nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

family history – the Johnson brothers

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If you have followed my blog for a while, you may be wondering what has happened to my virtual biking along the northern coast of New Brunswick.

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Well, this is what happened.  As I cycled one day, I took a side road.  It was a narrow road I had not travelled in quite a few years.  And as I cycled, I felt drawn further and further into the past.  I began to explore this past, lured by wiggling leaves that popped up as I biked along.  Yes, you have guessed it  … I found myself at http://www.Ancestry.ca , building a forest of family trees.

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I discovered I could learn about my family quite quickly… thirty minutes of biking gives me time to explore an ancestor or two … I can travel back in time to the 1880 USA Census to search the byways of Wyoming or the country roads of Pennsylvania … I can discover great-grandparents I have known for some time, or great-great grandparents I have never encountered before.

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So, for a little while, my exercise program will not be about discovering new places, but about discovering new family members.  I promise to return to the present and my virtual geographic travels eventually.

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The first people I have met on my new travels are the Johnson brothers, my great-granduncles.   They are the sons of my great-great-grandfather James Johnson.  My Mom was very interested in this part of our family and worked to leave us a little of their history.  I have photos of most of them, including a family grouping in a sepia tin-type. The original tin-type is small, about 2″ by 3″.  Tin-types are photos imprinted on a metal surface.  Most tin-types are on iron, coated with black paint or lacquer.  This type of photo was popular from the 1860s through to the 1910s.

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Johnson brothers

some of the Johnson brothers in an old tin-type photo

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The brothers were John (born 1849 ), Daniel (born 1851), James (1854), Alexander (1857), and Isaac (1866).  They had two sisters Kate (born 1847) and Mary Jane (my grandmother, born 1859).  There is some question about which of the brothers are in the photo, but my Mom had it figured out based on the boys’ ages, and photos of them at an older age.

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Only a few details survive for the brothers.  I know birth and death dates, as well as the names of wives and children.  John, James and Alexander were farmers.  John and James were adventurers and visited the west.  Daniel and Isaac were doctors.

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So much information is lost, but for now, I am enjoying small discoveries about their lives.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 23, 2014 at 7:04 am

harvesting colour – rose petals in a pickle jar – results

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On April 9, I tried dyeing white silk with dried rose petals.

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rose petals, scattered on the silk

rose petals, scattered on the silk

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Originally, I intended to let the colour develop for at least a month on the silk in my pickle jar.  But curiosity got the better of me after six days.  Colour had developed in the first two days, a deep magenta in the vinegar and on the fabric.

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003 (2)_crop

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Tonight I opened the jar and rinsed out the silk.  The process is a little messy, with lots of petals floating in the rinse water.  And the results …

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silk fabric dyed with dried flower petals ... the deep pink is from the extra flowers I added

silk fabric dyed with dried flower petals … the deep pink is from the extra flowers I added

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You may remember that I folded a few other flowers into the silk.  In retrospect, I should have seen the unnatural pink of some of the flowers … I think the florists did a little dyeing of their own and that is what is making the bright pink on the fabric.  It looks a bit artificial for my taste, but I do love the brownish magenta that colours the background of the fabric – that colour seems to be from the rose petals.  Silk certainly takes up colour eagerly!

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the magenta  seems to be from the rose petals - a more natural colour

the magenta seems to be from the rose petals – a more natural colour

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Once the fabric is dry, I intend to hem the silk for a tablecloth. I use tablecloths all the time and this one will remind me of a special bouquet!

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Snippet of a longer poem I wrote after this adventure …

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remnants of the bouquet

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petal colour

stains fabric

eager to make

an impression

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deep pink dried flowers I added to the rose petal mix ... I should have realised they were too bright to be 'real'

deep pink dried flowers I added to the rose petal mix … I should have realised they were too bright to be ‘real’

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I have carefully rinsed my pickle jar, intending to use it again!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

April 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

another gate in Cornwall

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Isaac’s Way restaurant in Fredericton has announced that the 20th Art Auction for Kids-in-Need (sponsoring theatre classes for underprivileged children) has already raised over $6000 from the sale of over 50 pieces of art.  The goal for this auction is $8000.

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The art may be seen at  http://isaacsway.ca/art/  If you are in the Fredericton area, come to the restaurant in person and make a bid.  The auction ends Sunday May 25th at closing time.  If you bid on my watercolour ‘gate at Ponsonooth’, remember, I am donating 80% of the proceeds towards Kids-in-Need!

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January 23, 2014  'gate in Ponsanooth'   Jane Tims

January 23, 2014 ‘gate in Ponsanooth’ Jane Tims

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In the next art auction, from May 25, 2014 through the summer, I am contributing another of the watercolours from my gates in Cornwall series, called ‘gate on Old Church Road’.

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'gate on Old Church Road' Jane Tims

‘gate on Old Church Road’ Jane Tims

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I hope wherever you are, you will be able to take in some great art shows this summer!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by jane tims

April 14, 2014 at 7:00 am

harvesting colour – more colour from the pickle jar

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One more dyeing project with the pickle jar!  I am growing impatient, waiting for the growing season to begin so I can collect plants for my dyeing projects.  So, I looked around my house and decided to use some of the various jars of rose petals and other flowers I have dried over the years.

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a jar of rose petals and other flowers from a saved bouquet

a jar of rose petals and other flowers from a saved bouquet (the fabric is the silk I intend to dye)

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For fabric, I decided to use the square of silk I purchased for the project back in February.  From my reading, I know that silk accepts dye very well and responds well to an acidic dye bath.

First I soaked the silk in tepid water to prepare the fibres to accept the dye.  I decided this fabric has already been prepared with mordant.  If not, I can always add the mordant later.

Then I spread the petals on the fabric, spraying as I went with a weak solution of cider vinegar.

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rose petals, scattered on the silk

rose petals, scattered on the silk

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I added some other dried flower petals from another bouquet.  Then I rolled the fabric and petals very tightly.

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a roll of silk and flower petals, sprayed with vinegar and ready for the pickle jar

a roll of silk and flower petals, sprayed with vinegar and ready for the pickle jar

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As with my last project ( http://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/harvesting-colour-onion-yellow/ ), I had trouble stuffing the roll into the jar.  Once I had the silk crammed into the jar, I added more vinegar solution to the jar and closed it.

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pickle jar stuffed with silk, rose petals and other dried flowers

pickle jar stuffed with silk, rose petals and other dried flowers

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And now we wait …

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 11, 2014 at 7:29 am

the unknown thousands – family history

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Today, I will divert a little from my usual topics and mutter about genealogy.  Along with my other projects, I try to keep learning about my family.  Fortunately, I have a lots of materials to look at: family letters, post cards, diaries, well-researched family trees and so on.

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I am always surprised at how much is lost.  Some of this is due to the loss of records, some is due to the overwhelming numbers of people involved in the family history of just one person. When I first became interested in family history, I thought about how many lives have contributed to make ‘me’.  The numbers of ‘grandparents’ add up quickly as I go back in time.

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Generation Numbers of parents/‘grandparents’
1   (me)
2   (my parents) 2
3   (my grandparents) 4
4   (my great-grandparents) 8
5   (great-great-grandparents) 16
6 32
7 64
8 128
9 256
10 512
11 1024
12 2048
13 4096
14 8192
15 16384
16 32768
17 65536
18 131072 … and so on …

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So, to make any one of us, it took thousands of people.  I knew this before, but knowing I have 131 thousand ‘grand-parents’ in 18 generations is unsettling.

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I began by just trying to know the names of those 16 great-grandparents in the 5th generation.  I have them almost figured out.  Those with an * beside their name have a published family tree.  Those with a ? are uncertain.

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Charles Clark (*) (farmer)

Margaret Aitcheson

James Johnson (farmer)

Mary MacIntosh

Lewis Norramon (?) (farmer)

Mary  …….  (?)

Josiah Hawk  (*) (shoemaker) http://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/occupation-shoemaker/ )

Sara Kresge (*)

William Spavold (carpenter) (shipwrecked off Briar Island) (http://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/briar-island-rock-2-the-shipwreck/ )

Phelena Warner

Robert Manzer

Eleanor Evan

George Cook

Eliza Jane Smith

George Sabean  (*)

Jane Mullen

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About some, like William Spavold, I know quite a lot (thanks to the efforts of my Dad).  I am also gradually assembling a history of my great-grandmother Ella Hawk (daughter of Josiah and Sara) (thanks to the efforts of my aunt).  The sad thing is, all I will ever know about most of these people is a name.  In spite of this, I owe them my existence.

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my drawing of William Spavold, his mother and brother after their shipwreck

my drawing of William Spavold, his mother and brother after their shipwreck

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

harvesting colour – the yellow of tansy

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Since last September, a small bunch of Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare L.) has hung on the line in my kitchen.  Now, with a small batch of alum-treated wool, I am able to see what colour will come from the dried and lifeless flowers.

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dried Tansy, collected in 2013

dried Tansy, collected in 2013

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To extract the dye, I crumbled the flowers and leaves and soaked them in water overnight.  Then I added more water and brought them slowly to a boil in my big, well-marked dyepot (marked so I will not use it for food by mistake).  After an hour’s boil, I let the dye cool and strained the liquid.  The result was a clear, amber-yellow dye.

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dye from Tansy and water, simmered

dye from Tansy and water, simmered

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To dye the wool, I added water, immersed a shank of alum-treated wool and slowly brought the dye to a simmer – one hour and then the long process of cooling (I am realising that dyeing is more about waiting than doing!!!!!!!!!!!). The result is a green-yellow, almost exactly the colour shown for Tansy-dyed fibre in Jenny Dean’s book (Wild Color) !!!  My photo is not clear because the drying line insists on vibrating but you can clearly see the colours – left to right - the brown of the lichen-dyed wool from a few days ago), the green-yellow of the Tansy-dyed wool and the tan of the undyed wool.

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three shanks of wool, dyed with the lichen Usnea (left), dyed with Tansy (center) and raw wool (treated with alum)

three shanks of wool, dyed with the lichen Usnea (left), dyed with Tansy (center) and raw wool (treated with alum)

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I wrote my poem to the heady yet sleepy smells of the Tansy boiling in its dye pot.  I remembered the living Tansy, growing in the ditch last summer, each flower cluster hiding a sleepy bumblebee that had to be shaken from its resting.  I was also reminded in my reading that Tansy was used so often at funerals in New England in the 19th century that people associated its smell with death.

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Tansy in the ditch

Tansy in the ditch

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sleep before dyeing

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Tanacetum vulgare L. – Common Tansy, Mugwort, Bitter Buttons

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Bitter Buttons hover in the dye pot

simmering on the kitchen stove

drowsy scent of camomile

camphor and rosemary

liquid amber, saffron sallow

jaundiced pale of Tansy

reclines in the roadside ditch

each flat-topped cluster

hibernaculum

for a furred and yellow

unconcerned

and mellow

bumblebee

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

April 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

harvesting colour – beautiful brown!

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I will never see brown with the same eyes again!

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Today I finished a batch of alum-treated raw wool and I was ready to try my first experiment with dyeing animal fibre.  The alum, you will remember, is a mordant, added to the fibre to increase its colour-fast and light-fast qualities.  In some cases, it also makes the colours brighter.

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Remember my gathering of Old Man’s Beard lichen? (http://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/colour-on-the-snow/)

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jar with Old Man's Beard lichen, water and ammonia

jar with Old Man’s Beard lichen, water and ammonia

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The lichen has been ‘fermenting’ in ammonia about a week and developed a lovely brown colour with tones of orange, reminiscent of root beer.

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a sample of the dye obtained from the Old Man's Beard lichen

a sample of the dye obtained from the Old Man’s Beard lichen

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I sieved out the lichen and added the dye to my dye pot.  I added a little vinegar to neutralize the alkalinity since basic solutions can harm the wool.  I put about one once of the alum-treated wool into the dye pot and added water, to cover the wool.  Then I increased the temperature very, very slowly since sudden changes in temperature can damage the texture and weaken the fibres.  I left the dye pot on simmer for about an hour and then left it to cool slowly.  Now the wool is drying on the line in my dining room.

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The result may seem like an unimpressive brown, but to me it is the most wonderful brown in the world.  Reminds me of the ice cream in a root beer float!  My first effort at dyeing wool, and obtained from a lichen of the palest green.  I feel a poem stirring!

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to the right, my lichen-dyed wool, and to the left, my un-dyed alum-treated wool

to the right, my lichen-dyed wool, and to the left, my un-dyed alum-treated wool

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

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