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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in preservation (26)


Tombstone Tuesday: The Shaw Plot in Castlewellan, County Down, Ireland

The Shaw branch of my family tree was one of my strongest limbs to hang on when I first started my genealogy journey. My great grandmother Edith Shaw Middleton passed tons of their pictures and documents down to my grandmother and luckily they found their way to me. Edith's parents, Samuel Shaw and Ann Robinson, were both born in Ireland. I have a lot of information on their family, Samuel and Ann had 10 children, but only a little information about their family in Ireland. 

After some research, I learned that my ggg grandparents (Samuel's parents) Samuel Shaw (1818-1906) and Agnes Wallace (1819-1892) are buried in St. Paul's Church Cemetery in Castlewellan, County Down, Ireland. One of the researchers I connected with through was from New Zealand! What a small world! She sent me Samuel Shaw Sr.'s will, found through the searchable Will Calendar database from the Public Records of Northern Ireland (PRONI). In his will, Samuel asks that his children take care of his and their mothers grave. After reading that I knew I had a definite responsibility to get eyes on that grave!

I was so excited when I learned my mother and father in law, Carol and Rob, were planning a trip to Northern Ireland. It was Carol who first inspired my passion for genealogy and family history. She has done extensive research for her and Rob's family. Her stories and excitement were contagious. So having this shared passion, I hoped she wouldn't mind taking a trip through Castlewellan to do some investigating for me. They found St. Paul's Church Cemetery and their grave! (pictured left)

Carol and Rob called me while they were standing at the Shaw grave, it was such an amazing moment! I wonder if my ggg grandparents ever thought their ggg granddaughter from America would ask her in laws to take a picture of their grave 106 years after they were laid to rest?! Hopefully someday I will be able to personally visit and share this special place with my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren...

St. Pauls Church Cemetery                                                    Shaw Plot - My GGG Grandparents

Thank you so much Carol and Rob for these wonderful pictures!!


Friday Love Letters: September 24, 1920

I am so lucky to have a series of letters from my great grandfather Wentworth Middleton to my great grandmother Edith Shaw Middleton. This collection of letters is one of my most treasured family heirlooms. These simple pieces of paper have been passed down and saved for almost 100 years. More on this collection and how to preserve.

Sept. 23. 1920- 91 years ago.

A letter from my great grandfather Wentworth Middleton to his wife Edith. Wentworth is working in a NJ steel mill while Edith and their daughter Marjorie are down the (jersey!) shore with friends. It seems like he planned to go down to meet them on Friday- but because of work he has to delay his trip. I love the nicknames he had for my grandmother, "kiddo". In other letters he refers to her as "chickie".

Dear Edie,

I was going to call you up but did not think about there not being any phone. You certainly are having fine weather and I wish that I could be down there with you, but it does not seem to be possible just now. Am sure that the Kiddo must be much better by now, as she was improving very much (pg.2) last Sunday and Monday.

I called up your Mother and she said that they had sent you a letter to the old place but were sending you a postal to tell you about so you must have that by now. She also said that Anna was feeling very bad again. I said that it would be very nice if she could go down to the shore it would do her good. But she said (pg.3) it would be impossible for her to get down there.

Matt sent some eggs yesterday and I will bring some or all of them when I come down. You better call me up Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. I am afraid it will be impossible for me to come down Friday A.M. I will tell you then what time I will be down (pg.4) on Saturday. I will probably be able to stay Monday and maybe Tuesday.

Tell Mort if you see him that he can play at Deal by paying the greens fee.

Am using a fountain pen and the ink has run out. I hope you are feeling fine and do not worry about things too much. (pg.5) Give lots of love and kisses to Marg and also yourself tell her I will see her soon. Give my love to the Middleton’s and lots more to yourself and the kiddo.


When I read these letters I feel like I'm really getting to know them. I can't imagine any other way I could tap into their personal thoughts the way these letters do.

Do you send/save letters and cards? Do we still value the handwritten word? Inspired?

Write your sweetheart or friend a letter today!


Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution: First Steps 

I am in the beginning stages of joining the prestigious Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). A non profit women's organization established in 1890, the organization focuses on the promotion of historic preservation, education, and patriotism.  If you are a male, you can apply for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.

Membership in these organizations gives you a forum for the exchange of historical information and genealogy research with others with shared interests. Any female 18+ who can provide documentation of their lineal descent* from a Patriot of the American Revolution can apply for DAR membership. There are approx 3,000 local chapters of the DAR, you can search for a chapter near you. *Lineal Descent: Belonging to or being in the direct line of descent from an ancestor. Ex parent, grandparent, great grandparent...

I recently discovered my 7x great grandfather, Samuel Merrill, was a participant of the American Revolution as a Lieutenant in the 30th Regiment of Foot from Buxton, ME. I first learned of his involvement in the American Revolution from my family tree. When viewing Samuel Merrill there was a leaf indicating a possible historical record match. When I reviewed the hint I was brought to an application to the DAR from 1909 with a Samuel Merrill listed as the Patriot in which the applicant was proving their lineal descent. The applicant was not from my direct line but had similar information so I decided to do a little digging to see if this was in fact the same Samuel Merrill I was researching.

To do this I focused on my direct line from Samuel Merrill to flush through and verify the information and sources I already had for these specific ancestors. I worked my way up the line, starting with myself going up 10 generations in my tree to Samuel. Feeling confident in my lineal descent from Samuel, I filled out a Member Interest form on the DAR website to get the ball rolling. This is simple form to notify DAR of your interest and get you connected to a local chapter to learn more about the application process.

A week or two later I received an email from the Brooklyn DAR Chapter with a genealogy worksheet for me to complete. The genealogy worksheet has blanks to fill in genealogical information about the ancestors in your direct line to connect the generations up to the Patriot. All of the information needs to supplemented with documented sources and you have to indicate what sources you have for the information you provide (vital records, census records, certificates, etc.). I thought I was pretty organized but I quickly found out how scattered my information was! If anything this process so far has really helped me organize, connect loose ends, and encourage me to learn more about these ancestors.

I've completed the worksheet and emailed it back to my contact. Hopefully I'll hear back soon! I hope I entered in the information correctly and thoroughly enough. Fingers crossed.


Genie Newspaper Archives- The Schenectady Gazette Sep 13, 1982

I was going through old newspapers when I found this lovely gem! My husband grew up in Schenectady, NY and his parents saved the Schenectady Gazette from the day he was born.

I'm not looking to get all political here, but a front page story "Congress Spurs $1 B Jobs Bill", caught my attention. I feel like I've heard a similar story in the news lately... The American Jobs Act perhaps? :) History tends to repeat itself and the issues facing the government 29 years ago feel very similar to the obstacles of today. The Jobs Act of 1982 was estimated to cost $1 billion, the American Jobs Act of 2011 is estimated to cost about $447 billion. The Jobs Act of 1982 never became law.

From the Schenectady Gazette of Schenectady NY- September 13, 1982 Front Page

Congress Spurs $1 B Jobs Bill, By Tom Raum
Washington (AP)- Congressional Democrats, trying to ride the momentum of their veto override victory, plan to seek quick action in the House this week on a $1 billion jobs program opposed by the Reagan administration.

The Democratic initiative, which backers claim could put 200,000 unemployed to work on bridge and highway repair projects around the nation by the end of the year, seems certain to touch off a week of heightened partisan bickering. With congressional elections less than two months away, the remaining battles of the almost expired 97th Congress are expected to be dominated by politics. Democrats, who have won few skirmishes since the 1980 elections, remained exhilarated from the 60-30 Senate and 301-117 House votes last week overriding President Reagan’s veto of the $14.2 billion spending bill he deemed too costly.

Hoping to strike again while ahead, Democratic leaders decided late last week to try to bring the jobs bill to the House floor, out of schedule, by mid week. “Now seemed like a good time to try to get this thing moving. If we can get two-thirds to override a veto, we should be able to get the votes needed for a jobs bill.” said a Democratic leadership aide who asked not to be identified.

“I can no longer accept in good conscience the president’s plea for patience. The American people need to see action now before it is too late.” said House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, D-Mass, commenting on the bill. “The costs of unemployment now outweigh the cost of putting people back to work,” said O’Neill, in a statement yesterday. “Today we are paying out more than $20 billion in unemployment compensation alone. This says nothing of the lost output, the lost revenues, that result from today’s high unemployment.”

O’Neil said that funding for the program would equal 5 percent of the cost of the country’s unemployment compensation bill. Congress is in its final push before a scheduled early October adjournment.

The announcement last week by congressional leaders that they would not call a post-election “lame duck” session to deal with problems in the Social Security system meant that all the remaining work of the session must be done in the next tree weeks. Since the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the priority for Congress is to provide the money needed to run the government. But of 10 appropriations bills to fund federal agencies, only one- military construction- has been approved by either chamber of Congress.

Do you save old newspapers? I save what I can, but my small Brooklyn apartment can only house so many papers and books! If you don't want to bother saving them, you can always scan stories of interest! I recommend scanning all paper documents- every time you touch the paper the oils and dirt from your gentle handling slowly damage the quality.