Friday, January 28, 2011

Cause of Death

Anyone who spends very much time looking at the past will very quickly notice just how many children and young adults died, especially in the 1800s. Looking at names and dates, it's easy to wonder from what disease or sickness did a person die. Especially here in the south, Yellow Fever killed many children and adults and pretty much wiped out the entire city of Memphis, several times.

Trying to find the cause of death of an ancestor, I recently ran across some documents online that were interesting in that they provide random facts, figures, dates, and details of potential ancestors but also show how ancestry research was approached in the past.

"Ansearchin'" News" is the official publication of The Tennessee Genealogy Society. The very first issue online is from 1954 and includes topics like "The Natchez Expedition, 1813,""The Battle of New Orleans" and "Church Minute Book from Methodist Espiscopal Churches South." As you scan the issues through the years, you see how the members of the '50s, '60s, and '70s were as passionate about genealogy research as those of us today but they didn't have the benefit of and the internet. They shared books, listened to lectures and traveled to libraries in the communities the were researching.

Jumping back to the original topic, the January 1973 issue of "Ansearchin News" included on page 18 the Mortality Schedule for 1850 for Haywood County, TN. Simple things like teething, sore throat and croup often led to the death of babies and teenagers alike. Young adults died of Dysentary, Pluresy, Cholera or Fever. Of all the 54 deaths listed, only one was from an accident (drowning). The rest were from illnesses that today are very much treatable or have been eliminated.

Scanning through the list, the only name from my line I came across was Joseph Castellaw who died of croup at four years old in August 1850. While I can't figure out exactly who he was, it's not likely he was a son of my ancestor Thomas Jefferson Castellaw because young Joseph was born in 1846 and "Tom" Castellaw had a son he named Joseph in 1836. He most likely would not have named another son the same name just ten years later.

I guess the identity of 4-year-old Joseph Castellaw will remain a mystery for now. But tomorrow I am headed to Haywood County to explore a few cemeteries and visit the library they have there in Brownsville, TN.

I have a whole list of mysteries to work on so hopefully, I'll get a few of them solved.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thomas Joyner is Tempting me to Visit Bere Regis, England

I've been researching my Joyner family for the last few weeks and am pretty close to being able to get them uploaded to my Web site. One ancestor in particular is making me want to change my plans from an "efficient" (cheap) summer vacation to one that would be a lot more "educational" (fun).

My grandfather Lloyd "Bo" Williams, his mother Janie E. Williamson Williams
and his grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Joyner Williamson.
My grandfather, Bo Williams' grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Joyner.  Jump back 300 years and you find Thomas Joyner, my 10th great grandfather.

“The Royal Oak” inn in Bere Regis, Dorset, UK.
From 1654 - 1656 Thomas Joyner was the innkeeper of “The Royal Oak” in Bere Regis. His widow, Maude Joyner continued to run the inn after her husband's death until her own death in 1674. It was passed down, staying in the family for many years. Because of the long association with this family the property seems generally to have been known as "Joyners" at least until 1712 when it is referred to by its present name, The Royal Oak.  

St. John The Baptist Church in Bere Regis.
When Thomas died about 1657 in Bere Regis, he was buried at St. John The Baptist Church close to his two previous wives. Later, the church would have a connection with Thomas Hardy's classic book, “Tess of the d'Urbervilles.”

The front cover of an 1892 edition of "Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented"
The novel by Thomas Hardy, first published in 1891 initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by the British illustrated newspaper, “The Graphic.” Now considered a great classic of English literature, the book received mixed reviews when it first appeared, in part because it challenged the sexual mores of Hardy's day.

In the book of fiction, a poor farmer exploits his daughter's beauty for social advancement. The church and surrounding area is featured in many parts of the book.

Bere Regis is now a large village with one shop, a post office and two pubs. It's close to Puddletown, Tolpuddle and Affpuddle so it sounds like cartoon animals from Beatrix Potter probably live there. 

It's also close to Stonehendge so it a trip would be educational.

I think Thomas Joyner is wanting me to visit.