Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Scanners and Relatives

Yesterday, there was a rather large storm which kept me inside all day, after finishing what work I could do for my employer I started working on consolidating my computer building and repair tools, when I came across a negative scanner that I bought a year ago. This machine happened to be on sale at the time and I knew I had allot of negatives that were just sitting in boxes, and this little tool or as my wife calls them "toys" would be very useful. I remember using it on some slides when I first got it then put it away thinking; I'll get a lot of use out of this later. A year later I found this little negative scanner sitting right were I left it waiting to be put to some use. I took it out and installed the software and started working on a box of negatives that I hadn't looked at in years.

Being a photographer for many years I generated a lot of material, when I first started I shot black & white film exclusively. As there were so many photographs, I just printed proof sheets and filed the negatives away. For those that are not framilar with the proof sheet it is simply a process of placing all the negatives from the roll of film on a piece of photographic paper and exposing it to light. What you get are a small negative size prints of what you shot, 24 or 36 prints on a page.

Professional photographers used the proof sheet process as a quick reference to see what they had shot and a baseline gauge of the exposure and composition. In my case It would have been cost prohibitive at the time to print every one of the pictures as there were always multiples of each. So as you might guess with hundreds of photographs some of these negatives were never printed and even the ones that were have been lost to time.

So getting back to the scanner and more importantly it's application to genealogy research;

This little machine does an incredible job at scanning the negative and converting it to a digital format; if the negatives are in good shape , have been stored in a clean and dry place, the prints will look like you shot the photographs yesterday. I've done a pile of them so far and it works great, some of these prints I'm really seeing for the first time, what a great step back into the past.

Now Genealogy:

Coincidentally I had been working on a colateral ex-uncle in-law's family, my first cousin's father. He was the ex-husband of my mother's sister. He married a second time and I knew this lady (his second wife) relatively well; she passed on a few years ago and I realized I had virtually no data on her. Using Genealogy Bank and Ancestry.com I did find quite a bit and updated the record, but no one seemed to have a picture of her to add to the file.

While working with this scanner as I started through these black & white negatives, in the 3rd or 4th strip I loaded there she was sitting at the picnic table at my parent's home talking with other relatives. In the next strip I found a photograph of yet another relative my father's brother's wife Aunt Jean sitting in her Harrisville New York living room thirty years or more ago.

There is treasure trove of family history in these pictures, which I haven't seen in over 30+ years. I can't wait to get back to the scanning of the rest of these negative to see what else I can find.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sons of the American Revolution SAR

As many people may be aware the Sons of the American Revolution is a lineage base patriotic society for men, the ladies group is known as the Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR).

It is a requirement of both of these organizations that membership can only be granted to direct descendant of a Revolutionary War Patriot. I have been interested in this organization for many year, my only problem with joining was that my direct lineage in my paternal line were loyalist.

Thomas Lake was a farmer in New York State at the time of the Battle of Bennington, his farm was located in the area of the Battlefield. There are records that indicate he was captured and interred in Cambridge New York until after the Battle of Saratoga was won. He was released, like many other loyalist prisoner after the battle and at present It is not clear what Thomas did or where he went until he and his family are found in Canadian Census after the war. It is possible he returned to farming or may have gone to join another fighting unit. It would not be surprising that once the battle was over and the fighting moved else-where that he and his brothers just went back to his farm. With the defeat of the only major British Army in Northeastern New York there would have been nothing to prevent the Lake brothers from returning to the farm or possibly setting out for Canada; Research is actively continuing in this area.

So you can see becoming a member of a lineage patriot group was not really feasible for me, until just recently.

While exploring my maternal line I came across my 4th Great Grandfather Eleazer Whitney, born 1755 in Brookfield, Massachusetts, (Still needs verification) he joined the Continental Army 1777 and served to the end of the war. After the war he made his way to Halifax VT there is 1874 he married Martha Crosier, they settle in an area of the town that would come to be known as Whitneyville. They remained in this area all their lives Eleazer passing on in June 1840 and Martha November 1865.

In 1818 the US Congress passed a law allowing for the payment of pensions to Revolutionary War Soldiers and Eleazer was granted a government pension for his service. The Congress subsequently passed legislation that enabled widows of Revolutionary War soldier to collect the pension of their husband provided they were accepted under the guidelines of the day. Martha was awarded a pension of $88.00 the was eventual raised to $92.00, now one would think that $92.00 a month would be a good some of money for the 1840’s however the payment was yearly and yes only $92.00. She had to keep re-applying the interval is not clear but the pension documents are a wealth of information.

The documents identified that Martha couldn’t write, she signed her name by making “her mark” which was an “X”, In one of these documents her daughter Abigail (Whitney) Farnum signed as a witness. This is significant as the first legal document that identifies the Farnum Family, and creates a genealogical link to the Whitney and Crosier lines. The only other document that I have found to-date is a handwritten piece of paper that looks like it came from and old stock book, it literally fell out of a family bible. This document has no identifying feature to document who wrote it.

This is a work in progress and there are several other avenues to follow I hope to be able to compile it very soon into the application for membership. Will continue to update.