Providing practical, down-to-earth advice for family historians since 1995, online since 1985.
The road less traveled
The class was BASIC WELSH RESEARCH taught by John Kitzmiller. Every now and then ol' Myrt here entertains the thought of attempting to make progress on my early Welsh Quakers, who were either original patentees of William Penn or those who purchased from these original settler/investors. Ol' Myrt was already aware that there is a decided lack of vowels in the Welsh language; in fact I find Welsh harder to read than Old German script.
-- I learned that "BARTRUM" is the premier collection of Welsh pedigrees that I must attempt to connect with because such genealogies were required of a Welshman to carry written documentation of a good 6-9 generations of his ancestry as free persons to prove that he himself wasn't a peasant. Since my Welsh immigrants obviously had money before they came over, it is entirely possible their pedigrees are part of this collection. For instance, my Lloyd ancestors purchased 20 thousand acres from Mr. Penn. I've found extensions of these pedigrees online, but I want to prove these lineage assumptions with original documents.
-- "ap" means "son of." I learned that while "ap" was often used between the son and the father's names to denote relationship, sometimes just an "s" was added to the end of the father's name to become the son's last name. Various contractions are also identifiable. Unfortunately this means that a single individual might be known by many names, including various combinations of "ap", "s" or contractions. Studying the intricacies of this form of patronymics ol' Myrt had managed to avoid for years:
-- "ferch" or "verch" means "daughter of."
Advice was given to look first to Welsh surname books, something we frown upon in English research.
I learned that often when a Welsh immigrant names his place of origin, it is the estate name, not the parish name. One must use a gazetteer to find the local parishes for evidence of birth, marriage and death in those church records.
When I left the classroom, I was so mixed up that I couldn't think straight. I took a break for lunch, but that didn't help. On the drive home, I thought back on the class and was so confused that it seemed wise to leave the Welsh side of my family tree alone for a few years until someone else does reliable research and indexes are available.
TODAY, IN THE TWILIGHT OF THE EARLY MORNING, I AWOKE TO DISCOVER IT WAS SNOWING. This reminded me of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." And that in turn brought to mind another favorite from his collection. From "The Road Not Taken" published in 1916, lines 18–20, by Robert Frost (1874–1963), U.S. poet:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
So by this circuitous route, I've decided to learn more about Welsh research, heaven help me. It is the more difficult road, but I think that the research experience will indeed "make all the difference."
Isn't that rather like the difference between "quick-fix online genealogists" and those who truly care to document the relationships between the generations. Obviously ol' Myrt's readers are taking the "road less traveled." The joy of discovery is worth it!
My next step is to study Bertram's, then the manorial records, many of which are on microfilm at the Family History Library. Do my readers have any suggestions?
Happy family tree climbing!