Friday, October 26, 2007

I prefer being lucky and good

One of my favorite sayings has been "I'd rather be lucky than good" but now I much prefer the saying "I want to be both lucky and good." There is also the saying that "luck is the residue of design" (which apparently comes from author John Milton, but is often attributed to Branch Rickey). I prefer the saying "good luck happens when you plan well."

In any case, I had a stroke of good luck last night as a result of methodically going through my genealogy database for my "brick wall ancestors." I don't do this as often as I should, but I will probably do it more often now!

I haven't used the "Web Search Resources" in FamilyTreeMaker at all, but I decided to try it out last night. Two of my "brick wall ancestors" are William Hutchinson (1745 NJ - 1826 ON) and his wife, Catherine Lewis. I found very little on the web search for Mr. Hutchinson but the search for Catherine Lewis netted a number of possible ancestral families. The site gave me the option to integrate those results into my database. I don't usually do that, but prefer to investigate the data posted for the suggested families in as many sources as possible. However, I wanted to see how the process worked, so I set up a "dummy" Catherine Lewis and downloaded some family data over several generations.

The source for the Catherine Lewis connection was the One World Tree database at, so I was able to bring it up and print out some information - pedigree charts, note pages, and family group information. I checked for the families on the Rootsweb WorldConnect database, and found some interesting notes and the same data for many of the families. Now I need to check online and traditional resources to prove that the Catherine Lewis in the databases is the same one who married William Hutchinson. But now I have some leads.

This morning, while waiting for the cable man to come to diagnose my cable modem problems, I Googled the search string ["william hutchinson" "catherine lewis" loyalist]. I got my own ROOTS-L mailing list post from 1996 (!) and another mailing list post that provided a link to a WorldConnect database that listed William Hutchison (not Hutchinson!). The page for Mr. Hutchison is here for those curious about what I found. William Hutchinson's life has been well documented in this database, and most of it is data that I did not have previously (probably because I've always searched for Hutchinson rather than Hutchison). Not only that, the families of his children have been researched, with the exception of his daughter, Mary Jane Hutchinson. Guess which child is my ancestor? Yep - Mary Jane! However, there was great information about Mary Jane on her father's page. It reads:

"Mary Jane Hutchinson, eldest daughter of William, married Frederick Sovereign, the founder of Fredericksburg. Her children are enumerated in the Sovereign genealogy. This old pioneer mother was known far and wide as 'Aunt Jane Sovereign,' and was noted for her generous hospitality and her quaint, off-hand manner of speech. She was an indefatigable worker, and found rest in busy activity; and to sit still for any length of time was misery to her. She was a regular attendant at church, and to sit in a pew for a solid hour and keep awake until the old-fashioned "fourthly" had dragged out its weary length, was a cross that she was not always able to bear. On one occasion during a "protracted meetin'" the sermon had been unusually long, and when the "conference" exercises began "Aunt Jane" stood up, but said nothing. The kind-hearted pastor, divining that some great trouble was weighing upon her mind, called her by name and offered words of encouragement. "Oh!" exclaimed Aunt Jane, as she looked up with arms akimbo, "I've just stood up to rest my hips abit."

"As these lines are being written an old familiar scene presents itself. In my mind's eye I see the old fire-place aglow once more with its flickering flame. In it I see the old crane, and once again I hear the sputtering of the old iron teakettle. In front stands the bent form of a dear old familiar figure. With arms akimbo, she looks into the glowing coals for a moment while the ashes from the inverted bowl of her clay pipe drops upon the old hearth. For a brief moment I turn aside to catch a glimpse of some other passing scene, and when I look again, behold, all is changed! Was it only a phantom? Verily so. The old chimney is dark, damp and musty; the old hearth has caved in and the old crane lies buried in the dust. The old tea-kettle has yielded up its form and the elements of which it was composed have been incorporated into other and newer forms, and in the village cemetery I see a granite column whereon is engraved these lines: "Mary Jane, wife of Frederick Sovereign, died April 16th, 1868, aged 76 years, 2 months and 25 days."

Isn't that amazing? A personal recollection of my 4th great-grandmother, Mary Jane (Hutchinson) Sovereign. Priceless! To me, anyways.

The information about William Hutchinson was a fantastic find, and the recollection of Mary Jane is just one of the cherries on top of the whipped cream on top of the ice cream on top of the "cake" of my genealogy research about my ancestors.

Design? Intentional? Planning? Lucky? Good? Yep. It's been a lucky and good genealogy day so far!

1 comment:

Craig Manson said...

What a great discovery, Randy! "Lucky and Good" is what it takes in genealogy . . . there are no easy cases! Now I'm off to try it with my #1 brick wall!