From: "Ken McDonald" <>
To: "TESKEY Rootsweb Mailing List" <TESKEY-L@ROOTSWEB.COM>
Subject: Teskey family history
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999
This message is based on an "omnibus" newsletter which I prepared for the benefit of both new and established contacts, drawing together extracts from the 27 Newsletters that I have produced fairly regularly since 1990. It is based on the last omnibus newsletter, of August 1995, but expanded to include subsequent developments.
I have removed photos and diagrams, so that it will hopefully be accepted onto Rootsweb [the Teskey-L mailing list]. If you would like a printed copy, please let me know. If this is your first Teskey Newsletter, please tell me if you would like to receive future editions, and if you are an established "customer" please tell me if you no longer wish to receive them. I would be pleased to add other members of your family to the mailing list. I am very happy for my letters to be copied or quoted, but please acknowledge that they originated from me, Ken McDonald. I make no charge for my newsletters or for any other services to members or friends of my extended family. This is my hobby and pleasure.
BACKGROUND TO MY INTEREST
My Grandfather always claimed that anybody in the world with the surname of Teskey was related to us. I did not take too much notice until my Mother, who was born Doreen Lilian Teskey, died in 1989. I started putting together a small family tree from her various records, and was encouraged by the enthusiastic response from relatives of whom I made enquiries.
I did not realise what interest and excitement I had unleashed when I started to enquire about my family. The various leads were all followed up and I became engrossed in the jigsaw puzzle, which grew larger and larger. For the past 10 years this fascinating project has consumed most of my non-working hours. Research has taken me and my very supportive wife Janice to many countries and many record offices, and we have greatly enjoyed meeting with hundreds of Teskeys. We have organised family reunions in 3 countries, and been privileged to attend others.
I have concluded that my Grandfather was almost right, for around 90% of the Teskeys in the World today are descended from Jacob Teskey, the Lutheran wood turner who was born in Germany around 1659 and left there as a refugee in 1709.
The Teskey Newsletter soon evolved as a way of maintaining regular contact with an ever-growing family. Over the years it has grown thicker, and its circulation has steadily increased. It is now usually produced twice a year, and the initial distribution of this edition will go to 230 households across 9 countries. There is no charge - I am delighted to be able to share the results of my fascinating hobby. However, in return, I do expect my contacts to answer questions from time to time and to keep me updated with news of major family events.
I do have a full time job, so I hope you will forgive me if you only occasionally receive a personal reply to your letters or E- mails. I hope you will stay in contact and have patience.
My computerised Teskey Family Tree contains over 6,000 names, pulling together information from many sources, including official records and details received from my correspondents. It is my pleasure to mould together this rich assortment of information, provided to me in all kinds of formats and seen from many different perspectives. This ongoing task will continue to provide much for me to write about in future newsletters. This is only an outline of the story so far, as I know it. My accumulated information on the family increases almost daily. I hope one day to publish a book on the family's history.
THE NUMBERING OF COUSINS
Before I get into specific Teskey history, I will try to explain how the numbering of cousins works. It's really quite simple, but much easier to draw than explain in words. The number of the cousin relates to the number of steps you have to go back to find a common ancestor, and is equal to the number of steps minus one. When deciding the relationship of two people from different generations, the cousin number refers to the steps back (minus one) from the older generation, whilst the difference in generation determines the level of "removal."
MY REFERENCING SYSTEM
In an attempt to bring some order to a pastime that is basically chaotic, I have adopted a referencing system that is used throughout my trees and newsletters to identify individuals. All individuals born with the name Teskey are referenced by their first name (or the first 4 letters of their first name) plus the year of their birth. Thus, the earliest known Teskey, our "founder" Jacob, who was probably born in 1659 is referred to as either Jacob1659 or JACO1659. The first name used for this purpose is that quoted in the earliest reference found of that person. Occasionally, there are 2 Teskeys with the same reference, but here I distinguish with a suffix A for the first born and a B for the second born, e.g. WILL1882A. Sometimes I will refer to the wife of a Teskey as JACO1659W, or the son of a female Teskey as DORE1914S - that's me, by the way.
I sometimes wonder whether it is socially acceptable to include the year of birth after a lady's name, but I hope they will appreciate the status it brings, for it identifies them as having been born a Teskey. It also makes it easier for readers who have copies of the family tree to identify them.
THE PALATINE MIGRATION FROM GERMANY IN 1709
The Teskey family history began for most of us, as far as is known, somewhere in central Europe. The earliest known surviving documentary evidence of Teskey ancestry relates to Jacob Teskey and his family in 1709. They are recorded amongst the many refugees who made their way from Germany to Ireland in the summer of that year. These refugees and their descendants became known as the Irish Palatines. However, around 10% of the Teskeys in the World today have no Irish component within their history. The majority of this Newsletter refers to the 90% majority.
Specific early Teskey family history is sparse, but it forms an integral element of the overall Irish Palatine story, which is well documented. That broader story has been told by a number of writers, including Walter Knittle, Hank Jones and Patrick O'Connor in recent times, and in the 18th century by such distinguished men as Daniel Defoe and John Wesley.
The term Palatine refers to someone from the Lower Palatinate, (known today as the Rhenish Palatinate or Die Pfalz am Rhein), an area of Germany along the River Rhine centred on the towns of Worms, Speyer, Heidelberg and Mannheim. In Europe, there were a number of "palatinates", small states or provinces each ruled by a Count. The Lower Palatinate, or Pfalz, was a pleasant land of forests, fertile valleys and hillside vineyards, yet its people suffered for many years at the hands of the French, who regularly invaded from the 1680s into the 1700s, attempting to bring the area under the rule of Louis XIV. Many towns and villages were burned to the ground, and crops were destroyed by the invaders.
Around this period, the New World was beginning to attract the early pioneers from Europe, and the people of the Rhine were amongst those targeted by the English government and English landowners seeking to recruit tenants for their estates in Pennsylvania and Carolina.
A particularly destructive period of French activity was followed by the extreme winter of 1708/1709, which brought misery to much of Europe and in particular ruined the German vineyards. The Palatines saw little hope for the future, and abandoned the area in their thousands. The refugees made their way down the Rhine, a journey of some 6 to 8 days, arriving at the North Sea port of Rotterdam. Many hoped that this would give them the opportunity to join a vessel bound for North America.
Europe was divided on religious lines between Roman Catholic and Protestant monarchs. The German states of Bavaria, Saxony and the Palatinate followed the Lutheran church and were allied with England, primarily against the French. England's Protestant Queen Anne felt an obligation towards the Lutheran refugees in Rotterdam. The English navy was engaged to ferry them across the North Sea, and in the early summer of 1709 around 13,500 were brought to London. The names were recorded of the families as they embarked at Rotterdam and disembarked in London.
The Rotterdam record of the second party includes Jacob Feske, an un-named wife and two sons, Daniel and Jacob. A list of arrivals in London shows this family as Jacob Teske, a 50 year old Lutheran and a turner by trade, accompanied by his un-named wife and two un-named sons aged 20 and 16 years. These are the oldest known records of what are believed to be the founders of the Teskey family.
The German speaking refugees were found temporary accommodation in empty London warehouses and in a vast encampment of 1,400 tents which was set up on Blackheath, just outside London, whilst the English government considered what to do next.
Amongst the Palatine supporters was Daniel Defoe, an English businessman, traveller and prolific writer. In a pamphlet entitled "A brief history of the poor Palatine refugees lately arrived in England" he championed their cause and encouraged donations to the fund that was set up on their behalf. The theme of Defoe's appeal was that the Palatines were a hardworking people, and that England should welcome them into the community, continuing the long established practice of strengthening its cosmopolitan population. Defoe drew up detailed plans for the establishment of a new settlement for the Palatines in the New Forest in southern England. These plans were presented to the Lord Treasurer, but were not taken up by the Government. Just consider for a moment - if that plan had been adopted, the whole course of our little piece of history would have been rewritten, and we would certainly not have been who we are today. The course of history and evolution is but the sum of many such apparently minor events and decisions.
Shortly afterwards, Daniel Defoe wrote the classic novel "Robinson Crusoe", the story of a shipwreck on a desert island. It is thought that part of his inspiration for this tale came from the Palatines' experience. I have heard the story from many sources that the Teskeys were shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland whilst trying to reach America, but this appears to be a similar romanticised version of the documented facts.
Gradually, as public sympathy and curiosity turned to resentment, the refugee camps were dispersed. The Government offered inducements to English local authorities and landowners to house families, but there was scant response. Fevers and plagues in the Blackheath camp are thought to have claimed a thousand lives. Around a quarter of the refugees did gain passage on vessels to America, whist a similar number were found to be Catholic and were returned to Rotterdam.
The English government was keen to strengthen the minority Protestant population in Ireland, which was under English rule. The inducements that were offered to English landowners there received a more favourable response, and consequently a large number of refugees were despatched to Ireland. Their journey was an arduous one, by wagon across England to the port of Chester. A total of 3,000 people in 800 families arrived in Dublin by January 1710, and after a further period in temporary accommodation they made their way to various estates around Ireland. Many were unhappy and returned to England, or possibly to their homeland, whilst others succeeded in obtaining passage to America. By 1712 it was estimated that only 263 Palatine families remained in Ireland.
The largest group was taken from Dublin to the estate of Sir Thomas Southwell in County Limerick. Southwell seems to have treated his new tenants well. They stayed and were joined by others, so that altogether 103 Palatine families were settled on his lands by 1720, including the Teskeys.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME TESKEY
You may have been surprised to read that our earliest known ancestors were recorded as FESKE and TESKE. It must be remembered that universal literacy is a modern phenomenon. The majority of Europeans could not read or write as recently as a hundred years ago. Before that time, the level of literacy was even poorer. Those that could write included the clergy, who were responsible for most of the records that survive from before the mid 19th century. Their records of baptisms, marriages and burials gave names spelt as they thought correct, for their parishioners were frequently unable to guide them.
So, in the old Irish records of our ancestors you will find TESKY, TISKEY, TUSKEY, TUSKY, TUSKIN, TESHINE, TESKY and TIESKEY, and probably others. I suppose this is quite understandable, given that Irish ministers were trying to interpret German pronunciation. The spelling has changed not only with the passage of time, but also as it crossed national boundaries. Teskey is not a German word, and no record of that spelling appears to exist in Germany, albeit that there is a small family group bearing that name in nearby Austria. I believe there are at least three plausible origins for the name, the prime candidates being Teske, Cesky and Disqué.
One of our German contacts, linguist Carl Heupel, discovered that a family had apparently moved from the little town of Isques in Northern France to the German Pfalz in the Middle Ages, and had become known there as the family "from Isques", or d'Isqués. Carl's wife, Margret comes from this family, and was born a Disqué. There is evidence in the Pfalz of the name being spelt also as Tisqué, and it is a reasonable assumption that it could have converted from Tisqué to Teskey during the transition from German to Irish spelling of an essentially French word. Today, the village of Isques, near Boulogne, has no accent on the "e", which would therefore make it silent, and the name pronounced something like "eesk" rather than "eeskay", but perhaps it was not always like that.
A couple of years ago Janice and I visited the Czech Republic. The Czech word for their country was and still is Cesky, pronounced "Chesky". Along similar lines to Carl's Disqué theory, I submit that somebody may have travelled from Cesky to the Pfalz and become known as Czech or The Czech, or in local parlance Cesky. It is then but a short step for an English speaker to spell it Teskey. A problem with this theory is that I don't know how anyone might have spelt the name in Germany, for as far as I know there has been no written evidence found there of any Cesky. Perhaps the family was not there long enough for the name to be written down, or perhaps the family simply carried the pronunciation with them through a period of time until it was recorded in Ireland in the best way that the pronunciation could be written.
I have had contact with a Teske of Polish origin and a German Teske whose forefathers were called von Tesken. There are Teskes today throughout Europe, and these could well be related to us through common ancestry prior to 1709. However, there is an argument that Teske, which is pronounced with emphasis on the first "e" but almost none on the second, is unlikely to have been written as Teskey with almost equal emphasis on each "e".
I mentioned earlier that only 90% of Teskeys in the World today can trace their roots back through Ireland to the Palatinate. I am just as interested in the remaining 10%, who are fairly widely scattered across North America. My Teskey correspondents include the descendants from a number of immigrants who did not come from Ireland. These include at least two families who came directly from Germany with the name Teske and another originally called Teschke. A family from Russia was originally Tesske, whilst the families Tzrebietowski, Tyski and Tutzke came originally from Poland. A Tutefski emigrated from Romania and the origin of the Titieskey branch remains a mystery. All are known to have changed their name to Teskey either upon immigration or shortly afterwards. The largest of these non-Irish Teskey families comprises 165 descendants of Stephen 1815 and Johanna, who came from Prussia and settled with their family in Collingwood, Ontario some time before the 1871 Census. Then their name was recorded as Teske; in the 1881 census it was Tesky; and by this century it had become established as Teskey.
Whilst my research was originally intended to cover just my more immediate family, I have now taken it upon myself to try to identify the origins of everyone in the World who is currently named Teskey, or who is descended from Teskeys. It is highly unlikely that I shall succeed in linking everybody together, but we are not doing too badly and it is great fun trying.
A large part of my accumulated information has come from people I have made contact with. Postal enquiries, and more recently E-mail enquiries, have been addressed mainly to those currently spelt Teskey, although there are numerous occurrences of similar spellings. The following table gives a feel for how frequently these variations occur in Germany and the USA today. This is the number of appearances of each name in recent German and American telephone directories:
Germany USA Teske 1,800 approx 1,453 Teschke 600 approx not known Disqué 90 188 Tesky 15 68 Teski 2 11 Teskie Nil 1 Tisque Nil not known Teskey 1 123
The one German Teskey is Stephen1963, a recent immigrant from Ireland ! Perhaps one day I shall write to the Tesky, Teski and Teskie addresses in the USA and Germany to "eliminate them from our enquiries". I will leave the emphasis on the one day, for it is too easy to get side-tracked.
THE PALATINES IN IRELAND
Sir Thomas Southwell had a substantial estate around the town of Rathkeale in County Limerick, a few miles west of the city of Limerick. It is a green land of gently rolling hills, good for farming. It was here, on the Southwell estate many years before, that the first potatoes were grown in Europe, after Sir Walter Raleigh returned with specimens from America. The Southwell family lived in Castle Matrix, on the bank of the River Deel. The castle stands today, lovingly restored over recent years by an American, Colonel Sean O'Driscoll. Janice and I were fortunate to meet the Colonel in 1991, shortly before his death, and he proudly showed us around the castle that he had transformed from a ruin into a home.
Southwell welcomed the Palatines, for they had a reputation as skilled craftsmen, for hard work, and for farming techniques that would improve the productivity of his lands. He would also receive a subsidy from the English Crown to enable him to charge them low rents and to equip them with suitable tools.
Some Palatines were settled in the existing "townland" of Castle Matrix, but the majority made their homes in three new townlands that were established for this purpose around the town of Rathkeale. These new settlements were called Ballingrane, Killeheen and Courtmatrix. The settlements survive today, probably little altered in character and probably still containing parts of the original buildings. They certainly are still inhabited with families bearing Palatine names.
A generally uninformative listing of Palatine families in Ireland, compiled in 1715, showed Jacob Teshine and Solomon Teshine as heads of Palatine families. A more helpful listing in 1720 showed only 185 Palatine families remaining in Ireland. The 103 on the Southwell estate included Jacob Teshine, sen. plus Solomon Teshine, head of a family, and Jacob Teshine, junior, head of a family. It is believed that Solomon and Jacob junior were the sons of Jacob senior, Solomon having been recorded as Daniel in the 1709 census. These are the founders of the Teskey family. I refer to them as Jacob1659, Solomon1689 and Jacob1790, for they appear to be the years in which they were born.
Jacob1659 does not appear on any later documentary evidence. Solomon Tesky was recorded as a freeholder at Killeheen in 1755 and 1759, and buried as Solomon Tuskey of Killehene in 1760. Young Jacob Teskey became known as Jacob Teskey ye Elder, and was recorded as a freeholder of Courtmatrass in 1755 and 1759, being buried in 1764.
Solomon and his wife Barbara had one son, Jacob ye Younger. Jacob ye Elder and his wife Catherine had four sons, Adam, John, Jacob and Garrett. Jacob1659's five grandsons were all born in Ireland. Their descendants account for around 90% of the names recorded on my Teskey family tree. Those descendants can all claim Irish and German ancestry.
The Palatines built their villages in previously uninhabited areas, so their arrival did not antagonise the natives of County Limerick. They are credited with the introduction of improved agricultural practices to Ireland. They were viewed as quiet, gentle, industrious, and independent people. Their absorption into Irish society was slow, yet they appear to have enjoyed good relations with their Catholic neighbours. They retained many of the German customs, including the appointment of a burgomaster to settle disputes. It took several generations before the German language finally ceased to be spoken, and the last Burgomaster, James Teskey (James1811), died only in 1890.
The Irish Palatines generally maintained their Protestant religion, though some have in more recent years adopted the Catholic faith. The barriers of religion, language and custom undoubtedly contributed to marriage patterns. The evidence suggests that for 87 years Teskeys only married other Palatines. It was not until 1796 that a Teskey married someone without a name of German origin. The mould was broken by John 1769, who married Anne Catherine Vale in 1796. Some years later, John 1769 became the first Teskey to emigrate to North America.
Thus, all Irish Palatine Teskeys also have at least one other Irish Palatine name in their ancestry. These names include Bovenizer, Bowen, Dolmage, Fitzell, Fizzell, Legear, Lodwick, Mick, Nezer, Piper, Shier, Shire, Sparling, Stark, Ruttle and Switzer.
The German Palatines had been a religious people, mostly of the Lutheran or Calvinist faith. Many of the older Palatines followed the custom of being buried with their German Bibles. This not only meant the loss of a frequent source of information for future family historians, but also advanced the decline in religious activity. However, in the 1750s, John Wesley and other preachers toured Ireland, and their enthusiasm helped to stimulate a religious revival amongst the Palatines.
This was a time of renewed interest in the New World, and two particular Palatines took their religion with them to America. Barbara Heck and her cousin Philip Embury left Ballingrane in 1760, settling in New York, a small, but developing town on the Eastern seaboard. There, they founded the movement which developed into the Methodist Church of the United States, which today claims 14 million members. The Embury and Heck Memorial Methodist Church at Ballingrane is dedicated to their memory. The neatly-kept cemetery is the final resting place of many Teskeys and other Irish Palatines.
Many Teskey families left Ireland over the years, so that there are now far more people with the name in Canada and the United States than in Ireland. Several of those who remained in County Limerick have continued to farm, purchasing the land on which they were once tenants, and expanding the size of their holdings over the years. In Rathkeale today, many of the original Palatine surnames still survive.
Rathkeale town has changed little in the last hundred years. The town and the surrounding townlands are a magical place where you can feel the spirit of our ancestors. I always feel at home there, and am always embarrassed by the warmth of the welcome.
EMIGRATION FROM IRELAND
The call of the New World never seemed to be far away. There was a steady movement of Palatines, and indeed other Irish and other Europeans across the Atlantic. Some of the 1709 settlers moved on after only a short time. Substantial rent increases in the 1750s encouraged others to seek better opportunities in America. The biggest exodus occurred in the mid 1800s, when 2 million people, a quarter of Ireland's population, emigrated to escape the ravages of the Famine, which claimed a million lives in 6 years.
This massive flow of humanity out of Ireland during the 1800s included several Teskey families. I will list below those that I know. I am unable to give a definitive list of Teskey migrants, for I continue to find new Teskeys in North America who are descended from someone who "disappeared" from the Irish records. The tree still contains many names of Teskeys whose birth or marriage was registered in Ireland, but who have made no subsequent appearance in the records that I have so far incorporated into the tree. In 1998, Janice and I spent several days researching in the Canadian Archives. When the information we recorded is finally all absorbed, I expect it will reveal some of the answers to those missing Irish Teskeys.
CANADIAN AND AMERICAN TESKEY ORIGINS
The Teskeys who can be found today in Canada and the United States are mostly descended from pioneer families who originally went from Ireland to Canada in the 1800s. Migration at that time tended to be to Canada, which was still part of the British Empire long after the United States achieved complete independence. Subsequently, a considerable number of Teskeys moved south into the United States, mostly in the 20th century.
I tend to categorise people by their pioneer ancestor, and almost expect them to know everyone else descended from that pioneer. I guess that may be unreasonable, given that there are several hundred descendants from each pioneer. To date, the family tree includes the following totals of known descendants from these heads of pioneer families, accounting for over 50% of all identified Teskeys:
John Teskey (1769 - 1854) 1,062 William Teskey (1787 - 1867) 682 Hugh Teskey (1788 - Unknown) 671 Christopher Teskey (1794 - 1837) 239 Joseph Teskey (1805 - 1878) 508 William Teskey (1818 - Unknown) 187 John Teskey (1832 - Unknown) 95 Total 3,444
These pioneers were all quite closely related.
An initial review of the Canadian censuses obtained last year suggests that other heads of families may have to be added to this list of pioneers. Completion of that piece of research is just one of many outstanding tasks.
Migration from Ireland was not only to North America, but also to Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand, whilst my own Great- grandfather was one of several who came from Rathkeale to England. I think it is fair to say that those who headed for the New World generally prospered better in these lands of opportunity, and generally spawned larger families.
Today, the majority of Teskeys live in Canada. The mailing list for this Newsletter is probably fairly indicative of the present global distribution of the family:
Canada 114 USA 46 UK 42 Ireland 15 Australia 7 Other Europe 5
The UK representation is probably somewhat distorted because my knowledge of Teskey descendants in the UK is more complete than elsewhere.
THE FAMILY OF PIONEER JOHN TESKEY (1769 - 1854)
John Teskey (John1769) is the earliest known Teskey in North America. John, his wife Anne (formerly Vail or Vale), and 8 children left Ireland in 1823 on the ship "Hebe" as part of a Government-sponsored programme organised by Peter Robinson. They settled south-west of Ottawa in Ramsay township, Lanark County, Ontario. At least 3 of the sons subsequently set up home nearby in the township that was originally known as Teskeyville, but is now called Appleton. Three mills were established beside the river. The woollen mill founded by John 1769's son Robert 1803 is a striking landmark today. It was destroyed by fire in the 1950's.
There are no longer any Teskeys in Appleton, but the stone-built homes of Robert and his brothers Joseph 1799 and Albert 1813 are still fine houses today.
THE FAMILY OF PIONEER WILLIAM TESKEY (1787 - 1867)
William 1787, a widower, is thought to have made the sea voyage to the New World around 1840 with his son Joseph (JOSE1813). They settled in Ontario, in the southern part of Lennox and Addington County, in the Tamworth and Camden East area, west of Kingston.
THE FAMILY OF PIONEER HUGH TESKEY (1788 - Unknown)
Hugh 1788 and his wife Catherine had 11 children in Rathkeale between 1819 and 1842. It is not known how many of these offspring travelled to Canada when the family emigrated around 1846. So far, I have evidence that at least 6 arrived in the New World. The family settled and farmed at Avon, near London in south-west Ontario.
THE FAMILY OF PIONEER WILLIAM TESKEY (1818 - Unknown)
William and his family first appeared in Canada on the 1861 Census, farming at Carrick in Bruce County, Ontario.
THE FAMILY OF PIONEER JOHN TESKEY (1832 - Unknown)
John married Frances Sparling (another Palatine) in Limerick in 1859, and soon afterwards emigrated to Canada. They had four children in Quebec, before settling in St Mary's, Blanshard Township, Perth County, Ontario. Fanny gave birth to a further six children before her death in 1880, still in her 30s.
THE FAMILY OF PIONEER CHRISTOPHER TESKEY (1794 - 1837)
It is not yet clear how Christopher, who was born in Rathkeale, came to be in Iowa in the United States by the 1850s. It is likely that his entry to the USA was via England, for two daughters were born there in 1825 and 1831. His son George 1839 was something of a local hero, surviving many battles of the American Civil War and living to tell about it until the age of 90.
THE FAMILY OF PIONEER JOSEPH TESKEY (1805 - 1878)
In 1842 or 1843, Joseph 1805 left Rathkeale with his wife Mary Anne (née Shier) and their two young sons Benjamin 1837 and Charles 1842. They settled at Warminster, near Orillia, in Simcoe County, Ontario, and their family expanded with the birth of 4 more sons and a daughter.
THE LADY TESKEY PIONEERS
My focus on pioneers has generally been on males, who have passed the Teskey name down to future generations. I have not been so aware of female Teskey emigrants, except where I have been contacted by their descendants. I should probably be aware of more than the following: Anna Elizabeth 1844 Teskey, who settled in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin USA Anne 1836 and Henrietta 1840 Teskey, sisters who settled in Australia.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Information has been gathered from a variety of official sources, with much help from my wife Janice, and also from her parents Herbert and Joan Warby until their deaths in 1996 / 1997. Our early research was mainly amongst official records in England and Ireland, and more recently has extended to Canada. Access to official records in the UK, Ireland and Canada is generally free, and we have been pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the willing help that is so often available from the custodians.
We listed all births, marriages, deaths and adoptions of anyone with the name of Teskey recorded within the UK registers which are all held in London. Around 200 such events have been registered in England and Wales since registration commenced in 1837, plus 10 in Scotland. We carried out the same exercise at Dublin's General Register Office, finding nearly 400 entries since Irish records began around 1860. In 1998, Janice and I took a vacation in Canada's Archives in Toronto and Ottawa, adding some 300 extracts from Ontario's registers of Teskey births, marriages and deaths since the 1870s. Unlike the UK and Ireland, privacy laws restrict the availability of Canadian records, so we have been unable to inspect the indexes of births after 1901, marriages after 1916, or deaths after 1926.
Each country allows access to indexes of these "vital" events. The indexes do not provide all the recorded information, so we have purchased copies of several hundred British, Irish and Canadian official register entries (often referred to as a "birth certificate" or "marriage certificate"). These certificates provide information that is often essential for the correct identification of the person, and how they relate to others.
We have searched through copies of Irish Parish registers, particularly for the Rathkeale area, for the period before central registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced. These records vary considerably in quality of information and state of preservation, but they have been useful in helping to piece together the earlier bits of jigsaw.
Until recently, most information regarding Teskeys elsewhere in the World came from the personal records of my contacts, including all sorts of family trees and anecdotes. I had also benefited from extracts from official records kindly provided by researchers into other Palatine names. Mary Wallace in Canada and Kay Bryant in England have, in particular, kept me busy with a steady flow of Teskey data that they have come across during their own researches. I will not attempt to list the many Teskey descendants from whom I have been pleased to receive substantial piles of paper regarding their own branch and sometimes much wider family. However, I thank them all for sharing this with me. I always look forward to learning of another lead or receiving another challenging bundle.
Amongst records I have been given have been copies or extracts from a number of old family Bibles, the traditional depository of family tree information.
Canadian records of birth, marriage and death are held by the individual province, so to complete this study thoroughly will require a similar search of whatever records are publicly available in the provinces other than Ontario. I have already been able to obtain some basic information from the Internet regarding British Columbia, where 28 Teskey deaths were recorded up to 1976 and just one marriage up to 1921. Hopefully, expansion of Internet sources and a few more vacations will help to fill in the gaps. I have not yet established what records are available for the United States. If privacy laws are as restrictive as in Canada, little will be available, for very few Teskeys migrated south from Canada into the USA before the year 1900.
We have reviewed many Census records from Ireland, the UK and Canada. Population censuses have been conducted by each country every 10 years since the mid 1800s, and those up to around 100 years ago are available for inspection. Most of the Irish Census records were destroyed by a fire in 1922, so access is available only to the censuses for 1901 and 1911. In Canada, we were greatly assisted by an index to the 1871 Ontario census, and in England by an index to 1881. The Ontario index revealed 37 Teskey families in 1871.
Our search for Teskeys in the "vital" records has been almost complete in the UK and Ireland, fairly thorough for Ontario insofar as the records are available, but limited in other parts of Canada and, so far, nil in the USA.
We inspected the service records of 15 Canadian Teskeys who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, and have noted details of the six Canadian Teskeys who perished in the two World Wars, as recorded in Canada's Book of Remembrance. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records give details of 3 further English Teskeys who died in World War I. These last two records are available on the Internet, which is proving an invaluable source of information. It has provided listings of over 100 Teskey gravestones in Ontario, 47 in Alberta and another 5 in British Columbia.
I am grateful to those who send me copies of Obituaries and other newspaper articles on Teskeys. Please do not leave it to someone else to do so.
The Mormons (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) have extracted details of births and marriages from many parish records all over the world, creating a gigantic computerised record known as the International Genealogical Index (the "IGI"). All Teskey entries have been extracted for all parts of the World.
All this basic information has been transferred onto a computer database, which allows me to sort records by name, place, mother, or whatever might help establish the links between people. As links have been established, the detail has been transferred onto the computerised family tree and the database record cross- referenced.
In pulling together the early parts of the tree, before 1800, I have leaned heavily on the research of an American, Hank Jones. Hank, or Henry Z Jones Junior, to credit him with his full name, started his research as a young man over 30 years ago. His ancestors included the Barkmans, one of the original Irish Palatine families. Hank's research, largely by post from his home in California, evolved into several published books on various aspects of the Palatine story. "The Palatine Families of Ireland" summarises his findings in the form of mini trees for each of the Palatine families for the period up to around 1800. I am delighted that Hank is now on the circulation list for the Teskey newsletters.
THE DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION
Within reason, and within my limited time, I am happy to provide extracts from the family tree. Occasionally, I have printed and selectively distributed copies of the full family tree. However, copying and distribution is time-consuming and expensive, and the printed record gradually becomes out of date. With the advent of the Internet, I have been able to send the tree electronically to anyone who can receive a file in excess of 2 megabytes and read it using Microsoft Excel 97.
I try to bring new contacts personally up to date with their ancestry, and then generally rely on the Newsletter to keep them in touch.
I take an album of photographic history of Teskey people and places whenever I meet up with members of the family.
TESKEY FAMILY REUNIONS
Soon after we set out on this family history venture, a reunion became essential. In April 1990, the first gathering at our house attracted 17 comparatively close relatives, albeit that I had never before met several of them. The numbers grew to 21 in 1991, and to 40 in 1992, when we had our first overseas guests. The Stansted gatherings are now held most years.
In September 1995 we organised a gathering in Ireland, which attracted 35 people from Canada, England, the Netherlands, and of course Ireland. This was run in conjunction with a 10 day holiday organised by the Irish Palatine Association, who were also responsible for a highly successful holiday in the German Pfalz in 1994.
With the help of Lisa Teskey from Toronto, we have twice succeeded in bringing groups of Teskeys together in Toronto: 35 in 1996 and 50 in 1998. The latter included visitors from Australia and the USA. For 1999 there will be a Teskey reunion in Vancouver on July 27, and a 5 day event in Rathkeale commencing 1st September. The latter will culminate in a reunion where the "locals" can mix with 22 visitors who have booked to attend from the USA, Canada and England.
We are not the first or only people to hold Teskey reunions. Ben Teskey (BENJ1913) recalls the 1928 gathering in Orillia, Ontario, when 60 or 70 people gathered for a week from various parts of Canada and the United States. Lucile Wehrman has organised Teskey family gatherings in Michigan for many years. During our globe- trotting in recent years, Janice and I have been privileged to attend several family gatherings, both large and small, which have often been organised to coincide with our visits. The largest of these reunions was held in Ruthven, near Windsor, Ontario in 1996. 81 people gathered that day. Almost all were descended from Frank Julius Teskey (1871 - 1942), known as Julius, and 36 still bore the Teskey name.
Janice and I have been very fortunate to meet so many of the lovely people whose names appear on the family tree. We have welcomed them to our house from Ireland, Canada and New Zealand, and we have visited many Teskey homes in England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States and Australia. Altogether, we have met around 500 of the relations whose names appear on the Teskey family tree. Since we started travelling the World in search of Teskeys, we have taken a Visitors Book with us. This now contains a wonderful collection of names of the many people we have visited. We have another book for those who have visited us in Stansted.
As already mentioned, the family once gave its name to a settlement in Ontario. Sadly, Teskeyville was renamed Appleton. In Yorkshire, England, the Teskey-King School is named after a former Lord Mayor of Hull. A TESKEY truck (from Teskey Concrete in Toronto) crosses the screen in the movies "Police Academy" and "Silent Partner".
In my researches I have come across a number of Teskeys who have achieved a degree of fame or success, and just a few who have achieved notoriety. Research has revealed several eminent surgeons, a judge, a number of university professors, an eminent Irish artist, a missionary, a ship's captain, a playwright, a professional ice hockey player and even an embezzler. I have an interesting collection of business cards bearing the Teskey name and all manner of additional occupations. Employment has become much more diverse than the far off days of our wood turning, vine dressing and farming German ancestors.
The British Library has copies of books written by three Teskeys, including a series of novels about the pioneering days written around 1900 by the Canadian Adeline Teskey. Frank Teskey, from the Collingwood branch, was a well known photographer-reporter with the "Toronto Star" newspaper.
In Ontario, there are streets bearing the Teskey name in Appleton, Almonte, Camden East and Collingwood. In Chilliwack, British Columbia, there is a Teskey Road and a Teskey Trail. Each of these places has been home to a significant number of family members.
IRISH PALATINE ASSOCIATION
This organisation was established in 1989 to promote interest in the history of the Palatines. They have achieved much, including the building of an excellent museum in Rathkeale and the organisation of international visits to Ireland and Germany. If you would like to add your support, and receive a most informative annual journal, please email them at or write to them at The Palatine Heritage Centre, Rathkeale, County Limerick, Ireland. Annual membership subscriptions are very modest. This group of descendants came from all over the World for the Irish Palatine Association's "Homecoming" in 1992.
"PEOPLE MAKE PLACES - THE STORY OF THE IRISH PALATINES"
This very readable and thoroughly researched book, by Dr Patrick O'Connor, traces the story of the Palatines from Germany to Ireland and on to the New World. Patrick lives near Rathkeale, and we were delighted when he came to Stansted to give a talk at the 1993 Teskey Reunion. His book contains many references to the Teskey family. The easiest way to obtain it is through the Irish Palatine Association.
I encourage my contacts to take a little time to record an outline of their own life or of their parents or of other family members. This Newsletter and my planned book on the Teskey family provide an ideal forum to record a balanced picture for the benefit of a wide and interested audience. You don't have to use a form - I would be very pleased to receive a personal profile in whatever medium you like, perhaps even a tape-recorded message. This is a great way of finding more about someone's character and achievements, to add to the bare facts recorded in the family tree. I suggest that personal profiles could include the following aspects of the person's life, although some of these may not be significant for every individual:
In the fullness of time, I plan to publish a book about the Teskey family, but realistically I shall not be able to start on such a major project until I retire, hopefully in 2002. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the occasional newsletter. The flow of new information never seems to dry up, so there is always something new to pass on.
I will continue to seek out new Teskeys. Historically, these have come from telephone directories and various pseudo-family history listings, but the breadth of information on the Internet makes people more visible to me. Equally, those who start searching for their Teskey roots should soon find evidence of my interest. Contact through the computer has reached a generation of younger people, who previously may never have heard of their family's history.
The regular stream of new contacts and new information continues to generate new mysteries, and occasionally provides a solution to an old one. I get a great thrill from joining up sections of the jigsaw, and from introducing or re-introducing close and distant cousins. My activities have encouraged first cousins to come together for the first time in 50 years, and I have even succeeded in putting nephews and nieces back in touch with their aunts and uncles. I never expected to be so rewarded when I started on this genealogy trail.
Janice and I, with a little help from our friends, will continue to organise and encourage family reunions around the World. These have quite often led to bonds of friendship between Teskeys whose kinship is pretty remote. One day, I will probably establish a Teskey Web site on the Internet, so that interested people can read, extract or contribute historical data. This should be relatively easy to do technically, but needs to be done properly, so it might take a while. Currently, recording of new information and responding to new enquiries more than fills my non-working hours.
I continue to welcome "Personal Profiles" of Teskeys. If you would like a form to prompt you to prepare one for your parents or other Teskeys well known to you, please ask me for one. If I don't already have yours, please send me your photo, date of birth, business card, e-mail address and personal profile !
I look forward to seeing you somewhere around the World in the not too distant future. Until then, be good, and stay in touch.
With best wishes from your distant cousin,