Saturday, May 16, 2015

Getting Started

The ancestor stories in my family are well-hidden.  It is akin to digging for buried treasure to unearth just the names and relationships of some of them.  Getting more information...making stories... is as rare as a Viking treasure trove.  And then there are the complications of a search.  You know what I am talking about...looking up origins of names; or deciphering handwriting; or puzzling over an entry in an inventory (what is a wemble?; a kidder?).  Have you had to learn how to read a map?  Find a cheat sheet so you can read a church record in Latin?  That's all part of genealogy research. 

 I can only trace my mom's maternal line (my umbilical line so-to-say) to my great-grandmother but on mom's paternal line we can travel back through New France to the Ile-de-France; Normandy; the Ile de Ré; Perche and many other interesting geographic areas.  My unknown grandmothers all carried the haplogroup J1C2 and that's all I know right now. 

On Dad's paternal line the family story travels back to the first settlers of Newbury, Hampton, Dover and other places in New England (and back to Olde England, of course) but the folks on his maternal line came from the environs of Manchester, England, in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.  There were many, many people there named Potts and Schofield who came to America.  There are probably many there still who are cousins.  Maybe I'll get to sort them out someday. 

My family name is Plummer -- English in origin and not that common -- but some of you will say that there is The Plumer Genealogy by Sidney Perley to help.  But wait, I had to prove that my name with one 'm' or two 'm's is the same family.  The Perley book has an autograph of Francis Plumer which was taken from an inventory he compiled in 1653,  and he signed his name with one m.  He scribed a line over the single M.  Somewhere buried in my memory was the tidbit that a tilde (~) over a single letter meant that the writer was intentionally abbreviating a double letter.  (I still don't know where that came from...Chicago Manual of Style?)  Plus, Perley was consistent with the single M throughout the book although the alternate spellings can be found in Census lists, deeds, inventories, directories, even my birth certificate.  Enough water has passed under the bridge and I'll take the name spelled either way. 

Genealogy is certainly not a cut-and-dried endeavor.  I find it challenging and sometimes exciting.  My line (unknown to me at first) in Perley's book ends at a man named Eldridge Plumer, 1818 - 1897.  Of course, when I was trying to research Eldridge I kept running into the 4 or 5 men named Elbridge Plummer also born in southern Maine about the same time.  This lead me to Elbridge Gerry, 1744 - 1814), former Governor of Massachusetts and 5th Vice-President of the US and then glimmers of memories of Mr Ruddock's history class emerged.  We learned about gerrymandering and Democratic-Republicans long before I got the history bug and then the genealogy bug. 

I want to share some of my family stories and some stories of the process of evaluating this information because, you know what I'm going to say, the journey is as important as the destination and sometimes the treasure is hidden very well. 


  1. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. I hope you will join the group "New England GeneaBloggers" on Facebook where we chat, support each other and get together in person a few times a year. Our next meet up is in Manchester-by-the-sea in September.