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Category Archives: artifacts

of gateways and gravestones: Mary (Lawrence) Burnham

Hey! Martin Hollick over at the Slovak Yankee has a photo of a gateway ancestor we share. (A gateway ancestor is an ancestor who gives descendants a treaceable path back to a new ancestral population—most commonly, in US usage, an early colonial immigrant providing traceable ancestry among medieval nobility and royalty.) She is Mary Lawrence, […]

quite a shack, ain’t it? James Wesley Taylor

Just the other day I uploaded a new revised version of my book on the Taylors — see here for the download page — and thought I’d signal it with one of the new included photos. This is James Wesley Taylor (1853-1896) of Tama County, Iowa, and Meade County, South Dakota, with his wife Mary […]

fortis non ferox

This morning I gave an exam to three students in the ‘Pavilion Room’, a formal dining room or parlor added to the Victorian house at Brown University which now houses the History Department. And I brought my camera to photograph the wood coat of arms, on the amazing scallop-shiplapped chimney hood: More or less argent […]

and it still runs: great-great-grandmother’s watch

Ph. Schillinger To his Beloved Wife Phillip Schillinger (1831-1888) and Katherine Jenne Schillinger (1832-1918) were my father’s mother’s mother’s parents, German bourgeoisie in Louisville, Kentucky, whence they had immigrated in 1854 and 1855 from the small town of Kippenheim in the kingdom of Baden-Württemberg. Schillinger was a brewer, and this hideous-toothed beer-drinker from an ad […]

Sancha de Ayala’s prayer book? (and her sister’s tomb)

Last fall I got a message from Sor María Jesús, of the Dominican convent of Santo Domingo el Real in Toledo, noting an error in one of my earlier webpages on Sancha de Ayala, where I had confused the two convents, the convent of Poor Clares, “Santa Isabel de los Reyes,” which is constructed in […]

update on the Crosbie-Pitcairn pistols

I’ve now found confirmation of Captain (later General) William Crosbie’s place in the Anglo-Irish gentry Crosbie family which bore the swords-and-snake crest found on the pistols traditionally identified as Major Pitcairn’s (see my previous post, linked here). I had suggested that he belonged somewhere in the Ardfert Crosbie family found in Burke’s 1866 Dormant, Abeyant, […]

Pitcairn’s pistols were Crosbie’s—heraldry on a famous revolutionary artifact

The first spoils of the Revolutionary War are surely the handsome pair of Murdoch pistols long attributed to Major John Pitcairn, who is said to have lost them on April 19 1775 during the harrowing return from Concord to Boston (they were variously said to have been in the baggage train, or on his horse). […]

boy meets ancestor; boy loses ancestor; boy gets ancestor back

It’s the plot of an old romance film mapped onto a common genealogical trajectory: boy meets ancestor, boy loses ancestor. Marshall Kirk used to talk about ‘former ancestors’—people you once believed you were descended from, and of whom you still might be fond. Sometimes they even find a way back into the family tree via […]

George Thorold and a lost legacy

In the Rhode Island Historical Society library is a strange heraldic treasure — a grant of arms, from 1631, to a George Thorold of Boston, Lincolnshire. It is a copy, probably from the beginning of the 18th century, darkened and greasy with long handling and haphazard storage. The copy is inexpert—the lettering is unstudied, and […]

the bearth of all my Children was . . . (Andrews—Mackworth)

Heavy, thick and dark, this book. It’s actually four books in one: a Book of Common Prayer, a (Geneva) Bible, a Concordance, and paraphrases of the Psalms. All printed in London, 1599 and 1600. A typical omnibus for devout and plain, but respectable if not substantial folk: a quarto, period bound in blind-stamped leather, much […]