Writing & revising the family history:  Part 2.  Citations & sources.

In my last blog post, I described format changes to be made in the next edition of  my dad’s family history, “Posten Family of Northeast Pennsylvania”.  In this blog post, the second of a 3-part series, I examine the citation of sources with examples from my own work.  A later blog post will present types of sources and their evaluation.

What about citations, also known as references?  In general, I followed the Chicago Manual of Style[1] with some variation and greatly simplified many entries.

Example #1:  Census records, listed generically in the original manscript:

U. S. Bureau of Census. Washington, D.C. Census records accessed on various dates from various sources:

1790: Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

1920: Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania

Although easy to understand, these references are not complete.  Using Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidence Explained [2], as a guide (an item added to my Research Toolbox this year), the footnotes for these items now read:

  1. Bureau of the Census. Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Pennsylvania. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), p. 45, column 1, Peter Poste.
  2. 1920 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, pop.sch., Ransom Twp., enumeration district (ED) 93, p. 6B, Family #118, John R. Posten; digital images, com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 13 December 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Roll T625_1578.

The first reference is for the printed book, found at the Oklahoma State Historical Society library in Oklahoma City.  In the first edition of the Posten family history, I often added a statement such as “personal copy” or “accessed at Oklahoma Historical Society Library on 28 December 2011.”  These locations are helpful for “working notes. . . as an aid in case we need to reconsult it.  However, a citation to the facility most convenient to us personally would be of little value to users of our work who live elsewhere.” [3]  So, those comments will be deleted in the next edition.  However, the information remains in the first edition as well as in my handwritten and digital notes.

What if I found the 1790 census reference online?  If I accessed the print version of the book online, then the footnote would be similar to this:

“Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States, taken in the year 1790. Pennsylvania,”  population schedule, p. 45, col. 1, Peter Poste;  digital images, United States Census Bureau Library (https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1790/heads_of_families/pennsylvania/1790i-02.pdf   : accessed 17 October 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  Record Group 29.

For a digital copy of the original page, viewed online, the footnote would be:

1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, township not stated, p. 112 (penned), col. 1, Peter Pofte [Poste]; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, viewed, downloaded 17 October 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication 637, roll 8.

Review the above 1790 census examples again and look for differences.  How many differences can you find?  Here’s my list:

  1. Page numbers.  Page number 45 from the print and online books, page 112 from online database.  Online book is digital image of the printed page, so page number for the first two footnotes is the same.  Digital image from Ancestry is a copy of the original document with a different page number as recorded on the original document.
  2. Spelling of name. Poste from print and online books, Peter Pofte [Poste] from online database.  The first two are typed transcriptions of the original document. The third is a copy of the original document.  My interpretation of the spelling was placed in brackets since it is different than what is written on the original document.   For more information about ‘long s’ (often looks like ‘f’ in early documents) and ‘short s’,  go to this blog:   Andrew West, “The Rule for Long S”, Babelstone, 12 June 2006 (http://babelstone.blogspot.com/2006/06/rules-for-long-s-html  : accessed 17 October 2017, para. 7.
  1. Source of the source. First footnote is from a printed book, complete with publisher and publication date.  No additional information needed because this book is available at many libraries.  If it is a rare book or part of a special collection and not readily available, then add the repository.  The 2nd and 3rd footnotes identify the repository (citing . . . . ) or location where the original item is held or originated.   Specific information (Record Group 29; microfilm publication 637, roll 8) reflects  information given in the database.  Remember that online databases are lists of documents and other information, not repositories.

According to Mills (2015), a repository is “an archive, government office, library, or other facility where research materials are held.”[4]  Consider that definition when deciding whether to add the repository information or not.

If you have the original document, such as a family Bible, then you are the repository. Here’s an example using my great-aunt’s handwritten family history:

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.

Example #2:  A book, originally found online.  Fortunately, the Oklahoma Historical Society Library in Oklahoma City has a complete set of the Pennsylvania Archives, so I was able to put my hands on the books.  From the working manuscript:

“Chester County Tax Rates, Oxford, 1774,” In Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Volume XII, page. 71.  Accessed 12 December 2011 from www.fold3.com

Although you can find the information from the above footnote, it is not complete. If I continued to use the online database version, without copying information from the title page of the book, the footnote might look like:

“Chester County Tax Rates, Oxford, 1774”, Provincial Papers:  Proprietary and other tax lists of the County of Chester for the years 1774, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1785; Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Volume 12, page 71; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed 12 December 2011).

More complete footnote, based on actually viewing the print copy:

“List of taxables of the County of Chester, 1774: Chester County Tax Rates, Oxford, 1774”,  Provincial Papers:  Proprietary and other tax lists of the County of Chester for the years 1774, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1785, William Henry Egle, editor, Pennsylvania Archives, 3rd series, vol. 12,   (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Wm. Stanley Ray, 1897), 71.

You can find the referenced page from either of the two footnotes for the online source. With online sources, remember to look for a copy of the title page and publication page.  In this example,  only the last footnote gives the complete information.

A final suggestion about citing online sources – check the website before you publish.  I found several websites that changed or disappeared since I first accessed them in 2010 or 2011.

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Reflection/ Journal

Took more time than I expected – about 4 hours at the library.  This was at least the 3rd time that I had looked at the books but first time to actually get the full information about the reference.  Yes, it seems as if there is some duplication and/or unnecessary information.  Consider this scenario- your great grandchild finds your work 75 or 80 years from now.  Will he or she know exactly where and how you found your information?  Chances are that they will have to look up the meaning of  ‘www.website.com’! And, what, exactly is a ‘digital copy’? These terms were foreign to writers of family histories 40 years ago!  Photocopy machines were invented about 75 years ago but not readily available until about 1959.  For more information about the evolution of copy machines, read this article:

Happy Birthday, Copy Machine! Happy Birthday, Copy Machine!

What helped. Having print copy of Evidence Explained book.  Written information in initial draft of manuscript about date & place item was located.  Library call number recorded on some documents.  Using blog as a practice venue as I am still learning how to cite sources correctly.

What didn’t help. Putting off the inevitable that citations needed to be re-done.

Future:  Photocopy title pages of books and/or copy all possible information before leaving library or repository.  If applicable, record library call number.  Write the location, such as Oklahoma Historical Society library, Oklahoma City, and the date copied on my copy of the title page.  Staple or paper clip pages together before leaving the building.  And, the work continues!

[1] The Chicago Manual of Style.  16th edition.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2010.

[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015)

[3] Mills, Evidence Explained,  51.

[4] Mills, Evidence Explained, 829.

Writing & revising a family history. Part 1. Content & format.

This blog post is the first of three posts about revising a previously written family history. The focus of this post is Content and Format. The next post discusses Citation of Sources. The third post, Evaluating Sources, includes types of sources.  Examples from my own work are incorporated throughout.

When I grew serious about genealogy 10 years ago, one goal stood out– to write and publish a history of dad’s paternal family, Posten. Writing the family history became more important following Aunt Grace’s death in 2011. Aunt Mary, dad’s youngest sister, is the only one of Dad’s siblings still alive.  I finally completed the history in 2012 and sent copies to a few people, including Aunt Mary.  The original manuscript[1] traces our family back to Thomas Postens (1782-1854), dispels an oral family tradition about Thomas’ parents and grandparents, mentions family histories of several women who married Posten men (maiden names of Richards, Fulkerson, LaCoe)  and discusses our possible relationship to Poston/ Poste/ Posten families found in late 1700s/ early 1800s Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The document represents over 20 years of genealogical research.

The format of the first edition is relatively informal.  Yes, I presented facts and noted sources.  I also included information about the research process, such as moving forwards and backwards in time to discover the names of all 8 children of one family and the mother’s maiden name.  Journal type entries are common. I documented process as well as results. In essence, I created a working document rather than a finished piece.

My sister commented that the history was ‘confusing’. When I read the document again in 2014, I realized what she meant. It all made perfect sense to me!  But, it may not make sense or seem logical to others.  For example, in each generation, I began numbering individuals again with number 1.  My reasoning? I thought it would be easier for my elderly aunt, and others, to understand. While that may be true, random numbering does not meet any genealogical standard.  Over the years, I have read and consulted multiple published family histories.  Each one seems to have its own numbering system!

How important is it to follow a genealogical standard for numbering? Some may consider this irrelevant.  I respect their opinion, especially if the system is logical and easily followed by readers.  Identifying your readers guides your choice of numbering. A sequential numbering system in which each person has a unique number, starting with ‘1’, is one possibility.  However, if you plan to submit part or all of your work for publication elsewhere, such as an historical society journal, follow the guidelines for that journal.  A recognized numbering system improves the quality of your work in the eyes of others.  An item added to my research toolbox is the 2008 summary by Joan Curran, Madilyn Crane and John Wray, Numbering your genealogy. [2]

Since 2012, I attended several workshops and webinars about publishing and consulted with a professional genealogist. Participation in the Genealogy Do-Over[3] helps me to refine research skills and extend my research toolbox.  I began to look more critically at each piece of data and each document. Right now, I am still stuck on finding my great-grandfather, Daniel S. Posten (born 1859) and his parents, James D. Posten and Meriam Mills, in 1870 census. This particular objective has been temporarily put aside. See how my thought processes work?  Not always in a straight, linear fashion!

Back to writing, revising, and eventual formal publication of the Posten family history. Based on what I have learned, recommendations include:

  1. Choose and follow a specific numbering convention for lineage. Rationale:  Follow a specific, recognized genealogical numbering system.
  2. Reorganize content, start with Dad and work backwards in time. Include facts and stories about direct ancestors with only 1-2 paragraphs about collateral and ‘possibly related families’.   Rationale:   Less confusing while still acknowledging real and possible relationships.
  3. Describe research process as addendum to relevant chapter or section. Rationale: readers can choose to read or skip this information.
  4. Add family group sheet at end of each chapter, as relevant. Rationale: provides overview of family, including siblings of direct ancestor.
  5. Write articles about collateral families (surnames of women who married Posten men) and other ‘possibly related families’. Delete most, if not all, appendices.  Rationale:  Less confusing to readers.  Shows readers that additional information is available, if they are interested.
  6. Insert footnotes at bottom of each page in addition to a reference/ source list at the end of each chapter. Rationale:  When readers copy individual pages, they often copy only that page and may not also copy or refer to the list of references at the end of the chapter.
  7. Revise entries for footnotes and reference/source lists. Rationale:  Follow recognized system with complete and accurate citation of sources, recording the “specific location of each piece of data” and “details that affect the use or evaluation of that data.”[4]  Location does not necessarily refer to the library where you found the item but to the item itself.  (Citation of sources, including footnote entries, will be addressed in another post).
  8. Locate print copies of as many sources as possible. Whenever possible, cite the print item rather than online image. Rationale: This is a personal preference.  I prefer to handle the actual book or journal article or document.  The original item sometimes has additional information that is not included online. If print copy is not readily available,  use online copy of the original source, such as online copy of print book.
  9. Locate original sources for online images and indexes, as needed. Consult and reference the original sources/ repositories.   Rationale:  Many online images are from sources other than the website on which found. Online indexes use other sources to create the index.  Example:  The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) is the repository for U.S. Federal census records, not online websites which show images of those records and/or provide an index of the names on the original census record.  However, if using an online website, acknowledge the website as the place where you found the record as well as citing NARA as the original repository.

Here’s the original sequence of chapters and proposed changes:

Original Proposed revision
Chapter Working Manuscript- 2012 Proposed Changes- 2017
1 Posten Name The Posten name:  origins, derivative spellings, history of Pennsylvania county formation & relevance
2 Family origins- original immigrant. (moved to Chapter 8 in proposed revision) Daniel Richard Posten (1917-1998) & Eunice Bertha Tucker (1919-2007)- my parents.  Include info about meeting George Avery Posten in 1980s. Add brief info about Tucker  family.
3 Pennsylvania Posten families early 1800s. Summary of Poston histories (moved to Chapter 8 in proposed revision). Pennsylvania county formation (moved to Chapter 1 in proposed revision). John Ray Posten (1898-1948) & Jennie A. Richards (1884-1964) – my grandparents. Brief info about Richards family.
4 Jacob Postens. Includes descendent list from 1700s to 1900s.  (revision – brief mention in ‘who’s the daddy’ chapter). Daniel S. Posten (1859-1918) & Elizabeth Phoebe Fulkerson (1860-1938). Brief info about Fulkerson family.
5 Richard, Samuel, William Postens (included summary of Samuel Posten descendants in New Jersey).  (revision – moved to ‘who’s the daddy’ chapter) James D. Posten (1829-1914) & Meriam Mills (1834-1897). Brief info about Mills family.
6 Thomas Postens Thomas Postens (1784-1852) & Esther Brown (1790 -1841).  Brief info about contradictory information for children of their daughter, Phoebe.  Mention Elihu Posten as caretaker of Thomas’ deaf son after Thomas’ death.
7 James D. Postens Who’s the daddy?’ of Thomas Postens.  Evidence for & against each possibility. Omit detailed descendant lists.
8 Daniel S. Posten.  Includes Fulkerson/ Fulkerson. Beginnings.  Original immigrant.   1700s – early 1800s.  Poston family histories.  Summary of PA Posten families in other parts of the state, specifically Huntingdon county.
9 John Ray Posten. Includes Richards & LaCoe. Summary.  Include complete descendant list for Thomas Postens.
10 Daniel Richard Posten Not needed.
Appendices Appendix A.  Benjamin Avery Posten, Missouri Omit appendix.  Ancestor of George Avery Posten. Article for Oklahoma Historical Society journal.  Refer to article in relevant chapter.
Appendix B.  Elihu Postens, Monroe Co, PA Omit appendix. Brief mention in Thomas Postens’ chapter as caretaker of Thomas’ son deaf son after Thomas’ death. Article for Monroe County Historical Society.
Appendix C. William Poste/ Posten of Bucks & Huntingdon counties. Included info about other Posten families in Huntingdon county. Proposed lineage & link to James Posten & Rhoda Shafer of Iowa. Omit appendix.  Brief mention about William in ‘Who’s the daddy’ chapter. Series of articles:  1) William & Peter Poste to Huntingdon County PA Historical Society.  2)Other Posten families in Huntingdon County PA. 3) James Posten & Rhoda Shafter to Cass County, Iowa Historical Society.  Possibly a ‘how I did this’ article.

progress imageProgress to date:  chapter 1 revision – done, following the above recommendations.  Revision process begun on Chapter 2.   To anyone who hasn’t compiled your research yet,  start small, with one or two stories or generations.   Writing these blog posts has helped me.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiREFLECTION:   took more time than I expected.  Went to library for print copies of many books which I had accessed online.  Pleased to find that Oklahoma History Society library has a complete set of the Pennsylvania Archives series plus other books that I used. Somewhat discouraged that I didn’t see duplications and confusing sections earlier.

What helped:  writing down a plan for the revision.  Print copy of 1st  edition as well as copy of 2nd edition on computer screen for easy comparison of both versions as I edit.  Time away from 1st edition allowed me to see it from a different perspective. Glad that I didn’t send 1st edition to county historical societies.  Constructive criticism from relatives who have a copy of 1st edition. Research tools obtained from participation in Genealogy Do-Over.  Attending a week-long webinar series about writing family histories and receiving additional input from an expert.  Further refinement of proposed family history.

What didn’t help:  Not being able to locate some sources again.  Some files are still not organized.  I have begun to use various tools more consistently so this problem should be minimized in the future.

What I learned:   One step/ chapter at a time.  Read previous chapters again before starting on next one. End product will be more reader-friendly with minimal duplication of information.

[1] Susan Posten Ellerbee, “Posten Family of Northeast Pennsylvania” (Yukon, Oklahoma:  Susan Posten Ellerbee,  [address for private use, ] Yukon, Oklahoma), 2012.

[2] Joan Ferris Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane & John H. Wray.  Elizabeth Shown Mills (Ed.). Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families and International Kin. Special Publication No. 97.  (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2008).

[3] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016);  download from Amazon.com

[4] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 43.

Civil War Veterans- Confederate and Union

WARNING:  This post contains information about men who fought in the Civil War for both Confederate and Union armies.  Some readers may be uncomfortable with the content. My children inherited genes from both Confederate and Union soldiers.  This post shares the stories of their great-great-great grandfathers:   James T.L. Powell, a soldier in the Confederacy, and Jeremiah Tucker, a Union soldier.
home soldiers.jpg

Display in our living room.  Civil War soldiers were cross-stitched by my sister from a pattern issued during Civil War Centennial, ca. 1961.

James Thomas Lafayette Powell

James T.L. Powell is my husband’s paternal great-great- grandfather.  James T. L. Powell was born on May 13, 1835[1], in Georgia, probably Calhoun County, tentatively identified as the child of Hilliard Powell and Laney Faircloth.[2]  James married Deborah A. C. Daniel on June 28, 1857,in Sumter County, Georgia. [3] By 1860, James, school teacher, and Deborah moved to Calhoun County, Georgia, apparently with no children. [4]

James T.L. Powell enlisted in the Confederate States Army on March 4, 1861, in Morgan, Georgia and served as a private in Company C, 25th Regiment, Georgia Militia. By 1864, he achieved the rank of  2nd lieutenant.    At the Battle of Nashville on December 15 – 16, 1864, captured Confederate soldiers included Lieutenant Powell.  [5]  Transported first to the nearest military camp at Louisville, Kentucky,  James’  journey north continued four days later, on December 20, 1864, to a final destination of Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.  The  500-mile  journey from Nashville to Johnson’s Island probably consisted of travel by both train and on foot.

Powell_civil war records_draft3.jpg

Three of 18 records found in James T L Powell’s Civil War records files

The Prisoner of War Depot at Johnson’s Island consisted of 40 acres and held prisoners from April, 1862 to September, 1865. [6]  Less well known than the infamous Andersonville Prison in Sumter county, Georgia, conditions at over-crowded Johnson’s Island were  similarly desperate.  Ill-clad Confederate prisoners of war also suffered because of not being used to northern winters.[7]  Arriving in December, James shared the same raw conditions as other prisoners.

‘Discharged or paroled’  from Johnson’s Island on June 17, 1865, [8]  James made his way back home to Georgia and reunited with his wife, Deborah, in Calhoun County, Georgia.  The 900-mile trip home coiled through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.    James and Deborah had three children:  Alonzo ‘Alvey’, born about 1866 in Georgia ; James M. born about 1868 in Georgia, and Peter, born about 1871 in Texas. [9] Deborah probably died in Texas.

On April 22, 1877, James married  Catherine Brown, 17-year-old  daughter of R.L. Brown and Marguerite Puckett  in Cherokee County, Texas.[10]  They had three children:  Katherine Deborah , born August 15, 1879, in Cherokee County, Texas ; William B. , born February 19, 1882 in Texas and Jessie , born January, 1889 in Cherokee County, Texas. [11] The younger Katherine and her husband, James Walter Ellerbee, are my husband’s paternal great –grandparents.

James T. L. Powell died on September 27, 1890, and is buried in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. [12]

James TL Powell gravestone.jpg

Find A Grave Memorial ID #67392240.  Photo by Jerry Bohnett, taken ca 2011.

He may have been visiting his children when he died.   His widow married Elias Barker on September 1, 1892, in Cherokee County, Texas.  Mr. Barker died on August 20, 1900, leaving Catherine again a widow.  Catherine Brown Powell Barker died on March 8, 1944, in Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas. [13]

See also:  Johnson’s Island Civil War Military Prison,  Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Civil War Prison:     https://johnsonsisland.heidelberg.edu/index.html

Jeremiah Tucker

Jeremiah Tucker is my maternal great-great grandfather.  Jeremiah Tucker was born on September 23, 1839 in New York, child of Thomas W. Tucker and Lavinia Clearwater.[14]   Jeremiah married two times, possibly three – to Margaret, surname either Irwin or Collins, and Allie Traver.  (See Blog posted on April 24, 2017, for some information about Margaret and Allie; report pending).

Jeremiah served as a private in the 56th New York Infantry Regiment, Company I. [15] His unit defended Washington, D.C., then fought in battles at Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia.  In July, 1863, they reinforced the black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the Fort Wagner, [South Carolina] siege, memorialized in the film, Glory. [16]  From there, the 56th New York continued south to Charleston, South Carolina, where the men mustered out. [17]  During the war, Jeremiah reportedly lost vision in one eye.

Jeremiah_Tucker_civil war records1

Partial service record for Jeremiah Tucker

After discharge, Jeremiah returned to his home in Greene County, New York,  where he married a woman named Margaret in 1867.[18] Together, they raised five children:  William Frederick, born 1868; Millie, born 1870; Augusta, born 1872; Mary E., born 1874; and Thomas George, born 1877.  Their oldest son, William Frederick Tucker, and his wife, Bertha Traver, are my maternal great-grandparents.  Another child, Lavinia, born in 1862 and recorded as ‘daughter’, resided with Jeremiah and Margaret as late as 1880. [19]

Jeremiah Tucker c

Original photograph given to my uncle, Esbon, from my great-aunt Viola. 

After the Civil War, Jeremiah became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans.   Jeremiah died on April 16, 1914 at the age of 74 years, 6 months, and 23 days and is buried in his home town of Greenville, Greene county, New York., [20]

Interesting similiarities:

  1. Both men married for a second time after the Civil War.
  2. The first child born after the Civil War became our (my husband’s and mine) great- grandparents.
  3. After the war, both men faced a journey of about 900 miles to return to their homes. I expect that James’ journey was much more difficult than Jeremiah’s.

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Reflection/ Journal entry

This post will be seen by some as not politically correct, especially in light of recent events surrounding statues and images of Confederate leaders.  I was disturbed this summer by the acts of vandalism against statues of Confederate leaders. Destruction of property is a crime.  I understand that some are offended and/or uncomfortable with these images and the beliefs represented.  However, the Civil War is part of our American experience, whether we like it or not.  Brave men and women fought for their beliefs on both sides, much as men and women fought in the American Revolution and wars since.  History cannot be erased and is often retold.  Sometimes, we judge our ancestors’ actions according to current morals and ethics.  This can lead to the retelling of history according to standards different than those of the actual time period in which the historical event occurred.  I believe that the perspectives of the actual time period should be considered.

Some may say,  “But, your viewpoint is skewed because your husband’s ancestors fought on the side of the Confederacy.”  Perhaps.  I want my children to be proud of their heritage,  all of their heritage!  So, we proudly display pictures of both Confederate and Union soldiers in our home.  When we visit the grave of James T.L. Powell,  we will place a Confederate flag because he is a Confederate veteran.  And, my children know that they have both Confederate and Union blood flowing in their veins.

Enough of the soapbox.  What did I learn?  The horrors of Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp.  My husband’s family includes others who fought and died for the Confederacy.   The number of slaves owned by my husband’s ancestors varied widely from one to thirty or more.  I learned about the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R, veterans of the Union Army).    I was surprised when I looked up the location of Fort Wagner and immediately made the connection with the film.   I have no information about my mother’s family’s views about black persons although I do not recall ever hearing her say anything discriminatory or derogatory.

A federal law granting benefits to Confederate Civil War veterans passed in 1958. Information and misinformation abounds concerning the language and intent of this law and earlier, related  legislation.  If you are interested, here are three of many websites with information on this issue:

Confederate veterans benefits:   https://www.truthorfiction.com/confederate-soldiers-are-considered-u-s-veterans-under-federal-law/

“Confederate soldiers were not United States veterans.” Blog posted August 24, 2017 by James Howard.  Presents both sides of arguments about Confederate veterans and pardons for them.    https://jameshoward.us/2017/08/24/confederate-soldiers-not-united-states-veterans/

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.  National Park Serive, Department of the Interior. “Confederates in the Cemetery:  Federal Benefits & Stewardship”  :  https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/confederates-in-the-cemetery-federal-benefits-stewardship/

What helped ?  Access to online and print sources.  Careful review of documents revealed new information and insights.  Being open to the stories.  Searching for evidence to support conclusions.

What didn’t help? My negative reaction to those who seem to want to erase the Civil War from U.S. history, or water the history down to a version that is ‘politically correct’ according to today’s standards.  This formed the impetus for me to write this post. Incomplete sources and citations.

Summary:   This post describes two ancestors –men who fought for the Confederacy (Ellerbee family) and Union (Tucker family).  Individual stories grew from genealogical and historical records.  The post ends with a short rant about recent attacks on statues of Confederate leaders. I realize that genealogy blogs are not the usual place for political commentary and I recognize my own subjectivity on this subject.

[1] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed & printed 29 November 2012), memorial page for J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240, citing Wallace Cemetery (Evelyn, De Soto Parish, Louisiana), memorial created by Jerry & Donna Bohnett, photograph by Jerry & Donna Bohnett.

[2] Coolnethead, “Powell Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/42063713/person/20387548981/facts  : accessed 9 November 2017); “Hilliard Powell”,  birth and death data undocumented.

[3] “Sumter County, Georgia Marriage Book, 1850-1857”,  marriage record for James TL Powell & Deborah A. C. Daniel, Book 3, page 218.  Marriage Books, Sumter County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives (http://vault.georgiaarchives.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/countyfilm/id/289112/rec/3  : accessed, downloaded & printed 24 March 2017), citing The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, pop. sch., 3rd District, p. 47 (penned), dwelling 335, family 335, James T.L. Powell age 25; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : accessed, downloaded & printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_113.

[5] “Carded records showing military service of soldiers who fought in the Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903-1927, documenting the period 1861-1865; ” entry for James L. L Powell (18 pages); digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com :  accessed, downloaded & printed, 8 November 2017);  ; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M266, record group 109, state Georgia, roll 0386.

[6] Depot of Prisoners of War on Johnson’s Island, Ohio.  (http://www.johnsonsisland.org/history.htm  : accessed, printed & downloaded 14 Nov 2011).

[7] James I. Robertson, Jr.  The Civil War: Tenting tonight.  The soldier’s life. (Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1884), 113, 115.

[8] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.  Carded records, compiled service record, James T. L. Powell, Lt., Co. C, 25th  Regiment Georgia Infantry, Civil War, RG 109, NARA-Washington, D.C.

[9] 1870 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, pop. sch., Militia District 626, p. 55 (penned), p. 585 (stamped), dwelling 510, family 486, Jas T L Powell; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_138.

[10] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.

[11] Death certificates for Katherine Deborah Powell & William B. Powell, personal files of Susan Posten Ellerbee.  “Jessie Booker”, step-daughter listed with ‘Elide & Catherine Booker” in 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, pop.sch., Justice Pct 8, p. 284 (stamped), dwelling 16, family 16, Jessie Booker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623, roll 1619.

[12] Find A Grave, J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240.

[13]  Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 9 November 2017); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, “Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982”, Austin, Texas.

[14] Jeremiah Tucker, death certificate (copy of original certificate stamped ‘for genealogical research only’),  no. 22078 (16 April 1914), New York Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.

[15]“Abstracts from original muster rolls for New York State infantry units involved in the Civil War: 56th Infantry,” New York State Archives; entry for Jeremiah G. Tucker; Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com   : accessed 9 November 2017); citing New York State Archives, Digital Collections, Records of Military Service, Civil War, (http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/).

[16] Glory, directed by Edward Zwick (1989, Hollywood, California: TriStar Productions).

[17] “56th Infantry Regiment, Civil War,” NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs, New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center (https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/56thInf/56thInfMain.htm:   accessed 8 November 2017 ); citing The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 — records of the regiments in the Union army — cyclopedia of battles — memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. Volume II.

[18] 1900 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 78, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 189 , family 196, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623_1039.

[19] 1880 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 2B (penned), dwelling #1, family #1, Lavinia Tucker age 18; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded and printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 836.

[20] Jeremiah Tucker, Greenville, Greene county, New York; death certificate no. 22078 (16 April 1914).

How many children did Phoebe Postens & Ludwig Brutzman have?

My last post introduced Esther Brutzman Lee,  daughter of Phoebe Postens and Ludwig/Lewis  Brutzman.   The 1850 census for Hamilton Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania also listed 10-year-old Alexander Bertyman [Brutzman] with Phoebe and Esther . [1]  Did Phoebe and Ludwig have other children?  brick wall Children Phoebe LudwigAccording to a Brotzman/ Brutzman family history[2] published in 1968, the answer is ‘Yes’.  But, the Brotzman history does not list either Esther  or Alexander.

 

Ludwig Brotzman/ Brutzman,  born on May 9, 1815 to John Brotzman and Suzanna Meyers,  “married Phoebe Poston of Pocono Township, Monroe County.  Later moved to Luzerne County, near Shickshinney.” [3] Again, Phoebe’s maiden name is given with no mention of her parents.  Five children are listed for Ludwig and Phoebe in the Brotzman history [4]:  (transcribed as written; each person was given a specific number.  Asterisk (*) indicates that more information was given about that person).

Phoebe Ludwig children from Brotzman history

Church records and an interview with a descendant are the sources given.  Church records are usually considered reliable and valid.  Interviews may or may not be reliable, depending on the age of the person and the distance in time from the events being related.  Personal bias may also color one’s memories. Unfortunately, I have not seen the church records and do not currently have access to them.

The 1900 county history[5] reads: ” In 1853, he [Philip S. Lee] married Miss Esther Brutzman, who was born in 1830, daughter of Lewis Brutzman, a well-known resident of Stroud Township, and his wife, Phebe (Posten), who now resides with our subject at the advanced age of eighty-two years.”

Do these two documents refer to the same Ludwig (aka Lewis) Brutzman and Phoebe (aka Phebe) Poston(aka Posten/ Postens)?   Names are similar enough to warrant a positive response.  Residences in Monroe county, Pennsylvania, are also consistent.  Inconsistent are the reported names of Ludwig and Phoebe’s  children.   Only Esther and Alexander, who are not named in the Brotzman history, are recorded as living with Phoebe in 1850.  Esther died in 1901[6], eight years before her husband, Philip[7],  so cannot be confused with Emily, who was apparently still alive in 1930.

Combining information from all documents yields 7 children for Ludwig and Phoebe:

  1. Esther, born 1836.
  2. David, born 1837.
  3. Alexander, born 1838.
  4. John, born 1840
  5. James.
  6. Jacob, born 1848.
  7.  Emeily.

For the moment,  assume that all seven children were born to our Ludwig and Phoebe.  Questions shape my to-do list:

  1. Why are Esther and Alexander not listed in the Brotzman family history? Speculation:  Esther and Alexander were baptized in a different church than the other children or not baptized.  Was Ludwig the father of all the children?   To do:  Search other church records.  Locate and search records of same church as referenced in Brotzman history.
  2. Where were the other children (David, John, James, Jacob and Emily) in 1850?  Speculation:  Ludwig died between 1848 and 1850.  Phoebe cannot care for all of them, so they were sent to live with other relatives. To do:  Search for other children in 1850, 1860 and later census records in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.   Locate Emily Stair in 1930 census, then follow her back in time.  Confirm Ludwig’s death date.  Search for more information about Ludwig and Phoebe in other documents, such as other county histories and newspapers.   Seek help from others, such as Daughters of the American Revolution in Monroe County.
disco-ball-150x150

For the moment, the search for more information about this family is a BSO (bright, shiny object) to be explored later.  I am thoroughly frustrated but still intrigued!  Still looking for document/s that name Phoebe’s parents. 

Sources: 

1]1850 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 17B (stamped), dwelling 220, family 220, Phebe [Phoebe] Bertyman [Brutzman]; image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 3 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 789.

[2] (Compiler), Mary H. Forbes (compiler).  Descendants of Johan Frederick Brotzman and Maria Barbara Brotzman, 1738-1968. Laceyville, Pennsylvania: C.A. Christian, 1968. Repository: Monroe County Historical Society, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

[3] Ibid, p. 78, person #352.

[4] Ibid, pp. 78-79. Persons 833-837.

[5] Commemorative Biographical Record of NortheasternPennsylvania 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), 150; digital images, WayBackMachine  (http://www.archive.org    : accessed 5 May 2017).

[6] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : viewed & downloaded 4 November 2017), memorial page for Esther A. Brutzman Lee, Find A Grave Memorial # 84801350, citing Stroudsburg Cemetery (Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania), memorial created by P. Fite.

[7] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : viewed & downloaded 4 November 2017), memorial page for Philip Shrawder “Big”  Lee, Find A Grave Memorial #158026280, citing Stroudsburg Cemetery (Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania), memorial created by P. Fite.

Proving Phoebe’s maiden name through her daughter, Esther

You finally order and receive the death certificate for your direct ancestor!  You eagerly look for the name of his or her mother.  She is recorded as  ‘unknown’ !

Unknown mother DC sample

Copy of death certificate from digital files, Posten-Richards Family Tree.

Information for a death certificate is given by a member of the deceased’s family.  These informants do always have all of the information requested.  So, where do you go from here?  The answer may be in collateral research, which focuses on those who aren’t your direct ancestors, also known as siblings, in-laws and other members of your extended family.

Start with census records for your direct ancestor, especially those from 1850 on.  Beginning in 1850, census records listed the names of household members.  However, relationship to the head of family was not recorded until 1880.   Scenario:  the first name of an older woman is listed in the same household as your direct ancestor in one of these later census records. The woman is old enough to have been your direct ancestor’s mother.  Later, you get the death certificate for a sibling of your direct ancestor.   This death certificate lists only the mother’s maiden name!   But, you now have two clues – a first name and a possible maiden name.   Follow those leads to confirm both given and maiden names of your direct ancestor’s mother!

This post details a recent session with a goal to discover if Phoebe Bertyman/ Brutzman/ Bowman  is the sister of my paternal great-great grandfather, James D. Posten (1829-1914).  James’ death certificate[1] lists his parents as Thomas Postens and Esther Brown.  A newspaper story about a Posten family union [2] described James as ‘the youngest son’.  Collateral research and indirect evidence are the models

The search began with an 1850 census record for Phebe Bertyman in Monroe county, Pennyslvania. [3]  Thomas Porton [Postens], age 68, is listed first, followed by Jonathan, age 30, James, age 19, Phebe [Phoebe] Bertyman, age 27, Esther, age 14, and Alexander, age 10.

1850 United States Federal Census(14)(1)

1850 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 17B (stamped), dwelling 220, family 220, Phebe Bertyman [Brutzman]; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com    :   Accessed 16 Aug 2010 and 3 May 2017); citing National Archivesand Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 798.

My best guess is that Phoebe is Thomas’ daughter and that Esther and Alexander are Phoebe’s children.  After searching other pages of the Monroe county census,  I believed that ‘Bertyman’ was probably Brutzman or Brotzman, so I followed that lead.  An unsourced online family tree [4] showed these ‘facts’:   Phoebe’s husband =  Lewis Brutzman;  Esther’s husband = Philip S. Lee;  Esther’s death date= after 1900 in Monroe County.

New goal:  Prove  above facts through census and other records.  Specific plan:

  • Search census records in Monroe county, Pennsylvania from 1860 through 1900 for Esther, Philip, and Phoebe, using Ancestry, Family Search and/or American Ancestors databases.  If unsuccessful,  try name variations first, then surrounding counties.
  • Repeat search strategy for marriage records. Note:  1900 census usually lists how many years person has been married.
  • Enter information to Research Logs and Roots Magic family trees.

Results:  Census:  1900:  Philip Lee and wife,  Esther , found in Monroe County, Pennsylvania with children and 84 y/o Phoebe Bowman, mother-in-law.[5]   An online tree cited a county history book with information about Philip and Esther.  That book  was found online  [6]   with this entry:  “In 1853, he [Philip S. Lee] married Miss Esther Brutzman, born about 1836, daughter of Lewis and Phoebe (Posten) Brutzman.”

Analysis of evidence:  Found Esther’s birth year (1836; same as suggested by 1850 census) and marriage year (1853).   Philip and Esther were living in Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania in 1900.  Unexpected findings:

  • Confirmed Phoebe Posten Brutzman as  Esther’s mother (as suggested by 1850 census).
  • Confirmed Phoebe’s maiden name as Posten (as suspected from 1850 census).
  • Suggests Phoebe was born about 1816 rather than 1823 (as suggested  by 1850 census).  Phoebe’s birth year of 1816 is more consistent with her being about age 20 when Esther was born.  Although, Phoebe could have had a child when she (Phoebe) was only 13 or 14 years old.   Discovering Phoebe’s age at Esther’s birth was not a research goal for this session but is still important and was entered on Research Log .  A later research session found  60-year-old Phoebe Bowman working as a servant in 1880. [7]
  • Change of surname suggests that Phoebe married a man with surname of Bowman between 1850 and 1880.

Summary:  Primary goal of discovering whether Phoebe was daughter of Thomas and sister of James was not met.  However,  serendipitous findings confirm these facts:  Phoebe’s maiden name of Posten,  Phoebe as mother of Esther,  Lewis Brutzman as father of Esther and husband of Phoebe.  [8]  Philip and  Esther were living in Monroe county in 1900.  The county history provided additional information and the search for additional documents continues.    Marriage year for Philip & Esther (about 1853) and birth year for Esther (about 1836)[9], [10] are considered as proven.  It is  likely that Phebe/ Phoebe Bertyman, living with Thomas and James in 1850, is James’ sister.  No further information about Lewis Brutzman was found during this search.

To-do list

o Continue search for Philip and Esther in 1860, 1870, 1880.

o Confirm death dates for Philip and Esther.

o Prove Lewis Brutzman birth & death dates, marriage date for Lewis Brutzman and Phoebe Posten.

o Identify Phoebe’s 2nd husband:  Unknown Bowman, birth & death dates,  estimated marriage year.

o Confirm Phoebe’s death date & location (after 1900; probably Monroe county, PA;  possibly listed under surname of Bowman).

o Confirm names of Phoebe’s parents.  Indirect evidence may provide this information.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION: 

As I completed the tasks of data entry to my genealogy program,  I finally  remembered to pull the paper files on this family.  I had done similar searches in 2015 and 2016! The file included copies of census records and handwritten notes but no systematic documentation or analysis.  disappointed face emjoiBig sigh!!!  I ran out of steam about midnight and completed tasks of entering data, sources, and media to genealogy program the next day.  But,  I did enter information to research logs before I went to bed.

[1] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 118955 (1914),  James D. Posten, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Unit, New Castle.

[2] “Posten Family Reunion,” The Wilkes-Barre Record, 11 September 1908; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 18 August 2017).

[3] 1850 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 17B (stamped), dwelling 220, family 220, Phebe Bertyman [Brutzman]; digital image, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com    :  Accessed 16 Aug 2010 and 3 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 798.

[4] “Public Member Trees,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed 17 May 2017, “Lee’s” family tree by rickleedoe,  profile for Phoebe Postens Brutzman (1815 – ?), no sources given for this person, last  update unknown.

[5] 1900 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, Enumeration District [ED] 139, p. 6 (penned), 202A (stamped),  dwelling 116, family 126, Phoebe M. Bowman: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 May 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  microfilm publication T623, roll 1442.

[6] 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), 150; digital images, WayBackMachine  (http://www.archive.org      : accessed 5 May 2017).

[7] 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroudsburg, enumeration district (ED) 228, p. 14B (penned), dwelling 118, family 118, Pheoba Bowman; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 21 August 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, Roll 1157.

[8] Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe, 150.

[9]  1900 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, pop. Sch. Stroud Township,  p. 6 (penned), 202A (stamped),  dwelling 116, family 126, Esther Lee.

[10] Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe, 150.

Dreams, brick walls and fans

Today,  I am just frustrated!  I have hit a brick wall and am not able to even poke a hole in it! My new, improved research habits seem to be of little use.

brick wall

Our recent trip to Pennsylvania and connecting/ re-connecting to cousins was definitely fun and produced some positive results. Finding and photographing my grandparents grave was one of the highlights (see post:  A tale of 3 cemeteries, for details).  Online, John R. Posten and Jennie A. Richards are now listed as being buried in the correct cemetery.

About a week after returning home, a cousin sent me a copy of a newspaper clipping from the September 11, 1908, Wilkes-Barre Journal  entitled “Posten Family Reunion”. [1]  The article includes information that genealogists dream of – names, dates and locations! Evidence for best guesses!   Confirmation of hypotheses! snoopy dreamingThe article lists “about forty members of the Posten family” who attended and mentioned the “reading of a brief history of the Posten family”  which was printed “in part”.  The progenitor of our branch, Thomas Postens, and his youngest son, James D. Posten (my great-great grandfather, aged 79 at the time of the reunion) were the focus of the history.

After my initial delight and surprise, I read through the list of names again and quickly recognized many of them.  Others were easily identified as children, grandchildren, cousins or other relatives by searching my family tree database.  However, a few people have me totally stumped!  To assist with the identification process, I created a table, similar to a research log, for the information given in the article.  Since couples were identified together, i.e. “Mr. & Mrs. C.B. Fulkerson” and married women were identified by their husband’s name, i.e. “Mrs. John Posten”, I added columns for individual names and their relationship to James D. Posten.  Thus, “Mrs. & Mrs. C.B. Fulkerson” are identified in the table as “Olive Jane Posten & Cassius B. Fulkerson, daughter and son-in-law”.  Mrs. John Posten is James’ daughter-in-law, Sadie Krum Posten. An additional column for “Comments” provides space for other information.

posten reunion attendees

From the list of approximately 40 people, eight are unknown to me.  They could be friends or neighbors, members of James’ church family, or guests of one of the family members.  The people that have me stumped are:

  1. Mrs. Lake and Helen Lake, Pittston. Could be mother and daughter, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, or sisters-in-law. I have Henrietta Lake as mother-in-law of a distant cousin. [2]
  2. Murel Barlow, Pittston – given the naming conventions in the rest of the article, she could be a young single woman or an older woman who is either not married or a widow.
  3. Mary Bachman, Pittston– same comment as for Murel Barlow. Mary and Murel are listed together in the article, so they could be friends, maybe sisters?
  4. Miss Lizzie Knorr, Bloomsburg- possibly a younger woman.
  5. Mrs. Dotter and children, Clara and Reuben, West Pittston.

Month 9 of the Genealogy Do-over [3]  was presented shortly after I received the newspaper article. The topics are:  1) Conducting cluster research and 2) Organizing research materials- documents and photos.  Specifically, the first topic was just in time!

Using the F.A.N. (friends, associates and neighbors) concept, I plan to look at census records again for each of the known relatives who attended the reunion.  Expand search to people in their neighborhoods. In general, I stopped my research after discovering the names of spouses of children.  Example – I know the names  of C.B. Fulkerson and Olive Jane Posten’s children and the names of their spouses. However, I have minimal information about C.B. and Olive’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren.  Expand search for 1-2 more generations.  Keep research logs for each person and search attempt.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:   It has been about 3 weeks since my last blog post,  a delay due to personal and family issues.  And, therefore,  my post about this project was also delayed.  I haven’t decided if this project will be my next priority item or not. Working back from myself for the Genealogy Do-Over, I am still reviewing the vertical file for Daniel S. Posten, my great-grandfather and James D. Posten’s son.  I sometimes slip back into old habits, such as finding a census record but not documenting it on research log and/or not downloading/ labeling it in database.

What helped:  creating table to catalog information found in the reunion article.  I now have, in print, a list of who is known and who still needs to be identified.  Reminded myself to stay focused on task and don’t follow BSO today—it will still be there for another time!

What didn’t help:  Initial frustration at not finding information easily.  Trying to work too quickly and not taking time to document findings.

What I learned:  Take a deep breath and slow down! Keep Genealogy Do-over book in plain sight and refer to it often!  The goal is to do solid research that is well-documented with a reasonable analysis, not to finish the project in record time!   I will still encounter brick walls.

[1] “Posten Family Reunion,” The Wilkes-Barre Record, 11 September 1908; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 18 August 2017).

[2] Alexander Sherman Lee (1867-1913) Family Group Sheet, Descendants and their spouses of Phoebe Postens Brotzman, Brotzman Family Tree.  Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Thoroughly documented with quality resources; includes comments about missing resources , content of available resources and contradictory information between sources.

[3] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook (https://abundantgenealogy.com/tag/genealogy-do-over/    :  accessed 1 Sep 2017),  “Month 9-September 2017”.

The novice genealogy blogger

Although I have been doing genealogy for 20+ years,  I am a newbie to creating and maintaining a blog.   As noted in my first blog and the ‘about’ section,  I began this blog as part of my Genealogy Do-Over, which I began in January 2017.  My first blog appeared in April 2017.  This has been as much of a learning curve as learning any new computer software program!

Now, I am expanding my horizons beyond just adding a post about every 2 weeks.  Starting with the September 7 blog, “Cemeteries and caretakers”,   you will notice some changes.  During the coming weeks and months, additional features will be added.   Some additions will be more successful than others.   I appreciate your comments and feedback.

Specifically, last week, I added the names of my family lines to the primary heading.  You will be able to click on that family name and see which blogs refer to that family.   So far, I have only used examples from Posten and Tucker families, because I am focusing on those lines as I begin my Genealogy Do-Over journey.    Visiting relatives in Pennsylvania, home of my dad, Daniel R. Posten, meant that an in-depth review of the family tree was in order.  Mission accomplished for that genealogical field trip with visits to multiple cemeteries, county historical societies, and county offices!  Review of Ellerbee and Johnson files has begun, so you will see examples from these families soon.

A drop-down menu for categories has  been created and is on the right side of your screen.  At the end of each blog post, you will find a list of categories and tags.  From a WordPress blog[1],  think of each category as book chapter and each tag as an entry in the book’s index.  For this blog (aka book), Posting Family Roots, the chapters are the genealogy do-over topics which were initially presented by month, two or three topics per month.  The individual posts could be considered as sections of a chapter.  Many posts include an example from one or more family lines.  The topics/ categories/ chapters are:

Month 1:  Setting previous research aside.  Preparing to research.

Month 2:  Base practices and guidelines.  Research goals.

Month 3:  Conducting self interview.  Conducting family interviews.

Month 4:  Tracking research.  Conducting research.

Month 5:  Citing sources.  Building a research toolbox

Month 6:  Evaluating evidence.  Reviewing online education options.

Month 7:  Reviewing genealogy database software.  Digitizing photos and documents.

Month 8:  Conducting collateral research.  Reviewing offline education options.

Month 9:  Conducting cluster research.  Organizing research materials – documents and photos.

Month 10: Reviewing DNA testing options. Organizing research materials – digital.

Month 11:  Reviewing social media options.  Building a research network. Reviewing research travel options.

Month 12:  Sharing research.  Securing research data.

To learn more about the Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over program, click on the caption below the Genealogy Do-Over logo.   Consider joining the Genealogy Do-Over facebook group:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/genealogydoover/

Next on my to-do list is the addition of my family trees.   I am exploring options.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:  With the creation of this blog, I am learning a new set of technical skills.  I am even learning some computer programming language!  This has been a rather steep learning curve for me.  My previous online posting experiences primarily consisted of message boards and writing/ answering emails.  Over the years, I have learned how to compose letters and papers on the computer.  However,  ‘old fashioned’ paper and pencil are still good tools!

What I learned:  how to add widgets to blog posts, difference between categories and tags in wordpress, how to add categories and tags to each post.

What helped:  finding an online resource with clear explanations.   People willing to share their expertise.   Trial and error can eventually lead to success.

What didn’t help:  online resources with confusing explanations.

Summary:  I feel that my blog is improving and that it will continue to improve.  Eventually, I may even try a Posten family website!!!

[1] KeriLynn Engel, “Best Practices for Using Categories and Tags in Word Press”, Elegant Themes Blog, Tips and Tricks, 7 November 2014 (https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/tips-tricks/best-practices-for-using-categories-and-tage-in-wordpress   : accessed 8 September 2017.

Cemeteries & caretakers

September, the beginning of autumn.  Harvest, pumpkins, a coolness in the air, brightly colored leaves.  A time of the earth preparing for the slumber of winter.  During the last two weeks,  I have continued to sort through the pictures and documents from our Pennsylvania trip.  Progress is slow and deliberate.   I am following several  leads and will report on findings in later posts.  I hesitate to post information here when I haven’t completed the research.  A rant about shaky and fallen leaves will wait for another day.

On our trip, we visited 14 cemeteries, some with as few as 20 graves and some with over a thousand.  My relatives are not buried in all of the cemeteries.   As we drove the twisting roads of the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania,   the cemeteries beckoned to us.  My husband wanted to find graves from the Revolutionary War.  I was intrigued by the appearance of the cemeteries themselves.  Most were well cared for. Others had been tended less often but showed signs of some care.

An overgrown cemetery next to an old barn was one of our unexpected stops.  The underbrush was so thick in places that a machete or a chainsaw was needed to get to some gravestones.  Names on the gravestones indicate that this was probably a family plot.  Our initial reaction was sadness – had these people been forgotten by their descendants?  But then again, maybe not.  Relatives may have moved away.  Perhaps the designated local caretaker has not visited in the past year or two.  IMG_0377Given the environment and weather of the area, it would not take long for the cemetery to be re-claimed by nature.    We took pictures of some stones.  A fairly new stone led to discovery of the name of the cemetery —  Orange Methodist Church Cemetery, Franklin Township, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania,  [1]  which contains 92 graves.   The fact that information about the cemetery is posted online reassured us that the people buried there have not been forgotten.  I can feel  a BSO approaching – discover the story about one or two of the people buried here, even though they aren’t my relatives!

Unfortunately, stories of these forgotten cemeteries appear frequently.  On a happier note, I would also like to report that most were very well tended, such as Friends’ Burial Ground in the heart of Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  WIN_20170815_12_05_15_Pro My paternal great-great-great grandparents,  Thomas Postens  (1782 – 1854) and Esther Brown (1790 – 1840) are buried there.  Thomas is the oldest Posten ancestor whom I have been able to positively identify.   Visiting their graves was definitely a highlight of our trip!  Burial in this cemetery means that they were most likely Quakers.  Esther’s stone appears to have been broken and pieced back together.  Her birthdate was new information to me.   This was an emotional reunion as my only prior contact with Thomas and Esther had been online and through documents.  WIN_20170815_12_00_05_Pro

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A cemetery caretaker shared information that was new to us.  Cemetery plot books usually show the name of the person who bought the plot(s) and what section the plot(s) are in. The plot book may or may not have the names of everyone who is actually buried there!  For example, a man buys plots for himself, his wife, their children and spouses.  One or two children move to another town, county, or state.  One child dies young; another child does not marry.  Other relatives are buried in the plots not used by the couple’s children.   The plot(s) themselves are registered under the name of the person who paid for them.  A list of those who are actually buried in the cemetery is often a different list than the list of plot owners.

In summary,  remember to thank the caretakers of cemeteries!  As they mow and weed,  the caretakers  watch over our ancestors.  The caretakers who we encountered were friendly and helpful.  Each one was familiar with the names of those buried in the cemetery or knew where to look for the information.  In one cemetery, the caretaker saved us hours by directing us to the exact location of my Fulkerson relatives.   His only question , “Fulkersin [with an ‘I’] or Fulkerson [with an ‘O’]?”  When I said, “Both”, he laughed and left his mowing to walk us down a hill to an entire row of Fulkerson/ Fulkersin graves.

[1] Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com  : accessed 14 Aug 2017), memorial #168124776   , Perry K. Coolbaugh (1890 – 1975), Orange Methodist Church Cemetery, Franklin Twp, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania: gravestone photograph by Debbie; gravestone also photographed by Jerry L. Ellerbee on 14 Aug 2017.

 

A tale of 3 cemeteries

Subtitle:  Where are my grandparents buried?

Subtitle:  Don’t trust everything you read on the Web.

My husband and I have just returned from a 6-day trip to northeastern Pennsylvania, where my dad was born and raised.  We attended a family reunion, visited my 90+ year-old aunt and some cousins (including cousins found through DNA matches), searched records at county courthouses and historical societies and tramped 14 cemeteries in search of family members.  This story is about the cemetery/cemeteries where my grandparents, John Ray Posten & Jennie Amelia Richards, are buried.

Cemeteries?  Yes, because online reports have placed John and Jennie’s final earthly resting place in three– yes, 3 — different cemeteries.  I needed to see for myself.  The first discrepancy was found several years ago.  On a cemetery locator website, John and Jennie were listed as being buried in Pittston, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania.  I didn’t think too much about it, except that my grandfather’s name was listed as John W. Posten – his name was John Ray Posten.  I thought it might have been a typographical error or that the person didn’t know my grandfather’s middle name.  I didn’t have a copy of my grandfather’s death certificate, so I requested it from the state of Pennsylvania.  John Ray Posten’s death certificate doesn’t give the name of the cemetery but does list his burial location as Falls, Wyoming county.

Jennie’s death certificate and her obituary were already in my files.  According to those records, she was buried in Roberts Cemetery, Falls, Wyoming county, Pennsylvania.  I spoke to my aunt, who confirmed that John & Jennie are buried in Roberts Cemetery.  I contacted the person who had posted on the online site, explaining the issue.  He was very gracious, agreeing that a different John Posten was buried in Pittston and corrected the entry. There were no pictures of John and Jennie’s tombstone.  I knew that there was a tombstone because my parents helped pay for one after Jennie died in 1964.   John died in 1948, before I was born.

Several months ago, I was again searching for relatives using an online grave search website.  This time, John and Jennie were listed as being buried in Settee Cemetery, Falls, Wyoming county, Pennsylvania.  Still no gravestone picture.  Well, at least, the town and county are consistent!  I reviewed records and notes again.  Had I recorded the information correctly?  Yes, information on the documents pointed to Roberts Cemetery, Falls, Wyoming county, Pennsylvania.  But, the mystery remained.  And, with no gravestone picture, how could I be certain? Another consideration is that the name of Roberts Cemetery had changed to Settee Cemetery.

An annual family reunion of Jennie’s mother’s family (LaCoe) was another reason for this trip.  I have wanted to go for several years but work and family schedules just didn’t seem to coincide with the reunion date.  2017 is finally the year that we will attend this reunion!  And, I can find and photograph my grandparents’ grave!

The day after the reunion, we set out to find Roberts Cemetery.  Iphone location finder led us to a small, unnamed cemetery near Falls, Wyoming county.  No grave for John & Jennie there.  Did we have the wrong cemetery? We stopped at a nearby business to ask. The man only knew of the cemetery that we had just visited.  About a half mile down the road, an older woman was working in her flower bed. We stopped and asked her. Yes, she knew Roberts Cemetery and gave us directions.

Following her directions, we found another cemetery, also unnamed, which we almost passed by.  There are two sections.  One section consists of about a dozen gravestones for persons from the Fitch family.   I remembered seeing information online that several Fitch graves had been moved from their original location to Roberts Cemetery.  Cemetery found!!  Roberts Cemetery is on the opposite of the Susquehanna River than the first cemetery- on Sand Plant Road not Old State Road.  Both roads are off State Highway 92. Now, to find John & Jennie’s grave!  (Photo from http://www.mapquest.com)

Cemetery maps

There are only about 200 graves in the Roberts Cemetery, so it did not take long to find John & Jennie’s grave.  Mystery solved!  I began crying as I related the story to my grandparents.  John died before I was born and we had visited Pennsylvania irregularly during my childhood so I didn’t know Jennie (aka Grandma Posten) very well.

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Susan Posten Ellerbee with grave marker for her grandparents, John R. Posten & Jennie Richards Posten. Roberts Cemetery, Falls, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken August 14, 2017.

One more mystery still needs to be solved.  Why are they also listed in ‘Settee Cemetery’? Recheck online sources.  Apparently, Roberts Cemetery may also be known as Settee Cemetery and/or Swartout Cemetery.  To-do list:

  1. Post pictures of John & Jennie’s gravestone to Roberts Cemetery website with notes about the reported discrepancies and actual directions/ location of Roberts Cemetery- DONE.
  2. Contact person responsible for Settee Cemetery and ask about the cemetery names – DONE.

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Reflection:

This was a very emotional trip for many reasons.  Actually locating and seeing my grandparents’ grave was a tearful reunion.  I am proud that I was able to solve this particular mystery for myself and others.  We learned more about what to do and not do during a genealogy-based vacation.  Future blog posts will chronicle more of our experiences during this trip.

What helped:  technology, specifically Iphone location finder and a small computer with my family tree.  My husband’s patience and acting as official photographer. Advance planning, such as printing an alphabetical list of cemeteries to be visited with a list of people buried in each.

What didn’t help:  IPhone location finder taking us to the wrong cemetery, although the location was the one in the online system.  Online address for Roberts Cemetery was not correct.  Conflicting information posted online.

What I learned:  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and directions.  I tend to be independent and will usually try to figure things out on my own.  We met some awesome people, including cemetery managers, who were very helpful in locating graves.  Don’t believe everything you see on the Web– check it out for yourself!  Use water, a squirt bottle and a soft brush to clean dirt and moss from gravestones.

“It all started with DNA results” –Using relationship charts.

Last month, a cousin asked for help  to answer some questions.   I temporarily set aside the tasks that I had planned as part of the Genealogy Do-Over.   Was I following a BSO (bright shining object)?  It seemed so although I did use  some of my improved research skills.  Each BSO has led me to a different branch of dad’s family—branches that I would probably not have explored, such as the great-granddaughter of one of my great-aunts.  I realized that I was also building my research toolbox, a topic for Month 5 of the Genealogy Do-Over .

It all started with DNA.  I submitted my DNA sample last year and finally convinced my brother to submit his earlier this year.  We used different companies so we are both submitting samples again.  I looked quickly at the DNA relatives and only contacted those whose name I recognized.  Fortunately, a second cousin contacted me as a result of DNA matches and finding my online family tree with a common surname.  We share the same great –grandparents.  She knew very little about our common line, her grandmother’s family, which is also my grandfather’s  family.   I knew little about her grandmother and she answered  questions for me.  Her son also has the genealogy bug.

Both my second cousin and her son have sent in their DNA.  He is very curious about all of those DNA relatives – exactly how are we related to this person?  Figuring out your ‘cousinship’  is easy  when you already  know your common ancestors – use a relationship chart.  Here is one that is commonly used: relationship_chart_1

My DNA-match 2nd cousin knew the names of her grandparents.  Her grandmother was my grandfather’s sister. So, establishing the common ancestor was relatively (pardon the pun!) easy.

Other examples of relationship charts:   

Relationship chart – another format

Relationship chart format #3

What is more difficult is identifying  your possible common ancestor for that third cousin identified as a DNA match to you when you aren’t sure about the names of the other person’s ancestors.   There are at least 16 possibilities (from both your mother and father)!   In essence, you have to look at the relationship chart in a different way.   If this person and I are 3rd cousins, then who might be our common ancestor?

My 2nd cousin and I have an already established a relationship through our great-grandparents.   So, the list narrowed as we only looked at DNA matches who are related to both of us.  Now,  there are only four possibilities as a common ancestor – our common great-great grandparents, James, Meriam, Samuel or Charlotte.

Her son’s curiousity about those DNA matches led to the BSOs that took up much of my time during one two week period.   Another person, who inherited work done by cousin on a related family line, has been extremely helpful.  She used an extensive research toolbox to determine how we are related to one person, identified as a third or fourth cousin DNA match.    Her search strategy included social media as well as the usual census records, obituaries, and gravesites.  I admire her tenacity and thoroughness!

End of story:   Two more cousins have been positively identified through DNA matches.  Our common ancestors have been identified.   All of the information is clipped together and has been entered to genealogy software and research logs.

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Reflection:   I experienced a mix of emotions during those two weeks.   Initial response was frustration because I did not meet my specific objectives.  Instead, I helped a cousin discover how we are related to two DNA matches.  At first, I considered these projects as BSOs since the work was not planned.   However, I chose to tackle those projects instead of keeping with my original plan.   I met another person with marvelous detective skills.  I can learn from her.    Using research logs and making sure that I have complete source citations was helpful.   I worked slower on these projects than I have in the past, due to improved research practices.

What helped:   Research logs that had been done earlier. Starting new research logs.  Checking and re-checking source citations.  Label and file digital media as I found it online.

What didn’t help:   Not being sure that this was a good use of my time.  I had to acknowledge that I chose to work on these projects at this time.  I could have deferred and waited for reports from others.

What I learned:   Collaboration with others is key to discovering the relationships and avoiding duplication of work.   Say ‘no’ to some projects, no matter how interesting  they seem.  However,  these projects can still become learning tools.  I learned a different way of using a relationship chart to determine a possible common ancestor.  This leads me to the concept of a ‘flipped’ relationship chart.   Here is first draft of my idea, for your consideration:  flipped chart draft1Happy searching!