Welcome Mayflower Cousins

This blog is full of information for applications to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Ohio. Check back often to learn more about producing a successful application. Click the email link at the bottom to be notified of new posts as they happen.

Our contact information is:
Ann Gulbransen, Historian, ohmayflowerhistorian@gmail.com
Lee Martin, Assistant Historian, buckeyemayflower@gmail.com

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to help your historian

Almost all the partner society historians are volunteers, Only the largest societies have paid staff. Most of us spend a lot of time fixing things our applicants have either not done or done incorrectly. Here are a couple of tips to help your historian process your application quickly.

1. Read and follow the instructions! This sounds simple, but I am always amazed at applicants who don't follow explicit instructions. If the instructions say send two copies of each document, send two copies. If the instructions tell you how to organize your documents (as Ohio's does) then follow those directions. Ohio's instructions say no binders, no folders, no sheet protectors. I can't tell you how much time I have spent undoing work that applicants have done incorrectly! It is a waste of your time and a waste of mine.

2. Make sure you have linked the generations clearly. Any application will fail if you don't.

3. Answer your emails/letters! If you move or change your email, let your historian know ASAP!

4. Keep in touch so your historian knows about your progress. We technically have a time limit on a preliminary approval but most of us will happily grant extensions (who wants to do work over). If you keep in touch, we will keep granting extensions. If you don't, your application may get canceled.

Ancestor vs Descendant

Grammar police here - your parents, your grandparents and all the generations before them are your ANCESTORS. Your children, your grandchildren and all future generations are your DESCENDANTS. Every time I read "I have found a new Mayflower Descendant" I cringe. You have found another Mayflower ANCESTOR! You are the descendant. Sorry, rant over...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Just as birth certificates, birth records, marriage records, and death records provide (usually) a tangible link to our ancestors, cemeteries provide information useful in our search of a different sort.  In cases where no death exists or one could be found, the date on a tombstone may be the only record of death for an individual.  The photo below is one of my ancestors.  No death record exists at the probate courthouse and this is the only record of his death.  The information on the stone is considered as primary evidence in the absence of a written record.
Ezekiel Case - Evergreen Cemetery, Pierpont, Ohio
Information on a tombstone varies considerably.  If a person is lucky enough to gaze upon a tombstone and find the exact age at the time of death, the birth date can be calculated.  In some older sections of a cemetery

Elisha Hedge - Ancient Cemetery, Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts
the "phrase in the __ year of [his/her] age" means the person entered into their next birth year when the person died.  In the above example, Elisha died at 15 years of age, beginning his "16th year."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Good news and bad news about Ohio birth certificates

Birth certificates that list the names of the parents are the ideal documents to link the line carrier on a lineage application to his or her parents. The Society of Mayflower Descendants, like all other lineage societies wants birth certificates as far back as we can get them, with earlier birth records when they were kept at the local level.

The good news in Ohio is that you can walk into any Health Department office in the state and obtain a birth certificate for any one born in Ohio since December 1908.

The bad news is that by Ohio law, if you request that birth certificate in a county other than where the person was born, the staff are prohibited from listing the birth location as anything other than "Ohio" on the certificate. We actually want to see the city and county of birth in addition to the state, so this law makes the certificates less than ideal.

What to do? Send to the county where the person was born and request the certificate there, or send to the State Health Department. You can download the application at http://www.odh.ohio.gov/pdf/forms/hea2709.pdf. You can also include a hospital birth certificate or other document to prove the complete location of the birth.

The Dating Game

Well, y’all – time to play the dating game!  Before everyone thinks the poor old, dilapidated assistant historian lost his mental faculties, the dating game is not what one would think.  The dating game does not involve relative dating in neither a geological sense (and yes, I did say geological) nor a genealogical sense (with a subtle difference between the two).  I’m talking about double dating.  One could argue I may be referring to double dates as a genealogical phenomenon when two sisters date two brothers of a different family and may be related – ah, noooo, I’m not; at least, not in this case.

            The double dating I’m referring deals with calendrical systems.  For example 21 February 1721/22 is a double date.  Now why is there a slash between 21 and 22?  It has to be one or the other, but not both.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, in the sense it must be in a definitive temporal year, either 1721 or 1722; however, no because the two calendrical systems I refer to are the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. 

            The Julian calendar started by Julius Caesar in 46 BC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_calendar: accessed 19 July 2015) divided the year into 12 months with fixed 365 days with one day added every four years.  As time passed errors creeped in because of irregularity in earth orbit and lunar orbit throwing off religious festivals.  For example, Easter in the Christian Tradition occurred in the March timeframe.  As centuries passed the Easter date fell in the middle of May – far from March.  To compensate, Pope Gregory XIII introduced reforms.

            The Gregorian calendar is similar to the Julian except century years, 1800, 1900 (centuries divided by 100) are not leap years unless divisible by 400 (2000 is a leap year).  With the reforms, the calendars were brought into sync (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar: accessed 19 July 2015).  The reforms instituted by Pope Gregory took effect 15 October 1582; however, Great Britain didn’t adopt it until 1750.  The American colonies didn’t adopt it until 1753.

            The example date I gave, 21 February 1721/22 means 21 February 1721 in the Julian calendar (Old Style) but 21 February 1722 in the Gregorian (New Style).  The double dates exist only between January-24 Mar (25 March is the New Year in the Julian calendar).  To add a further wrinkle, the Julian system is about 10 days behind the Gregorian meaning in the Old Style 21 February would be 11 February 1721, but 21 February 1722 in the Gregorian.  The trick is trying to keep the two systems separated.  For me, the best way to remember if there is a date with no slash for Jan-March, deduct 1 year and put a slash between the two years.