Seaman’s Protection Papers

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Have you found a seafaring person in your tree?  Then you should definitely check out what I consider one of the best records out there and one of my personal favorites!  They are just so very fascinating.

The Citizenship Affidavits of US-born Seaman at Select Ports, or Seaman’s Protection Papers as they’re sometimes known, were issued starting in the early 1800’s as a way to protect US sailors from being “pressed” into service on British ships.  Think of it like a passport type of identification… applicants would go to a local official and have their identity verified. This usually included either bringing an person with you who knew you or providing signed affidavits from witnesses who attested to your identity and proof of citizenship or a notarized affidavit of such.

My Shamrock Tattoo Isn’t Because I’m Irish

Yes, I’m technically Irish. Well, I should say I am 9% Irish according to my Ancestry DNA test and I have a story handed down about my family’s immigration from Ireland. I also have a small shamrock tattoo on the back of my neck that most people naturally assume is for my heritage. However, I do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s never been the traditional jovial, happy day at the bar drinking green beer with friends nor feasting on Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage. Saint Patrick’s Day has been nothing but a constant, solemn reminder of my grandpa Curtis Lemaster’s death thirty years ago. It’s not that I don’t remember my other grandparent’s dates of death nor feel their loss any less, but his is just emblazoned in my brain (and on my heart) because he was the first one I lost as a child.  

What’s in an Heirloom?

In my grandma Stewart’s bathroom, sitting on a shelf above the commode, was an old fashioned leather Victorian tall boot with a button up the side, a pair of thick stockings and a small beaded pocketbook that once belonged to a long gone grandmother (I have no idea which one).  My aunt Lori has a very large, tarnished metal brooch with a long, thin purple gem that once belonged to another of our unknown grandmothers.  While I was never allowed to touch the heirlooms in the bathroom and had to admire them from afar, I did have many moments holding and admiring that brooch, wondering about who owned it.  Since the birth of my first grand baby this past September, I’ve been wondering what I’ll leave behind for her and it’s been even more on my mind since suffering my bilateral pulmonary embolism in January.