Saturday, July 13, 2013


So, I was messing around, genealogically speaking late the other night looking
for documents on some of my Plymouth County Massachusetts ancestors and I
had some success.

I found Probate Court files for three of my Dunham ancestors on FamilySearch
and I'll be posting the transcriptions here soon.

On I found Tax Rolls for several Barrows ancestors and for
my 6x great grandfather Ephraim Griffeth/Griffith. I'll probably be posting those
there as well.

But the most fascinating thing I found was also for Ephraim Griffeth on
in a Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 for Carver, Massachusetts.
The event type was "Animal Ownership" and right away my curiosity was piqued.

It turned out it was a listing of residents and how they had marked their sheep as
being theirs by specific cuts to the ears and tails of the sheep. Here's the full image:

The entry for Ephraim Griffeth's marks are about a third of the way down
on the right hand page:

There's one word I can't quite make out so here's my transcription of the
entry that I have now:

"Ephraim griffeth, Sheep mark is a square crop off the right ear & a (I can't
decipher this word) in the same & a Swallows Tale in the left."

((The Source Information from Ancestry is Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook). ))

So, now I know at least one of my Plymouth County ancestors living in Carver kept
sheep. And after  my last few posts about Ancestry, I thought I'd post a nicer one.


John D. Tew said...

Bill: I think your missing word is "sleat" because the first letter looks very similar to the "S" in "sheep" in the line above. I think "sleat" is the same as "slit" so that the mark for your ancestor was a square chop with a slit on the right ear. These marks were the original use of the term "earmark" as opposed to the modern understanding of Congressional earmarks. And if you look up earmark at see the definitions under the GNU version -- "A mark on the ear of sheep, oxen, dogs, etc., as by cropping or slitting."


John D. Tew said...

Bill: I also consulted the OED (Oxford English Dictionary). There is a word "sleat" with many definitions and one says a variant of "slat.' The word "slat" has even more uses and one of them is "to break into pieces or to split."

Bill West said...

Thanks, John. It makes sense now!