As Laura described herself: “At home it was my one delight to get hold of a book or paper, both of which were limited in our family library.  … A bachelor uncle lived in our family and took great interest in the education of the children and he had noticed my eagerness for books and said to my father one day ‘John, you ought to get some books for Laura to read.  Don’t you see how she likes to read?’ [And her father replied] ‘Why, Thomas, there is “The Book of Martyrs” and “Josephus”.  She has never read them.  If she likes to read there is plenty of good reading in the Bible.’  The books at home slowly grew little by little and added fuel to Laura’s desire for learning.

Then, a new college was located a few miles distant from the Denman place and the “financial agents invaded the neighborhood in quest of signers for scholarships” which John Denman was persuaded to do.  This was the Oberlin Collegiate Institute which actually opened in late 1833, with 29 men and 15 women beginning classes.  These early students were expected to help build the institution with their own labor.  Despite this, the Institute was in financial straits and fund-raising went on as Laura described.

The scholarship arrangement meant that John Denman could send his older children for further education.  In 1907 Oberlin College made a concerted effort to locate all alumni so that accurate and compete inforDenman, Laura - Oberlin listingmation about them could be published in the about-to-be issued General Catalogue and Alumni Registry of Oberlin College 1833-1908.  In that publication there were 23 Denmans listed; 11 of them were John and Marinda Denman’s children (all but the two oldest sons, Edward and William, and son Charles who had died at age ten).

As Laura wrote: “My eldest sister was the first to receive the benefit of this arrangement and after spending one year there she gave place to the next sister who, after spending one year in the college, decided to go another year.  Then she with myself entered the college the next year.”  Laura’s ambitions were being gratified.  Laura and her sister “entered upon this year of study with great zest hoping to be able to complete the course and fit ourselves for the work of teaching school, which in those days, aside from housework, was the only occupation open to women.  But, alas! after five months of study we were both stricken down with typhoid fever and sent home to be cared for by our family.”  “This new school was of necessity very primitive in all its appointments.  The buildings were of the cheapest material, the furnishings limited to the merest necessities and the board supplied nutrition, tho severely plain in all its details…”

In those early days of the college, the vacations were the three winter months, as Laura explained: “This was planned in the interest of the students who spent their vacations in teaching in neighborhoods of the surrounding country.  Many young men who thus spent their vacations returned in the spring to resume their studies full of enthusiasm and well supplied with incidents of their experiences in their various locations.”  The students also brought back amusing stories from their boarding around with the various families of the pupils they taught.  Laura herself wrote of the differing treatment she got in boarding around, from bad and minimal food to “hospitality itself, nothing was too good and no effort too great that would add to the comfort and happiness to the weary one returning from the arduous duties of the schoolroom.”

Her older “sister having decided to enter the school of matrimony” Laura completed another year but then decided to leave school for a year or two and spend the time teaching.   “Teachers, be it known, were not as numerous in those days as at the present writing and yet the salaries of teachers were not commensurate with the demands, six dollars a month being considered the limit, and even then, such unheard of extravagance being admissible only upon the recommendation of one of the school board”.  Laura ended up taking a school for the winter that had been engaged for another who had become so discouraged that she gave it up after a few weeks.  Although with misgivings, Laura took the school on and soon found the source of the trouble.

“On entering the school room the first day, I was surrounded by an eager group of youngsters each anxious to inform me of the faults and failings of others, and all insisting it would be my imperative duty to whip Almeron McKinney, Miss Linton did, he wouldn’t mind her and she had to whip him.  And there, sitting quietly in his sear, this bad boy listened to the reports of his school mates, undoubtedly sizing up the new school teacher and deciding what course to pursue.”  Laura described that his boy was abused and neglected at home by a mother who idolized her daughter, and the last teacher “resorted to the rod to enforce her rules.”  She decided to try an entirely opposite course of action: to try to interest him in his studies, encouraging him to do his best.  “To the surprise of the whole school Almeron became  a faithful student and even surpassed some of the brighter ones in the final examinations.”  Laura’s conclusion to this story was that in future years she heard of this boy as having become an energetic and useful citizen in the town where he resided, and she from that time forward “always had a warm place in my heart for boys, and even boys whose early lives are so unpromising it seems useless to attempt the making of true men and desirable citizens of them.  The possibilities wrapped up in these youths are very great and only require right leading and right influences to cause them to develop into true genuine manhood.”

Laura was clearly very happy to head home to the farm at the end of that school year in the spring of 1850.  She described her pleasures in all the delights that awaited her: maple trees tapped for sugar making; early vegetables and flower beds being prepared; the orchard trees already budded and full of promise.  After spending a few months at home, Laura was the sister who was available to travel to southwestern Ohio where her sister Ann had a new son, was in ill-health, and her husband had gone to the gold mines of California.  It was during this time that Laura’s letter writing created a very favorable impression on the man she later married.  And that will introduce the next chapter of this memoir.

Research

My gorgeous magnolia and Cornell pink azalea

My gorgeous magnolia and Cornell pink azalea – Happy May!

* Figure out how to request information about possible records from St. Xavier in Cincinnati.
* Continue to work on updating the Denman database with information already collected and/or noted by cousin Claudia in her review. I already discovered a connection I hadn’t been aware of! A good example of fresh eyes being helpful.
* Start work on Boorman database I just started.

Organization
* The inboxes on my desktop are cleared! Three cheers!! Continuing the work listed above on the Denmans is also organizing files on my hard drive (and helping me establish a standard file naming process).
* Back up the blog! Plug-ins found so far to automate this task don’t meet my needs However I just saw a review of another one, that looked worth investigating. There is always hope – in the meantime I must remember to do it by hand.

Education
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. [Watched the Legacy Family Tree webinar by Judy G. Russell on "That First Trip to the Courthouse" which was very useful. Like many of us, I suspect, I feel tentative about researching in a Courthouse. I hope what Judy said will help me figure out what I might get from a Courthouse (and nowhere else) and then plan a trip.]

Judy and I continue on our holiday hiatus, but I decided to create and post my monthly to-do list anyway. I’m hoping it will help me get *something* done this month on my genealogy. Happy holidays to all!!

Research
* Write to Christ Church in Cincinnati 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.
* Set up Salts database and add what I’m learning about the Tennessee Salts.

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. [I actually made a start the end of November and may have a brief post about this process at some point. I learned (finally put together) some things about how to do this process.]
* Back up the blog! Plug-ins found to automate this task don’t meet my needs.

Education
* Watch one online video or webinar about genealogy. [I watched Mary Hill's webinar on the Big 4 U.S. Record Sources which was very interesting. She did a case study to illustrate the uses of each kind of record and talked us through the analysis of the evidence.]
* Still looking for more sources of webinars – preferably free.

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

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