05 February 2009

To My Ancestors

I see you toiling down the tedious years
You bearded, bent, and gaunt old pioneers
Sowing and reaping, sowing once again,
In patience for an unborn race of men.

I see you struggling in the wilderness
Where failure meant starvation and success.
A cabin in the clearing, roughhewn, rude,
Garments of homespun, and the humblest food.

Tradition scarcely tells me whence you came,
I only know a few of you by name;
I only know you lived and multiplied,
Quite profligate in progeny, and died.

Yet in my heart, I know that most of you
Were strong and steadfast, and that one or two
At least, had weaknesses that still may be
Traced in the trend of atavistic me.

One, I am sure, was blest with Irish wit;
(I'm thankful he transmitted some of it.)
That helped him dodge Dame Fortune's swiftest dart,
And meet misfortune with a merry heart.

One was a rather worthless wight, I fear,
Who, when the bluebird whistled Spring was near,
Forsook his plow--a shiftless, sluggard one--
And roamed the woods alone, with rod and gun.

And one a gentle dreamer was I know,
Who lured by shadows, let the substance go.
'Twas he who dared the raging western sea--
I'm glad he handed down his dreams to me.

I found this poem in a family history book that my Mother's cousin had started. The caption reads, "From Chicago Tribune Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Bulletin #4 November 13. 1937"

22 January 2009

Mini Lesson on Family Relationships

Before I present Lesson #3, which I know I am way behind on, I want to give a little lesson on family relationships.

We have all heard the term "first cousin once removed," but do we all know what that means? Can we identify our first cousin once removed?

In this mini lesson I will try to explain this term and others to help you with your family research.


Lineal relationship: this exists between people who are in the same line, such as you and your parents, your children, your grandchildren, grandparents

Collateral relationship: this exists between people who share a common ancestor, but are not in a direct line, such as you and your siblings, your cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncle.

1st cousin: term applied to your aunt's and uncle's children

2nd cousin: people with the same great-grandparents, but not the same grandparents

3rd cousins and so on: third cousins have the same great-great grandparents; 4th cousins have the same great-great-great grandparents.

Double cousins: a term you might hear; occurs when two brothers marry two sisters-their children would be double cousins to each other.

Removed: distant by degrees in relationship

Once removed: difference of one generation, your 1st cousin's child is your 1st cousin once removed

Twice removed: difference of two generations; your 1st cousin's grandchild is your first cousin twice removed

Paternal: pertaining to the father

Maternal: pertaining to the mother

Granduncle/aunt or great uncle/aunt: your mother's or father's uncle or aunt

Grandnephew/niece: your brother's or sister's grandchild

Affinity: relationship by marriage-not a blood relationship

Consanguinity: blood relationship, can be lineal consanguinity or collateral consanguinity

View the chart I found on Rootsweb.

Try to figure out who some of these people are in your family.

My Rebus Postcard

I had the great fortune of acquiring this postcard, copyrighted 1909, from an antiques dealer in Colorado. It is a rebus puzzle postcard, made as an advertisement from the Sawdey and Hartner City Market Seed Co. in Denver CO. It was copyrighted by Mrs. Stella Gilbert from Council Bluffs, IA.

A rebus puzzle is one that uses pictures or symbols in place of words or syllables. On the front of this postcard is "A Farmers Love Letter". See if you can solve the puzzle, it is pretty easy and so cute. On the back is the handwritten name and address of the intended recipient, Miss Bertha Cooper of 306 N. Seventh St Monroe LA. There is also the post stamp dated for Sep 9, and the one cent postage stamp. There is no written or stamped year, so I don't know for sure when it was sent, but I believe the postage for a postcard was one cent between the years of 1898 and 1952.

This postcard has a little more meaning to me other than its obvious charm. The Sawdey in question here is a relative of mine (although not a blood relative), Curtis Isaac Sawdey. He had this seed company in Denver for a while and then moved on the Los Angeles, where he eventually became the president of the Western Growers Protective Association.

He married Minnie H Medaris sometime around 1900 or so. Minnie is the younger sister of Lily, who is my great-grandfather's first wife (she also is no blood to me). Lily had three sons, two of which were quite young when she died. My theory is that when their mother died, these two boys went from their home in Iowa to live with their maternal grandparents in Denver. I also think that when Minnie married Curtis they took in the one boy and raised him as their own.

I have not found conclusive proof of this, but there is a lot of circumstantial proof. The boy I found living with the Sawdeys has the same first name (Burr) and birthday as Lily's son. He is living with Lily's other son, Walstein, with Lily's parents, and they are both listed as their grandsons. However, Minnie claims him as her son. I believe he is at best only her adopted son. Minnie was only 15 when Burr was born and not even married yet. Also, if this boy is actually Minnie's boy, where is Lily's boy? It seems logical that Lily's husband could have sent the two young boys to live with grandparents when his wife died. It seems unlikely that he would have split them up. It seems highly unlikely that Minnie, at 15 and unmarried, had a son who just happened to be born the same month and year as Lily's son and that she named him the same name.

My great-grandfather, Walstein Tyrrell, eventually married a second time and had several more children, including my grandfather, Fitz. Over the years I have known of Burr, but not much. I knew he existed and I wanted to find him. By the time I started researching my family everyone who knew Burr personally had died. He has been quite elusive, but I have been so determined to find out what became of him. He is my grandfather's half-brother. I want to know if he and my grandfather were ever like brothers to one another. I have found only one record of Burr Tyrrell. I have found several of Burr Sawdey. I know that Burr Sawdey moved to Los Angeles, as did all the Tyrrell boys, including my grandfather. Did they meet up? I may not ever find out for sure, but it gives me a pleasant feeling imagining that all the brothers did in fact get to know each other and hung out together.

UPDATE: The mystery of Burr has been solved and is in detail on my family tree on Ancestry.com