I have been fretting lately about the fact that I can’t find
the parents of my 5th great grandmother, Elizabeth “Betsey” Nichols
who married Joel Cutler and lived in Vermont. No matter how many potential
parents I look at, there is no good match. Then I started to think about how
some people have much tougher searches. For example, adoptees often don’t know
the names of their biological parents.
There are a fair number of adoptee hits in my DNA results. These people
have no tree. Can you imagine how it feels to have no ancestors on your tree? They
may have only a clue or two about the possible identities of their parents, and
those clues may not be correct.
And then there are the people whose families are new to this
country, so they have to explore foreign countries and languages in order to
find their ancestors. The countries may no longer exist. Most of my ancestors were from England,
so I don’t have to grapple with an unfamiliar language. Okay, I have to deal
with archaic handwriting, but at least it is not archaic and foreign.
And then there are the orphans. Where do they begin to find
their biological family?
Sometimes it is important to visualize life from someone
else’s shoes. I would really love to find out the names of Betsey’s parents,
but I guess I can’t complain too loudly if I don’t.
These are some websites I found for adoption and orphan
Do you have a female ancestor who started a new career late
in life? Is there a woman in your tree who defied the odds and made a name for herself despite her age and income? Many people believe that women used to
just stay home and tend to housework and family matters. I think they were more
talented and industrious than we might suspect.
Since my blog is called “The Art of Genealogy,” I thought I
would talk about one of my favorite female artists: the wonderful Grandma Moses. I love her colorful, folksy depiction of
everyday life in upstate New York, Vermont and Virginia. I grew up in upstate New
York, and much of her work reminds me of the scenery of my childhood. My mother, also an artist, used to talk about Grandma Moses with admiration when I was a child. I would be thrilled to have "Grandma" in my family tree, but so far I have found no connection.
There are hundreds of newspaper articles and plenty of books about Grandma Moses. One of my favorite books is The Essential Grandma Moses by Jane Kallir. Whenever I want to relax and feel good, I grab this little book and read about a woman from humble beginnings on a farm who became one of the most beloved artists in our country. The book is filled with reproductions of her artwork—covered bridges, weddings, snow-covered hills, horses pulling carts, maple sugar making, picnics and autumn trees. On page 22, there is a photograph of Grandma’s gnarled fingers holding a paintbrush. She did not let arthritis stop her from being great.
“Grandma Moses” was born Anna Mary Robertson on 7 Sep 1860
in Washington County, New York to parents of Scotch and Irish heritage. (1) When she was 27, Anna
married Thomas Salmon Moses, and they moved to Virginia. (2) Anna would bear ten children with only five living past infancy. (3) In
1905, Thomas convinced Anna to move back to New York. (4)
There Anna began experimenting with painting to pass the time. (5) In 1918, at the age of 58, Anna produced
one of her first paintings called “Fireboard.” (6) Anna’s pastime of choice
was embroidery, but she gave it up due to arthritis. (7) Louis J.
Caldor, a New York City art collector, discovered her paintings in a drugstore window in 1938. (8) In 1940, Anna debuted at the Galerie St. Etienne with an exhibit called
“What a Farm Wife Painted.” (9) The December 28, 1953 issue of Time Magazine had Grandma on the cover with the caption "Christmas is not just one day."
You can also enter a keyword and search the collection. Want
to envision the kitchen of your ancestors? Search for “kitchen” and see photographs
of aqua-colored stoves from the 1950s, pie safes and more.
There are hundreds of historic photographs and images on the
Henry Ford website. On the Detroit Publishing Company page,
I found links to photographs of Cityscapes, Everyday Life, Foreign Views,
Getting Around, Michigan Views, Nature and Workplaces. I especially liked the
Workplaces section because it showed various occupations across the country such
as logging in Michigan, railroad workers in New York, fishermen in Louisiana,
fruit growers and packers in California and cotton gin workers in Mississippi.
Learning about our ancestors is more than collecting names
and dates. Discover the world they lived in—their clothing, occupations, toys,
furniture, jewelry, vehicles and more. The Henry Ford Online Collection can
help you paint a picture that will flesh out your ancestors and make them truly feel like family.
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Victorian Goods and Merchandise," 2006.
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "East Meet West Art Deco Motifs, 2010.
Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Full-Color Old-Time Vignettes," 2002.