Research
* Write to Christ Church to see if there are records there of Lucy and Thomas O’Shaughnessy’s marriage.
* Write to Ditchling church about possible archives and records for Denman family.

Organization
* Still trying to get that last inbox cleared – somehow there is always something more urgent (read: interesting) to do. Determined to do this over the holiday season.
* Back up the blog! Plug-ins found to automate this task don’t meet my needs.

Education
* Read book from the library about solving problems in family search.
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. [I watched Marian Pierre-Louis's webinar about intermediate solutions for brick walls. Excellent and I took away several suggestions along with the book noted above. I also watched the webinar at RootsMagic about creating a source for the 1940 census. Now I just need to do it.]
* Find a new webinar site that archives and/or puts up free webinars [No luck so far, but I haven't really looked very hard.]

As I said to my walking buddy this morning: I wish I had known about this line of nonconformists in my college days. I was a child of the 60s. I would have loved it. And yes, I do make her listen to some of my genealogical trials and tribulations even though she isn’t one of us. I do try not to bore her too much or too often.

In trying to verify the marriage date and place of my 4g-grandparents, William Denman and Ann Boorman, I have discovered (re-discovered in Ann’s case) that they came from Nonconformist, or General Baptist families. They were not Church of England. In fact, Ditchling, where William was reportedly born is said to have been an important center for Baptists in the wider area in the 18th and 19th centuries.1

I say re-discovered in Ann’s case because I had been told that by a correspondent from Staplehurst, Kent, England several years ago. This woman had told me that: “The Boorman family were nonconformist, therefore children were not generally baptised, only (sometimes) appearing in parish registers as “born”. Weddings were often by licence so that they could avoid having banns called for 3 weeks before a wedding and were often not held where you might expect to find records of them.”2

So what information about William and Ann’s marriage do we have? The most prevalent is that they were married 24 Jun 1790 in Headcorn. This appears in a family group sheet in the Family History Library and in any number of family trees online. I have a copy of that family group sheet. It records that the information on this family record was obtained from F.A. Denman of Wakeman, Ohio, great grandson of the Wm. Denman who heads this family. F.A. Denman was my great-grandfather. This information is also now available on the website familysearch.org in several places.

As I wrote a few weeks ago (this post), I had always accepted this date and place as fact until I started trying to document events for myself. While my correspondent from Staplehurst had the same information, she didn’t have a source for it. When I contacted the Headcorn parish council the information I got back gave a different date but confirmed the place and provided some additional information, including that it was by licence and the names of two witnesses as well as a number (which I assume to be a registration number of some sort).

My online research and that of one of my Boorman researcher/relatives tells me that “From 1754 up to 1837 all marriages (with the exception of Quakers and Jews) had to take place in the parish church. Marriages of nonconformists during this period will normally have no indication of their nonconformity, though a marriage by licence could be an indicator of nonconformity.”3  Further this licence, likely a general one and not a special one issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, required an allegation4 be filed that the two desiring to marry were of age and had no known impediments to the marriage. A bond was also required that stipulated an amount of money which would be paid if it turned out that the marriage was against Canon Law.

A search on Ancestry shows two sources of extracted parish records which list William Denman of Hythe, bachelor, and Ann Boorman of Headcorn, minor, father William Boorman, 23 Jun 1790 at Headcorn. Since these are extracted records of Canterbury licences I suspect that this is the licence (meaning there should also be an allegation and a bond somewhere in the parish). Also if the licence was issued 23 Jun then the marriage could well have taken place on 24 Jun, the next day. This image of a page obtained from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City shows that marriage recorded in a copy of the Register of the parish of Headcorn from Lady Day 1790 to Lady Day 1791.
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  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ditchling
  2. correspondence with Anita Thompson, 25 Sep 2009
  3. www.sog.org.uk/leaflets /nonconformists.pdf
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegation

My four greats grandmother was Ann Boorman Denman. She was born in Staplehurst, Kent, England on 9 Aug 17721. She married my 4 great grandfather, William Denman, on 24 Jun2 or 24 Dec 1790, in Headcorn, Kent, England.

The date of their marriage is one of the questions I have about this couple. The date on the previously-cited family group sheet says 24 Jun. As I started to try to find documentation for the “facts” I had collected for the Denman-Boorman family, I contacted the parish council for Headcorn. The family group sheet said that was where and when William Denman and Ann Boorman had married and I wanted verification. What I hoped for was a copy of a register page showing their marriage. This was about 3-4 years ago, and at that time I couldn’t find anything in the usual places online (like the Ancestry or familysearch sites) that showed a source. My contact with the parish netted me the following statement: “Regarding your enquiry, Brian Ledger (our Server in Headcorn Church) has given me the following information from the Marriage Register to pass onto you. No.1099 24th December 1790. Denman, William bachelor of Hythe married Boorman, Ann spinster of Headcorn Witnesses – Benjamin Martin and William Ashdown.” Just recently I asked the question of an English Boorman cousin and he looked on a Kent Family History Society CD of records3 to tell me that he “can confirm that the information you were given by Brian Ledger is all correct apart from the date which is 24 Jun 1790 as we thought. The only other item missing from Brian is that the wedding was by licence rather than banns.” That would seem to settle that.

After they were married the young Denmans lived in Hythe, where their first three (at least) children were born. Hythe is a small coastal market town, and I have no information about what William worked at there although there is a lot of farm land and he may have farmed. As the map above shows, Headcorn (where Ann was living) and Hythe (where William had lived before their marriage) and Staplehurst (where Ann was born) are not very far apart (a maximum of about 33 miles).

In 1795 William and Ann and their three children sailed for the U.S. and arrived in New York City. The family story is that William left Ann and the children in New York and continued up the Hudson River to look at the 200 acres he had bought in Neversink sight unseen. While he was away, their daughter Elizabeth died in August. Ann and the two boys went north to join William. I have written in the past about climbing Denman Mountain and seeing the remains of the homestead that William and Ann built in that wilderness. I saw with my own eyes how difficult it must have been to hack a path and haul possessions to the top (and I was walking through new growth not the Forest Primeval).

The first several years the family lived in a lean-to with a natural rock chimney, as William and Ann cleared and planted and built a cabin. In a letter from Esther Boorman (wife of John Boorman and unknown relation to Ann) to Ann Billinghurst in December 17974 there was a description of the Denman family’s conditions.

At the time this letter was written, the third child was son Edward who was born in August 1797 so only an infant.

The family did persevere and thrive over time. The land was cleared and crops planted and first a cabin and then a house built. Ann and William went on to have a total of 11 children, 10 of whom survived to adulthood. My g-g-g-grandfather, John Denman, was their oldest son. Ann died in January of 1842. I have no picture of her: she died before photography was commonly used for portraits. I do have this picture of the family house taken much later (although I don’t know the date it was taken).
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  1. Taken from an LDS family group sheet – the information from F.A. Denman with Arline Booth Redford being the family representative. I believe that F.A.’s source was a family bible.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Vol 6 – CD 19
  4. transcript of letter in “Township of Neversink 1798-1998″ compiled and written by Loretta Ackerley, Town Clerk, for the bicentennial celebration of Neversink.

I was happily listening to a Genealogy Guys podcast as I drove to work the other day, and my attention was particularly caught by an email they read and discussed briefly toward the end. The email was from a guy who had emailed them before about how to get copies of some family information he had discovered was in a library. He was living too far away to make going to the library feasible and was stuck. George and Drew (who are big library supporters) had suggested that their correspondent contact the librarian and ask some questions about exactly what the library held and how to get copies. The current email reported a big success. This reminded me that I have myself found valuable family information in libraries (that I would not have thought to look in), and the combination led me to decide to post today about some of the places I have learned to explore for aspects of family history that are not the traditional places.

First, I learned from my professional office partner years ago that emailing or calling people who might have information you want often works very well. Now, maybe you don’t need to be told this. Maybe it is really easy for you to pick up the phone and call someone to ask for help/a favor/information that is their area of expertise. This is something that is very difficult for me to do, and so wasn’t something I automatically thought of when I had a question. The widespread use of email has helped, although I have also learned to make those phone calls if I really want something.

So where have I found family history information or documents? My list includes: College/university archives and Special Collections; the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center library; eBay alerts; various Town Halls.

One of the first places I discovered was various college and university archives as I began to track down the education of different family members. I was trying to trace my mother-in-law’s education and she wasn’t alive to ask.

U.B. 1930

So I started emailing the three universities she had reportedly graduated from. In my experience, the school’s archivist (or someone in that office) is almost always willing to direct you to the right person to get student transcripts from (assuming that the archives doesn’t hold them, which they sometimes do). You can also get copies of schedules for the time period (when classes started, when breaks were, when graduations happened, etc). Sometimes you strike it rich and there are yearbooks or class pictures which you can get copies from. I got a first year of law school picture for my father-in-law that way. I now also have a copy of my Grandpa Lyle’s transcript from his one year of college in Ohio. (I’m still searching for my mother-in-law’s education beyond her college graduation. She attended a Master’s program at the University of Chicago for parts of two years but left without graduating.)

At college or university websites it also can pay off to explore the Special Collections catalog. I found a whole collection for the Sweet family that included an ancestral tree and

Sweet ancestral tablet page

a number of photographs of my family members. I have to admit that I didn’t find this one by browsing their catalog, but was pointed at it by someone else referring to it – I think in an online family tree. I also found a collection that has pictures of the family of Judy’s favorite, the Davies mansion, in the Yale library collections. Judy and I plan to go together to see this collection one of these days. Finding aids for the collections, when they are available, tell you more clearly what is in a collection (as my sister-in-law the librarian and archivist would tell you).

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center deserves special mention for several resources it has online. Also for the wonderful responsiveness of its librarians/reference workers. The obituary collection it maintains is now also available on Ancestry.com, but I prefer to go to the original site (the horse’s mouth as it were). If you want to order a copy of anything you find, you have to go to the site to order it anyway. While the strength of the resource is finding Ohio people, there are sometimes people from other places included. For example, my grandfather-in-law was found there because his death was an accident involving a car and a train and it was reported in the local newspaper in the Indiana county just across the state line from Ohio. Also sometimes people who either themselves were from Ohio but didn’t die there or whose parents were get included. Besides obituaries there are other papers and references to biographical sketches etc. in the same database which is searchable by last name. I got information about several of my Snow and Denman line, as well as Shelton just recently. And I scored early by finding a whole folder of letters written by a cousin who was doing genealogy in the days when you had to write letters. She corresponded with one of the Hayes librarians and told him about what she was trying to find for several different family lines.

EBay alerts is something I actually have written about before, at least in passing. That was how I found the collection of Shelton pictures that I acquired. I first learned about doing this from Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcasts, and I try to keep several active. You do a search for something on eBay, like the place your relatives came from for example and then save it with instructions to email you when there is anything new. You have to sign up for an eBay account, which is free, in order to save your searches. Right now, I have 3 active searches, for Wakeman Ohio, Clermont county Ohio, Ohio Military Institute. I get hits for Wakeman fairly often, and little for the other two. I’m still hoping for a year book for my father’s senior year at the Ohio Military Institute.

Last, but not least: whenever you have to be in a Town Hall for genealogy information ask about local books or booklets. I bought a booklet done for the bicentennial of Neversink Township years ago, and it has all sorts of bonuses for me. Including an image (unfortunately not very clear at all) of the original deed to William Denman for the land he settled the family on originally. Also a transcript of a letter about those original Denmans, which described their living circumstances as seen by a visitor in 1797 when they were still living in a log lean-to. In another case I learned of a book about the town (Ashford Connecticut) that I was able to purchase. It has a history of the town from its beginnings, various pictures and lists of various groups (like early selectmen, etc.). This one not only includes a couple of my relatives, but also helps me see the context of their lives in that place and time.

Research
* Enter the Scheier sources received from the FHL in the database and look at that family line for next steps.
* Enter the Pintel, Schenk, Thompson sources received from FHL, also information from MC about Pintel 2nd marriage and children.
* Use notes from Ohio trip to develop research plan for next steps – Boothby and Salt lines.

Organization
* The very next step is to empty the last inbox on my desk (the physical one not on my computer) and sort out all the pieces there. Some I have already put into sheet protectors or photo protectors, but they still need to be used to source or add to my family database and then to be put in a binder or hanging file.
* When that is done, empty the canvas bag hanging on the closet door and do the same with everything in it. The materials are all Denman family-related already, I know.
* Pictures from the Ohio trip are downloaded to computer, but the metadata needs to be created and the files named. Files put in the family directory they belong in.

Education
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. [In June I watched/listened to another Legacy Family Tree webinar done by Thomas MacEntee about finding your New York ancestors. This webinar was done live in April and I just caught it at the end of the free period. I am registered to watch one in July about finding your English ancestors and looking forward to help with this - it is one of my oldest brick walls.]

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