Category Archives: Documentation

My Ancestors Signature #7 ~ Deborah Jordan

How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations. I am very excited because I found the signature of my first female ancestor!

My 6th Great Aunt

woman silhouette

Deborah Jordan Signature Will 1770

1741-1804

From her brother’s “Will” 1770

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancestry, Deborah Jordan, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, My Ancestors Signature, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Secrets Kept

mom & bro 1943One of the best parts about Genealogy is finding the truth about your ancestors. This includes the family that is close to you. Growing up my parents were very tight-lipped about their pasts. My sister and I weren’t raised around family so, we didn’t have anyone we could talk to in order to find out information on them. When we did live near family I was aged 12 to 14 and the last thing I was thinking about was my parents’ past.

Mom & Dad ML 1948

My dad, Douglas Hughes was born on August 18, 1915, and my mother, Emmajane Smith, was born on April 25, 1919. They didn’t get married until December 13, 1948. So, a lot of living happened before they tied the knot. My dad died on June 24, 1974, when I was 19 years old. The only information I knew for a fact was that my brother, who was 18 years older than I, was not my dad’s son. This, of course, means my mother had been married before.

Dad, Mildred 2 and LolaAfter my dad died my mother told us that my dad had been married once before and he had two daughters. These girls and their mom died of scarlet fever. She then confessed that she had been married twice before. Her first husband had died of a heart attack in 1937. The second one was killed in a house explosion in 1948. She had been left a widow twice. She said she had wished them dead and they died! She refused to answer any more questions so we finally gave up asking. My mother died on June 16, 1999. This is when I started my Genealogy journey.

Over the next few years, I was able to piece together some of the missing pieces. I found a photo of my dad and his wife Mildred and their daughter Lola. My mother had written their names on the back of the photo. I found some very interesting things about my dad and his life, all of which were nothing like my mother had told us. These stories I will keep till another time.

Mom & Earl ML aged 17 1936

I found my mother’s marriage license to her first husband online. She and Earl Wilson got married on September 4, 1936. My brother, Gordon arrived 8 months later. I searched the newspapers for obits for Earl but I couldn’t find one. I searched for a death certificate but none was to be found. I got desperate and looked for divorce papers, no luck there either. I did find Earl in the 1940 Census along with a new wife, 2 more kids, and my brother! I then traced him down and found he died in 1980.

 

Mom & lierman ml

Next, she married George Lierman on July 19, 1940. Again I tried to find information about him and the house explosion. Believe it or not, I found a newspaper article about it dated May 17, 1948. Apparently, he tried to light a stove and it started a fire. So there was some truth in her story. What was left out was that in May 1947 George had married a woman named Georgia and she had 2 boys. So sometime before then my mother and he had to have gotten a divorce.

Nellie 1 obit 2

 

Now to my dilemma. Have you ever had a newspaper clipping or document that you believe you had read all there was written in it? Well, that happened to me. I found an obituary for my mother’s stepmother who died on February 4, 1948. I had read through it several times however, a couple of years ago I discovered something I had overlooked. As was the custom of the day the surviving stepchildren for Nellie Smith were listed. The two stepsons were listed as Raymond Eugene Smith and John Pleasant Smith Jr. Then came the two stepdaughters listed as Mrs. Otto Claxton and Mrs. Ike Cook. It had never dawned on me that Mrs. Cook was my mother. I can’t find any marriage documents for them. I even searched the surrounding states because my parents had gotten married in Arkansas. I also tried all the variations of the “nickname” Ike.

So it appears that my mother was married 4 times not 3. She was also never a widow until my dad passed away. All of my mothers’ family who may have known about her and her life have passed away. I have run out of ideas as to how I can find more information about the married to Ike. Any suggestions?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Credibility, Death, Dilemma, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Hughes, Marriage, Memories, Missouri, Mother, Personal Stories, Saturday's Dilemma, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Down The Rabbit Hole

dilemma pic

One thing I have realized is there is never a shortage of dilemmas when you are working on Genealogy. Sometimes a person doesn’t quite fit into your tree, but you are sure they do. Other times, no matter how hard you search you can’t find a birth or death certificate. I am amazed that I still have hair!

downrabbithole

I believe part of my problem with finding the information I need is I am a shotgun researcher. I decide to work on one Ancestor, then I start searching for the documents I am missing. I do good for a while, going to as many different sites to find or verify documentation. My downfall is when a name comes up from one of my other Ancestors. “Oh look, there may be some information I can use on them too!” Down the rabbit hole, I plunge! The next thing I know is I have strayed far from my original goal and more often than not, I have forgotten what I started researching. It is like I shot the gun and the pellets go in all directions. It gets so frustrating.

helping-parents-keep-their-child-organized_0

Believe it or not, I am a very organized person. I can sit in my recliner and tell someone where anything is in the house. Not just the general area but the cupboard and shelf and which side it is on. My husband is always amazed because he is the disorganized one. So why, why, why, can’t I figure out a doable way of organizing my research approach? I have tried many methods but nothing clicks with me.

So, maybe one of you can help me? What works best for you when it comes to keeping track of your research? How do you organize it so you can go back to the original Ancestor you began with? I am open to all suggestions. Thanks in advance.

 

cropped-blog-pic1.jpg

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

8 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Dilemma, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Organization, Research, Saturday's Dilemma, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Sometimes All You Need Is A Little Advice

Mayflower-IIWith the upcoming 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower arriving in Plymouth, Massachusetts I thought it would be a good idea to start writing blogs about my Pilgrim ancestors. I want to publish them as a series later in the year and I am striving for absolute accuracy, if possible. I am excited about this endeavor.

Here is my dilemma, one of my female ancestors has some controversy over her correct maiden name. To be honest, I have had both of her “proven” names listed on my tree at different times. I have done my own research and I have found credible evidence for both names. I have scoured through all of the Mayflower websites that I can find, as well as numerous books and publications. These have also been divided on her name.

2 people arguing

Because of my uncertainty of the correct one, I have been verbally attacked and harassed about the name I have associated with this ancestor. No matter which last name I have on the tree, someone who believes the other name is correct gives me a hard time about it. I always try to respond nicely, explaining why I have this particular last name listed and confessing that I have gone back and forth with the 2 names. I know you can’t please everyone, but until I find definitive proof, I will not take a side in this issue.

Question markSo, I was thinking yesterday, after my latest confrontation, that I may add a “second” wife to my ancestor. In other words, add the same wife with the other last name. I had thought about just putting both names on the existing one, kind of like Smith/Jones but I know in doing this it will wreak havoc with any hints I may receive. I would add the documentation for the “second” wife so when it is viewed a person can understand why I have it this way.

Has any of you done this with an ancestor before? If so, how did it work out? Any other suggestions?

 

cropped-blog-pic1.jpg

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Corrections, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Mayflower, Pilgrims, Plymouth Massachusetts, Research, Uncategorized

Same Name ~ “The Hughes Sister’s” ~  #52Ancestors week #6

Same NameMy paternal Grandparents had a total of 11 children, 2 from my Grandpa’s first marriage and 9 of their own.  I can imagine the hard time they may have had coming up with names for each child. This is evident in that 3 out of their 4 girls have “Belle” as their middle name.  My Grandmothers name was Virginia Belle but everyone called her Jennie. I am sure she loved her middle name so much that she wanted to pass it on.

The oldest girl’s name was Leola Belle. Born in 1907 she passed away from an acute heart Ellie & Nellie babiesproblem at the age of 32. The next in line were the twins, Ellie Belle and Nellie Belle. They were born in 1910.  When they were born they had the genetic defect of a hair lip. They were identical in every way. Growing up they played tricks on others, including their parents and siblings. They pretended to be each other, confusing everyone. When new kids moved into town one of them would make friends with them, then they would trade off playing with the kids. Once they were convinced there was only one girl, Ellie and Nellie would both show up to play! Believe me, no one ever forgot these girls.

Ellie & Nellie & LeonardI was able to attend 2 family reunions when we lived in Missouri for a couple of years. I was fascinated with them as I hadn’t meet twins before. I remember getting in trouble because I was sitting near them laughing and my mother thought I was making fun of them. In reality, I was laughing because I watched as others came to talk with them and had them confused with each other! You couldn’t blame the people, they had the same hairstyle, same clothes,  same voice!

Although they didn’t share the exact first name their names were so close that for years I have had trouble separating some of their information to add to my tree. Back in the late 60’s Nellie just kind of disappeared. She had gotten married in 1929 and within 9 months she was 6 months pregnant and became a widow as her husband had been murdered.  After this she moved around a lot, eventually marrying a man from Michigan and having 2 more kids. Then there were big gaps in her being in touch with the family. At the beginning of 1962, she reemerged without her husband.  By the end of that decade, she disappeared again.

A month ago I finally found her date of death and some other information I had been looking for. One of the problems with researching is the names Ellie and Nellie are so close in the spelling that when I typed in Nellie’s name I would get Ellie’s information.  I don’t feel too bad about the mix-ups though. Ellie’s son passed away last month and they put Nellie listed as his mother!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

2 Comments

Filed under 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Ancestry, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Hughes, Memories, Missouri, Research, Uncategorized

You Are Just Now Finding That Out?

Daniel Boone picI have a personal Facebook page for family only. Most of the family I have never met as I was raised about 1300 miles from them. Only 2 of the 150+ cousins are doing any kind of Genealogy research. So as I find new or interesting information on one of our Ancestors I post my findings on my page. In the last week, I discovered that Daniel Boone is my 1st cousin 8 times removed. I posted this along with his line to me and I got great responses. Except for one cousin. They made the following comment ”Why would this be a new find? Shouldn’t you have completed our Genealogy by now?”

I just shook my head and laughed. I have been searching my family roots for over 20 years now and I fully understand the effort and time it takes to thoroughly research each Ancestor. I know this cousin has no idea. I sent her a private message and told her the following.

Thank you for your response. Yes, I am just now finding this Man Standing At Beginning Of Winding Roadinformation on our cousin Daniel Boone. Researching Genealogy is not a short sprint, it is a never-ending journey. It can take weeks, months and in some cases years to find the correct ancestor and their documentation so they can be placed in the tree. Every person must have documentation otherwise it is guesswork and hoping that this ancestor is ours.

Another problem is as you go further back you have a large number of Ancestors to go through. Daniel Boone is our cousin through his maternal Grandmother, Sarah Morgan’s father Edward Morgan. Edward is my 8 times Great Grandfather. To put this in perspective, by the time you are researching 8 generations back you will have over 1020 3 times Great Grandparents! So you can see why it could take years to make new discoveries”

I hope this explains it well enough for her. On a side note….when I told my youngest Grandson he was related to Daniel Boone his response was….”You mean he is real?”

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Leave a comment

Filed under 8 times Great Grandparents, Ancestry, Cousins, Credibility, Daniel Boone, Documentation, Edward Morgan, Facebook, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hayes Family, History, Research, Story telling, Truth, Uncategorized

Judith Vassall White – Now That Took Courage

silenceIf you have been researching your family history for any length of time you know how hard it is to find anything, other than a few documents, for those Ancestors who were born before 1800. That is unless they are famous for some reason. Even harder is to find personal information on a female Ancestor since they usually aren’t even mentioned by name. Imagine my surprise when I actually found an exciting account of a risky confrontation that my 9 times Great Grandmother had.

Judith Vassall was born in 1619 in Cold Norton, Maldon District, Essex, England to William and Ann ships_to_america_large(King) Vassall. Her family were prominent merchants and devout Puritans. Because of the persecution of this religion in England, the Vassall’s along with dozens of other believers boarded the ship “Blessing” headed to the Colonies. They arrived in Plymouth Massachusetts in 1635 when Judith was 16 years old. In 1640 she married Resolved White who had come to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower with his parents William and Susanna (Fuller) White.

Judith’s father William, was considered a troublemaker among those who lived in Plymouth. The Puritans were intolerant of those of other religions. They would persecute them and run them out of town. Many were beaten beforehand. William was considered too liberal in his religious views and he would stand up for the Quakers and this caused quite a stir. He was even beaten at one point. As a result, William and his family moved to Scituate Massachusetts. He eventually left the Colony and moved to Barbados.

pilrim womanThis is what was written about Judith in 1660: “She was a mother and woman worthy of her times; like Wycliffe, she could see, hear and act. When the Quakers were persecuted in court she could not sit still and listen to them denounced with persecutions and death, but (woman as she was, who had been taught to sit in silence in Church) arose and sternly rebuked the complainer for his unchristian like talk and behavior; and to her bravery, and influence over her husbands half-brother, Gov, Josiah Winslow, he refused his signature to the circular sent by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and that no worse persecutions are found written on the Old Colony records, she is entitled to the grateful remembrance of the pilgrim daughters. Green as Green Harbor be her memory.”

At this time in history, women had very little rights, especially in Puritan society. She literally risked her life to stand up and publicly speak to “the complainer”. She apparently was well thought of to have any influence over her brother-in-law causing him to refuse to sign the circular. Also, her statements must have convicted those who heard it for them to cease their unjust treatment of the Quakers. She was indeed a woman of great faith and courage!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Church, Documentation, Family History, Genealogy, History, Judith Vassall White, Massachuettes, Mayflower, Pilgrims, Plymouth Massachusetts, Puritans, Religion, Uncategorized, William Vassall

The Broader Technique

My Maternal Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith has always been a mystery. When I first broaderstarted my research over 20 years ago, I only had his name, date of birth and the name of my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I had a few stories that my mother had told me about him when I was younger, but I couldn’t find anything that would validate them. So, I continued to search in hopes of a breakthrough.

I would love to report that the solid cement wall that blocked me from finding any shred of information had fallen down and the life of Pleasant had been revealed. But I can’t. What I can say is I do know a little more about his life thanks to the broader technique.

Sarah Jane Page ML James Newhouse 2It all started when I was trying to break through my Great Grandmothers brick wall a few years back. She was 22 years old when she married Pleasant. Back in the mid-1800s, that was a little late for a woman to get married. I decided to take a second look at the “hints” that came up when I entered her information. I discovered she had gotten married and had a daughter when she was 16.  Her husband died when she was 21 and she then married Pleasant who was 29 years old. Once I had her previous marriage info, I was able to find her parents, her grandparents, etc. I also found her siblings names. As a result, I found that one of her younger sisters had also married a Pleasant Smith! As a matter of fact, after Sarah became a widow she got married again and, on her marriage license, I found that the ceremony had taken place at the home of  Pleasant Smith.

I began to broaden my search into this “new Pleasant Smith”. That is when I found that he was the son of my Great Grandfather and his first wife Charity. I still felt like I did not have sufficient proof that the two Pleasants’ were father and son. I continued my search and found the younger one’s death certificate. His parents were listed, and they matched. However, it was solidly confirmed when I saw that my Uncle was listed as the informant on the certificate.

I am still looking for more records on the elusive Pleasant Sr. I know someday I will find what I am searching for. Because of this experience I have applied this “Broader Technique” to some of my other brick walls with great success. When I find any name that is listed on marriage licenses, wills, deeds etc. I make a note of them along with any dates or where they lived. Then I take the time to research that person. You never know who your ancestor may have crossed paths with. You can also use the U.S. Federal Census as a guide. Research your ancestors’ closest neighbors. Sometimes they have had interactions that have been documented and it may lead you to new discoveries. Sometimes we need to broaden our search field to find the hidden treasures!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Broader Technique, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Missouri, Page Family, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Smith, Uncategorized

You Are Descended From Who?

click

How many of you have been searching for an ancestor on Ancestry.com and you get a match in someone else’s family tree? You then click on their “Matching Person (from Family Trees)” link and up comes their “facts” page. Here you can see what information they have on your shared ancestor. I have been able to garner a lot of useful data from these. I have even on occasion found family photos and documentation in the Gallery section. I then, usually, click on the members’ name and go to their profile page to see if we have any more relatives in common.

This is where it can get interesting. As long as they do not have their trees set on private you can browse through page after page of their “recently added findings”. The further back in time that your common ancestor lived, the more unrelated info you have to go through. But sometimes, in all that digging you find a gem! Some crucial document that can help you fill in some of those empty spots in your tree.

Yesterday I found one of those gems. I was so excited I decided it was worth looking

knights templar

more closely at this person’s “findings”. I soon came across some things that made me a little concerned. According to her tree, the woman was related to Lady Godiva, King James (all of them), Doretha Queen of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, 4 of the Knights Templars, Mary Queen of Scots, Robin Hood, King Francois of France, and the list goes on. I am not saying that she couldn’t have been related to one or more of them but there was no documentation or references at all. The one that really threw me though was her claim to be a descendant of King David (from the Bible) through his son Jonathan.

The reason I wanted to write about this incident was to take the opportunity to discuss the topic of credibility. Every person who is trying to construct a legitimate family history should strive for accuracy and provide as much documentation or sources as possible. I have a couple of ancestors who are my “brick walls”. When I find possible leads, I sometimes add that name to my tree so I can find it and continue researching. However, I make notes that this person has not been verified as part of my lineage and should not be added to anyone’s tree until it has been.

cred

Although I did find one good document in this woman’s common ancestor file, it made me concerned about the accuracy of it because of her listing her other “Ancestors”. Her credibility had been called into question.

The moral of this story is: “Always verify any information that you obtain from anyone else’s tree and always make sure your own data is correct when you add your findings to your own trees”. No tree is 100% perfect, but we should make every attempt to not add anything that can’t be proven.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

3 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Credibility, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Research, Source Citations, Uncategorized

5 Genealogy Myths

mythThere are so many “truths” that we believe about the subject of Genealogy. When I first started researching mine, I believed everything I read or heard about the subject. I apparently was quite naïve.

 

Here are 5 Myths that most new Genealogists are told but they are not true.

1. Your ancestors’ name was changed when they can through Ellis Island.

This isn’t necessarily true. Passenger lists were created when your ancestor boarded the ship at their port of departure. When they arrived at Ellis Island their names were checked off that list. There were, however, some passengers who wanted to change their names, for whatever reason, and the attendants would sometimes accommodate them.

 

2. Your ancestors’ records were destroyed in a Courthouse fire.Chenango_County_Courthouse_May_09

Yes, a lot of Courthouses have burned to the ground, but this doesn’t mean all of the records were destroyed. Some Courthouses did not totally burn down so the surviving documents were transferred to another county close by. Most of them contacted the residents of the county and asked them to bring in any documents they may have so that they could make a note of them. Many States have archives where their staffs have prepared special helps for genealogists researching around Courthouse fires. They would have records of these notes or copies.

 

3. The 1890 census burned to a crisp.

Truth is it did not burn. It became waterlogged while the fire was being extinguished. The papers were left lying around and they rotted. Some unknown person gave permission for these papers to be destroyed. A fraction of the census’ did survive as well as about half of the Civil War Union veterans census records.

 

4. Everyone has a Family Crest.

crestHaving a coat of arms or family crest is much rarer than you might imagine. Having the hereditary right to use it is even rarer. While there are many companies out there that are willing to sell you all kinds of merchandise with your supposed “family crest” on it, the vast majority of these companies are not engaged in legitimate genealogical research. The coat of arms or crest you get may or may not belong to your family (and it might be made up completely by the company selling it to you), or you may not have the hereditary right to use it. Historically speaking, a coat of arms is a design on the shield of a medieval knight. The design was unique to an individual and not to a family. Sometimes, the individual only had rights to the coat of arms during his lifetime. Other times, he was allowed to pass it down to his descendants, and it became the family coat of arms. Google your last name i.e. Hughes Family Crest and you will see how many variations there are.

 

5. You can find your whole family history online.

Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, errors abound in online indexes, transcriptions, and family trees. There is so much documentation out there that may never make its way online. Repositories still hold richly detailed, lesser-known records that haven’t been digitalized. It would really pay off if at some point you could visit a local library or courthouse.

These are only a few of the myths we have heard or believed. It is best to always verify any information that you may come across to determine the “truth” of it.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancestry, Courthouse, Documentation, Family Crests, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Myths, Research, Uncategorized