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Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin

Richie 21 Jul 14 - 08:23 PM
Richie 21 Jul 14 - 08:38 PM
Richie 21 Jul 14 - 09:15 PM
Joe Offer 22 Jul 14 - 03:36 AM
GUEST,nickp (cookieless) 22 Jul 14 - 03:52 AM
Sandra in Sydney 22 Jul 14 - 04:09 AM
Matthew Edwards 22 Jul 14 - 05:06 AM
Tradsinger 22 Jul 14 - 05:09 AM
Lighter 22 Jul 14 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,OldNicKilby 22 Jul 14 - 08:51 AM
Jack Campin 22 Jul 14 - 09:15 AM
Richie 22 Jul 14 - 01:55 PM
Richie 22 Jul 14 - 02:03 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jul 14 - 03:16 PM
Bill D 22 Jul 14 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,mg 22 Jul 14 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 22 Jul 14 - 07:02 PM
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Subject: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Richie
Date: 21 Jul 14 - 08:23 PM

Hi,

After wondering about this I've started using genealogy to try and figure out the dates of some ballads in the US.

Many collectors provide detailed information, Sharp, Flanders, Cox, Beldon, Hudson, Morris, Scarborough etc.

Sharp did not provide any real detailed information but he gave the informants name, date and place the song/ballad was collected.

I started looking at Virginia 1600s and North Carolina late 1600s. There really isn't much information about the ballads but here is information about the people people who sang them. It was their ancestors who brought the ballads mainly from the British Isles.

So who was Sharp's best informant? Jane Hicks Gentry. And who were one of the most prolific families for preserving ballads and folk tales- The Hicks Family.

For example I started to do do research and some of it is here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/nathan-hicks-frank-proffitt-hicks-family.aspx

The Watauga line of Hicks (Gentry/Harmon Council/ Frank Proffitt/Nathan Hicks descended from Samuel Hicks (b. 1695) of Goochland, Virgina who later moved to Granville County, NC where he died in 1772. He is related to several branches of the family that live along the James River and possibly descended from John Hix, a doorkeeper at the House on Burgess located by 1639 at Jamestown in James City County, one of the original shires.

Without going into too many details (I managed to accumulate 1,200 pages of research in the last month (see link above), it's clear that these Hicks ballads were in Virginia by 1650. Also when they family moved to remote areas in the mountains (1760s-1770s) and foothills, They preserved what they knew when they arrived. So most of the ballads can be dated circa 1770s from this family when they moved to Valle Crucis (Valley of the Cousins) and intermarried.

Further, other families from that area, Presnells, Wards and Harmons also knew their ballads at this time.

I've also started looking up the ancestry of various informants. So Cox gives this information about a version of Lord Lovel, Child, No. 75:

Communicated by Miss Lucile V. Hays , Gilner County, Novembor 22, 1916. Obtained from her mother, who learned it from her mother, and she, from her mother, Mrs. Zackwell Morgan, a woman of Welsh descent. Tune supplied by Miss Frances Sanders, who noted it from the singing of Miss Emma Hewitt, Morgantown, June, 1924.

So I figured that the date is earlier by three generation making it circa 1830s. According to a 1860 Census record, Zacquill Morgan was born 1832 and married Elizabeth, she is apparently the source of this ballad, her family was from Pennsylvania.

So an approximate date is c. 1830s and the possible source state is PA. Take a look: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/8a-lord-lovell--morganhays-wv-1924-child-75.aspx

So what do you think? I know this is not verifiable proof, but can we make assumptions about the date based on the informants?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Richie
Date: 21 Jul 14 - 08:38 PM

Bu the way it's Council Harmon, not Harmon Council, who moved to live with Big Sammy, his grandfather at an early age. Council's father died when a tree fell on him! His mother moved and left Council and Goulder with her sisters family and he briefly stayed with Big Sammy, one of the vast reservoirs of ballads in the Beech Mountain area. Council became not only a balladier but he assimilated German folk tales from his fathers side (Hermann/Harman/Harmon) of the the family- and it is believed that the Jack Tales originated with Big Sammy/Little Sammy and Council Harmon.

R-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Richie
Date: 21 Jul 14 - 09:15 PM

By "real detailed information," I meant Sharp did not ask (or did not provide) when the informant and where the informant learned the ballad and how long they knew the ballad and how long it was sung in their family.

R-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 03:36 AM

Hi, Richie -
I've often encountered genealogical information while searching for lyrics, and I've sometimes followed the paths where they've led me. Sometimes, it has been quite interesting. There are lots and lots of amateur genealogists, and they've assembled a huge body of information that might be of benefit to us in song research.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: GUEST,nickp (cookieless)
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 03:52 AM

like button!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 04:09 AM

if I had a LIKE button, I'd press it, too.

thanks for posting your research, Richie.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 05:06 AM

I think this is a really interesting line of research, although sometimes the information just isn't there. Family transmission is one of the key ways traditions, including songs, are passed on. It would be wonderful to trace the routes and roots of how songs came to be found where the collectors gathered them; I've traced the song 'Long Lankin', sung by an Anglican nun, Sister Emma, to Cecil Sharp at her convent in Berkshire in 1909 back to her great-grandmother who had learned it in Northumberland from the family nurse in the 1750s.

But as I was writing about Bessie Jones of the Georgia Sea Islands on another thread I noticed that some of the songs of those islands in the Gullah dialect can be traced back to their African origins around Sierra Leone.

So thanks to Richie for raising this topic.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Tradsinger
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 05:09 AM

It sounds a very interesting project. If you want to delve back further, this website might help you
http://gbnames.publicprofiler.org/Surnames.aspx. It shows you the distribution of surnames in England, Scotland and Wales for 1881 and 1998. For example, you can see that Hicks mainly come from the west and south of England. Ireland is not included as they have a different census, but it can give you some clues as to where various family surnames now in the States were in the UK in the 19th Century.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 08:13 AM

Just in case ... Surely you've all considered a song may not go nearly as far back as the genealogy.

Before radio and TV, people were eager to learn new songs. And they often believe they're favorite songs are much older than they really are.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: GUEST,OldNicKilby
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 08:51 AM

I remember the thrill I got when I was in Avols Bookshop in Madison Wisconsin. I pulled a book from the shelf F S of Vermont fell out and it was open at a song collected from Elwyn Burditt The Golden Vanity
Burdett/ Burditt is my family name. I have traced Burditt from the U K who settled in the area. Oh and yes I do sing it


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 09:15 AM

I used genealogical references to figure out who the dedicatees of Scottish tunes were, and what might have occasioned the composition or dedication. I found that the standard big fat reference books weren't all that accurate, and their coverage of women members of elite families was often pathetic (this mattered because a lot of those tunes are dedicated to girls and women).

Crowd-sourced data might be better cross-checked, but most families of all social classes re-use first names across generations, so what might look like a fully identifying name is often not unique.

Public Profiler's data is usually too coarse-grained to be much use. But it is interesting that all the Cunts in the world live in Lewis and Clark County, Montana.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Richie
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 01:55 PM

Not only can informants be traced but song informants can be verified. If a collector gives an informant's name place and the date- you can usually find this person.

For example, when I suspected that Patrick Gainer was fabricating folk-songs and making up informants- I checked. Most the informants- did not exist. In most cases the informants do exist.

It's a good way of verifying the validity of questionable songs and ballads.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Richie
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 02:03 PM

And-- there are questionable informants who- you just don't believe. Usually they send in texts, which are not sung.

They may say I go this from Joe Blow, down in Madison Co. If there's no Joe Blow in Madison Co. at that time, it's a good indication that the contribution may not be authentic.

There are certain informants that from the notoriety provided them by the collector and the fact that they will appear in publications, have provided false information and fake versions of songs and ballads.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 03:16 PM

Hi Richie,
Then in between the deliberate fakes and the genuine come the innocent 'I want to please this guy with a tape recorder' and these sometimes might add a few generations on to the genealogy. I'd be more inclined to believe the source singers than some of the collectors, especially those who had commercial interests in what they were doing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 04:00 PM

I know from researching my own family that there are pitfalls in determining exact ancestors. Simple spelling differences... or failing to account for 2nd marriages ...can lead one astray. (Not to mention 3-4 generations with the same first names!)

It is, of course, possible to make reasoned assumptions and eliminate obvious blind alleys.

I'm glad to see it being done in detail... good luck!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 05:07 PM

oh try the Dingle Irish..used about 10 names..5 for men and 5 for women...Pat, John, Dan, Tim..not many Michaels...an occasional Sylvester or Cornelius or D'Arby...women, Ellen, Catherine, Margaret, Bridget, Mary and Johanna and Honora..if you see that constellation of women's names you could consider they were from that area...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Using Genealogy to determine origin
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 07:02 PM

Richie - you have started an interesting thread.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

several dissertations could follow your lead


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