Today I am thankful for Genealogy Bank and I will tell you why. I have spent the most time searching for information on my ancestor Abel Kent Sr. than anyone else for several reasons. The primary reason, however is due to a document located in the Connecticut State Library. This document has become a source of a birth date for Abel Kent that I can now say with confidence is a mistake made by a well intended man. This man attempted to group all the families of Suffield, Connecticut into family groups utilizing the Suffield records. The page he wrote about the children of Noah and Deliverence (Granger) Kent listed their son Abel with a birth date of September 20, 1753. This is actually the birth date (in a different year) of Abel's sister Deborah. Thanks to an article dated March of 1766, found on Genealogy Bank, I learned my ancestor Abel Kent was living in Lanesborough, Massachusetts in 1765. This article gave me more than that though. It contained an important piece of history for that town that I had never seen before despite reading all the local history books and even better, my ancestor Abel Kent was involved. The event in the article described "The Lanesborough Affair". I learned an important piece of history and a great family story which lead to the arrest of my Abel. Before this article, I did not know Abel had ever lived in Lanesborough, although I knew his brother Noah lived there. This article led me to further research at Chicago's Newberry Library to learn more and leads me to another person I am thankful for today. My friend James, who went to Pittsfield to research Lanesborough and New Ashford for me. I did not even ask him! I now have dozens of documents detailing what once was 20 missing years of Abel Kent's life that I did not know. These documents provide further proof that Abel was indeed the son of Noah and Deliverance (Granger) Kent and could not possibly have been born in 1753, therefore had to be born on September 26, 1742. The newspaper article found on Genealogy Bank told me a great piece of lost history that my ancestor was involved in and lead me to so many more great documents, thanks to my friend James. The 20 year gap is now filled with land documents, documents that detail Abel's service to the towns of Lanesborough and New Ashford, his participation in Shays Rebellion, another huge piece of American history and more. Today, I am thankful for Genealogy Bank. I am thankful for my friend James, who taught me so much of what I know about genealogy everyday. If you want to read more about Abel Kent Sr., Lanesborough, The Lanesborough Affair or New Ashford, I have published more on my website Early American Ancestors and put many of the documents found there, including a transcription of the article found on Genealogy Bank regarding The Lanesborough Affair.
Between 1880 and 1920 a mass migration out of Italy cut the population of many towns dramatically. Immigrants left Italy in huge numbers during this period. Approximately one third of those immigrants came to the United States. There were many reasons for this mass migration during this time frame. Crops were failing due to over farming caused by greedy feudal landlords, Phylloxera destroyed many of the vineyards, and a series of many natural disasters and outbreaks of illnesses such as cholera made earning a living and surviving in Italy difficult. Something new began to occur during this time period. It became so common, it was given a name and the wives left behind were called White Widows. Leaving Italy was not as easy task and could be quite expensive. Often men would leave their families for other countries and look for work. Once they found work in the new country, they would obtain proper lodgings for their families and send money for their passage so the family could be reunited in their new country. However, this did not always happen. Sometimes the husband would leave promising to send for his wife and children when he obtained work, and would never be heard from again. The wives that were left behind to feign for themselves and their young children were called white widows. Food and jobs in Italy were scarce during this time. Most of the men that left Italy probably left intending to send for their families. However, once they found work in America, they had to pay rent and eat. Many also had to send some money home for their families to survive. Saving money for ship passage for the family would have been difficult at best. The lucky ones would have found good jobs with opportunity to save but many did not. Other circumstances also lead to men leaving their homeland and families behind also. Many of these men after a period of time gave realizing that the reality of their finances would never allow them to send for their wives and children. Some of these men continued to send money back to their families but for some of these white widows, their husbands were never heard from again.