Real Places®

In the past, people were a lot less mobile. A few hundred years ago, most people would die within twenty-five miles of where they were born. And yet, often we family history types jot down place names or import GEDCOMs without a second glance at the places we are tacitly agreeing were our ancestors’ home towns. I’ve been taking some time recently to merge all my family history files into one master file that I can clean up and work from. Over the years, in ‘genealogy collector’ mode, I’m afraid it’s pretty messy. As part of the cleanup, I’m going through all the place names and reconciling them to real places. Some have been just insulting in terms of how incorrect they are. Others I think were a victim of it being a little harder to confirm places than it is now.

As I’ve been cleaning, I’ve found a few specific places and tips that may help you too. Nearly all my genealogy is in the US, England and Scotland, so your mileage may vary.

Cumbria vs. Cumberland

March 11th, 2011

Well, in my quest for Real Places® I’ve run into a maddening problem. I like things just so, I’m afraid. So I want my place names to be orderly too. Family Tree Maker has a list of ‘real’ places built in. It’s not comprehensive but it’s large and many place names are automatically recognized and plotted on the map.

Unfortunately, some of the places on the list are not correct.

That’s right. Not correct. GPS coordinates sometimes seem a little off, but in some cases the actual name doesn’t jive with the ‘real’ place name. Some towns in England that should be hypehenated aren’t. Some are vice versa.

Now this.

Cumberland is a historic county in England. By historic I mean no longer existing. It was incorporated into Cumbria, a new county, in 1974. I know governments have to change things around to manage things better, but I wish they wouldn’t rename or shift geographic designations!

As part of my Real Places® program, I’ve decided to enter place names using modern designations. This can be a little confusing I guess. But my reasoning is that if I wanted to go there to do research, see the ancestral home, etc. I would need modern directions. Not a reference that cannot be plotted on a map.

So in noting Carlisle I’m putting Cumbria. Family Tree Maker says Cumberland. But I know I’ve see other things that lead me to believe it’s not their policy to use the historic designations completely. Which leaves me with a built-in list that is partially modern and partially historic. I’m going to have to get in touch with my inside man at Ancestry.

What You’re Seeing is a Welsh Place Name Not a Keyboard Accident

February 26th, 2011

The first time I stumbled across an ancestor who was born in LngtwgDyfrynWysg I decided some older relation had given up trying to type in the correct name and this was just gobbledegook.

Luckily I tried taking pieces of the place name and searching for them- Dyfryn then Dyfryn Wysg which got me to Llangatwg Dyffryn Wysg (which is listed in some English gazeteers as Llangattock-Nigh-Usk)

Don’t assume the place name is completely made up. It might be just a letter or two off.

No Fitche Castle After All

February 25th, 2011

Sadly, in my quest for Real Places®, I ran across an ancestor supposedly born at Fitche castle. This kind of thing is always exciting to me.

Unfortunately, it’s not true.

Thank you for the copy which proves it to be the pedigree which my great-uncle Fred. had drawn up with a grant of arms in 1890 and which was added to, the latest item being the marriage of my parents in 1896. In those days they still believed in the myth of Fitch’s Castle and that the Widdington branch was the elder to that of Steeple Bumpstead. Years later I made a claim to the undifferenced arms by correcting the pedigree which the College of Arms then had registered in their archive. The original of this vast pedigree used to hang for years in the wating room of the offices when the firm was in St.Martin’s Lane. I suppose it is now at West Smithfield.

I guess I would have made up being descended from a castle-owning family, too.

Welsh Place Name Clues

February 23rd, 2011

In trying to find a Real Place® for Flambere-Mayre, Wales, I hit gold online that also may have also provided a good clue for deciphering other Welsh placenames.

Yes, it looks as if it must be a reference to Llanbryn-mair. It is not uncommon to see the “ll” represented as an “fl” (as in Shakespeare’s Henry V, where there is a character called “Flewellin”, which is obviously an attempt to reprsent the Welsh pronunciation at the start of Llywelyn). But the “bere” that follows is rather more unusual!

So Fl- may point to Ll- as you’re looking at Welsh places. -bere may be -bryn.

Where is POFFI?

February 23rd, 2011

I’ve run across a few people in my genealogy that had listed as the place for an LDS sealing, the acronym POFFI. After a bit of searching I found a nice discussion thread that explained it.

POFFI is the abbreviation for Office of the President. (or Presidents Office) It was used for ordinances from 1846 until 31 Dec, 1909

Prior to the erection of any Utah temples, most marriage sealings took place in the Office of the President of the Church; at that time, Brigham Young.

Some however, took place outside the Office in local congregations. They are still considered POFFI since they were performed by Brigham Young.