National Genealogical Society 2017 Family History Conference

Last week I was fortunate to be able to attend the National Genealogical Society 2017 Family History Conference. It was held in Raleigh this year, so it was only 15 minutes from my house. Very convenient!

Most of the speakers were experts in their field, and some were the expert in their field.  I mostly concentrated on the DNA, Scots Irish, and the international connections sessions with a few other subjects thrown in.

Luckily for our library, we have a tireless local genealogical society and they were generous enough to buy us many books from the vendors in the exhibit hall.

I recommend anyone with a passion for genealogy to attend one of these conferences. It will add to your skill set and take your craft to higher level. Also, nice people, food, and coffee.

The indomitable Betty Bachelor.

Victorian calling cards for sale.

Exhibit hall

A packed session.

Book Reviews: David Dobson’s Books

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

DAVID DOBSON continues his work compiling names into published lists which are absolutely indispensable to our genealogy work. Featured here are some of Dobson’s more recent publications.

The People of Belfast 1600-1799.
Genealogical Publishing Co. 2016. 155 pages.

Belfast, Ireland, grew from small village to important city after receiving a Royal Charter in 1613. The population stood at about two thousand residents. This volume contains lists of about two thousand names of Belfast residents transcribed from forty-five primary sources in Ireland, Scotland, England, and elsewhere, which are listed in the back of the book. A short introduction describes the history of Belfast.

The People of the Scottish Burghs.
Genealogical Publishing Co.

This set comprises a series of eleven Genealogical Source Books. Two recent examples are:

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Scottish Research Online Resources

declarbroath

Declaration of Arbroath is the declaration of Scottish independence from 1320.  It is an early record with many (elite) Scottish names attached to it.

Last Tuesday I went to Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount, NC to listen to a presentation by Craig R. Scott, CG on Scottish Research.  It was a very thorough discussion (over 2 hours) and I couldn’t even begin to go over everything he touched on here.  I am interested in Scottish history and family research but a lot of the materials about clans,  tartans and heraldic baubles I find kitschy and historically iffy, but he didn’t really touch on that much. I am going to try and do some research on my family  based on his presentation and I will post my findings at some point. Here are the online resources:

Family Search- searchable database of indexed Scottish Church and civil records as well as family trees.

GenUki– links to other sites with helpful genealogical resources and databases for the UK and Ireland.  It is organized by country, then county, then parish, and by topic

Scotland’s People– a fee-based government site, searchable databases of civil, census, church, and probate records, as well as other info and links.

National Archives of Scotland– Access to the archive’s online catalogue and information and research tools.

National Library of Scotland– an online catalogue of the library’s vast book collection and maps, including some viewable online.

Scottish Archive Network– links to the website of every archive in Scotland, research tools, and handwriting guide.

Scotland’s family– link to other sites with helpful genealogical resources and databases for Scotland. It is organized by topic. Includes parish maps for each county.

Scotland’s Churches after 1700– Articles on places and people.

Vision of Britain– Groome’s Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland.

Rampant Scotland– links to information on topics for Scotland

Electric Scotland– links to information on numerous topics for Scotland, and Groome’s Ordnance Gazatteer of Scotland.

Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791-1845– statistical accounts give historical background information on each individual parish of Scotland.

The Scottish Genealogy Society– genealogical resources held by this society.

The Heraldry Society of Scotland– heraldry in Scotland and its proper use.

Internet Archive Library– birth registers from the Scottish Record Society

Evil Air: Malaria in the American South

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Image shows the range of Plasmodium Falciparum in North and South America.
From 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

Feb. 6, 1692: Taken ill a Seventh time:  with a Tertian Ague: about 3h p.m .it began & was of the same nature with my last which I had all January, but this was the worst.
Feb. 12, 1692: Before noon, a 4th fit. With which I shook about 3h p.m. & then went to bed: where I had a very violent Feaver; this being the worst fit of all: my breath very short; & delirious…
(Mann 2011, pg. 106)

Samuel Jeak, a merchantman in Southeast England, was suffering from an infection from a plasmodium.  The plasmodium is an insidious parasite that conducts a coordinated assault causing red blood cells to burst open with up to ten billion new parasites overwhelming the immune system and causing chills and fevers.  Although the immune system can eventually beat back the assault, the plasmodium will hide out in your liver for years waiting to attack again.  This is of course malaria, a disease that was endemic to the American Southeast at least until the 1940’s and had a strong hand in the formation of the South’s economy and culture.  Recently, well yesterday, I finished reading Charles C. Mann’s sequel to 1492, 1493: The New World that Columbus Created.  And although I had an extensive discussion of the entirety of 1492 in an earlier blog post I am going to focus on a chapter titled Evil Air.  The author, Charles Mann, does a superb job in drawing on resources to show how malaria impacted the Columbian exchange.

Malaria had impacts beyond the immediate sufferings of its victims. It was a historical force that deformed cultures, an insistent nudge that pushed societies to answer questions in ways that today seem cruel and reprehensible (pg. 116).

Could malaria be a reason that slavery became entrenched in the American South but died out north of the Mason Dixon line?  It’s an interesting question that Mann tackles expertly.

            The English word for malaria comes from the Italian word for evil air.  But the old Latin term for malaria is tertian fever which describes periods of fever and chills that occur in a forty-eight hour pattern. You are sick one day and then fine the next, fine the next day and then sick the following day.  The pattern continually repeats itself which is why it was it was given the Latin term for three days which follows the Roman pattern of counting time from the beginning of one period to the beginning of the next.

Malaria did not exist in the Americas before 1492.   Europeans brought the plasmodium vivax parasite to the Americas from southern England, where it thrived during the colonial period.  Europeans from areas where the plasmodium vivax historically lived acquired certain immunity to the disease if they suffered from it at some point in their life (and survived), which is called seasoning.  Therefore these Europeans did not suffer as severely as did the Native American population during the early years of colonization.  Even so the plasmodium vivax caused much suffering and death among European colonists who hadn’t been seasoned. However, a new type of malaria, brought over from Africa with the first African slaves, was devastatingly fatal to all Europeans as well as the Native Americans.  This was the plasmodium falciparum.

The original slave trade in the South was of Native American slaves.  The Mississippian Native American culture that dominated the Southeast was a culture that practiced slavery on a large scale.  They usually took slaves through ritualistic warfare.  Eventually  these slaves could become members of the tribe, or they could be killed in reciprocation for the killing of a tribe member.  The newcomer Europeans were quick to take advantage of this labor force made available through Native American slave catchers until its collapse in the early 1700’s as Native American populations imploded due to Old World diseases, which included malaria.   The possible replacements for Native American slaves were indentured servants from Scotland and Northern England and African slaves.

To the North, Colonial New England was a society that had slaves.  But slaves from Africa were expensive, much more expensive than indentured servants from Europe.  Adam Smith even stated that slaves were not economically viable.  This was true in New England where slavery eventually fell out of favor and the more economical indentured servants became the labor of choice.  However, indentured servants usually came from regions in Britain that did not have any malaria.  These newcomers that had never been exposed to any type of plasmodium died in staggering numbers soon after they arrived in the South, and with the introduction of falciparum, no European was safe.  In some parishes around Charleston three out of four children died by the age of twenty.  In the same period of these malarial fueled die-offs, there was a people that were increasing in number to the colonies that were almost completely immune (ninety-seven percent) to vivax and about fifty percent immune to falciparum.  These people were coming over as slaves from West and Central Africa.

The Southern plantation owners did not know that Africans had a strong resistance to malaria, nor did they know what malaria even was.  They just saw that Africans survived where Europeans and Native Americans died.  Still, Africans died in large numbers from brutality and other diseases that they were subjected to in the chattel slave society that existed in the South.  But when malaria and yellow fever (another deadly mosquito born disease that Africans have resistance to) outbreaks occurred the Africans were left standing while other populations withered away.  These outcomes gave the advantage to the large plantation owners with an African slave labor force over the small farmers with indentured servants.  Also, it just so happens that falciparum is very temperature sensitive and the dividing line where falciparum can live is below the Mason Dixon line.  Above the line is too cold for it to survive.  It is also no coincidence

General Wade Hampton III's plantation house ruins on top of Quinine Hill in Columbia, South Carolina.  The Hamptons went to their home in the North Carolina mountains during the fever season.

General Wade Hampton III’s plantation house ruins on top of Quinine Hill in Columbia, South Carolina. The Hamptons went to their home in the North Carolina mountains during the fever season.

that plantation homes with their high windows that let in a breeze (that kept away mosquitoes) were frequently on a hill with a manicured, treeless lawn that happened to keep away mosquitoes; nor that the plantation families usually went North to Rhode Island or to the mountains during the worst times of the year (fall) for malaria,  while the yeoman farmer and poor had to stay and suffer and die in the malarial zone, therefore creating a more stratified society.  African slavery was not caused by malaria but malaria offset the economic impediments as defined by Adam Smith. The author also documents a similar pattern occurring in the falciparum ravaged slave state of Brazil as compared to the falciparum free Argentina where indentured servants made up the labor force.

Mann also gives evidence for malaria helping to win the revolution by severely reducing the effectiveness of Cornwallis’ largely Scottish troops.  And may be a major reason that the Northern armies lost so many battles in the early years of the American Civil War marching into the falciparum zone where the tertian fever rate was calculated as high as 233% with soldiers suffering from fever 2 times or more.

To conclude, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created provides a extremely well researched overview and analysis of the mosaic of the changes that happened as a result of the Columbian Exchange.  As well as an intense examination of how the introduction of Old World diseases such as malaria to the Americas was a large factor in the destruction of the Native American cultures and peoples that had existed for millennia and the helped to bring about the brutal enslavement of the Central and Western Africans.

Gaelic Charm from Moore/ Cumberland County, NC

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Dougald’s Gaelic Charm

I was perusing the North Carolina Treasures page of the State Archives of North Carolina and found a unique document written by a man name Dougald McFarland circa 1750 in Moore/ Cumberland County.  The charm is written primarily in Gaelic and calls upon Callum Cille  to protect the bearer against harm.  Callum Cille was the Gaelic name for St. Columba, the converter of the Picts to Christianity in the 500’s AD.  There were many Scots Highlanders who settled in this region in the 1700’s and one of them was an ancestor of mine named Malcolm MacAlpin(e).  This manuscript is an interesting relic of their distinctive culture.

The Colonial Settlements that went Bust

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The Darien Chest, Royal Museum, Edinburgh. Photo by Kim Traynor.

Some settlements are famous for their terrible collapses, ie Roanoke.  And others that did survive one wonders how, ie Jamestown with its newly discovered evidence of cannibalism.  But some that didn’t make it have been kinda forgotten, ie the French South Carolina colony at Charlesfort. Who knew?  Discovery News has a list of Failed Colonial settlements.  But They missed a couple of which I will now mention: the Spanish in South Carolina at Santa Elena and the Scots in Darien, now Panama which lead to the bankrupting of the Scottish economy and the formation of Great Britain.  Who knew? (shrug).