Friday, November 19, 2010

Cherished Memories

I wanted to do an article about creating heirloom memories that can be passed from generation to generation and with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner I thought I would share this family created heirloom with you.

When I was little, back in the 1940’s money was tight and the family wanted to do something special for my grandparents but were not sure exactly what to do. Then my mother came up with an idea that all family members could participate in and it wouldn’t be a strain on anyone’s pocketbook. She decided to make a holiday tablecloth and have everyone draw a simple picture of their child onto the tablecloth. The drawings were then painted to make them permanent. As I remember, each picture had the name of the grandchild it represented under it.

As I grew up, I can remember this tablecloth being used every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers. After grandma died, I have no idea what happened to the tablecloth.  I would love to know where it is today!

This might be a project that you would enjoy doing for your parents or grandparents. I can envision updating the idea using silhouette cutouts and including all members of a family group.  Then as each generation comes along, adding them to the tablecloth as well. I think this would be so much fun to see how a family grows from generation to generation!

You would probably need about 31/2 to 4 yards of muslin as the base for your tablecloth. You could decide on what type of cutouts you would use, either simple gingerbread boys and girls, the old fashioned silhouettes, or hand drawn pictures directly onto the table cloth. I think it would be nice to put each child’s name and birth date under their picture. With so many families now spread out all over the country, having them each mail their family creations to one person to finish the construction would be the simplest thing to do.

If you get started now you can have this put together and under the tree for Grandma and Grandpa. Can you imagine how thrilled they will be?
What other suggestions do you have for making heirlooms to pass from generation to generation?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Continuing Family History

As a family historian and amateur genealogist, I have found that delving into the past is a great adventure. It is interesting and exciting to learn about our ancestors and what their lives were like back in the “olden days.” There is something exhilarating about finding that lost relative and knocking down that brick wall!

But, in our quest to learn about the past history of our ancestors, are we forgetting about our families of the present?  Are we keeping up with entering new arrivals into our families?  Are we recording stories about our lives of today for future generations to enjoy?  We need to be recording these things as well so that our children, grand children  and great grand children will have first-hand knowledge of our lives and not have to just read about what the world was like when we were growing up in history books. We need to remember that someday we will be gone and someone (hopefully) is going to be looking for us!

Now that we have computers, it is so easy to start a journal of our lives and keep a running record of events. There are also web hosting locations where you can post your family tree either for free or for very little money. You can create settings where just family members are allowed in or you can leave it open for public viewing, the choice is yours.  If you do set it up where only family members are allowed on your website, be sure to record passwords for access so that when you die, others in the family are able to get in and continue your work. I presently have one website set up as family access and have one other family member listed with administrator duties.

Make your family history come alive with photographs and stories of both those of ancestors and of current members of the family. Don’t let precious stories slip away and become distant memories.

You never know when someone else in the family will be bitten by the genealogy research bug. For some it comes early in life and for others, not until our golden years. In my case, it took the death of my mother to really become interested in doing more research. Granted, I had records already compiled from my father’s side of the family because of my earlier generations doing the research in order to become members of D.A.R.

In case you are not familiar with D.A.R. it stands for Daughters of the American Revolution. There are several other organizations that one might like to join such as the C.A.R. (Children of the American Revolution) or S.A.R. (Sons of the American Revolution).

There are also southern organizations such as S.C.V. (Sons of Confederate Veterans) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy for those with Southern roots, if you wish to join.

With the passing of each generation, my family tree is blooming and becoming a forest! I am one of these people who love to not only research direct descendants but also collateral lines, so my files are becoming very extensive. I only pray that when I am gone, my work will be preserved for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is There A Witch In Your Family?

Mary Bliss Parsons  Accused of Witchcraft
photograph taken from Wikipedia website but not validated by them that this is indeed a true photo of 
 Mary Bliss Parsons.

Since it is the time of year for witches and goblins and the celebration of Halloween, I figured it would be a good time to talk about witches, or supposed witches in our family trees. I get to claim Mary Bliss Parsons, who was the sister to Samuel Bliss, that I am descended from!

Probably one of the more famous women accused and acquitted of witchcraft was Mary Bliss Parsons, which actually happened in about 1654,  many years prior to the famous Salem Witch Trials which started in 1692.

Mary Bliss, daughter of Thomas Bliss and Margaret , married  Cornet Joseph Parsons in Hartford, CT in 1646. They lived in Springfield, Massachusetts for several years, where they had 3 children before moving to Northampton, in 1654.  The Parsons had a total of  11 children. One of their sons, Ebenezer,  was killed by Indians.

Joseph was a color-bearer in the Hampshire Troop of Horses, a prominent man in town of considerable wealth, working as a merchant and fur trader for the Pynchon family. He was also a selectman. He was licensed to keep an Ordinary, which today would be known as a tavern.

Supposedly a feud developed between the Parsons family and that of  James and Sarah Bridgman who also migrated to Northampton the same year as the Parsons did. Rumors of witchcraft began to circulate shortly after their arrival, implying that the family’s success came at the expense of others and as the result of Mary’s dealings with the devil. Joseph Parsons, took the bull by the horns and  initiated a slander case in 1656, in hopes of heading off these allegations. The record of this notable case will be found in Trumbull's History of Northampton, Vol.I, pp. 43-50; also on pages 228-234, copied from the original record now on file in Boston.

 He won this case but 18 yrs later, Mary was officially accused of and tried for witchcraft in the year 1674/1675. Some records say that she was actually placed in jail in March of 1675 to await her trial but records from the actual  trial did not survive. But on May 13, 1675 a jury found her not guilty.  Even though she was eventually acquitted, some say that  once again she was subject to another inquiry in 1679, but no records remain to prove this. Joseph and Mary packed up their family and left Northampton between 1679 -1680, amid lingering questions and gossip and they moved back to Springfield. Mary was a widow when she died in 1712, her husband preceded her in death by twenty-seven years.

The year before the famous Salem Witch  trials, six  Massachusetts women were hanged. and then twenty four innocent lives were taken during the Salem Witch Trials. The witch hunt began in Salem Village but spread to almost every town in Essex county.  Before it was all said and done, 170 to 190 men, women and even children were accused. Many were held in jails in Ipswich, Salem, Boston, and Cambridge.  Between the months of June and  September 1692, nineteen  people were hung, one was pressed to death and four died in prison awaiting trial. In 1693 the trials were ended.

There are now various theories as to what caused these bizarre accusations of witchcraft and being possessed by demons and casting of spells upon other people.

 See for related theories, and books, both factual and fictional regarding the witchcraft era.

Mary Bliss had the following siblings:
Ann who married Captain Robert Chapman
Thomas who married Elizabeth Birchard
Samuel who married Mary Leonard
Nathaniel who married Catherine Chapin
Lawrence who died in 1675
Sarah who first married John Scott, then Sam Terry and a Mr. Foot.
Elizabeth who married  Miles Morgan (she was his 2nd wife)
Hannah who never married
Hester who married Ed Foster.

My descendant line:
Samuel Bliss who married Mary Leonard
Their son Thomas Bliss who married Hanna Cadwell
Their daughter Hannah Bliss who married Samuel Hubbard.

Even more information at this website  many family lines at this website!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tunnel Vision Searching For Ancestors

One thing that is easy to do when researching your ancestors is to get tunnel vision!  You get so focused on your direct lineage that you can’t see the forest for the trees. You have to start learning to be a detective and look at all the clues that are out there.

Okay, so you hit a brick wall. Do you have the names of siblings? Have you searched for their records?  You can often find their spouses and their children and where everyone is buried. Check the cemetery well because chances are you are going to find other relatives buried there, in fact you may even find the graves of the direct lineage you have been searching for!

By checking census reports for siblings, you can often find where family members have moved in together, perhaps hard times forced them to share a household or a sibling is now carrying for an elderly parent or parents.

Back in the olden days, many women died during or shortly after childbirth from complications. There were also epidemics of small pox, etc that wiped out many members of a family all at one time. Surviving children were often sent to live with relatives either for safety’s sake to get them away from such illnesses or because a surviving parent, usually a father in cases where the wife died at childbirth, is not capable of taking care of a house full of children.  It was not unusual for there to be seven, eight, ten or even a dozen children.  The older children might stay with the father, because they could help around the house. The girls could do cooking, cleaning, mending and caring for the younger siblings or the boys could help in the fields bringing in crops,  The younger children, were often sent to live with relatives, brothers and sisters of the parents mostly. But it was not unheard of for even grandparents to step in and take the children to raise.

If you come across a census report, where you have relatives who all of a sudden have additional children living with them, where the ages just seem to send up a “red flag” that they are not close enough in age to the other children, or adults who are now parents of a young child and the wife is no longer of childbearing age, this should automatically make you ask “where did that child come from?  Who do they really belong to?”

Another thing you need to be aware of is that the spelling of names changed over time and I don’t just mean last names but first names as well. Remember that your ancestors all originally came from foreign countries and their names would have been spelled as they were “in the old country.”

Because communities were close knit and sometimes because of religion, families often intermarried. A perfect example of that is within my own family lineage. I have Decker, DeBow, Ryerson’s that have intermarried from one generation to the next!

The other day I was working on trying to locate Tina DeBow, who is at least one of the wives of Peter Decker. Some have suggested that Tina DeBow could actually be Christina DeVoe!  Peter also may have been married to Stintje (Stintie) De Mott.  I have located other generations where there have been marriages with the DeBow or Debow name, so I am inclined to believe that the DeBow is correct. But, there is a chance that somewhere, somehow her name was transcribed incorrectly.  Tina sends up a “red flag” to me as actually being her given name since that is not a name that was typical back in the 1700’s. So of course I have several courses of action to take here. I can look for Christina DeBow or Debow as well as Christina or Tina DeVoe or Devoe. Since there is a strong possibility that Peter married more than once, I also need to check for Stintje(Stintie) DeMott or Demott. Do you notice I am checking for various spellings? In checking cemetery listings, I have found the DeBow name spelled both ways.

I hope some of these hints will help you with your brick walls!  I’d love to hear from you.
This book is excellent, with lots of places listed to look on line for information.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Amish People

The Amish are a very traditional subgroup of the Mennonite churches.  They are known for their simple living, plain dress and reluctance to adopt modern conveniences. Their communities are usually very laid back, a calm relaxed atmosphere, where everyone helps everyone else.

The Amish began in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists and was led by Jakob Ammann.  The followers mainly came from the German speaking parts of Switzerland, the Alsace of France and the Palatinate of Germany.   Many Amish and Mennonites emigrated to Pennsylvania.  Even today the most traditional descendants of the Amish speak Pennsylvania German also known as Pennsylvania Dutch.  There are those who still have the dialect of Swiss German, in the Old Order Amish communities, especially in Indiana. The Amish, like the Mennonites, have split many times over the years.

In the Amish religion, babies are not baptized. Baptism usually occurs between 16 and 25, and is a requirement for marriage.Once a person has affiliated with the church, they may only marry within the faith.

Many Amish church members may not buy insurance or accept government assistance, such as Social Security.  As Anabaptist, members practice nonresistance and will not perform any type of military service.  There is a heavy emphasis on church and family relationships. They have their own schools, usually a one room school house and discontinue formal education at 8th grade. They value rural life, manual labor and humility.  Due to intermarriage, among their relatively small original population, some groups have increased incidences of certain inheritable conditions.

The Amish are among the fastest growing populations in the world with 6.8 children per family.  From 1992-2008 the Amish in North America population growth was at 84% and they established 184 new settlements and moved into 6 new states.  There are 27 Old Order communities in the U S and Canada. Pennsylvania and Indiana, central Ohio, Lancaster Co in Pennsylvania, Elkhart and La Grange in Indiana are the largest concentration of Amish.   West of the Mississippi  river in Missouri, then into eastern Iowa and Southern Minnesota.

Amish are mostly of Swiss German ancestry. The first Amish to America went to Berks Co, PA but later moved, motivated by land issues and by security concerns tied to the French and Indian War. Many eventually settled in Lancaster Co, PA.  Others spread to Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas. Kentucky. Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Maine, as well as Canada.

The majority of the Old Order Amish congregations do not have church buildings but meet in private homes and because of this are sometimes called “House Amish”.  Congregations are made up of 25-30 neighboring farm or related families. Their properties are adjacent and are encircled with a congregations physical boundary and is the only congregation available for membership. Therefore, each member is a neighbor!   Congregations meet every other week for the entire Sunday at a member family’s farm.  

They are very humble people, placing  into practice  their rejection of pride, arrogance and haughtiness and place high value on calmness, composure and placidity… often translated as submission or “letting be”  they are reluctant to be forward, self promoting or to assert oneself. They submit to the Will of God.

They prefer to work at home, although many have now had to work in construction and manufacturing in in some areas where there is good tourist trade to engage in shop work and crafts for profit.  The Amish quits are a genuine cultural inheritance. Amish lifestyles vary and sometimes not only between communities but within communities. Some are conservative, others allow automobiles but require they be black, some of the Old Order groups may even vary over the type of suspenders that males are required to wear, if any or how many pleats there should be in a bonnet or if one is required at all!  

Some of the strictest Old Order Amish are the Nebraska Amish (“white top Amish”) Troyer Amish and the Swartzendruber Amish. Most Old Order Amish still speak Pennsylvania German in the home, with the exception of several areas in the Midwest where a variety of Swiss German is spoken.

In both Adams Co and Allen Co Indiana, the old order Amish use only wooden grave markers which eventually decay and disappear making it difficult to locate graves.  They are usually buried in Amish cemeteries. More recently, they  purchase gravestones that lay flat on the ground, are uniform, of modest and plain design, and thankfully are now inscribed in English.

 Marriage to a 1st cousin is not allowed among the Amish and a second cousin relationship is frowned upon, though they may occur.  Marriage to a “Schwartz” (1st cousin once removed) is not permitted in Lancaster County. Weddings were typically held on Tuesday and Thursday in November to early December after the harvest was in. The bride wears no makeup, and will not receive an engagement or wedding ring because the "Ordnung" prohibits personal jewelry. In colonial days, newlyweds spend the wedding night at the home of the bride’s parents.

Elderly do not go to a retirement facility; they remain at home. If the family house is large enough they continue living with everyone else. Often there is an adjacent dwelling called the "Grossdaadi,"  where grandparents take up residency.  Retired people continue to help with work on the farm and in the home, working at their own pace as they are able. If the aged become ill or infirm, then other family members take care of them.

The Older Order Amish are known for their avoidance of certain modern conveniences. Electricity is used in some situations when it can be produced without access to outside power lines. Batteries are sometimes acceptable. Electric generators may be used for such things as  welding, recharging batteries, and powering milk stirrers in some communities. They will use  have non-electric versions of appliances, such as kerosene powered refrigerators while others may allow thermal solar panels. The Amish will use chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which I find strange!

If a person becomes disabled, they are allowed to use motorized wheelchairs and electricity is allowed in the home for medical equipment.  Most will not drive cars, but will hire drivers and vans for visiting family,or other trips that might take them off the farm. Regular bus service between Amish communities has been established in some areas and train travel is accepted. In some areas it is not uncommon to see their traditional buggies going down the road. 

Depending on what community of Amish you are in, some groups limit color to black trousers and dresses and white shirts, while others allow muted colors. Dark blue denim work clothing is common within some groups as well. The old order Amish often sew their own clothing . Even today, hook and eye or straight pins are used on dresses, rather than buttons, zippers or Velcro. Snaps are used on everyday clothes, whereas plain buttons are used on work shirts and trousers.

Women wear calf length plain cut dresses in a solid color. Aprons are often worn at home, usually in white or black and are always worn when attending church. A cape, consisting of a triangular piece of cloth is usually worn, beginning around ten years and pinned into the apron. In colder weather, a long woolen cloak may be worn. Heavy bonnets are worn over the prayer coverings when Amish women are out and about in the cold Strange as it may seem, the Nebraska Amish women do not wear bonnets. Girls in some areas wear colored bonnets until age 9, older girls and women wear black bonnets. During the summer many children go barefoot even while attending school.

Men usually wear dark trousers, some with dark vest or coat, suspenders (in some communities) broad rimmed straw hats in the summer and black felt in the colder months. However, some, mostly teens, may deviate from these customs to convey someone’s individuality. Married men and those over 40 grow a beard, although mustaches are forbidden. A beard may serve the same symbolic function, in some Old Order Amish settings as a wedding ring, and marks the passage into manhood.

Amish have higher incidences of some genetic disorders,which may include dwarfism, various metabolic disorders and unusual distribution of blood types.  Since all Amish descend from about two hundred 18th century founders, genetic disorders form inbreeding exist in more isolated districts.  Some are quite rare or unique and are serious enough to increase the mortality rate among Amish children.


This is among the Anabaptist religions, starting in the German and Dutch speaking parts of central Europe. They were relentlessly persecuted during the 16th century and then by the 17th century some of them joined the state church in Switzerland. Mennonites ouside the state church were divided about whether to stay with those who had joined the state church or not and they broke away and became the Amish, so named by their founder Jacob Amman.

Their teachings were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by  various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. One of the reasons they were persecuted so was because of their belief in adult baptism and do not believe in infant baptism, which was far from the belief of the Roman Catholic church who believed one should be baptized and become a member of the church at birth. The Mennonites feel that there should be complete separation of church and government.  Rather than fight, many sled to neighboring states in order to survived. They believed in nonviolence.  They are often called “plain people” although some dress just as the general population does.
There was a group of Quakers and Mennonites that came to American  under the solicitation of William Penn who was looking for settlers for his new colony.  The first permanent settlement of Mennonites in the colonies consisted of one Mennonite family and 12 Mennonite-Quaker families of Dutch extraction who arrived from Krefeld Germany in 1683 and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Early settlers were William Rittenhouse, a lay minister who was the owner of the first America paper mill, Jacob Gottschalk, who was the first bishop of the Germantown congregation.  They were the first group of Mennonites.

In the 18th Century, Germans from the Palatinate, known as Pennsylvania Dutch, emigrated to Pennsylvania,. among these were Mennonites and Amish.  And they settled in Lancaster Pennsylvania.   Christopher Dock was among this group.

During the colonial period, Mennonites were distinguished from other Pennsylvania. Germans by their opposition to the American Revolutionary War, resistance to public education and disapproval of religious revivalism.

From 1812 to 1860 more immigrants settled in Ohio , Nebraska,Illinois, and Missouri.. They were Swiss-German speaking Mennonites, and Amish and came from Switzerland. Later moved on into Kansas.


Also known as The Church of the Brethren and sometimes confused with the Moravians which were totally different. Dunkards were formed in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Wittenburg Germany by Alexander Mack.
This group came to America and settled in Pennsylvania.

The Swiss/German sect, much like the Mennonites, Moravians, etc. were called Dunkards or Dunkers, because they believed in baptism by dunking or total immersion rather than just the sprinkling of holy water on the head.
They wore plain clothing, coats with standing collars for men, plain bonnets and hoods for women. Men were urged but not required to wear beards; they should not wear mustaches alone. Women should not wear jewelry. They were to avoid narcotics, including tobacco and didn’t use instruments of music in the house of God.

The observed the Lord’s Supper (full meal, with soup eaten from a common dish) and communion of the bread and cup after the meal. This was usually held once in the spring and once in the fall.  They did not celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The were to obey civil government as far as it’s laws didn’t conflict with their religion. They were not to participate in politics and not allowed to affiliate with secret societies or lodges. They would not take nor subscribe to an oath and considered slavery abhorrent. They believed in nonresistance, and would not participate in the Revolutionary War.

Indians learned Dunkards wouldn’t resist so they raided their homes.

They stayed to themselves and spoke only German and stayed out of trouble

Prior to1800 Dunkards could be excommunicated for obtaining a marriage license or bond. Hence locating marriage bonds prior to  1820 for both Dunkards and Mennonites is very difficult.

They mainly lived in PA., VA and the Carolinas, eventually moving some to OH and MS valleys

Part of the group of religions known as Anabaptist communities; Hutterites, Amish, Dunkards,  Apostolic Christian and Old Order Mennonites are all Anabaptist. They believe in the simple life and reject some or most of the modern world.


Also known as The Society of Friends
Migration began between 1675 and 1725, leaving the North Midlands of England and coming to American to the Delaware River area of Pennsylvania and West Jersey. Some were in New England earlier, they weren’t Quakers when they arrived.  They came as Puritans and were converted a to Quakers
 In the 1650-1660’s  they were driven out of  Massachusetts Bay Colony and went to Rhode Island and places beyond.   The ones coming in 1675, came as Quakers from England because they were being persecuted but more so because they felt called to a spiritual pilgrimage. Quakers came from the lower middle class of English society. They were farmers, craftsmen, laborers and servants.
There was no “in-law relationships. If you married into the family, you became son or daughter or cousin!
Quaker families were a bit smaller than Puritan families there were fewer servants. Their communities were comprised of only Quakers. They were pacifists.

A Quaker could not marry a non Quaker, if the did they were disowned. For this reason, there were more of them that did not marry than in other groups. First cousin marriages were not allowed, but they often married relatives of a lesser degree of closeness.  Marriage was a community affair. Parental consent was required but had to be approved by the community as well!  Quaker wedding had 7 steps. Most involving the community. The wedding ceremony itself was very plain. Average age at marriage was similar to Puritans, 26 for men and 22 for women. They married for Christian love not for sexual attraction.

In keeping with their belief of equality, they named the first son for the wife’s father and the first daughter for the husband’s mother. Then reversed the process on the next son and daughter.

About 50% of Quaker children were given Biblical names. …. Most common: John, Joseph, Samuel, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, Anna/Hannah, Ester/Hester.  They also used Teutonic names such as George, Thomsa or William  and plain English names such as Jane, Catherine, Margaret or Phebe, Grace names were popular with Quakers… ie: Grace, Mercy , Chastity, Preserve, Restore, Increase.

Famous Quakers:
Quakers were abolitionists, wanting freedom for the slaves, believing women were equal to men and did much with the equal rights for women … Susan B. Anthony and he under ground railroad.. Lucretia Mott.
Benjamin Lundy, organized the first formal antislavery society.
Elizabeth ( Betsy) Fry was the daughter of Joseph Gurney and Catherine Gurney. Dob 5/21/1780  Norwich
  She Married Joseph Fry……8/18/1800  had a daughter Katherine and 11 more children. She did lots of work in prison reform and mental asylum reform and welfare reform.


Called the United Brethren and from Bohemia and Chen country, many lived in the Village of Herrnhut Germany.  Persecution caused many  to flee from Saxony, Germany.  They came to the US in 1735, settling in Georgia, PA and then many migrated to North Carolina. Other Moravian settlements included Salem Mass, many there in the (1766) 18th century, Bethlehem PA and Nazareth PA .You had to be Moravian to live in Bethlehem and Nazareth.

This is a Christian based religion but do not live as a family unit.
Families lived separately…. Divided by age groups and lived in separate houses which they called “choirs.”

The were distinguished by their simple clothing. Dresses were brown or gray with white for special occasions. They were plain with tight laced bodices, white kerchiefs and full skirts. Capes were worn outdoors when the weather got cold. They wore tight fitting white caps, known as Schnepplehaube, came to a point in the middle of the forehead and were tied under the chin with a bow. Red bows for little girls, rose for older, pink for unmarried women, blue for married and white bows for widows.  At Nazareth, the caps had a crimped border with scallop shells to cover the ears.

The men were all were clean shaven, wore broad rimmed hats with low crowns, straight dark coats without lapels, and the 18th century knee-buckled breeches.

They were great lovers of music… They would play instruments and sing while plowing fields, doing chores, cooking etc.

Monrovian cemeteries are laid out just as they lived, in “choirs” Families are not buried together. All are buried according to the group that they lived with. Tombstones are not upright, but are called breastplates and lay flat on the chest of  the person’s grave. All stones were the same size, for all were equal in the eyes of the Lord.

The only exceptions were the un-baptized babies, all the little baby boys were buried together with headstones that said “blessed” but not named and the same with the baby girls, “blessed’.“ The German word was BEATUS so when doing your research, if you see this on a tombstone you will know that this is the grave of a Monrovian baby boy or girl.

Around 1817- the “lot system” for marriage was abandoned and in 1818 the women revolted and said they were no longer going to wear the traditional bonnets but were going to wear English hats. They didn’t ask… they told! At this time the towns opened up and anyone could move in, no matter what their faith was.

Migration continued and the Monrovians established towns in Green Bay Wisconsin and Utica New York .


Palatinate  were the Germans who migrated to America from  two different parts of Germany. The Upper Palatinate was located in Northern Bavaria, on both sides of the Naab River as it flows south toward the Danube. And eastward to the Bohemian Forest.

The Lower or Rhenish Palatinate was in southwest Germany between Luxembourg and the Rhine River. It included lands on both sides of the Middle Rhine River. Heidelberg was it’s capital until the 18th century. 

Many of the early German settlers were refugees from the Palatinate.
In 1723 a band of 50 Palatinate families fled from NY (where they were only given 10 acres of land per family and went to Pennsylvania at the invitation of  the PA governor, Governor William Keith.  They settled along the Tulpehocken Creek in Eastern Berks County. By 1734 more families joined them after petitioning the Governor. And they settled in what became known as Lancaster Co.


The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France from the 16th and 17th centuries. Today they are also known as French Protestants.

They were driven out of France under religious persecution and relocated in England Switzerland, Holland the German Palatinate and elsewhere in Northern Europe as well as  in South Africa and north America.

Religions of the Early Colonies

One thing we must remember when researching the history of our ancestors, is that many of them came to this country out of necessity in order to get away from religious persecution or wars in their homeland. Most of they were not coming because of it being explorers like Christopher Columbus. Many came with little to nothing in the way of belongings, either because of limited space on the ships they came in or because they were on the run for their lives!  The other thing we need to remember is that not always did families travel together. Sometimes the father and sons would come first to establish a home and secure jobs so that they could have enough money to send for the wife and daughters or small children in the family. Most of them were of average to low income people, who had to travel down in the holes of the ships where living conditions were crowded and consequently when illness struck caused many to die because of the cramped quarters.

When doing your research, consider the possible religious backgrounds of your ancestors. Many of the names we have for our religions nowadays, are not the same as they were back in the days when this country was being formed.  The countries that your ancestor came from can give you a good clue as to what their religious affiliations were at that time and it is possible to locate church records in many instances where you will find their names recorded. Remember also that many surnames have evolved into different spellings than they were back then also!

Puritans, Dunkards Huguenots, Mennonites, Moravian, Palatinate, Quakers, Amish 

In order to simplify your search for various religious work, I am going to make a page for each of the main religions of the time and attempt to give you some background information on each of them. If you happen to have any additional information that you feel would be helpful to know about any of them, or if I have any incorrect information listed, please feel free to contact me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Ending of Family Trees

Today as I reflect back to September 11, 2001 a day etched into the minds and hearts of many Americans, my sadness overwhelms me as I think of generations that will never be.

It also makes me mindful of all the past wars, civil uprisings and needless acts of terror worldwide in other countries where thousands upon thousands lost their lives. Needless, senseless killings, along with destruction of land and livelihoods for those who managed to survive.Years and years of wars, that seem to ebb and way with time.

Have you personally taken time to sit silently and think about your own family name and its place in history? As generations come and go, a family surname can pass into oblivion in just a few generations. For example, if you are female and have no brothers, your family surname dies with you generation. If you happen to have a brother, but he has no male children, the surname also dies with him. If your father has brothers, who have only daughters or sons who do not have sons, the family name dies with that generation.

For example, my father came from a family of five siblings; he was the oldest of the four sons and a daughter. Of the four boys, my father has two sons, two of his brothers have a son, and the other brother had all girls. Their sister never married, but of course if she had, the surname would have ended anyway.

Of my father’s sons, one has never married and my half brother did marry and has a son and a daughter. His son has never married. Unless something changes this will be the end of the family surname on my father’s line of the family.

The one uncle who has a son did marry but never had a son, so that ends his line. The other uncle who had a son, we have lost track of and we do not know if his son ever married and had any male heirs.

Now you can see how a family surname that had been around for hundreds of years, tracing back into Germany and Prussia is about to become extinct. Out of a family of four boys, there are now only two possible heirs to carry the name.

I also have a half-brother from my mother’s second marriage. He has the ominous distinction of being the last male to carry the family name. When he dies, his father's family lineage dies with him because he only has daughters.

So once again, my mind wanders back across the years gone by, thinking about all those lives lost, not to natural causes but to man-made ones; of the generations that will never be and the people who could have been. All of the industrious and inventive people who comprise our world that we will never know because they either were killed senselessly or never were born to begin with.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Down the Path to the Past

Recently a friend of mine was in the process of helping her parents get ready to make a major move from their  home that they had lived in since she was a child.  The move wouldn’t be far, from one city to another, only a short 35 minute drive away.  In the process of boxing up their home, her dad came across some old keepsakes that he had put away on the top shelf of the closet.

He sat down on the edge of the bed, with his daughter by his side, and opened the box to try and make a decision as to whether he wanted to throw everything away or move it to the new house, where it would probably once again be relegated to the top shelf of the closet. Upon examining the contents of the box, there were letters and post cards from years gone by, containing both happy and sad memories of his youth. There was a death certificate and military metals along with a few photographs. As they sat there together, talking about the past, he confessed to his daughter that he really wished he knew more about his mother, maybe it would help him understand her more if he knew about her family and her past.

She happened to know that genealogy is one of my passions, I enjoy the excitement of looking for ancestors. It is like 4th of July and Christmas all wrapped up with a big red bow when the pieces begin to come together and you build your family tree! I felt so honored that she would ask me for my assistance and we began our journey down the path to the past, putting the pieces together. 

One thing that is interesting is that there are documents that were in the box indicating family member’s on her father’s dad’s side of the family saying that one of his relatives was dubbed a knight by the Queen of England. We have been able to take her family tree all the way back to the first recorded entry (at least on the internet) of her father’s family the one who had been dubbed a knight by the Queen and further!

 On her dad’s mother’s side, we have been able to go back to the early colonial days of Georgia  We made contact with several relatives through  the Ancestry and Roots Web message boards and have now been able to trace the mother’s side all the way back to England as well.

Collectively, we hit several stumbling blocks along the way but have managed to iron all of them out except for two generations where there were multiple marriages with children born of those marriages; many of them having identical names! We have pretty much determined the actual direct line for her particular ancestors by a process of elimination and by looking at census reports where we could locate them as well as researching historical publications in libraries locally and publications on the Internet.

During our search, I personally found that I could locate most of the census reports all in one place, easy to search and easier still to read, were located through heritage quest.  By using my library card, I was able to sit at my computer in the comfort of my own home and spend hours going back, year by year, as well as researching many different states all from one website.

I also found  some wonderful help with local histories written at heritage quest .  I also I became familiar with Google books, a resource I had not used before.  I was not aware that they had so many historical publications available in their depository.  I just plugged in the surname I was wanting to research and all types of wonderful references popped up!  Some were not her direct line but were certainly secondary branches of her family.

Another thing that I did at Google books, I input the names of actual publications that were used as references and of the ones I checked, they were all there. I did not locate any of the genealogical magazines that were used as references though.

My friend has learned how to install a software family tree program and input all her data and how to correct mistakes we made along the way.  She is uploading pictures into her program and adding interesting notes as well as stories about different people that she has heard. I think now she is as addicted as I am to doing genealogy. she has found it to be both exciting and frustrating, just like the rest of us! But we continue always on our quest, no matter what.

The final product will be a wonderful gift for her father, all put together in a book and the smile on his face will be priceless! I wish I could be there for the grand unveiling!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Blooming Tree

When we start out doing genealogy, most of us concentrate on just our direct line of ancestors. We get ourselves and our children listed, then our grandparents and their parents. Hopefully as you go along, you are also including all the children born of each of those generations as they are important to be added to your tree. The tree grows, with the parents and the children of that union and you continue your quest until you just can't find any more information.

Many people stop at this point which I truly find amazing! I personally want to find out as much as I can about each and every member of the family as I possibly can. So as I go through each generation, I expand my searching. With each of the siblings of my direct line ancestor, I attempt to find out who their brothers and sisters married and then develop that line just as if it were a direct line ancestor. Often I have found that brothers will marry sisters in another family and vise verse. What is really fun is to find that a set of twins marries another set of twins! Don't forget to develop the spouse's side of the family as well. You learn lots of interesting things and often find that families crisscrossed back and forth, marrying into each others family at different generations.

By also developing the lines of siblings, you can often break through a brick wall. There is often different information listed on vital records, such as birth, marriage and death records, as will as death notices or obituaries. Be sure to also check out the census records for each of the siblings as they go off and get married. Different years when census reports were taken, requested different information to be recorded. You may stumble across something that will help you with your research.

Something else that I learned the hard way, was to be sure to also check cemeteries closely. Run all surnames that are linked together by marriage in any given cemetery listing. Many cemeteries are now listed on state and/or county genealogy websites as well as being listed at find a grave, which I also like. There are a few differences in the way that these entries are made though which you need to be made aware of. At find a grave graves will be listed alphabetically. Most of the time, although not always, when you find them on a state or county genealogy website, they will be listed according to their actual location by rows in the cemetery. This can be very helpful to you when you are looking for possible connections to another family, since they often bought plots next to each other in the cemetery. At find a grave, whoever posted the grave site, will often indicate on each one, spouses and children who are also buried there in that cemetery. You can also go back and click on the cemetery name and just type in the last name and it will bring up everyone in that cemetery with that surname.

By developing these other lines, you might find out that you are related to some very famous people. I know that to be true in my own lineage. Who knew I was related to Abraham Lincoln and Tom Hanks through a marriage of one of my ancestors to a Hanks woman!

I love having "shirt-tail relatives"!  I've found that I am related to several Presidents and Vice Presidents, famous writers like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Congressmen and Senators, actors and actresses. Of course you may come across some "black sheep" in the family as well!

I think one of the thrills of doing genealogy is finding answers to oddities that you find. Like, you find a statement such as they changed their surname to...... or a child all of a sudden appears with a strange first name that just doesn't fit into the naming patterns from previous generations or didn't show up on previous census reports like they should have. Where did that child come from?  Is it actually a relatives child? What happened to their parents?  I know in several instances in my own genealogy, there were children who's parents died either by Indian attacks on their villages, the mother died in child birth and the father had the children go live with relatives because he couldn't care for them, there were children who were adopted from other families who weren't relatives when their parents died. If I didn't have those notations already in the work that had been done on our family history, I would never have known and had to spend hours searching records to put the pieces together.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Deacon Samuel Chapin and Cicley Penny Family Genealogy

  A Founding Father of Springfield, Massachusetts

This is one of the most distinguished family lines in America history.  Samuel Chapin was one of the three founding fathers of Springfield, Massachusetts.  There is a statue representing Deacon Samuel Chapin that is located in Merrick Park.  It is called “The Puritan” designed in 1881, by the artist, Augustus St Gaudens; he made the figure as a representation of the Puritan dogma rather than as an individual replica of the man himself.  The statue is an imposing figure of a man with his eyes focused downward, striding with his knotty walking stick across the pine-strewn New England wilderness and a Bible tucked under his arm.

The history of the Chapin family as known began in Devon England. Samuel is the Son of John Chapin and Phillipe Easton. He was baptized in St John the Baptist Church in Peignton England on October 8, 1598.

Cicely Penny was the daughter of Henry and Jane (Dabinott) Penny of Paignton, England. We know that she also was baptized on February 21, 1601 in Paignton England.

They were married on February 9, 1623 at the Church of St John the Baptist in Paignton, England

We know that he was a member of Rev. John Eliot's First Church of Roxbury, Suffolk Co., MA, later removed to Springfield, where he was admitted freeman on Jun. 2, 1641 and was a Deacon, constable, selectman, and commissioner.

They had a total of 10 children, three of which died at a very young age or in infancy. All but the last two, were born in England, Japhet was baptized in Roxbury, Suffolk Co, Ma. and Hannah who was born on Dec 2, 1644, in Springfield, Hampden Co. Ma.

There are some very famous and notable cousins that come from this family line.
Richard Bedford BENNETT, was the 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 1930-1935
John BROWN, abolitionist who was convicted and hung for treason. He also was called Captain and led the raid of Harper’s Ferry.
Stephen Grover CLEVELAND, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. He was also Governor of New York
Charles CURTIS, was the 31st Vice President of the United States from 1929-1933. He was also the Senator from Kansas and held the position as US Representative from Kansas
Dorothy GISH, Lillian GISH, both actresses and motion picture pioneers
Dr. Brewster HIGLEY, (1823-1911) was the author of “Home on the Range”
John Pierpont MORGAN, financier and banker. Founder of JP Morgan Company in 1895 and the US Steel Corporation 1901
 Harriet Elizabeth BEECHER STOWE, abolitionist and author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in 1851
 William Howard TAFT, 27th President of the United States.

Other names that are associated with this family are Allen, Bliss, Colton, Day (Dey), Foote, Hitchcock, Taft and Warren.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Expand Your Knowledge

This past year, I finally decided it was time to join some groups where I could learn more about this wonderful adventure of hunting up dead relatives.  So I looked at both the groups at Google and at Yahoo.  evaluating the number of people participating on their forums and the types of questions being asked and the answers received before I made up my mind about the groups I wanted to join. There is a wide varitey to choose from and I would suggest that you consider some of the following things when choosing your groups.

1.    Look for groups that specialize in the areas where your ancestors lived, by city, state or region.  
2.    Go with groups that have the same nationalities as your ancestors
3.    Check out the groups that are of specific religious background as your ancestors. For example,   Huguenots, Quakers, Dunkards, Anabaptist and many others.     
4.    Since your ancestors came from foreign countries, look for groups that are for English, German, Swedish, and African nations.
5.    Groups that specialize in specific groups like Native American Indian or African American heritage.
6.    Brick walls, help with locating people, documentation, grave sites, etc of ancestors that you are having the most trouble trying to get any information on.  

I found that the Yahoo groups were very active and had a much wider variety of forums to choose from. I ended up joining the following groups and have found each one to offer a variety of topics to be discussed, excellent help with any questions and problems that you might have and extremely courteous people. I am going to list these in alphabetical order so they are easier for you to find in case you might like to join also:

Brick wall....
this group goes out of their way to help members tear those stumbling blocks down brick by brick!
Cherokee Genealogy Community ...
        Specializing in Native American genealogy, with an emphasis on the Cherokee Tribe, but helpful with other tribes as well.
Genealogy _Descendant-Charts...
        This group works with descendant charts of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee but they also tell you to feel free to add others.
Genealogy Research Club.....
        This is an all around nice site.
        Listing of surnames that our members are researching in the database and you can add yours also.
        A listing of popular websites and our own personal websites and you can add on more if desired.  
        They are there to help you whether you are a beginner or an old pro at researching.     
Olive Tree Genealogy...

        I joined this group because I love their website olive tree
        This forum is basically a newsletter, keeping you updated on things that are happening on their website as well as on other sites as well.
        Be sure to bookmark their website you will find you will be using it often as one of  your first "go to" sites for new searches that you are starting on your ancestors or when helping others.
Prussian genealogy......
        This group is for those of you with German and Prussian ancestors. Some entries will actually be in German because they have members in Germany.  So if you don't speak the language grab you a translator off of Google or go to and use theirs for any languages.
        This group is for you who have Scottish ancestors. Lots of interesting information on here.
Surname Search Daily....
        Surname Search Daily: Subscribe for free and get a list of  FREE online surname databases in your mail box every day. Keep up to date with NEW online research  tools as they become available

You will notice that some of my groups are very specific and that is because I am doing research in those particular areas.

One group I haven't added yet and I need to see if I can find, is a group dealing with the Dutch heritage. I had always thought that one of the lines I was researching was of German descent and low and behold it turns out to be Dutch!

Also be sure to take advantage of your library card access to Heritage Quest, which you can access from home using your library card. I have found all types of interesting information on that website from a very thorough Census Reports to information about the colonies and the people who were in them!

I recently learned about all the great books available at Google books. Just by plugging in the surnames of some of my ancestors I have come up with a wealth of information that I never knew was available before.

Is it any wonder I end up staying up till the sun comes up?  I get so wrapped up in all the wonderful things I find on the Internet that have to do with genealogy that I forget about time and the necessity of sleep.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Before Time Slips Away

Before Time Slips Away

The other day, I received word that my aunt, my mother's sister, had passed away.  She was the last of the siblings and now my generation becomes the senior generation of our family. It certainly makes me aware of my own mortality and the need to get my "personal house in order" because my time here on earth gets shorter with each passing day.  When you are young, even at 30, being 70 looks so far away!  But before you know it, there it is, staring you in the face and you are wondering how time slipped away from you so quickly. After all, you have all these things that you still want to do with your life and to fill your days with and you are now running out of time.

How long has it been since you have gotten together with not only your immediate family but your extended family, your aunts, uncles and cousins? With everyone spreading all over the country nowadays, instead of all living close to one another as they did in the olden days, it can be difficult to keep up with all the members of your family and get together often.

School is over for this year and the kids will be out for summer vacation. Perhaps you haven't thought about anything special yet for this summer, finances might be a bit tight so why not plan something close to home that you can all enjoy. How about doing a big family reunion where everyone can get together, share some good food and laughter together.

Many city parks and state run lakes and parks have pavilions that you can rent for the day where you can have your gathering if there are a lot of you that will be getting together. Make it one huge picnic, with everyone bringing something. Maybe all chip in to have someone be responsible for purchasing all of the meat and then everyone else bring covered dishes and drinks.

Use this get together to gather information about your family history.

Be sure to set up some committees to handle the organizing of the event
Have at least a couple of people taking photographs, both casual ones of activities and also group family photos so you can keep track of who is in what family grouping.

A welcome table for people to register at and name tags will be a must

Some activities that you can do at the reunion:

Post a large family tree on a wall  that illustrates as many generations of the family as possible. Ask family members to find themselves, highlight their names, and correct any inaccurate information. The family tree then becomes a record of the event and is a good source of genealogical information. Family members will also have a visual representation of the family structure, its history, and their place in it.

Memory Lane Story Hour. Set aside a quiet place for the younger children to gather with one or more grandparents, aunts or uncles. Ask the adults to tell stories about their childhoods. This is a great way for the children and the older generations to connect. Next, set up a video camera on a tripod (if no one owns one you can use, call camera stores about rentals. It's pretty inexpensive for a single day). Buy lots and lots of blank tapes (if you don't take them out of the wrapper and save the receipt, you can return what doesn't get used and still not run out at the reunion). Next, ask each person (or family) to sit in the chair and tell about their family, the extended family and any family history or lore that they know about. This is especially great if you have several elderly members attending. Ask them to talk about what the reunions were like "back when", or about how their life was as children, etc.You might want to mention ahead of time, in the reunion newsletter that you will send out, that this will be done.  That way people can start to think about what they know about "their" side of the family and maybe even look through their photo albums to jog their memory.

How about a family softball game? 
Bring a bat and a softball and something to represent the bases. Teams can be formed based on any criteria you choose, such as a members of a single family, people with the same surname, people with the same hair or eye color, or people wearing the same color T-shirts.

 Organize a sack race.
Ask each family to bring an old pillowcase or a gunnysack to the reunion for a sack race. You can make this an individual competition or organize teams to compete in a relay-style race.

Volleyball games are always fun!
. If you don’t have a net, don’t worry. All you really need is the ball. However, if you want something to act as a net, use a rope or cord of some kind stretched between two posts or tree trunks.

Play card games. Bring several decks of cards, score pads, and pencils to the reunion so everyone can get involved in a card game. Many families play a traditional card game when they get together, such as Rummy, Canasta, Bridge, Pinochle, Rook, or Hearts. Card games also come in handy when the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor activities. Board games are also fun, be sure to bring some for all age groups that will be attending. You might have Chutes and Ladders for the younger children, Monopoly, Charades and Trivia Pursuit for the older group and adults.

Bring old family pictures
, even those of people who are now deceased. Perhaps someone will wish to have some copies made for themselves so be sure to put out an order form to fill requests. Any members who really are into genealogy will appreciate this a lot.

Invite attendees to submit favorite family recipes -- from their own family or one passed down from a distant ancestor. Ask them to include details on, memories of and a photo (when available) of the family member best known for the dish. The collected recipes can then be turned into a wonderful family cookbook. A great fundraising project for the following year's reunion!

Horse Shoe Tournament
there's nothing like an old fashioned game of horse shoe tossing and most parks have areas already set up.

Memory T-Shirts

If you have more than one branch of an extended family attending your reunion, consider identifying each branch with a different colored shirt. To further incorporate the family history theme, scan in a photo of the branch's progenitor and print it out on an iron-on transfer with identifiers such as "Joe's Kid" or "Joe's Grand kid." These color-coded photo t-shirts make it easy to tell at a glance who is related to who. Color-coded family tree name tags offer a more inexpensive variation. If something like this is cost prohibitive, you might just get different solid color T-Shirts and permanent color marker pens and let each person go around and get signatures of the people in attendance put on their shirts and have them put their relationships under their names.

Family Reunion Memory Tablecloth

Take an inexpensive solid color tablecloth and have everyone sign it using permanent markers. On one of the corners be sure to indicate that it is for the Family Reunion and the date. This can begin a tradition where each year a new tablecloth is created. Each year, bring all the tablecloths that have been created and see how the family is growing!

Many Hands Make Light Work

First of all you will need someone to be the General Organizer of this function, someone that the other committee chairmen can come to for advice and assistance. The person who will be the one to be sure that all committees are functioning properly and completing their assigned tasks.

I would probably suggest that the person who is your family genealogist be the person in charge of this operation.
That person could be responsible for getting a list of all the names and addresses of all family members. Also include their email addresses.

Food -deciding if everyone needs to contribute a set amount to purchase some items, such as meat, soft drinks, paper goods and what "share dishes" will be brought and by whom.
Entertainment - setting up games and entertainment. Supervising the activities the day of the reunion.
Location and accommodations -finding a good place to have the reunion and checking with hotels and motels for discount rates and availability
Newsletter- Make sure you announce the idea of a reunion well ahead of when you wish to have it and give them several dates where they can express their preferences. Be sure to continue newsletters, keeping everyone informed of the progress being made, asking for committee chairmen and volunteers to help.
Post happenings on your family genealogy website or set up a family reunion website. If you already have a family website like we do, post on it frequently about the reunion. This will get everyone excited about the event and assure you of a good turnout. If you do not have a family genealogy website set up, this might be a good time to start one, otherwise put up a website strictly for your family reunion event.

Some websites to consider:

Reunion Websites

Friday, July 2, 2010

They Serve

1/2 Man and 1/2 Boy
To those who serve............ God bless and keep you safe!

The average age of the military man is 19 years.
He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who,
under normal circumstances is considered by
society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind
the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old
enough to die for his country. He never really
cared much for work and he would rather wax
his own car than wash his father's, but he has
never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he
was at home because he is working or fighting
from before dawn to well after dusk. He has
trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and
reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop,
or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation,
but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.
He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never
to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals,mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons
and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

 Researching History

I started taking advantage of the free access to last night, finding documents on my ancestors. What an adventure!  I became so engrossed that I felt like I was actually back in that era and totally lost track of time. Before I knew it the sun was up and I was still at the computer, by this time lost in the Battle at Fishkill!  I have an ancestor who fought in that battle,  James Andrews . I also Found records for Jacob Weygant, Son of Captain Cornelius Weygant (sometimes spelled Weygandt) who was with 2nd Company 5th Battalion of the Northampton Militia.

Do you have any idea how proud I am when I found the records of Private Jonathan Hubbard?  He is one of my ancestors!  He served under Captain James Sherman and Col. Pyncheon. He marched on The Alarm of April 19, 1775, sometimes referred to as the Lexington Alarm, the beginning battle of the war for independence from Britain.  This is the battle where you always hear of the famous ride of Paul Revere.  Many do not know or have forgotten that there were actually two messengers that night, Paul Revere and William Dawes, spreading the alarm throughout the countryside.

I continue to search for records of Ensign Bradley Seelye and Pvt Benjamin Seelye. They are documented in my genealogy by registrations with the DAR but I would love to learn more about them then just numbers in a book. I do know that Benjamin Seelye was killed at the Battle of Ridgefield.  So tonight I will venture back in time, via this wonderful Internet and see if I can locate information on that battle.

I have so many who fought in the various battles of our country that I want to learn more about, all the way back to Daniel Loomis who fought in the French and Indian Wars and Richard Olmstead who fought in the Peqout War. So much to learn and so little time.

Thank you again Footnote for making these records available free for us to use through July 7th. After using this website, I can recommend it highly and something that I feel will be worth getting a membership in.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quick Post.......

Just wanted to make a very quick post here to tell you about something I learned about today.

At you can access the Civil War records for free until the end of June. So if you have anyone at all that you think may have served in the Civil War, on either side, be sure to go check it out.

This is one of the newer up and coming genealogy sites and one that you really need to utilize in your searches often.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How do you trace your family history?

How do you trace your family history?

This is a question that is often asked by someone who is just starting out to do their family genealogy. My first response is "carefully, accurately and with lots of patience."

We are often driven to the decision to do this after a very critical time in our lives.  Interestingly enough, it seems that the is at least one budding “family history keeper” that will emerge out of each upcoming generation.  This doesn’t usually happen until one loses someone near and dear to them, such as a parent or a grandparent that they were very fond of. Growing up we never think about growing old either for ourselves or our parents and Grandparents. We never think of the day coming when they will no longer be there to hold our hand and comfort us, or to scold or praise and guide us into adulthood.

Why had I put this off for so long?  It was now almost too late to get living relatives information, I would have to strictly rely on paper records to validate all that I needed to know.  There would be little that I could add in the way of the personal stories which makes this come alive and stay within you.  I kept putting it off until tomorrow and then tomorrow came and the door of opportunity closed with a great big thud!

I know that for myself, when I learned of my ancestors backgrounds, of their participation in the settling of America, struggling to make a living, to keep children and themselves alive as they trekked away from the East coast where they landed and began moving west, their participation in the different wars that you read about in history books, is when the reality set in that yes, this is my country.  My ancestors lived, fought and died to keep it free.  It is now up to me to pass this information on to others so they will learn the value of freedom and the price that was paid in blood, sweat and tears to keep it that way for all these years.  History will come alive, it won’t just be the Civil War, or World War I or World War II, or the Korean Conflict or The Iraq War.  These will be events in history where many of your relatives laid down their lives for this country and your heart will burst with pride and you will shed tears for them because it has now become truly part of you.

I am going to suggest you work on one side of the family first.  Now many will begin with the male side of the family for the simple reason that the surname (the last name) will stay the same!  Now don’t get fooled here folks…. There are known instances (we have it in our own family) where the man’s last name totally changed.  I’m not just speaking of spelling variation, I am speaking totally changed!  I will share some of that story with you later, but right now, our goal is to get you started on your family tree!

You will begin with You….. All of your vital information. Full name, birth date, where you were born.  Where did you go to school, starting with elementary,  junior high, high school, college. What year did you graduate from High School and College. What was your major in college?  Did you get a degree? Any musical or artistic talents?
Have you had any major illnesses?  Any birth defects or diseases that could be hereditary?

If you have siblings, record them also.  If you are married, record your spouse’s information also, if you have children record all of their information. Be thorough, record as much information as you possibly can on each person in your family.

Next gather your parent’s information .Birth dates, where they were born, your mother’s maiden name, when they got married and where they got married. Where did they live (have them list all the cities and dates that they can remember), . Did they go to college and where.  Did they get their degree and what in. What types of employment did they have during their life time. Did they have any musical or other artistic talents? How many children did they have  (there may have been children that died that you aren’t aware of or put up for adoption)  If either are deceased, you will want their date of death and where they died as well as where they are buried, if at all possible.  Get all information on your parents siblings, including their spouses information as well (eventually you may want to branch out and do more on them as well) Get them to tell you stories about growing up, what life was like when they were children, young adults, young married couple, and old
married couple.  Get them to tell you about all the amazing things that they have seen come to pass over their lifetime such as the invention of television, computers, washing machines, spacecrafts to the moon, etc.  They are sources for you of living history. 

If possible, sit down with a tape recorder and have them tell you things.  It is much more relaxing than trying to get them to put it down on paper!

Now you are ready for your grandparents.  Hopefully at least some of them are still living. Ask them to validate information that your parents have been able to give you and fill in the blanks if possible not only on themselves, but on their parents and grandparents. Have your grandparents tell you stories about “the olden days,” they will love to share with you and appreciate your interest in them and in their lives. You will be surprised how those stories will have names of people within the family, locations of where they lived and the time frame and occupations they had.  Generational bonds can and will be formed that you never thought possible.

Now do the same thing with your Spouse if you are married, gather all the information you can on his side of the family, just as you have with your own.

You, your spouse, your children 1st generation
His Parents and Your Parents      2nd generation
His Grandparents and Your Grandparents - 3rd generation
His Great Grandparents and Your Great Grandparents - 4th Generation (hopefully)
And from then you are going to really and truly become a detective, a searcher for and gatherer of information, a true genealogist!  There are going to be many times when working on this you are going to feel like you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You have pieces here and pieces there, but you are not sure how they all fit together.  What a feeling of accomplishment you will get when finally the pieces come together and begin to form the whole. 

You will want to obtain as many court records and documents along the way to verify and validate that the information you are obtaining truly is that of your parents.  There is much information out on the internet, in the old days you had to either go to or write to courthouses and cemeteries and mortuaries and churches to obtain documents.  DO NOT rely strictly on the information you obtain from the internet.  Often dates are incorrect. Get the actual documents themselves if at all possible.  There will be some records that you can rely on and those would be Ship passage documents from Ellis Island, that are photographed and displayed on the internet and you can also purchase copies from them for your records.  The other source that you can rely on are the Census Records that are also hand recorded and photographed on the internet.  With both of these records though, be aware that you are going to possibly find misspellings of names as often they were written as heard by another party, not written down by your ancestor themselves.  In fact, many back then did not know how to write.

There are three documents that I think you will find the most helpful to have in your possession and those are birth certificates of  each generation heads of the family(parents, grandparents, great grandparents), marriage certificates and death certificates.  ....if you know when some one died... ask if they can search for a probate packet for a certain person for that time period. A lot of times they will....and charge only the cost of making copies.

Depending on the year, the state and where married, you can usually locate the names of the parents of the parties to be joined in matrimony, the witnesses to the marriage are often either the parents or close relatives, it will have the name of the pastor who married them and often the name of the church . Of course you will also have the actual date that they were married verified.  Another record that you may wish to have in your records are any military service records that you can obtain.  You don't have to prove you are related. After all there is only a 72 yr. privacy law. If they do ask your relationship...just say you are doing your genealogy and it's for that purpose only. You don't have to prove who you are.

Many records are available and can be ordered off the internet from the Federal archives.  Be advised though, that some records for some branches of the service are not available as well as some military service records were destroyed by flooding or by fire.

Storing important documents

Treat your ancestors documents just as you would your own. Protect time, they are an important part of your life now, helping you to identify who you are.  You might want to put them in plastic folders right with your genealogy books that you are building.  Some people prefer to store them separately, even to the point of putting them in a home safe or into a safe deposit box at the bank.

Now What Do I Do With It?

Start the family tree
                                    Your Father’s Father
             Your Father
YOU                             Your Father’s Mother
                                          Your Father’s siblings
                                     Your Mother’s Father
             Your Mother
                 Your Siblings
                                     Your Mother’s Mother
                                           Your Mother’s siblings

Set up individual family pages for each generation. 
This is known as a family page. Some people like to include birth date and location, death date and location, marriage date and location on their family tree as well as here in the individual family pages section.  On the family page section, you can include all of the other “tidbits” of information that you have learned about each member of that family group. You can also include any stories that you’ve been told by them, as well as plastic folders containing all documents that you have obtained to validate your research (ie: birth certificate, death certificate, graduation diplomas, military records, copies of census reports, deeds for property, court documents)

Do a family page for each generation that you are able to secure information for. In this way you will easily be able to see what information and documents that you are going to need to fill in the  pieces of the puzzle. If you also do a  Check List Page for each generation, where you list each person in that family, have sections that you mark off when you have legal documents on file for that person, you can instantly see which documents are still needed for each person in that family grouping .

Make a Timeline

You are the present and work backwards.  Be aware of what events are taking place at that time in history not only your own current developments, but work through each generation as to what would have been happening at that point in time.  If you have dates that just don’t seem to match up, mark it and question it! Yes they married at young ages back then, but if you see where a child’s birth date is when the mother was only 10 years old or when she was in her 40’s, you know that you really need to question that.  Of course in today’s world that might not be as impossible as it might seem.

Begin with the first generation where you are going to need documentation and will need to fill in the blanks

Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, Wills and Death Certificates: You will need to go to or contact either by mail or email, the counties where those records are held.  They will be able to verify for you that they are at that location. The cost to reproduce and mail those documents to you will vary by county and by state.  In most cases, you must prove that you are related to that person in order to obtain records.

If  you wish to obtain information on property that they have owned, those will be in the Deeds of Records offices and are public information. Of course there will be charges to have photocopies made for you.

Check out the county genealogical society websites where your relatives lived.  Often you will find interesting stories about the settlers or personal letters that are held by them.  Also at the county genealogical society websites, you are likely to find local books about different times in the growth of the cities.  References are often made to the local inhabitants with interesting stories about their live.

The local newspapers of the time.  Another source for finding out interesting tidbits about your family. Who knows, you might find a write up about their gala wedding, the announcement of a birth of a child, or that Uncle Joe was the black sheep of the family!  You will often find obituaries, which are a wonderful source to finding other relatives.

You may also find others who have already done some research on your family in the past who have published a book about the family.  Perhaps it might not be your particular line, but that of a brother or a sister or even a cousin. These could also be located at the local libraries as well. While you are at the library, get yourself a library card so you can have access to their great program that is available at the libraries around the country called and in many areas is also available at the libraries for in-house research at no charge. Please, whatever you do, don’t take what you find at ancestry as the gospel truth any more than you do with information that you find at family search. Org. No matter where you locate your information on the Internet, always always back it up with authentic documentation !

Internet Searching

A lot of people might tell you to “just Google it”  but this can have both it’s blessings and its drawbacks.

Now I’m one of these people that likes simple to use, obtain relevant information quickly and accurately and my search engine of choice is I can ask a question “ Jones Genealogy in Ohio, USA or in the state of Ohio and bingo, there they are all together at the top of the page. I don’t have to worry about a - or a + or wild cards like you do with some search engines.

My very first visit would be to family which is the archived records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church) Now most of the time, you are going to find only records of those who are deceased in these files.  So start with the first deceased relative that you have.  Enter their name as the primary person you are searching for. Enter Spouse if known, and the names of parents of Primary search person.  If you are positive they were born in the US and happen to know the state, then go ahead and enter it.  If you do not, then leave that open and pull as wide a spectrum as you can of people to decide if they might be who you are looking for.

Chances are the very first records you are going to find are the possible matches by Social Security Death Records, which will show the name, the date of birth if known, the date of death and the last known place of residency by city, county and state. This last place of residency most likely be where they are buried!  If you locate your relative, copy down all the information for your records.  There will also be the state listed where the Social Security Card was issued.  Now don’t necessarily assume that is the state where they were born, a mistake that is often made by a new genealogist.  If they moved around prior to being of working age (back then you didn’t get your social security card until you entered the workforce) chances are their card was issued in the state where they got their first job.

Then there will be a section of people with the same first and last names, with possibly a different middle name or initial and their birth dates listed.  Again, I wish to caution you, these records are given to this archive from their own researching and from their own family records.  Dates can be off by several days, and sometimes years.  So look at all records within at least a 5 year variance on each side of your ancestors date of birth.  When you pull these records, it will list the parents and in some cases all of the siblings that reside in the home at the time of this child’s birth. 

You will find US records as well as international records that have been entered by other researchers.
You will also find Census records here and these are extremely useful in your searching.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting Started

One thing that I can't stress enough is to start as soon as you can researching your family tree.  As the older members of your family pass away, it becomes harder and harder to do your research.

One of the sad things about genealogy is that it often takes a death in the family, usually that of one or both of your parents to make you realize how important it is to know your family roots.  I know that in my case, it was the death of my mother, that made me realize I knew little to nothing about her side of my family.  Fortunately I had a very complete genealogy history of my father's side of the family because my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, and two of my Aunts were members of D.A.R. (Daughter's of the American Revolution) and documented genealogy history was required for membership. 

Being the oldest grandchild and most likely the only one concerned with documenting her family history,  I wanted my children and grandchildren to have a clear understanding of both sides of my family.  In my quest to begin this journey, I thought it might be helpful to blog about my journey and perhaps help others who are also traveling this road.

One thing that I am endeavoring to do is include as many stories about the family (both sides) as possible in order to help future generations get to know their relatives by more than just names and dates laid out on sheets of paper. 

So with that being said, start now with all your living relatives, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and begin gathering family stories (a tape recorder would be great to have to help you with this) by sitting down and visiting with them.  Many people find that family reunions are wonderful times to gather genealogy information and we will cover that in one of our blog posts.

Start with what you know about each generation and work backwards. Be careful about gathering not only legal names but also nicknames as well because they might also show up in different records. I am going to suggest that you begin by sticking to your direct line and then if you wish you can go back later and start adding the different branches of your family tree. What I am referring to is, as siblings or aunts and uncles in your prior generations marry, you may wish to add their information of who they married and their children also. Many people enjoy expanding their tree as much as possible while others just like to do their direct descendant lineage only.

Starting with your parents, gather their full legal names, your mother's maiden name,  dates of birth, where they were  born, when and where they married and be sure to list all your siblings, their birth dates and where they were born. If you can, get a copy of their birth certificates and marriage license.  You can order these items if they are deceased.  If they are deceased, be sure to get the dates of their death, where they died and where they are buried and a copy of their death certificates.

In my own case, my parents divorced when I was just thirteen and both of them remarried. In such cases, it is often difficult to get the new spouse to share information with you.

Setting Up Your Records

I would suggest setting up two notebooks, one for your father's side and one for your mother's side of the family,  in which to record and store your information. You will want to obtain some plastic insert pages in which to keep your important court documents, such as birth and death certificates, copies of census reports that you might make, records of immigration and or naturalization and which ships they may have taken to come to America on.

You will also want to use a good family tree computer program in which to enter your information in a standardized format that you can later share with others either over the Internet, make copies onto CD's for other family members, or just make various types of records and reports for yourself onto hard copy documentation.  I will advise that no matter what computer programs you use, be sure to back it up often and to make backup discs frequently in case you have any computer problems where you might lose all your records.  It would also be wise to make paper copies periodically for this same reason.

Comparing Software Programs

First off, please check out this website which reviews the top ten genealogy software programs and see which one meets your needs the best. When I first started, I was not sure what program I wanted to use and I had limited resources but I knew I wanted to get started right away. Therefore I chose to use a free program which I am still using at the present time. This is from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormons, who are probably one of the largest  depositories of genealogical records that there is world wide. Their website, is always one of my very first "go to" starting points for locating information. Way over on the right side of this page you will see where it says you can download a free PAF and PAF companion basic files and I would recommend that you grab both of them if you are going to use their free program.  It has served me well over the years but I can see that I am going to be upgrading to a program that I've had my eye on for some time now. 

I'm one of these people who gets "side-tracked" really easy. I'll be working on more than one family at a time and I will often go off on "rabbit hole chases" (which I will explain later) and lose track of where I am at and then end up retracing my steps instead of moving forward in my research.

So get out your pen and paper, along with a tape recorder if you have one and start gathering your information.  See you back here soon and we'll talk about where to go on the Internet to begin your searching. Be sure to try and go back on information to at least your grandparents and if at all possible your great grandparents generation, at least with their names if nothing else. If your parents are still living, most likely you will not find any information on them at all on the Internet, therefore it will be most beneficial to be able to go back to at least your grandparents.

When we meet again, we will discuss how to start your journey to the past.