Friday, March 28, 2014

An Unexpected Email is like a Great Gift - Shaws (52 Ancestors - #13)

The hobby of Genealogy to me is like an insatiable obsession. A day does not pass that I don't look up one if my ancestors in my tree, scout around for a "new" vintage photo, ask relatives for information or surf the net for any clues to where our family originated. Family research is like assembling an endless puzzle or trying to investigate a mystery that might never be solved. Admittedly I've been blessed by many friends and family around me who have been able to provide memories, stories, and advice for my quest to family research. Some of the people who have been my biggest role models are my dear friend Patty S., long lost cousin Tom G., new cousin Trooper Bob, cousin Pat C., friend Jean, and Aunt Mal to name a few. However, on occasion people come out of nowhere to help a stranger.  I've had the pleasure of a stranger coming out of the woodwork this week to help me.  Earlier this week I was doing my usual poking around websites to find anything I could about my husband's Shaw family.  In my search I found an a friendly, robust genealogy site for those seeking information about ancestors from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland,  It had a virtual bulletin board where I could post a note saying I was looking for Shaws from Little Heart's Ease and Brendan responded to my post!  Here is what he said via a personal email to me:

Hi Karen
I saw your posting on the Grand Banks site and decided that I had to reply. My name is Brendan Doyle and I live in xxx, Newfoundland. My family came from nearby Grates Cove which is just across the bay from Little Heart's Ease in Trinity Bay. I am not a genealogist but I have been researching families of my area for quite some time now and the Shaw's come into my search because they were originally from Grates Cove. If you look at a map of our area you will notice that Grates Cove is located at the tip of a peninsula and right on the bountiful fishing grounds of Baccalieu Island. In the early 1800's it was a very inhospitable place especially in winter and it appears that it was quite common for many residents to move across the Bay to the more sheltered areas like Little Heart's Ease. Some settled permanently while others made it their winter living area because of the availability of plenty of firewood. Many would come back to Grates Cove for the summer months to carry on their fishing.
The Shaw surname dates back to at least 1800 in Grates Cove. James Shaw married Tamar Blundon from Bay de Verde about 1805 (no marriage date found) and had George in 1805, James 1816, John abt. 1818, Stephen 1824 and Anne in 1831. Your James Daniel (1886) line descends from Stephen who had a son Daniel in February 1859 by Hannah Duggan of Grates Cove (no marriage date found). It seems that this Daniel moved across the bay where he married Catherine Frances Flynn of Southport, Random Island on 6 Nov 1883 at Little Heart's Ease (Witnesses Thomas and Margaret Shaw). They had James Daniel 1886, William George 1887, Daniel Francis 1891 and Michael Thomas in 1892. Daniel is one of those who made the trip back to Grates Cove because their son Daniel Francis died there 3 June 1892 age 1 year and is buried in the RC Cemetery. 

This information is a gold mine and how nice was Brendan to go out of his way to email me this information!?  I'm certainly eternally grateful to him for this wonderful email.

As I mentioned, I did find the website and was perusing through the posts to see the various topics.  One person asked why so many Newfoundlanders moved to Boston and Edward gave the following explanation:

Emigration from Newfoundland to Massachusetts involved the push-pull factor.  From the 1850s until Confederation in 1949 life in Newfoundland was difficult.  Boston was the "Athens" of the New World, the epitome of culture, education, and opportunity.  By 1925 there were roughly 40,000 Newfoundlanders in the greater Boston area. They had their own newspaper, churches, and stores.

What is particularly fascinating is the impact of religion on emigration.  Catholic Newfoundlanders settled in South Boston, Gloucester, or Cambridge.  However Protestant Newfoundlanders tended to settle north of Boston in places like Chelsea, Everett, Malden, etc...

If you visit the old cemeteries in Newburyport or Gloucester many of the headstones say "a native of Newfoundland" or "a native of Carbonear" which is very interesting because the emigrant's family is embracing Newfoundland as an identity rather than merely being English or Irish in origin.  (Link to post:

Another member, Eileen (enobe), went on to say the following about hardships our ancestor's children experienced in Newfoundland which may have been another reason for the great emigration:
Starvation probably was a reason why many moved away. I hesitated to mention this before because I thought that maybe the people in my little area of NFLD weren't doing something right. While going through the death registers, I noticed that many young children had died of "marasmus". I'd never heard of that so I looked it up, then cried.  It means malnutrition and/or starvation usually ending in death. Often occurring in third world countries. Can you imagine the horror of losing a child that way, no wonder so many left.
Note: This week I've found a wonderful website and even better, a super email!  This goes to show you, never give up your search.  Something will eventually give!!

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