Monday, October 15, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Parish Records - English Style

First let me say sorry for being absent for the past bit and not posting on this our beloved blog. Life gets in the way of things we love doing and so it has been. Andrea has kicked me in the can, so to speak and we are back in swing and hopefully posting at a more regular interval!

Second WE HAVE A NEW WEBSITE!!! LOCATED HERE... Love love love it! I won't talk too badly of our last website hosting place other than to say we had two varying opinions on what "professional" should look like, so we chose another and have been feverishly building a new one for ourselves and our clients, so ENJOY! We believe the new hosting will bring our clients closer to realizing our potential as Genealogists and gives us a greater web presence! Genealogy services, Native American Research, English Research, Headstone Photography.

OK!! Parish Records! WOW, there is a lot to talk about in this area. A few things records are so vitally important in this thing we do called Genealogy studies, without them we wouldn't be able to honestly trace back with proof our ancestors and things about them. Another thing is that prior to 1733 unless you can now read Latin or old Latin, you won't be able to actually use the document itself unless it has been transcribed. That is a whole other blog, hundreds and hundreds of years of records for each continent and the millions of people who have walked this earth...what. a. task!

Ok, back to records, in the early 1500's the old King, Henry the 8th, set out to rule that Priests record Marriages, Baptisms, burials for each of their communities. Some were astute at keeping weekly records of these events and turned them in as stated. Others were not so astute in keeping tidy records and either didn't do them on a consistent basis or as some records show, only recorded partial records.

Let me point something out here in regards to these records, you will note that it says Baptisms and Burials. Sometimes children weren't baptized straight away, sometimes even as far out as a year or two, so if you are looking for birth records and cannot find them, be aware that if the Parish record has a date, it doesn't hold as a true "birth date" of a child. The other thing is burial dates, again these are recorded as actual dates the person was commissioned to their resting place. Depending on the time, the traditions a person might have died days, a week before this actually burial record time. So again, a cautionary tale on using and looking for exact dates with these types of records. Marriages you get an exact date, what you lack here are again depending on the year, the brides maiden name, her parents names, and the area in which they lived when they were joined in marriage.

Over the years, changing of Kings, rules and regulations information that was very lacking early on had increased over the years and a wealth of knowledge can be gleaned from them. The English civil war lost many records and also resulted in very poorly kept records. Then there are the times when the Church of England took rule and the churches deemed Non-Conformists kept strict records of their parishioners but those papers were kept hidden for fear of persecution.

There are a few places you can locate free records... but for the most part, like here in the states, these records and their transcriptions are generally on paid subscription sites.

Here you can access 'official' records

I have included some examples of Parish Registers so that you can see the differences in styles and how information had changed over the years. The hardest thing is translating Old English or even Latin and the fact that thousands and thousands of records are sitting waiting to be scanned or they are lost. So here is to your hunting and if you need assistance, contact us!!!

HAPPY Hunting
~Alisha and Andrea

image courtesy of

images courtesy of

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - In the Words of Rev. Joseph Smedley (my 4x great grandfather)

I wrote a few weeks back about the lovely man who contacted me regarding letters and a sermon he stumbled upon that are in the hand of my 4x maternal great-grandfather, Rev. Joseph Smedley. Let me give you a small background, Rev. Joseph was born in the United Kingdom (1790), he went to school there, went to a seminary (of sorts), became a minister, met and married his wife Mary Ann Ratcliff (1820), they soon started their family. He came to America in 1830 on the Ship the Arab via Philadelphia. His wife Mary Ann and 6 of the children came to America a few months later in 1830 on Brig Agnora via New York. They maintained a life and church family in Pennsylvania up until 1834 when he was acknowledged and commissioned not only as a teacher by the US Government (for the Native Americans being moved to Oklahoma), but also as a missionary for the Methodist faith. Rev. Joseph and Mary Ann went on to have two more children, she passed and Joseph was left to raise his children, teach, preach and live among the Native American peoples, specifically the Choctaw in what is now Le Flore County, Oklahoma and a 50 mile circuit of stops he made on horseback.

So, back to those letters I would like to share a letter and its translation. This is TRULY a family Treasure!!! P.S. There are VERY historically famous people mentioned herein.


To The Hon Choctaw Council:

I beg respectfully to present this appeal to your Hon. Body for the following Reason. The Treaty of 1864, says That all Missionaries to the Choctaws who have been such five consecutive years, shall be allowed a gr. sec. of land as as a home for themselves and families. The following facts will shew that I have been such a Missionary from the year 1844 till the commencement of the War.

"To all those it may concern. I hereby certify that the Bearer, the Rev. Joseph Smedley, this sixteenth day of Sept. 1844, was duly appointed Missionary to the red people, particularly the Choctaws West of the State of Arkansas, by the Board of Managers of the American Indian Mission Association in Louisville in the State of Kentucky. Isaac Mc Coy, Cor. Sec"

I continued my services to your people till Nov 27, 1855, and then was reappointed by the Rev. Joseph Walker, together with seven Choctaws, as Missionaries to their own people, as follows, Joseph Smedley 600 dols a year _ Peter Folsom as Interpreter 400 _ Lewis Cass 100 dols _ Shoonuby 100 dols _  Simon Hancock 100 dols _ Ishiatuby 100 dols _ Artumley 100 dols _ Atrumely's Brother 100 dols.
Apl 27, 1855, Mission Rooms, Marion, Ala. Joseph Walker Cor Sec.

The above Missionary services were independent of my employment as a Teacher in pay of the U. S. Government. I located a piece of land without interfering with any ones improvement; and all I ask of your Hon. Body is to allow me, in any way your wisdom may deem fit, to occupy the improvement I have made, till the Country becomes sectionized.

With sentiments of the highest esteem,
yours faithfully,
Joseph Smedley

P.S. I have four surviving children namely, John Ratcliff Smedley, Benjamin Bucknall Smedley, Samuel Henry Smedley, and Narcissa T Goddard_ all with families except to Samuel H.

As a side note of family history here, Benjamin was allowed to live on the land but it was eventually taken away from him by the Choctaw Nation and given to someone of Blood to the Nation.

Next week I will post and translate his sermon on the Lord's Supper, it's beautifully written.

Please note these letters are nearly 160 years old.

Happy hunting,

~ Alisha

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wacky World of Headstone Styles

As you wander among headstones there are varying types, styles, colors, fonts, shapes, sizes, and on and on and on. One thing specifically to this area, is the lack of even basic information. Now that could be for many reasons, one may have been money, then the lettering was hand chiseled, one may have been people didn't see the importance of having so much information. Now, some of the more recent headstones seem to be placing more of an emphasis of leaving information behind for others, but those 1800-mid 1900 stones it just wasn't seen as often in this area.

Now let's look at the ones from England, FULL of information not only about that person, but the person's family. How incredible is that? When the first settlers came to this country from Europe and their burials commenced, they carried on with this tradition of including these wealth's of information. Somewhere along the way as they moved west, those traditions seemed to die out. Was it because of money or the lack there of, was it because they didn't have those with the skills they were used to, as seen below, back in Europe? If you look closely, now remember this was in the 1800s, there were no lasers to complete these pieces of art. Look at the precise lettering, the scroll work, and not to mention those stones were hand carved into those shapes!

We definitely haven't found anything like this in Oklahoma, at least in the part that I am in, but Andrea's cemeteries in the United Kingdom are filled with them. One day I would LOVE to go visit them there and also I would love visit the Northeast portion of the US and Virginia where the settles came and started their lives and found their resting places here. I'd love to photograph those headstones and cemeteries.

We hope you enjoy the photos, Andrea's are from St. Andrew's Church, Netherton, Dudley, United Kingdom.

Happy Hunting,