It is a happy coincidence that the topic for the Carnival of Genealogy this month requests submissions about our ancestors' connection to the land. Today is the 88th anniversary of my maternal grandparents' wedding, and both were tied to the land, but in different ways.
I could write about my grandmother, Mary (Wychulis) Douglas. She always had a garden in her back yard...grew the best tomatoes I can remember. But I've written about Grandma Douglas before. Today, I want to write about my grandfather, Adam Anthony Douglas. He was born in 1895 in Lithuania and immigrated to this country in 1914. He made his living by working for many, many years as a coal miner near Old Forge, Pennsylvania. I remember my grandmother talking about how he would come home from work completely black in coal dust, except for the white of his eyes. As an adult, I visited a Pennsylvania coal mine exhibit that allowed us to go down into a coal mine and demonstrated the harsh conditions of the miners. At one point, the guide turned out the overhead lights...it was a black that I have never experienced before or since. I can imagine that the little lights on their hats didn't allow for much visibility. But the Grandpa I remember was not at all bitter about the experience. He moved to Washington D.C. after WWII and worked for the DC transit company repairing buses. I remember him coming home from work and sitting with me in his chair, reading the funny papers. I still have that chair. Grandpa passed away in May of 1956, a casualty of the black lung disease that claimed many.
When I first started doing research, I thought, since we spelled the name DeHority, that it was probably French. My dad, though, had always said we were "shanty Irish", suggesting humble beginnings and strength of character, and surely he was right.
The oldest research that I have on the family has our ancestor landing somewhere, somehow, in Maryland in the early 1700's. This was a George Dahorty, although his name was spelled many ways in records of the period, from Daugherty to Dagity. One of his descendants, Andrew Doherty(1774-1856), described his family's beginnings in Methodism in Pickerington, Ohio, 1812-1905 (H. E. Brill,Gayman Pub. Co., Canal Winchester, OH, 1905):
"About the year 1738, four young fellows were kidnapped on the coast of Ireland, brought to America and sold as indentured servants to pay their passage. One of these young men, George Doherty, was sold to a man who lived on the Delaware coast. He finally died there. What became of the other two is not known. George was the father of Andrew Doherty."
Well, there is no telling how much of this is true. It was probably their oral tradition at the time (and, I did notice that one of the four young fellows disappeared from the story completely). But, after researching probate and land records at the time, I believe Andrew's father was at least the third generation here when he was born about 1744.
Various branches of the family have surnames which include DeHority, Dehorty, Doherty, and Daugherty. In trying to be certain of my Irish claim, I have had my brother's DNA tested, and another DeHority from another branch has joined. Hopefully, more will follow. Our matches with others from the Doherty project at Family Tree DNA convince me I'm in the right place.
Randy Seaver, over at Genea-Musings, has issued his weekly challenge: "What event or person inspired you to start your genealogy research?"
For me, it was the absence of information. As I mentioned earlier, my husband's mother gifted us with a family tree for his dad's family that went back a couple of hundred years. It made me think about what I didn't know about my family. My dad rarely got together with his brother's family, and I could count on three fingers the number of times I could remember seeing his parents before they passed. Just not a close knit family. I knew my mother's family, but not where they were from, other than they were Lithuanian (several Lithuanian dishes had made it to the table when Grandma was visiting). Even when I started research, Dad wasn't very forthcoming with information...always glad to hear what I had found, frequently saying "Oh, yeah, I do remember that", but also a bit bemused that anyone would be interested.
I started with census records and was hooked. Back then, they were only available until the 1910 census, and I took a trip to the National Archives to read the films. It was amazing to me that there was all this information about people who lived so long ago. After that, the hunt was on! Now, I'm squinting my way through online images of land warrants that date to 1715, from the comfort of my home!
So, thanks to my mother-in-law for what she knew, and my dad for what he wasn't telling! And thanks to Randy, for the inspiration!
I haven't spent a lot of time researching my husband's family. I should. Someday my daughter or granddaughter may take an interest in all this, and I want to have the information for them. But I usually get distracted by the hunt for my elusive DeHoritys.
One thing about researching my husband's family is that it is so darn easy! Until his generation, every one of his ancestors, with one exception, are of French-Canadian stock. Information seems to just fall from the trees! Preserving family history seems to be coded in their DNA. My mother-in-law, God rest her, gave me a family tree that went back a couple of hundred years. I know, not sourced and hearsay and all, but when I started to verify the information, with very few exceptions, it was correct. Amazing!
Another thing that is wonderful about researching these hardy folks is that their wives kept their maiden names. No guesswork here! The Catholic Church records in the Drouin collection are a tremendous resource --"Benjamin Beaulieu, son of Francois Beaulieu and Marie-Louise Rapideaux (marries) Aglae Legault daughter of Dominique Legault and Marie Deguirre". Amazing!
The same sort of luck seems to happen on the Internet. I was browsing for new blogs the other day and the search engine calls up L'Association des Charron et Ducharme, a web site dedicated to the family history of my husband's grandmother's ancestors. The research and information available there is, well, amazing!
If all family history research were this easy, we would all need another hobby to fill the time.
I am completely amazed that it has been almost 3 weeks since I posted anything here. So much for that resolution about advancing my research every week. Ah, well....I did learn how to knit socks.
Anyway, when last I worked on the research, I was trying to find out where the early Dehorty lands were after attending a wonderful workshop in Maryland. One of the earliest land records that I have for this family is for a George Dehorty who had a survey in 1715 for 100 acres of land called Venture "beginning at a white oak standing in the woods on the North side of Ingrams Creek that (?) out of the south side of Great Choptanks River" (my translation of a Maryland land record, liber FF7, page 121). My thought was to try to figure out where this might be....not that I expect that old white oak to still be there. Googling "Ingram's Creek Choptank River" leads me to a wonderful site called the Choptank River Heritage Center. Here I find that I can take a virtual tour of the entire length of the river. Apparently, Ingram's Creek is now called the Chapel Branch, and there is a historic site called Melville's Warehouse which was an early county seat for Caroline County in the late 1700's. I know I've seen the name Melville somewhere, and checking my notes, I see that George Dehorty's daughter Herodias, mentioned in probate records in 1754 for her brother Absalom, was married to a Melvill. Could there be a connection? I'll certainly have to research this! It certainly looks like they were at least neighbors. It's the side trips in genealogy that make research so much fun. They are also why it takes me so long to get anywhere....
Welcome! These ramblings chronicle my search through the Web for evidence of my ancestors. I would like to connect with others on a similar journey to share ideas and experiences. Thanks for stopping by!