Monthly Archives: March 2016

Irregular border marriages in Scotland

Scottish border map
Courtesy of

Not long ago, I was searching for a record of an 1830s marriage between two prominent Scottish families. I was certain I would have an easy time locating this particular record, having identified the parish and county in which the couple were married, so I began my search. Yet while I searched several sources, including Given Name Index to Marriages in Old Parochial Registers to 1855,[1] and Scotland Marriages, 1561-1910, I found no record of the marriage. I attempted the search again using every variation of the surname I could think of, but struck out. I then turned to published genealogies regarding the two families, but found no mention of this particular couple’s marriage. Continue reading Irregular border marriages in Scotland

Making the skeletons dance

Jan Doerr hospital bill
An offending hospital bill

In his 1930 novel Immaturity, George Bernard Shaw wrote, “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” Shaw had a point with that statement. While we can deny them, hide them, or ignore them, we can’t remove the family skeletons from their places in our family trees. Once they’re “out of the closet,” those dry bones will walk around; what we make of them is up to us.

Scott C. Steward’s recent reposting of his article Genealogical Complexities brought to my mind the dilemma of all family history: how much do we really want to know, and what responsibility do we have in dispensing that information? Continue reading Making the skeletons dance

A growing family

Maryland Casualty Tower Building for VB
Edward Hughes Glidden’s sketch of the Maryland Casualty Tower.

We pick up the Bouchers in 1912 with Mrs. Frances Boucher[1] and her sons Carlos H., clerk, and Emile G., “2d vice pres. Crook-Horner Supply Co.,” at 1718 Linden Avenue in Baltimore, along with Mrs. Boucher’s grandson Harry P. Stone, clerk.[2] Thomas J. Wentworth, now a member of the Melbourne Advertising Agency with an office at 210 East Lexington Street, is back at 1731 Linden Avenue.[3] Edward H. Glidden appears as a member of Glidden & Friz, architects (in the Glenn Building, 16 St. Paul Street), and the treasurer of the Maryland Apartment House Company; he has already moved into the Glidden & Friz-designed Homewood Apartments on North Charles Street.[4] As in 1910, Claude Burch is at 804 North Calvert Street.[5]

In 1913, Edgar L. Brooks (who married Josephine Boucher Stone in that year) is listed as secretary of the Baltimore Chemical Company at Seventh Street, east corner of Gough; Julien P. Friez, instrument maker and the father of Lucien Louis Friez, was living at 1230 East Baltimore Street.[6] Edward H. Glidden and Clyde N. Friz now had their office on the twelfth floor of the Maryland Casualty Building.[7] Continue reading A growing family

Chasing a squirrel

Sonet distributionA squirrel![1] I find a lot of them while researching and I am sure all other researchers find them, too: those pieces of information that have nothing to do with what you are researching. You come across them by accident and they pull your attention away from what you are trying to find because they are equally or sometimes more interesting.  Sometimes it is a quick tangent – and sometimes squirrels can lead to an entirely new path of research that sticks with you for a long time. Continue reading Chasing a squirrel

“Socially, she is not received”

Oscar Wilde by Sarony
Oscar Wilde by Sarony. Courtesy of

A frequent theater-goer and enthusiastic pedestrian in the 1860s, by the early 1880s – following the death of her husband – Regina Shober Gray was going out rarely, and only to the houses of relatives and close friends. This does not mean that she lost her interest in the goings-on around Boston or, indeed, among the celebrated and notorious people of her day.[1]

1 Beacon Hill Place, Boston, Wednesday, 8 February 1882: Laura Howe[2] has sent Mary[3] a most humorous parody ‘After Oscar Wilde.’[4] She says she and Harry [Richards] agreed that the only thing to be done with his book of poems was to burn it, that there were some pretty things amid the filth! The ‘Swinburne’[5] School of poetry is certainly open to reprobation in the matter of good taste & pure morals! Continue reading “Socially, she is not received”

Not just Rip Van Winkle

Harriet Hanson Robinson 2
Harriet Hanson Robinson (1825-1911). Courtesy of

As anyone engaged in the study of family history knows, researching the women of the past can be a difficult process. Many commonly used sources draw out details in the lives of men but provide only minimal statistical information about the lives of women. Women are often erased from the narratives written by historians and their documents lost or destroyed. This state of affairs is changing, however, and improving, thanks in part to the entrance into the historical field of women eager to tell their own stories. This substantial increase in historical work by women began in part with the field of genealogy, which opened to women much more quickly than other areas of study. Continue reading Not just Rip Van Winkle

Probate records: Part Six

[Editor’s note: Alicia’s probate series began here.]

Joseph Alden Real InventoryAppointment of appraisers

On the same day that the letter of administration and bond were made, 4 April 1787, the judge appointed three men to take the inventory of Joseph Alden’s estate: Joshua White, Esq., Seth Eaton, yeoman, and Silas White, yeoman, all of Middleborough. Continue reading Probate records: Part Six

ICYMI: Genealogical complexities

[Author’s note: This post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 3 September 2014.]

Amy Lowell2When I started out as a genealogical writer, I followed the model of genealogies published earlier in the twentieth century. The genealogical world they depicted was an orderly one, with generation after generation born in one place, married in another, and buried in a third. The greatest dramas I faced in writing my first book (The Sarsaparilla Kings, published in 1993) concerned cousins who deplored the information I had uncovered on their brief first or second marriages, information they were reluctant to see in print. Continue reading ICYMI: Genealogical complexities

Northeastern University’s roots

Mathews Arena
Courtesy of Northeastern University

Genealogy is the never-ending story of your ancestors as you track them down and learn about the lives they lived. It is also the opportunity to learn about the communities in which they resided. Recently, I had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the place I now reside and about a university that I visit a lot from October to March, spending many weekend evenings in Matthews Arena, the oldest indoor ice hockey arena still in use for the sport. Continue reading Northeastern University’s roots

A new century

Frances Giles Boucher
Frances Giles Boucher

My review of almost sixty years’ worth of Baltimore city directories has yielded much information on my great-great-great-grandfather E. W. Boucher; my great-great-grandfather William Boucher Jr. (1822–1899) and his two wives; and many of William Jr.’s children and -in-laws. In the 1904 city directory, we find Mrs. Frances Boucher[1] at 1718 Linden Avenue with her sons Louis A. and Carlos H. Boucher, clerks. Thomas J. Wentworth, “Proprietor of Saturday Review” and husband of the younger Frances Boucher, is nearby at 1731 Linden Avenue; his temporary office in the year of the Great Baltimore Fire is at 17 East Saratoga Street. Continue reading A new century