FamilySearch treasures

Lately I have taken to perusing the FamilySearch.org’s Memories and Sources sections when I have a few extra minutes. The Memories section contains photos, documents, stories and audio files that descendants (and anyone else) upload to the person’s page on FamilySearch.org’s Family Tree. I have found some real treasures, especially photos that I have never seen before of my grandparents and more distant ancestors.

A couple of years ago I found a mostly documented biography of my Loyalist ancestor Thomas Sumner. Although it took some time to figure out the shorthand for the documentation, it has proved invaluable in helping me to research the life of Thomas. There are still holes that I am pursuing, but this document really got me started on the right path.

Today I had some time to kill while waiting for a ride so I perused Levi Savage’s Memories and Sources sections. I found that someone had linked (in the Sources section) to his application for a medal for his service in the Indian Wars in Utah Territory 1850-1872 (1).

I learned that he was a private and served under Commander Mahonri Steele. He enlisted January 1, 1866 and served intermittently for about 5 years, according to his application.

c1

He applied in 1905 and received the medal in 1906. He wrote a note allowing someone else to pick it up for him (as he was living in Arizona Territory).

c2

While this doesn’t add anything critically important to understanding Levi’s life, it is one more thread in the tapestry of his life. It shows that he valued recognition. I knew he and his father lost some land due to troubles with the Native Americans (see this post from a series of posts), but I didn’t know there were official companies formed. Definitely something I will look into further.

Footnote:

1: “Utah Applications Indian War Service Medals, 1905-1912,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/QKDV-MXQQ : 17 March 2018), Levi M Savage, 28 Oct 1905; citing Military Service, 5117, series 2220, State Archives, Utah; FHL microfilm 1,445,896.

 

1918 flu and the Boston Red Sox

Last night I invited some new friends to dinner. They had just moved to Boston. Wanting to introduce them to several of the cool things in Boston, I served Hood’s Red Sox Green Monster Mint ice cream for dessert. After explaining to them what the Green Monster is (a big wall in the outfield between 2nd and 3rd bases) and who Wally the Mascot is, I mentioned that prior to my moving to Boston, the last time the Red Sox won the World Series was in 1918.

Wait–1918? That was when there was the big flu pandemic. Was there really a World Series that year? Not that public officials were all that quick to react to shutting down public events during the outbreak. A quick Google search revealed that the baseball season was shortened that year due to World War I and the World Series was held September 5-11, at the beginning of the outbreak in Boston.

This Smithsonian article tells what else was going on during the World Series and what it may have looked like. Some things have changed a lot in the last 100 years.

 

 

Always read the footnotes

I am very interested in domestic medicine (medicine practiced in the home) and recently began branching out from colonial medicine to 19th century “Mormon Medicine” as all of my 19th century ancestors converted to Mormonism between 1830 and 1880. Understanding the medical techniques practiced among the Mormons would add social context to my research.

I planned a trip to the Church History Library in Salt Lake City in June 2017. I reached out to a librarian prior to coming and she sent me a list of articles to read before we met. The articles focused on faith healing, an important aspect of Mormon medicine.

As a good researcher should, I skimmed the footnotes as I was reading the articles on the plan en route to Salt Lake. Lo and behold, my 2x great grandmother Hannah Adeline Hatch (Addie) was mentioned. I know of the incredible woman that Addie was and that she suffered many health problems throughout her life, but I had no idea that she was a healer or that she left behind a diary which is publicly available.

You can bet I downloaded that diary the first chance I got. I am in the process of transcribing it.

Don’t forget to read the footnotes. You never know what you might find.

 

 

Addie

Old North Church and domestic medicine

On Oct 2 I had the opportunity to talk at the Old North Church in Boston (of Paul Revere, one if by land, two if by sea fame) about medicine in the 1600s.  I used medical recipes as the lens to examine common beliefs and treatments in the home in the 17th century, including botanicals, magic, religion and astrology. It is a fun way to introduce the audience to 17th century medicine. C-span filmed the talk so you can watch to learn more.20150711_095931

Networking: Opening Doors

network-1020332_1920-3The term networking often invokes feelings of discomfort among genealogists (and nearly everyone else). However, talking with those around us at our local genealogy meetings, asking questions on social media, and looking for opportunities to share and learn from others, doors to resources and methods you didn’t know existed will be opened.

Networking used to be a scary term for me too because I am an introvert. Then I became caught up in the excitement of sharing with and learning from others and I didn’t even realize I was networking. Talking to the person standing next to me at a history event connected me with a fellow genealogist who is a librarian and we will soon be meeting to swap resources about the history of medicine and genealogy. Another genealogist knew I was interested in medicine and directed me to a cookbook with medical recipes she had found at a repository. That became the primary source for my thesis.

An easy place to start is social media. I have found countless new (to me) resources via Facebook. I see what other people are posting on their feeds and interact with them. I also post on my feeds items of interest to me. Because people know my interests, they will often contact me with an article or resource they came across that they thought might interest me.

What success stories have you had with networking?

Peacocks and Virden memories

Last week I visited family in Arizona. Somehow, one of my childhood memories came up in our conversation. My memory was fairly vague: We were visiting the small town of Virden (my mom’s hometown) when I was a young girl. My sister and I stayed in a small house by ourselves, and we were terrified of leaving the next morning because of the big, mean birds outside.

My sister remembered that we were about 10, the big birds were peacocks and that they butted their heads against the door all night. My mom was aghast that she would leave us alone all night at a stranger’s home.

 

peacocks

We spoke with my mom’s sisters and parents about who might own peacocks in Virden. My mom also considered the families she would leave us with in Virden. After much conversation and a hand-drawn map we arrived at the following: we stayed at Grandma Gruel’s house (a grandmother’s small house next to my mom’s relatives Donald and Myrtle) on the lot adjoining my grandparent’s home. The peacocks belonged to the Hatch family and must have gotten loose. The occasion was either my grandmother Elizabeth’s funeral in November, 1983 or my grandfather’s marriage to my stepgrandmother in June, 1984.

The map, while not drawn to scale, shows all the relevant info. My grandparent’s house is at the bottom (labeled Elizabeth and LeRoss). The Hatch family lived next to them, and Donald and Myrtle lived behind my grandparents.

fullsizerender2

At the end of our conversation, my mother decided she wasn’t such a bad mother after all since (in her adult mind) Donald and Myrtle’s house and the nearby grandmother’s house was not that far away. However, there was a barn and a big pasture (at least to young city girls) in between the house where we stayed and my grandparent’s house where my parents likely stayed with my younger sisters. To city girls, crossing a pasture was kind of scary, even if peacocks weren’t around. When peacocks were around and seemed intent on chasing us, staying in that little house, and especially coming out the next morning, was terrifying.

It was only through involving lots of people that we were able to reconstruct one of my childhood memories and get a variety of perspectives on what happened. In another post, I will talk about reconstructing my earliest childhood memories involving frogs in our basement.

Have you tried to create one of your childhood memories by talking with others who were there?

Photo of peacock courtesy of Alex Pronove at WikiMedia Commons

Heritage Trip to Thetford, Vermont

To celebrate the successful completion of my thesis and master’s degree, I took a relaxing last-minute heritage trip to Thetford, Vermont, home of my Loyalist ancestor.

The main focus of the trip was to take some well-earned relaxation, but I chose to go to Thetford so I could make it a heritage trip. Usually when one takes a research trip, hours of preparation go into reviewing online categories and deciding which repositories to visit. While I recommend preparation, due to the last-minute nature of this trip, I was not prepared and was ok with that.

I arranged to spend a few hours at the Thetford Historical Society (which is a gem and well worth your time) and have a few hundred pictures of documents, although most are secondary, unfortunately.

The bulk of my time in Thetford was spent relaxing (to celebrate the thesis being done) and driving around to get a sense of what it might have looked like during the short time he lived there. The area is mostly heavily wooded, just as it probably was when he lived there, as it was a relatively new settlement in the mid to late 1700s. Getting a sense of the lay of the land will hopefully prove to be very helpful once I begin researching.

I visited the cemetery, although I don’t think any of my family is buried there as the Sumner family was only in the area for a few years.

IMG_1284

Don’t delay visiting the home towns of your ancestors just because you haven’t put in hours of preparation. If the chance to visit comes up unexpectedly, just go. You will feel the power of walking in the general area where they walked, and having a sense of the lay of the land may prove fruitful in future research.

Have you ever embarked on a last-minute trip, where the itinerary included something related to your research? How did it go?