Friday, February 19, 2010

Divining Rod - 1766

We have recently been processing some of the archival documents in the Cronin fonds which was given to the Annapolis Heritage Society last spring. For the non-archivists of the world the term fonds essentially refers to a collection of documents from a single donor. Since the more understandable term collection technically means something different in archives speak, I will use the proper term. There are somewhere in the range of 450 individual documents in this fonds with a majority dating between 1780 and 1830. The documents themselves were created by Dennis and Darby Cronin who came to the Granville shore in the wake of the American Revolution. Anyway, we have had some great fun processing these documents. Anytime you have the opportunity to work with previously unseen material from this period you are bound to learn something. It is an interesting feeling when you think that you may be the only living person to have some of this information in your head. Thankfully, the paper copies are in our archives since I am not sure that my head is always the best repository.

In the last few days one document has caught my interest. On one side is written "Glory to god the Father Be 1766" eleven times. This side of the page almost looks like someone was practicing their writing technique. The other option would be paying penance for some long forgotten sin. Flipping the page, there is a list of "scholars at Dennis Cronin's school near Kingsbridge april monday the 7th 1766". Following this is a list of five students and when they entered the school. After some looking, we believe the Kingsbridge which Dennis Cronin is referring to is the one in the Bronx in New York. I am sure that some New York genealogist would be happy to find this information.

My favorite part of the document appears at the bottom of this page. What appears next are the instructions for making a divining rod. "Hazzle rods is to be broke between the finger and Thum, of the right hand, it is to be one year’s Growth, it is to broke to the East, it is to be broke 9 days after the Change or else at the full moon – and break it in the name of the father and of the son, and of the holy Ghost". What intrigues me the most about these instructions is the mixing of pagan and Christian traditions. Perhaps it is the use of the pagan ritual of creating a divining rod that has led Dennis Cronin to writing his contrition on the other side of the page.

All for now,

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