My Persistant Pursuance of a Passion

Dictionary Series - Miscellaneous: genealogy

If it has not already become apparent, I have a true passion for genealogical research.  I believe the appeal is not only in learning the unknown about my own ancestors but rather in the human stories, suspensefully revealed piece by piece, and uncovered through the dramatic building up of clues and information.  Who among us does not enjoy a detective story, a mystery which we have fulfillingly solved ourselves?

However, this preoccupation is less fulfilling without the skills required to obtain those story pieces and to puzzle them together.  Up until January I have been a self-taught magnifying glassgenealogist.  I had the aptitude and I was able to search out the resources to help me develop my abilities.  Webinars, my own trial and error, reading blogs, articles and books have all been my learning tools but in January I decided I wanted to pursue my passion more seriously.  I want to be taken seriously as a genealogist, I want to build credentials, and I want to be able to legitimately provide services and assistance to others in search of their family’s past.

This was the impetus for me to go in search of a Canadian genealogy education program and I was gratified to find exactly what I was looking for: an online certificate program through the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. The National Institute of Genealogical Studies (NIGS) has been offering genealogy courses for over 15 years.  Why I had not thought to pursue this new path of education years ago I cannot fathom.

NIGSThe Certificate in Genealogical Studies — Canadian Records is a 40 course program resulting in a certificate and post-nominals (PLCGS).  I have completed 7 of the 9 Basic Level courses and will be taking the final 2 basic courses this coming month.  Completely online, each course includes module readings, assignments,  an exam, and optional live stream chats.   The program includes required Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced level courses as well as elective courses which can be selected from a wide menu of choices.  Most courses are about two months long however you can work ahead if you wish.  You are allotted approximately 2 years for several of the culminating analysis courses which appear to be more intensive. I enjoy working at my own pace!

I am excelling thus far and more importantly enjoying my learning experience. The director of the program  has been very helpful and personable whenever I have had any questions.  Even if you are not interested in obtaining a certificate you may enroll in NIGS courses individually   or in groupings to further your knowledge and aid in your research endeavours.  Whether you wish to pursue Genealogy as a business professional/academic or you just want to gain quality skills to aid you in your personal genealogy the National Institute of Genealogical Studies could be what you are looking for just as it was for me!

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Thriller Thursday ~ Dear John

Update yourself with the sorted tale by reading my previous posts regarding John Carter and his crimes:

~ Thriller Thursday ~ First Installment ~ Accident or Murder?

~ Thriller Thursday ~ Second Installment ~ The Vanishing

Other stories related to John Carter: Black Sheep Sunday: My Darkest Black Sheep , A Foundling Found , Travel Tuesday | Walking in Their Footsteps , and Military Monday ~ Lost Great-Uncle Nelson

Rhoda Ann Titcombe.  John Carter's third wife.

Rhoda Ann Titcombe. John Carter’s third wife.

It was 1889 and John Carter once again found himself the single father of now seven children– 6 from his first marriage and a son, John Nelson Carter, from his second.  He continued to spread the tale of his wife’s desertion; Her foray with another man, the so called “chap from Swindon”.  He continued to carouse the local pubs, his love or need for drink sustained. He had moved the family to his home town of Watchfield from Longcot and now frequented the “Eagle Inn”, an establishment owned by Joseph Pocock, the same man who had run John’s favourite Longcot haunt, the “King and Queen”.

The Eagle Inn, Watchfield, Berkshire, England

The Eagle Inn, Watchfield, Berkshire, England

It was in 1893 at the “Eagle Inn” that John Carter announced in a drunken state that he was to marry bar maid Rhoda Ann Titcombe–once again a member of the enterprising Mr. Pocock’s staff. Questioned regarding how he could possibly marry when his previous wife was alive and living in Swindon, John cajoled and offered them five pounds to find his wife “Dead or Alive”.  In April of that year John and Rhoda were wed, John listed as a “widower” on the registry.

It seems the short marriage may have been a bumpy one!  John was quite obviously a jealous man with a hot temper.  Two months after they were wed John was heard at a local feast saying that Rhoda was to dance with no other man.  “Should she want another man I will be the death of her”, a witness had later recalled him saying.  This was to be a foreshadowing of the events to come!

July 20th 1893, late into the night John’s 9 year old son Thomas Carter (my Great-Grandfather), was roused in the night by dreadful noise, “a banging from the next room”, his step-mother’s cry ” Lord have mercy upon us”, and then from the stairs a “knock, knock, knock”, much heavier than anyone’s walking.  The following morning Thomas was told his step-mother had gone to East leach and that he was to go fetch the cows.  John was to be busy in the smithy attached to the cottage all day and Thomas was warned off going near the forge and the wash house.

The friendly walk John and Rhoda took the day of July 20th was the last neighbours saw Rhoda alive and well.  And when Rhoda’s mother came in search of her the next day, John informed her that her daughter had gone to her confined sister in Eastleach.  Her mother left filled with suspicions and doubt!

Thomas, my great-grandpa age 8 or 9

Thomas, my great-grandpa age 8 or 9

Later that day, John sent his son Thomas on another errand.  He wanted a quarter hundredweight of coal and had sent Thomas to a local farmer and dealer to fetch it.  Soon after, a thick and noxious smoke coming from the Carter wash house disturbed a curious neighbour, Ann Butler, from across the lane.  Over she wandered, it was a hot evening and there seemed no reasonable explanation for the billowing smoke of a substantial fire.  Pushing open the door, Ann Butler, peered in to see a large tub surrounded by kindling and coal, but she was suddenly pushed out of the wash house by John, He abruptly slammed and latched the door behind them.  |i’m burning rubbish.” he explained but Mrs. Butler was hardly convinced.

Suspicions swirling, a small village soon embroiled in rumour and concerned chatter, neighbours and family were hyper vigilant.  Rhoda’s brother, David, aware of his mother’s worry and alerted by the wafting smoke came running to the house from a nearby cricket field and burnt his hand trying to enter the wash-house.  Eventually John opened the door for him so he could see what looked like a large tub boiling over with water.  John’s unfathomable response to David’s questioning, “I am boiling water to shave with.”

John maintained that Rhoda had run off to her sister’s in East Leach when he was bombarded questioning relations and two days later the local police constable Charles Sparkes was informed that Rhoda Titcombe had gone missing, her husband suspected. Cst. Sparkes set out to investigate this mysterious disappearance.

Another disappearance, another wife run off!  Was John Carter a rough, but pathetic “Dear John” always being deserted because of his hot headed disposition? Or was something more sinister afoot?  Certainly most of Watchfield believed something was most definitely amiss!

Questions stack one a top another as fieldstones on a wall the truth not yet laid bare, revelation still hovers in a fog of disconnected facts…
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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.

Renewing Family Treasures!

Complete

Complete

Vintage is in vogue!  For a treasure hunter like myself, who relishes the beauty and history held in antique, and  love worn objects this is a delight!  The cold, newness of modern objects and decor can create a very sterile home atmosphere but add even a few prized pieces with a past and you have added character, and conversation!  I do not come from family rich in the monetary but rather rich in the wealth of lore, and love.  This however does not mean I do not have family treasures and keepsakes.  The value of these items is often in their stories and family meaning as opposed to how much money they could line a pocket with.

I have few heirlooms currently as many of those which will be entrusted to me are housed presently with my mother and my aunts but I know when I do receive them I will find ways to display as many as possible with pride of place and with their histories intact!  I despise the idea of stashing away the precious in boxes never to be seen or enjoyed, hidden from those who may benefit from the cherished history and stories they hold within.

The Before

The Before

While some extremely valuable antiques may be difficult to safely display or renew others house their value in their true use for their true intended purpose.  I possess a lovely children’s table and chairs set made by my grandfather for my mother and her sisters in the 1930s and 40s.  My mother kept this set for use by my sister and myself, and I for my children.  It had been refinished at least once over the years with a thick plastering of dark varnish but about a month ago I decided it was time to renew its beauty and charm to allow for its continued usefulness!

Perhaps if this was a truly priceless object I would leave it untouched but as it is priceless only to us I knew a fresh coat of the latest chalk paint and wax and a little distressing would renew this darling set while maintaining its antique character.  I enlisted the help of my daughters who were absolutely thrilled to be part of this family project.  We chose a lively peacock colour, as they are meant for the bright, vivacious  nature of children!  What I love, love about chalk paint is that you can paint over anything without the daunting task of first preparing the piece with sanding, priming, and the like.  It’s a simple process of paint (perhaps a couple coats and touch-ups depending on the surface), rub on wax (a little bit of a process until you get the knack), a distressing with a fine sandpaper in the areas where normal wear might have occurred, and another layer of wax for protection and good measure! Voila! A piece no one can resist commenting on!

My girls Loved Helping

My girls Loved Helping

Google chalk painting techniques–Annie Sloan I believe is the product leader in this approach–but I just took a quick gander at a Mrs. Hines’ Class Blog post and followed it very loosely with fantastic results!  My son and daughters now want to know who will be the next to possess this beautiful family keepsake for their children.  I replied, “I think, one day in the distant future, it may have to stay at grandma and grandpa’s for all to enjoy!”

After Painting with Chalk Paint

After Painting with Chalk Paint

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