Friday, November 30, 2012

Recent Genealogical Hijinx

I haven't talked about my Genealogy obsession lately, so let's do that today.

I've spent the last few months assisting a fellow searcher, pardon the pun, dig up some information on his ancestors.

I signed up to be a photo volunteer on Find A Grave earlier this year.
If you sign up to take photos of gravestones near you, every time someone goes on FAG and asks for a photo to be taken and it's in your area, you get an email with that request.  You don't "have" to fullfill it but they send the request to you so you know another one has been made.

Back in July I received notification that a photo was requested for a headstone in a town nearby.
This was a cemetery I wanted to go poke around in but with it being the peak of Summer and the worse possible time for me to be galumphing through graveyards in the heat and humidity I just couldn't do it then.  Heck, visiting my own ancestor in OH in June in 90 degree heat about did me in! lol

The photo volunteers are not very active around these parts so I went ahead and emailed the gentleman and told him I'd give his photo a go but it would have to wait until the Fall but I wouldn't officially "take" the request so that if someone else wanted to give it a shot before I got around to do it, they could.

After we communicated and he was happy to wait on me, I went poking around his family tree.  He had a genealogy website for his many branches that I perused and then I went onto Ancestry to do some digging too.  The photo request was for a headstone for a young child.

This gentleman lives in England, as does the bulk of his family and ancestors.  Seems 2 of his great great grandfather's brothers decided to hop a steamer for the USA in 1880.  They settled near the area were I live today.  The records on their whereabouts/activities gets sketchy from that point.

Here is one of the few photos of the older brother I found from his passport on Ancestry.  This was taken years after he emigrated here and was found in a passport from when he went back to England to visit family around 1923.....

Plus this researcher in the UK didn't pay the extra $$ on Ancestry for access to the US records(the foreign records for him).  So I went about researching this side of his family.  I did lots of his grunt work for free since it provided me a learning experience and helped made me a better researcher, so we both gained something from the attempt.
I also was searching only from free records(aside from & outside of my ancestry subscription) and wasn't paying for any access or official documents, which made finding information that much harder.

One of the brothers who emigrated to the US married in this area and there is record that the wife gave birth to 12 children.   8 of them are known, but only 6 made it past childhood. I helped fill in with those 6 where they went/what they did/whom some married and he was able to find from there some living descendants of one of these siblings.....they only sibling who's line seems to have survived from either of the emigrating brothers.

Here's a photo of the younger brother with his wife and the 4 oldest children who survived infancy.  My friend obtained this photo from the surviving line of relations.....

2 big breakthroughs I made for him where finding the death record and the will of this brother who emigrated and I found out the identity of the woman he married and the family she was a part of.  He wanted to find the marriage certificate(which we still can't locate)as that's the 100% sure way to id the wife's last name/family.

But I found on the record of one of their children's baptismal church entry record of a sponsor with a different name, then I found that family, their migration/ship records/census records/where buried/etc. and all the evidence leads us to this sponsor being the wife's younger brother. 
And to go further, the wife's family emigrated from the same region of the UK as the 2 brother's my friend was researching.  This means he can connect with a whole other large family there in the UK.
As a bonus I found evidence that in the wife's family, most of her siblings left the US after a short time and set sail again for Australia, where quite a large contingency of this clan have flourished there as well.
My friend has gained a large number of new family from these discoveries!

When I was finally able to walk the cemetery for him to find this headstone, I turned up nothing.  Someone put all the burial records for this cemetery online, however 2 things made this a fruitless task....1-this cemetery is MASSIVE!  It's acres upon acres large and it's not laid out in any organized, methodical way.  It seems to be one of those that they just filled it up and added a new piece of land as they ran out of room.
This town back between 1850 and 1920 was a Boom Town for the coal mining industry.  It grew so fast and was a major city for it's time.  Once coal mining declined there the city fell into ruin and now it's a sleepy little rundown place with nothing but empty store fronts and crumbling buildings and a lot of people who for whatever reason can't/won't leave.  Needless to say there are few jobs and rampant poverty and despair there.  The city has lost about 60% of the population from what it was at it's high point.  Every census the population shrinks another 10% as the old people die off.

The cemetery is not well cared for either now.
Hubs and I were in there for 3 hours and we didn't even begin to cover it all.
AND 2-we can't find anyone in charge who has any kind of plan of "whom is buried where".  With a cemetery that large, it's a wild goose chase unless you can at least narrow down where someone is suppose to be planted.  Since this person we are looking for was an infant, and the family was young and didn't have much money, we think the grave may not be marked or have a headstone, in which case looking for one is pointless. If we could find a burial map, at least we could have the information of where her grave is located.

We'll continue to try to locate someone with the burial plans for the cemetery in question.  My friend was able to find out where the younger of the two brother ancestors is buried(the same cemetery as a sister of his wife I found out), so I told him I'd put a Memorial up for the brother on Find A Grave and put out a photo request, just in case there is a headstone for him. I'll request too, that they look around for any other headstones with the brother's surname, as well as his wife's maiden name to possibly find any more of her siblings or parents, if buried there.

I also connected with my 3rd cousin once removed on my mother's side of the family a couple of months ago.  I went trolling through some message boards and found a question from him on his grandmother's maiden name, which was my mother's maiden name.  I noticed too that he has a different last name and I was trying to track down an ancestor with that last name who married one of the sisters of my great grandfather.  It runs out we share a pair of ancestors born in in 1795 & 1805.  I also found we share ancestors as well through another family line, through his grandfather's surname, so we are related by birth and by marriage.
My cousin is retired and a generation closer to our ancestors and I've been able to connect him to the rest of the family lines, besides his direct descendant from our joint ancestral pair and he's been able to fill in some gaps/dates/names/details for me in his direct line.  Unlike most of the other researchers I've come across in this year who I share family with, he seems to want to be related to  Ok, that didn't sound quite right.....he wants to continue to have a connection with me, both as "kin" and as a fellow ancestor hunter.  8-)

You wouldn't believe some of the people I've run across this past year while doing genealogy!  Ok, if you've done genealogy you WOULD believe  There are plenty of researchers who won't share the information they have.  It's a hostile world really.....they guard their records and data and hoard their dead people.  It's madness I tell you, madness!  And if you DARE want to be friendly with someone who is related to you, well, that just isn't done.
Ass holes.....

Another brick wall that got knocked down for me was finding out the maiden name of my grandfather's brother's wife.
I remember this Great Uncle fondly, you may have seen I posted his photo for Veteran's Day in this post HERE.
I've just begun to research him and I had a post planned about him but that's for another time.

I remembered that his wife was named Edith but since I didn't have the maiden name or any marriage documentation yet I was laying awake at night trying to wrack my brain to recall it since I am sure at some point as a child I heard it.
But that just gave me a headache and made me lose sleep.
My Great Uncle had died young in the 1970's and I lost track of his wife.  I figured she remarried and might still be alive so I thought searching for her was pretty hopeless at this point with what resources I had available to me.

I had requested the transfer of the Find A Grave memorial someone made for this Great Uncle many months ago and they had never responded to my request.
About the time I posted about him for Veteran's Day, I got a notice that his Memorial on F.A.G. had been transferred finally!  When I went to look at it and put his photo on there, I found that someone else had taken a photo of his headstone and lo and behold!......Edith was there on the stone sharing his resting place and her maiden name was included!
Now I have that information and a new branch of the family tree to meander around.
And the funny thing I see now that I've poked around a bit in her family......Edith's mother is from the same family that my 3rd cousin once removed.....the one his grandmother married into.
Weird how this whole "who is related to whom" thing works, huh?



  1. You are tenacious! I once worked with a guy who would hatch the most far-fetched conspiracy theories. One as that all the money and power in the country was controlled by a secret society that could be proven by the fact that they all traced ancestors back to royalty in Europe. I told him it mostly had to be due to the fact that politics have always favored rich white men.

    Most of us caucasions encroached on this continent because our ancestors immigrated from Europe. Your research shows we're basically all one real big family.

    1. Yep, our dead white men gave a hand to those like themselves in this country and thus it's been thru the decades. Those of color have finally made real in roads in the last few decades though women of ALL colors still have much work to do to get on an equal footing. Women in the US have had national suffrage only 92 years & the glass ceiling is still a reality for many women in business.

  2. Sluggy, have you ever found a cemetery on Google Maps (I know it's never close-up enough to read individual words) that you're looking for? I found the one where seemingly 100 of my forebears are laid to rest. Kind of weird... creepy... not that it's a creepy place - just STRANGE to see this place via the orange Google man on a sunny clear day, and seeing it so nicely kept-up. And being five states away.

    1. I have googled a couple of cemeteries....also some buildings where ancestors where known to live. I find the buildings pics creepier.

  3. I so understand this. My mom has been doing her side of the family for about three years she has us all the way from Ireland in the 1800's to Centralia, Shickshinny, Berwick, and then down to Philly. Its amazing how people get, like they are holding our ancestors hostage or something!!!!

    1. You are lucky if you can find records in Ireland that far back. Many of them are spotty or non-existent if you were the lower class poor Irish.

  4. My cousin with whom I share a gggrandfather offered to share her genealogical material with me. Our ggrandfathers were brothers. She asked for all I knew on my family. I filled her in on my family from my ggrandmother forward. She sent me a huge envelope. I looked through it and called her, telling her that my immediate family information was entirely wrong. She insisted that someone named Tommy gave her all the info and it was absolutely correct. Noooo, that is not possible because Tommie is my mother and she would never list herself as her brother's child. The cousin had written down everything I told her and attributed it to my mother who had been dead for almost 20 years. idiot

    She was positive I was wrong about my own grandmother having a child die before my mother was born. I had to argue about that for a bit before she grudgingly admitted I MIGHT be right.

    Then, she revealed she has two file cabinets of first hand information that she is sitting on and intends to write a book but does not know how....grrrr. She will not share.

    Then a male relative on my grandmother's side collects information and pictures, THEN charges everyone $10 for a cd. They fall for this.

    I wonder if my relatives on father's side from PA, Graefs/Graffs are related to the builder of the Graff House in Philadelphia, but cannot prove it because I cannot/have not found anything except the Graf relative was born in PA.

    I live seven miles from a LDS library and have access to everything in Salt Lake City and free genealogy sites that I would have to pay for at home. I cannot sit upright for very long, no long enough to do anything there.

    So, my relatives are not the only weird, selfish with information people.

    1. Send me your father's side grandparents names(including maiden name of grandmother) and birth dates/death dates and I'll see what I can find on that line when I get some time.

  5. I love that you are so interested in this. I'm Norwegian and my grandma gave me all the information on her line which dates back to the 1600's in Norway. My other side is Irish and I've looked through all the stuff that my mom's cousin did. I just had trouble getting excited about that side because I don't know them very well at all. I also love old cemeteries. The ones in the South and East are much more interesting than the ones here in the Midwest.


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