are close.

Claimed Levi’s Claimed value Court records
13 cows $30 each ($390) $450
1 calf $10 $10
6 yearling cattle $11 each ($66) $66
9 2 year olds $16 each ($144) $162
Yoke of oxen $50 each ($100) Not mentioned
19 young steers $28 each ($532) $532
2 horses $75 each ($150) $150
Carriage & saddle horse $200 $200
20 acres of land with improvements $600 $600
30 acres of land with improvements $725 $725
Fort with a house $600 $500
Corral $100 Not mentioned
Crops $300 $300
Total $3917 $3695

The petition includes a notarized deposition by Levi Savage and two witnesses, a response by somebody in the government or court system which concludes the entire petition is based on unsupported evidence and testimony (incompetent is a favorite word), and the final court judgment (a lower value for the lifestock, no award for any of the land, improvements or crops).

The deposition is several typed pages and goes into a fair amount of detail, which will be discussed in more depth in the next post.

Posted in daily life, Indian depredations | 2 Comments

Daily Life in southern Utah in the late 1800s

I have been reading the transcription of Levi Savage’s diary and am amazed at the amount of bartering that goes on. In hindsight I shouldn’t be surprised because it was on the frontier. I was also surprised at the amount of odd jobs that he did. In the census he gives his occupation at various times as laborer, gardener, dairyman. He really was a jack of all trades. At this point he was in his mid 50s.

Examples of bartering from January 1877:

Jan 4: “Ford let me have some cloth for my wool”
Jan 11 “Ford finishing paying me for my wool” [perhaps in cash or other goods?]
Jan 17: “I soled 860 feet of lumber to Burton Kimble for $5.00 per hundred..”
Jan 19: “I hawled the remainder…Kimble paid me $25 and gave me a note..for the remaining $18. I also got of C. Stapley an order of Foresythe for $6.37 for ditch work”
Jan 22: “Wife got 8 lbs Butter of Bryron Boundy. Pay fruit and bread for it.”

He also spent a lot of time tracking down people who owed him money/goods and was not all that successful in receiving payment.

Examples of work he writes about in January 1877:Jan 3: drove cows to be butchered
Jan 4: sold wool that his household produces
Jan 16, 23, 31 : got a load of wood
Jan 22, 26, 27: mended shoes
Jan 25: “worked about home”

In January he also mentions attending several church meetings, at least one town meeting and a few socials.

Pick a month or year in your ancestor’s life and think about what their daily life was like. You may not be lucky enough to have a diary, but you can look at the diaries of people who were in similar circumstances and make a guess.

 

Posted in daily life | Leave a comment

Asking Questions of your Documents

DSCN1471

I recently attended a weeklong workshop on analyzing historic cookbooks. We studied a variety of cookbooks from England and America from the 1400s to the early 1900s. Barbara Wheaton, a noted cookbook historian, designed the workshop as an independent study workshop. Each day we had a theme (ingredients, workspace and tools, etc.) and were to carefully study the cookbook assigned for that day to ask questions such as: where did the ingredients come from: the local marketplace, the garden or other domestic setting, or hunting? Where they imported? What role did seasonality play in when ingredients would be available (and how did this change from the 1400s to the 1900s)? How long would it take to prepare the ingredients? Did the chicken come ready to drop into the pot or did it need to be killed, defeathered (I’m not a farmer–I’m sure there is an appropriate term for this!) and then put into the pot? I was surprised at how much I learned from listening to my fellow workshop members report on their assigned cookbook and how they asked questions of the cookbook and the interpretations and conclusions they arrived at after careful study.

The same applies to genealogy. As an example, let’s take a closer look at the newspaper article that started me asking more questions about Levi Savage. The article was pulled from the Library of Congress Historical Newspapers section (a wonderful resource) and was published on February 14, 1899 in the Salt Lake Herald (pg 6).

SL Feb 14 1899

Several questions comes immediately to mind. Why are all these claims before the government? Was there a new act put into place by Congress or some other government entity that invited claims? If so, why? What made one eligible to receive a claim? Just what were these “Indian depredations”? When did they occur? I thought that in the late 1800s Toquerville was a pretty safe place to be–could it be from sometime before he moved to Toquerville in the 1860s, or perhaps from the early years living in Toquerville? What other questions would you ask just by reviewing this newspaper article?

The next set of questions are what leads to a research plan.What do I want to know? I want to know the details of the claim, as well as the circumstances that led to the claim, including when the incidents supposedly took place. I would also like to acknowledge that there are at least two sides to this story and I want to learn more about the history and what the Native Americans were doing (and what the whites were doing to them) at this time.

Then I ask what additional sources can I examine? Are there resources, such as records and/or employees at the National Archives that could help me figure this out? What about family records? Maybe using the Serial Set of Congressional Records? In terms of learning about the general history I could start with my local library and see what they have. Since I live in Boston and the events occurred in Utah, they may not have much. I can also turn to local university libraries, or to repositories such as New England Historic Genealogical Society.

As you may know from previous posts I already have some hints. Levi’s son writes in his autobiography about losses due in part to Indian raids in the 1860s in Millard County in Utah. I have found some mentions of Levi’s claims in the Serial Set, and have a contact at NARA who is an expert on anything involving Native Americans and the government that I can email when I pull things together. I have yet to put together a true research plan. That will be my next post.

In the meantime, please let me know what questions you would ask of this document, and which questions you have asked of documents you came across in your research, and where finding the answers to those questions led you.

Posted in Levi Savage, Repositories, Research Strategies, Resources | 1 Comment