Friday, September 18, 2015

Library Treasure - Forgotten Ancestors - Forgotten Research

A cousin walked through the basement level of an obscure library in London a few years ago randomly looking for titles that were of interest.banffshire_field_club_journal

An old black tome with the word Banffshire visible on the spine caught her eye.  Opening the book, the pages spilled out across the table.  The binding had failed due to age and the readily apparent years of hard use.

Picking up the page bundles, the name Gordon stood out on one of them.  A quick scan of the page resulted in a shout of joy.  The article covered our Gordon ancestry.  The information in the article came from private genealogical study paid for by our 5th great granduncle, Cosmo Gordon.

Although his name was Cosmo, like the famous Cosmo Gordon's of Scotland, he wasn't famous.  He did work for the British Government in relatively high level positions and was paid enough money to satisfy his desire to know his Gordon lineage.

A copy of the genealogy research report ended up in the possession of a family who allowed an author to copy it and include the data in an article he wrote for the Banffshire Field Club Journal.

Another genealogy legend was created.

Due to the condition of the book, my cousin wasn't allowed to copy it.  She quickly jotted down the facts in the article and sent them to me.

I looked for a copy of the article in the library catalogs across the States but found nothing.  I needed to see that article to completely mine all of the genealogy data and hints in it.

Eventually I found a listing for the Field Club online.  The didn't have a web presence as that time so the contact information came from one of the hundreds of search queries I sent out using every term I could think of that might result in a 'hit'.

After a few tries, I found a telephone number that rang in the Field Club offices when the historian was present.

I asked her if she knew of any publications in the States that may include the article I wanted to see.  Of course the answer was negative but just before we were going to ring off, she remembered that there may be a copy of the article on a shelf in the basement where the few extra copies were stored.

A week later, I received an email from her saying that she'd found one surviving copy of the 100 year old article and there were a few other articles that might mention the Gordon family.   I found a way to transfer funds to purchase the articles and send them to me.

When they arrived, they were just what you'd expect to see in a bundle that had set in the humid conditions of a basement by the ocean for a century.  The old metal staples in the fold were rust covered.  The paper was yellowed and stiff.  The contents of the article were pure gold.

Cosmo's report gave me clues that I never would have found here in my area 5,000 miles away from where they happened hundreds of years ago.

Anyone who has engaged in genealogy research in Scotland that involves members of clans knows that surnames often changed from the birth surname to the name of the clan.  Members of these families often did not baptize their children in the Church or England or in the more prominent Protestant churches, thus birth, marriage and death records aren't easy to find.   Cosmo's report included the names that have proven to be difficult to prove with sources.  I probably wouldn't have found them without the content in the report.

My Gordon ancestors were brewers and property owners.  Some of them didn't have sterling characters as witnessed in the actions of great uncle Alexander Duff, but most were honest people living their lives for their families and country.

The old Field Club Journal articles continue to yield clues as time goes on.  My research uncovers topics and snippets of information that resonate in my mind because of the information I've read in the articles.  The collective information frequently gels into clues that result in more proven ancestors and facts that support their existence.

The success in this story all derive from browsing through the aisles of an obscure library and the faded letters in the title of an old worn book catching the eye of my cousin.  She wasn't looking for nor expected to find information about our ancestors, but like all good genealogy stores, this story follows their common theme.....  Being in the right place at the right time and taking a few minutes to let the genealogy 'magic' happen.

Posted 18 September 2015 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Memorial Day Thoughts ~ May 2012

Visiting cemeteries on Memorial Day are typically celebrations of the lives of our deceased ancestors.Grave_of_young_husband_2012

The fragrances of many flowers fill our vehicle as we travel from cemetery to cemetery and grave to grave as we decorate family graves.  Their scent evokes dozens of long-term memories of similar pilgrimages on other Memorial Days.

The Memorial Day experience in 2012 was different.  After visiting several cemeteries, we concluded our pilgrimage with a stop at a cemetery with many ancestral graves.  Just across from them, a young widow sat on a large rock in deep despair next to the week-old grave of her husband.

My mood changed immediately from celebration of my ancestors lives to deep concern.  Fathers and grandfathers will do about anything to protect their wives, daughters and granddaughters from pain.  The body language of despair coupled with gulps of air told her story.  Her beloved was gone.

As much as I wanted to comfort her, I could not intrude on her privacy.  I was an unknown.  A well-meaning unknown but whose intrusion was undoubtedly not wanted or sought.

I grieved over her pain and over my lack of the ability to assuage it in any way.

Within a few minutes, she recognized that she was no longer alone in her cone of grief.  With a final gesture of her hand toward her husbands grave, she entered her vehicle and drove away.

Deep in thought, I stood watching her vehicle disappear into the distance.

Had any of my ancestors felt pain like hers over an untimely death?  I only had to look up to see the headstones of two sets of my 2nd great grandparents to get the answer.

Yes.  They had.

One of the couples, James and Emily Blacknall Hoggard, lost a baby daughter without her father ever seeing or holding her.  He left England to come to America to establish a new life for his family.  I don’t think he even knew his wife was pregnant when he left.

He worked hard, saved every penny possible and was finally able to send for his sweetheart and their seven children.  Partway through the voyage, the new baby, Emma Dorothy Hoggard died and was buried at sea.

Yes, they knew the pain of an untimely death.

Turning a few degrees, I gazed upon the headstone of another set of great grandparents, Charles Joseph Gordon and Rosa Clara Friedlander Logie.  Had they experienced similar pain?

Unfortunately, yes, they had.

Their third child was born small in size.  Silas was called a midget by society of that day.  A group of seemingly good men from the area had approached the family.  They asked if it would be possible for young Silas to join them for the summer as they toured their little circus from town to town.

Silas would be the main attraction in the center ring.  His joyful personality and laughter would bring cheers from the audience.

“We’ll take good care of him.”  “We promise.”  “He’ll earn more money than his father over the summer months.”

Things went well until 3 September 1869 when the troop was returning back to their homes.  One of the rough circus crew had become increasingly jealous of little Silas during the summer.  His popularity far exceeded the attention created by the clown paint on the face of the ruffian in their circus performances.

Seeing his opportunity to destroy his supposed enemy on the narrow cliff-side road ahead, he maneuvered his horse between Silas and the high side of the road.  A simple jab in the ribs of his horse caused it so shy into the horse carrying Silas.

Both Silas and his horse went over the cliff and were killed.

Nothing could be proven to bring justice to Silas’ murderer.  He claimed the incident was an accident,yet almost everyone in the circus company knew of his hatred of the diminutive youngster.

Pain.  There was deep pain in the hearts of his parents.  The guaranteed safety and good treatment of their son was invalid.

He was dead.

His father acted as the town undertaker in addition to his carpentering jobs.

Great grandpa, Charles Joseph Gordon Logie, had to build the casket for his little son, Silas – the son he had allowed to travel with ‘safe’ men for the summer.

He had to dress and clean his little body before putting in the coffin.

He had to dig the grave.

Pain.  Real pain in the hearts of my great grandparents.

Today, far removed from the immediacy of the incidents, view of ancestors lives in celebration when we visit their graves on Memorial Day, and rightly so.  Their lives should be celebrated.

Because of them, we are here, enjoying our lives and growth opportunities that sometimes include pain.  Without them we would not be here to gain those experiences.

I am grateful every day for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge and promises it brings to us.  You see, I now that families can be together forever.

Posted 17 September 2015 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog