Arches at Glendalough 2009

Monday, December 10, 2012

The twists and turns of family trees

My husband states often my family tree isn't a tree but a family stick that doesn't branch. Sometimes his witty, sarcastic comments include ones like this one that my family tree isn't a tree but a family knots. My favorite one of all is that my family tree travels in circles. Sadly, I have to admit he is correct.

While preparing for a talk recently I decided to show the connection from my third grandfather, James Marthers, to his family. Grampa Jim didn't have a direct connection to his half siblings but lots of indirect connections. I couldn't find birth, marriage, and death documents that showed his connection to his mother, uncle, and grandparents. His wife, Harriet Miner/Minor, was the daughter of  James Miner and Hannah Rogers of eastern Connecticut and was pretty straight forward to trace. But Grampa Jim was tougher...he seemed to appeared out if nowhere.

After many years of searching, weighing the evidence, and looking at  land records, I finally was able to find his connection to his uncle, silversmith James Peters of Philadelphia. His uncle was the proverbial wealthy uncle who left Grampa Jim money. (The funniest part of this story was discovering some of the legal documents in Hartford and paying $.50 a page only to fork over $32 in  Philadelphia for the same five pages!) Regardless, I'm pretty certain I now know who his parents were.

But a little clue that I missed was already there in print. James Marthers' younger half sister listed her parents as Joseph Clifford and Fanny Harris. Her obituary stated this as well as the genealogy James Rogers of New London and his Descendants. Fanny Harris was her aunt..not her mother.

Returning to James Peter's will, he clearly states his sisters children, James Marthers and Francis Rogers, shall inherit from him. At first glance it could mean he had more than one sister. However, his only sister, Betsey, was the wife of James Mathers and married second, Joseph Clifford. It was James Peters himself whom married Fanny Harris, not Joseph Clifford. (No divorce here...Fanny Harris Peters died in the 1850s in Philadelphia.)

It is the Rogers Genealogy and the Miner Society that made me realize how important family connections are. Remember James Marthers married Harriet Miner. Did you notice that her mother was a Rogers? It seems that her nephew, Joseph Turner Rogers, married Francis Clifford, James Marthers' half sister.

Following the Harris tree back one more generation to Fanny Harris' mother, Elizabeth Miner, showed another connection to James Marthers. Yes, she was a relative of  Harriet Miner Marthers' father, James Miner. (Confused yet?)

Land records tied up the loose ends here. Records found in Connecticut, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore alone didn't tell the story. But placed together it created the knot my husband chuckles about whenever family history is discussed. Does anyone have a pair of scissors I can borrow?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am grateful for my family, friends, home, and the ability to research 24/7 from this little box called a computer. May the upcoming season bring you happiness in your household, comfort with your friends, and all the genealogy goodies Santa can bring you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Christmas in July

Last year I finally corresponded with a cousin whom I was searching for these last 25 years. I posted last year how conversations with him allowed me to "push aside the curtain" and learn more about my gr-grandmother's side of my family. All my research showed this gr-grandmother as a  descendant of those godly ministers, the Mathers. My cousin was able to give me more information about this branch of my tree including conversations his grandmother had with her father. (Isn't that what we search for...a glimpse of day to day life of our ancestors? )

In July I was able to meet him in person. It was the first time I met him as well as his family-even though we lived a few towns away. And it felt like we knew each other all our lives. We spent that afternoon and the next day attached at the hip sharing family stories.

Ironically his sisters and my sister worked with each other for years! They never knew they were related. The three of them use to laugh and joke and say they were cousins while they were working. (My sister's response when I asked her if she knew them was, "Why, are they cousins? hahahaha." I texted her back, "Yeah...hahahaha, they are Dad's cousins!" Which she responded, "OMG!")

So when we meet this summer on that warm July day, we each had something for the other. I had documents and photos that he didn't have. He had a photo of my grandmother as a toddler!

I was stunned as I looked at it for the first time. My daughter was a spitting image of her at the same age. The back of the photo was equally thrilling. There, written in an unfamiliar handwriting, was the name of my grandmother, my gr-grandparents, and two of my grandmother's brothers...a mini family tree.

But wait, there was something else inside the envelope that contained the photo. It was thicker and about the same size as Grandma's picture. As I pulled it slowly out, I saw it was a stack of papers about 4 x 6 inches in size and clipped at the top. When I examined at it again I was shocked for a second time. It was a copy of my gr-gr-grandfather's genealogy that was published in 1849! All I could think about  as I read the pages was that my gr-gr-grandfather's eyes read these same pages!

Some people dream of winning money. I dream of family history. If genealogy had a lottery, I would be a mega-genealogy winner. Christmas in July? I think so!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I'm back!!!

After a crazy spring and summer, I am bound and determined to return my blog! So many great genealogy ideas have been rolling through my mind that I have been itching to blog since school began on September.

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation to OCGS. (They are awesome! Come and visit them in Toms River.) My presentation was focused upon the debris of living and finding things at flea markets and online. Funny thing, I opened my latest FTM and there was an article about what I just  discussed with OCGS!

Remember back in January that I posted my great flea market find-the military book from WW1? I spent time in May visiting NEHGS trying to locate where the book was created. Thanks to the help David Lambert gave me, it seems that the book was from a military hospital based in Texas called, "Camp Dick." I have begun to research the people listed in there. Some names like "Ryan" and "Jones" have given me a run for my money. But some names have lead to some interesting sources. I haven't decided how I will share this. (Yes I like to share!) I will keep you posted.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Alien Files at NARA

This past fall, I was forutnate to have a student teacher in my classroom. An extremely thoughtful and insightful person, when it came time for him to leave, he handed me a slip of paper for my end of the semester gift. I was thrilled to read what was on the paper...we were going to attend a NYG and B workshop at  the NYC branch of  NARA.

These short seminars are fun. You get a chance to meet like-minded people, hear some new ideas, and sometimes recieve a" behind the scenes" tour of the facilities. Always a genealogist's dream.

Our day was wonderful. We arrived on the site where I showed him how to look for his relatives. We quickly assembled an outline of his family that he was happy to have. We also met up with a fellow genealogist from OCGS and helped her find some information on her Irish ancestor. But the best, BEST thing of all, was learning about the Alien files.

These files were created in 1944 to follow an alien through  the immigration and inspection process. A gold mine of information, they can include photos, birth information, personal papers and other genealogy goodies.Originally from INS, these files were transferred to the National Archives and are now being indexed. Currently there is about 350,000 files of people born prior to 1909 online through the NARA site.

I came home and found not only some of my mother's family listed on it (they were French Canadian) but my husband's German grandaunt and cousins. With the information, I can order the file online and have it scanned and sent to me. All of it while sitting in my superman pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers.

Take a look at the database. You may find something. And if not, check back because they are updating it daily.
Note: You may access it through the ARC catalog at NARA

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Working on the flea market find-WW1 Book

I was doing wonderfully on the flea market find mother board went on my computer! Good thing I had back everything up on my external hd...whew! I didn't lose much and plan to go back to it this week.

Some of the fascinating aspects of the book is discovering the life events of these men. Some continued to serve the military while others returned to their civilian lives. Although it is not complete I hope it will help others with their research.

One database I have been using is the Veteran's Administration Grave Locator. It doesn't have everyone but helps to direct me in the location and area of the men listed in the book. I'm also using the Social Security Database to help me as well as records posted on Family Search, Rootsweb, and Ancestry.

Another neat item I am discovering is that it is not just men but women who are included. These groups consist of regular army, officers, nurses, and civilians. I don't know if the civilians are local to the place where the book was made. Time should help clear that issue.