Tuesday, 24 March 2015

My Father’s Education and Career

Family historians don’t often have documentation about their parents’, let alone their ancestors’ education and training. I am lucky as I have been able to collect and preserve many certificates, diplomas, report cards, and other material pertaining to my family. Among the information is information about the place where my father received his initial training in an occupation that was to keep him active and gainfully employed for many decades.

My father grew up on a farm in eastern Alberta. He attended rural public schools and also spent a year at the Provincial School of Agriculture in Olds, Alberta. His best marks there were in carpentry, chemistry, English, gas engines, horticulture, physics and veterinary science. Other subjects he studied, that most of us rarely hear about these days, included animal husbandry, field husbandry, entomology, blacksmithing, farm management and poultry. Clearly he came out equipped to be a successful farmer.

While he enjoyed the experiences of school, home life on the farm and the community social life with many cousins who also lived in the region, he eventually realized that farming was an occupation he did not want to be involved with for the rest of his life. And so he began to look at what else was available in the world. He apparently had aspirations in medicine, we were told, but the family did not have the means to pay for this level of education. He considered various trades, finally settling on the electrical field in which there appeared to be opportunity and a demand for people and one for which the family could afford the tuition and other costs.

In 1936 he enrolled at the Coyne Electrical School in Chicago, Illinois. How he found out about this institution I do not know for sure. He was always interested in mechanical things and, no doubt, often perused magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. These always had advertisements from trade schools of all types.

Perhaps he saw an advertisement like the one below. The school offered free railroad fare to get to Chicago to take their 12 week course which was a valuable side-benefit. Before long he was far from home, studying to become an electronic technician.

The Coyne Electrical School was established in 1899 and, by the time my father started there, already had a long-standing reputation as a good training institute. It is still active today, having gone through a few organizational changes. In the 1960s, it merged with the American Institute of Engineering and Technology and was renamed the Coyne American Institute. It presently operates as Coyne College, and is still located in Chicago.
Bill Shepheard in Chicago, 1936
I have the copy of my father’s 48-page information booklet that describes all of the courses and programs offered by the school. It makes quite fascinating reading as they endeavour to attract young men (yes, just men!) into the growing field of electrical work. It describes the opportunities in the industry in depth, with details about their educational methods and the physical attributes of the school, emphasizing practical work. The booklet has many pictures of students taking instruction in class and at work in the shops. They stated that men could have a real future, earning “$30, $40, $50 and up a Week.” (Hey! It was a lot of money in 1936.) Everything was made easy for the new student to come to Chicago and begin his education – how to get to the school, support during the training period and room and board accommodations.

The curriculum included both lectures and shop time: 70 hours of instruction in elementary principles and circuits; 70 hours in wiring and testing; 70 hours in service; 70 hours in sound and television; 280 hours in radio operating (optional); and 70 hours in automotive ignition, diesel, and battery (optional). The school also promised assistance with finding a job after graduation.
The back page of the booklet has a personal note to prospective students, asking them if they are ready for a “brighter, future career”.

In May 1936 my father received his diploma from the faculty of Radio-Television-Sound Reproduction and came back home to go to work. As a result of his excellent work, he also received the H. C. Lewis Honor Award upon his graduation from Coyne.

Dad started employment with the Hudson’s Bay Company in their electrical appliances service department. For over 36 years he persevered in his chosen profession, expanding his knowledge into refrigeration, as well as the ever-developing fields of radio, television and home appliances. He worked for a number of employers and even started a few businesses of his own. His experience was sought after in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War to train others in working with electrical apparatus.

After over three decades working in the service business, he tired of the grind and decided to take over a golf course in British Columbia. His background and experience in farming, electrical and mechanical work, carpentry and golf (one of his favourite hobbies) allowed him to change careers at the age of 58 and get involved in something totally different and with new challenges.

Bill tending the golf course at Quilchena, British Columbia, 1972

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Use of Second Names

In a post on the Pharos Blog in May of last year, Are middle names just a fashion statement?, Helen Osborne commented on the use of second names in her family, and in English families historically, in general. She noted that the furthest back ancestor she could find in her family to have a second name was in 1744. She wondered about the origin of second names – when it became commonplace to give offspring a second name.

Middle names when used in the past were generally the mother’s or possibly a grandmother’s surname. Having such information is an important genealogical tool, as one can usually go a long way to identifying the families going further back.

For those of us who go by our second name, the question was of more than just passing interest.

A number of readers commented, using their own family history as illustrations, but only one person could find a member of their family further back – a relative born in 1711. Even that one was qualified as his background may have been Dutch. Second names appear to have been much more common in continental Europe than in the British Isles. No one had a person in their family tree born in the 17th century who was given a second name. One person offered the location of websites put together by Hugh Wallis, on which he gives second name indexes for many English and Scottish counties, all sourced from the International Genealogical Index (IGI) lists.

My own comments on the Pharos blog post were as follows:

The earliest I have is a 4th great-grandmother, Mary Collins Plier, born in 1754, in Cornwood parish, Devon. The baptism entry does not show the name of a father although she had a brother, James Collins, also with no father listed, indicating the father’s name might have been Collins.
1754 February 22 – entry in Cornwood parish baptism register for Mary Collins Plier, daughter of Rachael Plier.

1756 February 13 – entry in Cornwood parish baptism register for James Collins Plier, daughter of Rachel Plier.
Another 4th great-grandmother was baptized as Jane Treby Shepheard in 1769, also in Cornwood parish. None of her siblings had a second name and the name, Treby, does not appear with any other family member. Treby was the surname of a prominent land-owning family in the area. Jane Treby’s father, Nicholas Shepheard, was also a land owner, tax assessor, churchwarden and otherwise important individual in the community. He is listed in the Devon Freeholders lists between 1762 and 1783. He may have been a friend of the Treby family and was undoubtedly involved with them in both parish and business affairs.
1769 August 11 – entry in Cornwood parish baptism register for Jane Treby Shepard, daughter of Mr. Nicholas and Mrs. Mary Shepard
The early use of second names may have been more common in mainland Europe, as Helen commented. I have one family line that originated in Germany – surname Kettenring. The earliest individual found so far by family researchers is Hans Jacob Kettenring, born in Pflaz, Bayern, Germany, in 1595. Another line had the name of De Busk in Virginia with possible (unconfirmed) connections to France. A 4th great-granduncle, William Province De Bouse, born in 1744, is shown in the family tree.

In my work as a Devon Online Parish Clerk I have transcribed all of the parish records for Cornwood, Harford, Plympton St. Mary and Plympton St. Maurice parishes which gives me primary name data. In Cornwood only eight children, out of a total of 930, were baptized with a second name between 1685 and 1750. The earliest was in 1695. Four of them were base-born indicating the second names had something to do with the unnamed father. One was the child of a local baronet. In Harford, two of 124 children were baptized with a second name between 1699 and 1750. In Plympton St. Maurice, six of 1,720 children baptized had a second name, the earliest in 1729. In Plympton St. Mary parish, 5,578 children were baptized between 1602 and 1750. Twenty-one of them had a second name and, of these, four were base-born. Curiously, three children from different families, baptized between 1730 and 1736, all had the second name of Pearse. There is no explanation for the coincidence although the Pearce/Pearse family appears to have been important well back into the 1600s in the area.

As to Helen’s question about whether the use of a second name was fashionable, it seems more likely, at least early on, that it was used in acknowledgement of family connections or ancestors or as a sign of respect for other important people within the community.

I have no idea why my parents picked Wayne for my second name. According to the Behind the Name website, it reached its highest use in the mid-1940s, which fits me, so they may have been taken with the general popularity – although it only ever reached about 0.5% of names given to baby boys. It’s still a mystery!

All baptism images reproduced here are used with the kind permission of the rights holder, Plymouth and West Devon Record Office. Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Family Misfortune

Sometimes when you look through the parish registers and other data concerning a particular family you just have to feel sorry for them. That was the case with one of my 1st cousins (5X removed) in Cornwood, Devon.

John was one of those members of my family who was baptized as Shepheard but buried as Shepherd. Part of the reason I think the spelling of his name changed over the years was that John could not read or write and either did not recognize the difference in spelling or accepted what the Vicar recorded as the "proper" way to spell his name. On his 1842 marriage record in Ashburton parish, Devon, he is shown as John Shephard. On the 1851 census he and his family were recorded as Shiphard; on the 1861, 1881 and 1891 censuses as Shepherd; and on the 1871 census as Shepheard. In the parish baptism register, on the occasion of the baptism of his children, he was variously shown as both Shepherd and Shepheard.
December 24, 1815 entry in Cornwood parish baptism register for John Shepheard, son of Thomas and Ann Shepheard; image courtesy of copyright-holder - Plymouth and West Devon Record Office
May 15, 1842 entry in Ashburton parish marriage register for John Shephard and Betsey Cleave;  image courtesy of copyright-holder - Plymouth and West Devon Record Office
July 22, 1898 entry in Cornwood parish burial register for John Shepherd, aged 82;  image courtesy of copyright-holder - Plymouth and West Devon Record Office
John and  Betsey had six children. One of their first setbacks was the deaths of the two oldest in 1850, Susanna at the age of seven and William at the age of 5. The burial register does not record the cause of death but it was likely one of those diseases that made their rounds among communities in the mid-19th century. In Cornwood parish, between 1848 and 1852, of the 122 total burials, 51 of them children under the age of 17 – a very high ratio.

John was a farm labourer all of his life so likely never made great wages. The family probably lived from hand-to-mouth most of the time. By the time his children were teenagers, most of them were out working, generally in menial or labouring jobs. One daughter, Harriet was fortunate in being sponsored to attend Dame Hannah Rogers’ School in Plymouth. The school was endowed in 1764, originally “for the maintenance and education of poor unfortunate children” of Devon and Cornwall.

Harriet came back to Cornwood but not without finding a bit of trouble. She had a daughter, Louisa, a “base child” according to the entry in the baptism register, in 1865. Harriet married George Haynes, the local bootmaker, in 1869 – signing her name as Shepheard, it might be noted. Louisa lived with her grandparents, John and Betsey, for a number of years apparently, even while her mother, stepfather and half siblings were living right next door. That, of course, could have been a convenience of space not necessarily a rejection by Harriet’s new husband.

Not all of Harriet’s sisters were as lucky with their education. After a few years working as a general servant, Susanna, born in 1856, was married at the age of 19 to a local boy, William Phillips. Other sisters, however – Ruth Ann, born in 1851, and Elizabeth, born in 1854 – both ended up in the Plympton St. Mary Union Workhouse.

Ruth Ann had a daughter, Harriet Blanche, born in the workhouse in 1872. Harriet also lived with her grandparents for a number of years. She went on to marry and raise a family of her own in Cornwood. Elizabeth had two children out of wedlock in the workhouse, James Ernest, in 1878, and Edith Virginia, in 1880. Both children died there, James at the age of 10 weeks and Edith as a child of eight years. I have not yet found what happened to Ruth Ann or Elizabeth.

The family of John and Betsey was not without tribulation and misfortune, perhaps like many other families of the day. In the end, several branches prospered. John and Betsey lived to ripe old ages of 83 and 86, respectively. It is likely John worked right up until near his death. He was still shown as an agricultural labourer on the 1891 census, at the age of 75.

Betsey and John Shepherd of Tor, Cornwood – about 1890 (photo courtesy of Pat den Hollander and Tom Maddock, descendants; image from T. H. Maddock Collection)
Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.