Today’s Trip to the Genealogical Society: The marriage of Martin Corrigan and Mary Walker

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Genealogical Society recently moved its library to Annex Two of the Kirby Health Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  What a delight to return to this regional treasure, now housed in a second floor suite of rooms filled with bright ambient light and tended by a dedicated corps of family history sleuths.

Today I used one of the computers to access the society’s digital records, which include all the sacramental records within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton, which fortunately includes my husband’s Hazleton family.

In matrimonium corjunxi sunt Martinum Corrigan et Mariam Walker. Coram Hujonem Sheridan et Margaretam Corrigan.

Michael L Scanlon    March 30, 1861

On page 0049 of the marriage record is the above script, which brings to mind the middle-schooler quip, “Latin is a dead language, as dead as it can be.  Latin killed the Romans, and now its killing me.”

Latin was the performative language of the Roman Catholic churches of northeastern Pennsylvania (and throughout the US) until well into the 20th century, when it was gradually displaced by English.  So all those sacramental records that I wish to record and decode will require me to dust off my Latin and/or refer to the cheat sheets provided by the NEPAGS.

THIS record confirms the Corrigan’s oral tradition.

Martin Corrigan and Mary Walker were joined in matrimony in the presence of Hugh Sheridan and Margaret Corrigan, on March 30, 1861–which happened to be Easter that year–by Father Michael L. Scanlon.

At the time of the ceremony Father Scanlon was priest of St. Mary’s parish at Beaver Meadows, the mother of the coal region’s parishes, and in charge of the construction of St. Gabriel’s Church in the nearby town of Hazleton.  And this fact corroborates the lore that Martin and Mary were married at St. Mary’s Church.

The church records don’t record that all participants walked to and from the ceremony from coal towns like Ebervale and Hazleton, a 12 mile round trip.

Did the newlyweds have a reception upon their return or perhaps an Easter feast at a family member’s home?

Now I want to go back to my family history pals and ask them about 19th wedding traditions!!

 

Pay Attention

After a cup of very strong dark-roast coffee made silky with a dollop of half-n-half, I greet the morning from my front porch.  Two double-coated English shepherds, Cappy and Luci, lay at my feet, anticipating my next move into the day.

The walk.

Yesterday some kind of front moved in, laden with moisture and heat.  Dew point and air temperature met, and the curtain that rose skyward from the lawn clung to any fiber or hair with summertime tenacity.  Muggy. Humid. Words just don’t do justice to the heaviness of the air.

We headed over to the park before the sun climbed too far up above horizon. It was our regular routine. Out of car to the “registration desk”–a patch of grass littered with dog pheromones. Sniff, pee, sniff, trot.  Up the hill. Sniff, pee, sniff, trot. Nose to ground, walk, sniff, walk, sniff, pee, trot. Along the main park road to the campground entrance.  The trot sniffing continued as normal, all the way down the hill, round the corner, past the place of herons and turtles, down the straight-away where the hillside forest meets lake, a game of pheromone tag.

This is an out and back two-miler, shaded at this time of day, with just one hill in each direction.   We have been easily negotiating this hike for over a year.

But not yesterday.  Cappy made the loop around to head back, and walked.

One paw lifting at a time.

The water was waiting for us back in the car, as usual, and I could only promise to not do that again.  Luci was oblivious to her companion’s discomfort, continuing her trot explore, content with the many opportunities to pause for further message-leaving.  But I was exquisitely aware of the new pace, and concerned that whatever distress Cappy was feeling got managed well.

I let him set the pace as we wound back around the place of turtles and herons, up the hill still shaded by oaks and beech, passing the empty ball field. As we turned left onto the main road, Cappy perked up, smiling, picking up the trot, and joining Luci in a couple of last minute sniff and pees before jumping into the car’s hatchback.

I toweled off the liter of cold water before unscrewing the bottle and filling the collapsable bowl.  Cappy lapped until his muzzle was drenched, while Luci, still in her own world, clipped out orders to a passing dog.

Move on! Nothing to see here!

But I saw something.

I saw my Cappy as an elder dog, for the first time reckoning with his imperceptible decline.  My tri-color lad will be 12 this September, and with some reasonable accommodations to humidity and heat, we will continue our morning constitutionals.

Carrying water with us.

Move on.

Still Waters Run Deep

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In the center of the lake water rings ripple toward shore. The fish whose jump started the pulse swam anonymously away.  Until I started this morning constitutional I thought “catfish were jumping” was just a lyric in the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.”

 

 

this week in Gratitudes

My nights have been punctuated with bad dreams and periods of wakefulness this week.  I am puzzled about how/why anxiety has crept back under my covers.  I thought I had figured out a way to banish it from the dark, and keep it contained by rituals and healthy habits during the day.

The mind is a strange place, in constant need of tending, like a garden.

*sigh*

I think I will plant some gratitudes into the morning and move on.

  1. Several newcomers have appeared at my bird feeders this morning, including a Purple Finch pair, a Brown-headed Cowbird trio, a Red-wing Blackbird, and a Common Grackle.  The American Goldfinch flock continues to enlarge, with about 2 dozen beauties in various stages of spring molt.
  2. Yesterday’s snow has completely melted.
  3. A Snapping Turtle remains on the edge of a rock outcrop, ready for my continued scrutiny this morning.
  4. I had an email this week from a reader asking for help with our common Samuel S White ancestor, a request I unfortunately can’t fill.  Record gaps are so daunting, but new connections are refreshing!
  5. I had another email from a long-time reader and cousin with kind words of encouragement to continue writing about the Dodson family, a timely nudge because my research has become such a tangle of intertwined Rowlett, Dodson, and Green stories that I have written nothing instead of something.
  6. Which leads me to my last gratitude of the morning.  I am thankful for all those writers before me, who have taken time to commit their thoughts to paper–wood pulp or gigabytes.
    1. J. Russell Rowlett, who built a web page in 2003 to share his documentation of the Peter Rowlett [Chesterfield County, Virginia] family.
    2. Audre Lorde, whose words lift my lethargy.

“Silence will not protect you.”

Research. Review. Connect. Speak out. Stand up.

Write on.

 

Sunday morning musing

I have been getting acquainted with my 19th century grandmothers during the last few weeks, creating more questions than stories at the end of each day, which is frustrating at many levels.

I catch myself re-centering the family account around the men, specifically the white men, who populate the records.  It is a habit.  A learned way of processing the world that I resist, unsuccessfully, as I try to bring womenfolk out of the past’s shadows.

So I end up tossing the paper into the bin, or cutting whole paragraphs of text, or moving the whole post to trash.

And I begin again.

This week I will (re)focus my attention on Mary Green Dodson, 1787-1858, daughter of William Wills and Martha [Archer Rowlette] Green; wife of Edward Dodson, Junior; mother of James H, my 2nd great-grandfather; and cousin to Sarah Jane [Rowlett] Dodson, my 2nd great-grandmother.

Mary grew from girl to woman, wife to widow, mother to elder, in the watersheds of  Allen’s and Butcher’s Creeks, Mecklenburg County, Virginia.  I have looked out on those woods, walked those hills, with red clay, that Mary saw every day, clinging to my shoes.  Childhood treks from Chase City to the country that had held generations of ancestors made little impression on me until I strolled up cow-worn paths with my father, his drawl spreading stories of his childhood on my children.

I have lots of records for many branches of my families, but I return to those from Mecklenburg County time and again, because of this connection to the white feldspar-studded land.  And this genealogical homecoming has prodded my reckoning with the unspoken family lore.

The land and its tobacco guaranteed food security, housing security, community esteem.  And none of that was possible without the work of black people-enslaved, sharecroppers, tenant farmers.

When I reconstruct pieces of Mary Green Dodson’s life, I also feel those African Americans emerging from shadows.

I hope I do all of these folks justice with my story-telling.

Their hopes, dreams–and nightmares–built this country.