A different standard for remembering Union and Confederate veterans?

“The ladies. . . decided to lay a few stems for those men, too, in recognition not of a fallen Confederate or a fallen Union soldier, but a fallen American.”  –

President Barack Obama, 2010 Memorial Day Address, relating an event in 1866 when women of Columbus, Mississippi, laid flowers on graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.

“It is estimated that one in three Southern households lost at least one family member.”

“Civil War Casualties: The Cost of War: Killed, Wounded, Captured and Missing,” American Battlefield Trust : accessed 9 July 2020.

Yes, soldiers on both sides were Americans. Each side carried a different flag. So, why can’t we honor each one with the appropriate flag?  Our family tree has both Union and Confederate soldiers in it.  I feel that recent protestors want us to forget our Confederate ancestors. We can’t change our ancestry. We can’t change the choices they made. We can try to understand the societal and historical events that shaped their lives. I believe that history lessons should include both good and bad as well as divergent viewpoints.  This post is my reaction to current events.

The protests began as a reaction to the death of George Floyd and police brutality. Demands for removing statues of Confederate soldiers and slave holders increased. Protestors spray painted statues and physically removed others.  Even a statue of George Washington, our nation’s first President and a slave holder, was not exempt. Protestors seemed to ignore history as they defaced a statue of an abolitionist.

History typically relates the broad picture and tells about the people who influenced that history.  Stories of the common people ( i.e., those whose lives were directly and indirectly influenced by those in power) are less often told.  In my opinion, our job, as genealogists, is to tell the stories of those common people, our ancestors and their families.

Read this heartfelt article, published in 2017:  George Burrell, “Confederate and Union Flags of the Civil War,  Century City News (Los Angeles, California), 21 August 2017,  (http://centurycity.news/confederate-and-union-flags-of-the-civil-war-p971-211.htm

In response to someone else’s blog, one person noted that only a few of her 3X great-grandfathers actually fought for the Confederacy.  One of my 8 great-great grandfathers served in the Union Army.  For my husband, two of his 8 great-great grandfathers and one of his 16 great-great-great grandfathers served in the Confederate Army.  Many more in both family trees were of any age to fight. My sons carry genes from persons who supported both sides of the conflict.

According to the American Battlefield Trust  (https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/civil-war-casualties), there were 1,089,119 Confederate soldiers. Of those, 490,309 were reported as killed, wounded, captured or missing.  Millions of Americans are descended from these soldiers. Now, some people want to prevent the simple act of placing a flag on a veteran’s grave.  Denying this right sends the message that Confederate veterans are not worthy of being honored for their sacrifice.

Some demand the removal of statues, memorials and other reminders of the Confederacy as these are seen as symbols of slavery, racial segregation and white supremacy.  One example of this view is Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposal. Read this press release. Posted 30 June 2020:  “Warren delivers floor speech on her amendment to rename all bases and other military assets honoring the Confederacy,” Elizabeth Warren website (https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/warren-delivers-floor-speech-on-her-amendment-to-rename-all-bases-and-other-military-assets-honoring-the-confederacy  :    accessed 2 July 2020).

An NBC journalist presented the opposite view: Sophia A. Nelson, “Don’t take down Confederate monuments. Here’s why.” Posted 1 june 2017, NBC News (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/news/opinion-why-i-feel-confederate-monuments-should-stay-ncna767221 : accessed 2 July 2020).

How will our descendants look at the current events a hundred years from now? Will we be lauded for our efforts? Will we be criticized? Will our descendants even know about the Civil War and its controversies? Will our descendants be aware of the multiple perspectives surrounding the current debate?

My hopes for the future?  I DON’T WANT my descendants to be ashamed of their Southern heritage. I DON’T WANT my descendants to judge their ancestors’ choices based on current values and belief systems. I DO WANT my descendants to have the freedom to acknowledge that they have ancestors who fought in the Confederacy. I DO WANT my descendants to relate circumstances that created the rift between Northern and Southern states. I DO WANT my descendants to recognize the values and beliefs that guided their ancestors’ choices.  I DO WANT my descendants to compare and contrast the various perspectives surrounding current 21st century issues. I DO WANT my descendants to have the freedom to honor their Confederate ancestors by placing a Confederate flag on the graves of those ancestors.  In short, I DO WANT my descendants to remember the history of the Civil War and that soldiers on both sides fought for a cause that they believed in.  In the same way, I DO WANT my descendants to recall that, in 2020, people held differing beliefs about how the United States should remember those who fought in the Confederacy and the Union.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots Blog, 2020.

Connecting the dots: Posten families

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

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

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

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

Reflection:

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

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

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

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

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


SOURCES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Midyear review, June 2020

Time for midyear review of my 2020 genealogy goals. My overall assessment?  Distracted. Minimal focus. Why? Multiple factors but nothing specific. I feel like I am in a rut. I have run out of steam to complete various projects.  Due to possible impact of Corona virus? We are blessed that none of our immediate family here have been directly affected. One of my second cousins, who lives in another state, contracted the virus but isolated at home. An elderly relative suffered other health problems and the doctor deferred hospitalization due to Corona virus.  She required 24/7 in-home care for several weeks.  

I feel overwhelmed by the constant negative reports on the news. Perhaps that negativity bubbles over into my genealogy work?  I continue to do some genealogy every day but lack momentum. Current work seems rote and routine – complete family group records, create and fill in research logs, clean up paper and digital files. Yet, these tasks are necessary to leave a coherent trail.

As I review my 2020 goals, I have made progress. I completed some goals quickly- copying BMD certificates from a Posten relative and responding to cousin requests for Tucker family.  I sent my DNA to a third company based on request from a possibly related Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties. Result? No shared DNA. But, we are still hopeful for a common ancestor!   

Family cookbook project is almost done. So far, about 1/3 of total recipes are desserts. Shows obvious preference of our family and friends!

I received death certificate for Mom’s great grandmother, Anna Wolf Klee Mϋller/ Miller.  Anna died in 1883 at New York City. I plan to write a blog post about the process and information on that certificate. Two death certificate requests, both from New York, are still pending. New York state has so many other issues than responding to genealogical requests!  Because of Corona virus, I will defer making any more requests this year.  

I started work (again!) on revising Posten history, initially written in 2012. Last year, I took an online genealogy writing course and revised outline for book. I realized how sketchy much of the information is. I am still looking for Thomas Postens in 1830 and 1840. This entails page-by-page search of those census records because Ancestry and Family Search yield no hints, even when I use variations and asterisks. No results found in Northampton, Monroe or Pike counties, Pennsylvania. Expanding search to nearby counties- Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Wayne.  I carefully document my search efforts and results.

I admit to following some rabbit trails in this search. I found some leads about Richard Postens and William Postens, either of whom could be Thomas’ father.  I may have found three daughters of Richard Postens – Elena (baptized 1774), Jane (born 1785) and Elizabeth (born circa 1795-1802).

Last week,  I followed a rabbit trail for Cornelius Postens who lived in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon county is in western part of the state. Cornelius was born about 1778 in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Rachel, had at least three children- John, James and Charles. Cornelius died about 1852. I am still piecing their story together. The Huntingdon County branch could be related to Dad’s family.  

I am keeping a personal Corona Virus diary that I do not plan to publish. Daily entries have been reduced to once a week, or even less. I scanned and added articles from our local newspaper.  Perhaps one of my descendants will find it interesting.  I will probably print it and place with other personal papers at some point in the future.

To review, perhaps I have made more progress than I thought. My initial feeling of inertia is gradually being replaced by slow and steady.  Daily research efforts aren’t totally without focus but have been scattered between different families. My original set of 26 goals now seems too ambitious.  I continue to forge ahead.

As usual, writing my blog post helped. I see where I’ve been and the progress that I’ve made.  Emotionally, I still feel overwhelmed but less so. What did I learn from this reflection?

  • Recognize the challenges to identify family members who lived in late 1700s and early 1800s. 
  • Re-focus, set a specific research goal for each session.
  • Work in short spurts – maybe only 20-30 minutes at a time instead of hours! 
  • Keep extensive notes.
  • Review information already in files before each session (i.e., avoid duplication).  
  • When a specific goal seems unattainable or gets me bogged down, take a break then work on another question.

Apparently, others are experiencing similar issues.  Read Thomas MacEntee’s “10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy”, posted 4 June 2020. https://genealogybargains.s3.amazonaws.com/10+Ways+to+Jumpstart+Your+Genealogy.pdf

Blog posts that I found helpful:

Amy Johnson Crow, “Avoiding distractions in our genealogy”, blog post, 19 August 2019, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/avoiding-distractions-genealogy/  :    accessed 4 May 2020).

Amy Johnson Crow, “Genealogy Research:  The WANDER Method,” blog post, 17 January 2020, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/genealogy-research-process-wander-method/  :  accessed 4 May 2020).

“The Shiny Object Syndrome in Genealogy and How to Cure It,” blog post, 28 January 2019, Family History Foundation (https://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2019/01/28/shiny-object-syndrome-in-genealogy-how-to-cure-it/  : accessed 8 June 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

The last post (for 2019)

December –the last month of our calendar year.  Short days and long nights.  Holidays include Christmas (honoring birth of Jesus Christ), Kwanzaa (celebrating family, community and culture, primarily in African-American families) and Boxing Day (celebrating the giving of boxes to public and private servants, primarily in the United Kingdom).  For me, December signals a time to reflect on my genealogy goals for the previous 12 months.  How well did I do?

Last January 1, my stated genealogy goals seemed mostly achievable. I did not anticipate any major issues.  My father-in-law’s death on February 17, 2019,  although not totally unexpected, impacted me more than I expected.  My father died in 1998 and my mother in 2007.  My in-laws have been my surrogate parents for the past 12 years. For weeks after his death, I felt mired down. I went through the motions on genealogy projects.  I barely managed to post regularly on my blog. The quality of some posts probably suffered.  Even simple tasks requiring minimal thought, i.e. scanning certificates from a cousin on dad’s side, overwhelmed me.

FYI. My mother-in-law is doing OK. We made it through the summer and winter holidays.  There were tears and happy moments.

Genealogy presented a coping mechanism. Using lessons and skills from the Genealogy Do-Over, I have a well-defined, specific process for reviewing, cataloguing and saving information.  These specific steps help me stay on-target, at least most of the time! Did I occasionally veer off and follow those bright shiny objects that detract from a specific goal?  Oh, yes! But, then, routine took over and I was back on track.sticky note_test

A new project especially helped with grieving. In July 2019, I presented Papa’s sister with copies of the Simmons and Ellerbee scrapbooks. The Simmons scrapbook, presented to Papa in 2013, traced his maternal lineage. The Ellerbee scrapbook, presented to Papa in January 2018, traced his paternal lineage.  I cleaned up source lists and included new information.  The tactile work of cutting and pasting proved therapeutic.

I became more aware of placing ancestors within historical and other perspectives.  For example, I reacted emotionally to the removal of Native Americans from Georgia to make room for my husband’s white ancestors.  I read two books on the topic and one book about the Federal Road between Georgia and Texas. Looking beyond dates and places, I gained a broader view of ancestors’ lives within the context of time periods and places in which they lived.  Consider the impact of local events, such as opening or closing a factory or a major weather storm, on individuals and their community.

I found the “Beyond Kin” project (https://beyondkin.org/ ).  The project helps descendants of slaveholders identify and trace their family’s former slaves. My husband’s paternal and maternal ancestors hail from various Southern states and most were slaveholders.  I downloaded the templates and began by entering slaves held by John E. Ellerbee (1808, Georgia – 1877, Louisiana) in 1850 and 1860.  I haven’t done anything beyond these initial steps. Reports to follow!

Overall, I feel like the fog has  lifted and I am again on semi-solid ground.

Death of my laptop computer caused a major, although temporary, setback. Fortunately, we knew the laptop’s end was near.  I had hoped to have a new computer before the old one’s demise. My computer savvy son built me a new desktop computer. What saved me?  Purchase of notebook computer in 2017 and regular, frequent backups to the Cloud and an external hard drive!

Two maternal cousins found my blog in 2018. We stay in contact. We regularly share information and family heirlooms such as pictures.   An unexpected result and blessing!

I pinned a print copy of 2019 goals to the bulletin board in my office. I tried to review these goals at least once a month. As I completed, added or deferred goals, I wrote the information down. These notes provide quick reminders of progress.

Here are my refined 2019 goals and actions taken during the year:

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Continue paper & digital file clean-up. Timeline:  January 2019.  Met- ended major work at end of February 2019.
  2. Defer remainder of work as needed. Some work continued throughout the year, usually to answer a question posed by one of maternal cousins. Goal met.

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

  1. Purchase notebooks for Ellerbee-Simmons & Johnson-Reed certificates, photographs and other memorabilia. DONE.  Purchased dividers for notebooks. Documents placed in appropriate notebook when found  online or in paper files.
  2. Send in husband’s DNA test. NOT DONE.  Purchased kit but did not use.
  3. Continue paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family. Goal MET. More work done on Ellerbee files than Johnson files. 
  4. Plan field trip to Alabama and Georgia to trace Ellerbee family migration. If time and geography permit, follow migration of Johnson-Reed family. DEFERRED – Maybe 2020??

Added in 2019:

  1. Copy Ellerbee and Simmons scrapbooks for father-in-law’s sister. COMPLETED
  2. Resume work on scrapbook for extended family member. Work resumed in Summer 2019. Completed and given as Christmas present.

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook. NOT DONE.  Continue in 2020.
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Priority: Use information from 2010 Posten family history (continued from 2018). NOT DONE. Same goal for  2020 without priority.
  3. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (continued from 2018). Partially  met. Discussed his family tree during visits. Nephew loaned some documents to me. I scanned, copied then returned the documents to him. 
  4. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options for  2020.  (One chapter done in 2018). NOT DONE.  Continue in 2020. Contacted by person from a ‘possibly related’ branch.

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks. Posted 26 times in 2019.
  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). GOAL PARTIALLY MET. Posten-Richards: 0 stories; Tucker-Maurer:  3 stories; Ellerbee-Simmons: 12 stories; Johnson-Reed: 2 stories. Two posts discussed members of all families. Seven posts with no specific family group.
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less. GOAL MET.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. NOT MET. Defer to 2020.  
  5. Address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports. PARTIALLY MET. Addressed in 75-90% of posts. In some posts, I discussed one or two criteria. Most of my blog posts are not meant to be the final report on a person or family. In those posts, I acknowledge that the ‘reasonably exhaustive research’ criterion has not been met. However, other criteria are likely to have been met. 

General items:

  1. Create master lists of To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family. Begin with Tucker-Maurer and Ellerbee families. Partially met. Began using a color-coded file card system.
  2. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month. Partially met. Requested death certificates for Anna Klee Maurer, Anna Katharina Korzelius Maurer and Margaret Tucker (mom’s ancestors). Received first two. All from New York and take 6-9 months.
  3. Add to Research Toolbox: books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software.   Not Done. Keep same goal for  2020.
  4.  Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution. GOAL MET.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.  Attended one free webinar on various topics.
  6.  Review Genealogy Proof Standard. Buy book on this topic.   DONE.  Used book as reference. 

BUDGET: 

Budget Spent (Over)/ Under 2020 Proposal
Archival materials $60.00 $279.37 $ (219.37) $200.00
BMD Records $100.00 $59.00 $      41.00 $120.00
Books $75.00 $34.95 $      40.05 $75.00
Copying $10.00 $25.45 $   (15.45) $25.00
Education $150.00 $0.00 $   150.00 $100.00
Ink/ Printing $50.00 $131.68   (81.68) $180.00
Paper $25.00 $55.45   (30.45) $50.00
Subscriptions- annual $50.00 $288.80 $ (238.80) $290.00
Subscriptions-monthly $560.00 $550.80 $        9.20 $560.00
$1,320.00 $1,425.50 $ (361.50) $1600.00

Average cost per month:  about $118.00.

SUMMARY:

Met or partially met 14 of 21 goals set for 2019. Seven goals deferred to 2020. Two additional projects completed in 2019.  Overall, I may have been a bit over-ambitious with goals but am satisfied with progress. Over budget by $361.00.  Added two subscription services, paid annually, in 2019.  Two scrapbook projects were not anticipated when preparing 2019 budget.  Increase budget in these areas for 2020.

Next post:   My personal genealogy goals for 2020

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

Thinking of Thanksgiving

Sharing of my genealogy journey needs a short break. In my next post, I  resume telling the stories of 4 blended families- James T.L. Powell and his 1st wife, Deborah Daniel; James T.L. Powell and his 2nd wife, Catherine Brown; Catherine Brown Powell and her 2nd husband, Elias Barker; Elias Barker and his 1st wife, Euna Barber. 

Thanksgiving in America is generally viewed as a time for family. Many have Pilgrim and /or Native American ancestors in their family trees. Our American holiday originated with a specific event – English immigrants in Massachusetts sharing a harvest celebration with Native Americans. However, one part of the story is often forgotten. The Native Americans taught the  newcomers basic survival skills such as planting crops, caring for plants and eventually, harvesting food. 

The Puritan/ Pilgrim settlement in Massachusetts was not the first European settlement on the North American continent.  Jamestown, Virginia was founded in 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims landed.  Early settlements included, but were not limited to:

1565: Saint Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish

1608: Quebec, Canada, founded by the French

1615:  Fort Nassau (New York), founded by the Dutch

Some Native Americans do not view our American Thanksgiving Day favorably. Since Europeans first landed here, we pushed Native Americans from their traditional homes. Some Native American tribes were decimated by illnesses brought by the Europeans. Other tribes were removed to make way for growing numbers of white settlers. Native American rights were largely ignored in treaties.

So, on this day, enjoy time with your family and celebrate the harvest. Give thanks for the sacrifices of all. Oh, yes, one more thing. These holidays are great for seeking help to answer those burning genealogy questions you’ve discovered.  Share your findings.  Print a 1 or 2-page summary for people to take home. Ask if anyone has great-grandma’s death certificate or obituary. Who has the oldest family Bible? Take notes when your uncle tells about an ancestor, especially if he heard the story from one of his grandparents or one of his grandpa’s brothers or  an elderly aunt.  You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn! Remember, too, every family has saints and sinners, scoundrels and heroes.   

To read more about Native American views of Thanksgiving, start with these articles:

“Do Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?” Powwows.com, 19 November2019 (https://www.powwows.com/do-native-americans-celebrate-thanksgiving/    : accessed 27 November 2019).

Kisha James.  “For me, Thanksgiving is a ‘Day of  Mourning’” Refinery29, 21 November 2016 (https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2016/11/130572/day-of-mourning-thanksgiving-protest-native-americans    : accessed 21 November 2019.

Nadra Kareem Nittle, “Should we celebrate thanksgiving and the Pilgrims?”.  ThoughtCo, updated 29 July 2019  (https://www.thoughtco.com/do-native-americans-celebrate-thanksgiving-2834597  : accessed 23 November 2019).

“What does Thanksgiving mean to Native Americans?” Native Hope (https://blog.nativehope.org/what-does-thanksgiving-mean-to-native-americans    : accessed 22 November 2019). Blog post, undated.

Have a blessed and happy day!

Of laptops and laundry: A light-hearted look at things that interfere with genealogy

Do you remember this poem? I embraced this idea when the boys were small. Now, those babies are grown and out on their own. I retired from work outside of the home in 2016. Genealogy is now my 40+ hours per week job although my husband sometimes says it’s more of an obsession. I need to remember that genealogy DOES keep! Especially, if you have thorough, complete records of your efforts. 

My 10-year-old laptop died a few weeks ago. That event certainly interfered with my genealogy work.   In January 2017, I accepted the reality of disorganized paper and digital genealogy files. I resolved to correct the situation. That’s when I discovered Thomas MacAntee’s Genealogy Do-Over program. [1]  One step is “securing research data.” I followed directions and began routine backups.  Daily data and image backups on the cloud and weekly backups to an external hard drive. Last year, I began monthly backups of all laptop files (not just the genealogy files) to the external hard drive.  These activities resulted in minimum loss of data when my laptop died.

I knew that the laptop’s days were numbered. Laptop’s response time gradually slowed.  My son offered to build a desktop computer for me. We planned for the new computer to be functional before laptop died. Oh, well!  Only one loss found so far – bookmarks to websites. Remedies:  Sync bookmarks with another computer. Periodically save bookmarks to HTML file; store file on Cloud, flash drive and/or  external hard drive.  

We bought a Surface Pro notebook computer in 2017. The purpose was twofold:  (1) Don’t take laptop with personal information on a genealogy field trip.  (2) Take pictures with notebook rather than a camera. Pictures didn’t need to be downloaded from camera to computer.  My husband became an excellent photographer of gravestones! Although there was a lot of perceived ‘junk’ on old laptop, we decided to use the Surface notebook minimally. The Surface became my lifeline while son built desktop computer.  Desktop is now up and running!

Which brings me to another thing that interferes with genealogy – laundry (and other housework).  There are always 2-3 loads of laundry to be done.  Buzzers on washer and dryer alert me to step away from the genealogy work (usually on the computer) for a few minutes. Actually, not such a bad thing! Cleaning house has never been one of my favorite jobs. I describe myself as a ‘laissez-faire’ housekeeper—the house doesn’t have to be completely dust-free and spotless clean.  I live by this motto:  “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.”  Everything does get cleaned, just not every day!

And, there is the issue of food! My family is always appreciative when I cook. Sometimes, I resort to my “meal prepared and on the table in 30-45 minutes” mode that was common when I worked outside of the home. One advantage of retirement is that I can now prepare those ‘’week-end only when I have lots of time” meals on a weekday. Of course, there are still the “what do you want from take-out” days and “let’s get a pizza” days.  Grocery shopping and meal prep also mean that I put the genealogy aside for various time periods.

Genealogy does keep! But only if you have complete, thorough records of the data and your analysis. Document everything you do, then save it in more than one way.

Try this mantra:  

      Records searched and dutifully filed. 
      Data reviewed and analysis writ down.    
      Media saved, backup plan in effect, files are in order.  
      More Genealogy will keep till tomorrow. 
     (Unless, of course, you just found that elusive person or item 
       that answers one question but generates more!)  

Reflection:

I had to get out of serious genealogy work for a bit. I have been getting bogged down with small details. The elusive ancestors from the early 1800s and late 1700s remain elusive. Oh, I have names, dates and places.  Questions remain:

  • Who is Thomas Ellerby’s father? Thomas bought land in North Carolina in 1724.  Candidates include Thomas, John, William and Edward Ellerby, all of whom were in Virginia circa 1683-1690.     
  • What is relationship between Thomas Ellerby, who moved from Virginia to South Carolina about 1737 and John Ellerby, who bought land in North Carolina in 1738? Both men owned property near the Pee Dee River which runs in both North and South Carolina.
  • John Ellerby died 1751 in Anson county, North Carolina. Is he ancestor of our John Ellerbee, born 1808 in Georgia and died 1884 in Florida?

The amount of work needed for do-over of Ellerbee family tree is overwhelming. Other projects beg for my attention. Solution? One project at a time. Work on each project at least once a week.

Temporarily put aside further review and searches for those early Ellerby/ Ellerbe/  Ellerbee ancestors.  I reviewed digital and paper files for John E. Ellerbee and his two wives, completed research logs and re-wrote citations to meet standards.  The same process is complete for four generations of Ellerbee men who are direct descendants of John E. Ellerbee plus 13 other persons. Scattered re-written source citations appear throughout my RootsMagic tree. Proposed work plan:

  • Wives of Ellerbee men and their direct ancestors.
  • Siblings of Ellerbee direct ancestors.
  • Simmons direct ancestors (father-in-law’s mother’s family).
  • Wives of Simmons men and their direct ancestors.
  • Siblings of Simmons direct ancestors.

Continue applying lessons learned in Genealogy Do-Over.


[1] Thomas MacAntee,  Genealogy Do-Over (https://genealogydoover.com/are-your-ready-for-the-genealogy-do-over/    :  accessed 7 October 2019).

Do-over for another branch

Spring 2017. My genealogy files are a mess!  20+ years and multiple family lines. Duplicates and large gaps are everywhere! Where and how do I clean this up?  Hmmm- a magic wand?  Wave the wand and files are in order with complete documentation. Digital items have easy to recognize labels.  Family tree on my computer follows current standards. Data analysis is still up to me. Well, I don’t have a magic wand but I did find The Genealogy Do-Over.[1]   I ordered the book and signed up on the website for monthly guides. This post reflects my thoughts as I begin the do-over process in earnest for husband’s family tree.  magic wand emoji

How did I start? Developed a global plan then applied the plan to specific family lines.  Color-coded paper files for primary branches became first priority. I reviewed record keeping forms and decided which ones to use. I had recently changed to RootsMagic for my computerized databases. A planned genealogy field trip and family reunion in Pennsylvania, Dad’s home state, directed one choice.  His family tree provided the perfect venue to reexamine old skills, learn new skills and clean up digital data. Mom’s family tree became my focus for 2018. I continue to refine the process.

Now, I turn to my husband’s parents (father- Ellerbee/ Simmons; mother- Johnson/ Reed) and begin again. Green file folders hold Ellerbee family data. Red file folders hold Johnson data. Standard forms appear in most files although data may not be complete. Digital file clean-up has been hit-and-miss as I prepared a scrapbook and wrote a few blog posts.  Research logs started and/or completed?  Zero. The process begins again.

NOTE:  2019 goal says: “Begin paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.”  Change to:  “CONTINUE paper and digital clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.”

My initial reaction was “What a disaster!” Then, I remember the much improved content now in my parents’ digital and paper files.  Preliminary work is done for husband’s family.  Now comes the detailed and sometimes tedious work of review, analysis and documentation.

Start with current generation and work back in time. Generations 1 and 2, including siblings, are up-to-date. I have basic information on direct line ancestors. I followed the same sequence more-or-less with my parents’ families, i.e., direct line ancestors first with occasional side trips to collateral relatives.

What prompted my decision to learn more about a specific collateral relative? The receipt of vintage pictures from a cousin was one reason. Review of early notes and questions about previous findings suggested new directions. Online comments or an email from a distant cousin led to seeking more details. Information about one person revealed a tantalizing clue about another person. And, I was off in pursuit of the next person! In a few cases, I just wanted to know when a person died and/or if they married.

family tree branch logo_mine2I recently received an information request from an Ellerbee distant cousin.  I have an original source that she didn’t have. I scanned and sent the relevant information. In return, she shared information about her direct ancestor, a sibling of husband’s direct ancestor.  I love the give and take of genealogy!!

Now comes my dilemma. Do I start with husband’s direct line great-great-great grandfather and work forward?  Or, do I follow the more standard procedure of working from husband’s grandparents back?  Working forward from John Ellerbee (born about 1808, Georgia) seems more glamorous. This path shines brightly with possible detractors that could easily derail my plan. Starting with Ellerbee grandparents appears to be a straighter and better lighted path with fewer shiny pebbles as detractors.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists[2] offers some guidance. One genealogy research standard addresses “efficient sequence.”  Specifically, “Research plans specify the order for examining resources. These sequences give priority to efficient discovery of useful evidence.” The term “efficient discovery” stands out for me. Which procedure will enable me to discover information in the most efficient manner? In general, more current information is easier to discover. The straighter path seems less exciting but still leads to important results.

Answer seems obvious- start with Ellerbee grandparents. (Big Sigh!).  Last week, I found a probate record for John Ellerbee.[3] The record lists children’s names including married surnames of daughters. One entry confirmed information provided by distant cousin about her ancestor. Detour!  I created research logs for John and his two wives. Citation revision continues in database. I note questions and observations for later follow -up.  When this is done, I will return to the more recent past and pick up with Ellerbee grandparents.

Now that I’ve started, I feel less overwhelmed. Thanks for listening!

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

I used this post to explore my current dilemma. Writing helped to defuse my sense of despair about the status of the Ellerbee and Johnson files. I admit to applying Genealogy Do-Over principles inconsistently and rarely to these files over the last few years.

Recent family death and another family emergency greatly affected my motivation to work on genealogy over the last 4-5 months. I have kept up with genealogy blogs.

What I learned:  Journaling is a way to think through a dilemma. Remembering positive results from application of Genealogy Do-Over principles to my parents’ family trees. Specifically, careful review of documents revealed previously unknown information and presented new insights. I am leaving a better legacy for later genealogists.

What helped: Writing this post. Previous experience with Genealogy Do-Over principles. Having standardized format for record keeping. Color coded files in place. Knowledge of both family lines from previous research. Some clean-up of Ellerbee and Johnson files is done.

What didn’t help:  Personal frustration.

To-do:  Complete work on John E. Ellerbee with currently available information. Leave questions for another time. Focus on Ellerbee grandparents next. Follow research plan including documentation.

SOURCES

[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook  (Hack Genealogy : 2019);  digital images, PDF version.

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2nd ed.. (Nashville, TN: Turner  Publishing Company, 2019), page 13.

[3]  “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee, 1 Dec 1886, file 73, Hillsborough County; citing “Florida, Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

A Death in the Family

My post this week is very short. One week ago today, a family member died. Jerry Donald Ellerbee, aged 81 years, 1 month, 1 day, died on 17 February 2019. He died peacefully in his sleep at home. I am blessed to have known Jerry as my father-in-law.  His commitment to family reaches far.

Ellerbee_Jerry_D_marker1

When I was a novice genealogist, Jerry shared many stories of his family, especially the Ellerbee side. I remember walking the Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Texas, with him. He pointed out graves of many relatives and knew exactly how all of the distant cousins were related to him. I am the proud owner of an Ellerbee family history because of him.

SOURCE: Ronald William Ellerbe. The Ellerbe Family History. Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, 1986.

Jerry related that he knew his maternal grandfather’s name, Clay Simmons, but little else about the Simmons family.  So, I decided to find out for him. In 2014, my husband and I traveled to east Texas as part of that search. We discovered that the Simmons family had migrated to Texas from Alabama just before the Civil War. Migration of Simmons FamilyI even found an Oklahoma connection. Jerry’s  third cousin, Gappa Malachi Rushing,  moved to Oklahoma before statehood and practiced medicine in Durant, Bryan county, Oklahoma.  For Christmas, 2014, I gifted a scrapbook about his Simmons ancestors to Jerry. page 93_John E Ellerbee legacy_Ellerbee scrapbook_Jan 2018

I promised Jerry that I would do more research about the Ellerbee family.  For his 80th birthday, Jerry received that scrapbook about the Ellerbee family. It was my privilege to share the information with him.

 

It’s been a long week for all of us left here. So, here’s my brief tribute to Jerry Donald Ellerbee, my father-in-law. Thank you for sharing your family stories with us. Thank you for the honor of being your family’s genealogist.

Susan Posten Ellerbee, daughter-in-law

©Susan Posten Ellerbee & Posting Family Roots Blog, 2019

 

 

End of Year Review–2018 Genealogy Goals

December, a time to remember our blessings through the giving of gifts and family celebrations. One of my gifts has been time for Genealogy Do-Over.  How did I spend that gift?  In this post, I reflect on the year and present my 2018 goals and activities.

Overall, I am pleased with my genealogical research this year.  Contact with 4 cousins includes sharing information and asking for opinions about questionable data or conclusions drawn by others.  I was pleasantly surprised when one cousin sent me a box of old family pictures. Another cousin shared pictures digitally. My mother’s album of similar pictures has been lost so this was a wonderful gift!

I routinely use Genealogy Do-Over principles as new research directions appear.  I talked to my oldest son about preserving the legacy.  Daily computer time was limited for several weeks due to a painful shoulder.  Shoulder problem is now resolved as long as I work in short bursts.  Maybe Santa Claus will bring Dragon software? 

I hoped to complete digital clean-up of Mom’s family tree by the end of the year.  Did progress on Genealogy Do-Over interfere with conducting new research and following new leads?  In some ways, yes.  However, I did follow new leads.  Developing more efficient research habits meant slowing down a little. Specifically, I renamed digital documents immediately after downloading to my computer and  before saving the document to genealogy software.  I cited the source right then, too. This practice will ultimately save time later. Thorough documentation helped me to find insights that I would probably have missed before.  And, I wrote down those insights including  how I came to a specific conclusion!   

Writing blog posts took more time than I expected each week.  Some posts are really long and potentiallydifficult to follow.  At the end of theyear, I set a goal of 1500 words or less for each post. This goal will continuefor 2019. As I wrote, I gained new perspectives about each person or family. Gaps and questions seemed more clear.   

Susan’s Genealogy 2018 Goals:

  1. Continue paper and digital file clean-up.  Focus on mom’s family as Dad’s family files are almost done. Results:  Goal met.  Work continues on mom’s tree. 
    • Created research logs for 80 of the 297 persons in mom’s tree, including 28 identified direct line ancestors. The non-direct line persons (N = 52) are siblings of direct line ancestors and the siblings’  spouses.
    • Completed paper records (Individual worksheet, Research checklist, Biographical outline) for direct line ancestors and their siblings.
    • Digitally, renamed media files and rewrote source citations using Roots Magic source templates/ Evidence Explained[1] format.  Approximately 75% complete for Mom’s tree.
    • Refined labelling system for digital files.
    • Used same process of paper and digital file cleanup for a few files in other family trees (Dad, Father-in-law,Mother-in-law).
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter. Use information from 2010 Posten family history.
    • Result:  Not met. Presented information to local DAR chapter about Father-in-law’sdistant cousin who lived in Oklahoma before statehood.  Keep same goal for 2019.
  3. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication optionswith expected publication in 2019.
    • Results:  Partially met. Revised one chapter of Posten family history book. Continue same goal for 2019.
  4. Send copies of grandparents’ BMD certificates to cousin.
    • Results: Met. Sent copies of grandparents’ certificates plus other BMD certificates to cousin. Sent print-ready copies of blog posts to another cousin.
  5. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
    • Results:  Partially met. Requested 5 certificates. One certificate sent to me by another Tucker-Maurer family researcher. Received 2 of 4 certificates requested. Waiting for 2 certificates from New York.  Certificates from State of New York can take 8-9 months. Certificates from New York City usually received within 6-8 weeks.
  6. Blog-related goals:
    • Post on more regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.  Goal met.
    • Expand to husband’s family, at least 4 stories about his family during the year. Goal met.  Posted 5 stories about husband’s family.
      • Simmons,Ellerbee, Johnson-Reed scrapbooks—posted 29 January 2018
      • Valentine in the family tree: Valentine Creager—posted 14 February 2018
      • Elegy to Elizabeth Hayes Ellerbee – posted 5 March 2018
      • Pre-1850 census records using William Bailey as example – posted 25 September 2018
      • Holcomb family and New Madrid Earthquakes, 1811-1812, posted December 3, 2018.
    • Explore options for posting family trees to blog. Goal partially met.  Option called RootsPersona ( https://rootspersona.com/) is one option. For 2019, post at least two family trees to blog.
  7. Learn more about DNA testing.  Join DNA Do-over Facebook group. Goal met. Joined Facebook group on 4 January 2018. Read posts about once a week.
  8. Post DNA results to GEDmatch.  Goal met. Posted DNA results to GEDmatch on January 7, 2018. Posted family tree to GEDmatch in March 2018.  Helped one DNA match discover biologic grandmother (person and person’s mother had been adopted; person was able to give me possible surnames and a location).
  9. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (his mother is my sister). Goal not met. Talked about family trees during visits to nephew.
  10. Prepare Ellerbee family scrapbook for Papa (Father-in-law). Goal met. Completed 11 January 2018. Presented to him in honor of 80th birthday.

Other activities:

  • Created digital scrapbook of vintage Tucker-Maurer photographs. Includes photos sent to me by two cousins.
  • Consulted books and online resources about preservation of vintage photographs.
  • Purchased archival quality plastic sleeves for preservation of vintage Tucker-Maurer photographs.
  • Purchased notebooks for BMD certificates, photographs and other memorabilia of Posten-Richards and Tucker-Maurer families.
  • Used principles learned in Genealogy Do-Over to research families of two persons who are related to me by marriage.
  • Joined GenealogyBank for access to newspapers.
  • Continued routine scheduled backups to Cloud and external hard drive.
  • Purchased 7 books for Research Toolbox: 
    • Berry, Kenyatta D. The Family Tree Toolkit. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2018.
    • Bettinger, Blaine T. Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. Kindle edition.Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, No date.
    • Crawford,Mark.  Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership,Cruelty, Character, and Kindness. El Dorado Hills, California:  Savas Beatie, 2017.
    • Hendrickson, Nancy. 52 Weeks of Genealogy: Projects for Every Week of the Year. Kindle edition. San Diego, California: Green Pony Press, 2017.
    • Lardas,Mark. Nashville 1864: From the Tennessee to the Cumberland.  New York: Osprey Publishing, 2017.
    • Richards, Amber. Preserve Your Family Pictures: How to Save Photo Heirlooms for Future Generations. Kindle edition. Publication information not listed.
    • Rigdon,John C. Historical Sketch and Roster of the Georgia 25th Infantry Regiment. Kindle edition.Cartersville, Georgia: Easter Digital Resources, 2015.

How much did my hobby cost?  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Archival materials      $ 76.83 (includes scrapbook items)
  • BMD records                $92.00
  • Books                            $74.80
  • Copying                       $    4.20 (forms for paper files)
  • Ink/ printer                  $339.95(New printer July 2018)
  • Online databases        $788.75 (Discontinued 1 due to minimal results)
  • Paper/Scrapbook        $  10.00 (3 reams paperfrom estate sale)

Total                           $1386. 53

Average/ month        $  115.54

Ink/ printer and online database costs should decrease in 2019.  

Next blog post:  2019 goals and budget   


SOURCES

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

Kate, Stephen, and Aunt Viola’s family history

My ongoing quest is to confirm information provided by maternal great-aunt Viola Maurer Tucker via a handwritten 8-page genealogy.[1]  Her manuscript created the foundation for research about my mother’s family. I can confirm much of what she wrote. Surname misspellings are common but not unexpected.  Viola was in her late 60s when she wrote this document.  I believe that she recorded what she remembered.  My job now is to confirm and add to this family history.  Using processes outlined in Genealogy Do-Over, I am about  halfway done with the Tucker-Maurer family.  When completed, I will post Viola’s original document with my additions.  Here is a report of my latest findings.

According to Viola’s history (page 3):

Katherine (Kate) married Steven Scheffle.  They had 5 children:   Steven, Gertrude, Agnes, Edward, & Charles.

Viola did not report any other information about Kate and Steven or their children. I began with census records which then led to birth, marriage, and death records. Eventually, I remembered to search for obituaries.  Kate’s obituary named four surviving children and answered an important question:  Did her daughters marry or not?  Viola almost got it right – Stephen and Kate had 6 children, not 5.

Katherine Anna Maurer, 3rd child and oldest daughter of German immigrants Valentin Maurer and Anna Katharina Korzelius, is sister of my maternal great-grandfather, Herman Maurer.  Valentine and Anna initially settled in New Jersey, the birthplace of Katherine’s older brothers, Valentin and Hermann[2] . By 1866 (the year of Katherine’s birth), the family had moved to Brooklyn, New York, the birthplace of Katherine, her younger brothers Joseph and Edward, and her sister, Rosina. The year 1880 finds 14-year-old Kattie working as a box maker. [3]  Earning pennies, her wages helped to make the family’s existence a little easier.

Katie’s future husband, Stephen L. Scheffel (note the surname spelling variation from Viola’s report)  and his German immigrant parents also lived in Brooklyn. The couple may have met at church. Katie and Stephen, both in their early 20s,  married about 1889.[4] They brought up their children in the Roman Catholic church.

Maurer_Katherine_Stephen_ScheffeL_wedding_from BRozier

Photograph labelled as Katherine Maurer & Stephen Scheffel wedding. Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE}, Yukon, Oklahoma, 208. Photographs originally held by Mercedes V. Tucker Bunce, Ms. Ellerbee’s aunt, and sent electronically to Ms. Ellerbee by Barbara Bunce Rosier, daughter of Mercedes. V. Tucker and Mahlon Bunce, May 2018.

The babies came frequently:  Stephen J in March 1890, Gertrude in April 1892, Agnes in June 1893, Edward in December 1894, Charles Henry in April 1896 and William Valentine in December 1898. June 1900 finds the family living in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York. [5] The census taker recorded that Kate was the mother of 6 children with 6 children living. An amazing feat considering infant and child mortality rates of the era.[6]  Katie not only survived the births of 6 children in 10 years but also kept all 6 of those children alive. This adds one more child, William, to Viola’s list. More challenges faced Katie.

Katie’s husband, Stephen L. Scheffel, died a year or two later. One witness to Stephen’s will, written in 1901, was Joseph Maurer, Katie’s brother.[7]  The probate case file, dated 1903, does not record the date of Stephen’s death.  I haven’t found a death record but suspect that Stephen probably died in 1902 or early 1903. Given that he wrote a will in 1901, he probably expected to die soon.  Thirty-six year old Katie now found herself a widow with six children under the age of 13. The better life promised to her immigrant parents must have seemed out of reach.

The children assisted as much as they could. By 1910, four of Katie’s children held jobs. [8] Stephen J, age 20, worked as a magazine agent. Gertrude and Agnes held positions as bookkeepers. Edward was an office boy in a business house. Stephen, the oldest, was also the first to marry. He married Marion H. Schick, daughter of German immigrants, in 1916.[9] The year 1920 held slightly more promise for the family.  Katie’s other 5 children still lived with their mother. [10]

During the next decade, Katie’s children gradually left home.   Agnes married James H. Callahan, a lawyer, in 1927. [11].  Edward married Margaret Gross in 1926 [12]and had a daughter, Alice Marie in 1928. [13] William married about 1929 to Madeline.

Katie was now grandmother to 5 grandchildren, four children born to Stephen & Marion and one daughter born to Edward. These may be her only grandchildren.

The 1930s brought financial ruin to many. Unemployment skyrocketed. How were Katie and her children affected? Their financial circumstances probably became even more difficult. Personal tragedies would also mark this decade. By 1930, Stephen and his wife, Marion had separated. Stephen and his 2 sons moved in with Katie. [14]  Marion and their 2 daughters moved to Orangetown, New York, where she worked as a live-in housekeeper. [15]  What caused this split? Money? Other issues?

In May 1931, Edward died, leaving his wife and daughter.[16] I found a September 1932 death record for Stephen J. Scheffel in San Diego, California.[17] Had he followed others in search of work? In 1936, Stephen’s wife, Marion, married Frank Kuhn, the man for whom she worked as housekeeper in 1930. [18] Where were Gertrude and Charles in 1930? That remains a mystery.

By 1940 and still living in Brooklyn, Katie’s son, Charles,  cared for his aging mother.[19] Katie experienced the difficulties of being an immigrant’s daughter in the 1870s and 1880s.  She saw the nation at war. At least two sons, Edward and Charles, fought in World War I.  She lived through the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression.  She buried her husband and two of her six children. Katie would not experience another war. Katherine Anna Maurer Scheffel, 75 years old, died 4 December 1941, [20] on the eve of World War II.  She was buried two days later in St. John’s Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Maurer_Katherine_mScheffel_obit_1941_crop

Obituary for Katherine A. Scheffel, printed in Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) on 4 December 1941, page 15, column 4, under ‘Deaths’. Accessed from Newspapers.com on 2 September 2018.

What of Katie’s surviving children- Charles, William, Gertrude and Agnes?

  • Charles: SSDI record for Charles H. Scheffel, born 22 April 1896; died 19 March 1957 in Florida. [21]  New York birth record for Charlie Scheffel , son of Stepfan Sheffel and Kathy Anna Maurer implies that this is the same person. [22]
  • William: born 26 December 1898. [23] Died 24 September 1946 in Brooklyn per obituary.[24]
  • Gertrude: born 3 April 1892. [25] Died in February 1973 in Brooklyn per SSDI.[26] Gertrude probably remained single throughout her life.
  • Agnes: SSDI record for Agnes Callahan, born 3 June 1893; died October 1985 in New York. [27].  Corresponds to New York birth record for Agnes Scheffel, daughter of Steffen Louis Scheffel and Katy Anna Maurer Scheffel. [28]

Katie’s life was not glamorous. She did not gain notoriety or extreme wealth. In an era of high maternal and infant mortality, she successfully negotiated the trials of childbirth six times. Similarly, all six of her children grew to adulthood. Did she ever become depressed? Or, am I projecting today’s values on her? Sad? Yes.  I believe that her children’s needs helped to overcome those feelings. Her Roman Catholic faith may also provided strength and solace.

In summary, I used multiple types of records to confirm and add to information reported by great-aunt Viola. Katie’s obituary was a large missing puzzle piece to tell the story of Katie and her children. I began this puzzle in 2016. Now, two years later, only a few small pieces remain to be found.

Attached is a family group sheet for Stephen Scheffel_Katharine Maurer  and their children. A detailed group sheet with sources is available upon request.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:

I considered various ways to present this information. Katie’s obituary, found recently, gave me the lead I needed to discover Agnes’ marriage. Obituaries can be a rich source of information.  Perhaps a topic for another post?  I continue to find that Viola’s history is an excellent structure with only a few inconsistencies.  I am a perfectionist and want everything to be complete and solid.  I am beginning to accept that I can leave questions unanswered and holes left open.  I try to do the best work that I can with the tools that I have available. And, so, I leave work for future generations.

I used indexes extensively. I may not have financial resources to order all of the original records.  Digital copies of some records may be available at a local Family History Center of the LDS Church. If doing a formal report, the original records should be obtained. The blog turned out longer than I planned. The extensive source list seems almost too much!

What I learned/ relearned:   Look for obituaries earlier in the process.  Ancestry and FamilySearch will not lead me to all records about a person.  A slower data entry process forced me to look at documents more thoroughly.  I sometimes found information that I had previously overlooked.

What helped:  Viola’s history.  Online access to multiple records and indexes.  Creation of research logs for each child. I applied lessons from Genealogy Do-Over. Specifically, during each work session, I saved and labelled digital records, added information to RootsMagic on my computer, and filled in research logs. Although this temporarily slowed forward progress, I won’t have to re-do it later! Finding obituaries for Edward and Charles, even though it was 1 a.m.!

What didn’t help:  Continued temptation to ‘point-click-save’ without thoroughly reviewing information in the document.

To-do list: Continue search for Stephen Scheffel’s death certificate circa 1901-1903. Confirm death dates and locations for Stephen J. Scheffel and Gertrude Scheffel.  Locate Charles and Gertrude in 1930 census.

SOURCES: 

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” 8 pages; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[2] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Atlantic county, New Jersey, population schedule, Galloway, p. 291 (penned), dwelling 2238, family 2205, Valentin Maurer age 31 digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 31 January 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653_682.

[3] 1880 census. 1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B(penned), sheet325B, dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Kattie, age 14; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.

[4] Marriage year based on birth of oldest child in 1890. “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, , Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:CFQ : 11 February 2018 : accessed & printed 30 August 2018), entry for Stephan Scheffel, born 8 March 1890; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York City, New York

[5] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 0331, p. 5A (penned), 185 Hopkins St, dwelling 19, family 100, Kate Scheffel age 24; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 7 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623, roll 1058.

[6] In 1900, approximately 165 babies died for every  1000 babies born.  “Infant mortality and life expectancy.” Accessed from PBS (https://www.pbs.org/fmc/timeline/dmortality.htm   : accessed 9 September 2018).

[7]  Kings County, New York, Surrogate’s Court, Probate Case Files, Will and witness documents for Stephen L. Scheffel ca 1901-1903; “New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: viewed, printed, downloaded 20 May 2016); Wills, Vol 0305-0307, 1902-1903. Probate Place: Kings, NY.

[8]  1910 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 30, enumeration district (ED) 1064, p. 5A (penned), dwelling 69, family 112, Katherine A. Scheffel head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 20 May 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_985.

[9]  New York City Clerk’s Office, New York, New York, “New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, printed, downloaded 29 August 2018), entry for Stephen J Scheffel; citing 1916 BKLYN S Jan- Apr; License number 2026.

[10] 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, Assembly District 9, enumeration district (ED) 484, p. 13A (penned), house number 245, Catherine Scheffe [Katharine Scheffel] head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 17 July 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1157.

[11] “New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 September 2018), entry for Agnes M. Scheffel; citing New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Clerk’s Office, New York, New York; License Number: 9506.

[12] New York Department of Records/ Municipal Archives, “Extracted marriage Index, 1866-1937,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 1 September 2018), entry for Edward Scheffel; citing Index to New York City Marriages, 1866-1937. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group..

[13]. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 0881, p. 1B (penned), Edward Scheffil age 35; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, printed, downloaded 17 July 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 1538.

[14] 1930 U.S. Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 1754, p. 13B (penned), dwelling 158, family 596, Kathrine Scheffel; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded & printed 9 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 1508.

[15] 1930 U.S. Census, Rockland county, New York, population schedule, Orangetown, enumeration district (ED) 44-27, p. 12 B (penned), dwelling, 236, famiy 249, Marian Scheffel housekeeper, age 34 in household of Frank Kuhn; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 29 August 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm T626.

[16] “SHEFFEL, EDWARD,” obituary, The Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York) Daily Eagle, 4 May 1931; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 1 September 2018), Deaths; citing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. page 17, column 2.

[17] California Department of Health and Welfare “California, Death Index, 1905-1939,” index, online database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 17 July 2016), entry for Stephen J.Scheffel, birth year abt 1890.

[18] New York, New York State Department of Health, “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,” digital index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed 29 August 2018), Marion H. Scheffel, Frank M. Kuhn, certificate no. 40937.

[19] 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 24-1128, p. 4B (penned), household 78, Catherine Scheffel head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed, downloaded 9 February 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T627_2575.

[20] New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn, Certificate of Death no. 23456 (4 December 1941), Katherine A. Scheffel; Muncipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[21] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 12 July 2016), Charles H. Scheffel, 0891444136.

[22] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: TT2 11 Feb 2018), Charlie Scheffel, 22 Apr 1896; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 6142 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microflim 1,324,428.

[23] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (http://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: SQD 11 Feb 2018), William Scheffel, 26 Dec 1898; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 357 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microflim 1,984,423.

[24]  “Deaths, Scheffel, William,” obituary, Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York) Daily Eagle, 25 September 1946; database with images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 2 September 2018); citing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 15, column 2.

[25] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: X6l: 11 February 2018), Gertrud Scheffel, 03 Apr 1892; citing New York, United States, reference cn 3738 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1, 324,409.

[26] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & printed 17 July 2016), Gertrude Scheffel, 147-18-1503, New Jersey (before 1951).

[27] Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed 5 September 2018), entry for Agnes Callahan, 067-01-6266, New York (before 1951).

[28]  “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, , Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:HH3: 11 February 2018 : accessed 13 August 2018), entry for Agnes Scheffel; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York, New York

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