Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Ann fastened her heavy wool cloak under her chin. She hated to cover her wedding dress, a beautiful periwinkle silk with short puffed sleeves and a feathery shawl borrowed from her sister Charlotte. Worried that the dress would get spoiled in the short walk to the church, Ann glanced out the frosted square window and noted the steel gray sky and the large snowflakes floating down to the muddy puddles icing up on the cobbled street.

But no matter. Alfred was waiting for her. Perhaps not even a little mud would ruin the day. After a night of fitful sleep, Ann felt sluggish, and she feared her father’s pinched frown. She wished her sweet mother were still alive. She would have understood.

Ann fingered the silk ribbon before fixing it in her hair. She had met Alfred because of silk ribbons. She smiled thinking about the summer of working side by side with him at the mill. Alfred could weave silk ribbon better than anyone.

A kick from a little unseen foot jolted Ann back to the present. She pressed her hand against her swelling belly and told her unborn little one to behave. This was going to be a big day for mummy and papa…
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
What?? She was pregnant? I thought in the olden days people didn't engage in premarital hanky panky. Such falderal wasn’t tolerated during the reign of King George IV. Or was it…

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Goin’ to the Chapel and We’re Gonna Get Married

Church of England , Alfred Barker marriage, 27 January 1823, Coventry, Warwickshire bishop’s transcript for Holy Trinity Parish, FHL microfilm 0502210

Analyzing primary source documents is like the butter fudge frosting on Magelby’s Chocolate Tower Cake – the best part of genealogical research. Alfred and Ann’s marriage record reveals these elements:

Age:  From their grave markers we know that Alfred was born in 1795 and Ann was born in 1802, so Alfred was 28 years old and Ann was 21 when they were married.

Residence:  To get married in Holy Trinity Parish in Coventry, Warwickshire both had to be residents of that parish for three weeks.

Status:  This was Alfred’s first marriage (he is a bachelor) and Ann’s first marriage (she is a spinster).

Banns:  They were married by banns, meaning that for three Sundays before their wedding, their engagement was announced in their home parish, eliminating any impediments.

Literacy:  Because this is a bishop’s transcript, Alfred’s signature is in the transcriber’s         hand. Ann marked with an X, indicating she did not know how to write.

Witnesses:  Wm Gregor was probably a parish clerk, appearing as a witness at other January marriages in that parish. John Bright’s identity is unknown. Perhaps he was a friend.

John Davies: Standing before the high alter in the Coventry Holy Trinity Church, John Davies married Alfred and Ann amid family and friends.

What the bride was wearing: If only the bishop’s transcript had a line for that, then we’d really be somewhere.

Where Alfred and Ann were married Holy Trinity Church Check this out!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


In this picture we are approaching the mecca of all saga seekers:


The stomach quivers and the palms sweat with excitement that builds with every step that brings one closer to the repository of all genealogical repositories.

Saga Seekers have been known to plan entire summer vacations around this facility. Saga Seekers have been known to enter this building and not emerge for hours, days and even weeks, famished and sleep-deprived, but clutching to their breast--primary source documents!

 We hope for the same as we enter these doors.

And make our way down, down, down, into the deep recesses of the library and onto the British Isles floor. We make our way past the friendly faces at the information desk and over to the “stacks”. We know and understand this official terminology because we are saga seekers. Our courage does not fail us as we wonder at the immensity of the microfilm collection,

understanding that each drawer could contain information about our people. We train our focus on the task at hand, finding 0502210.

And here it is, in this drawer!

Now the anticipation builds. We stake out our favorite microfilm machine affectionately named Clarabelle,

ignoring the gaping mouth of the terrifying contraption on the other side of the isle,

and thread the reels. Yep, this is the right one.

Spin and spin and spin the handle until we come upon the 1823 marriage section of the bishop’s transcript. And there it is, larger than life: Alfred and Ann’s marriage record!

The realization that Alfred and Ann were real, living, breathing people who walked on the earth and left behind records of their life thrills the saga seeker clear down to the core.

Now, what does this record tell us about them?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Clues, Magic Numbers and the IGI

In the movie National Treasure, Nicholas Cage goes into a great and spacious building and steals a document, one that will give him clues to finding the treasure. We are going to do the same thing, only happily, the documents in the building we are going to can be copied.

But before attempting to steal the Declaration of Independence, Ben and Riley come up with a plan. We must do the same.

THE PLAN:  Look in the IGI to see if any records for Alfred and Ann have been extracted.

Using the IGI through Classic FamilySearch.org,

(To get to Classic FamilySearch.org, click the blue "previous site" button on FamilySearch.org. At Classic FamilySearch.org, click “Search Records” tab, click “Advanced Search,” click “International Genealogical Index” tab.)

we get this:

Clicking on item #6 produces this:

Shazam! Here is a film number for an extracted marriage record. Clicking on 0502210 reveals:

The number 0502210 is a call number for a microfilm containing the Bishop’s transcripts for Holy Trinity Church in Coventry from 1662-1848. Didn’t that monument in the Willard City Cemetery say that Alfred and Ann were married in 1823 in Trinity Church Coventry? Perhaps the microfilm will contain an original record of Ann and Alfred’s marriage! Write down that magic number: 0502210 and Off We Go!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Without a Doubt

Parked right next to Ann Morris's grave marker in the peaceful Willard City Cemetery is one of those tower monuments, a piece of carefully crafted stone that rises five feet or more, its shadow blending in with the shadows of the Rocky Mountains that soar above the cemetery. This tower has engravings on all four sides,  and this one in particular catches the eye:

The words confirm that Alfred Great Barker was indeed the husband of Ann Morris, married Feb. 27, 1823 at Trinity Church Coventry. A quick search for Ann Morris on Ancestry.com in the public member trees produced this photo:

While the public member tree did not cite a source for this photo, adding flesh and eyes and hair, and a prim little sour expression to the name on the grave marker adds an exciting, new dimension.  Who was Ann Morris and her husband Alfred Great Barker? What peaks and valleys did this couple live through together? Were they madly in love or merely tolerant of one another? Are there ways and means for finding clues to fill in the information of their lives? Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Girl Next Door

If we pan out from Alfred's grave marker, we find something very significant. Right next door, or rather, right next grave, is a similar grave marker, that of Ann Morris.

Grave marker of Ann Morris Barker, Willard City Cemetery, Willard, Box Elder, Utah

Ann's grave marker tells us that she was the wife of A.G. Barker, that she died 24 years after Alfred and that she was born at Norwich, England. Because of the proximity to Alfred's grave, the assumption can be made that "A.G." on Ann's marker refers to Alfred Great. But is there a way to be sure? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The End of the Story

Although Julie Andrews sang that starting at the very beginning is a very good place to start, in the case of Alfred Great Barker, starting at the end will be better. Here was the end for Alfred:

What this grave marker reveals is that June was a significant month for Alfred. He was born June 3rd 1795 in Northampton, England and died some 78 years later on 8 June 1873. Because this charming grave marker was located in the Willard City Cemetery off of Box Elder County's "fruit highway" in northern Utah, the assumption can be made that he died somewhere close by and then was buried in Willard, Box Elder, Utah.

Stay tuned to discover who was buried right next door...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saga: More than a game

The summer National Treasure was released on DVD, the movie showed in backyards across my neighborhood. Sitting under the stars on a big picnic blanket with a bowl of buttered popcorn watching Nicolas Cage run through the streets of Philadelphia with the Declaration of Independence strapped to his back was thrilling. A story about treasure, history and family is hard to beat. Which is why seeking after the saga of the family is so much fun. What is a saga? Isn't that a video game? Oh no, my friend, saga is so much more.

So stay tuned as we strap on our backs the saga of the Alfred Great Barker family and run through the streets of time to find the hidden encryption, the decaying document and the ambiguous artifact that will piece together the glory that is this ordinary family.