Friday, January 20, 2012

Just an update...

Not much shooting lately as we've been preoccupied with work on the back porch.  The deck had gotten very bad in a couple of places.  There was no rail as we'd taken down the trellis in anticipation of work on the porch.  We've had to work around weather (rain) and cold and the normal interruptions.  Now I'm at work and the contractor should be back at work this morning.

In my spare time I've been trying to resolve some questions and problems I have with certain family "lines" in the genealogical record.  One of those was with brothers Ephraim and Adam Parslow and their sons, David Harmon Parslow and Harmon H. Parslow (respectively).  Some researchers have concluded that these two cousins are the same person, which they are not.  I'm not quite sure where this started but that's the case.  In the 1860 census, one can see that Ephraim, Adam and another brother, Abram, are neighbors in Middleburgh, Schoharie County, New York and to whom each of the children belongs.  The census also shows that their father and mother (previously recorded as dead prior to this date) are living with Abram.  It also shows that Abram is some 34 years younger than previously reported, I think.  I don't want to do what others have done and confuse those of different generations but with the same name so I'm going to carefully continue this research.

I have also been researching current generations of Parslows in the United States.  Some are in fact descendants of Henry (Henrik) Parslow of Ulster County, New York (b. abt 1740) but many others are descendants of other, later immigrant Parslows.  Some of these families are large and spread out over the country.  Some are confused by multiple marriages and not even fully aware of half-siblings.  However, many/most of us seem to be related at some point prior to immigration.  It will probably be left to somebody else to resolve that as it is quite a job just to keep up with living Parslows and Parslow descendants.

That brings us to another subject, the volatility of the modern American family.  For the genealogist, this is a problem.  There are several families where the Parslow parent has "gone missing" because there is no apparent link between even the parent and the children as well as no link between the two parents.  The extent of this problem is such that, in one case, I was contacted by a Parslow descendent looking for her father's half-siblings.  Apparently, he wasn't certain that any children resulted from his father's last marriage. That means that he and his siblings must not have had any contact with his father since about 1950 (in this instance) OR that they would not speak of it to their own children.

In one case, this volatility began about 3 generations ago with the father leaving one wife and marrying another woman.  The first wife had to go live with her parents, and later remarried.  However, this began, in the gentleman's first family a pattern of multiple marriages for both the men and women regardless of the number of children.  In one branch this devolved into actual criminal behavior ranging from assaults and theft to drug dealing.  After 3 generations we now see the family "turning around" and becoming law-abiding citizens and attaining great success in certain corporations.

This isn't quite what I expected.  When I was growing up the family mantra was that there weren't many of us, we weren't anyplace but upstate New York and we were generally farmers or low level government functionaries.  Every Parslow I knew was a Republican and Protestant and I was once told that there probably weren't over 50 living Parslows in the whole world.  That is hardly true.  While there are pockets of Parslows, family members live just about everywhere in the English speaking world.  I think that I can account for about 300-350 living Parslows (by that name and spelling) just in the United States. A quick search of the internet shows that States with the most people named "Parslow" are:

1. New York (136)
2. Massachusetts (81)
3. Florida (49)
4. California (48)
5. Utah (33)

Political beliefs run the gamut from hard-core socialist to libertarian.  We have artists, engineers, linguists, doctors, lawyers, laborers, musicians, and even farmers.  Many have their own businesses.  Many have a college education.  While there are born-again, evangelical/charismatic Christians there are also a large group of Mormons, Episcopalians, Catholics and atheists.  I think that there is a Wiccan or two out there as well.

In other words, Parslows are just like other families, as one would expect.

Of course, I do all this research at home, using the internet.  When I was a kid and my Aunt Virginia and distant-cousin Henry were doing their genealogical research there was no internet, no electronic social media (except for party lines for telephones!), and more isolation.  Some would be surprised as to how much information is out there just floating around in "the cloud".  For the researcher it sure beats the time and expense of actually traveling to the records archives and physically having to read every page of multiple census and other documents.  It also saves the time in laborious recording of that data. Where Aunt Virginia must have worn out many pencils and filled notebooks with scribbling all my data is recorded in bits and bytes.  Henry's book "Who the Heck are We" was an immense effort which can be nearly matched by me, now, with the click of my mouse and entering a bit of credit card info.

I don't think that Nana quite understands why I do this.  I'm not sure that I do either.  I have to admit that finding hidden history on the family gives me a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.  Every time I find out about somebody who passed with no family left to remember them, to record their lives, I feel good about that.  My research has also been a source of pride in the accomplishments of family members and particularly direct ancestors.  If only I had known about my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather William Hathaway Van Cott's involvement in baseball before I sold his 1853 (?) book on the history and rules of cricket (Somebody got a treasure there.) for Mom.  Maybe that could be reason enough, but I don't think it is.

No comments: