Tracking My Mother’s Mother’s Mother’s…

Having tested my mitochondrial DNA (on FTDNA) to expand my mother’s lines, I am in the process of doing a RootsMagic database to track those families and add evidence.  As soon as my DNA results were posted in early 2014 I began occasionally to get contacted by people who match me.  One of the very first pointed me at Eunice Phelps and her ancestors, including a url for a family website that I believe took her line back to a Prentice woman.  Unfortunately that site is no longer available and the Wayback Machine doens’t have the pages I want to look at again.  Just this past October I received another email from a match and this kind woman reported that she traced my line back 6 additional generations, 5 in Connecticut (which also includes a Prentice) and the last in Buckinghamshire, England in 1603.  I haven’t confirmed any of this yet but am on the trail.

Starting with my mother’s mother, Bricena Snow Denman, I have only had about 3 or maybe 4 generations of women before her in my tree (and I don’t have most of the evidence for any of these).

Bricena’s mother was Mary Malvina Sweet, born in 1852 or maybe 1853 (her children reported two different birth years as I posted earlier.). While I have an exact date I have no solid evidence, e.g., from a registration of her birth or a family Bible.  Mary and Clemon Snow married in May 1880, in Lorain County, Ohio.   They had only two children surviving (given amount of time between there may have been others who did not survive although this wasn’t passed along in family lore).  My grandmother was the only female so the only one passing mitochondrial DNA on.

Mary Sweet’s mother was Brisena (or Bricena) Chadwick who was born in 1814 in Lee, Massachusetts and married Colvin Sweet in 1835 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  As a child one of my favorite family stories was that my grandmother was named after her grandmother who had been a twin (girls named Bricena and Chrisena).  That looks like a family myth since I (so far) find no evidence that there was twin (based on the Lee Vital Records to 1850 on the site.  So much for stories.  Bricena and Colvin Sweet had somewhere around 10 children including 3 girls.  The first Mary died within a month of her birth.  The second, Bricena E. Sweet (known as Aunt Britie) never married (and had no children as far as I know).  and the second Mary was my great grandmother.  So she was (at least so far) the only one to pass on mitochondrial DNA.

Bricena Chadwick’s mother was Eunice Phelps, born in 1785 in Hebron, Connecticut one week after Hebron’s county changed from Windham county to Tolland county.  In 1805 she married Hemen (or Herman) Chadwick in Lee, Massachusetts and they had 5 children, only one a girl (Bricena).  Hemen Chadwick died young, in 1815 leaving Bricena a 30 year old widow.  If she had married again and had more children there would be other possibilities, however, I believe that she did not remarry until 1827 (when she was 41) and did not have more children.  So again, my great-great grandmother was the only female in her line passing along mitochondrial DNA.

This is the point at which my own research stopped until very recently.  I think Eunice’s mother was a Lucy Lord, born 1748, and married to Solomon Phelps, Jr. born 1743, both in Connecticut.  I am only beginning to research from here, so will just list the names I have been given by my recent match in October.  What she found, and I think is at least close to the earlier tree that isn’t online anymore, are these women:

Lucy Lord 1748 in Colchester
Lucy Bulkeley 1720 in Colchester
Patience Prentice 1680 New London
Sarah Jones 1654 Boston
Ann Griggs 1632 New London
Alice Sibtharp 1603 Buckinghamshire, England

So I have a “map” of sorts to guide me.  I am particularly interested in finding the families that had more than one female living to adulthood and having children of her own, since these could be my mitochondrial matches which don’t look at all familiar in family tree surnames at first glance.

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December Genealogy To-Do


Well, in November I managed (finally!) to finish the transcription of the Michael Marten 1750 will.  I needed the help of the wills-mistress of the Sussex Family History Group on several place names as well as the name of the court official who swore in the executrices.  This will and the William Denman will now will be available to members in transcribed form through her group, here.  You can see the list of what is held, by name and by placename on the site without being a member.  The other task I worked on in November was cleaning up my Evernote notebooks and adding information to my Roots Magic tree.

What I have discovered is that the 25 minute challenge works very well for me on tasks that I have ready to work on and can stop in the middle of any step when the time runs out.  I have to be able to stop and get up from the computer when the timer goes off, so any task that can’t be stopped in the middle doesn’t work.

December will, of course, bring more holidays to be prepared for and celebrated, and that will take some of my discretionary time this month.  However, my goal is to continue to chip away at the Evernote cleaning up and organizing.   .One of the changes I’m making is to make each note title the surname, first name of the person the note is about.

If I get more motivated to do some cleaning up – and I might as the end of the year looms – I will go back to doing the same organizational tasks in my computer family files.  This “genealogy go-over” is necessary before I do much more research on any individual or family, since there is still a ton of evidence lurking in the computer files that I don’t need to go looking for all over again.  This is another task that should also lend itself nicely to the 25-minutes-a-day challenge.  .

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An Orphan Finds a Home

I recently became the very pleased recipient of an orphaned photograph.  I received the newest Huron County Kinologist in the mail a week or two ago, and actually sat down to read it (rather than my more usual habit of putting it in a pile to be read later).  I enjoyed reading the list included of what families the members are searching.  And I noticed a couple of lines at the bottom of one page reporting the receipt of an orphaned photograph from a woman in Kansas.  She had sent it to the Huron County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society because it included the name Mrs. M.A. Vaughn, Wakeman Ohio, and “Mother’s cousin” written on it.  She hoped to find it a home.

Excited, I immediately contacted the Chapter and said I wanted it if there were no more direct relatives asking for it.  Mary A. Vaughn was the second, late-in-life, wife of my great great grandfather Charles Minor of Wakeman, Ohio.  I’m not sure whether I was the first to ask, or the only one, but I ended up with it.

Mrs. M.A. Vaughn

Mrs. M.A. Vaughn

I am thrilled to see her for the first time.  I only have one picture of my great great grandfather and none of his first wife, my great great grandmother Adelia Mary Hall.  Since Mary A. Vaughn is not a direct relative or even a collateral I am trying mightily not to follow that path down the rabbit hole (with only moderate success).  In the hope that someone actually related to her might find this interesting, here is what I know about her.

She was born Mary A. Beardsley perhaps on 22 Sep 1838 (from her death certificate) in Twinsburg, Ohio.  I say perhaps because the marriage license she and Joshua R. Vaughn obtained in December 1853 alleged that she was at least 18 years old, which she wouldn’t have been in 1853 if she had been born in 1838,  At only 15 years old, she should have required the consent of her father to marry, which was not reported.  On the other hand, 1838 is consistent with the age she reported as late as 1906 when she and Charles Minor married  and on all the various federal censuses I have found her on.

I am finding confusing evidence about her parents.  On the first marriage record there is no mention of her parents.  On the second, to Charles Minor, she reported her parents as John Birdsley and Caroline Goodin (being her mother’s maiden name).  On Mary’s death certificate her parents were reported (by I believe a daughter of Mary’s) to have been Joseph Spencer (?maybe, this is hard to decipher) and Caroline Goodin.  I found a marriage record in Summit County, Ohio for a Caroline Goodwin and David Beardsley in 1840 (2 years after the reported date of birth for Mary.   On the 1850 census I found Caroline Goodwin and Mary A. Beardsley living in Cuyahoga County, Ohio – unfortunately this census did not record relationships or marital status.  And, finally, on the 1860 and 1870 censuses there is a Daniel and Peggy Ann Goodin living in the same place or next door to Joshua and Mary Vaughn and their young family, and in 1880 there is a Daniel Goodin in their household listed as Father-in-Law.  Oh my.

Joshua R. Vaughn was certainly older than Mary, likely by at least 3 years and more likely by 7-8 years based on the federal censuses I have found them together on.  They seem to have lived all their married lives in Wakeman, Ohio, also based on the federal censuses, and often lived near other families who are direct relatives of mine.  Joshua served in the Civil War for almost 5 months in Company E of the 166 Ohio Infantry as a private.   He applied for a pension based on being an invalid, in 1891, and a month after his death in 1901, Mary applied as his widow.  In January 1906 she married my great great grandfather Charles Minor and they lived in Wakeman together until he died in November 1913.  Soon thereafter she sold the house and moved to Cleveland to live with one of her daughters.  Mary Beardsley Vaughn Minor died in Cleveland in June 1926 and was buried with her first husband in the Wakeman Cemetery.

So as you can see, I haven’t managed to stay out of the rabbit hole but now I am done (she told herself sternly).  And the photo which was orphaned is welcome to find a home with me, however if there is anyone who is directly related who would like it I am willing to pass it along.

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November Genealogy To-Do

25 x 25 calendarFor October, I want to report that I tried and really liked the 25 x 25 challenge I set for myself at the beginning of the month.  I found the tracking calendar that is at Don’t Break the Chain (you can see what mine looks like today – when I’ve done today’s 25 minutes I will have completed 21 days in a a row!) and between the reward of checking date boxes off and using my 25 minute timer on the computer I was able to get almost all of both wills transcribed.  I successfully completed the transcription of the William Denman will and have given a copy to the Suffolk Family History Group.  This local society keeps a will store of such documents and makes them available to members.  I have almost finished the Michael Marten will as well, having only a few places left where I am having trouble deciphering the handwriting (or don’t know the term being used).  I may elicit the aid of the volunteer at the Suffolk Family History Group who maintains the will store presently for these last bits.

I haven’t done as well on adding the information from my Salt Lake City trip to Evernote.  I have several pages of names and microfilms I looked at that I still need to add to Evernote so I have a research log of sorts to tell what I looked at and whether I found anything.  I realize that negative findings (looking and not finding) are important, so I need to do this.  I plan to do another 25 x 25 challenge in November to work on this specific project.

The other project I have started and hope to finish in November (maybe in time for Veterans Day) is tracking down any Salt relatives who might have served in World War I.  I am in the middle of locating all the registration cards as my first step, and looking for both WWI and WWII for each person.  In creating the list for this I learned how to use RootsMagic to limit a report to give me just people born in the right time period and with the Salt last name.

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Genealogy Do-Over: To Do or Not To Do?

I have been thinking lately about joining the MacEntee Genealogy Do-Over group for real (not just reading the Facebook page!).  I am, as they say, in the contemplative phase.  Friends could tell you that I am frequently in the contemplative stage about a lot of projects.  This is true.  I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about doing or how to do before I am finally ready to commit myself to act.  I’m sure this is diagnostic of something or other.

Be that as it may, I have been toying with the idea of the Do-Over since I am trying harder to source evidence for the things I know about my family lines.  More than a year ago I started a fresh new RootsMagic tree for my family intending to add people as I had evidence to back up the facts.  A good idea I haven’t followed through on.

Moreover, at this point I am aware of how much information I have collected and not done anything with.  I have digital images of all sorts of registers and certificates (as well as index entries and actual pieces of paper) that do actually provide some evidence about events in people’s live.  The digital files live in surname folders on my computer (at least I’ve gotten that far!) with inconsistent filenames and as I work on a given folder I discover that I “found” the same evidence more than once (sometimes years apart) since I didn’t see/know that I already had it.  I also have binders of paper information of the same sort from earlier times which is in the same sad state of never having been connected to the people referred to.  Bah!

Worse yet, as I have worked on a folder to assign consistent (and currently approved-by-Pat) filenames, I don’t necessarily add the information to my tree, so if I am looking at it I don’t know that I have evidence for a fact.  Double Bah!  I do know better than this, I just don’t do what I know is a better way.

So my contemplation of the Genealogy Do-Over is thinking about whether it will help me conquer this nasty habit or set of habits and establish a more organized way of researching.  I would like to be able to see that I am actually making some progress and learning new things about my family lines because I could see that I needed to research a particular question.  My perfectionistic self would also like to be able to see that computer files and paper files are organized and easy for anyone to look at and understand.



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