So July got away from me and it looks like August is going to be very busy too.  I’m finding that the format of my to-do list isn’t working for me anymore – doesn’t motivate me to get any specific thing done – and kind of bores me.  So I’m thinking about how to change it into something more useful.

In the meantime, this month I’m going to just briefly describe what I’m doing by weeks.  The first week I have to finish planning the big England trip with my sister, which includes either going to NH to meet with her or a focussed phone call.  It is one month to our trip!  Will end the week with a quick getaway to Portland with my husband, and a meet-up with youngest niece.  Tractor races!

The second week includes the TIARA conference here in Massachusetts that Judy and I are attending.  It looks like I may have a family branch (Boothby) that came from Ireland, maybe Ulster Scots, which in my understanding included people from northern England and Scotland who were sent by England to Ireland to manage lands etc.  I also have a collateral line that came from the Dublin area (the Daltons and Barrys who married into the Coffin family in Cincinnati).  Judy’s got Irish interests as well so this conference should be a blast.

The third week my husband and I are driving to Philadelphia via Connecticut (to  pick up his 90-year-old cousin) to visit more cousins.  There is one baby to meet and a new one on the way as well.  It takes a lot to move us out of the usual routine to go visiting like this, but sometimes you just have to do it!

And the fourth week will be given over to organizing my packing for England.  I’m communicating with my Denman cousin (we don’t have the exact relationship pinned down yet, but that is one of my big goals for the trip), who we will meet up with and spend a little time in her area of the world.  This part of the trip is really exciting to me, and I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about the whole trip when we return.

So, that’s how my August and first half of September are shaping up.  I hope all of the genealogists out there have equally fun plans for the rest of the summer.

 

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Research
*  My goal this month is to document what I actually know about my Denman immigrant ancestor in preparation for my trip in the Fall.  Try to figure out where the information about William’s parents came from and what documentation actually shows it.

*  I spent some time in May putting together a new family tree for a young couple in my family that is getting married in June.  I like the idea of showing the joining of the two families.  I also discovered that I really enjoyed the interactions with the parents of the two young people and liked getting to know about their families in ways I hadn’t before.  Neither family is directly related to me, but one of them has been “part of the family” for so long that it feels like there is a direct relationship. 

Organization

*  Digital organization – barely started the process with the Denman line in May, so this is my on-going goal.  The Denman line is not actually the next family alphabetically (which is what I would usually do) but I am going to England in the Fall with specific questions to answer about the Denmans.  In addition, I correspond with several Denman researchers and continue to find new information, so this *really* needs to be brought up to date (so I don’t re-invent too many wheels).  This organization work will also, very likely, suggest research paths to take on this family.

*  Scan the land records for the Salts, enter into spreadsheet of things scanned.

Education

*  Watch at least one webinar.

*  I spent a fair amount of time looking at videos and websites to learn a bit about how to use the Charting Companion software which I just bought to use to make charts that my RootsMagic won’t make.  Strictly speaking this isn’t genealogy education but technological education but I think it counts.

Two weeks ago I got an email that there was a comment to be approved on our blog.  When I read the comment I was thrilled and then, I have to admit, just a tiny bit suspicious (sorry, Linda!).  The writer said she had come across a copy of a deed showing William Denman buying land in upstate New York in 1795.  She wanted to know if this was my family by any chance.  You can see the comment and my response on the Contact Us page.  I was actually still on vacation and in Canada when I first read this and responded.

As soon as I got back home, I emailed my genealogical genie and we had several emails back and forth about what it was and how she came to have it.  She told me that she volunteers in a non-profit animal shelter that accepts donations which it then sells to help support the work at the shelter.  She had noticed the names on the document and thought she’d try to see if she could find out anything about them.  Her hope was that someone in the family would be interested in it.  She didn’t spell it out, but obviously found the blog and the Denman names I have written about before, so she left a note.

I was very eager to know more about what she had, and she offered to get a picture to email to me.  Her husband took several shots and they showed me that it was indeed a copy of the original William Denman deed.  It shows William and Ann Denman acquiring the 200 acres in New York where they built the homestead that was the place my Denman family first settled in this country.  I have written about this place before, here.

What I haven’t told about is the existence of this original deed.  My sister and I were lucky enough to see it in person when we visited the Denman family in Grahamsville New York two summers ago.  It belongs to our Denman cousins, and has hung on their office wall for a number of years.  The story we were told was that someone had discovered it in an envelope in a safe deposit box in California when its owner had died.  Apparently the executor thought it belonged back in New York and it was sent to the Denmans who still live in the Neversink area where the family first settled.  They framed it and hung it in their office.  I got one picture of our older cousin holding it, but we couldn’t get a copy of it made while we were there.  (I admit to being somewhat concerned that it needed to be re-framed with archival matting and protective glass, and hope that this has been done since then.)  Anyway, I didn’t get a real chance to read the document but I could see the signatures of William Denman and of Ann Denman who signed as a witness.

IMGP4527The good news is that Linda found me and offered me the copy, if I was willing to pay the postage and make a donation to her shelter.  I was glad to say yes.  She got it to a shipper and I found it waiting for me two days later when I returned home from a day out.  It is now hanging in my home office. The good news is also that this piece of family history survived the impact of hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.  The bad news is that it is stuck to the glass and has a lot of water damage.  However, it is still completely readable.  And the stamp on the back of the frame shows it was framed in Pasadena California.  I am hoping to hear from the company, which is still in business.

There is still the genealogical mystery of who made this copy, and when.  Also how did the person who donated it to the shelter come by it and where?  My genealogical genie is going to ask her a few specific questions which may help me figure out if her family is related to the Denmans and if she got the document in California or someplace else.

The first teaching job Laura was offered was in Homer, Licking county, Ohio.  The typed transcript I have of Laura’s memoir says it was Horner, but that was undoubtedly a misreading of her handwriting.  The very small community (an unincorporated community) she went to is named Homer (birthplace of Victoria Woodhull).  “Arrangements were made for this school to commence early in November and to continue for four months at the unheard rate of eighteen dollars per month.  My father had cautioned me not to set my price so high that they would not consent to such an exorbitant price.  I replied that my education had cost both time and money and must be rewarded by a suitable wage.”

Laura’s description of the train trip to her new teaching post described a little train that stopped at every little station and took a lot of time getting started again, so that the trip took much longer than she had anticipated.  In addition the rain came pouring down.  “Then occurred to me the prospect of arriving at my destination at a late hour of the night in a strange town with no one to guide or direct me to a hotel.  Oh horrors!  What should I do?  Not long, however, did I puzzle over the problem but just waited as patiently as possible while the train sped onward as the pace of ten miles an hour; and so at midnight she pulled into the little town of Utica.”

Homer and Utica OhioHere there was no depot, only a platform; the rain was still coming down.  There was no one to meet her since the train was so far behind time.  “I laid my case before the conductor who went out on the platform and brot in a man whom he told to show me to a hotel.”  Laura followed the man, who had her handbox, through dark streets to a house where there was some sort of gathering and the man asked another man there to show her to a hotel.  This man took her satchel and walked her through further dark alleys and streets to the main street of the town and finally to a building said to be a hotel.  Laura ended up in a large dormitory sort of room with a number of beds, and “laid down to await the coming of dawn which could not be far distant by this time.  And so, after shedding a few tears in  pity for myself in this sad plight, I quietly gave myself up to the embrace of Morpheus”

Her luck changed in the morning as she looked out on the street and recognized the store of the father of two college friends.  She went into the store, met the brother of her friends, and was speedily taken in by the family.  There she learned that the people who had been looking for her on the train had waited until midnight and then given up on the train arriving.  “In those days there was no telegraphic communication to tell when trains were due.”

All’s well that ends well, and Laura settled in to a school with about 40 pupils of all grades.  She noted that the people there in central Ohio were very different from those of New England descent who she was used to in northern Ohio.  Many were from Pennsylvania (as my mother also noted in Canton where she was raised).  Laura reported that they were mostly Presbyterians and that they observed the Sabbath from sundown Saturday night to sundown Sunday night.  This meant putting down all the usual work and going to church.  “Then at the close of the Sabbath service and the sun went down the knitting was resumed and other labors take up the same as any week day.”  During her time in Homer she was able to attend the State Teacher’s Association at Columbus which occurred around the holidays when the school was on vacation.  This refreshed and renewed her interest in her profession and she finished out this term with a last day of school demonstration for all the parents.

The next job to come her way was at a new college in Iberia Ohio, which she said was in the southeastern part of the state but was actually in central Ohio in Morrow county.  Iberia College had only been in existence one year; a young minister named Bigham was in charge along with a young woman teacher, Miss Butler.  At the end of that first year the school needed a new instructor since apparently Miss Butler had in mind a different type of school than the founders.  Laura didn’t write much about her teaching experiences here, but reported about the president pro tem, and the churches in the town.  She also told a story about a young lady who suffered the unexpected loss of her fiance to another woman.  Her disappointment and grief were so severe that they “brought her to an early grave”.

As a Denman cousin noted to me in an email, Laura didn’t include much detail in her memoir about her family of origin, usually only mentioning siblings as brother or sister but not by name.  This lack of detail extended to her meeting Joseph W. Booth and their courtship. At the end of her memoir about her childhood days, Laura wrote two short paragraphs about the end of her teaching days and their marriage.   “In the fall of 1854, I took my leave of Iberia College and returned to my northern home, there to prepare for my marriage to Joseph W. Booth of Columbus, which was to take place in the early days of November.  Busy, happy days were these, tho tinged with sorrow at thot of leaving the happy home nest.”

Family lore tells us that J.W. fell in love with Laura through the letters she wrote for her sister to her sister’s husband, Dr. Parker.  J.W. and his brother Henry had both gone West in about 1850-51 with Dr. Parker and others from Ohio.  J.W. and Dr. Parker worked the placer mines for several years and it was probably during this time that J.W. would have had the opportunity to hear Laura’s letters to her brother-in-law.

“The 7th of November, 1854, soon rolled round and we were united in marriage by Prof. Munrow of Oberlin College in the presence of about forty relatives and friends.  Our honey-moon was enjoyed in fitting up our cozy little home in Columbus, where we spent one year of happiness before entering upon our pioneer life—the following chapters of which will give the reader some idea of the trials and hardships we encountered as we made our way toward the setting sun.”

 

Having been freed from taking care of her sister and young nephew, Laura was ready for other employment.  She was fairly quickly able to find a job teaching, first the summer term at a school district in one near-by place and then the winter school of another near-by district.  She was pleased to do the winter school.  “.. entered upon its duties with more enthusiasm as the more advanced classes were in attendance upon the winter schools and teaching the higher branches was more suited to my taste.”  Laura’s goal was to teach this year to replenish her purse, and then to go back to Oberlin for another year in College.

Laura described the changes she found at the college having been away for two years.  “…some of my acquaintances for former years having graduated and gone out into the theAView_of_the_ladies_boarding_hall_at_Oberlin_College,_by_Platt_Photograph_Co. world to take up their life work while others, in the last year of their course, would soon depart, some as missionaries, others as teachers, and all with some definite idea in view of being useful citizens.”  Laura boarded in the Ladies’ Boarding Hall for this year.

Likewise she found “many changes have taken place in the boarding hall during the past two years.  Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild who had charge fore several years had been excused from further labors in that line on account of advanced age and their places filled by Mr. and Mrs. Wright; while the baker who make the bread and pies for the boarders, including the ladies who roomed in the hall and the young men who roomed in the dormitories and came there for their meals, had left and his place was filled by a young man from New York City by the name of J. Dolson Cox.”  Laura went on to describe the career of this young man, who married the College president’s daughter, studied law, went into the army in the Civil War and became a prominent general.  He then had a long career in government, serving as a Governor of Ohio, and Secretary of the Interior among other positions.  Laura concludes: “This incident is related to show that a young man of high ideals and ambitions may attain the height of his ambition altho hampered by want of means to carry out his educational desires.”    Her third year at college ended, Laura went home and spent her winter vacation nursing family members who were down with typhoid fever.  She was more than ready to return to college in the spring, concluding that nursing would not be her choice for her life work.

She boarded this last year at the home of Mr. Wyatt, rooming with his “lovely daughter Ann”.  This young lady was described as “one whose virtue might well be imitated and woven into the character of any young person.  Being slightly deaf she declined the marriage relation and in later life accompanied her niece and husband to China.  They were missionaries and were there just before the Boxer troubles.  She returned to Ohio where her last days were spent.”  The specific names and details of this young woman’s life made me curious.  I did a bit of research and discovered that the Wyatts were from England, having migrated to Ohio fairly recently when Laura boarded with them.  Anna Wyatt was a teacher for a number of years before going to China, showing up in the 1880 federal census as a dancing teacher, living in a household with a younger couple who may have been the niece and her husband.  The Boxer “troubles” were a rebellion against foreign influences which began about 1899 so Miss Wyatt  and her niece and husband probably returned home to Ohio shortly thereafter.  I found her death in 1902 indexed on familysearch.org, and sure enough she was listed as a missionary.  I have not yet found her entry (or the niece and husband) back into the United States and she doesn’t seem to be enumerated in the 1900 federal census.

Oberlin 1853 SeniorsBut I have digressed.  Laura went on describing her last year as a student:   “…wishing to make the most of my time, I took up as many studies as I felt able to carry thru. …The usual routine of study, recitation, chapel exercises, and so forth occupied the time of this year until near its close the task of writing the commencement essay loomed heavily over the horizon.  The idea of reading an essay before the thousands of people who congregate in the the great Tabernacle Church at Oberlin on commencement day was terrifying in the extreme, but it must be done!”  Laura described struggling to come up with a topic for her essay and then struggling to write an acceptable product.  Her advisor/mentor, Dr. Monrow*, was a strict taskmaster by her description but she finally met with success in producing an essay.  I wish she had noted the subject of her essay but she did not.

“Soon the eventful commencement day rolled round and the class of 1853, consisting of ten members†,Graduates_Ladies_Course_1853_3 was called upon to read those essays, so laboriously prepared, before the assembled multitude who had gathered to listen to the efforts of this class.” …”One of our number being an ardent women’s rights person (as the suffragists were called at that time) requested the privilege of delivering her essay in oratorical style, but was denied the privilege as being an infraction of the rules of the college.  So she quietly yielded, but on commencement day, but lo! when called upon to read, she rose and with paper in hand delivered an oration (occasionally glancing at the paper) which for originality and depth of thot had not been equalled by any of the masculine orators for years.  Coeducation, it must be remembered, was in its infancy and it took time to work out the new ideals pertaining to such a change.”

And with that, and commencement days over, Laura returned once more to her home “there to await a call to teach.”.

**********

*Note that Laura spelled his name Monrow but the listing in the Oberlin Annual Catalogue 1820-1862 spelled it Monroe.

† Note that Laura said there were 10 students who graduated, and the composite picture, kindly provided by the Oberlin Archives, shows 10 young ladies along with Dr. Finney the College president and Mrs. Dascomb, the Principal of the Female Department.  However, the listing of the 4th year students in the Oberlin Annual Catalogue 1850-1862 for 1852-1853 shows 9 young women.  A mystery to be solved in the future, I hope.

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