Friday, June 1, 2007

never trust a bookmark

This week I had to wait around my office to see if some summer school classes would have the enrollment to make. (They didn’t.) To pass time, I started looking at some genealogy sites. There went my week! I am too compulsive. There is always one more relative to find. I did find over 60 new ones, but most come at the same time. Digging for hours and finding nothing, then I hit a vein and mine it for all its worth. Hours of nothing, then I get the joy of discovery for a couple of dozen minutes. The find spurs me on to even more hours of prospecting in hopes of another discovery.

Picture Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

I haven’t done this in a couple of years. I had bookmarked a bunch websites with information and possible leads. However, the vast majority of the old links were now dead. So I spent a lot of time trying to rediscover and unearth the information again.

I have learned not to trust bookmarks since sites disappear or move or get reorganized. Solution? I print everything. However, I don’t waste ink and paper, I print to a pdf file using either Adobe Acrobat or the free PrimoPDF. The files are usually small and easy to move and store. Life is simpler and easier now. (I know, you read it all before here.)

Another thing about doing genealogy research on the web is that others have already done the heavy lifting and I just need to find their work. The information can also be downloaded into files standardized for use by almost all genealogy software such as Legacy Family Tree.

My father insisted that Blewett was a Scotch-Irish name. My father was also an Anglophobe. I have traced his entire family to before they came to America. There are zero Irish or Scotch ancestors. In fact, the first Blewett to come to America in his family tree was from Cornwall in SW England. You can’t get any further away from Scotland and still be in England than Cornwall. Fortunately I discovered this unpleasant truth after dad passed away.

All the Blewetts in and from Cornwall, and there are lots of them, are descended from one family. The original Blewett in England was supposedly a Brittany knight who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. Only recently have people become picky about spelling, so if you ever meet a Blewett, Blewitt, Bluett, Bloet, or Blouet, they are probably my cousins.

Blewett, whatever its original form, is derived from the French for the color blue combined with the French diminutive suffix et. The French meaning also referred to a bluebottle, blue bird, a blue flower or corn flower, or a color of cloth worn at the time.

The stem of the original name also means livid, which is what my father, also a Francophobe, would be if he knew he was descended from an Englishman with a French last name.

Another family tale concerns the Sailors family. Supposedly the first Sailors in Ohio got his name because he was a deserter from Napoleon’s navy. Well, doing some research I found a number of Sailors in Ohio and Indiana descended from German or Swiss Saylors, Seylers, Seilers, and similar names. Sailors is just an Anglicized version. So I thought another interesting family tale bites the dust. However, this week I recorded an ancestor, John F. Sailors, born in Ohio, who for the U.S. Census listed his father as being born in France. His father would have been the right age and there are no Saylors, Seylers, Seilers, etc, from France. So the story is quite likely to be true.

Be blessed!

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