A Brief Word on Dates

If you ever decide to do some looking into your family history, and you make it back to, say, the early 1700s, you will probably see one or more dates written like this: Jan 7, 1719/20. Unlike what you might think, that doesn’t mean the author was unsure of what year the event happened in, so they wrote both; rather, it indicates the event occurred on Jan 7 of… either 1719 or 1720, depending on whether you go by the contemporary calendar of the time, or our modern calendar today. And, making matters worse, it was not a Jan 7 that was an even number of years removed from this year’s Jan 7. Worst of all, it may also have reflected a culture that didn’t acknowledge the new year until the end of March. March?

I know, “clear as mud.”

If you’re scratching your head at all this, the problem stems from a major disruption in the measurement of time that occurred when Europe, and Europe’s colonies, switched – slowly, over several years – from the calendar that had been employed by the Romans, aka the Julian calendar, to an updated system, adopted by Pope Gregory, aka the Gregorian calendar.

This is not a minor point.

It affects the citation of all “early” colonial historical dates in a meaningful way, and the explanation below is, I’m sorry to say, actually worth wading through…

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The Julian and the Gregorian Calendars

by Peter Meyer

 http://www.magnet.ch/serendipity/hermetic/cal_stud/cal_art.htm

The Gregorian Reform

The average length of a year in the Julian Calendar [the calendar put in place by Julius Caesar]  is 365.25 days (one additional day being added every four years). The length of the year in the Julian Calendar exceeds the length of the mean solar year (365.24219 mean solar days to five decimal places) by 11.2 minutes. This error accumulates so that after 128 years the calendar is out of sync with the equinoxes and solstices by one day. Thus as the centuries passed the Julian Calendar became increasingly inaccurate with respect to the seasons. This was especially troubling to the Christian Church because it affected the determination of the date of Easter, which, by the 16th Century, was well on the way to slipping into Summer.

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Links to Collaborative Genealogy Sites

In the interest of seeing that our family tree, the actual genealogical “who, what, when, and where” is preserved, I have placed some of the research that went into this blog on three websites, two of which actually aim to piece together, person by person, a single family tree for everyone. Taken literally, that is wildly ambitious, not to mention completely impractical, but the effort alone has already produced, flaws and shortcomings notwithstanding, a very special body of research.

These “collaborative” genealogy sites are WikiTree and WeRelate. Each is a little different.

(For example, WikiTree makes room for all relatives including living people and then adds privacy controls. WeRelate, meanwhile, has decided to forego information on living people and just focus on the near past. There are plenty of other differences, but…)

The main point is that putting the information here means it will survive even in generations when no one inherits an interest in family history– which I see as increasingly  likely.

Here are some jumping off points, categorized first by site, and then by a few key relatives:

 

WikiTree

 

 

WeRelate

 

 

Finally, I said there are three sites. The third is Ancestry.com, which somewhat sadly, has a paywall and curious people cannot simply click over to peruse the material at will. You can see it without paying, but to do so you’ll have to email me or Elisha Lee to be put on a list of invitees. Sorry, I didn’t make up those rules. If you are already on Ancestry, you can search for our tree which is called Kinsmen and Kinswomen (revised and sourced). [15,000 relatives and counting…] On the plus side, looking for a silver lining, the highly commercial aspect of Ancestry has paid huge dividends in making a vast trove of documents available online, including – in most cases – photocopies of originals. There really is nothing like it for primary research.

At some point, I will figure out how to put a version of our tree here, on this site, with measures in place to protect people’s privacy, but until then, the three organizations above will have to suffice.

Methodist Cemetery, Barnard, VT

Aunt Magna, Uncle Harry, Uncle Howard, and Jean are all here.

This graveyard is also called the North Road-Methodist Cemetery, and it appears – according to Google, which has been known to be wrong from time to time (cough) – to be in Bethel, the next town to the north. Note though, that all the other references describe it as in Barnard.

Either way, it is located at the intersection of North Road and Town Highway 13.

No phone, and definitely no website or Facebook page.
.

 

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Photographs from Helen, Margaret, and Howard Swain’s Childhood, c.1905-1925

In an earlier post, we glimpsed the life of a boy, Rodgers Burgin, growing up in Quincy at the very start of the 20th century.

This is the life his future wife, Helen Swain, and her siblings were leading, more or less contemporaneously, in town at 226 Commonwealth Ave., at their grandfather’s house in Exeter, and on the beach in Cohasset.

 

HTS and children

 

In no particular order. Memory, I find, skips back and forth anyway…

 

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Exeter Cemetery, Exeter, NH

Boopie and Gagie are here.

Address: Linden St, Exeter, NH 03833
Website: http://www.exetercemetery.com
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Dr Howard Townsend Swain, Sr
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=145938412

Birth:  May 16, 1868 Bath, Steuben County, New York
Death:  Dec. 6, 1936 Boston, Massachusetts

Plot: Lot 224 B
Find A Grave Memorial# 145938412

Harriet French Swain
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=145938467

Birth:  May 28, 1868 Exeter, New Hampshire
Death:  Jul. 16, 1958 Milton, Massachusetts

Plot: Lot 224 B
Find A Grave Memorial# 145938467

 

Exeter_Cemetery_Map.jpg

Map of Exeter Cemetery

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