Monday, December 26, 2016

Correspondence for Family History- An Essential Art

Family history correspondence has been one of the most useful things that I have done in my genealogical journey.  If you can find family members that have an interest in family history, it really pays to write them a query.  I wrote last week of my correspondence with my cousin, Margaret Arthur of Ocala, Florida and the discoveries related to photos in my family albums.

Aline Cavanagh Mayne 1902-1995, the saint of my family history.
My correspondence with my maternal grandfather's sister, Aline Mayne Cavanagh in the early 1990's is what made those discoveries possible.  I kept copies of the letters between Aline and myself and digitized them last week.  I am attempting to get rid of some of the paper I have accumulated but I have to admit to being a bit sentimental about these letters and may hang on to the originals a while longer.  My letters included accounts of some interesting events in my life that I had forgotten about.  For example here is a summary of my trip to Ottawa, Canada:

August 4, 1990
Dear Aline, 
This summer has been very busy for us. I went to Ottawa, Canada in the first part of July and was there for the Canada Day celebrations. The Queen was there and I watched her from less than ten feet away as she reviewed the troops in front of the Parliament Buildings. It was an emotional time because the Canadians are experiencing such strife due to the Quebec separatist movement. The Queen put out a plea for unity but I think it fell on deaf ears in Quebec.
Ottawa was a beautiful city. I rented a bicycle and explored the landmarks and the bike paths along the many waterways . While I was there I did some research on my wife's side of the family, the Fitzpatricks.
Turns out that they were American loyalists who emigrated to Canada after the Revolutionary war. They settled along the St. Lawrence River near a town called Cornwall. Her great grandfather moved to Colorado and homesteaded some land on the western slope of the Rockies and founded the town of Collbran, Colorado.
A useful tool that I used in my letter to Aline was the following survey form:
March 16, 1990
Please fill out as much as you can recall. Don't worry if you don't have answers. I would prefer that you just say that you don't know and return this sheet as soon as possible.
1. What were the names of your father's brothers and sisters?
2. What were the names of your mother's siblings?
3. Do you recall the names of your great grandparents?
4. Did your grandfather have a brother named Daniel?
5. If so was he married to a woman named Alice?
6. Please write down the names of any of your cousins?
7. How were these cousins related?
8. Please write down addresses for any living relatives.
9. Do you know where any of the relatives above are buried?
Her return letter which was dated one week after the date on my survey provided me with some very interesting family details:

Dear Nicholas,
It was good to hear from you.  I was so sorry to have lost contact with your mother [Jill Mayne 1935-2005] for so long.  I will be glad to help you find information on the Mayne family.  I can recall many things that might be helpful.
I never saw my grandparents Mayne who lived in Frederick, Maryland but I do remember when my father [Rev. Joseph Hanson Mayne 1849-1938] went to the funeral of his father [David Mayne 1921-1910].  I must have been 8 or 10 at the time [Aline was born in 1902].
However, we did visit my Uncle Frank and Aunt Fanny in Frederick after we came to Wilmington. [Aline and her husband, Elvin Cavanagh arrived in Wilmington, Delaware about 1931. Uncle Frank was also known as David Francis Mayne 1852-1941.  Aunt Fannie was also known as Fannie May Bopst 1859-1950.]
Frank had raised fruit and vegetables for the Baltimore market.  Had no children- collected rocking chairs, left most of his considerable fortune to the United Brethren church in Frederick.
Uncle Frank and Aunt Fannie Mayne on the porch of their house at 237 Dill Avenue, in Frederick, Maryland.  This picture was probably taken by Aline Mayne Cavanagh or her husband, Elvin Cavanagh in the 1930s.  They appear to be using part of their rocking chair collection.

This letter went on to provide me biographical information on her siblings and names and contact information for her nieces and nephews. Aline provided me with so many notes, letters, newspaper clippings, photographs and memories that I considered her a saint of our family history.  This extract from one of my letters to her explains the depth of my feelings for her:

October 15, 1990
Dear Aline:
Thanks for your letter of 10 October. The U.S. Mail is a wonderful thing but letter writing seems to be a lost art. I love to write now but resisted for so long. My computer has been an aid in that regard. I hope you don't mind the typed format. My genealogy instructor suggests that we write all our letters to relatives by hand. My hand can't keep up with my mind though. Not that I am lightning fast at the key board but I it is still much faster than hand written. My letter writing style says a lot about me as a person. I like to do everything the fastest and easiest way possible.
As far as your hand writing is concerned, I think you are too modest. The arthritis is not apparent to me. You have lovely handwriting, very readable. Do you correspond with others? I am sure they will agree with me. If it is uncomfortable for you to write at times you might consider sending me a tape recording. Do you have a cassette tape recorder? I will send you some tapes if you would like.
I have enclosed a copy of your father's list of church appointments. I don't recognize the names of all the churches or charges so if you could give me the names of the towns it would help me in tracking any records in the individual church archives. I think your father was a fascinating fellow and I would like to write his biography. The civil war stories would be very compelling if you can remember any more details. Despite all the trappings of progress, the American people are still very much the way they were. Instead of soldiers foraging for food in the countryside, it is the homeless foraging for food in city alleys.
I have enclosed a guideline on how to record your personal history. It says "oral" history but that is strictly optional. If you prefer to write it down that would be just as good. There are lots of questions on these sheets, so don't get overwhelmed. The main reason for so many questions is to show you that there are many interesting things that have happened in your life. I think you are a very unique and talented woman. God has blessed you with many gifts in your life. I ask that you share those by writing or recording your personal history.
Our church is celebrating All Saints Day by placing pictures of the saints in our lives on the altar. Our pastor spoke about her father who was an excellent example of service and devotion in her life. She asked me to speak last Sunday about the research I have been doing on our family history and to discuss one of our family saints. I immediately thought of your father and had resolved to talk about his long years of service to the church.
When I started to organize my thoughts about him and about my love of genealogy, I realized that the person I most wanted to recognize was you. I began looking through the accumulation of letters, notes and pictures that you had saved, and realized what a tremendous service you had done for the family in preserving those mementos of the past. Your pictures are on the altar now. After my talk I had one of the parishioners come up and say "hi, cousin". His name is Jim Wolfenden and he is a descendant of the Mayne family too! He talked about his brother attending some of the Mayne Family reunions in Frederick.
Well anyway, I hope you will consider writing down some of your memories. Even just a few pages would be appreciated.

Aline responded with a nice long letter about growing up in the various parsonages where her father served as a United Brethren minister.  One of her most vivid memories was of the Dayton flood:

... We lived at Lockington [Ohio] at the time of the famous Dayton flood.  Fortunately we lived high above the river so we were not affected by it as we watched houses and trees etc. float down the river. David [her brother] was in Dayton working at National Cash Register Company earning money for college.  He found refuge on the top of the Railway Depot. Canned goods i.e. tomatoes, applesauce, etc. floated by so the folks grabbed them and lived on them until the water subsided.

I hope these little excerpts will inspire you to write down some of your own memories and share them with your family.  When your memory is exhausted, start writing letters or emails to your family members and genealogical cousins to explore their collection of family memories and heirlooms.  Scan your old letters and photos and attach them to ancestor profiles in your online family trees.

If you would like to read the entire series of letters between me and Aline, you can download a copy at this hyperlink.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Finding a Maiden Name: Clues in Family Archives

The clues that we find in oral histories, notes on pictures and family bible records are essential pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that we call family history. Your family members whether they are immediate family or distant cousins have been archiving bits of information such as papers, heirlooms and photographs for centuries.  You must do your best to find these clues.

Family historians must collect, archive and catalog all of these pieces of evidence and compare them with other genealogical records to piece together the puzzle.   Writing up the story at every phase of the process is essential for a genealogist whether they are a professional or a hobbyist.

Write down the stories that you heard about your ancestors.  Then interview or send a written query to everyone you can find that is related to that ancestor through kinship or association. Share the stories with your family and anyone else who is willing to preserve them whether it be an individual, a library, an archive or a website.

Aline Mayne Cavanagh 1902-1995
This picture was taken in front of the Methodist Country Home in Wilmington, Delaware in 1990.

My grandfather's sister, Aline Mayne Cavanagh, shared her family photo and letter collection with me in 1990.  She allowed me to take it home to Reno, Nevada, make copies and return it to her by mail.  

Ann Bamford Nevin 1804-1879 and her grand daughter, Anna Elizabeth Banford Mayne 1860-1938. The girl is Aline's mother and the old lady also known as "Grandma Nevin" is her great grandmother who apparently was visiting her daughter's family near Cincinnati from her home in Schuyler County, Missouri. Taken at J.P. Ball's Photographic Gallery, on 4th St. between Main & Walnut Streets, Cincinnati, Ohio about 1867. Date is estimated based on an estimate of Anna E. Banford's age at 7.  It would be interesting to see if Mr. Ball was listed in the Cincinnati City Directory around that time.
One of the pictures was labeled Aunt Margaret Bryant, Grandma Nevin's sister.   Another was labeled Will Banford, Billaire.  I was able to discover the maiden name of both Grandma Nevin and her sister, Aunt Margaret Bryant, by sharing these photos with a Bamford descendant who I discovered was a distant cousin, Margaret Arthur of Ocala, Florida.

Margaret Bamford Bryans 1817-1887
Taken by Brown, 1222 Market Street, Wheeling, West Virginia. Labeled as Aunt Margaret Bryant, Grandma Nevin's sister. This photo was in the collection of Aline Mayne Cavanagh, my grand aunt and was copied in 1990.

Ms. Arthur had the proof that her ancestor, Margaret Bryans (also known as Bryant and Bryan) was born a Bamford in the Ramult Townland of County Fermanagh.  Here is the story in her own words:

"Bless the gods of genealogy! I despaired of ever seeing a photo of my ggg-grandmother! She has the same jaw as that of her daughter, Mary. And Will! The resemblance is remarkable!
 I believe that the young man is William of Bohattan, b. 1840--he looks to be about 25 in the photo, doesn't he?--son of William of Ramult, b. 1805, Margaret's brother.
Bellaire is in Belmont County, Ohio, just across the river from Wheeling, where his father settled. William's brother, Charles Fitzgerald Bamford, also settled in Bellaire and had a huge family.
Yeah, searching my Irish roots, I started with my mom's memories of her gg-mother, Mary Bryans Wiedebusche She believed she came from Ireland about 1850. Well, my initial searches found her born in Canada, along with a slew of brothers and sisters. Then I went looking for information about Mary's parents, where they came from and how and when they got to Canada.
Turns out Mom had Mary Bryans's MOTHER's Bible! There wasn't much in there (turns out Margaret Bamford couldn't write), and it leaves me with an irritating mystery. But it gave me the townland where Margaret was born--Ramult. Census fragments from 1821 of Ramult, in Fermanagh, show the entire Bamford family.
The Bible gave only three birth and death dates, those of William I Bryans, Margret Bryans, and a daughter, Maggie Brynes.
When I found Joseph Bamford in Belmont County, Ohio, I also found his brother, William, across the river in Wheeling, WV. I realized then that this was why William Bryans uprooted his family from Canada in 1865 and relocated to Moundsville.  If you go to the 1850 census of Belmont County, you will find living with Joseph one Thomas Navin with his wife Ann and a 4-year-old Magdalina, born in Ireland."
The fact that a picture of Grandma Nevin's sister was passed down in our family labeled Aunt Margaret Bryant and the fact that Margaret Bryant's maiden name was Bamford, helps us to conclude that Grandma Nevin was the Ann Bamford who is enumerated in the 1821 census of the Townland of Ramult.  

1821 Census Record of Ramult Townland, County Fermanagh
Family of Alexander and Jane Bamford is listed.
Several of these children settled in Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia.

Margaret Arthur helped to establish that the picture of Will Bamford of Bellaire, Ohio was a nephew of Grandma Nevin or Niven as it is spelled on her gravestone.

Will Bamford, Bellaire, Ohio - Estimated Date 1865
This photo was in the collection of Aline Mayne Cavanagh, my grand aunt. She allowed me to borrow it and make a copy in 1990. The back was marked: "Will Banford, Billaire" [sic] She resided in Wilmington, Delaware until her death in 1995. The original is in the possession of one of her descendants, hopefully.

The other piece that helps to support the connection between the Bamfords and the Nevins is the 1850 census record which shows them living together in the household of Joseph Bamford in Belmont County, Ohio.  

1850 Census Pultney Township, Belmont County, Ohio showing the family of Thomas and Ann Nevin residing with Ann's brother, Joseph Bamford.  Joseph Bamford is listed on the bottom of the preceding page.

Margaret Arthur had questioned the connection because the September 1850 census record shows Magdalina as age 4 which conflicts with the May 1850 passenger list for the Wolfville which shows Magdalina as "inft" which is presumably an abbreviation for infant.  If you look at the 1860 census of the Nevins in Schuyler County, Missouri you will see that Magdalina is listed as 14 which would coincide with the age of 4 in the 1850 census.  So it appears that the age of Magdalina on the passenger list was inaccurate.  One mystery that remains is the location of the other daughters in the 1850 census.

Passenger List of the Ship Wolfville arriving in New York harbor 23 May 1850. Passengers include Thomas Nevin and his wife, "Annie" nee Ann Bamford and their daughters, Jane, Mary, Margaret and Magdaline.

The story that has emerged by assembling all of these puzzles pieces tells of the process of chain migration from Ulster.  A large extended family of Bamfords and Nevins all immigrated from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.  Their descendants are now scattered across Ireland, the U.K.,  the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Free Live SCGS Webinar Series Announced!

2017 SCGS Jamboree Extension Series Webinars Announced!

The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) proudly announced the 2017 schedule for their highly acclaimed Jamboree Extension Series Webinar program. I am pleased to be offering the second session on January 7, 2017, 10:00 AM PST entitled Chain Migration from Ulster and One Name Studies.

SCGS offers educational webinars twice a month to an international online audience of genealogists and family historians.

Whether you are a budding genealogist or a professional, the webinars offer a wide range of topics to build your skills. The Jamboree Extension Series has helped to fulfill the SCGS mission to “foster interest in family history and genealogy… and provide instruction in accepted and effective research techniques” since 2011.

Registration is Now Open!

Click here to view the schedule and register for as many FREE LIVE webinars as you’d like. Following your registration, a confirmation e-mail will provide you with the link to attend the webinar.

All live broadcasts of webinars are free to attend. Webinars are offered the first Saturday (10:00 am Pacific time) and third Wednesday (6:00 pm Pacific time) of each month. You can attend on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

SCGS members don’t have to worry about missing a webinar!  Members have 24/7 access to well over 140 archived webinars and selected Jamboree sessions to view at their convenience behind the member wall at Visit their membership page for more information on this and other membership benefits.

Download the 2017 Jamboree Extension Series Webinar flyer and share with family and genealogy friends.

Register Today!

Jamboree Extension Series Webinars| Southern California Genealogy Society
| 818-843-7247 | |

Monday, December 5, 2016

Texas Institute of Genealogical Research #TIGR2017

Texas State Genealogical Society (TxSGS) is thrilled to announce the launch of the first ever week-long genealogy institute focused solely on Texas records–TIGR, the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research!
This intensive educational experience focuses on Texas records and research spanning early Spanish exploration and colonization through the Texas Republic and beyond.

Program, Venue & Registration

Full program and registration details are coming soon.
To see the Institute web page and sign up for the TxSGS email list go to:


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy Holidays to My Cousins!

I happen to have been blessed with a healthy helping of first cousins!  Here is a list of names:

Paternal cousins: John, Mike, Paul, Tim, Mary, and Toni Cimino; Mary Lynn and Larry Hancock; Rhonda and Aleen Burns. (10)

Maternal cousins: Christine, Steven, and Lesley Watson; Stacey Vroman Gray; Anna and Sarah Johnson; Terri and Gale Richter. (8)

Rainy days and holidays remind me of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations with lots of kids running wild.

I have a few pictures with my cousins around the holidays and in winter garb.  I share some of them here as a Christmas present to all of my cousins and their numerous descendants that are scattered far and wide across the North American continent.

Genealogists also know that we have thousands of cousins when we start to count all of the descendants of our ancestors.  I also wish all of my more distant relatives a Merry Christmas!

There is no rhyme or reason to the order. I wish I had more pictures of my cousins so maybe they could send me a few!

These pictures bring back many happy memories.  Merry Christmas Cousins!

Mike, John and Nick Cimino about 1955

Vicky and Nick Cimino and Christine and Steven Watson about 1959; In the backyard of our house on Carmela Way, Sacramento

I found this picture of Rhonda Burns in a box of photos that I got from my mom.  It looks like a graduation picture and it is inscribed to Uncle Dick and family- Love Rhonda
My christening with Steve and Christine
The rest of the folks facing the camera left to right are Bruce Watson, Joan Mayne Watson, Richard J. Cimino, the minister, Jill Mayne Cimino, Helen Stewart Mayne and Donna Mayne.  The woman in the dark dress is unknown.
This picture of Terri Richter was dated December, 29, 1987 and was taken at her home in Fresno.  Our grandmother, Elaine Kelly wrote on the back: "I made the jacket to go over dress.  I think Eiko bought it for Terry and she was cold.- EK"

This picture of Stacey Vroman Gray was taken in May 1985 in Statesboro, Georgia.
It shows that she has a flair for the dramatic!
Gale Richter is 11 years old in this picture which was taken at Homan Elementary School in Fresno.

Our grandmother, Elaine Kelly, with Stacey and Lesley at the wedding of Jack Kelly and Eiko Richter.

Steve, Christine, Lesley and Stacey, Christmas 1973
Christmas 1955 at the Kelly residence, Parkside Court, Sacramento
This is one of my favorite pictures inspired by our hilarious grandfather, George Kelly.
He is the horse and my dad is the rider.  Grandma Elaine is petting Goldie, the cocker spaniel.
Left to right: Elaine, Christine, Nick, Jill, Jack, George and Dick