Category Archives: History

Unwed motherhood in 1809 — #genealogy #history

So I’m on the Family Search indexing site indexing a record from Sussex, UK, Church of England, indexing a parish record from 1809. Right smack dab in the middle of the record is a female child born to a woman with no husband… in 1809. Where all the other children have a father listed, this one does not.


What was it like in 1809 for a single mother and child? I imagine they were both probably shunned by the local society. She had the baby baptized, but would anyone sit near her in church?




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Child mortality in history

We are fortunate in current times that child mortality in the United States and Europe is fairly low. Unfortunately, our ancestors weren’t so fortunate.

While indexing historic records for, I’ve noted so many infant deaths. Imagine a young mother carrying a child to term only to have that baby be still born or die before their first birthday. My grandmother, pictured below, had two babies who died before her four surviving children were born.

Ruth (Stearns) and Vincent Jordan with baby Vincent 1922

Ruth (Stearns) and Vincent Jordan with baby Vincent 1922

Grandma was very tender-hearted and I can imagine the overwhelming sadness she experienced when her first two children died shortly after birth. Mothers through history must have experienced the same soul-crushing sadness.

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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in History, Indexing/Transcribing


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One source makes a tremendous impact on two branches of the family

I learned quite a few interesting things from this book – checked out of the library.

First, while searching for my paternal great-grandmother, I kept coming across the name Delia in reference to the known marriage and children of Bridget and Martin. Delia? I figured this had to be the wrong family… just how many Bowmans were there in New Bedford anyway??? One of the things I found out from this book was that Delia was a nickname for Bridget; I can’t imagine for a moment how Delia relates to Bridget, but this has opened up a whole world of census records that I now know I can use. The elusive Bridget Kerrigan Bowman isn’t so elusive anymore!

I’ve been doing my husband’s genealogy as well. One of the family names in his lineage is Cawley. I kept hitting a wall on the state and federal census records because I kept coming across McCawley in census records with the same relatives listed as those for the Cawley clan. How could this sparsely populated area have two separate family names that were so similar? This book said that in the early immigration days some Irish families dropped the Mc and O’ in their names. It was like a light went on!  Cawley and McCawley are one and the same family.

The impact on both branches of the above families is tremendous. Now I can proceed with confidence that Delia is Bridget and McCawley is Cawley. Pretty awesome!

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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in History, Irish Genealogy


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Leo Francis Bowman, great uncle, was destroyed by PTSD after serving in WWI

Great uncle Leo, Dad’s uncle, served in WWI. He was a sweet-faced high school kid here:

Fighting in WWI destroyed him. After he came home, every loud noise sent him into a panic, and he would jump up from whereever he was and run into the woods. Eventually he was confined to the VA hospital:

How many young men were destroyed by WWI?

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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Census, History, War


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What was the world like back then? Genealogist as Historian

First, I’m happy to report that the neglected cemetery has been cleaning up and the stones stand tall in the sunshine once again (photo to come).

I found some pictures of Dad when he was just four years old … I often ask myself what the world was like back when Dad was a child. I found these pictures:

Dad in 1927 (age 4) – his socks were probably hand knit – such a sweet little boy, grew up into a sweet man

Dad a few years later with his maternal grandparents – Bridget and Martin Bowman – this must have been a particularly hard time for the family since this picture was taken during the depression era


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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in History



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