Monday, May 27, 2013

William Perry of Glamorgan, Wales: part 2

This is the second part to my previous post, William Perry of Glamorgan, Wales.  I provided two circumstantial reasons for why I think the baptismal record of William Perry in Glamorgan, Wales is my William Perry.  Now I will present the third reason.

When I started researching my family history, I diligently interviewed all the older family members, most all of whom are now deceased.  One of my regular stops was my grandmother, the great granddaughter of William Perry.  William's name had long since been forgotten in my family.  In fact, my grandmother knew the first name of her mother's, mother, Cynthia, but had no idea of the name of her grandfather, James C. Perry.  But names aside, my grandmother had all sorts of memories and stories which we spent many enjoyable hours talking about.

Family tradition is always one of those tricky areas for family tree researches.  Stories tend to grow and change as generation after generation retells them.  One of the stories my grandmother used to tell me was about the ancestor who used to compose music.  She said it was someone on her mother's side of the family.  Her mother, Mary Perry, was a granddaughter of William Perry.  So this is the story of the composer in the family.

I included a screen shot of William Perry's baptismal record in the last post.  William Perry's parents are married in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales.  I have attached the parish marriage record below:
This is the marriage entry for William Perry and Sophia Swaine performed on 25 Dec 1814 at Merthyr Tydfil.  I am feeling really lucky that Sophia has the name she does!  There are three other Swain(e) marriages which take place in Merthyr Tydfil, one for John Swain(e), one for Mary Swain(e), and one for Keziah Swain(e).  All of them occur in close proximity to each other and I suspect all four of these individuals are children of John Swain b. 1749.

A quick internet search finds the couple of John Swain and Susannah Holliday, the parents of 12 children.  This is where things get really interesting.  John Swain's parents are listed as Thomas and Mary Swain.  In addition to John Swain, a younger brother Joseph Swain is listed.  Joseph was a renowned composer of hymns.  He was born 22 May 1761 and died 16 Apr 1796.  

The individuals who did the Swain research online didn't trace the children of John and Susannah other than their son John (who is also listed in an English Who's Who).  A mention is made of Elizabeth marrying a man by the name of Brown and moving to the United States.  Not much to go on, but my kind of challenge.

I find John and Elizabeth Brown in Baltimore, Maryland.  Their oldest son, Joseph Henry Brown is born in Glamorgan, Wales in 1810.  Their next child, Thomas Brown, is born in 1820 in Maryland.  Fast forward, Joseph and his younger brother Richard Brown become very prosperous steel manufacturers in Youngstown, Ohio.  In 1920 a biographical history of Youngstown is written and a sketch is provided for both Joseph and Henry Brown.  Guess what - they go into great length to mention their hymn writing uncle, Joseph Swain!

What do you think?  Could this fragmentary memory of my grandmother be about Joseph Swain?  This memory would have been created in the 1790s.  

I've also included pictures of three of the individuals I mentioned in this post:

Joseph Swain



William Perry of Glamorgan, Wales

I attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City this year, and while I was there I ran over to the Family History Library to put in a little research time.  I enjoy going to RootsTech, in part, because of its close proximity to the library.  When I need a break from the classes, I can simply run across the street and get lost in my research.  This post describes one of my finds during one of these quick visits.

My 3rd great grandfather, William Perry immigrated to the United States sometime in 1819, if his obituary in 1904 is accurate.  I suspect it is accurate, as all of the other information the family provided in other records has always been accurate.  William always maintained he was born in Wales.  In fact, there is one census record where he must have been asked his place of birth and he said Wales, but the census taker wrote England.  You can see where England is crossed out and Wales is written just above the crossed out England.

I have a pretty complete picture of William Perry's life from his marriage in 1838 to his death in 1904.  His death record lists his date of birth as 24 Nov 1815 and place of birth as Wales.  Both parents names are listed as 'unknown'.  I always seem to come up with those death records that list parents names as unknown.  This is basically where my search for William's parents ends.  Until now.  

William's first 22 or 23 years seem to be a mystery.  I am not sure where he lived or with whom.  According to the same obituary I mentioned earlier, he didn't arrive in Michigan until he was 19 which would place his arrival circa 1836.  I have had good luck in tracing William's children and have even managed to find living descendants of most of them.  Sad to say, William's name has long been forgotten in family tradition.

The Family History Library has access to along with all of the parish records contained there.  I searched for William Perry b. 1815 plus or minus 2 years in Wales and almost fell out of my chair when the baptismal record below appeared.
This is the baptismal record for William Perry, son of William and Sophia Perry, baptized on 14 Jan 1816 in the parish of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales.  Assuming this is my William, he would have been under 2 months old when he was baptized.  Looking at the parish register, it seems they were baptizing children within two months of birth (some of the children had births or age, in days, listed).

So, how can I link this record of a William Perry being baptized in 1816 to my 3rd great grandfather who lived most of his life in Michigan?

I have three pieces of evidence, none of which are direct proof.  I'll let you decide if I have enough evidence.

First - William always maintained his 'Welshness'.  The above baptismal record is the only record I have found to date that matches my William Perry.  I double-checked the parish death records for William Perry and his death is not recorded.  There are no other birth records for this couple in Merthyr Tydfil or in Wales for that matter.  Maybe FindMyPast does not have all of the parish records for Wales uploaded yet - I will keep monitoring this in the future.

Second - Naming patterns strongly suggest this couple.  My William Perry marries Sarah Ann Fox in 1838 in Michigan.  Sarah descends from a German Palatine family in New York.  Both the Germans and the Welsh have strong naming patterns for their children.

In both naming patterns, the first male child would be named after the father's father, the second male child would be named after the mother's father, the first female child would be named after the mother's mother, and the second female child would be named after the father's mother.  

I have already verified Sarah Ann Fox's parents as Joel Fox and Mary Forbes.  And William Perry and Sarah Fox do name children Joel and May.  I have listed all of their children in the table below.  This list comes from William and Sarah's family Bible.   

Children of William Perry and Sarah Ann Fox:

Named for
James C. Perry

Henry W. Perry

William Lester Perry
Father's father
Joel E. Perry
Mother's father
Mary E. Perry
Mother's mother
Alfred E. Perry

Sophia A. Perry
Father's mother
John Edwin Perry

It appears to me like they had a modified naming pattern.  The first two boys do not fit the naming pattern, however, there does appear to be a naming pattern.  I guess what really stands out to me is that they do indeed name a daughter Sophia and this is their second daughter so, in theory, would have been named after the father's mother.  And Sophia is such a rare name.  I had always suspected Sophia would be the name of William's mother - I just hope I'm not shoe-horning the record to fit my prejudice.

The third piece of evidence I will save for my next post.  It is circumstantial to say the least, but it involves a family tradition fragment that just happens to fit nicely into this Welsh family...    

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Family Tree at FamilySearch

I've been doing what I do best - procrastinating!  I have been meaning to write a post on FamilySearch's new Family Tree.  It may sound a little strange, but I have often wondered what is going to happen with all the research I have undertaken over the last 20 years.  OK, maybe research is too lofty a word to use to describe some of the activities I have done, but, none the less, it was research to me.

Really, have you ever thought of what might happen to your research?  I do not have family members that find family tree research even remotely interesting.  My guess is that all of those piles of papers that I worked so hard to collect will probably be in the trash before my body is cold.  Perhaps the photos will be kept, but how many times have you gone into an antique store or flea market and found family photos and documents for sale?

To hedge my bet, I posted my family tree at Rootsweb and at Ancestry.  Rootsweb has proven its ability to survive, but I'm not so sure just how long it will be viable.  Ancestry has the ability to post all kinds of supporting reference material to my tree.  My question though, is how long will this information be available after my account goes delinquent?  I could see the delete button erasing any trace of my years and years of hard work.  Poof!  Here today, gone tomorrow.

Enter our friends at FamilySearch.  I think I may now have at least a chance to provide a depository for my research.  I created my free account and started a family tree.  
My tree project is serving two purposes.  I am using this exercise to re-enter my information from scratch.  It really has been an eye-opener for me.  All the information I am adding must have a verifiable source attached to it.  The convenience of linking sources directly from the FamilySearch database with a few simple mouse clicks makes this process easy.  The eye-opener part is in reviewing the records I am attaching.

I am retracing research I did, in some cases, twenty years ago.  My skills as a genealogist have improved over the years and things I missed, or connections I could have made, are far more apparent.  Additionally, I am in no hurry to build my tree.  I have been slowly combing the records and building solid family groups.  I have also started using the 'discussion' tab in my family tree to record stories and add personal knowledge for the individuals on my tree.

The second purpose this project is serving is in the area of photographs.  FamilySearch is allowing each individual account to upload as many as 5,000 photographs.  I have become the repository of my family's photos and have been worried what will happen to them when I am gone.  Now I can attach these photos to the family members in my tree.  The original photographs may eventually be scattered to the winds, but I can rest easy that at least digital copies will be attached to a biographical record of my family.

Has anyone else thought of ways to secure your 'genealogical legacy'?      

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In the Lumber Regions

I'm always on the lookout for articles and stories about logging.  Many of my ancestors were early residents of Michigan and any history of Michigan is not complete without a mention of logging.  I have a couple of photographs of my great grandfather, William Pratt taken in the northern woods of Michigan where he worked as a lumberjack during the long Michigan winters.
William Pratt in the middle.
As I mentioned in my last post, I purchased a bound collection of The American Agriculturalist for the year 1869.  Much to my pleasure the January issue has a great article entitled "In the Lumber Regions" which describes the typical lumbering operation.  In the case of the article, the editor Orange Judd, sent an artist to a logging camp in Maine to record the lumbering process.  

I copied the six etchings reproduced in the article:

The images produce such an evocative view of the logging life.  The journalist who wrote the article talks about the hard work required by the lumberjacks and the dangers involved, particularly by the drivers.  He also mentions the boom which was designed to catch all the logs floated down the river.  It was at this point where the logs would be separated by their owners marks and made ready for the sawmill.  This also made me think of my family.  I had another ancestor who lived on the Muskegon River in Mecosta County, Michigan.  There is a deed in which he sold access across his property for the construction of a log boom across the Muskegon River.  

Enjoy the images!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

That Farming Life

I am always on the lookout for any kind of materials that might shed light on how my ancestors lived.  Sometimes we family tree researches get lost in the 'name hunt'.  It's kind of like a game of 'my tree is bigger than your tree'.  The only problem with this is, when you are done, all you have is a list of names.  Think about all those trees on Rootsweb with 100,000 or more people in them.  I am always amused with the note, which almost always accompanies these trees, attached to the tree description, "I have no further information on any of the individuals listed in this tree."  Really?  No other information?  How sad!

If you think about a family tree, or at least a pedigree chart, each of the names on that list had a genetic part in who you are.  I always like to think there is a whisper of each of those individuals in me.  They all have played a part in who I am.  Having said that, I want to get to know these people.  How did they live?  Where did they live?  Why did they do what they did?  And the list of questions goes on and on.
Sometimes it is not an easy task to reconstruct the lives of our ancestors.  The Web has made it a little easier.  I usually start by Googling my ancestors and the places they lived.  You would be amazed at the number of hits you can get.  From there, I'll usually start weeding out the list to things that can give me the most information.  More often than not, I only can access an indirect notion of how my ancestors lived.  Most of 'my people' were hardscrabble farmers barely getting by.  They didn't leave much direct evidence of their existence.  However, they did leave mountains of indirect evidence.  Think about it - our ancestors were all part of society.  They were all part of the story we call history.

So, as I mentioned at the start of this post, I am always on the lookout for any kind of material that sheds light on how my ancestors lived.  This means I frequent auction houses, antique shops, thrift shops, and the like, looking for anything that shows how individuals lived, worked, or played once upon a time.  Recently I was able to purchase a bound collection of The American Agriculturist for the Farm, Garden, and Household comprising the entire year of 1869.  This was a newsletter edited by Orange Judd (pictured at right).  Click on his picture to open a short biographical for him located at Wikipedia.

The circulation for his paper was over 100,000 by 1864, so can I say for sure my ancestors read his paper?  Of course not.  I'm not even sure my ancestors could read.  However, I can say the majority of my ancestors were farming in 1869.  So Mr. Judd's newspaper can provide valuable insight as to how my ancestors might have been living from a source that was contemporary to my ancestor's lives.  What a deal!

So the next few posts will be inspired by the material contained in these papers.  I'll start with a little nugget gleaned from the January 1869 edition.  The editor states, "Dry wood is an excellent means of grace in a household, promoting good temper and cheerfulness."
So check back for my next post as we start to explore farming life in 1869...


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Looking Back

I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post!  Time just seems to melt away – yet nothing seems to get done.  I wonder if our ancestors had the same problem?  Quite often throughout the day I will think “Oh that would make a good blog post” or “Oh I should research that for the blog”, but it usually stops at that.  Nothing comes out.  I read somewhere that you should just start writing and the story would appear, so this is my attempt at this exercise.

I have noticed that the older I get the more my mind tends to wander back in time during idle moments, especially with the change in seasons.  I’m not sure why the seasonal change causes this, but this year my backward glances have been particularly emotional.  Not only do I think back in my past but I think back to my parents and their parents too.  Maybe I have been delving too deeply in the whispers of the past.  I really cannot say.

One thing I’m sure about, the past was full of hope for the future and regret for paths not taken just like it is today.  And maybe I am missing those individuals in my life who are no longer with us, but little, seemingly insignificant things, can create such evocative feelings and a flood of memories.  A great example of this is walking outside in the autumn.  The crunch of leaves under my feet immediately takes me back to my childhood.  I remember those crisp fall afternoons spent raking great mountains of brightly colored leaves and the sheer joy of diving headfirst into the pile!  If I close my eyes, I swear I can smell the moldering leaves even now.  The reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves look as bright in my mind’s eye as they did so many long years ago on that crisp autumn afternoon.

Another leaf that made me come to a full stop was on  You know the leaves I am talking about, those little green, wiggly leaves that tell you Ancestry has found something about ‘your’ ancestors.  I noticed a leaf doing a dance over my grandmother’s name announcing that Ancestry had found something.  When I clicked on the leaf it took me to FindAGrave and a digital picture of my grandmother’s headstone.  Complete stop.  Queue the flood of memories.

It seems only yesterday that we laid her to rest.  Has it really been 14 years?  I was blessed to have my grandmother in my life for 34 years.  My mind quietly ticked away random memories, my memories, of my grandmother.  But there is more.  I scanned around my living room and there she was, looking back at me through the photographs I had taken over the years.  I also had many other photographs of her, some taken long before I was born when the twentieth century was young and so was she.

There was so much more to say than that cold piece of marble could say.  I just had to upload a photo of grandma when she was in her early teens.  There – now you can see a young woman full of excitement at what the future might bring (you can click on her picture to see the Find A Grave listing - assuming I got the link right...).  Of course the future also brought suffering, but that is another chapter.  Look into her eyes and you see the hope for the future.  I wonder what she was thinking when the photographer said “steady, please” or whatever other phrase he used.  I cannot say why this picture of her creates such emotion for me.  It just does...