Sunday, December 10, 2017

St. Peter's Church Register, Wallsend, Northumberland, 1830

This image is from the Register of Baptisms, 1813-1854 of St. Peter's Church, Wallsend, Northumberland, England.  I found the inscription on the left page so interesting.

Register of Baptisms, 1813-1854 of St. Peter's Church, Wallsend, Northumberland, England

It reads,
N. B.       Two additional Free Galleries were
               erected this year, viz, One Thousand, Eight
               hundred & Thirty.  One on the South, the other
               on the North Side of Wallsend Church, by
               voluntary Subscription to remain, for the
               use of the poor, free and unappropriated
               forever.  At an estimated expense of One
               Hundred and fifty pounds;--Towards which
               the Dean of Chapter of Durham contributed Forty
               and the Durham Diocesan Church Building Society
               Thirty Pounds --
                                                John Armstrong
               Wallsend, 31st Dec. 1830.        Perpetual Curate.

Jas C. Anderson }
[Illegible]          }  Churchwardens

I love seeing these extra annotations in parish registers and other old documents.  I think they sometimes give extra insights into the lives and times of my ancestors.  This came to light as I searched for baptismal records for children of my third-great-grandparents, William and Martha (Reay) Doyle.

According to the Historical U.K. Inflation Rates and Calculator, the value of £150.00 in 1830 equals £15,150.00 in 2017, though I doubt that the work done in 1830 could be done in 2017 for that price.

I wondered if the two galleries Rev. Armstrong mentioned were still standing at St. Peter's and if they were still in use for the poor, since "forever" had a double underline for emphasis.  I found numerous websites with photos and descriptions of the church structure but I was unable to determine north/south from the photos or learn about the galleries for the poor.  The church was remodeled in 1892 so perhaps they were removed or used for some other purpose.

You can see photos and read more about St. Peter's at these websites:
The cemetery of St. Peter's is home to miners who were killed in pit explosions over the years including the Heaton pit disaster of 1815, the Wallsend Colliery explosion of 1835, and the Hartley pit disaster of 1862.  Coal mining was such a dangerous occupation.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Baptismal Record of Jane Doyle, Daughter of William and Martha

This is the record of Jane Doyle's baptism at St. Peter's Church, Wallsend, Northumberland, England in 1826.  Jane and my 2nd great-grand, Andrew Doyle, are siblings.

Page 252.
Baptisms solemnized in the Parish of Walls End
in the County of Northumberland in the Year 1826
[Entry] No. 2010.
When Baptized.      October 1st
Child's Christian Name.      Jane Dau of
Parents Christian Name.      William and Martha
Parents Surname.      Doyle
Abode.      Walls End
Trade or Profession.      Pitman
By whom the Ceremony was performed.      Geo. Jackson

This record was found on FHL Film #993567, image 145, St. Peter's Church Parish Register, Wallsend, Northumberland, page 252.  I was able to view it only at a Family History Center (as of November, 2017, though that may change in the future).


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Too Much Death on the Same Day

We family historians know about death.  We want to -- really, we need to -- find and document death dates and other information surrounding an ancestor's death.  And we know it's an inevitable part of life.

But today... today was a hard day in the death department.  Of the four U.K. GRO death certificates I requested only three turned out to be for family members, but all three of those people died too early and of unnatural causes.  It breaks my heart to know that a father and daughter died 15 days apart due to very different causes of death, leaving behind a wife and mother and several other children.  It breaks my heart that a mother in a different family died leaving behind a husband and two little girls. 

Learning of these three deaths on the same day... there's been too much death in my family today. 


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Baptismal Record of Martha Doyle, daughter of William and Martha

Thanks to FamilySearch I have an image of the baptismal record of Martha Doyle.  She was baptized at St. Peter's Church, Wallsend, Northumberland, England.

Transcribed from above image:
Page 63.
Baptisms solemnized in the Parish of Walls End
in the County of Northumberland in the Year 1833
[Entry] No. 497.
When Baptized.      1833 August 10th
Child's Christian Name.      Martha  Daughter
Parents Christian Name.      William and Martha
Parents Surname.      Doyle
Abode.      Walls End
Trade or Profession.      Pitman
By whom the Ceremony was performed.      John Armstrong P. Curate

I first located Martha in an index of transcribed names at FamilySearch.  At home I was able to see only the transcription but learned the the digitized images from FHL Microfilm #993567, Items 1-2, were available at my local Family History Center. 

This record is from St. Peter's Church Register of Baptisms, 1813-1854, Volume 2, p. 63.

Further research at FamilySearch suggests the possibility that Martha died in 1838.  I purchased a death record from U.K. GRO last week that may be hers.  It has not yet arrived.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

American Grit - a Book Review

American Grit:  A Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier - book cover American Grit:  A Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier is a collection of letters written by Anna Briggs Bentley, a Quaker who, in 1826, moved from Maryland to Columbiana County, Ohio.  Because I have ancestors who lived in an adjoining county during about the same time period, I thought the book might add insight into the conditions of their lives.

I think this is the first book I've ever read that was entirely letters.  There are short chapter introductions that explain the settings or events of the time, and even briefer explanations between some letters, but those fall to the background of the letters themselves.

The book was slow-going -- letters are written much differently than a book, written as thoughts come to mind and not necessarily in a logical order or in well-composed sentences -- and, though interesting, I almost stopped reading after about 50 pages.  I deliberated and finally decided that despite the slowness the information was interesting enough to continue.  I'm so very glad I did:  having persisted to the end it was almost as if Anna had become a friend.

Anna was about 30 when she moved to Ohio with her husband and their six children, all 12 or younger.  One child died before the move and 6 more were born in Ohio.  She left behind  her mother and eight younger siblings in Maryland.  She had been raised in a genteel family with the comforts of money, servants, the society of friends, local shops, etc.  She was not a born pioneer, but she was strong-willed, determined, and willing, along with her family, to "carve a homestead out of virgin forest with the sweat of their labors."

In the introduction Emily Foster, editor of the book, writes,
[Anna] wrote voluminous, detailed letters to her family in Maryland about life on the frontier.  No inadequacies of grammar, spelling or punctuation ever stood between Anna and a lively account of her daily affairs.  She followed a philosophy of letter writing that she frequently recommended to correspondents:  "Don't fear a repetition, but just give daily concerns, the affairs of the neighbourhood, the sayings and doings of the children, how little Henry looks, your garden, your cows, horses, chickens, and pigs, and even Ajax . . . so that as I am journeying on through time in my distant habitation I may keep up a kind of acquaintance and not feel like a stranger in my own dear native land, if ever I should visit it again."  Anna's letters poured unedited from her pen . . . [and] . . . became her lifeline to Maryland, a strong, binding cord made of stories, jokes, descriptions, gossip, hopes, and fears that would keep her tied to them for life, even from far away.

Here are a few observations from the book -- thoughts, events, and activities that stood out to me as I read.
  • Anna seemed desperately homesick during her first years in Ohio and begged her family to write to her often.  She wrote, "I now look forward to receiving letters from you as one of the highest pleasures I shall ever enjoy in this world..."  During those early years she had difficulty obtaining paper either because she didn't have money to buy it or it wasn't available.  At times she wrote both horizontally and vertically on the paper, the writing crossing at 90-degrees.  Some of the typed letters in the book are pages long.  I imagine even more pages when they were handwritten.
  • At first the family lived in a small, borrowed cabin -- the two older boys slept in their wagon -- until a larger cabin could be built.  The larger cabin was 24' x 36' with two stories and a balcony on the second.  They finished the rooms as they were able, over a period of time.
  • Early letters mention the hard work of clearing the land, felling trees, having log rollings, and building buildings.
  • Anna loved coffee and smoking her pipe.  She thought going without her coffee caused the drowsiness and stupidity she sometimes felt.  She commented that she wished she could have the coffee grounds her family threw out and lamented how often she had wasted coffee in her lifetime.
  • Food was sometimes scarce and money was often scarce during the early years.  She said they didn't go hungry but there was little variety in their diets.  She wrote, "When I think how many dollars I have spent that need not have been and what a small sum would now make us so much more comfortable, I feel certain I should never abuse prosperity as I have done."
  • There was coal on their property which her husband and son mined and sold.  She wrote once that they couldn't sell it because they had no means of transporting it (either no cart and/or no oxen) but they did not have the money to buy cart or oxen until they sold the coal.
  • In nearly every letter during the first decades Anna wrote about mending clothing and knitting stockings.  Both wore out quickly.  She mended using parts from clothing that was too worn out to mend.  She was grateful when family sent fabric and needles.
  • Anna's family was dependent on the weather.  The mills were operated by running water.  During times of drought the mills weren't able to operate.  Anna waited anxiously for flour, fulled cloth, and other mill-produced goods while she hoped for rain.  Forest fires were a problem during drought, too.  When the weather was good their crops flourished unless an infestation of insects attacked them.  Their crops included maple sugar, oats, wheat, linen, corn, hay, broom corn, pumpkins, cucumbers, cantaloupes, peas, beans, potatoes, and honey.  They also owned various animals including oxen, milking cows, sheep, and pigs.
  • There was often someone ill in Anna's family.  Reading the remedies was surprising, sometimes shocking.  

The other aspect of the book I must mention is how often Anna wrote about family members including siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, even extended family.  The editor makes a good effort of let the reader know who they were but it became too confusing for me to keep track of everyone.  That did not diminish any aspect of the book.  Anyone researching the surnames Bentley, Brooke, Briggs, Farquhar, Garrigues, and Stabler (among others) who lived in Ohio or Maryland might find this book interesting.

Looking back from the letters of later years to ones from earlier years, it was obvious that Anna and her family had made a success of their efforts.  Progress helped and life became easier as the decades passed.  Anna's last letter was written in November, 1881.  She died in 1890 at the age of 94.

I highly recommend this book if you'd like a glimpse into the life of a frontier woman from 1826 onward.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Baptismal Record of William Doyle, son of William & Martha

Thanks to FamilySearch I'm able to see parish baptismal records from All Saints Church in Newcastle, Northumberland, England, where William Doyle, son of William and Martha (Reay) Doyle, was baptized.

William was baptized on June 14, 1828.

This is a transcription of the record.  (Full page image is below.)
Page 6.
Baptisms solemnized in the Parish of All Saints in the Town and
in the County of Newcastle-upon-Tyne [currently Northumberland] in the Year 1828.
[Record] No. 47.
When Baptized.  June 14th
Child's Christian Name.  William Son of
Parents Names Christian.  William & Martha
Parents Name Surname.  Doyle
Abode.  Byker-Hill
Trade or Profession.  Pitman
By whom the Ceremony was performed.  M. A. Shute

This record comes from Volume 18 with baptisms from 1828 to 1831.  Below is a two-page image of the records.  William's record is on the left, page 6.

This images comes from FHL Film #1,068,963, image 7, page 6 in the parish register.  You can view the record at here, but you must sign in to see the image.

All of these images were taken with Windows Snipping Tool and are not as clear as if they'd been downloaded.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Problem Search in RootsMagic - SNGF

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is this:
1)  Is your genealogy software family tree database perfect?  With no errors or inconsistencies?  Yep, mine isn't either!  Big time.  With over 49,000 persons there are bound to be some errors in my tree.  Even 1% would be 490 persons or 1,500 events!

2)  This week, find your genealogy software's "Problem Report" or something similar.  Tell us how you found it, and what it tells you about the problems in your family tree database.

I use RootsMagic.  I didn't know it would find problems for me!  What an idea!

These are the parameters I gave Problem Search:

Individuals without sex entered
Proper order of events
Birth before parent's marriage
Birth before parent's birth
Birth after father's death
Birth after mother's death
Age at death should be less than 100
Age at marriage should be 14 to 70
Father's age should be 14 to 70
Mother's age should be 14 to 50

The results returned six individuals with problems. 

The parents of two individuals married after they (the individuals) were born.  I'll check on those and see if they are typos (I'm horrible), if they're accurate, or if I need to do more research.

There are two infants without sex.  One of the babies had a name that could be a boy's or a girl's name and I think he/she died as an infant.  I'll see what I can find about that baby.  The other baby was a stillborn and perhaps should not be included in RootsMagic but when a mother says she is the mother of 15 children and she's including the stillborn, I just can't leave that baby out.  I have no idea how to find the baby's name or whether they name him/her.

One problem is that a child was born after her father died.  That's accurate.  Her mother was pregnant when her father was killed in an accident.

The other problem is that someone lived to 101.  That is also accurate.

So I have four problems to check for accuracy.  Unlike Randy who has 49,000 individuals in his database, I have about 500.   This exercise reminds me to be more careful and accurate when I add individuals.

Thanks for the fun, Randy, as well as for the heads up about being able to find problems.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Northumberland Church Records Now Available for at-Home Online Viewing at FamilySearch

Today I wanted to recheck information about a FamilySearch film.  I searched for Film # 1,068,963.  What a difference a month makes!

I learned that the records are now available for viewing online at home.  A month or so ago I had to go to the Family History Center to see the images for this film.

If you look at this long list of locations and feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to search through thousands of pages of church records for your ancestor because they are not indexed, remember that a general search with a name at FamilySearch may give information and a film number.  If that is so for one of your ancestors, you can search the film number and learn whether images of the film are available either a Family History Center or at home for searching. 

A search for an ancestor becomes a two-step process if a film number is identified and there's no image, but even with that little extra effort, I'm happy to be able to find my ancestors at home.  (Learn more at this post.)  I know that in some cases, the names have been indexed but the indexes are not connected to the images.  

FamilySearch continues to add new records for online viewing.  Always look for a film number if you find an ancestor's record without an image.  If there is one, use the catalog to find the film. 

Remember that you can see more if you have a free, no-strings-attached FamilySearch account (which, I understand, will soon be mandatory to see all images).


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tomorrow's the Day!

About two months ago the U. K. Government Records Office (U.K. GRO) announced that they would begin sending digital images (PDFs) of civil birth and death records.  Instead of the usual £9.00 per record (about $12.00 U.S.), the cost for digital records is £6.00 (about $9.00 U.S.).  Having searched for a number of years for records of family, I now have a short list of four records I'd like to order.

What's the hold-up with ordering them, you  may wonder.  Why not in October or November?  Not to bore you with the reasons for and details of the astonishing and unexpected charges to our credit card these past two months, let's just say it was wisdom to wait for a new month to charge four death records.  (Unless, of course, December proves to be similar to October and November when it comes to emergencies and accidents -- which I hope it doesn't!)

This is what a GRO brochure tells me I will probably find on a death record, all based on how much the informant knows or doesn't know:
  • Column 1:  Number
  • Column 2:  Where and when the person died, which have been at home, at a hospital, or in a workhouse
  • Column 3:  Name and surname
  • Column 4:  Age
  • Column 5:  Occupation
  • Column 6:  Cause of death (certified = given by a doctor in medical attendance of the deceased)
  • Column 7:  Signature, description, and residence of informant (relationship not given until 1875)
  • Column 8:  When registered (certificate needed before a burial could take place)
  • Column 9:  Signature of registrar

These are the individuals whose records I will order:
  1. Eliza Armitage
    Age 44, 1856, D Quarter, Stockton, Volume 10A, Page 54
  2. Martha Richardson
    Age 59, 1868, Jan-Feb-Mar, Tynemouth, Northumberland, Born ~1809, Volume 10B, Page 126, Line 285
  3. William Doyle
    1838, Oct-Nov-Dec, Castle Ward, Morpeth, Northumberland, Volume 25, Page 149, Line 26
  4. Martha Doyle
    1838, Jul-Aug-Sep, Morpeth, Northumberland, Volume 25, Page 162, Line 16

I hope the records are for the right people and will have enough information to identify them as my family members.  I chose these particular records based on census information (the last census in which they were found and its location), marriage information (where married).

Have you ordered U.K. records?  If so, have you been able to definitely tell that they are your ancestors based on the information in the records?


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Greetings

I'm wishing you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings and an abundance of blessings.  May all your searches for ancestors prove fruitful.

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