Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things have been quiet here, but busy behind the scenes

I realized that I hadn't posted here in a while so I thought I should get an update together. Things have been crazy! I was waiting until I had more concrete info to post here but I'll start now and when I have more, I'll post that too. First, I'm still working on my NGS HCS assignments, specifically the lesson on Census Analysis and Migration. My focus is on the family of Emsley McMasters who moved from Randolph County, NC to Parke County, IN right after the Civil War. His was a former Quaker family from Pennsylvania who moved to NC after being read out of his Quaker meetings because of his Great Grandfather's marriage to a woman who was not a Friend (this info was reported through a family website, and I still need to find the Quaker records to verify it). I've been doing some reading on Randolph County and discovered that most of the families who settled there were Quakers or had Quaker connections which made the county mostly anti-slavery and pro-Union at the time of the war. I've got several articles, found through Persi (available through Heritage Quest at my local library) and also a couple of books ordered through my library's interlibrary loan that are about the Quakers in the area and the climate of Randolph County and North Carolina in general during the 1850s and 1860s. The goal is to determine why the McMasters left North Carolina, though the image is becoming much clearer; the Civil War had a tremendous impact on the county and touched the McMasters personally since Emsley was recently found to have been in a Confederate senior reserves unit at the very end of the war. His Confederate service record is available through footnote. Page 5 is his oath of allegiance, shown here

So research into Randolph County in the 1850s and 1860s and trying to find out what was happening there at the time the McMasters left has been occupying a lot of my time. I've also been looking at Parke County, IN, their destination, for clues on why they might have chosen that area. While info on Randolph County has been easy to obtain, info on Parke County, IN has been scarce. There is very little that can be found about it at the time, either online or through Persi. Most of the information regarding Indiana during the Civil War focuses on the brief conflicts that occurred on Indiana soil, but not in Parke County. All I've been able to find out so far is that the land was good for farming and available for purchase at the time. But the most significant snippet that I've found mentioned a tie in Parke County to the Underground Railroad, which was established in Randolph County, Indiana by the Coffin family. Apparently, a member of this family settled in Parke County prior to the McMasters arrival, thus making it a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Coffins were neighbors to the McMasters back in Randolph County, NC, as established by the neighbor identification required by the lesson. This information regarding Parke County as a stop on the Underground Railroad is only from one or two websites with no great detail available, and I haven't been able to find other, more specific information. I'm still looking though so hopefully I'll come across something soon.

So beyond the McMasters and the NGS course lessons, I've also been working on my Pro Gen assignment for this month, editing and proofreading the research reports submitted by my group members. Last month's assignment was to write up a research report so now that everyone has their reports up, we have to go back and read through them and proofread them. So that will keep me pretty busy for the next week or so as well.

Finally, I had my monthly chat for the NGSQ article group this week. This group meets to discuss various articles from the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. The article for this month was "A Family for Suzanne" by Ruth Randall. It was the 2007 Family History Writing Contest winner and great example of a four generation kinship project. It traces the family line beginning with an enslaved woman, named Suzanne who was born around 1796-1797 and lived her life in Missouri, which was then part of the Louisiana Territory. The article abounds in a knowledge of local law and succeeds in finding Suzanne's family, though she herself was traded at the early age of 3 1/2 years to the family whose surname would evermore be attached to those of her descendants. Her biological parents will probably never be known, the earliest record relating to Suzanne offers no clue as to her parentage, but through this wonderfully and diligently researched article we can place her with her known family. The article tackles the difficult subject, both emotionally and methodologically, of slave genealogy and it recommended both to those interested in the subject as well as those who are interested in Missouri history and genealogy as it offers a great deal of information and helpful hints (through the use of sources, cited in the footnotes) for research there.

I'm exhausted but also excited with all of the work. This month has been full of a lot to discover and research and I'll happily be working on some of this for a while so if I'm quiet, it just means I'm working and I'll get back to the blog as soon as either I can, or I have some new info to talk about.

1 comment:

  1. I'll be interested in hearing more about the Parke County/Underground Railroad connections when you find them. I grew up in SW Indiana, Gibson County, and there were several homes there that were supposedly Underground Railroad stops. I'll keep my eyes and ears open for any sources that might be helpful for you on this topic.