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.

Genealogy priorities & short life expectancy

How would your genealogy goals change if you only had two years to live? What kind of genealogy legacy will you leave? This is what now confronts me as I have been diagnosed with a progressive neurologic disorder and a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years.

 Thirty years ago, my goal was to find all original immigrants. On my dad’s side, one immigrant, Anthony Desire LaCoe/LeCoq (1778, France – 1883, Pennsylvania) was identified by others. Mom’s oral history suggested, and since been confirmed, one immigrant, Valentine Maurer (1800, Germany – 1898, New York). Immigrant origins for my husband’s family remain speculative as British with Scandinavian roots have been  identified through DNA. My research identified one more on dad’s side (surname Ostrander from Holland) and one on mom’s side (surname Traver from Germany).  Another researcher discovered a French ancestor, surname Fayard, for my father-in-law. For my mother-in-law, a German ancestor with last name Krueger/ Creager seems likely. So, six immigrants out of at least 32 family lines.

 Now, given time constraints, I have to focus on more realistic goals.  My legacy plan now includes leaving more copies of each scrapbook, especially the paper scrapbooks.  Two copies of Ellerbee-Simmons books exist, i.e. the original and copies given to Papaw’s sister in July 2019.  Two copies of Johnson-Reed scrapbook exist, i.e. original and copy given to sister-in-law last year.

I have two print copies of the Posten narrative history written in 2012, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  Five relatives received copies of this document. Digital copies of all reside on my computer and are saved to the Cloud.

 I focus again on the paper scrapbooks with these new goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with  my oldest son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with my oldest son.

In previous post, I outlined the specific steps needed before re-submitting article about mom’s family. Similarly,  goals for the paper scrapbooks require specific steps:

  1. Buy five 12×12-inch scrapbooks from local hobby/craft store. Wait for a sale! Prefer scrapbooks that come with 25-50 plastic sleeves.
  2. Buy additional archival quality plastic sleeves as needed.
  3. Buy 1 ream acid-free white paper from office supply store.
  4. Choose dominant color or decorative theme for each scrapbook.
  5. List sections for each scrapbook. Choose one design for the section dividers.
  6. Use personal scrapbook supplies (paper, labels, stickers, decorations, etc.) before buying more. FYI: I have 8 boxes and numerous pads of paper, lots of themed decorations.
  7. Enlist husband’s help as needed with cutting out designs.

My next goal –  create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents. As of today, my plan is to use  a book format,  then print professionally. I created a short (20 page) version for my brother two years ago. This version includes more information.

Specific steps include:

  1. Outline specific information, such as family group sheets, to be included.
  2. Review blog posts; revise posts as needed and use in this memory book.
  3. Write family/ individual stories as needed.

I discussed all of this with my husband. He asked, “How important is it, really, to get published in a genealogic journal?” I submitted one article and received appropriate feedback from the editor. I will continue to collect birth, death and marriage certificates for that family line.  Those acquisitions strengthen my legacy. However, I also accept that I may not have time to fully address genealogic standards as required by the journal. I can continue to publish via my blog.

The last few months have been an emotional roller coaster. Rethinking my genealogic priorities is only one thing that we have to do. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate my husband and sons. FYI- yes, I have begun the process of getting my genealogical files and items in order. More about that later.

As I work on preservation rather than expansion, the character of my blog posts may change. There are many family stories to tell within the boundaries of my current work.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and  Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Genealogy standards and repositories (Priority Reset, Part 2)

The article that I submitted for consideration to a genealogic journal was not accepted. The editor gave lots of feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. In my last post, I reported how and why my genealogy goals for this year have changed. In this post, I outline specific ways in which I plan to revise this article. 

Here’s my new goal: Using the editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. If I follow her suggestions, I will better meet Genealogical Standards[1]. To review, genealogical standards include five criteria:

  1. Reasonably exhaustive research-“emphasizing original records. . . . “[2]
  2. Complete, accurate citation of sources
  3. Tests of evidence by analyzing and correlating data
  4. Resolution of conflicts among evidence
  5. Written conclusion that is reasonable and coherent

Specifically, I did not completely meet the first criteria about original records. I possess, and cited, many  original certificates and/or copies of the originals.  I purchased certificates directly from state, county and local offices. Relatives sent me photo or digital copies. Some records were available online. However, I frequently cited online indexes as sources.

Indexes are not original records!  As the editor pointed out, indexes should primarily be used as a finding aid for the original document. Indexes are transcriptions of original material and, therefore, subject to error. How many times have you found an ancestor’s name misspelled on an index?   Contact the agency or group that holds the original record, i.e. the repository.  Often, you pay a fee for a copy of the record from an agency or group.  Citation of only an index does not meet the genealogical standard.

The original record may be available online. One example is a link to a newspaper article. The article has been indexed on a database; clicking on the link sends you to a digital image of the newspaper. In the example below, the newspaper (Tyler Morning Telegraph, published in Tyler, Texas) is the repository. The obituary was accessed through two database indexes-  Ancestry and Newspapers.com.  Citation of either index without actually finding the article is not enough.  

Is an index ever appropriate as a primary source? I’m not sure and will leave that debate to the genealogy professionals. When you find an index entry for your ancestor, you are definitely one step closer to that missing puzzle piece. Keep good notes and cite the index appropriately in your research log.

For more information: Genealogy 101: Indexes, an Important Part of Genealogy Research

You may not be able to obtain a copy of more recent records. Agencies set criteria for what records are public domain and what records have restricted access. I have seen 75-100- year limits on birth certificates becoming public domain and 25, 50 or even 75- year limits for death certificates. In one jurisdiction, only parents and the actual person can obtain a copy of an original birth certificate, unless the person has been dead for at least 50 years. You may still be able to get a transcript of the certificate. Proof of direct descent sometimes eases restrictions. This can be frustrating for genealogists. However, I respect these agencies for making an effort to limit identity theft.

Remember that online databases such as Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage and Family Search are NOT the repositories of most records. These online services are the intermediary between repositories and the public. Example – the repository for most U.S. census records is the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. State health departments are often the repositories for birth and death certificates issued since about 1910.

Back to my original goal of revising my article.  Related to the first genealogical standard, my specific objectives are:

  1. Identify all citations with the word “index.”
  2. Detect indexes that may have a digital copy of the original records. When found, go to the original source. Cite the original source including URL.
  3. If original record is not available online, contact agency that holds the original record. Submit request forms and fees as needed. Wait for responses.
  4. Recognize that this process may take months and be costly.

Ultimately, I will produce a better, more complete, family history. What if none of these efforts work? That’s a question I will pose to the editor after I have exhausted all other resources.

The editor also suggested that I consult a broader range of sources such as land records and court proceedings. That will be a topic for another post! 

My article is a work in progress. I have to consider possible copyright issues and, therefore, cannot reveal more to you at this time. I have multiple stories about how I discovered information. I hope to share some of those research notes with you later.   

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


SOURCES:

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2ND edition (Washington, D.C.: Turner Publishing Co., 2019).

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, page 1.

One goal met; reset other goals

I did it! I finally submitted an article for consideration to a genealogic journal. My article was not accepted, but I am OK with that. The editor gave lots of great feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. I plan to work on revisions for that article. Over the last few months, priorities have changed for my genealogy work. In this post, I describe reasons for these changes.

In March 2021, I was diagnosed with a chronic, progressive disease and a life expectancy of two to five years. The disease eventually will disrupt my ability to write or use the computer. I already have limited use of my right arm and hand. This totally changes my genealogy goals. Article submission has been a goal for the last several years. Please note that I didn’t say “published,” although that would be nice! Now that the article has been submitted and reviewed, I can seriously reconsider my other goals. What is most important to finish? What is OK to leave for others?

My broad goals, i.e., to completely redo four different family lines, now seem unachievable. Some things will be left for future generations to do! Writing this blog has helped with cleaning up parts of every family line. I will do my best to continue my blog on a regular basis.

One specific project comes to mind. I haven’t specifically addressed this in my annual goals because I thought I had lots of time. But, with my current diagnosis, this project (actually a series of projects) becomes more urgent. The project involves scrapbooking.

Beginning in 2013, I created six genealogical scrapbooks– four in a traditional paper format and two in a digital format. Two paper scrapbooks were for father-in-law (Ellerbee and Simmons families). After Papa died, I made copies for Papa’s sister.  One paper scrapbook was for mother-in-law (Johnson-Reed families combined).  Last Christmas, Nana and I collaborated on a copy of that book for my sister-in-law. Fourth paper book was for my brother-in-law. One digital book was for my dad’s youngest sister about the Posten family. The second digital book was for my brother about our maternal grandmother’s family (Maurer).

As part of my legacy, I want to leave more than one copy of these scrapbooks, especially the paper scrapbooks. I already have two copies of the Posten narrative history that I wrote in 2014, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  So, I change focus and reset my goals for the rest of this year.

New goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son. My sister-in-law received a copy of that scrapbook last Christmas.
  3. Create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents.   Four to six copies – one for each son, one for my brother, one for nephew;  possibly copies for two cousins. Use blog posts as base.
  4. Contact lawyer and write will, including a specific genealogy will. My oldest son agrees to be caretaker of my genealogy work.
  5. Using editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. I will address specifics in another post.
  6. Resume work on other goals as time and energy permit.
  7. Tentative: Send copy of Posten-Richards book to Internet Archive for digital archiving. Note: I have two print copies of the Posten-Richards book that I wrote in 2014. I began a much-needed revision but seem to get easily distracted. I have new information to add. The citations, especially, need re-doing. I may have to leave the clean-up to someone else!

When those projects are done, I will look at my overall goals again and set priorities. No matter how much or how little I get done, genealogy paper and digital files are certainly in better shape than they were four years ago when I started the Genealogy Do- Over!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots  blog, 2021

Reflection on Independence Day: 2021 and an Update

Disclaimer: Parts of this post originally published 5 July 2019

This year (2021), the country feels more divided than united. All of us need to step back and reflect on the sacrifice made by those who fought for our Independence from England. Those persons were labelled rebels. Because of those rebels, we can argue about the meaning of words in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Because of those rebels, we can disagree about the date of our country’s founding.  Remember, too, that we would not enjoy these freedoms if not for those rebels. Like them or not, those rebels deserve to be remembered and celebrated by Americans on this Fourth of July.  

In this post, I update a list of persons from our (my husband’s and mine) family trees who are known or believed to be Revolutionary War patriots. 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). 

The roots of my family and my husband’s family run deep in America.  Neither of us have any nationally famous persons in our family trees.  Family stories told of Native American ancestry, but our DNA shows no genetic links there.  Both of us hail primarily from British Isles, Scandinavia, and western Europe. We are descended from immigrants to the United States.  Some of our ancestors influenced events locally or within their home state. Some of my husband’s ancestors owned slaves.  

Should a holiday recognize when the first African slaves were brought to America? Enslaved peoples, primarily of African descent, are definitely part of our American history.  We cannot change American history. Our interpretation of that history changes as we apply current values and beliefs to the values and beliefs held by those who lived in another time. I believe that we can teach differing views of events without belittling either side.

Acknowledge the societal norms of the times and locations that influenced our ancestors’ choices.  We cannot change our family’s history. I diligently record our family’s history and share that information with others.  I try to not pass judgment. Without all of our ancestors and those who believed in America, we would not be here!!  

Revolutionary War Patriots (known, presumed and speculative)

From my family tree:

Samuel Jones (ca 1759 – 1827); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Thomas Ostrander (1745 – 1816); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Richard Posten (1750 – after 1825); signed Articles of Association in Monmouth county, New Jersey.

Nathaniel Richards I (1759 -1831); ? New Jersey militia, family tradition.

Joseph Traver (abt 1732 – after 1790); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Cornelius Van Sickle (abt 1741 – 1820); served New Jersey militia; Revolutionary War pension file W6374.

From my husband’s family tree:

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

Thomas Ellerbee (abt 1743 – 1802); “Captain Ellerbee” mentioned in several South Carolina Revolutionary War pension files; possible distant cousin.

George Hans Friddle (1731-1805); service from family tradition.

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

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019-2021. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author.  

Is Chester E. Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri in your family tree?

Off on a different kind of search today. It started with a new (to us) piece of furniture, an antique display cabinet bought at an estate sale. This glass enclosed cabinet replaces another wood cabinet. When we cleaned out the wood cabinet, we found a pile of old stock certificates purchased at an auction years ago. Our original plan was to decoupage the certificates on old pieces of furniture. We looked through the certificates and made some interesting finds. One of those finds is an original issued patent, complete with the red seal from the US Patent Office. This post tells about my first foray into forensic genealogy with the goal of returning this heirloom to a rightful owner.

Is this person in your family tree?

The patent is for Rotary valve engines issued to Chester E. Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri in 1918. There are also 4 stock certificates in the Rotary Valve Manufacturing Company issued to L. A. Sherman in November 1914.

Who was Chester E. Sherman? I entered his basic information on Ancestry. First item uncovered was a 1920 census record for Chester E. Sherman in Kansas City , Missouri.[1] Following the information from that record, I found Chester’s death certificate. [2] He was born in Kansas in 1874 to Louie A Sherman and Alta Page. Chester died in Dallas, Texas in 1961. He married Izetta Peppard in 1916. [3] Izetta died in 1987, presumably also in Dallas.[4]

Chester and Izetta had two daughters.  Edith Pauline, born 21 December 1923 in Missouri, died 5 March 2002 in Dallas, Texas. [5] Edith’s name is on same mausoleum slab as her mother’s. Edith possibly never married.

Eleanor Lucille Sherman was born 16 April 1915 in Kansas City. She married C.W. Morris on 5 March 1933 in Dallas, Texas.  [6] Eleanor died in September 1996.[7] C.W. and Eleanor had at least one daughter, Bobette Eleanor, born 23 March 1937 in Dallas. [8] Bobette married possibly two times – 1st to Max Alford and 2nd to Everett W. Campbell.  Bobette may still be alive and could be Chester’s only direct descendant.  Other relatives of Chester may also be interested in having this piece of their family’s history.  

Three ancestry trees included Chester. I sent a message to the owner of one of those trees and wait for a response. If I don’t get a response, I will message the owners of the other two trees. Posting the information on my blog is another way of trying to contact a member of Chester’s family. I will hold on to this document for several months then seek an appropriate repository.

This line of inquiry is called forensic genealogy. Recently, there have been several TV shows about this type of search using DNA matches. All of us probably use similar methods to find cousins or other relatives. I admit that I am not as proficient in this as others. I do not expect any financial renumeration for returning this very important document to the family. I hope that someone someday will do a similar favor for me.

Reflection

This was an interesting journey. I used many skills learned through my Genealogy Do- Over to access information and evaluate the data. I amazed myself that I was able to find relevant information within a few hours.  My reward will be the return of this document to a family member.

 I needed a break from the intense work I’ve been doing on an article about my mom’s family.  I only need to track down a few more sources. I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. A topic always seems to surface!

What I learned: more about forensic genealogy and different ways in which it can be used.

What helped:  genealogy do over skills. Online database with search feature.

What didn’t help: having only a name and residence in 1918 for Chester E. Sherman.

To do: wait for someone to claim the documents.


SOURCES:

[1] 1920 U.S. Census, Jackson Co., Missouri, population schedule, Kansas City, enumeration district (ED) 117, p. 5A(ink pen), dwelling 80, family 113, Chester E Sherman, head, age 24; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021);  citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_927.

[2]Texas, U.S., Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Chester Elisha Sherman; citing Texas Department of State Health Services. Austin, Texas.

[3] Missouri, U.S., Jackson County Marriage Records, 1840-1985,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Chester E. Sherman and Izetta Peppard, certificate no. 1913K0058670; citing Marriage Records, Jackson County clerk, Kansas City, Missouri.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  :  viewed 8 May 2021 ), memorial page for Izetta P Sherman, Find A Grave Memorial no. 107692206 , citing Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park (Dallas, Dallas Co., Texas), memorial created by T, photograph by T.

[5] Social Security Administration, “U.S.  Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 , database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 9 May 2021);  entry for Edith Sherman, SS no. 449-24-6962.

[6] Texas, U.S. Select  County Marriage Records, 1837-1965,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Ms Eleanor Sherman and C.W.Morris, certificate no. 16229; citing Dallas County Clerk’s Office, Dallas, Texas.

[7] Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, “ database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 9 May 2021);  entry for Eleanor Lucille Morris [Eleanor Lucille Sherman], SS no. 449-68-6967..

[8] Texas, U.S. Birth Index, 1903-1997,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 10 May 2021), entry for Bobette Eleanor Morris, roll no. 1937_006;  citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; father: Charles William Morris, mother: Eleanor Lucille Sherman.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Priority- write that article!

                         

Just when I thought I had things under control, I re-prioritized my genealogy goals and began writing an article about my mother’s ancestors for a genealogy journal.  I thought that I had most of the information on three to four generations of descendants. I thought that I had most of the sources for that information. Over the last month, I discovered that neither one of those assumptions are true. In this post, I describe my journey to date.

What have I done to prepare for writing an article? In January of this year, I participated in a month-long webinar about writing. I bought a book, Guide to Genealogical Writing, and have been reading it.  I downloaded a template for writing using the Register style. I created an outline of people who I would be writing about. On the outline, I numbered each person as they would appear in the article.

Stratton and Hoff suggest to temporarily stop researching and start writing[1]. So, I have done that. I discover gaps in family stories –gaps not always identified in my RootsMagic tree.   Information on my RootsMagic tree on my computer is only partially complete, especially for the later generations. Sources are also incomplete. However, the families are becoming more real as I notice similarities and differences in family experiences. Example – sisters who both buried husbands and at least one child.   

I began writing the family stories with the information that I have. As I write, I make a note in red that a source or other information is needed.  I try to complete at least one person’s story each day. I follow the “cite as you write” guideline. Sometimes, I stop writing and follow clues to locate a source or other information. As a result, my personal tree is becoming more complete. So, the exercise of writing the family history for a genealogy journal has its benefits.  

Previously, I focused on the older generations, typically those who lived and died before the early decades of the 20th century.  This article includes four generations from my German ancestors in early 1800s through the latter part of the 20th century.  I choose not to include information about any persons who are still living.  

What have I learned from this? It takes more time than expected. There will be gaps to fill in. There will be sources to find. Even if my articles are not accepted for publication, I will leave fairly comprehensive and extensively researched histories to share with descendants. For your information, if the articles are not accepted for publication, I will share the information with you through my blog.  Yes,  I said  “articles”.  Last year, I started another article about a collateral family on Dad’s side.  I put aside that article to tackle other projects. When the current article is done, I plan to take up the second one again.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


[1] Penelope L. Stratton & Henry B. Hoff, Guide to Genealogical Writing: How to Write and Publish Your Family History (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014), p.3.

She gets the farm

A man has an affair and leaves his wife for the other woman. He plans to sell the family farm and other property, leaving his wife and children virtually penniless. Wife discovers the scheme and files a restraining order. She eventually divorces the man and receives a substantial settlement. Sound like a story from today’s headlines? Well, this story happened in the 1850s. In honor of Women’s History Month, I tell the story of Elvina Masters Cole, a woman who fought for her rights.

This is a true story gleaned from various records. I discovered the basic information as I researched my brother-in-law’s adoptive family.  Another descendant of Elvina’s graciously contributed his extensive research on this matter. Both gave permission to share her story here.

Elvina Masters was born 25 April 1813 in Bowling Green, Warren county, Kentucky, the daughter of Richard Clement Masters and Agnes Cochran.  She married Thomas J. Cole on 10 November 1831 at Springfield, Illinois. [1]   Children followed quickly with their oldest son, William, born on 16 October 1832. William would later become embroiled in the family scandal. About 1835, Thomas and Elvina moved to Bureau County, Illinois.  In June 1838, Thomas J. Cole was accused of adultery and fathering a child with Pyrena B Ellis. Although Pyrena claimed that he was not the father of her child, Thomas was indicted for adultery.[2]  

In March 1849, William married Ellen Emeline Bradshaw, a servant in the Cole household.  Ellen was later named in Elvina’s divorce. The year 1850 finds Thomas and Elvina with six children in Berlin, Bureau County, Illinois. [3] The children were Catherine, age 16; John,age 12; Albert, age 10; Thomas J., age 8; Elizabeth, age 4 and Mary, age 1.  The family farm was valued at $5000.  Two more children would be born to Thomas and Elvina– Cornelia in 1851 and Enos in July 1857.  

On 20th February 1857, Elvina Cole filed for divorce from Thomas J. Cole in Bureau County, Illinois.[4]  Her complaint stated that, about November 1848, her husband, Thomas, brought  “ into their family as a house servant Ellen Emeline Bradshaw.”  After which, Thomas’ “affections became alienated and estranged and at the same time showing a criminal fondness and regard for Ellen. . . “   (Note: Ellen is recorded as Emaline/Emeline in some documents). Recall that William, son of Thomas and Elvina, married Ellen in March 1849 and reportedly lived with his parents during the first months of their marriage.  In September 1849, William and Ellen “removed to a small tenement upon the farm of her [Elvina’s] said husband and lived there for about 18 months, when the said William Cole left her and departed from this County.” Thomas moved Ellen back to the family home and moved himself into Ellen’s bedroom.

By March 1856, Elvina had had enough of this arrangement and forced Ellen out of the house. Ellen supposedly moved to her father’s home. Thomas left home for weeks at a time “to find Ellen.“   On February 20, 1857, Elvina filed for a divorce. [5] (Bureau County case #395).  Her complaint stated that “Thomas left home on 5th January 1857 and has not returned. “ William Cole  filed for divorce from Ellen on August 12, 1857. [6]

Before he left, Thomas “tried to sell and dispose of all his property. . . “  including  two farms with an estimated worth of $25-30,000 plus “a large amount of stock, grain & money.” Elvina asked for a restraining order to prevent Thomas from selling and disposing of the property “then abscond” with the funds which would leave her and her children “helpless and destitute.”

The outcome? Elvina was granted a divorce on 29 September 1857 by order of default.  According to Neal Smith:

The documentation as being in Township 17, North Range 10 East (now known as Berlin Township in Bureau County). In Section 6, the property was the west half of the northwest corner, and the west half of the southwest quarter. In Section 7, the property was the west half of the northwest corner, along with 50 acres on the west side of the east half of the northwest quarter.

Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 11.

William Cole was granted his divorce from Emeline/Ellen on April 19, 1858, also by default. [7]

Elvina was deeded the 140+ acre farm on which she was living, worth about $10,000 or more (equivalent about $335, 000 today). She was also to receive alimony payments of $700 yearly (about $21,000 today) with the property to be held as a lien. [8] If alimony was not paid, Elvina could sell the property or remain and take the profits.  In September, 1867, Elvina finally received all rights and title to the farm. She was now a wealthy woman.

Elvina’s land, circa 1875.
SOURCE: U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 13 March 2021), map of Berlin, p. 61; citing Atlas of Bureau Co and the State of Illinois, 1875; Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Collection Number: G&M_43; Roll Number: 43.

Elvina never remarried. She died 16 December 1882 at Ohio township, Bureau County, Illinois, from bronchitis[9] and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Dover, Ilinois.[10] Her grave is unmarked.

REFLECTION:

March is Women’s History Month.  I decided to write about at least one woman in the family tree. I am going to make this a specific goal each year from now on. As I mentioned earlier, I encountered Elvina as I researched my brother- in -law’s adoptive family. Her story impressed me then and it still impresses me.  She exerted her rights at a time when women had few rights. I am grateful to my brother- in- law and to Neal Smith for allowing me to share Elvina’s story.

What I learned:  the power of collaboration with others.

What helped: previous work done and documented. Neal Smith’s extensive work copying and transcribing handwritten county court records.

What didn’t help: incomplete entries for some items.

To do: still looking for Elvina in the 1860 census. Neal Smith also mentioned that she seems to have disappeared from the records in 1860 although there is an 1862 tax record for her in Bureau County Illinois.[11]


SOURCES

[1] Neal Duane Smith, transcriber and compiler, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings of Thomas J. Cole (1810 to 1873?), among the first persons of European descent to reside in Bureau County, Illinois, as well as documents relating to the divorces of his three oldest married children“ (PDF digital copy, 2012); privately held by Neil Duane Smith, [address for private use], Davenport, Iowa, 2021.

[2] H.C. Bradsby, editor, History of Bureau County, Illinois, (Chicago, Illinois: World Publishing Company, 1885); digital images, Hathi trust (https://babel.hathitrust.org :  accessed 14 March 2021); pages 274 & 295.

[3]  1850 U.S. Census, Bureau county, Illinois, population schedule, , p. 206B, family 343, Thomas C Cole 40; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 31 December 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432_99.

[4] Bureau County, Illinois, Circuit Court Case 395, Elvina Cole vs. Thomas J. Cole; County Clerk’s Office, Princeton, Illinois. Original handwritten documents photographed, with permission of County Clerk, by Neal Duane Smith, 2012; included affidavits from William T. Cole, Elvina Masters Cole, John L. Cole, Catherine Cole Murphy  and William Masters.

[5] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” pp. 19-26.

[6] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” pp. 99-117.

[7] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 11.

[8] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 77. Transcription of Bill for Divorce, filed 29 September 1857.

[9] Public Member Photos & Scanned Documents, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/119526247/person/390182674740/media : accessed 13 March 2021); “Masters, Elvina Death,” death certificate, posted 23 December 2012 by “erbowdle” ; citing Bureau County, Illinois, certified copy or abstract of vital records, issued 9 August 1999, certificate no. 98.

[10] Find a Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 10 March 2021), memorial page for Elvina Masters Cole, Find A Grave Memorial # 198838221, citing Pioneer Cemetery (Dover, Bureau, Illinois), memorial created by Good Oman,  no gravestone photo.

[11] “U.S., IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 10 March 2021), no page numer, Elvina Cole, Dover; citing The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Illinois, 1862-1866; Series: M764; Roll: 20; Alphabetical list of persons residing in Division No. 11 Collection District no. 5 of the state of Illinois.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021 plus a grateful acknowledgement to Neal Duane Smith for his willingness to share.

Where to next?

Who should I write about for today’s post? This question has bugged me for the last two weeks. Although I am working on several projects, none are ready for a report yet.

This year, I started tracking my blog post topics more closely. I created a spreadsheet with information about each blog post including date, title of post, and person or persons discussed in the post. I made a table with number of posts related to each family by year. The highest number for a given year reflects my primary focus for that year.

What determines my focus for a particular year? I started my blog in April 2017 with goal of sharing  information more or less equally about each family line.  An August 2017 family reunion trip to Pennsylvania generated more posts about dad’s family.  In 2018,  I received family pictures and other items from two cousins on mom’s side.  Cataloging those pictures and items steered me to Tucker-Maurer family for 2018. My father- in- law’s death in February 2019 guided me towards the Ellerbee family.  Johnson-Reed family then became focus for 2020 as I prepared another scrapbook.

As I write each post, I check sources, revise citations and identify gaps to be filled for each person.  I pose and try to answer at least one question. Content in my family tree improves.  Sometimes, a person contacts me about an ancestor named in an online tree or blog post.  These contacts often generate a topic for my blog. DNA matches also yield possible blog topics.

For my blog, what are the benefits of delving deep into a particular family or person? Well,  I try to discover the story beyond the basic facts. I seek a better understanding of the person and share that information with others. I feel like I am more intimately involved in their lives.

Writing about a variety of people has been a blessing.  I reach a wider audience with the potential of contacts from more than just one branch of the family tree.  Often, I choose the person or topic just a few days before I publish.  I am writing shorter blogs so there may be more series about a particular person or family.

Right now, I have several projects in the works. I am writing two articles to be considered for publication in genealogical journals. Due to potential copyright issues, I must defer writing more here about either of these. A potential DNA match contacted me about a specific line.  Several years ago, I made a note in my files and asked questions similar to what this DNA match is asking.  I give what input I can.  

Question for today is still- where do I go from here? And I don’t have a good answer. I search for inspiration from various sources such as  blog posts written by others.  I review my goals for the year but nothing stands out at this moment.  I have been here before. A spark of inspiration will come!  In the meantime, I continue the process of cleaning up at least one family tree.  Stay tuned!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

2021 Genealogy Goals

A new year and time to set goals for my genealogical work. In my Last Post,  I reported how l I did with 2020 goals. Some goals were met and others were not. I have a mixture of broad and specific goals. Broad goals enable me to follow leads as they pop up. Specific goals lead me in a certain direction. For 2021, I make some goals more specific than in previous years.

One of my goals last year was to purchase voice recognition software.  Prices of these programs seem high. I went back to Genealogy Do- over Facebook page and looked at comments about the various programs.  One suggestion was to use the Microsoft 365 voice recognition app. So I’m trying it for the first time with this post. I will keep you informed.

2021 Genealogy Goals for Susan Posten Ellerbee

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; one chapter rewritten in 2020). *Priority item for 2021
  2. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.
  3. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Complete descendant list for Smetts-Maurer family as requested by cousin.
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Scan original documents in paper files. Place originals in archival sleeves and appropriate notebook.  
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings in each family group.
  3. Create family group records with citations as addendums to scrapbooks given 2019 & 2020 for at least 4 family groups.
  4. Continue to trace descendants of slaves owned by Ellerbee & Johnson ancestors. Use templates and directions from the Beyond Kin project.
  5. Follow-up on at least two BSOs generated from previous searches (one from each family group).  

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law).
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. (continued from 2019).
  5. Continue to address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports.

General items:

  1. Continue to place To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family on color-coded file cards.
  2. Send for at least 4 BMD certificates.
  3. Submit article begun in 2020 to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA.
  4. Add to Research Toolbox:  books “Dating Vintage Photographs”.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined. 

BUDGET:

I forgot to mention genealogy budget in my last post. So, here is my budget and actual spending for 2020 and proposed budget for 2021.

REFLECTION

My 2020 goals were mostly general.  However, general goals allow me to go where a search leads me. I could say “ identify siblings of great grandfather, Daniel S. Posten”   but instead I choose to leave my annual goals more generic.  I have been using yellow pads more this past year. When I sit down to work, I write a specific objective such as “ find Daniel Posten family in 1870 census.” Then, I make notes about which towns I searched. These yellow sheets are effective research logs for me.

I do create a digital research summary log of my findings. I sometimes forget to look beyond the first page. I looked at other formats and decided to stick with what I have been using.  

I probably use different methods to organize and document my work than you.  Each person uses mechanisms that work for them. However, we all desire similar outcomes –  to identify our ancestors, to find out about their lives and to share our findings with others.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021