How Can the Society of Genealogists Help Your Research?

On our first visit to the Society of Genealogists (SoG) my sister Lorna Astle-Fox and I were fortunate to make an exciting discovery – a document written by John Blencowe that had not come to light prior to publication of the Blencowe book. While there is no guarantee the SoG holds anything so dramatic relative to your particular research interests, it is a repository that no researcher with roots in England should ignore. The SoG has the pre-eminent genealogical library in the British Isles, runs lectures and courses, publishes books, finding aids and indexes and offers individual research guidance.

Two of my colleagues from the Alberta Genealogical Society, Haydn Cracknell and Lynn Fogwill, organized the research trip to England in which I participated in September 2008. As they have greater experience than I do with the SoG, I asked them how the society could help researchers.

Lynn said: "From a 'one-name study' perspective I would think the most useful resource they have is the Boyd's Marriage Indexes. I have always loved being able to thumb through the books in an orderly fashion looking for any Fogwills — because I am interested in all of them not just my direct line. The microfilmed Calendar (index) of Wills and Administrations at the SoG are likewise a useful resource. Aside from that, the SoG is a wonderful library with very pleasant and helpful people."

Haydn reported: "The biggest benefit I have found with the SoG is on my visits to the SoG building the parish records, particularly transcriptions, are all together, i.e., I do not have to visit the many county record offices that pertain to my family searches. Next to the parish records are the books that relate to these parishes. This is particularly important, when families hopped across county boundaries. I think of it as a mini Salt Lake City, where again all parishes are close to each other. There are also a large number of family files that might relate to a one-name study.

Thirdly, most of the SoG records are indexed and online so it is relatively easy to see if there is anything relevant to one's searches."

Exploring the society's extensive website will give a sense of what SoG has to offer. Click on the Membership button and use the link in the yellow box in the left column to access the page "Visiting the Society", in particular a report reproduced from the newsletter of Cheshire Ancestor that details the experiences of a group who visited the SoG.

The website includes an online library catalogue anyone can search. A members' only section of the site gives more details of library holdings. The catalogue does not include the Document Collections where Sir John's 1697 document is housed in the Blencowe box. As was pointed out on our SoG tour, among its diverse holdings the library contains many donated family histories, a full set of Huguenot Society publications, one of the largest collections of 18th and 19th century trade directories and many items no other repository wants. Non-members may use the library on payment of a fee.

Have you used the SoG in your research? If so, we hope you will tell us about your experiences.

Marilyn Astle, Canada

Passing on our family research

Two statements continue to crop up:

  1. I wish I'd asked more questions of my parents/grandparents.
  2. Our children don't seem to be interested in our family history.

Well we cannot do much about number 1. However, when our children do become interested in years to come many of us are prepared with our history already in presentation form. Not just a list of names and dates but stories and anecdotes about our ancestors.

With Jack's permission, Phil Bailey of Sydney has extracted the information from THE BOOK about direct ancestors of his wife Jeannette. He has made appendixes of etc documentary evidence should the "Kids" want to know things in more depth. He has incorporated the book information with a lot of additional research such as the female lines that we frequently cover in the newsletter.

John Blencowe from Brighton, UK has made family group sheets highlighting each of his direct ancestors from THE BOOK continuing with one page per generation down top his children. He has this in both booklet and CD-Rom formats.

David Blencowe from Tasmania is making albums for each of his children using information from the book and from each newsletter.

The possibilities are endless but a humorous article sent in by Clancy and Bob Walker serves as a timely reminder that we need to consult with our distant relatives as to their interpretation of family events. Enjoy but head the warning!

It just all depends on how you look at some things

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Congressman Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory. On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: 'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy recently emailed Congressman Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.†Believe it or not, Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy.

"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad.

In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

NOW THAT's how you hide the skeletons Folk! Put on a little POLITICAL SPIN.

Clancy & Bob Walker from Sydney.

The proverbial brick wall!

I had been thinking about the magazine having a "brick wall feature"-where members searching for links with all the different branches, explain where they are stuck and others reading it may be able to help/look up stuff etc.

E.g. I am one of the sub branches not linked to the main branch - a dangling limb ...! My BLINCKO relations I have followed back as far a Thomas - "a stranger" marrying in Oxford to Ann Houslip - of this parish. Someone's line must have a Thomas that kind of disappears from his home area that could link me to the main family??? I am desperate to belong somewhere along the tree!

Details from the Blencowe database — disregard spellings: Thomas Blincow was born c.1669 (NOT Oxon.) M. 12 May 1695 at Oxford St Mary to Ann Holship Thomas probably died in 1729 aged 60 and was buried on 17 Dec 1727 at St Michael's Northgate. Anne

By coincidence, I read in the latest publication David Jackson reporting my Hercule Henry Blincko, my 3xgrandfather's details that he has seen. He added one little snippet that I have never seen, so I would love to be able to contact him now. Perhaps email addresses could be added to pieces that are printed if people don't mind being contacted.

This could possibly be the first brick wall feature link as there are many other people that are not mentioned in the book.

What do you think?

Julie Stuart-Thompson, UK
JStuartThomson @