Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Your Friendly Local Library

Libraries are awesome. Among many many fantabulous things you can do at your local library, they can help you with genealogy research in a multitude of ways.

  The Complete Idiot's Guide To
Writing Your Family History
By: Lynda Rutledge Stephenson
First of all and most obviously, libraries are full of books. Duh, right? There are tons of books that will help you immensely in your research. I've only begun to delve into some of these books myself, and I have already found a lot of great tips that have made me better at researching. Not only can they make us better researchers, books can help us understand the time periods our ancestors lived in, the history of their homelands, their occupations, wars they may have fought in, and so much more.

In Search of Our Roots
By: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
There are hundreds of books out there for any subject you can think of to help you write your family's story, and chances are they're sitting right in your local library waiting for you to come and check them out. You have access to all of these books without having to shell out hundreds of dollars to take advantage of everything they have to offer. Just the other day I took out 4 genealogy books from my library, and the receipt informed me that I had saved over $70. Score! The books are mine for 3 weeks and my notebook fills up with all of the helpful advice for me to visit over and over again whenever I need it. If I need to I can just check the book out again for free. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. 

Another resource that libraries have are librarians. Another duh, but it's true! Reference librarians are a great help for genealogists and historians. They are knowledgable about local history and can direct you towards the many resources the library offers. Not only that, but they are always willing to personally help you dig up any piece of information about your ancestors that you may need help with. I have one right now hot on the trail of my great-grandparents' marriage record. 
If your ancestors lived in a different town or state than you, don't hesitate to hit up the reference librarian who lives in their town or one of their neighboring towns. They can use their local resources to help you find a record, find your ancestor in a local newspaper, find a book about the town's history that may pertain to your ancestor's life, or help you in a multitude of other ways. If they can't come up with what you need the first time, keep trying! Sometimes they miss things and need to take a second (or third) look, so be persistent.

Libraries also offer (free!) access to databases that can aid you in your research. 
HeritageQuest is one of them. They offer census records from 1790-1940, over 28,000 family and local history books, Periodical Source Index (PERSI), Revolutionary War records, Freedman's Bank, and the US Serial Set. The website explains all of these amazing resources and how to use them to your full advantage. It's a good alternative to pay sites, and all you need is your library card number to gain access! 
American Ancestors is another free resource your library might offer, brought to you by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. While using American Ancestors you will have access to over 200 million historical databases pertaining to New England, New York, and beyond. You will also have access to over 28 million bible records, diaries, account books, research notes, and more. There are discussion boards, and even an Ask a Genealogist feature to get expert advice on any problem you might have. 

Did you know that you can even take free online courses through your library? 
Learn4Life (Formerly Ed2Go) offers a genealogy course which would cost $99 if not for your local library. If you sign up through your library's website, you can take this course, or any other of the awesome courses that Learn4Life has, for free! There are class message boards to connect with other students, and professors are always available to answer your questions. 

You might even be able to join a genealogy group at your local library, like I did. It has been a lot of fun getting to know new people who are interested in genealogy, and I've already learned a lot of cool stuff. A lot of what I've discussed in this post I learned in my genealogy group. We meet once a month, but the conversations continue on our group's Facebook page, so when we have a problem and need advice, someone is usually there to help or bounce ideas off of. If your library doesn't have a genealogy group, let them know that you'd be interested in one. Maybe seeing that people are interested would make them think about creating a group.

In conclusion, libraries rule. You can get loads of library swag (should I trademark that?) that will make you a better genealogist and family historian. But more importantly libraries can help you understand your ancestors better by teaching you about when they lived, where they lived, and how they lived. All you need is a library card, and your ancestor's world is at your fingertips.

Many thanks to my friend and reference librarian Cindy Grove for helpful information about using libraries for genealogy! You can visit her blog here. Thanks Cindy!

*Your library may not offer everything I've shown in this post (they might offer even more), so ask the local reference librarian what resources your library has. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Surname Saturday (Driscoll)

This is my first ever Surname Saturday post, yay!

This week's surname is...*drumroll*...Driscoll.

Driscoll is a version of the Irish surname O'Driscoll. Many in Ireland dropped the O in the 17th and 18th centuries. I've been told that our family dropped the O at Ellis Island.
The Gaelic for O'Driscoll is Ó hEidirsceoil. Isn't that fun? Yeah, I don't think I'll be learning Gaelic any time soon.

The surname O'Driscoll originated in County Cork Ireland, where I've been told our family comes from although I have yet to find hard evidence for this. In ancient times the O'Driscoll clan claimed to be descended from the High King of Ireland Lugaid mac Con.

County Cork was part of the ancient kingdom of Desmumhan (AKA: Desmond, South Munster County Cork), and home to pre-Milesian tribes of Fír Bolg such as the Corcu Lóegde, Múscraige, Uí Liatháin and Uí Meic Caille.
The O'Driscoll were the chief family of the Corcu Lóegde. By the 9th century, Milesian tribes of the Eóganacht, an Irish dynasty, dominated much of the area and the the people of the Corcu Lóegde were pushed into south-west Cork.

The first mention of a name resembling Driscoll occurs in the Annals of Inisfallen wherein the death of Conchobar Ua hEtersceóil in 1103 is reported; he was the king of Corcu Lóegde. For the next 500 years the O'Driscolls were a powerful family involved in a number of adventures and conflicts. Their lands of rocky peninsulas and islands were not well suited to farming. Thus it should be no surprise the O'Driscoll were a seafaring people engaged in fishing, trading and piracy. They constructed a number of great castles and the ruins of some may still be found.
I wonder if I can make a claim on one of these castles...

By the 1200's three lines of Driscolls had emerged. From Donnchadh Mór (d. 1229), a later king of the Corca Laoidhe descended the main line. Donnchadh's youngest brother Aedh (d. 1213) split off and moved to the Beara peninsula, probably as the result of a dispute. Apparently Aedh was killed by his own relatives. The Beara Driscolls may have extended as far as Dingle. The third line was descended from Donnchadh Mór's youngest son Amlaíbh (d. 1234 in Tralee). His line was known as Uí Eidirsceóil Óig. The Driscolls in Beara were eventually superceded by the Eóganacht O'Sullivans two to three hundred years later, a story in its own right.
So curious as to which of these lines I came from! 

By the 16th century, pressure from the Sullivans in Beara plus the other major clans had pushed the O'Driscoll Mór into Collymore and the O'Driscoll Óg into Collybeg. Their principal residences being Baltimore and Rincolisky (Whitehall, parish of Aghadown) respectively. Gleann Bearcháin (Castlehaven) was a third, smaller territory occupied by descendants of Tadhg, in turn descended from Fínghin Mór.

During the 17th century the O'Driscoll were to lose their lands. The stage was set when an attempt to take over large sections of Munster and Leinster involving the O'
Driscoll failed. The Mór chief Fínghin surrendered his lands to the Queen of England in 1573. Fínghin was later knighted and granted all the the sept-lands of the O'Driscoll Mór but in so doing he had lost his autonomy and held the lands as England so dictated. As other chieftains fought with England Sir Fineen remained loyal to the English until the Spanish entered the conflict allied with those chieftains. Even with Spanish help against them the English prevailed and in 1602 the O'Driscoll would once again lose their lands. Some family leaders took refuge in Spain and some in the Spanish armed forces. Sir Fineen himself surrendered to the English and with some other O'Driscolls of note was pardoned. However by 1629, through plantation, mortgaging, surrender and regrant, the lands of Collymore were lost.

By 1670 the lands of Collybeg were also lost. The word lost should not be taken literally and neither should the earlier statement that by the 16th century there are only two branches of O'Driscoll. These are statements of the essence of the situation and minor exceptions can be found. For example, in 1694 Dennis Driscoll of Ballnegornagh (Barleyhill, parish of Ross) was successful in his claim for restoration. There are still Driscolls at Barleyhill East in Griffith's valuation about 150 years later. There are O'Driscolls in the parish records for the Béarra peninsula despite losing this ground to the O'Sullivan hundreds of years earlier.

In the 19th century the O'Driscolls were tenants on the lands once held by their forefathers. During the famine they suffered as badly as any other impoverished tenants despite their noble ancestry. Large numbers emigrated to the United States, Australia and England. Within Ireland itself though the O'Driscolls did not stray far from South West County Cork. In the index to Griffith's Valuation there are 1,331 O Driscoll and variants; of these 1,125 or 85% are in County Cork. Matheson's surname analysis based on 1890 births yields 91%. Further, Matheson's report shows that of the 121 Driscoll births that year, only one was outside the province of Munster. A similiar analysis of the 2000 electoral rolls for the Republic of Ireland leads to the conclusion that even today about 53% of the O'Driscolls are in Cork.
My Driscolls did not leave Ireland during the famine. My 2nd great-grandfather stayed in Ireland until 1889 when he came to Boston.

So that's the history of the Driscolls. It's a long but interesting read. Now I want to talk a little bit about my own Driscolls. I'll start with my 3rd great-grandfather, as far as I've been able to get back on my Driscoll line.

Timothy Driscoll was born in Ireland, he was married to a woman possibly named Ellen Collins. Timothy and his wife had 1 son that I know of, my 2nd great-grandfather William H Driscoll.

William H Driscoll was born (who knows when) in Ireland. He immigrated to Boston MA in 1889 and married Mary J Ennis in 1890. All told they had 10 children. Charles, Helen, James, Mary, Annie, Genevieve, William (my great-grandfather), Louisa, Loretta, and Joseph.
The family lived in Boston until sometime before 1920, when they moved to Everett. William worked as a brass finisher and a machinist. In 1930 he and Mary took in their granddaughter and raised her after her father died and her mother (Genevieve) moved to New York.
William passed away on 15 Feb 1950 in Everett from hardened arteries and a blood clot in the brain.

William C Driscoll & sons
William C Driscoll was born on Christmas of 1902 in Boston. He married Margaret C Dumas in abt 1922. I kind of hate myself for not knowing when they got married. One of these days I'll get my hands on the record.
They had 2 sons, William and Donald (My grandfather). They also took in a little girl, Josephine Cader, in the 1930s.
William worked as a longshoreman and served in WWII.
He passed away on 15 Jan 1974 leaving behind his son Donald and 2 grandchildren who adored him. I still hear stories about Grampy Driscoll to this day.
His son William passed away 4 years before him in 1970. He was a veteran of the Vietnam war. His other son Donald, my Grampy, fought in Korea. A very patriotic family and I am so proud of all of them.

Hopefully I'll be able to get further back with my Driscolls than Timothy. He's been the end of the line for years now and I'm itching to find out more about him and all of the Driscolls. Unfortunately in my experience the Irish are not great record keepers. I just gotta keep on plugging away until I can reach back even further into the history of my Driscolls.

Wikipedia: Driscoll (Surname)
Driscoll of Cork - History

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pinning Genealogy

Pinterest is a great resource for almost anything you can think of; nail polish, pies, scrap booking, paint colors, couches, fashion, food, and memes as far as the eye can see. So why not genealogy?

I've been using Pinterest fiendishly since a couple of years ago when I first tried it out. It's an addictive website, you could spend hours on it just perusing everything it has to offer. Then I thought, I wonder if they have any genealogy stuff here. Boy did they.

Pinterest search for "genealogy"
(Click to enlarge)

One quick search for the word "genealogy" brings you miles and miles of pins from free resources, blog lists, old photos, census records, and even some genealogy humor.

You can find great articles and tips from the pros. You can find old photos of where your ancestors lived. You could even find a photo of your actual ancestor! There are tons of old family photos on Pinterest you can look through, usually tagged with the family name. I haven't had any luck finding one of my ancestors, but you never know.

Create your own genealogy-related board on Pinterest
(Click to enlarge)

If you find something that interests you and you want to save it, you can pin it to your own board. You can make a board specifically for genealogy, like I did, and post all of your genealogy-related stuff on it.

People will be able to follow you and you can follow other genealogy boards to see what users pin to them on the main page.

This is just a great way to keep track of what you've found on Pinterest and you can go back and look at it whenever you want.

Add your own pin to Pinterest
(Click to enlarge)
Write a description for your pin
(Click to enlarge) 

Instead of only searching for pins, you can add them too. If you're like me and have had no luck finding photos of your ancestors, why not add some? Who knows, you could have a cousin out there looking for a photo that you're lucky enough to have. Sharing is fundamental in genealogy. We've all benefitted from others' helpfulness, so let's pay it forward.

All you have to do is click the + on the top right and click "Upload a pin" to add a photo. You can also add one from a URL.

Once you've picked out your photo, try to add a description that will help your cousin find it. My example isn't the best, but you want to include their name, birth year, and death year if you know them. You should also include the place your ancestor lived. Choose the board you want to pin it to, and viola! Your ancestor is now on Pinterest.

You can add documents, stories, or photos of where your ancestors lived to your board. Pinterest is just another way to get your family's story out there.

Pinterest search for "1890s wedding dress"
(Click to enlarge)

You can get a little creative with your search terms and find out things that maybe you didn't even know you were curious about. Like what did your ancestor wear at her wedding?

My 2nd great-grandparents got married in 1890 so I typed in "1890s wedding dress" and up popped all of these gorgeous 1890s era wedding dresses that may be about the same style that my ancestor wore. This can give your imagination fuel to dream up what your ancestors' lives might have looked like.

Pinterest search for "goteborg sweden"
(Click to enlarge)

You can also search for where your ancestors lived to get a better idea of what their lives looked like, and to see the way their hometowns look now. It's a great little window into their world and even more fuel for your imagination.

Some of my ancestors came from Goteborg Sweden so I searched for it and came up with lots of images of both old Goteborg and new. It's fascinating to see different places throughout the world, even more so if your family lived there.

I hope I've inspired some of you to either try out Pinterest for the first time or just use it a little differently to help you in your research. Let me know in the comments how you've used Pinterest in your research or how you plan to use it now after reading this post, I'd love to hear your experiences!

Happy pinning!

Update 07/10 - In a weird coincidence, Jacqi Stevens blogged on this same subject (Even used the same title) on her A Family Tapestry blog yesterday morning! I read her post and it's a great companion piece to this one. She gives her own unique perspective on using Pinterest as a genealogy tool. She also links to several great genealogy-related boards on Pinterest. I highly suggest heading over and reading her post when you finish mine. You can check it out here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday Wall (William Farmiloe)

One element I liked about the old blog was my Wednesday Wall posts. They give me a chance to get my frustrations out and maybe even find someone else who has hit the same exact walls as I have. I Google these peoples' names often and have alerts set up for their names, hopefully one or two of my cousins do too. This Wednesday Wall post is dedicated to my 6th great-grandfather, William Farmiloe.

I know diddly about William. I mean nothing. Well, that's a slight exaggeration. I know his name is William, he lived in England, and he had a son named John.

William appears on his son John's 29 Oct 1865 death record.
John Farmiloe death record. 29 Oct 1865, Charlestown MA.
(Click to enlarge)
He appears with his...wait, nope. No wife. She's "Unkn." So there's that.

I can't tell you much about William, but I can tell you about his son John and his grandsons.

William's son John was born abt 1786 in Gloucestershire, England. He married Ann White, I'm not sure when but I assume at least before the mid-1820s. They had 3 sons, William (b. 1826), George H (b. 1829), and Edwin F (b. 1830). The family left England and came to Boston MA in 1845. Later that year the oldest son William passed away in Charlestown MA at the young age of 19 from "fever."

George (my 4th great-grandfather) went on to marry Mary S Leet (Also spelled Leight) in 1848 and had 3 children with her, George H, Mary Anne, and Georgianna (my 3rd great-grandmother).

Edwin married Catharine (Kate) Callahan in 1851. They had 3 children, William H, Louise, and Edwin J.

In 1861 at the start of the Civil War, both George and Edwin enlisted in the military for the north.

George was killed in action at the battle of The Wilderness on 6 May 1864.

Edwin survived the war and passed away on 16 Jan 1877 in Everett MA from pneumonia.

That's the Farmiloes in a nutshell. Maybe you're related to one of them and came to my blog through your research. In that case, can you help a cousin out? Or are you also stuck banging your head against the giant brick wall named William Farmiloe? If so, maybe together we can finally figure out who this guy was and maybe even get back a couple more generations of Farmiloes.

*The Farmiloe surname is spelled in a variety of ways, among them are Farmley, Farmilo, Farmlo, Farmlow, or Farmilow. Just wanted to throw those in there for the search engines.