Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love and Marriage

St. Vedast Church- London
     On this day of romance, a post about how marriage records have come to my rescue in my research or have helped me understand more about my family. This is St. Vedast Church in London. The image on the left is a rendering of the church in the early 19th century, a little before the marriage of my great, great grandparents. The right picture is a more modern one. This church made it through a major fire and the Blitz. Part were damaged, but it stands to this day.
James Henry Tapply and Elizabeth Payne
     So here is the entry in the marriage register. What could I learn from this? The ages and status of the  young couple tell us they were young and this is their first marriage. His occupation, bricklayer, and his residence, Cheapside, tell us he was living in London at the time and learning a trade. Most importantly we have the names of both fathers and their occupations. John Tapply, the shoemaker, is father of the groom. Why is this important? There were two John Tapplys at the time living in Wittersham. They were born in almost the same year and both married women named Sarah. This helps me untangle that knot. Lastly we have the witnesses. I can look back at census and other records to find out who these people are to the young couple.
Michael Cooke and Mary Feehily(Feely)
       Next was the discovery that excited me recently. Irish records were added that made it possible to see the actual marriage register for my great-grandparents on my father's side.  On the left we have the exact date, 12 May, and location, Cloonigan. Then we have the original Irish spellings of the names of the young couple. This will help in further searches: Michael Cooke with an e and Mary Feehily or Feely. Last we have the Patron or witnesses: Michael Feehily and Mary Ann Cooke. Obviously family members attended the wedding. A little further research may tell me who these folks were.
Andrew Fitzgerald and Catharine Fitzgerald
     Next we see a record I had never seen before. This is a little different than the register entry I also found for this couple. It looks like it could be a receipt for an application for a marriage license. This really excited me because it gives ages for the couple. You may remember that Andrew's birthdate is still a question mark in my research. If he was 50 on June 4, 1864, his birthdate would be around 1814 and he lived to be 84 years old. Not impossible, but I still wonder about this since so many other records give different ages.  Catharine's birth would be in 1834. The most exciting part of this record are the names of both great, great grandparents. This takes me "across the pond" and into Ireland! Andrew Fitzgerald and Margaret Callahan are on his side. Robert Fitzgerald and Ellen Desmond on hers. Of course this also takes me into Cork and the surrounding counties where Fitzgeralds were thick on the ground and records are patchy at best. My work is cut out for me.

Eliazer Rogers and Martha Young
      The last record is remarkably simple for its age and survival. This is my sixth great grandfather Eliazer Rogers who married Martha Young in Harwich, Massachusetts in 1712. Spellings varied in these old registers, so we see an alternative spelling for his name. Simply confirming this far away and pre-Revolutionary event is rewarding. This record was found in the unindexed portion of Family Search. Yes, you have to troll page-by-page, but the rewards are pure gold.
     Maybe a closer look at some marriage records will clear up some mysteries in your family tree.
Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Snowy Winter Day.....

Garfield Street, Fitchburg, Massachusetts
Not too much snow in my forecast today in Houston, Texas. It's supposed to be a balmy 70 today. I left winter snow far behind many years ago. Not too many pictures of snow in the family collections either. I guess people could barely stand to look at the stuff after a while, much less take family photos. This first picture is dated 1948 and is the Rogers family home on Garfield Street where my mother grew up. Plows hadn't made it there yet, I guess.
Garfield Street
This next one is the back yard with a path already cut to my great grandparents back porch next door. I think this was at the time my great-grandmother had died and my great-grandfather, Edward, was in the house alone.
These were the only snow pictures I could find from that generation or the previous one.
Amesbury, Massachusetts
This next picture is yours truly in 1956 standing in front of our house on Main Street in Amesbury. Why I'm in a raincoat and not a sensible snowsuit, I have no idea. I'm smiling so I guess I wasn't too cold, but this picture makes the grown-up me shiver.
Houston, Texas
And just to show the cousins that it DOES happen, this is 1410 Neptune Lane in 1973. We had a freak snowstorm over Christmas break. The snow actually stuck for a few days. We were all delighted.

Count the number of snow pictures in your family collection. I'll bet even if you live in Minnesota or far east Maine there aren't that many.