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The Geneline October President s Message


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The Geneline

October 2015

AIGS General Meeting

Tuesday, October 20, 2015, at 7:00 PM

The Community Meeting Room, Fernandina Beach Library 25 North 4th St, Fernandina Beach, FL

by Jean Mann

The hurricane season always brings a degree of uneasiness for those of us who live on the Atlantic coast. Even though we are nearing the end of the current season, I wonder if you are prepared for a disaster. Most of us have considered the day-to-day safekeeping of important documents – birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, etc.

You probably have these items at the bank in a safe deposit box.

But have you thought about the safe-keeping of your genealogy research and documents? Yes, you say. I back-up my data on a regular basis and even have my pictures stored on Flickr. But what about the hard copies of important documents that you have collected over the years? What about the family Bible that belonged to your great-grandpa which you now have in your possession? What about the original copies of death certificates and wills for your parents, grandparents? What about the old family photographs which you have obtained?

Hurricanes are not the only disasters that may occur. Not as frequent are tornados that could affect our neighborhoods.

More common are the nor’easters that bring wind and rain to our shores and can be destructive. You might also have a plumbing break in your home which can cause considerable damage.

It is safer to have items in your safe deposit box, but a bad storm could cause damage even there. Storms can cause damage to the bank. The bank vaults provide better protection than keeping these items at home, but they are not the perfect solution.

So what can you do to provide safekeeping for these valuable items? If we should have a hurricane, we would usually have several days’ notice before an evacuation is necessary. For other disasters, you might not have as much time. For

President’s Message



2015 AIGS


Jean Mann President

Tonia Quarterman Vice President Carol Miller Secretary Marcia Pertuz Treasurer Gus Reinwald Past President Larry Conte Director Bob Keane Director Teen Peterson Director Lori Miranda Director


EDITORS Jim Miller AIGS Website Larry Conte Membership Bob Keane Program Lori Miranda Publicity Teen Peterson Librarian Bebe Granger Cemetery Coordinator Kathy Nemaric Research Coordinator Tonia Quarterman Editor Geneline Jean Mann

Editor of Nassau County Genealogist

those valuable items, you should have a grab-and-go box which includes your genealogy material as well as passports, credit card information, insurance documents and your valued jewelry.

Plastic tubs are easy to grab-and-go and also provide protection from some water damage, but remember if you use the ones made of PVC, they are good for short-term storage, but not for long-term storage. Though more expensive, you should search for archival safe storage boxes, some are even made of polyethylene or polypropylene and meet archival standards. Archival quality zip-lock bags can now be found which provide for safer

storage in PVC tubs. You may want to have two tubs – one for items that do not have to be stored in an archival environment and one that is archival quality. There are a number of companies which can be found on the internet which provide archival products:

Conservation Resources International, University Products, Light Impressions are just a few.

For your working files, make copies of original birth and death certificate, marriage

certificates, wills, etc. Place the originals in your grab-and-go box along with the old family photographs. Don’t forget to include the important personal documents – insurance policies, passports, credit card information, a list of the jewelry or art items you want to gather at the last minute, and an inventory of your household belongings. Back up your computer files at least once a month and place a copy of the DVD in the box. Actually, you should be making several copies to store away from your home; copies can be placed in your safe deposit box or with interested relatives.


Have You Lost Your Way?

The regular monthly meeting of the Amelia Island Genealogical Society will be held 7:00 PM, October 20, 2015 at the Fernandina Beach Library

Community Room at 25 North 4th Street. The panel discussion "Have You Lost Your Way?" is an opportunity to seek assistance in identifying next

steps and resources available to move your family history research forward. Priority will be given to questions submitted no later than October 6 to the AIGS Webmaster at info@aigensoc.org.

These will be reviewed in preparation for the meeting.

Experienced researchers and fellow genealogists getting enquirers back on track will be AIGS members Jean Mann, Marie Santry, Gus Reinwald, Marcia Pertuz and Kathy Nemaric. Bob Loveless will moderate.

Public Welcome!

Don’t forget new location for Amelia Island Genealogical Society is the Fernandina Beach Public Library!!



Oct. 1, 2015—Monthly Board Meeting 5:00 PM, Community Room, Fernandina Beach Library Oct. 8, 2015—Library Assistance, 6:00-8:00 PM, Community Room, Fernandina Beach Library Oct.15, 2015—FSGS Webinar: Probate Records, Genealogy’s Goldmines 8:00-9:00 PM Oct. 20, 2015—Monthly AIGS meeting, 7:00 PM, Community Room, Fernandina Beach Library Oct. 22, 2015—Library Assistance, 6:00-8:00 PM, Fernandina Beach Library

Oct. 24, 2015—FGS Webinar: Beyond the Simple Website 10:00-11:00 AM

Oct. 24, 2015—FGS Webinar: Mob Action: Working as a Group to Get and Stay Afloat 11:30 AM-12:30 PM

The “Events” section on our website is the place to go to check out conferences, webinars, meetings, and more—local, regional, state, and national. Just click on the “Events” tab located on the left side of the home page.


As prescribed by the AIGS by-laws, the AIGS Nominating Committee met to propose a slate of officers and board members for the 2016 AIGS Board. Nominees from the current board who expressed an interest in serving for another year were retained. The AIGS Nominating Committee recommends the following slate of candidates for your 2016 Officers and Directors:

 President – Jean Mann (incumbent)

 Vice President –Tonia Quarterman (incumbent)

 Secretary –Carol Miller (incumbent)

 Treasurer –Bob Frey

 Past President—Gus Reinwald (incumbent)

 Membership – Larry Conte (incumbent)

 Programs –Robert Keane (incumbent)

 Publicity –Lori Miranda (incumbent)

 Director-at-Large –Teen Peterson (incumbent/appointee)

All of the incumbents on the slate have indicated their willingness to serve a second year. We have a strong slate of nominees for the AIGS Board, and the AIGS should be off to a very good start in 2016. The slate of candidates will be voted upon at the November General Meeting.


Please remember that annual dues for membership to AIGS are due by January 1, 2016. They may be sent to the membership chairman with the renewal form anytime before the due date. Individual memberships are

$25.00 and family memberships are $35.00. The membership application located on the last page of this newsletter (or available on the website for downloading) should be sent with your payment to the following address any time before the January 1 due date.

The Amelia Island Genealogical Society P.O. Box 6005

Fernandina Beach, FL 32035-6005



Who has the oldest? More results from our photo contest

My great grandmother Margaret Victoria Pitts Robinson was born in 1862 in Nova Scotia. She was 30 years old in this photo. Her birth name was Marguerite Victoire Petitpas.

Submitted by Bebe Granger.

Keep those photos coming!! We need old photos for upcoming Geneline issues. Please send with member name and caption to


Benches are a beautiful addition to a cemetery gravesite. Memorial niche benches can be used as an alternative to a traditional monument and can securely enclose a

cremation urn. There are many benches in Bosque Bello Cemetery.

Bebe Granger, AIGS Cemetery Coordinator, bebegranger@yahoo.com

Contact Bebe if you are interested in participating in the Cemetery Survey Project. Volunteers are always needed!!

Feature Article of the Month

The English Workhouse

By Lori Miranda

This article was suggested by one of our members. If you have interest in a particular topic, please forward it to a Board member.

Additional resources and links for this article may be found on the AIGS Brickwalls Member forum at aigensoc.org.


Master bricklayer Thomas Watkins appeared on two English censuses. In 1841 he and wife, Jane, appeared on Clifton Street, Clapham, Surrey. Jane died later that year and was buried in the cemetery at Holy Trinity Parish, Wandsworth, in August. In 1851, Thomas, 74, appears in Battersea as an inmate of the workhouse, which served as a home for older people with no family, the ill or infirm, or indigents. He died 27 June 1854, Wandsworth and Clapham Union Workhouse.

There are no records I can find of where he was buried. I would like to have input on where to find indexed records of the inmates, how long they lived there, and where they were buried. Son Thomas John Edward Watkins was a builder and architect in Maidstone, Kent. Why didn't he take his father into his home instead? Thomas (Sr.) is listed as blind on the 1851 census, is that the reason?


5 Poor Laws

English Poor Laws to care for the aged and needy have existed for hundreds of years in one form or another. By the dawn of the 19th century, these were funded by local taxes and administered at the local civic parish level. As the country grew in population, adjacent parishes were allowed to form 'Unions' to pool resources. These were managed by a Board of Guardians who reviewed individual cases and assigned the level of help individuals or families could receive.

Not all were sent to the workhouse (or poorhouse). 'Out' care was available to keep families in the community, and sometimes it was the father who was sent to work off debt while his wife and children received parish funds at home.

By 1834, the Poor Law Amendment Act changed this. There would be no more 'out' – anyone who required help was obliged to be 'in' – in the workhouse. If a man was unable to pay his debts, the entire family became inmates. Eligibility for a specific person was determined partly by location. Historically the parish of birth decided which location was required to provide funding, although by the mid-1800s, a person or family was required to have been in the specific parish for 5 years prior. Those who did not meet this guideline were either 'removed' or were considered transient, or 'casual', and only allowed a night or so of shelter within a specific time period based on available space on any given day.

This approach would be echoed in colonies settled by the English, and even today, it is not unheard of for US cities to bus the indigent homeless to another location to avoid providing services.

Those who entered the workhouse were sorted into wards and categories of care based on gender, age, and willingness to work (and possibly morality – 'good' vs. 'bad' inmates). As an elderly male, and infirm, Thomas Watkins would not have been expected to do much if any manual labor such as 'breaking rock' (for the men) or 'picking oakum' or nursing the elderly (for women). He would have been at the top of the hierarchy for such a facility. He would have had a bed in a ward with other elderly men and a day room and perhaps designated yard. Below him in pecking order were the able- bodied poor who were willing to work off debt, followed by unmarried, expecting women, and finally those who refused to work. The bottom levels experienced the least comfortable treatment. Even meals followed guidelines set by law – for example, for the week or so after childbirth, a new mother might receive only thin porridge for all meals. Indigents did not fare better. This was considered incentive to return to work or leave the facility as soon as possible. The elderly infirm, while certainly not feasting, were given extras such as sugar for tea, butter for bread, etc.

Wandsworth and Clapham Union Workhouse At the time of the 1834 workhouse amendment, Wandsworth and Clapham were in 'union' to care for the aged and poor. In actuality, the service area also included adjacent Battersea, Putney, Streatings and Tooting Graveney. This portion of Surrey is opposite London on the south bank of the Thames. The group of civil parishes, later to include Lewisham, served the largest number in the metropolitan area of London. Because the area was (and is) so populous, it can be difficult to grasp

comparative size, but by 1851, Clapham alone would be like jamming the population of the

modern City of Fernandina Beach (+/- 12,000 people) into Fort Clinch State Park (+/- 1100 acres) with the center of London being about 2 3/4 miles away – or, about the distance of Fort Clinch to the foot of Centre St. at the river.

A quick calculation of the W&C Workhouse on the 1851 census shows it home to 12 Staff members - including a nurse - and family, 16 'wayfarers' (transients or 'casual'), and 352 inmates, a large number of whom were elderly, some into their 90’s. The youngest residents were a month old, but the percentage of children was very small. The 'Blind or Deaf/Dumb' census category was checked for about 60% of inmates. Very few have one of these conditions actually written in, but some do. The check marks appear to be in a different hand than the other information. This leads to the question as to whether the marks actually mean these two specific infirmities or are a sort of generic bureaucratic indication of 'infirm' for statistical purposes.

The image of Oliver Twist's workhouse is familiar to many, and there were certainly scandals and despicable conditions in some notable cases. Thankfully, Wandsworth and Clapham Union Workhouse are not listed among these.


6 Modern Times

St. John's Hill Workhouse (an alternate name for W&C) was built following the 1834 Poor Law workhouse amendment circa 1838, and the complex expanded several times in the following century. The only portion now standing is a later building, currently part of a medical complex near Garrick Close in Wandsworth. This follows a common pattern. The responsibilities of Poor Law Authorities were transferred to local councils in 1929, and the National Health Service was born in 1948. Many facilities transitioned with these changes.

Thomas and Jane Watkins' 1841 residence on Clifton no longer exists. Clifton was changed to Courland Street, and the area is now in or adjacent to Larkhall Park, in Battersea, south of Lambeth. That which wasn't destroyed by WWII bombing was razed or replaced. Holy Trinity Parish in Clapham, where Jane Watkins is reported to be buried, is still in existence less than 3/4 mile west of the Workhouse site.

Archived Records

Two main record sets are available in relation to the Workhouse of this area. The first is housed at Wandsworth Heritage Service, Battersea Library. The overwhelming majority of these documents predate Thomas Watkins' time. There is one record set for Wandsworth All Saints, dating 1688 – 1900 – with gaps – which are Vestry minutes. From reading, All Saints occasionally provided burial of inmates of W&C who died while in residence. It is a long shot, but possible that Thomas Watkins was buried here.

The second data set is at the London Metropolitan Archives, the catalog of which is online. A search for 'Wandsworth Poorhouse' will return a record set [WABG] with multiple categories. The good news – there are 170+ linear feet of documents. The bad news – there are no registration records like other workhouse record sets, and very few of the documents are in the time frame for Thomas Watkins. The most promising of these are the Board of Guardians minutes which appear to be continuous from 1836 to 1930. On the face of it, these may sound purely administrative, but from reading, it was part of the duties of the Guardians to approve those who sought admission for aid. It is possible that lists of intakes appear in these. The one other group in the LMA may be correspondence for W&C, which includes contracts for funerals and interments in Woking Cemetery with the London Necropolis & National Mausoleum Co. in the mid- 1850s. Caveat – it is important to scroll to the bottom of the page for these record sets. If there is a red 'Level Down' button, choose it. This will open up specifics about the breadth of documentation.

For basic information about the subject of English Workhouses, Peter Higginbotham's so-name website is a great start for those researching their ancestors who experienced dire straits.

In Closing

The London Metropolitan Archives offers 'Paid Document Research Service' [PDRS] through LMA Enquiry. Because any small piece of Thomas Watkins' life may provide a clue to clarify the decision to enter W&C, this option may be

attractive. This may help to address why his son and family in Maidstone did not take him in. Other than estrangement, an early admission such as 1841 following the death of wife Jane, may have come on the heels of an acute illness which turned into long-term care. Or, Thomas of Maidstone's wife may have been very busy with her large brood to take on additional duties, especially if Thomas Sr. required significant nursing. By the 1851 census, Thomas Jr.'s household no longer listed servants; only a handful of older children remained. Perhaps their financial circumstances temporarily dipped, or there was illness in his home. Because there is a gap of 10 years between Jane's death and the appearance of Thomas Sr. in the workhouse, it is still possible that his family cared for him, but that he was required to be removed to his assigned civil parish when a more advanced level of care became necessary.

Thomas Jr.'s will was proved in early June of 1854, and Thomas Sr. died in late June in Wandsworth per your

information. The ultimate outcome of any research would be discovering the name of Thomas Sr.'s parents. Because there are differing accounts of his birthplace, this anomaly is an area for exploration. The 1851 census lists Wantage, Berkshire as his home town, but your inherited records list Newham, Kent, possibly from the 1854 death record.

Because there are two Wandsworth deaths for different Thomas Watkins’s, it may be a good idea look closer at both the 1854 and 1856 deaths and verify the exact information.


7 Please note: Any reprinting of articles, information, or data originated by AIGS members and printed in the

Geneline requires the acknowledgement of credit to the AIGS upon reprinting.


Board Meetings are open to all members of the Amelia Island Genealogical Society. If you are interested in how and what your board manages, please feel free to attend the monthly meetings.

The Library Committee is in need of volunteers to help library patrons with their research. An AIGS member will be available at the Fernandina Beach Library on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month.

If you are willing to help, please contact Teen Peterson, AIGS Librarian, at teenjeffpete@gmail.com.

If you need help in organizing your research, or the translation of a foreign language document, the AIGS has lots of resources and many talented, experienced volunteers just waiting to assist you. Or come to the Fernandina Beach Library on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month from 6:00-8:00 PM to ask questions and receive assistance in breaking down those brick walls. Contact AIGS president, Jean Mann at president@aigensoc.org, if you need help with a genealogy problem. She will find the right resource for you. Your problem is just waiting to be solved!

To find out more about the Amelia Island Genealogical Society, please visit our website at:


The Society’s Library Collection is housed in the Fernandina Beach Library, 25 N. 4th St. Fernandina Beach, FL 32034. It includes the Nassau County Genealogist, and the GENELINE, AIGS’s monthly newsletter. All GENELINE articles are indexed by PERSI.

If you shop on Amazon.com you can support the Amelia Island Genealogy Society when you make a purchase.

Their Amazon SMILE program donates a percentage of your purchase to the charity of your choice. To sign up and support the Amelia Island Genealogy Society visit the link below and sign up.


Membership Information

Membership dues are $25 per person & $35 per family, per year. The membership year runs from January 1st through December 31st. To print a membership application or for more information go to our web site: http://www.aigensoc.org/aigs/index.asp.

To join, please send the completed application form, along with the appropriate fee to the address below or bring them to the next general meeting.

The Amelia Island Genealogical Society P.O. Box 6005

Fernandina Beach, FL 32035-6005

The membership packet includes AIGS information and all current year issues of the society’s quarterly publication. Family history research training is offered through classes, workshops and ongoing programs.



2016 Membership Application

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You may enter your surnames being research once you have logged onto the Amelia Island Genealogy Society website.


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