Friday, February 24, 2012

Abstinence Societies in America

Abstinence Certificate at Venerable Matt Talbot Resource Center 
But an Abstinence Society and Genealogy? In researching in the small town of Washington, Iowa, Clinton County, I ran across information on the St. Patrick’s Total Abstinence Society.  The goal was to practice total abstinence from alcohol and  spoke against imbibing and highlighted the medical issues. And it appears this active society was filled with members (our ancestors) not only in rural Iowa and small communities; but it spread across America, Ireland, Scotland, England and moreAccording to the History of the Total Abstinence Union of America, published by Penn Penn Printing 1907, pg. 11, the US temperance movement began as early as 1676 in Virginia when the first prohibitory act was passed.  This Irish Temperance movement was initiated in Cork, Ireland, April 1838, by the "Apostle of Temperance" the Franciscan priest Father Theobald Mathew (1790-1856).  Yet, the first temperance society was found in the USA, 1780, Litchfield, CT.

Although the movement seemed to go in and out of fashion, reflecting the ebb and flow of economic times, it reached eventually reached rural America and new settlements and was embraced by Clinton County Iowa.

During the pastorate of Father McCormick, a great revolution was made in the community on the question of total abstinence.  In December, 1875, he held a mission, at the conclusion of which the temperance pledge was given by him to nearly every member in his parish.  In February, 1876, St. Patrick's Total Abstinence (Temperance) Society, of Center Grove, was organized.  There were about 80 members. (The History of Clinton County, Iowa, 1879 Chicago: Western Historical Company page 815, Washington Township).
Not Just Irish
From Accessible Archives website 
The Temperance Meeting did not stay confined in the Irish communities. Groups and societies served all people. For example, there was the Rochester Colored Total Abstinence Association, 1841 and many others, especially in the New England states. 
The movement was also well accepted in Scotland.

Was This A National Movement?
First let us understand that Abstinence Societies still exist in Ireland, Scotland, England, and in the USA (and of course in other locales). The societies went viral, reaching the homeland of Ireland and by 1828 there was a Total Abstinence Society was formed in Glasgow.

The Osman’s Irish in the Manitowoc County [WI] Historical Society Newsletter ran an article, “Osman -The Heart of ‘Irish Meeme’.”  [Memee is a small commnity near Manitowoc.]

Reverend Father Francis D. Rose of Saint Isadore’s Parish in Osman described the history of Memee and then included a few local legends.
At the annual meeting on March 17, 1877, the members of the Total Abstinence Society voted to build a Hall. 

The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart (or PTAA) is said to be an Irish organisation for Roman Catholic teetotallers.  This present day organization as founded in 1898.  (Genealogical note: the term Pioneer was often used synonymously as  teetotallism among Irish Catholic in the 20th century).  

Did My Ancestor Sign? Finding Records

Original Source Unknown
If you are researching an ancestor be sure to note obituaries. These obituaries not only provide ancestral information but it may also define community.
In memory of George Farrell
It is with feelings  of the most profound and  sincere regret that we pen the following tribute in memory of our departed friend, George Farrell, who died on Friday morning, March  24th, age fifty-two years,  after a long and painful illness from which  he suffered much, but   bore it with  christian fortitude and resignation,  declaring himself resigned  to the will  of the Most High.  George was dearly beloved by all who knew him.  Previous to his death  he was attended  by the Rev.  Father Garland,  and received the last rites of the church, of which he was a devoted member  during life.  He was a  member of St.  Patrick's  Catholic Total Abstinence Society, of  Center Grove,  which  turned  out  in  full regalia  to  attend the funeral  on Sunday.
The History of Clinton County, Iowa, 1879 Chicago: Western Historical Company, page 815, Washington Township).
Some parishes still hold society membership books, or you may find copies of your ancestor’s pledge in the attic.  Of course, newsletters and newspapers are a great source.
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Researching Ex-Slave Ancestors

Ex-Slave Pension Correspondence & Case Files
Many researchers of ex-slaves are unaware of the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association. They may have never heard of the Ex-slave Pension Club, the Ex-Slave Petitioner’s Assembly or of other ex-slave aid organizations.  However, a government investigation of these associations/organizations yielded records, correspondence and more dating between 1892 and 1922.  

What are These Files?

The Washington, D.C., Ex-Slave Pension Correspondence and Case Files include a collection of 8 Case files of the ex-slave pension movement which was modeled after the Civil War pension program for veterans.  Here is a full description of the collection: M2110But, the following petition provides the best explanation of the mission.  

WHEREAS, Generation after generation of Colored people served this country as slaves for two hundred and forty-four years, or more and,
WHEREAS, This government owes the unknown and deceased Colored soldiers a large sum of money which is unclaimed, and,WHEREAS, Many of these soldiers have brothers, fathers, mothers, and sisters among us, who are destitute and starving, andWHEREAS, It is a precedent established by the patriots of this country to relieve its distressed citizens, both on land and sea, and millions of our deceased people, besides those who still survive, worked as slaves for the development of the great resources and wealth of this country, and,
WHEREAS, We believe it just and right to grant the old ex-slave a pension 
THEREFORE, We the undersigned citizens of the United States of America, appeal to your Honorable Body to pass the Senate Bill, No. 1978, introduced, Feb. 6, 1896 by Senator Thurston of Nebraska, providing pension for Freedman, etc.

Researching These Files Before running to the online website, the researcher must know that although the almost 300 pages digitized on is a good place to start (or NARA microfilm roll: M2110), DO NOT rely on the index tool to find mention of your ancestor. Some signatures and mentions of ex-slaves in the depositions have been overlooked or misspelled. 

Yet, a page by page scroll of this collection may uncover your ancestor and reveal information such as slave master, state and county of birth, and age.

Other Genealogical Data on Ex-Slaves
As these files were preserved as part of a federal investigation of fraud, within the Ex-Slave Pension Correspondence and Case Files depositions provide names, place of birth and residence of ex-slave ancestors. This deposition by I. H. Dickerson, a leader of the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, provides names of siblings, verifies his name slave name change, gives sisters’ married names and residence of family members, etc.

Certificate of Membership
Although each Ex-Slave Pension organization did not issue certificates, a few did. They provide a statement of : “I hereby testify that I was born a slave” followed by county (or city/county) and state.

Personal Letters
Through their fraud investigation, the US government also seized and archived many personal letters that involve the postmasters, townsmen, and leaders of the associations and recruitment flyers.

Although you can research these files by name, location, etc., I, once again, encourage the researcher to review each page.  
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Plat Maps and Genealogy Research

Ohio Counties, Hamilton vs. Perry
Townships, Cities, Counties
To narrow our research we must take note of the county, city and township.  A good example is Reading township in Somerset, Ohio. A simple google search of Reading Ohio, takes you directly to Hamilton, County. In my case, this was the wrong Reading. Let’s not confuse Reading Ohio in Hamilton County (far south west side of Ohio) with Reading township in Somerset Ohio located in Perry County (east central).  Identifying the township will help you research your ancestor’s land plats and other genealogical records.

Reading Township in Somerset, OH.  Perry County
Using Plat/Parcel Maps
Some researchers look at land plats just to mark ancestors’ names. But they actually can give us so many additional genealogical hints: 1) Take note of the neighbors.  Our early immigrant ancestors often moved in clusters.  By noting their neighbors, you may find a migratory pattern, especially if they disappeared by the “next census.” This is when you should do a search on the full cluster to find your ancestor.  Another good reason to take note to the neighbors? They are often parents, sibilings or cousins. 2) Find Female Ancestors through Proximity. Often sons and daughters don’t move far. A tip to finding female family members is to check neighboring households.  Father’s often gave (or sold) land to son-in-laws, and so that missing daughter might be right next door. And son-in-laws may parcel out land for the wife’s family. Of course this is just a clue, you must research suspecting females to confirm parentage.  But, if you are looking for a Bridget  (like I was) there were two in the county; one living in the household right next to ‘ole Dad.  Voila! 3) Where Were Ancestors Between the Census. Speaking of “next census” land plats help us narrow spans between census, to determine when an ancestor settled in a new county.  The 1846 census identified my family and their 80 acres. Now I can further research the deeds, plus I know the township, range and section (Township 16, Range 16, Section 22).   

1846 Reading Plat Map: Township16; Range16; Section 22
4) Determine Topographical and Community Landmarks. One of my favorite purposes to look at plat/parcel maps is for assistance with pinpointing area churches, schools, etc.  It’s a great way to fill in the gaps of your ancestor’s daily life in any particular community. This 1875 Reading Township map verifies that my subject still owned the original 80 acres acquired by 1846.  

1875 Reading Township Parcel Map
This clue may also help the researcher narrow a death date.  Was the owner still living in 1875? Time to search the deeds.

Perry County Research
If you too are doing Perry County Research, a great place to start your search is at the Perry County Ohio US website.

Kathleen Brandt