Shires and Such

Hello again. Here I am, sitting at my desk and working on my newly updated and fully functioning PC. Tra la la! But it wasn’t cheap. Anyway, I can access both my G-mail accounts now and the hard drive has had an upgrade that speeds it up a lot. So I’ve decided to give it a real test by posting tonight, something for my readers who love words and their etymology. I’ve been learning a few new ones myself.

I’ve been working my way through this book about the old Scottish and border kingdoms, from the earliest traceable Celtic people to the invading Roman legions, marauding Britons, Saxons, Jutes, Angles. There’s a lot of military history detailing all the cross-border warfare that went on amongst the kingdoms of northern England and all these invaders. I learned that Wales isn’t at all the local name; and they don’t refer to the rest of England as such. The Welsh word for England means “the lost lands.” With good reason!

He mentions well known figures like the victorious Authur — Moffat thinks he was a general rather than a king — and Merlin. He gives highlights of better-known Northumbrian rulers like Aedan, Aethelfrith, Edwin, Owen. He also details the expansion of the Catholic church in England. Thankfully the ancients weren’t illiterate and a few of them, such as the priest Bede, did set down the facts they’d seen or heard, so that a rough picture can be drawn.

The Faded Map: Lost Kingdoms of Scotland by [Alistair Moffat]
This author has done a thorough research on his subject.

As I read, I learned the origin of the word SHERIFF. This was once two words: SHIRE REEVEthe administrator of a royal shire. According to Lexico the Old English word scirgerefa. is composed of the Old English scīr ;‘care, official charge, county’, Germanic in origin, and the OE refa. In English and Welsh counties, the SHERIFF is the chief executive officer of the Crown, having various administrative and judicial functions. Some English towns still have a SHERIFF, an honorary officer elected annually. In Scotland a SHERIFF is a judge.

Another thing I learned concerns the area where my ancestors came from: Penninghame in Gallowayshire. Ham is the old English word for home, the “ing” denoting beside. So Penninghame are the homes beside the Penn. If I knew the topography of southwest Scotland I’d know what that means. 🙂 And nearby KIRKCUDBRIGHT is named after St Cuthbert, famous missionary-monk and later leader of the early Northumbrian Church. Kirk is church, so, Saint Cuthbert’s Church. You need to hear a local pronounce the district name, Kirkcudbrightshire — I’ve been told it doesn’t sound anything like it’s spelled. 🙂

And that’s enough meandering in the murk of word origins. It’s great to be back at my old desk, though. Take care everyone.

Welcome October

Hello everyone.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was STILL. And since there are still a few hours left in this day, I’m going to write a few sentences at least, to let you know I’m still here, still relatively healthy, and still have noble aspirations about being a more faithful blogger. I want to say a hearty thank you to those who are still following me and reading what I have to say, when I do get around to saying it. 🙂 I’ve thought of many things to write about, but my musings would make awfully long articles!

I’m also still painting and enjoying it, though it feels like maybe the initial infatuation with my new hobby isn’t as keen. Hopefully the passion will settle down to a quiet and steady love in my life now.

I got back into doing some genealogical research in Sept and discovered that one of my Allen ancestors was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1632. That’s twelve years after the Mayflower landed and four years after the Confidence brought the Goodnow-Goodenow (etc.) family to America. Interesting to speculate whether my ninth gr-great Allen may have known my hubby’s thirteenth gr-great Goodenow.

He’s been reading the book Hillbilly Elegy by J D Vance. Vance writes about growing up in a depressed area, a hopeless setting that he was able to find his way through and out of. I gather the conversations have been repeated just as spoken and are littered with the colloquial obscenities.

I’d like to compare Family Tree roots with that James Vance someday. His ancestors possibly came to the US back in the 1700s and were well settled in Kentucky before the Civil War. My Vance ancestor and his three brothers came directly from Scotland around 1830. They obviously passed through New York state, where Joseph met and married Sarah Allen on his way to purchase land in Ontario. Whatever made her follow this widowed Scottish stranger with a small son? I hope they had a good life.

I’m reading the book Call the Nurse, by Mary J MacLeod about a forty-ish couple who were bored with their humdrum life in southern England and decided to pay a visit to the Hebrides island of Papavray, the place his father had left as a teen. They went for a holiday (in the 70s?) with their youngest two boys, fell in love with the remote isle and bought an impossibly run-down shack. Mary had been a home care nurse, so found more than enough work immediately. In this book she tells about the years they spent there, as well as the situation and culture of the people. It’s very interesting reading so far.

Another STILL in our world: it still doesn’t rain. Interesting cloud shapes drift over and catch the eye of this artist, but maybe only a few drops of rain fall once a week. I still put out water basins every day for the wild creatures. The robins seemed to be long gone from this land until a couple of weeks ago; suddenly there are lots of them again. I see them bathing every day in my tubs. At night some other creatures come to drink, mainly deer I’m guessing. I thought I saw a raccoon in our yard one night. Deer can drink from any cattle watering troughs that may be around, but smaller animals can’t, which may be why some mornings all four basins are licked right dry.

Well, enough for this time. I’m going to try again to post daily, even just a few lines. As FlyLady says, just fifteen minutes a day–that’s the key. Yesterday I conquered Mount Wash-more and today I’m chipping at the Ironing Hill. 🙂

All My Kin

Today’s Word of the Day prompt is the word KINDRED. Something everyone has, whether they know it or not.

I’ve written before about my adventures on Ancestry.com — and now I’ve built another family tree on MyHeritage.com, so I’ve got lots of information coming at me in regards to my forebears. Basically my Vance great-great-great-grandfather David had his origins in Gallowayshire, Scotland, and moved to Wigtownshire, married thirteen-year-old Agnes Jones and had a large family, mostly boys. He was killed at age 34 in a storm, after which several of his sons left that area hoping for a better life in Canada. They emigrated circa 1835.

David’s son, my great-great gr. Joseph, married Sarah Shannon and had one son, then she passed away. He brought his son John along when he came to Canada. En route to Oxford County he met another Sarah, the daughter of Samuel Russell and Sarah Jane (nee Powers) Allen of upstate New York. Joseph and Sarah were married and their first son — and possibly their daughter as well — appear to have been born in Quebec. The two offspring, true to form, were named Joseph and Sarah Jane.

This tendency to name the oldest children after their parents sometimes helps matters and sometimes confuses the issue. My great-great grandparents named their children after all of Joseph’s brothers, plus Samuel after Samuel Allen, I’m supposing, and the youngest one was William, some other kinsman’s name.

Joseph’s oldest son Joseph name his two oldest children Joseph and Sarah Jane; so did Great-uncle George and James, if I have it right. To add to the confusion of all the same-name cousins, I also discovered that three of my great-grandfather’s brothers married Margarets. Wouldn’t that have given some interesting family gatherings?

Samuel, my great grandfather, was the second youngest of Joseph and Sarah’s six sons, born after they were settled and farming in Oxford County, Ontario. Most of the kindred settled in the Tavistock area and from there have spread out in every direction. Great-grandpa Sam and his brother James came west; at least two of his brothers went to Michigan when land was opening up there; some moved farther north in Ontario, to Huron and Lambton Counties.

Great-grandfather never had a girl to name after his mother, but he named his oldest son Allen, so that family was represented. Maybe he figured there were already enough Josephs in the clan, as his second son was William James after his two brothers.

Grandfather Allen Vance kept up the tradition: his older sons were Samuel Charles, William Steven, and Joseph Daniel. My father, the youngest, was Wilfred Allen, but his dad died when he was a boy and he started calling himself Allen Wilfred. My brother is James Allen. Looks like that’s where the tradition will end.

And that’s enough — probably a lot more than you wanted to know — about my kindred.

End of an Era

Good afternoon, everyone.

Here I stand on the tail-tip of August, looking into September and watching the odd yellow leaf drift down. I should write one more blog post before the month is up. Call it a farewell to summer.

I can hardly believe that it’s almost September and the hummingbirds are still with us! Yesterday there was only one, but we’re seeing two around this morning. But then, the nights have been warmer than they often are, so maybe less of a warning to them that it’s time to head south. I do enjoy seeing the little scrappers and will miss them. A couple of orioles were here at our feeder last week, but they’ve obviously left already.

I don’t know just why I’ve been so lazy about writing and posting this month. I’ve got lots of things I want to write about, but for some reason writing hasn’t happened much this summer. A few days ago I got a hinting sort of e-mail from Word Press, something about maintaining an upbeat blog and faithful readers by posting regularly. It offered a few suggestions for things to write about. I’ve gotten this before, and wonder if they have a little widget in their system that automatically fires this e-mail off to slackers? “Blip. This person hasn’t posted for a week. Send reminder. Ping.”

In today’s lingo you’d say I have “time management issues.” I’ve been doing some online genealogical research this past week, plus some sewing, reading, bird-watching. We took a day last week to visit a sort-of relative in Regina, and took our granddaughters along to visit the natural history museum there. That trip led me to dig into the Forsyth genealogy; though I’m not a Forsyth myself I call them cousins. The uncle and aunt who raised me, whom I called Mom & Dad since I was a toddler, were Fred & Myrtle Forsyth. Grandpa Forsyth, an orphaned young miner from Glasgow, Scotland, came to Canada in 1902.

I’m feeling a general lack of energy lately and intend to make some changes health-wise this coming month. I just read an article on Pocket about a lady who decided to drink a gallon of water every day and how it helped her general well being. Click here to read. I do have a big glass of water first thing every morning, as I have to take my thyroid med…so that’s one positive. But mainly I need to establish some inflexible writing habits. Perhaps commit to following one of the many daily prompts?

One day I was on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary site and happened on lists of words that first appeared in print back in… and there were a number of dates. I was quite surprised at all the modern-sounding words that were around already in the 1600s. Here are some from 1650:

additive,   bizarre
demagogue,  empower/ment
infatuation,  instantaneous
microscope,  non-compliance
plausibility,  ostracize
self-deception,  witticism

Even as early as 1550 you might call someone over-scrupulous, a good communicator, a people-pleaser, or a blockhead. You could commend the duke’s epicurian tastes or complain about hazardous waste in the village, fill out a ballot or send your little Goldilocks to public school, where he may complain about the brutality of his caliginous teacher.

Modern English has been around a long time!

The Scottish Lowlands

Fandango’s one-word challenge for today: GUEST
As my response I’ll tell you about a travel book I once read:

My Heart’s in the Lowlands – Ten days in Bonny Scotland
© 2007 by Liz Curtis Higgs, published by WaterBrook Press.

“Let’s go, shall we? Just the two of us?”

With this opening, Liz invites the reader to be her guest and travelling companion on a jaunt through the Scottish lowlands. This is the place Liz loves to visit, the setting for her novels.

Through her vivid descriptions, she allows us to experience the sights, the cuisine and the ambiance of Dumfries and Galloway. She tells of castle ruins, ancient churches, Bobby Burns’ favorite haunts,  local attractions, bed & breakfast accommodations, shops and customs.

Liz has written a number of historical romances set in the southwestern part of Scotland and has made a number of trips to the region in the course of researching her stories. This makes her a great tour guide; you’ll enjoy the role of  a good friend as she chauffeurs you around and explains the history behind the places you’re seeing.

I enjoyed this book very much when I read it the first time but when I discovered later that my Vance ancestors came from Galloway, the travelogue took on a whole new meaning for me. I’d love to visit the area from which my great-great grandfather, the widower Joseph Vance, set off to seek his fortune in the new world.

He left Scotland around 1835, traveling with his young son and his three brothers. En route to their future home in Ontario these four brothers passed through New York, where Joseph won the hand of Miss Sarah Allen, daughter of Samuel Allen, originally from Vermont. Joseph & Sarah settled in Oxford County and produced a family of six boys and one girl, Sarah Jane. My great-grandfather, Samuel was one of the youngest.

As I read Liz’s book, I realized what a contrast the tall maple forests of southern Ontario would have been from the windswept moors the Vances left. What brave souls they were!

Even if you have no family tree roots in this area, do take the tour with her if you can get your hands on a copy of her book. She’s such a pleasant travelling companion; I’m sure you’ll find it a pleasure to be her guest for a few hours of reading enjoyment.

 

Books: A Scottish Holiday

A Scottish Holiday
by Sophie Mays

A short, light read, fairly standard-formula romance.

Adoptee Jillian goes to Scotland seeking information about her great-great-grands and James takes a liking to the attractive American miss when he meets her in line at a fish and chips shop. He offers his help in her search and a quick romance blooms, but no bedroom scenes.

Perhaps the author has been to the part of Scotland she writes about, but she doesn’t really incorporate much detail in her story. We don’t get many of Jillian’s impressions of this land she’s seeing for the first time ever. We meet the librarian and a few locals — but this is supposedly a whirlwind trip. So we get a bit of Scottish scenery and history but mostly scenes of James and Jillian spending time together — until an old flame turns up at a dance and throws Jillian into a frenzy of doubt about the sincerity of James’ affection.

One bit I found hard to believe: as a baby Jillian was supposedly left on a doorstep by her birth mother, who died young, yet she has her great-great grandparents’ names and the area they came from in Scotland. Other than that the story all hangs together and is well told, problems relatively simple, the characters uncomplicated, the writing clean.