To find out, you'll have to pull yourself away from your computer and go to Monroe, WI's National Historic Cheesemaking Center. Yes, they have a website and it has a link to cheesemaker oral history interviews (on their YouTube site) plus a "History of Cheese" recap. The interviews might be useful for Swiss/Wisconsin family lore that would give you some ideas, but the earliest interviews I saw dated to 2018. What the actual venue in Monroe - just outside the town square - offers is the chance to physically locate your family's farm and see who & what they lived near, whether they were in the town or off in the wilderness, what natural resources and avenues of transportation they had (navigable waterways, roads), etc. All of these matter, particularly when there is more than one person in the town with your ancestor's name and you need to figure out which one married your other ancestor and ultimately produced YOU. Especially if you have to do a written analysis, you will need to be able to show how the couple could ever have possibly met and the map is your ally in that case. In the photo below, taken at the National Historic Cheesemaking Center (© Maura Mackowski 2019), you will see a notebook, wall map, and photo display. Look up your ancestor in the notebook, see a photo of their farm on the left, and find their farm on the wall map. In this example, the Flannagan, Olson, and Geigel cheesemaking operations are pictured and the map to the right should give you an idea of how two of them became "Flannagan-Olson." The moral of the story is, you will miss a lot, sometimes the most important clues, by just looking at records. Find out what your ancestors did for a living, look for museums & historical organizations dedicated to that craft, and visit the local museums in their town.
Mineral Point, Iowa County, WI in the "driftless" section (look it up) of the southwestern part of the state, is the place to go for Cornish genealogy. A great many of the European settlers in the area during the 1840s were Cornish miners there and you can today visit Pendarvis, essentially a recreated Cornish "village," eat pasties at the local restaurant, ask about their sister city (Redruth, Cornwall), and join the Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society. It aims to promote Cornish culture, especially among people in North America of Cornish descent and to do so they offer a newsletter, meetings (if you are in the vicinity), links to other Cornish cultural organizations, and access to their Cornish collection at the public library in Darlington, WI. They want to help you with your Cornish genealogical research, and the group's facebook page is advertising a free year of membership (or one year's free renewal if you are already a member). That offer expires July 31, 2019, but if you join after that, the dues are only $10. Not sure if you're Cornish? Surnames like Cornish/Cornwall/Cornys/Cornewallis or with prefixes such as Tre, Pen, or Nan, or occupational names such as "Dyer" (thatcher), "Bligh" (wolf, possibly for a hunter), or characteristics such as "gwynn" (white) or "teague" (beautiful) are often Cornish. Particularly if your ancestors first appeared in an area associated with mining, look for possible Cornish heritage.
Aren't book reviews fun? They make you feel so much better about yourself. Anyway, if you are interested in space program history, the publisher that brought out my first book, tragically overpriced, is reissuing it in paperback at a more palatable cost, roughly half the hardcover figure. Testing the Limits: Aviation Medicine and the Origins of Manned Space Flight will be available in paperback August 22nd but amazon is taking preorders now. If you like to support independent historians or just want to read "...a brilliant piece of scholarship..." you can check it out on amazon or via Texas A&M University Press.
The Swiss Center of North America in New Glarus, Green Co, WI is an excellent example of why you need to do “boots on the ground” genealogical research and not limit yourself to "dot-to-dot genealogy," i.e. connecting data points you find online and hoping the picture you draw is accurate. You can hire a local genealogist (try the Association of Professional Genealogists), or see if the local historical or genealogical society will do lookups for you, or better yet, go there yourself.
Today I got a tour of the extensive holdings the Swiss Center of North America has related to Swiss and Swiss-American genealogy. The village of New Glarus was founded in 1845 by Swiss immigrants from the canton of Glarus but the Center has genealogical records, family histories, 19th & 20th century correspondence & business records, newspapers, photographs, books, sound recordings, music, and Swiss-American club records - in all 4 languages of Switzerland – plus clothing, furniture, artwork, and household items from ALL the cantons and from Swiss emigrants to other parts of North America, including Canada and Puerto Rico.
Places like this make up the 90% (or more) of genealogical records that have NOT been digitized and probably will never be.
The Swiss Center of North America would also like you to get in touch if YOU have any diaries, photos, clothing, artwork, recipes, letters, club records, etc. from your Swiss immigrant ancestors documenting their experience in the Old Country or the New. They welcome such donations (they welcome monetary donations, too) and if great-grandpa’s alpenhorn or whatever you have in the garage isn’t exactly right for their collection they can help you find it a home. Their contact info is: 507 Durst Rd. New Glarus, WI 53574 – email@example.com– 608-527-6565.
I have been remiss in keeping that updated, partly because I find so many photos in public domain sources and those are the ones I tally. However, don't forget about the photos I am not at liberty to publish outright but to which I can offer a findagrave.com link. People who are lucky enough to have or find photos of ancestors from the 1800s often post them on findagrave.com and even better, sometimes give credit to their source. They aren't available for download without the contributor/owner's permission (click on his or her name) but you can window-shop. The findagrave site for a Cooke-Browne ancestor of mine, Ephraim Tomson/Thomson/Thompson (1747 MA - 1820 NH) was updated since 2013 with links to some of his descendants and several had photos. Thus in the "Findagrave Mayflower Descendants" section on your left you can find links to son Ephraim Jr., daughter-in-law Lucy Thomas (also a Browne), daughter Mary (via a second wife), and one of Mary's sons and three of his children, all of the surname "Winch." I can't add that surname to the index, but if you are a Winch with roots in Canadice, Ontario Co, NY, these might be your people.
Dr. Maura Mackowski is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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