Tuesday, February 24, 2015

52in52: Rachel Sipes Graves (1827-?) and Autoimmune Disorders

Home is actually a difficult topic for me. No, not because anything bad happened. But I'm under 40 years old and I've lived in:
-3 cities in Michigan
-3 cities in Indiana
-4 cities in Illinois
-3 cities in Minnesota
-2 cities in New York

That's 15 different places. Which one do I call "home"? My definition of home has become over the years to be wherever I feel a tie to, so that includes .

So when I saw this week's theme of "close to home", my mind did not immediately go to the location based home, but more so the ancestor that has captivated my heart for the longest time, because I think her story hits a connection to me very close to home.

When I started in genealogy, my purpose was two fold: one, it was because my grandmother gave me a list of her siblings and when they were born just before she passed on, and two, because I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 10, and the doctors were knee deep in a study that said type I diabetes was strongly inherited, and my family didn't know anything about how deep or shallow the diabetic connection was on either side of the family.

I researched quite a bit on each side of the family but found that the Graves family had a link to many, many autoimmune disorders that were carried down throughout the family. I just kept working back and working back, and finally I stumbled upon Rachel Sipes, who married Enoch Graves. Enoch is a hoot to research on his own (he has three different obituaries under three different names, none of which is Enoch!) but Rachel has really stolen my heart when it comes to research because of this:

1884 Census from the state of Michigan. Enoch and Rachel's family start with line 14. Click it and it will go full page.

"Line 15, Rachel, 56, female, white, wife, married, no, Canada, New York, Canada, House wife, ulcers on legs, no other infirmity, did not attend school within year, can not read or write, 12 years in Michigan"

Did you catch that part about "ulcers on legs"? Her son Hezekiah has the same infirmity. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, untreated diabetics often died very young, and found their risk of loss of limb, ulcers, gangrene, stroke, heart attack and death were much, much higher than the normal population. I believe this is where the genetic mutations that have started the progression of diabetics, celiacs, sarcoidosis, LCMH, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, thyroid disorders, and severe psoriasis started. Not having listed these sorts of symptoms on previous records, my conclusion would be that she and her son Hezekiah/Heisikiah had one of these autoimmune conditions that were triggered as she got older.

I've had a lot of experience tracking this woman down. At first, we thought her last name was Shanks. A few hundred documents later, we've pretty much confirmed her name was Sipes. Due to a curious family document, Rachel Shanks was listed with two daughters, Susan and Mary Jane, who were adopted into the family. I had originally thought that she was the Rachael Sipes that married Peter Buckendale the Younger, one of the founding settlers of York, Ontario because she had two daughters listed on the document as . However, that Rachel died young, and the settlers pretty firmly believe that was what happened (though they did admit when I visited that it was possible she just disappeared, never to be found by Peter again).

Susan Buckendale's marriage certificate to James Innis. Is this Rachel my Rachel? 

Rachel captures my heart because of her tie to diabetes in the family, but she's also lived through multiple moves between different cities in Oxford County, Ontario, and Sanilac County, Michigan. And yet she's still a woman of mystery. We can't find a death for her. She's not recorded as being buried next to her daughter Rebecca or her husband in Mt. Zion Cemetery, though there's a disturbing amount of unmarked space around Rebecca's grave.

And then there's this:
"18 November 1846, page 79, Gore District marriage records of Rev. Robert Lindsay, Presbyterian Church: Thomas GRAVES, Waterloo, to Rachel SIPES, Blenheim. Wit: Thomas Linton, M. McRay."
There's two possibilities here: 1. Enoch uses a different name again, just like his obituary and it is their marriage. 2. Thomas is someone else, perhaps a cousin? He dies quickly, and Enoch marries his widow.

In either case, Rachel and Enoch had a prolific marriage that tied them to generations of family in Sanilac County, Michigan, parts of which are still there today.

Rachel and Enoch's children:
Mary Jane Buckendale Graves 1843 –
Susannah Buckendale Graves  1846 –
John Hazelton Graves  1851 – 1927
Hezekiah Graves  1851 – 1898
Marshall Graves  1855 – 1915
Sheldon Hall Graves  1857 – 1930
Daniel James Graves  1858 – 1916
William Graves  1862 –
Douglas Alexander Graves  1863 – 1919
Burley Graves  1864 –
Enoch Graves  1865 – 1935
Rebecca Graves  1866 – 1881
Charles Henry Graves  1871 – 1945

I know its probably a strange view of "close to home" for an ancestor that is still a bit of a mystery and for which I don't have a full picture. Yet she is always "close to home" because she is that ancestor whom I do have a interesting tie and she never fails to lead me to something interesting in my research no matter how many times that I pick her case up and put her back down. I've always got an ear out to see what I can learn about her and her situation in life.

If you want to learn more about the discovery of insulin, I highly recommend Janice Yuwiler's book:
Yuwiler, Janice M. Insulin. Detroit: Lucent Books, 2005. Print. Great Medical Discoveries. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

52in52: John Seals / John Soales / Jan Celes and his daughter Phoebe

Birds Eye  View of Trinity Church from the public domain

Good deeds can be taken several different ways. Great land deeds, heroic feats, or people who do good things. Well, I'm going to take it a different way: a scoundrel's line gets redemption through his deed. I'm sure this story has been told a hundred times before, but it was new to my family. My father's grandmother had no idea that she had Dutch ancestors on her mother's line.

John Seals was born in 1594 in Little Waldingfield, Suffolk, England. Some say Lavenham, Suffolk, England, but its not entirely clear either way which town is correct. I suspect John would enjoy that fact that we cannot find a confirmed place of birth for him! In fact, most of John's early days in Little Waldingfield are unproven, though the family generally accepts that John married Phillip or Phillippa Soales in 1625, and little Phoebe was born first in 1626. They had a second daughter, Sarah, of which it is debated whether or not she died young or was left with a relative in England to live. 

They immigrated to the US in 1630 as a part of the Winthrop fleet, sailing with 1,000 other immigrants (they are listed on the Winthrop Society website as a recognized settler), immigrating to Charlestown in 1630.

This all sounds pretty normal, right? It sounds like a normal family immigrating to a new life of religious freedom. However, John's behavior starts to get him into trouble in Charlestown almost immediately. In 1632, the town records indicate “...the first known thief that was notoriously observed in the country, his name was John Sales who having stolen corn from many people in this scarce time was convicted thereof before the court and openly punished [whipped] and all he had by law condemned and sold to make restitution." Oops...embarrassed (hopefully) John picks up and moves to Boston with Phoebe in 1633.

Except his bad habits get him in trouble again. From the Boston records:

 ”John Sayles (Sales) being convicted of feloniously taking away corn and fish from diverse persons the last year and this, as also clapboards, etc., is censured by the court after this manner: That all his estate shall be forfeited, out of which double restitution shall be made to those whom he hath wronged, shall be whipped, and bound as servant with any that will retain him for 3 years, and after to be disposed of by the Court as they shall think meet. John Sayle is bound with Mr. Coxeshall for 3 years, for which he is to give him 4 pounds per annum; his daughter is also bound with him for 14 years [until she was 21].”

This time he brings Phoebe down with him. He tries to run away in 1634, and is severely whipped, then in 1637, he succeeds in getting away from the Puritans and surfaces in 1638 in New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island with Phoebe. He "Dutchifies" his name to Jan Celes and continues to stir up trouble in New Amsterdam, ranging from wounding the livestock of the neighbors to ordering farm supplies and not paying for them. In 1645, " “who, being wounded and lying sick abed”, Jan Celes writes his will and testament and passes on to the next life. From reading about him, I can only imagine that he must have had some sort of mental illness, illness, or addiction issues to do something like "cut the cow of little Manuel with a chopping knife", for example (from the records of New Amsterdam).

Phoebe, I'm guessing, was irritated by her father and his behavior reflecting on her. In 1637, she is released from her bond to Mr. Coxeshal (from the Boston records):

"In regard Phebe Seales was, by order of Court, put apprentice to John Coggesall, of Boston, merchant, who at this instant request of the Courte, accepted same and for that the said girle hath proved over burthesome to him, the Court, as formerly, so nowe, have thought it is just to ease him of it; and whereas the said girle was put by the said John Cossesall to one John Levins, of Roxbury, to be kept at a certeine [ ], it is now ordered, that M. Debutie, calling to him M Brenton and Will; Parks, chosen by the said 2 parties shall have power to end the difference between the said parties; and disposeing of the said Phebe, as they shall think equall. "

Just two years after coming to New Amsterdam (1640), she marries Teunnis Nyssen and is forever known as "Femmetje Jans", "Phaeba Faelix" (Daughter of Jan and Phebe Seals in the Dutch translation).

Which brings me back to the beginning. Just how did a deed redeem "Old Jan" as he was known? The map above from Early Manhattan History's Tumbler shows the area of the island that John Seals owned. South of number 11 and west of number 9, its not marked on the map, but it was there. John left in his will half his property to Teunis Nyssen and the other half to Maria Roberts. Maria's half was sold when she remarried, but Teunis' property stayed with him until 17 June 1651, when he sold it to Augustyn Heermans. Augustyn then deeded the land to Rutger Jacobsen, who deeded it to Trinity Church. Trinity Church didn't immediately use the land, leasing some to Abraham Mortimer. (from The Iconography of Manhattan Island)

So with one deed, the scoundrel John Seals unwittingly started a chain to one of the oldest and proudest monuments of virtue, piety, and good behavior in the USA, Trinity Church.

For further reading:
-Elder, Barnett, and Related Genealogies: Citations and Will of John Seals (#4614).
-History in the Headlines by the History Channel - contains a lovely 1660 map of New Netherland.

Monday, February 9, 2015

52in52: Sylvanus T Snell and Susan Tunison

This sort of makes me think of genealogy and love at the same time. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

I had to think long and hard about this weeks' theme: LOVE. I thought about writing about my grandfather, who loved love enough to marry ... a lot. I thought about writing about my grandmother, who died when I was a child and I loved dearly. I thought about writing about my grandparents on my dad's side, because they were together through thick and thin. But I came back to this couple, because I've always thought that they were an example of the endurance of love through harsh journeys, separations, and the growth of love through the proliferation of the family and their family legacy.

Sylvanus T (possible Traverse or Travis) Snell was born in 1801 in New York or New Jersey. His son's biography says that he was born in New Jersey, but there was a much larger group of Snell family members in New York, so I would tend to think that his records that say New York are probably more correct. Sylvanus married Susan Tunison sometime between 1820 and 1830, likely in Herkimer or Steuben County, New York. She was born in 1806 in New Jersey, but grew up in upstate New York. My guess is that they were married close to 1830, because their first son, Jacob, was born in 1831 and children came regularly after that - John, in 1833, Sylvanus Jr. in 1835, Elizabeth Ann in 1836, Abigail in 1840, and George A Snell in 1844.

While that paints a picture of a loving family, there's a bit more to the story. Upstate New York was fairly bought up in the 1830s. There wasn't much room for opportunity for a person to become a large landholder and wealthy as per the definition at the time. So in 1836, Sylvanus ventured to Michigan and found a wild and free area of western Michigan and bought 320 acres of land from speculators in the set up Easton Township, Ionia County, Michigan. He then came back to New York, realized their family was in no state to move, and stayed in New York, moving from Herkimer County in 1820 to Steuben County in 1840. Having done daycare myself, I can imagine the horror of trying to visualize moving three children under the age of 5 in 1836 as well as my wife and household!

1840 US Federal Census from Bradford, Steuben Co, New York.

We know that Sylvanus and Susan were still in New York since we have the censuses, but we also know little John Snell passed away in New York, a death unmarked by vital records and gravestones. Yet he remains in the family memory.

By 1849, the couple and their five children moved to Easton, finding the property as wild as when Sylvanus had first seen it in 1836. It was rough and tumble, but Sylvanus made a go of things and he and Susan had a loving home and a family that was well known within the community. Sylvanus and Susan donated land to build Easton Cemetery, forever cementing a legacy. What Sylvanus did NOT count on, however, was that he would pass away just two years after moving his family to Ionia County. On 22 June 1851, Sylvanus died in Easton, Ionia, Michigan. How we know this is through his tombstone in the cemetery on his land donated to the city, because this is before the advent of vital records in Michigan and is therefore not kept in such records as Seeking Michigan, GENDIS, or by Ionia County.

I can only imagine how heartbroken Susan was, a widow at merely 44 years old, already having lost one child, and now left alone with four children to finish raising before sending them off into their own. Jacob Snell, my ancestor, had already moved onto a part of the property gifted to him by his father's estate with his wife Almira Kellogg. Susan kept on, keeping George Snell in school until age 16. Each son received large donations of cash or land from the estate, allowing the family to keep independent in Easton for many years to come.

This 1875 map of Easton Township shows the lands owned by Sylvanus T Snell, Jr., George A Snell, and Jacob Snell as well as Easton Cemetery, all on the original 320 acres purchased by Sylvanus and Susan.

Susan never remarried, moving in as a beloved grandmother and caretaker with her sons (Sylvanus in 1870, and George A in 1880) before passing away in 1884, laid to rest next to Sylvanus in Easton Cemetery:

 Detailed photos of the Snell tombstone by David Alan Snell. I've got similar photos, but his are much easier to read.

Unlike most of my mom's family, this family stayed in one place. Their love shows in their connection to the land. Even though the city of Easton seems to have largely forgotten the legacy of the Snell family (there's not even a record of them at the Ionia County library's genealogy files), the family land is part of a centennial farm in Easton, descended from Sylvanus to Jacob, from Jacob to his son Orson Traverse Snell, and from Orson to his youngest daughter Sylvia Snell Rasmussen, half sister to my 2nd great grandmother, Edna Mae Snell Webber. In 2013, I had the pleasure of visiting the property and you could just feel the love radiating throughout. Over 150 years in the same family. Sylvanus and Susan could not have made a better legacy for the Snell family. I doubt they could have predicted what would happen to them along their marriage, but it made it through, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and that's why they are the example of love I chose to tell this week.


Photographs of the Snell-Rasmussen family farm and Easton Cemetery are by Concetta Phillipps. Make sure to click to see the larger, more readable versions!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Translating a Crochet Pattern when you're not a translator

Isn't she adorable? I love Hello Kitty and so do many fans throughout the world. I think there's a small army of folks putting out amigurumi, sweaters, granny squares and other such things into the world.

Unfortunately, sometimes they're in a language that we don't speak, read, or understand. This causes many crocheters and knitters to fall into the temper tantrum phase "Why isn't it in English? Why can't everyone write in English?" is a common refrain in online forums and stitching groups. Warning: this may get a little long but its got lots of pictures! :-)

At this point, you have two options:

1. Get a translator. Pay someone, barter with a friend, write to the designer and hope they know someone.
2. Try to translate it yourself. You don't have to do it alone! Let's try to do some together before sending you off on your own.

We're going to use a pattern called "La Petite Sirène Kitty" by Tiamat Creations. You can find the PDF at her website here.

Starting at the beginning, make sure to load up Google Translate (http://translate.google.com/). Make sure the language is set to "Detect Language". If its not, clicking it will activate it. Also make sure the end language is English.) Tiamat's patterns are a good place to start to teach you two things:

1. Google Translate doesn't directly translate PDFs.
2. Google Translate doesn't translate pictures.

Start by typing in the name of the pattern, "La Petite Sirène Kitty". We find out that this is "The Little Mermaid Kitty". Cute!

Now a lot of you have probably said "Great! What's this "fournitures" section?" and went ahead and typed it in exactly as it is on screen.

This is what came out (a portion) when I typed it into Google Translate exactly as it is (with 2 intentional errors). Many people give up at this point and figure that Google Translate just doesn't know what it's talking about. Here's the thing: you need to know a little about how to computer thinks in order to make this work. The translation software looks at the words that are typed into it. So something like a dash could make all the difference. The second is, this is NOT spell check. It's not going to tell you if there's a problem. It *might* tell you if you missed an accent, but more than likely its not going to tell you anything.

When I put a space after each dash and correct my spelling error in aiguille, it magically becomes:

Success! We now have a supply list for what we need for the project (I've not copied everything here, but you can easily type this short list into Translate. You don't even need to worry about the accents.

Wait...but what if you want to do the accents? If you know your alt key codes, go for it! If not, I generally recommend copying and pasting the letters at this website for use in Google Translate.

 So now we're at the part of the pattern that is actually the pattern. The first couple sentences translate easily.
Corps (Body)
faire une boucle, en jaune (do/use the boucle, in yellow)

Go ahead and type into Google translate what the first two lines say. What pops out in English is this:

Kudos to you if you remember what I said earlier about Google Translate reading exactly what words you type into it. That's the problem above - it can't find a word combined with numbers. So I'm going to clean that up and we get this:

Alright, this is looking better! It's starting to resemble crochet instructions. But what does "put your score" mean? And what's "aug"? And why do all the rows end with a number and "m"?

If you're an experienced crocheter, you might have guessed what the "rg 1" "rg 2" "(12 m)" and "(18 m)" mean. Sometimes experience has its benefits! Here we stumble again upon the limits of automatic translation: it doesn't do abbreviations. It has no way of figuring out what the meaning of an abbreviation is.

At this point, you have to find a way to find out what the abbreviation is. Sometimes a pattern will have a key (especially if its from a major publisher). Many independent patterns like this, however, do NOT have a key. So we have to make an assumption that the designer is using a standard language that they know everyone French knows already. We can use this assumption to our advantage and use one of the many published term glossaries that are out there. My favorite is from Garnstudio because I can play with many different ways of listing the translated terms. For example, here's the English to French dictionary. But this is only from UK English to French. If I want to get US English to French, I need to do a little work.


See the en and fr in the link above? If I change en to us I get US English to French. But that's kind of annoying, because I need a French term to go to English. If I tweak the link one more time, I can get a list of French terms in alphabetical order translated into US English:


Isn't that cool? It's very useful for doing patterns in many languages. It will work for any language they offer, including:

So we can scroll down the list and find "aug" means "augmenter" which is "increase" in English. You can then run through the list and fill in the other terms in the Google Translate box. To save us time I'm going to go ahead and write out the lines:

This then gets you, in English:

As you can see now, we've got a perfectly readable pattern, albeit with some stylistic differences from how we normally see it. BUT there's a trick here! In both line 1 and line 3 we have the abbreviation "MS" which means "maille serree". Yet in one line, it is SC and in the other line it is DC. Here's where we find the last fault of Google Translate: it is not going to tell you what's correct, it will only tell you what the most people do. In the US, we would use SC, and in the UK, they would use DC ... FOR THE SAME STITCH. So Google Translate tries to be helpful and tell you both ways that you can translate it.

A savvy stitcher needs to be watchful for these types of "friendly" errors! In this case, Tiamat graciously provides a chart so we can double check and see that with the X symbol on the chart for single crochet, she means do single crochets throughout the pattern.

If you use Google translate to do the rest of the pattern, you can both change this option AND help your fellow stitchers.

If you click on the words, you can see alternate translations for the term that you're selecting. You can then make the correction. If you're like me and a stickler for wording, you can then clean up the English by clicking the "wrong" button and submitting the cleaned up version to the Google Translate database. When you do this, your translation will turn blue, like this:

Now you can continue translating the rest of the pattern. After awhile, you'll get used to what the repeated abbreviations mean and be able to write it out without translating first.

Eventually, you're going to come upon terms that don't translate at all, or terms that aren't in the DROPS dictionary, or a phrase that you don't understand. At that point, you have some options:

1. Try a different term dictionary. Not every dictionary is perfectly, 100% complete. There are always local variations, too, like between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, or Caribbean French and Canadian French and regular French, etc. Try the String or Nothing dictionary, its quite useful.  Or the Proz site.

2. Try a different online translator. Babelfish translates differently than Google Translate so I use it often to double check troublesome phrases. Sometimes Babelfish can make sense of it due to the way its programmed versus the Google Translate programming.

3. Go for help! The folks at "Excuse Me?" on Ravelry can help with troublesome phrases (just don't ask for the whole pattern to be translated without permission - we're not going to violate anyone's copyright!), networking native speakers with the people who need translation help. Try your Facebook friends. Or sites like Yahoo Answers can network you with people who can help you translate those troublesome phrases.

At this point, you should be ready to crochet. My last piece of advice to you is to have patience! Trying something like this for the first time (and for the tenth time, and the hundredth time...) can reduce your usual stitching confidence level. Errors might happen, typos happen, and design changes can happen along the way as you get used to how the pattern is written and how you liked to stitch. Hopefully you end up with a beautiful mermaid Kitty just like this one by Fredsy.