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Marginal annotations are, as we saw in my last post, a precious element of French deeds. Although they are useful in descending genealogy, they may contain traps that must be skipped.
All our ancestors did not die at age 50, and we may find exceptionally marginal mentions of death, on births dating from the 1850s 1860s.
As with every record, it is important to remain cautious regarding marginal mentions. They may be subject to processing errors by the registrar :
Town hall of the place of death who forgets to send a notice to the town hall of the place of birth
Employee forgetting to include the marginal mention on the record
Employee including the marginal mention on the previous or subsequent act
Though, the absence of mention of marriage does not necessarily mean that your ancestor remained unmarried. The same applies to the absence of a statement of death. Your ancestor may have died in another city, without papers to identify him.
Marginal mentions are important for tracking and locating an individual, or a family.
Thus, the marginal mention on Françoise Bouzignac birth certificate, as we saw it last month, The marginal mention gives us the dates of her marriages, as well as the names of her spouses. Those deeds will give us more information regarding her parents (where they alive in 1912, and 1924 ? if not, we may have the dates and places of death), did she had any children from her first marriage ? …
The mention of the death may lead us to a new city. In the case of Marthe Lalanne, as we discover she got married in another city, and died in that same place, we will then search her children in this town, or go through the censuses, to piece together the family.
Annotation of death _ Archives de Toulouse _ Naissances (1891-1910) _ 1E575
As well, the mentions on Marie Roques birth certificate, we will search for her death certificate under the name of Mandou, and not Roques.
ROQUES Marie Madeleine legitimization _ Archives de Toulouse – Naissances (1846-1856) – 1E364
Marginal mentions are as many as indications that will allow you to follow your ancestors in the French civil registrar. But do not forget, it is only an indication. You will have to verify by yourself, in finding the deed, or you may follow a wrong lead !
Most requests that reach me are dealing with the search for ancestors in the pre-civil record era but some are dealing with finding relatives during the time period the German Empire was existing or for finding relatives today.
In this case civil records are great. But even if your ancestors left during the late 19th century or during the whole 20th century civil records are great sources. They often are a very good starting point from where one easily can go back or forward in time because civil records show where one was born, can provide you with names, dates and places of your relatives. And for the 20th century they are essential because here every person is included while due to deconfessionalization (especially in the GDR) church books became less important for research. But from which point in history on can we find civil records for Germany? When administrational orders did give impulses on what should be written down and what not? And with what kind of information can we count then?
When do civil records start in Germany?
Have you ever thought that the German civil records started with the French Periode (1794-1815)? When I started way back then to dive deeper into the history of civil administration in Germany I was quite astonished about this fact but shouldn’t have been. The mind of the Enlightenment changed borders and societies and lead in the end to the modern form of democracy. But what does it have to do with the civil records?
After the French Revolution the French National Convention and later a council of four lawyers Napoleon chose worked on a legal system that should replace the feudal laws of old (that were often contradictory) and even more important, to establish a law that was binding for all French people (before in the north of France common law was custom and in the south the courts were still operating by the roman law). The body of laws was called Code civil des Français or just Code Napoléon. State laws like the Code civil existed before Napoleon in the German speaking lands for example in the Habsburgian empire since the 1780th and in Prussia since 1794. But the new attempt of dividing between state and church came with the new French law to many countries in Europe and influenced law and state building in the Modern Age. It relocated the responsibility of gathering and counting the population from the church to the state. In the German and French absolutistic monarchies and principalities the census of population happened mainly via second copies of church records that the local priest or pastor had to give to the court once per year.
In 1803 after a lot of won battles against his continental opponents Napoléon was able to dictate Emperor Joseph II. of house Habsburg the end of the Holy Roman Empire. With the ‘˜Reichshauptdeputationsschluss’ (the German mediatization) came the secularization of all the still existing ecclesiastical principalities Â and the founding of new French satellite states on German ground.
As earliest the lands left of the river Rhine came under French jurisdiction (in 1798) by 1815 when Napoléon’s rule ended, the Code Civil had been in in place in large parts of western and northern Germany (the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Rhineland, the Grand duchy of Baden, the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (also called Electorate of Hanover), the Duchy of Hesse, the Duchy of Nassau, the Duchy of Frankfurt, free cities like Luebeck), parts of nowadays Poland (the Duchy of Warsaw), Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal and in Switzerland (in the canton of Geneva the Code Civil was valid until 1912). In Germany the old law of the monarchies was restored after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 but in some parts like in the Grand duchy of Baden and the lands all along the river Rhine the Code Civil was lasting until the German countries were united in 1871 and the ‘Gesetz über die Beurkundung des Personenstandes und die Eheschließung’ (law on the marital status and marriage) became law in 1876.
Why is this historical development important for us Genealogists? Mainly because with the Code Civil a) the keeping of civil records were installed and b) in cases that we don’t have a church record tradition it is important to know that they are there. While the vast majority of records were only lead between 1808 or 1810 to 1815 we have areas where the civil records start in 1804 and were lead until December 1875. If you keep in mind that a standardized tradition for all of imperial Germany started only in 1876 having these early documents of civil administration is worth a lot. Like in the church records in this early civil records the place of birth, the date of birth, the parents, the profession the last address and maybe even children can be found. There were also registers for Jews and the so called dissidents by which other confessions were meant. Together with the police or register office documents (if they are there) you can trace the live your ancestors lived.
Administrational changes in the Civil Records
As I mentioned before with the founding of the German Empire in 1871 there came a standardized leading of civil registers for all Germany in 1876 (The first marital law). In some parts of Germany civil registers were installed earlier like for example in Baden (1870) and in Prussia (1874). The main change was that for leading the civil registers register offices were installed which worked below the mayor of a city. Once per year they had to give copies to the district administration. Registers were lead for birth, marriage and death. While the register books kept only the official document every register office collected also files for the act of a birth, marriage and death. They are precious documentations in which we can find additional information. While with a birth we can find additional papers and notes for an illegitimate child like an adoption, the marriage files can be very satisfying in regard of finding a first marriage or the legitimation of a child. In death files we can find the cause of death for example. In the civil records before the Weimar Republic we can find information on the full name of a person, the place and time of birth, the parents of a person, children in side notes, whether a marriage was for the first or a second time, the witnesses of a birth, marriage or death and the confession of a person. The latter was canceled during the Weimar Republic and came back to the civil tradition with the ‘Personenstandsgesetzt vom 03.11.1937’ (marital status law of November the 3rd in 1937) of the Third Reich in July 1938.
The marital status law of 1937 was meant to have greater control over the citizens of the German Reich and to make the deadly distinction between Arians and non-Arians, healthy and not healthy persons that lead to death of millions of Jews and other as dangerous for system marked persons. For Genealogists – as cynic as it might sound- the new law turned the civil records into little gold mines when it comes to finding out more about relatives and their history. The changes were made especially in the marriage records. Were the marriage records before were only lead for the couple that married the Nazis changed the ‘marriage record’ to a ‘family book’ with the purpose to show how in a racial and genealogic manner parents, children and the spouse could be set. The documents of this time are very explicit, having four pages with sections for the parents, their last living place, names, dates and for the children with also names and dates and a second part in which physical and mental characteristics and other notes were written down.
After World War II. both German states, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic kept the Second Marital Law of 1937 with the exception of the contested racial passages until 1956 (in the GDR) and 1957 (in the FRG).
While in the Second Marital Law of 1937 the family book was kept in the town a couple married that changed in the FRG in 1957 when family books were lead where a couple moved to. Since 2009 the practice changed again with a large influence on the genealogist’s research.
Civil records in Germany were only to be seen of a direct relative since they were established in 1876. That meant that one had only the right to search in a direct line back in the history of one’s family. You were not allowed and had no right to search for your grandfather’s siblings for example. With the marital law of 2009 civil records for birth that are older than 110 years, for marriages that are older than 80 years and death that are older than 30 years are given to the public by changing the responsibility from the register offices to the local and state archives. Everybody who is searching outside the protection period can look the records up at the responsible archive. For the documents that are still within the protection period the limitation of the direct family lineage is active.
I hope I could show you some of the aspects out of the history and practice of how German civil records were lead and what you can find in the documents. There are a lot of topics I couldn’t touch. Maybe you were asking what became of the civil records that were lead in the former German eastern land. I will tell you more in my next article were I will be talking about this topic.
Genealogy research is not for the faint of heart. It is important to remember to be patient. It is better to go slow and steady rather than rush through your research. Nothing is worse than making an error early on and climbing the wrong family tree. It is better to pass on a well-documented family history than a legend, half-sourced and half-imagined.
Go Wide Before You Go Deep!
In the black community, extended family, adopted family, and “play cousins” were important members of the family despite their variety of connections. The best way to bust through a brick wall is often to go around it. Instead of researching your direct ancestors, research their siblings, cousins, neighbors, and friends. Our ancestors lived, worked, and worshipped in communities. Their communities were unlike the semi-isolation we have designed for ourselves in modern society. There were no long commutes, or attending a church several counties over. This makes research a little easier. It means someone who lived near your ancestors could provide clues to their contribution to society via their lives. So, as you are browsing records, take special note of who lived close, who signed for their birth and death certificates and who married their children.
8. Follow the Money
Researching African-American history is complicated. This is particularly true when researching enslaved ancestors during the Antebellum Era. If you are trying to find your enslaved ancestors, you often have to work double time. First, research your kin. Next, research the white families in the community to identify who held property. This work is hard-emotionally and otherwise. Yet, it is the only true way to find enslaved people who were considered property.
Surprise! You May Have More European Ancestry Than You Think
According to a recent genome study, the average European ancestry carried by self-identified African-Americans is roughly 25%! It is important to note that definitions of race has changed with time. Often racial classifications were made by third-party’s observation and based on phenotype. If a person appeared to have any visible European ancestry, they were documented as mulatto.
This does not mean the person had one white parent and one black parent. Rather, they simply appeared to have mixed ancestry based on their physical features. This means that even if you do not have any white ancestors for several generations, it is not uncommon to have several generations of mulattoes climbing up in your family tree.
Keep in mind, Native Americans and other ethnicities which did not fit into the black-white binary of American race classification could also be classified as mulatto. Race was and is highly subjective. Interestingly, some people of color consciously passed for white to take advantage of opportunities available to white Americans. This might explain how the same genetic study reveals that self-identifying whites in the South may carry African DNA.
Take a DNA test!
Speaking of DNA…Take a test. Any test from one of the major companies is better than no genetic genealogy research.
Disclaimer: DNA testing is not a substitute for validated oral history and thorough paper history research. However, it can provide hints, confirm the right direction, and even connect you with living cousin matches!
Enough about my sales pitch. And, no I am not sponsored by any DNA company. I know that it has personally helped me solve family mysteries and confirm family legends. I even have more cool people to call family.
What Genealogy Research Means to Me
As a person of African-descent, I grew up not knowing where the majority of my ancestors originated. Claiming the second largest continent was not enough. I so wanted to be able to claim an African nation. Before I began my genealogy research, I could only identify Louisiana as the birthplace of my people.
Today, my confidence has risen. I am now able to confidently claim that my ancestors came from 5 major regions: Senegambia, Kongo-Angola, France, Germany and Indigenous America. I may not know the names of my African ancestors who were taken captive, nor do I know their individual stories. But, there is a bridge which connects me to my ancestral homelands and to my modern-day kin.
Learning your family history is more than names, dates and places on a piece of paper. It is the discovery of self, knowing you have a place in this world and remembering the joys and pains of those who came before you.
The biggest misconception regarding African-American genealogy is the fear that Black people are invisible in America’s written historical records. Some people I speak with believe finding one’s African-American family history is impossible. I must admit, there are more challenges, but it is not impossible. Begin your research just as you would for other ethnicities:
Relax, and start with what you know.
Then, research in reverse chronological order.
Think Twice about Surname Origins
Surname origins are complex in black communities. There is a false assumption that all (or most) African-Americans carry the surnames of their previous captors. In my experience, this is not often the case. While some people did carry the surnames of former “owners”, others choose their own surnames or (as was the custom in my community) selected a parent’s given name as their surname.
In the area in which my family originates, there are surnames from parental given names like Jean, Jacques, Pierre, William, and Thomas. Others surnames are descriptions like Brown, or Butler, or they reference an African origin like Kongo. Keep in mind, all African-American communities were not always patriarchal. In some instances, the surname was more likely to come from the maternal line.
Also, do not assume that just because your family’s surname is European that the name is a slave name. There may be a familial relationship. Of my sixteen great-great grandparents, four carry European surnames because they are actual relatives of the white families.
Take your time and examine the multitude of ways black surnames were created and passed on from one generation to the next.
Talk to Your Elders
Oral History is the primary method used to transfer knowledge in African-American communities for several reasons. For much of our history, it was illegal to be literate. Then, it was actively discouraged for black people to learn to read and write. For instance, despite the fact that it was legal for my grandmother’s generation to learn to read and write, her siblings did not have a separate black school to attend and had to hide in a chicken coop to learn how to read and write. This is why it is so imperative to interview family members and community elders.
Don’t Be Afraid of the 1870 Brick Wall
By far, the biggest challenge of embarking on African-American genealogy research is the 1870 Brick Wall. This date is important in American history for genealogists of color because it is the first time that all people of color were listed in the United States Federal Census by name.
Prior to 1870, only free people of color were listed. It’s important to search for your ancestors in the census records prior to 1870. You may be surprised to find who was free before the American Civil War.
Most African-descendants were enslaved in the United States. However, it is important to remember that not all people of color were enslaved prior to the Civil War. In Delaware, for instance, most of the black population was freed prior due to political, economic and religious reasons. Still, most blacks continued to live in poverty. Region of residence played a major part as to one’s freedom status. Keep in mind, in the South there were cities where free people of color were abundant: New Orleans, Charleston and Washington DC were a few.
Let’s not think of slavery as a brick wall, but rather as a big curtain. It may block your view initially, but it is not an immoveable barrier.
Reading is Fundamental
This is by far the most overlooked tip. Please read the history of your local town, region, and state. Doing so will add context to the complex lives of your ancestors and their communities. Plus, it may provide hints as to migration patterns, industries and so much more.
Remember, even if people of color are not mentioned directly, you can learn who the most prosperous people were in the area. This can lead you to which industries were booming and who were the biggest land and slaveholders.
Personally, reading history helped me connect why several people from the Upper South moved to the Lower South in the 1830s. I found so many people born in Maryland, and Virginia living in Louisiana. History explained that many planters picked up and moved to Louisiana to cash in on the booming cotton business there, and they took their “human chattel” with them. This may be the missing link needed to track your ancestors.
These are only a few tips for researching African-American Genealogy. Don’t worry, there is more to come.
Marginal annotations are a measure of publicity intended to establish a relationship between two acts of civil status or between an act and the transcription of another act or judgment.They are, for the genealogist, a valuable element of his research.
Varied and numerous, they make it possible to make certain situations known, and to avoid fraud. Marginal annotations are often a key element for genealogical research in France, since the knowledge of an act will allow the genealogist by a mention of having knowledge of another act.
If you may find some marginal annotations in church records, like a cross or the word obiit (dead) in the margin of a baptism record, the first marginal annotations date from 1804.
The first annotations are the acknowledge paternity of a child, and legitimization. When a child was born to a single mother, the midwife, or a relative, declared the child. It happened the mother was not named. The recognition was then done by the mother, within the three days following the birth.
It happened that a mother recognized her child when he / she was going to marry, or when she knew she was dying. Indeed, as long as the natural child was not recognized by his / her mother, he / she could not be his / her heir.
The legitimization is consecutive to the marriage of the parents. Therefore, the child, who was named after the mother, will be named after the father. In the marriage certificate, generally before the appointment of witnesses, it is specified that the spouses declare that they recognize as such a child, or more (with their first names) born at a certain place and on such date.
ROQUES Marie Madeleine legitimization _ Archives de Toulouse – Naissances (1846-1856) – 1E364
In this mention, the genealogist discover not only the name of the child’s father, but also the date, and place of marriage of her parents. Marie Madeleine who was named Mandou, after her mother’s name, is now named Roques, after her father’s name.
Divorce was instituted in France in 1792, abolished in 1816, and finally reinstated in 1884. Since the law of April 18th, 1886, and in order to avoid bigamy, but also to inform about the change in the status of the couple, mention of the divorce must be made in the margin of the marriage certificate and the birth certificates of each of the spouses.
Following the mention of the divorce, mention of the marriage must be reported in the margin of the birth certificates of the spouses since 1897. Since this date, any town hall celebrating a marriage must send a notice to the town halls of the spousal births.
Annotation of marriage _ Archives de Toulouse – Naissances (1891-1910) – 1E554
In the aftermath of World War II, and to avoid identity theft, a ruling dated march 1945 stated that “mention shall be made of the death in the margin of the deceased’s birth certificate ». The same ruling stated that, in the case of death outside the municipality of residence, the transcription of the declaratory judgment of the death shall be made in the margin of the registers of the city where the death certificate should have been drawn up at the date of the death.
Acknowledge paternity, legitimization, marriage, divorce, death, the birth certificate will be the most laden act in marginal annotations. Therefore, in the event of marriages, and multiple divorces, for lack of sufficient space in the act, the civil registrar will make a reference to the end of the register, where the genealogist will find the additional annotations.
As well as my genealogical work, I also work part time teaching mathematics to adults in the community for a local further education college. This week I was planning a session on revision for mean, mode, median, range, tally charts and graphs. Not the most inspiring of subjects for learners who find mathematics difficult. Rather than collating information on the shoe sizes of the group – a scenario used in many teaching aids, I wanted something different. So how could I bring my love of history into the classroom and make learning real and interesting for my students?
Clearly I needed a resource that contained information that could be extracted to meet the learning aims and I also needed something that was dramatic to hold their interest. In the past, when teaching public health to 16 – 18-year-olds, I have used 1700/1800 death and burial records. One example was of a girl who died at the age of 16 from a cut finger. Asking the students why this would have happened they can be a little flummoxed at first until they realized tetanus and/or antibiotic treatment had not been discovered at that time. Seeing the old writing and the number of infant deaths that occurred had the students riveted to their seats. This is a teaching method that really works.
With this in mind I decided to look for records relating to deaths on the Titanic. However, the deaths were all listed the same as presumed drowned. I then looked at the first page within the Titanic shipping death collection and found what I needed. Eleven people were listed from different ships during 1912. Ages ranged from 4 months to 67. Causes of death were given including several bronchopneumonia and heart disease. We were able to explore mean, mode and median death age, range of data sample and then used a tally chart to collate information on causes on death which was then transferred to bar charts. As well as the mathematical practice the students also acquired some knowledge on geography, social and medical history. They loved it, were focused throughout and asked for more learning to take place in this manner.
But what of copyright? The document I used was from ancestry.co.uk. Under their terms and conditions of use you can republish public domain images. However this must only be a small portion of the documents and Ancestry must be credited as the source of the image. Written permission from Ancestry is needed should you wish to republish a greater proportion of images from a collection. Should you fail to follow these guidelines then you could lose your membership to the site and even be prosecuted.
Copyright legislation is specific to each country. In the United Kingdom some leeway exists for educational use. Schools and colleges will hold educational copying licenses. In 2014 educational copyright legislation was amended to include a ‘fair dealing exception’. Work could be copied if the following criteria are met:
“1. The work must be used solely to illustrate a point;
the use of the work must not be for commercial purposes;
the use must be fair dealing; and
it must be accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.”
This means tutors/teachers now have more access to original documentation and digital media. So could scanned copies of original documents be used more in education, and in particular for capturing the interest of students in a subject such as mathematics that they struggle to see relevance for? From my experience this week I would argue that yes we should be using them and not just for mathematics. Health and social care teaching as well as sociology, history and geography would all benefit from these resources and I am sure other teachers/lecturers would find uses for them in other subject areas as well. Most importantly it gives students a window to the past, their history.
“Their history” is perhaps the key point here that is missed by schools and FE colleges. Universities, such as Strathclyde in Glasgow, are offering introductory courses, Diplomas and Masters; Adult Education is offering family history courses but with little if any recognized accreditation, but FE colleges and schools? Nothing. It has already been seen above that adult learners and 16 – 18-year-old students quickly become engaged with original documentation, and how this could benefit their wider studies. How much more would they engage if the documentation related to their family? The resources are out there, there are qualified genealogists who could teach the programmes, and courses could bring in much needed revenue. If examination boards were to bring in genealogical qualifications at Level 3 is there a career progression pathway for students to follow? Of course there is. The Association of Professional Genealogists (AGP) name a few possibilities: author; columnist; DNA specialist; editor; heir searcher; lecture and seminar presentations; house historians; librarians; transcribers; a travel/tour genealogist and specialties such as adoption, African-American and American Indian research. Others that could be included are archivist and family tracing for medical connections in inherited diseases.
So what would be the next steps to take? Genealogy needs to be recognized by the masses as a valid career and for this to happen the profession needs to fight for high professional standards and recognized robust qualifications. Steps are already being taken for putting this in place. The APG has a process for certification and, in the United Kingdom, Strathclyde is leading the way in setting up a worldwide register of genealogists, in collaboration with the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies and the University of Dundee. Popular television programmes have taken family history to the masses and the time if now right for the general public to recognize the value that a properly qualified genealogist can bring to personal research, historical research, medical research and education.
Association of Professional Genealogists. (2017) Find a Specialist. www.apgen.org : accessed 17 January 2017.
Today Mother’s Day and Mothering Sunday are seen as the same day, and are celebrated at the same time, however they started as very separate celebrations.
In America Mother’s Day officially dates from about 1914 and was the result of a campaign by Anna Jarvis, whose mother had died on May 9, hence why Mother’s Day in the USA is on the 2nd Sunday in May.
Shortly after the introduction of Mother’s Day in the USA, Britain also used adopted this celebration. One 1920 newspaper article attributes the British Mother’s Day to a Mr Whitehead and noted that Mother’s Day that year would be on 8th August. In following years, however it was always in May, the same time as those in America had their celebration. By 1926 greeting cards special for Mother’s Day had started to be produced, and flower shops were advertising bouquets of flowers to be given on this day. It was a day when families would come together to spend the day with their mothers.
In the UK Mothering Sunday is a Christian celebration taking place on the fourth Sunday of Lent, three weeks before Easter Sunday. Originally called Mid Lent Sunday, this celebration is believed to date back several centuries to when Catholicism was the main religion in England. This suggests date prior to the 16th century when King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church and established the Church of England. Mothering Sunday is said to relate to this bible passage.
“But heavenly Jerusalem is the free woman: she is our mother”
Galatians 4:26 (New English Bible)
The earliest example I found that used the name of Mothering Sunday was in 1784. In the February edition of that year, a writer in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ explained that Mothering Sunday derived from the Roman Catholic celebration of their ‘mother’ church, when parishioners would travel to the main ‘mother’ church in their area – often the Cathedral, rather than their nearest ‘daughter’ church.
In March 1814 the Manchester Mercury advertised a High Mass was to be celebrated at a local Chapel on Catholic Day also known as Mid Lent Sunday.
The 1784 article also printed a reminiscence of another writer, that as an apprentice it was the custom to visit their mothers on Mid Lent Sunday. In 1849 it was still the custom for servants and apprentices to visit their mothers on this day, taking gifts of money, trinkets or food. An 1836 newspaper reported that it was popular that children would return home to receive cakes from their mothers.In 1844 a Bristol resident complained in the local newspaper, that his wife had “summoned” their children from school and their places of work including a son who worked about 80 miles away, to spend Mothering Sunday at home. She then filled the table with “sweetmeats and mothering cake.”
Mothering Sunday was also known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’ because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed that day. Popular food for this time, and probably the ‘mothering cake’ mentioned above, was Sinnel cake. This was a fruit cake with two layers of almond paste, one on top and one in the middle, and 11 marzipan balls on the top representing the 11 disciples excluding Judas.
Whilst most newspaper articles show Mothering Sunday as being a Holy Day in the Church calendar, an 1836 Wiltshire newspaper reported an ancient custom, when young boys would make “a figure of death made of straw” on Mid Lent Day and take it into the villages. Some of the villagers would chase them away but others would pay them to remove it or give them food and milk. The writer suggests this was a pagan custom celebrating the death of winter and the coming of spring and summer.
Despite it being a Holy Day, in 1847 the town of Bury, Lancashire reported that on Mothering Sunday huge numbers of people travelled to the town for a day of rejoicing and to enjoy “the festivities usually observed on this occasion” and to taste its “eminently celebrated” Sinnel Cake, and Braggart Ale. In 1903 Mothering Sunday was still a day of celebration in Bury as shops were allowed to be open on that Sunday, except during the church service, to sell Sinnel cakes.
Merging Of The Two Days.
In March 1949 a Gloucestershire newspaper asked if Mothering Sunday had been lost during WW2, as for the past few years there had been no observance of this day, even though the American based Mother’s Day in May was gaining popularity. He also mentioned a movement to establish Mother’s Day on the Saturday before Mothering Sunday.
By 1950 Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day was being merged. Not everyone was happy about this. In 1951 one vicar gave a blistering sermon decrying the fact that shops were advertising Mother’s Day cards, flowers and gifts on what was Mothering Sunday. He stated that Mother’s Day was an American invention and was not part of scripture, and that commercial exploitation was based on sentimentality. He is quoted as saying:
“God help us if we are going to allow bottles of violet scent, slushy sentimental cards and bunches of extravagantly priced flowers, some of them delivered especially to arrive on Sunday, to be substituted for the things of God.”
Sadly very prophetic.
By 1957 it was reported that most churches observed Mother’s Day and Mothering Sunday together. Today the church still holds special services and gives children bunches of flowers (often daffodils) to give to their mothers, whilst the commercial side has become very big business.
Did you know that there is a wealth of information hidden in Civil War pension records?
I certainly didn’t until recently, when these records helped me to begin knocking down a long-standing brick wall in my own family’s genealogy. I thought that the information gained wouldn’t extend beyond an acknowledgement of service and a pay stub, but the reality is that pension records can provide pages of detailed information on the veteran’s service, origins, and family.
There were generally two types of Confederate pensions that could be applied for: the soldier’s or veteran’s pension, applied for by the veteran, and the widow’s pension, which was applied for by the widow upon the veteran’s death (Arkansas also offered a mother’s pension). There were four types of Union pensions: veteran, widow, minor, and dependent parents (you can read more about those from the National Archives link below). Each State had different rules and dates for applying for and receiving a pension, many included rules regarding specific war-related injuries, so not all soldiers have a record – but the ones who did may have left you some key information or rich detail for your family history.
One of my second great-grandfathers has long been a sizable brick wall in my family tree. He has been nearly impossible to find before 1885, and over five decades of his life have gone unaccounted for. He passed away before any of his great-grandchildren, including my grandmother, were born, so the only information passed down were these five things:
His name was Andrew Jackson Bowles.
He went by A. J.
He was from Virginia.
He served in the Civil War.
He was buried in an unmarked grave beneath a cedar tree at a local church cemetery.
That isn’t much to go on… until I found his pension application. Right there in the middle of the first page, I found a single sentence of information that equates to swinging a sledgehammer at the middle of my wall..Where were you born? Beneath it A.J. wrote “in Franklin co Virginia in year 1833.” There are ninety-five counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and now I know exactly where to search!
He then goes on to detail his enlistment, his commanding officers, and his presence at the First Battle of Manassas. In answer to later questions, he stated that he was a share farmer living with his wife and child, making a scant living, and that he had only been a resident of Tennessee for twenty years at the time of his application.
The details in this file have given me facts to add to the family story, new avenues to search, and has allowed me to uncover his service records (available from Fold3), an early marriage and census record in Virginia… and slowly, this wall will come down brick by brick!
In 1870 America, there were only 500 public high schools with enrollment of about 50,000 students (U.S. population was almost 40 million in 1870 as per census data). At that time, enrollment had opened to accept females, mostly to be trained as teachers. Reading, writing and arithmetic curriculums were also expanding to train working class youth in skilled trades to meet the needs of a country fast changing in the second phase of the Industrial Revolution. (Read more on this topic here)
While secondary schools were growing in many states, many did not have courses that prepared students for college, thus students could not pass entrance exams. Many colleges in that era, offered “preparatory schools,” to fill the gap, but also to expand their college student enrollments. Families of means sent their children to such college based academies, particularly when those schools were close to home.
Eva Gillan, 1885
Eva Gillan, at age 16, was in the Junior class, 1879-1880, of the Preparatory School of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. In the junior year, the curriculum included arithmetic, English grammar, geography, Latin, algebra, English analysis, U.S. History, elocution, English composition, physiology, and criticism.
Two of Eva’s brother’s, David and James also attended Illinois Wesleyan University. James was a freshman in the Preparatory courses during the same period Eva attended. James continued his studies and was later listed in census records as “professor of education,” then a few years later on the Board of Education in Omaha, Nebraska. David Gillan, graduated in 1881. In the Illinois Wesleyan University Alumni Roll, published in 1929, David is shown as having achieved a B.A., and M.A.  David H. Gillan, served as a Methodist Minister in southern California for twenty-five year; he also established a date farm there.
The Academic and Teachers Course, as the preparatory school at Illinois Wesleyan University was called, gave the following description of the course in the university’s 1879 catalog:
“This course is arranged with reference to a thorough preparation for college; also to qualify young men and women for teaching in common and graded schools, and further, to furnish the basis of a business education to those whose time will not allow them to complete a full college course.” 
Eva Gillan and two of her sisters, Mary J and Addie Gillan, attended Illinois State University, 1880-1882. In records available for those years, Eva completed course work in reading, spelling, arithmetic, geography, diction, writing, history, drawing, theory and practice (probably related to teaching). 
James and Jane McClure Gillan, parents of Eva, Mary, Addie, James M. And David H. Gillan were strong advocates for education for both males and females, as evidenced by sending daughters to college as well as sons. James and Sarah were immigrants from County Antrim, Ireland, both educated and literate. James was instrumental in the establishment of schools in McLean County, Illinois.
Years later, Eva Gillan Samuel, enrolled her three children in the preparatory school, Academy (1907) of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. She found the high schools in Kansas then did not prepare her children for further education as her father as discovered back in 1879. From the Baker University Catalogue of 1906-1907, in explaining the existence of an academy at Baker University, ‘many localities do not provide academic opportunities for students which prepare them for college course work;” further the statement cites lack of libraries, literary societies, lecture courses and elementary knowledge of grammar, arithmetic, physiology, US history, government and geography required to pass entrance exams for college. The Academy at Baker University had four courses of study: Classical, Philosophical, Scientific, and Literature and Art. Graduation from the Academy ensured acceptance into the Collegiate Department without further examination.’
By Katarzyna Smalcerz, Your Roots in Poland
Just a week ago, on 11 November, Poland celebrated National Independence Day. On this special day we commemorated the anniversary of restoration of Polish sovereignty. In 1918 after 123 years of partitions Poland regained its freedom as The Second Polish Republic.
A year ago when we prepared the article about National Independence Day, we wrote about how we celebrate it and when it was established. This time we would like to focus on something a bit different. Namely what happened with Poland as a nation during the 123 years of partitions.
It all started in 1795 after the third partition of Poland. In that year Poland disappeared from the map of the world and its territory was divided into three powers: Russian Empire, Habsburg Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. However, the lives of Poles varied greatly based on the partition they were assigned to.
Poles who lived under Russian Empire’s partition were treated as potential rebels. That is why Government applied the policy of assimilation towards them as well as towards other nationalities. The aim of that approach was to create good citizens of the Russian Empire and to teach them obedience to authorities. The methods they used were mainly persuasion and constraint. A well known example of that was implementation of censorship and russification in schools, administration offices and public life in general. At the same time, urban areas developed quickly due to industrialization and technology progress. The working class came into being in cities whilst villages were becoming more and more underdeveloped.
In the Kingdom of Prussia, Polish people were under strong assimilation actions conducted by the authorities. Among others the process of germanization included using German language in schools and in public life as well as mandatory military service in Prussian Army. Opposite to the Russian Empire, partition farming was developing quickly under Prussian influence. That was mainly caused by enfranchisement of peasants and made the Kingdom of Prussia the richest and most prosperous partition of all.
In comparison to others Habsburg Empire’s partition was the most backward and at the same time most liberal. Industry never entirely developed in the bigger scale and the working class never fully came into being.
The difficult situation of Poles in all three partitions forced many people to migrate. The most popular directions were the USA, Canada and South America. This is the part when everything gets tricky. As they left their homes in search for a better tomorrow they officially were not leaving Poland, as it did not exist. In their emigration documents they were all Germans, Russians, Austrians or Hungarians. That is why many people who are trying to build their genealogical tree hit against the wall. Not many of them are aware that their ancestors were actually Polish. During our work we come across dozens of such cases.
That is why we decided to take this opportunity and write about 11th of November in a different manor. Although our country officially did not exist Poles as a nation survived all these years to finally rebuild their fatherland. Thus it is worth remembering and looking for your Polish ancestors. Keep their memory alive by introducing our rich history and culture to the younger generations.