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Death Finds a Way: A Janie Riley Mystery by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

Janie Riley is an avid genealogist with a habit of stumbling on to dead bodies. She and her husband head to Salt Lake City Utah to research Janie's elusive 4th great-grandmother. But her search into the past leads her to a dark secret. Can she solve the mysteries of the past and the present before disaster strikes? Available now on Amazon.com and the CreateSpace eStore
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Death Finds a Way: A Janie Riley Mystery
by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

Janie Riley is an avid genealogist with a habit of stumbling on to dead bodies. She and her husband head to Salt Lake City Utah to research Janie's elusive 4th great-grandmother. But her search into the past leads her to a dark secret. Can she solve the mysteries of the past and the present before disaster strikes? Available now on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

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Mohawk History & Genealogy

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My ninth great-grandmother, Ots-Toch or Alstock, who was born circa 1620 in the Mohawk village of Canajoharie, New York, was the reason for my delving into the culture and traditions of the Mohawk nation. Ots-Toch married a Dutch settler, Cornelis Van Slyke, but never left the Mohawk village. I became intrigued with her story and wanted to know more about her heritage and mine. Brian Brown generously shared his own research, much of which you can read on these pages.

Shelter
Mohawks (in the early 1600's) lived in 3 or 4 large villages clustered within a small area just west of modern Albany, New York. Each village site would be occupied for 20-30 years and then, when the local soil was depleted and firewood exhausted, the village would move 2-3 miles to a new site. Because of this pattern of moving every generation but staying within the same vicinity, an old site would frequently be reused every so often. Iroquoian villages were large (1 500 -2 000 people) and were surrounded by a log wall. Rather than having a gate, a narrow opening in the wall allowed one person at a time to squeeze in. Within the village, rows of longhouses stood in neat lines, far enough apart to prevent fire in one longhouse from spreading to another. Longhouses were about 25-30 feet wide (archeologists suspect that the building materials and techniques available put a practical limit on width) but could be 100 to 200 feet long. Apparently, when the house got crowded, they knocked out the end and made it longer.

The longhouse was made of elm bark over a framework of poles. (Birch does not grow far enough south to be widely used by the Mohawks: elm worked just as well). There was a door at each end. Inside, a 10-12 foot wide hallway ran the whole length of the house. Fireplaces lined the middle of the hallway, about every 20 feet. On each side, there was a "shelf" which was about 2 feet off the ground. This was high enough to sit comfortably and allowed people to sleep off the cold ground. The shelves would be about 10 feet wide. An upper shelf, 6 feet above this sleeping platform, was used for storage or as a place for the children to sleep. Under the lower shelf was additional storage.

A family had a section of these shelves to themselves. They shared the fireplace in the middle of the hall with the family on the opposite side. Anywhere from 30 to 100 people might live in a longhouse. All of them were related through the mothers. When a man married, he went to live with his wife's family. The women of the longhouse were, thus, either sisters or else cousins, through a female ancestor.

The Iroquois seem to have considered the longhouse an important social institution and a cozy group home. Whites who lived in them said they were smokey, noisy, utterly lacking in privacy and that children and dogs scampered about at all hours.

The organization of the community into longhouses based on matrilineal descent is reflected in Iroquoian kinship terminology. A child addressed his mother's sisters (who lived in the same longhouse) as "mother" but father's sisters (who lived in another longhouse) were "aunt". First cousins through the female line (who lived in the same longhouse) were "brother" and "sister" while those through a male ancestor were "cousin."

Apparently, when the longhouse got "big", there was a tendency for it to separate, with a portion of the population moving to another site, perhaps only a few feet away, and building their own longhouse. The cause seems to have been that, when the population got too large, the internal bickering mounted. In a large longhouse that had existed for several generations, some of the women might be only 3rd or 4th cousins, without close ties. Thus, one of the older women might. for example, take her several adult daughters and their families and move next door, starting a new longhouse. This would reduce the overcrowding and tensions in the longhouse they left and, since the people who remained in the old longhouse were now usually more closely related, it would actually increase the stability of the group left behind.


 
 

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