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?