History

Les Filles du Roi

If you have French-Canadian ancestry, you probably have encountered the term “Filles du Roi” at some point in your genealogy research. Millions of today’s Canadians and Americans can find one or more of the Filles du Roi in the family tree. I thought I would explain the term this week and also provide some historical background information.

The French term “Filles du Roi” translates literally as “the daughters of the King.” Between 700 and perhaps 1,000 young, single women traveled to Quebec City, Trois Rivières, and Montréal from 1663 to 1673 as a part of a program managed by the Jesuits and funded by King Louis XIV.

Jean Talon, Bishop François de Laval and several settlers welcome the King’s Daughters upon their arrival. Painting by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale.

These hardy immigrant women married and raised families. In fact, many of them raised large families in the tradition of the day. Many of their sons and daughters went on to also have large families, and so on and so forth for generations. As a result, millions of living people are descended from this group of pioneer women.

A South Texas Internment Camp for German-American Citizens during World War II

Click on the above image to view a Larger version.

The hardships endured by Japanese-Americans who suffered forced relocation and incarceration during World War II are well documented and well-known. The rationale is that these Americans of Japanese ancestry might have been spies. However, Japan was not the only nation at war with the United States and not the only nation to have sent emigrants to the United States.

Americans of German descent were also sent to internment camps. One thing I found interesting is that many of the detainees were pawns traded for “more important” Americans held behind enemy lines during and after the war.

Kentucky Genealogy Enthusiast Recovers Central Ohio Library Time Capsule

A tin box holding records of daily life in Marysville was inside the cornerstone of the city’s Carnegie library for 75 years before its 1997 demolition. The box arrived at the current public library earlier this month from a genealogy enthusiast from Kentucky who bought it at a yard sale about a decade ago, the Marysville Journal-Tribune reported.

Why Your Ancestors May Have Received “40 Acres And A Mule”

As the Civil War was winding down 150 years ago, Union leaders gathered a group of black ministers in Savannah, Ga. The goal was to help the thousands of newly freed slaves. From that meeting came Gen. William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order 15. It set aside land along the Southeast coast so that “each family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable ground.” That plan later became known by a signature phrase: “40 acres and a mule.”

You can read about this interesting story, and its sad ending, in an article by Sarah McCammon in the NPR web site at http://goo.gl/YBk4w1.

$1,000 Reward Offered for an Historic Photograph – If It Exists

Shawn Adamsson is looking for a photograph taken between 1887 and 1899 of the 19th-century London, Ontario, railway turntable building with locomotives in the shot. Can you help?

Looking for Descendants of UK Soldiers who Fought in the Battle of Waterloo

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are estimated to have relatives who fought in June 1815. The campaign is one of several events planned to commemorate a turning point in European history. The group Waterloo 200, which is running the events, said such research had not been attempted before.

A Cow’s Head Will Not Erupt from Your Body if You Get a Smallpox Vaccination

Our ancestors had some strange ideas about medicine.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, smallpox was a common and often fatal medical disease. According to Wikipedia, the disease killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans annually during the closing years of the 18th century (including five reigning monarchs), and was responsible for a third of all blindness. Of all those infected, 20–60 percent — and over 80 percent of infected children — died from the disease. There was no cure at the time.

While Cotton Mather and others practiced inoculation in the 1700s, the practice was not well-known or in widespread use until Edward Jenner, an 18th-century English country doctor, discovered that immunity to smallpox could be produced by inoculating a person with material from a cowpox lesion. He published his findings and other doctors soon started vaccinating their patients.

The practice caused widespread controversy, however. As scary as smallpox may have been, people were also terrified of this new idea of inoculation. Religious leaders said it was immoral to stop a disease that God has created.

This Day in History: Samuel Morse Demonstrates Telegraph Machine

Portrait of Samuel F. B. Morse taken by Mathew Brady, in 1866. Click on the image to view a larger version.

On January 6, 1838, painter Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) gave his first public demonstration of his new telegraph system. Within a few years, telegraph lines were strung across the United States and the Atlantic, completely changing the nature of long distance communication. By the end of the nineteenth century telegraph lines could be found in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It was the first method of high-speed communications, a concept that has been expanded greatly since 1838.

Before the invention of the telegraph, postal services and messengers were the only common methods of sending information over long distances and even across oceans. Such methods required days or weeks for messages to reach their recipients.

The Fashions of Our Female Ancestors

Photographer Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910) captured everyday fashion in the early 20th century. He used photographs of friends, family and servants as reference models for his art. He was an illustrator and the chief cartoonist of the English magazine Punch.

According wife Marion’s diary, his photography eventually moved from hobby to obsession. You can see a collection of some of his photographs, all apparently taken from 1905 though 1908 on the streets of Kensington, London, at http://mashable.com/2015/01/01/edwardian-fashion-photography.

Japanese Family who tended Briton’s Grave for 140 Years Finally Learn His Identity

More than 140 years after their ancestors started tending the grave of a British man who died in obscurity, a Japanese family has finally learned his identity – and received an official message of thanks from the British government.

For many years, members of the Murai loved ones, who reside in Ishikawa prefecture on the Japan Sea coast, believed they had been maintaining the last resting place of a man named Philip Ward. In truth, the grave belongs to Bernard George Littlewood, who came to Japan to teach English in 1870, just as the nation was beginning to modernize.

You can read the interesting story at http://goo.gl/PYDrbM.

New Research Shows the Vikings were Misunderstood – They Were Family Men and did not Rape and Pillage

Well, maybe they pillaged a bit.

I am not sure I believe this but researchers now say DNA evidence shows that women often accompanied Viking men on raiding trips and sometimes even children were in the longboats. The study has shed light on the importance of women in the colonization of the British Isles in the Middle Ages, suggesting that Viking men were family-oriented and not as blood-thirsty as previously thought. Researchers from the University of Oslo have revealed that ‘significant’ numbers of women accompanied Viking men when they sailed to places like the Scottish mainland in longboats.

Ottawa to Fund $35.7-million in Quebec City Historical Projects

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced $35.7-million in funding for historical and archaeology projects in Quebec City, while opening the door to further federal funding for a tall-ships regatta that will stop in the city in 2017.

Mr. Harper said the federal government will help to restore the old city’s historic walls and two architectural landmarks. The money will go to refurbish the 400-year-old fortifications ($30-million over six years), the Dauphine Redoubt that is a part of the Artillery Park ($4.5-million over three years) and Maillou House that was built in 1737 ($1.2-million over three years).

Air Raid on Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, killing more than 2,300 Americans. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. A total of twelve ships sank or were beached in the attack and nine additional vessels were damaged. More than 160 aircraft were destroyed and more than 150 others damaged.

A hurried dispatch from the ranking United States naval officer in Pearl Harbor, Commander in Chief Pacific, to all major navy commands and fleet units provided the first official word of the attack at the ill-prepared Pearl Harbor base. It said simply: AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL.

Richard III’s DNA shows an Infidelity Surprise

It seems there was a bit of hanky-panky under the sheets a few hundred years ago. That’s certainly nor unusual amongst the royals but the degree of proof certainly is new. When Richard III’s body was exhumed recently and a DNA sample was obtained, it proved that his supposed descendants weren’t his at all. It seems there was a “false paternity” event somewhere along the way.

Details may be found in an article by Paul Rincon, science editor for BBC News, at http://goo.gl/X0zqlP.

The Boston Directory, 1789 to 1900, to be Digitized and Placed Online

The Boston Athenaeum has digitized its collection of Boston city directories. John Norman published the first such directory in 1789 under the formal title of The Boston Directory. Containing, A List of the Merchants, Mechanics, Traders, and others of the Town of Boston; in Order to enable Strangers to find the Residence of any Person. The 1789 Directory also included a map of Boston, lists of public offices, lawyers, medical professionals, bankers, and lists of the names and homes of engine-men (firefighters).

The Boston Directory appeared in 1789 and was published irregularly until 1825, when annual publication started.

You can read more at http://cdm.bostonathenaeum.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16057coll32.

New York State Military Museum is Digitizing World War I Harlem Hellfighters Regiment Records

The 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, was an infantry regiment of the United States Army that saw action in World War I and World War II. The Regiment consisted of African-Americans and African Puerto Ricans and was known for being the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Details about the regiment may be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/369th_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States) and at http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/articles/blacksMilitary/BlacksMilitaryWW1.htm.

The New York State Military Museum is now digitizing the unit’s post-World War I records. The cards are from 1921 to 1949 and include names, ages, addresses, birthplaces, occupations and enlistment dates.

The Official Thanksgiving Day has Moved Around a Bit

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as a holiday in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. The Canadians now celebrate the holiday on the second Monday of October while the holiday is on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Those dates have changed over the years, however.

The Great Stink of 1858 in London

NOTE: I suggest you not read this article just before dinner. However, it describes a major problem that many of our ancestors faced, in London and elsewhere.

Modern developed cities of millions produce a lot of waste, not the least of which is that produced directly by the population. Over time, people have developed infrastructure to remove this waste quickly to avoid infection and contamination of ground water. For much of the world and for much of human history, however, the process of waste disposal has been much less sterile and impersonal.

About 150 years ago, London saw the formal opening of a great sewage system constructed by the Metropolitan Board of Works and its engineer, Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891). Prior to this, an increasing proportion of London’s sewage was routed into the Thames (via drains set up originally for surface water), leading to dreadful pollution and the Great Stink of 1858.

The Great Stink, sometimes called the Big Stink, was a time in the summer of 1858 during which the smell of untreated human waste and effluent from other activities was very strong in central London. The stench prompted London authorities to accept a sewerage scheme proposed by Joseph Bazalgette, implemented during the 1860s.

Was the First Thanksgiving Held in Florida?

Did the first Thanksgiving held in the New World happen in Saint Augustine, Florida on September 8, 1565? One person with significant credentials in history claims Thanksgiving started decades before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

“The first Thanksgiving that involved a feast and lots of local food and inviting the local people, the Timacuan Indians here in St. Augustine to be part of it, and that’s our Thanksgiving,” says Kathleen Deagan, Ph.D., the distinguished research curator emerita at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. “Most of us associate our early history and our founders of the English colonies of Jamestown and of Plymouth, and really the first settlement was here in St. Augustine in 1565.”

Dr. Deagan continues, “It never ceases to astonish people the first thanksgiving meal was smoked meat and fish. Ham. Garbanzo beans. Red Wine. Olives and Olive oil. There wasn’t any corn as far as we know, no turkeys, no mashed potatoes, no pecan pie for sure!”

Follow-up: President of Turkey says Muslims Discovered America

Three days ago, I wrote (at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/11/15/president-of-turkey-says-muslims-discovered-america) about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claims that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there. Now the president has ordered Turkey’s educational institutions to adopt a policy of highlighting the contribution of Islam to global science and arts, including the discovery of the Americas.

He also slammed criticisms from columnists and cartoonists mocking his claims that Muslim sailors discovered the Americas and constructed a mosque in Cuba centuries before Columbus. However, he did not acknowledge numerous claims that still other Europeans and orientals were visiting the Americas long before the 12th century.

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