In the genealogy bog: DNA ethnicity estimates

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

 

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

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

DNA comparison table_ver2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

5generations w source and caption

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lackawanna Luzerne counties 1894 from Library of Congress

Map of Luzerne & Lackawanna Counties, ca 1894.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pneumonic lung ca 1920

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

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

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

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

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

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

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share your work during this New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggestions about sharing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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”.

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!