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May 22, 2014

Get ready to lay a foundation in your knowledge of Colonial American genealogy research. Beth Foulk is here to walk us through early immigration to America, Indentured Servitude and Bondage, and the records and resources that can help you locate your ancestors from this time period. But first...


Lisa's youngest daughter Hannah got married last weekend!


NGS 2014 Conference in Richmond VA
In addition to teaching conference classes Lisa teamed up with Maureen Taylor (The Photo Detective) and Janet Hovorka (Family ChartMasters) to provide “Genealogy Outside the Box” free 30 minute sessions in the exhibit hall. Stay tuned for more announcements of more sessions at future genealogy conferences!

New Newspaper Collection
The National Library of Australia has added an additional 35 historic newspapers to their online collection at The greatest concentration of newspapers in this latest update is from New South Wales. Most of the new additions cover the date range from about 1875 to 1960, with many in the 1910 to 1945 era. Most of the additions appear to be from small towns.

Hat tip to Paul Nauta at FamilySearch



From Chris on Family Relics: "I loved your comments on "most treasure family relic" in the latest podcast. I'm very fortunate to have pictures and artifacts from my mother's side, but unfortunately I know very little about my dad's side and have only a few things. I could relate to the woman whose answer was "nothing".  

One consolation for me has been a few little things I could find out with just a little digging. I wrote about it on my blog 

Finding the things I mentioned at least lets me stand in the shoes of my ancestors and imagine life in that place and at that time. It's not as nice as a "relic", but it brings them to life as real people. I think that's important in genealogy as well. Love the podcast!"

Judy writes to as a follow up to the Google Earth for Genealogy Webinar
“I was so excited about your workshop. Legacy presenters are good but you are among their best. In fact I received an email from my friend:

After watching today's webinar and seeing the gal search the GLORecords for land patents I tried for William Breeding. 

S C O R E ! ! ! ! ! 

I had tried searching for land patents for William Breeding in the past with no success. My great results are due to finally getting confirmation that it is William Jackson Breeding for sure and watching this gal search today.

Thanks for the heads up on this webinar!!!”

Watch Google Earth for Genealogy free here at the Genealogy Gems website.


Barbara is Shocked: "I really enjoy your podcasts, and was listening to your latest one when your piece about not so happy memories really struck a chord with me. 

I recently asked for the file of my Great Uncle from the Australian War Memorial.  He was in World War I in France.  I found that he had been charged with desertion and sent to goal( (jail)!  What a shock, and I don’t think many of the family know a lot about it. 

Reading through the transcript of the court marshal and the history of this time of the war, it was pretty clear he was a young man in shock after seeing several of his fellow soldiers die,  who did not know what to do.  He got separated from his troop and wandered around for a couple of days until he found another company and was arrested.  Later he got TB and this probably shortened his life.  A sad story, and during my research, I found that 306 Commonwealth solders were shot for desertion.  It is quite a controversial part of our history as (thank goodness) the Australian Army refused to allow any of its soldiers to be executed, and this caused some issues with the English officers.

A new law passed on November 8th 2006 and included as part of the Armed Forces Act in the UK has pardoned men in the British and Commonwealth armies who were executed in World War I. The law removes the dishonour with regards to executions on war records but it does not cancel out the sentence of death. 

I have decided not to put any of the information online, but keep it in the family archives.  Anyone in the family who decides to go looking will find it at the war memorial site, but my uncle did not marry or have children, so that does seem to lessen the impact."

Barbara also asks for your help: I am trying to track down the family of an Australian sailor from WWI who wrote some lovely postcards.  I bought them at a garage sale several years ago, and have only just got around to reading them.  I would really love to give them to the family, as they are very touching.

I posted about them on my blog.

Here is what I know from them:

  • The writer was on board the SS Gilgai in December 1915 to February 1916, traveling from St Vincent, Cape Verde to Boston, USA.
  • He was not the captain or 2nd officer, as these are referred to in the postcards
  • He refers to someone, possibly a son in Australia, as Jack
  • He refers to his wife always as My Darling Girlie
  • He had a friend on the SS Calulu
  • He may have been in charge of the offloading of cargo or the engines.
  • He bought his wife a trinket made of seeds and a table centrepiece while overseas (perhaps they are still in the family?)

I can be contacted via my blog Genealogy Boomerangs if any listeners have information. Any help you can give would be appreciated, and thanks again for the great podcasts, I love hearing about all your travels and experiences. 


Welcome  to our new sponsor:!

This episode is also sponsored by RootsMagic.

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for supporting this FREE podcast!


GEM: Colonial Research with Beth Foulk

Look for the bibliography on her website:

During the 1600s and 1700s three-quarters of all immigrants were indentured servants and another 50-60,000 were convicts "transported" to America and sold into "slavery" on the plantations of Maryland & Virginia as their sentence for the crime. The conditions in England were abysmal, and for many this was the only out of a broken social system that had failed them.

Beth discusses:

  • The social conditions in England
  • The social construct that gave rise the culture of indenture
  • Who was indentured? (male, female, young, rural)
  • The two types of indenture. (self and spiriting (kidnapping)
  • What life was like once in service in America.  The length of term and life thereafter.
  • The social conditions that gave rise to the shipping of convicts to America (this was before Australia became a penal colony)
  • The black market business of shipping convicts to America.  Who did this and why? How was it done?
  • The Transportation Act of 1718 and the attempt to regulate this business.
  • What life was like on board the ship.
  • What the selling or auction process was like.
  • What life was like in America as a "transported convict"
  • Who was transported (not all convicts)
  • Records 

1718: The Transportation Act is passed, which included:

1.    Who could be shipped

2.    Surgeon must be on board

3.    Dictated the number of convicts that could be on board

Bondage (aka Convict in England)


Question:  Where can the genealogist look to identify if their ancestor was indentured or in bondage? 

Answer:  The Old Bailey Online – London’s Central Criminal Court 1674 - 1913


Full transcripts of every court hearing during this time period

From the website: “The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913
A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. If you are new to this site, you may find the Getting Started and Guide to Searching videos and tutorials helpful.”

Also look for:

  • Runaway records
  • Newspapers of the time. Books of transcripts and abstracts of runaway notices (These could include a physical description)

The pre-eminent authority: Author Peter Wilson Coldham
Books in Amazon 

Other possible records for Indentured:

  • Contract (very rare)
  • Land Records
  • Probate
  • Deed
  • Church (references to “Servant”)

Other possible records for Convicts:

Census (if your ancestor is the only one with that last name in the area,that could be a clue they were a convict)

There were also Political Prisoners. Look for Diary or Transcripts

Visit Beth’s website:
Go to “Indentured and Convicts” blog posts
Email Beth at

SONG: The Death of Wolfe

(Song used with permissions from Archiving Early America website)

Explore their early America music section

Come all ye young men all, let this delight you,
Cheer up ye, young men all, let nothing fright you,
Never let your courage fail when you're brought to trial,
Nor let your fancy move at the first denial.

So then this gallant youth did cross the ocean,
To free America from her invasion,
He landed at Quebec with all his party,
The city to attack, being brave and hearty.

The French drew up their men, for death prepared.
In one another's face the armies stared,
While Wolfe and Montcalm together walked,
Between their armies they like brothers talked.

Each man then took his past at their retire.
So then these numerous hosts began to fire,
The cannon on each side did roar like thunder,
And youths in all their pride were torn asunder.

The drums did loudly beat, colors were flying,
The purple gore did stream and men lay dying,
When shot off from his horse fell this brave hero,
And we lament his loss in weeds of sorrow.

The French began to break, their ranks were flying,
Wolfe seemed to revive while he lay dying,
He lifted up his head as his drums did rattle,
And to his army said, How goes the battle?

His aide-de-camp replied, Tis in our favor,
Quebec, with all her pride, nothing can save her,
She falls into our hands with all her treasure,
Oh then, brave Wolfe replied, I die with pleasure.

Watch the video: Music in a Colonial Williamsburg Tavern
By the Colonial Williamsburg YouTube channel

For more inspiration and information search “Colonial Genealogy” at YouTube.


CLOSING: Why You Do Genealogy
In the Feb newsletter I shared a video where I explain why I do family history, and asked all of you to share what motivates you on the Genealogy Gems Podcast Facebook page. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Paul wrote: "To start with my Aunt gave me 2,000+ names when I was baptized as she knew the Church members do a lot of genealogy. Many of the stories I found were interesting. But I also got to know my father who was killed about 7 months before I was born."

Tim wrote: "Just the whole destiny thing. When I go back several generations, I wonder what IF he had never married her, what IF she had not moved to this town, met her husband, what IF they had stopped having kids just before my gggrandfather was born...etc. I am who I am and where I am because of decisions that were made long ago. Just kind of cool."

Margaret: "Really nice video. I pursue my family history because I want to take myself back to THEIR time, find out what their lives were like, follow their journeys, trials, tribulations and day-to-day lives. Through census records, city directories and Sanborn maps I discovered my 2nd great grandpa lived around the corner from an ice-cream store in Savannah, with a dairy right behind it! How cool is that!"

Peter: "I do research because I want to know who my family is, where they came from and what they did. After a 20 year search to solve one of my family line missing links I solved it and yelled whoo who, it felt so rewarding." 

Margaret: "My mom had always described herself as a Heinz 57. I'm much more curious about just what/who had contributed to who I am. Having roots that reach into ancestors from Germany, England, Mexico and Spain by ways of RI, IN, TX and California make for interesting research!"