poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘genealogy

the unknown thousands – family history

with 8 comments

Today, I will divert a little from my usual topics and mutter about genealogy.  Along with my other projects, I try to keep learning about my family.  Fortunately, I have a lots of materials to look at: family letters, post cards, diaries, well-researched family trees and so on.


I am always surprised at how much is lost.  Some of this is due to the loss of records, some is due to the overwhelming numbers of people involved in the family history of just one person. When I first became interested in family history, I thought about how many lives have contributed to make ‘me’.  The numbers of ‘grandparents’ add up quickly as I go back in time.



Generation Numbers of parents/‘grandparents’
1   (me)
2   (my parents) 2
3   (my grandparents) 4
4   (my great-grandparents) 8
5   (great-great-grandparents) 16
6 32
7 64
8 128
9 256
10 512
11 1024
12 2048
13 4096
14 8192
15 16384
16 32768
17 65536
18 131072 … and so on …


So, to make any one of us, it took thousands of people.  I knew this before, but knowing I have 131 thousand ‘grand-parents’ in 18 generations is unsettling.


I began by just trying to know the names of those 16 great-grandparents in the 5th generation.  I have them almost figured out.  Those with an * beside their name have a published family tree.  Those with a ? are uncertain.


Charles Clark (*) (farmer)

Margaret Aitcheson

James Johnson (farmer)

Mary MacIntosh

Lewis Norramon (?) (farmer)

Mary  …….  (?)

Josiah Hawk  (*) (shoemaker) )

Sara Kresge (*)

William Spavold (carpenter) (shipwrecked off Briar Island) ( )

Phelena Warner

Robert Manzer

Eleanor Evan

George Cook

Eliza Jane Smith

George Sabean  (*)

Jane Mullen



About some, like William Spavold, I know quite a lot (thanks to the efforts of my Dad).  I am also gradually assembling a history of my great-grandmother Ella Hawk (daughter of Josiah and Sara) (thanks to the efforts of my aunt).  The sad thing is, all I will ever know about most of these people is a name.  In spite of this, I owe them my existence.



my drawing of William Spavold, his mother and brother after their shipwreck

my drawing of William Spavold, his mother and brother after their shipwreck


Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

occupation: shoemaker

with 7 comments

On a short vacation to eastern Ontario last month to visit my niece, we visited Upper Canada Village.  It was a memorable day.  My favorite of the many buildings on site was the shoemaker’s workshop.  I was particularly interested because my great, great-grandfather, Josiah Hawk, was a shoemaker.  I know this from two sources, an entry in the Pennsylvania Census for 1860, and a list of the items in an Inventory and Appraisement at his death in 1865 at 33 years of age.

In 2001, I became interested in studying my maternal great-grandmother Ellen’s history.  Ellen (Ella) was Josiah’s daughter.  One evening, I was puzzling over a poorly copied entry in the 1860 Census, trying to figure out his occupation.  I was tired and my eyes went a bit blurry … by bending the paper a little, I suddenly saw what it said… ‘Master Shoemaker’.  My delight at this discovery was immense.

Later, when I read a list of Josiah’s property at the time of his death, his occupation was confirmed.  His belongings included: ‘…1 shoe bench, 1 lot of shoe mackers [makers] tools, one cramping [crimping] machine, [and] 1 lot of leather …’, among other worker’s tools.

I have relatively little information about my great-grandmother’s life, but I can imagine that she knew her father’s profession and his workshop.  Perhaps, as a little girl, Ella played in the workshop and knew the smells of the leather and the sounds of the shoemaker at his work.



leather and boot polish


the leather in my Papa’s shop

makes a kind of tent

where I can play


Papa pays me no attention

sews seams in Mr. Gruber’s boots

heels a pair of Sunday shoes


at church, I bend to see

beneath the benches

all those solemn feet

wearing Papa’s leather

boots and shoes



Copyright Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

October 17, 2012 at 9:39 pm

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