Sunday, April 29, 2012

Internet Archives and Cluster Research

I just downloaded the 1830 and 1840 census for Fountain County, Indiana, from the Internet Archive. The ability to do so is very helpful.  Ancestry and Familysearch don't allow me to just scroll through a county census as I was used to doing at the Pittsfield branch of NARA.  It can be very informative. 
I'm still trying to find out where Phebe Cooper's father John came from. It's such a common name, especially in the southeast, that I really need more information to go any farther. Not that the census would be helpful in that. I just want to see if her father brought his family to Indiana.
Phebe Jane Cooper was born 28 Jan 1816 in Kentucky.  She married Jesse David Runyan 1 Jan 1835 in Fountain County, Indiana.   The couple moved to Vermillion County around 1839, where they remained.  Both are buried in Spangler Cemetery.  Their children were:
  1. Elizabeth Runyan was born about 1836 in , , IN, USA.
  2. Mary Jane Runyan, born 17 Aug 1840; married Jesse Hise, 13 Dec 1859, , Vermillion Co., IN, USA; married D. L. Humphreys, 25 Sep 1870, , Vermillion Co., IN, USA.  (These are my ancestors.)
  3. John Runyan was born about 1843 in , , IN, USA.
  4. Harrison Runyan, born abt 1845, , , IN, USA.
  5. James Runyan was born about 1847.
  6. William Henry Runyan was born about 1850 in , , IN, USA.
  7. Louis F. Runyan was born about 1852 in , , IN, USA.
  8. Franklin Runyan was born about 1852.
  9. Charles Runyan was born about 1856 in , , IN, USA.
  10.  Emma Runyan was born about 1858 in , , IN, USA.
  11. Jesse Runyan was born about 1863 in , , IN, USA.

It is Jesse and Phebe's daughter Mary Jane that I'm descended from.  Since she and her mother both have the middle name Jane, I'd say it was the first name of a woman in the Cooper family.

I almost forgot an important technique. It can be very rewarding to do cluster genealogy, to study other members of the family. It can lead you to other sources of information that will ultimately provide the information you're looking for.

Native History Not Safe

Listening to Andrew Solomon on the Moth Radio Hour 401 I heard a very interesting quote from an Afghani art professor:  "You are from the West, so your history is safe and you can go on and do more.... Our history is not safe so we have to work to make it so."  This can apply to Native American culture and history.  Mohican post-contact goods have disappeared.  They either burned in the 1911 state library fire, taken away to Europe to be part of curiosity cabinets or confused with Mohawk and Abenaki goods.  Knowledge of the ancestors post-contact presence in the Mohican homeland has disappeared and it takes genealogy to find them.  This is true for other Native ancestors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Peter Buffett's Spirit

I first became aware of Spirit by seeing it on PBS.  As a person who has been struggling to determine her Native ancestry and to find her place in the world, it swept me away.  This production comes the closest to communicating what it feels like to be a modern Native American dancing in the circle.

According to the official site of Peter Buffett:

Spirit - The Seventh Fire celebrates and honors the rich culture of this Nation's first people through Native American music, dance, regalia and song. Employing universal motifs and themes, Spirit - The Seventh Fire's story is told through live concert, contemporary and traditional music, epic film including National Geographic Imax footage, spectacular Native dance and traditional heart-pumping Native drum group performances. The Omaha World-Herald has proclaimed Spirit "... poignant, sad, uplifting, thrilling and powerful."

Spirit - The Seventh Fire tells the dramatic story of one man's journey to find a balance between the culture in which he exists, driven by the "American Dream," and his roots, rich in heritage, tradition and connected to the natural world. It is a journey of self-discovery that renews within him the mystery, beauty and spirit of his ancestors and brings him to a magical place where his past meets his present.

I've found some of the dances on YouTube, in the sequence on the CD:

I hope you enjoy the beauty, grace and strength of my ancestors and relatives.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Family's Houses

My father's family came from a lovely village in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, called Housatonic. There are only a few photos from that time because my grandfather burned all he had in the 1960s.  It was easier to obtain photos of the houses they lived in than of the people. 

This is the house that Lawrence Vosburgh built on the western bank of the Housatonic outside of Vandeusenville.  Vosburgh was the stepfather of my gggreat-grandmother Sarah Livingston.  He was the third husband of her mother Rachel Boyes.  In 1850 as shown on the federal census Sarah and her husband George Winchell lived in this house with Vosburgh and his wife Rachel Boyes.

The next generation of Winchells moved to Housatonic.

This was the house that George's son and my ggreat-grandfather John L. Winchell bought with his wife Winifred O. Ashley on Hart Street in Housatonic.  I am still kicking myself for not arranging for a tour of the house when it was for sale.

This house next door belonged to John and Winifred's son Daniel H. Winchell.  Daniel was married to Alice Augusta Warfield.  They had a daughter Adelsa Roberta.  Daniel died of epilepsy when he was thirty.

Lower down on Kirk Street is the house that George and Sarah's daughter and John's sister Henrietta lived with her husband Uriah Surriner Sr.

Right around the corner from Hart Street on Main Street, Samantha Winchell, sister of John and Henrietta, lived in this house with her husband Isaac Strong.  I'll have to go see if they ever finished painting the house.

The Winchells were all carpenters at one time.  A friend showed me this photo one day and I recognized the last man on the right as my great-grandfather:

This is the only surviving document for the construction of Searles Castle in neighboring Great Barrington.  I suspect other family members were on the crew as well. 

Searles Castle today

If you go to Searles Castle, Estate of the Day, you will see more exterior and interior photos of the estate.  I have never seen photos of the interior of what my great-grandfather helped build until today.