Recently Read

Katherine Howe, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (New York: Hyperion, 2009).

I try to read at least a little fiction every week, usually something light, entertaining, and escapist because, hey, my normal reading is non-fiction and not usually any of those things. This book was an assignment for a class I’m taking (long story, nothing to do with genealogy). I enjoyed reading it more than I expected, not only because of the subject matter (Colonial Massachusetts and the Salem witch trials), but also because the author explained the main character’s research process to a small degree. Probate records, church archives, court cases, and obscure 17th century books all have a role in the story. What more could a geneanerd ask for?

One other reason I liked this book, though, had more to do with the author’s attitude about history. As Howe noted in the Postscript,

The Salem witch trials of 1692 are hardly new territory… However, when the trials appear in literature or in history, it is generally assumed that they are acting as a proxy for something else… What is usually overlooked in these accounts is that, to the people who experienced the Salem panic, the trials were really about witchcraft. Everyone involved…lived in a religious system that held no doubts whatsoever that witches existed, and that the Devil could make mischief on earth through human interlocutors. [Emphasis in the original.]

This is my own problem with modern history, particularly the so-called “social” histories. Reality often gets lost in the mad rush to interpret.

National Genealogical Society, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 101, No. 3, September 2013

For once, the digital version of the recent NGSQ was out long before the print issue arrived in my mailbox. I scanned the articles a few weeks ago online, but this week spent some time on a more in-depth review. Two of the articles focused on research in Virginia, “Overcoming Common-Name Barriers to Identify Parents: James Johnson of Amelia, Essex, Lunenburg, and Pittsylvania Counties, Virginia” by Nickola Beatty Lagoudakis and “Parents for Robert Walker of Rockingham County, North Carolina, and Orange County, Indiana” by Pamela Stone Eagleson. I found these particularly interesting, since one of my five-year goals is to take many of my 19th century lines back to Virginia. Like many Southerners, I have a lot of ancestors who passed through the Old Dominion, and I’ve been preparing to do research in Virginia for a couple of years now, including reading compiled genealogies and methodologies on Virginia families and research.

American Society of Genealogists, The Genealogist, Vol. 27, No. 2, Fall 2013

Paul K. Graham has been on a publishing streak this year. Among other things, including a new book (Georgia Courthouse Disasters), he’s had four articles published in top-tier genealogy journals: two articles the NGSQ and two in this issue of The Genealogist. “McCombs of Milledgeville, Georgia: Descendants of Robert McComb” contains a brief biography of Robert McComb, including his origins, and a compiled genealogy of his descendants, in some cases to the fourth generation. “Paternity of John Warren Ellis of Jasper County, Texas” is exactly what it sounds like, a discussion of the genealogical proof relating John Warren Ellis to his parents. Both are good reads for Southern genealogists.

Recent additions to my home library.

Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck, The Name IS the Game: Onomatology and Genealogy (Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield Company, 2013). An excellent guide to the subject. Highly recommended, although readers are advised to read the text in small sections.

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