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

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Dating Game – Part 2

Today, 4 October 2016 is the 434th anniversary of the Gregorian Calendar.  In an earlier article, I explained the reason for the slash between the last two digits of the year.  In this article, I want to get into a bit of the science and the law in getting the Julian and Gregorian calendars in sync with each other.

            The reason for the discrepancy deals with physics itself.  The rotates once roughly 24 hrs. by our reckoning with the sun, but measured at 23 hrs., 56 min., and 4 sec. by reckoning with the stars.[1]  As the Earth rotates, the planet revolves around the sun 1 sidereal year (by the stars) every 365 days, 6 hrs., 9 min., and 9.76 sec.[2] To add further complications, orbital motion is not uniform.  In essence, the earth’s rotation is slowing down and days are getting longer with respect to its orbit.

            The impetus for the conversion came from calculations for the date of Easter were way off.  When Julius Caesar created his calendar, he did not take into account the variability of the orbit.  He took into account of the days, but not the hours, minutes, and seconds.  He shortchanged himself by 11 minutes/day.  As a consequence, the drift between the two calendar systems grew about 10 days at least.  By the time Christianity arrived, the Easter date was tied to the Vernal equinox and before the reforms, the celebrations took place in the heat of Summer, not Spring!

            To compensate, a Jesuit priest Christoph Clavius wrote a tract, Novi Calendarii Romani Apologia[3] in 1588 after the papal bull written by Gregory XIII went into effect, explaining the need to change the way religious holy days were calculated because the Julian year was too long.  Clavius received help from Aloysius Lilius, an astronomer to do the needed computations and reforms.  Clavius wrote the tract to defend Gregory XIII’s papal bull, Inter Gravissimas, announcing the changes suggested by Clavius and Lilius to bring religious and civil time reckoning into sync.  The changes were made during the reign of Elizabeth I of England.  Some European countries switched immediately; however, England made the switch in 1750.  Parliament passed the Calendar Act of 1750 (24 Geo. 2 c. 23) to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, while the American colonies adopted it in 1753.  Yesterday, Saudi Arabia switched to the Gregorian calendar to pay its civil servants.[4]

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Earth’s Rotation,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed October 4, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Earth%27s_rotation&oldid=741935778
[2] “Useful Constants,” accessed October 4, 2016, hpiers.obspm.fr/eop-pc/models/constants.html
[3] Christoph Clavius, Romani Calendarii a Gregorio XIII P. M. Restitvti Explicatio S. D. N. Clementis VIII. P. M. ivssv edita (Rome, Italy: Aloysius Zannettus, 1603); Adobe PDF eBook, Bayerische StaatsBibliotek (http://www.mdz-nbn-resolving.de/urn/resolver.pl?urn=urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb11218179-399757.pdf: accessed 4 October 2016); the work is entirely in Latin with no English translation
[4] Alexandra Sims, “Saudi Arabia switches to ‘Western’ Gregorian calendar so it can pay workers less and save money,” Independent, accessed October 4, 2016,  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-calendar-gregorian-switches-to-pay-workers-less-save-money-a7342331.html

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BIBLE RECORDS - Are they acceptable proof ??? Well, it depends.

Many of you are lucky enough to have family bibles that were kept by your grandparents and previous generations. There is a section in most bibles where births, marriages and deaths can be recorded. For some if these events, the family bible may be the only place they are recorded.

When are these family records considered primary documentation for your Mayflower Society (or other lineage society) application? There are a lot of factors to consider.

First, you need to know who owns the bible today, who owned it originally and how it traveled into the hands of the current owner. The provenance of how it was handed down in the family can add or detract from the credibility of the data.

Next, you need to know how old the physical book is. The best way is to make a copy of the title page that has the date when the book was published. You need to know this so you can judge if the events that were recorded happened after the book was published or years earlier. A bible published in 1850 that records events starting in 1860 is worth a whole lot more genealogically than a bible published in 1950 that records events starting in 1700! Events recorded long after the fact are hearsay and are considered circumstantial evidence at best.

Now, look at the handwriting. Does it look like all the entries were written by the same person at the same time (same hand, same ink)? If so, then this is again hearsay. If the handwriting and ink looks different on the entries, it is much more likely that they were written at the time the events occurred and are genealogically much more credible.

The next thing to look at is the completeness of the data. It is rare that you will find places listed in bible entries, but sometimes you will get lucky. The important thing is to see if relationships are specified. A long list of names and dates with no indication of how the people were related does nothing to help you link the line carriers in your lineage. The best bible records specify relationships. Remember, a document has to say what you are trying to prove!

What about bible transcripts? Often, the original bible cannot be located, but you have a transcript, either handwritten or published. The first thing you need to do is find out who made the transcript and when it was made. That will give it some credibility. You won’t have the clues from the handwriting, but a good transcript will show the date the bible was published and all the details including any recorded relationships. A transcript is never as good as an original, but it is sometimes all we have.

So, having a family bible is a wonderful treasure for your family, but its worth as a genealogical record depends on lots of factors. For Mayflower, if the bible does not meet the above criteria, it will be considered as an unpublished family record and circumstantial evidence only. Is your family bible a good record - maybe - maybe not - it all depends...

Inspired by a post by Gregory Evan Thompson in the Mayflower Descendants Facebook group.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ohio Birth & Death Records, Part Deux

For Ohio birth and death records 1867 to 1908, check out the FamilySearch.org Ohio County Birth, Marriage and Death records.  Some counties started recording deaths in the probate court after the Civil War, although few began earlier.  If no records are found on the microfilm, try going to the probate court in person and ask if the early records can be photographed.  I know in the Huron, Richland, and Ashland Counties allow a person digitally photograph the old records (color is better in my opinion - makes it more real).  Sometimes going through the Ohio probate records.  The images are unindexed, but well worth the search.  That is how I managed to connect an ancestress to her parents through her father's Will in the Ashtabula probate records.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ohio Birth & Death Records

Did you know that a line item in HB 64, recently signed by Governor John Kasich reads: "A local registrar shall allow an individual to phtograph or otherwise copy a birth or death record."

This means that in any Ohio county registrar's office, you can use a camera or your smart phone to photograph, or a portable scanner such as the ScanSnap or a wand scanner (at the discretion of the local registrar) to copy any birth or death record on file as a non-certified copy. You should be able to do this free of charge, though the local registrar will always be happy to accept a donation for the time needed to pull the record for you. Cash is always welcome, though cookies can work too!

Ohio birth records after 1908 are available at any county registrar's office (often the local health department). Death records after 1908 are only available in the county where the death occurred, though don't forget the great collection of Ohio death certificates from Dcember 1908 through 1953 online at FamilySearch.org.

Ohio Mayflower DOES NOT require certified copies of birth, death or marriage records. Any record that you can photograph or copy based on this new law is just fine. The key is it has to be in focus so every word is legible! We need all names (including the names of parents) and all dates and places to be clearly readable. You might want to practice your technique before you go...