• Feb27

    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.

  • Feb7

    Someone on The Facebook was looking for an Excel spreadsheet to enter 10 generations of ancestors. The Google did not provide. So I whipped one up.

    If you find such a large spreadsheet enticing, you may download one here for your own use.

    Nothing fancy in it – no scary macros or any such thing.

  • Nov10

    North Brooklin, Maine
    30 March 1973

    Dear Mr. Nadeau:

    As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

    Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

    Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

    Sincerely,
    (Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

  • Oct13

    The Genealogical Bug Busy
    The sun. (New York [N.Y.]), 16 Aug. 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
    Lib. of Congress.

  • Oct4

    Update, June, 2017: I’ve downloaded the latest data for my AncestryDNA matches, and with 230+ more cousins, I can report the exciting news that: the chart continues to look like a kitty cat.

    But, I did have 2 more close cousins show up – one of which I knew already, so our common matches might help triangulate. Waiting to hear from the latest close match… if you’re out there, let’s figure out our trees!

    I’ve appended the new tree, with an additional, totally free bonus chart of total cousins by distance.

    And now, back to the original post:

    If you are like me you probably say “Harumph!” alot when you check for new genetic matches to your AncestryDNA test. Scrolling through 83 pages of matches, it gets a little depressing seeing the many, many, many “No family tree” next to the matches. And the many more with only token trees containing a small number of people in them.

    Three of my grandparents were immigrants to the United States, and my fourth grandparent was the son of immigrants. So, unless a lot more Czech and Irish citizens start testing, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any AncestryDNA circles* on my profile. But, I am still hoping that a reasonably close cousin or three from a few of my Irish lines show up to help me figure out where in Ireland they came from. (*waving to Tierney and McDonald folk*)

    Anyway, I know that sometimes things feel worse than they are, so I decided to crunch some numbers and see how bad (or good) I really have it. Using the handy dandy AncestryDNA Helper Chrome Extension, I scanned and downloaded a data file of my matches.

    I found that I have 4,230 matches in the database.
    Of those matches, 2,194 do not have a family tree attached to the DNA profile. BOO.
    But, that leaves 2,036 matches that do have family trees. YAY!

    About a 50/50 split. “But, Wait!”, I said to myself. (I’m an awesome conversationalist.)
    What are the size of these trees? Well I charted it out.

    Number of People in My Matches' Trees

    Chart of Number of People in my AncestryDNA matches’ family trees that also kinda looks like a kitty cat.

    Could be worse. Could be better. About 300 of the matches have less than 10 people in their tree, and 480 have less than 25 people. That’s likely not enough to help figure out 4th and 5th cousin level matches. (Yes, I know some people only put small subsets of their full tree on a profile, but still.)

    However, flipping that around in my brain, about 1,400 people have trees with 50 or more people – that might get us somewhere.
    (And I can’t imagine *ever* my own tree catching up to the one tree with 139,000 people in it. Wow.)

    I think the long term outlook here, is it’s only going to get better, keep your fingers crossed, and rub some rabbits’ feet. (If you can catch them. I never can.)
    Or, for a more succinct statement, as my dear old father would have said, “It’s better than a stick in the eye!”**

    *For more information on AncestryDNA circles, you might want to watch their video Cousin Matches and DNA Circles over on The YouTube.
    **AncestryDNA representatives: you can use “It’s better than a stick in the eye!” in your next ad campaign, but I’d appreciate a few gratis test kits for my trouble.

    UPDATED Chart from June, 2017: Same old same old.

    Number of People in My Matches' Trees
    Chart of Number of People in my AncestryDNA matches’ family trees that also still kinda looks like a kitty cat, but with higher ears.