This week’s #52ancestors prompt is “Nature,” and who better to write about, than my 2nd cousin 5 times removed, Henry David Thoreau?
He was my 6th great grandmother’s great-grandson. He wrote
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Although he lived a relatively short life (to age 44), his influence was, and continues to be felt by many generations. He was ahead of his time, considering his views on civil disobedience and practice of yoga by westerners! Wikipedia lists a few of his contemporaries who lamented his views on “back to nature” as social progress in reverse. Today, no one would admit that preserving nature is a bad idea.
This post is doing double duty as an observance of Mother’s Day (this Sunday) and the current (Week 19) #52Ancestors theme of “Nurture!”
Skip’s 2nd cousin once removed, Mary Towles Sasseen, is considered by many to be the actual founder of Mother’s Day in the United States. Netta Mullin, President of the Henderson County, Kentucky Historical Society, wrote that Mary “Mamie” Sasseen , a former schoolteacher, sought to have April 20, her own mother’s birthday, declared a national holiday for individuals to celebrate their mothers. Ms. Sasseen published and circulated a pamphlet in 1893 explaining her efforts to create a holiday that would be celebrated in the public schools. During her lifetime, her efforts led to the establishment of Mother’s Day in the Springfield, Ohio school system, and in many other cities celebrations were organized.
Mary Towles Sasseen married Judge William Marshall Wilson in 1904, and sadly, died while delivering her first and only child, in 1906.
Anna Jarvis is credited with bringing about the existence of the National Mother’s Day, which was declared by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, to be observed every second Sunday in May. She wrote letters and rallied votes for the cause, true, but we recognize the lifetime achievement of Mary Towles Sasseen in laying the groundwork. She was a patient and dedicated nurturer of the national holiday, although it came into full bloom after her death.
Slightly late in the schedule of topics from #52Ancestors, I wanted to write a word about an ancestor who was a carriage builder in 19th-century England and Wales. These conveyances, accompanied by stables full of spirited horses, were the equivalent of our modern-day Cadillacs and Toyotas, I suppose.
John Williams, born about 1810 in Wales, had a shop in Liverpool. His son John, and grandson John Devereux Williams (my great-grandfather) were also coach builders. We know from British newspaper articles that the elder John’s business wasn’t going well by about 1870, and he considered retiring. Here’s a transcript of a notice he placed in the Liverpool Daily Post in May 1871:
“Public Notice: John Williams, Coachbuilder, 202 London-road, is offering his stock of Vehicles at a reduced price, to make room for alterations. New Carriages, finished, Siamese Phaeton, Albert Phaeton, four-wheeled Drag, round-backed Whitechapel, and gentleman’s Market Cart, also new Brougham Park Phaetons, Drags, Gigs, &c., can be finished to choice of trimming and painting. also, a number of Second-hand Vehicles, including Coach-Brougham, Phaetons, Whitechapels, &c. “
In October of 1871, John Williams posted a retirement notice in the same newspaper. He didn’t turn over his business to his son John, because the notice he posted said:
“Mr John Williams, 202 London-road, begs to inform the Nobility, Gentry, and Public of Liverpool and its vicinity, that he has RETIRED from BUSINESS, and takes the great pleasure of respectfully thanking them for the kind patronage and support he has received for the last 33 years, and hopes the same will be continued to his successor, W. A. Hutchings, who, from his long experience in the business, he can confidently reccommend.”
John Williams died a couple of years later at age 65.
My brother and I are both University of Florida graduates and big Florida Gator fans. So when I was watching Zac Higgins’s You Tube channel a couple of weeks ago and saw the results of his casting a piece of alligator jaw bone in an orange and blue resin, I knew I had to have one of those blanks. This was a one-off casting so I had to move fast. As luck would have it, I was able to purchase both blanks. [PS: Zac is a Gator fan also!]
These were awesome blanks. You could even see the teeth sockets in the jaw bone fragments!! I had never turned resin blanks so this was going to be a challenge, especially since the resin casting contained bone, so it would be a hybrid material.
I measured the tube and marked the blank to cut off a section about 1/16 inch longer than the brass tube. I studied the blank before doing this to select what I thought would be the best section to accentuate the bone fragments.
I put on a respirator (Zac suggested using a good respirator when working with the bone) and cut the blank on the band saw. I then drilled the blank on the drill press, glued in the brass tube with thick CA glue, and using a disk sander, cleaned off both ends of the blank down to the brass tube.
Using the proper bushings on my pen mandrel, I mounted up the blank for turning on the lathe. I understood from watching several You Tube turners, that a negative rake scraper was the best tool for turning acrylic blanks. I had equipped one of my Easy Wood carbide finishing tools with a new negative rake cutters and used this to turn the blank. It was the perfect choice for a tool. Cut beautifully and left an extremely fine finish.
I sanded and polished the blank and then assembled the pen. It was a perfect match for the pen. There was a blue section of the turned piece that didn’t have much character so I lined up the clip with that.
So, off to the post office with the pen. I know my brother will like it! A gator pen made by a Gator for a true Gator fan!
Now a disclaimer: no University of Florida Gator students were harmed or had root canals to make these blanks!
Not sure where Zac got the gator jaw bones but it would be easy to get these in Florida, where we have alligator farms that raise alligators for their meat. Fried alligator bites are available in many restaurants.
One amazing, recurring theme throughout my pedigree chart is that quite a few of the ancestors were of the “non-conformist” type of religion. In England and Wales, a non-conformist religion was defined as Protestant but not Anglican. Several of the English ancestors (Williams and Devereux) were buried in the “Non-Conformist” section of the graveyard in Wigan. One branch of the tree (Bernards and De Brissacs) lived in the French Huguenot section of London, and recorded their marriages and births on the Non-conformist and Non-parochial registers.
The American ancestors from England who settled in Delaware (Chandlers) were Quakers. The English who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts (Conants), broke away from the strict Puritan community and re-settled in Salem. I guess they were further non-conformists to the first non-conformists. The German ancestors who settled in Pennsylvania (Henckles) were Lutherans. The French ancestors who settled in New York (Tricaults and Rapaljes) were Walloons, having lived in the Netherlands for a while after escaping France to avoid persecution. Almost all (of which I’m aware) of my Irish ancestors (Gordons, Hopkins, Daughertys, Baxters) came from the Ulster area, that once-haven for Scottish and Irish protestants who eventually emigrated to the US in the 1700’s.
Freedom of religion was surely a driving force in our family’s script!
This week’s topic for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors series, is “Out of Place.” Too bad, I see this often enough, since I’ve been clicking on hints and attaching them, when I have no business doing it. But it seems so much easier to do on the ancestry app, than on the full-blown website. At least, that’s my current excuse, when I find an ancestor on the pedigree that really doesn’t belong there.
For instance, Richard Hunt’s (c. 1650) wife, Agnes. For some unrecalled reason, I had paired Richard Hunt up with an Agnes who was 10 or so years older than he was, and was from a totally different place in England. With no attached sources. Oh, how I hate it when that happens.
The ease with which we can peruse historical records and decide whether they fit our family’s story, is phenomenal. And sometimes we can make a leap of faith, based on some very minuscule clues that lie in wait among the details, waiting to sprout like seeds into a massive limb on the family tree. But is that limb grafted or real?
DNA “evidence” can seem like the truth serum that makes suppositions like this real: my ancestor’s wife was Agnes. There was an Agnes who lived in the next town, whose birthdate was in the range of her husband’s. One of their children’s names was the same as her father’s. Several of their descendants are DNA matches to me. Can this be proof enough?
I found it coincidental that this week’s prompt from Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors series is “DNA,” and that last week’s prompt was “Brick Wall.” Just this morning, I crashed through a brick wall in my pedigree research, using DNA. Bam!
I had seen other trees that listed Reynish as the surname of my 3rd great-grandmother. But they didn’t seem to match up with what I had, as far as dates and places. But with Ancestry’s new “Thru Lines” feature, I discovered at least 5 new DNA matches of people who were descended from Margaret Reynish’s father. That was rather compelling. I realize that you can have a DNA match whose pedigree has a number of names similar to your own pedigree, but that you might not be related to them by those particular people. But this looks promising: the five new DNA matches all descend from three of the brothers and sisters of my 3rd great-grandmother.
This wasn’t my first break-through helped along by DNA data. German and Scottish lines became manifest with the information from some of my relatively distant DNA matches. I’m excited about the DNA input, although I keep in the back of my mind the terse, warning voice of one of the presenters of a DNA live-streamed class at RootsTech: “Be careful!” [Diahan Southard from the class Connecting Your DNA Matches]
I’ve been going over some of my mom’s old notes, and I’m just blown away by all the corresponding and collaborating she did over a long period of time. All that groundwork has led up to the magical genealogy searching tools we have today, with artsy charts and speed-of-light computer processors, and mammoth data storage capacity.
You may have guessed that this week’s prompt from Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors series is “Brick Wall.”
Although I have about forty source citations for this ancestor, I still don’t know who her parents were.
In the Official Records, her surname is spelled variously Trippe, Trapp, Zipf, Kripp, Cips, Zyph, Sipp, and Heyar, but mostly Tripp. Her given name is sometimes Magdalena, Leina, Linney, and Lenny but mostly Lena. She lived in Erie County, New York, in the mid-1800’s.
I also have some Tripps in my tree from way back in the 1600’s. I found a book that contained a record of the Tripp descendants, and I thought I might enter all those into my tree, from the earliest immigrants to the contemporaries, and see if any found their way to Erie County, New York. And some did, but I still can’t find a link to Lena.
There ought to be some DNA connections, because Lena is only my 2nd-great grandmother, so hopefully I still have a notable percentage of her DNA mixed in with mine. So far I’ve only found one hopeful lead to pursue, a possible name for Lena’s mother only, on another person’s pedigree. But so far that hasn’t turned up anything that can be documented as proof, either.
This is in response to Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors series of prompts about writing short posts, to get to know the ancestors better. Week #13’s prompt is “In the News,” and begs the question, “Have you used newspapers in your research?”
And the answer is, “Oh my goodness, yes!” I’ve found so many interesting items about my ancestors and their contemporaries, via newspaper articles, such as why someone got a divorce (alleged abandonment), possible reasons why a family moved to another city (bankruptcy), what they did for a living in the 1800’s (cabinet maker, coach builder, draper), or a transcription of their testimony at a trial when they were robbed. Newspapers can be a rich source of finding out what the ancestors really were like, and how they lived.
This article is from a very old newspaper, describing the proceedings of two local parties in Franklin, West Virginia, around 1900, which was reprinted in The Pendleton Times for the town’s bicentennial celebration.
Two of my 2nd-great aunts (see the above doodle on the article) attended the “lawn fete” in 1898, along with several Boggs boys. In December of 1898, Annie married Hugh Carey Boggs (could he have been nicknamed “Pent”? Because I can’t seem to find another Boggs fellow with a given name of Pent. Maybe someone on Facebook’s Pendleton Pals site would know?) The other aunt, Mary Ralston Daugherty, didn’t marry, but was working as a stenographer as of the 1900 census. These girls had two other sisters, Susie and Sallie, within the same age range, all born in 1870-1880, who did not attend the party. Wondering why?
Skip has been on a wooden ring-making crusade and I’m the latest beneficiary of his crafty experiments!
This one turned out really good. I picked an exotic wood blank of pink ivory wood. It’s a very hard, smooth wood that ranges from pinkish to purplish in color. And, according to Wikipedia, it once was a revered commodity, allowed to be possessed only by elite inhabitants of the region where it is found. This one has a little freckle on it, which I love.
Skip got the kits from Craft Supplies USA, the Woodturners Catalog, each for a few bucks. You can opt for a stainless steel or titanium core for the ring. My ring has the “comfort core” –a rounded or finely beveled center that won’t pinch. You can also buy a two-piece core that looks pretty cool. See some of the options at their catalog page.
He went through 3 blanks before he found a technique for turning a ring blank that worked well. One of those three tries ended up as a little pile of sawdust on the shop floor! The practice blanks were of koa wood, an exotic variety from Hawaii.
Skip mailed a ring to a recipient who lives in Hawaii. When he opened the package, he discovered that the ring had separated from the titanium core, en route. They couldn’t figure out what caused the separation; could it have been the temperature changes, something to do with the glue he used (thick super glue), or another reason? We will analyze further after the next lot ships.
Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts