Friday, March 30, 2012

A Turner DNA Success Story

Last month I received this email.
A reply has been posted to your message, "Lewis and Sarah Martin Turner of Fauquier County" on "11/6/2008 3:36:49 PM GMT" Board: Family History > Surnames > TurnerSubject: Re: Lewis and Sarah Martin Turner of Fauquier CountyAuthor: lynjoet46Date: 2/15/2012 3:03:03 AM GMT Thank you. The Message Board Administration Team
Joe Turner posted a response to my November 2008 RootsWeb Turner Surname Message Board inquiry indicating he was descended from Lewis and Sarah Turner and offering to help. And has he ever!!!

I fired off an answer within 20 minutes and a flurry of emails followed. He filled me in on what happened to Lewis after he left Kentucky (my last sighting) and I shared what I knew about Lewis' father.

Joe and I are 5th cousins once removed, each descending from Edward Turner (d. 1805, Fauquier County, VA). Turner's daughter Sarah is my 4th great-grandmother. His son Lewis is Joe's 3rd great-grandfather. Joe is a treasured connection for those of us using DNA to help in our research - a direct male descendant.

There is a Turner DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA that I've followed with interest. It shows a clear DNA connection between Edward Turner and a George Turner. There is also documentary evidence linking the men. I was thrilled when I found a Kentucky court case establishing the James Turner from Group 9 was the son of "my" Edward Turner. But with only one test kit linked to Edward Turner I was unwilling to place much weight on the results.

Enter Joe. He immediately suggested DNA testing, not even giving me time to give him my 10 cent spiel about the wonders of DNA. That alone puts him in my all-time top ten cousin connections. Then he followed up and moved to my top five. Last week, just before I headed off to Fort Wayne for the Midwest Geneabloggers Meetup, Joe sent me the 37 marker results. Bulls eye!!

I've had poor luck with other Y-DNA results (not Turners). Two distant cousins kindly agreed to testing. Both their tests returned results indicating non-paternal events (such a gentle phrase). Neither was pleased with the results. One gentleman was so upset that he cut off all communication. I still feel awful about his reaction. This time Joe's results were exactly what we hoped they would be. His strongest match was to Edward's son James and he clearly fit into Group 9 with George Turner's descendants. Matching DNA test results from two sons of Edward Turner make a far stronger case for George and Edward being related.

That makes this distaff descendant of Edward's extremely happy, and Joe - he's my number one cousin connection. To those gentlemen being hounded by swab or tube waving relatives, please relent. That little bit of DNA means so much to us!

Graphic Credit: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by ProLithic 3D

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Sister - Wordless Wednesday

My grandmother, Iva Williams Sawyer, with her eldest daughter and my mother, Carolyn Sawyer, c. March 1929. This is the first picture we have of Mother.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Geneabloggers Rock!

My first take on a completely delightful weekend in Fort Wayne with other Geneabloggers - I need to do this at least a couple times a year! What seemed self-indulgent turns out to have been a terrific boost. I've enjoyed the conferences I've attended, but the focus there is on learning. And they are e x h a u s t i n g.

This time spent on my own research, surrounded by equally passionate (and entertaining) friends, allowed me to see my work with fresh eyes and kicked my energy level up a notch. I'm a poor bet for the goals, encouragement and accountability Geneabuddies provide for one another (it should be clear to those that attended that my attention span is non-existent), but the laughter, conversations and company of  these folks was fabulous!

The first results -

I realized on the drive home that as much as I want my Rachel Hampton to be the daughter of the Robert Hampton who left a 1796 will, and land, and records, that those same records all but prove she isn't. I still believe she's related (she did name a son Robert Hampton Mulkey, after all), but I need to let go of Robert as her father and move on! Hat tip to Laura at The Last Leaf On This Branch. Just thinking of handing off the research to her to review made it depressingly clear. I did find a new Hampton - Alfred - mentioned with Robert's family in several road orders.

Context is essential. My husband's family settled in Wyoming early in the 20th century. I've heard some stories and seen a few family photographs, but never visited the area or dug into the research. Two hours reviewing the Fremont County books available at the Allen County Public Library let me know just how much I don't know! I need to learn about the legal and commercial relations between the white and Shoshone residents, about the schools on the Wind River Reservation, and fire off some questions asap to his aunt.

For all my complaints about Legacy Family Tree (and they were non-stop) I lost count of how many times I referred to it for a date or name. I concede. It is useful. Those who endured my whining are free to wave this in my face.

I had one "aha" research moment of finding the burial spot for a "lost" great-great grandmother and learned of four previously unknown children. I am not sure why they are buried apart from the other family, but given the 30+ years between her death and her husband's, it's possible they moved or that his second wife determined his burial site.

And finally, I detoured to visit Waveland Cemetery outside Hillsboro, IL on my way home. This is something I should have done years ago. It's only 80 miles from my front door. I found another Jones to research (this is good news) when I realized the only other Joneses in the cemetery were laying next to my husband's ggg grandfather Joseph Jones. Joshua Jones is entirely new to me, but a quick check of census records yields some interesting hints. He is 5 or 6 years younger than Joseph, born in IL (Joseph was born in TN) and lists both parents as born in VA on the 1880 census - as does Joseph. Fun, fun, fun!

All this before I even look at the images and pages I copied. Thanks to Tina Lyons and Terri O'Connell for organizing the Midwest Geneabloggers gathering. Can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Easter Basket Cloth - Wordless Wednesday

A gift from Pereksta cousins in Slovakia during our visit there in 1990. The cloth is put over the basket of Easter foods that is taken to the church on Holy Saturday to be blessed.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"I shall not enjoy the happiness" - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

Though I have yet to complete last week's notes for Joseph Conway's will, this is not the day. It is a day I can transcribe another letter from the papers belonging to Maria Lee Palmer Smith, my husband's great-grandmother. This letter was written to her mother, Margaret Meredith Palmer, in 1851.

Envelope addressed to
Mrs M M. Palmer
near Kilmarnock
Lancaster Co
     Your Kind invitation could not have been made at any time, more convenient, than the present. Hence I have a thousand obligations for your exquisite goodness. May our dear Lord grant me as many opportunities of proving my gratitude, as my heart desires.
     And yet, Madam, I shall not enjoy the happiness of seeing you, your dear little children, and my own good William, since I am condemned by my physician, to retire for some days to the north. Be sure, this is a penance to me. I like the good Virginians So much, that it would afford me the greatest consolations, it would perhaps restore my health, if I could do them so good. Let us cheerfully submit to the holy will of God.
     Please, Madam, receive my hearty thanks for your kindness and charity, together with the promise of praying for you and all those who are dear to your heart, as often as I think of you.
     With the sincerest esteem, in union with your holy prayers
most truly yours in  αst
Feast of St. Mary Magd.
Balte.  1851                                              J. Francis.
Mrs. M. Palmer
The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene is celebrated on July 22nd.

I find the letter of interest for two reasons. The first is the size (I added a penny to the photograph for scale) and flowery writing of the day. The second that the letter (and the fact that it was kept by both Palmer and her daughter) is one more indication of the strong Catholic ties maintained by Palmer while she lived in Virginia. William, her brother, was confirmed a Roman Catholic at some time in 1851. He would take his vows as a Redemptorist priest in 1853.

I have not been able to identify J. Francis. There is no obvious match in the 1850 census in Baltimore. He may be a Redemptorist, but I have not found him in any of the order's histories.

I am not certain about the symbol in the closing line but believe it is the Greek letter α (alpha) or icthys symbol. It seems to be used in lieu of writing Christ. 

Francis, (Baltimore, MD) to Margaret M. Palmer. Letter. 22 July 1851. Privately held. Frederick, MD. Published with permission.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Getting Down to the Basics - A Review

Last weekend I wrote a post asking why people use genealogy databases and begging for specific answers. And I got them! Thanks to all who participated in the discussions here, on Google+ and on Facebook. Five bloggers (hope I haven't missed any, but if I did please let me know and I'll add to this list) posted in response.

I've read and re-read the responses, thought about my frustrations, and settled on a few things I want my Legacy database to do. 
  • Manage my source and repositories lists
  • Provide a master geographic locations list
  • Generate basic reports to share with those contacting me for more information 
  • Record conflicting information or problems
I will not be using Legacy in my digitizing project beyond entering appropriate source information. Many people commented that they used a database to organize documents and images. I don't need that. I can find the computer files I need quickly using my existing digital filing and tagging system. Now if there was a way that Legacy could organize the physical papers and photographs I'd be a lifetime devotee!

Nor will I be using Legacy for cluster research projects. I far prefer spreadsheets to sort and analyze information. I have used's online trees to gather census information and other source documents for small groups and will probably continue. But so far I don't see a genealogy database helping me with my group projects. 

I may learn new methods that will change these views. I joined a Legacy User Group to learn more about the program's features. I'm especially excited to have people I can bounce questions, ideas and problems off of. We'll see how excited they are after a month or two of my questions.

Read the comments on all the blog posts and social media platforms. There are as many ways to use the genealogy database programs as there are users. You may find an idea you hadn't considered. 

And thank you again to all who chimed in with your opinions. It was a marvelous discussion.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lives Entwined - A Friend of the Family

This picture of my grandmother Anna Pereksta Popp and her dear friend Ann Tanch, arms wrapped around one another, was taken in my aunt and uncle's back yard in Binghamton, NY. They had known one another for forty years and would remain friends until Baba died more than twenty years later.

Ann Tanch was far more than a friend with an infectious smile. She was also godmother to all three of Baba's children. As such she held an important place in the family and a name to match - Krstná (kres-na) or Godmother. She was at every holiday gathering, joining the family for every celebration and many, many other days.

The photo was taken when I was a young girl and is exactly how I remember Krstná - warm, outgoing and delighted to see us. And see her we did - every visit, every time. She was a vibrant and essential element of our time in Binghamton.

And yet, as I began to write about her, I realized how little I knew about Krstná. Her name. That she was a lifelong friend. That she never married. And I remembered that even though she was godmother to all the children, she did not attend Baba's church. She was Roman Catholic. 

I sent the photo to my father, aunt and uncle and started digging into online resources.  Krstná  was born Anna Tancak on 22 May 1901 and died as Anna Tanch on 31 Mar 1989. She appears in the 1910 census in Binghamton as a nine year old girl, Anna Tancak, born in New York. She lived with her parents George and Anna Tancak on Hanchett Avenue, just around the corner from Baba's Sedor cousins. The family was listed as Hun-Ruthenian with both parents born in Hungary. They had been married 25 years and buried 6 children. George worked in a stone yard. Krstná had a 20 year old brother John, born in Pennsylvania, and siblings Mary (16), George (12), Michael (5) and Helen (10 mos.), all born in New York. Two cousins, George and Andrew Macko (14 and 11) lived with the family. 

In October, 1915 her father died. He was buried on 29 October in St. Michael's Cemetery. Krstná's mother moved the family out of the city to a farm but by 1920, Krstná was living on Spring Forest Avenue in Binghamton and working at a shoe factory.

When my father called after speaking with his sister about Krstná, he told me she was born in the United States and was 5 or 6 years younger than Baba. He said she had a sister and four brothers and lived with her sister for many years. Her family had originally been part of their church, but when the church split in the 1940s her family left St. Michael's and joined Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church. Daddy said there was never any tension between Baba and Krstná over the separate churches. He couldn't remember her ever not being part of the family. She worked at Dunn-McCarthy making women's shoes for her entire working life.

I asked him how Baba and Krstná had met, wondering if it had been when Baba first arrived in 1913 or if her parents had been from the same village in Europe. The age difference would have been significant then, Krstná being 12 to Baba's 18. Daddy said no to both. My aunt told him they met later, around 1920 when Baba was living with her sister and brother-in-law near Spring Forest Street where Krstná lived.

One day, when Baba was visiting a Mrs. Koast, a woman she'd known in Prislop, she was struck by some especially lovely needlework and asked Mrs. Koast if she would teach Baba how to make the pattern. Mrs. Koast answered that she hadn't done it; her cousin Anna Tanch had. Baba asked for an introduction and Mrs. Koast waved her arm and said, "Just walk over. She lives one block behind you." So she did. Baba knocked on Ann Tanch's door, introduced herself and asked her to please teach her how to make the needlework Baba had so admired.

Forty years later they posed for the photograph.

Written for Jasia's 116th Carnival of Genealogy and Women's History Month.


Social Security Administration, "Social Security Death Index, Master File," database, ( : accessed 9 Mar 2012), entry for Anna Tanch, 1989, SS no. 070-03-7051.

1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Binghamton, Ward 1, enumeration district (ED) 0005, p. 97, dwelling 15, family 152, George Tancak; digital images, ( : accessed 8 Mar 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 925.

"Obituary George C. Tanch," Binghamton Press, 29 October 1915, Evening edition, p. 1?, col. 2; digital images, Old Fulton New York Post Cards ( : accessed 6 Mar 2012).

1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Colesville, Broome, NY, enumeration district (ED) 69, p. 2A, family 29, Anna Tanch (indexed as Lauch); digital images, ( : accessed 9 Mar 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1086.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Maria Tegze Balabancuk - (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

My great-grandmother Maria or Marika Tegze Balabancuk was born in 1857 in Berezna, Máramaros, Hungary. She married Ivan Papp before 1873. She died 6 July 1920 in Berezova, Czechoslovakia. When I was growing up the village she was born, married and died in was Berezovo, Ukraine, USSR. Today it is Berezovo, Zakarpats’ka oblast’, Ukraine or to be completely accurate Березово, Закарпатська область, Україна.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Comments, Captchas and Conversations

This will be quick. Blogger recently changed the captcha code to include two words. Without going into dreary personal information, my vision is such (or not such) that it's too difficult for me to manage the codes. I tried the audio codes only to discover my hearing isn't any better. Not a cheerful realization.

At any rate, I am no longer able to prove I'm not a robot. For those of you using the codes please understand I am not suggesting you remove them. We all need to take care of ourselves first. I can easily understand that you might choose the codes over dealing with the dratted annoying damn spammers.

But I do miss being able to comment on some of my favorite blogs. I've read some wonderful posts lately! So going forward I will be using the Google+ button more frequently. If you see a +1 from me you'll know I loved the post.  I'm also sharing more posts to Google+ where conversations flourish.

My inner conspiracy theorist wonders if this isn't part of a world domination plan to push everyone to Google+. Whatever. Just wanted you to know why I wasn't commenting the way I used to.

Joseph Conway 1802 Will (Part 1) - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

My 4th great-grandfather Joseph Conway wrote a will shortly before his death in 1802 in Cocke County, TN. The Cocke County Courthouse burnt in 1876 and all records held there were lost. A copy of the will was found, however, in the Court of Common Pleas records in Highland County, OH where Conway had owned land.

I transcribed his will and the following orders from a copy of the court record in Joseph Conway's Ancestor file at the DAR Library in Washington DC. The document was marked "Common Pleas Court, Highland Co., Ohio, Record Book A, 191-192."

Because of the length of the court record my notes and analysis will follow in Part 2.

In the name of God Amen I Joseph Conway of Coke County & State of Tennessee being week in body but of Sound & perfect memory blessed be God for this same calling to remembrance the uncertainty of this life that it is appointed for all men once to do and being desirious so to order & dispose of what estate God in his mind has been pleased to bless me with do make constitute and ordain this my last will & testament in manner & form as follows Viz  Imprimes I gave and bequeath my persons & immortal Souls to God who gave it & as to my worldly estate which God in his mercy hath been pleased to bestow on me my will & meaning is that it be so order and disposed as by this my will & testament is hereafter mentioned after all my just debts & Funeral expences are paid  Item   I give & bequeath to my dear & loving wife Sarah Conway one Third part of my real & personal estate among her natural life after that the real estate to be disposed of as is hereinafter mentioned  also  the personal estate to be agreeably divided between the Surviving heirs except the Negro girls given to my daughters in lieu of lands  Item  I give & bequeath to my son Edward Turner Conway two tracts of land lying on Knob Creek  one containing 347 acres conveyed to me from Spencer Rice & John Gooch  The other containing 70 acres adjoining the aforesaid tract taken up and Surveyed by myself also one other tract of land containing 200 acres called the Sugar camp tract Taken up also by myself
Item I give and bequeath to my son Joseph Conway one tract of land containing 300 acres whereon I now live purchased from Robert King also 400 acres as part of an other Tract of Land lying on the North side of the Ohio river on the waters of Paint creek a branch of the Sciota River called the buckskin tract
Item I give and bequeath to my son Peter Conway  Charles Conway and William Turner Conway also the child my wife is at present pregnant with if a son the remainder of the Buckskin tract of land and also one other tract of land containing 2400 acres called the Lees Creek tract a branch of this aforementioned Paint Creek to be equally divided agreeable to quantity & quality
Item I give & bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Maree Conway and Sarah Conway also the child my wife is at present pregnant with in case it is a daughter to have each a Negro girl when the come of age or at the day of marriage the Negro girl to be picked out by the executors which shall be in leiu of their portion of land
Item I give and bequeath to my sons and daughters Edward Joseph Peter Charles & William Elizabeth & Sarah also the Child my wife is at present pregnant with all the rest of my property to be equally divided also my will and desire is that there shall be no division of the estate until my son Edward comes of age at which time there shall be a division & he runs his portion and the rest also in rotation as they come of age shall run their portion also My will and desire also is that my wife shall have the care or ________ent of the estate & children under the directions of the Executions who shall be and are hereby empowered in case they shall see the estate wanting in any respect or the children misused to take possession of the estate and apply it to the best use for the advantage of the children  Also my desire is that the children may be educated and raised in as Christians like manner as the circumstances of the Estate will admit
Finally I do constitute appoint and ordain William Scruggs Phillip Hall & Christopher Conway my whole & sole Executors of this my last will & testament in witness whereof I have set my hand & seal this twenty first day of May 1802
Attest                                                                  Jas Conway {seal}
Florence Puckett
Clary Scruggs
S  Crosby

I William Garret Clerk of the Court of {seal} Pleas & quarter Sessions for the County of Coke do certify the above to be a true copy of Joseph Conway will as rewarded & filed in my ____ in witness whereof I have hereunto Set my own private Seal having no Seal of ___ence this 23rd day of September 18__ (14?)
W. Garrett  ____

Whereupon ordered that a writ of Partition issue to the Sheriff commanding him that by the oath of James Johnson Esq.  Charles N Clifton & Reubin Brown who are appointed commissioners & Thomas N Sanders Surveyor cause to be d____d & partitioned the land mentioned  in the petition agreeably to the ____ of Petitioners and furthered ordered that the commissioners report at the next term of this Court and that the p___n & Document accompaning the same this order & report of Commissioners be one the records of the Court whereupon a writ of Partition issued in the following words & figures to wit  The State of Ohio Highland Common pleas March Term 1815  this day on motion of Beston & Jainagan & others by Wm Couch their attorney  it was ordered that the Sheriff of Highland County by the oath of James Johnson Esq.  Charles N Clifton  and Reuben Brown commissioners & Thomas M Sanders Surveyor because to be set off & partitioned the land in the Petition mentioned which is patented to Joseph Conway on Lees Creek of 2400 acres to be divided in four equal shares equal for quality & quantity that there be set apart respectively to Charles  William  & James Conway each one fourth of said tract in severally and that the remaining fourth part divided to Peter Conway now deceased be equally divided into seven equal parts or shares equal for quality & quantity and set a part in severally to Edward  Joseph  Charles  William & James Conway & to Elizabeth Conway now Elizabeth Jainagan & to Sarah Conway now Sarah Hogain brothers & sisters to the said Peter Conway deceased & it is further ordered that the Commissioners report to the next court

       In testimony that the foregoing is a true copy of the order in the {seal} case of Allen Trimble Clerk of the Court of Common please for said County have been unto set my hand & seal _____ this 6th day of March 1815
Allen Trimble

I hereby certify that the within named James Johnson Reubin Brown & Charles Clifton Commissioners & Thomas M Sanders Surveyor was qualified according to law to the duly a____'d on them by this order Given under my hand & seal this 9th day of March 1815
David  Te___ll JP

Highland, OH, Court of Common Pleas Record Books Record Book A: 191-192, Joseph Conway Will and Petition for Division of Land, 9 Mar 1815; DAR Library: Ancestor Database File for Joseph Conway (#A025212).  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Getting Down to the Basics

More musings as I continue to think deep thoughts. The really good news is my husband will be home tomorrow and I'll rejoin the real world and actually do things rather than think.

Anyway, I really need to figure out just what I want my genealogy database software to do for me. It's got nothing, I repeat nothing to do with what "kind" of researcher I am. The software is a simply a tool. Right now it's not a very good one. I'm hoping that's because I haven't really thought through why I use it.

I inherited a Family Tree Maker database from my parents who took all the notes and charts my grandmother, aunts and other family historians had made, wrote letters to all their cousins asking for current information and entered all that data into the program. Heroic work that I truly appreciate for I am not a fan of data entry.

I spent several years validating their data, first using sources I had gathered in my own research and then using the online resources that were becoming available.

Since then I've been focused on two projects: researching those individuals or families that I could not document and digitizing the boxes of papers handed down to me. I haven't found any genealogy database software particularly useful for these projects.

So, an open-ended question for all you genealogy software users out there (especially the non-pro family types): What is it you use the program for? Specifics, I beg of you. As in -

  • I use it because I like the lineage reports it produces.
  • I like to keep track of my research and it's the best way I've found because it allows me to........
  • I collaborate with other researchers and it's a program that we all use.
  • I like the family tree structure it provides.
  • I love linking media to individuals in the tree.
  • I use it to produce GEDCOM files I can upload or share.
  • My family loves the charts and reports I share with them.
  • I use it to generate HTML pages for my website.
  • I use it because it does internet searches or links with for searches.
  • I use it to keep track of my sources materials and write citations. 
  • I prefer entering information into a database. It's more organized that way.

There must be hundreds of other reasons. I really want to know. I must be missing something here and could use some guidance.  So let me know.

Why do you use a genealogy database program?

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Ninja M.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Meandering and Musing: Where do friends go?

I've been completely immersed in research and thinking "great family history thoughts" - the meaning of life, the definition of family, what it is to be a woman, a person. This is what happens when my dear husband leaves town for more than 4 days. I disappear into the recesses (notice it's not a productive spot I vanish to, but a playground) of my mind. There's probably a medication that would help, but until I'm dragged off to the psych ward let's see if I can pull a theme out of the mess.

Two bloggers helped trigger my reflections - Jasia's prompt for this month's 116th Carnival of Genealogy spotlights Women's History Month. Not surprising that a gifted photographer chose a photograph for a prompt. I've been paying attention as I go through my boxes and piles and one picture has captured my attention - my grandmother and her dear friend. 

Kathy Reed wrote three posts at Jones Family Matters about identity and how little is revealed in our "just the facts" gathering of vital statistics. They are beautifully done and illustrate how many layers there are to our lives and by extension, to those of our ancestors.

Toss in some new DNA matches, online discussions of how we use various software programs and I come up with ....

Friends. My research is focused on finding genetic and adoptive relationships. But as I think about my ancestors' layered lives, and of how little I know beyond the vital statistics, I wonder about those people who figured in their lives but did not appear in the wills or deeds, except perhaps as witnesses. I wonder about the friendships that changed the direction of a life - encouraged a move, introduced someone to their spouse, stepped in during a crisis. 

One family appears in more than six decades of my family's pictures - photos taken in Tennessee, Connecticut, France, Missouri and Michigan. We are not related by blood (at least not that I can find), but by a family friendship that spans generations. If anyone ever wondered why we ended up living where we do, we bought our home (as well as an earlier one) based on advice from my "sorta" sister.  My parents were introduced by friends. They shared no common church, neighborhood, or interest and would likely never have met had Margaret & Ted not intervened. (Even then it wasn't that easy to get them in the same place at the same time!) I grew up with friends who brought a friend into their home for the last months of her life. She was surrounded by those dear to her, but not related to her. 

I consider how vital friendships have been to me. Two pictures stand out in my memory. The first, from my wedding having just laid eyes on my dearest friend who I was not expecting to see. The second, from my son's wedding having just laid eyes on the young woman who sheltered my children (in the borrowed home of my dearest friend) the summer my mother died. My mouth and arms are wide open, my eyes filling with tears, in both pictures. Pure joy.

My friend was as instrumental in shaping my views and beliefs, my children's upbringing, as any member of my family. If you don't know about her, you are missing an essential part of who I am. The young woman is as important to my children (and thus, to me) as their extended family. It was a joy to introduce her to them when my son married. 

So should friends figure in family history? I don't know. Certainly they are key parts of our individual lives. But in the aggregate? There's so much we will never know about our ancestors. But as I scan photographs, letters and sift through the boxes of "things" I've inherited I wonder if the clues there lead to relatives (here's where the software comes in) that I will enter into my database or to friends. 

And that's my chief complaint about using genealogy software. Most programs do not allow one to link people in non-familial relationships. I've no easy way to record business partners, neighbors, godparents or dear friends other than in the written notes. I did discover my software search capabilities include searching the notes. Perhaps I'll start adding these figures into the database and adding a "Linked to" note that could be found via search. 

Meanwhile a few hints to my descendants. That bullwhip my son will leave to some lucky offspring? Given to him by my other dearest friend's husband the summer they took him off my hands. Don't loose sleep trying to figure out his cowboy connections. The candlesticks that stood by my fireplace, the handsewn aprons I wore while cooking, the gold bracelet I handed down? The lovely blonds who keep appearing in decades of photos? All from my sorta family. They're fabulous and well worth researching. But they aren't related (unless of course you've FINALLY managed to marry one another). 

Photo source: Some rights reserved by TMAB2003

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Posterity Project - Follow Friday

A quick Follow Friday recommendation for those with Tennessee research interests - or those who love history and archives (pretty much covers all of us, no?).

Gordon Belt's (read his About Us entry to be wowed by his credentials) The Posterity Project is one of my must reads. I love his posts referring to my East Tennessee locales of interest, such as when he wrote about the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University recently.

I love his posts about current issues facing archives and archivists.

I love his posts about the Civil War and the resources available to explore its history and effects.

I could go on, but you get the point. Check it out. It's a fabulous resource and always a great read.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole or Digging Deeper

I've fallen into a very large research rabbit hole and have no wish to climb out. It will take something powerfully persuasive - leeches or snakes in the puddles at my feet or promises of sunshine and warm desert breezes waiting me above ground - to lure me out.

Several weeks ago I spent days searching early and mid 20th c. copies of the Binghamton (NY) Press at Old Fulton NY Post Cards for mention of my family. It was time well spent. Yesterday I returned to search for information about one of my grandmother's dearest friends. I discovered that she lived next door to a probably-related family from my grandmother's village when she was a girl which explained when and how they met.

Then I got distracted, as is my want, by other articles. One recorded the gruesome accidental death of a boarder living at the house next door. I wondered about the house. Who else had lived there? What else happened?

One of the joys of using the Old Fulton NY Post Cards site is that searches are limited only by one's imagination. I have searched by surname, by cemetery name, by church name, and yesterday, by street address. I could search by disease (several stories about typhoid appeared on the pages I reviewed), by business name, by keywords like prohibition or socialist. I have clipped hundreds of pages with information I want to abstract; information that will give me a much richer picture of the community where my grandparents lived in the 1920s, '30s and 40s.

But what really sent me falling all the way down that hole was when I realized I could search by name or street address in the U.S. Cities Directories (Beta) database at I'll be mining this database until those leeches push or breezes pull me out.

Big find #1 was when my grandfather changed his surname from Papp to Popp. I knew it wasn't at Ellis Island, but didn't know how or when it happened. Now I do. Below are the index listings from for my grandparents in the Binghamton, NY directories from 1923 when they married to 1940.

Anna Papp 1923 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1924 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1925 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1926 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1928 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1929 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1930 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1931 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna Papp 1932 Binghamton, New York Stephen Papp
Anna POPP 1934 Binghamton, New York Stephen POPP
Anna Popp 1935 Binghamton, New York Stephen Popp
Anna Popp 1939 Binghamton, New York Stephen Popp
Anna Popp 1940 Binghamton, New York Stephen Popp

Do you know what happened on 2 January 1934? My grandfather became  a United States citizen - under the surname Popp. It's amazing what makes me happy. This has been a very, very good day.

Photo Credit: AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by NashvilleCorps

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mystery Cousins in Satu Mare - (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

This photograph was in a pocket sized photo album belonging to my grandfather. My aunt wrote on the back of the photo that it is the wife and children of her father's brother Ivan Papp in Satu Mare (now Romania). So far I have not discovered their names, but I see a clear family resemblance in the children.
I am woefully bad at dating photographs. These seem to be 1940s or early 1950s fashions. I would love to know if these were post or pre WWII.

Monday, March 5, 2012

1810 Stephenson Deed (Washington, TN) - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This deed, copied from the Washington County (TN) Registrar of Deeds Office, involves my 4th great-grandfather John Stephenson. 

Elias Bowman
John Stephenson
This Indenture made on the fifth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ten Between Elias Bowman of the one part and John Stephenson of the other Part both of the County of Washington and state of Tennessee
Witnesseth that the sd Elias Bowman for and in consideration Of the Sum of twelve hundred Dollars to him in hand paid by the said John Stephenson the receipt whereof is  hereby acknowledged he the said Elias Bowman hath bargained and Sold and by these _______ doth En__ off and convey to the said John Stephenson a certain tract of land lying and being In the County afforesaid on the waters of big limestone creek And bounded as followeth (To Wit)    Beginning at a white oak dogwood and gum thence South eighty Eight Degrees West one hundred and thirty six poles to a black Oak and poplar thence north one hundred and twelve poles to a white oak thence West one hundred and forty poles to a black oak and post thence South eighty three poles to a post oak and black Oak thence South thirty five East two hundred and twenty six poles to a to a white oak and stake thence north fifty degrees East one hundred And ninety two poles to a stake thence north thirty six poles To the Beginning    Containing two hundred and twenty Eight acres be the Same more or less which tract of Land with all the appurtenances therunto belonging the said Elias Bowman for himself and his heirs doth warrent and will forever Defend unto the said John Stephenson his heirs and assigns as an Indefensible inheritance in fee simple In Witness whereeof The said Elias Bowman have herunto set my Hand and affixed my seal the day and year above written
Signed Sealed and Delivered
In preasence of                        Elias Bowman {seal}              
Wm Tyler          }
M. Stephenson}  State of Tennessee}  February Sessions 1811
Ebeneazer Frain     }    Washington County}      Then this deed was proven          
                                                                                        In court and recorded let it 
be registered
Test  Jas Sevier Sheriff
by his dept Jn_ C Harris
State of Tennessee
Washington County
 Thereon duly registered in the registers office    John Adams
  of said County _____                                       County register

The land Stephenson purchased lay east of the Big Limestone Creek, most likely in the area south of Leesburg (where two of his daughters lived) and north of Washington College. Stephenson and his wife, Elizabeth Cloyd Stephenson, were members of Salem Presbyterian Church and are buried in the Salem Church graveyard at Washington College.

Washington, Tennessee, Deed Books, 12: 337, Elias Bowman to John Stephenson, 5 Nov 1810.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Challenge: One Bible Record, 5 Times Removed

I'd love to see what a citation pro would do with this!

Last summer I spent part of two days at the DAR Library in Washington, DC examining the documents in their files relating to my ancestors Jonathan and Philip Mulkey. I had, and continue to have, doubts regarding the records used to prove their Revolutionary War service for DAR membership. There were two Philip Mulkeys, possibly three, in what is now East Tennessee in the late 18th century. It has never been clear to me that the rosters naming Philip Mulkey are in fact referring to my 6th great-grandfather, Rev. Philip Mulkey (b. 1732, Edgecombe Precinct, NC) or that those naming John Mulkey are referring to his son, Rev. Jonathan Mulkey.

Nevertheless, it was a joy to finally see the records used by my grandmother and her cousins in their membership applications. The DAR files included digitized copies of family Bible records and transcriptions that I had never seen. The records support the information about the Mulkeys in the family record my grandmother gave to me in 1968.

Included was a transcription of a Bible record belonging to my 3rd great-grandfather (yet another) Philip Mulkey that was copied by Margaret Bayless McNees (my first cousin, 3 times removed) in 1937.  The Bible was then owned by Mulkey's son-in-law, John Horner of St. Clair, Hawkins County, TN.


"Philip Mulkey born Jan. 14, 1810; Died July 27, 1884.
           Married (1) Anna Duncan, born Oct. 23, 1809
                                                       died ...............1850 
                                              Married     June 2, 1831
Married (2) Matilda Smith, born Feb. 12, 1819
                                                      died .............1862   
Married Mch. 18, 1852
Married (3) Mary Jane (Hopper) Crouch, born Mch. 16, 1834
died ..................     
Married Aug. 10, 1865

Children of Philip and Anna Duncan Mulkey:
Sarah Mulkey         born Feb. 26, 1832
Isaac Mulkey         born Oct. 21, 1834
James Mulkey        born Aug. 23, 1836
Rachel Mulkey        born Sept. 15, .......     
John Mulkey          born Oct. 2, 1842
Annaliza Mulkey         born Feb. 9, 1844
Elizabeth Mulkey     born Mch. 15, 1846"


The information in this transcription is supported by census and pension records with two exceptions. Philip Mulkey's will was filed on 1 Oct 1883 in Hawkins County so the 1884 death date appears to be an error. Census records suggest that Rachel Mulkey was likely born in 1839. 

Anyone want to take a shot at writing a citation for this?  I've no idea. None. So here's the full rundown. 

The quote above is from photocopy of a digitized image of a document titled "Copy of Bible Record, Philip Mulkey". The document is a typed copy of Margaret McNees' transcription (which is likely a copy of her first transcription made in 1937) that was mailed to Blanche V. Range on 16 Jan 1939. The typed copy is dated 19 Jan 1939. It is a supporting document from the file of Blanche V. Range (DAR National # 312112), my 2nd cousin, twice removed. It is held at the DAR Library in Washington, DC where the digital image was viewed and copied on 24 Jun 2011. 

If I have that right it's five steps removed from the source - Mulkey's Bible, 1937 transcription, 1939 copy of transcription, 1939 typed copy of 1939 copy of transcription, digitized copy of typed copy viewed on computer, 2011 photocopy of digitized image. 

Have at it!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tools of the Trade - Treasure Chest Thursday

I dug into a box of family artifacts the other day. Things I haven't yet photographed or figured out what to do with.

These glasses were such a find. I don't remember examining them before. They were my paternal grandfather's safety glasses when he was a leather cutter at Endicott-Johnson in Binghamton, NY. I love the hinged screen at the sides.

My family enjoyed looking at the glasses. We're a group of science nerds - some of us with years of experience wearing safety goggles or glasses. So it was easy to find a willing model.