Our latest blog profile features AncestryInk, written by Jane Sweetland. Here, Jane introduces her blog:
As an adult, busy raising my family on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, I wasn’t interested in local history or family ancestral stories. An avid interest in maritime history, however, pulled me into other branches of historical research. Eventually I became associated with an underwater salvage team out of Provincetown searching for the wreck of a silver-laden ship belonging to Charles I that went down in the Firth of Forth. Researching shipwrecks in Edinburgh and St. Andrew’s in Scotland captivated me. As I discovered, history and genealogical research are inseparable. And the tales provided by captain’s logs, church records, and old cemeteries are exciting! I relentlessly pursued connecting the dots, closing circles, and finding how the lives of quiet, local people intertwined or made a difference as larger historical events unfolded around them.
An unresolved family mystery ultimately led to the creation of my blog AncestryInk: I had no idea who my great-grandfather was. Everyone in the family refused to talk about him. He was like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter books: “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” My great-grandfather was a Scot from Maine, a man of the sea who reportedly had “a woman in every port.” That was all I knew. My research took me well over two years. I drew from the resources of Facebook, original family letters, the NEHGS research library, NEHGS and Ancestry online databases, Maine libraries and historical societies, Maine cemeteries, Family History Library microfilm, and much, much more.
I found that my great-grandfather, a master mariner who sailed between Nova Scotia, Maine, and Pennsylvania, married three times, and fathered ten children between 1882 and 1920 - even though he was on the high seas almost continuously! One of his wives divorced him, his second and third marriages may have been bigamous, and he abandoned many of his children. I found plenty of evidence for why he might not have been spoken of.
A desire to expand my research skills during this process prompted me to enroll in the Boston University Genealogical Research Program. I gained so much valuable information that I felt moved to share what I was learning by creating AncestryInk. A secondary interest in photography seems to mesh nicely with blog writing and, I hope, enlivens the experiences and information shared there. I discovered I come from a long line of seagoing folks and island inhabitants, and I am currently working on a project about an 1846 shipwreck off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard involving my ancestors.