Mitochondrial Ancestral Names, Dates, and Geographical Places

mitochondrial DNATesting your mtDNA uncovers the deep ancestral origin of your direct maternal line (your mother, your mother’s mother, etc.) and connects you with genetic cousins. Because your mtDNA has been passed on to you generation after generation by your direct maternal ancestors, it offers the most exact information possible for this line. [Description from the FamilyTreeDNA website.]

My mtDNA Haplogroup is K2a7 which is generally from the British Isles, France and Germany. I tested with FamilyTreeDNA and Mom tested with BritainsDNA. It was a little redundant for me to test after Mom had already tested but I wanted my results at FTDNA.

Apparently mitochondrial haplogroup K started in West Asia between 18,000 and 38,000 years ago. Today, Haplogroup K is common among Northwestern Europeans (British Isles, France and Germany). From what I’ve read, Haplogroup K did not appear in Europe before the Neolithic period and gradually came into Europe with early farmers and herders.

When working on the genetic genealogy for your family it is helpful to have some pre-made lists that you can share with potential cousins so you can try and figure out where you have a common ancestor.

This is my list of ancestral surnames for my mitochondrial DNA line. Not only is it handy to have this list ready, it also makes it very apparent to me where I need to do some more research. I definitely need to work on my Hardie and Thomson lines.

  1. Janet Mona MacEwan (1899-1951, Islington, London, England), m. Eric Morrell.
  2. Euphemia Thomson (1860-1919, Edinburgh, Scotland & London, England) m. Peter MacEwan.
  3. Margaret Hardie (1826-?, Leslie, Fife, Scotland & Edinburgh, Scotland) m. Robert T. Thomson.
  4. Janet Thomson (abt. 1787-?, Leslie, Fife, Scotland) m. James Hardie.

It’s possible that Janet Thomson and James Hardie had other daughters that I don’t know about yet. They would have carried the mitochondrial DNA down through their female lines as well.

Posted in DNA, Genealogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Viweing FamilySearch record images at a Family History Center

henry_isabelle_wardIn 1949 my grandfather, Henry Davis Ward, and my grandmother, Isabelle (Myers) Ward, lived at 900 N. Alexandria Drive in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California. Google provides a nice street view of the area now. (I’m not sure if the house you see in Street View is the same one they lived in or not.) That’s a picture of them to the left which I believe was taken at their Los Angeles home. Henry was an executive for Maryland Casualty Company and they moved to Los Angeles in 1943. Actually I think Henry moved out there first and then Isabelle joined him later.

Henry must have traveled to Phoenix, Arizona on the 24th of March to play golf, probably with some friends and associates. After a day on the golf course he died at about 9:30 pm on 25 March 1949. I knew some of this story because Mom had told me about it. [Did Mom know Henry or did he die before Mom and Dad met?] I also found Henry’s obituary using Proquest, available through the library’s website, which filled in some information and corroborated Mom’s story.

This image is availableI found a link to Henry’s death certificate in FamilySearch in the collection called Arizona, Deaths, 1870-1951. The description for this collection is “Published images and index of Arizona death certificates. The certificates are arranged in chronological order within each county.” Recently Ed and I have sent away for several records from various places, writing a check for each of them, so I was glad that I might be able to have access to this record for free. I got the message “This image is available: When using the site at a FamilySearch Center; To signed-in members of supporting organizations”. Okay, I can drive up to the Family History Center that is about 30 minutes away and get access to the death certificate.

Well, as it turns out, not necessarily. When I arrived at the Family History Center the four very nice and helpful women who were there did NOT have access to this record. Their suggestion, which turned out to be the best suggestion, was to go to Arizona’s website for ordering death certificates and send away for it. I was really disappointed since I was sure, at one of the genealogy conferences we attended this spring, I had heard about access to some online records from within a FHC.

So, I did some quick research when I got home and I found the FamilySearch Wiki page for Arizona Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)/Known Issues. First of all, it is important to note that you can, and should, always check the FS wiki page that provides more information about the record collection that you’re using. Here’s the one for the Arizona Deaths collection I was using. The wiki not only provides information about the collection but also problems that have been noted about it. One paragraph I found says the following:

“FamilySearch has limited rights, granted by the record custodians, to publish images from the Arizona Deaths, 1870-1951 collection for viewing online. Images for this collection are only available for viewing to members of the sponsoring organization (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and at FamilySearch Centers. It is important to check with your FamilySearch Center before your visit, to verify that the center is equipped with the capability to view these restricted images on www.familysearch.org.”

This means that some FHC’s have access to these limited records and others don’t. It’s better to call the center first and make sure.

HDW Death CertificateI searched for Arizona death certificates and found the Arizona Department of Health Services website which includes a section for Genealogy and Vital Records. I searched for Henry Davis Ward who died in 1949, clicked on the result and wow, there was his death certificate! No charge. No waiting 6 weeks for it to be returned by mail. No checking my drivers license. I’m not sure why the death certificates are freely available here and restricted on FamilySearch but it must have to do with the agreement they set up.

 

 

Tips

  1. Always check the state website to see what is necessary to obtain birth, marriage and death certificates.. These days you never know what you might find and you might be lucky like I was.
  2. FamilySearch offers wonderful access to many documents. Always remember to check the collection’s page to find out what is and is not included in the collection. But also realize that there might be a page that discusses problems with the collection. Check that out too.
  3. Call your local Family History Center before making the trip to make sure they have access to the record images for a collection such as the one I was using.
Posted in Genealogy, Ward | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MacKay and Myers Gravesites in Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore

250px-Loudon_Park_Cemetery_Baltimore_MD1On July 5th, Ed and I headed off to visit Loudon Park Cemetery to see which family graves we could find and photograph. It was a warm/hot sunny day but what did I expect in July? Much better than rain but not necessarily ideal for taking pictures in a cemetery.

The entrance to Loudon Park cemetery is at 3620 Wilkens Avenue in Baltimore. Their phone number is (410-644-1900). A portion of the eastern section is owned by the Federal Government as Loudon Park National Cemetery, which was acquired in 1861 and holds the remains of 2,300 Union soldiers killed during the Civil War.[Wikipedia]. There is a Confederate section inside of Loudon Park Cemetery but separate from the National Cemetery.

Part of my plan was to try the BillionGraves app on our phones and see how the process worked. I installed the app on both of our iPhone5 phones and it looked pretty straight forward. Open the app, take a picture and upload to the BillionGraves website. You can add the inscriptions and other information later, from the photographs.

I called ahead a few days before to make sure it would be okay to visit on Saturday and that someone would be available to answer questions and give us a map. They ask that you check in at the office in the funeral home at the entrance to the cemetery. They will do two lookups for you but I had a list that I thought was fairly accurate. There are copies of their records at the Maryland State Archives and at Enoch Pratt Library and some records on FindAGrave.

The woman at the desk was very helpful. She gave us a map of the cemetery (similar to the one below) and enlarged the map for the exact sections we needed. Look closely and you’ll find sections Belmont and G. She also drew a path for us to follow through the cemetery. Good thing! She told us that Loudon Park Cemetery is the largest cemetery this side of the Mississippi River.

From earlier information I thought someone was buried in Lot 121 in one or both of the two sections but we didn’t find anyone. I need to follow-up with the office. It would have made sense to check with the office first but since they would only do 2 lookups I held off.

McKay, Joseph A and Grace F_grave marker_Loudon Park Cemetery_BaltimoreIt turned out that Belmont section, Lot 22 had the first set of graves we were looking for. I want to check with the office to see who purchased this lot (and lot 21) and who their records say is buried there. That might provide any names that I’m missing. We found:

  1. A large memorial for my great grandparents, Grace Forrest (MacKay) Myers (1858-1905) and her husband, Joseph A. Myers (1856-1919). They had nine children and three of them are buried here with them.
  2. Grace M. Ellinger (1880-1959) and Emanuel J Ellinger (1879-1920). Grace was Joseph and Grace’s oldest daughter.
  3. Genevieve M. New (1883-1950) and her husband Fred W. New (1882-1911). Genevieve was Joseph and Grace’s 3rd oldest daughter.
  4. Alexander Myers (1888-1947) and his wife Lillie L. Myers (1885-1939). Alexander was Joseph and Grace’s oldest son.
  5. A stone marked “Father.” The stone is knocked over and couldn’t be lifted. It is next to a stone marked “Mother.”
  6. A stone marked “Grandfather” and “Grandmother”.

Then we drove over to Section G. This is an older section in a corner that borders on Frederick Road and is divided into a small section by the sheds and a larger section up closer to the road. Lot 210 is located in the small section by the sheds, under a large tree, the second row from the shed and the 3rd lot from the interior road.

We found:

  1. William McKay Husband of Grace F. McKay Born Dec 7, 1830 Died July 27, 1900
  2. Grace F. McKay Wife of William McKay Born Sept. 12, 1831 Died Aug 4, 1925.
  3. Alexander S. McKay, the youngest son of William & Grace McKay. He died April 2, 1885 at age 15 years.
  4. James F. McKay Born Aug 3, 1860 Died Dec 20, 1890. It says “To my beloved husband.” His wife, Caroline Morse must have arranged for the stone. She and James had only been married for 6 years. She is not buried here and died 56 years later, in 1946.
  5.  “W. McK.” is a small stone in front of James F. McKay’s stone.
  6. Clifford C. Scott Died June 24, 1944. His wife Wilhelmina M. Scott Died Aug 24, 1945
  7. G. F. McK. is a small stone located close to the markers for James F. McKay, and Clifford C. Scott and his wife Wilhelmina M. Scott. I’m not sure whose child this might be.
  8. F. S. McK [I'm not sure about the first initial]. also located close to the other small markers.

My original plan included taking photos of as many of the stones that were close by as we could. Since it took a good while to find the family graves, we didn’t add many extras but here they are:

  1. John G Volz (1902-1986). His stone was right behind that of Fred New and was included in at least one of our pictures.
  2. There was a large stone with FORREST at the top. Since Forrest is a surname in the MacKay part of our family I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this stone. It was located in Section G where Lot 121 might be. Maybe it will turn out to be a related family! The names included Jacob Forrest (1814-1888), his wife Ann C. Mentzel (1815-1899), Edwin Forrest (1858-1918), Martha W. Forrest (1843-1925), Anna K. Forrest Parsons (1852-1934), and Maud B. Forrest (1862-1939).

By this time, we were hot and tired and definitely ready to go home. We didn’t get to:

  1. Colonel Harry Gilmor and his wife Mentoria Nixon (Strong) Gilmor in the Confederate section of the cemetery. (second cousin twice removed).
  2. Peter Zell (1804-1859), first cousin 6x removed

Who else we DIDN’T find:

  1. Edith Augusta (Myers) Neilson (2nd child) and her husband Robert Neilson. They both appear in the 1930 and 1940 censuses and I can find Robert as late as 1977 living in Cockeysville but I haven’t found anything else about Edith’s death yet.
  2. Wilhelmina (Myers) Ripley (5th child) and her husband Joseph Philip Ripley. She died in 1972 but I have not been able to find out where she was buried.
  3. Isabelle (Myers) Ward (6th child), my grandmother, was buried at St. Stephens Cemetery in Cecil County, Maryland, with her husband Henry Davis Ward, Sr.
  4. Carolyn (Myers) Whitehead (7th child) and her husband Allyn Gorman Whitehead, were buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
  5. Mary Elizabeth (Myers) Whitaker (8th child), and her husband Harold Ernest Whitaker.
  6. Joseph Albert Myers (9th and youngest child). I have his obituary which states he was buried at Loudon Park Cemetery but I didn’t realize it at the time of our visit. I need to find the section and lot for him.

Working with the BillionGraves app was very easy. Between us we added 28 images for 26 records.

Some notes:

  1. Loudon Park Cemetery had not been added as a cemetery but Loudon Park National Cemetery had been. It was easy to add a new cemetery. The National Cemetery is now a separate cemetery on BillionGraves.
  2. Taking photos was also easy. The hardest part is getting the right angle and keeping your own shadow out of the picture. It’s also difficult to see the screen on your phone with the sun glare but the pictures themselves turned out very well. You can add multiple pictures of the same stones and you can delete photos that don’t turn out well.
  3. We both uploaded our pictures as we went. Since Loudon Park Cemetery had not been added yet, it added them to the National Cemetery but that was easy to change from within the software after the correct cemetery was added. We did that later when we were at home.
  4. I added inscription information and other details to the photo records we created. By the time I got to Ed’s pictures the next day, someone had already added the basic information. Nice!
  5. I found out that you can link the information you add to BillionGraves to FamilySearch.
Posted in Baltimore, Genealogy, Myers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Grandmother, Henrietta G. (Davis) Ward

These last few days have brought me several discoveries about my great-grandmother, Henrietta George Davis who married Thomas Veazey Ward in 1877.

I was looking through Delaware’s marriage records that are available at Ancestry.com. I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular but I searched for the surname Ward. I found the marriage return for Thos. Ward and Henrietta G. Davis. They were married on 16 Oct 1877.

Marriage Return

Marriage Return

I actually already knew that they were married in Delaware. When Mom was moving, we were going through some things in her closet and I found a newspaper clipping that gave this information:
“WARD – DAVIS. – On Tuesday, October 16th, in St. Peter’s Church, Smyrna, De., by Rev. Louis Walke, Thomas Ward, of Cecil county, Md., and Henrietta G., daughter of the late Henry Davis, of Talbot county, Md.”

I also found the marriage register for Thomas Ward and Henrietta Davis.

Delaware Marriage Records 1744-1912_marriage register for Thomas Ward and Hennie G. Davis

When I looked at the other search results that were coming up for Henrietta in Ancestry, I noticed a result for “Mrs Henrietta G Davis” which should not be my Henrietta since technically she’s Mrs. Henrietta Ward. I checked it out anyway. The database is the Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 .

It turns out that Henrietta was in the 32nd class of St. Mary’s Hall in Burlington, New Jersey and graduated in July 1868. In 1920, she attended the reunion in Burlington, New Jersey. The listing of people who attended the reunion states that her maiden name was Henrietta G. Davis, her married name was Mrs. Thomas Ward and her address in 1920 is Wilmington, Delaware.

This image shows her maiden name, her married name and address in 1920.
This image shows her maiden name, her married name and address in 1920.
The picture below is a postcard of St. Mary’s Hall.

Saint-Marys-Hall-Burlington-NJ-800x503

So, then I looked again at the search results on Ancestry. According to the 1920 census, she lived in Talbot County, Maryland and now it looks like she also lived in Wilmington, Delaware around 1920, according to the St. Mary’s Hall Reunion list.

I have never been able to find where Henrietta died or was buried although I found somewhere that she died about 1923. One result on Ancestry was for a Henrietta J. Ward in the Georgia, Deaths Index, 1914-1927. That doesn’t fit with anything I know for Henrietta and the middle initial is not right. Still worth checking out.

Name: Henrietta J Ward [Henrietta J Davis]
Birth Date: 8 Nov 1848
Birth Place: Maryland
Death Date: 25 Mar 1923
Death Place: Atlanta, Fulton
Death Age: 74
Race: White
Ethnicity: American
Gender: Female
Father Name: Henry Davis
FHL Film Number: 2320603

The birth date 8 Nov 1848 matches exactly and not only says she was born in Maryland but that her father’s name was Henry Davis. That all fits with what I know. I started to order the death certificate through VitalCheck. The cost was going to be $54 so I decided to see if I could find it on FamilySearch and I was successful again. The actual image of the death certificate was there.

This is definitely Henrietta George Davis, daughter of Henry Ward, wife of Thomas Ward, and mother of Henry D. Ward, the informant.
Ward, Henrietta G._death certificate_1923_cropped

So now I know a lot more about Henrietta than I did before.

Henrietta was the 5th and youngest child born to Henry Davis, son of Isaac Davis, and Sarah Elizabeth Caldwell, daughter of Jabez Caldwell. She was 8 Nov 1848 in Talbot County, Maryland. The family lived in Talbot County, Maryland. Unfortunately both of Henrietta’s parents died by the time she was 15 years old.  Sarah died in 1862, Henry died in 1863, and her sister Mary died on the 22nd of March 1863. Two other sisters had died in the 1840s so the only ones left were Henrietta and Caroline. The family members who had passed away are all buried in the Old Wye Cemetery at Wye Church in Talbot County.

Henrietta and Caroline must have gone to live with their father’s brother, Col. George E. Davis, who lived in Kent county, Delaware but also owned land in Cecil County, Maryland.

It looks like Henrietta attended the all girls boarding school, St. Mary’s Hall in Burlington, New Jersey and graduated in July 1868. She came home to live with her uncle, George Davis, and his family in Kent County, Delaware. She appears on the 1870 census with her sister, Carrie C.(Caroline Davis) and the George Davis family, including his wife Mary Jane (Perkins) and two of their children, Mary K. (Killen) Davis and Elva Davis.

Henrietta married Thomas Veazey Ward on 16 Oct 1877 at the St. Peter’s Church in Smyrna, Kent County, Delaware. They were married by the Rev. Lewis Walk. Thomas and his twin brother William posted a bond for the marriage.

Thomas Veazey Ward was the last of the Ward family to own and live in the family homestead called Woodlawn, located on Sassafras Neck in Cecil County, Maryland. Shortly after he passed away in 1890, Henrietta sold the property and moved to Baltimore City by 1900. She ran a boarding house at 17 W. Franklin Street and lived there with her four children, her sister Carrie, and the boarders.

Posted in Davis, Genealogy | Tagged , , ,

MD Genealogy Society luncheon and Walking Tour of Green Mount Cemetery

Ed and I attended the Winter into Spring luncheon sponsored by the Maryland Genealogical Society last weekend. We had a very nice lunch at Michael’s Restaurant on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore City. There were tables of 8 and we really enjoyed the conversation with everyone at our table. It was interesting that we had connections through the library world and through Johns Hopkins.

The speaker was Baltimore historian and educator, Wayne Schaumburg, and he spoke about “Baltimore: The Monumental City”. He always has interesting information about Baltimore and this time he talked about some of the monuments around town. Wayne has a website called “Wayne’s Guide to Talks, Walks, and Tours of Baltimore.”

Ed and I decided to sign up for Wayne’s tour of Green Mount Cemetery in May. The information below is from his website.

The next set of walking tours through historic Green Mount Cemetery will take place on Saturday, May 7, 14, 21, 28. - $Opened in 1839 as the city’s first urban-rural cemetery, Green Mount is the final resting place of Johns Hopkins, Enoch Pratt, William and Henry Walters, Mary Elizabeth Garrett, Theodore McKeldin, John Wilkes Booth, Betsy Patterson, Walter Lord, and other famous Marylanders. Tours begin at 9:30 a.m. from the main gate located at Greenmount Avenue and East Oliver Street, and are led by Baltimore historian and educator Wayne R. Schaumburg. Reservations are required. For information, call 410-256-2180, or email: wayne.schaumburg@gmail.com.

Posted in Conferences/Workshops | Tagged , ,

What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes?

Last week’s mission from Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings was:

“What gift that you received for Christmas is your favorite for genealogy purposes? Book, magazine, hardware, software, website subscription, research time – what was it, and how will it affect your genealogy research?”

I have an ongoing quest to untangle the lives of several men with the same name during the same time period and in the same location. What a challenge!  My “gift” was the result of an act of genealogical sharing that resulted in a couple of chunks being knocked out of one of my brick walls. Thank you John McCoy!

As background, I used the will of John Ward “Inspector” in a recent ProGen Study Group assignment. My group members suffered through helping me decipher and transcribe a poor copy of his will which had been printed from microfilm at the Maryland State Archives. I learned a lot from that assignment but I still didn’t know the name of John’s deceased wife.

Last week I stumbled on “Cecil County, Maryland Wills 1777-1810”. This was a PDF posted by John McCoy. He borrowed a copy of the microfilm of Cecil County wills with Books CC 3 to FF 6 from the Family History Library and briefly abstracted the information and posted it on his website.  It is meant to be used as a finding aid to the full text on the microfilm.

The abstracted will of John Ward’s longtime friend and neighbor, Alexander McCloud, finally gives me the information I have been seeking for several years! This is a great example of why it is so important to research the friends, associates and neighbors (FAN club) of your ancestor.

I first noticed Alexander McCloud with John Ward (Inspector) on the 1766 tax list for Bohemia Hundred in Cecil County, Maryland. You can see that in this one small area there are four men with the same name. Fortunately they have identifiers that help to single them out.

1766 Tax List for Bohemia Hundred
Nathaniel Ward and 2 negroes
William Ward, Robert Pennington and 5 negroes
John Ward (son of Henry), William Hawkins and 5 negroes
John Ward (Surveyor), Richard Brown, William Calloishon and 6 negroes
John Ward (Inspector), Alexander McClouds, 4 negroes and 2 dogs.
John Veazey Ward, 6 negroes and 2 dogs

He also appears on the Assessment of 1783 for Cecil County, Maryland.

Alexander McCloud. CE 1st District, p. 6. MSA S 1161-3-7    1/4/5/46

Alexander McCloud(s)/McLoude then appears in the will for John Ward (Inspector). The abstract  of John Ward’s will was obtained from John McCoy’s document. As I mentioned earlier, I carefully transcribed this will from my poor microfilm copy. John McCoy was working from a different microfilm copy which must have been much easier to read! His abstract includes a son named William that I did not see in my copy! Obviously I need to look at the original of this will.  This new (to me) son named William may actually be the William Ward I was never able to place before. [William Ward (b. abt 1750) m. Rachel Ricketts (1752-1790).] One more project for 2011.

John Ward ―inspector (p. 81), 14 oct 1785, sons John, George, William, daughter Sarah Etherington, daughter Susannah Evertson. Executors sons John and George. Witnesses John Ward son of John, Joseph Stockton, Alexander McLoude. Proved 08 dec 1785.

Then I found the will for Alexander McCloud in John McCoy’s list of abstracts. I’m not sure I ever would have looked for it but Alexander McCloud’s will names John and William as sons of John and Henrietta Mary Ward. Could Henrietta Mary be a daughter of Alexander McCloud? Again, I need to obtain a copy of the original will and the administration of the estate to get more complete information.

167. Alexander McCloud (p. 291), 07 nov 1792, John son of John Ward and Hennerita Mary Ward, Elizabeth daughter of William and Sarah Walmsley, the said John Ward and Sarah his wife, James Logue, Sarah wife of Samuel Pennington, Elizabeth daughter of the said John Ward, William son of John and Henrietta Mary Ward. Residual heir the said John Ward. Executor the said John Ward. Witnesses Benjamin Porter, John Pennington, William Price. Proved 18 dec 1792.

I’ll also follow-up on the other people named in the will but it will be interesting to figure out why Alexander McCloud didn’t mention John Ward’s daughters Sarah and Susannah, and his youngest son, George. I suspect that John was first married to Henrietta Mary and married secondly to someone named Susannah.

According to a deed on 2 Feb 1767 John Ward of Cecil County and Susannah, his wife, granted to George Ward, 2 tracts of land situated on a branch of Duck Creek in Appoquinimink Hundreed in New Castle County former property of James Gano and on letters of administration on his estate granted to George Ward.

This cannot be John Ward and his wife Susannah Veazey since they had both passed away before 1750. Kind of a stretch to figure out these wives but it will also make a good project for 2011.

Next steps:

  1. Look for more information on the family, friends, associates and neighbors of John Ward “inspector” and Alexander McCloud.
  2. Obtain copies of the original wills and administrations for any of the FAN club.
  3. Transcribe and abstract these documents.

Any other suggestions?

Thank you to John McCoy and everyone else who works hard to provide finding aids and any other kind of genealogical information.

Remember to always check out the friends, associates and neighbors in addition to fully researching the family. You never know where you’ll find a gem of information. The other lesson to learn from this is to go back to the original document. I still want to make sure that William actually appears in John Ward’s will – I can’t believe I didn’t see him in my copy! If you can’t get the original, maybe another copy or micofilm has a better image of your document – as it did in this case. And last but not least, always keep checking! You never know when new clues will become available.

Posted in Ward

What Your Relatives Can Tell You about the Great Depression

Back in November, Genealogical.com sent their newsletter titled “Genealogy Pointers”. It included an article about Emily Anne Croom’s  Unpuzzling Your Past. The Best-Selling Basic Guide to Genealogy.  

In the book she says, “Collecting family history also means trying to fit the family into the history of the community, county, state, and nation. You can find the political, economic, and social history of these areas in books and contemporary newspapers, but only family members can share their personal reactions to the public events. . . .”‘

Morrell Family, Durham, North Carolina; abt 1936

My mother’s parents immigrated to the United States from England in the 1928, a couple of years after they married in London.  Mom was born in West Orange, Essex, New Jersey
in 1928, her sister Sheila in Durham, North Carolina in 1931 and her brother Ian, also in Durham, in 1932. I asked my mother the questions about the Depression of the 1930s.

I remember what influenced my life. I “felt” the Depression, but I accepted the changes as normal, as young children do.

The family moved at this time to Philadelphia from Durham, since my Father left his job at Duke University and took another at Temple University. The job at Temple had evaporated by the time he arrived. We lived in Philadelphia for three years. My Mother did beautiful embroidery for a specialty shop for a little income, and my Father did several  small jobs in that time. We lived in a nice neighborhood and did not lack for conveniences, but had no luxuries. There is a lot that I realize I do not know, but I remember the vegetable man came around at the end of his route and brought us left over vegetables which were very welcome. We always had enough to eat and were happy children.

My parents were not citizens of the US at this time so were not involved in politics then, and what their thoughts were   on these subjects, I’m afraid I was not aware. I think everything in life was a sacrifice for my parents, but they made my life seem normal. They had no money. We did not have a car. We used public transportation. My Mother made most of our clothes and a lot were hand me downs or gifts.

Silent movies were before my time! And I did not see movies for a number of years.

These experiences had a huge impact on my Mother’s health, and consequently on my life. But otherwise, life went on, after jobs returned, in a very normal way. I think I learned to deal with most things that came along the best I could, for the rest of my life. 

———————————

The following “Questionnaire for the Great Depression and the 1930s,” comes from pages 70-72 of Emily Anne Croom’s  Unpuzzling Your Past. The Best-Selling Basic Guide to Genealogy. If you  have relatives who are over 80 years old, start with these questions and find out what it was like for them. How does life during the Great Depression compare to the financial problems we’re seeing now?

Questionnaire for the Great Depression and the 1930s

  1. To what extent did the Depression change your habits, way of life, school, plans? Did you “feel” the Depression? Did you observe a difference in the way the Depression affected people living in cities and people living in the country or small towns?
  2. Did the family move during this decade? Why? How frequently? Where? What household conveniences did you have or lack: electricity, telephone, indoor plumbing, others?
  3. Which family members had jobs? Doing what? Were they paid in cash, goods, or scrip? How much was rent? Was it difficult for the family to find housing or jobs?
  4. At the time, what did you or the family think of Presidents Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt? Have you changed your opinion since then? Whom did the family support for president in 1928 (Hoover or Smith), 1932 (Hoover or Roosevelt), 1936 (Roosevelt or Landon)? Why? How effective were Hoover and Roosevelt as presidents?
  5. Did any family member work for one of the New Deal agencies, such as the CCC, the WPA (Works Progress Administration), or the PWA (Public Works Administration)? If so, who? Which agency? Doing what? How long? Where?
  6. Did the family raise, hunt, can, or preserve any of its own food? If so, what? What food items did you find to be scarce or plentiful? Did you live on a farm, in a small town, or in a city? Did you observe or experience any difference in the availability of food in rural and urban areas?
  7. Did you experience the “Dust Bowl” that damaged so much of the middle of our country?
  8. What sacrifices did you or your parents make during the Depression? Why?
  9. Did the family have a car? What make or model? How much did it cost? How much did gasoline cost? Did you or the family limit driving? Did you or the family have to give up the car during the Depression? If you did not have a car, on what kind of transportation did you rely?
  10. Did you or the family have money in a bank before or during the Depression? If so, did you lose any of it because of the Depression? Did you or the family lose money in the stock market crash?
  11. Did the family make any of its clothes during the Depression? If so, what?
  12. Did you hear Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds” on radio on 30 October 1938? What did you think of it at the time? Did you fall for it? Why or why not? How did other family members react?
  13. What was it like to go to silent movies? What was your reaction to your first talkie or your first color movie? Explain.
  14. How have your experiences during the Depression affected your attitudes of the present?
  15. What further recollections and stories can you share about your experiences during the 1930s?
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