I find it difficult to talk about myself, so before I can tell you about myself and what I’m doing here with my blog, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of people.
Charles Edward Towson, my great-grandfather, was a steel man from a steel family living in the steel town of Sparrows Point. He was born in 1907, and though he spent his early years in Pennsylvania, by his early teens the Towsons had returned to Sparrows Point as his father, Tom, was once again working at Bethlehem Steel. Tom, too, had a family history of working in the steel industry. His eldest brother Charles worked as a security guard at Beth Steel’s mill in Steelton, Pennsylvania; Tom and Charles’s father, yet another Charles Towson, had originally moved the family to Sparrows Point in 1903 when he gained employment at the old Maryland Steel Company.
Charles and Tom Towson are just a few among my many Maryland ancestors with rich histories, most of which center around the city of Baltimore. Growing up in a suburb of Baltimore, I always felt connected to but strangely not a part of the city. Part of my desire to participate in this particular research project stemmed from a personal goal to better understand the city that has meant so much to my family, and to become more in-tune with my metropolitan neighbors.
Throughout the next six weeks, I will utilize this blog to upload my research, share interesting things that my fellow participants and I find, and as a place to reflect on how I feel as I take a crash course in becoming an anthropologist.
While at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival a few weekends ago, I stopped at a vender that did not sell much anything related to sheep or wool. But they did have a lot of vintage wares, including, to my delight, some identified antique photographs. One of them was the above. Why was this one special? Because, on the Eastern shore of the United States, was a photo taken in Auckland, New Zealand, sometime in the 19th century. It was identified on the back as “Thomas Way, 66– died last year.”
I went on a search for Mr. Way, and found the following:
An inquest was proceeding as we went to press this afternoon to ascertain the cause of the death of a man named Thomas Way, who died last night at Burnand’s lodging house, Wyndham-street. The deceased was an unmarried Englishman, 67 years old age, and without relatives in the colony. He was a remittance man, and for the last two years had stayed at Burnand’s. About 8.30 o’clock on Saturday night Way is said to have fallen from the staircase to the floor, his foot having probably slipped on the step. He appeared slightly stunned, but soon recovered consciousness. He was put to bed until Sunday night, when he got up, saying that he felt much better. On Monday he seemed worse again, and on Tuesday Dr. Hooper was sent for, and he at once expressed a fear that Way would not recover. Last night Way died while the doctor was in the house.
Published in the Auckland Star, Volume XXV, Issue 3, 4 January 1894, Page 4
Could this be the man in the photograph? And if so, how did he ever end up in Maryland?
This mother’s day, I’d like to thank a woman without whom I would not exist. Pictured above is my great-great-great-great-grandmother, Roseann Colston.
Roseann was born August 18th 1811 to William Colston and his wife Alice Thomas. On July 1st 1829, she married Charles Wilson Pitt, and the couple had two children, Charles H. Pitt and William T. C. Pitt. Unfortunately, Pitt died and on June 26th 1838 Roseann was remarried to a man named John Bunting (1814-1869). By all accounts, John Bunting was not a pleasant man, and several of their eight children are said to have run away– one of their sons going so far as to change his name. The Buntings had the following children: Roseann (born 1839); James C (born 1840), Edwin (born 1842), Margaret Jane (1845-1894), Spencer J (born 1845), Samuel J (born 1847), Emma (1849-1860), and Lydia Bunting (born 1851).
I grew up in my maternal grandmother’s house, where a portrait of Roseann has hung above the mantle for years. Growing up, I found the portrait, painted when Roseann was about sixteen years old, unnerving, as no matter where you stood, it looked like she was looking at you. But now it’s a fond memory of my childhood.
Thank you, Rosie. For all you’ve done.
This letter, written by my great-great-great-GREAT grandmother, Margaret Biddle née Riddell, to an unnamed sister, is dated October 1846, a year after she married William N. Biddle and gave birth to their son John Riddell Biddle. William and Margaret were married the 7th of October 1845, and John was born the 31st of October 1845.
Do you have any old family letters?
I attended my grandfather’s cousin Frannie’s funeral tonight. She was ten years older than him, and was older when their grandparents died. She and her mother even lived with them for a while after her father died. I kept on meaning to go down to visit her- she only lived an hour away- but I never made it. I wish I had taken the time to go visit her.
While at the the funeral, I met a cousin, Franny’s daughter-in-law, who I’ve been collaborating with online for genealogy stuff but never had the chance to meet until tonight. It was very nice to meet her. I also met an older woman, somewhere in age between 80–85, in complete control of her faculties, who had been close friends with Fran in their girlhood and who had even lived next door to Fran, and my great-great grandparents. She was very sweet, and gave me her email address, so I could ask her more questions.
Let this be a reminder: cherish the people around you while they’re still around. They won’t always be.
Crappy photo quality but shut up. This dude is Hezekiah Garber. The little girl in the middle is his daughter, Louella Ora. The kids on the right are Louella’s daughter Maxine and son Sverre “Bud”.
Just look at that ‘stache. Those pictures spanned an about fifty year period, but he has the ‘stache in every one of them. Dude. The ‘stache.
(First photo circa 1865; second circa 1890; third circa 1910. Courtesy to Tyler Barth for the first two, my grandmother for the last.)
This cased photograph was found in a chest of drawers in my grandparents house. Can you even see a picture in it? I couldn’t! At first, I just look in, saw the “empty” cracked glass, and put it down. It was a pretty case, at least. But my cousin took a look at it and thought there might be something inside. So far, we’ve been able to identify two eyes, a button nose, two pink cheeks, red lips, a fat baby arm and fingers, and the bunches of a (probably checkered) dress! The image is printed directly on the glass, making it an ambrotype. Right now, we can hardly even see it, let alone identify it- but one day, I hope to be able to see the figure in the picture, and hopefully give it a name!
My mom and I like to watch genealogy shows together. It’s one of our favorite things to do. After a long day of work or school, it’s nice to sit back and watch someone else reveal a family history mystery.
Our first show was, like so many other people, Who Do You Think You Are?, the American version. This show, sponsored by Ancestry.com, seems to have inspired so many people to get into researching their family tree. And though I’ve always liked WDYTYA, I’ve also felt a little uncomfortable with how “look! just put the name in on Ancestry.com and here is your person!” and how rehearsed it seemed.
Earlier this year, we started watching Henry Louis Gates Jr’s Finding Your Roots on PBS. We both liked this one a lot. I felt like it had some of what WDYTYA lacked, and that it showed more historical perspective and seemed less rehearsed. But there was also a sense of all the information just being presented to the guest, and not as much guest involvement or, as it seemed sometimes, interest, in the project.
Just last night, I heard of BYU TV’s The Generations Project, and decided to give it a try. I liked the first episode well enough, so my mom and I sat down for another. It was very interesting, touching, and informative, but still lacking in some aspects. So far, I’m not a huge fan of the interviewer lady- nothing personal, but, like so many other interviewers I’ve seen, she seemed a little antiseptic. Like she was only pretending to be interesting. It was also a little slow, with the show being broken into bits where the guest was exploring their family history, and bits where they were being interviewed about their journey. At times, I was just eager to get back to watching as they discovered things, and actually seeing their reactions, instead of hearing about them. But one thing that I really, really, really like about TGP over the other two shows is that it features everyday, ordinary people, not celebrities.
Do you have any other genealogy or history shows to suggest? Send me a message via Tumblr’s ask function, or email me at email@example.com.
I have a little problem that’s bugging me, and I thought, what should I do? Well, I have a genealogy blog… Might as well post that here!
My problem is this. The particular family line I’m researching is from Baltimore City, Maryland, and Baltimore started recording deaths in 1875. My ancestors who lived in Baltimore married in 1863, and are known to have had at least three children before 1875. They also had a daughter, Sarah Ellen Towson, in 1877. Unfortunately for little Sarah and her no doubt loving parents, she died in 1881, while her mother was pregnant with my second-great-grandfather. She was buried in Baltimore Cemetery March 29th 1881.
Here’s where my problem arises. She was buried in a plot owned by a family named Busby- a name I’ve never heard of. But my ancestors were a young couple, who perhaps had not purchased their own family plot, and might have been buying or sharing with another family. There are eight people in the plot: four Busbys, Sarah Ellen, and four other Towsons. One of them, Henry Towson (buried Sept 5 1880), is likely the infant Harry Towson who was recorded with the famliy in the 1880 Census. But the other two, James Towson (a child, buried Jul 20 1868) and an unnamed infant Towson (buried Dec 2 1868) are entirely unknown to me! Neither death nor birth records existed prior to 1875, so that can’t help with the unknowns- and I can’t find any Henry Towsons who died in 1880, either. I’ve already looked for obituaries, but there are none recorded in the Baltimore Sun for James, the infant, or Henry. And, I have NO idea where the Towsons attended church, but I believe they were Methodist.
Do you have any tips, tricks, or advice? Or, perhaps you’re researching the same line! Send me a message via Tumblr’s ask function, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For anyone interested, here are the Busbys buried in the same plot:
William H Busby, buried Mar 17 1868
Annie Busby, buried Jun 21 1903
Mary J Busby, buried May 25 1869
James Busby, buried Sept 17 1918
Yesterday while at Goodwill looking for a robe, I discovered a new section called “Silent Auction”, which I had never seen before. It had a ton of interesting things, mostly antiques. There were two beautiful horse saddles, old guitars, an early 1900s copy of The School For Scandal, and a 1868 Bible “with some family history inside”. Interesting! Though the Bible was compelling, what really caught my eye were two “Czech publications” from 1910 and 1911 for only $10. Today, I went back and picked up these two beauties.
As it turns out, a “Šibřinky” is a masquerade ball. Interesting! Having no Czech ancestry, it was very interesting to learn. However, it also isn’t relevant or vital to my family history collection, so I’ve sent an inquiry to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library to see if they would be interesting in preserving these treasures! If you have any Czechoslovakian antiques that you’d like to see preserved, consider contacting the NCSML and help to rebuild their collection after a devastating flood. Or, if you’re interested, maybe check out your nearest Goodwill Super Store and see if you can find any treasures! They also have an online auction that you can check out.
And, a couple of announcements!
First, the blog URL for the Genealogical Times has changed from “genealogicalmishaps.tumblr.com” to “genealogicaltimes.tumblr.com”, to make it easier to remember, for people who might not be Tumblr users. Secondly, I have three followers! Thank you so much for following my little blog, and I hope it can be of some help or interest to you! Thirdly, in five days, I leave for three tech-less weeks. That means no blog updates and no answered asks. But, hopefully before I leave, I will have a couple more blog posts up! Hopefully.
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to send me a comment or leave me a question, you can contact me through Tumblr’s ask function, or email me at email@example.com