Sunday, 1 September 2013

John Francis Died after a Painful Illness

Save Graves

John FRANCIS born Kent, England died "after a painful illness" in Toronto April 29 1837 age 38. 

It's unusual to find so much detail on a monument.  A stone this size would have cost some serious coin but in this case it was likely donated by his employer, Burr Mill Stone.  I found the grave heavily grown over and it was quite thrilling to painstakingly uncover one letter at a time wondering what on earth could all this 'chatter' be? But when the word 'painful' became clear, it was very sad.  So many people died far too young back then but to have this word actually carved into the stone was unusual. I imagine Burr did it so eternity would know how much John suffered.  Curious, I looked up his death record and found 'liver complaint'.  Cancer perhaps?

*Burr Mill Stone Manufacturers was a factory located in Toronto near the steamboat wharves. It's gone now.

John Francis was originally buried in Potter's Field.  When it closed, his remains were re-interred in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.

Friday, 12 July 2013

If You're Happy and You Know It Crack A Smile

Why so sad?

Did you ever look at old family pictures and wonder if these people were dull as dishwater?  You see these dour faces staring back at you and wonder, "Why so gloomy?"   Apparently, back in the day, it took at least a minute of posing for the camera to capture an image. That's an agonizingly long time to hold a pose let alone a smile!  A photographer expert said they used clamps for the head and shoulders to help people maintain their pose.  Can you imagine?  No wonder few bothered (expensive too!) and of course, candid shots were near impossible.  

It's also said that early photography followed the same protocols as portrait painting which took so long, a smiling pose was simply out of the question.  

And what about the impact of religion? Not to hard to imagine smiling might have been considered a bit vulgar in those socially conservative times. Whatever the reason, it's a shame because we can learn so much about one's personality by the twinkles and wrinkles of a happy, laughing face.   

Our descendants will know us so much better, than we do our ancestors, because of the great strides in technology that allow wonderful candid shots that capture our very soul.  

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Is There A Doctor In The House?

Were men really this clueless?

Back in the day, being a woman was a tough gig what with all the breeding and baking.  So, if hubby was a bad lover - and most were, with no clue or care about a woman's sexual needs - there was nothing to look forward to at the end of a long day of toil.  Luckily, relief was only a horse ride away! 

Dr. Swift had a popular cure for 'lady ailments' such as headaches, bloating, listlessness, emotional outbursts.  If you find this totally hysterical,  that's exactly what it was called during the Victorian age. Today we would just call her a 'frustrated bitch'  but "Hysterical Passion" was considered a very real disease in medical circles treated only by massaging the gentiles by hand or with a water and hose!

And many a proper lady was grateful a cure existed.  Funnier still, husbands did not care and were happy to pay for the service since sex wasn't considered sex without a penetrating penis.  Foreplay had not yet been invented!  Between the constant demands of  running a house and keeping her husband happy, the lady of the house could finally sigh with relief at the "magical power of fine gentle massage".  Sadly,  the medical profession caught on to the scam and you won't find Dr Swift on speed dial today but there's always the big girl toy store when you're feeling 'hysterical' and in need of a little 'mid quarters' relief...

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

And The Dish Ran Away With the Spoon

Robert Maxwell Mitchell 1811 - 1878

Cinderella Marries Her Prince Charming

Once upon a time there lived a dashing coachman who fell in love with his Lord's daughter. 

Robert Mitchell Sr. (b. abt 1792) was in the employ of Lord Maxwell of County Down when he fell in love with the Lord's daughter, Elizabeth Beatty Maxwell.  The feeling was reciprocated and the lovers eloped sometime before their first child was born in 1809.

The fairy tale marriage produced three strapping boys, Henry, Robert, John, all born in County Down, Ireland.     

When the boys were older, around 1830, Daddy brought them to Canada and settled them each on newly purchased homesteads in Cayuga, Mono and Markham.  Robert Sr. then returned to his wife in Ireland where he remained until her death at an unknown date.

Robert Jr., pictured above, married Eliza Lilly in 1834 in Toronto. They had 2 children, Elizabeth  Ann and John but sadly, Eliza died in 1840, age 30, cause unknown.  He married again and had six more children.

A skilled cabinet maker by trade, Robert Jr. built fine furniture and later branched out into houses.  

Robert also took part in the 1837 Rebellion.

So far, nothing has popped up in the search for more information in Lord Maxwell's family and Robert's parents, including the death of his mother.   


Friday, 22 March 2013

Knock Knock Who's There?

What's in a name?

Quite a lot if it brings your ancestral search to a screeching halt because the name was never etched on the gravestone.

While there could be any number of reasons for the omission, it's most likely due to a cost factor, especially during depression years. Certainly, it's cheaper to re-open a grave than to buy a new plot and stone. Plus, with no existing law about stone markings even more money was saved by leaving it blank.

In the grave featured above, several more people are buried here than engraved on the stone. Also resting here is a one year old boy that the family tree researcher had no idea existed since he was too young to be captured on a census. It was the search for his father's missing burial site that lead to the discovery of little Alexander.

What does it all mean? It means that gravestone transcribers, who rely on stone markings, have nothing to write down. No data to digitise. And empty databases means no online search results.

So, if your search for an ancestral grave has hit a brick wall, this might be the reason why. To find your answer, select the grave of a near-relative to the elusive deceased, say spouse or parents, and ask the cemetery administrator to look up the original grave ledger which shows all of the names of the interred and dates buried.

You never know. Perhaps you'll find a lost soul now happy to be reunited with family or a small child that time forgot.



Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Genealogical Jaunt Through the Past


Imagine standing on the front stoop of your ancestral  'thatchie'.  Or perhaps they lived in a castle.   Envision yourself walking through the crumbling ruins of  the churchyard where your great-great-great-great grandmother is buried.  Fancy finishing off the day with a pint of Guinness and some foot-stomping fiddle and banjo music in the same untouched-by-time local pub where your ancestors socialized!

If you've traced your ancestral roots to Ireland, this is a great year to combine your ancestral jaunt with a visit to Ireland.  The Gathering Ireland 2013 promises good times as Ireland celebrates its history, culture and all things Irish.  There's more to Ireland than just St. Patrick's Day.

The Gathering Ireland 2013

Solid planning makes for a successful  better holiday. These sites offer a treasure trove of research advice, travel tips and lots of interesting information on being Irish. There's a message board you check out. Perhaps unknown distant family members are looking for you!

National Archives
National  Library
Irish Genealogy
Irish Family History - Roots Ireland

Of course, one must make every effort to stop in Dublin for a visit the holy grail of ancestry, The Guinness Storehouse!  Imagine talking about your exciting day of exploring over a pint in their glass-walled pub in the sky!

So get your genealogy jaunt off and running with this Trip Advisor page tailored to The Gathering Ireland 2013.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Do you know who I am?

I'm lost. Can you help me find my family?

Is their anything sadder than finding a stash of old family photos with no clue as to who they are?  And everyone who could unlock the secrets is long gone?

Don't let your ancestors end up in an orphan bin at the flea market.  Host a Family Photo night.  Invite your parents, grandparents and any other 'elders' who can tell you about the pictures and family history stories.  Tell them to bring their pictures and have the scanner ready!

Pick their brains before it's too late.

The woman in this picture is all dressed up but no place to go.  Nothing written on the back.  No idea who she is.  She ended up at a garage sale.

If you have orphan pictures you'd like posted to our Lost Souls page on our site, email them to us with any details you have.  Who knows?  Maybe someone will recognize it.

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