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March 8, 2010

What About the Women?

Today (March 8) is International Women's Day. Pam Tessier gave me the idea for this blog post in her email to one of the genealogy mailing lists I look after. Super idea Pam - thanks!

In honour of the unsung and unknown female ancestors in our family tree, take some time today, this week and this month to pick one and find out more about her.

How often do we give up on a female ancestor? We find their first name and it becomes difficult to find a surname or her parents so we shrug our shoulders and set her aside "for now". But do we ever get back to her and dig deeper?

Your female ancestors had every bit as much to do with who you are as your male ancestors so let's give those women a place.

Look over your pedigree chart. How many of your female ancestors have complete details of their birth or death? Choose one of them and set a goal to find at least one fact about her that you didn't previously know.

Women had hard lives. They often bore children a year apart. They toiled over woodstoves or open hearths to prepare meals for large families. They tended sick babies when there was little or no medical help or medications such as what we take for granted today. They buried many of their children but they carried on.

Let's honour them by not neglecting them in our genealogy research. They deserve to be known so let's find them!

In a 5-generation pedigree chart for my ancestry, I find three women for whom I have only partial information. They are

* Fanny McGinnis nee Downey born circa 1820-1830 somewhere in Ireland, died 1904 in Morriston Ontario. I have no idea who her parents were.

* Jane Peer nee Greenlees born circa 1819 somewhere in Ireland, died 1899 in Guelph Ontario. I know who her parents were

* Georgiana Fuller nee Golding born 1840 Lenham England. I know who her parents were

I've chosen Georgiana Fuller nee Golding. She was my great great grandmother. I know a little bit about Georgiana and she certainly intrigues me! Georgiana's baptism record is in St Marys Church in Lenham and it states that she was born to "the widow Golding". Her mother's name is given as Hannah Golding whose husband had been Edward. However Edward Golding died in 1837 in Lenham so unless the widow Hannah had the longest pregnancy in history, Edward Golding was not my Georgiana's father.

A lot of searching found nothing more except that the Widow Hannah had another child born in 1843 in Lenham. I do not know who his father was either.

Eventually I did find Georgiana's father because luckily her marriage certificate to Charles Fuller in 1858 provides his name - George Norris. However Georgiana used the Golding surname from her birth to her marriage.

It sounds like I know a lot about Georgiana! I know her parents - George Norris and the widow Hannah Golding. I have Georgiana's baptism and marriage record. I have the names of her ten children born between 1859 and 1880. Poor Georgiana was pregnant for most of those 20 years. It horrifies me to see how close together some of those pregnancies were! For example Georgiana bore her 5th child - my ancestor Charles in August 1867. In October 1868, a little over one year later, she gave birth to another son Alfred. She must have been exhausted.

I have her in various census records - 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881. In 1881 she is 41 years old and some time between that census and the 1891 census Georgiana died. Her husband Charles is listed in 1891 as a widower.

My goal during March is to find Georgiana's death and figure out what happened to her.


Lori H said...

Best of luck to you in finding out what happened! Keep us up to date!

Michelle Goodrum said...

I am curious about Georgiana's father George Norris. What happened to him and why did Georgiana not use his surname?

Diane Land said...

Just wanted to share this idea with everyone. Last summer my dear friend ,a cross stitch fanatic, offered to 'make' me a Mother's Tree. I had never heard of a Mother's Tree but obviously jumped at the offer. She is still working on it, as I can trace my Mother's mother's mother's....etc back to the first born in America, Grace Cole b. 1607 Duxbury, Plymouth Mass.
Even if you don't have a wonderful friend to crosstitch you a Mother's Tree, it is an exciting way to honor your maternal line. Hope this inspires everyone.
Diane Land

Brett Payne said...


FreeBMD shows the death of a Georgina FULLER, aged 44, in Hollingbourn Registration District, Kent in the 4th quarter of 1882. Despite the ages not quite matching up with what you say is shown on the 1881 Census, I wonder if that is her? Perhaps it would be worth sending off for the death certificate if it's in the right area.

Regards, Brett