Sunday, December 9, 2018

What to Do about Raymond

Raymond Doyle has once again been on my mind.  I always think of him at Christmas but this time he came to mind when The 70273 Project crossed my path a few months ago.  It is a quilting effort to commemorate 70,273 of the infants, children, and adults who were killed by Nazis because they were physically or mentally disabled.  How could I not think of Raymond?  He would likely have been put to death had he lived in Germany during Hitler's reign. 

I'm not sure where to place Raymond in my family tree, or even whether to add him yet.  In the 1910 U.S. Census he is recorded as "adopted son" in the family of my great-grandparents, William and Tressa Doyle.  That and the fact that throughout his life he used the surname Doyle are my only indications that there may have been a legal adoption.

I forgot that I had asked an older, distant Doyle cousin about Raymond a number of years ago.  I found her letter the other evening.  Lyda Kelly Brest, the one generally thought to be the holder of family history among generations of Doyles, responded to my questions about Raymond.  This is what she wrote about him in January, 2011.  (I had asked if the reasons Raymond had been adopted by my great-grandparents was because his parents had been killed in a fire.  I was trying to imagine the reasons why parents would give up a child.  My daughter just reminded me of the stigma associated with a special needs child at that time.)  "Uncle Bill" refers to William Doyle, my great-grandfather and her great-uncle.  Hazel is his daughter, sister to my grandfather, Gust Doyle.  Lyda's "Grandma" was Elizabeth Jane Doyle, William's sister.
No, I do not remember Raymond, but heard my Grandma speak of him.  He was of the Page family in Stoneboro.  Uncle Bill's daughter Hazel took a liking to him & it was through her they took him to raise.  He definetly [sic] was limited & was in Polk Institution a great part of his life, as far as I know.  I never heard of his family being in a fire.  Uncle Bill was very frugal, & [I] was always surprised at him getting involved with Raymond, but Hazel apparently won him over.

Without proof (yet) of Raymond's formal adoption and now (tentatively) knowing his surname of birth, I'm still in a quandary about whether to add Raymond to my tree or create one for him with his family of birth.  Perhaps the best choice at the moment is to continue research.  It seems clear to me that Raymond wants his records to be found and to be placed with a family.  After living with my great-grandparents through his youth, then living the rest of his life in a state home "for the feeble-minded," I can imagine his joy at having his records associated with his family.  But which one?

And as strange as it may be, I think of Raymond as family.  Not exactly a great uncle, because though an adult in years he never quite matured to adulthood, but a family member, nonetheless.

Raymond has been the subject of two previous blog posts, here and here.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Old News: St. Cuthbert's Gospel - Church Record Sunday

What news isn't old if we're posting about an ancestor?  But this news is less than seven years old so, in a sense, new old news.  Earlier this year I wrote a post about St. Cuthbert, his travels after death, and why there are so many churches named after him in Northumberland.  All interesting history, especially because I have at least two ancestors whose burials were recorded in the books of St. Cuthbert's Church in Bedlington, Northumberland.  As I researched for that post, I missed some interesting news from 2012 that I just learned.

When the casket of St. Cuthbert was opened in the early 1100s, the Gospel of John was found, a book that had been placed in his casket in the late 600s.  In 2012, the British Library purchased the book.  The purchase price of £9 million is interesting to note but of even more interest to me is the fact that the book is still in good condition.  In fact, it is the oldest intact European book.

File:The St Cuthbert Gospel of St John. (formerly known as the Stonyhurst Gospel) is the oldest intact European book. - Upper cover (Add Ms 89000).jpg
Image in the public domain, courtesy of British Library

It looks to me to be in excellent condition, considering that it's over 1300 years old.  It measures about 4½" by 3½" -- smaller than an index card.  There's lots of detail on that leather cover.

Notes about the book from Wikimedia Commons say,
The sections of the parchment pages are linked by chain stitch (as with Coptic sewing) and the boards are also sewn on. The lower cover is decorated in a different design by another method. This manuscript copy of the Gospel of St John was produced in the North of England in the late 7th century and was buried alongside St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne, apparently in 698, and later found in the saint’s coffin at Durham Cathedral in 1104. It has a beautifully-worked original red leather binding in excellent condition, and is the only surviving high-status manuscript from this crucial period in British history to retain its original appearance, both inside and out.

My ancestors have no direct connection to this book nor St. Cuthbert himself, except having their burial records at the church named after him in Bedlington, but I'm always alert to the names and locations of buildings, towns, and cities where my ancestors' paths crossed with others.

There are several longer, more in-depth posts with additional photos at


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Reasons the Cook is Grateful, Post-Thanksgiving Dinner

Indeed!  I'm grateful not to be one of my ancestors today.  This Thanksgiving I'm feeling so very grateful to live in 2018 instead of 1918 or 1868, or any previous year or any year between those dates.  We cooks and cleaner-uppers have a relatively easy time of it compared to our ancestors, with blessings that we may not even notice.   For example:

Our turkey.  I bought a frozen turkey at the store and thawed in it my refrigerator.  I'm grateful I didn't have to hunt, shoot, kill, and clean a turkey for dinner.  And am even more grateful I didn't have to raise one.

Potatoes.  I bought our our potatoes at the store.  I'm grateful I didn't have to plant, harvest, and clean them, especially because harvests are dependent on the weather and there's no guarantee of a harvest in any particular year.  And I love potatoes!

Stores with plentiful supplies.  I also bought green beans, corn, crescent rolls, bread for stuffing, and all the other food we ate.  I can't imagine having to harvest the wheat, grind it, and bake bread for the meal and for stuffing.

Butter, whipped cream, and milk.  I don't have to keep a cow to have butter and milk.  I don't have to churn the cream to have butter or whip it into cream.  Again, thank goodness for the abundance of the grocery store.

Running water.  And then there's the running water right in my home -- heated, no less.  I don't have to walk a distance to collect limited amounts of water, carry it home, and heat it.  And, of course, we have drains for the used water to flow away.

Kitchen Aid mixer.  It kneads my dough, mixes my cookies and pie fillings, so many things I don't have to do by hand.  What a blessing.

An electric stove (or even a gas stove).  Turn it on, it heats, I put the food in, and it cooks.  Done.  And we eat.  Well, there are a few steps between, like mashing the potatoes and making the gravy.  It's hard to imagine cooking a whole Thanksgiving meal over an outdoor fire, in a fireplace, or even on a wood stove.  (I admit there have been two years when our oven died -- once while the turkey was cooking and another on the day before so electric stoves are not sure-proof, but nearly so.)

A dishwasher.  It doesn't take care of all the pots and pans but what a blessing to have it wash and clean most of the dishes.  During childhood Thanksgivings or any other large get-togethers, the women prepared the food, served, sat and ate, then gathered in the kitchen to take turns washing and drying the dishes.  Depending on the group of ladies involved, it was often a fun time with much laughter and jokes.  But still, it was a lot of work.

Electricity to run all the appliances.  What good would a dishwasher, or stove and oven, be without electricity!  I'm grateful for clean dishes, heat, and light, plus plenty of other appliances, at the flip of a switch.  My post-20th century ancestors carried on without it.

I'm sure I've forgotten some things that make my life easier, things I take for granted.  What would you add to the list?

I know the cooks of centuries ago had no knowledge of future luxuries.  They may have lamented the hardness of their lives and the challenges of some of the tasks they had to perform, but there was usually no easier way until some invention came along.  Gradual progress made lives and work easier.  I'm grateful to live in a time when work is easier.

Happy Thanksgiving, Ancestors!  And Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear readers.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Greetings, 2018

I wish you and yours a wealth of blessings this Thanksgiving -- happiness, health, joy, and especially success in your search for your ancestors.

As usual, I have an embarrassment of blessings this year.  I'm beyond grateful for them and probably take too many of them for granted.  To name a few, I'm grateful for . . .

  • life itself.  I am so happy to be alive.  Life is not always easy but it's always interesting.  Through both the easy times and the challenging times I'm glad to be here on this beautiful earth.
  • challenges.  We don't usually think about being thankful for the challenges of life but I am.  They teach me so much about patience, faith, endurance, being true to oneself, and so many other things.
  • family:  my brother and sister and their spouses,  my husband and daughters, and my grandchildren.  I'm also grateful for my ancestors and the opportunity I have to search for them and research their lives.  Without my ancestors I would not be here.
  • my Savior and my faith in Him.  What a glorious, merciful being He is who offers guidance, grace, and blessings in abundance.
  • Hannah, our Airedale, who, at 12½, is slowing down but still gives us hours of joy and laughter.
  • this land of freedom, these United States, created as a democratic republic, where people have the freedoms of speech and religion.
  • my computer, my scanner, the internet, websites like FamilySearch and Ancestry, and  other resources available for family history.
  • time to create quilts and the resources and space to make it possible.
  • and plenty more -- a nearly endless list -- but I'll stop with just these.  Plus one more.

I'm grateful for all of you, dear blog readers.  Thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave comments now and then.

I send your way the heartiest of good wishes for Thanksgiving blessings.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Byker-Hill for Tenth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge

This post is written as a submission for Bill West's Tenth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge at West in New England.  This Bill's challenge.
Find a poem by a  poet, famous or obscure, about the region
one of your ancestors lived in.  It can be about an historical event, a
legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river) or a local
animal....  0r, if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a
video of someone performing the song.
 Bill will publish all contributions on his blog on Thanksgiving Day, November 22. 

While researching the town of Byker-Hill (or Byker Hill or just Byker), in Northumberland, England, where my coal mining ancestors lived, I came upon a Wikipedia entry which led me to a song by that title.  It should have been no surprise that it was about coal miners.  The nearest I could come to learning its origin was that it was a folk song, written in the early 1800s.  It's probable that my Doyle and Laws ancestors heard and perhaps even sang "Byker Hill."  I share this in honor of the men in those two families who were all "collier lads."  (Sing along if you like:  the lyrics are below the video.)

            Byker Hill

            If I had another penny
            I would have another gill
            I would make the piper play
            The Bonny Lass of Byker Hill

            Byker Hill and Walker Shore
            Collier lads for ever more
            Byker Hill and Walker Shore
            Collier lads for ever more

            When first I come down to the dirt
            I had no trousers and no pit shirt
            Now I've gottin' two or three
            Oh Walker Pit's done well by me.


            The pitman and the keelman trim
            They drink bumble made from gin
            Then to dance they do begin
            To the tune of Elsie Marley


            Geordie Charlton had a pig
            He hit it with a shovel and it danced a jig
            All the way to Walker Shore
            To the tune of Elsie Marley


            Oh, gentle Jenny's behind the barn
            With a pint of ale underneath her arm
            A pint of ale underneath her arm
            And she feeds it to the baby


As is true of many folk songs I found three or four variations of lyrics and more than a few extra or alternate verses.  This seems to be a drinking song and perhaps, as the collier lads became more inebriated, the lyrics deteriorated.  You can see several variations here at Mainly Norfolk:  English Folk and Other Good Music


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 5, 2018

An Addition to Our Family Tree

Our newest grandbaby was due today.  But when I awoke on Saturday morning I noticed I had two text messages.  The first came from my daughter, sent at 7:28 a.m. and said, "Headed to hospital."  The second, sent at 9:17 a.m., said,  "Baby boy born 8:39 this morning."   It was accompanied by a photo.

We're welcoming little Noah, the newest bud on our family tree.  We've had conversations and congratulations, welcomes and virtual kisses and hugs plus photos to keep up with his welcome home by his brothers and sister.  Thank goodness for the immediacy of virtual technology!  We'll get to meet him in a few days.

My daughter tells me he's a serious sleeper -- during the day -- but not so much at night.

Isn't this about the easiest way possible to add to a family tree?  No searching, no uncertainty, just a new baby, a new name, a date and location, all provided by the parents.

Welcome, welcome, Noah!  We're looking forward to meeting you, sweet boy.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Saints Day, Sociedad, El Salvador

In El Salvador in 1978, Halloween (or All Hallows' Eve) was not celebrated.  The day of celebration was November 1:  All Saints Day, or Dia de los Santos.  We were told it was celebrated as a holiday throughout the country. 

All Saints Day was a happy day for the people of El Salvador because they believed that their dead children had become angels and were in Heaven with the saints.  Nearly every family had at least one little angel to remember and honor.  Though they missed and sorrowed over their little lost ones, they celebrated the child's place in Heaven.

Cross with wreath in Sociedad, El Salvador, decorated for All Saints' Day or Dia de los Santos On the morning of November first, we found vendors in the town square selling both fresh and paper flowers and greenery.  There were beautiful wreaths of fresh jasmine and other flowers.  There were equally beautiful bouquets of crepe paper flowers of all colors and kinds.  They had a beauty all their own because they had been very finely handcrafted by women in the village.

With arms full, there was a long, steady parade of people going to the graveyard that morning.  Families walked together -- all the families of the village, it seemed -- with their flowers and wreaths; with shovels, rakes, machetes, and other tools; with paint and paintbrushes.  At the cemetery they cleaned the gravesites and chopped the grass.  They repaired and painted the wooden crosses or put new ones on the graves.  Then they added the wreaths and flowers for their dear infant-angels.  Tears were shed, prayers offered, and memories shared while at the gravesites.

Going to the cemetery was a beautiful and unique experience, but we were to learn that All Saints' Day was not over and neither was the celebration of the day.

Children with candles on church steps for All Saints Day or Dia de los Santos in Sociedad, El SalvadorThe children celebrated the evening of All Saints' Day by begging door to door for pennies or pieces of cooked squash.  They were happy to be given either.  The squash they ate.  The pennies they used to buy candles which they took to the entrance of the church and lit.  Taking turns, several children kept vigil with the lit candles while others continued to beg.  As candles burned low and went out, the children replaced them with new ones.  It was a beautiful sight.  There was a peaceful serenity, an unselfishness to the evening celebration of the children's own making.  As far as I could tell no adults were involved other than giving squash or pennies and keeping the little shops open to sell candles.  The families in the community were generally very poor and any celebration was looked upon with eagerness.

November 2 was Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Difuntos.  It was a much quieter day without celebration of any kind.  On this day they remembered the adult family members who had died by offering prayers in their behalf.  Prayers were needed because they didn't know if the adults had gone to Heaven or not. 

Halloween is my least favorite holiday and I generally ignore it (except for buying candy on sale the day after).  I think the celebration in El Salvador changed my perspective.


Copyright ©2013-2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Monday, October 29, 2018

It's Not a Rabbit Hole when It's Mytreeitis

FamilySearch sends me notices when someone has changed one of my ancestors an individual in a family I'm working on in FamilySearch.  Of course, I can't just let it go.  I must check and see what's been done, no matter that I'm not currently working on that individual or family. 

(On my mytreeitis soapbox here:  I'm fine when people add information and sources to clarify and give detail to an individual on Family Tree.  I'm not happy when people delete information I've added, delete people I've added, or merge people I've added.  (I already spend too much time researching to be sure the person should be added in the first place.)  I'm especially not happy when people use an 1850, 1860, or 1870 census to add relationships that may not exist, particularly parents and parents-in-law.  Let's do more research, folks, before claiming an individual as a parent when no indication of parentage exists in a record, especially before adding the relationship to a public tree.  In fact, let's do more research in general before adding or attaching individuals in Family Tree.  Rant over, stepping down from my soapbox.)

The person in question this time is Jacob Saylor (with spelling variations including Sailer, Sailor, Seyler, etc.).

The ID number for the Jacob Saylor is LHNJ-6FD.  He is the father of Catherine (Saylor) Froman.  Whoever made changes merged this Jacob with another, giving Jacob a new ID number.  Some of the attached information was correct but not all.  I know that because I had to compare my own sources with the sources attached to Jacob.  It almost felt like going down a rabbit hole but in search of what I already knew but didn't remember.  I "resurrected" Jacob Saylor, LHNJ-6FD.  We'll see how that goes. 

Another researcher attached parents to Jacob Saylor's daughter, Catherine, ID 9K6G-YFP.  The attached resource was for a New Jersey marriage between Catherine Sailor and S. M. Denney.  The bride's parents' first names, Jacob and Elizabeth, were correct but Catherine did not marry S. M. Denney and neither she nor her parents, Jacob and Elizabeth (Shaefer) Saylor, lived in New Jersey.  And I didn't even look at dates....  Catherine married John Froman, became a widow in 1870, died as Catherine Froman, and was buried in Sandy Lake Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Some things I've learned from this experience
  • Check the "watch" star for direct-line ancestors on Family Tree to receive notifications of changes to the individuals.
  • When FamilySearch sends notices of changes in Family Tree, check them.
  • Attach a source to an individual in Family Tree as soon as possible (after doing whatever is necessary to confirm it's the correct individual). 
  • Ask RootsMagic to add Family Tree ID numbers to ancestors and use them to compare to any changes on Family Tree.
  • When others have added individuals and sources to Family Tree look at them as possibilities to further your own research.

Do you ever have problems with Family Tree?  Do you ever end up down a rabbit hole confirming  others' additions?  Do you have mytreeitis?


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Walking to School, Riding the Bus

For last night's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun at Genea-Musings, Randy offered this question:
How did you get to your school(s) through high school?

The timing for this topic couldn't have been better.  My husband and I were just talking about the schools we attended in our respective towns.  I thought it strange that I attended two schools twice during different years.

I lived in the village of Mineral Ridge my whole life.  Because the Ridge was too small to have a city school, the local school was part of the Weathersfield Township Local School District in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The school I first attended, Mineral Ridge School, included all grades and was in the center of Mineral Ridge.

Mineral Ridge High School
The children and teens who lived in the Ridge walked to school (and the students who lived in other parts of the township arrived by bus).  If there hadn't been buildings in the way, I could have seen the school from my front porch.  Our house was the second on the north side of Furnace Street, so I walked up Furnace Street toward Main, turned left to walk past the Methodist Church, crossed Morris Street, passed Isaly's Dairy (all to my left as I walked), crossed Main Street, and I was at school.

Evansville School
I attended Mineral Ridge School through third grade.  I assume Mineral Ridge and the township had an increase in students because a new elementary school was being built but it wasn't ready by the time we began fourth grade.  For the first part of fourth grade I went to Evansville School, another township school not too far away.  To arrive there I first walked to Mineral Ridge School, then boarded a school bus and traveled the several miles to Evansville School. 

Sometime in the middle of fourth grade the new Seaborn Elementary School was completed and we began attending that school after Christmas holiday.  Once again I had to walk to (what was now called) Mineral Ridge High School to catch the bus to the new elementary school.  Seaborn was probably less than a mile from my home, not far from the end of Furnace Street, but I suppose farmers didn't want us walking through their fields to take the direct route.  Neither did our moms, I'm sure.  Hence, we rode the school bus.

For seventh and eighth grades we returned to Evansville School and, again, rode the bus.

From ninth through twelfth grades I attended Mineral Ridge High School and I walked to and from school.

All of the schools I attended from first through twelfth grade, from 1956 to 1968, have been demolished.  Seaborn Elementary survived less than 60 years. 


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Parting Ways with My Ancestors

Sometimes my ancestors and I part ways for a while.  That happened in September when there were too many real life experiences happening (my husband's foot surgery, a new 20-hour-per-week calling at church, a coming grandbaby who needs a quilt made by his gramma, etc.) requiring my time and attention.  I just couldn't fit family history into my life.  It was too full!  Usually my ancestors' lives are somehow connected to and a part my own, even if only thinking of where to search next or imagining theirs lives, but occasionally I have to let them rest while living my life takes precedence over searching for them and their lives.  I imagine them watching from afar, cheering me on while hoping I'll get back to them soon.

Before I left my ancestors in September I was searching for more information about my Doyle ancestors in England in the early to mid-1800s and in Pennsylvania in the mid-to late-1800s.  The paper copies of documents I'd printed and purchased looked like this, a nice stack several inches high, piled into a notebook.  Each paper has a name and a source and many have additional notes.  Sadly they are not organized other than by surname -- well, two surnames; or maybe three.  But they're all related, the Doyles, Laws, and Reays.

I can almost hear readers who prefer digital saying, "That stack of papers is exactly why I use digital images instead of paper."  To which I would respond, we all have our own preferences but I can assure you that my digital copies for these individuals don't look too much better than these paper ones.

Things got worse when I spread out the papers to sort and organize them.  I had printed the results of searches from the U.K.'s birth, marriage, and death indexes at FreeBMD, Find My Past, and FamilySearch.  I'd also printed indexed church transcriptions from U.K.'s FreeReg and FamilySearch.  And there are transcriptions for a number of families from the 1841 through 1881 U.K. censuses, not to mention 1870 through 1920 U.S. census records.  And, of course, there are the copies of records I received from U.K. GRO.  A treasure trove of Doyle records and notes!  Many of the records have been transcribed into my word processing program but few have been added to RootsMagic.

To make progress on these papers there are some things I need to do.
> Sort them by individual, where possible (not possible with census records)
> Sort them into families
> Note names, relationships, ages, locations, etc.
> Compare information
> Evaluate the information and relationships
> Transcribe (if not already done)
> Add to RootsMagic

The lesson I need to learn is to sort, organize, and file documents when I find them.  On the other hand, having found several documents does not confirm that they are the correct people to add to my family tree.  Sometimes it seems like a delicate balance.

For the sake of conversation and my curiosity, do you ever find yourself with a pile of papers (or digital images) that need sorting and organizing?  If so, what steps do you take?  And do you ever part ways with your ancestors?

I don't like parting ways with my ancestors and hope it doesn't happen again for a while and never for as long as a month!


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 

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