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.

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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.

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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?

Sharing Family Stories with the Younger Generation

My sisters and their families met up with my parents and me for our family reunion in Indiana in July. My mother’s grandfather, Robert Ison, who died before she was born, came from Kentucky and my mom wanted to let the grandchildren know about this side of the family, since we were just across the state border. She enlisted my help, but did most of the work.

After taking what she knew, and pulling stories and pictures from FamilySearch.org, she put together a kid-friendly booklet, enhanced with clipart. She asked me to pull in family pictures-there were some that I had never seen before.

Doc Ison & Elizabeth Fraley (grandparents of Robert Ison)

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Richmond Ison & Martha Rice

richmond isonmartha rice

I also added pictures from the petrified stone fence that Robert built in Arizona. I had seen it as a child, but didn’t realize it was still standing. Of course now it’s illegal to take any stones, so there is a fence around the fence to protect it. This picture doesn’t show just how beautiful and colorful the petrified wood really is.

petrified wood

I also added in some photos and remembrances of my visit to Isonville about 15 years ago, to make it more personal (see below). I hope the kids enjoyed reading it as much as my mom and I enjoyed putting it together. Have you done something similar with your descendants? Would love seeing others ideas.

Aunt Lori Lyn’s trip to Isonville, fall 2000 or 2001

I was going to school in Ohio and really wanted to see Isonville because I had heard so much about it. It wasn’t very far away so I drove down one day. Isonville is very small. The main part of town has a small elementary school and a couple of houses. The rest of the town is very spread out. The people there are so nice.

I didn’t know where to go so I went inside the school. It was open and everyone was so friendly. They helped me find some people who could tell me about Richmond Ison and his family. One of the families fed me watermelon and corn on the cob while they told me about what happened when they were very little (they were a grandma and grandpa when I met them). They remembered hearing their grandma and grandpa and other “old folks” talk about Richmond and how crazy he was to leave Kentucky to be with the Mormons. They didn’t know what happened to them, so I was able to tell them the good things that happened when Richmond moved to Arizona.

They told me where to find the cemetery and I found the graves of Lucy and Walter. I know that Richmond and Martha must have had a really hard time leaving them behind when they moved to Arizona.

The country was so beautiful. Have you heard read “Where the Red Fern Grows” or “Summer of the Monkeys”? They are both set in the swamp bottoms. Isonville is in the swamp bottoms too. It is really pretty, but is also very hilly. The roads are so curvy that I almost got car sick when I was driving!

I saw the fire engine bus and had to take a picture. I don’t know if it still works or not, but I bet it would be really fun to ride in.

It was so special to be in Kentucky where some of our ancestors lived, and to see what it looked like, and meet some people who remembered hearing about Richmond.