The chance meeting:  Oklahoma men with Pennsylvania ties

What are the odds that two men with the same surname, ancestors from the same state, and the same oral family tradition about original immigrants to America would meet in a rural Oklahoma town in the 1980s?   I believe that the odds would be against them.  And, yet, it happened to Daniel Richard Posten, my Dad, and a man named George Avery Posten.  From this chance meeting, I became intrigued with a question about George’s grandfather, Benjamin Avery Posten. This post begins my tale which will be continued in later posts.

Our family surname of Posten, with an ‘e’, is not as common as Poston, with an ‘o’.   So, when Dad saw the name of George Posten in the local phone book, he quickly called. The two met and exchanged stories, beating the odds against such a chance meeting.

In 1980, after Dad’s retirement, my parents moved to Mannford, Creek county, Oklahoma.  Dad’s love of gardening resulted in the purchase of three acres and a small house near the rural community on the banks of Lake Keystone. The lake is about 20 miles west of Tulsa. 

I vaguely remember the phone conversation, although I don’t remember the exact date (or even year!)  I wasn’t into genealogy at that time although I did enjoy hearing them talk about their childhoods and relatives.  The conversation probably went something like this:

Me:   “Hi!  How are you doing?”

Mom:   “We’re pretty good.  Dad’s got his most of the garden planted.”

Me:   “Oh, well, that’s why you moved out there!  I always like the fresh vegetables!”

Mom:  “Your dad is really excited!  We met a man named George Posten and he lives here in Mannford!  We saw the name in the phone book and called.  You know that not too many people spell their name like we do.”

Me:   “Yes,  I know that.”

Mom:  “Anyway, we went to visit him and his wife, Lottie.  They are really nice people!  George was born in Missouri but his grandfather was born in Pennsylvania.  And, he remembers hearing the story that two brothers came to America and one stayed in Pennsylvania and one moved south.   He thinks that he is related to the one who moved south.  He and Dad just talked up a storm!”

Me:  “Oh, that’s interesting!  Isn’t it odd that the two would meet in Mannford, of all places?”

Mom:  “Yes, it is strange!  And, you know that your Dad had a brother, George?”

Me:  “Yes,  Aunt Libby’s husband. I don’t think that I ever met him. ”

Mom:  “You didn’t.  He was killed in a car accident when you were just a baby.  When are you coming to see us?”   The conversation ended a few minutes later as we caught up on other news.

Mom and Dad visited George and Lottie on a regular basis until Mom and Dad moved again in 1990.   Both frequently talked about the stories shared with George and how similar the stories about family origins were.  All of us believed that George and Dad are related.  I still believe it, although I can’t prove it.

Briefly, here’s the family lines.  Thomas Postens, born 1782 at Monmouth county, New Jersey, is our branches progenitor.[1]  Thomas probably moved to Pennsylvania in the 1820s. [2]  Thomas and his wife, Esther Brown,  lived in either Northampton or Pike county in 1829, where my great-great grandfather, James D. Posten, was born. [3]  (Geographic note:  current Monroe County formed in 1836 from Northampton and Pike counties). James D. Posten’ s descendants are Daniel S. Posten (my great-grandfather), John R. Posten (my grandfather) and Daniel Richard Posten (my dad), all born in northeastern Pennsylvania.  Many of Thomas’ descendants still live there.

George Avery Posten’s family easily traces to Benjamin Avery Posten, born 1839, presumably at Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. [4] From Pennsylvania, Benjamin moved his family to Pulaski county, Missouri, where George’s father, Charley P. Posten, was born.  Charley moved to Creek county, Oklahoma, in the 1920s with the family appearing there in the 1930 census. [5]   Four of George’s nine siblings moved to California between 1930 and 1940, probably as a result of the infamous Dust Bowl.  George died in 1998 and is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery at Mannford.   

The link may lie in Huntingdon county, which is in western Pennsylvania.   Several Posten families lived there as early as 1800 including William [Posty][6] and Peter [Posty]. [7] Another person of interest is Cornelius Poste (1830 census, Huntington county, Pennsylvania). I believe that William and Peter  migrated west from northeastern Pennsylvania.

 So, what are the odds for this meeting occurring?  I don’t know.  It sure has made my genealogical research interesting! Simply, the BIG question is: Who are the parents of Benjamin Avery Posten? The identity of Benjamin’s mother is based on a single 1850 census record. To be continued. . . .

Disclaimer. I am not the only person who seeks an answer to the question of Benjamin Avery Posten’s parents.

REFLECTION

This post is longer than I hoped. I keep trying for less than 1200 words. Writing helps to clarify my thinking. Before I share my conclusions with you, I felt that I needed to give you the back story. This has been one of my BSO items for several years.

What I learned  (again):  Meticulous record keeping is a must. This includes notes about what information seems to fit and what doesn’t.

What helped? Previous work done on Posten families in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Online access to records.

What didn’t help? Debate within myself about when and how to share this information.

To do:  Begin writing the next installment.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog , 2021.


SOURCES:

[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] Thomas Pokins. 1820 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton, p. 245, image 256, line no. 22, Thomas Pokins; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M33_104.

[3] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, death certificate 118955 (1914), James D. Posten; Bureau of Vital Records, Harrisburg.

[4] George Avery Posten family tree, privately owned by Susan Posten Ellerbee.  Similar trees also posted on Ancestry website.

[5]   1930 U.S. Census, Creek county, Oklahoma, population schedule, Olive, enumeration district (ED) 0035, pp. 1A & 1B, dwelling 10, family 10, Charles Posten age 62; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 17 October 2021); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T626.

[6] 1800 U.S. Census, Huntington county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Union Township, p. 147, line 35, William Posty; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 40.

[7] 1800 U.S. Census, Huntington county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Union Township, p. 147, line 36, Peter Posty; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 40.

Obituaries and death notices

Another death in our family this past week. I was given the privilege of writing my mother-in-law’s obituary. This task of love let me to reflect on obituaries and death notices as sources of information. In this post, I share my reflection with you.

Genealogists cull information about individuals and their families from these notices, usually published in local newspapers. What’s the difference between a death notice and an obituary? The answer is simple. A death notice usually gives only basic information about the person and their death. An obituary typically provides more information about the person and their family.

Death notices can still provide clues for follow up. Here is one example from my dad’s family. [1]

Other documents and her gravestone[2] show her name as Esther, maiden name Brown. The notice was published on Friday, February 14, 1840; her date of death- ‘Tuesday last’- means Tuesday, February 11, 1840.  The family should be found in or near Stroudsburg on 1840 census. Burial at Friends Graveyard means that Esther and Thomas were Quakers. My question is:  if she died and was buried in Monroe County, why was her death notice in a Pike County newspaper? Pike County and Monroe County are geographically close to each other. This led me to explore how county lines changed and to search for more information about a Brown family in Pike County. Age at death is sometimes listed. This example shows how even limited information can be used to discover information about a person and their family.

Obituaries give us a glimpse into the person’s life and family.  Often, you will read about the person’s occupation, hobbies, military service, religious affiliation, professional and social organizations, honors and awards as well as birth and death information. Names of parents, siblings and children are usually included. You may learn how long the person was married and whether the named relatives are dead or alive. Cause of death is sometimes included. “A sudden death” may suggest an accident or acute illness. “A long (or lingering) death” suggests one or more chronic illnesses. Photos are a more recent inclusion.  Today, funeral homes post obituaries online.

Siblings’ names can be used to uncover a woman’s maiden name.  One woman’s brothers had two different surnames, suggesting that one was her step-brother. The married name of a sister led to more records about the sister and, eventually, the names of their parents.

Also of interest is what information is not included. I found a marriage record for a person[3] on my mom’s family tree. His obituary[4] did not mention his wife. My best guess is that the marriage did not last long and that there were no children.

For more information about death notices and obituaries: https://newspaperlinks.com/obituaries/death-notices/

Writing obituaries: https://www.powershow.com/view/405446-OTJiN/Writing_Obituaries_powerpoint_ppt_presentation

To summarize, published death notices and obituaries are important sources of information for the genealogist. Glean what you can and offer thanks to those who provided the information.

REFLECTION

Another long week for our family, actually a long month as mother-in-law went from hospital to rehab, back to hospital and then to hospice care.   Family members asked me to write my mother-in-law’s obituary. This was a labor of love as well as an awesome responsibility. I had previously written obituaries for both of my parents and my father-in-law. As a genealogist, I am acutely aware of how much can be learned and/or surmised from these sources.

I may have posted something similar earlier but am too emotionally exhausted to look for it.

What I Learned (again):  the difficulty of capturing the essence of a person in just a few words.

What helped: I am a fairly skilled writer with a large vocabulary. Online and print thesaurus to help me choose just the right words. Getting to know my mother-in-law better during last few months that she has lived with us.

What didn’t help:  sleepless nights. Need to get it right quickly in only 1 or 2 drafts.

To-do: Save copies of print and online obituary with appropriate citations.


SOURCES

[1] Hester Postens death notice.  Published in The Jeffersonian Republican, Milford, Pike County, Pennsylvania on 14 February 1840.  Page number not included with photocopy obtained from Monroe County Historical Association, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

[2] Grave marker for Esther Postens, Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania); photo by Jerry L. Ellerbee; information read by Susan Posten Ellerbee, 15 August 2017.

[3] New York, Episcopal Diocese of New York Church Records,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 August 2018 ), entry for Arthur H. Smetts & Claudia J. Mertens; citing The Episcopal Diocese of New York Church Records, New York, NY; names Arthur’s parents as Jacob Smets, Rose Maurer of New Brunswick,NJ and Claudia’s parents as Charles H. Mertens & Johanna Hack, 1433 Glover Street; marriage date 2 June 1926.

[4] “ARTHUR H. SMETTS,” obituary, Central New Jersey Home News, 19 November 1936, deceased; online images, Newspapers.com (http:///newspapers.com :  accessed 6 January 2021).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Maiden Aunt(s)

Every family tree has at least one- the unmarried relative also known as a ‘maiden aunt’ or ‘bachelor uncle.’  Census records often list a woman as head of household. When the census record includes younger people, I predict that those younger persons are the woman’s children. I also tend to guess that the woman’s surname is the name of her husband, now deceased or divorced. However, this might not be true. Information about an unmarried relative still contributes to our knowledge about the family. In this post, I present one such case, Miss Jane Postens of Monroe county, Pennsylvania.

Jane Postens (1785-1861)

NOTE: This post describes process and results. Bear with me as I move forwards and backwards in time.

2012:  Printed two census records and wrote notes on 1830 census printed forms for Ann Posten in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania [1] and 1840 census for Jane Porten in Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] (Place note:  Monroe county formed 1836 from Northampton and Pike counties).  I dismissed Ann as the widow of Jacob Postens because Jacob died in 1831. [3] 

2015:  Printed 1850 census for Stroud Township, Monroe county, Pennsylvania –Jane Postens, age 56, born New Jersey and Elizabeth Postens, 48, born Pennsylvania. [4]  This census does not show the relationships between family members.   QUESTIONS:  What is the relationship between Jane and Elizabeth? How are they related to other Posten families in the area?  Fast forward to 2020 when I revisit these records as part of my Genealogy Do-Over.  

2020:  Begin again with the 1830 census. Smithfield, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. Ann Poston is recorded as head of household with 1 male, age 30 thru 39 and 3 females age 20 thru 29.   1840 census shows Jane Porten in Lower Smithfield, Monroe county, Pennsylvania with 1 male age 40-49 (consistent with 1830 census), 1 female 30 thru 39, 1 female 40 thru 49 and 1 female 60 thru 69.  

Recall the 1850 census records for Jane and Elizabeth Postens in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Information is both consistent and inconsistent  with earlier records.  A more recent find of 1860 census[5] also revealed inconsistencies with other data. (See table).  Can the evidence be reconciled?

TABLE 1: Comparison of census data, 1830 to 1860

I discovered a death notice for Jane.  Published in a Monroe county newspaper dated February 7, 1861, the notice reads:  

DIED. At Priceburg, in Price Township, on the 3d inst., Miss Jane Postens, aged 75 years, 9 months and 17 days.”

The Jeffersonian (Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania), 7 February 1861, page 2, “DIED. At Priceburg. . . Miss Jane Postens:” imaged at Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com:   viewed & printed, 9 May 2020).

Jane Postens, indeed, never married. If her reported age in death notice is correct, then her birth date calculates to 16 April 1785.  This date is consistent with only one of the four cited census records  – 1860.  I do not dispute New Jersey as her birthplace.  I believe that Elizabeth and Jane, as reported in 1850 and 1860, are the same persons even with the discrepancies in reported ages. I haven’t yet found more information about Elizabeth but have a clue about the male living with them in 1830 and 1840.

An adult male was not listed as head of household in 1830 or 1840. This suggests that the male in the household was incapacitated in some way. Again, I refer to an 1850 census record.  William Postens, age 56, listed as ‘insane and pauper’, residing with Henry and Caroline Row in Smithfield, Monroe, Pennsylvania. [6]  I believe that he is the male recorded in 1830 and 1840 censuses, aged 30 thru 39 and 40 thru 49, respectively.  Is he related to Henry or Caroline? Is he, perhaps, brother to Jane and Elizabeth?  

SUMMARY:

One maiden aunt, Miss Jane Postens, born 1785 in New Jersey and died 1861 in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Questions remain about her parentage and relationship to Elizabeth and/or William. I still know so little about her.

Another maiden aunt story for you: https://climbingmyfamilytree.blogspot.com/2018/01/family-history-lesson-from-my-maiden.html

REFLECTION:

Well, at least one question has been answered – Jane Postens never married.  As usual, new questions arose and only a few answers found.

What helped:  Printouts and my notes already in files. Creating table to compare information.

What didn’t help:  Notes with no dates.  Not sure which family tree I attached this to.

To-Do:  Continue searches for more information about Elizabeth Postens, William Postens, Henry and Caroline Row. Create research logs for each person with comprehensive notes.  Look at neighbors on each census as possible clues to relationships.  Search 1820 census in Northampton county for females between ages of 10 and 20 years. Move these items to BSO list for now.  

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES CITED:

[1] 1830 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 218, line 20, Ann Poston, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M19, roll 156.

[2] 1840 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, page 331, line 23, Jane Porten [Posten], Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M704..

[3] William Henry Egle, editor, Notes and Queries: Historical, Biographical and Genealogical: relating chiefly to interior Pennsylvania. [ Fourth Series], 2 vols. (1893; Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1970), 1: pages 183-184, entry for “Northampton county in the Revolution. Newspaper Notes and Sketches. V. [Obituary, Jacob Postens]”.

[4] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, page 106A (stamp), dwelling 270, family 270, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432_798.

[5] . 1860 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Price, page 696 (stamp). Sheet 80 (ink pen), dwelling 540, family 516, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653.

[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 126A (stamp), dwelling 552, family 552, Henry Row, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432, roll 798.

Who’s the Daddy (of Thomas Postens)?

My brother and I have an ongoing debate. Who is Thomas Postens’ father? My brother believes that his name is William. I believe that his name is Richard.  Thomas is our earliest known ancestor. Born in New Jersey in 1782, Thomas died and is buried in Pennsylvania. This post summarizes evidence for both sides of the debate.

Thomas Postens was born near Englishtown, Monmouth County, New Jersey on 14 July 1782.  Three sources support this assertion.  First, a 1908 newspaper article about Posten family reunion reported this information. [1] The history was compiled by John Posten, grandson of Thomas Postens and son of James Posten, Thomas’ youngest son. This is a secondary source with indirect information.  Second, the 1850 census shows Thomas Postens in Hamilton, Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] This primary source shows Thomas’ age as 68 (consistent with birth year about 1782) and birthplace as New Jersey.  The information is possibly direct, i.e. reported by Thomas to the census taker.  Third, Thomas’ gravestone in the Friends Burial Ground at Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, is engraved with his birth and death dates. [3]  The assertion about Thomas’ birth at New Jersey in 1782 is, therefore, certainly true. The exact township and county of his birth are apparently true.   

With this information, I pose my first question:  Did Richard Postens and/or William Postens live in New Jersey in the 1780s?  Evidence was found in tax records for New Jersey dating from 1780. [4] (Note: I recorded names as spelled on the records). Specifically,

  • Records for Richard:
    • 1780 – Richard Paeston, Newark Township, Essex county, New Jersey
    • 1780 – Richrd Posten, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1781 & 1782 – Richard Postens Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1784, 1785, 1786- Richard Postins, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1789- Richard Postens, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1790- Richard Postins, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
  • Records for William:
    • 1779 – William Postens, Dover Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1781, 1782, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1789-  William Postens, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey

Another contender, Charles Postens, also paid taxes in Monmouth county, New Jersey in 1779, 1781 and 1782. This man was ruled out as Thomas’ father based on the Revolutionary War Pension application[5], filed by his wife, Hannah in 1842. In her statement, Hannah reported one son, “born just previous to the breaking out of the war whose name was William who died in the City of Philadelphia sometime in the winter of 1809 and left a widow whose name was Mary Postens.”

Analysis:  Both Richard Postens and William Postens lived in Monmouth county, New Jersey, circa 1782, the date of Thomas’ birth.  Freehold, New Jersey, and Englishtown, New Jersey, are about 10 miles apart.

Question 2: Where did Richard Postens and William Postens live in 1790?

According to New Jersey tax records, Richard remained in or near Freehold, New Jersey.  The 1790 U.S. Census shows William Poste in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. [6]  The record lists one free white male under 16, one free white male 16 and over and 4 free white females.  Birth year estimate for the younger male is between 1774 and 1790 and the older male was born before 1774.  A similar census record for Richard has not been found. 

Analysis:  William Postens in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, circa 1790, had a son born between 1774 and 1790.  William’s former residence is not known from this record.  Richard Postens still lived in New Jersey in 1790.

Question 3:  Where did Richard Postens and William Postens live in 1800?

The 1800 U.S. census shows Richard Postens in Lower Smithfield, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. [7] The family consisted of: one male under 10, 1 male aged 10 thru 15, one male aged 16 thru 25, one male 45 and over, 1 female under 10, 1 female 10 thru 15, one female 16 thru 25, and one female 26 thru 44.  Birth year for male, aged 16 thru 25, calculates as between 1775 and 1784.

William Posty is listed in the 1800 census for Springfield, Bucks county, Pennsylvania.[8] This family consists of one male, aged 10 thru 15 (birth years 1795-1790), one male aged 16 thru 25 (birth years 1775-1784), 2 females aged 16 thru 25 (birth years 1775-1784) and 1 female aged 45 and over (birth before 1755).  With no males born before 1774, this William Posty is definitely not the same person as William Postens recorded on the 1790 census. Since only heads of household were recorded, the oldest male is probably William.

Analysis: Richard Postens in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, circa 1800, had a son born between 1775 and 1784. William Posty, age between 16 and 25, is probably the head of a household in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. That William is the son of William Postens from 1790 census is plausible but needs to be tested.

Conclusion:  Based on these records, neither Richard Postens nor William Postens can be ruled out as father of our Thomas Postens.  Both men apparently lived at Monmouth county, New Jersey, reported birthplace of Thomas, in the early 1780s. Census records suggest that both men had a son born between 1774 and 1790.  A search of New Jersey Quaker records may yield new information.

ADDENDUM: A few other records hold clues but don’t seem to answer the question of Thomas’ parentage. Marriage records of the Dutch Reformed Church at Monmouth county, New Jersey indicate a 1770 marriage for Richard Prest and Jenny Van Der Rype and a 1771 marriage for Wm Posty to Anne Coovort.  [9]  From the New Jersey Index of Wills, William Postens Jr died in 1794 leaving his wife, Anney, as administratix. [10] Is this the same William Posty who married Anne Coovort in 1771? Is this the same William Postens who paid taxes in Monmouth County from 1779 through 1789?  Could this couple, William and Anne, be Thomas’ parents?  Is it possible that our Thomas migrated to Pennsylvania with a relative? If so, did he live with a Postens family or another family? All of these are intriguing questions.

REFLECTION

I have gone over these records multiple times. I keep searching online databases for new information.  I am beginning to think that only a trip to Monmouth county, New Jersey, would yield new information.  I seem to be no nearer the truth than I was 10 years ago.

What I learned:  I was so certain that Richard had to be Thomas’ father!  The evidence is not clear. Either Richard or William could be Thomas’ father. Consider also that Thomas’ father could be another person entirely!

What helped: extensive records and notes in both paper and digital files. As usual, writing the post put things into perspective.

What didn’t help:  scattered notes, undated items.

To-do:  Keep looking! Keep detailed, extensive notes. Date each item as I find it.  Review files periodically.


SOURCES

[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]. 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton, p. 17B, dwelling 220, family 220, Thomas Portons [Postens]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 1 July 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_798.

[3]. Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania), Thomas Postens, stone marker; photographed by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 14 August 2017.

[4] “New Jersey, Compiled Census and Census substitutes Index, 1643-1890, “ database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed  8 June 2020). Entries for Richard Postens, William Postens, William Poste and Charles Postens.

[5]. “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files,” , database with images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  :  accessed 1 July 2020), Charles Postens, New Jersey, W3157; 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 – ca. 1900, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M804, roll 1957.

[6] 1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, no town given, page 112, line 5, William Pofte[Poste]; digital images, Ancestry ( http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 30 January 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M637, roll 8.

[7] 1800 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, p. 618, line 24, Richard Postens; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 29 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 37.

[8].1800 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Springfield, page 282, image 124, line 22, William Posty; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 13 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 282.

[9] Holland Society of New York,  “U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States, 1639-1989: Freehold and Middletown, Part 1, Book 61A,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & printed 29 March 2020), pg. 270, entry 111, Richard Prest to Jenny Von Der Rype; citing Dutch Reformed Church Records from New York and New Jersey, The Archives of the Reformed Church in America, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

[10] “New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 July 2020), pg. 287, entry for 1794, Oct. 18. Postens, William, Jr.; citing New Jersey, Published Archive Series, First Series (Trenton, New Jersey: John L. Murphy Publishing: no date); New Jersey State Archives.

Connecting the dots: Posten families

Remember dot-to-dot pictures?  Each dot has a number, letter of the alphabet or other logical system for you to follow.  The dots don’t appear to make sense at first. However, when you connect the dots correctly, a picture emerges.  My current genealogy research efforts seem like that. Each piece of information is a dot. All I have to do is go to the next logical dot and a family picture will emerge. But, the dots don’t always present themselves in a logical manner. Dots are missing. The resulting picture looks more like a scribbled mess. In this post, I describe the status of my Posten files. Think of each file as a dot on the overall picture.

Early in my research, I discovered several published genealogies of Poston families. These narratives outlined Poston families who originated in Pennsylvania but subsequently moved south. One author even stated: “There are no Postons listed in the Pennsylvania census for that year [1790] .” [1]   While that may be true, families with a similar surname, Posten (my maiden name) and its variations, lived in Pennsylvania from 1790 on.  Are the Poston families and Posten families connected? I am not sure and keep an open mind.

Summary of my Posten files:
  1. Dad’s direct ancestral line. I can trace our branch of the Posten family from Dad to Thomas Postens, born 1782 at New Jersey and died 1854 at Monroe county, Pennsylvania. Census records, birth and death certificates prove the lineage. With few exceptions, Dad’s family, including Dad’s siblings, lived in Pennsylvania from the 1800s to the present. I am working on collateral lines. In August, 2017, my husband and I visited the graves of Thomas and his wife, Esther Brown at Friends Burial Ground in Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] 
  2. New Jersey Posten families. Posten men paid taxes in New Jersey in the 1780s and 1790s. [3]  I believe that at least two of those men – Richard Postens and William Postens- moved to Bucks county, Pennsylvania by 1800. [4], [5]  Either one, or another man, could be Thomas’ father.  Samuel Posten, born about 1794, has been identified as progenitor of a Posten family which still resides in Monmouth county, New Jersey. [6] 
  3. Jacob Postens and Anne Burson.  Jacob, born about 1755 In New Jersey, identified as our family’s ancestor by an elderly aunt. [7]  When I wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, I pursued this assertion but found it to be false.  Dad’s family is definitely NOT descended from Jacob and Anne. Given Jacob’s reported birthplace of New Jersey, my Posten family and Jacob’s family could still be related.
  4. Elihu Posten family.  Elihu lived in Monroe county, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. (Note: Recall that Thomas Postens died in Monroe county).  Elihu’s first wife was Eleanor Transue and they had nine children.  Eleanor died in 1841 and Elihu married Elizabeth Eilenberger about 1842.  They had two children.  William Posten, son of Elihu and Elizabeth, moved to Wisconsin. [8]  Elihu and our Thomas could be brothers.
  5. Benjamin Avery Posten (1839, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania – 1905, Pulaski county, Missouri).  A chance meeting between Dad and one of Benjamin’s descendants led me to search for this family.  The genealogy from Benjamin through the 20th century is fairly clear. Researchers differ as to the identity of Benjamin’s parents.
  6. Posten families in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. I started this file as supplement to Benjamin Avery Posten’s file.  Names from the early to mid-1800s include, among others, Cornelius Posten, Peter Posten and several men named William Posten. Research on these families is ongoing.  Relationships are still tentative.
  7. James Posten and Rhoda Shaffer, Iowa.  James Posten (1790, Pennsylvania –           ) [9]  I believe that James is the son of Peter Posten, found in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania in 1800 and 1810.  Both Peter and James were recorded next to each other on Licking county, Ohio, census in 1820.  [10]  Five of James and Rhoda’s six children were born in Ohio.  Earlier this year, I was contacted by a descendant of James and Rhoda but we don’t share any DNA.  On some online trees, James Posten of Iowa is mistakenly identified as son of Jacob Postens and Anne Burson. Jacob and Anne had a son named James but he never left Pennsylvania.
  8. Miscellaneous Posten families. This file contains a mix of records for persons with Posten surname in various places including Indiana, Kansas and Kentucky.  I haven’t followed up on any of these.

Are any of the Posten families named above related to Dad’s family? That question, my friends, is unanswered.  Each file contains multiple dots (i.e. discrete pieces of information such as census records, BMD certificates, wills, letters, etc.).  For some files, the picture is emerging nicely. In other files, it’s still a scribbled mess.

Reflection:

This post summarizes personal research on my Posten line.  I wrote it as a ‘note to self’ type memorandum as I veer off in other directions.  When I come to a hurdle for one person or family, I put it aside and move on.  My 2012 Posten history now seems vary amateurish and incomplete. I was definitely a novice and amateur genealogist when I wrote it!  I have a lot more information now about each family.  As far as revising 2012 Posten history, I am stuck on Thomas and finding his parents.

What I learned:  I have made good progress for some families, not so much for others. Goal of revising my 2012 Posten history led me to re-open files and look more critically at what I have.  My analysis and research skills have improved over the years.  Take extensive notes about searches, findings and initial analysis. Research logs are a must!

What helped:   paper and digital files for each family group, including family trees in RootsMagic.

What didn’t help:  Items in files with no idea about source. Incomplete source information. Sources that seem to have disappeared. Minimal and/or no research logs. Items not organized in any meaningful way. But, I guess that’s the way many of us start – copy an item and file it, organize later.

To-do:  Record notes about searches and results. Continue to create research logs. Organize individual items in each file by family group or category—lots of paper clips! Continue revision of 2012 Posten history but leave chapter on Thomas for now.


SOURCES:

[1] Erma Poston Landers, A Poston Family of South Carolina:  Its Immigrant Ancestor and some of his descendants:  A Family Genealogy (Atlanta, Georgia:  Erma Poston Landers [Lake City, South Carolina], 1965].  Digital copy accessed & printed, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : 24 March 2010), page 5.

[2] Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania), markers for Thomas Postens and Esther Postens; personally read, August 2017.

[3] “New Jersey, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1643-1890, database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed multiple dates, May and June, 2020); citing Ronald V. Jackson, Accelerated Indexing Systems, “New Jersey Census, 1643-1890,”, data from microfilmed records including indexes to 1772-1822 tax list.

[4] Richard Postens, 1800 census. 1800 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, p. 618, line 24, Richard Postens; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 29 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 37.

[5] William Postens, 1790 census at Bucks county. 1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, no town given, page 112, line 5, William Pofte [Poste]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 30 January 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publicaiton M637, roll 8.

[6] Personal correspondence with [Name withheld for privacy], Monmouth county, New Jersey, circa 1990s.

[7] Typewritten genealogy, Posten family tradition regarding lineage of John Posten to Jacob Posten (b 1755) as reported by Ruby Gardiner, granddaughter of Daniel Posten & Phoebe Fulkerson to Vera Posten Brooks, ca. 1989; privately held by Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Copy sent by Ms. Brooks to Ms. Ellerbee about 1990.

[8] Wisconsin, son of Elihu and Elizabeth. 1880 U.S. Census, Grant county, Wisconsin, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 116, Millville, p. 243A, dwelling 6, family 6, William Poston [Posten] ; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed 22 June 2020 ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 1427.

[9] Susan Posten Ellerbee, James Posten-Rhoda Shaffer Family Group Sheet, Family charts and Group Sheets, privately held by Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Canadian, Oklahoma. In vertical file, “Iowa Posten Family”, data collected circa 2000-2020.

[10] 1820 U.S. Census, Licking county, Ohio, population schedule, Franklin, page 21, image 35, line 10, Peter Posten, line 11, James Posten; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed 12 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication, M33_94.

In memory: William Posten, gunner, died ca 1779

Private William Posten died during the Revolutionary War.  ‘William Posten (gunner), dead’ is listed on the rolls of Captain Willing’s company of marines, who served from January 1778 to June 1779. [1]  What is his story?

William’s story is also the story of the United States Marine Corps.  Did you know that USMC traces its history back to the American Revolution? The Continental Marines protected ship captains and officers among other duties. One author described these men as “half soldier and half-sailor”[2]  The Continental Marines formally existed from November 1775 to 1783. In 1798, the service branch was re-created as the United States Marine Corps.

Captain James Willing’s story must also be told.  James Willing belonged to a prominent Philadelphia family. He received a commission “through the influence of his brother, Thomas, and a close friend, Robert Morris.”[3] Drawing soldiers from Fort Pitt (current day Pittsburgh),  Captain Willing’s orders included travel down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to deliver supplies and win assistance of persons who lived on the east bank, then return to Fort Pitt.  A boat named Rattletrap, with Captain Willing and 34 men, left Fort Pitt on 10 January 1778 and arrived at Natchez in February.  Continuing to New Orleans, the journey was marked by looting goods, stealing slaves and burning property of British sympathizers along the way. The marines returned up the Mississippi “under Lieutenant Roger George in order to join General George Rogers Clark in the Illinois territory, while Willing himself departed by sea for the east.” (Smith & Waterhouse, 1975).  William Posten, gunner, was killed during the journey.

Map provided courtesy of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. United States, ca 1796. Call no. X912.13c18a. “Fort Pitt” added by Susan Posten Ellerbee. Source: https://digital.library.illinois.edu : accessed 25 May 2020.

What were the duties of a gunner?  “The gunner took charge of the ship’s guns and all the implements needed to work them.” [4] A gunner was an officer and others (gunners’ mates, gunners’ yeomen, and quarter gunners) assisted him.  An interesting document, found on the Naval History and Heritage Command website, outlined the specific duties of men on ships of war. [5]  Since William’s rank is listed as private, he possibly held one of the lower assignments.  

A Revolutionary War company muster roll yielded information about Wm. Poston, a private in a Virginia regiment. [6]  From October 1778 to March 1779, he appeared on a roll for Fort Pitt. The form includes this remark: “wth C Willing”. Enlistment in a Virginia regiment suggests residence in that state. Is he somehow related to my Posten family which has resided in Pennsylvania since the early 1800s?  An ongoing boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia makes this plausible. (For more information, read “The Boundary Controversy between Pennsylvania and Virginia, 1748-1785” by Boyd Crumrine in Annals of the Carnegie Museum, Vol. 1, 1901-1902,  pages 505-524, available from Internet Archive,  https://archive.org/details/annalsofcarnegie01carn/page/n5/mode/2up:  accessed 25 May 2020).

Analysis: William Posten served as a gunner with Captain Willing’s company of marines. William died about 1778 – 1779. William was probably from Virginia.  The men were recruited from Fort Pitt which explains the listing in Pennsylvania Archives.

On this Memorial Day, 2020, I honor William Posten (gunner), who died during the American Revolution. I still don’t know his whole story and I don’t know if we are  related.  Plundering the homes of British sympathizers was accepted during this time period. He is one of  millions who died fighting for this country we call America and for the freedoms that we enjoy today.   Thank you, William!

REFLECTION:

Again, I took one piece of information and expanded on it.  When I did my initial research 12 years ago, I was sure that William Posten (gunner) was somehow related to my family. I based that assumption solely on the entry in the Pennsylvania Archives.  I began to question my reasoning until today when I discovered information about the border dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia during the late 1700s.  There is always so much more to every story!

What I learned:  History of U.S. Marine Corps, duties of a gunner on a war ship. Consider both the information and the source—look deeper! Boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia in late 1700s.

What helped:  Entry found previously, online access to Naval and Marine Corps history.

What didn’t help:  Assumption that listing in Pennsylvania Archives meant all names were of persons from Pennsylvania. Even that is in question!

To -do:  Search for more information as BSO item.


SOURCES:

[1] ‘Journals and diaries of the War of the Revolution with lists of officers and soldiers, 1775-1783.”   In Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, Volume XV, pages 658-660.  Accessed 12 December 2011 from www.fold3.com ; p. 659

[2]Edwin Howard Simmons, The United States Marines: A History, 4th ed. (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1998); (https://archive.org/  :  accessed 24 May 2020), page 1.  

[3] Charles R. Smith & Charles H. Waterhouse, A Pictorial History, The Marines in the Revolution (Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975;  https://www.usmcu.edu/Portals/  : accessed 22 May 2020).

[4]E. Gordon Bowen-Hassell, Dennis Michael Conrad & Mark L. Hayes. Sea raiders of the American Revolution: the Continental Navy in European waters. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Dept. of the Navy, 2003.. Page 8: Life on Board a Continental Navy Warship.

[5] Thomas Truxton. “A short account of the several general duties of the officers, of ships of war, from an Admiral, down to the most inferior officer. Placed on the Books of the Navy, according to the British Regulations. Arranged with additions, &C. “ (no date). Naval History and Heritage Command  (https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/s/short-account-of-the-several-general-duties-of-officers-of-ships-of-war.html#gunners  :  accessed 24 May 2020).  Note:  search term “gunner American Revolution”; one of 9 documents under Category: American Revolution.

[6] “Compiled Service Records of Soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com  : accessed 23 May 2020), entry for Wm Poston, Virginia, imaged index card; citing Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783, M881 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration [n.d.], roll 1060.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2020

Grandma’s middle name

What makes genealogists smile?  Many things. Finding an elusive record online or in a dusty archive is one.  Discovering who has the old family Bible is another. Determining first and middle names often yields surprises.  Jack’s given name is James John and Jack is a nickname.  Betsy’s birth name of Elizabeth is found in an unexpected place.  We constantly search for records to prove or disprove facts.  In this post, I describe the search and discovery of my paternal grandmother’s middle name.

Jennie_copy2_with caption

MIDDLE INITIAL “A”. AMELIA? ASH? SOMETHING ELSE?

Jennie A. Richards is Dad’s mother. According to Dad, her middle name was Amelia. I vaguely recall him saying once that her middle name was Ash. Jennie was the youngest child of Ostrander Richards and Amelia Magdelenne LaCoe.  Jennie’s maternal grandmother was Sybil Rone Ash.  Either name makes sense. I don’t remember why I gravitated towards Amelia. Did Dad recite that name most often?

My husband and I attended the annual LaCoe family reunion in August 2017 at Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania.  While there, a cousin asked about Jennie’s middle name. I related what Dad told me.  Older relatives thought that Jennie’s middle name was “Ash”.  Aunt Mary confirmed that her mother’s middle name could be “Ash.” I was sure that I had a record with Jennie’s middle name!

Back home, I went through my files and notes.  Nothing specific. Only “Jennie A. Richards” and “Jennie A. Posten.”  I emailed my cousin with those results. I added this item to my BSO (bright shiny object) list to be explored another day.

Two years go by and I complete multiple projects for other relatives.  I periodically check websites for information about the Posten family. I do not always search for anything specific. I prioritized another revision of the Posten family history (2012) [1] as a genealogy goal for 2020.  Five relatives have a copy of either the original or one of the three revisions.  I acquire more documents during the intervening years.  Through the Genealogy Do-Over process, my analytic skills improve.

I check hints, a.k.a. ‘shaky leaves’, on Ancestry. I start again with the most recent generation–Dad and his siblings.  A copy of  Uncle Lester’s birth certificate pops up. [2] Lester Joseph Posten was John and Jennie’s first child.  Not a transcript but a photocopy of the original document!  Imagine my surprise and delight when I see the following information on that document:

  • Full name of Child: Lester Joseph Posten
  • Date of birth: June 1, 1911
  • Father, full name: John Ray Posten
  • Mother, full name: Jennie Ash Richards
middlename2

Lester’s full name and date of birth are not in dispute. I now have primary, first-hand evidence of middle names for both John and Jennie. John and Jennie provided the information for their son’s birth certificate.  Mission accomplished! Remove item from BSO list.  Add birth certificate information and scan copy to RootsMagic program. Send information to cousin who is revising LaCoe family history.

Charlotte Tucker- my maternal grandmother. I briefly reported discovery of my maternal grandmother’s middle name in a 2017 post.  I remembered hearing that Charlotte’s (a.k.a Lottie, ak.a. Gram) middle name was either Anna or Amelia.  Gram’s mother was Anna Klee.  When I received a copy of Gram’s birth certificate, I discovered that her birth name was Amalie Charlotte Maurer.[3]  Gram’s grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the late 1850s. German children were often called by their middle name, not their first name. My database entry now shows Amalie Charlotte [Maurer] Tucker instead of Charlotte A. [Maurer] Tucker.  Census and other records show her as Charlotte or Lottie.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:

For some reason, I never doubted Grandpa Posten’s middle name. Dad told me that his father’s middle name was “Ray”.  I accepted Dad’s account without question. No one else asked about it. My cousin’s question at the reunion prompted a careful review of information.  Since then, I have been on the lookout for a document to confirm Jennie’s middle name. Searches have been sporadic. Similarly, I accepted mom’s explanation of her mother’s name.  I wonder if I just didn’t listen close enough!

What I learned: Keep looking! Return to online databases regularly for documents and information added since your last search. Don’t assume that a person’s name on census records is actually their first name. Collect BMD records for siblings of your direct ancestors.

What helped: Availability of documents online. Updating of databases by online sources. Family tree already posted to Ancestry by me.

What didn’t help:  Copying Jennie’s obituary again—I already have a copy in both digital and paper files.

To-do:  Consult files before copying documents. Enter new information and scanned documents to Roots Magic – DONE.  Send information to Posten cousin – DONE.

SOURCES: 

[1] Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, The Posten Family of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1st edition, (Yukon, Oklahoma: Published by author, 2012). Tentative title of future editions:  Descendants of Thomas Postens, New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

[2] “Pennsylvania, Birth Certificates, 1906-1911,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com     : accessed & printed 24 January 2020), entry for Lester Joseph Posten; citing Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906-1911. Series 11.89. Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

[3] New York, New York City Department of Records and Information Services, birth certificate 5947 (28 May 1892), Amalie Charlotte Maurer; Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers Street, New York, N.Y. 10007. Photocopy of original certificate obtained in 2017 by Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, Charlotte’s granddaughter.

Reflection on Independence Day 2019

When did you realize that you might have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War?  Did you hear stories from older relatives about your grandmother’s great-great-great grandfather?  Perhaps an ancestor provided food or supplies to the war effort.  You trace your family tree back to the early 1800s and wonder, “Who might have been here in the 1700s?”  “Did someone actually fight in the American Revolution?”

Some people found at least one of these ancestors.  Others discovered family members who supported the British.  Slaves and free persons lived here during the 1770s and 1780s.  Your family may have arrived in the United States later.  In this post, I list family surnames and identify known or presumed Revolutionary War patriots.  There are probably more but I haven’t found them yet.  Some are recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Some may also by recognized by the Sons of the American Revolution.

Paternal:

Surnames:  Postens, Brown, Mills, Eccert, Fulkersin/ Fulkerson, Yates, Shotwell, Richards, Van Sickle, Ostrander, Smith, LaCoe, Dupuy, Ash, Miller

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Thomas Ostrander (1745 – 1816); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Nathaniel Richards (1759 -1831); presumed
  • Cornelius Van Sickle                      ; presumed

Maternal:

Surnames:  Tucker,  Clearwater, Irwin,  Traver, Hallenbeck, Jones, Havens, Maurer, Metzger, Korzelius, Klee, Wolfe.  (Note: Maurer, Metzger, Korzelius, Klee and Wolfe families immigrated to United States in early to mid-1800s).

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Joseph Traver (abt 1732 – after 1790); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Samuel Jones (ca 1759 – 1827; recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Husband’s paternal:

Surnames:  Ellerbee, Love, Hayes, Powell, Brown, Puckett, Simmons, Roach, Wright, Bailey , Allen, Sutton, Hester, Fayard, Ryan, Lanier

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Jonathan Roach (abt 1737 – after 1802); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution.

Husband’s Maternal:

Surnames:  Johnson, Williams, Greer, Hutson,  Black, Bull, Reed, Friddle, Williamson, Copeland, Holcomb, Creager,  Selman,  Embry, Madden, Edens, Adams, Richardson

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • George Valentine Creager (1734 – 1808); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Many of our personal ancestral families lived in the United States in late 1700s and early 1800s.  At least one family may have been Tories (a.k.a. supported the British).

In summary, the roots of my family and my husband’s family run deep in American history.  Neither of us have any nationally famous persons in our family trees.  Although family stories told of Native American ancestry, our DNA shows no genetic links there.  Our ancestors immigrated to the United States from the British Isles, Scandinavia, and western Europe (primarily France and Germany).  Some of our ancestors influenced events locally within their own communities or within their home state. Some of my husband’s ancestors owned slaves.

We recognize the societal norms of the times and locations that influenced our ancestors’ choices.  We cannot change that part of our family history. I am diligently recording our family’s history and sharing information with others.  I encourage you to do the same. Without all of them, we would not be here!!

Signed,
Susan M. Posten Ellerbee
Designated Family Genealogist for our branches of the Ellerbee-Johnson-Posten-Tucker families
Yukon, Oklahoma, USA

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog 2019

 

 

 

A Genealogist is . . .

How would you complete the statement “A genealogist is . . . . “ ? Start with the word itself.  Genealogy  comes from two Greek words – “genea,” or descent and “logos,” or discourse.[1]

Books

Follow with a standard dictionary definition, from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language[2]:

Page 944:  “1: an account or history of the descent of a person, family or group from an ancestor or ancestors or from older forms; an enumeration of ancestors and their descendants in the national order of succession.  2: regular descent of a person, family, or group of organisms from a progenitor or older form. 3: a study of family pedigrees and the methods of investigation of them.”

Page 1315: “Lineage. 1.a. descent in a line from a common progenitor.”

Morgan (2012) [3] defines genealogy as the “study of a family’s line of descent from its ancestors.” (p. 3).  He differentiates this from a family history, defined as “the study of a family’s history and traditions over an extended period of time and may involve documenting some or all of the facts.” (Morgan, p. 3).  A genealogist “place[s] family members and ancestors into geographical, historical, and social context.” (p. 4).

Genealogical research includes concepts and strategies from multiple disciplines such as anthropology, geography, history, psychology and sociology.  Williams (1960) included  biography, law, medicine and linguistics.  [4] What do each of these disciplines contribute to genealogy?  Here’s a summary with my personal definitions:

  • Anthropology is the study of groups of people within their natural environment. Focus is the group’s culture, physical environment, and interpersonal / family/ group dynamics.  To better understand the person and family from a genealogy perspective, explore their physical address (urban vs. rural, neighborhood),  geographical  location (country,  county or parish, town), family traditions, and personal accounts of events in the lives of individuals.  Consider people’s behavior within the context of the place and time in which they lived. Anthropology also seeks to understand the perspective of the people being studied.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a hospital was viewed as a place to die; today, a hospital is generally viewed as a place to regain health.
  • Biography is a person’s life history. Genealogy “adds background” [5] to the person’s story. A biographical profile for an ancestor records a chronological history of that person.  For some of my female ancestors, the frequency of births and deaths of their children seemed overwhelming when I placed all of those birth and death dates on the woman’s biographical profile.  I did not realize that James D. Posten’s mother died when he was only 12 years old until I filled in James’ biographical profile.
  • Geography is the study of the physical environment in which we live. The effects of drought, such as the 1930s Dust Bowl, is one example.  Dramatic changes in the land itself resulted in many families leaving the Midwest during that time.  Boundary changes reflect the study of geography.  How many of your ancestors lived in the same town for decades but are recorded as living in three (or more) different counties?  A major flood changes the course of a river and subsequently results in an entire town being destroyed.  A town with the same name develops 5-10 miles away from the original site.  Trace family migrations with geographical maps.
  • Historical events profoundly affected the lives of our ancestors. Consider the decision of men and women to fight (or not) in a particular war.  The experience of Black families in the South during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was different than the experience of White families who lived in the same place. Was an ancestor part of the Women’s Suffrage movement?  When did the women in your family tree first register to vote?
  • Law may be used to establish relationships. Legal documents and processes are often primary sources of information.  Probate records may include an actual death date and the names of heirs.  Birth, marriage and death records can hold treasures or  no new information.  A court case involving a land dispute gives insight into family relationships.
  • Linguistics is the study of language. Terms used by our ancestors provide clues to national origin. Surnames were often derived from a particular location, occupation or relationship.   Johnson originally referred to the  “son of John”.
  • Medicine studies disease and how to cure, prevent, and treat them. Today, we focus more on genetics, a specific branch of medicine.  Look at the causes of death for your ancestors. Relate the cause of death to specific outbreaks of disease or natural causes in the locality.  Compare photographs of your ancestors with your family today. What physical characteristics do they have in common?
  • Psychology is the study of the human mind including mental processes and behavior. In general, the individual is the focus of study although ‘group think’ also falls under the purview of psychology. We often ask, “What was my ancestor thinking when that decision was made?”  or “What did my ancestor think about . . . ?”  Personal diaries, journals and letters provide insight into their perceptions of events and people.  Other documents such as newspaper articles and legal proceedings give clues about the person’s state of mind.  Membership in a particular group shows a glimpse of our ancestor’s values and beliefs.  This aspect of genealogy is most evident when we begin to write our ancestor’s story.
  • Sociology is the study of the structure, interactions, and behaviors of groups of people or, broadly, the study of human society. Families are the often the focus. Sociology and anthropology overlap in that each studies groups of people.  Anthropology focuses on culture while sociology focuses on society.  Placing families within their social context is one tool used by genealogists.  A family’s religion or ethnic background or nationality often influenced where they lived in a particular community.  Values and belief systems change as society changes.

Now,  you are probably asking,  “What does all of this have to do with my genealogical research?”  questionAll of these disciplines follow similar research methods.  Research in each discipline involves the careful, systematic review of documents and information.  Information may be obtained first hand or through other sources.  Research occurs in the field, in buildings and online.  Specific methodologies and analyses involved in each discipline are beyond the scope of this blog.  Genealogy also requires the careful, systematic review and evaluation of documents and information.

To summarize, a genealogist is anthropologist, biographer, geographer, historian, legal analyst,  linguist, medical scientist,  psychologist and sociologist as well as detective.  These perspectives broaden your view as you copy facts and develop a more comprehensive analysis of those facts and the sources from which the facts are drawn.  So, dust off your school text books and add more perspective to your genealogical research!

Other sources consulted for this post:

Desmond Walls Allen, “Family history detective,”  Family Tree Magazine, 28 October 2011 (https://www.familytreemagazine.com/premium/family-history-detective/   :  accessed 11 March 2019.)

Michael Erben, “Genealogy and sociology:  A preliminary set of statements and speculations,” Sociology,  25(2), 275-292, 1991. Abstract . Sage Publications (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0038038591025002008   :  accessed 11 March 2019).

Emily Garber. “Genealogy is anthropology.” (going) The Extra Yad, 26 April 2013 (http://extrayad.blogspot.com/2013/04/genealogy-is-anthropology.html  :     accessed 11 March 2019).

Jeanne Kay Guelke and Dallen J. Timothy (editor), Geography and Genealogy: Locating Personal Pasts, E-book edition (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2008.  Chapter 1:  Locating personal pasts:  An introduction by Jeanne Kay Guelke and Dallen J. Timothy.  (https://zodml.org/sites/default/files/%5BDallen_J._Timothy_and_Jeanne_Kay_Guelke%5D_Geograph.pdf   :   accessed 11 March 2019)

Arnon Herskovitz, “A suggested taxonomy of genealogy as a multidisciplinary academic research field,” Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, volume 4, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 5-21; image copy, JMR  (http://www.jmrpublication.org/portals/jmr/issues/JMR4-3.pdf  :   accessed 11 March 2019).

Sheila O’Hare. “Genealogy and history.”  Common-Place, Vol. 2, No. 3 (April 2002), (http://www.common-place-archives.org/vol-02/no-03/ohare    :     accessed 11 March 2019.). 4 parts.

Need lighter views?  Read these two blog posts:

Alona.  “Are you a genealogist or a family historian?”  Lonetester, 21 March 2017 (https://www.lonetester.com/2017/03/are-you-a-genealogist-or-a-family-historian/   :   accessed 11 March 2019.

Lorine  McGinnis Schulze, “What kind of genealogist are you?”  Legacy Family Tree News, 30 October 2015 (https://news.legacyfamilytree.com/legacy_news/2015/10/what-kind-of-genealogist-are-you.html  :  accessed 11 March 2019).

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REFLECTION:

I am still in kind of a fog after the death of my husband’s father last month.  Even genealogy doesn’t interest me much. I can’t seem to stay focused.  So, here is an article that I started last year.  Yes, I rechecked all of my sources.  For my next post, I plan to tell a story about a female ancestor in honor of Women’s History Month.

What I learned:  Start articles when I think about a topic.  Keep adding to these articles.

What helped:   Having an almost complete draft of this article on my computer.  Re-discovering an old genealogy ‘how-to’ book on my bookshelf.  I bought this book about 2 years at an estate auction.

What didn’t help:  Anxiety about what to write. Wanting to stay on track with posts every 2 weeks.

To-do:  Pick a female ancestor from husband’s family tree for next post.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

SOURCES

[1] Ethel W. Williams, Know your ancestors: A guide to genealogical research. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1960.

[2] Philip Babcock Gove, editor-in-chief. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Inc, Publishers, 1993.

[3] George G. Morgan, How to do everything genealogy (3rd ed.) New York: McGraw Hill, 2012.

[4] Williams, Know your ancestors pages 11-13.

[5] Williams, Know your ancestors, page 12

What’s in your family pedigree?

October is National Family History Month.  Colorful fallen leaves are among the month’s  symbols.  Have some leaves fallen from your tree?  Is your tree almost bare? For about 18 months now, I have been sharing family stories and my journey towards becoming a more efficient and effective genealogist.  This month is no different.  Today, I reflect on the use of pedigree charts as a genealogy tool to fill in branches and add leaves.

family tree design fall leaves

Accessed 8 October 2018 from:  https://www.kissclipart.com/simple-family-tree-design-clipart-family-tree-gene-br7aw8/

Start small and stay focused.  Work on one family and one generation at a time.  If you feel like you are going too far out on a limb, scoot back and try another branch.  Your tree doesn’t have to be large or old. I have 5-8 generations and  200-300 people per tree (Dad, Mom, Dad-in-law, Mom-in-law). I have large and small branches. Some branches have many leaves, some have only a few.

Compare a pedigree chart to a sapling.  The  trunk is still small with a few branches and leaves. My initial pedigree charts showed 3-4 generations (branches)  with many incomplete details (leaves).  Over time, I added information on these charts.  I use a pencil  and question marks extensively until I can prove facts.  I am still learning to be very careful with research.  As a start, become familiar with the concepts behind pedigree charts.

Basically, a pedigree chart shows a person’s parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and, sometimes, more generations.  One of the easiest formats is 3-4 generations designed for printing on standard 8 ½ x 11 inch paper. Limiting the number of generations on the page means that basic vital information (birth, death, marriage) can be included and easily read when printed.  You are number 1 on the chart, or anyone else of interest in your family tree.  As you expand the number of generations, start new charts as needed.

You may want to start with a blank printed chart and fill it in by hand.  Those who advocate doing everything on the computer, please don’t choke!  Freely use pencil or question marks as needed.

Since recent posts focused on mom’s family, here is copy of  mom’s pedigree chart from RootsMagic, the genealogy software program that I use. Look for this feature in your program.  When first opened, online family tree databases usually show this standard type of pedigree chart.  Options may include flipping the chart so the home person (a.k.a. Person number 1) is at the top or bottom of the page.  The option chosen depends on what you are trying to show.

tucker_pedigree2

Traditional pedigree charts start on the left side of the page (person number 1). However, person number 1 can be on the right, top or bottom of the page. I have seen charts that start at the top of the page then list children across the page. Choose a format that best fits the message.

Kristen Williams, self proclaimed Genealogy Addict,  presents easy to follow directions in her  May 2016 blog post, “How do I get started?”  

Want a basic 4-generation pedigree chart?  Try this one from National Archives and Records Administration:  4 generation pedigree chart

Here is another form of the standard pedigree chart:   Grandma’s 6 generation box chart

In my first genealogy class, we received large 24 inches x 24 inches foldable 6-generation pedigree charts.  This chart is unique because it has room to list the children of the first 4 generations. I haven’t found a comparable pedigree chart online. If anyone knows of a source, please comment!

There are other types of pedigree charts, including fan and bowtie charts. These formats provide  different ways to view your ancestors.  Printable and fillable forms are readily available online.

FAN chart

This chart looks like a folded out fan. Color coded fan charts can be impressive. As with other pedigree charts, you can easily add more generations.

Ancestor Fan of Daniel Richard Posten_ver4

Fan chart, ancestors of Daniel Richard Posten, my dad.

One genealogist offers a different view of fan charts in his blog post of 16 April 2013.   James Tanner cautions about using any type of pedigree chart. Specifically, he discusses  “ unspoken inference that the information you find to create your fan chart is correct. “  His caution about pedigree charts applies to all of us who publish information about our families.

Bowtie chart  

This expanded fan chart looks like, well,  a bowtie.  The person of interest (Person number 1 on other charts) is in the middle.  Person number 1’s parents are on the left and right of the center circle. Also described as two connected fans.

Tucker_bowtie Pedigree

Bowtie chart, ancestors of Eunice Bertha Tucker, my mom. I did not add birth, death, marriage information here. Some templates show space for that information.

Similar to the bowtie chart is an hour-glass chart. In this chart, person number 1 is in the middle with parents above and below.

These are only three of the many choices for showing your family pedigree.  On your web browser, type in ‘family pedigree chart’ for many images and forms.

For Family History Month,  pick out a pedigree chart format and fill it out as much as you can. Try at least one of the other formats.

Websites:  Pedigree charts and other family history forms

https://www.focusedfamilyresearch.com/free-genealogy-charts.html   Accessed 7 October 2018.   Free genealogy charts,  no publication date. Author:  Paul Hoesl.

https://www.familytreemagazine.com/freebie/fivegenerationancestorchart/      Free downloadable chart.   Accessed 7 October 2018.

https://www.thoughtco.com/filling-out-genealogical-forms-1421955    Accessed 7 October 2018.   Updated 3 August 2018. Author:  Kimberly Powell

https://www.thoughtco.com/free-family-tree-charts-4122824   Accessed 7 October 2018. Author: Kimberly Powell.  Updated 30 May 2018

Need more ideas for Family History Month?  Here are two websites with suggestions.

Kimberly Powell, ThoughtCo.  Ways to celebrate family history month. 

Family History month for non-genealogists”, blog post, 4 October 2013,  by Laura Hedgecock, Treasure Chest of Memories blog.

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REFLECTION

I am taking a short break from record clean-up for my Genealogy Do-Over. In some respects, I continually celebrate “Family History Month”.  I found suggestions for doing more than just recording birth, death, and marriage information.  I like the idea of different pedigree formats.  I respect Mr. Tanner’s practice of not using fan charts and agree with his caution about continuing to publish information that may not be correct. 

What I learned:  some of the ‘fillable’ online pedigree forms require purchase of additional software. Formats and amount of information vary widely.  Format of choice may depend on how readable you want all of the information to be. Some genealogical software programs offer more than one type of printable pedigree chart. 

What helped:  Software program that prints traditional format pedigree with options for number of generations and information.  I learned how to fill in and use pedigree charts in my first genealogy class, taken about 30 years ago.  GULP!  Has it really been that long ago???

What didn’t help: At least one online genealogy database does not offer user-friendly, printable pedigrees.  I didn’t try to print pedigrees from other online genealogy databases. 

To-do:  Continue trying to locate company that makes large scale, foldable pedigree format that includes names of children. Create own form, based on the original one that I have. 

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2018