Sunday, October 28, 2012

Google + for Collaborative Research


I'm on Google + now, and encourage my cousins with a computer with a camera and microphone (anything bought in the last year or two), and a gmail email account (free), to add a Google Plus account (free) and search for me (Gregory Fearon).  Add me to a circle (Genealogy Cousins), and I'll be notified.  Or just send me an email that you've joined.  I'll find and put you in one of my circles.

I'm planning on using Google Plus's Hangouts (audio/video conferencing - free) to help us work on our family history together.  We can look at our online family trees together, share documents, and enlist the world to help us get past our research walls.

It's fun.  Come and see.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ideas too early


I was glad that I kept the first genealogy printouts, and emails from 15 years ago.  I was just beginning to explore my ancestry, and information was appearing on early family tree websites.  I sent out an email with what I had found on Fearon births, deaths and marriages in England and Ireland.  In addition, we had taken a trip to Ireland, and I found additional information in the country's record archives in Dublin.

Digging out the paperwork today, I discovered that fifteen years ago a long forgotten email colleague and possible relative was pursuing the same ancestral question at the center of my recent research in Great Britain.  What caused the Fearon's in the world to originate in both Armagh County, Ireland, and Cumbria, England at about the same time?

Ross Fearon, now deceased, never found an answer which satisfied his curiosity.  His emails indicate that he had not found a common ancestor, and had a variety of evidence of separate origins.  But he wondered if their proximity (across the Irish Sea) had meant there was some social and familial crossover during the 17th - 19th centuries.

Seeing the same ancestral residential patterns over 200 years, I decided I needed to know more about the historical events in the two areas during the period.  I needed to know what caused movement between them, and if that might help me understand the relationships.  I've dug out the books that I've collected on Irish history (and promised myself I would read), and now I'll keep the promise.

I also needed to see if I could re-connect with any of my earlier correspondents to learn what they might have found.  I constructed a Google Map with placemarks for each of those Fearons who responded to my emails in 1997.  The Map allows me to re-invite them into a Fearon Family Community, and encourages them to add comments and links to information to the map for others to read and respond to.

I don't think you ever outgrow your wonder about your ancestors.  We'll find out who wants to strt up a new set of research using the latest internet tools.

Gregory Fearon

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Taking the Fearon family another 30 years back in time.


Our recent trip to Great Britain gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the Ennerdale Valley, earliest home I knew about for my great grandfather, John Fearon.  Just before the trip. I had found my grandfather, William Walker Fearon, living in Ennerdale Bridge in the 1891 and 1901 English Census.  On the trip, I was able to locate the approximate location of the family farm house.  I also obtained clues that my great grandfather and great great grandfather probably lived in the same area.

But it took until I got home to learn more about the family's earlier years and generations.

I've told the story before of the Fearon family's deficit fathers.  Both my father and his father could have stayed around a bit longer as parents.  And my father and I both suffered because of it.  At least my grandfather seems to have had the benefit of living with his parents from 1890 until his departure from England for America with his older sister, Margaret, at 16 years of age.  My great grandfather didn't fare as well.

John Fearon, born in 1860, lost his mother at age 1, and his father at age 3, and his grandfather at age 9.  His sister, Eleanor, and he were split up and taken in by two local families.  John and Isabel Bowman agreed in 1863 to raise my great grandfather, at the farm (Mireside) where his father (William) had worked all his life.   The farm was located nearby the home of my great great grandparents, John and Eleanor Fearon, who lived at Hollymes, Ennerdale Valley.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why I believe that Henry Linton is my 3rd great grandfather


The key is whether my grandfather, William Walker Fearon, is the same man as Marjorie Gardner's great great grandmother's brother's (George Linton) daughter's (Mary Louisa Linton) son - William Fearon.

Both were born in 1889.

My grandfather reported on his selective service application in 1917 that he was born in Belfast, Ireland, to John Fearon and Mary Fearon.  I don't believe that's true, unless he was born while his parents were traveling in that area.

His middle name is Walker, the family name of his grandmother.

He named his oldest daughter, Beatrice.  William Walker's sister was named Beatrice Ellen Fearon.

His second oldest daughter (my aunt Eloise), provided me in 1995 with the married names and addresses of three of his sisters, to whom she had corresponded for years:

Mrs. R. Anderson, 21 Napier Street, Auckland, New Zealand.  English marriage records indicate that Rebecca Fearon married Robert Anderson in the 1st quarter of 1921 in Tynemouth, Northumberland.
Mrs. J. D. Williamson, 35 Wetheriggs Drive, Penrith, Cumberland, England.  English marriage records indicate that Edith Fearon married James D. Williamson in the 3rd quarter of 1928 in Whitehaven, Cumberland.
Marian Stronach, 1761 Great North Road, Auckland, New Zealand.  New Zealand's WWII Selective service rolls indicate that the butcher, Gordon William Stronach, lived at that address in April and June of 1943.

If I'm right, and my grandfather is the same William Walker that appears in Marjorie Gardener's family tree, then we share the same 3rd great grandfather, Henry Linton.

Gregory Fearon

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Traveling through family history


Our travel to England and New England this month have had family heritage at its core.  After discovering a few months ago that my grandfather on my father’s side was born in England, and not Ireland as he told everyone, I’ve been using the trip to get a better sense of what that family history looks like.  In addition, I’ve been pursuing a long delayed dream to visit the pathway along which my Lary family made their way over a thousand years from France to England to America.

As a descendant of European royalty from the French Franks to the English Plantagenets, visiting Britain’s castles and churches has been an demonstration of family enterprise.  The country’s towns and cities were built by, and the characters and stories are about, the trunk of our family tree.  But following the lineage geographically isn't as simple as visiting Buckingham Palace.  First, our family route to William and Harry leads through both Diana and Charles.
The easiest and longest route starts where all modern monarchies begin, with Charles Pepin in France,  Father of Charlemagne, and an ancestor of William I the Conqueror.  When William I invaded England in 1066, his victory at Hastings carried at least 300 years of throne time to English soil.  Though our direct line from the throne ended when Henry III died in 1274, and his first son (Edward I) succeeded him (we're descended from his younger son, Edmund), the family line of our cousins continues to the present-day Elizabeth, Charles, and William and Harry.

Henry III tried to appoint Edmund to King of Sicily, and found the present King unwilling to give up the local throne.  So Edmund settled for being the first Duke of both Lancaster and Leicester.  The castle he took over, remodeled, and in which our family lived for 50 years is Grosmont Castle.    Edmund's grand-daughter, Eleanor, married into the Beaumont family (Viscounts of Maine, France) in 1250.  Her husband's grandfather had been the King of Jerusalem, Emperor of Constantinople, before his father emigrated to Aberdeen, Scotland and Lincolnshire, England in the early 1300s, where they stayed for almost 100 years.  
In 1480, a Beaumont granddaughter (Frideswide Lovel) married Sir Edward Norreys, head of a long line of Berkeshire Norreys.  Her great great granddaughter, Mary Norris, married Isaac Allerton, the 5th signer of the "Mayflower Compact". Mary and Isaac were among the Pilgrims to flee England to Leiden, Holland for religious reasons. They married there in 1611 and she was given the unoffical title of "Maid of Newberry" while living in Holland. In 1622, Mary and Isaac embarked on the Mayflower with 102 passengers, including three pregnant women. Mary was one of them. About a month after they arrived at Plymouth in the "New World", she gave birth to the first child born in the colonies, a stillborn child. She was still aboard ship in Cape Cod Harbor while houses were being built. Mary died about a month later.  She traveled to the Colonies with her husband and three children Barhlomew, Remember and Mary Allerton Cushman, who became the wife of Elder Thomas Cushman.  It is said that in the painting by Henry Sargent (1770-1885) entitled "Landing of the Pilgrims", Mary Norris Allerton is represented as having a fine face, rather beautiful, and as being of a "meek and quiet spirit". The painting was painted in 1818-1822 and is on permanent display at Pilgrim Hall Museum; Plymouth, Massachusetts. at the Cole Hill Monument.  It is reputed to be the scene of the secret night burials of those who died during the settlement's first bitter winter. Corn was planted over their unmarked graves so that the Native Americans should not know how many had perished.Mary Norris Allerton is the 2nd inscription on the monument.

Next week, we'll travel to New England, and resume the journey following my ancestors. They'll include the Cushmans, Hawkes, Coggswells, and Anthoines, before finding the Watsons and the Larys.  From English aristocracy to religious rebels to shipworkers to blacksmiths to farmers to mill workers to train and automobile mechanics to nurses and scientists to young professionals.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

William Walker Fearon Family Clues


Here are the clues which seem to lead me to believe that my grandfather might not have been telling the truth about his parents family's origins.  The only direct sources I have for his birthplace, and that of his parents, are his selective service registration in 1917, and what he reported to the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census.  In all three, he said that he and his parents were born in Northern Ireland.  He also said that he had arrived in the U.S. in 1892, and become a naturalized citizen in 1893.  He would have been two years old, and would certainly have come with his family.

I have been searching for confirming evidence to no avail.  No birth records for William Walker Fearon, John Fearon, or Mary Walker in Ireland.  No marriage record for his parents.  No immigration or naturalization records for any of them from Ireland.  No record o them in the 1900 or 1910 Census.

Alternately, I have been exploring the possibility that he was the oldest son of John Fearon and Mary Linton Fearon of Ennerdale, Cumberland, England.  Here are the clues:

The 1861 English Census lists a family in Ennerdale headed by a 76-year old Mary Walker, her 35-year old daughter Margaret Walker Fearon and 49-year old son-in-law William Fearon, their 6-year old daughter Eleanor and 1-year old son John.

The 1881 English Census indicates John has moved out as a 21-year old, and is living on his own in Ennerdale.

The 1891 English Census lists John as living with his wife Mary L. Fearon, and their four children: Beatrice Ellen (8), Margaret (6), William (2), and George (1) in Whitehaven, Ennerdale, Cumberland.
Mary and Margaret are listed as being born in Workington, while John, Beatrice, William and George were born in Ennerdale.

By the 1901 English Census, Beatrice and Margaret have gotten married and moved out, making room for five more children: Marian (8), Rebecca (6), Mabel (5), John (3), and Mary L (8 months).

The 1911 English Census indicates that John is employed as a coal miner, William has left, 5-year old Edith has joined the family, and they are living in Frizington, Cumbelrand.

It is then possible to believe that the 18-year old William traveled to America, made his way by train across to Kansas, enrolled in the army, served for four years, and was discharged sometime after 1912.  He traveled north from Kansas to North Dakota, where he meets and marries Edna Leen, the daughter of a Norwegian farm family.  In 1913, he is hired as a police officer in Ray, North Dakota.  The 1915 North Dakota State Census indicates that William and Edna are living in Williams County, and have two daughters: Beatrice V and Edith Eloise, both under 5 years of age.  Laverna becomes his third daughter.  In 1917, he reports in his selective service registration that he is the Chief of Police in Ray, North Dakota, and has three children.   It reports that he had served for four years in the Army in Kansas Infantry, emerging as a non-commissioned officer.  The 1920 U.S. Census lists the family as including the fourth daughter, Helen, and living in Clark, Clark County, South Dakota.

The 1930  U. S. Census lists the family as adding a son, Floyd (5), and living in Benson, Swift County, Minnesota.  Floyd was my father.

I have become convinced that my grandfather was born into a family from Ennerdale, Cumberland, England.  I'm convinced by the fact that my grandfather's middle name is the family name of this William's grandmother, that his first daughter shares the same name as a sister in that family,  and that I've confirmed the married names of the three of his sisters (Edith, Rebecca, and Ann) in the family is the same names as my great aunts given to me by my Aunt Eloise ( Mrs. James D. Williamson, of 35 Wetheriggs Rise, Penrith, Cumberland; Mrs Robert Anderson, of 21 Napier Street, Auckland, New Zealand; and Mrs. Gordon William Stronach, of 1761 Great North Road, Avendale, Auckland, New Zealand.  I found a copy of their marriage licenses, birth and death certificates, and military records.

Thank you, Marjorie Gardner!!!!!  My cousin!!


Friday, April 20, 2012

New Cousins


One good thing about doing research on your family in the various genealogy websites is that you periodically find cousins.  People who share one of your ancestors often post their family trees on these site, and a feature of the sites is usually that they can connect you with them.

Recently, I connected with a cousin in England who provided new information on the ancestors of my father's father.  Next fall, I'll be traveling to England to see if I can continue the research.  It also spurred my energy to check on what the website had on several other grandparents and great grandparents where my information was incomplete.  As a result, I found three new cousins who share connections with me on my mother's father's line.

But even if you find that someone's family tree contains the same great grandfather, privacy controls in these online family tree websites usually prevent you from knowing much about them, and require them to respond to a website inquiry in order to connect.  That's the case with these three cousins: Daniel and Chris Holton, Mommebird, and Debrob22 (known only to me by their user names), who share with me a family line which finds its way to Samuel S. Watson, Lucy Ellen Watson, or Joseph Lary.  I've sent messages to each to see it they're interested in sharing information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New England Ancestors


My ancestors, the Larys, Watsons, Cobbs, Anthoines, Hawkes, Cushmans, and Allertons have lived in New England for almost 400 years.  In Massachusetts for most of that time, they settled in the coastal towns of Barnstable, Scituate, and Lynn.  The first, Isaac Allerton, his wife Mary, and their 3 yr-old daughter Mary, arrived on the Mayflower.  The younger Mary was the last surviving passenger when she died in 1689.

Another set of ancestors arrived in the 1650's, and spent most of the next 300 years in New Hampshire and Maine.  I've recently found a key cousin who wrote a great narrative about the Larys, and have the possibility of expanding my contact with cousins in the line of my ancestors.

This fall, Pat and I will be traveling through both New England and the Lake district of England to visit the places of these ancestors.  Hopefully, the research will be useful to more than just us, and I'll be trying to solicit ideas about what key information in our shared histories needs our time and efforts.

If your ancestors are from these areas, and these family names ring a bell, contact me and keep an eye on this blog (and our travel blog -



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Five Great Women


My great-great-grandmother, Lucy Ellen Watson, had an amazing life in the mid-1800s in Maine and New Hampshire.  She also had two amazing great-great-grandmothers, in the 1700's in Massachusetts and Maine (Elizabeth Phinney and Rachel Hawkes).  They had two amazing great-great grandmothers (Mary Allerton and Patience Hurst), who arrived in Massachusetts in the 1600s aboard the Mayflower and a sister ship ten years later.

All five women led extraordinary lives, and I'll be writing their stories in the near future.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

William Walker Fearon


My grandfather wrote in 1917 on his selective service application that he was born in Belfast, Ireland on November 7, 1891. Fifty-five years later, his second wife indicated that he was born in Kansas on his death certificate, and advanced his date of birth to 1896. Also indicated were his parents names: John Fearon and Mary Fearon, of Ireland. On the 1930 U.S. Census, he indicated that he and his parents were born in Northern Ireland.

My father's older sister, Eloise, wrote me in August of 1995 to tell me that she had corresponded with her father's three sisters, and gave me their last known addresses: Ann Stronagh of 1761 Great North Road, Avendale, Auckland, New Zealand; Mrs. R. Anderson, of 21 Napier Street, Auckland, New Zealand; and Mrs. J. D. Williamson, of 35 Wetheriggs Rise, Penrith, Cumberland, England. I wrote to all three, and the letters were all returned indicating they were not known at those addresses. I've been looking for two decades for any confirming evidence of this information with no luck.

Last year, however, I was contacted by Marjorie Gardner, of Leicester, Leicestershire, England, who wrote the following text in a message within

Hello Gregory, Happy New Year to you! Ancestry has given me a link to my entry for Beatrice Ellen Fearon to assist your request for information. I am not sure why as I have no William Walker Fearon in my tree. But to give you some information about Beatrice....she was born 1882 in Cumberland....St Bees. She is the daughter of John Fearon (b 1860) and Mary Louisa Linton (b 1863). My link is with Mary L Linton. She is the daughter of George Linton (b 1836 d1910) and Rebecca Williamson (B 1843 d1924) and George is the brother of my great great grandmother Mary Linton. George LINTON is the son of Henry Linton of Workington, Cumberland (b 1810 d 1838 and Mary Mullen (b1814 d 1898) If I can be any other assistance to you, please let me know. best wishes. Marjorie

There is a listing for George and Mary Linton in both the 1841 and 1851 English Census. They are living in Workington, England with their mother Mary Linton. In the 1851 Census, their mother has taken the last name of Lewthwaite.   By the 1881 Census, George has grown up, and married Rebecca Williamson. Their oldest daughter, Mary Louisa Linton, was born in 1863, and has moved out and married John Fearon by then. The 1891 English Census lists John and Mary L. Fearon living in St. Bees, Ennerdale, Cumberland with their children: Beatrice Ellen, Margaret Walker, William, and George. Mary's younger siblings are living with her parents at 51 Edkin Street, Workington. Margaret dies in 1898, and John and Mary have six more children: Anna, Marian, Rebecca, Mabel, John, and Mary. Both families continue to live in the same area in the 1901 English Census.

Sometime after 1901, the oldest child of John and Mary Fearon (William Walker Fearon) leaves for America. In the 1911 English Census, the coal miner John Fearon and his wife are listed as living in Frizington, Cumberland, with their 21-year old son George (also a coal miner), and his siblings Rebecca, Mabel, John, Mary, and Edith. The record indicates that this couple had 14 children, ten of which were living in 1911.  I now believe this to be my grandfather's family, and I'm going looking for their descendants next August.