• Canada
  • Feb27

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    In an effort to find some clues to some of my wife’s family lines during the early settlement of Cape Breton, I began to read through the St. George Church records page by page. Her 4x-great-grandmother Elizabeth Grandy, in particular, has so far offered few clues as to her origin, so I am hoping to perhaps find more of her family in order to expand my search and determine whether her family was Irish, French or of the Channel Islands (all possibilities I have seen mentioned by others online.)

    While paging through the Baptisms, Marriages, Burials 1785-1824 records for St. George Church I did find another Grandy marriage for a woman that could potentially be a sister of the person I am researching. During this process, I read through the usual sets of general BMD records, with most being cursory entries with a name and date, at best.

    If you really want to gain an understanding of an area at a certain time, reading through all of the entries tracing lives and deaths is a very helpful and interesting method of doing so. However, it can also often be a sad endeavor.

    In the course of paging through the entries of people who were European emigrants and their children, I also found regular entries interspersed for “negro” adults being baptized, as well as children with only mothers being named.

    Then I read an unusually long and detailed entry. The priest obviously thought this event warranted more detail, as you can see from the outrage in his entry:

    Diana Bastian Burial Entry

    “Sept 15th 1792

    Buried Diana Bastian a Negro Girl belonging to Abraham Cuyler Esq in the 15th year of her Age, She was Deluded and ruined (^at government ???) by George More Esq. the Naval Officer and one of Govr. Macarmick’s Counsel by whom she was pregnant with Twins and delivered off but one of them; She most earnestly implored the favor of Mr. More’s Brother, [the local] Justice to be admitted to her oath, concerning her pregnancy by him; but was refused that with every other assistance by him or them.”

    Digging a bit more, I see I am not the first to have noticed the entry as it is mentioned in a few papers posted online such as “The Struggle over Slavery in the Maritime Colonies“. (Also, this biography of Abraham Cuyler is less than flattering.)

    Despite the event having occurred 225 years ago, one can’t help but feel terrible for this poor girl’s circumstance and add our own outrage to the treatment those in power subjected her to.

    Once again I’ve found that even individual records not directly related to those you research can provide dimension to the lives of our ancestors by helping depict the social and political climate of a particular time and the hardships some or all endured.

  • Apr13

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    I’m back with another edition of cool old books I’ve found online. If you have Scottish Ancestry, you may want to flip through this 1850 book entitled (now would be a good time to get a beverage or snack, because you might be here awhile…)

    The Clans of the Highlands of Scotland, An Account of their Annals, Separately and Collectively with Delineations of Their Tartans and Family Arms.
    Edited by Thomas Smibert, Esq.
    Enjoy!


  • Mar3

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    Using my patented (it’s not really patented) process of scanning the Interwebs to find things hidden in dark corners (but nothing too scary), I recently found the confirmation of a story a cousin of my wife had passed on regarding the brother of their great-grandparents. The neat thing is the story goes back to the 1880s – a boy named Angus Keigan had begun working in the mines when about 14, as many did. But, sadly he was killed within a few weeks of starting.

    Report of the Department of Mines, Nova Scotia, 1883

     

    I had made a note in the family tree of the story, but Google Books filled in the story with terrible clarity via two books “Report of the Department of Mines, Nova Scotia, 1883” and “Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1884.”

    Apparently Angus was rolling a coal tub in the mines and decided to walk in front of it, lost control, and was crushed.

    It is often the case that family and historical research can have very sad things to tell us. But truth can also help clear up many things, and at the very least help us understand a little bit more of the hardships of our ancestors, and often feel very much for them.

    Don’t forget to look for books on all sorts of topics – the trade in which your family worked, the local, state and federal government reporting, and of course old newspapers. It is something I try to remember – but wouldn’t have thought of looking for a mining report.

    By casting a wide net using a blanket Google Books search for “keigan sydney mines” uncovered another bit of the past for my wife’s family.

  • Sep25

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    I have been helping a friend lately by looking to see what I could put together for her family tree. Luckily for her, almost immediately a torrent of records began to pour from the online coffers, so the tree began to fill up quite nicely.

    As is often the case, there are a few records that may be for parallel persons of similar name, so definitely some work to do on locking those down as properly vetted and assessed.

    XBut, in the short run I found an interesting thing: both her great grandfather, and his father both seemed to have served in the Fighting 69th volunteer infantry – although the elder was before the Civil War, and the younger in World War I.

    While looking at information for what appears to be the younger Francis Kearney’s stay in a a “National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers”, I found something slightly puzzling.

    His history at the home lists him as being “Admitted” on May 4, 1925, and then on Oct 31, 1926 his Cause of Discharge is “Dropped.”

    Francis Kearney Military Home Record DetailThe images for these records come in pairs of pages, and I quickly noticed that the next fellow’s record has many entries for “Discharged” and “Transferred”.

    Anyone out there in the genealogosphere have any knowledge on the term “Dropped” in this context? Hmm.

    Record Citation:

    “United States National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-21051-37678-11?cc=1916230&wc=MMRT-VYX:n30335972 : accessed 25 Sep 2013), Togus, Maine > Register no. 18000-19499 > image 262 of 771.

  • Mar26

    2 Comments

    I can use some help with some handwriting transcription – if you’d like to bypass the story of the records themselves and dive right into the document, click here. Otherwise… here we go!

    While trying some alternative Google searches for my wife’s Cape Breton ancestors, I stumbled upon a reference to her 4th great-grandfather Owen Keegan in the index of the book Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada, 1761-1853:

    Owen Keegan index entry in Erin's Sons

    1823 Owen Keegan, 59, native of Ireland, married with ten children (2930)
    [Keegan lived at Sydney. His wife was Elizabeth GRANDY.]

    Excited to find something new, I Evernoted the information (is “Evernoted” a verb yet?), but was initially sad to find that Worldcat would have me travel to Andover, Massachusetts or Gatineau, Canada to find a copy. Happily, a local county search found a library not too far off that had all of the volumes of this book in their genealogy collection. Read More | Comments