Saturday, January 30, 2010

Birthplace of my great grandmother, Eleanor Hartley, and other famous persons

If I had not researched my genealogy and family history, I believe I would have missed out on many things in my Life's Journey that were worth knowing about. It has made my life ... well ... more ENLIGHTENED. Take for example the birthplace of my great grandmother on my father's branch. She was born in Cockfield, County Durham, in northern England (go to the center of map below).

Image (click to enlarge): Map from tourist brochure of County Durham, England

On my family research trip to the British Isles in 1996, I picked up several tourist brochures and guides in Durham City. In the guide, "Teesdale and Barnard Castle", it was written, "... Cockfield [in County Durham], a peaceful village based on the coal industry and the birthplace of JEREMIAH DIXON, known for the Mason-Dixon Line [the official border between Maryland and Pennsylvania]". More research indicated that Jeremiah was actually born in Barnard Castle and went to the John Kipling school there. He died in Cockfield. Jeremiah Dixon and his colleague, CHARLES MASON, were astronomers who indeed were called upon by Thomas Penn and Frederick Calvert to survey the border between the two American colonies. The survey was completed in 1766. Jeremiah died in Cockfield in 1779, about 66 years before my great grandmother, ELEANOR HARTLEY, was born in the same village in 1845.

It so happens that I re-read this brochure a couple of years after I bicycled a portion of the Heritage Trail which runs from York, Pennsylvania, for a distance of about 30 miles, across the PA/MD border, and through Gunpowder Falls State Park. As I passed the Mason-Dixon line, I took a picture of a concrete pillar which apparently was one of several marking the Mason-Dixon Line (and posted it on my blog). A nearby historical marker presented several more facts on the Mason and Dixon team and its survey.

Image: Historical marker on the Heritage Rail-Trail detailing the history of the Mason-Dixon Line. It reads, in part, “Since the Civil War it has served as the boundary between the North and the South …”

I will never again cross the Mason-Dixon Line without thinking of Eleanor Hartley. Incidentally, three members of my immediate family now live north of the Line, while I live south. I cross the Line at least 6 or 7 times a year.

Another thing comes to mind when I look at the tourist map above. Eleanor Hartley was enumerated in the 1861 census of England as a "House Servant", age 16 years, born at Cockfield. She lived in a household which was located in Hurworth upon Tees, south of Darlington (bottom, right corner of map). There were only two other persons enumerated: RICHARD NEWTON, age 83, and his wife, MARY, age 90. I knew of a younger Richard Newton, who married Isabella, or Margaret, Hartley, who was the sister of Eleanor's father, in other words, her uncle. So, I suspect that Eleanor's employer was the father of this uncle. Furthermore, Richard Newton, the elder, was a "farmer of 160 acres, employing one man" according to the census. This was a real find because it took me a while to find Eleanor. The rest of her family, that is Eleanor's father, William Hartley, and four of his other children, were enumerated in the same year in a different location- in the parish of Hunwick and Helmington, Durham.

So, I look at Hurworth upon Tees on the map and think of my great grandmother, only 16 years of age, and working hard as a servant girl on a farm of many acres taking care of a very old couple and their hired hand. By the way, The River Tees marks the boundary between County Durham and Yorkshire in the south. Matter of fact, County Durham is often referred to as "the land ‘twixt the Tyne and the Tees".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sentimental Sunday- Hiking no more?

OK, I bought into the Sentimental Sunday posts by the Geneabloggers group. I don't know how I am going to transfer this post to the list of entries by other bloggers, but I will eventually find out- one of these Sundays.

I spent a couple of hours this morning reading the Sentimental entries by other geneabloggers and they were great reads- a little bit different from some of the drier entries about genealogy and family history. They seem to focus more on intimate memories of persons and events. As I read, I kept looking in the back of my mind for some of the events in my life which are sentimental to me. The thought of hiking came to mind- actually of the time when I might have first fallen in love with hiking. I had to dig way back into both my memory and my photo albums. And I came up with the following image of some of the neighborhood kids and I hiking in the big woods near our homes in suburban Maryland. It was 1954, over fifty years ago. In the picture, we are hiking along a nearly dry creek bed. It was in the scattered puddles, that we crept up on frogs, salamanders, box turtles, and captured them for a closer look. I remember one time collecting at least 20 turtles which we took home and started a little zoo- until our parents made us release the reptiles back into the woods. That was when I first fell in love with the natural out-of-doors. However, I get sort or sad when I look at this photo, because the opportunity for this particular hike is no longer possible. A wide swath of the woods was paved over for the Beltway (I-495) of Metropolitan Washington, DC. More land was taken over for apartments and condominiums.

Hiking! I love it. I was born to hike. But the overall sentiment about this life-long love, is that it may be a thing of the past- no longer possible for me. For y'see, I have to walk with a cane now. My hiking legs have become so weak. And this is difficult to write about. I have been taking anti-androgen hormones for about 5 years now to suppress the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. Testosterone is a great hormone, but the lack of it means wasted muscle tissue and its replacement by fat cells. I sometimes wonder when the time will come when I advance from hobbling on a cane to a wheel chair. But even then I believe that some adjustments can be made so that I can still "go hiking" in my beloved woods.

This summer, I was camping in the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia at a place called White Rocks primitive campground. On the way to the campsites, I passed a short trail named Cherokee Flats. I pulled into the parking area and took a short walk- with my cane. The trail was quite flat and paved for most of its distance. The trail passed through a pristine forest among Rhododendrons, still showing the last blooms of late summer. The trail ended too quickly at Stony Brook creek, but long enough to experience THE HIKE.

Image: Walking slowly through the Cherokee Flats trail in Jefferson National Forest, VA

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vintage Baby pictures- HOLD STILL!

Chris, a friend of mine, was recently browsing an antique store in Barnegut, New Jersey, and found a magazine for collectors of postcards and other paper items. He mailed me a copy, because he knew that I enjoy collecting postcards which illustrate my family history. Incidentally, Chris collects old 45 rpm records; one time he tracked down a copy for me of Lee Dorsey's "Working in a Coal Mine". The song ends with the line, "Ohhh, I'm so tired".

In the studio photographs shown above, do you see the ghostly shape of another human being behind the baby- but hidden by a drape or curtain?

The January 2010 issue of The Paper and Advertising Collectors Marketplace (PAC CM) had an interesting article on "Uncovering the Hidden Mother (and Father) in Photographs. In the nineteenth century, exposure times for photographs were often measured by several seconds rather than fractions of a second as in modern cameras. So, how does a photographer hold a squirming baby down long enough to take an un-blurred picture- and still focus mainly on the baby? One way is to have the mother sit in a chair, hold the baby, and cover the mother's face with a drape or curtain.

The PAC CM magazine article mentioned several other techniques. In some cases, holes in the back of the chair were large enough for the mother to squat down and reach through the holes to hold the baby. A photographer named Fred Pohle invented a medal holder which babies were strapped into and held motionless for the photographer. Perhaps a less traumatic method was for the mother to hold the baby and then be cropped out of the picture during the processing or matting the picture so that the mother was hidden in the frame of the mounted photograph.

The article prompted me to go through my own photo collection looking for vintage baby pictures of my family to see if any of these techniques were used- particularly "Hidden mothers".

(click to enlarge; then use browser's "back" key)
Perhaps the oldest picture in my collection (see above) is that of my great grandparents, Thomas W. Russell and Eleanor, nee. Hartley, holding their second- and third- born children, Nicholson and Jane Ann or "Jenny". The date of the photo, 1880, is easy to pinpoint. Jenny was born in Sep 1879 and looks about a year old or less. The photo was taken at Schmiechen Studios in Sunderland, County Durham, England, and by Aug 1881, the family, or at least the father Thomas, had immigrated to Pennsylvania. In the picture you can see the parents have a pretty tight hold on the children, particularly holding their arms or tiny little hands.
Unfortunately, the first two children, both daughters, of Thomas and Eleanor died before this picture was taken. One daughter died at about a year; the other daughter, at 11 years. One of the points of the PAC CM article was that often pictures of children were taken because of the high infant mortality in the mid-19th century. The photographs served as reminders.
My great grandfather, Joseph Austel, had 10 children by his first wife, but only one child by his second wife, Rosa, nee. Friedrich. Rosa had a valued picture of the son, Paul, who died in 1904 at age 4 or 5 years. Rosa kept the photograph on an alter that she put together herself and placed at the top of the stairs leading to the second floor. She kept a candle burning on the alter. My mother remembers her grandmother praying at the makeshift alter, but somehow, the picture of Paul has been lost.
The two baby pictures above show my maternal grandfather, Charles Anton Gailliot, born 1894, and his first cousin, once removed, Mildred Ann "Millie" Gailliot, born 1907. Their common ancestors were Anton Gailliot and Johanna "Helena" Schlebusch. Both babies are propped on a chair and lay on what looks like sheep skins. Perhaps these shaggy foundations gave more warmth and comfort than if not present. Would that not have been a calming influence on a baby? In Millie's picture, on the right, there seems to be a folded piece of material behind her head. Could this be her "hidden mother". In certainly does not look like part of the chair. I like the cute way Millie is grasping the back of the chair in her left hand.

By the early twentieth century, cameras and films had improved so that exposure times were reduced, and thus the pictures were less likely to be blurred by the subject's movement. Still, the youngest child in the middle of these offspring of Robert William Kramp and Martha, nee. Streich (on left) apparently needed to be steadied. Note the sister holding the baby's hand.
On the right, is my grandmother's sister, Mrs. Rose Salmon, nee. Austel, holding her first child, John. John's left hand seems to be slightly blurred compared to the rest of the picture. I'm glad the beautiful mother in this case was not hidden.
1. Go to the homepage of The Paper and Advertising Collectors' Marketplace. Today, I could flip through the pages of their publication and see more pictures of "Hidden Mothers" in baby photographs including the whole text of the article. Perhaps in the future, one may have to look up Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jan 2010) on their site.
2. The "Dead Fred" genealogy photo archive web site also has an unidentified couple who were photographed at Bolko Schmieken Studios in England. I do not believe they are related to my family.