Showing posts with label Richardson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richardson. Show all posts

Monday, June 6, 2016

Taking Care of Business in Litchfield, Maine

courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Maine
     This is the old "town house" for Litchfield where town meetings were held after 1840. Before that time, the meetings were held in the home of a Mr. Nickerson. I know this because I've been trolling the old minutes of town meetings again looking for ancestors. Of course, I found them.
     I expected to find my Smith relatives first as the place was once "Smith Plantation", but to my surprise I found a Richardson ancestor. Abijah Richardson started out as the town constable, but rose rapidly in the town to become the moderator of the town meetings and town treasurer. Here is a sample of the minutes from 1797. Of course Maine was still part of the state of Massachusetts at that point. You will see Abijah's name, but I think you'll also recognize the name of the candidate for governor.
     I kept trolling the records because the custom in those days was to incidentally record town minutes and birth, marriage and death records all together. Pretty soon all the Smith relatives showed up as well in a variety of town offices including a number of years as selectmen. It was the names of some of the town jobs that got me looking further.
Courtesy of Litchfield Historical Society
     Ok, so the surveyors of highways and collector of highway taxes is pretty straightforward. My ancestor Elkanah Baker was elected to that post among others. After that, I had to look around on the internet for some information.
Tything men collected alms for the church, but they also had a variety of other duties as described in the New Hampshire History Blog:
"It was the tithing man's duty to detain and arrest Sabbath travelers, unless they were going to or from church or to visit the sick or do charitable deeds. His job was also to keep the boys from playing in the meeting-house, and to wake up any who might fall asleep during meeting."
They carried something called a church stick with a large knob on one end and feathers on the other. Sleepers would either get a sharp rap with the knob or a tickle, depending on gender.
Surveyors of Lumber made sure that the townspeople were getting their money's worth at the sawmill. They had to be experts in the measurement of lumber and assure that it was good grade.
Fence Viewers inspected new fences and settled disputes over older ones. They also settled disputes where livestock had escaped their enclosure. Since so many of the boundary fences in New England are hand-made fieldstone walls, this was a very important job. Many of those walls stand to this day. Robert Frost was right.
Culler of Staves inspected lumber which was often used for payment of taxes in lieu of cash.
"Great quantities of staves were taken by the town in payment of taxes assessed upon the inhabitants; and these must all pass through the hands of the culler. Persons might, of course, at any time make staves from timber taken from their own land; but timber for this purpose might also be taken from the common, under certain regulations."
Hog Reeves In the very rural South, it was not uncommon to turn loose hogs to forage in the woods and be recollected in the fall. Not so in New England.
"Owners of hogs were responsible for yoking and placing rings in their noses, and if they got loose and became a nuisance in the community, one or more of the men assigned as hog reeve would be responsible for performing the necessary chore for the owner; who could be legally charged a small fee for the service. There were punishments and fines established for not having hogs yoked and failing to control animals."
Field Drivers This was another job involving roaming livestock. A quotation from Massachusetts law describes it best.
"Every field drive shall take up horse, mules, neat cattle, sheep, goats or swine going at large in the public ways, or on common or unimproved land within his town and not under the care of a keeper; and any other inhabitants of the town may take up such cattle or beasts going at large on Sunday, and for taking up such beasts on said day the field driver or such other inhabitants of the town may in tort recover for each beast the same fees which the field driver is entitled to receive for taking up like beasts."
On the page above I can see several of my Smith relatives filling these jobs.
There was also a full page of descriptions of ear notching to identify livestock. It got very creative, but I'll save that for another post.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that this blog passed the three year mark on June 2. Happy Blogiversary
to me!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday's Children


Sometimes you find a very sad story in your family tree. The story of the children of Reuben Lowell Smith and his wife Sophronia Richardson Smith is one of those. I did a number of searches with
________Smith and the two parents as the parameters. Every time I searched, more children popped up. And this image appeared on FindaGrave. These are the five daughters of Reuben and Sophronia who were born and died between 1841 and 1850. Sandwiched in between was my great grandfather, George Frederick Smith, who luckily survived. There's no indication of how each of them died, but at least two died of croup and they all seemed to have lived about a year. This is a sad reminder of how fragile live was even then. The story doesn't stop there.....
Reuben and Sophronia moved to Massachusetts and continued to have children.  Both Ellen and Jennie died in their late teens/early 20's. Jennie died of consumption not long after her 18th birthday. I also found a record which may indicate yet another child. So of 11 children we know about, only 4 made it to adulthood. There was a lot of sorrow in that house.

This must have touched someone else in the family as well. The stone in the picture above has a placement date long after the deaths. Someone remembered these little girls...

Monday, June 1, 2015

What's My Line?


If you are of a certain age, you probably remember the game show What's My Line?  Watching Downtown Abbey has made me even more curious about the occupations of my ancestors...particularly the English branches, but the American family is fascinating as well.  So I've been going through the tree and doing a little digging.

Of course I found farmers..lots and lots and lots of farmers. Farmer in Maine in the Smith, Lowell and Richardson families. Farmers in Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia in the Dunn, Johnson, Archer families. And of course farmers in Massachusetts in the Rogers family. What I found was the some families farmed the same land or the same area for many generations, but as the United States went through the industrial revolution I found lots of tradespeople as well: coopers, grocers, salesmen of farm equipment, a few blacksmiths, mechanics and factory workers. In the mill towns of Massachusetts I found a LOT of boot makers. Holden had a shoe factory that employed many members of the Rogers family.

The next generation became professionals: Isaac Johnson was a lawyer (although he maintained farm land as well). Samuel Milton Archer was a doctor in the Salinas Valley of California.  

And some professions became a family affair: George Smith, Reuben Lowell Smith, and Edward Rogers were all firemen/ conductors for the railroad. The Tapply family has been in the building trades for several generations. James Henry Tapply worked at various times as a carpenter and bricklayer. Two of his sons are listed as builders: James Henry Tapply Jr. and Harry Tapply. His son Charles, my great grandfather, was a paper hanger and painter after he left the police force. Charles Earnest Tapply Sr. (his son) was a lumberman. And even today we have Mark Tapply who does fine woodwork and cabinetry and did his father Chuck Tapply before him. Charles Earnest's other son William R. and his son were lumberman.  William's grandson Billy Tapply deals in fine wood flooring. Amazing how many members of this branch have "builder" or  "carpenter" in the census records.

Even though there were farmers and people "in service" on the Freed branch of the family, it appears that the Tapplys were merchant/craftspeople. This is where the research got interesting. Of course I've talked about James Henry Tapply's father John who was a master cordswainer. You can read more about them here.  I found a wonderful description of the cordwainer's art on this website along with a reference to a district in London where they once practiced their art.
The professionals all had guilds dating back to medieval times. They persist today with elaborate guild halls in London. It seems many of them do charitable work these days,  but the buildings maintain records which could really be useful for genealogists. Edward Lansdell Tapply was listed as a master linen draper which appears to be a dealer in dry goods, but another source said that in the mid-1800's he may have been a bespoke dealer of fine goods for shirting.
The Draper's Shop
This same branch of the family had a number of family members in the coffee, tea and spice business. Edward Lansdell's brother William Tapply and his sons dealt in these goods as well as pickles. Perhaps they were members of the grocer's guild. I love that part of their coat-of-arms includes a clove harking back to the days when people traveled to the Far East to bring back spices.
William's son, Richard Tapply, is listed as a brewery director. Of course the brewers had their guild as well. It was Richard's son Allan who penned the Tapply family history.

On the other side of this family we have John Benn, father of Ellen Freed Benn Tapply. He was a hansom cabbie in London. He is still a cypher in my research so perhaps a visit to the hackney and cab driver's guild will reveal records of his license.
So while my relatives were never the "lords of the manor" like the Crawleys, they all seemed to do pretty well for themselves; truly the "butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker".  Records of their apprenticeships, records of their businesses, land purchases and agricultural census records can all inform your family research. I look forward to finding even more clues in these records.

Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memorial

Civil War Memorial, Litchfield Plains, Maine
Courtesy historical society of Litchfield


As I've worked along through the tree, I've discovered that a number of my relatives volunteered and served in the American Civil War.  I've talked about some of them already, but I continue to find people in more remote corners of the tree.  Today for Memorial Day I  will honor these more distant relatives.
The years are the years of service best I could determine. The two with extra notations died in service.
Emory Rogers 1861-1863
Perley H Richardson 1862-1863
Lorenzo M. Richardson 1863-1865
Oliver Bartlett Richardson 1861-1863
Charles Henry Howe 1862-1864 Andersonville
Benjamin F Roberts 1862-1864
Correctus H Richardson 1864-1864 Battle of the Wilderness

Thanks....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's in a Name?

Primrose Rogers at about 4
I've been thinking a lot about family names. Not the last names so much, but the first names.
You see, my mother's name was Primrose Rogers and her mother was Primrose Victoria Tapply.
My joke has always been "there but for the grace of God".......My mother spent a lot of years
hating and resenting her name, but in the last years of her life she embraced it. I was surprised a bit because I had heard so many complaints over the years.

There is a naming tradition in our family that has come down several generations: my great great
grandfather was Winslow Brainard Rogers. Nowadays naming in honor of someone is considered a curse in some circles, but I think it's very nice. Thus we have:

Now no one could tell me where the names Winslow or Brainard came from. I have found no evidence of anyone further back in the tree with that name, but Winslow Brainard died in the American Civil War and now we have several generations in memory of him and his family.

There are a lot of "names in honor of" in my tree, but those aren't the names that fascinate me. My grandmother's family was late Victorian/early Edwardian so Primrose and her sisters Mabel, Ethyl and Beatrice make perfect sense and yet they sound so strange to modern ears. I once heard this type of name referred to as "heavily embroidered" and I would say that is accurate. I've written about the mystery of Cassandria Hooper Harrington, another interesting name. But I have Sophronia Richardson Smith on the other side of the tree. You may not realize it, but if you read The Five Little Peppers  you've heard this name. Remember Phronsie? And one of Sophronia's  brothers-in-law was Greenleaf Smith. Wow! That's an interesting choice. The mid-nineteenth century is full of Abigails and Lavinias and Letitias and Claras. Names went in and out of style then, just as they do now.

Sadly the Irish side sounds very Catholic and pretty traditional...at least what I've found so far. I would love to turn up a good Sinead or Fintan, but that seems unlikely.

Of course the Colonial ancestors turned up some of the names one might expect...poor Thankful Ham.  I also found another interesting naming tradition which you can read about here. One of my ancestors was named Benoni Eaton Knapp. This intrigued me. I found out that the name Benoni was given to babies born "under unfortunate circumstances" such as the death of the mother, the father predeceasing the child, or an illegitimate child. The name literally means "Alas, my poor son". Kind of a sad thing to visit on a child and so far I have not discovered how this poor man was "unfortunate".

I think names are an important consideration when doing genealogy. They can give you important clues about family relationships. What stories are waiting to be told?