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Milford Genealogy

Be careful of what you look for

There can be many surprises uncovered in comparing names and dates in old documents. They may reveal a person's real age, someone's profession or you may find out who the real mother of a child was. For those with a lineage to a small community with few people to marry such as a just formed town, the structure may not branch out like a family tree but weave back upon itself like a family river showing multiple ties to the same antecedent. One Milford story is there is the absence of any record for a woman after she was accused of being a witch except that her husband moved to Milford with an un-named second wife. Speculation is the first wife escaped and then hid her true identity. John Birdsey was caught kissing his wife on Sunday, but rather than submit to the authorities, he ran for it, got to the Housatonic River, jumped in and swam over to Stratford. He came back under cover of night, got his family and took them to Stratford where he settled. His genealogy shows him to be an ancestor of Clarence Birdseye, who developed frozen fruits and vegetables.

It can be fun to see if one's family history would make for a tragic movie or a lighthearted comedy. If your past is boring, then adopt this attitude found in an 1895 college yearbook auto-biography: "Lots of distinguished ancestors, but they don't count. Wait until you see my successors!"

Researching a person's family history is never as easy as many genealogical advertisements purport it to be. Many families Americanized their names upon arriving creating gaps in rejoining what appear to be separate families with different names but once had a common parent. Most search engines track what you type in order to show you ads for that subject. The results tend to show confirm any bias or beliefs the person searching already has. Duck Duck Go delivers more honest responses by not tracking and using previous searches. It can be embarrassing being asked to buy something spelled like a similar item as a family name or the word's meaning has changed. A completed chart of where a family has been through the process of tracking down documents can be very rewarding. Nearly everybody has someone notable they may be distantly related to if willing to invest the time to look back enough generations. Adding up our parents times going back 6 generations result in 4 1/4 billion ancestors. That doesn't factor in that in previous generations families tended to have more children as a backup to the higher infant mortality rates.

Tracing one's ancestors often uncovers the social, economic, political and environmenatal factors behind why they endured the hardships of moving to an area with better opportunities. The contributions of immigrants can be seen by reading contemporary accounts or books. The 1913 book "Immigration, A World Movement And Its American Significance" notes that immigrant communities tend to be crowded and the rate at which new arrivals learn English has remained fairly constant. 83 percent after 10 years speak English with nearly all second generation. The reasons they emmigrated (left) from one land to immigrate (enter) in another range from the economy, famine, war or to escape crime. Usually they settled in a similar climate. A not often raised factor in why blacks were taken from Africa for slaves is most Europeans had trouble working durring the summer in the South. Indians slaves could handle the heat but ran away because they knew the land.

Prior to 1882 early American immigration law encouraged immigrants by having protections against exploitation such as underpaying them. Centralized processing centers located where most entered after traceling by ship made it easier to enforce the primary restriction to not be ill. Pesthouses for quaranteeing those with or suspected of infection were located at least a mile from the general population. Milford had one on East Rutland Road to care for soldiers with smallpox that the British left on the beach in 1777.

Immigration is entering one country after emigrating or leaving another. Migration to better lands dates to before national borders when nomaic cultures mimiking animal migration and continues to the modern day as people seek better neighborhoods or jobs.

People tended to settle America in regions similar to the climate or their native surroundings. Pennsylvania is known for the Dutch and Germans. The English, Irish and Italians gravitated to the coastal cities often in ethnic neighborhoods. The concentration by common identities was furthered by some housing practices such as redlining that stigmitized areas as undesireable which restricted investmentments to improve or diversify an area. According to a 1913 book, Europeans had a hard time adjusting to the heat of the South and initially used Native Americans to work the fields but they knew the land and would often run away. This led to the use of Africans often captured by compeating tribes and sold to traders.

Syria was one of the first 2 non-European nations of the second wave of immigtation in 1882 that were called the "eNew Immigrants" to distinguish themselves from the "Old immigrants" primarily from the British Isles, Germany and northern Europe.

Immigrants lived inexpensively having arrived with little or nothing. Savings from the meager earnings at hard jobs was often sent to the old country to assist close family. A 1913 immigration textbook noted "One of the most distinctive and obvious characteristics of (the past 30 years) has been the growth of a complicated body of federal immigration laws." These rules/laws change resulting in it currently often taking 20 years or more to work through the legal process.

Milford has a lot of support not only in finding what information, documents or photos of graves that others have compiled but also in documenting and preserving your own story. Handle your original photos as little as possible. Sheet protectors should preferably be mylar, PVC plastic smells. Store them in covered boxes and acid free folders with low humidity below 70 degrees in the dark. A capful of milk of magnesium in bottle of club water may neutralize acid to help prevent further damage to existing paper records such as newspapers. Current media types for saving items electronically would not last or have a working device to view or listen to it in the future. A new DVD format that engraves into metal promises hundreds of years but still faces having something to retrieve your data. Flash drives are more affected by how much they were used than time. Referred to as laser rot, consumer DVDs burned on a computer may deteriorate between as little as 3 up to about 20 years, often at the short end of the range. Mechanical parts on a hard drive can jam and fail. Some floppy formats need a small battery charge to retain data. Older technologies relying upon tape including floppy disks will break down and lose it's magnetic abilities after about 20 years. For these reasons physical means whether on paper, a film or the grooves on a phonograph record are preferred. Copies of any documentation or photos should be saved with more than one person or organization. This offers some redundancy if family members are not interested in passing family history onto future generations. Some Milford family organizations listed below are in need of help to continue running.


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