Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Until I see you again

My sweet mother-in-law passed away this evening from complications of Alzheimer's. Even though we've been expecting the call, it still came as a bit of a shock. I don't know how you ever truly prepare yourself for news like this, even when you know it's coming.

Isn't it sad that one of the first thoughts that ran through my mind was that I needed to go ahead and create her memorial before someone else created it? None of her children or other in-laws would think of creating it. I'm the one who loves family history.

So, even though her funeral arrangements are to be determined, I created her FindAGrave memorial. I'll update it with a brief bio and the name of the cemetery where she will be buried as soon as my sister-in-law gives me the information.

Why did I do that? Because there are folks who jump ahead of family, who cull names and obituaries from funeral home websites before the grieving family can get back from the funeral home after making arrangements. Errors propagate as these folks don't know the deceased and obituaries often contain errors.

Some of the memorial creators are either unwilling to make updates or are too overwhelmed by the sheer volume of memorials they have created to make updates. FindAGrave has tried to help by implementing automatic updates, but those can be overridden by the memorial manager. Yet, when the error is in the bio section, the memorial manager is the one who controls the updates.

Rest in peace, Maggie.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mislinked relatives and headaches

I've had a headache for almost 10 years, and it's due to a mislinked relative. Someone has my great grandmother listed as the daughter of her uncle, and it's causing all sorts of problems in online family trees.

There are two first cousins, both female, with similar names. Martha was born around 1836 to Stephen and Jane. Stephen's brother, Jacob, and his wife, Mary Ann, have a daughter they name Martha Elmina in 1841.

Jacob died in a sawmill accident in 1844, leaving his wife Mary Ann and their two small daughters, Martha Elmina (1841) and Emily Elvira.

Martha Elmina (1841) and Emily are listed with Mary Ann in the 1850 census. Stephen, Jane, and Martha (1836) are listed together in the 1850 census.

By the 1860 census, Martha Elmina (1841) has married William and is listed with him. Martha (1836) is not listed with her parents in the 1860 census, and we have found no marriage or death records for her. After the 1850 census, we find no records for Martha (1836).

Martha Elmina (1841), her husband William, sister Emily, brother-in-law James and mother Mary Ann are all listed by name and relationship in a probate document for Jacob, father of Martha Elmina (1841). Martha Elmina (1841) is listed as Jacob's daughter, not as his niece.

An enterprising family history researcher has listed Martha (1836) and Martha Elmina (1841) as the daughters of Stephen and Jane for about 10 years. And for the last 10 years, I've tried to correct this misinformation, giving chapter and verse complete with documentation. Martha Elmina (1841) should to be linked to her parents, and not to her aunt and uncle.

Another website copied the information. After I contacted them and sent in the documentation proving that Martha Elmina (1841) is Jacob's daughter and not Stephen's, they removed Martha Elmina's (1841) marriage, husband, and children, and called it a day. They left the copy of Martha Elmina's (1841) death certificate with Martha Elmina's (1841) married name, the wrong name for her father (Sam - a misinterpretation of Jacob's middle name, Beachum) and the nickname (Annie) for Martha Elmina's (1841) mother, Mary Ann. Along come more family history researchers who accept her information as valid, and the misinformation is spread further.

Once or twice a year, I go through and contact the new researchers to alert them to the error. Few respond, and even fewer make the correction. Every few years, I send another correction request to the family history researcher who originated the error.

Great-grandmother Elmina, I'm attempting to get your records corrected on those trees. I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall and it's giving me a splitting headache. I will continue the crusade to correct your branch of the family tree. Let's just hope I can get it done before I'm just a leaf on the tree myself.

And Cousin Martha Perry, daughter of Stephen and Jane Perry, I hope to find out what happened to you. Did you marry? Did you die young? Did you move to help out another family member? What happened to you? Perhaps a visit to the county courthouse and to the church where your parents are buried might uncover your fate. I'm going to give it a shot.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a few more new researchers to contact before I go back to trying to uproot the family tree.

Happy digging!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Vacation and Family History in Washington, DC

My husband and I returned from our fall vacation in Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago. And I'm still processing the photos and the tidbits of family history I and a cousin discovered. It was my first time meeting my cousin in person, and it was just as if we'd known each other our entire lives.

My third great grandfather moved into the Washington, DC/Georgetown, MD area sometime between 1800 and 1810. He's found in the 1810 Georgetown, MD census. We know that he had a bakery and confectionery shop in Georgetown in 1817 thanks to a newspaper ad I found on Chronicling America.

Walking down the streets near where he had his shop in 1817 Georgetown gave me a sense of belonging. He had walked on or near the same streets, as had his son, my great great grandfather. I know that they saw a completely different view than the one I saw, but some of the buildings were there when my third great grandfather walked that area.

My poor husband knows that we'll be going back to Washington, DC and to Georgetown in a few years. I have more digging to do to uproot new records on my third great grandfather and his family. I'll continue my search for more documentation of his stay in the area, when and where he died, and where he is buried.

Happy digging!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Me, DNA, and Thee

In mid-August, Ancestry had a special on their DNA testing kits. I ordered one, deposited my saliva, sealed, shook and dropped it in the pouch, then sealed the pouch and took it to the post office. And then I waited impatiently for my results.

I confess that I didn't warn my husband. He's not into family history or any history for that matter. In his eyes, history is nothing more than boring dates and facts to be memorized for a test, then forgotten. I, on the other hand, love history. For me, it's alive and brimming with life lessons and interesting tidbits and facts I can use in my own life.

So, about a month after I dropped off my saliva filled DNA kit at the post office, we're on our way to Washington, DC for our vacation. My husband has agreed that I can have half a day to meet with my cousin and do some family history research in Georgetown.

He's driving on I-95. My phone vibrates with an e-mail alert. I check it and burst into delighted cheers. My Ancestry DNA results are ready!

I wasn't surprised by most of the results. I expected a sizable amount of my DNA to be from Great Britain, Ireland, and Western Europe, and I was not surprised. The Scandinavian result confused me until I remembered that one of my great great grandmothers was of Scandinavian descent.

Now that I've confirmed that I'm a Heinz 57 mutt as my Dad used to say, I hope that my DNA results will help me solve a few family mysteries. I have three dead ends on my tree. I hope DNA will help me find the branches to add to those dead ends.

I need to learn how to interpret my results and how to use them to find cousins, then how to determine how those new cousins and I are related.

I can't wait to meet new cousins and friends these DNA results will bring my way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Back to Uprooting The Family Tree

Starting a new business can take a toll on the rest of your life. Unfortunately, that can include delaying any work on the family history, or helping anyone else research their family history.

Fortunately, the business is thriving and I can once again delve into family history research. I'm so excited! I have so many questions about my ancestors, where they lived, what they did and who they were.

I'm visiting Washington, DC this fall and am so happy that my husband has agreed that I can do some family history research while we're there. Yahoo! I get four hours of concentrated research time. He's not into family history, or any history for that matter, so this is a huge gift from him to me.

My third great grandfather was a baker in the Washington, DC area between about 1810 and 1840. I found a newspaper article which gave the location of his bakery. Digging through a few old maps and a guide to the street name changes in the area and I located where his bakery used to be! I can't wait to stand in the area and take photos to share with my family. I know it won't look like it did when he was there, but I can imagine. There is just something magical about standing where you know one or more of your ancestors stood.

I have a great article from the wonderful folks at Family History Daily to share with you today. Do you have old family photos that you'd like to date or maybe even identify the people in those photos? They have a suggestion that might help you out! Read more here:

I'm off to uproot some more information from my family tree. Happy digging, y'all!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

And then there were none

My mother's last surviving sibling died this morning at the tender age of 97. Had he lived until March 21st, he would have celebrated his 98th birthday.

Mom was the fifth child and second daughter in a family of five sons and three daughters. My Uncle was the fourth child and third son. The sons were tall and fair-haired and some with a hint of ginger, and most of them were almost bald by the time I showed up among the last of the grandchildren. The daughters were beautiful inside and out, strong and independent women: one brunette, one blond, and one redhead. My Mom was the blond.

Their tales of growing up were hilarious and innocent. Children of a farmer and a teacher, they grew up living a simple life. Mom told me that they really didn't know there was a depression when it happened.

They grew their own vegetables and fruit, raised cows, chickens and pigs, and helped their parents in the house and in the fields. Listening to the radio was a treat. Driving into town was an adventure for their lively crew.

Their father was on the school board, and some of the female teachers boarded with the family. That did not stop my mother and her siblings from playing pranks on the teachers though. I heard many a tall tale of teachers opening drawers to find garter snakes and frogs hiding, getting drenched when walking by an open upper story window at the house or the school and having their car temporarily disabled.

When I was a very small girl, their family farm, long since sold to pay their father's medical bills, was partially flooded by a dam. I remember asking Mom why we couldn't buy the land and tell the power company that they couldn't build on that property. Ah, the innocence of youth!

It is the end of a very special era. All of their memories live on through the few we were able to persuade them to write down or let one of us record and through us and our memories. I have some recipes from my grandmother and oh so many memories of each of them telling me stories of their family and friends.

I keep saying that one day I will sit down and write a book about them. Maybe I should get started?

And for my mother and her brothers and sisters, especially my Uncle who joined them today, remember: until I see you all again, I love you more.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sorting out the Marys

It has probably happened to almost everyone who works on their family tree. You find a record in an area that you know your relative either lived or had living relatives and might have visited. You get excited. "One more record to verify Aunt Mary's age! Woohoo!" You quickly add the record to your family tree and move on to the next tantalizing hint or quivering leaf.

And then, perhaps later that day, or months later, you discover that the person in the record you so excitedly added to your tree was not your relative. Or the person is related to you, but the record is attached to the wrong relative. You correct your error and move on. You may even forget it happened.

Until you discover that someone else either copied your work (OK, so we share finds), found the same record you did and made the same error, or copied someone else's mistakenly linked record. You politely contact the person and fill in the blanks, so he or she can make the corrections for your ancestor.

And that person counters with something like, "Are you certain?" Are you? Have you kept up with your documentation? If you had to prove it, could you?

Yep, you guessed it! This just happened to me. Two Mary's with the same maiden name and almost the same year of birth, born in two different states, marry two Frank's with the same surname, born in the same state and county about 10 years apart. Below is my reasoning and proof. How did I do?

Theory: Mary E. Heise Root of Camden and Columbia, SC is not the same person as Mary Root, wife of Francis Root, buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Southington, CT (FindAGrave memorial id 68137812.)

Proof: We are dealing with two Francis Roots and two Mary Roots. Francis and Mary Root live in South Carolina in 1850 and 1860, although Francis is deceased by 1860. Another Francis and Mary Root live in Connecticut in 1850 and 1860, although Mary dies in 1853.

A Mary Root appears in the 1860 Columbia, SC census and the 1850 Camden, SC census. Her age on both is consistent with her being the same person. Although her husband, Francis, is absent from the 1860 census,

A Mary and a Francis Root are enumerated in the 1850 census, living in Southington, Connecticut. They have children, and these children's names do not correspond with the names and ages of the children of Mary and Francis Root in the 1850 Camden, SC census or the 1860 Columbia, SC census.

The names and ages of the children of Mary and Francis Root in the 1850 Connecticut census correspond with the names and ages of the children of the 1860 Francis and Bridget Root, living in New Haven, Connecticut. This would be consistent with Mary Root of the 1850 Connecticut census dying in Connecticut in 1853 and her Francis remarrying prior to the 1860 Connecticut census. Family trees I found for this Francis Root list his parents as Amzi and Anna Root. I have not verified this Francis Root's parents, so please do not quote this as fact.

Also, in the 1860 Connecticut Francis Root census record, he has a daughter aged 9, Anna. This also fits with the other name on Mary Root's Oak Hill Cemetery (Southington, CT) tombstone: Annie, died 1867, aged 16.

1850 Southington, CT Census                                               1860 New Haven, CT Census
Francis A Root 27                                                                  Francis A Root 37
Mary Root 30                                                                         Bridget A Root 31
George D Root 7                                                                    George D Root 17
Levi F Root 5                                                                         Levi F Root 15
Charles E Root 2                                                                    Charles E Root 13
Polly Thorp 64
                                                                  *under the age of 10; not on 1850 census
                                                                                             *Anna M Root 9
                                                                                             *James H Root 2
                                                                                             *Bernard W Root 11/12

                                                                   ** not on 1860 census
1850 Camden, SC Census                                                     1860 Columbia, SC Census
Francis Root 40                                                                      **dies between 1850 and 1860
Mary Root 29                                                                         Mary E Root 40
Maria Root 13                                                                        **married
John Root 10                                                                          John L Root 21
Francis Root 9                                                                        Francis B Root 20
Ida Root 4                                                                              Ida H Root 15
Caroline Root 1                                                                      Caroline C Root 11
Elizh Root 17                                                                          **married

So, we have two Francis Roots and two Mary Roots. The two Francis Roots may be related. I haven't finished that research yet. However, the two Francis Roots are not the same person. And the two Mary Roots are not the same person.

I am still trying to locate documentation on the date of death and place of burial for the SC Francis (Frank) and Mary Root. If you have any clues, please share.