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I Enjoy a Completed Task.

Finished! In our home office, the new carpet lies on the floor, the new baseboards hug the walls. My husband had a two-week vacation scheduled in May due to the coronavirus, so we took on a home improvement project. But the minor remodeling was not all we did.

Our office was cluttered, really cluttered. Because we had to move all the furniture out anyway to install a new floor, we took the opportunity to clear out some of the things we were storing in there. Some items we moved elsewhere, and others we discarded:

  • We cleaned off the worktable. Because what good is a worktable if you cannot use its surface for work?
  • We emptied file drawers. I discarded or consolidated files pertaining to former jobs and deceased family members.
  • We removed a shelving unit we no longer need. This freed up some floor space, making the office seem roomier.
  • We weeded a couple of bookshelves. I do not need two thesauruses or two road atlases at my fingertips.

Today I can begin working in my newly refreshed office. It feels like time and money well spent.

 

A Coronavirus Project

What can you do with a sudden two-week vacation during the coronavirus pandemic?

We faced this question when my husband/tech advisor’s employer required everyone to take two weeks of their vacation before Memorial Day this year. We could not use the time to go anywhere during a stay-at-home order even if we wanted to go out and expose ourselves to the virus.

Instead of frittering the time away, we hoped to do something productive. We hit on the idea of replacing the deteriorating floor in our home office.

Not wanting to have workmen come into our home at this time, we ordered all the supplies we thought we would need to do the job ourselves. We were ready to get to work as soon as the calendar said Vacation.

Putting in a new floor requires moving around a lot of office furniture like desks, computer equipment, file cabinets, and bookcases. Putting in a new floor takes a lot of time.

With the office torn apart and my attention on the flooring task during these two weeks, I am not doing much genealogy.

Once we complete this project, the office will be oh-so-nice, and I will be back on the genealogy beat.

Webinar Opportunities Right Now

I keep getting nowhere in my effort to document the pedigree of my ancestor Lucy Snow (1760-1795) of Harwich, Massachusetts. Time again for some professional help.

Yesterday I registered for two webinars being hosted this month by American Ancestors. Perhaps they will help me uncover records that have eluded me so far.

  1. Searching Databases on AmericanAncestors.org will run this afternoon. I have tried using this subscription site, but I find it overwhelming. Searches I attempt often return hundreds of results, most of them irrelevant to my Lucy Snow. In this webinar, the American Ancestors database coordinator will discuss the scope of the site and how to leverage search terms.
  2. Creating a Research Plan for Cluster Research runs next week. I am familiar with cluster research where you include an ancestor’s extended family, associates, and neighbors to solve a genealogical mystery. So far, my attempts at using this technique have been unsuccessful for Lucy Snow or any of my other brick wall ancestors. I hope the Director of Research Services at American Ancestors can help me craft a research plan that works.

I am nearly 5 months into my search for Lucy and her forebears. I have her marriage record and her burial site. I have the names of her children with Gershom Hall. I have what may be her baptism record, if she is the daughter of Thomas Snow and Hannah of the Brewster, MA church.

But there were several Thomas Snows and several Lucy Snows who lived on Cape Cod during the second half of the 1700’s. How do I distinguish my Lucy and put her in the correct family? I need to find the records of each and untangle them to discover the thread of my Lucy’s pedigree.

If some education available from home can help me do that, sign me up!

New Resources, Familiar Resources

This week, for the second time, my local genealogy society met online via Zoom. Our statewide Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies kindly made a subscription available to all its local member societies.

Our guest speaker, Kathy Tarullo, directs one of the Family History Centers in the Denver area. She spoke with much enthusiasm on a topic we can all use these days, online resources for genealogical research.

Although most of the sites looked familiar to me, I have not kept up with many of them. Several have newer features that I have not used.

She categorized sites by function, and I found a few news ideas for sources to try in my hunt for my New England ancestors:

  1. Newsletters. Kathy mentioned a site I want to try called Advantage Archives for small-town newspapers (http://www.advantagearchives.com/).
  2. Blogs. I already subscribe to a couple she mentioned. I have read Geneamusings (https://www.geneamusings.com) for years but had no idea his web page includes sample source citations. I definitely will look at these.
  3. Twitter. I must admit that I do not look at Twitter very often. I find the sign-in procedure a nuisance, but I do not like the idea of remaining permanently signed on to any site.
  4. RSS feeds. Kathy recommended using Feedly.com to manage subscriptions to blogs and newsletters. I have not tried this because I have only a few subscriptions.
  5. Flipboard. I had never heard of this service. Kathy says you can use it to create albums of posts you want to save to read later. Like I need more reading material.
  6. Facebook. I have never joined the Facebook tribe, but I can see some value in linking to pages for genealogy websites and societies. It is on my To-Do list.
  7. Instagram. Apparently, this works best for cellular phones, so I probably will pass on this one. I do not think I could work effectively on a phone format. Kathy did call attention here to a site I do want to check out—Mapire (https://mapire.eu.en/). It provides free maps of historical Europe.
  8. Webinars. Boy, have I ever participated in webinars during this coronavirus lockdown. She mentioned all the major players—American Ancestors, Board for Certification of Professional Genealogists, Family Tree Webinars (Legacy), Family Search.
  9. Podcasts. I never seem to find the time to listen in on podcasts. I can read faster than someone can speak so I find it more efficient to get information via the written word. I prefer webinars for their Power Point pages.
  10. You Tube channels. Kathy watches genealogy-related ones on her smart TV. I could do that, too, but I have the same time problem I have with podcasts.
  11. Pinterest. I would rather have real bulletin boards and white boards for organizing ideas.

I am glad our group did not have to miss out on this interesting program because of meeting space closures and social distancing. The President of our local society has made a good effort to keep everyone connected despite a pandemic.

Normally, we do not meet during the summer months, so this was the last meeting for this season. The program topic for this month provided all of us with many ways to pursue our research while staying at home during the coming summer months.

I Take the First Step

As many of us receive stimulus checks from the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic, we all must decide what to do with the money we receive.

I am fortunate not to have the stress of needing this cash to pay my mortgage or to purchase groceries. Instead, I can use it to do my part to keep our economy running.

My husband/tech advisor and I agreed I could take a portion of the distribution to use for genealogy expenses. I took that step this week.

My $75 fee went to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. They will compare the family tree I have compiled with the approved papers in their files to determine what part of my line is already documented.

From there, I will receive instructions on how to proceed with a membership application.

Their website says it will take 4-8 weeks for me to receive a response. Things move more slowly these days with everyone working from home.

In the meantime, I will continue to investigate my suspected Mayflower ancestors to see if I can glean any additional information to prove my lineage. I spent time this week attempting to document the siblings of my difficult ancestor Lucy Snow. They all have names that repeat through the generations—Edward, Benjamin, Bethiah, Hannah, Priscilla. Sorting them from their cousins presents a challenge. I made little progress this week.

As our economy reopens, I hope I will not have to wait the full 8 weeks to hear back from the Mayflower Society. If the stars are aligned, another descendant of Lucy Snow and Gershom Hall has already been approved for membership in the 150,000-member Society.

Names Provide Clues

Lucy Snow (1760-1795) left few clues behind. I suspect, and hope, that she was the daughter of Thomas Snow (1735-1790) and Hannah Lincoln (1738-1817) of Brewster, Massachusetts. They were known Mayflower descendants.

Unfortunately, the records for Thomas and Hannah seem to be commingled with those for another Thomas Snow who lived nearby at the same time. Which Thomas was the father of my Lucy?

Perhaps family names can help me place the Snows of the period into the proper families. People often honor their forebears by naming children after them.

The Brewster church records list six baptisms for the children of Thomas Snow and his wife Hannah:

  1. Lucy, bap. 1760
  2. Edward, bap. 1763
  3. Bethiah, bap. 1765
  4. Hannah, bap. 1769
  5. Priscilla, bap. 1771
  6. Benjamin, bap. 1775

Were this Thomas and Hannah the Mayflower descendants? Do any of these names of Lucy’s siblings repeat those of earlier generations in the well-documented Snow-Lincoln lineage? Are any ancestral names repeated in later generations?

The most obvious name that we see several times was Hannah. Hannah Lincoln’s mother was Hannah Hopkins. The name also appears among the children baptized at Brewster and their descendants. Perhaps we have this direct line: Hannah Hopkins>Hannah Lincoln>Hannah Snow. So far, I have no information about Hannah Snow’s children, but her sister Lucy Snow Hall had a granddaughter named Hannah Dunbar. I do not know whether this girl was named as another Hannah in the Mayflower line or after her paternal grandmother Hannah Hathaway. Perhaps both?

Another sometimes-repeated name was Edward. Thomas Snow, the Mayflower descendant, was the grandson of Edward Snow (1672-175?). Thomas Snow of Brewster named his eldest son Edward. This Edward in turn named a son Edward III.

We find the name Thankful in the tree a couple of times. If Lucy was the daughter of the Mayflower descendant Thomas, her paternal grandmother was Thankful Gage Snow. Lucy named a daughter Thankful.

Thus, we see the names of three ancestors from the documented Mayflower lines–Hannah Hopkins, Edward Snow, and Thankful Gage, all repeated among later generations in the family of the Thomas and Hannah who had their children baptized at the Brewster church.

Three names repeated a few times does not provide strong evidence of family relationships. The repetition does add some weight to other evidence.

When Lucy Snow left behind few clues to her family line, a circumstantial case will have to be made. Family names become part of the conclusion.

Lucy’s Birth Family

My ancestor Lucy Snow (1760-1795) holds the key to verifying my family’s Mayflower lineage. She continues to hold it tight and out of sight.

I hope her parents were Thomas Snow (1735-1790) and Hannah Lincoln (1738-1817) because both these people had documented lines of Mayflower descent.

I began by looking at the family Lucy created with her husband, Gershom Hall (1760-1844).

This week I added the couple’s children and their families to my database. I found no clues for the identity of any grandparents in the children’s names. Lucy and Gershom Hall did not honor their own parents by naming children after them. No Thomas, no Hannah, no Seth, and no Elizabeth.

Yesterday I turned to a search for records of Lucy’s siblings. Perhaps one of them left a clue linking themselves to parents Thomas Snow and Hannah Lincoln or to a sister Lucy Snow Hall. I have a list of possible names and birthdates.

A Thomas Snow and his wife Hannah had several children baptized at the Brewster, Massachusetts church:

  1. 1760: Lucy
  2. 1763: Edward
  3. 1765: Bethiah
  4. 1769: Hannah
  5. 1771: Priscilla
  6. 1775: Benjamin

Is this my Lucy and her family? Brewster lies on Cape Cod just north of Harwich where Lucy and Gershom wed and raised their family. The Lucy baptized in Brewster in 1760 could be the same Lucy born in 1760 who married Gershom Hall. The only other record I have located for a Lucy Snow born the same year in Massachusetts lived much further away, near Boston. The Brewster Lucy is more likely my Lucy.

What other information can I find about the parents and siblings of this Lucy? A cursory look for records reveals that additional information on the other children will be difficult to locate. I found none of these people on Find A Grave or on Wiki Tree. I found no will for Thomas Snow or Hannah Lincoln Snow. The compiled family tree on Family Search has this Thomas Snow combined with another.

It will take some deep digging to build this family tree with good evidence. I hardly know where to begin. Lucy, were these your people? Give me a clue.

Zoom Genealogy

Across the nation, we continue to self-isolate and maintain social distances during the COVID-19 pandemic. In times like these, how can a genealogical society continue to hold meetings?

We can do it via Zoom, a remote conferencing service. The Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies purchased a subscription for its affiliates to use.

My local Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society gave it a try this month. The previously scheduled speaker for this month, Carol Darrow CG, has excellent computer skills and was willing to make her presentation this way.

Our President, Dave Barton, took the time to set up everything for us. He sent appropriate web links and the program handout out to the membership. On the appointed evening, he acted as the host for the meeting.

Over thirty people signed in. We had our usual short business meeting and then turned the evening over to Carol.

She did a great job with her program on using charts and spreadsheets to organize genealogical research. On my home computer screen, I could see large images of her Power Point presentation. A smaller video feed of Carol appeared on the corner of the screen.

Thanks to Zoom, my local society could hold its usually monthly meeting just as I needed the organizational skill that Carol had to offer. I have already tried one of her techniques.

As I work to fill in my New England family tree, I encounter many people with the same names. How do I differentiate them? Carol had a chart for that!

I tried it first with Samuel Smith, the name of the husbands of two of my distant great-aunts. Did they both marry the same man? The chart helped me conclude that likely they did.

I am so glad I tuned in to see Carol’s presentation.

Our local genealogy club plans to meet on Zoom again in May. After this month’s successful meeting, I have it on my calendar.

Ahira’s Will

My ancestor Seth Hall’s grandchildren Lucy Hall (daughter of Gershom) and Ahira Hall (son of Edward) were first cousins. They wed in Massachusetts in 1808. As this was long before the U.S. recorded every name on the census, I could not use that resource to find the names of their children.

Luckily, Ahira left a will that was filed for probate in Providence, Rhode Island in 1862. It named his wife Lucy and their children, Orlanda, Roscoe, Royal, and Susan. It also mentioned children Clarissa and Orlanda of his deceased daughter Eliza Bailies. They all shared a handsome estate that included two houses and shares in two schooners.

There was a catch, though. At the end of the will, Ahira included this provision:

I further direct that my Executors hereinafter named shall not pay any money or make any advances to either of my children or grand children unless they are satisfied that such child or children or grand children is the actual owner of a copy of the Holy Bible of the value of not less than Four Dollars.

Lucy and Ahira both came from old Puritan stock on Cape Cod. They accumulated wealth, but it went to their heirs with strings attached.

Ahira sought to control his family from beyond the grave when he stipulated that they all must possess Bibles. Who did he fear was not reading the Good Word? I wonder whether any of the descendants needed to rush out to purchase a Bible only to sell it again after the distribution of the estate.

Most wills do not include such restrictive provisions. The ones that do make for interesting reading.

Wills provide an excellent genealogical resource for learning about the people who lived before 1850. Ahira Hall left an intriguing one.

 

 

 

Practicing Hygge

HYGGE: a Danish word for a cozy and comfortable mood created by enjoying the simple things in life. It derives from the Old Norse word for well-being.

During these days of a frightening epidemic, the people of my state have been ordered to stay at home. Some have difficulty with this, but I like the idea of embracing a hygge lifestyle instead. The Danes have mastered it, and the Norwegians tend to follow it a bit, too.

Between my husband/tech advisor and me, we share a good deal of Norwegian ancestry. Neither of us remembers our grandparents talking about hygge, but this Scandinavian coziness comes naturally to us. It is how we grew up.

We do these things to create our own hygge household:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes. For us, that means jeans, sweaters, and flannel shirts.
  2. Turn on the fireplace and burn candles. With March being the snowiest month in Colorado, we continue to have cold weather even though the calendar tells us it is spring. A fire feels good and the candles add fragrance and a warm glow.
  3. Cook comfort food and bake homemade sweets. We grew up eating casseroles and soups, and now we have plenty of time to pull out the old family recipes. My mom always had a homemade cake or cookies on the counter, and I do, too.
  4. Take long, solitary walks. We try to get some fresh air every day, although it has become a challenge to keep our social distance. Coloradans are outdoorsy, and everyone wants to get out of the house. The local sidewalks and trails are busy.
  5. Equip our favorite armchairs with good books and cozy throw blankets. As avid readers, we spend a lot of time here with the fire and the cookies).

Practicing hygge seems to come naturally to us. Each of these things helps create the hygge atmosphere our ancestors cherished.

When we adopt these understated luxuries in our everyday life, our isolation period becomes something enjoyable instead of an irritant.