Welcome to another Teskey Newsletter, the first for some 18 months. Since I retired two years ago two particular activities have dominated my life. I apologise that genealogy in general and the Teskey Newsletter in particular have suffered as a consequence. I am currently taking a somewhat less active role in the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign and completion of the Irish Palatine Association tour of the German Pfalz has removed the other big distraction. I will return to these subjects later.
Whilst this Newsletter will be rather thin on genealogy, two particular items of news have encouraged me to write at this time. I would like to share a new, compelling theory about the origin of the Teskey family; but first I would like to update those outside Canada who were unable to follow the fortunes of Stephen Harper and Laureen Teskey in the recent Canadian election.
CANADIAN GENERAL ELECTION OUTCOME
On 28 June 2004 Canadians voted for a new Parliament. As a result, Paul Martin remains as Canada's Prime Minister, albeit now leading a party (the Liberals) that failed to secure a majority of seats in the Canadian House of Commons. Stephen Harper, leader of the new Canadian Conservative party, will continue as Leader of the Opposition with a stronger representation in Parliament. The relevance of these events to readers of this publication is that Stephen Harper's wife is Laureen 1963 Teskey.
Laureen is a descendant of pioneer William 1787 Teskey. William came from Rathkeale, Ireland and settled in Camden East township, Ontario, in the 1840s. He, like most Teskeys, was descended from Jacob 1659 Teskey who migrated from the German Pfalz to Ireland in 1709.
Laureen has been a regular correspondent and recipient of the Teskey Newsletter for 10 years. In 1995 Janice and I were very pleased to meet her and Stephen at a Teskey reunion in Calgary, Alberta, held at the home of Pat and Borden McLeod. Have we really been dining out on that story for 9 years?
Here is a photo taken at that reunion. From the left: at the back: Stephen Harper with Andrew and Borden McLeod. In front, the two Teskeys: Pat McLeod and Laureen Teskey.
It has been a busy year for Laureen's family. In March, Stephen was elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. This followed a merger of the Canadian Alliance party and the Progressive Conservative party. As leader of the Alliance party, Stephen was already Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Parliament.
When her husband first became Leader of the Opposition, in 2002, Laureen suggested that we might be able to hold a Teskey reunion at his official residence. I replied, somewhat ungraciously, that we would wait until such a gathering could be held at the Prime Minister's residence. Stephen and Laureen are young and capable of many more years of public service, so we will be patient a little longer for an invitation to 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa (which I understand is Canada's equivalent of the UK's 10 Downing Street). No matter what our politics may be, we Teskeys will surely watch this space with great interest.
NEW THEORY OF TESKEY ORIGIN
I am pleased to have retained a wide spectrum of people as readers of this Teskey Newsletter. They range from those with only a mild curiosity about their origins to those who are obsessed with it and have carried out far greater research than I. Those toward the serious end of the spectrum will be familiar with the research carried out by Hank Jones, pictured just below. His book "The Palatine Families of Ireland" is a cornerstone for research into all Irish Palatine families, and well-thumbed copies are kept close at hand by most Palatine researchers.
I am honoured that Hank is a reader of the Teskey Newsletter. He recently arrived at a compelling explanation for the origin of the Teskey name. I am delighted that he offered the following explanation for inclusion in this Newsletter . . .
You may feel the need to read Hank's explanation more than once, as I did. When researching older family history, in a period when national censuses and detailed certificates of birth, marriage and death did not exist, it is not so easy to establish the facts. Conclusions such as Hank's come from patient, meticulous research, gathering together whatever evidence can be found until there is enough to establish a high degree of probability.
I find Hank Jones's Teskey origin theory far more specific and far more convincing than any other suggestion. It does rely on circumstantial evidence, albeit pretty strong evidence, and there remains the question of why the spelling in the German church books and later in Ireland would be pronounced "SH" whilst the spellings in Rotterdam and London point to a pronunciation of "SK". But I'm happy to support the theory.
All Irish Palatine descendants owe a great debt to Hank Jones for establishing and publicizing their origins. Hank is an American of Irish Palatine descent. Not only is he a professional genealogist, but he has also enjoyed a career as an actor and singer. His website www.hankjones.com includes some fascinating details of his career and also descriptions of his books on the Palatines that are available for purchase.
THE TOWN OF OSTHOFEN
Osthofen lies about one mile (2 kms) West of the River Rhine, and around 5 miles (8 kms) North of the city of Worms. The three syllables are pronounced as in "cost", "hoe" and "fen", hence . . . OSTHOFEN. The name seems to mean something like East Farm.
This photo of Osthofen's main street was taken in the 1930s.
IRISH PALATINE ASSOCIATION PFALZ TOUR 2004
After more than a year's preparation, Janice and I were relieved when the Pfalz Tour finally moved into action mode in May 2004. Our tour group of 46 came to Germany from Canada, England, Ireland and the USA. We stayed in the lovely town of Bad Dürkheim for 9 nights, not far from Ludwigshafen. From our base we visited many attractive villages and a number of popular tourist spots. A full account of the tour will appear in the next Journal of the Irish Palatine Association. A few photos of the event appear in this Newsletter. Many more appear on the www.irishpalatines.org website.
All the tour participants had Irish Palatine ancestry and no less than 17 had Teskey forebears. Here is a photo of most of the Teskey descendants, standing in front of the tour bus.
From left to right, they are: Ken McDonald, Bob & Val Teskey, Barbara & Keith Pittam, Ted & Wendy Golding, Marge & Bob Fizzell, Barb Madry, Lorna Shier, Dianne Teskey, Tom Upshaw, Janice McDonald and Christy Switzer. Missing from the picture were Di Mitchell and Thora Wagstaffe.
Fizzell, Shier, Switzer and Teskey are names that evolved from German family names soon after the Palatine refugees reached Ireland. Several more original Irish Palatine names were borne by other people on the tour -- Bovenizer, Cronsberry, Ruckel, Ruckle, Ruttle and Shouldice.
Amongst the villages we visited were Assenheim and Osthofen. It has been known for some time that the Switzer family came from Assenheim, and now we know that the Teskey family probably came from Osthofen. Many readers of this Teskey Newsletter also have Switzer ancestors.
Osthofen was not in the area where our tour was based, but it was only a short detour from the route from Frankfurt Airport (where we met most of the group as they arrived in Germany) to Bad Dürkheim (where we were staying). Given the large number in our group with Teskey blood in their veins, I felt this was too good an opportunity to miss. Our tour bus stopped beside the town cemetery and we all walked through it to the Bergkirche, the church on the hill.
In the few days leading up to the tour I had sent an email to someone in the town, asking if it would be possible for us to see inside the church, which is usually kept locked. I received no response, so when our group arrived at the old church I too was taken by surprise by a formal welcome from the Mayor's representative!
The church has been largely rebuilt since our ancestors left, and was further restored in recent years, but in a side room there remains a wall painting dating from the 13th century. Jacob Tesch may have seen this fresco before he left Germany, and we were probably the first of his descendants to see it for 300 years. Our visit was somewhat hurried and many of the group were suffering from long flights, so I don't think many of us really took in the significance of where we were. To repeat the point, we were in the church where Jacob Tesch, probably the Jacob 1659 Teskey, had witnessed the marriage in 1707 of his daughter, just two years before they all fled from Germany. The fresco was pretty faint (but not bad after 700 years!). I hope the Newsletter printers will be able to satisfactorily reproduce this photo of part of the fresco taken by Bob Fizzell (a descendant of Anne 1765 Teskey).
Jacob Tesch was described as a Gemeinsmann -- I am advised that this is an alternative form of Gemeindemann, both being old words meaning something like "citizen".
I will seek to follow up the discovery of Osthofen and in particular follow up the brief contact we had with the Mayor's representative.
WESLEY 1925 TESKEY, pictured here, was born at Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada and died there in September 2003. After serving in the Canadian Navy in World War II he joined his father in the family business, continuing to run the Gateway Service Station in Rocky for many years until his retirement. Wes leaves his wife, Frances, five children and many grandchildren, two of whom carry forward the Teskey name.
DAVID 1924 TESKEY was pictured on the final page of Newsletter 33 in a 1931 photo of the pupils of Rathkeale No 2 School. I am sorry to report that he died on 17 June 2004. David lived in Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland and was the younger brother of Vera, who many of us who have visited Ireland know as Vera Shier. David was a farmer and also ran a Bed & Breakfast for a number of years. He leaves wife Eva, three daughters and eight grandchildren, none of whom will carry forward the Teskey surname.
BLANCHE RAE of Fergus, Ontario, Canada died on 7th December 2003 at the age of 94. She was the daughter of Berthilda 1880 Teskey. We were pleased to meet her at a family reunion in Wingham, Ontario in 1996, together with her siblings Velma and Jim Eveleigh.
GEORGE JOSEPH 1914 TESKEY of Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA died in January 2004. George was one of six children of John 1873 Teskey who was born in Rathkeale and migrated to Connecticut as a young man.
EDWARD ROY 1925 TESKEY died aged 78 in January 2004. He was a resident of Williston, North Dakota, USA. He had been a railroader and served in the Navy during World War II. I knew nothing about him or his family until I saw his most informative obituary. Now I know that he leaves six children and several grandchildren bearing the Teskey name, scattered across western USA, and that he was pre-deceased by his brother Wade 1937 Teskey and their father Edward Anton Teskey. I clearly have plenty of research still to do.
A SELECTION OF NEW CONTACTS
Although I have been very much free-wheeling for the past two or three years, Tom Upshaw's excellent Teskey website has continued to generate new contacts. Here I will mention just a few.
I had an interesting exchange with George Patton and his Mother Mollie. Mollie was born Mary Teskey in 1916 and for a while considered joining the 2004 tour to Germany. Her brother John 1921 Teskey is buried in Germany, having been killed on a bombing raid in 1944. John and Mollie were the children of Mary and the Rev Ernest 1884 Teskey. Mollie now lives in Kingston, Ontario, not far from where she grew up, but spent most of her life in Bermuda. Her first husband, John MacMillan Stevenson Patton, was the first overseas recipient of the George Cross for gallantry, having removed an unexploded bomb from an aircraft factory in Weybridge, England in September 1940. He subsequently played an influential role in Bermuda, serving as member of Parliament for 16 years.
My researches have generally focused on the Teskey name, but this tends to bypass descendants of female Teskeys who no longer have the visibility of the Teskey surname. However, people interested in their family history tend to look for maternal as well as paternal names and that brings these Teskey descendants into contact with the Teskey website and thereby into contact with me. Such contacts often give me much additional information.
Lorraine Owens of London, England got in touch when she found details of her great great grandmother Rebecca 1846 Teskey on the website. She has promised to provide details of as many descendants as she can find.
Just recently, Emily Chenette of Indianapolis, USA, made contact. Her ancestors include Louise 1830 Teskey who married John Trooper Scanlan. She kindly sent me details of around 150 additional descendants from Louise. I was able to return the favour by forwarding a copy of Teskey Newsletter 22 from April 1996 in which I devoted five pages to Louise and her 12 siblings.
Jo-Ann Willson of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada made contact after discovering that Lucy 1859 Teskey was her great grandmother. Following our exchange of information, over 100 names were added to my version of the Teskey family tree -- the descendants of Lucy Teskey and her husband Clark Johnston. This charming photo, taken around 1903, shows them with their six children.
From left to right -- seated: Lucy, Iva Mabel, Arthur Kenneth & Clark Johnston; standing -- Eliza Edith (Jo-Ann's grandmother), Mary Albertha, Agnes Gertrude and Estella.
New contacts come not only from the Teskey website, but also through www.irishpalatines.org, of which Tom Upshaw is also the webmaster. One such contact was Angela Kavanagh of Texas, USA. She provided my first communication with a descendant of James 1865 Teskey. Angela is the great great granddaughter of James, who left Rathkeale around 1890 and settled initially in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His younger brother John 1873 also settled there. I have made contact with a number of John's descendants. Here is a copy of James's photo, taken from the American passport issued to him in 1925.
Another find through the IPA website was Fay Forbes. She lives in Tasmania, Australia, a great granddaughter of Francis 1828 Teskey who left Rathkeale around 1870 and migrated to Australia. Francis was one of the 15 children of George 1786 and Catherine Teskey. I wrote a little about them in Newsletter number 33.
MY TESKEY MEMORABILA COLLECTION
Whenever an opportunity arises, I acquire Teskey "stuff" for my library and collection of memorabilia. This is a pretty modest collection, but continues to grow. I have copies of a number of books that were written, co-authored or illustrated by Teskeys. Some of them were generously given to me.
As far as I know, there is only one novelist bearing the name Teskey who has had work published. I recently purchased a sixth novel by Adeline M.Teskey and I believe I now have all but one of her works. They were published at the beginning of the 20th century as follows:
The elusive title is "The Little Celestial", published in 1912.
Adeline Teskey was a member of the Appleton branch, a Granddaughter of John 1769 Teskey. She was born in Appleton, Ontario in 1853, one of eight children of Thomas 1821 Teskey and Elizabeth Kerfoot. She lived for many years in Welland, Ontario and died a spinster in 1921.
In both 2003 and 2004, I was delighted to receive a Teskey Family Calendar. Each contains a great selection of family photos and was a gift from the compiler Nancy 1942 Teskey of California, USA.
Andrea Grant, a professional organist and the great granddaughter of Elsie 1881 Teskey, kindly gave me a recording of an organ recital that she gave in her home church in Wingham, Ontario. Andrea and her Mother, Hilda, visited us in 2003.
Cathy Blanch, great granddaughter of Sarah 1877 Teskey, visited us from Seattle, USA in 2000 and is now embarking on a career as a jazz singer. She kindly contributed to my Teskey memorabilia with a copy of her first CD entitled "Mood Swing".
I was most pleasantly surprised to receive a Christmas card that featured a painting by popular Irish artist Donald 1956 Teskey. The card was sold by unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund.
Leaving no stone unturned in the search for Teskey memorabilia, I was pleased when the opportunity arose to add a second Playboy magazine to my collection. Each includes some interesting photos of a pretty young lady "bearing" the Teskey name. I certainly hope to meet her one day!
I'm not the only person collecting family memorabilia, for Bill 1938 and Marian Teskey of London, England have recently acquired a car with the registration number "TE51KEY". What posers! I recall that a family member in Florida once owned the American licence plate "TESKEY"
SINCE THE LAST NEWSLETTER
In Newsletter 33, back in December 2002, I expressed hope that my early retirement would allow much more time for Teskey matters: processing data that had already been gathered and information already received, following up new leads and expanding my record of the family tree. I have to confess to doing very little of this! So, what has kept me from Teskey research?
You may be aware that much of my (and Janice's) time for the last two years has been dedicated to fighting expansion of our local airport, now known in the travel business as "London Stansted". Once we began to appreciate the wider issues, our commitment to this local cause soon grew to fighting any airport expansion in the UK, or indeed any in the developed world. Aviation is especially damaging to the environment, and if it continues to grow unchecked it will contribute increasingly to global warming. At the same time, it is a heavy consumer of fossil fuel and aviation growth will accelerate the depletion of that finite energy resource. At present, every government around the world is effectively condoning unfettered growth, for international law prevents any tax being levied on international aviation. We strongly support the environmentalist view that aviation growth should be constrained.
I realise this issue is nothing specifically to do with the Teskey family, but I am interested in both past and future generations. If this generation continues to ignore the pleas of scientists for "sustainability", then our children's children will be denied luxuries, opportunities and even basics that we take for granted. I view this so seriously that I make no apology for sharing my views with my readers, who I am sure also have an interest in past and future generations.
After the last paragraphs, you might ask how I can ever contemplate flying. I guess I am as selfish as the next person, and it takes a while to become accustomed to thinking "do I need to make this journey, even though I can afford it?". I live with my conscience because we now try to limit air-assisted trips to two a year.
BEN 1913 TESKEY was recently honoured by the University of Guelph when he was made an Honorary Companion of the University. He has a long association with the university -- as student, lecturer, research scientist and professor. He was delighted to receive this recognition of his contribution. The photo below was taken in June 2003, shortly before Ben's 90th birthday, at the wedding of granddaughter Christine Guerriero to Jason Hanlan. Betty and Ben Teskey are flanked by Jason and Christine and outside them are Christine's parents Maureen and Lou Guerriero.
Janice and I could not resist the invitation to attend the wedding, catching up with many of Ben's offspring and other Teskeys in the Toronto area. Here is Janice with the rest of Ben's children. From the left, standing -- Dennis, Don, Don's wife Liz, Robert; sitting -- Robert's wife Maureen, Patti, Janice and Dennis's wife Evelyn.
A NEW MYSTERY
Occasional searches of the internet continue to generate new challenges. A recent search found the message that Wendy Teskey and Tom Krahn are getting married on 23 October 2004. Does anyone know which Wendy?
DON'T BELIEVE ALL YOU READ
One of the gaps in my collection of official records was the death certificate of my Grandfather, Frank Peter Teskey (1887 - 1972). I recently acquired a copy, only to find that it incorrectly stated both his date and place of birth. Death certificates and gravestones are notoriously unreliable for dates of birth or age, for they so often rely on the memory of the informant, without reference to documentary evidence.
In the last Newsletter I asked if any male Teskey would like to test the theory that all male descendants from Jacob 1659 Teskey who still bear the Teskey surname should have the same DNA code for their "Y" chromosome. Nobody volunteered.
One of the participants in the recent Pfalz Tour, Walt Ruckel, has sponsored DNA testing of men still bearing his Palatine name or a version of it. He achieved a high level of positive results.
THREE WISE MEN ON THE PFALZ TOUR 2004
My thanks to Christy for this photo. From the left, we are -
Firstly, a word of caution about the Teskey family tree that appears on the Teskey family website, www.teskey.org. I maintain my version of the tree on an Excel spreadsheet. In order to make it accessible on the internet some fancy footwork and clever programming was employed, particularly by Tom Upshaw, the webmaster. It seems that we failed to correct for the difference between English (day-month-year) and American (month-day-year) date formats. As a result, dates that appear on the website where the value of both the day and month is 12 or less are in the American format (mm/dd), whilst any where one value is above 12 are in the English format (dd/mm). The years appear correctly. I apologise for this error and hope that we will be able to correct it when we next load an update. That update and correction are unlikely to be this year.
All family history newsletters and journals now contain extensive updates about online research resources, and I make no apology for following the fashion. Anyone carrying out research today has ready access to so much more information than was available only a few years ago. I recognise that some recipients of this Newsletter have no interest in carrying out research, and indeed some are still avoiding the Internet, but they may be encouraged by what is available to those who are actively seeking more information about their ancestors -- Teskey or otherwise. Most of the websites mentioned below have a bias towards UK information. Some provide information totally free, whilst others make a charge for viewing records.
www.ormond.i8.com -- a listing of genealogical databases (not all UK) that can be searched free.
The www.lostcousins.com website requires subscribers to enter the "Ahnentafel" number for each direct ancestor. I had come across this word before, but never knew what it meant. It is a German word, meaning "ancestor table". In a family tree, each direct ancestor is allocated a reference number. If it is my ancestor chart, then I am number 1, my Father number 2, my Mother number 3, my Father's Father number 4, and so on. There is a simple rule for working out the numbers -- take the number of anyone in the tree and double it to give the number of their father, or double it and add one to give the number of their mother. It's a pretty neat system for an uncomplicated tree tracing direct ancestors only.
TESKEYS ON THE INTERNET
I came across this attractive website "banner". I hope they will not mind some free advertising. I am trying to make contact with the owner, whose name is not yet on my family tree. As a matter of fact, I don't yet know any Texans by the name of Teskey. Now there's a challenge for our webmaster, Tom Upshaw, who is about to move there.
TESKEY FAMILY REUNION 15TH AUGUST 2004 -- STANSTED, ENGLAND
For those who did not receive notice by email and did not spot this event on the Teskey and IPA websites, I apologise for the short notice. This will be the 12th informal gathering at our home for Teskey descendants and anyone interested in the Teskey family history. Adults only - no smoking -- no charge. Please phone or email as soon as possible if you would like to attend.
FUTURE TESKEY NEWSLETTERS
If you are satisfied to view future editions of this Newsletter here on the www.teskey.org website, please let me know. In future I will simply email you when a new one appears. If you prefer to receive a printed copy there is no need to make contact -- you will remain on my mailing list and should receive the next edition before the end of 2004. I am happy to keep mailing copies as long as you keep me updated with family news!