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Adventures in genealogy

Created date

September 21st, 2010

Though he traced his wife s family history from Europe to North America, Jim Carr says the search was largely conducted from the comfort of the couple s Linden Ponds apartment home. Carr estimates he did 90% of the work from his desk chair at the computer; for the other 10%, he traveled a mile to the Family History Library at Hingham s Mormon church. [caption id="attachment_14539" align="alignright" width="280" caption=" Jim and Charlotte Carr in Old Quebec, an area they visited as part of the adventure to learn more about Mrs. Carr s ancestry. (Photo courtesy of Jim Carr)"][/caption] Carr shared his search skills with Linden Ponds by teaching a genealogy course last spring as part of the community s Lifelong Learning program. Drawing from his own research into both his and his wife s genealogy, Carr took 16 of his peers through the basics. Start with what you know and keep working back, says Carr, who followed his family history back to the 1700s in Scotland. An increasingly popular hobby, genealogy is more than assembling family trees, Carr says: What s important is to know the stories associated with them. He emphasizes this point in his class while teaching the practical approach to finding the documents that tell such stories. Primary records including birth records, death certificates, and marriage records are valuable and can be found in church and library archives. The Mormon church keeps especially good records, Carr says, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society offers a library in Boston as well as various online databases. Additionally, Carr recommends the book Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family s History and Heritage by Barbara Renick.

Hypnotizing adventure

Carr s students atLinden Pondsenthusiastically delved into their family histories, unearthing many stories along the way. Mimi Mitchell, who lives at Linden Ponds, used what she learned from Carr s class to subscribe to, a website devoted to genealogy. Mitchell began entering the family information she had already collected, and as part of her paid subscription to, was able to access numerous government, state, and local records, leading her to uncover information tracing her family back to the early 1700s. It s unending. You get absolutely hypnotized with it, Mitchell says of the search. Ancestry.comoffers the option to connect with other subscribers who share one s lineage. As a result, Mitchell has exchanged information with members of her grandmother s brother s family, who she didn t know existed. She says they have expressed interest in meeting her. Mitchell has also learned more about her grandmother, who moved from Indiana to Utah for the man she married. She even encountered stories like the one of a relative who in the early 1900s wrongly brought the first panda from China to the United States. The panda was sent back without making it to the zoo as intended. It s been quite an adventure, Mitchell says. As she continues making discoveries, she files her findings into archival boxes for her two children. I feel as if I m putting these things down not for myself, but for my children and my grandchildren, says Mitchell. And it will always be there, which is very satisfying. All thanks to Jim [Carr].

Journey to 17th-century France

Jim Carr had already traced his family history to the 1700s in Scotland when he took on the challenge of outlining his wife s lineage. The journey proved a worthy trip. Charlotte Carr s knowledge of her family history had been limited to stories relatives told her, but when her husband began the search for more information, he quickly stumbled upon documentation dating back to the 1600s in New France (now Quebec province). Most of Mrs. Carr s ancestors migrated from France in the 17th century, helping change the course of North American history. In 1644, one couple s marriage became the first recorded union of a French settler and a Huron Indian woman. At her father s wish, the bride, Marie Manitouabewich, had been raised learning French customs and language with a French family and in a convent. When she was of age, she met and married Martin Prevost and raised a family from which Charlotte Carr is a descendent. It makes quite a charming love story, Mrs. Carr says. This finding compelled the Carrs to visit a park in Beauport, Quebec, named for Martin Prevost and view a monument memorializing his marriage. Mr. Carr explains several of his wife s ancestors were soldiers of the French Carignan Regiment sent by King Louis XIV to quell attacks by Iroquois, who later accepted land grants to remain as settlers. Many settlers married French women sent by the King to New France under church guidance to marry settlers. They were called filles du roi, or Daughters of the King. Charlotte is a descendant of at least seven filles du roi and four Carignan Regiment soldiers. I m quite proud of my family history, says Mrs. Carr. And to go back to 1644 that really surprised me.