Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Family historian Chris Paton delves into the psychic world to uncover an extraordinary experiment carried out by his great great grandfather in 1926…
Coming from both an Irish and Scottish heritage, as a child I was no stranger to hearing stories about the otherworldly folk known in Gaelic as the ‘Sídhe’, who were said to have inhabited the Fairy Mount on the golf course in Carrickfergus, and in particular the ‘banshee’ (bean sídhe), also known as the “White Lady”, who was supposed to haunt the nearby Lover’s Lane. Despite never believing such things, I would nevertheless still find myself walking quickly down the lane on a winter’s night when finishing my paper round, a nervous glance occasionally thrown over my shoulder to make sure that the banshee was not behind me, ready to wail uncontrollably at the forthcoming death of a family member.
Eventually I left
My mother’s name is Charlotte Harper Graham, named after her own grandmother, Charlotte Harper Montgomery, who was married to Ernest Graham. Both of her grandparents had apparently been very active in the Christian Spiritualism movement in
Despite a few seconds of experiencing the heebie-jeebies upon hearing this, I cast it to one side as just a playful family myth, but a few years later I would learn that there was in fact a lot more to this alleged Spiritualism connection than even my mother knew!
Edwin eventually died in
About the author
About the author
Chris Paton is a professional genealogist and former BBC television producer. He has a Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies and runs the
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
This is a delightful Christmas scene by Joe McMaster, born in Ballymena, County Antrim and now living in
If perhaps you had paused to wonder if the night wind had wrapped the twisting, turning wisplike strands of smoke around the old holly tree like a Christmas ribbon. You are not alone.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
The Old Thatched House
Ach Tay live in an auld thatched hoose,
A hoose to ca mae’ ain.
Tay sit by an auld herth fire bay Dy.
Or stroll doon a wee country lyne.
Tay ga ootside in the winter’s naght,
And to view the Milky Wy
Tay see the rise O the morning sun,
And the start O a new born Dy
Nay mere fay me the polluted air,
Or the smoke O the passing car
Fay me it’s the life O the young an the free,
An the country life bay far
Tay sit and to see the flight O the birds,
An to hear the howl O the fox by naght
It’s a sight an a soond that you’ll ne’er firget
An it will cheer your hearts delaght.
Nay mere fay me do I hear ye siy,
Nay mere, nay mere fer us.
Turn bak; turn bak to the dys of auld,
Tay the dys O nay flatter or fuss;
Tay sit at a table spread wiy food,
Prepared in the auld, auld wiy.
Tay hae an tay eat that natural meat,
An to sup that auld boul of tae;
Tay smell the air O the grilling fish,
O’er a fire O the Tirf and the Glow.
Tay pick the bones bare O that beautiful fish,
That we done in those yiars lang ago;
Nay mere fay me this man made meat,
That is tinkered wiy in every wine.
I’d rather eat grass and know that it’s guid,
Than to eat O the meat O the Dy;
Nay mere fay me this fat, and that Oil
Or food that’s been tampered with;
Just gae me the food that is naturally grown,
On the natural soils O earth;
To think O the naght’s O the candle laght
When we played in the frost and the snaw.
Tak me back, tak me bak, to that beautiful time
That, we, lived in those long years a gae.
By Ivan Knox, 22nd day of September 2003. ©
2nd Prize Winner in the Frances Brown Poetry Competition Sponsored by Ulster Scots Association and organized by The Finn Valley Voice News Paper Oct 2008.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Finding My Family Roots in
Back in 1997, after having been away from my original hometown at
To begin with, I went to the Old Town Burying Ground in
His name was Archibald Wiseman and the inscription on the stone says he “died at sea” on May 9th, 1853” at age 40. Aside from the fact that I had once heard from my grandmother that Archibald’s origin was from somewhere in Ulster, that was all that I knew about him at that time. Beginning with that information, and from a subsequent visit to the Local History Room of the Newburgh Free Library, I learned that Archie had married in the local Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church on December 25th, 1838.
At the same time, I posted an inquiry on the Wiseman Family Message Board at Rootsweb, and also contacted the official historian of the Wiseman Family Association in the
Soon after learning of Archie’s 1838 marriage (to my fellow ancestor, Susan Clyde), I consulted the 1840 US Census, and failed to find him… at first. Then I did find him there, under the name of “Achabad” Wiseman, with a wife and two young children, and employed as a clerk in a grocery store. This led me to the 1850 Census, where he and several members of his family appear with their ‘correct’ and complete names, and he is listed as a ‘brewer’ by profession. One of his children was a daughter Elizabeth, born in 1842, who was my maternal great grandmother.
The last reference I have to Archibald is that his marker in the burying ground says, as I noted above, that he died at sea in 1853. I have found no explanation or elucidation on that fact even though I’ve been looking for something for the past seven years. But I now know much more about Archibald than I did when I began this hunt.
And as a footnote to this, my son and I took a trip to Antrim while on the island, during a trip to the Republic. There, in Ballymena, we met with my presumed remote Wiseman family cousin and his son. He took us on a drive out to Cullybackey where there are several Wisemans interred in a churchyard there, and then over to the BallywatermoyTownland now in the area of Glarryford, where we visited the site of property at one time owned by Patrick Wiseman. Patrick was evidently part of our mutual family, gave the land on which a Gospel Hall was built in the mid-19th Century, and has his picture on page 22 of “
Footnote: Another of my ancestral lines, the
...a picture of the Patrick Wiseman farmhouse/barn just up the lane behind the present church on the grounds of the old Gospel Hall and churchyard
...a photo of the headstone of Patrick Wiseman in that churchyard
...a photo of our presumed cousins with my son at the right, taken in the parking area for the present church on