August 14, 2009 - I Now I Feel Like An Archaeologist - I'm Always Looking

14 August 2009


(An original antique print by Christian Neighbur of Egyptian hieroglyphics drawn by him during the Danish Expedition to Arabia in the middle of the 18Th century. From the Dutch edition of Niebuhr's Travels through Arabia And Other Countries In The East, published in the Netherlands in 1776.)

And then I found this last night from the microfilm FHL[1523204] Birth Civil Record August 1897, St. Patrick's, Grenada. I now really feel like an archaeologist, sort of. This is image is one of the better fragments of the pages from the Grenada Civil Register for the year from the late 1890s.

Knowing that the civil birth registrations in most cases do not include the name of the infant, I have to read the names of the parents from the column "Names of Parents of the Infant registered", as I scan through the pages, page-by-page-by-page. My search in this case is for Smith, Gentle, Steele, or Redhead or any other possibly associated surname. Apart from the page being tattered and obviously held together by scotch-tape, in some cases the penmanship is so smudged and over time has bled and combined with moisture over the years that it had become an illegible ink blot.

On this discovery I notice one name of the parents as "James Smith"; third line down, entry number "2006". The information on this entry is pretty good, believe it or not. Entry number 2006 states that the date of registration is 11 August 1897 of a male infant who was born on 5 August 1897. The birth place is "Mt. Renil". The parents are entered as "James Smith & Mary his...", and the remainder is torn and not on the film.

As this entry is a James Smith I'm interested, but the birth is 1897, which means that it cannot be either of my 3-times or 2-times great-grandfathers James Smith. The both have already passed away in 1842 and 1876, respectively. And I know it can't be mean... I don't arrive on this planet for another 54 years. My immediate thought is that it could be my great-grandfather William James Smith's brother great-granduncle James Edwin Smith. Great-granduncle James Edwin would have been about 54 years old in 1897, but I do not have any actual documentation regarding his birth or baptism. And again James Smith is still the most common name in the English language. I and the only record I have is the great-granduncle James Edwin married, on 12 April 1888 Catherine Elizabeth Thomas. This James' wife's name is Mary. Catherine Elizabeth (née Thomas) Smith passed away on the 18th of January, 1935.

But before I ruled out the James Smith on the 1897 birth registration I immediately noticed three lines below, entry number "2009" that there is another registration and this time for "JE. Smith an_ Mary his wi_". The birth registration is two days, 13 August 1897, after the previous one. It is an entry for another male infant born "11 Aug 1897" at "Mt. Renil" to J. E. Smith and his wife, Mary. This has to be a twin birth, or a very big coincidence in a very small spot in the world.

And I am intrigued by the initials "J" and "E". Could this be great-granduncle James Edwin? Not sure.

I immediately traced down my files to see if I may have any baptismal record for a Smith, christened in 1897 around this time... And sure enough I find one. I had located one from the microfilm FHL[1523752], "No 239" dated "19 October 1897" for "Theophilus Smith", whose parents are "James Edmund and Mary Smith". And to further confirm their abode is "Mt. Renil".

But I did not find a second baptismal entry. Could the other child have survived? At this point I will never know. Logically based on all the facts as presented this could be the baptismal registration of one of the sons, Theophilus, born to James Edmund and Mary Smith. And Edmund does not look like Edwin... so for the time being can I rule this entry out as a part of my ancestry? No, I can't... The most I can say is that there appears a tremendous chance that this James Edmund Smith is not my great-granduncle James Edwin Smith. Further presently I do not have any family correspondence or information that there is an ancestor named James Edmund Smith... of which I could be wrong.

The one surprising discovering is the name of the person who conducted and administered the baptism is "Geo. A. Gentle"... This is definitely great-granduncle George Augustus Gentle husband to great-grandaunt Grace Eliza (née Smith) who would have been great-granduncle James Edwin's younger sister.

And I now I feel like an anthropologist!




Lynn on August 14, 2009 at 8:43 PM said...

There is always the possibility of an error in the way the name was entered into the register. Edmund and Edwin might not sound that different if hearing is impaired. Or, if Edwin was a common name, could Edmund have been heard as Edwin by association? Then again, you already know my thought line on names. I'd mark it as a possibility and keep looking for something to contradict that.

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