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52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 37 Recap

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52ancestors-week37The air is definitely cooler and the days are noticeably shorter. But that hasn’t stopped people from continuing the 52 Ancestors Challenge!

And… brace yourself…  I actually blogged about two of my ancestors last week. Read about my third-great-grandparents David Stephen(s) and Rebecca Dickinson and how I attended their wedding.

Add a link to your 52 Ancestors post from last week in the comments below. And be sure to check out the wonderful posts from Week 36!

Below Ground for the Battle of Britain

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September 15 is Battle of Britain Day, commemorating the day in September 1940 when it became clear that England would be victorious against Germany in the skies over London. In June, I had the opportunity to go to the bunker where the Royal Air Force command directed the battle and Winston Churchill chewed his cigar for several hours, watching…  waiting…

I think America, as a whole, doesn’t quite appreciate all that England went through in the early days of World War II. By the time the United States entered the war in December 1941, England had already been at war with Germany for almost a year and a half. In May and June 1940, Germany had taken Belgium, Holland, and France — and then turned its sights on England.

After weeks of nighttime bombing, it became clear on 15 September that Germany was launching an all-out attack on England. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that England would win. Germany had more planes (though fewer pilots) and their planes were technologically more advanced the British fleet. And Germany was on a roll…

Churchill joined his commanders in a bunker outside of London. (The bunker is now surrounded by a middle-class subdivision.) Smoking wasn’t allowed. An officer told Churchill that he would not be able to light his iconic cigar. Higher-ranking officers were astounded that he said this. Churchill took it in stride. For the next several hours, he chewed — but did not light — his cigar.

Entrance to the Battle of Britain bunker. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

Entrance to the Battle of Britain bunker. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

Status board in the command center. This portion shows the Biggin Hill airfield. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

Status board in the command center. This portion shows the Biggin Hill airfield. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

Going down the stairs, you get a sense of claustrophobia. Everything is very close. From the command center, Churchill and his commanders could see the status of every squadron. The status board listed each unit in the airfields under this command; the lights indicated the units status — out of commission, preparing, scrambling, or in the air.

This portion of the status board shows the Biggin Hill air field and the status of each of its 4 squadrons.

Notice the clock in the lower left of the photo. The color coding of each 5 minute increment was a way that they could relay how current the information on the positions of the aircraft was. How did they track the plane while they were in the air? Radar and several skilled radar operators and map technicians.

You know that scene in numerous WWII movies where the women wearing headsets push model planes around on a table-top map? That’s what they did in the bunker. Radar operators would track the position of each plane — and try to filter out for things like flocks of geese — and relay the position to the map women. The women, in turn would then use the color code system so the commanders could see how current the position was. For example, if the time right now was in the blue, the commanders knew that anything with yellow was 5 minutes old and anything red was 10 minutes old. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a rather ingenious system.

Close-up of the planes used on the map in the plotting room. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

Close-up of the planes used on the map in the plotting room. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

After the battle was over on 15 September, Churchill emerged from the bunker. They were exhausted, but relieved that they were victorious. It was here that Churchill first said the famous quote that he’d re-use the next day in his speech to the British people:

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Standing in the Battle of Britain bunker was quite an experience. You could almost hear the voices of the commanders and the servicemen and women. You could almost feel the tension. To visit, you need to make arrangements ahead of time, but it is well worth the visit.

I got to hold one of the plane pushers. It was pretty cool! Photo by Rachel Crow, 10 June 2014.

I got to hold one of the plane pushers. It was pretty cool! Photo by Rachel Crow, 10 June 2014.

View from the command center. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

View from the command center. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

Hurricane outside the Battle of Britain bunker. This is the kind of plane that won the battle. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

Hurricane outside the Battle of Britain bunker. This is the kind of plane that won the battle. Photo by Amy Crow, 10 June 2014.

How I Attended My 3rd-Great-Grandparents’ Wedding: (Stevens/Dickinson 52 Ancestors #25-26)

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They say that genealogy connects us with the past, and I firmly believe that to be true. There are ancestors to whom I feel especially connected. But when I found the marriage record of my third-great-grandparents David Steven(s) and Rebecca S. Dickinson, I felt like I had stepped into a time machine and was at their wedding.

David and Rebecca were both Quakers. I had seen references to their marriage in the Robeson Monthly Meeting in Berks County, Pennsylvania before, but had never seen the record until recently. Many of my other ancestors’ Quaker marriages have been documented in in the certificates of removal, such as when Rebecca’s father, Nathaniel Dickinson, left the Exeter Monthly Meeting to marry Rachel Moore of the Sadsbury Monthly Meeting. But the marriage record itself is truly incredible. I’ll let David and Rebecca’s marriage record speak for itself:

Whereas David Stephen of Robeson Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, son of Samuel Stephen, late of the same place, deceased, and Elizabeth his wife, and Rebecca S. Dickinson daughter of Nathaniel Dickinson of the aforesaid place, and Rachel his wife, deceased, having declared their intentions of marriage with each other, before a Monthly Meeting of the religious society of Friends, held at Robeson aforesaid, and having consent of surviving parents their said proposal of marriage was allowed of by the said meeting.

Now these are to certify, that for the full accomplishment of their said intentions, this twenty-second day of the fifth month in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty nine, they, the said David Stephen and Rebecca S. Dickinson appeared in a public meeting of the said people held at Robeson aforesaid; and they the said David Stephen taking the said Rebecca S. Dickinson by the hand, did, on this solemn occasion openly declare, that he took her the said Rebecca S. Dickinson to be his wife, promising with divine asistance [sic] to be unto her a loving and faithful Husband until death should seperate [sic] them; and then, in the same assembly, the said Rebecca S. Dickinson, did in the like manner declare, that she took him the said David Stephen to be her husband, promising with divine assistance to be unto him a loving and faithful Wife until death should separate them.

And Moreover, they, the said David Stephen and Rebecca S. Dickinson (she according to the custom of marriage assuming the name of her husband) did as a further confirmation thereof, then and there to these presents set their hands.

/ss David Stephen
Rebecca S. Stephen

David Steven and Rebecca S. Dickinson marriage record (page 1). From Marriages, 1791-1864, Robeson Monthly Meeting, Berks County, Pennsylvania. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1944, Ancestry.com.

David Steven and Rebecca S. Dickinson marriage record (page 1). From Marriages, 1791-1864, Robeson Monthly Meeting, Berks County, Pennsylvania. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1944, Ancestry.com.

Following that are the names of the 61 people who were in attendance at David and Rebecca’s wedding.

David Steven and Rebecca S. Dickinson marriage record (page 2). From Marriages, 1791-1864, Robeson Monthly Meeting, Berks County, Pennsylvania. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1944, Ancestry.com.

David Steven and Rebecca S. Dickinson marriage record (page 2). From Marriages, 1791-1864, Robeson Monthly Meeting, Berks County, Pennsylvania. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1944, Ancestry.com.

I’m happy whenever I can find the marriage record of any of my ancestors. But this particular marriage record makes me feel like I was actually at the wedding.

David and Rebecca eventually moved from Berks County, Pennsylvania to Morgan County, Ohio. Their children include: William, my great-great grandmother Ann (wife of Eber Johnson), Elizabeth, Elwood, Lydia, Rachel, and Deborah. David Stephen(s) died 15 March 1865; Rebecca died 27 June 1874.

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 36 Recap

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52ancestors-week36Finally starting to feel a bit of relief from the summer heat and humidity. There’s also the slightest hint of fall colors in leaves. Have you thought about who you’ll feature in your 52 Ancestors posts this fall?

A lot of people played “catch up” last week. Be sure to check out the Week 35 recap for all of those great posts.

Now, let the Week 36 recap begin!

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 35 Recap

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52ancestors-week35Last week, I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in San Antonio. It’s always good to see old friends, make some new ones, and talk genealogy. If you’ve never been to a genealogy conference, I urge you to go to one. They are invigorating! Can’t make it to one of the national ones, like FGS, NGS, or RootsTech? Check out the conference held by your state genealogical society. Even if you don’t have ancestors in the state where you live, you’ll learn all sorts of things that will help you with your research. Plus, you’ll get to spend time talking with people who understand the Genealogy Happy Dance.

Now it’s time for Week 35 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Leave the link to your latest post in the comments below. (Be sure to include your ancestor’s name so others can find you!)

While you’re here, check out the great posts from Week 34!

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 34 Recap

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52ancestors-week34Howdy from Texas! I’m at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in San Antonio. I hope to see a lot of you here this week!

Before you head out to the wonderful sessions (and food!) in San Antonio, do two things:

  1. Leave a comment below with the link to the 52 Ancestors post you did this week
  2. Check out the great posts that were done last week

Happy reading!

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 33 Recap

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52ancestors-week33The summer has flown by. Kids are already back in school and the days are noticeably shorter. Even the weather around here feels more like fall than summer. (I am not complaining about that!)

How’s the Challenge going for you? I will admit that I am horrendously behind — not a good thing for the challenge organizer to be!

Leave a link to your most recent 52 Ancestors post in the comments below. And for some great reading, check out last week’s contributions! There continues to be good stuff written every week!

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 32 Recap

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52ancestors-week32I’m not sure which is weirder — the fact that it is August 13 and I have my office window open (a rare occurrence this time of year in the Midwest) or that kids are going back to school. Where did this summer go?

This past week has certainly flown by. it’s already time for the next round of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks! As we’ve been doing, leave a comment below with a link to your post. Also include the name of the ancestor you wrote about — it makes it easier for people to scan through.

There were lots of great posts linked on the Week 31 recap. Be sure to check those out.

Happy reading!

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 31 Recap

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52ancestors-week31I have a question for everyone. How did it get to be August already?!

It was great seeing so many of you in Indianapolis at Midwestern Roots last weekend. Hope to see several more at the FGS conference in San Antonio at the end of the month… which will be here before you know it.

Be sure to check out the Week 30 recap. Lots of great stories added last week!

Quick reminder — when you leave the link to your 52 Ancestors post, include the link to the actual post, not just to your blog. Sure, that post is at the top of the page now, but it won’t always be. Make it easy for your cousins to find you ;)

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 30 Recap

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52ancestors-week30Week 30 – can you believe it?!

Leaving links to the posts in the comments seems to be working well. Let’s keep it up.

As for my posts, life has continued to be very hectic. All good, just busy. In fact, I’m heading to Indianapolis this weekend for the Midwestern Roots conference, where I will be presenting a workshop on using Ancestry.com and 4 lectures (“Finding Females,” “How Do I Know That’s My Ancestor,” “Final Residences: Researching Cemeteries,” and “Researching Your Civil War Ancestor on Fold3.” I hope to see you there! (And I hope to be back to writing next week. So much to write about!)

Also, be sure to go back to the Week 29 recap to see all of the posts that were written last week. Who knows — you might find a cousin or two in there!

Leave a link to your 52 Ancestors Challenge post from this week in the comments below.