Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Marriage of Michael Bilse and Wilhelmina Fensterer

August 4th, 1861 entry in the Diary of James P. McPherson, Springdale, Wisconsin
James Peter McPherson,  kept a diary, nearly daily, from the time his 1850 arrival in Wisconsin until his death in 1900. During that time he served in a number of elected positions, including Justice of the Peace.   In 1861, having again  been elected as Justice of the Peace, in the small village of Springdale, Wisconsin,  he performed many marriage ceremonies in the area.

On August 4th, 1861,  he made the following entry:  "4th Sun. At Morichs.  Married Michael Bilse & Wilhelmina Fenstrer."

The diary entry is not specific; however, the wedding ceremony for Michael and Wilhelmina may have been performed at the home of McPherson's neighbor and friend, Christian Morich.  Bilse was from the  village of Perry, some 15 to 20 miles south of Springdale.  The couple apparently then returned to make their home in Perry.

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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Cairncross Descendants Correct Names on Photograph: Alexander and Janet Cairncross

Courtesy of the family of Maggie McPherson Burmeister

I am so thankful for the Cairncross descendants that have contacted me about this picture featured on yesterday's blog post.  Alexander and Janet(Stewart) Cairncross, featured in yesterday's blog, were the great-great-grandparents of both women with whom I have been in contact today. I also learned that William Cairncross was the son of Alexander and Jessie.

I don't know if I am any closer to determining the connections between these families, but I certainly have more puzzle pieces on the board today than I had yesterday.  And for that I am thankful.

(Note RE: Mrs. Alexander Cairncross:  One Cairncross descendant called her Jessie, another said that she was  called Jennette and Janet, but that her gravestone carries the name Janet.  I have therefore changed the name to Janet Cairncross, as that seems to be most correct.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Almost): Mr. & Mrs. William Cairncross, Springdale, Wisconsin

Courtesy of the family of Maggie McPherson Burmeister

According to the Diary of James. P. McPherson, the friendship between the McPherson and Cairncross families spanned at least a couple of decades, and possibly more.  McPherson and his wife lived in Dundee, Scotland in the years before 1842.  There were also Cairncross' in Dundee during that time, so they might have met in Scotland.  Or perhaps in New York City between the years 1842 and 1850, might have been where the friends met.  What is certain,  J.P.McPherson corresponded regularly with A. and Wm. Cairncross during 1851 through  June, 1852 when Wm. Cairncross arrived in Springdale, Wisconsin.

Hopefully, I will hear from other Cairncross researchers who might bring more information to bear on their friendship.

(Note:  I have come across several spellings of the Cairncross name (Carincross, Cairencross, Carrencross,and  Carencross), but I have opted to use the spelling from the Diary.

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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Madness: T'is Mine - Again, J.P.McPherson's Diary is Driving Me Crazy

Mad-crazy screaming is what I want to do!!  I am cruising along, transcribing on my nifty dual screen set up, then  the  diary stops mid-page, on October 1, 1858.  The next page starts in mid-September 1859.  I think my eyes have given out with all this peering into to the computer screen(s).  But no,  that is what the diary says, and  continues on for a few more pages in 1859.  Then J.P stops writing in the diary just before Christmas 1859 and doesn't pick up the pages again until March of  1860, three months later.

Not only is there more than year missing in the diary pages, but there are some major differences in his writing style, as well as in content.  His usual exaggerated flourishes on capital letters sometimes gives way to a nearly print form, especially on the letter "H".  There is nothing in my files to indicate a death in the family, so I wonder if he or other family members have been ill?  What other stressors might affect his handwriting?  Crop failure?  Family problems? Problems at the Poor Farm?  

I did notice that his handwriting is back to his usual handwriting form in 1860, but I also noticed things that brought questions to mind.  One of the most noticeable changes centered around the roles of  his sons.     Previously, J. P. increasingly depended upon  Billy to sow and harvest crops, clear  land, chop wood, go to Madison for supplies and to sell crops; now it is Jim, and sometimes Jabez,  that perform these chores.  

For pages, there was no mention of Billy.  Then, one day there is a notation, "Jim at Billy's place."  Billy's place?  What does that mean?   I know that in 1860, Billy is just 17 years-old;  he doesn't get married until 1866; doesn't join the Union army until after 1862.  So the easy answers of getting married and/or joining the army are eliminated.  Back to rooting around for answers.

The second issue revolves around J.P.'s political life.  Up until October of 1858, he was very involved with the Poor Farm, the Board of Supervisors, positions of Clerk and Superintendent of the town of Springdale;  he was visited regularly by neighbors, near and far, to draw up deeds, mortgages, file land patents, negotiate suits between individuals in and around Springdale, Mt. Vernon, Verona, Primrose, Black Eath, and other towns and villages in Dane County.  Now in 1859 and up to mid 1860, there is no mention of these activities.   Why?

The third issue concerns family dynamics  --- Billy's absence might also be a part of this issue.  What do  I know about the family?

I know that in September of 1858, J.P. makes a DOUBLE UNDERLINED notation:  Recd. letter from Grandfather.   Grandfather would be his wife Mary's father, William Gibson Burns.  Mary's father visited the family in Springdale in February, during which time he went to Madison twice with J.P.    W.G. Burns was politically active in England, especially in the Chartrist movement.  While he was in Wisconsin, Grandfather Burns lectured at the Court House in Madison, as well as in the School at Verona.

In 1859, and 1860, it appears that "Father and Mother" live with J.P. and Mary.  It is "Father at Madison", "Father not coming home" and "Father at home".   At first I thought J.P was talking about himself, but then it became clear that was not the case, it had to be William Gibson Burns.  An oddity,  more rooting around, I guess.

Also, I have mentioned in early posts, the relationship between the Adamson family and J.P.'s family.  Now it is very clear that Ann Adamson is the aunt of Mary or J.P., but still not sure of the exact relationship.  J.P. takes the role of her "protector," rather like he is the uncle.  He has corresponded with her to encourage her to come to Dane County;  she stays with them often;  he fetches her furniture (from where and taking it to where, I dinna know).  By 1858, Ann's husband Tom (or Uncle) is working on J.P:'s land, and appears to be building a house on McPherson's land. 

However, it is clear that by April of 1860,  "Uncle, Aunt, Father and Mother" have taken over primary roles in the family dynamic.  Dinna know why or how.

T'is driving me crazy, screaming mad-crazy.  But even so,. a plan of attack  is forming to resolve these maddening issues.

Sunday Synopsis: 2011 August 22nd --- OH, I Know It's Monday -but--

A Sunday Synopsis on a Monday.  It happens.  Better on a Monday, than not at all.  Was I here and present?  Well, sorta.

Actually now that I got dumb and dumber out of my system, last week was not all that bad.  Of course, I got my ration on transcribing completed, though a number of oddities came up.  Yesterday morning, I found that a couple of months of transcriptions had been lost due to Libre's eccdentricities.  Note to self,  always "save" ( and it's a good idea to "close") when I walk away from my fancy-dancy work station , even when I think I am coming right back,  cuz sometimes I get sidetracked. 

The more interesting parts of the transcription is finding that I am beginning to be so "in tune" with how J. P. writes, that in addition to transcribing, I am now reading between the lines.  I say things to myself, such as:  "O--O,  J.P is not happy with his neighbor", or  "he's gonna have more about this issue", or "J.P doesn't think the Squire knows what he's doing."  And so far, my great-great grandfather is confirming my internal questions.  Though sometimes I have to wait till he is ready to tell me.  A strange relationship we are forging, him and me.

Regarding the Uncle Ralph's Letters project:  T'is a steep learning curve on which I have embarked.  And in addition to the learning process, my ability to design the pages is rather limited.  I have a few sample pages that I am going to "shop around" to friends, printers, and a book designer.  In fact, I have left a message with the book designer to set up a consult time. More about that next week.

Blog posts have been at a minimum.  It's not because I have nothing to write, but rather too much.  Also, each little bit, seems to take just "few more minutes/hours" research.  Come on, old girl, just write it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Words and Images from The Diary of James Peter McPherson, 1850-1878: Cradling Grain


Woodcut from painting by Ernst Henseler, (1852-1940), in public domain
Old J.P.'s 1850-1878 Dairy overwhelms my life.  I spend hours every day peering into the computer screen to transcribe his words and to determine if that florish is an S, or T or F . I wrestle with names as sometimes Mr. Donald  looks very much like McDonald, or for goodness sakes, D. Beat  looks very much like D. Beath., both of whom, I have found to be neighbors. These are minor little quirks that usually “shake out” over the course of time with the Diary --- just as J.P dinna have any problem knowing his intent, I find that over the course of my days and weeks I meld into his time frame of months and years --- and the words become clear.
The naughtier problems occur when I think I understand --- and all of a sudden, a word or phrase, sends my fingers flying to google.
And so it was with the day that J.P. went to the store in Mt. Vernon, some 8 miles around the way, to buy a cradle. I knew from the diary date and my internal family genealogy chart, that their second daughter was soon to be born. “How nice that they can buy a cradle for the new wee  babe,” I thought to myself. “And after only being in Wisconsin, but two years.”
Later, a couple of weeks of transcription passed and  two years of J.P.'s life and times, I again  came upon the phase, cradling. Dinna mean for a babe. What in the world does that mean? Late summer and early autumn and J.P. and his neighbors were cradling so the word must have something to do with harvest.  But I was obsessively transcribing and let it pass.
Words and time continued, until the next fall when harvest was upon the Springdale folks and they were again cradling. This time I had to find out just what this cradling business was about.
Google is my friend. And to my amazement, the wonderful woodcut, shown above,  from painting by the German artist, Ernst Henseler (1852-1940),  provided me with  an image of what harvest might have looked like in that Scotch hamlet of Springdale. Not only was there a clear image of the scythe with the long fingers of the cradle attached to the handle, but also stacks of bundled or bound grain stalks.

According to Wikipedia, the grain cradle, developed by a Scotsman in 1794, revolutionized harvesting of grain.  Now the sheaves of grain fell onto the cradle and out the bottom leaving rows of harvested wheat which could be easily bond and stacked.  Below is a picture of a  patent drawing for a grain cradle; some 50 American patents were approved for grain cradles between 1823 and 1924.

This last picture gives me the feel of watching J.P. and his friends David Beat and William Cairncross, cradling their way across their grain fields -- helping one another harvest that precious grain for the winter.

"Cradling Grain",  Digital ID:93371, NY Public Library
Aye, and I be a fortunate one, a Diary, Google, and pictures and descriptions galore.

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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Synopsis: 2011 August 13th --- And A Question

A week of "life happening."  Dinna get the posts completed that I was working on and will have to hold for completion.  Miss M helped me organize pictures for the Uncle Ralph Letters book.  We also started on reworking the overall look of my blog, which we will finish when she returns in a couple of weeks.  Oh, and in my obsessive way, I managed to keep on transcribing the Diary and now up to 1858.  Also in response to Roots'n'Leaves posts, I have heard from a Cairncross relative as well as Civil War researcher looking for information regarding William Burns McPherson.  In contact with both of these individuals which is quite exciting for me.  Someone out there is really reading my blog -- WaaHoo!

Now talking about the Diary reminds me of  a question for all my genealogy and writer friends out there.  I am working on a piece related to   J.P.s position as Superintendent of the County Poor Farm.  At one point he mentions the "crazy girl," and transporting her to a hospital for the insane.  I dinna have much problem writing about that incident, however, later he actually names the girl, as well as another young woman as patients of the hospital for the insane.  I thought it a rather interesting incident, and for myself,  I would want the writer of the stories of the Diary to use names and places  --- I search diligently for that kind of information.  On the other hand, my critique group was of a mind that using names in this instance was inappropriate, and that I should just use first name or an initial.  Note:  this is a private diary written over 160 years ago.

Let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Now I am asking you, my geneablogger friends to weigh in on this question:  Should I use real names and places when writing about an historical event such as this one noted in the Diary?  Or should I use just first name or initial? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Adamson Family Plot in Pioneer Cemetery, Springdale, Wisconsin

Sign outside the Pioneer Cemetery, near the old selttlement of Springdale WI
Posted by PicasaNovember last, 2010, you know, and whilst my "cuzin" B toting me through the countryside near and around Mt. Vernon, Verona, and the old settelment area of Springdale, we happened upon this sign, which marked the site of the Pioneer Cemetery near what once was the village of Springdale, Wisconsin.   The cemetery is now known as the Oak Hll Cemetery (Springdale Cemetery).  Of course we stopped.

And on that clear, cold, windswept hillside, we found the Adamson family plot -- Adamson's who were always close to our McPherson forebearers, but just how is always illusive.  The relationship dinna matter.  In some mysterious way, yet unknown to me, Ann Adamson and her husband Thomas were family to my great-great grandparents, James P. and Mary Burns McPherson.  On this day, we paid homage to family,  Ann and Thomas (and their son, Robert), as well as to our McPherson heritage.

Pictures by B. Mansur
Copyright by Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Synopsis: 2011 August 7th

Gad Zooks, August is here, and the summer is two-thirds over.  I always have a bit of a panic attack this time of year --- not ready for summer to be over,  but feeling the change of seasons begin to invade my being at some deep visceral level.  I have long placed this feeling upon my friend Orion's arrival in the early morning eastern sky.  Haven't seen him for months, and now he again talks to me in these wee hours --- telling me to watch for his glory to begin again as he shows the way through the night.    

Enuff of that sort of stuff, and back to my Sunday Synopsis.  This week with Miss M has been one of fits and starts  -- she and her mother had made a commitment with a friend for a picture taking spree  --- sort of a pre-senior picture extravaganza.  The pictures turned out quite nicely as Miss M is a very photogenic young lady.  However, the activity did eat into our project time.  Nevertheless, even with this interruption and a day of not feeling well, we did manage to finish all of the edits for the Uncle Ralph's Letters Project.

 Then, we tackled a group of pictures that had just come into my hands, relating to my aunt, Gail Sigford.  I identified and described the pictures and locations.  Miss M  scanned the pictures into their appropriate locations.  This sounds like a rather simple task, but it took much more time than  either of us anticipated!

As we were wrapping up the scanning project, I just happened to ask M a question about photos  -- photos relating to the Uncle Ralph's Letters project  (URL), which we are now ready to embark upon. The question had to do with Picassa and the Gimp, which are my only two photo manipulation programs.  M looked at my Picassa files, her brow furrowed and her fingers flew over the key board.  She muttered to herself, reminding me of her father when he becomes one with the computer.  The upshot was that unfortunately Gram had no idea what she was doing with Picassa!!!  So she saved what I absolutely knew that I wanted, deleted the rest and reloaded the program.  Then we (she, as I was only an interested observer) started over.  A definite learning experience for me!  Not only did we set up Picassa so that we could use it easily to edit the pictures for  URL, but now I have a better understanding of the program.  

This little side trip that M and I took was one of the unexpected benefits and joys of her stay.,  Also during this back and forth, unstructured dialogue between the two of us,  we started talking about my blog and how I would like to change the look and format.  Hopefully, we will have time to do that this week.

Goals for this coming week  --- Miss M's  last week here --- are to get the pictures for URL prepared;  download URL into Scibus and add the pictures.  We may not get all of the pictures entered before she leaves, but I am sure much of the hard work, especially with the photos which I don't like to do and am not as adept at the process as M, will be done.

And a bonus goal will be to work on refurbishing my blog.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surname Saturday: Thomas and Ann Adamson, They Finally Arrived in Springdale

The day was September 28th, 1855, and James Peter McPherson's diary has this notation:
" ... Mr. and Mrs. Adamson arrived in the evening."

 Now you ask,"Why, sir, is this such an important occasion?"

And the answer is, "I don't know for sure."  I only know that I have been tracking Thomas and Ann Adamson, off and on,  for nearly a decade, because I know these two are important to my McPherson family.  Now they are in Springdale, Wisconsin, and at the McPherson log cabin.  It is important, but as yet,  I just don't know why.

Things that I do know about the Adamson family are:

** James Peter and Mary Burns McPherson named their first daughter, Ann Adamson McPherson.  (J.P and Mary Burns McPherson always named their children after important people in their lives.)

** James Peter regularly corresponded with Ann Adamson.  (I suspect that the connection is between him and Ann A., but it could be that Thomas dinna read nor write; or primary connection could be between Ann A. and Mary B. McPherson; I will have to keep prodding and digging to determine which scenario is the correct one.)

** There are diary entries and pictures notations that refer to Uncle Thomas Adamson.  (this could mean he was a brother or brother-in-law to James Peter or Mary B; or he could be, indeed, an uncle to either; however, I am thinking that it is Ann who is the sister, sister-in-law, or aunt by blood.  Hopefully, time and the diary will tell.)

Over the past few years, I have tracked Adamson descendants -- and even made contact, but not to much avail.  They either dinna have much information, weren't interested, or their interest was in a different direction.  Now, I am honing in on the Adamsons, Thomas and Ann, in hopes that I can at last find the primary connection with James Peter and Mary Burns McPherson.  So I am looking forward to more information about Thomas and Ann Adamson in future diary pages.  Such a wonderful diary!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: James P.McPherson Married Robert Craig and Mrs. Wallace, June 10th, 1855.

The above is the first notation in James Peter McPherson's diary that he performed a marriage ceremony.  I have long known that  as Justice of the Peace, he performed marriages in his town of Springdale, Wisconsin,  but it was still exciting to actually be able to read his actual words.  He was elected Justice of the Peace on April 4, 1854, not quite four years after arriving in Springdale, Wisconsin.  Now a bit more than a year later, he performed the marriage ceremony for Mrs. Wallace and Robert Craig.

Although there had been no previous mention of Robert Craig in the diary,  Mrs. Wallace was mentioned several times.

On March 31, 1855, J.P. notes that "Mrs. Wallace has been delivered of a girl."  Oral history and "reading between the lines" of the diary, it appears that Mary McPherson, James Peter's wife, was quite in demand as a midwife and healer, so perhaps she acted as the mid-wife in the delivery.

Mrs. Wallace is next mentioned on April, 12, 1855, when J.P. notes that he "took Mrs. Wallaces affidavit."  In the same notation he mentions a "Raising", but it is not clear if it was a "raising" for Mrs. Wallace.  However, the notation seemed to indicate that the "raising" was in some way related to Mrs. Wallace.

Then on May 18, 1855, she is noted as visiting J.P. McPherson, which is followed by the June 10, 1855, diary notation, "Married Robert Craig and Mrs. Wallace.  Went to house with the party to Robert Craigs."

I do love this diary, but it often leaves a raft of unanswered questions;  What happened to Mr. Wallace?  Who is Robert Craig and where did he come from?  What was in the affadavit?  For whom was the "raising, Mrs.Wallace or Robert  Craig? --- Then,  of course, each answer would most likely generate a whole new list of questions.

Ahh, such is the life of a searcher.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Madness: T'is Mine, Elsewise Why Would I Feel Sad When William. Jackman Left For The West; I Dinna Even Know Him

I dinna know of Willliam Jackman before I read my great-great grandfather James P. McPherson's diary.  However, shortly after J.P. (my short cut name for 2x gggrandpa) moved into their log cabin in December, 1850, Jackman (as he was usually called) showed up regularly in the diary pages.  J.P. visited Jackman; Jackman visited J.P.; and the families visited one another on a Sunday or so.  The men helped one another with hauling stone, wood, and straw;  Jackman let J.P. use his team of exen when needed.  Jaackman and J.P. often went to Madison (some 20 miles or so)  to do men's kind of business. 

The Englishman Jackman and his Scots wife, Jessie,  seemed to be friends as well as neighbors to J.P. and his wife Mary. 
This relationship continued right up until May, 1854, when J.P. notes in his diary:

" May 15th  Went to Madison.  rode with S. Wheeler from his house.  Meridith sued out writ of Habeas Corpus before W. N. Seymour.  Admitted to bail.  Jackman sold place for $560. Mary planted beets."  

"May 16th  Returned home in company of Jackman & Lamont..."

Then on May 20, 1854, J.P. leaves this cryptic note: "Jackman left for the west. Sowed carrots and beets.  Finished draging my corn ground."  Before they left for the west, J.P. was "at Jackmans" on Thurs., May 18th, most likely to help pack for the move.

A sadness swept over me, like I had lost a friend.  I wondered if  J.P. too felt this sadness, hidden behind "sowed carrots and beets." -- but I will never know.  About a month later, on June 28th, 1854, a  letter came from Jackman,  but there was no indication that J.P. ever responded, which was quite surprising as he always noted receipt and posts of letters  --- and was very quick to respond to letters received.

And so, I spent a few days mulling over the loss of my friends the Jackmans;  Did they find that "west" that drew them from Springdale?  "Where was the "west?"   

Then as any researcher worth their salt, I hit the internet and found that William and Jeanette Jessie Jackman were rather well documented -- well, sometimes better than others.   I found that  J.P.'s friends (and mine)  settled in St. Crois County, Wisconsin, and spent most of the next thirty-some years there  -- right up until their deaths, he in 1889, and she  in 1896.

But now, I will wait patiently, page by diary page, day by day, to see if  J.P. and the Jackman  are ever again in contact.  T'is madness of a sort, doncha think?