Surname Saturday ~ Rivard “dit” Loranger, “dit” Lavigne….”dit”…”dit”…

Tourouvre, Normandy, France

Tourouvre, Normandy, France

Studying genealogy crosses into uncharted cultural territory on occasion and it is extremely important that one understand nuances of that culture’s history in order to be effective in one’s research.  Though I am a smattering of this and that culturally climbing out on my maternal branches, on my paternal line I am always climbing out of a French-Canadian limb (well with a First Nations twig or two)!

I make the French-Canadian distinction based on my family’s long history in the new world.  Since the 1500s and 1600s my ancestors have been clearing and plowing, portaging and trapping, trading and building, and–let’s face facts–fraternizing and procreating in the land they called New France!  Prior to their lives here in Canada the majority of my paternal ancestors trace their origins back to Normandy, France.

One of the Rivard homes in Tourouvre, Normandy, France (Quite rundown in these more recent photos)

One of the Rivard homes in Tourouvre, Normandy, France (Quite rundown in these more recent photos)

French-Canadian genealogy can be both challenging but also extremely rewarding.  The records available to French-Canadian family historians abound thanks to the diligent record keeping of the Roman Catholic Church however if one is not familiar with the cultural anomaly of the “dit” name then all hope is lost!

When I began my research I knew that the surname Loranger had at some point in history been changed from the surname Rivard.  This was how it had been explained to me by family members.  It wasn’t until I encountered the transition between names that I was confronted with the “dit” name and the change in name became clear.

“Dit” is a form of the French verb “dire” which means “to say or tell”.  In this instance it means “said” as in “said individual”.  The “dit” name–as we have termed it–is in a loose sense a  sort of nickname or alias.  In actuality, it is more similar to the Scottish and their clan names, meant to make the distinction between various branches of a family line.  Truly there are many origins to the dit names used in French Canada and the explanations are almost as varied as the names themselves. Many were originally the “nom de guerre”, a troop name grouping military members, the origins of others truly did approach the origns of nicknames–names based on an aspect of appearance, or based on the place from which the family came.  In the case of the dit name Loranger it is said that perhaps it referred to a supporter of William the Orange but more likely a reference to red hair!  In later years the original surname was often dropped to be replaced by the “dit” name or the “dit” name was simply dropped by others.

Regardless of the origins and understanding of the “dit” name as long as one is aware of their existence there are now very helpful charts to decipher the puzzle of connecting one name to another!

Names of Canadiens baptized in St. Aubin, Tourouvre, France

Names of Canadiens baptized in St. Aubin, Tourouvre, France

My name Loranger was the dit name of my 8th Great-Grandfather, Robert Rivard dit Loranger, the youngest son of Pierre-Nicholas Rivard and Jeanne Mullard of Tourouvre, Orne, Basse-Normandie, France.  Robert Rivard dit Loranger arrived in New France/Canada in 1662 at the age of 24. He was granted land and he married Madeleine Guillet, the 14 year old daughter of a Filles-du-Roi, in 1663.  Madeleine also happened to be his brother’s niece. Robert and Madeleine had 13 children.

Robert had followed his older brother Nicholas Rivard dit LaVigne, already arrived in New France in 1648, and who–in a confusing web of family connections–is also my 8th Great-Grandfather. Robert and Nicholas were both landowners in New France but Robert was not one to sit still.  He cleared land in half to time of others and decided to venture into the fur trade. First signing with the “Company of the North” in 1689 at the age of 50 he decided to partner with friends and relations in 1695 to create their own fur trading business known as the “Compagnie Royale”.

Nicholas Rivard dit Lavigne had been a captain in the militia in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. Nicholas Rivard dit Lavigne`s dit name referred to his title “Sieur de La Vigne” after his mother’s property “Clos de La Vigne” in Tourouvre, France. A road sign marks the location of this property today.

Sign today marking the Tourouvre Property of Jeanne Mullard.

Sign today marking the Tourouvre Property of Jeanne Mullard.

I have to fight the urge to run off on a tangent here describing the exploits of these amazing men and their families but I am losing sight of the focus: Surnames!  While several descendants of Robert Rivard dit Loranger carried on the Loranger dit name and then eventually dropped Rivard, others introduced new dit names which were adopted as surnames, and–as though things weren’t confused enough– still others kept the original Rivard surname.  The descendants of Robert Rivard hold the names: Rivard, Loranger, Feuilleverte, Bellefeuille, Despres, Montendre, and Maisonville.  The descendants of Nicholas Rivard now may hold the surnames: Rivard, Lavigne, Lacoursiere, Lanouette, Preville, LaGlanderie, Dufresne, and Giasson.

If you are of French-Canadian origin and bear any of the above surnames then “Salut! Mes Cousins!”  It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance!
post signature

Advertisements

Follow Friday ~ A Few Blogs Which Have Taken Me Down a Rabbit Hole…

Down the Rabbit Hole

I love the Friday Follow prompt if only because it takes me out of my insular genealogical research world and allows me to connect with the research of others.  Time restraints and my desire to live life away from a computer screen often deters me from browsing the blogs of others.  When I do however I find I am taken down a rabbit hole and led on an adventure into the stories of others.  Some may believe it is a waste of time journeying into the genealogical worlds of others but occasionally I find it as intriguing as reading a novel or biography; And learning through the research process of other like minded individuals can revitalize and redirect your own research, whether through tips and tricks, a lead on new records and sources, or simply sheer inspiration!

THE KEEPER OF STORIES ~ Just plain inspiring!

a la French Research Blog ~ Great help for a French-Canadian such as myself!

A Pocket Full of Family Memories ~ Beautiful family tales with visual appeal!

Victorian Supersleuth: Investigating 19th Century Crime ~ Fun for people like me with a British Victorian Murderer lurking in their family’s Past and Intriguing!

The Virtual Victorian ~ Simply fun Victorian research tidbits!

A Canadian Family ~ Another French-Canadian connection!

Ancestoring ~ Great tips and information!

Roots and Ramblings ~ Article Finding Charlotte ~ An inspiring brick wall break through…love these!
post signature

Thriller Thursday ~ First Installment ~ Accident or Murder?

The Mugshot of John Carter

The Mugshot of John Carter

I have written about my 2nd Great-Grandfather, John Carter, and his crimes in previous posts but I thought perhaps a regular Thriller Thursday series detailing the case of his murderous deeds and my research might be most comprehensive and hopefully provide a suspenseful intrigue to tantalize the curious minds of readers! This is the first installment though I have written previously:

Black Sheep Sunday ~ My Darkest Black Sheep Revealed

Thriller Thursday ~ Murder in The Family

Now, shall I begin at the beginning of the story or at the beginning of my research?  Two very different commencement points! Perhaps it makes the most sense on a genealogy blog to focus on research.  If you remember from my Darkest Black Sheep article I discovered through a passenger list that my Great Grandfather, Thomas Carter, had been a British Home Child sent to Canada with a Fegan’s Home emigration party in 1898.  I was determined to trace Thomas’ family in England.  It was early days in my online genealogy career and I struggled especially with a name so common as Carter.  Luckily, I was able to narrow down the British hometown as it had been indicated in Thomas’ WWI file.  But it wasn’t until I started correspondence with a woman named Marjorie Kohli, the author of “The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants to Canada 1833-1939”, that I was presented with the pieces I needed to finish the frame of this puzzle.

Marj found a family in the England Census, a possible match: John and Elizabeth Carter living Worton Hamlet, Cassington, Oxfordshire. John is an Agricultural labourer born in Watchfield, Berkshire and Elizabeth in Loncot, Berkshire. The children are Annie 1872; Clara 1873; Martha 1879. In the 1891 census they are in Maidenhead, Berkshire and the family now contains Thomas 1882; William 1885 and Nelson 1888.

It seemed a bit of a long shot but I decided to explore this family further.  A thorough google search which was a ridiculous needle and a haystack sort of venture remarkable produced “the needle”.  An obscure mention of a John Carter, Victorian murderer from Watchfield made my heart raise to my throat but I knew this is impossible!  No one finds their run of the mill farm labouring Great-Grandfather is a wife killer!  I set out to learn more about this particular John Carter and quickly disprove this outrageous lead.

Fortunate or unfortunate–depending on your frame of mind I suppose–each new piece to this research puzzle only proved the validity of my find!  A full picture began to develop as I scoured newspaper articles online, British Newspaper Archives was a fabulous source of information.  I collected every name in these articles, the police involved, the witnesses,and  the coroner’s name.  It was this meticulous searching and the mystery of three dead wives which led me to the coroner’s reports housed at the Berkshire Records Office.  Mr. Llewellyn Jotcham, the local coroner first met my 2nd Great-Grandfather in the year 1887 when his first wife–my biological 2nd Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Thatcher–died from a fall down the stairs.  She was “in the family way and was expecting her confinement any day…She had been in a weak state of health…” according to her husband, John Carter in his statement during the inquest.  John had left for work and that was the last time he saw her alive.

stairs

Her daughter Annie also testified during the inquest describing her mother’s fainting spell and her fall down the stairs to the stone floor below.

I went to her and found she was fainting–she said oh dear–I tried to assist her–to hold her up–she had her hands on the stairs about her–all at once she fell backwards on me and we both fell together to the bottom of the stairs–she fell on the back of her head and on the stones of the room–she did not say anything but only moved her head one time–she did not appear to be sensible–I ran for Mrs. Giffon a neighbour who was working in the hay field–she came with me.

When we got back we found that she had been placed straight on the stones.  Mrs Inmans who lives next door was there and I suppose she did it–My mother was dead..

Mr. Jotcham concluded this was an accidental death and to my relief, after reading the reports I truly believe it was….this time!

But my 2nd Great-Grandfather was to meet with Mr. Jotcham again years later with a very different outcome!

Tune in next Thriller Thursday for a new installment…most thrilling of all!
post signature

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Just Because it is Written in Stone…

My Great-Grandparents' Headstone

My Great-Grandparents’ Headstone

It is hardly an elaborate, beautiful, or notable tombstone but tonight’s post is not meant to feature some lavish stone with intricate markings or ornate carving.  It is rather a cautionary tale in assuming that everything written in stone is true!  This headstone is a prime example of how inaccurate tombstone’s can be!

Newspaper article with the account of Thomas Carter's death. Woodstock Sentinel Review, May 1943.

Newspaper article with the account of Thomas Carter’s death. Woodstock Sentinel Review, May 1943.

My Great-Grandfather’s name was Thomas with a “Th”.  Though he had lied about his year of birth on occasion, including on his WWI attestation papers, he was more accurately born in 1885 in England. What is most remarkable however is the absolute incorrectness of his death year.  My Great Grandfather, Thomas Carter, died not in 1945 but rather 1943.  Not only had my grandmother recorded his death year as 1943 but his death was actually recorded in a local newspaper article in May of 1943.  His death had made the news because he had passed away at work.

Humorously, it is likely my Great-Grandmother, Margaret Sloan, was born in 1888 rather than 1889. Most documents indicate 1888 as her birth year though I suppose I have yet to find her birth record so I cannot be sure.

Though inaccuracy in a birth date on a gravestone is understandable it is very difficult to comprehend how someone can be confused as to the year of a person’s death while carving a tombstone unless perhaps it was not carved until years later.  It is possible my Great-Grandmother could not afford a stone or its carving initially and it was done years after the death of my Great-Grandfather.

Regardless, it is important to note that while tombstones are a great starting point for information but should never be relied upon as the final word on the vital events of an individual!
post signature

Tuesday Tips ~ Keeping a Brick Wall Ancestors File!

My Old-Fashioned Brick Wall Ancestors File!

My Old-Fashioned Brick Wall Ancestors File!

I do not always feel willing to share my systems of organization.  I am terribly tactile and visual and still find hard copies appealing regardless of all the amazing technology available and the shift to the digital.  However I do realize that I can save far more in far less space and far more efficiently digitally.  It also has become apparent that portability is essential when travelling to archives and libraries, cemeteries, and well, just anywhere our research takes us!  I always carry my phone or ipad to capture information but it has become a hodgepodge of disorganization when not housed together in one organized, efficient system.  It is time to learn to properly use Evernote and change over my old fashioned files!

One file I have been keeping in hard copy format–yes on traditional cue cards in a file box quite like recipes–is my Brick Wall Ancestors File. When I encounter a very challenging, impossible brick wall individual–in our direct lines–on my family tree I created a card for them.  It included all the basic facts I had gathered on the individual on the front and, on the back, what I still wished to discover, the questions I had regarding the individual, and where I might find this information.  Similar to a research plan but in miniature!

Evernote Notebook.

Evernote Notebook.

I’ve found the file helpful to keep my research grounded and focused and helps me to visualize the present reach of my family tree’s branches!  It will be far more useful in a digital, carry-along format and I think Evernote is going to be my go-to location for this file of notes!

I’ve created a notebook for my Brick Wall ancestors and a separate one for my husband’s.  I am ordering the notes alphabetically and have indicated the country/countries of research. I added the key information in bullet points then numbered my basic questions and research starting points.  If I find additional information in my research I have added it through checklists and attachments until I can verify and add to my tree.  Fingers crossed this will be effective and efficient!

Note Example.

Note Example.

Note Example.

Note Example.

Madness Monday: What’s In a Name?

Sophia Johanna Karoline Laartz  AKA Sophia Lewis

Sophia Johanna Karoline Laartz AKA Sophia Lewis

One of  the most maddening experiences in Genealogy is spending hours researching a family and coming up empty time, and time again!  It can be challenge enough when you know the information you are dealing with is complete and accurate but occasionally the information we have to work with is faulty and misleading!  At least we know the names of the people we are looking for…or do we??

Sophia Lewis (Laartz)

Sophia Lewis (Laartz)

I knew full well the name of my 2nd Great Grandmother, Sophia Lewis!  My grandma had even preserved a photo of her with great love and care.  Sophia Lewis had married my 2nd Great-Grandfather Martin Alexander Blancher 3 Nov 1866 in Oxford County, Ontario.  The marriage record index actually listed Martin’s last name as Bluchen, which I believe was a transcription error.  Martin was ten years Sophia’s senior. From this record I learned that Martin was indeed from the US as family lore indicated and his parent’s names were Richard and Elizabeth–good generic names!  Sophia was from Germany–again exactly as my grandma had always stated–and her parents were listed as Christopher and Rachael. It was believed Rachel’s maiden name was Chandler. I was so pleased to have names and locations to work from!

I began to search through the Canadian records to flesh out this family’s story.  The earliest Canadian census I could find for the Lewis family was the 1861.  Christopher was written as Christian but there was Rachel and Sophia and Sophia had siblings, Charles, Christian (Jr.), and Eliza.  While Christian (Sr.), Rachel, Sophia, and Charles were born in Germany, Christian (Jr) and Eliza were not.  This would be helpful in determining immigration year! Sophia had been born around 1850 in Germany and Christian (jr.) was born in 1857 in Canada so the family had obviously immigrated within that 7 year window.

I could trace the family here in Canada, later census records, more children–William, Henry, and Sarah Lewis–but with only Germany as a location of origin for the Lewis family nothing led me further back.  Location, location, location  is everything when tracing family across the pond and I had little more than the vast ever changing country of Germany!

As seems to be the case in genealogy a little luck can be all one needs, one more piece of the puzzle which is the lynch pin, the clincher! It was luck which finally ended the madness.  A woman contacted me on Ancestry.ca.  She had seen my tree and all the research I had collected and realized the family connection.  A distant cousin, she had a private tree of which I was unaware and she had information, amazing information!

Sophia Lewis was actually Sophia Johanna Karoline Laartz, her father Christian Johann Theodor Laartz and her mother Fredericka Maria Linow Shultz!  Sophia’s brother, Charles was named Jahann Karl Frederich, and a sister Frederike Karoline Dorothea.  Of course, I realized Lewis was not a particularly German version of a surname but I had not known about the name changes.  It was backed by amazing documents which were in this woman’s possession and a fascinating story.

The Pastor's Letter 4 May 1855

The Pastor’s Letter 4 May 1855

There was a “passport” letter written, certified, and sealed by the family’s pastor and dated 4 May 1855.  This letter detailed the names and birthdates of each of children and indicated their parents names. Propably to verify the family ties for their emigration. The documents indicated that Christian Laartz and Fredericka (Rachael) Shultz were unmarried.  It seems both worked for a farmer who would not allow them to be married.  At the time servants required their employers permission to marry or they could be hanged.  These circumstances made common-law style relationships, like that of Christian and Fredericka, quite common.  Unfortunately, this was a source of great embarrassment to them when they emigrated and they hid these documents in an old hymnal to protect the family’s reputation.  It is thought that Christian and “Rachael” did marry in Canada in 1880 but I have not found proof of this event.

Meyers Gazetteer entry for Penzlin, Mecklenburg, Germany

Meyers Gazetteer entry for Penzlin, Mecklenburg, Germany

I was grateful for the new information but I was able to return the favour by finding the name of “Rachael” Schultz’s father and German place names on the documents this cousin had not noticed previously: Grob (Gross)  Flotow and Penzlin, Mecklenburg. After a bit of research in the Meyer Gazetteer and some messages on a Mecklenburg message board I was about to learn more about the region.  I am now eager to dive into the microfilm records Family Search holds for Mecklenburg, Germany!

Awareness of name changes and anglo-sized names in the new world can crack brickwalls….a few more pieces and that cracked wall could crumble!
post signature

 

Black Sheep Sunday: My Runaway Grandmother!

Margaret Blancher age 17.

Margaret Blancher age 17.

…Well it was more precisely my Great-Grandmother, Margaret Blancher!  This is a genealogical case of questioning our ancestor’s motivations–I suppose all cases of “Black Sheep” in the family are!  We dig up the story and we not only wish to piece together the bare bone facts of this family skeleton but rather flesh it out with knowledge of our ancestor’s thought processes and motives!  We want to dig up the dirt!  This may sound very unsavoury behaviour in itself but the truth of the matter is we are not just looking for this information to be sensational but rather we wish to understand humanity better.

Humourusly, I was often teased by my Grandma and my Mom as a child for my inquisitive nature, I was “Nosy Nellie” or often they would say “What’s that Dorothy?” in reference to a nosy neighbour they once had.  Admittedly, I am still curious and eager to learn more which is possibly one of the reasons for my obsession with Genealogy and family history.  I don’t just want to collect records I want to collect stories and those juicy details, those incites into the souls of our ancestors which might help to explain their actions are all part of that story and make it far more meaningful and interesting.  But can we always uncover these details?  Often it is only inference and hear say yet knowing human nature as we do and connecting it to any other evidence we may have is a start!

The Blancher Family

The Blancher Family

It began with a story; A secret and hidden story; A story spoken in whispers and hushed tones when we were young but, you must remember, I was “nosy Nellie”. I had my ear to the ground when Grandma and Mom told tales.  And once again it was that Blancher Family photo on the bookshelf which often sparked these reminiscences.  I would often be playing quietly on the floor soaking up the family fables, most often without a true awareness of them.  And as I grew, so did my comprehension of the stories and my curiosity, until ultimately I was old enough and the stories were no longer told in secretive breezes but rather regular conversational gusts which I would be caught up in and which I could use to run with and begin my own inquiries!  This story was of my Great-Grandmother and how she had run away!

Born Margaret Ann Barber 7 Nov 1871 in Ingersoll, Oxford, Ontario, Canada, she was the daughter of Joseph Barber, farm labourer, and Jane Elizabeth Pike. Margaret had a brother Joseph Henry Barber, whom they called Harry (and yes the humour of the name Harry Barber has not escaped me).  Harry was born in 1878 so was much younger and it leads me to believe that perhaps Jane had difficulties with having children.  From a family of eight herself, and with all her siblings producing large families I am sure this might have been a challenge for her.  Perhaps this was the impetus for my Great-Grandma Margaret to have such a large family in the future!

Foldens Corners School Photo mid 1880s. Margaret 4th from the left in the back row.  Her brother Harry (boy in front furthest right)

Foldens Corners School Photo mid 1880s.
Margaret 4th from the left in the back row. Her brother Harry (boy in front furthest right)

Margaret and Harry attended school in the little community of Foldens Corners and my Grandma–being the keeper of family treasures–passed down a beautiful old school photograph circa. the mid 1880s.  As was typical of the day Margaret married, just 20 days after her 18th birthday, 27 Nov 1889, to John Blancher; 3 years older than Margaret he was a farmer labourer and later a farmer in his own right.  John purchased property in Foldens.  Though I still need to view the land records for the property, I know from the city directories that in 1899 he was only a tenant, and from the 1901 census he was working for himself and living in his own home.

What was interesting to note however was the birth date of John and Margaret’s first child, William Beverly, who was born the 26 Mar 1890, only 4 months after their marriage!  Uh oh!  Perhaps the motivation to marry was different than expected! What would it have been like to be a young girl of 17 with child and unwed in the late 1800s?  I expect it would have been terrifying and would require a speedy marriage to hopefully hold the scandal at bay.  Perhaps not the most stable way to begin a marriage.

John and Margaret Blancher on the farm

John and Margaret Blancher on the farm

Perhaps despite this, the marriage saw the birth of 14 children and endured more than 20 years.  There are various versions of those married years.  My grandmother, Madeline remembers her mother wanting for nothing and being catered to by my grandfather.  According to my grandma her papa bought Margaret one of the wringer washers in the village and what she wanted she often was given.  On the other hand one of my grandma’s brothers claimed Great-Grandpa Blancher was very cruel to his wife.   Regardless, sometimes after 1921 something astounding occurred–Great-Grandma Fled from her family like a thief in the night!

It is said that Margaret’s son Joe had been waiting with a buggy on a concession road across the field to wisk his mother away.  It has always been a bit of a mystery to my mother when this occurred but we knew it was after the family photo was taken in 1918 and after the 1921 Canada Census was released this past year I discovered she had left after 1921.  Leaving alone originally, she had gone west to Nanton, Alberta and later returned and collected two of her young daughters, Mineatta and Ruby to take back west.  It appears she collected Ruby first in 1925 when she was around 16-17 years of age and Mineatta when she turned 17 in 1932.

My grandmother always said that Great-Grandma was basically running a brothel, and had brought her daughters west to sell them off in marriages to much older men.  Whether accurate or not both were married shortly after being taken to Alberta. Ruby to a a man with the last name Lovelace, who I know nothing about, and Mineatta to Walter Dumper, a man 21 years her senior!  My Grandma–between Ruby and Mineatta–in age, had found herself pregnant and unwed in 1929. I believe this is the only reason she was spared from her mother’s plans.

Margaret Blancher

Margaret Blancher

It was the way my Great-Grandfather, dealt with my Grandma’s predicament which gives me the impression that he was not a cruel man but rather quite compassionate toward the females in his life.  He took care of my grandmother and defended her even from the scything remarks of her brothers.

But then it begs the question why did Margaret leave?  In truth I realize I shall never know the answer.  My conclusions are pure conjecture.  I considered, as a woman and mother myself, Margaret’s life.  A woman–who obviously hoped to enjoy some of the finer things in life–married off quickly at a young age because she was pregnant. Home raising 14 children on a farmer’s income.  Perhaps it was the feeling of being tied down, a feeling of discontent.  Her father had died in 1917 and her son went to war in 1918, possibly these events influenced her thinking. She left for the still rugged, untamed west which may mean she had an urge for adventure!  Unfortunate, it was at the expense of her children!

Margaret died in Nanton, Alberta 26 Oct 1940. Her daughter still lived in Alberta and managed the plot but the grave is unmarked! A lonely end for a woman with offspring so very numerous!
post signature

Man’s Best Friends and the Memories They Create!

"SayersTomb HighgateCemetery" by JohnArmagh - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SayersTomb_HighgateCemetery.JPG#mediaviewer/File:SayersTomb_HighgateCemetery.JPG

“SayersTomb HighgateCemetery” by JohnArmagh – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In a house of children not a day goes by without trauma and drama!  Today was no exception to the rule. My daughter’s well-loved hamster died this morning and as I looked into my daughter’s tear brimming eyes I realized once more the significance of the pets in our lives. These animals play such a poignant role in the human experience.  Animals as labourers, as sustenance, and as companions have been intertwined with human existence throughout our history.

Dog Mosaic

Dog Mosaic

As companions pets become part of our family but of course do not appear as members of our family tree. This is not to say that their stories should not live alongside those of their human counterparts.  In a home filled with companion animals I am well aware that many childhood and family memories include our furry friends.  While this may seem a more recent phenomenon it is rather an ancient one.  The earliest known evidence of pets is from the Natufian Culture of Israel–a human buried cradling a puppy, dated 12000 BC.  And while the ancient Egyptians have often been credited with the earliest domestication of the cat in 2000-1900 BC, a Neolithic grave on Cyprus, would indicate an even older Cypriate domestication of 7500 BC.

Queen Victoria and Albert with their children and their dogs

Queen Victoria and Albert with their children and their dogs

The Victorian Era was also a glorious time for pets!  This can be attributed at least in part to Queen Victoria’s absolute love of animals, particularly dog.  It was perhaps Prince Albert’s interest in Victoria’s dog Dash that brought them together in their fabled romance!  Victoria commissioned portraits which included her dogs and it became popular for the merchant class and the aristocracy to keep canine companions.  Downton Abbey fans, such as myself, will envision Lord Grantham and his faithful friend Isis! This love of dogs and horses has survived in the British royal family of today.

Some Victorians went as far as to create elaborate pets burials and extend their fondness for post-mortem photography to their cherished animals.  While many ancients took their pets to their own graves. Burials with humans or on their own in their own right, depictions of human/animal companionship in art, early photographs, and early writings evidence the intimate ties between humanity and animals over time.

The “Genushe (animal post-mortem)” of a beloved Bunny, ca. 1845-46. Very common in the mid-19th century.

The “Genushe (animal post-mortem)” of a beloved Bunny, ca. 1845-46. Very common in the mid-19th century.

Including tales of favourite pets and adventures with loved companion animals, as part of an individual’s family story adds context and human interest. Discovering photos which include family pets or farmyard friends can truly reflect the interests and personalities of those we are researching!  Do they look comfortable and contented with their animal friends?  Perhaps they look uncomfortable and terrified?  I decided to add family animal tales to my family history and  search my tree for these family photos and found some true gems!

Portrait of my husband's Great-Grandfather and his dog in France

Portrait of my husband’s Great-Grandfather and his dog in France

Cousin Victor Pike and his dogs

Cousin Victor Pike and his dogs

My Auntie Marian and Uncle Wilfred with ponies

My Auntie Marian and Uncle Wilfred with ponies

My Great-Grandmother, Margaret Blancher and cousin Martha Barber with the kittens

My Great-Grandmother, Margaret Blancher and cousin Martha Barber with the kittens

Cousins Martha Barber and Wilma Gowan with their horses

Cousins Martha Barber and Wilma Gowan with their horses

Cousin Victor Pike and kitty

Cousin Victor Pike and kitty

My Grandma, Madeline Carter visited by a lamb in the nursing home.

My Grandma, Madeline Carter visited by a lamb in the nursing home.

My kitty and I.

My kitty and I.

This Post is dedicated to my animal loving daughter Bronwynn and her hamster, Pepsi!  Rest in Peace Pepsi!

post signature

Organizing My World!

"Old book bindings" by Tom Murphy VII - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_book_bindings.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Old_book_bindings.jpg

“Old book bindings” by Tom Murphy VII – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_book_bindings.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Old_book_bindings.jpg

I have decided to mold my cyclical, undisciplined mind into linear, organized behaviours!  I have been watching the archived videos from the RootsTech 2015 Genealogy Conference and this morning was inspired by Thomas MacEntee’s seminar on the Genealogy Toolbox.  I will be the first to admit that I have good intentions of being organized in all aspects of my life and I strive to be so yet am still hopelessly scattered in many respects!  I often blame it on my 3 children, my 7 pets…Oh and, of course, my husband!  A reorganized cupboard or closet becomes a disastrous jumble, a tidy room becomes a cyclone, and a system which has “a place for everything and everything in its place” soon becomes a system of chaos where nothing is in its place!  My children are busy, masters of destruction!

Unfortunately, other than my lack of time to account for, I really cannot pass the blame when it comes to my disorganized computer files!  A hodgepodge of bookmarked links and word document lists, lumped photo files and un-categorized downloads–I truly needed an intervention or at least a push in the right direction.  I was wasting time searching for sites I had discovered “once upon a time” in a land without recall; I was dithering from one list, folder, or program to another looking for where I might have saved links or tools I required; and I was frustrated.

Taking this evening to create a Genealogy Toolkit is just one step I am taking to change my scattered ways!  Thomas MacEntee presented several fabulous possibilities for “containers” to house those handy and sometimes crucial online links in an organized fashion.  I decided that Evernote appeared to be the most beautiful organizational tool–I loved the way it looked, the way things could be sorted, accessible, and shared!  HOWEVER, I have yet to understand how to properly use Evernote and get it to do what I want it to.  Yes, I can be technologically challenged!  Instead of giving up entirely however I learned that one can export Google Chrome Bookmarks into Evernote so thought why not start in Google Chrome Bookmarks?  I already understand how I can label and sort links into folders in Bookmarks and I can export them as I learn more about using Evernote.

Ta da!  I now have a GenealoSteamer_Trunk_Drawinggy Toolbox compiled from Thomas MacEntee’s shared Toolbox, Cyndi’s List, my existing links and bookmarks, and several new ones I happened across in my usual internet research forays.  I also took a step toward progress by joining the Facebook Group Evernote for Genealogy which I will hopefully find the time to visit for help in the future to convert my Toolbox!

post signature