In the genealogy bog: DNA ethnicity estimates

The topic for this week is . . . .  I feel like I’m in a bog, moving ever so slowly and sometimes getting lost in the mists.  Record clean-up associated with my mother’s family tree continues.  Half- written posts just don’t seem appropriate and/or I don’t want to finish them right now. Taxes and immigration issues are in the news. Personal genealogical challenges include conflicting records for my maternal great-great grandparents and a continuing disagreement with a paternal cousin about family tradition versus research that contradicts the tradition. To address my genealogy stalemate, I started back at the beginning with my mother’s siblings, carefully reviewing records and updating information about her siblings and their spouses. Status of the continuing disagreement?  I stated my case, again, with sources, and am not ready to renew that fight.

 

Last week, I received a box of old (late 1800s/ early 1900s) pictures and documents from a cousin on mom’s side.  Scanning and cataloguing will take several weeks.  I re-read a Facebook genealogy page discussion about copyright and citation issues regarding display of old photographs on blogs and in other publications. I am still confused and will defer posting any of those items. I continue to flesh out the stories of the ancestors in the pictures.

April 25 is National DNA Day, so discussing my own DNA results became the topic for this week. Two weeks ago, I received my DNA results from the same company used by my brother. This is my 2nd set of DNA results. Good news is that we are definitely related genetically!!  Here’s the breakdown :Based on these data, we can reasonably conclude that both parents have ancestors from the British Isles. We suspected this from our genealogical research but haven’t identified those ancestors. What accounts for the differences? Both of us inherited half of our DNA from each parent and about 25% from each of our grandparents.  We inherited different parts of our ancestral genome form each parent. To summarize results:

DNA comparison table_ver2

French & German:  Our maternal grandmother’s grandparents, Valentin Maurer and Anna Katharina Korzelius (? spelling) immigrated to the United States in early 1850s.  Our paternal grandmother’s grandfather (Anthony Desire Lecoq) immigrated from France in 1790s. Anthony married Magdelenne Emilie Dupuy, who was born in Santo Domingo to French parents. My results for those areas (22% to 37%)  were no surprise. Why did my brother’s results show zero?

Southeast European: (4 to 14% for me and 4% for my brother). Possibly from female ancestors? Our research hasn’t revealed anyone from those areas but maybe we haven’t gone back far enough.

Scandinavian (10% for my brother, 0 to 2.5% for me). DNA testing company 2 reports 30.5% of my ancestry as ‘broadly Northwestern European” which includes countries that border on the North and Baltic Seas. Some of these countries could overlap with ones reported as ‘Scandinavian’ by DNA testing company 1.

Iberian (8% for my brother and 0 to 0.4% for me). Could this DNA be from Dad’s family?

I finally started reading “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy” by Blaine T. Bettinger. She discusses the concept of two different, but overlapping family trees[1]: “one that’s genealogical (reflecting familial relationships) and one that’s genetic (reflecting genetic makeup and patterns of inheritance).” The genealogical family tree includes all direct line ancestors, established through genealogic research. The genetic family tree contains “only those ancestors who contributed to your DNA.” The genetic tree is smaller because not all pieces of DNA are passed on in each generation.  Over time, some pieces of DNA totally disappear from your genetic makeup. We can share a common ancestor with another person- a genealogical cousin – and not be a genetic match.

My brother and I share about half of our DNA which may explain differences. He tested almost a year ago and I tested about 2 months ago. If we both tested at about the same time, would our results be more similar? My brother plans to test with Company #2.  As usual with genealogical research, more questions than answers!  Good news — some of our DNA matches (i.e. genetic cousins) are already identified as genealogical cousins. DNA matching led to meeting other cousins who were easily identified on our genealogical family tree (reported in an earlier post:   “It all started with DNA”).  The genealogical connection is still pending with several new DNA matches.

I found a path out of the bog. For now, I am skirting the bog and leaving my boots on!

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Reflection:

See 1st paragraph. I am not overly concerned about the reported ancestral differences in our DNA results. We collaborate on some genealogical research and work independently on other lines. Both of us worked independently for years and came to similar conclusions about one line. I have so much to learn about DNA used for ancestry purposes.

What I learned:  differences between a genealogical family tree and a genetic family tree.

What helped:  being able to compare our results using the same company.

What didn’t help:  lack of knowledge about genetic genealogy.

Future plans:  Finish reading Genetic Genealogy book. Continue genealogy clean-up for mom’s family. Write short biographies of people in the recently found pictures. Brother to test with Company #2. Continue to search for common ancestor of people who are DNA match. Ordered DNA test for husband; his parents are already tested and we have results.

[1] Blaine T. Bettinger, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy (Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2016), “Two family trees: One Genealogical and One Genetic”; Kindle edition, download from Amazon.com.

 

Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker (1907 -1985)

On this “Thankful Thursday” ,  I express my gratitude to Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, my maternal great-aunt, for writing down names and information about the Maurer and Tucker ancestors[1].  I have a carbon copy of the original.

Maurer Tucker History_ca1980_for blog_April 2018

Page 1 of “Maurer-Tucker Family History” written by Blanche Viola Maurer Tucker, ca 1980.  Carbon copy privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee. 

Do you remember carbon paper?  carbon paper imageBefore copy machines, there was carbon paper.  First, insert a piece of carbon paper between two pieces of paper.  Write or type on the top page.  An exact copy, more or less, of the top page appears on the subsequent pages. Generally, you can produce three or four clear copies this way. Each piece of carbon paper lasts for 4-5 copies.  Messy, but effective!

For more information about the history of copying, read this story:   ‘Photocopier’ 

Back to my story. Viola was my mother’s aunt, my maternal grandmother’s sister.  Called ‘Olie’ by us, she had always lived with my grandparents (at least, as far back as I can remember!).  I didn’t really think much about those living arrangements when I was a child or even as I became an adult.  I knew that both of Olie’s parents died when she was young and that’s why she lived with her sister.   As I carefully reviewed documents for Genealogy Do-Over  and recorded information on research logs,  Olie’s situation really hit me.

Blanche Viola Maurer was born on March 16, 1907, the youngest  of nine children born to  George Herman Maurer and Anna Klee.  Her brother, Herman Charles, born in 1893, was her closest living sibling.  Between 1893 and 1907, Herman and Anna buried two children – Charles Harry and Lillian.  Charles Harry, born in 1893 and died in 1894, was probably twin brother of Herman Charles.  Lillian, born January 7, 1901, [2]  ‘died in infancy’ according to Viola’s handwritten family history. [3]

Anna was 43 years old when Viola was born.  It is possible that Anna was beginning to go through menopause at the time.  When Viola was 11 years old, Anna died [4]  leaving Viola and her 60-year-old father alone.

Charlotte  (aka “Lottie”),  Viola’s only living sister, married Esbon J. Tucker in June 1917 [5].  Lottie and Esbon did not establish  their own home immediately.  In January, 1920[6], the census taker found Herman Maurer,  widower and head of household with 13-year-old  Viola, as well as Charlotte (Lottie), Esbon, and their two children, Esbon, age 2, and Eunice (my mother).

Herman , Viola’s father, died in May  1927[7] , leaving 20-year-old Viola an orphan.  She continued to live with Lottie and Esbon. [8] Viola had no children of her own but was like a second mother or a big sister to Lottie’s children.  Viola was an accomplished needlewoman.  She taught her niece, Eunice,  to knit and crochet.  Eunice, my mother, then taught me.  I still enjoy these crafts.

As mentioned in the introduction, I did not appreciate her situation until now.  Olie was a constant person in my grandparents’ home, as she had been when my mother was growing up.   I cannot imagine losing my mother at age 11 and my father by the time I was 20!  What was it like to constantly rely on a sibling for a home?  How did she respond emotionally to these events?

Consider the time period.  Women rarely worked outside of the home in the 1920s and 1930s.  Was Olie a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ during World War II, when so many women took on the jobs of men to support the war effort?  Mom never said anything about that and I never thought to ask.   According to the 1940 census, Viola worked as a salesclerk in a bakery. [9]  That explains all of the wonderful cakes at their house!

By 1970, Lottie suffered  several strokes and dementia.  Pop and Olie cared for her at home for as long as they could.  My mother said that she only found out about the problems when Pop decided to put Lottie into a nursing home, about 6 months before her death. This very difficult experience probably deepened the bond between Pop and Olie. After Lottie died in 1974,[10] Olie married my grandfather. Two old people, living together for decades, now joined in marriage.

Esbon Tucker_Viola Maurer_1975

How did Viola  feel about all of her losses?  I remember her as being cheerful and kind.   At first, she probably was overwhelmed then accepted her situation.  I do not know how I would have reacted .  Did the experience make her stronger?

Viola wrote the nine-page family history in the late 1970s or early 1980s. She mentions Lottie’s death (1974) and her own marriage to Esbon but not Esbon’s death in 1984.[11]  Using available resources, I have confirmed much of the information that she gave.  One surprising fact is that she reported her full name as Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer when she applied for a Social Security number.  [12]  This is my first encounter with that name!  I learned earlier that Germans traditionally used a middle name in everyday life rather than the person’s given first name.

Again, I express my gratitude to you, Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer Tucker, my third grandmother. Thank you for teaching my mother to knit and crochet, so she could teach me. Thank you for being part of my childhood.  Thank you for taking time to write down our family stories. Questions still to be answered:

  1. Is there another ancestor named Blanche in the family history?
  2. Is Viola’s middle name of Lucy on any other documents?

 

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Reflection:

I started writing this post about 2 months ago but wasn’t sure exactly what direction I would take.  As I searched for inspiration, I looked again at daily blog prompts  suggested by Thomas  MacAntee.  The idea of “Thankful Thursday” caught my eye. I am grateful to Viola for many things. We visited my New York grandparents only once a year but I vividly remember some things – a red and white enamel kitchen table with pull-out leaves (now a collector’s item!), two black and white cocker spaniels,  German stollen (a sweet yeast bread),  a sleeper chair (like a sleeper sofa but twin size), a musty basement.  As I delve more into the family history, I see German connections in each generation.  The written legacy of names and dates proves invaluable, even though, on the surface, the contents appear skeletal.  I build from the bare bones outward. Without Viola’s document, progress would be much slower.

What I learned:  carbon paper is hard to find in 21st century America. I developed a new appreciation for the difficulties that Viola must have faced from her early teens.  Or, am I projecting my own values on her?

What helped:  Amount of research already done on the Tucker-Maurer family.  Transcription of Viola’s history done in 2010. Copies of birth and death certificates from New York.

What didn’t help:  Nothing that I can think of.  Not ordering Viola’s birth and death certificates before writing blog.

Future:   Consider other daily topics for future blog posts. Order Viola’s birth and death certificates. Order death certificate for Anna Klee Maurer, Viola and Charlotte’s mother.

Sources: 

[1]  Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1975-1980);  carbon copy  privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010. Copy given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother who received copy from Viola ca 1980.  Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Ms. Ellerbee is great-niece of Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker.

[2] “New York, New York, Extracted Birth Index, 1878 – 1909”,  online database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  :   accessed 10 April 2018); entry for Lillian Maurer, born 1 Jan 1901, Kings, New York; citing  “Index to New York City births, 1878-1909”, New York City Department of Records/ Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[3] Maurer., “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” Section – Charlotte Amalie (Anna) Maurer, page 1.

[4] Cyber Angel, “Anna b Bklyn d Huntington NY 1918 hus Herman,” Surnames: Maurer Family Genealogy Forum, discussion list, 8 February 2002;  (http://genforum.genealogy.com   : accessed & printed 9 June 2007), transcription of obituary posted in Brooklyn Standard Union, 28 July 1918.

[5] Suffolk county, New York, Affidavit for License to Marry (3 pages), 14570 (stamped); 783 (penned), Esbon J. Tucker Charlotte A. Maurer, 1 June 1917; New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.

[6] 1920 U.S. Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 113, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 136, family 139, Viola Maurer, daughter, age 13; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : viewed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625, Roll 1269.

[7] Hermann Maurer, death certificate no. 10424 (1927), Department of Health of the City of New York, New York City, New York.

[8]1930 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk County, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 63, p. 2A (penned), p. 132 (stamped), dwelling 35, family 46, Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded & printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T626, Roll 1651.

[9] 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 52-97, p. 12 B (penned), household no. 463, Esbon Tucker (head); Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T627, Roll 2785.

[10] Charlotte Tucker, death certificate # 031537 (9 April 1974), New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Albany, New York.

[11] Esbon J. Tucker, death certificate no. 100055063 (barely legible) (18 July 1984), New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Albany, New York.

[12] Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer, SS no. 077-09-2343, 30 Nov 1936, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Immigration and citizenship on the U.S. Census

The year:  2092. Genealogists in the United States eagerly anticipate release of the 2020 census data.  It’s been 50 years since citizenship status for all U.S. residents  was available. DNA charts in hand, genealogists peruse the census, looking for names of ancestors who immigrated to the United States. Information provided by those ancestors will confirm genetic ancestry results.  Hopefully, the ancestor reported a more specific locale than “northern Europe”.

Scenario #1:  In 2020, not all households in the U.S. received a census survey with citizenship and immigration questions. A few lucky genealogists discover that their ancestors were among the one in six households who received and filled out the ‘long form’.  Although the census did not ask about legal status, opponents of adding a question about citizenship had successfully argued their points.

Scenario #2:  In 2020, all households in the U.S. received a census survey with a question about citizenship.  A sample of households received a longer survey that included questions about nativity (place of birth) of each person and their parents.  The census did not ask about legal status. Response rates dropped slightly from previous years.

How would your genealogy research be affected if your ancestors had not been asked about immigration and citizenship status on the U.S. Census? Many of us learn about our ancestral roots from the answers to those questions. I wonder what my ancestors thought about the census questions related to their place of birth and citizenship status: “Where were you born? “  “Where was your father born?”  “Where was your mother born?”  “Are you a citizen of the U.S.?”  Did they answer truthfully? One of this week’s news items is a proposed addition to the 2020 United States census about citizenship.  The heated debate led me to search for the facts.

detectiveQuestions:

  1. When did a citizenship question first appear on the U.S. census?
  2. How has the citizenship question changed?
  3. What is the exact wording of the proposed question?
  4. For a non-citizen immigrant, is a question proposed that will ask about their legal status in the United States?
  5. How is the proposed 2020 change different from earlier censuses?

Questions about citizenship, naturalization, and immigration have appeared on the U.S. Census for decades.  The information, in some form, has been requested since 1850.  Look at blank census forms again.[1]  Column headings range from “place of birth of this person” (1880) to “naturalization status or citizen of what country” (1900 to 1940).

Tables 1 and 2 summarize the information related to nativity (birth) and citizenship from 1850 through 2000.

Table 1.  Information requested on U.S. Census by year, 1850 – 1940                             (Source: National Archives & Records Administration, Charts & Forms)

 

Table 1 Census question

a1930:  If of foreign birth, give country in which birthplace is now situated. Distinguish Canada-French form Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.
b1940:  If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on Jan. 1, 1937. Distinguish: Canada-French from Canada-English and Irish Free State from Northern Ireland.

Table 2.  Information requested on U.S. Census by year, 1950– 2000                            (Source: U.S. Census, Through the Decades, Index of Questions)

Table 2 census question

a 1970:  If foreign born, is person’s origin or descent:  Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, Other Spanish, None of these.
b Beginning in 1980, only a sample of the population was asked to answer these questions, among other questions.  
c 1980 & 2000: If person speaks language other than English at home, how well does person speak English?

Beginning in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau sampled the population through the American Community Survey. [2]  Citizenship questions from 2010[3] to 2018[4] were:

2020 citizenship question

Citizenship question on American Community Survey, 2010 to 2018.

Reports of the exact question format for 2020 vary from “Are you a citizen of the U.S?” to “Are you a legal citizen of the U.S.?”  Wording of the question will be “what is already used in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asks respondents to check one of five categories to describe their citizenship status.” [5]   Since 1970, all households received a short form questionnaire and only a sample of households, about 1 in 6, received a longer form. [6]  The questions about citizenship were only on the longer form.

Addendum:  18 April 2018

As I reviewed census records for immigrant ancestors, I saw abbreviations related to the citizenship status of foreign-born persons.  From the 1930 “Instructions to Enumerators”:

  • Na = “naturalized”
  • Pa = “papers”; person has taken out papers to begin the naturalization process.
  • Al = “alien”; person is not naturalized and has not taken out “first papers”. 

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census. Instructions to Enumerators, Population and Agriculture. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C. : 1930), p. 31, items 180 – 184.  (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1930instruction.pdf      : accessed 17 April 2018).

To summarize, here are the questions posed at the beginning of this post, with  answers:

  1. After 1850, when did a specific citizenship question first appear on the U.S. census? ANSWER: 1900.
  2. How has the citizenship question changed? ANSWER: 1900 -1930; 1970-2000:  when did person come to the U.S.? Naturalization status asked from 1900 -1930 and 1950-1980.  1940: Citizenship of the foreign born.  1990 – 2000: Is person a U.S. Citizen?   American Community Survey, begun in 2010, surveys a sample of the population annually.  Questions include:  Where was person born? Is person a citizen of the United States? If citizen by naturalization, year of naturalization.  When did person come to live in the United States? 
  3. What is the exact wording of the proposed question? ANSWER:  Is this person a citizen of the United States?
  4. For a non-citizen immigrant, is a question proposed that will ask about their legal status in the United States? ANSWER: No. (Disclaimer: If you find such a question, contact me and I will change this answer. Please include your source and the actual wording of the question.  Thanks.)
  5. How is the proposed 2020 change different from earlier censuses? ANSWER: The question about citizenship will be on the short form, which is sent to every household.

FINAL COMMENT:   Information about an individual’s citizenship has not been available for every person in the U.S. since 1970.  Beginning in 2020, will this change? What will genealogists in the future think about these changes?  Will either of the presented scenarios ( or another scenario) occur?  

If you are interested in the debate, here is a sample of articles, both pro and con:  (alphabetically by author’s last name):

Steve Camarota, March 28, 2018.  “Would a Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census Reduce Response Rates?”  Part 2.  Center for Immigration Studies.  28 March 2018 ( https://cis.org/Camarota/Would-Citizenship-Question-2020-Census-Reduce-Response-Rates-Part-2 :   accessed 31 March 2018)

Caroline McAtee Cerbin, “Citizenship question to be put back on 2020 Census for first time in 70 years,” USA Today, On Politics E-Newsletter, 26 March 2018 (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/03/26/citizenship-question-put-back-2020-census/461044002/ :   accessed 30 March 2018).

Arloc Sherman, “Citizenship question jeopardizes census accuracy, undermines funding process”, The Census Project, 29 March 2018 (https://thecensusproject.org/blog : accessed 31 March 2018).

Brian Tashman, Trump Is Undermining the 2020 Census. Marginalized Communities Will Bear the Brunt,”  https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/trump-undermining-2020-census-marginalized-communities-will-bear-brunt    Accessed 31 March 2018  Posted 5 Jan 2018

Hansi Lo Wang & Andrea De Leon, “The 2020 Census Questions Every U.S. Household will be Asked, Annotated,” National Public Radio, 29 March 2018 (https://www.npr.org/2018/03/29/598018163/census-bureau-releases-2020-census-questions-including-1-on-citizenship  : accessed 31 March 2018).

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REFLECTION

After multiple drafts and a lot of self-debate, I decided to go ahead and post this. I am spoiled by the amount of information available on census records. I am aware of controversies regarding the census, such as the reporting of one’s race.  Opinions vary widely about the issue of the proposed 2020 census question.  I have tried to present those varied opinions.  Some, not all, households were asked the question since 1970 and some of those refused to answer.  Perhaps I am being too simplistic and only seeing through the lens of genealogy.  Given current concerns about identity theft,  will information about individuals from the 1950 and later censuses still be made public 72 years after the census?  The American Community Survey reports aggregate data now. Will a genealogist in 2082 be able to see individual data gathered in 2010? This post may generate some negative comments.

What I learned:  A citizenship question has not been routinely asked since 1970.  Some opponents of the proposed question believe that a question about citizenship also makes an inference about an immigrant’s legal status. Some proponents of the proposed question downplay the legal status issue.  Whether the question will actually impact response rates in 2020 or not is still a matter of opinion. I learned about the American Community Survey.

What helped:  access to many online sources. Having copies of the NARA census forms in print and online versions.  Creating multiple versions of this post.

What didn’t help:  Multitude of negative opinions and fewer positive opinions about the proposed change. My own uncertainty about posting this.

For future:  No suggestions at this time.  Maybe a post about one of my immigrant ancestors and how the census information guided me to discover more?

[1] National Archives & Records Administration. Research our Records. Resources for Genealogists. Charts and Forms.   https://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy/charts-forms  :   accessed 31 March 2018.  Available forms include genealogy charts; federal census forms; nonpopulation census forms, 1880 census supplemental forms: defective, dependent, and delinquent classes; immigration forms;  military forms.

[2] U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey”.  (https://www.census.gov/history/www/programs/demographic/american_community_survey.html : accessed 31 March 2018).

[3] U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey, Questionnaire, 2010,” (https://www.2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2010/quest10.pdf  : accessed 31 March 2018.

[4]   U.S. Bureau of the Census. “American Community Survey, Questionnaire, 2018,”  https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2018/quest18.pdf   :  accessed 31 March 2018)

[5] D’Vera Cohn. “What to know about the citizenship question the Census Bureau is planning to ask in 2020,”  Pew Research Center, 30 March 2018 (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/30/what-to-know-about-the-citizenship-question-the-census-bureau-is-planning-to-ask-in-2020/  : accessed 2 April 2018, paragraph 4.

[6] Tamara Keith, “FACT CHECK: Has citizenship been a standard census question?” National Public Radio, 27 March 2018 (https://www.npr.org/2018/03/27/597436512/fact-check-has-citizenship-been-a-standard-census-question  : accessed 3 April 2018).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2018.

Sarah’s Story –Sarah Ellen Richards Williams (1862- 1921)

In honor of Women’s History Month, I write about women in our family tree. This story is about Sarah Ellen Richards, firstborn child of Ostrander Richards and Amelia Magdelenne LaCoe, my paternal great-grandparents. My paternal grandmother, Jennie A. Richards, was the youngest child of Ostrander and Amelia (see my blog post – Mother’s Day 2017 for more information about Jennie).  Recently, one of Sarah Ellen’s descendants contacted me because of a DNA match. This contact prompted me to write Sarah’s story.

Sarah Ellen Richards, born 13 December 1862 in Newton, Pennsylvania, never met her father’s parents. Nathaniel Richards died in 1852. His 2nd wife, Sarah Ostrander, died in March 1836, shortly after Ostrander’s birth. Ostrander’s stepmother, Sarah Michaels, outlived her husband by almost 40 years. Sarah, called ‘Ella’ during her childhood, did know her mother’s parents – William Anthony LaCoe (1820-1910) and Sybil Rone Ash (1825-1901).

5generations w source and caption

By the time Sarah was five years old, her family moved to Lenawee County, Michigan, where her sister, Mary Amelia, was born in September 1867. [1] Sarah became big sister to three more siblings in Michigan: William Ostrander, born July 1870; Addie LaCoe, born November 1873; and Ora Nathaniel, born August 1876. The family moved back to Pennsylvania, specifically Newton in Lackawanna County, in spring of 1877.  [2] Two more siblings were born in Ransom – Leslie Frank, born in August 1881, and Jennie A., born January 1884.  The 1880 census taker found Ella Richards working as a servant for a family in Newton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, and still living close to her parents. [3]

Sarah experienced the deaths of one sister and two of her brothers. Mary Amelia Richards, age 11, died October, 1878. William Ostrander Richards died in January, 1883 at age 13. Ora Nathaniel Richards died in August 1893 at 17 years of age. Ostrander and Amelia are buried next to Ora.  [4]  These deaths occurred when Sarah was a teenager and young adult. How did they affect her? My guess is that Sarah and her remaining three siblings grew closer together as their immediate family size shrank.

sticky note Luzerne countyOn to a happier note- the marriage of Sarah Ellen Richards and Charles Curtis Williams  on 28 July 1882. [5]  Charles, also born in December, 1862, was the son of Britain ‘Bart’ Williams and his 2nd wife, Catherine McMillan. Charles lived in or near Ransom, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania throughout his life.

TRIVIA TIME Charles’ half-sister, Arminda/ Araminta L. Williams, married John Francis LaCoe, 8th child of William Anthony LaCoe and Sybil Rone Ash, who are also Sarah Ellen Richards’ grandparents. So, the blood relationship between Charles’ children and Arminda’s children is twofold:  first cousins on the Williams  side and first cousins, once removed on the LaCoe side.   

Sarah and Charles became parents of six children[6]:

  1. Pearl Edna, born 25 December 1884. (Pearl holds her daughter, Leah, and stands next to her mother, Ellen, in the FIVE GENERATION picture above).
  2. Willie H, born 12 July 1888. Died 29 July 1889.
  3. Isabelle Mae (or Myrtle) , born 22 November 1890. (Isabelle is my DNA match’s paternal grandmother).
  4. Walter Harry, born 9 December 1893.
  5. Myrtle Ellen, born 17 February 1896.
  6. James W., born 28 Jan 1898.

Lackawanna Luzerne counties 1894 from Library of Congress

Map of Luzerne & Lackawanna Counties, ca 1894.

Source:  G. Wm. Baist, Atlas of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys and map of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, Penna. : from actual surveys, official records & private plans (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1894); digital images, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2006627639/  : accessed 11 March  2018).

The family continued to live in West Abington, Lackawanna County, during the early decades of the twentieth century. [7] [8] [9].  Marriages occurred and grandchildren were born:

June 1904:  Pearl Edna Williams married Lewis Allen Clark, also from Lackawanna County.  Lewis and Pearl had 4 children.

March 1914:  Isabelle M. Williams married Harry Franklin VanDeMark, also from Lackawanna County.  Isabelle and Harry had 10 children.

September 1917:  Walter Harry Williams married Kathryn Francis Alexander, also from Lackawanna County.  Walter and Kathryn had 2 children.

May 1919:  James M. Williams married Agnes Streeter, born in New York.  James and Agnes lived in Detroit, Michigan in 1920[10] and moved back to Lackawanna County by 1930. [11] James and Agnes had one child.  James’ occupation as ‘repairman, motor co’ (as reported on 1920 census) probably explains the move to Detroit.

April 1927:  Myrtle Ellen married George Elmer Jacoby, also from Lackawanna County.  Myrtle and George had one child.  After George’s death in 1929, Myrtle married Maurice Jolly Black, a widower. [12] Myrtle and Maurice had one child.

Charles supported his family by farming, an honorable occupation. Weather often determined the success or failure of crops and, subsequently, the family’s welfare.   One event, the Great Blizzard of 1888, probably affected them.  The blizzard dumped several feet of snow on the northeast coast from March 11 to March 14, 1888.  Entire pages of local newspapers reported the effects on everything.  Read the Wilkes-Barre newspaper of March 18:

Sarah attended the weddings of four children. She witnessed the births of 10 of her 18 grandchildren.

How did World War I affect the family?  One son (Walter Harry) and two sons-in-law (Lewis Allen Clark and Harry F. VanDeMark) registered for the draft in 1917.  Service records for these men prove more elusive. I haven’t found records to confirm whether they actually served or not. Perhaps one of their descendants has that information.

Then, tragedy struck the family. Sarah Ellen Richards Williams died on 17 December 1921 at the age of 59.  Cause of death?  Lobar pneumonia.  [13]

pneumonic lung ca 1920

Pamphlet published 1920 by Denver Chemical Mfg Co, New York City. Image found on Pinterest.

Did you know that antibiotic treatment for pneumonia did not begin until the 1930s? For more information, read this article:
The Changing Fate of Pneumonia as a Public Health Concern in 20th Century America and Beyond. American Journal of Public Health, vol. 95, issue 12, December 2005, 2144-2154.  Available online:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449499/

By 1930, widower Charles Curtis had married  Bertha J _____. [14] Charles died on 6 August 1930 in Dalton, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania. [15] Burial followed three days later at Fairlawn Cemetery in Dalton. Sarah’s death certificate does not contain the name of the cemetery. However, Sarah is probably also buried in Fairlawn Cemetery. A death certificate for Bertha Jane Williams, age 84, widow, who died 18 February 1951 is likely that of 64-year-old Bertha J. Williams listed with Charles in the 1930 census. Her maiden name was White. [16]

Sarah would not qualify as a ‘real woman’ on today’s reality television show. However, her life appears to be typical of many women in the early 20th century. Farmers primarily sought to provide food for their own family and, sometimes, sold the extra. Women gave birth to, cared for and buried children while keeping house. Many kept a small vegetable garden for the family. Some women also educated their children.  The woman/ wife/ mother kept the family together and, as such, became the cornerstone of American family life.

Women’s rights were hotly debated during the period of Sarah’s life. How did she feel about the issue? Was Sarah a suffragette?  The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on August 18, 1920, granted American women the right to vote. Did Sarah ever vote? I don’t have an answer to these questions.

Sarah’s descendants number over 200.  Although not rich or famous, Sarah had an impact  on families living in and near Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:  I wrote about Sarah Ellen Richards because of the DNA match. Her story affected me more than I expected. Women like her definitely provide the backbone of our society, particularly in rural areas but also in the cities. Her death at the age of 59 was due to a disease that is now readily treated and rarely fatal in someone that young. Yes, now that I am retired, 59 seems young. I am a Registered Nurse so I am familiar with pneumonia and its effects. I also realized that there is so much more to everyone’s story than what is found in census and other records.  As I wrote, I searched for events that may have impacted Sarah and her family.  I learned about the Great Blizzard of 1888 and discovered more online sources for maps. Distractions by BSOs (bright shiny objects) occurred only 3-4 times.

What helped? Having basic information about the family from the LaCoe family history and my own prior research.  Primarily, I research my direct line ancestors and have not ventured far into the sibling lines.  Improved research practices learned through Genealogy Do-Over also helped.

What didn’t help? Not starting a research log for Sarah and Charles before starting to write. I didn’t “know what I didn’t know” when I started.  Entering data on personal family tree is not the same as entering the same information plus an analysis of the information on the research log. I had to stop multiple times to locate information or a particular record.

Future plans:  Start or review research log before beginning to write about any person. Identify gaps and issues. Pose questions as I write.  Will I write about Sarah’s other siblings – Addie LaCoe Richards and Leslie Frank Richards?  Maybe.

Sources:

[1] 1870 U.S. Census, Lenawee County, Michigan, population schedule, Woodstock, p. 8 (penned), dwelling 66, family 65, Ostrander Richards age 33, farmer; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 1 July 2010); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication M593_686.

[2]  Susan A. LaCoe, Lenay LaCoe Blackwell, and Velma Sue Miller, compilers/ updaters, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family: Containing Biographical Sketches and Genealogy. Illustrated. 1750-2010, Martha L. LaCoe, compiler of first edition, edition 2010 (Pennsylvania: Privately published, 2010), p. 12.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Newton, enumeration district (ED) 42, p. 8D(penned), p. 331 (stamped on previous page), dwelling 55, family 55, Ella Richards 17, servant; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1138.

[4] Milwaukee Cemetery (Ransom Twp, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania), marker for Richards- Ostrander, Amelia and Ora; personally read and photographed, 13 August 2017.

[5] J.B. Stephens, compiler, History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania (Montrose, Pennsylvania: J.B. Stephens, 1912), p. 216; digital images, Penn State University, Penn State University Libraries, digital collections (https://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/digitalbks2/id/20993/rec/2 : accessed & printed 8 June 2010).

[6] LaCoe, Blackwell & Miller, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family, pp. 34-40.

[7] 1900 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington, enumeration district (ED) 123, p. 19A (penned), dwelling 2, family 2, Sarah E. Williams wife, 37; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 2 February 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1422.

[8] 1910 U.S Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington Twp, enumeration district (ED) 148, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 122, family 124, Chas E Williams head, 47; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624.

[9] 1920 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, West Abington, enumeration district (ED) 58, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 27, families 28 & 29, Williams Chas. E., head, 57 and Williams Walter H, head, 26; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1577.

[10] 1920 census for James & Agnes. 1920 U.S. Census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Detroit Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 647, p. 7A (penned), James Williams; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T625_819.

[11]  1930 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Dalton, enumeration district (ED) 35-123, p. 9A (penned), dwelling 223, family 229, James M. Williams; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626.

[12] LaCoe, Blackwell & Miller, Commemorative Record of LaCoe Family, p. 39.

[13] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1924,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 January 2015), Death certificate # 120158 for Sarah E. Williams.

[14] 1930 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Dalton, enumeration district (ED) 0123, p. 6B(penned), dwelling 155, family 160, Williams Charles C.; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 17 May 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington,D.C., microfilm publication T626, roll 2048.

[15]  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018), Death certificate # 77489 (1930) for Charles C. Williams.

[16] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed & downloaded 10 March 2018) Death certificate #  13170 (1951) for Bertha Jane Williams.

Elegy to Elizabeth  A. Hayes Ellerbee

In honor of Women’s History Month, I write about women in our family tree. This story is about Elizabeth A. Hayes Ellerbee from Alabama, my husband’s paternal great-great grandmother.

Elizabeth took a chance marrying Jim Ellerbee. She knew his story.  Along with other young men from Georgia, Jim joined the army of the Confederate States of America in 1861. He left his wife, Sarah Bailey, and their two young children in the care of her father, Judge William Bailey.  Rumor has it that Sarah’s stepmother, Indiana Cherry, Judge Bailey’s 3rd  wife, “did not like her step-daughter and step-children, so she had them move out of the house and into the slave quarters. . . .” [1] Sarah died before Jim returned home in June, 1865. A slave woman greeted Jim with his children, 6-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old William.

In November, 1865, Elizabeth A. Hayes, 21 years old, married James John Ellerbee, six years her senior, a widower, and father of two young children. How did Elizabeth and John know each other?  Elizabeth, born in Alabama in 1844,  and her family probably lived in the same county as Jim Ellerbee.

Elizabeth gave birth to 7 children during their 12-year marriage.  One child, John Uzemer, lived only 3 years and died in Georgia.[2]  James John Ellerbee died in December 1877, leaving Elizabeth with eight children, ages newborn to 10 years:  Asa (age 9 months); Wright (age 4); Barzellia (age 5); James Walter (age 8); Anna C. (age 7); Demarious (age 10); William (age 16) and Sarah (age 18).

The year 1880 – three years since her husband died. Jim’s oldest son, William Green Ellerbee (born 1861) followed his grandfather to Cherokee County, Texas, in the late 1870s.[3]  He must have corresponded with his stepmother.  Within a few years, William returned to Calhoun County, Georgia, and resided there with his sister. [4]  Elizabeth, now 33 years old, supported her family  as a field hand, possibly the only type of work available to her. Her two oldest children, 13-year-old Demarious and 10-year-old Anna, also worked as field hands in Early County, Georgia[5].  Elizabeth’s mother, 67 year old Moses Hayes, lived with them and cared for the younger children. The family’s situation can only be described as difficult.

Within a year or two, William moved his sister, stepmother and her children from southeastern Georgia to eastern Texas. [6] Elizabeth’s six children now ranged in age from 3 to 14 years old. Traveling in a covered wagon, the 700+ mile journey took 6-8 weeks. They possibly followed the south’s Old Federal Road through Alabama and Mississippi, crossing the Missisippi River at either Natchez, Missisippi, or Shreveport, Louisiana.

The next decades presented some stability for Elizabeth, her children and stepchildren. Two more of her children (Anna C. and Barzellia) died between 1880 and 1900.   “She managed her household with frugality and she educated her several children very well despite the hard times that prevailed everywhere.” [7]  . Marriages and the birth of grandchildren occurred in or near Cherokee County, Texas:

  • May 1888- William Green Ellerbee married Mary Ann Gulledge;  7 children.
  • November 1888 – Sarah Alice Ellerbee married John Grum Martin; 6 children.
  • January 1895 – James Walter Ellerbee married Katharine Deborah Powell;  6 children.
  • January 1898- Demarious Albina Ellerbee married Thomas Blanton; 7 children.
  • 1906 – Asa Alexander Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 3 children. They moved to Leflore County, Oklahoma by 1910.  Asa later moved to Oklahoma City, where he died.
  • About 1932 – Wright Roswell Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 1 child.

With one exception (Asa), all of these families remained close to Elizabeth. [8] [9]

Elizabeth A Hayes EllerbeeElizabeth Hayes Ellerbee died on March 25, 1917 in Cherokee County, Texas. She was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery at Wells, Texas. Many of her descendants are also buried there.

Elizabeth Hayes Ellerbee ‘s life was full of unexpected events, some happy and some sad.  At the age of 21, she assumed responsibility for a husband, shattered by war and the death of his first wife, and his two children. She lost her husband after only 12 years of marriage. She gave birth to seven children and buried three of them.  She appears to have had close relationships with both of her stepchildren.  She left familiar surroundings in Georgia, traveling 700+ miles to post-Civil War Texas to pursue a better life for herself and her family.  Overall, I see her as a woman who took chances and left a legacy of hope for her descendants.

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REFLECTION

I rediscovered Elizabeth’s story during creation of an Ellerbee scrapbook for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday in January, 2018. What a wonderful story for my blog!  Women’s History Month in March is the perfect time to publish it. I began to appreciate the challenges and hardships faced by Elizabeth as I dug deeper into the records. She had to be strong to endure. She may say, “I did it for my children” and think little about the sacrifices that she made.  She met the challenges of being a single parent for her children and stepchildren. I am sure that she got discouraged at times.

Taking on the role of ‘man of the house’ had to be difficult for 17-year-old William. How I wish I knew more about the slave woman who cared for Jim and Sarah’s children after Sarah’s death. That is a story to be discovered! Secondary benefit: meeting one of my genealogy goals for the year to tell more stories about my husband’s family.

What I learned:  always more in the records to be discovered. Look beyond names & dates. I learned about the “Old Federal Road” which could have been the route taken from southwest Georgia to east Texas.

What was helpful: having records semi-organized and easy to locate for review.  Demarious’ Bible records sent to me last year by one of her descendants.  Research and commentary about the family in The Ellerbe Family History.

Not helpful: Nothing I can think of at this moment.

To-Do List:  Confirm death dates & locations for Anna and Barzellia.

 For more information about the Old Federal Road:

The Old Federal Road in Alabama:  http://oldfederalroad.aum.edu/

South’s Old Federal Road https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Overland_Travel_1784_to_1839,_National_Road,_Old_Federal_Road,_Chicago_Road_(National_Institute)#The_South.E2.80.99s_Old_Federal_Road

Wagon trains to Texas:  http://www.genealogy.com/forum/regional/states/topics/ms/8044/

Archaeological Survey of the Old Federal Road in Alabama:     https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gregory_Waselkov/publication/259398790

Henry DeLeon Southerland & Jerry Elijah Brown. The Federal Road through Georgia.   Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1989.

Jeffrey C. Benton (compiler). The Very Worst Road: Travellers Accounts of Crossing Alabama’s Old Creek Indian Territory, 1820-1847. Tucscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama, 2009.

REFERENCES: 

[1] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986), p. 14-43.

[2] Family data, Demarious Albina Ellerbee Family Bible, Holy Bible, (New York: American Bible Society, 1876); original owned in October 2016 by Darby Blanton, [address for private use], Darby is descendant of Demarious Ellerbee & Thomas Blanton.

[3] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, population schedule, District 626, enumeration district (ED) 4, p. 420B, dwelling 351, family 347, Sarah Elerbrie [Ellerbee] 20; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed, downloaded, printed 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administratin, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9_0136.

[5] 1880 U.S. Census, Early Co, Georgia, pop. sch., Damascus, enumeration district (ED) 026, p. 214A, family #, Elizabeth Eleby [Ellerbee] ; digital images, Ancestry (http;;//www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 4 September 2011); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9, Roll 144.

[6] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[7] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[8]  1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Pct 8, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 284A (printed), Family #21, John G. Martin (head) [wife, Sarah A. Ellerbee + 6 children]; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded & printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T623_1619.  On same page: Family #22: Will R Ellesbee [Wright R. Ellerbee], head, 24; Elizabeth A. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 58; Asa Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 23 ; Family #23: James W. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], wife Catherine + 2 children. Elizabeth is recorded as the mother of 7 children, 4 still living.

[9] 1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 0024, p. 14B (penned), dwelling 272, family 272, Ellerbee E (head), 60, wd; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_1538.

A maz(e)ing Genealogy (subtitle:  Proving family stories)

Subtitle: Proving family stories that provide minimal information

Watch the genealogy shows on television. The searches appear straightforward with records obtained in clear chronological order. Occasionally, the host says, “We had to really look for this information.”  Subjects type a name into an online database, usually Ancestry, and a particular record for their ancestor appears.  At a county clerk’s office, the marriage book opens to the exact page with the person’s marriage record. These presentations simplify the process of genealogy. Yes, genealogy can be simple and straightforward. More often, our genealogy path seems more like a labyrinth or maze with frequent dead-ends and no clear way out. The ‘brick wall’ may actually be a hurdle or temporary road block.

Read “The Brick Wall Checklist” for an opinion about brick walls.

person in maze

Source:  http://www.the-burgenland-bunch.org/Newsletter/Newsletter266.htm

“Which begs the question: what is the difference between a maze and a labyrinth? Although considered synonymous by some, it is generally accepted that a labyrinth contains only one path, often spiralling around and folding back on itself, in ever-decreasing loops, whereas a maze contains branching paths, presenting the explorer with choices and the potential for getting very, very lost.” (Source: https://theconversation.com/how-to-escape-a-maze-according-to-maths_71582:  accessed 10 Feb 2018)

Some characterize genealogy as a puzzle with missing  pieces. How do you put a genealogy puzzle together? Read this blog post for some ideas:  Finding all the pieces to the puzzle.  For me, the image varies with each family group/ person and the specific goal.

I have been doing genealogy for over 20 years. Last year (2017), I started a Genealogy Do-Over by carefully reorganizing and reviewing files. Each file contains multiple records and notes. This year, I focus on my mother’s family (Tucker-Maurer) with forays into my husband’s family lines (Ellerbee-Simmons and Johnson-Reed). The person of the week is Rosina Maurer, sister of my great grandfather, Herman Maurer, and the maze that I found myself in.

The first rule of genealogy is “Start with what you know.”  In this case, I started with a handwritten family history by my great-aunt, Viola Maurer Tucker, written in the early 1980s.  [1]

“Valentine & Katherine Maurer had 5 children:  Herman, Katherine, Joseph, Rose, Edward. . . . Rose married Jacob Smetz.  We lost track of them after Herman (our father) died.  They had 2 or 3 children and lived in New Jersey.”

With these minimal clues, the search began with the first record found for Rose –  1892 New York State Census, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: [2] 

Page 3, column 1, lines 13-17: Valentine Maurer, 65, b. Germany; Annie Maurer, 64, b. Germany; Rosie Maurer, age 24, b. U.S., box maker; Joseph Maurer, age 23, b. US, brass worker; Edward Maurer, age 17, b US, mechanic.

New facts: Rose, a.k.a.  ‘Rosie’, born about 1868, single and living with her parents in 1892.  Disclaimer:  Still lost in the maze of 1870 and 1880 census records for this family. I haven’t yet done an exhaustive search in these records.

gg62755812Keep chronological journal, handwritten or computer-based, of when and where you find information even if information is conflicting or negative. This journal / research log will keep you from retracing your steps later. Transfer appropriate information to your family tree. On family tree, write notes about conflicting and negative information.

With this basic information, I am now ready to enter the maze to find Rose/ Rosie Maurer Smetz. First, I went to Ancestry’s online database and typed “Jacob Smetz” as Rosie’s spouse.  No records found for Jacob Smetz or any children.  A dead-end, return to entry point.

Next, I remembered a document already in my files -probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, Rose’s mother, who died in 1899: [3]

Anna Kathrina Maurer probate pg 2_crop

Probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, 1899.  Last paragraph on page 2.

 Did Viola have Jacob’s name wrong?  Try another direction.  Begin again with 1900 census. Changed Jacob’s surname to ‘Schnitz’.  – no results!!! Changed residence from New York to New Jersey. Again, no results! Back to entry point. Record each direction and results in journal.  This feels like a roadblock, so I end here to return later.

Start over.  Review available information again before entering the maze.  From the probate records, I saw, for the first time(?),  ‘Rosina’.  Try  ‘Rosina’ again with both ‘Smets’ and ‘Schnitz’.  Nothing found on Ancestry website. There have to be records for this family!

Try another strategy using Family Search online genealogy.  At last, a record found:  Marriage record for Rosina Maurer and Jacob Smets,  27 November 1895, Manhattan, New York. [4]

Jacob Smets, Marriage, 27 Nov 1895, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States; New York (City), New York, male, 34, single, white, birth year (estimated) 1861; birthplace: Elimpt, Germany. Father: John Henry Smets. Mother: Gertrude Corzilius. Spouse: Rosina Maurer, female, 28, single, white, birth year (estimated) 1867, birthplace Brooklyn, N.Y. Father: Valentine Maurer. Mother: Ann Catherine Corzilius.

This record opened the 1900 census for Jacob and Rosa Smets in Stonington, Connecticut [5]:

Jacob Smets, head, 26, b. June 1864, Germany. Rosa Smets, wife, 33, b. Nov 1867, New York, mother of 3, 3 living. Gertrude Smets, daughter, 4, b. Oct 1896, New York. Joseph Smets, son, 2, b. March 1898, New York. Arthur H. Smets, son, age 11/12, b. July 1899, Connecticut.

Jacob & Rosa apparently moved from New Jersey to Connecticut, about 140 miles,  between April 1899 (date of her mother’s probate) and June 5, 1900, date of 1900 census.  Arthur, their youngest son, recorded as born in Connecticut in August 1899, so the family moved during Rosa’s 5th or 6th month of pregnancy. I now have the names for 3 children and an interesting twist.  Why did they move to Connecticut? Jacob’s listed occupation as a weaver in a velvet mill probably answers that question.

The 1900 census led to the 1910 census for Jacob & Rosina Smets in Brooklyn, New York [6]:

Jacob Smets, head, 48, M1 [1st marriage], married 14 years. b. Germany; immigrated 1891, naturalized citizen. Rosina Smets, wife, 42, M1 [1st marriage, married 14 years, b. New York. mother of 4, 4 living. Gertrude Smets, daughter, age 13, b. NY. Joseph Smets, son, 12, b. NY. Arthur Smets, son, age 10, b. CT. Robert Smets, son, age 9, b. NY. Anna Dale, lodger, 70, b. Ireland. Henry Ryder, lodger, 65, n. NY. Murphy, lodger, 19, b. NY

Another child, Robert, born in 1901 in New York. Jacob & Rosina moved from Connecticut back to New York before Robert’s birth in 1901.

Circled back to Ancestry website, and found Jacob & Rosa in Brooklyn, New York, per 1905 census. [7]

Jacob Smets, 39, no. of yrs in U.S. = 15. Rose Smets, 36. Gertrude M. Smets, 8. Joseph Smets, 7. Arthur H. Smets, 5. Robert Smets, 4.

This again confirms their move from Connecticut back to New York.  It’s  late at night and I am stuck in the maze.  Time for bed!

032-Genetoons-AncestralFindings

Source:  Genetoons Genealogical Cartoons  (https://ancestralfindings.com/genetoons-cartoons-2/

Still in the maze but making progress. Continued to circle around the Ancestry database and discovered another opening:

1920 Census [8]—South Brunswick, New Jersey:  Jacob Smits [Smets], head, 58, immigrated 1892, NA YR: 1897. Rosina Smits, 52. Gertrude Smits, 23. Joseph Smits, 21. Anthon [Arthur] Smits, 20. Robert Smits, 18.

The family did live in New Jersey! Followed the tracks of Jacob and Rosa’s children with some success (to be reported in a later post).

Another opening: 1930 Census[9]—South Brunswick, New Jersey!  Jacob & Rose Smetts.  Changed surname spelling again:   Jacob Smetts, head, 64, b. Germany.  Rose Smetts, wife, 55, b. NY.  Herbert Dorer, Boarder, 32, b. Switzerland.

Changed direction to Find A Grave for Smets/ Smetts. Many possible detours (i.e. names) but no entries found for Jacob, Rose, or any of their children.

Changed direction again – to Newspapers. Com website. Nothing found for Jacob or Rosina Smets.  Then, three large openings in the maze after using ‘Smetts’:

24 July 1930 Central New Jersey Home News:  “ Letter of admin to Rose Smetts for estate of the late Joseph Smetts, who died. . . July 12.” [10]

17 Dec 1936 Central New Jersey Home News:  Obituary for William J. Smetts, “William Jacob Smetts, husband of Mrs. Rose Smetts.” [11] 

According to German naming traditions,  first names given at birth were rarely used and people were usually known by their 2nd name.  Could ‘Rosina’ be her middle name?  If so, what is her first name??

9 July 1949, “Henry Renk attended funeral services for Mrs. Rose Smetts. . . “  [12]

Possible clear path out of the maze, except for the mention of Henry Renk. What is his relationship to Rose?  Definitely a  BSO to be explored another day!

Retraced steps back to Ancestry website, searching now for  ‘Rose Smetts’.  Another opening:  1915 census – Frankling Twp, Somerset County, N.J.[13]:

Smets, Jacob, 46, b. June 1865, Germany. Rosina,  40, b. Nov 1874, New York.  Gertrude, 17, b. Oct 1896, New York. Joseph, 16, b. Mch [March] 1899, New Jersey. Arthur H., 15, b. July 1900, Conn. Robert, 14, b. June 1901, New York.

Retraced steps (again!) to  recheck for page numbers of newspaper entries (forgot to record these earlier).  Looked around the location one more time and discovered a previously overlooked item:

Death notice for William J. Smetts, 14 Dec 1936:  “son, Arthur H., died November 18 [1936). . . daughter, Gertrude Anderson.”. [14] 

At last, a clear path out of the maze!  Some areas (residence in 1870 , 1880, 1940) remain just out of reach.

Looked over the top of the maze walls, using a broad search term: “Rose Smetts died 1949”.  Found:  Obituary for Mrs. Rose Smetts[15]:

Maurer_Rose_mSmetts_death notice

Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 6 July 1949, p. 2, column 3

Exit point of the maze.  Now, the final test question:  Was information given at the entry point proven?

“Rose married Jacob Smetz.  We lost track of them after Herman (our father) died.  They had 2 or 3 children and lived in New Jersey.”

“Rose married Jacob Smetz” – Rose married William Jacob Smetts.  Proven with spelling variations of Jacob’s surname.

“They had 2 or 3 children” – Jacob and Rose had 4 children, 2 of whom died between 1930 and 1940.   Proven plus one.

“lived in New Jersey” – Jacob and Rose moved to New Jersey between 1910 and 1915.  Both of them died in New Jersey.  Proven.

If you are interested, view Rose’s life summary: Maurer_Rose_Timeline2

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

What began as a routine task soon became an intriguing and frustrating study. I often run into name variations but there seemed to be more twists and turns than usual for Rose’s family. Maybe I just wasn’t picking up on clues. I originally viewed this as a zig-zag path with many choices of direction. Then, I realized that I was going in circles. The concept of a maze seemed more fitting as I reached dead-ends and had to retrace my steps. Before starting my Genealogy Do-Over, I rarely followed through for the siblings of my direct ancestors.  And, I stopped quickly when I could not access readily available information.

What helped:  handwritten family history provided by great-aunt Viola, even with its minimal information. Tools and techniques learned during the past year. Slowing down and documenting everything.  Searching for additional information before finishing this post.

What didn’t help:  early frustration when surname variations didn’t produce results.

What I learned:  Go back to original data, even when you think that you have learned everything you can from it. Thorough documentation takes more time but helps by forcing review of information more than once. It’s OK to put research aside for days, weeks, or months.

Footnotes/ Sources:

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” p. 4 ; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017. Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[2] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Rosie Maurer, age 24; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; 173 Hopkins Street.

[3] Probate record for Anna Katharina Maurer, p. 2.  Kings County, New York, Probate case files, Anna Katharina Maurer; “New York, Kings County, Probate Administration Records.,” digital records, Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (Kings County)., Ancestry. com, New YOrk, Wills and PRobate Records, 1659-1999 (www.ancestry.com: accessed & printed 20 May 2016); names children, confirms date of death.

[4] “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24C2-M4S : 10 February 2018), Jacob Smets and Rosina Maurer, 27 Nov 1895; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,493,451.

[5] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M97F-TCG : accessed 10 February 2018), Rosa Smets in household of Jacob Smets, Stonington township (excl. Stonington borough), New London, Connecticut, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 488, sheet 7A, family 166, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,150.

[6] “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M5S9-VNK : accessed 10 February 2018), Rosina Smets in household of Jacob Smets, Brooklyn Ward 30, Kings, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 1098, sheet 7B, family 151, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 985; FHL microfilm 1,374,998.

[7] 1905 New York State Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) Assembly district A.D. 07, E.D. 22, p. 18, lines 1-6, Jacob Smets; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 10 February 2018); citing New York State Archives, Albany, New York..

[8] 1920 U.S. Census, Middlesex County, New Jersey, population schedule, South Brunswick, enumeration district (ED) 71, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 59, family 60, Jacob Smits [Smets] 58; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 10 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T625_1057.

[9] “United States Census, 1930,” database with images, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4XG-DQN : accessed 11 February 2018), Rose Smetts in household of Jacob Smetts, North Brunswick, Middlesex, New Jersey, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 63, sheet 2B, line 100, family 50, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1367; FHL microfilm 2,341,102.

[10] Letter of admin for Joseph Smetts.

[11] “William J. Smetts,” Obituary, Central New Jersey Home News, 17 December 1936; online images, Newspapers.com (http:///newspapers.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 10 February 2018).

[12] “Henry Renk attended funeral services”, The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey”, local newspaper (9 Jul 1949): p. 7; PDF images, (http://www.newspapers.com  :  accessed 10 Feb 2018), key word Mrs. Rose Smetts.

[13] 1915 New Jersey State Census, Somerset County, New Jersey, population schedule, Frankling Township, p. 1A (penned), Jacob Smets 46; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 16 February 2018); citing New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey, reference no. L-14, Film 58.

[14]“William J. Smetts”,” death notice, The Central New Jersey Home News, 14 December 1936, death date, death of son, funeral information; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 16 February 2018); citing The Central New Jersey Home News. p. 17, column 4.

[15] “Deaths: Smetts- Rose Maurer”, Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 6 July 1949, p. 2, column 3. accessed, downloaded & printed 23 Feb 2018 from Newspapers. Com.

A Valentine in the Family Tree

Do you have a Valentine in your family tree?  Both my husband and I have ancestors named Valentine. One of my genealogy goals  for 2018 is to tell more stories about my husband’s family so this post focuses on Valentine Creager (aka Valentin Cregar/ Kruger) , my husband’s 6x great-grandfather. The story of Valentine and his descendants extends from Pennsylvania to Maryland and Kentucky then, eventually, Texas.

Disclaimer:  Six years ago, when I began collecting information about the Creager family,  I was not diligent in saving digital and/or print copies of reference materials.  I remember reading some items but have no idea where I found them. Research notes? Virtually non-existent. Source citations? Incomplete.  Digital or paper copies available?  Sometimes. Results? Secondary sources in this particular blog.  Frustrated?  Yes!  Then, I remember — this is one reason for my Genealogy Do-Over!

valentine center tree w names

The Creager surname is believed to be an Americanized version of the German surname,  Krieger.   Our American ancestors trace to Johan Casper/Caspar Krieger, who immigrated to America in the 1730s. [1]  Valentine Creager , third child of Casper Creager and  Maria Christiana Hofferth/ Hoffert  was born in 1734 in Oley Mountain, Berks County, Pennsylvania.  According to Scharf’s (1968) history of western Maryland,  “a company of German immigrants came down from Pennsylvania and established themselves in the valley of the Moncacy [River]. . . . “ (p. 360).[2]  Casper and his family followed sometime later.

Valentine was baptized by Rev. John Casper Stoever in Oley Hills, Pennsylvania on 2 March 1734 at St. Joseph Lutheran Church (aka Hill Church) [3]. Valentine is believed to be the only child whose birth and baptism can be validated from church records at this time. Irene (Creager) Lawson [4] stated, “At the time of Velte’s baptism, his father, Casper, was a resident of Oley Hills,  Pennsylvania, and was an official at St. Joseph’s Church or Hill Church and was one of the three designated to purchase 50 acres of land for a cemetery on August 12, 1747.” (page 10).

When he was 25 years old, Valentine Creager received a 21 year grant of land in the area known as Monocacy Manor, near Frederick Maryland, in 1759. [5]   A manor was land set aside by the original English lords, such as Cecilius Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore and the first Proprietor of Maryland, as a lease.   “Initially, the term of a lease was designated for a period equal to the natural lifetimes of three individuals selected by the leaseholder. They frequently were for his own life and the lives of perhaps two sons. . . . “ [6].  At the end of the lease, “land and improvements were to revert  to the Lord Proprietary” (Tracey & Dern, p. 305).  However, the Revolutionary War  probably disrupted these agreements  as evidenced by  the 1781 confiscation of the Monocacy Manor leases which were then  sold as Loyalist property [7].

 

 

Map of Monacy River area in Western Maryland.  Note how close it is to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

 

 

 

 

When did Valentine Creager marry Maria Christina (maiden name unknown)? Reported dates vary from 1760 to 1768.  The only agreement seems to be that they were married in Maryland, probably Frederick County. Births of their children partially reflect Valentine’s absence from home during the Revolutionary War:

  1. Daniel Creager born 1764                                     Spouse:  Anna Barbara Schmitt
  2. Elizabetha Creager  born 17 Feb 1768
  3. John George Creager  born 11 May 1771            Spouse: Margaret ‘Peggy’ Myers
  4. Susanna Creager born 22 Feb 1773                     Spouse: Abraham Miller
  5. Christian Creager born 22 Mar 1774
  6. Thomas Creager born 6 Feb 1775                         Spouse: (1) Rebecca Robbins                                                                                                                       (2) Sarah Ann Hedges
  7. Amelia Creager born 24 Nov 1780                         Spouse:  Nathan Crum
  8. Maria Creager born after 1781

Researchers disagree about the number of children born to Valentine and Maria.  Baptismal records for Elizabetha, John George, Susanna, Thomas, and Amelia support relationships. [8]  A 1798 confirmation record for Maria Creager names Valentine and Maria Creager , which suggests a possible relationship to them.[9]  In the Lutheran Church, confirmation means that the young person accepts responsibility for the practice of their religion and adherence to church beliefs. I was raised as a Lutheran so am aware of the significance of this event.

An online message board [10] mentions one additional child, Henry, born in 1766, and another source[11] mentions Christian, born in 1774.  I make no attempt to prove or disprove either claim.   Some genealogists question whether Daniel is the son of Valentine and Maria or the son of one of Valentine’s brothers.

Valentine Creager served in both the French and Indian War of 1757-1758 and the American Revolution. In 1774, his name appears as a member of a Committee of Observation whose duties were to watch the British and Tories.  His allegiance to the American cause included an appointment to raise money for buying arms and ammunition. [12]   By October 1777 and possibly as early as November 1775, he received an appointment as Captain of the 4th Company. [13]  Re-organization of George Washington’s Army found Valentine serving in multiple units throughout the campaign.  The Maryland Flying Camps saw little action during the war but served an important function as observers of the British and protectors of local populations.

Valentin and his family continued to live in Frederick County, Maryland, after the Revolution.  The 1790 United States Federal Census names Valentine Creager, Frederick County, Maryland and these members of his household: [14]

Number of Free White Males Under 16:   1  (1 son, probably Thomas)

Number of Free White Males 16 and over:  2 (Valentine + 1 son, John George?

Number of Free White Females:  2 (Maria + daughter or 2 daughters)

The reported death date and place for Maria Christina Creager, Valentin’ s wife, vary from ‘after 1780 in Maryland’  to ‘3 June 1797 in Washington County, Kentucky’ with no specific notes or sources recorded.

gg62755812TIP:  If you are unsure about something, write a note to share what information you have.   Example (with some fictional data):  “March 1780, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Frederick County, Maryland,  Valentin and Maria Kruger as sponsors for Hans Hofferth, son of Johan Hofferth and wife, Anna. So, Maria died sometime after March 1780.  Since the ages of females were not recorded in 1790 census, uncertain if Maria was one of the 2 females listed with Valentine Creager.”

Several of Valentin’s sons, including John George, our direct ancestor, found their way to Kentucky by the early 1800s. [15]   In 1803, Valentine sold land in Frederick County, Maryland.  This transaction provides the last known record about him.  According to an online family tree [16], Valentine died about 1808 in Washington County, Kentucky.  The date and location of Valentine’s death and burial are not yet confirmed.

Records of Valentine Cregar’s Revolutionary War service formed the basis for his recognition as a Patriot by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. (Valentin Cregar,  #A084178).  Descendants of his sons, John George Creager and Thomas Creager, proudly acknowledge themselves as Daughters of the American Revolution. Some of  John George’s descendants, specifically his daughter Sarah and her husband,  eventually settled in Texas.   John George and his wife, Margaret, are believed to have died in Boxelder County, Texas.

Our descendancy family tree (in a more traditional format)

Creager to Ellerbee descendant chart

Mable Venette Reed is my husband’s maternal grandmother.

 

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Reflection

I was really frustrated when I could not resurrect print or digital copies of pages from Irene Creager Lawson’s  book, The Creager History.   AARGH!!!!  But, my frustration grew smaller as I found copies of some sources.  My research techniques have certainly improved and continue to improve.  I learned a little about the colonial period in Maryland.  Found online digital copies of multiple records cited in other sources.  A particularly exciting find was PDF copy of original records in German from Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Woodboro, Maryland !  Difficult to read handwriting but I was able to pick out ‘Valentin’.  With birth dates of Valentin’s children in hand, I found entries for some of the children and copied the relevant pages.  Yes,  I wrote the complete URL to each document!  And the date accessed!

What helped:  basic information already gathered for mother-in-law’s DAR application.  Access to resources about Maryland at the Oklahoma Historical Society Library here in Oklahoma City.  Finding a website with digitized church records for Frederick County, Maryland and the digitized  Maryland State Archives Online.

Website with Maryland church records:    Bob Fout, Genealogist    http://bobfoutgenealogy.com/records/

What didn’t help:  not previously exploring discrepancies in reports by various researchers.  Accepting some reports on face value without checking their sources.  Only a few Genealogy Do-Over tasks have been completed for mother-in-law’s family tree:  paper files placed in color-coded files,  individual checklists and research logs started for a few people.  But, I now have more about Valentine Creager!

Future plans:  Continue file clean-up.  Confirm sources cited by others.  Keep looking for copies of original sources.  Write notes about consistencies and discrepancies in records as well as reports made by others.    Keep paper and/or digital copies of all online resources, including complete URLs!

[1] “Descendants of Hans Ernst Krieger and Other Krieger families of Frederick Co., MD (aka Creager, Kruger, Creeger, etc.”  Updated; 2007-06-12.  Rootsweb ( https://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=grannyapple1130&id=I0051    : accessed 12 Feb 2018).  Cites various sources; acknowledges duplications and missing sources and that the information “is not without errors.”

[2] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland being a history of Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Washington, Alleghany, and Garrett Counties from the earliest period to the present day; including Biographical Sketches of their Reprsentative Men. Vol. 1 (Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1968), p. 360.

[3] “Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever, Baptismal and Marriage 1730-1779,” Harrisburg Publishing Co: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1896, archived at WayBackMachine (https://archive.org/details/recordsof revjohno1stoe.pdf   : accessed 13 Feb 2018), p. 7, entry for Krueger-George Valentine.

[4] Pages from Irene Creager Lawson, The Creager History (Austin, Texas: Privately published, 1985) in documentation file supporting Membership Application of L.A. Golding (National no. 751615) on Valentine Cregar (1734, Pennsylvania – aft. 1803, Maryland ), approved 1 Feb 1993;  National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C

[5] Grace L. Tracey & John P. Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy: The Early Settlement of Frederick County, Maryland 1721-1743 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1987),  p. 323.

[6] Tracey & Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy, p. 305.

[7] Tracey & Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy, p. 305.

[8] Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church (formerly St. Peter’s), Rocky Hill, near Woodsboro, Frederick County, Maryland, Parish Registers, 1767-1889: Birth/Baptism Records 1767-1854, digitized by Bob Fout 2016; Bob Fout Genealogy (http://bobfoutgenealogy.com/records/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/GRHC_Baptisms_1767-1854.pdf   accessed 13 Feb 2018).  Entries found for Elizabetha (entry 14),  John George (entry 84),  Susanna (entry 114)  , Thomas (entry 150)  and Amelia (entry 251).

[9] Membership Application of L.A. Golding (National no. 751615) on Valentine Cregar (1734, Pennsylvania – aft. 1803, Maryland ), approved 1 Feb 1993;  National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.

[10]  Audrey Shields Hancock, “George Valentine “Velte” Creager,” Rootsweb, website/discussion board  8 February 2002 (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~grannyapple/CREAGER-KRIEGER/B . . .accessed & printed  10 July 2011;   site currently offline).

[11] A letter to Mrs. Avonne Golding, dated 21 May 1987, from Wm. C. Willman, Research Correspondent, The Historical Society of Frederick County, Inc., Frederick, Maryland, names Christian and gives a birth date but my review of those digitized records did not reveal an entry for Christian. [Source: DAR documentation file, L.A. Golding (National no. 751615)].

[12] Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Vol. 1, pp. 128-129.

[13] “Journal & Correspondence of the Council of Safety, July 7-December 31, 1776”,  Archives of Maryland, Vol. 12, p. 317.  Image copy, Maryland State Archives Online (http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000012/html/am12–317.html  : accessed 13 Feb 2018).

[14] 1790 U. S. Census,  Frederick County, Maryland, p. 201 (penned), col. 1, line 22,  Valentine Cregar; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 13 Feb 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm M637, roll ____.

[15] 1810 U.S. Census, Washington County, Kentucky, p. 337 (stamped), col. 1, line 6, John Creager; image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 13 Feb 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm M252, roll 8.

[16]  Randmisc, “Creager Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/163769/person/-2087063383/facts   : accessed 13 Feb 2018), “George Valentine Creager,” death data undocumented.

 

Share your work with a family history scrapbook

Earlier this month, I presented an Ellerbee Family History scrapbook to my father-in-law in honor of his 80th birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA!!

This project is my 4th genealogical scrapbook, 3 traditional paper format scrapbooks and 1 digital scrapbook. The projects evolved as a different way to present information about a family. As mentioned in earlier blogs, I wrote a narrative history about my dad’s family in 2012. I then promised my in-laws to research each of their families. The first two projects, both paper scrapbooks, resulted.

Project #1:  Simmons Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law, about his mother’s family. He knew his grandfather as Clay Simmons but little else about the family. My quest, then, focused on discovering his Simmons’ heritage. That quest led to our first genealogy field trip to east Texas (a topic for another blog post!). HIs grandfather’s full name was Henry Clay Simmons.  Ancestors include James Aster Simmons, the first Baptist minister in Trinity County, Texas, circa 1856.  The Simmons family traces back to Virginia (ca. 1745) and the birth of a man named William Simmons. I used different color schemes for each generation.

Migration of Simmons Family
Suggestion:  Add a name to each place and date. 

Project #2:  Johnson-Reed Scrapbook. 

Paper scrapbook created for my mother-in-law, whose maiden name is Johnson. I used a book of floral design papers as background. Rather than an in-depth look at a single family line, Nana Linda’s scrapbook embraces direct ancestors of both Papa (Horace) Johnson and Nana (Venette) Reed for 4-5 generations. Several years ago, my in-laws pulled out on old suitcase full of family pictures. Some of those pictures found their way into this scrapbook.  A brief biography of a distant cousin who founded an Arkansas town added to the family tree.

Holcomb-Reed_graph for blog

Sample page from mother-in-law’s scrapbook.  Diagram shows relationship between two families. 

Project #3:  Posten Family. 

Digital scrapbook for my 90+ year-old aunt; presented to her during our trip to Pennsylvania in August 2017. Our family tree extends to our oldest known direct ancestor, Thomas Postens (born 1782, New Jersey – died 1854, Pennsylvania).  During my childhood, we traveled to Pennsylvania every other year.  Trips became less frequent after Dad’s mother died in 1964, so this scrapbook focused on the more recent story of my immediate family. Page themes included weddings, three generations of military service and my sons. A shoebox of pictures inherited from my mother yielded pictures of Grandma Posten with me and my siblings. My aunt readily identified when and where each picture had been taken.  My oldest son bears a definite resemblance to my dad and Grandpa Posten when they were in their early 20s.

Project #4:  Ellerbee Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law. I promised this one as supplement to Simmons Family Scrapbook. Years ago, Papa shared his copy of an Ellerbe family history (Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986). The book represents an extensive history of multiple family lines with similar spellings of the surname.  A boon to this genealogist! This scrapbook focuses on our direct family line, Ellerbee. Recent contact with a second cousin yielded copies of pages from a family Bible published in 1876. Yes, I gave credit for sharing those photos! Review of documents led me to a new appreciation of one widow’s journey from southwestern Georgia to eastern Texas in the early 1880s with 6 children aged 3 to 14.

Consider a scrapbook to share your next genealogical project. Choose a method – paper or digital.  Time, resources and cost determine the size and method. Begin with a smaller project such as persons who fought in a specific war, a single generation or location, persons with the same given name through multiple generations, or stories about people in a family picture. The process of creating scrapbook pages can even help crack a brick wall! I used a single branch of the extended family for two of my projects. Think creatively about how to present information such as a census record.

census example from scrapbookSimple format, band of design paper on a solid background.  Copy of 1910 Census, Cherokee County, Texas for W. J. Simmons, wife, Janie, and 4 of their 9 children.  Small leaf sticker pointed to the family. Transcription of entry for W.J. Simmons is on next page for easy reading.  In 1900, W.J. & family lived in Coltharp, Texas, a town which no longer exists. Picture of historic marker and information about the town followed the 1900 census record.

Family pictures, Bible records, and original documents are ideal for this type of project. Copies of these items abound in all of my scrapbook projects.

Check the cost of your chosen method. For a paper scrapbook, you will need the scrapbook itself, paper, plastic sleeves and tape. Use archival quality, acid-free paper and sleeves.  Buy tape labelled for scrapbooking.  A scrapbook kit provides these items , except for the tape, plus stickers and other add-ons.   For a digital scrapbook, compare cost and other requirements such as minimum number of pages. Most offer templates and other helpful hints. Create your own pages or ask for help from one of their designers. Once the digital scrapbook is created, how will you distribute it? Digital and print copies are both options. Consider cost of postage to mail a print copy of the finished product to you and/or others.

For either method, allow plenty of time. The first two paper scrapbooks took about 6 months each because I could only work on them 2-4 hours or less per week. I had done little research on the Simmons family, subject of the first scrapbook, so gathering information took more time than for the other scrapbooks. Our scheduled visit to Pennsylvania dictated the time frame for the 20-page digital scrapbook which took about 20-24 hours total to create. The last scrapbook entailed two weeks of intensive work, about 30-40 hours per week.

For a comparison of Digital scrapbooking websites:   https://www.comparakeet.com/digital-scrapbooking-sites/

Paper scrapbooks. Choose size of scrapbook. Sizes range from 4 inches x 6 inches to 12 inches x 12 inches. So many choices of papers and colors! Choose a theme such as color, location or event.  When starting, purchase a theme kit or packet of design papers plus complementary or contrasting solid color pages. Allow time and money for multiple trips to the craft or scrapbook store! Wait for sales!!  Scrapbook specialty stores often sell unique papers that cost slightly more than papers found in craft stores. Check online sources for paper and other items. Some online sources allow you to order single pages. I ordered a Civil War Confederate packet and a Korean War theme packet online. Take pictures of your finished product.  You can then share these digital pictures with others in your family.

Develop a tentative table of contents, by section and/or page. The overall purpose of your project guides the sequence. In general, each section of my paper scrapbooks represented one generation.  The section started with a printed family group sheet followed by pictures, census records and other documents. Final pages in the section told a story about a specific person or event through local newspaper reports, church/ county histories or a summary written by me.

One challenge is finding creative ways to present various documents.  For a multi-generational family history, begin with a pedigree chart using a pre-printed, fill-in-the blank family tree form. Blank forms with handwritten entries personalize the scrapbook. Add stick-on items. Buy theme-based scrapbook packages at craft stores or online. I have jewels, flowers, letters of the alphabet, U.S. state decals, ribbon and leaves to add as accents. For the most part, I used fairly simple designs and shapes.

page 14_John Ellibee_Martha Love_marriage record_Ellerbee scrapbook_Jan 2018

Copy of  Marriage record for John Ellibee & Martha Love, 1842.  Full page from marriage record (with red circle around entry), enlarged view of actual entry, and a handwritten label identifying the document. Solid color background with coordinating bands of design paper at top and bottom of page. 

As you accumulate items, think about the information in or about the item. What is the most effective way to present the item? There are at least 3 men named William Green Ellerbee among the ancestors so green paper backs their stories. Use a state outline behind a document. Military symbols accompany copies of service records. A picture of a schoolhouse goes well with a copy of a school record. I wrote a newspaper-type story about a genealogical brick wall and presented it on (yes, you guessed it!) brick wall paper. A death certificate or tombstone picture on black paper with the words “In Memoriam’  is powerful. If available, add a picture of the person to a copy of a funeral notice. Add your own handwritten note to a census record – “6 year old Noah is listed as son but it is unlikely that 60-year-old Martha is his mother. Still looking for parents of Noah.” Sometimes, simply present the item on a solid color piece of paper.

Use contrasting and coordinating colors. The color wheel guides this concept. Complimentary colors, such as red and green, appear directly across from one another. Analogous colors, such as green and yellow, appear close to each other. Examples of various color schemes:

color wheel 2

Link to source for  Color Wheel

Choose a base color for your project, then expand by adding different color schemes for each page or section. For my mother-in-law’s scrapbook, a pink and maroon flower-themed paper guided color choices for the rest of the book.

linda scrapbook sample title page

Are source citations important for scrapbooks? I believe that the answer is, “Yes!” Plan space for citation when setting the page format. I added source citations for census records and other documents. For photos of the family Bible, my citation reads “Photos of pages generously provided by .  .  .  .   .  .,  descendant of . . . . .”   Relate the provenance of the item in the photograph:  “Handwritten journal kept by Grandmother Bailey, found at Grandmother’s house by Judith Bailey, current owner of the journal.” Format source citations for other records, such as census records, according to current genealogical standards.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiReflection:

These scrapbooks were time consuming, medium difficulty, rewarding projects. I had little personal experience with scrapbooking before I created the first one. My husband is a graphic artist who offered constructive criticism. Now, I regularly scour local craft stores for sales on scrapbooking items. I started with one family history themed scrapbook packet and bought multiple single pages. I now have 6 boxes of scrapbook paper in assorted themes, designs and colors. Last summer, I bought 2 boxes of scrapbook papers and accessories, worth about $70, for $10 at a garage sale. For the latest project, I bought 10 design specific pages but only used 4 of them. There are more stories in the documents!

What helped:  Paper scrapbooks done in 2013 & 2014. Bought scrapbook supplies at various times during the past 4 years and only when on sale! Identified general color scheme of black, blue and green before starting current project. High quality copies of 3 pictures done at office supply store. Searched internet for page ideas. Genealogical research essentially complete on family before starting most recent project with most documents in paper or digital files.

What didn’t help:  With 1st project, no experience with scrapbooking. No clear format in mind, minimal planning. Genealogical research ongoing throughout 1st project. This project — home printer malfunction halfway through. Printer was down for 4 days while we waited for part. Good news – we didn’t have to buy a new printer! Used printer downtime to create items on computer and plan rest of scrapbook pages. Started creating pages in the middle of the family line, which was a little confusing.

Suggestions for future:  Tentatively plan sequence of sections and pages before starting. Inventory materials on-hand for ideas. Complete genealogical research as much as possible before starting scrapbook but remain open to new ideas or documents that may surface. Continue to look for scrapbook page ideas.

For more information, find print books about scrapbooking at your local bookstore or public library.

Websites you may find helpful (in no particular order):

Scrapbook your family tree (supplies and page layout ideas): http://www.scrapbookyourfamilytree.com/product-category/genealogy-scrapbook-paper/:

Scrapbooking genealogy (supplies and page layout ideas):    https://www.scrapbookinggenealogy.com/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: http://www.thoughtco.com/scrapbooking-your-family-hitory-1420758

Scrapbook A Family Tree:  https://www.familytree.com/scrapbooking/scrapbook-a-family-tree/

Pinterest, ideas for page layouts and links for supplies:  https://www.pinterest.com/rustico3059/scrapbook-your-family-tree/

The complete guide to starting your family tree scrapbook:  https://scrapbookingcoach.com/the-complete-guide-to-scrapbooking-your-family-history-for-generations-to-come/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: A Beginner’s Guide:   http://www.scrapyourfamilyhistory.com

 

 

 

 

 

Share your work during this New Year

Earlier this month, I watched another  television show (of three seen recently) about the Lost Colony of Roanoke, Virginia.[1]  Hosts for each show have expertise in varying fields such as archaeology[2] and geology[3].  Each approaches the mystery from a different perspective.  If I remember correctly, all hosts interviewed some of the same persons, visited some of the same locations and viewed/ analyzed some of the same items.  Each found something unique with similar but different conclusions.  My suggestion:  Bring all of the hosts together in Roanoke where they share their methods and visit locations again, as a group.  They compare findings and debate differences.  As a group, they come to joint conclusions, noting similarities and differences.  What a wonderful show that would be!

This brings me to the topic of this blog– sharing your genealogical research as a New Year’s resolution.  I tend to work independently.  However, I realize the value of seeking others with similar genealogy interests. Their perspective has often shown me things that I had missed. Or, they delved deeper into a relationship than I had done. Why not build on the work of others?

Reader, beware!  This is especially true in genealogical research.  With the advent of the internet, there are many more ways to share work and misinformation. Build on the work of others but take time to confirm their work.  Confession time– how many of you ever posted questionable or unverified information? Raised-hands I did and it has been haunting me ever since! How many of you copied information because ‘it looks OK’?  Again, guilty as charged!  Although, I am much more careful now than in the past!

I received a typewritten family genealogy from a cousin who had gotten the information from an elderly great-aunt. [4] typed Posten lineageLooks reasonable!   From my dad, I knew names of his dad and his grandfather.  My beginning research efforts gave me the name of James D. Posten, next in line.  So far, so good.  Using this information as a base, I began to prepare my application to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Since James died in 1914, I eventually wrote for, and received, a copy of his death certificate.  Next person in line – Thomas Posten- confirmed!  I also searched from the other direction – from Jacob Postens to Thomas.  I found Jacob’s Revolutionary War Pension file online [5].   Additional information about Jacob’s children and grandchildren was located in two county histories published in 1886[6] and 1900[7].  No Thomas!

More bad news!  Before I verified the information on the typewritten document, I shared it as fact on multiple message boards and my online family tree.  Dispelling this myth has been on ongoing process for the last 7 years.  Even though I readily share the accumulated information about Jacob Postens and his descendants[8], relatives still argue the direct relationship.  No one has produced evidence to prove that we are direct descendants of Jacob Postens and his wife, Ann Burson.

Sharing genealogical findings can be controversial.  Everyone wants credit for his or her work.  So, give credit to that other researcher! “This information based on Sally Ramsey’s online tree, entry for Jacob Holland.” If you disagree with the other person, be respectful:  “Two online tree shows death date for Jacob Holland as 1908; sources are gravestone and church records. Death certificate and family Bible records show death year as 1909.” Contact the owners of the other trees and offer to share copies of all documents.

No one works in a vacuum.  We rely on the work of others to discover our own family roots. Census takers asked questions and wrote answers on blank pages, transcriptionists typed the handwritten pages, someone created the paper and digital indexes, publishers put together the books, and librarians catalogued and shelved the books.  Family members kept great-grandfather’s Bible and your cousin now has it. A relative wrote a biography about your great-great grandmother’s brother.  Newspapers recorded family comings and goings. Local historians published essays and family stories in the county historical society journal.  There is room for error at each step of the process.

In the 1980s, my father-in-law attended an Ellerbee family reunion. He met a man who had written and published an extensive history of the Ellerbe/ Ellerbee/Ellerby family. My father-in-law shared the book [9]with me. The information in this book saved me many hours of research. Connecting the names and information with specific sources (listed at the end of the book) became my task. I found only one piece of incorrect information:  the wives of John Ellerbee (born 1808- died 1885).  In the book (page 14-41), John’s wives are listed as 1st, Martha and 2nd, Elizabeth. Birth dates of children, a marriage record, and census records indicate the reverse.  Comment on my posted family tree[10] begins with his data, cites records and ends with:

Conclusion:  Ellerbe book has the names reversed. Martha was John’s 2nd wife. I am keeping Elizabeth as name of John’s 1st wife without any other proof of her name at this time (August 2011). Any reliable info to keep or change this information is welcome.

This entry acknowledges Mr. Ellerbe’s work and gives the rationale for my conclusion. I am open for comments.

Online family trees are repositories of both correct and incorrect information.  Inconsistent data are not always recognized.  A desire for quantity may override a concern about quality.  A BSO (bright shiny object) lures even an experienced genealogist to stray from their stated objective.

Private or public online family tree?  This remains controversial with pros and cons to each.  Public trees:  Pro (& con) – anyone with access to the website can view your tree.  Anyone can copy your work to his or her tree. You may or may not get credit for finding that elusive document!  Private trees:  people must contact you for information and/or access.  Someone else cannot easily copy your work. This limit may deter anyone from contacting you.

Are my trees public or private? The answer is “Yes”. Some of my trees are public and some are posted on more than one website. My primary reason is for potential contact by other relatives, which has occurred.  My public trees are not as extensive as the trees housed on my computer within genealogical software programs.  I do not post all information on the public trees.  For example, I do not post copies of documents such as birth, marriage, death certificates that I paid for! I do include a note: “Tree owner has copy of birth certificate.” I also do not post information that others may not readily know.  Other trees reside only on my computer or on paper.  Most common reason is tentative nature of the information.  I do not have any online trees that are labelled as ‘private’.  No specific reason. You decide what to do about your own family trees.

Suggestions about sharing:

  1. Share your findings based on personal preferences. “Willing to share summary of information from multiple sources.” “Richard married Rita in 1932 per marriage certificate.  Daughter, Sarah, born 1929 per 1940 census.  I have copy of Sarah’s death certificate which lists Sarah’s mother as Donna King.”
  2. When in doubt, say so. “Two families with similar names found in this county; this may not be correct family.” “1910 & 1920 census suggest birth year of 1889; death certificate lists birth year of 1891.”   “Maiden name Smith per Jones family history; need to confirm with other sources.”  “Jacob Postens as direct ancestor from typewritten pedigree from elderly aunt; relationship not supported by multiple sources; contact tree owner for more info”.   “Handwritten name looks like Sa____son.”
  3. Be kind. Please check dates.  Betty would have been 8 (or 65) years old when 1st child born.”  “I visited John & Jennie’s grave last week. They are buried in Roberts Cemetery, not Robinson Cemetery.  May have been a transcription error.”  “I respectfully disagree with you on this point. My reasons are . . . .”  “I see your point and have made a note on my tree.”
  4. Check your own work carefully. “Middle name reported as Amelia and Ash by relatives; no documents found to support either one; changed here to initial ‘A’ .”
  5. Compliment good work. “I really like how you report discrepancies and questions.” “Thanks for sharing the pages from the old Bible.” “Thanks for full reference to newspaper obituary.”  “Your post about James’ parents is consistent with my own research.  I think that you are on the right track.”
  6. Admit your mistakes. “I shared the typewritten pedigree from elderly aunt and did not verify information.”  “Surname transcribed as Roberts by me when looking at handwritten census; marriage record & death certificate indicate name was Robertson.”  Your admission may save others from making the same mistake later.

So, during this New Year, resolve to share your work within limits set by you. Use the work of others and acknowledge their contributions.  Respect the opinions of others even when different than yours. Record your mistakes and make the necessary changes.  “Please” and “thank you” are still politically correct!

FYI — Yes, I became a Daughter of the American Revolution, using dad’s mother’s ancestor, Thomas Ostrander of New York.  Initially, I spent 3-4 months on the Jacob Postens’ line and got very discouraged.  A D.A.R. member suggested that I look at the women and this produced my connection to Thomas.  Lineage from me is:  Daniel Richard Posten (dad), Jennie A. Richards (dad’s mother), Ostrander Richards (Jennie’s father), Sarah Ostrander (Ostrander’s mother, 2nd wife of Nathaniel Richards; she died shortly after her son’s birth), Thomas Ostrander.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiREFLECTION  This entire post is a reflection of my experience about sharing and the negative effect of misinformation.  What helped:  acknowledging that not everything you get from older relatives is necessarily true.  Access to internet and multiple other sources.  Kept lots of notes!   What didn’t help:  Initial reluctance to acknowledge that older relative could be wrong. Being totally stumped by brick wall.  Next steps:  Question everything! When you hit a brick wall, put the work aside and review later.  Keep extensive notes in journals, genealogical software, and research logs.

Another way to share:  Share your work with a genealogy buddy – It’s time to get a genealogy buddy

[1] Bill & Jim Vieira, Return to Roanoke: Search for the Seven; (video documentary, aired 4 January 2018; distributed by History Channel), television.

[2] Josh Gates, The Lost Colony of Roanoke, Expedition Unknown series; (video documentary; Season 3, Episode 4, distributed by Travel Channel), television. The Travel Channel.com (http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/expedition-unknown/episodes/the-lost-colony-of-roanoke  : accessed 10 January 2018.

[3] Scott Wolter, Mystery of Roanoke, American Unearthed series (video documentary, Season 1, Episode 7; aired 1 February 2013; distributed by History Channel, television. History Channel (http://www.history.com/shows/american-unearthed/season-1/episode 7   : accessed 10 January 2018

[4] Posten family traditions regarding ancestors of John Posten (born 1887), Ruby Grace Gardner, compiler (Pedigree and notes privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma) as reported by Vera Posten Brooks, ca. 1989.  A handwritten note on the document states, “I don’t know how accurate it is.”

[5] Deposition of claimant, Ann Burson Postens, widow’s pension application no. W3296; service of Jacob Postens, state of Pennsylvania; “Revolutionary War Pension and bounty-land warrant application files, 1800-1900”, images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com :  accessed 12 July 2017),  Jacob Postens, citing Case Files of Pension and Bounty-land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800-ca 1912, documenting the period ca 1775-1900, M804 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration [n.d.], Roll 1957.

[6] Alfred Matthews, History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: R.T. Peck & Co, 1886), p. 1127; download from Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/details/historyofwaynepi00math   : accessed 12 July 2017).

[7] Commemorative biographical record of Northeastern Pennsylvania including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and many of the early settled families (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co, 1900), pp. 1438-1439; download from Wayback Machine (https://archive.org :  accessed 12 July 2017).

[8] Susan Posten Ellerbee, “Jacob Postens: Our Ancestor?”; (MSS, July 2017; privately published by Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma.  

[9] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, Inc, 1986).

[10] Susan Ellerbee, “Jerry Donald Ellerbee Tree,”, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/60654669/person/48059652815/facts  : accessed 15 January 2017), “John E. Ellerbee”, John’s wives (comment).

End of year report: Genealogy Do-over

Recently, Colleen Boyle posted about her accomplishments for the year on the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group. [1] At times during the past year, I, too, felt overwhelmed by the enormity of my task.  Four family lines (my parents, my in-laws) comprise the bulk of my research efforts, with 300-400 persons in each family tree.   Families of my brother-in-law, my nephew’s father  and other Posten families who may be related to dad’s family are also part of my research.

When I compare the status of my digital and paper files in January, 2017 to their current status,  I have made a lot of progress.  Here’s my accomplishments for 2017:

 

checkmark

  1. Color-coded paper files for each family line – parents, parents-in-law + others.
  2. Recorded complete information in paper and digital files for both sets of parents + 2 generations.
  3. Adopted standard record-keeping system for individuals and families. Completed forms for all of Dad’s direct ancestors (my focus for 2017).  Partially completed forms for some individuals not in his direct line and for some individuals in other lines.
  4. Started notebooks for BMD certificates & records. Dad’s line:  BMD records for 5 generations placed in archival quality sleeves  + several  other people , including originals sent to me by  husband of 2nd cousin. notebooks2
  5. Obtained birth, death, marriage certificates for maternal grandparents (both born 1892, d. 1974 & 1984 respectively, married 1917). Originals placed in archival quality sleeves & appropriate notebook.
  6. Digital copies of original BMD certificates & records complete for 2-3 generations of direct ancestors in each family line.
  7. Created blog to describe experience and tell family stories. Made posts 2-3 times per month.  Connected to 1st cousin who I haven’t  talked to in years after she found my blog!  Added pedigrees for each major family line (Posten-Richards, Tucker-Maurer, Ellerbee-Simmons, Johnson-Reed)  to blog.
  8. Began using research logs on template created by Thomas MacAntee. Made a few changes in log format.   36 logs created to date.
  9. Bought Evidentia & Evernote.  Used each one 5-6 times. Continuing to explore how to use these tools.
  10. Bought Evidence Explained  book.  Using this extensively.
  11. Bought ‘Ancestry citations’ cheat sheet. Using this extensively.
  12. Created digital Research Toolbox.  22 websites/ blog posts added.
  13. Attended two online webinars – New York Vital Records (mom’s family) and Writing a family history. Now have specific plan for revision of Posten family history written in 2010.
  14. Genealogy research trip to Pennsylvania (dad’s family). Met with 90+ year-old aunt and other relatives, tramped 14 cemeteries, visited 2 county historical societies.  Found and photographed grave of my paternal grandparents!  Note:  paternal grandparents listed online as buried in 3 different cemeteries.  Placed them in correct cemetery on FindAGrave website.   Sent corrections to online cemetery managers.  Posted about this in blog.

    WIN_20170813_12_19_57_Pro

    LaCoe family reunion,  August 13, 2017.  Newton, Pennsylvania.

  15. Attended LaCoe family reunion in Pennsylvania. Dad’s maternal grandmother was Amelia Magdelenne LaCoe.
  16. Connected with 2nd cousin and her son through DNA testing. Used  skills & tools to help them search for her father’s family.   Convinced my brother to have his DNA done.
  17. Opted to stay with Roots Magic software.
  18. Began more extensive research on siblings of parents and grandparents. Almost complete for Dad’s siblings through their grandchildren.
  19. Created naming convention for digital media files. Changing file names as I work on each person/ family.
  20. Joined three facebook groups – Genealogy Do Over, Early PA families, Pittston PA families.  Already member of RootsMagic facebook group.
  21. Implemented data back-up plan for files – home computer, external hard drive, cloud servers x2, paper copies.  Discussed future with oldest son.
  22. Expanded list of online sources regularly used to obtain information.
  23. Still following BSOs at times.

  2018 Goals:

  1.  Continue  paper & digital file clean-up.  Focus on mom’s family as Dad’s family files are now fairly clean.
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter. Use information from 2010 Posten family history.
  3. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options with expected publication in 2019.
  4. Send copies of grandparents’ BMD certificates to cousin.
  5. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
  6. Blog-related goals:
    1. Post on more regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
    2. Expand to husband’s family, at least 4 stories about his family during the year.
    3. Explore options for posting family trees to blog.
  7. Learn more about DNA testing.  Join DNA Do-over Facebook group.
  8. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (his mother is my sister).

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiReflection

Organization of paper and digital files greatly improved over last 12 months.  I learned new technical skills while creating blog.  Reconnecting with a cousin as direct result of my blog is an unexpected benefit.  Genealogy research trip was more organized than would have been otherwise. With limited time there,  I identified specific goals for the trip and met most of those goals.  Husband wants to plan a trip south (southern Georgia & Alabama) to explore his family lines.  I am more consistently using varied sources for online research.  Appropriate documentation of all sources is more consistent.

Blog itself changed.  Initial entries focused on tasks and results for a specific month of the Genealogy Do-Over.  Later entries apply lessons from Genealogy Do-Over as I tell the stories of various family members.  The informational/ educational posts include examples from my genealogy work.

Another way to look at the process:  “Give your genealogy an annual checkup”

To paraphrase a recent ad campaign:

Colored file folders, notebooks, ink for printer  = $159.00

Photocopying forms at office supply =  $79.50

Genealogy reference books & programs = $156.00

Backup external hard drive + subscription = $36.00

Continuing education = $129.00

Improved genealogical research skills + future-proofing  = priceless

[1] Colleen Boyle, “Genealogy Do-Over Group,” Facebook (https://www.Facebook.com/groups/genealogydoover  : accessed 10 December 2017), posting “I tend to set unrealistic goals. . . . “, 8 December 2017.