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Transcription: Biography of Henry O’Reilly from ‘Rochester History’

Transcription: Biography of Henry O’Reilly from ‘Rochester History’

Rochester History, Henry O'Reilly
Rochester History, Henry O’Reilly

The following is a transcription of the biography of Henry O’Reilly from the book, “Rochester History,” edited by Dexter Perkins, City Historian, and Blake McKelvey, Assistant City Historian.

ROCHESTER HISTORY

Edited by DEXTER PERKINS, City Historian and BLAKE MCKELVEY, Assistant City Historian

VoL. VII JANUARY, 1945 No. 1

Henry O’Reilly

By DEXTER PERKINS

Henry O’Reilly (or O’Rielly, as he insisted on calling himself in later life) was, no doubt, not one of the greatest figures connected with the city of Rochester. He was not born here; he did not spend the major part of his life here; and when he died in 1884, he had long since outlived the period of his major usefulness. He never attained distinction of the first order; he was volatile, improvident and —— so his enemies said — quarrelsome; he was a great man for starting something, and a poor man for finishing anything — with the large exception of his Sketches of Rochester, published in 1838. But none the less he is an extremely interesting person. He had warmth and brilliance; he identified himself with a whole variety of good causes, and contributed materially to all of them; he had a kind of itch to improve the little world in which he moved; and he succeeded in doing so in many ways. He was also the storm center in one of the most interesting technological and business controversies in the period before the Civil War, the controversy over the telegraph; and though he lacked the constructive genius that characterized Hiram Sibley, another Rochesterian of far more practical capacity, he was for a time the idol of those Americans who saw in the telegraph a menacing monopoly and played a part, stormy and dramatic, in the development of a great industry. When you begin to study O’Reilly, you may not unqualifiedly admire him, but you are sure to find him worth knowing; and because he is well worth historical acquaintance, I am going to sketch in this number of Rochester History the essentials of his career.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Rochester History, published quarterly by the Rochester Public Library, distributed free at the Library, by mail 25 cents per year. Address correspondence to the City Historian, Rochester Public Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester 4, N.Y.

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The Young Immigrant

O’Reilly was born in Cartickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland, on February 6, 1806. Like many another Irishman, in later years Henry was prone to discuss his ancestry in terms that suggested a distinguished lineage. He seems to have dwelt with some pleasure upon a certain great grand-uncle who was Bishop of the Diocese, and he was also proud to relate that his maternal grandfather, Henry Ledbetter, had once been offered a peerage, and was the confidential physician of the Bresfords, a family then powerful in Ireland. But Henry’s immediate origins were less impressive. Of his father, very little is known; he seems to have been a merchant; he failed in business in the depression following the Napoleonic wars; and he was, through the rigor of a brother-in-law, confined in a debtor’s prison in 1816. Though later he followed the rest of the O’Reilly family, that is, his wife, and son and daughter, to America, he seems to have played no important part in Henry’s life, and even the date and place of his death are uncertain.

Henry came to the United States at the tender age of ten, with his mother and sister, and landed, as millions of immigrants have landed since, in the City of New York. There he was received by his “good uncle,” Edward Ledbetter, but his uncle’s benevolence did not extend so far as to provide support for his youthful relative, and still at the age of ten, O’Reilly was apprenticed to Baptiste Irvine, editor of the New York Columbian. The articles of apprenticeship were for a term of eight years, and for the greater part of the period O’Rei1ly was to serve without pay. He was to be given sufficient meat, drink and clothing; and he was to be instructed in the mysteries of the art of printing, in reading, writing and arithmetic, and in the rudiments of the “latin and french languages.” In exchange for these manifest advantages O’Reilly agreed “not to waste his master’s goods, not to commit fornication or contract matrimony, not to play at cards, dice or any unlawful game, not to absent himself day or night frorn his master’s service without leave, and not to haunt alehouses, taverns, or playhouses.”

There was to be plenty of variety in Henry O’Reilly’s career as time went on, but the termination of his first apprenticeship was no fault of his, and it is probable that a similar statement may be made

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with regard to his other frequent changes of employment in these early years. The papers of the time were frequently ill-supported; Irvine gave up the editorship of the Columbian less than a year after the signing of Henry’s articles of apprenticeship. The boy seems to have Worked for some time thereafter in the printing office of Clayton and Kingsland; but in 1823 he was offered a place on the New York Patriot, and there he first began to take part in politics, becoming, as was natural in the circumstances, an ardent partisan of the candidacy of Andrew Jackson for the Presidency of the United States. In 1824, indeed, in company with his employer, Colonel Charles K. Gardner, Henry paid a visit to Washington, and was presented to Old Hickory. Before the year was out, we find him moving to Kinderhook, New York, to become the printer of the local paper, the Herald, and we cannot help believing that he had by now formed a connection with Martin Van Buren, and that he was fairly launched in a reasonably active political career.

But Kinderhook was only a way station to Rochester. While serving on the Patriot, O’Reilly had had as a fellow-compositor one Luther Tucker. Tucker had a friend who wished to establish at Rochester a daily newspaper, and he was offered the business management of the paper, and asked to select a competent editor. Thus, in 1826, at the age of twenty, the young Henry moved once more, and on October 21, 1826, he issued the first number of the Rochester Daily Advertiser, which, with changes of name, and, indeed, changes of policy, has none the less endured down to our own day.

The Editor and Politician.

The young editor had walked into the center of a major political storm. These were the days of the anti-Masonic agitation. In September of 1826, William Morgan, who had written and promoted a book which purported to reveal the secrets of Masonry, had been abducted from the jail at Canandaigua, and had disappeared. Now in Western New York at this same period, the foes of the Jackson patty were looking for a political issue, and particularly for an issue that would wean away from the dominant political faction some of the more democratic elements in the population. They found what they wanted in the disappearance of Morgan. Here was an opportunity to raise a

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terrific hue and cry over the secret society of Masonry and its aristocratic implications. The opportunity became still more profitable when a body was washed ashore from Lake Ontario, which, it was speedily rumored, and afterwards alleged in a coroner’s inquest, was the body of Morgan himself. Political excitement, therefore, mounted higher and higher, and in due course gave rise to a new political party which described itself as the Anti-Masonic party.

Into this interesting political scene Henry O’Reilly was precipitated in the fall of 1826. He began his editorship of the Advertiser, as a wise editor would do, by professing the highest impartiality with regard to politics. But O’Reilly, as a detached and neutral observer of the political scene, or indeed of anything else, is an O’Reilly that never existed. He already had his political predilections; his Irish blood yearned for a fight; and before long he was involved in the controversy over anti-Masonry, arid was locked in conflict with one of the most formidable figures in the history of political journalism.

In 1826 Thutlow Weed was editor of the Ror/Jerter Telegraph, a man thirty-four years of age, who might well resent the appearance of a stripling of twenty as his competitor in the thriving frontier community. Weed was not the originator, but soon became one of the participants, in the anti-Masonic agitation, and one of the leaders in the attempt to capitalize the disappearance and the death of Morgan in the formation of the new party. It is not likely, having regard to the newspaper methods of the time, and to the extraordinary violence of journalistic controversy, that O’Rei1ly would long have escaped the shafts of his rival. But the hot-headed Irishman apparently offered the first provocation for the outburst of hostilities. From the first he had been suspicious of the inquest that had attended the finding of the alleged corpse of Morgan on the shores of Lake Ontario, and had not hesitated to express his suspicions that there was something very peculiar about the whole business. Soon a most interesting story came to his ears. In the arguments that took place in the frontier community the question of the identity of the body of Morgan naturally rook a prominent place. In one of these arguments, so the story began to circulate, Thurlow Weed was reported to have said, in informal conversation, that at any rate the corpse was a “good-enough Morgan till after election.” Later on, when confronted with this charge, Weed denied it categorically, and declared that what he had said was that it

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was a good enough Morgan till another body was found, a comment which, it must be admitted, was hardly less cynical than that of which he was accused. But when O’Reilly published the first of these two versions of his rival’s words, he found himself the object of the most bitter attacks on the part of Weed. He was pilloried as a liar; he was described in the pages of the Telegraph as a “Mason-jade” a peculiarly offensive epithet in the current political controversy, and all the more so in the case of O’Reilly, since O’Reilly was not a Mason; and he was in due course, fixed with a libel suit whida hung over his head for thirteen years, and was naturally a source of considerable embarrassment. In such circumstances, to put it bluntly, O’Reilly found that he could not take it, and in ]uly, 1827, he temporarily withdrew from the scene, alleging feeble health in part as an excuse. After a visit to Niagara Falls, he went back to New York City, and there again took up printing at the Methodist Printing Office which had been one of the scenes of his employment some years before.

But the itch for politics was strong in O’Reilly, and a most exciting and possibly a most rewarding Presidential campaign was approaching. The Old Hero, the veteran of New Orleans, the idol of the people, Andrew ]ackson, was running for the Presidency. The campaign was a delirious one; indeed, never before had so large a part of the electorate gone to the polls. How could a good party man be content to print Methodist tracts instead of ringing Jacksonian speeches? There could be but one answer to this question, so O‘Reilly, at the solicitation of Mr. Tucker, his original employer, went back to Rochester, and took part as editor of the Advertiser once more in the campaign which was to elevate Old Hickory to the Presidency of the United States. And now O’Reilly appears for the first time, but not the last, if not in the guise of an officeseeker, at least in the guise of one much interested in the offices. In 1828 Abelard Reynolds was Postmaster of Rochester, a position which he had held since the very beginnings of Rochester’s civic history. Reynolds, of course, was a supporter of the conservative cause, and of John Quincy Adams in the campaign of 1828. It was obvious, at any rate to the Jacksonians, that a new appointment was in order. So the editor of the Advertiser journeyed to Washington, and secured the appointment of a good Jackson man, ]ohn B. Elwood, in place of Reynolds. He also brought back from his visit to the capital another political plum, the collectorship

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of the Genesee Revenue District, which was awarded to General Jacob Gould.

One might have thought that by this time O’Reil1y would have been in a fair way to settle down. But in 1850 he married, and his bride, Marcia Brooks, was the daughter of a land~holder of the upper Genesee country, in the neighborhood of Nunda. Thither the editor of the Advertiser removed in May of 1830, hoping no doubt to profit from his father-in-law’s plans to establish a village in that neighborhood, and thoughtfully providing himself with the job of postmaster in the new locality, a matter which was not difficult in view of his services to the administration in power. O’Reilly‘s removal to Brooks Grove, as the place was called, hardly does credit to his business sagacity. It is true that in 1830, when for the second time he left Rochester, the town was experiencing its first recession, following the boom created by the building of the Erie Canal. But there was no good reason to believe that the Genesee mill town and canal port had exhausted its potentialities; indeed those with greater confidence were soon justified as growth was resumed and the village became a city in 1854. Nor was there anything about the job of postmastership at Brooks’ Grove that could be described as challenging to a young man now 24, who had substantial capacities, and a growing circle of friends. So once again O’Reilly’s exile was a brief one, and the campaign of 1832 saw the young Irishman, now a citizen, back once more in the editorship of the Advertiser, and warmly engaged in re-electing Andrew Jackson to the Presidency of the United States. For his services in this regard he received the post of Deputy-Collector for the Genesee District, and this together with his journalistic activities, provided him with a reasonable pecuniary reward. He was now to settle down for a while — in so far as it was in his nature to settle down, and in the course of the next ten years he played an important part in the life of the young community. In some ways he was at his best during these next ten years, active, public-spirited, the friend of many liberal causes, and the author of one of the best books of its kind, a book that is invaluable to any student of Rochester history.

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The Rochester Civic Reformer

Amongst the objects of O’Reilly’s activity during his ten years’ continuous residence in Rochester none was more important than the enlargement of the Erie Canal. The canal had been finished in 1825, and had, of course, been the major factor in the astoundingly rapid growth of the city on the Genesee. Constructed at a cost of around $10,000,000, it had been amazingly profitable, and it had been possible for the state to retire a loan of seven and three quarter million dollars from the revenues of the first ten years. The chief drawbacks were its size, particularly its depth of only four feet, and the flimsy character of the locks and other features of its construction. It was natural that there should arise a demand for its reconstruction and enlargement, and this movement was closely connected with a movement for the reduction of the tolls. But the question soon became a controversial one; there was much opposition in the legislature to a new borrowing program; and it took a long and vigorous agitation before the enlargement of the canal could be carried into effect.

Into this agitation O’Reilly threw himself with characteristic ardor. He was, of course, by no means alone in his advocacy of enlargement Indeed, the opinion of leading Rochester citizens of both political parties coincided as to the necessity of such a policy. But his name appears again and again amongst the men who took the deepest interest in the project, and his views, it would appear, had a greater and greater influence as time went on. The canal commissioners first recommended the enlargement of the canal in their report of the spring of 1855. The legislature, very much under the influence of those short-sighted individuals who thought borrowing to be inherently immoral, enacted in May a law providing that the surplus tolls from the Canal might be devoted to the deepening of the waterway, or to the construction of further locks, if needed. In the fall of 1835 a committee of Rochester citizens, of which O’ReilIy was a member, passed resolutions expressing pleasure at this initial step and the profound conviction of the importance of a forward looking policy with regard to the canal in general. But the method of providing for enlargement through surplus revenues was soon seen to be inadequate. The sum that was found to be necessary to carry through the program

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determined upon by the canal commissioners was found to be at least equal to the original expense of constructing the canal. To expect that such a sum could be found through tolls would mean that the much-desired improvement would be long-delayed. Confronted with this fact, friends of the canal urged a borrowing program to effect the necessary construction.

It may well be that O’Reilly was one of the first to formulate such a policy and to join with others in bringing it to fruition. (He was never afraid to borrow, either personally or otherwise.) At any rate, on the 30th of December, 1836, he was one of three citizens of Rochester who addressed a public meeting assembled at the courthouse, to consider the canal question, and out of this meeting came resolutions urging new loans based upon the canal revenues, and a call for a convention of the people of western New York to press for similar action. This convention met in Rochester on Ianuary 18, 1837, and attracted immense attention. It appointed a central executive committee, of which O’Reilly was chairman, for placing the matter before the public. This committee engaged in a successful agitation which had its final fruits in the law of April 18, 1838, authorizing a loan of four million dollars, (not as much as had been desired), for the improvement and enlargement of the canal.

O’Reilly’s success in bringing about the end which he had in view was due in part to a very energetic and skillful agitation. But it was due in part, also, to the particular circumstances of the time. The Jackson administration had hardly gone out of office when there followed one of the most disastrous depressions in the early history of the country, and one which was extremely severely felt in western New York. Of course in general the idea of borrowing to create employment was hardly the economic gospel of the 1830’s. But curiously enough in New York state there was considerable sentiment for just such a course, as was to be strikingly exemplified when William H. Seward was elected Governor in the fall of 1838. The passage of the canal law, it seems hardly doubtful, was in part assisted by the fact that here was a means ready to hand to deal with the critical problem of the depression.

Was O’Reilly’s agitation for the enlargement of the canal wise and far-seeing? In the very year in which the legislature voted for

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the enlargement of the canal, the first steam railway entered Rochester. Was it therefore something less than far-sighted to agitate for the development of canal navigation, at a time when a new agency of transportation was coming into being? Superficially, it might seem as if this question would have to be answered in the affirmative. But if one looks a little more deeply into the facts, one discovers that the Erie Canal remained for a long time after 1838 the principal means of transportation through the state of New York, and that the high point of its usefulness (the maximum development of its traffic) was not reached until the middle of the decade of the fifties. Looking at the matter, then, from this point of view, it seems clear that Henry O’Reilly was not only faithfully representing the necessities of his community in the agitation with which he had so much to do, but was promoting a development which was eminently desirable from the viewpoint of his time and of the decades immediately to come.

There was a second movement, fully as important as that which had to do with the canals, in which O’Reilly’s name appears again and again. This was the movement for the improvement of the schools of Rochester.

The decade of the thirties is remarkable not only in New York but throughout the Northern states for the developing interest in education. The great wave of liberalism which characterized the period expressed itself nowhere more vigorously than in the field of the schools. There was much to be done to improve them, for in most of the country only the most rudimentary educational conditions existed. This was true of Rochester when O’Reilly took up his residence in the community on the Genesee.

The Rochester schools had begun on the district system, that is, they bore no relation whatsoever to the community as a whole. One district might be well run, according to the standards of the time; another might be little short of infamous. One district might pay its teachers fairly well; another might grant little more than sweatshop wages. True, when the city was incorporated in 1854, the Common Council was given the power to act in the capacity of Commissioner of Schools, and was given a broad kind of supervisory authority. But these powers were almost never exercised, and the districts struggled along without any substantial support from the municipality. As late

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as 1839 three districts within the city lacked school-houses, one of them renting a room in an old cooper’s shop. Each separate school was kept only as long as the funds of the district permitted, some of them for only three or four months a year.

Into the movement for the improvement of the public schools, O’Reilly flung himself with characteristic energy. In 1836 a public meeting in Rochester provided for the appointment of a citizens‘ committee called “The Committee for Elevating the  Standards of Common School Education.” It provided for the circulation of a sheet called “The Common School Assistant,” and engaged young A. C. Pratt as a kind of propagandist to go through the county calling attention to the educational needs of the communities. lt continued its work during 1837 and 1838, and in November of the latter year recommended an “entirely free common school system, supported by a general tax on real and personal property.” A little later, on December 1, 1858, a resolution was adopted looking to the organization of a Board of Education which would appoint a superintendent of public schools, and which would have “districts so arranged and schools so regulated as to allow of gradation in public English education.” A committee of fifteen was appointed to urge the adoption of this policy upon the Common Council and the legislature.

It took time, however, to reach the desired goal. Today it is difficult for us to realize that the expenditure of funds for educational purposes was often opposed a century ago as an unnecessary coddling of the masses. There were Americans in that day who wished to keep the less fortunate in their place, and could see no point in making it possible for them to rise in the social and economic scale. The improvement of our schools, like most important steps in social progress, did not come about with the unanimous adhesion of all citizens, but had to be struggled for, as most good things do have to be struggled for.

But Henry O’Reilly had no doubt as to what needed to be done. At every stage he supported in the pages of the Advertiser the contemporary agitation. And in the spring of 1841 he drew up a memorial on the school question which received wide circulation throughout the state and which was one of the factors in securing the passage of a bill amending the city charter and providing for reforms of the first

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order of importance. The law of 1841 provided for the election of a board of education, composed of two members from each ward, which should have power to appoint a superintendent of schools, and which was charged with the financial authority necessary to the building up of the school system. The system to be established was to be public and free. Sixteen years before the state of New York entirely abolished the rate bill system, and early enough to become the fourth city of the state to do this, Rochester in 1841 set up an educational machinery which was hailed at the time, and with reason, as a great advance. The citizens of Rochester showed their appreciation of the role that O‘Reilly had played in the battle for the school law by electing him to the Board of Education constituted under it. There is no room for doubting his notable public service in this regard.

O’Reilly’s interest in the improvement of the educational standards and opportunities of Rochester was shown in another way when he was prominent in the organization, in 1838, of what was known as the Young Men’s Association, and of which he became president. The special circumstance which promoted the growth of this important agency in the early life of Rochester was, interestingly enough, the commission of the first murder which had ever taken place in the city in 1837. This untoward event, says O’Reilly, directed public attention to the necessity of establishing institutions for “presenting intellectual and moral attractions to counteract the vicious allurements to which (as legal examinations proved) the young men of this city were largely exposed.” It was resolved that what was particularly needed was a library and educational program, and the establishment of a center which should serve as an alternative, as O’Reilly highmindedly put it, to “eating-houses, with each a newspaper and a bar—bowling alleys, with their temptations to drinking and their temptations to belting – gaming tables with their enthralling allurements and their degrading companionships—and enticement to every vicious indulgence—diligently provided by those who excite appetite and feed passion for the sake of emolument.” Accordingly, funds were found to rent the second floor of a building on State Street, and there to provide the first public reading room and city library in the history of Rochester. There were small membership dues, and books could be taken out only by accredited borrowers – but the library itself was open to all, and the provision for taking out boolm was the first that had been made. By

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the close of 1838 the library counted more than 2000 volumes, and the membership included 139 full subscribers, and 97 others holding reading room privileges. Once started on this hopeful project, O’Reilly’s soaring imagination carried him further. He attempted to raise funds for a city library to be erected by the Association, and took an option on two lots at the corner of State and Mumford Streets with this end in view. An attempt was made to sell stock for the promotion of this project
at $50 a share, but this project failed, like so many others in which O’Reilly was financially concerned, and the energetic editor of the A41/miter had to pay $400 out of his own pocket as a result of his premature action. On the other hand, O’Reilly was more successful in securing the amalgamation of the Young Men’s Association with the Athenaeum, an earlier venture in the field of literary and educational activity. The union of the two still further enlarged the library resources of the Association, and by the close of 1840 there were over 2500 volumes available to members, and membership had risen to 409.

It would be pleasant to believe that the impetus thus given to the love of learning was permanent in its effects. Unfortunately, the facts are otherwise. After O‘Reilly’s removal from the city the activities of the Association declined. But the work that was done in this early period was not in vain. It served, no doubt, as an inspiration to the efforts of the late forties, when an attempt was made to pump new energy into the educational current of Rochester. And, wholly apart from its practical results, it is highly characteristic of O’Reilly himself. His generous impulses, his democratic instincts, and his intellectual energy all contributed to make him feel keenly the necessity of an educational advance. In taking the position that he did, he was acting in the most elevated spirit of his own time.

The Local Historian

The year 1838, which saw the establishment of the Young Men’s Association, was also the year in which O’Reilly published his Sketcbes of Rochester, the first important descriptive work published in and with regard to the city on the Genesee. The occasion for this work the author describes in his preface. In 1856, in response to a request from the city corporation, O’Reilly had published some statis-

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tical data on the community in which he lived in pamphlet form. The success of this venture emboldened him to go further. He was encouraged by Everard Peck and Thomas Kempshall to carry his project through, and these two men assisted him in securing a publisher. In the winter of 1858 the committee which had the work in charge travelled by the only conveyance then possible, the stage-coach, all the way to New York, taking five days to do so, “with good sleighing,”to put in the hands of Harper Brothers the manuscript of this important work. When it was published it sold at the price of $1.50, or $1.25 when ten copies were taken by a single subscriber. The first edition was quickly sold; but-—quite characteristically, O’Reilly realized little financial profit from his venture. He had made the work more elaborate and more costly than had been originally proposed.

It would he extravagant to contend that the Sketches of Rochester was a great piece of literature. But it is fair to say that very few communities have enjoyed, in the early stages of their development, the services of a more conscientious or thorough chronicler. It is impossible to write the history of our city Without frequent reference to O’Reilly. His work is invaluable as a contribution to local history. It is a mine of information on the economic and social development of a frontier community. And, in the life of a busy editor, and active citizen, it represents no inconsiderable achievement.

The year 1838, which connects with so many of O’Reilly’s activities, must now be connected with one more. The editor of the Advertiser, as we have seen, had always been interested in politics. He had acquired a small political oflice in 1832. He had run for the state Assembly-—unsuccessfully—in 1837. In 1838 the postmaster of Rochester resigned. The friends of the man who must by now have been one of Rochester’s most prominent Democrats, perhaps the most prominent Democrat, rallied to present him for the vacant office. O’Reilly himself was absent in New York at the time, and does not seem to have bestirred himself particularly. But on May 24, 1838, his Presidential commission came through, and from that time forward until his removal from Rochester, he performed the duties of this important office. It is difficult to arrive at any clear evaluation of his service in this regard. He is said to have done great work in reducing the number of robberies in the mails. He certainly became well known to many influential Democrats, and established connections which were useful

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to him in the future. But it may be also that in accepting the position of postmaster, he gave unnecessary hostages to fortune; the work may well have been distracting; and it exposed him, of course, to prompt political reprisal when the Whigs came into office in the elections of 1840. These were the days of the very perfection of the spoils system. There could be only one answer to the question of what to do with postmasters who had the bad judgment to belong to the opposite political party, and that was to get rid of them. O’Reilly, in common with others of his political creed, was soon made to walk the plank; and it seems probable that his dismissal from the post-mastership had something to do with his removal from Rochester at the end of 1842, or in the very beginning of 1843.

But the editor and author of the frontier was so constituted, at any rate while in his thirties, that he could not be long without a cause; he must always he promoting something; and the cause that now caught his eye, and that offered also an opportunity to earn a living, was the cause of constitutional reform. The constitution of New York state had undergone revision in 1821; but in many respects it was still archaic in 1842. Unlike the constitution that preceded it, it had provided for a procedure by which it might be amended; but somehow or other this procedure, with a single exception, had failed signally to function in practise. There were a number of respects in which, from the view-point of the liberal forces of the time, changes  were indicated by the beginning of the forties. It was thought, for example, that the judiciary should be made elective, rather than appointive; it was thought that the terms of members of the legislature ought to be shortened; and still more, the disturbances which had broken out in the Hudson Valley, where a semi-feudal system of landholding still persisted, seemed to call for a drastic alteration of the
existing law.

The Albany Years

The revamping of the constitution was just the kind of a cause that Henry O’Reilly enjoyed serving; and it must have been in his mind when he left Rochester in 1842, for he then accepted the editorship of the Albany Atlas, a journal which advocated constitutional reform. But journalism was not enough. In 1843 O’Reilly started the

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organization of what was called the State Constitutional Association. He became a member of its Executive Committee; he persuaded one of the most powerful Democratic politicians in the state, Michael Hoffman, to accept the post of leader; and he initiated an agitation for the calling of a constitutional convention. This agitation bore fruit in the legislative action of 1845, in an overwhelming popular vote in favor of a convention, and in the constitutional convention of 1846. The reforms which have been mentioned above were adopted, and O’Reilly had the satisfaction of seeing the work of the convention accepted by the people at the polls. But before this day had come the ebullient Irishman had made another dtange of base. When he had transferred his activities from Rochester to Albany, he seems to have indulged the hope that, since the Democrats were in power, he might secure the state printing. By this time he was thoroughly familiar with the mixing of business and politics, and had, indeed, almost continually held some office such as was dealt out in the thirties to deserving members of the party. But something slipped; the Democrats, badly divided into factions, could not unite on the Irishman as their candidate for printer; O’Reilly belonged quite clearly to the radical wing; and it is probable that in this as at other times he took very little pains to moderate his opinions or to express them other than with vehemence. The warring groups in the legislature united upon a compromise candidate; and O’Reilly, after only a brief period with the Atlas, transferred his energies to the New York State Agricultural Society, and became its Recording Secretary. But here again the pickings apparently were insulficient and after a short time in this post O’Reilly, like many another American, turned from the slim rewards of daily labor to the glowing opportunities of successful promotion.

His Telegraph Ventures

The middle forties mark a very decided change in the personality of this interesting man. The impulse for reform, the zeal for causes, the political ardor, never completely deserted him; indeed he was usually able to rationalize his conduct in terms of some great popular  good. But after 1844 O‘Reilly became interested in making money in a big way. He had certainly been conspicuously unsuccessful up to

15

this time; he had left Rochester in debt; he had not demonstrated any extraordinary business capacity at any time; but perhaps these very facts tempted him to some kind of scheme for easy and rapid accumulation; his temperament made it easy for him to see immense possibilities for the future in a new invention; and the year 1844 was the year of the first American telegraph. As is well known, on the 24th of May of that year, Samuel F. B. Morse, having persuaded Congress to appropriate the funds for an experimental line from Washington to Baltimore, had sent the famous message, “What hath God wrought ?” over the wire. A new era of communication was thus ushered in.

There were those, in 1844, of course, who did not think so. Morse offered his invention to the federal government for the modest sum of $100,000; and it is interesting to reflect upon the acumen of the Postmaster-General of that day, who reported that he was uncertain that the revenues from the telegraph could be made equal to the expenditures. Disappointed by this rebuff, Morse turned to private capital, and early in the story of the development of his invention, Henry O’Reilly appears upon the scene.

How came it that he was projected into this new field of endeavor? The answer lies in his friendship with Amos Kendall, who had been Postmaster-General of the United States under ]ackson and Van Buren. Kendall had been selected by the Morse patentees, (there were four of these), to represent them as their business agent. In June of 1846, he signed a contract with O’Reilly, calling for the “construction of a line of Morse’s Electro-Magnetic Telegraph to connect the great seaboard line at Philadelphia, or at such other convenient point on said line as may approach nearer Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania, and from thence through Harrisburg and other intermediate towns to Pittsburg, and thence through Wheeling and Cincinnati, and such other towns and cities as the said O’Reilly and his associates may elect, to St. Louis and to the principal towns on the lakes.” Here, so it seemed to the former Rochester editor, was a princely grant indeed, little less than the concession of a great telegraphic empire in the most rapidly growing part of the country, the booming middle West.

Whoever reads carefully the contract that I have just quoted can readily appreciate what troubles lay in its vague and wholly unlawyerlike phraseology. Amos Kendall, it is clear, believed that he was giv-

16

ing to O’Reilly merely a right of construction in a telegraph system which should remain under a single and undivided ownership and control. He believed, furthermore, that he was conferring on the other party to the contract nothing more than a commission to construct telegraph lines, not the right to manage them, or to become a kind of telegraph baron with a dominating interest in any of them. But O’Reilly had a wholly different view of the matter. What he did was to start the organization of a whole series of companies, independent of one another, and extending over — and finally beyond — the great area in which the contract gave him the right to operate. Nor was he without the desire to play a part in the management of the lines. He hoped to use his position to secure wide stock interests. Those interests would carry with them, of course, a very substantial measure of control over the companies which he was successful in organizing.

The difference of opinion that soon developed between O’Reilly and the Morse patentees goes to the heart of some very interesting problems of business organization, as those problems presented themselves in the decades of the forties and fifties. It is tolerably clear to us today that the telegraph is a natural monopoly, and that the consolidation of the telegraph lines of the country has been, on the whole, a highly desirable consummation. But a hundred years ago, the feat of monopoly was keen. The nation had not long before expressed a decisive opinion on the question of the concentration of financial power in the Bank of the United States. It had emphatically supported Old Hickory in his war on that institution. Now there loomed the possibility of another monopoly, monopoly of a new and potentially significant means of communication. What could be more dangerous? In taking a contrary view of the problem, in organizing many local companies, and eventually in his fight with the Morse patentees, O’Reilly appeared in the characteristic role of the champion of the people and the foe of special interests. He was probably never more widely known, and never more popular, than in the late forties and early fifties; and there is little doubt that he gloried in this popularity, and pictured himself, (while engaged in the most fat-teaching plans for personal gain), as the hero of a great fight for the common man.

There is another aspect of this question that ought to interest us. O’Reilly, in his energetic organization of telegraph companies all over

17

the country, undoubtedly performed a yeoman service in awakening the interest of local capital in what has become one of the great industries of the country. Where, indeed, in the late forties, was the capital to be found, except in the communities to be served? The country had not yet developed to the point where vast stock issues could have been floated in New York. The only practicable method of approach to the problem of securing funds was to go out and get them in the areas which were to be opened up. O’Reilly did just this. His methods were the methods of his time. That they aroused a tremendous interest in the new means of communication, and that, despite the final collapse of his hopes and of his fortunes, these efforts were by no means wasted, is clear.

O’Reilly’s financial methods look peculiar and by no means prudent from the angle of vision of 1944. The funds raised by the sale of stock were used for the construction of the lines. The companies which O’Reilly organized were apt to begin business with a large part of the money which had been raised to set them off already expended. But, however imprudent this may appear today, it was not regarded as foolish in 1845. The unlimited optimism of the American temperament in the period before the Civil War is difficult for us to understand today. But it made possible business practices that would now be universally condemned as unsound.

None the less, we must not, in our understanding of O’Reilly’s motives and view-point, attempt an apologia for him. The judgment of James D. Reid, who had been his assistant in the post-oflice at  Rochester and whom he brought into the telegraph business, does not seem an uncharitable one. “Henry O’Reilly,” he wrote in 1879, “was in many respects a wonderful man. His tastes were cultivated. His instincts were fine. He was intelligent and genial. His energy was untiring, his hopefulness shining. His mental activity and power of continuous labor were marvelous. He was liberal, generous, profuse, full of the best instincts of his nation. But he lacked prudence in money matters, was loose in the use of it, had little veneration for contracts. . . . He formed and broke friendships with equal rapidity, was bitter in his hates, was impatient of restraints.” This characterization is sound. And the criticism which it contains will be found to be amply justified by the history of O‘Reilly’s telegraph companies.

18

From the beginning, of course, O’Reilly, in his fulfilment and elaboration of his contract with Kendall, had many difficulties to contend with. He was reasonably successful in securing the funds for the construction of the Pennsylvania line as Jonathan Child, Samuel L. Selden, Hervey Ely, Alvah Strong and many others are found amongst the subscribers. But his contract called for the completion of the line within six months of the signing of the agreement. O’Reilly and those associated with him had, of course, not the slightest experience in constructing telegraph lines. They were the pioneers, working without the technical knowledge that could only be gained in that day from experience. They had no models to follow. As winter came on, their troubles multiplied. At the end of November a storm broke their wire (which they had drawn tightly in the belief that transmission was aided by a taut line) in a hundred places. When the 13th of December arrived, the line had not been completed. The contract of O’Reilly with the Morse patentees was by any strict construction, null and void.

Of the patentees, however, (and there were four of them) only one, the villain of the piece in most accounts of telegraph history, F. O. ]. Smith, was anxious at this time to take advantage of O’Reilly’s predicament. Morse and Kendall, the business agent, were willing to be generous. O’Reilly had worked hard. His difliculties had been great. He might still he a very effective helper. Why not let him go ahead? During the year 1846, in fact, the line between Philadelphia and Pittsburg was made ready for business. Time was to show that it was flimsily constructed, and some of it had to be rebuilt as early as the fall of 1849. But at the outset of the telegraph era in 1846 no one could know this.

Meanwhile O’Relly went ahead with other projects. A line was constructed between Boston and New York; another was started to run west from Cincinnati to Pittsburg and Louisville. Often the difficulties seemed almost insuperable. ln one night a storm in New England produced 170 breaks in a stretch of 50 miles. The ambitious Irishman was in financial difliculties. His files for the winter of 1847 are full of duns and protested notes. He had to plead with Rochester merchants for more time for his grocery and clothing bills, and even to beg credit for a ton of coal for his home.

19

There seems little doubt, moreover, that he had gone beyond his powers, as defined in his contract. In order to get his companies started he issued stock which, it was alleged, represented an interest in the patents themselves. His organization of separate companies was directly contrary to the desires of Kendall and of the patentees. In addition, F. O. J. Smith managed to persuade his associates virtually to hand over to him the control of the patent interests, and by this time Kendall, concluding that O’Reilly was not to be trusted, went over to the opposition. The patentees began to construct competing lines; they sought to close the lines they did construct to O’Reilly business. Though a temporary injunction restraining O’Reilly was denied them in 1847, they went ahead making more and more trouble for him. Efforts at compromises were blocked by the dominating personality of Smith. The struggle waxed hotter and hotter.

In the popular view O’Reilly was the hero of this bitter battle. He had had the vision to propose lower rates on telegraph service for newspapers than his rivals, and he also hit upon the sound principle of lower rates for quantity service. He was the gallant David directing his sling against the burly giant Goliath.

“The steed called lightning (says the Fate)
Is owned in the United States.
‘Twas Franklin that caught the horse.
‘Twas harnessed by Professor Morse.
With Kendall’s rein the steed went shyly,
Till tamed and broke by H. O’Reilly.”

So chanted the friends of the fighting Irishman.

But unfortunately O’Reilly never knew when to stop. There might have been some color of right in his activities in the region north of the Ohio, There could be none whatever when he sought to construct lines south of the river, and he knew it. In order to make his case stronger in this region, he bought the patents to a telegraphic instrument described as the Columbian, and that has been described by Alvin F. Harlow as the “most absurd imitation and infringement of the Morse system that supposedly sane men ever tried to get away with.” The only excuse that can be given for him is that he was so ignorant of mechanisms as not to realize how bald a fraud this was. But naturally the Morse interests rook advantage of the situation. In

20

1848 the District Court declared against 0’Reilly. His instrument was declared to be an infringement of the Morse patent. Of course O’Reilly appealed. But the years of litigation that followed naturally did not help his financial situation. And in 1855, the Supreme Court, in a decision rendered by Chief Justice Taney, dealt the interests which O’Reilly represented what was virtually a death blow. After this time the ebullient Irishman appears only infrequently in connection with the history of the telegraph. Some of the lines which he had built virtually disintegrated; others were developed by other men into powerful agencies of communication. But none owed anything of their further growth to him. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he had strayed into fields in which his talents were not conspicuous, and, indeed, in the years that followed, he was to be a rather pathetic figure, never attaining success, from time to time seeking once again to capitalize his talent for popular controversy, and for popular causes,but rarely doing so with any profit to himself.

It is curious that O’Reilly, in this decade of the fifties, never took any important part, so far as can be discovered, in the slavery controversy. The probable explanation lies in his close affiliations with the Democratic party. One might have thought that such an issue as this would decidedly appeal to him. But O’Reilly was a partisan Democrat, and it may well be that he hesitated to cut loose from his old associations. At any rate, at no time does he appear as a militant foe of the extension of slavery, let alone of the “peculiar institution” itself, and his migration, as a chronic officeseeker, from the Democratic into the Republican party was not successfully effected until somewhere around 1869.

Years of Discouragement

In the intermediate years between 1853 and 1869 he interested himself in a number of unsuccessful ventures. He started a project for the improvement of the Des Moines River, in Iowa. But before lung he fell to quarreling with his associates, was kicked out of the company which he had helped to form, and had to content himself with the meager satisfaction of exposing some of its irregularities before the lowa legislature. In 1859, returning to New York, he engaged in a more congenial and more successful battle, a battle to pro-

21

tect the canals of New York State against the hostility of the railroads. But the victory which he won in a campaign for the further enlargement of the canals left him once more without employment. Two years later we find him president of a concern called the American Terracultor Company, located in Rochester. This company was organized to manufacture a machine which would supplant the plow, and which, instead of turning the soil, dug up the ground and pulverized it by means of forks attached to endless chains, cutting a strip of land forty inches in width and ten inches in depth. But matters did not go smoothly here, either, and in addition the period of his connection with the terraculror was saddened by the death of his son at the battle of Williamsburg. In 1863 we find him acting as Secretary of an Association for promoting Colored Volunteering, and acting in conjunction with Peter Cooper to see to it that such volunteers would be authorized and credited to the quota of New York State. In 1867 we find him once more attacking his old foe, the railroads, and becoming Secretary of the National Anti-Monopoly Cheap Freight Railway League, which had as its fantastic object the construction of railway lines which should be open to free competition for the transportation of freight and passengers, but which is interesting as an early expression of the popular resentment against the growing power and arrogance of the railway systems of the country. On this project O’Reilly got exactly nowhere, and his own compensation in connection with it was so small that it did not meet his living expenses. During all this time, it would appear, he was constantly in debt, dependent often upon the generosity of his creditors.

In 1869, however, O’Reilly secured an appointment in the New York Customs House as store-keeper. This job, which could hardly have been particularly lucrative, he attempted to supplement by editorial work for one or another of the New York papers, forming a temporary connection with the World and with the Tribune. But his old flair for editorial writing seems to have deserted him, and he could give satisfaction neither to Manton Marble nor to Horace Greeley, the editors of the sheets in question. He was busy during this period with his Memoirs, and with the arrangement and collection of his historical papers; but the first of these two tasks he never completed.

In 1878, moreover, misfortune befell him. Rutherford B. Hayes, elected President in 1877, was one of the first Presidents to put into

22

practise, and against strong opposition, the principles of civil service reform; and the Presidential axe was soon whetted for Alonzo B. Cornell, the Collector of the Port of New York, to whom O’Reilly had owed his appointment as store-keeper. Ar the age of 72, then, O’Reilly was removed from office. He continued to live in New York till 1884, when he returned once more to the scene of his youthful successes, the city of Rochester. There he died, in St. Mar’y’s Hospital on the 17th of August, 1886, and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, the site for which he had been instrumental in selecting nearly fifty years before. He had, at one time, lapsed from the Catholic faith, but in these last years of his life he returned to it, and before his death received extreme unction, according to Catholic ritual. The career which we have thus been analyzing was certainly nor, from the worldly point of view, a successful one. O’Reilly was devoid of the qualities that make for achievement in the business world. He was improvident, rash and by no means easy to deal with. To the eye of the hyper-critical, he might well appear as one who had a professional interest in controversy, in stirring up trouble, in which he generally found himself brilliant and inextricably involved. But any such judgment would be not only partial, but far too severe. O’Reilly was a man of very generous impulses, of very substantial Capacities, and of some measure of successful achievement. In particular is this true of the period that he spent in Rochester. He identified himself during that period with a number of important causes, with the development of the Erie Canal, which (it must never be forgotten) played a fundamental role in the growth of the stare down to the Civil War, and on which the prosperity of this city depended, with the establishment of a great step forward in the system of public education,with the first feeble steps towards the maintenance of a public library, with the development of a newspaper which has had a continuous existence since 1826. On a larger scale his activities seem, in retrospect, to be futile and ill-judged. Perhaps they were. But here too it must not be forgotten that he was a popular hero to many Americans in the early part of the fifties, and that, crude as were his methods, and wrong as were many of his decisions, he expressed something that needed to be expressed in his opposition to unrestricted monopolistic control of an important industry. The remedy for such control was emphatically not the remedy that he envisaged. It was not competition, but

23

regulation, that was finally to be judged necessary in the telegraph industry. But it would have been difficult for an American of his period to have foreseen this. After all, the era of regulation was to come after O’Reilly was in his grave. No one contends that here was a great man. But surely here was an interesting man, a man towards whom a charitable judgment is easy, a man whose generous impulses command respect, and whose life was not devoid of service to his fellows.

Biographical Note: This effort to present a full length picture of Henry O’Reilly in brief compass has been greatly facilitated by a master’s thesis written by Sister Miriam Monaghan at the Catholic University of America. A typed copy of her study, Henry O’Reilly: Journalist and Promoter of the Telegraph, has generously been made available by a gift to the Rochester Historical Society. In addition to his own published works, cited in the paper, the fat volume by James D. Reid, The Telegraph in America (Albany, 1878), and Carleton Mabee’s The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F. B. Morse (New York, 1943), have proved useful.

24

___________________

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Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions to 17 Feb 2019.

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions to 17 Feb 2019.

The following are the most recent updates and additions on the Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org sites.

You will likely have noticed that these posts ceased over the past two months. Aside from the fact that Ancestry.com seemed to have stopped updating, my own health was an issue and I made the ‘executive’ decision to take time off.

You can consider this post to be me ‘dipping my toe in the water’ once again.

I do intend to keep this up to the best of my ability, so be sure to look for the next updates at the end of February

 

FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions to 17 Feb.

 

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Transcription: Baptism Register of St. Michael’s Parish, Bassingshawe, London; 1565-1568

Transcription: Baptism Register of St. Michael’s Parish, Bassingshawe, London; 1565-1568

The following is my transcription of the baptism register of St. Michael’s Church parish in Bassingshawe, London England for the dates between 1565 and 1568.

 

Anno

1565

Bassingshawe St. Michaels pishe
Month Dayes Christenings
March 2 was baptized Anne Cotton the Daughter of John Cotton
1565 8 was baptized ???????? Binghame the Daughter of Willm Binghame
30 was baptized Richard Sharbrough the Sonne of Robert Sharbrough
1566
Aprill 7 was baptized Francis Fuller the Sonne of John Fuller mercer
1566 7 was baptized John Myllet the Sonne of John Myllet hos???
10 was baptized Emanuell Nicolles the Sonne of James Nicolls
10 was baptized Allysse Merret the Daughter of John Merrett
25 was baptized Sara Morgan the daughter of St. John Morgan Parson
27 was baptized Marck Horne the Sonne of Robert Horne Grower
28 was baptized Sara Humfrey the daughter of Anthonye Humfrey
Maye 26 was baptized Jone Lodge the Daughter of Thomas Lodge
1566
June 2 was baptized William Baron the Sonne of Richard Baron
1566 2 was baptized James Erithe the Sonne of Robert Erith
2 was baptized Mathewe Pryme the Sonne of William Pryme
23 was baptized Katheryn Bromefeild the daughter of Lanncelott Bromefeild  coryer
30 was baptized Gregorye Caltroppe the Sonne of John Caltroppe tyler
Julye 25 was baptized Katheryn Johnson the daughter of ?orneline Johnson
1566
August 4 was baptized Marye Harbye the daughter of John Harbye
1566 25 was baptized William Hoodson the Sonne of Thomas Hoodson
September 8 was baptized Henrye Smytth the Sonne of John Smyth
1566 8 was baptized Robert Brooke the sonne of Symon Brooke
October 6 was baptized Thomas Nicholle the Sonne of Richard Nicholle
1566 8 was baptized Margarett Lambart Daughter of John Lambart
November 1 was baptized Charles Morton the sonne of Thomas Morton
1566 17 was baptized Anne Holyman the daughter of Richard Holyman
24 was baptized John Sturdyvant the Sonne of John Sturdyvant
December 5 was baptized Andrewe Caltroppe the Sonne of Anthonye Caltroppe
1566 8 was baptized William Smyth the Sonne of Franncis Smyth
26 was baptized MargaretDerham the daughter of Baldwin Derham
Januarye 5 was baptized Alice Ferhar the daughter of Robert Ferhar
1566 19 was baptized Margaret Lowrike the daughter of Thomas Lowrike
Februarye 2 was baptized Martha Carington the daughter of Jarrard Carington
1566
Marche 2 was baptized Thomas Warnar the Sonne of John Warnar
1566 2 was baptized John Addames the Sonne of John Addames
2 was baptized Elizabeth Mayeton the daughter of John Mayeton
23 was baptized Thomas Wyatt the Sonne of Richard Wyatt
24 was baptized Andrewe Sharpe the Sonne of Robert Sharpe mercer
Anno

1567

Bassingshawe St. Michaels pishe
Monethes Dayes Christenings
Aprill 13 was baptized Anne Willemson the daughter of Robert Willemson pewterer
1567 27 was baptized William Wollett the sonne of John Wollett Draper
Maye 4 was baptized John Merest the sonne of John Merest habdasher
1567
June 20 was baptized Marye Humfrey the daughter of Anthonye Humfrey
1567
Julye 16 was baptized John Corke the sonne of Richard Corke Charmdeler
1567 20 was baptized Elizabeth Horne the daughter of Robert Horne
October 5 was baptized Maryte Tanner the daughter of John Tanner mason
1567 19 was baptized Leonard Lemyngton the sonne of John Lemington
19 was baptized Barbara Follow the daughter of John Follow mercer
23 was baptized Franncis Sturdevant the sonne of John Sturdevant
26 was baptized Elizabeth Lane the daughter of George Lane woollcomber
December 30 was baptized Margerye Holyman the daughter of Richard Holyman mercer
1567
Januarye 1 was baptized Clement Lambard the sonne of John Lambard groc.
1567 6 was baptized Alice Caltrope the daughter of Anthonye Caltrope mercer
6 was baptized Edward Brock the sonne of Simon Brock goldsmythe
11 was baptized Richard Hodson the sonne of ??ma? Hodson Shomaker
18 was baptized Margarett Davies the daughter of Roger Davies weaver
Februarye 8 was baptized Roberta Brotton the daughter of Richard Brotton cobler
1567
Marche 21 was baptized Franncis Battman the sonne of Robert Battman minstrell
1567
1568 25 was baptized Thomas Dorant the sonne of Baldwin Dorant mercer
27 was baptized Thomas Loo the sonne of John Loo Grocer
27 was baptized Josephe Lockson the sonne of William Lockson pointmaker
27 was baptized Anne Carington the daughter of Garrard Carington taylor
Aprill 11 was baptized John Evans sonne of Thomas Evans laborer
1568 25 was baptized William Wilde the sonne of Thomas Wilde freemason
25 was baptized Robert Redwood the sonne of John Redwood Brewer
27 was baptized Richard More the sonne of John More Girdler
Maye 9 was baptized John Sutton the sonne of John Sutton Draper
1568 23 was baptized Katheryn Beingam the daughter of William Beingam servingman
June 6 was baptized Jone Truffell the daughter of Gyles Truffell clothworker
1568 6 was baptized Margarett Humfrey the daughter of Anthonye Humfrey clothworker
August 15 was baptized John Erith the sonne of Robert Erith millworker
1568 15 was baptized Martha Dellestone the daughter of William Delleston laborer
September 5 was baptized Samuell Baylye the sonne of Richard Baylye woolcomber
1568 5 was baptized Samuell Batt the sonne of James Batt barber
October 17 was baptized Elizabeth Cranefort the daughter of Thomas Cranefort mchant
1568 24 was baptized Samuell Allingson the sonne of Henrye Allingston carman
November 21 was baptized Thomas Alberye the sonne of Henrye Alberye taylor
1568
December 21 was baptized John Morest the sonne of John Morest merchant
1568 26 was baptized Edward Hollyman the sonne of Richard Hollyman mercer
Januarye 9 was baptized Samuel Warner the sonne of John Warner capper
1568 30 was baptized Richard Delanyver the sonne John Delanyver joyner

 

Horne, Elizabeth; baptism 20 Jul 1567; St. Michael, Bassishawe, London, England
Baptism Register; St. Michael’s Parish, Bassishawe, London, England

___________________

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Transcription: Parish Registry of Births and Baptisms of Lytham, Lancaster 1822.

Transcription: Parish Registry of Births and Baptisms of Lytham, Lancaster 1822.

The following is my transcription of the Parish Registry of Births and Baptisms of Lytham, Lancaster for 1822.

A true and perfect copy of the Parish Registry of Lytham in the County of Lancaster from the first day of January to the thirty first day of December 1822.

Children and parents names     place of abode     profession     When born     When baptized     By Whom

Sarah Daughter of Isaac and Betsey Teeling     Lytham     Sailor     Decr 17th 1821     Jany 13th 1822     P. J. Lister
Agnes Daughter of John and Sarah Corwen      Do     Labourer     Decr 8th 1821     Jany 13th 1822     P. J. Lister
James Son of Thos and Alice Whiteside     Lytham     Weaver     Decr 18th 1821     Jany 27th 1822     P. J. Lister
Isabelle Daughter of Thos and Betty Greenbank     Lytham     Labourer     Oct 14th 1821     Jany 10th 1822     P. J. Lister
Willm & Ellen Son & Daughter of Robt and Magdalene Fox     Lytham     Bricklayer     Jany 11th 1822     Feby 17th     P. J. Lister
Sarah Daughter of George and Sarah Pearson     Lytham     Shoemaker     Jany 25th     Feby 24th P. J. Lister
James Son of Thomas and Margaret Fox     Lytham     Joiner     Jany 30th     March 17th     P. J. Lister
Thomas Son of Richard and Mary Wilking     Lytham     Labourer     Feby 9th     March 17th     P. J. Lister
Willm Son of Robert and Ellen Knowles     Do     Sailor     Feby 13th     March 17th     P. J. Lister
Margaret Daughter of James and Betty Atkinson     Lytham     Labourer     March 14th     April 14th      Wm Barton
John Son of John and Mary Fell     Do     Sailor     Feby 25th     April 21st     P. J. Lister
Robt Son of Richd and Betty Webster     Lytham     Farmer     March 16th     April 21st     P. J. Lister
Alice Daughter of Christn and Betty Whiteside     Do     Sailor     April 6th     April 28th Wm Barton
James Son of Alice Jamison and John Kirk     Lytham     Labourer     April 14th     May 5th     P. J. Lister
Jane Daughter of James and Betty Ormond     Lytham     Husbandman     April 11th     May 19th     Wm Barton
Betty Daughter of Robert and Marjery Singleton     Do     fisherman     April 19th May 19th Wm Barton
Emmelin Daughter of Barnaby and Alice Whiteside     Lytham      Weaver     May 30th     June 23d     Wm Barton
Maryanne Daughter of James and Betty Cortmell     Do     Mariner     May 31st     June 23d     Wm Barton
Ellen Daughter of Joseph and Sarah Cortmell     Lytham     fisherman     May 24th     June 30th     Wm Barton
John Son of Willm and Ann Marshall     Do     Gentleman     May 30th     June 3d     P. J. Lister
Carolina Daughter of Jane Cookson & Wm Moorehouse     Do     Butcher     June 27th Augt 11th     P. J. Lister
Jane Daughter of Willm and Grace Wade     Lytham     fisherman     June 23d     Augt 11th     P. J. Lister
Jane Daughter of Francis and Margaret Fox     Do     Bricklayer     July 12th     Augt 11th     P. J. Lister
Peggy Daughter of Thomas and Mary Rimmer     Lytham     Sailor     Augt 18th     Sept 8th     P. J. Lister
Hannah Daughter of John and Ellen Breckall     Lytham     Weaver     Sept 14th     Sept 22d     G. L. Spencer
Cornelius Son of John and Magdalane Cordwell     Peel     Farmer     Sept 7th     Oct 6th         P. J. Lister
Thomas Son of George and Ellen Miller     Lytham Husbandman     Sept 15th     Oct 13th     Wm Barton
Sarah Daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Ditchfield     Do     Innkeeper     Sept 3d     Sept 5th     P. J. Lister
James Son of Richard and Jane Worthington     Lytham     Labourer     Oct 2d     Oct 27     P. J. Lister
Charles Frederick Clifton Son of Thomas Joseph Clifton Esqr of Lytham Hall Lancashire and Hetty his wife was born at Hatch Court in the County of Somerset     June 17th     June 25th     Samuel Fisher
Betty Daughter of Robert and Sarah Hesketh     Lytham    Labourer     Sept 19th     Nov 3d     Wm Barton
Jenny Daughter of Thos and Jane Wade     Peel        Husbandman    Sept 14th     Nov 17th     Wm Barton
Thomas Son of John and Margaret Cookson     Lytham     Husbandman     Nov 15th     Dec 15th     Wm Barton     Offitg Minister

 

 

____________________

The complete original scans of the documents clips above can be accessed by clicking the images.

To access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, search the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search linkand the ‘All Media‘ search link, both in the top menu.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results do sometimes differ. All data on this site is available for free access and download.

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Unravelling the mysteries behind one of Canada’s oldest cemeteries.

Unravelling the mysteries behind one of Canada’s oldest cemeteries.

I had to post this article as soon as I saw it. Visiting this graveyard was one of the best family experiences we’ve ever had – and it was a great opportunity to explore our own family history.

As a matter of fact, the tour guide, Alan Melanson and I are 7th great grandchildren of Charles Mellanson and Marie Dugas (Charles was a son of the original Melanson couple – Pierre and Priscilla.)

Stuart, Erin and Alan Melanson in graveyard.
My children, Erin and Stuart, sit through an enthralling tale told by fellow ‘Melanson’ cousin, Alan Melanson, the very informative and entertaining tour guide.

It’s been a century since Fort Anne became Canada’s first administered national historic site, but much of the history surrounding the once hotly contested grounds in Annapolis Royal, N.S., is still shrouded in mystery.

On Monday, a team of researchers hope to use new technology to unlock some of the old secrets buried within Fort Anne’s Garrison Graveyard, which is one of the oldest English cemeteries in Canada.

“To understand where we’re going, we need to understand where we’ve been,” said Ted Dolan, Parks Canada’s site and visitor experience manager for historic sites in southwestern Nova Scotia.

“Any additional information that we have as to what happened on our landscape in the past is really going to inform us as to who we are and where we come from.”

Dolan describes Fort Anne as “the most fought-over piece of land in Canadian history since European colonization.” Originally fortified by the Scots as early as 1629, the site was later taken over by the French, before it fell to British troops in 1710. It would remain a regular battle scene for another 50 years.

While over 200 British headstones still stand in the Garrison Graveyard, Dolan said researchers believe there could be more than 2,000 people buried at the site whose wooden markers have since decayed over time.

In addition, prior to 1710, Dolan said French soldiers and Acadians from the region were buried at the nearby St. Jean-Baptiste parish, which had a cemetery located close to the fort.

While researchers aren’t completely sure where the French and Acadian cemetery is, he said they have a “pretty good idea. . .”

Read on . . .

Source: Unravelling the mysteries behind one of Canada’s oldest cemeteries | CTV News Atlantic

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Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions to 1 Dec 1918.

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions to 1 Dec 1918.

The following are the most recent Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions to 1 Dec 1918.

You may have noticed that the usual FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com updates post from mid-October did not appear. This was due to a much reduced quantity to list. The few between October 1st and October 31st have been included in the list below.

In future, the only scheduled updates and additions posts will be the ones on the first of the month. However, if the quantity of links warrant it, there could be an additional post at the mid-month.

 

FamilySearch.org updates and additions.

Canada

Costa Rica

Honduras

Germany

New Zealand

Peru

Portugal

South Africa

United Kingdom

United States

 

Ancestry.com updates and additions.

Canada

Germany

Ukraine

United Kingdom

United States

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Scientists confirm world’s oldest natural mummy is Native American ancestor.

Scientists confirm world’s oldest natural mummy is Native American ancestor.

Researchers recently concluded that a 10,000-year-old skeleton in Nevada, believed to belong to the world’s oldest naturally preserved mummy, represents that of an ancestor of a modern-day Native American tribe.

According to SlashGear, the so-called “Spirit Cave mummy” was originally thought to be the skeleton of an individual that belonged to the “Paleoamerican” group that predated Native Americans in North America. However, that theory was disproven by the scientists behind the new research, who extracted DNA from the prehistoric skull and concluded, based on analysis of the DNA, that the mummy was actually an ancestor of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribe in Nevada.

A report from the Guardian further noted that the Spirit Cave mummy, which was first discovered in 1940, was the skeleton of an adult male who died at around 40-years-old. The individual, who was wearing moccasins at the time he was buried, was wrapped in reed mats and a rabbit-skin blanket. The research on the mummy was conducted with the assistance and approval of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribe, which reburied the skeleton this summer after a “decades-long legal dispute” with scientists over whether it should be kept in a museum or given a proper reburial.

“[It] confirms what we have always known from our oral tradition and other evidence – that the man taken from his final resting place in Spirit Cave is our Native American ancestor,” the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe said in a statement.

University of Cambridge evolutionary geneticist Eske Willerslev, who led the team that performed DNA sequencing on the Spirit Cave mummy, attended the reburial ceremony earlier this year and recalled to the Guardian that there was a lot of “crying, singing, and prayers” involved, as well as the placing of farewell gifts. He described the experience as being similarly emotional as burying a close relative, even if the mummy was originally buried about 10,000 years ago.

Willerslev also said that his team’s analysis proved that it’s too simplistic to base ancestry on the shape of one’s skull, given that the aforementioned theory that the Spirit Cave mummy was Paleoamerican was based on how its skull had a different shape than that of Native Americans.

“Looking at the bumps and shapes of a head does not help you understand the true genetic ancestry of a population – we have proved that you can have people who look very different but are closely related.”

The above research was part of a broader, multinational project on the ancestry of modern-day North and South Americans, which was documented in separate studies published in the journals Science, Science Advances, and Cell. Aside from determining that the world’s oldest natural mummy shares DNA with an existing Native American tribe, the project also revealed that there were two migrations into South America that were not documented in previous studies.

Likewise, the researchers discovered some proof of Australasian ancestry in native South Americans, but found no such traces in native North Americans. Both the Guardian and SlashGear pointed out that this could suggest modern humans arrived in the Americas about 30,000 years ago, far earlier than originally thought.

Read on . . .

Source: Scientists Confirm World’s Oldest Natural Mummy Is Native American Ancestor

Related Posts:

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Study reveals common ancestry for all Native Americans.

Study reveals common ancestry for all Native Americans.

The indigenous people of North and South America are collectively known as Native Americans. Despite the European invasion occurring several centuries ago, Native Americans are still subjugated and are yet to find a voice of their own.

One of the reasons for that is a lack of scientific evidence that manages to bring forth their cultural heritage and upbringing in front of the world. While previous anthropologic studies have focused on the timing and number of initial migrations, the subsequent spread of people within the two continents have garnered lesser attention.

As scientists could only describe the peopling of the Americas in broad strokes, plenty of mysteries regarding when and how they spread across still remains a mystery – and is critical to understand their historical lineage.

Two independent studies, one being published in the journal Science and the other in Cell, have sequenced 15 and 49 ancient human genomes, dating back around 10,000 years. Prior to these studies, only six genomes older than 6000 years from the Americas had been sequenced, leading to oversimplification of genetic models that were used to explain the peopling of the Americas.

The genomes of the current study spanned from Alaska in North America to Patagonia in South America. The teams worked with government agencies and indigenous people to identify the samples, extract powder from skeletal material, and extract the DNA necessary to create double-stranded DNA libraries.

The results from the genome sequencing have spawned some very interesting results. The study published in Science, called “Early Humans dispersals within the Americas”, provides evidence of rapid dispersal and early diversification as people moved south, as early as 13,000 years ago. The study sequenced an “Ancient Beringian,” a 9000-year-old remains from Alaska’s Seward peninsula to come to the conclusion that first migrants that entered the Americas from the Bearing strait split into two groups – “Southern Native Americans” and “Northern Native Americans” (also sometimes called Ancestral A and B lineages), who went on to populate the continents . . .

Read on . . .

Source: Study Reveals Common Ancestry for all Native Americans

Related Posts:

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Remembrance Day: A civilian’s responsibility?

Remembrance Day: A civilian’s responsibility?

Today being Remembrance Day, I was thinking about a recent post in which I quoted an article exploring how Canadians need to do more for Remembrance Day.

Since then, while watching all the usual Remembrance Day coverage on television, I saw a news report about the increasingly troubled Canadian Legions. Several have closed or are slated to close because of low memberships and revenue.

What really surprised me, was to learn that civilians can become members and reap the same benefits enjoyed by military members and veterans.

Acccording to Toronto.com, “The legion has been losing members at a rate of about 8,000 a year. Part of that is due to death – the largest cohort of members are veterans of the Second World War, a conflict that ended more than 70 years ago – but it has been a challenge to attract and retain veterans of more recent conflicts.”

The Royal Canadian Legion was founded in 1926 to lobby for the needs of veterans returning from the first world war.  That service expanded to include other veterans, including those who’ve never been to war.

Some believe the Canadian Legion has become outdated and no longer represents the military and veterans as they exist in today’s world.

Mark and Stuart in Remembrance Day Parade.
Mark and Stuart in Remembrance Day Parade. c 2000.

A discussion on the subject between my husband, Mark and I caused me to immediately say, “Why don’t we register and get memberships for the kids as Christmas gifts?”

Mark is a veteran, but the others would be civilian memberships.

Then, while researching the subject, I discovered this Global News article about how the veterans themselves feel. I was shocked at how out of touch I have been, especially being the wife and daughter of military veterans.

According to those interviewed for the article:

One of the biggest complaints they have is the number of civilians who are now members. Though most of them mean well, they’re not making the Legion enough of a home for those who’ve served Canada because they don’t understand the military culture.

“There’s a very strict disconnect between what they do, and what we do …”

Also, because of this disconnect, they don’t always provide the services that veterans need — like enough support for those who suffer from PTSD.

Erin in her Air Cadet Uniform
Erin in her Air Cadet Uniform c 2007.

Surely there are ways to include civilians in some of the programs, increasing understanding on both sides? Although a civilian, I am a sufferer of PTSD and a program I could access that is separate from the woefully inadequate mental health system might be a place to start.

I never considered myself out of touch because of my background in the military and veteran cultures. However, as different as veterans and civilians are, there are indeed common circumstances and obstacles we all struggle with.

These articles caused me to doubt my idea of giving civilian memberships as gifts.

Then again, isn’t that a good place to start?

Civilians becoming members would enable learning more about our veterans, and increasing our understanding of each other.

At the very least, some if not all of the endangered legion branches may be saved. This could actually buy time for the legions to update and adapt to today’s veteran and their families.

My genealogy research into the extensive military history of both sides of our family has taught me a great deal and enabled me to become aware of how important it is for civilians to support our veterans – and never forget the sacrifices made in all conflicts, including World War I and World War II.

Related articles:

 

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Canadians need to do more for Remembrance Day | Toronto Sun

Canadians need to do more for Remembrance Day | Toronto Sun

Sunday marks the 100 year anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War.

The ceasefire was signed in November 1918 and news of the war’s end was quickly and widely celebrated throughout the British Empire.

World War One was known at the time as “the war to end all wars” and when the Germans finally surrendered, British Prime Minister Lloyd George optimistically stated, “I hope we can say that thus, this fateful morning, came an end to all wars.”

We celebrate Armistice Day, now known as Remembrance Day, to honour the brave men who fought and died to preserve our freedom and our way of life. This despite the sad truth that WWI — a devastating war that left some 40 million dead, including approximately 61,000 members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force — was far from the end of all war.

Less than two decades later, the world found itself engulfed in another catastrophic world war that required millions more to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop the spread of fascism and to protect freedom and democracy worldwide.

In 1921, the Royal British Legion created a campaign called the Poppy Appeal, based on John McCrae’s 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields,’ to raise money in support of injured veterans and their families.

The bright red poppy was seen as a symbol of inspiration; the blood-red wildflower grew in the French and Belgian fields that were ripped apart by tanks and artillery and devastated by human carnage during the war.

The poppy represented new life and hope.

My great-grandfather was killed in these fields in 1915, leaving behind his wife and young children in Vancouver, B.C.

The poppy lives on, as a small token of our appreciation to those who did not hesitate to risk everything to protect the things they loved the most.

Read on . . .

Source: MALCOLM: Canadians need to do more for Remembrance Day | Toronto Sun

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Wabanaki Collection launched to educate about Maritime Indigenous peoples | CBC News

Wabanaki Collection launched to educate about Maritime Indigenous peoples | CBC News

‘We are all treaty people,’ says curator of a portal aimed at better mutual understanding.

David Perley is the ‘visionary’ First Nations education specialist and Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre director behind the inception of the Wabanaki Collection, a web portal of Indigenous educational resources. (University of New Brunswick)

The Wabanaki were New Brunswick’s first peoples, but David Perley says many students in the province are graduating from high school without knowing much about them.

“My ancestors identify themselves as Wabanaki people,” Perley said.

“In my language, that means people of the dawn.”

The Wabanaki Confederacy was around long before contact with European settlers, said Perley.

“They were dealing with other Indigenous nations, such as the Mohawks and so on. It was always discussing boundary lines, for example, or the need to have alliances against a common threat, political discussions on what they had to do in terms of internal governance and so on.”

After contact, said Perley, “It became a strong confederacy because of the need to have unity in terms of dealing with settler society.”

One of the resources in the Wabanaki Collection is an interactive map with legends about the formation of various geographical features. It was contributed by the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. (The Abbe Museum)

The director of the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton said textbooks make barely a reference to Wabanaki history, let alone the culture and traditions that have been passed down for thousands of years.

The centre has launched a new online resource to try to rectify that.

It’s available to anyone looking for information about Indigenous peoples of the Maritimes.

Perley said the project was spawned by the many requests he used to get — dating back to the 1990s — from students and teachers looking for reliable reference material.

At the time, there was little to be found.

“And especially not any resource that was written by or produced by Wabanaki people — the Wolostoqiyik, the Mi’kmaq, the Passamaquoddy and the Abenakis,” Perley said during an interview with Information Morning Fredericton . . .

Read on . . .

Source: Wabanaki Collection launched to improve education about Maritime Indigenous peoples | CBC News

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Descendants of honor: Ancestry.com opens records for Veterans Day.

Descendants of honor: Ancestry.com opens records for Veterans Day.

Ancestry.com is honoring customers who are descendants of US Medal of Honor recipients, as the country prepare for Veterans Day.

The Ancestry campaign makes its collection of more than 250 million military records available for free to the public through November 12. The collection includes draft cards, service records, and prisoner and casualty lists for military heroes worldwide.

“Ancestry is committed to honoring and sharing the stories of America’s heroes, who come from all over the world,” said Vineet Mehra, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Ancestry.

“We encourage everyone to discover the military heroes in their family, which is why we have provided free access to our unparalleled collection of military records this Veterans Day. Through these records people can uncover the incredible stories that lie in their family’s past, and honor those heroes this Veterans Day.”

Of the 72 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, four earned the award in World War II, five in the Korean War, 51 in the Vietnam War, and 12 in the War in Afghanistan.

Two earned their medal while serving in the US Air Force, 50 in the US Army, 12 in the US Marine Corps, and eight in the US Navy.

It’s been 157 years since the Medal of Honor was created.

“The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration’s creation in 1861 . . .”

Read on . . . 

Source: brandchannel: Descendants of honor: Ancestry.com opens records for Veterans Day.

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Transcription: The marriage of Abell Thomas and Elizabeth Humphreys.

Transcription: The marriage of Abell Thomas and Elizabeth Humphreys.

The following is my transcription of the written record of the marriage of Abell Thomas and Elizabeth Humphreys on May 19, 1693 at Merion Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania.

48

37   Whereas Abel Thomas of Meirion in the County of Philadelphia Bathelor and Elizabeth Humphreys of the aforesaid Township and County sign for having declared their intention of Marriage with each other before several meetings of the ???? of God called Shakers m Haveford according to good order ???? amongst them whose proceedings hereing a deliberate confedration there of consent of part as in Relations Concerned, being Clear of all others there aproved of by the sd meetings Now these are to Certify all whom it may Concern that for the full accomplishment of theirs Intentions this Nineteenth day of the third month vulgarly called May in the year according to ye English account one thousand six hundred neinty and three, They, the said Abell Thomas and Elizabeth Humphreys appeared in a solemn publick assembly of the aforesaid people ???? to go therfor that and a purpose in their publick meeting plans at meirion and in a solemn manner according to example of the Holy men of God ???????? in the scripture of ????? He ye is Abel Thomas taking the Elizabeth Humphreys by the hand, did solemnly declare as followeth viz I do heare in the presence of God and this Asembly I do take Elizabeth Humphrys to be my wife and do promise to be ??? my ???? towards her as becometh a Loving ?? in all Conditions till death separate us And then and there in sd assembly those assem??? Elizabeth Hmphreys did declare as followeth viz In the presence of God and this asembly I do take Abell Thomas to my Husband I do promise to be he?? ???? kind Loving wife till deat separate us

And the to Abell Thomas and Elizabeth Humphrys as further Confirmation thereof in then and there to those prents so? their And in witness whereof have hereunto subscribed our Names

Abell Thomas

Tho. markd

Elizabeth Thomas

The marriage of Abell Thomas and Elizabeth Humphreys on May 19, 1693.
The marriage of Abell Thomas and Elizabeth Humphreys on May 19, 1693.

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Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions to 1 Nov 2018.

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions to 1 Nov 2018.

The following are the Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions to 1 Nov 2018.

Featured image: House in Lesotho.

FamilySearch.org updates and additions to 1 Nov 2018.

 

Canada

Chile

Dominican Republic

France

French Polynesia

Germany

Iceland

Ireland

Italy

Lesotho

Liberia

New Zealand

Peru

United Kingdom

United States

Worldwide

 

Ancestry.com updates and additions to 1 Nov 2018.

Yet again, there is nothing new over the past two weeks.

I will keep checking to see if Ancestry.com starts showing these additions and updates to their site.

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Thousands of new Irish family records added to research database | IrishCentral.com

Thousands of new Irish family records added to research database | IrishCentral.com

The Irish Genealogical Research Society has added thousands of new Irish records to their database.

IGRS reports that an additional 7,000 records have been added to their Early Irish Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes, bringing the total to about 260,000.

The new records include 14,000 names, which brings the total number of names across the three databases to 274,000.

The IGRS said that the new data includes references to many deaths culled from Irish newspapers.The Society’s Early Irish Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes are a unique collection of life event references from lesser-used and obscure sources.

One poignant news item that the IGRS discovered relates to the partial collapse of a Music Hall located in Fishamble Street, to the rear of Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin in 1782.

There, a meeting of the Trade Guild of St Luke, which combined the city’s cutlers, painters, paper-stainer, and stationers, was being held to nominate a candidate to stand for election to parliament.

Read on . . .

Source: Thousands of new Irish family records added to research database | IrishCentral.com

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Transkribus system makes breakthrough in understanding medieval texts | Euronews

Transkribus system makes breakthrough in understanding medieval texts | Euronews

How do you find a text in ancient manuscripts, and do it fast? Until recently, computers weren’t very good in reading handwritten scripts — but now artificial intelligence has produced a breakthrough.

The Tyrolean State Archive in Innsbruck stores countless documents dating from the 11th century onwards — mostly official records, legal documents and other important handwritten documents from the past. Transcribing these books isn’t easy. But this archive is working with scientists to automate the transcription using cutting-edge computer technologies.

“With difficult scripts I believe the new technique will have problems. But with relatively nice calligraphy, the new system has great advantages and helps us a lot,” says the Director of the archive, Christoph Haidacher.

To digitise such books, scientists working on a European research project, READ, designed a simple-to-use system based on a specially-developed smartphone application: it detects when pages are turned and automatically takes high-resolution photos of each page.

“We use, of course, a combination of low-tech and high-tech. A dark tent is a relatively simple, low-tech accessory. But it works with a high-tech app running on a smartphone that is connected to the Transkribus platform: the app uploads the images to the server that performs the recognition of the handwritten text,” says the READ project co-ordinator & Researcher in Digitalisation & Digital Preservation at the University of Innsbruck, Dr. Guenter Muehlberger.

Transkribus simplifies tasks that would often take years of work, helping scholars with complex handwritings and unusual layouts. It is currently being used to transcribe the 500-page “Hero Book“, the most significant anthology of Medieval German texts commissioned by Maximilian I in early 16th century.

Read on . . .

Source: Transkribus system makes breakthrough in understanding medieval texts | Euronews

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Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby Jr. of Tregaron, Wales

Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby Jr. of Tregaron, Wales

Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby Jr. of Tregaron, Wales.

Brig. Gen. Evan Shelby Jr., born in 1725 in Tregaron, Ceredigion, Wales to Evan (Dhu) Shelby (Selby) and his wife Catherine Morgan and was baptised in St. Caron’s church. This Evan Shelby’s birth is frequently confused with that of his earlier brother Evan, who was born in 1720 and died as an infant in 1721.

Tregaron, CeredigionEvan and his family immigrated to America from Tregaron, Wales in approximately 1735, when he was about ten years of age, and settled in what was later called Antrim Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

In 1739, they moved into Prince George’s (later Frederick) County, Maryland where his father died in July 1751.

Evan Jr. continued to reside in Maryland, near the North Mountain, Frederick County (now a part of Washington County) where he obtained by either deed or patent nearly 24,000 acres of land. He became interested in the Indian fur trade and was concerned in trading posts at Michilimackinac and Green Bay.

On February 26, 1745, Evan Jr. purchased property from his father, called “Maiden’s Choice” in Prince George County, Maryland.

Evan married Letitia (Leddy) Cox (Coxe) on December 4, 1745 at Kings Meadow. They had seven children: Rachel, born 1745; Susannah, born 1746; John, born 1748; Governor Isaac Shelby, born 1750; James, born 1752; Catherine, born 1755; Major Evan Shelby III, born 1757; and Moses, born 1761.

In his publication “The Birthplace and Childhood Home of Isaac Shelby in Washington County, Maryland”, 1972, Gerald J Sword describes how  Evan and Letitia Shelby lost the fight for their land (part of “Maidens Choice”) to Dr Charles Carroll. It’s not clear who aptly renamed the land to “Shelby’s Misfortune”.

Mr. Sword states:

“…The reason for Letitia to appear in court was to answer charges that she instructed their ‘Dutch servant man’ to cut down and burn the tree marking the beginning point of this land.

In June 1754, Shelby gave a recognizance of 6,000 lbs of tobacco for the appearance of his wife to answer the charges against her in the Frederick Co. Court. The case was continued from time to time until the June court of 1758:

“A suit on behalf of the Lord Proprietary vs Letitia Shelby for destroying a bound tree for a tract of land belonging to Dr Carroll, when it was ‘maked struck off after 15 continuances…”

Evan’s great skill as a hunter and woodsman led to his appointment as Captain of a company of Rangers in the French and Indian War, during which year he made several successful expeditions into the Allegheny Mountains.

He fought many battles in what is called Braddock’s War and was noted for his performance in the battle fought at Loyal Hanning, now Bedford, Pennsylvania.

During the French and Indian War, Evan participated in General Edward Braddock’s campaign in 1755 and laid out part of the road from Fort Frederick to Fort Cumberland. He led the advance of the army under General Forbes, which took possession of Fort Du Quesne in 1758.

Having served as First Lieutenant in Captain Alexander Beall’s company 1757 to 1768, he was commissioned by Governor Sharpe of Maryland as Captain of a company of rangers, and also held a commission as Captain under the government of Pennsylvania. He was in the advance party of the force under General John Forbes, which took possession of Fort Duquesne in 1758, and crossed the Ohio River with more than half his company of scouts, making a daring reconnaissance of the fort.

On November 12, 1758, near Loyalhanna, he is said to have slain with his own hand one of the principal Indian chiefs.

In the same war, he served later as Major of a detachment of the Virginia regiment.

For several years after the conflict, Evan was a Justice of the Peace.

In May 1762, he was chosen one of the Managers for Maryland of the Potomac Company. He sustained heavy losses in the Indian trade from the ravages growing out of Pontiac’s Conspiracy of 1763, and most of his property in Maryland was subjected to sale for the satisfaction of his debts.

Hoping to better his fortune he moved, probably in 1773, to Fincastle County in southwest Virginia, where he engaged in farming, merchandising, and cattle ranching. He again became a prosperous landowner and influential frontier leader.

In 1774, he commanded the Fincastle Company in Dunmore’s War, and in the battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774, he succeeded near the close of the action to the chief command as a result of the death or disability of his superior officers and he utterly routed the enemy.

His son, Isaac, served under his command as his Lieutenant in the Battle of Point Pleasant, which he was instrumental in winning. Isaac commanded the fort there until July, 1775, when his troops were disbanded by Lord Dunmore.

After returning to Kentucky due to failing health, he became involved in the Battle of Long Island Flats. At the first onset of the Indians, the American lines were broken, and then Shelby, present only as a volunteer Private, seized the command, reformed the troops, and defeated the Indians, with the loss of only two badly wounded men.

This battle, and John Sevier’s defence of Watauga, frustrated the rear attack by which the British hoped to envelop and crush the southern colonies.

In 1776, he was appointed by Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia a Major in the troops commanded by Colonel William Christian against the Cherokees, and on December 21, he became Colonel of the militia of the County of Washington, of which he was also a magistrate.

In 1777, he was entrusted with the command of sundry garrisons posted on the frontier of Virginia, and in association with Preston and Christian, negotiated a treaty with the Cherokees.

When Sevier, in 1779, projected the expedition that captured the British stores at Chickamauga, Shelby equipped and supplied the troops by the pledge of his individual credit. In this year he was commissioned a Major by Governor Thomas Jefferson, but, when the state line was run, his residence was found to be in North Carolina. He then resigned his commission, but was at once appointed Colonel of Sullivan County by Caswell.

He was in Kentucky, perfecting his title to lands he had selected on his previous visit, when he heard of the fall of Charleston and the desperate situation of affairs in the southern colonies. He at once returned to engage in active service and, crossing the mountains into South Carolina in July, 1780, he won victories over the British at Thicketty Fort, Cedar Springs, and Musgrove’s Mill. But, as the disastrous defeat at Camden occurred just before the last engagement, he was obliged to retreat across the Alleghanies. There he undertook with John Sevier the remarkable expedition which resulted in the Battle of King’s Mountain and turned the tide of the revolution. For this important service he and Sevier received the thanks of the North Carolina legislature, and the vote of a sword and a pair of pistols.

As a result of the new boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina, it was discovered that his residence was in North Carolina, and in 1781, he was elected a member of its Senate. Five years later, the Carolina Assembly made him Brigadier General of the militia of the Washington District of North Carolina, the first officer of that grade on the “Western Waters”.

In March 1787, as commissioner for North Carolina, he negotiated a temporary truce with Col. John Sevier, Governor of the insurgent and short-lived “State of Franklin”.

In August 1787, he was elected Governor of the “State of Franklin” to succeed Sevier but declined. Having resigned his post as Brigadier General on October 29,1787, he withdrew from public life.

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Researchers unveil findings of Thibodaux massacre | Houmatoday.com

Researchers unveil findings of Thibodaux massacre | Houmatoday.com

This article is of great interest to me because Henry Schuyler Thibodaux, the founder of Thibodaux, Louisiana, is my third cousin, 6 times removed.

We have numerous common ancestors resulting from the close knit nature of the Acadian and Cajun communities.

The closest of them, all being ninth great-grandparents of mine include: Vincent Brun and Marie Renée Breau, Étienne Emanuel Hébert and Marie Anne Gaudet, and François Gautrot.

________________

Researchers revealed their findings Wednesday in their efforts to unlock the mystery of an American tragedy more than 130 years in the making and said more work is needed.

On Nov. 23, 1887, at least 30 people lost their lives during a racially motivated attack carried out by a mob of white men against black sugar plantation workers protesting a wage system that effectively kept them tied to the farms where they worked.

Although no one knows for sure how many people lost their lives during what became known as the Thibodaux Massacre, historians estimate 30-60 were murdered during the day-long attack.

Laura Browning, who’s assisting in the research of the historical documents associated with the massacre, read a first-hand account of that infamous day.

“On Wednesday morning of Nov. 23, 1887, about five o’clock, I heard a shot fired,” Browning read. “A moment later I heard two more fired after the other.”

The burial site of the victims wasn’t recorded. But through oral histories, it’s believed the property of the American Legion Post 513 in Thibodaux is possibly the site of the mass burial.

John DeSantis, author of the book “The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike,” said much of the information we have from that time period was passed down from person to person.

“In situations like this oral history is sometimes all that you have, especially when it comes to a mass burial of people who were killed under extremely spurious circumstances,” DeSantis said.

The aim of the project is to not only locate and identify victims’ remains but hopefully give them a proper burial as well, researchers said.

Read on . . .

Related posts you might like:

Melansons and the Acadian Expulsion
A breakthrough in the mysterious Melanson genealogy?
Pierre dit Laverdure and Priscilla Mellanson – A Family Mystery
The Bourgs of Acadia
My list of the best genealogy links for Acadian research.

___________________

Data and sources for some individuals mentioned in this and related articles can be found on Blythe Genealogy – my genealogy data site.

You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Source: Researchers unveil findings of Thibodaux Massacre

 

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Ancestry.com is in cahoots with public records agencies, a group suspects.

Ancestry.com is in cahoots with public records agencies, a group suspects.

A nonprofit claims its request to obtain genealogical records from state archives was brushed aside in favor of Ancestry’s request.

I know that Michael Peck, my great-great-great-grandfather, died on July 14, 1922. I know this because last October I visited the cemetery in Cornwall, New York, to find the date on his headstone. I had been searching for information on Michael for almost a decade on Ancestry.com, but never found any information about his death. Had I waited until a few weeks ago, I could have saved myself the trip upstate. Ancestry finally added the New York State Death Index for 1852–1956 to its collection, and I would have found Michael’s date of death with a few clicks of a mouse.

This new archive on Ancestry, however, was added under questionable circumstances, one genealogist claims. Brooke Schreier Ganz, the founder of the nonprofit group Reclaim the Records, has filed a lawsuit against the New York state agency handling the records, calling into question whether it engages in backroom dealings or preferential treatment with Ancestry.

According to the lawsuit, “although the same Records Access Office at [the Department of Health] handled both [Freedom of Information Act] requests, the timeline and procedures followed throughout the process for Ms. Ganz and Reclaim the Records was different than it was for Ancestry.com.”

Read on . . .

Source: Ancestry.com Is In Cahoots With Public Records Agencies, A Group Suspects

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How Europe’s royal families are all related, share single ancestor | Insider

How Europe’s royal families are all related, share single ancestor | Insider

Almost all the royal families of Europe are related to each other. This family tree shows how they share a single ancestor.

Royals in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Monaco are related to each other and to the UK royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II.

Almost all of Europe’s royal families are related.

These families share a common ancestor: King George II, who was the King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1727 until 1760.

Here is how the royal families of Spain, Monaco, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, and more are related.

The royal families of Europe are vast and diverse, with each family possessing different titles and powers.

But one thing they do have in common is a shared ancestor.

While the family trees are complicated, and there are many ways that Europe’s royals are all related to each other, one of the simplest is to look at King George II, who was the King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1727 until 1760.

George’s ancestors now head Europe’s royal families, as his children and grandchildren married royals from around the continent.

Read on . . .

Source: How Europe’s royal families are all related, share single ancestor – INSIDER

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What does Elizabeth Warren’s ‘native’ ancestry mean?

What does Elizabeth Warren’s ‘native’ ancestry mean?

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released results from DNA testing, suggesting she has Native American ancestry and thrusting the issue of genetic testing and Native American identity into the spotlight.

The DNA report comes after years of political back-and-forth exchanges between Warren and Republican opponents, who accuse her of pretending to have Native American blood to further her law career. A DNA “fact check” on a political debate would have seemed like science fiction even a few election cycles ago. Even today, though, DNA ancestry testing is not as simple as it might seem, especially when it comes to the search for a Native American identity. [How Do DNA Ancestry Tests Really Work?]

“It’s important to be thinking about where community and culture is derived from,” said Matthew Anderson, a geneticist at The Ohio State University, who is of Eastern Cherokee descent. “It’s not the DNA.” . . .

Read on . . .

Source: What Does Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Native’ Ancestry Mean?

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Transcription: Last Will and Testament of Nathan Comly of August 13, 1827.

Transcription: Last Will and Testament of Nathan Comly of August 13, 1827.

Last Will and Testament of Nathan Comly of Upper Dublin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, dated 13 day of August, 1827.

Be it remembered that I Nathan Comly of Upper Dublin township, Mointgomery, being weak of body but of sound and disposing mind for which I am thankful to the author of my being. Do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following to wit.

First I will and order that all my just debts and funeral expences be fully paid as soon as can be after my decease.

Item I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Elizabeth two beds, bedding and Bedsteads case of drawers all my silver spoons, One Dozen chairs, one Dozen knives and forks, looking glass, one dining and one breakfast table ???? and iron shovel and tongs all to be of her choice.

Also, I give

Last Will and Testament of William Comly of Upper Dublin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, dated 213 day of August, 1827.

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her all and every of my tea furniture, waters and also as much of table cloths, towels, crockery and Earthen wares and kitchen furniture she may think proper, tin plate stove large Bible, rocking chair, settee, ????? carpet now in the parlour, Riding chair & Harness, One Cow and One Horse her choice. To her my said wife for and during her natural life, And after her decease my will is that the goods so as aforesaid given that may be remaining (except the Clock) shall be divided to and among my children to wit: Abner L., Elizabeth, Lydia, Hannah, John, Daniel and Joseph or their Representatives in equal parts. And I further give and bequeath to my said wife sum of One hundred dollars annually to be secured on that part of my farm lying on the west side of the north Wales Road on which my mansion is erected in the township aforesaid – It is further my will and I do order and direct that my said wife shall be suitably and sufficiently furnished with everything she may stand in need of or reasonably required for her comfort in house keeping for one whole year, immediately succeeding the sale of my Estate. All of which legacies and Privileges to my said wife I do hereby declare to be in lieu and stead of her dower at common law – I give all my wearing apparel to my four sons namely Abner L, John, Daniel and Joseph Comly as I give to my son John my Desk, also one of my colts his choice to be kept fed and used as one of my Other Horses on the farm – I give to my son Daniel all of my smith Tools, Coal, Iron, and steels of every description that may be in the blacksmith shop at my decease, It is my will and desire that my said son Daniel shall be put apprentice to some trade, his choice, as soon after my decease as conveniently can be – I give to my son Joseph, my Clock (heretofore given to his mother during her natural life) It is my wish and desire that my said son Joseph Shall be kept to school for two years or more as my Executors may think proper or he may require to compleat his education, the expences of which I direct to be paid out of my Estate – Item I give to my three grand Children Edward Tyson, Calvin Tyson and John Tyson children of my Daughter Sarah deceased the sum of three hundred dollars to be equally divided between to share of my Estate) To be paid to them respectively or the survivor or survivors of them as soon after the sale of my Estate as conveniently can be, provided they shall be of lawful age, but if not, Then as soon as they shall arrive to lawful age – Item I give to my two Grand Children Elizabeth Tomlinson and Elmina Tomlinson Children of my Daughter Jerusha deceased the sum of two Hundred Dollars to be equally divided between them share and share alike which said sum is to be considered as their full share of my Estate to paid to them respectively or the survivor of them as soon after the sale of my Estate as conveniently can be, provided they shall be of lawful age but if not, Then as soon as they shall arrive to lawful age – It is further my will and desire that my beloved wife Elizabeth and Children are not married at my decease, shall continue to live together and occupy all my real and personal Estate (Except what is herein particularly directed otherwise) of every description that I may die possessed of ???? during the term of two years thence next ensuing with keeping the property in good repair and fences, the rails forsaid fencing to be cut off my Lot of timber taxes, and assessments levied thereon – And if my son John Should not be married at the expiration of said two years, then and in that case my will and desire further is that my said Wife and Children shall

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continue to live together as aforesaid, until my said son John shall marry provided he does so marry before the expiration of two years more, and I desire that the woods now landing on that part of my farm situate in Horsham Township should be cutt of within the term that I have desired my family to continue together, and used either for fuel or sold as my Executors may think best, and if it should so happen that at the end or expiration of the term that I have desired my family to live together after my decease, That there should appear to be an increase of property more than would fully compensate those so living for their attention and services, In that case, I give and bequeath the said increase to and among all my surviving children or their legal representatives in equal part.

And at the expiration of the last mentioned two years or whenever within that time that my said son John should marry. I do will, order and direct my Executors herein after named to make sale of all my Estate, both real and personal; (except what is herein before bequeathed) hereby authorising and empowering them to make and execute good and lawful Deed or Deeds of Conveyance to the purchaser or purchasers, leaving it altogether to the discretion of my Executors to sell my farm together or in three divisions, or my lot of timber land in Cheltenham in small Lots or together as they may think best – And as I have heretofore given to my son Abner L Comly and my two Daughters Sarah Tyson deceased and Jerushah Tomlinson deceased each, considerable property as an outfit to assist them in housekeeping; It is my will and I do hereby direct my Executors to pay to each of my other Children namely; Elizabeth, Lydia, Hannah, John, Daniel and Joseph the sum of One hundred and fifty Dollars immediately after the sale of my estate in order to equal them with their Brother and Sisters aforesaid; But if either of my daughters Elizabeth, Lydia, or Hannah should marry during the term that I have desired that they might live together, upon my estate as One family, Then and in that case I do order and direct my Executors to pay my Daughter or Daughters so Marrying their said sum of One hundred & fifty Dollars immediately upon their so marrying respectively: – And all the rest and reside of my Estate of whatsoever kind or nature the same may be I give, devise and bequeath to my Children, namely, Abner L Comly, Elizabeth Comly, Lydia Comly, Hannah Comly, John Comly, Daniel Comly and Joseph Comly or their legal representatives share and share alike in equal parts.

And Lastly I do nominate constitute and appoint my beloved wife Elizabeth an my son Abner L Comly to be the Executors of this my will – hereby revoking all other wills, Legacies and bequests by me heretofore made and declaring this an no other to be my last will and Testament; In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the thirteenth day of the Eighth month One thousand Eight-hundred and twenty seven – 1827

Signed sealed and declared

Nathan Comly {SEAL}

by the Testator as his last will and Testament in the presence of us James Paul, John Kirk Montgomery County Personally appeared the witnesses to the foregoing will who being duly affirmed according to Law did on their solemn affirmation respectively say that they saw and heard Nathan Comly the testator therein named sign and seal, publish and declare the same will for and as his last will and Testament, and at the doing of it he was of sound mind memory and understanding to the best of their knowledge and belief.

Affirmed, Jany. 21st 1828
Cr Geo M Potts DR

Be it Remembered that on the 21st day of January AD 1827 the foregoing will of Nathan Comly was proved in due form

Last Will and Testament of William Comly of Upper Dublin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, dated 213 day of August, 1827.

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of Law and Letters Testamentary granted to Elizabeth and Abner L Comly Executors in the testament named, they having been affirmed to Execute the same And to render an account thereof according to Law, and to Comply with the Provisions of an Act of Assembly relative to collateral inheritance given under my hand and seal of Office,
Registered Jany. 21st 1828

____________________

The complete original scans of the documents clips above can be accessed by clicking the images.

To access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, search the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link, both in the top menu.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results do sometimes differ. All data on this site is available for free access and download.

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