Showing posts with label Ancestry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ancestry. Show all posts

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Matters of Life and Death

"Here lies the body of Thomas Mulford aged about 60 years. Died June 8, 1706". This is Thomas
Mulford who lies in the Old Cove Burying Ground in Eastham, Massachusetts.  He was one of the founding settlers of the town of Truro. The original settlers "claimed the land as their own" from the Pamet indians who lived there. No surprise. The history of Truro describes Thomas's land as:
"Thomas Mulford's two lots, one of which was near Hog's Back and the other toward the pond south of Pamet great river."

Truro is on the "upper cape" and you can see the area described on this modern map. It is all well within the area preserved and protected as part of the national seashore.  Mulford seems to have been a farmer, but perhaps did a variety of things. There was this note in the town history:
"The shells of the shellfish being needed for the manufacture of lime, in 1705 these proprietors enacted that after June first next no shellfish should be dug by any person not a resident of Pamet. In 1711 the proprietors voted that no wood be cut within the limits of the common lands for the burning of lime, except by the rightful owners." 
 So Thomas Mulford may have done a little farming, a little fishing and perhaps some lime production. For the cousins, here's how we are related to Thomas Mulford:

So we are actually related to him through two branches of the family. 

Ancestry has just released a whole series of will and probate records for most of the states. Some of the records are just "records of records" telling us where to find a will should we go looking. But some contain the actually will, and inventory and other interesting papers.
This is the actual will of Thomas Mulford.  I love that  he says "being weak in body but of powerful mind and memory. Calling unto mind my frailty and mortality..." He goes on to mention various family members and name his bequests. This is where this document becomes useful. If there are children who have seemed to "disappear" in  time, you can find them in the will papers. This is especially true for the married daughters. He also speaks of "my beloved wife Hannah"....very sweet.
The most fascinating part of the paperwork, for me, is the household inventory. It gives a window into life in the 18th century and a perspective on what was considered "valuable". You can see here the "iron pots, table, chair, trunk, earthen jars" etc. His total valuation was 141 pounds, 8 shillings, 7 pence.
That's approximately $15, 000 in today's money. Not rich, but certainly prosperous.

Aside from the rather "nosey" aspect of reading someone's will papers, there's a lot of valuable information here.  It certainly provides another perspective on the lives of my ancestors.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Foolishness- How Reliable is That Source?

On this April Fools Day, I can't help but think of how wide-eyed and trusting I was when I began this genealogical adventure.  I must confess that although I had had some curiosity for years about the family, it was watching "Who Do You Think You Are?" that inspired me to actually begin this hobby.

I signed up for Ancestry, I began contacting family members and before I knew it I had more information than I could deal with. Totally. Now I did know enough to look closely at the hints on Ancestry that I was getting.  Once I got the tree back far enough for the information to be more obscure I realized why we are cautioned to be so careful. People on Ancestry who have public trees copy and paste and borrow willy-nilly. And mistakes get copied from tree to tree and become someone's version of "fact".  I soon became very wary. (and BTW I consider my online Ancestry tree as more of a "worksheet"- I try to only put things on my computer-based genealogy program that have some documents to back them up)

So let's look at a fairly glaring example of this. My ancestor Joseph Rogers arrived with his father Thomas on the Mayflower. That much we know. We know he lived on the Massachusetts Cape, married, had children and died there. There are records in Barnstable County of his death. His birth, however, is less certain. We know it was probably in England. Here is what I find when I follow the hints on Ancestry.
So first we have this. Right away I'm suspicious because it is from the Family Data Collection. That could be an actual Bible or it could be "family stories" or it could be a written history passed down or it could be "Old Aunt Fanny always said". No knock on family records, I just have learned to be wary.
In this record we have a very confusing birthplace. I'm thinking they meant either Holland or Norhamption, England...but who knows? And the mother's name is different. There has been a lot of chatter online about whether there really was an "Alice Cosford", so this doesn't surprise me.
This one I found for Joseph in someone's tree that was "shared". Now you would think that with four sources that would be pretty solid. But as you follow out those hints, not one of them documents Stratford-on-Avon as his birthplace. They merely confirm his name and a birth in England. In fact, one of the sources was One World Tree. Argh...don't get me started on that topic!

Then you have the Ancestral Files on Family Search. Again, nothing against family research or old family records, but what you see online gives you no idea where this information came from. It was submitted to the records of the Mormon Church, but no citations beyond that appear.

So on this April Fool's Day, don't be foolish or hasty in accepting everything you find-especially online. Do a little digging and a little legwork.  It will pay off in the long run.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pruning and Maintaining my Tree

I hate loose ends. When I look at my online tree at Ancestry, nothing makes me crazier than seeing this
No birth or death date.
I was amazed at how often just entering a guess for the birth date will help. Start with a date the same year as the spouse's birth. Very often the hints on Ancestry just pop up.
And there we are! I never did find a sure death date for her, but I found a death date under Minnie Tapply. I used a resource I found looking for Dora North and Frank Summerfield Tapply.
So these entries for the reading of wills very often name the spouse as beneficiary (so you can be sure you have the right person with the myriad Tapplys and Tapleys) and give the place of residence. By entering this place in Dora North's  file, I found her death entry and I used the same method for Minnie.
I've been going through the tree trying this methods with people on both sides of the Atlantic, and I've at least got either a birth or death date for the older parts of the tree. Amazing how entering a date and possible location unlocks those doors.

The next problem I tackled was this:

I've been round and round on this portion of the Smith family. Marion L. Smith had four children. Two were named Dietche and two were named Otto. I felt sure that there had been two marriages, but I couldn't find any record anywhere for the two children or for her. And her second husband was Otto Dietche. Was this a record mistake? I didn't think so. Her marriage record and the census name her as a widow. So I went back to the son and tried again on Family Search.
And lo and behold this showed up:
There it is. Allan G Otto in Fitchburg, Massachusetts who seemed to have died just after the birth of the two children. So plugging THAT into the tree for father and Robert Allan Otto for the son, the hints just fell into place. I found a directory entry for Allan and Marian living in Fitchburg just a year before his death.  I also  found exact birth, marriage and death dates for the children and neatly tied up another loose end.

It doesn't work every time. Older records are difficult. Families with many people of the same name are almost impossible. But using FindaGrave, Family Search and Ancestry I've made good progress. I found a few duplicates, loose ends, branches that needed pruning altogether and satisfied my own urge to tidy up the tree.  It may only be January, but it's time to try a little spring cleaning.