Tag Archives: family tree

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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Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past

Yes, Thanksgiving is a day of thanks, but it is also a day of remembrance. Some are fortunate enough to be surrounded by family and friends, and some have empty seats at the table. Let’s remember those who no longer grace the table with us at Thanksgiving.

Dad and Tom, forever gone from our lives, but never forgotten

Is there someone you would like to remember today?

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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in random musings


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What’s in a name?

When I got married … er, 27 years ago … I considered keeping my maiden name. I liked my name – it was part of me and part of my heritage.

Genealogy has opened my eyes to a whole world of names that are also part of me and my heritage. Here are a few names that have come up with my genealogy research: O’Brien, Jordan, Stearns, Brown, Diamond, Bowman, Bowerman, Kerrigan, Byrne, Colburn, Murdock, McMahon, Tydenman, Jaycox, Wing, Swift, Clifton, Dillingham, Smith, Dalrymple, McCarthy, Frazier, Stewart, Machias, LaGrave, Paine, Garwood, Minchinton, Cooke, Winterton, Therryn, Emighe … and on and on.

That puts a whole new spin on my inner turmoil about whether I should have kept my maiden name, doesn’t it? I don’t feel so conflicted anymore.


Posted by on January 30, 2011 in names


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Finding Uncle Leo

In my family tree search it has been very hard to find any information on the Bowman side of the family tree (alternately spelled a million different ways: Bowman, Bowerman, Bauman, Boweman, Bowman, etc.). My great Uncle Leo has been especially problematic. I see him on census records as a child, then he disappears in adulthood until his Social Security Death Index listing. Then Mom told me something I never knew that provided the key to help me find Uncle Leo’s whereabouts.

Uncle Leo Bowman fought in World War I. When he returned home after the war he had a condition that was called “shell shock” – now we refer to it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Back in the 30’s and 40’s they didn’t have treatments, or even the understanding, to deal with people who suffered the way Uncle Leo did. One particularly sad memory that Mom passed on was that every time there was a loud noise Uncle Leo would take off and run to hide in the woods. How terribly sad. All of this finally helped me to locate Uncle Leo – he appeared on the 1930 census of a VA home in Massachusetts. If this is him, he probably spent the remainder of his life institutionalized there.

I still need to prove it all through further documentation, but I think I may have one mystery solved … now if I could just find my grandmother (also a Bowman), I would solve one of the biggest mysteries of all.

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Posted by on January 5, 2011 in Census


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How do you decide who is right?

Okay, so I had managed to find a lot of information about some ancestors on my husband’s side, mostly through census records found on and on and a few ship manifests posted by other genealogist who seemed to share my husband’s lineage. I felt very satisfied that I had found the first of my husband’s ancestors who came over from  the Ukraine via a ship out of England. I thought this was really cool.

Then the other shoe dropped…. A relative sent what he found on the family tree. The ship manifest he found noted a slightly different name and an entirely different ship out of England. It was like the wind had been let out of my sails.

So how, exactly, do you decide what information to believe?


Posted by on April 17, 2010 in conflicting information, sources


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Proposal for my genealogical search

Have you ever wondered where you come from? Not your recent history, your distant history. The blood you carry in your veins carries components of the blood of your ancestors. How long have your ancestors lived in the United States and what nations did they come from?

There are a few organizations that are concerned with your lineage – your genealogy – The Daughters of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the Confederacy. For each of these organizations, you need to trace your family tree either back to an ancestor who was in the United States during the founding of our nation or back to the Civil War to gain membership. I am sure their requirements are quite stringent, but I will barely touch on these organizations. My research will be mainly concerned with my own ancestry.

When, in the past, I had been asked what my ancestry is, I have said, “mostly Irish.” While that is true, I have been told that I am Irish, English, French, Holland Dutch, and Seneca Indian. I have always been interested in my roots, but never thought I could trace my roots. Too complicated, I thought.

I plan to trace my roots and build my family tree one branch at a time. I will start by interviewing members of the Historical Society to help gain a footing on where I should begin my search. I’ll search for sources that may help me find information about my ancestors. I’ll finally go through the box of family artifacts and papers my mother gave me when she moved out of state. I don’t know much about how to search, but will learn along the way.

I am sure there are other people out there who would be interested in working on their own family tree, but, just like me, don’t know where to start. I plan to create an article for publication to a trade journal, like Family Tree magazine. This is such an extensive, ongoing subject, that I have even considered making it the subject of my thesis – perhaps a nonfiction book concerning the journey I’ll take searching for my roots. We shall see where the journey takes me.


Posted by on February 10, 2010 in First steps


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A trip to the library nets a curious discovery and launches a quest

I have always loved visits to my local library. I’ve known many of the librarians since our town’s collection of books occupied a tiny building. There was a real sense of community and camaraderie in that tiny building. Times changed and, though that sense of community and camaraderie remains, the once tiny library has grown and has been incorporated into the local community center. The library occupies one wing of the large community center. Outside of the library, off on other wings, are offices and rooms that have always been a complete mystery to me. No longer in a small building by itself, our library occupies a part of a larger community center.

I recently visited my library. I was humming happily with a pile of books I had checked out in my arms. I stepped out of the library entrance into the lobby and noted a green slip of paper laying on a table there. “Trace Your Roots,” the flyer proclaimed. According to the flyer, you can go to the Historical Society to learn how to do your family tree. Historical Society? I looked across the lobby and noticed, for the first time, a slightly cluttered office that housed the Historical Society of the Township of Franklin. The office was closed, so there was no one to ask about this flyer I had found.

I plan to return to the Historical Society to interview the staff about family research, obtain texts related to genealogy, and investigate other resources that are available for further research. With the knowledge I obtain, I plan to begin to trace my family roots and begin to build my family tree.


Posted by on January 27, 2010 in First steps


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