Today's NEHGS eNews includes the following lovely passage written on July 4, 1632 by New England Puritan leader John Winthrop. (The website version the eNews link will take you to is currently a few issues behind, but will eventually catch up to the one to which I refer, which is Vol. 10, No. 19).

I have much difficulty to keep John Galloppe here by reason his wife will not come [to the New England colony]. I marvel at the woman’s weakness that she will live miserably with her children there, when she might live comfortably here with her husband. I pray persuade and further her coming by all means: if she will come let her have the remainder of his wages, if not, let it be bestowed to bring over his children, for so he desires: it would be above £40 loss for him to come for her.

Say what you want about the difficulties of family separation, and the desirability of reunion, and I will agree with you.  But I marvel at the arrogance, duplicity, bullying, and blackmail from a leader who was loved and respected by so many.  (Actually, it reminds me of a modern-day religous leader some of us know. Let the reader understand.  Perhaps more strong, innovative leaders than we'd like to believe are a curious admixture of high intelligence, charismatic personality, stubborn will, and arrogant self-righteousness.)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 8, 2008 at 9:18 am | Edit
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I won't pretend anything other than a highly selfish interest in my dismay at the decision by the Catholic Church to forbid digitization of their parish records.  I disagree with the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), but genealogists and other historians owe them a great debt for the records they have kept and assembled over the years, records which they make freely available to people of all faiths.

Anyone who has tried to find their European ancestors knows that the parish baptismal records are critically important, often the only record of someone's birth.  This is not an issue of privacy concerns, as the records of interest are for several hundred years dead. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Edit
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With polygamy in the news these days, it seems a good time to report on my discovery of one of our stranger cousins. Fourth cousin five times removed to both Porter and me (through different lines), Aaron Johnson, born in 1806, the tenth of the thirteen children of Didymus and Rahuna (Stephens) Johnson, was just another name in my genealogical database, discovered during a convoluted search for the ancestors of Stephen Johnson, husband of Lucina Burr (sister of Porter's great-great-great grandmother) whose grave we found last summer in a small cemetery in Haddam, Connecticut. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 6:47 pm | Edit
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Our newly-found Smith Genealogy manuscript, which I mentioned in a previous post, is proving a treasure not only of facts but of stories.  Here's one about my great-great-great grandmother, Margery Irwin, who was the author's grandmother.

Grandmother was born east of the mountains we think, in Lancaster County, Pa.  She was brought west of the mountains when five years old, packed in a wallet on a pack saddle.  Grandmother on one side and her sister on the other and a bottle of milk and skillet with them. 
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 12:30 pm | Edit
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As with much of my life, my genealogcial work goes in spurts; I love to get deeply into a project and run with it until the demands of life pull me, reluctantly, away—or until I get heartily sick of it and must set it aside for a while.  Genealogical research is not all success and great discovery; documentation and data entry are mostly tedious gruntwork, and mining for new data produces much more gangue than ore.  I'm now at a stage where what's needed most is organization and the above-mentioned gruntwork, so naturally I'm finding other projects more attractive.

Thus it is amusing as well as delightful to find myself showered last week with more new data than I can do justice to in a month.  Perhaps it's a case of casting one's bread upon the waters, for it began when, as part of my e-mail backlog reduction project, I organized and cleaned up my data on the descendants of Louisa Curtiss and Benjamin Wells for someone who had requested it.  (That was one of the e-mails from 2005!)  In the process I happened upon a piece of information that led to a major breakthrough in my Rice line, about which I will write later. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 28, 2008 at 10:53 am | Edit
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I've added a new category to this blog:  Genealogy.  This won't be the first post, as I've reclassified some earliers ones to which that designation applies.  I haven't said much yet about this hobby of mine, but this may be the best way to keep family members up to date on what I'm discovering.  While you're waiting for another Christmas CD, that is.  :)

If this is the first of my genealogy posts you see, click here for a is a quick summary of why I found myself, against all odds, caught up in a hobby that is not only delightful and challenging, but also would have shocked my younger self.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 28, 2008 at 9:47 am | Edit
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As Smithical well knows (we all laughed when she tagged me), I find most memes silly, so I'm breaking the rules by breaking the chain and not tagging anyone.  But I respect her and love reading her blog, so I'll play along a little bit.  Besides, it's easier than writing about more important matters, and all I feel up to in the 40 minutes I have before going to the dentist.

Five random and/or odd things about me:

  • I grew up thinking that genealogy and family history were unutterably boring, and that anyone who cared about such things must be a snob.   About five years ago I discovered that genealogical research is more fun than a World of Puzzles magazine, and learning about my ancestors has made history (once an exceedingly dull subject) come alive for me.
  • Make that history and literature.  My direct ancestors (nth great-grandparents) include Duncan I of Scotland (think MacBeth), Edward I of England (Braveheart), King John of England (Robin Hood and The Lion in Winter, and the Magna Charta), King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine (Becket and The Lion in Winter) as well as William the Conqueror and Charlemagne.  I suppose that makes me one of those snobs I despised, if it counts as bragging to be related to so many scoundrels.  :)  However, this is nothing particularly unusual; such ancestry is common to many people with early New England ancestors.  Eminent genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts (formerly of the New England Historic Genealogical Society) has said, "Living Americans with 50-100 immigrant ancestors in New England (or Long Island), in Quaker (but not German or Scots-Irish) Pennsylvania, or in the Tidewater South (but often not the Piedmont, Shenandoah Valley, or mountainous "backcountry") can expect to find a royally descended forebear."
  • Nonetheless, I have not yet been able to find any for Porter, despite his extensive New England ancestry.  He has at least three separate Mayflower families in his line, however. 
  • We have friends in France who live on the site of one of the above-mentioned Henry II's fortifications, and not far from where he and Eleanor of Aquitaine are buried.
  • Ancestors aside, We have the best family and extended family in the world!  (None of them scoundrels.)
That's it.  No tagging, no pressure for anyone else.  But it was fun to think about.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 6:51 am | Edit
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Apologies to those of you who are waiting for the story of last weekend's adventures in Sarasota.  That will come, but in the meantime it's been a while since I posted, and I just came upon the essay I wrote for a genealogy contest with the less-than-inspiring title of this post.

The circumstances were interesting, however.  Because the sponsoring organization was Irish, I thought my story might be of interest to them.  Maybe it was, but not enough to win. However, a blog owner can be her own publisher, and since they didn't want it, I'm sharing it here.  :) (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 6:06 pm | Edit
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Throughout my school years, I hated the study of history.  Perhaps that's not quite accurate; I remember in elementary school enjoyable units on Indians and on Early Settlers, and a large and informative project on Ethiopia.  Progress after that was mostly negative, however.

A 10th grade World Cultures teacher was fairly inspiring, despite his other incarnation as a baseball coach.  Other than that I'd have to say that my history teachers could hardly have done more to make the study of history dull and tedious.  On top of that, I somehow picked up the idea that one was either a "math and science person" or a "history and English person," and it was not possible to be in both camps.  I staked my claim squarely in the math and science camp.

It was not till well after I graduated from college that I discovered that the story of our past is vital—in the sense of being full of life, as well as in the sense of critical importance.  I also learned the foolishness of limiting one's interests by someone else's categories. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 11:18 am | Edit
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In honor of Flag Day, I give a salute not only to our own flag, but also to those of our ancestors (so far discovered).


These aren't entirely accurate, as they represent modern countries that did not exist when our ancestors came here (e.g. Germany), but it's a good general picture.  Also, some of the flags represent countries that were separate but are now joined.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 14, 2007 at 8:52 am | Edit
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The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor those who have given their lives in our country's wars.  The advantage of a blog is that I can do that with a link, so this year I'm doing something different, and give the day a genealogical bent.

According to no less an authority than Wikipedia,

The southeastern United States celebrates Decoration Day as a day to decorate the graves of all family members, and it is not reserved for those who served in the military. The region observes Decoration Day the Sunday before Memorial Day.

Therefore I will metaphorically decorate the graves of all our family members who have gone before,

From my most ancient documented ancestor (so far)

Pepin d'Heristal (abt 635 - 16 Dec 714)
(You can follow the line back further from the link, but despite what I said above, I'm waiting to consult another authority than Wikipedia.)

To our beloved

Isaac Christopher Daley (21 Nov 2002 - 23 Nov 2002)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 27, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Edit
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Any extravagance around the time of a birthday counts as part of the celebration, and thus comes without guilt. Thus when Porter wanted to attend the Mad Cow Theatre Company's It Was a Very Good Year, part of the Orlando Cabaret Festival, and even suggested we get the special dinner package, who was I to complain? (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 6, 2006 at 1:30 pm | Edit
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