Well November has flown by with not nearly enough hours in each day or enough days in a week to accomplish everything.  We had snow on the ground twice, although the first time, early in the month, hardly counted since it didn’t even completely cover things.  The second time was over Thanksgiving but did not cancel any of the family’s traveling.  So, as I start to pull my thoughts together for my genealogy projects for December, there is snow on the ground and the temperature is low.  A good time to be inside.

Not a lot of genealogy work got done in November but I did manage to go through each of my direct ancestors in my RootsMagic database back through my great great grandparents and enter all the vital information I have on each.  This allowed me to create a list (in Evernote but I need to make it a spreadsheet) of what is missing for each person.  By doing this I cleaned up a small amount of the “obtained but not used” pieces of information sitting in the various family name files.  I did also go back and check quickly to see if any of the indexed but not digitized things had now been digitized.  The big online sources do so much and add so many records that it is always worth checking again.

I once heard Josh Taylor say that he had taken a year off from adding to his own research and devoted that time to organizing his information and files.  He has an impressive system set up.  At the time I couldn’t quite imagine taking that much time to do nothing but clean-up, but I seem to have fallen into doing a lot of it.  Which certainly needs doing.  What happens, regardless of how I have set up my work process, is that I find myself checking for an additional piece of evidence that I am reminded of by my organizing.  So while I am spending much of my genealogy time on organizing, I am also adding to my information and clarifying relationships.

I have 2 more posts I want to write about my part of the England trip experience (that is, the genealogical rather than the sightseeing).  One of these will get done for December.

The last project I hope to get started on is to begin reading one of the myriad Evernote how-to books that are available for Kindles, periodically for free (my favorite price!).  I use Evernote a lot but know that I am not as efficient about it as I could be, and I’m interested in how to better use it to track my research.

These plus the holidays that rapidly approach will keep me plenty busy but in pleasant ways.  My fingers are crossed for not too much more snow here in December so we all can get done what needs doing.  Happy holidays to all!

The beginning of our second week in England we moved on from Hythe to Lewes.  This put us in a lovely historic small town in the South Downs in East Sussex.  It has a castle and lots of old buildings.   The South Downs is a formation of chalk hills and Lewes is located where the river Ouse cut a gap through.  The hills are steep and Lewes is built on them.

We arrived mid-day and hauled our luggage up a long fairly steep hill to the High Street and found our hotel.  I had been warned ahead of time about the hills but was still taken somewhat by surprise.  Our room wasn’t quiteIMG_1269-contrast ready for us, but we dropped our bags and had lunch on the terrace looking out from a vantage point about halfway up a hill.  Then we wandered up High Street a little and lastly went looking for a garden for my sister.  (I wanted family history and she wanted plants and gardens, so we did as much of both as we could pack in.)  The garden we found was lovely and had many visitors, including groups of schoolchildren working off the energy they’d had to contain all day.  They were running around, jumping off walls and benches, fighting each other with long grass stems and generally having a good time.  Fun to watch.

The next morning we got ourselves back down to the train station which was where we’d arranged to meet up with the cousins.  They had graciously offered to come pick us up, take us back to their house for the morning to talk and then to lunch and over to Ditchling.  This is a Denman cousin I had connected with more than a year ago through this blog and then via a letter I wrote to the Ditchling church our ancestors belonged to.  Yes, my posts do occasionally attract a cousin’s attention; and yes, I actually wrote a paper letter to England (because I couldn’t find any other contact information for the Old Meeting House).  Serendipity at it’s best!

My newly-found Denman cousin is interested in the family history too, and we have a wonderful ongoing correspondence via email about our interests and what we are finding.  Unfortunately we have not yet been able to connect our two family lines definitely.  Both of us go back to a Denman man born in the mid-1700s (William b. 1763 in Ditchling and Michael b. c. 1750) in Sussex.  Although my line through William has been said to go back a number of generations in Sussex, there is no solid documentation for the relationship between him and the couple said to be his parents.  For my cousin’s line, Michael has so far as well resisted all efforts to find/document parents for him.

We spent the morning sitting around her table, talking about family trees and evidence found or not found, and looking at what we each had to share.  She of course had much more than I did, since I had pared down what I felt I could carry on planes and buses and trains.  And she had very kindly printed and copied a number of pages and trees for me and put all in a large envelope and a mailing tube  I could carry in my suitcase, we hoped.  While she and I were busy with this talk, my sister and her husband were getting to know each other and my sister got to hear about his interests and also to ask about his family.

IMG_1284At lunch time we went out to a restaurant  and got help deciphering the menu.  There was a discussion about what a Pimm’s Cup was – that included the waitress – and we decided to try one for the table since none of us had ever tasted one.  And at dessert time my sister and I were introduced to Eton Mess which is absolutely delicious and which was more than I should have finished with.

Almost enough good food to make me want an afternoon nap, except that we were heading to Ditchling to meet Mrs. Leonard Maguire and also another Denman researcher, and to see the Old Meeting House and some of Mr. Maguire’s papers that his widow still holds.  He was a thorough and prolific researcher who started out with a historic interest in the Baptists and developed genealogical interests in some of the families of the Old Meeting House along the way. With this all to look forward to I couldn’t have napped if you paid me to!

In acknowledgement of Remembrance Day or as we in the USA know it now, Veteran’s Day, I am posting the several pictures I took when we recently visited the Tower of London.  World War I, or the Great War, began in July 1914 so one hundred years ago this past July.  The British Empire was in it from the beginning and endured horrendous losses.

Tower poppies-6Tower poppies-1Tower poppies-2Tower poppies-3Tower poppies-4Tower poppies-5

Although October has been officially declared to be the Family History Month, I usually think of November as being a family month as well.  It starts out with All Saints Day and All Souls Day (or Day of the Dead) where family ancestors are traditionally venerated.  Thanksgiving in the US is at the end of the month and that is certainly a family holiday if ever there was one.   We actually started the holiday season early this year in my family; in mid-October we got many of the women together and had a quilting/sewing party to make more Christmas stockings for the family celebration.  Our family has grown larger than the first set we made a number of years ago and we need more.

To briefly re-visit my October goals:  1) I haven’t managed to enter all the information from the multiple trees I brought back from England, although I have started the project.  Still hoping to figure out how to get them scanned without paying an arm and a leg.  2) I have gotten a lot of the information acquired into my database, although I haven’t even begun transcribing the 2 wills I brought back.  All of the various pages are sitting in a pile on one of the bookcases awaiting filing decisions.  3) I have saved all my pictures as .tif files and moved them to sub-directories by specific location.  I’m in the process of labeling them (boy! is that hard for some of them).  4)Lastly, I managed to write a post about our stay in Hythe and am trying to get all the travelogue-type information ready to go in a travel blog.  Not too bad – not great but not too bad overall.

I have also continued to chip away at the uncategorized, un-entered records I’ve collected for the Denman families and saved in the main genealogy file for them.  Even though I’ve made consistent progress, I still have 375 (!!) Denman files to look at, extract information from and enter in the database and finally put in the sub-directory file they belong in.  And this doesn’t count the files collected for the English Denman lines, or the Evernote files.  No wonder it’s taking me forever to do this!  I hadn’t realized how many files I had collected and just dropped in the main folder.

In service of this project, I’m trying a new principle for getting started.  First thing in the morning, instead of sitting down and reading email and looking at Facebook and checking for new podcasts and blogs, I’m immediately opening the genealogy folders and starting with the first file in line.  This seems to help and I actually have done a number of files.  I also have figured out that as I finish a file if I add “RM” to the beginning of the filename it clues me that the information has been added to my RootsMagic database.  With all the files starting with the RM they will still sort by the rest of the person name I use as a filename.  Now I just have to keep at it.

And that project, plus hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my ever-growing family, are my goals for November.  Hope everyone has a great month and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

On my recent trip to England, we flew into London and spent the first 4 days there.  This gave us time for site-seeing and we had a good time acclimating to the different time zone and accent.

Then it was time to move on.  I had planned that we would go first to Hythe in my quest for information about our Denman family.  Hythe, Kent, England was where William and Ann Boorman lived the first 4-5 years of their married life.  It was where their first 3 children were born, including my ancestor John Denman.  It was where they last lived before migrating to the new country, the U.S. in 1795.  We got ourselves to the Victoria Coach Station, bought a cup of tea and a sandwich for lunch on the bus, and found seats to wait for our bus to be called.

Two and a half hoDSCN2088urs later, at mid-day, we arrived in Hythe which is in the county of Kent and right on the English Channel.  Hythe is a small town of about 14,000 residents now, however in 1801 its population was between 1200-1400.  We got off the coach, wrangled our suitcases and looked at Hythe from the ground.  Just a couple of blocks away was the Malt Lodge, where we were booked to stay.  It was too early to fully check in, but they were happy to take our luggage in and since they knew which room we would be in we were able to take care of the formalities and get a key.

We went across the street to check out the Malthouse Arcade, an antiques mall just across the street from the Lodge.  We had tea and a sandwich, browsed a bit and then went out to look at the town.  I wanted to find the Library, since that was my goal for the IMGP4785next morning.  I had several items on my to-do list for the Hythe Library, including looking at their microfilms of parish records and whatever other documents might be available on microfilm.   As it turned out, the Library had a small Local History room and the town museum is in the same building.

We discovered that there was a walking tour of the town being offered the next morning, and my sister decided she would try that out while I used the Library microfilm reader and books.  (I was conflicted about this choice since I guessed that a tour with a guide interested in the town history would be interesting and useful.  I hoped my sister would take lots of pictures and ask lots of questions!)

Hythe is a cinque port, DSCN2176one of the towns that historically helped guard the southern English coast which is closest to France from invasion.  Although it was most active in defense before Queen Elizabeth I’s time, with the French Revolution taking place (1789-1799), there were fears that France would turn to invade England.  This may have been part of the young Denmans decision to migrate to the very new country that was America in 1795.  The picture shows Town Hall which was finished in 1794.  The rooms above are where meetings were held.

I have found no information so far that tells why William Denman moved to the coast from his Sussex farming town.  This move took him away from his General Baptist church community.  There is, so far, no documentation of any group moving to the Hythe area at that time and it was a close-knit community.  That was presumably why William went back to it for his bride, traveling some distance to Headcorn to marry in 1790 having already settled in Hythe.

In the Library, I was able to discover several interesting pieces of information.  My first goal was to verify the burial I had been told about several years ago1.   This was the burial of an infant, Richard Denman 3 Nov 1794.  I wanted to see that record for myself and to verify that there was nothing else.  Since I have never seen a Richard said to be a son of William and Ann, I was hoping there might be more.  Richard might have been a child of William and Ann, depending on how old he was when he died, but there was no listing of parents to be found and I did not find any other Denman listings.  (There were listings for four Booremans: 2 burials and one a son of named parents.)  Based on the date of burial, he might have been born to them between their son William (b. 8 Feb 1793) and daughter Elizabeth (b. 22 Sep 1794), although this would have been very close spacing since there were only about 19 months between William and Elizabeth.  While physically just possible, it does seem unlikely.  My tentative conclusion is that it is equally or more likely that there was another Denman family in Hythe at the same time and that Richard was their son.

I also found a book of the poll tax for Knights of the Shire to represent the County of Kent in 1754.  This book listed a John Denman as a freeholder in Kent, as well as 3 Boremans (John and 2 Williams) as freeholders.  Freeholder means that they owned the land as opposed to leasing it.  It is possible that any of these were relatives of my young Denman couple and that this relation encouraged William Denman to relocate to Hythe.  I haven’t found any evidence of what William did in Hythe, although I suspect he was a farmer.  Certainly, in New York he farmed.

The last find was a couple of manuscripts, written in 1969 and 1970, by the local Methodist minister about 19th century Methodist history in Hythe.  There were several fragments in these two manuscripts that document the earlier presence of a Baptist community (perhaps before 1800) and tells of a “nice little chapel” used by the Baptists (and was owned by a woman who was a Baptist) before the Methodists started renting it in 1813 or before.  Also found: a reference to the Hythe Methodist Baptism Registry dating to the beginning of required registration in 1837 when all the non-parochial records were called by the Crown to be turned in for safe-keeping.  This first Methodist registry was an old Book of Births and Baptisms annexed from the Baptists who had used the chapel before them, and is said to be in the PRO in London.  Unfortunately I did not manage to get there to look for it myself, but I’m hoping I can track it down online or at least find out if there might be useful information in it about my Denman and Boorman families.

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  1. Hythe, St. Leonard 1781-1812

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