Category Archives: Guard

Age ain’t nothing but a number

This weekend’s research brought to light that many of our ancestors lied or committed “age fabrication” when filling out documents, especially on marriage certificates or military enlistment papers. And it wasn’t the simple or honest mistakes we often find on census forms when census takers write down or hear the wrong year, or even the ancestor’s lack of knowledge of his or her own true age.

It was outright falsehoods… well, at least from my people.

Now, I realize people have lied or misrepresented their age for centuries. They either claim they are older than they truly are, perhaps making them old enough to participate in a particular event, such as a marriage or participation in military service.  Or they shave a few years off of their lives, hoping to fit in the environment they’re trying to be a part of. Maybe an older widow is marrying a younger man and doesn’t want people to know she is older. Or an older gentleman lists his age years younger than he actually is when wooing the hand of a much younger female while trying to impress his suitability to her father.

MARR_BREEDEN_Rebecca_RUDISELL_Oris_1933The marriage certificate of my great aunt Rebecca Mae Breeden reflects her age as 19 when she married Oris Edward Rudisell on Oct. 25, 1930 in Cambridge City, Wayne, Indiana, listing her birthday as March 13, 1911.  But, in all actuality, Rebecca was just 15 years old when she married her 21 year-old groom – her true birthday being March 13, 1914.

Marriagecert_ThaddeusGUARD_WintersMy great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Winters stated on her marriage certificate to my great grandfather Thaddeus Clifford Guard, that she was 18 when they married on May 16, 1907 in Cleves, Hamilton, Ohio. Her real birthdate of June 3, 1890 proves she was only 16 at the time of her marriage.

Both of these family members lied so they could get married without having to wait several years to come of age. Pretty harmless I imagine, although, I’m not sure what their parents thought about the life-changing fibs.

And these are just a couple of my inventive ancestors.

But, I also learned this weekend that sometimes people lie about their age to reinvent themselves. I was helping a fellow researcher track down her wayward grandfather, who apparently abandoned his family just a few years and a couple of children after his 1921 marriage to her 19 year-old grandmother in Canada. Her mother is now 94 and would like to know what happened to her father or at least, where he is buried before she dies.

Unfortunately, a quick search revealed that her father, most likely, abandoned a previous family in the United Kingdom and then perhaps, did the same thing to her family. His marriage certificate to his Canadian wife reported that he was a 41 year-old engineer, had been born in Montreal and had never been married. But a Canadian passenger list has him entering Canada as a married 41 year-old engineer, arriving in Toronto in 1911 from Bristol, England. It also says he was born in Ireland and not Montreal. She’s positive this is the same man, and I believe so as well, given his name and occupation, but the trail is cold after the marriage. The wife and children are living with the wife’s parents and the husband has vanished.

I wonder if the young wife ever learned that her husband was in fact, a married 50 year-old Irishman? Did he head back to England or Ireland to be with his other family, or did he move on and start another one?

Why would someone claim to be 10 years younger than they really were? Did our ancestors believe even back then, that people were treated better or worse due to their age? Did they purposely change their age, their status, their residency to knowingly abscond from their obligations? Did they really not know how old they really were? Were they just really poor record keepers?

It was all of the above and more.

Misrepresentation is definitely not a 21st century phenomenon and it will not end with the next century. People do what they feel they need to do to reach whatever point in life they feel they need to be at. Even if it means flubbing a few numbers.


In awe of the past

I have been spending the past 10 days on a dream vacation…. a week of research at the world’s largest genealogical library – The Family History Library in Salt Lake City. It’s been a week with no children, no husband, no work (well, almost… I still wrote a couple of stories for this week’s Leader), and almost no school (online classes ;-))

And even with that little bit of work and school I had to do, I have had an AMAZING week! Ten to 12 hours a day of researching, give or take an hour depending on if I remembered to stop to eat. I have scoured through books written in the mid-1800s, examined Internet resources which made available documents and newspapers from all over the world from the past four centuries and my favorite – microfilms documenting marriages, births, deaths, military service and censuses, some as early as 1712! This trip I have visited Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, India, Switzerland and England, all without leaving the warmth of the library.

There is something about being able to view an original document which exists as testament to the life of your ancestors. On my last trip in July, I located the 1827 marriage certificate of my 4th great-grandparents, William and Celinda Court Brown and the 1844 marriage certificate of my 3rd great-grandparents, Francis and Celinda Brown Clough from BOMBAY, INDIA… Talk about an amazing feeling! This time, I found banns (wedding announcements) and death notices written in French from my PANCHAUD line in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland from 1712… pouvez-vous dire merveilleux?

Death certificate of Jean Francois Panchaud

Death certificate of Mary Roberts

Death certificate of 11 month-old Mary Roberts

I also found the death records of my great-great-grandmother’s first husband and their daughter, my great-great-great-great auntie, who both died in Bombay, India in 1869, just five months apart from each other. Her husband of less than two years, Robert Clifton Roberts was 34 years old and died from an abscessed wound. He was thought of very highly in his community and the local newspaper, The Times of India, reported on Mar. 1, 1869 that his death was sincerely regretted. My 11-month-old auntie, Mary Roberts, died from convulsions. Finding their death notices helped explain why my great-great grandmother left her home and her family and traveled thousands of miles to England in the 1870s after spending her entire life in India. I can imagine how distraught she must have been to have lost her husband and baby within months of each other. She probably was trying to get away from the place that held so much pain for her, even though it was the place of her birth. But at the same time, even though I feel sadness at their passing and what could have been, when I look at those records I can’t help but think if they hadn’t died, I would not be here today. Because it was their deaths that drove my gggrandmother to England where she met my gggrandfather, and in turn, begat my line.

I also learned some American history this week. I located a census of the Indiana Territory for 1807 which listed every free white man living in the territory before it was a state. There was only 616 names on the list! I find that simply incredible that I have a document in my hands that list every single person living in the state of Indiana, before it was a state, and there’s just over 600 names on the list! My sixth-great grandfather, Alexander Guard and two of his sons, David (my 5th great grandfather) and Timothy were listed on the census. They had traveled from New Jersey with their families after the Revolutionary War by following the Ohio River, arriving at North Bend, Ohio in the spring of 1790 and moved to, what is now Dearborn County, Ind. in 1796.

There is so much history to be learned by digging up the past – The history of our ancestors and of our descendants. The reason we are here and the path we are taking. Genealogy is the map to discovering our history. Give it a try and learn the stories of your past.


A Mother Finds a Way

In Tales of Old Cincinnati, a book compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Ohio in 1940, there is a story about my 6th Great-Grandma Hannah Keen Guard, wife of Alexander Guard. This is her story, one of the many  adventures they experienced moving from New Jersey to Dearborn County, Indiana after the Revolutionary War. The Guard family were one of the founding pioneer families that settle the area of the Miami River.

 

The River Upsets A Boat

Early on a spring morning in 1793 there was much excitement in the family of Alexander Guard. The children clapped their hands and danced around. Mrs. Guard herself was more quiet, but she, too, was happy. They had lived for three years beside the Great Miami River near North Bend. Mr. Guard had just finished building a new log cabin farther down the river. Today they were moving. A clumsy, home-made boat six or seven feet wide and more than 40 feet long was drawn up on the river bank below their home. Mr. and Mrs. Guard, together with the children large enough to help, were carrying all their furniture and household goods to the boat. Mrs. Guard sometimes glanced at the Great Miami. She had a worried look in her eye. Spring rains had filled the river with swift water. She wished the big canoe were a flatboat. A big canoe, which was called a pirogue, could go quickly through the water, but it was not so safe as a flatboat. The sharp, narrow bottom of the pirogue made it easy to tip over. But there was no flatboat, nor could they carry their household goods down the river. So they had to use their canoe.

At last the boat was loaded with everything the Guard family had, and they were ready to start on their trip. Mrs. Guard and the children walked along the bank of the river. Mr. Guard got in the middle of the boat and paddled it downstream. Mrs. Guard and the children could hardly keep up with Mr. Guard. The river was even more dangerous than they had thought. They watched Mr. Guard as he struggled to keep the boat straight in the water. Soon the current carried him to a bend in the river. The water swirled fast. The long boat was thrown around and overturned. Mr. Guard and all the family goods fell into the wild water. Mrs. Guard and her children screamed, and ran toward him along the stream. They could see nothing except the pirogue whirling upside down in the muddy river. After what seemed a long time, Mr. Guard’s head bobbed up out of the water. Mr. Guard knew how to keep from being drowned. He did not struggle. He relaxed and swam until he reached his family on the shore. He stood there tired and dirty and dripping with water as they kissed him.

Mrs. Guard has a problem

Mrs. Guard and the children were glad that he was alive and safe with them. They hardly gave a thought to their furniture and clothing lost in the river. “We have one another, our new home, our land, and our farm animals, ” they said. They walked on down the river to their new cabin. As they went, Mrs. Guard looked at her husband and children and wondered what she would do. They did not have enough money to buy new furniture. Even if they had, there was no furniture store in the wilderness. But Mr. Guard could make rough beds, tables, and three-legged stools from wood. He could gouge out bowls and whittle spoons, and could even make a spinning wheel and loom. Mrs. Guard was not worried about furniture. She wondered how she would get clothes for her family. She had no cotton or wool or flax to spin. Her children could wear coonskin caps and deerskin moccasins. They might even sleep on skins, and use bear or buffalo robes for blankets. But Mr. Guard could not kill enough animals to get skins for the clothing of the whole family.

Mrs. Guard kept thinking about the problem of clothes for her family even after they had reached the new cabin. She kept worrying about it all through the days that she spent getting her house in order. She even wondered what to do about it as she planted corn, beans, pumpkins, and potatoes, and as she pulled weeds from the garden. She had a real problem to solve. The children did not know that Mrs. Guard was worried. She smiled at them as they helped in the hard work of destroying the weeds. Some plants, such as pokeweeds, were easy to pluck, but others were tough to cut and hard to pull. The toughest and hardest weeds to kill were the nettles. Their scratchy stems and prickly leaves stung the children’s hands.

All through the spring and summer Mrs. Guard pulled nettles and kept worrying about winter clothing for her children. One day she found some nettles that seemed especially tough. She stopped her work in the garden and looked at them carefully. She saw there were strong fibers in the stem. She pulled the fibers apart. Then she stood a long time trying to work out something in her mind. The next morning her children were surprised when she told them to gather the nettles and bring them to her. “I want all I can get,” she said. The boys and girls found many nettles all around. They cut the rough plants and brought them to their mother. They wondered what she would do with them, and watched her as she began to work out her idea with the plants.

She Solves it

She told them to bring fresh nettles to her.

Mrs. Guard cut away the leaves and pounded the stems until the pulp was loosened. Then she soaked the bruised stems in water. She left them in the water for several days. When she took them out, the bark and softer parts of the stems were ready to fall away. Mrs. Guard then dried and combed the stems with a wire brush until nothing was left but the strong fibers. Then she spread out the fibers on the grass to bleach. Next Mrs. Guard began spinning the fibers into thread as she would have spun flax for linen. Soon she had a good deal of thread. It was coarse and yellowish brown, but strong enough to be woven into cloth.

Mr. Guard built a loom, and Mrs. Guard began weaving. The work went slowly. She liked the cloth she wove, and asked the children to gather more nettles. They ran out eagerly, and came back with their arms full of nettles. Their mother wove more cloth. When she thought she had enough cloth, Mrs. Guard made it up into dresses and coats and trousers. When winter came, the children put on heavy clothes. And as they played in them and were warm, they were thankful that they had such a wise mother.


Support and Defend

I come from a long line of veterans, both American and British, who have fought on both sides of the pond.

My seventh great-grandfather, Jeremiah Gard and his sons, including my sixth great-grandfather, Alexander Guard and his cousins fought for a young America during the Revolutionary War. My great-great Uncle Henry George Louis Panchaud or Harry as he was called, was a well-known and decorated colonel in the Boer War in South Africa. My Great-great-great-great Uncle, William L. Guard was a Captain in the Mexican-American War.

During WWI, my great-great-uncle, Philip Archibald Tatem, was 24 years old when he left his home in Bermuda with the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and joined the Lincolnshire Regiment in France. He was killed on Sept. 25, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme after heavy fighting. His body was never identified, but he is honored on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in Somme, France. His younger brother, Graham Tatem, also served in WWI but fortunately did make it back to Bermuda. My paternal great-grandfather also served during WWI as a part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, as well as his older brother, Albert Louis Panchaud, who served as a chaplain in the British Army.

My maternal grandfather was a prisoner of war during World War II in Germany for more than a year, while my paternal grandfather guarded German prisoners of war sent to Bermuda. My uncle Larry fought in Vietnam and my brother, Brian, served in Iraq during Desert Storm and he once again finds himself in Iraq today. I served almost 23 years in the United States Navy retiring as a Chief Petty Officer and my husband was a career Marine, giving more than 21 years to the Corps, retiring as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. Today, my oldest son carries on the family tradition and currently serves as a member of the Tennessee National Guard.

Earlier last year, I received a sobering comment from my brother on Facebook. He said, “I believe hell is empty, as pure evil walks the earth here in Iraq.” But even with that knowledge, he truly believes in what he and his unit are doing to help the Iraqi people.

I am proud of my family’s contributions to our great nation and to the countries they have called home. They have all I am also proud of those whom I call friend and those I don’t know personally. Without their sacrifice, I would not be living the life I have today.

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Are we really sure we are who we think we are?

Melvin R. Guard

Melvin Richard Guard

I knew my maternal grandfather as, well, grandpa. He was my momma’s daddy and also the janitor at Harrison Elementary School where I spent a few years in Harrison, Ohio.  I remember being young and thinking it was pretty cool that my grandpa worked at the school where I went. I thought of myself as a bit of a rock star because of it. Silly now that I think of it but hey, I was only 8!

But I also knew his name was Melvin Richard Guard. Everyone called him Melvin. Or Dad. Or Grandpa. Only a few said Mr. Guard.

When I started researching my genealogy around 1996, his was one of the first families I started working on. It really came to life when the 1930 census was released in 2002.

1930 US Federal Census listing the Gueard (sic) family

There he was with his family! Granted their family name was spelled wrong but they had his first name correct and he was listed as Melvin, 10-years-old. Right along with his entire family – his father and mother, Thaddeus and Mary, older brother Clifford, older sisters, Helen and Bessie and younger sister, Fern. Every other record I came across also listed him as Melvin Guard or Melvin R. Guard or even Melvin Richard Guard, including his military records from the U.S. Army said his name was Melvin R. Guard.

Original birth certificate

Imagine my surprise and how totally unprepared I was when I finally received a birth certificate with the name of Vernon Guard listed on it. I stared at it. I read it over and over. I saw my great grandparents names, Thadius (sic) Guard and Mary Winter, so I knew this was the right family. The birth number was correct – number 4 and the date of birth was right, Dec 5, 1919.

So, just who the heck was Vernon?

It was probably at least 5 minutes before I realized there was an attachment to the birth certificate. An affidavit correcting the original birth certificate so that the name of the child, Vernon, was corrected to Melvin Richard. 

Well, I thought, that explained the birth certificate.  But upon a closer examination, I was even more confused. You see, the date of the correction was not immediately after the birth as one would expect it to be done, but in 1973 – 54 years after his birth!

The affidavit actually revealed new questions to ponder. If his parents named him Vernon, why  and when was he switched to Melvin Richard? Or if he was supposed to be named Melvin Richard, why on earth was his birth certificated submitted as Vernon Guard? Why did no one catch the mistake until half a century had passed and the biggest question of all… how in the world did he enlist in the military as Melvin R. Guard when his birth certificate listed him as Vernon Guard?

This is what attracts me to genealogy so much… the thrill of the hunt – the discovery and revealing the importance of past lives. In every family there is always a story to tell, a rock to uncover and a skeleton to set free.


Marriage Certificate of John Guard and Edmonia Hoffman

Marriage certificate for John Guard & Edmonia Randolph Preston Hoffman

Be it remembered that the following Marriage License was issued from the Clerks office of the Dearborn Circuit Courts Nrz:

“State of Indiana Dearborn County Lct:

To any person legally authorized to solemnize the wit of matrimony –

These are to license and permit you to join together in the Holy State of Matrimony, John Guard and Edmonia Hoffman and for so doing this shall be your sufficient warrant. –

In testimony whereof I William V. Checks Clerk of the Dearborn Circuit Court have hereunto let my hand and affirm the seal of said Court at Lawrenceburg this 14 day of July 1845.

William V. Cheek Clerk

And afterwards to unto on the 18 day of July in the year Eighteen hundred and forty five the following certificate of the marriage of the above named parties in the words and figures following to wit:

“I James Hill a minister of regular standing in the Methodist Episcopal Church did on this day the seventeenth of July unite John Guard and Edmonia Hoffman in the Banns of Matrimony.

July 18, 1846   James Hill


History of Hamilton County, Ohio – Alexander Guard

History of Hamilton County Ohio
CHAPTER XX CIVIL LIST OF
HAMILTON COUNTY
page 407

Alexander GUARD, of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, with his family, came to North Bend in 1793, and in 1796 to this township. His family consisted of five sons Timothy, David, Ezra, Bailey and Chalen, with three daughters–Sarah, Betsy and Hannah. Many of the descendants of this pioneer family are honored citizens of the township at this time. [p.407]

 

History of Hamilton County Ohio
CHAPTER XX CIVIL LIST OF
HAMILTON COUNTY

The first was an Episcopal Methodist church, the formation of a class in the log cabin of Alexander GUARD, in 1803, by an itinerant minister, whose name cannot be ascertained. In early days the camp-meeting in Scroggin’s grove, near Elizabethtown, was an occasion of great interest and spiritual profit to the multitudes that attended. In due time a meeting-house was built, and, in accordance with the Methodist economy, supplied with the ministry of the Gospel, exciting a wide spread and beneficent influence over the community. The MILLER, GUARD, HAYES, MILLS, DUNN, and SCROGGIN families were identified with this church, and many of their posterity are found walking in the ways of their godly ancestors.

 


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