The left hand of the grandfather clock crept slowly toward twelve and Margaret stared at the spinning wheel propped beside her knees. As the faint tick of the clock kept rhythm with William and Margaret's heartbeats; the couple waited in silence. And then, a sudden and thunderous knock vibrated the iron latch, dangling from the front door. William instantly stood, but before he could move forward, Margaret and the children ran screaming to his side. And the strong-jawed Scottish gentleman provided a comforting kiss to his family and opened the door, waiting for the heavy chain to be wrapped around his neck and wrists.

As the jailers forcefully pulled William down the street and toward the Morristown, New Jersey jail, villagers cursed and mocked the loyalist, taunting him with buckets of hot bubbling tar and sacks filled with goose feathers: "ye traitor, where is ye king now?" the townsmen jeered. But with an air of pride, William Templeton never turned his head to face his accusers, eyes pierced on the stoney road below his feet.

Approaching the darkened jail, a stench of sewage and death floated in the air. And as William stumbled down the steps, wrists bleeding from the weight of the chain, moans of the imprisoned men echoed against the icy walls. "Ye had ye change," the jailer laughed, as he shoved William inside the pitch-black cell.

The Scotsman lingered in the frigid cell, lying next to men dying from Typhoid fever and rats scurrying to steal crumbs from the plates shoved under the door. But William's loyalty to his British king never wavered; never faltered; feeling certain the frightening insurgence would soon end.

On his fortieth day of imprisonment, the clanging of the iron door startled William from his weakened state and the jailer bellowed out, motioning the Scotsman to come forward. Coaxing him through the cell and down the hallway, the jailer sneered: "times up."

William stumbled outside the jail, and onto the street, struggling to fight the sting of the sun piercing his eyes. But the jailer quickly directed him into the Morristown village hall, shoving him into a long line of bruised and filth covered men, waiting for their judgment of treachery.

The Scotsman, William Templeton, was released on bond, but he would face years of punishment for his loyalty to England, losing his property and all possessions to the Council of Safety of 1777 and 1778-the commission overseeing the fate of the loyalists.

A man that never took up arms against his neighbors; just steadfast in his loyalty to his mother country.

Previous mention of my loyalist ancestor had been the subject of this blog; but his story was still unfolding. With fervent dedication, I uncovered additional details and I will share my arduous trail:

With the discovery of my ancestor's name on a "loyalists" list of Morris County, New Jersey, I reviewed the sources of the published book. Contacting the genealogy department of the Morristown Library; I commissioned a search for the sources of the publication. The library staff, revealing that my loyalist ancestor was arrested and then released on bond in May 1778, released copies of the archived articles. Even more sources for further research were provided, ultimately directing me to the final disposition for William Templeton:
The New Jersey State Supreme Court.

Researching a trail of sources between publications may require digging, but the results can be staggering; bringing answers to open-ended questions and tying up loopholes. Which is why providing sources for any genealogical publication is a critical piece to your overall work. Your sources can provide leads for other researchers, such as yourself, in their trail of unrequited questions; perhaps resulting in a "supreme" genealogical finale for another researcher.

Keep searching for answers,

1)The Loyalist of New Jersey; Their Memorials, Petitions, Claims, Etc. From English Records; Jones, E. Alfred, MA, F.R. Historical Society; Newark, 1927.
2)Minutes of the Council of Safety of the State of New Jersey; printed by John H. Lyon; Jersey City; 1872)
Sunday afternoons were created for hours lying on living room sofas; strolls along shaded sidewalks, and slow page-turning novels. But sharing tea on a Sunday afternoon with a cousin not seen in decades, brings new knowledge to years of back-bending, teeth-grinding, genealogical research.

The Internet can bring forth communication amid distant cousins throughout the world; connecting and overlapping between Tulsa and Toledo and Detroit and Dublin. But discoveries and a reacquaintance of cousins renewed through the virtual web, when actual physical distance is less than two miles, is a refreshing surprise. Which is just what occurred when I opened my e-mail last week; an out of the blue contact from a cousin, living just "a short skip" away.

A tea time was quickly set and the meeting held. A swift mutual recap of lives was shared, and then we each showcased our genealogical doings. Files stuffed with records and documents were joyfully presented; finding that many were duplicates of the other. And we in turn, felt validated with our own research. But for me, the creme de la creme; the piece de resistance; was my cousin's transposition of her grandmother's trip diary.

Amazingly, my Great Aunt Hazel, composed a running memory of a 1948 road-trip taken from Oklahoma to Tennessee; winding northeast to Baltimore and Philadelphia; then on to New York and New Jersey. The details provided are breathtaking. But it's not the trip itself that is remarkable; though thrilling to read. It is the ancestral names woven throughout the manuscript that is a delight.

Great Aunt Hazel took a whirlwind road-trip to the east coast in the forties to visit relatives; and names of ancestors only recently discovered by research, are casually mentioned throughout the diary. And with Aunt Hazel's descriptive words, each ancestor was given a personality, not previously brought forth within the contents of my genealogical files.

A family bible is a rich historical find when discovered; but a little diary composed by a family elder can be a goldmine for researchers. Diaries often reveal running thoughts or stream-of-consciousness by the author. Whereas the family bible is often structured around generational family trees; a diary can be much more illuminating. Describing stories of relationships and familial moments in time, frequently not found within the family bible.

Though less often acknowledged as a genealogical resource, if the elders in your family are accepting of releasing excerpts from a diary; grab hold and take off. The whirlwind road-trip could very well bring pieces of knowledge not otherwise known. And with the random thoughts expressed in writing, previous generations may be brought to life. Providing new details for your family tree.

So e-mail a cousin and schedule a time for tea on a slow moving Sunday afternoon. And remind her to bring grandma's diary.

Keep searching for answers,

As I have dug deeper into my ancestral roots, the drive for further understanding of immigrant origins continue to gnaw at my core. One would think that evolution of knowledge of ancestors would bring satisfaction or an end to questions of 'who,' 'what' and 'where.' But for me, the 'who' and 'what' are only appetizers; it's the 'where' that feeds my obsession. And for those of us cursed with the burden of searching for Irish ancestors-the 'where' can be a formidable task.

Bit by bit, delving deep into the search for both of my Irish ggg grandfathers, extensive records of their lives within America have become abundant. Files are overflowing; stuffed with land, court and vital records. I have searched so extensively for these men, I feel I know every inch of their being-from the time they hoped the pond until their demise-but yet; records from their homeland are void. And the documents that could hold the key to their townlands-their final naturalization papers-have gone astray.

During my rampant and exhaustive search for the naturalization papers of my Irish ancestors, George Crawford and Samuel Rolston, I stumbled upon their Declaration of Intent papers. After the federal establishment of naturalizaton law in and around 1800, requirements defined the process that immigrants must take to be eligible to become U.S. citizens. And amoung other requirements, the applicant must file his Declaration of Intent three years prior to the finalization of his citizenship.

So, with the discovery of George and Samuel's Declaration of Intent papers, one would reason I also landed their final Naturalization files; ultimately revealing the county origins of their homeland.


No. Dead-end, again.

The immigrant's Declaration of Intent papers reveal nothing; certainly no details to speak of, other than they were immigrants from Ireland and 'intended' to become citizens. Rich genealogical details within the papers are void, especially for Irish immigrants, and the mysterious final completion of their naturalization paperwork, have not, and may possibly never surface.

History reveals that the filing of the Declaration of Intent allowed the immigrant to purchase land, but with the required three-year wait to take their oath, many never completed the final task. Reasons being were varied: The path to U.S. citizenry was an expensive process; immigrants migrated on to other states; died, or just flat forgot. Federal rules for monitoring the immigrant's final paperwork were not yet in place in the 1800's, ultimately leaving the immigrants to complete the task on their own.

Which leads me back to George and Samuel, my Irish ancestors. Did they every pledge an oath of allegiance, patriotically completing their road to U.S. citizenship? For me, this perplexing question may never be answered. But an even stranger, ultimately more personal problem lurks within the deepest corner of my mind:

If my Irish ancestors were never naturalized, does that mean as their ggg grandaughter...I'm illegal?

Wow, I really need to study that citizenship test!

To search for your ancestor's naturalization records, start with the county courthouse and then move on to the state archives where the immigrant resided. For the web: Ancestry.com and GermanRoots.

Keep searching for answers,

(Source: MyTrees)
A Scandinavian Church. Photo by Karl Ahlgren
A blog entry regarding a fellow family historian is a rarity for me, but a recent e-mail from my friend Karl Ahlgren provided motivation for this out-of-the ordinary Sunday special. Karl recently completed a three-week whirlwind tour of ancestral homelands in Sweden and Norway with a head-spinning 45-minute stop at a genealogy center in Lund, Sweden, where his great grandfather was born.

Karl and his wife were swept away by the beauty of the Norwegian countryside, catching glimpses of stunning waterfalls. But in listening to Karl's passionate description of his trip, it was his brush with ancestral parishes and townlands that seemed to excite him the most. And the contact with an elderly cousin in Oslo, brought memorable moments to an already breathtaking trip.

I have no Scandinavian ancestors, but in listening to Karl's presentation and viewing his pictures; I am quite jealous. Not of traveling to Scandinavia; though hearing his description of the beauty of the countries has certainly peaked my interest.

It's the ancestral trip. The stroll along cobbled pathways, leading through villages ancestors traveled centuries ago. Entering a parish were a great great grandmother was christened or reading the faded inscription across the 19th cemetery tombstone of a great great great grandfather: Just the contemplation, sends a chill through my genealogical bones.

A tour of an ancestral homeland is a dream I hope to one day complete. But for now, I will live vicariously through my friend Karl, and hope that one day I too will put eyes on the townlands my Irish and Scottish ancestors once lived.

In celebration of Karl's thrilling ancestral trip, I have built a new page; Links to Scandinavian Records. Karl provided many of the websites, and I added a few more to the list. If you are lucky to have ancestors from Scandinavia, records are noted to be well documented and plentiful.


Keep searching for answers,