Showing posts with label Rogers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rogers. Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Great Grand Challenge: Crunching the Data

 A little while back, Randy Seaver of Genea Musings posted the great-grand challenge. You can find out more about it here.  He also posted some brief directions for the challenge:
1) We each have 16 great-great grandparents. How did their birth and death years vary? How long were their lifespans?
2) For this week, please list your 16 great-great grandparents, their birth year, their death year, and their lifespan in years. You can do it in plain text, in a table or spreadsheet, or in a graph of some sort.
3) Share your information about your 16 great-great grandparents with us in a blog post of your own.

I thought this sounded like a fine idea, but as you can see, I have a bit of a problem. The paternal ancestors are still a bit lacking. Food for future research. However, I decided that I would see what I could do with the maternal side for great-great grandparents and both sides for great-grandparents. So, here is what I found presented in a fan chart.

For the known ancestors (great-great-grands) on my maternal side the average birth year is 1828. The birth years run 47 years from 1806 (Benn) to 1853 (Johnson). The average life span was 63 years. (Men had an average of 60 years and women an average of 65) A little noodling on the internet told me that life expectancy for men born between 1800 and 1830 was 38 years at birth and by age 5 had increased to 55 years. This would be due to the large number of infant deaths, as I have discovered working on my own tree. Women could be expected to live 39 years at birth and it jumped to 59 if they survived to age 5. Overall, my maternal great-grands beat the average by almost 5 years.

When I looked at the great-grandparents on both sides things improved. Of course we can imagine that between 1850 and 1900 more women survived childbirth and more babies survived to age 5. The great-grandparents fell into the years where medical care was more available and all of the great-grands on my tree worked in occupations other than farming.  The Industrial Revolution made a real difference in their lives. That had to have improved their chances.

The average birth year for the great-grandparents was 1850. This spanned 52 years between 1820 (Fitzgerald) to 1872 (Smith). The average life span for my paternal great-grandparents was 73. (70 for the men and 76 for the women) On the maternal side the average life span was 79 (80 for the men and 78 for the women). Looking again at those general statistical averages, my great-grandparents did significantly better- about 20 years.

Finally, I looked at my grandparents. The average birth year here was 1887. There was a span of 20 years in births-much closer than the previous generations. Both sides show the differences in a modern life with modern health problems; both grandfathers only lived to their 50's. This was actually just about average for men in their birth years. My grandmothers lived to be 95 and 93. These women exceeded the statistical average by almost 30 years.

So what does all of this tell me? It's interesting data, but what does it mean? When I look at my family tree now, especially at this fan chart, I see something more than numbers. I think back to my study of history in school where I was struck by the lives of our ancestors: the war, the disease, the lack of medical care, the dangers of daily life. I was amazed at our survival. Now some might say this is Darwinism in play. I see the great-great grandfather who just happened to father a child just before marching off to the Civil War- only to die. I see the great-great grandfather who lost sisters older and younger to vicious Maine winters and croup. Why the four infant sisters, but not him? And of course I think of all the women who survived 6 and 8 and 10 childbirths under the most basic conditions when other women did not. I can't help but think there is something more at play here. It first occurred to me several years ago as I began this work on the tree, although I can remember thinking about this long before. I heard someone on Finding Your Roots express just the right sentiment in almost the exact words I have said to myself for years: for of all of the war, disease, accident and happenstance, we in the current generation are the result...the very lucky result. If you're thinking this implies the need for a measure of gratitude, a bit of awe and some responsibility, I would agree.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

No download or reproduction without express permission
In honor of Mother's Day, I give you my mom. This is Primrose Rogers (Fitzgerald) in about
1928.  What a sweet picture!

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.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Holiday Dinner Mishap

Fitchburg Sentinel, December 23, 1924
I love trolling the pages of old newspapers and especially the hometown newspaper of my Tapply and Rogers family members, The Fitchburg Sentinel. You never know when a curious article involving a family member will turn up. This is one from December 1924 starring Harry Tapply. Harry worked for the Fitchburg police force for many years and his name turned up frequently in the paper.

Apparently there was a bit of confusion over the groceries. I can understand why. When you look at a picture of a 1924 Ford Model T, you can see that one black car might look more or less like another parked on Fitchburg's main street.

a 1924 Model T
So this unfortunate gentleman went home without the holiday roast and I'm sure there was hell to pay....or was there? Could this be an early example of the the gold coin in the red kettle? We will never know. Officer Tapply to the rescue.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Homestead- Three Brothers and a Little House

28 Boyden Road, Holden, MA
This is the Rogers family homestead in Holden. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and dates to 1733. The account of the house provided by the Holden Historical Society lists many, many owners over the years and only a few of them were Rogers family members. Some the the town's prominent names are on the list of owners including Chaffin, Damon and Ware. However, members of the Rogers family were owners of the house for over 100 years. Thus, the name.

The description of the house calls it a Cape-type cottage of 11/2 stories dated from the early Georgian period.  It has a granite foundation, clapboard siding and rear lean-to which extends back to the barn. The grape arbor over the front door was part of the original design. The central chimney would have been the source of heating and cooking well into the nineteenth century. The double-hung eight-over-twelve paned windows are a really nice original feature. The basic structure of the house has been preserved over the years and apparently the inside was restored.

Originally the lot was 7.5 acres of upland and swampland and one of the original residents ran a blacksmith shop.  The building in the back with the red batten board is the location, which records show as original.  There were a number of businesses run out of the little shop; one of my Rogers ancestors was a cooper. That would be Benjamin Rogers, who lived here briefly between 1783 and 1810. Benjamin sold the house to his brother George Rogers (father of Winslow Brainard) in 1810. George soon moved on, but the Rogers family was not done with this house.

Aaron How Rogers, son of George, lived in the house with his family until 1841. It passed through yet another owner until Catherine Moore Rogers, widow of Moses, (sister-in law of Benjamin and George) bought the house. Her son Israel farmed here and her son Dexter is listed as a carpenter. Over the years more and more of the original land was sold off. Perhaps the little shop in back was put to new use. Catherine lived here until her death in 1877.

Catherine's daughter Maria Stockwell Rogers never married. The census records show her keeping house for her brother Israel and also for her mother. She was the next occupant of the little house. She died in 1907. The house passed at that time to her nephew, Samuel Walter Rogers, who was Israel's son. The census and directory records don't ever show S. Walter living with his family in the house. He was the associate managing editor of the Gardner News and seems to have lived in Gardner. Perhaps the house was rented to family members at this time. I can't find any Rogers family members in Holden on any official records, but by this time they had married into many of the Holden families.

This is the end of the line for the Rogers family in the little house. I have visited the property several times and never caught the owner at home, but over the years it seems more well-kept. Maybe some day I'll get a peek at the inside as well.

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.

Monday, August 24, 2015

An Artful Mappy Monday

Cape Cod by B. Ashburton Tripp- Courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection
I love a beautiful illustration. Books, maps or anything done with real care and love. I was not able to find much online about the person who drew this map: B. Ashburton Tripp, but this is a lovely thing. If you are looking for interesting maps of places your family lived, look no further than the David Rumsey Map Collection. They have a whole collection of maps by Tripp.


The cartouche for Cape Cod is elegant and the little vignettes
all around the edges are outstanding. I love the four winds blowing, the hunter shooting at game birds and the fisherman in his yellow slicker.  The map has faded a bit, but if you go to Rumsey and look at their original scan, you'll get a much better idea of what a work of art this is. I know this will tickle Cousin Jill.

So why am I so interested in a map of Cape Cod? Well, the Rogers line of my family goes way back on the cape. I mentioned Aaron Rogers, who was born there and moved to Holden. But there were several generations before him. And they mostly lives "mid-Cape" in Barnstable County in the towns of Harwich, Eastham, Orleans and Chatham.

For my Rogers cousins, here's the direct line from Joseph Rogers who arrived on a certain ship in 1620, right down to Grandfather Harry Rogers. And if you look at the birth and death information, you pretty much see the same few towns over and over again in that first five generations. They were farmers for the most part. Funny to think about the Cape as farm country, but back then it was.








































When you zoom in really close, especially online on the original, he has carefully labeled all the little towns and added other small embellishments. (I typed in the black print to show the towns I was referring to)

The original must really be impressive. So check out the Rumsey collection. You may find an elegant map of your hometown.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Family Friday

No download or reproduction without express permission
Today's post is in honor of my mom. This is Primrose Rogers Fitzgerald at age 16. She would have been 91 today.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence



Aaron Rogers was my fourth great-grandfather. When I discovered The Fold as a resource for military records, I discovered his complete pension file which was a wealth of information and also unraveled a small mystery in my family tree. First, Aaron's story. He was born in Harwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. In recalling his service for the pension board, here is what he had to say:

"In June 1775 he resided at Harwich in the County of Barnstable in the said Commonwealth and within four days after the Battle of Bunker Hill a company was raised in Harwich for the purpose of guarding the coast the enlistment of the members being for six months. The company was commanded by Captain Clark of Harwich and  I enlisted into the company when it was first raised. ….I did duty in this company for six months and I was discharged. Immediately after my discharge I enlisted into a company  of the Continental establishment under the command of Captain Peter Harwood of Brookfield, Massachusetts who came into the neighborhood of my then residency and enlisted a company for …. We marched in the winter in the early days of January 1776 to Roxbury, Massachusetts and were stationed there until the British troops evacuated Boston. I marched on to Dorchester Heights at the time the entrenchments were thrown up there by the American troops. After the evacuation of Boston,  our company marched to New York by the way of Providence, Rhode Island. I marched with them and we were quartered at New York City. Our duty consisted of guarding the shipping by boats as most of our company had come from Cape Cod and were considered as acquainted with that duty… At the end of the end of our enlistment which was one year I was discharged from service at New York. I received a written discharge have not the same now in my possession and I think it must be in the War Department in Washington. I have been placed on the Pension Roll of  the Massachusetts Line of Revolutionary troops under the Law of 1818 but have since been struck from that Roll. After my discharge aforesaid I returned to Harwich  and continued there until about March 1777 when I again enlisted into the company of continental troops raised in that neighborhood under the command of Captain ? (probably Captain Bangs)"

Official records being what they were at the time and having apparently lost his discharge orders, he has to appeal to his brother-in-law, Jonathan Rogers, to vouch for him. Here's where the little brick starts to be chipped away from the brick wall. In 1779, Aaron married "Miss Hannah Rogers also of Harwich". I could never find parents or a birth record for Hannah no matter where I looked. I had done quite a bit of looking for Aaron's family so I knew that none of his sisters married a Jonathan Rogers. So, this brother-in-law was Hannah's brother. Still haven't found their parents, but it's a start.

Aaron did finally get his pension for the grand sum of $8 a month but lost it again when his net worth
exceeded the allowed limits. When it dropped again he reapplied.  By this time he was living in Holden
on land he received, I believe as a "bounty" for his service. (sort of the VA benefits of that time) Aaron's benefits, after more paperwork and wrangling, went to Hannah after his death. A fascinating look at the proceedings of those times.

I also returned to the Holden town records. Aaron wasn't in Holden in July, 1776, but I was curious about what the minutes of the town meeting would show:

Sure enough, there it is. The Declaration of Independence handwritten in full into the town minutes for posterity. If you look about four lines down on the image you will spot it: "When in the course of human events..."

I got goosebumps.

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....

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rascal

No download or reproduction without express permission
This is my grandfather Harry Winslow Rogers pictured during the time he was courting my grandmother Primrose Victoria Tapply.  Sadly I never knew him. But I had heard stories. Here's another, more innocent photo from a slightly younger age.
No reproduction or download without express permission
He had vivid red hair and blue eyes. The family called him "Rusty" to distinguish him from Harry Tapply. He was very musical, he had some artistic talent, he was "handy" and also...just a bit naughty. Well I heard stories anyway.

The first hint that the stories might be true came as more records came online at Ancestry and I found
a marriage record for one Harry W. Tapply marrying a Grace Elizabeth Carroll in Bellows Falls, Vermont. " Ah, a youthful marriage, " I thought. So I turned to the Fitchburg Sentinel to see if I could find anything else. And what I found made me chuckle. We always cluck over the things that young people get themselves into: the alcohol, drugs, partying, bad behavior. We forget that young people have always sown their wild oats. Apparently my grandfather was no exception.
So he went to a house party that seems to have gone on for several days, there was drinking and carousing and girls. Someone made a bet and he ended up in Bellows Falls marrying this girl. Then he went home as if nothing happened and moved back in with his parents...except now the girl was pregnant.  Sadly the records confirm  that the baby was stillborn. And to top things off, Harry expected to straighten himself out by enrolling in the military, but was rejected due to a case of the clap.  I can just imagine how that went over at home. (not to mention being in the Sentinel for all to see) Doesn't this sound like something you could read in the paper today?

"Spoiled" was my mother's pronouncement. I'm sure that came directly from the mouths of the two aunties, Lotta and Clara. They doted on him as well. Luckily, as most kids do, he learned from his mistakes. He got his divorce, moved on. Became a soloist at the Rollstone Congregational Church, met my grandmother and settled down. He struggled a bit during the Great Depression,  but eventually became head of a crew that built and repaired roads around Fitchburg. He also was responsible for a lot of the signage. For those who live in Fitchburg, some of those early orange and black street signs in the slightly script-style font were my grandfather's handywork.

In January of 1952 he went out on a stepladder to clear an ice or snow from the roof. He came back inside, had a heart attack and died. I was born 11 months later....on his birthday, which is today.  I like to believe that was no accident.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

No reproduction or downloads without
express permission
In honor of a hot July day, I thought I'd take a trip to the beach. My family liked to go up to the Maine beaches, but the back of the photo doesn't tell us where this was taken. From the back we have:
Lotta Smith, Primrose Rogers Tapply, Clara Smith, and Primrose (Primsy) Rogers. Love those bathing costumes and the bathing shoes. This was about 1930.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Small Town Deals with Smallpox

Drawing accompanying text in Book XII of the 16th-century Florentine Codex (compiled 1540–1585), showing Nahuas of conquest-era central Mexico suffering from smallpox.

I love using the FamilySearch records as a resource. I mentioned before that I found that many of the records I thought were original turn out to be 19th Century copies. The originals, I discovered, were still unindexed on FamilySearch.
I've been combing through the Holden, Massachusetts town records for the traces of my Rogers ancestors.  These original records are fascinating because they combine birth records, death records, marriage records and minutes from the town meetings. And it was at one town meeting that I discovered this:

Clearly the people of Holden knew that people with smallpox needed to be isolated and went to the extreme measure of creating a hospital to contain the disease. In the following entry, dated December 13, 1792 I found this:

The phrase that surprised me was "for all those persons that are now Inoculated in this Town and no more". They were inoculating against smallpox in 1792? This was news to me. But a little searching on the internet told me that no less a person than Cotton Mather was advocating inoculation in 1721. You can read about that here.

I also found out that there were a series of epidemics right up until Jenner's discovery of vaccination in 1796. The colonists had a crude form of vaccination and this website provided this information:
"There was, however, a catch: individuals under inoculation did come down with smallpox, and they were therefore fully capable of infecting others with the disease. Unless practised under strict quarantine, the operation was as likely to start an epidemic as to stop one. For this reason, inoculation was highly controversial in the English colonies, where smallpox outbreaks were comparatively rare."
So this explains why a hospital was necessary for the vaccinated. Smallpox runs through a series of stages over a few months, so it would have been imperative to house these people for a while. It was a far more benign solution than the one I found here. North Brookfield is only a few miles west of Holden and this would have been in 1788, a few years before the outbreak in Holden.

The History Today website tells us that there were a series of outbreaks during the American Revolution that affected fighting in both New England and the South and into Canada. From there the disease moved west. Of course we know that the disease devastated the Native American population. I was heartened to find that the town of Holden embraced the idea of inoculation(controversial at the time), did not banish the sick, and did not consider the disease "God's judgment"(another popular idea in Puritan America). Just another window into the lives of my ancestors.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day- Remembering Winslow Brainard Rogers

Grove Cemetery, Holden, Massachusetts
Reading up a little this morning, I discovered that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and was established especially to remember those lost in the American Civil War. This Memorial Day I would like to remember the man who piqued my curiousity  about my family. Winslow Brainard Rogers enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. He was a bugler in Company G of the 36th Massachusetts regiment. He died of smallpox after the siege of Vicksburg on July 25, 1863. He was only 38 years old when he died. There is a marker in his name at the town cemetery in Holden, Massachusetts and his name is engraved on a plaque in the town hall. As a child we had a packet of letters written from WB to his wife Cassandria. I no longer have the letters available to me, but I remember how sad they were and how terribly he missed his family and his small hometown. For those who made the ultimate sacrifice, on this day we remember.

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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sweethearts


Primrose Tapply and Harry Rogers
No download or reproduction without express permission
A visit to my grandmother's house was never complete until we went through the box of old photos. These  two photos were from an old album documenting my grandparents courtship. Many years later, my mom had two of them framed and presented them to me for the "family wall" in my house. The house in the background was the Tapply family home on Pearl Hill Road. My grandmother isn't quite a flapper, but still quite fashionable for the time. My grandfather looks like a bit of a scoundrel. (and it turns out he WAS- but more about that later) My grandmother always said that they met while performing in a musical revue. The account of their marriage makes reference to this
Primrose Victoria Tapply married Harry Winslow Rogers on January 30, 1920.

Monday, December 30, 2013

(My)Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Left: Primrose Fitzgerald and Christine  Right: Barbara Walsh and Duncan
On New Year's Eve 1952 a future genealogist was born. Duncan was about two weeks older and never let me forget it. The picture was taken about a month later, but  I think this was about as close to a "newborn" picture as you might have gotten back then. Oddly I just noticed the picture on the wall. It's a repro of a Wanda Gag lithograph chock-a-block full of cats.  The print hangs in my house to this day. My future as an ailurophile was portended.

Thankfully my mother was a packrat. I found this tidbit as well:

The day I was born just happened to be the birthday of my grandfather Harry W. Rogers, who had passed away the previous February. Another interesting coincidence I think. A New Year's Eve birthday...well any holiday birthday...is not ideal in the mind of a young child. Today I look at it as a fresh start in every way for the new year. Happy New Years!