Monday, November 28, 2011

My Ancestors weren’t Married?! (Part 3-Population)

This is the third part of a series on my study into St. Croix marriages. In Part 1, I described what made me undertake this study. In Part 2, I discussed my methodology and results. For this part, I digress slightly and look at the change in baptismal rates over the period.

From my article on Religion in St. Croix 1841-1911, I saw that the latter half of the 19th century showed a significant conversion from Moravian to Anglican, already the most popular religion on the island.  Since I expected to see a rapid growth in population on the island, I expected to see a corresponding growth in Anglican baptisms throughout the period.  Wrong on both counts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Ancestors weren’t Married?! (Part 2-The Study)

1877-Joseph Christian-64 (Large)
Page from 1877 Baptismal Register
This is the second part of a series on my study into St. Croix marriages.  In Part 1, I described what made me undertake this study. In this part, I discuss my methodology and results.

Researching a population is harder than researching a family, at least in terms of the sheer volume of records. I needed a way to get a feel for the balance of legitimate vs. illegitimate births without making it a PhD dissertation or requiring a Government Grant. The Anglican baptismal registers provided me this opportunity.

In my post Religion in St. Croix 1841-1911 I showed that the Anglican church was the largest church on St Croix throughout the 19th century, and on into the 20th. The congregation was composed of a fair cross-section of the population, from plantation owners and merchants to servants and field slaves. The Anglican church is, and was, a mainstream church, fairly conservative in its doctrine. In terms of teachings, it occupies a space between Roman Catholic and the other large churches, Lutheran and Moravian. There is no reason to believe that either socially, economically, or dogmatically, the Anglican church should have a different view of marriage than the population as a whole. So, I judged the Anglican records as a reasonable sample for my analysis. (Keep in mind that I first noticed this tendency toward illegitimacy in Lutheran records and have seen the exact same tendency in both Roman Catholic and Moravian).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Ancestors weren’t Married?! (Part 1-Intro)

I have heard that “Common Law Marriage” was common (pardon the pun) in the islands.  I had no idea just how common it was until I researched it myself.  Turns out that over 75% of the records I examined showed that children's parents were not married.

This series of posts will share the methodology I used and results I obtained by examining and recording over 9,000 baptismal records from 1841-1934. Since this is a long topic, I have decided to split it over several posts. In this first post, I describe why I decided to take up the study, and how it fits into the understanding of my family.  Subsequent posts will share what I learned.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Case Study: Amy McNobney’s Family

1802-Baptism Claudius Guert van Beverhoudt-p105a (Large)
1802 Baptism showing Sally MacNobney as a witness
Today I discovered an interesting record that seems to fit into my family tree, but it is indirect, rather than direct evidence of a family relationship.  I figured that I’d share it and the logic I used to add to my tree.
As I mentioned before, I have been going through Lutheran Church records and collecting information on Johannes van Beverhoudt and Amy McNobney’s children.  I found children back to 1790.  One of the children, Claudius Guert van Beverhoudt (b. 2 Nov 1802) had a listing of witnesses that included one “Sally McNobney”.  Since the surname was pretty rare on St Croix in 1802, it seems likely that Sally was related to Amy.  Since the most common relatives asked to be

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Photographing Microfilm Records

Bk08-f145-orig (Large)
Original Photo of Microfilm Record
After spending over 12 hours in the Family History Center looking through a single roll of microfilm, I had found some 200 pages of family information, but I was still finding records I had overlooked. This is great since it means that there is a lot of information to find, but I have a long way to go.  I have ordered a total of 5 rolls from them but can only spend about 3-4 hours per week at the center.  How can I possibly go through them all?  Then I had an idea.  What if I photograph the roll quickly and review it at my leisure at home?  So, I have begun experimenting.