Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ordinary - or maybe not

After thrashing through some of our Hale, Northend and Webster ancestors recently, Traea's Grandma finally emerged into what she thought was the more familiar Sawyer family in the late 1600s.  By then just about everyone leading up to the Sawyers had immigrated from England, settling in what became Essex County, Massachusetts..

Here was the family of Samuel SAWYER and Mary EMERY, who produced, among others, sons Benjamin and Samuel, both of whom eventually contributed DNA to this grandma.  (For inquiring minds, it took a loooong time and a LOT of different families to bring those genes back together.)

Anyway, fun facts emerged during subsequent wanderings through Googleland.  (Dig past the collection of genealogists whose identical listings on almost any family member appear online.  The gems may instead be in descriptions of those relatives who come alive in books describing an area's history.)

Turns out that in Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts, Hugh March (no relation that I know of) was first licensed in 1670 by the Ipswich courts to "keep an ordinary and to sell strong drink."  This is from the book Ould Newbury, written by John J. Currier and published in Boston by Damrell and Upham in 1896.  

I had known that "the necessary," was the outhouse, but "an ordinary" as a tavern was a new fact.  

According to Ould Newbury, one of our Samuel Sawyers (probably senior since Samuel junior was born in 1674) is listed as a licensed innholder from 1693 to 1716, quite possibly at Hugh March's ordinary, which is by now known as the Blue Anchor Tavern, also written as the Blew Anchor Tavern.  He must have rented the place, because he is only listed as buying it in 1715.

Ould Newbury continues that Samuel resold this property almost immediately to Benjamin Sawyer, a weaver.  Benjamin only lasted until 1718 as the innkeeper / tavern owner.  He sold the "house and 2 3/4 acres of land in Newbury aforesd, commonly known by ye name of ye Blew Anchor Tavern, together with all ye houses, outhouses, Barns, Buildings, stables, orchards, Gardens, &c.," that he had acquired from Samuel.  Quite a sale!

Then history smugly lures us with contradictions.  Ould Newbury relates that the tavern was taken down following a subsequent land sale a few years later.  The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities may support this when they explain a structure they own, the Swett-Ilsley House, sits adjacent to land Hugh March purchased.  Find photos and information at .  Although Swett-Ilsley was used as a variety of commercial endeavors, the Antiquities people don't link it specifically with the Blue Anchor Tavern.

On the other hand, several modern writers describe and document that the former Blue Anchor Tavern is indeed today's Swett-Ilsley House.  Traea's Grandmother doesn't know enough to take sides on this contradiction, but it certainly has been a fun find!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

In the Palm of Your Hand

The most valuable genealogy research idea I've created (as far as I know TRAEA's Grandma is the only one who does this) was born from a need (compulsion?) to reference more than one person, family, or groups of families simultaneously.  It's primitive, but used all the time.

It's 4x6 index cards.  How much more old school could it be, right?  

Because I respond to colors when separating information, I randomly color coded the main branches of my tree with yellow for the Hacketts, along with their associated families, and orange for the Hills.  

I also loosely code tree generations.  My grandkids are Generation 1 (1), which makes TRAEA's Grandma (3).  This way when I get back to Adam and Eve I won't have run out of reference numbers.  The grandkids will have to worry how to code their offspring. 

Check out the scanned cards for the basics:
  • Each card has a surname written at the top. 
  • Either Hills or Hackett is written in the upper right corner and colored.
  • Each generation includes two columns listing the parents.
  • Their B / D years are written under each name, with their generation number in the middle.   
  • As information about preceding generations becomes available, it is listed on the appropriate card so that the oldest family is at the bottom.
  • Miscellaneous notes are written at the bottom, often colored
Note that each surname lists everyone with the same last name on the same side:  fathers on the left and mothers on the right, EXCEPT for the top name.  That's when a daughter marries out of the family name, so she appears directly above her father, and her husband is in the right-hand column.

I write these cards in pencil since they've been known to change - some more than once.  Some have only the daughter who married out of that family name and her husband.  A few include marriage dates.  A few include question marks for individuals or dates that remain questionable.  Many are missing some B / D years.  And siblings only show up on family group sheets.

Old school?  Absolutely.

But dealing those card onto a flat surface displays multiple relationships almost instantly.  And TRAEA's Grandma can grab these cards knowing that the entire direct-line family is going along on every research jaunt.