Above, Grandma Anna Mary Feser Schmidley from Genderalden Bavaria. She migrated to Chicago with her parents c. 1840 and died in Janesville Wisconsin in 1912.
I haven’t been online the past few days. Much to do around here. And I thought I would have time on my hands when I retired……
For one thing, I got back to the pool after a few weeks absence owing to various medical complaints. Very annoying complaints.
My doc henceforth known as ‘the quack” says I must drink less fluid. Excuse me, did I hear that right? Seems I have “too much water in my blood.” He also says I am anemic, and has sent paperwork to the hospital center for more blood work. That should take care of some of the water, she said sarcastically. Oh I shouldn’t complain, he’s one of the last doctors around taking Medicare patients.
But enough of that! After 70 degree weather for a few days, the temps plummeted to 15 last night, although its warming up outside with the ‘almost springlike’ sunlight. The weather forced me to stay inside, and I finally got on the Ancestry.com website. Of course I had to sign up.
I have years and years of material accumulated by me and various family members who passed stuff on to me before they died. I am not the oldest survivor, that’s probably cousin Susie on the Schmidley side, but I want to leave a record for the kids and grandkids. I am the oldest on my Mom’s side…maybe. I have cousins all over the Netherlands, and some of the material I have on hand came from them.
So I went exploring, mostly entering information from the reams of paper I have stacked in my “ancestry” section of one of my bookcases.
My training as a demographer has helped me sort the wheat from the chaff on the Ancestry.com site, which does indeed have access to numerous written accounts and tons of what we social scientists call ‘data.’ Census records; vital records…births, deaths, marriages and divorces; city directories; county, state and other collections, etc. I found my dad in the Brunswick Georgia City Directory…one of the dozens of places we lived at one time or another.
As I struggled through the material, I became quite confident NSA could never figure out my peripatetic familey.
I also became aware of some of the secrets various family members might have kept. I say might, because I also found mistakes in many records. Years of social science research training and editing census data and other statistics made me a data hawk. I can spot the slightest discrepancy, and the discrepancies are not all owing to sloppy clerks. For example, sometimes a child died and the next child got the same name. Sometimes men and occasionally women remarried after the death or abandonment of a spouse.
I discovered my dad was probably more German than not…a well kept secret in the twentieth century. He also had ancestors who were French orphans, indentured Welsh, fusty Puritans, and farmers who fought in the American War of Independence from Britain (they are in the “American Revolution’s soldiers and sailors” records).
From my examination of the branch of the family that came from New England I reached two conclusions. The folks who fought the British had many reasons to dislike them, and it’s no surprise that the struggle began in New England. The second thing I knew and rediscovered, is that you are very fortunate if one of your ancestral lines goes back into the New England colonies, particularly Massachusetts. My goodness, when they weren’t killing Indians, they kept a lot of records.
Years ago, I wrote a graduate paper on the Urbanization of Massachusetts and Virginia and I looked at settlement patterns, boundaries, etc. over several hundred years. From this, I had some inkling of what I might find if I began genealogical research in Massachusetts (many records in Virginia were destroyed during the Civil War). Later, I did some field work in New England and visited various towns and graveyards. A friend who did genealogical work for her keep, then a cousin of my Mom’s, did some of the record searching and passed what they found onto me.
I knew one line of the family had migrated from the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel around 1650, and yesterday, I found corroboration. You see, genealogical work is like police detection. It’s also puzzle solving. And, it’s fascinating to look at the lives of those who went before. For me, the women’s lives are fascinating. I have been thrilled to find material for several of my women ancestors.
Years ago, one of my graduate history professors recommended Ancestry.com for research, and I can see why.
PS I wil be around to visit other bloggers over the next few days.