Three R’s in Genealogy

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic

I remember when my grade school teacher first told us about the Three R’s in school. Being smart-aleck kids, we made fun of the whole thing. Reading is the only word that actually starts with an R. Writing starts with a W, and the only way to get to R with Arithmetic is to skip an entire syllable. A short syllable, admittedly, but…I’m only hinting at how cruelly my grade school class tore apart the Three R’s model and basically insulted and mocked our teacher.

But, nonetheless, the idea has stuck around for many decades. It’s memorable. Technically, it is a mnemonic device.

In genealogy, we use the Three R’s with our research.

We read documents all the time. We must read documents, and analyze them, to understand our ancestors’ past lives and facts about their lives. We also read books, blogs, and syllabi from seminars to learn new skills, to better analyze and better research the documents we find.

We write documents. At the very least, we type in names, dates, and facts into a family tree, often one that is online so others can find it. This is form of a digital document. When we become more advanced, we also write other documents, digital or paper, such as research reports, sourced genealogies, and maybe even proof arguments. We leave a trail behind so that future generations can view and appreciate our work.

We also do arithmetic. Some examples include determining an unknown date. For example, we may research an ancestor and we discover there is no birth certificate, as those documents were not yet recorded. We may find a church baptism record. We do simple logical determinations; if they were baptized on that date, they were already born, so we may type in a date such as “born before 12 Jan 1848.” Before by how much time, we may not be able to determine. Sometimes just a day or two. Sometimes a week. Sometimes, if it was a traveling preacher who came to town every month or several weeks, much more time may have gone by between birth and baptism. And of course, some religions believe in baptizing only adults who have knowledge of what a baptism means, so the person may be 14years old, or even an adult of 70, before they are baptized. But “born before 12 Jan 1848” is sufficient in many cases.

We may discover a will that was written on June 29, 1834, but was not proved, or finished with court probate proceedings, until August 10, 1834. We determine that the person was alive on June 29 when they wrote the will, but a will is only proved after their death, so they must have been dead by August 10. When did they die, exactly? We often write a range, or died between two dates, such as “29 June 1834 — 10 Aug 1834.” Sometimes that’s the best we know for now, until we get other documents, and sometimes that’s the best we know…ever.

Many of us have come across a unique gravestone, which may give no birth date, but gives a death date “May 16, 1892” and provide the age of the deceased at death, such as “71 years, 5 months, 3 days” and then we must do math to determine a birth date. With this example, we would have both a birth date and a death date, but we must do math to figure it out.

Genealogy, in many ways, is just some basic skills that we all learned in grammar school. Including the Three R’s: Readin’ wRitin’, and ‘Rithmetic.

The hard part is finding the documents, and analyzing the documents.

 

Records of History Still Being Discovered

It is apparent that not all records of the past have been uncovered.

Just recently, medieval historians have found evidence that a nun in the 14th century faked her own death to escape the convent and to pursue “the way of carnal lust.”

This is the story of Joan of Leeds in England.

This story appears in several places online, including The Guardian, and the Yorkshire Evening Post, and Huffpost.

The ancient text, written in Latin, is part of a translation and digitization project for 16 registers of the archbishops of York, between the years 1304 and 1405.

Records are still being discovered!

As a genealogist, I find such news as this, and the original source, fascinating. She’s not in my family tree…that I know of!

Local Genealogical Societies; Bible records found!

Family History Researchers should keep in mind that local Genealogical and Historical Societies often have rare and unique holdings. If your ancestors lived in an area for at least some amount of time, and especially if they resided there for an extended time, consider contacting the local Genealogical Society for that area to inquire about their holdings. You may also consider traveling there in person if you can, and make it a research trip. If you are unable to travel there in person, contact them to see what they have and ask if they can do some on-site research for you. Results may vary, but it’s always worth it to inquire.

A distant cousin of mine wrote a Cross Family Tree back in the 1950s. He was the same generation as my grandfather and died years ago, so I never met him. He lived in Pennsylvania, died in New York, and I have yet to travel to either state, although I’d like to someday. His Cross Family Tree is about 30 pages long and lists nearly 500 individuals.

He refers to an Old Cross Family Bible as a source, but unfortunately never mentions who owned the Bible at the time of his research. He did type up a transcription of the pages that include births, marriages, and deaths for genealogy. The Cross family resided in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s.

I found the Clearfield County Historical Society online. I contacted them about their holdings, and inquired about on-site research done by their staff or volunteers. They do research for a fee or an hourly rate. I engaged them for research.

They returned copies of documents they found, including newspaper obituaries, many that are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. They also sent a copy and a transcription of the Old Cross Family Bible that my cousin referenced in his work! It matches, word for word! As it turns out, the family member that had the Bible back in 1976 donated the Bible to the Historical Society for preservation!

My research is now a little more complete with this addition. The Old Cross Family Bible is intact, stored for preservation and posterity, and I have scanned copies of the pertinent pages, with source citation of the Bible (publication date and publisher, who donated the Bible, etc.). This Bible is unique, and found nowhere else. Obtaining this information is a find.

I am grateful that this family member donated the Bible, and grateful that the Clearfield County Historical Society has a way for me to do research there using their on-site staff and volunteers.

Wing Family of America

Matthew Wing is my 11th great grandfather, born in England in about 1549. His son John Wing never made it to America because he died too young. But his daughter-in-law, Deborah Bachiler, widow of John Wing, did come to America with her father and her four sons.

I found a website called the Wing Family of America. They have a house/museum in Massachusetts, and a website with information about the Wing Family ancestry. They have a book on their online gift shop which is a family tree of the first five generations of the Wing Family in America. I found some information there, and will use it to find more info, hopefully even original records! I encourage you to check it out. What a great find with lots of information about an important ancestor.

I hope to travel to Massachusetts for the Mayflower 400th Anniversary; if I do, I hope to visit the Wing Fort House while I’m there.

The Wing ancestry leads to Smith and then Reed, and is ancestors on my mother’s side.

George Hoffman; Patriot?

My wife’s paternal line goes back to George Hoffman, born in Germany in 1736. Her grandfather kept a journal every day he was in college, starting in 1912. It includes stories of how he met his wife, and train travel to New York state to get married. After college, he kept journal entries on a less often weekly, and later only monthly, basis. But in the back of the journal is a Hoffman family tree. He got the info from his aunt; we don’t know where she got her information. But most of the tree, so far, seems to be fairly accurate, even though it has no sources.

Other documents have verified much of what is in the Hoffman journal family tree. Found out George Hoffman was born Johann Georg Hoffman, German for John George Hoffman. He Americanized his name after coming to Pennsylvania. The names of his wife and children are confirmed in other documents, including his will, written in 1801 in Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

[Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993; George Hoffman will of 1801; Pennsylvania County, District and Probate Courts, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Wills, Volume F, 1795-1803, pp. 294-300, images 506-509 of 542, images and database online, Ancestry.com : accessed 18 November 2018).]

Now, another user on Ancestry has made the claim that George Hoffman fought in the American Revolutionary War. They do not substantiate that claim with sources. I have sent an ancestry message to this person asking what sources they have, how can they prove their claim, and they have not responded. If George did fight in the American Revolutionary War, he is an American Patriot that would qualify my wife for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

So, another thing on the Research To Do list is to answer the research question, did this George Hoffman actually fight in the American Revolutionary War? I am actively searching for information; if you have any tips, let me know. When I find an answer, I’ll post it here.

Board of Directors for SCGS

The election results are in, and I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS). I have attended the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree for years, and attended some of their general membership meetings, as I am a member.

Since I am currently studying with the ProGen 37 group, one of the things we’re learning is to get more involved with things genealogy. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have considered running for the Board. But I did, I was elected, and now it’s time for me to get a little more involved. I don’t yet know what that means, but I have some ideas, and I’ll figure it out as I go.

More info about SCGS can be found here. Membership is a good thing, even if it’s just for their webinars. Free to attend a webinar as it is live, but members get access to every single one stored in the archives! And I hope to see YOU at Jamboree 2019!

Stephen Bachiler

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Their magazine American Ancestors, Fall 2018, has an interesting article by Robert Charles Anderson starting on page 29. They have been publishing books by Mr. Anderson called The Great Migration series, which gives information on the many people that left England for the American colonies, including the Mayflower passengers, and for the great migration of people about 50 years after the Mayflower. I have access to their online database, which includes some data from their Great Migration books.

They are coming out with a new book soon, to be released in December 2018, called Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England. It outlines the growth of the Puritan network, and the reasons why many of the pilgrims came to America.

Stephen Bachiler is my 11th great grandfather.  This lineage includes Matthew Gooding Reed and Ruth Anne Smith, which leads me to both American Patriot John Lecky (DAR and SAR) and to George Soule, Mayflower passenger. But another branch of that lineage leads to Stephen Bachiler.

Stephen Bachiler was not a Mayflower passenger, but is mentioned by name in the magazine article, and mentioned in more detail in the book, to be published soon. He was a great influence on the Great Migration, leaving England and coming to Massachusetts. He left mainly due to religious persecution.

According to the magazine article, Stephen Bachiler was born about 1561 in England, was a radical Puritan in his university days, and in the early 1600s was deprived of earning a living as a minister because he disagreed with English royalty on some points. He was vicar of Wherwill, Hampshire in England until 1605 when he was deprived of his job by the government. He was being punished because he disagreed with the English crown.

If you will recall, Henry VIII was a Catholic, wanted to divorce his wife to marry another, the pope refused, and so Henry started the Church of England, so he could basically be his own pope and make his own religious decisions. Every Protestant English monarch since then has been the head of the Church of England.  The king or queen rules their country and their church. They do not have separation of church and state there. (A basic American belief.)

Stephen Bachiler sailed to New England in 1631, mainly to escape persecution and government policies. He was an independent thinker and wanted freedom.

For more information, consult American Ancestors magazine, Fall 2018, pp. 29-34, or the upcoming book Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England, releasing next month (late December 2018) and available here.

American_Ancestor_fall2018    Puritan_Pedigrees

It is fascinating to know that my ancestor is one of the big movers and shakers on why so many people left England for the Americas. Stephen Bachiler was an influence to be reckoned with, and was well respected in his time for challenging royalty and escaping England to come to the Americas.

And on this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that we live in America, where these ideas of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the freedom to think any way you wish are not only allowed, but encouraged. And many of these ideas of freedom were promoted by my ancestors!

Happy Thanksgiving!