Hollin[g]shead Connections and Spreading the Love

I am pleased to announce that I have linked my Daniel Hollingshead to the Hollinshead family in the New Jersey Colony!  If you’re a Genealogy At Heart follower, you’ve experienced (remotely) the twists and turns of this family saga, along with the intermarriages with the Duers, who have their own family drama.  Upfront, I want to apologize for the length of this blog, please bear with me!


I’ve written frequently about the odd happenings that occur when I research these lines that I can’t explain.  As blog follower Linda Shufflebean commented on Synchronocity and my Roots “I love Hank Jones’s Psychic Roots series – I’m even mentioned with my own weird experiences.  I think the ancestors are up there pointing the way for us at times.” I so agree, Linda!  


If you’re a new reader and have no idea what I’m talking about or you need a refresh, you can read some of the backstory here, here and here.
The ancestors may be giving us a nudge from beyond but it’s up to us to take that tidbit and go with it. It’s also about connections in the here and now.  Today, I want to give a shout out to some very special people who went above and beyond to answer my questions, give me suggestions or furnish a copy of a paper document that hasn’t been digitized.  None of them had to do this, especially not during these difficult times.  


I realize my requests were not important to anyone but me and a few descendants of the Hollingsheads.  When the world is falling apart, finding a source in a locked archive is definitely a low priority.  Regardless, the following folks stepped up and helped me and I am so very grateful for their positive character, work ethic and dedication.  What I’ve learned from them can help every genealogist be better! The list is in alpha order by first name as they all are equally important:


BARB WALKER TERRONES, Ancestry.com Tree Owner   Have you ever messaged someone about more info on Ancestry and never gotten a response?  Duh, every genealogist has!  Barb is not one of those people who never respond.  In fact, Barb, who has a private tree, not only quickly responded she volunteered to help me find the missing Hollingshead Bible that Daniel brought with him when he left England about 1704.  Barb would be my 7 times removed step cousin.  Regardless of being that distant, Barb stopped her own research to help me and shared what she found.  Barb, I thank you for your quick replies and I know we’re going to find that Bible someday.  Please continue to keep me in the loop of what you discover as I’ll do the same.


BRYAN MULCAHY, Reference Librarian Ft. Myers Regional Library   Nothing like needing to find a 300 year old will transcription that’s not online and was made out of the country.  Even in normal times it’s a feat.  The volume I needed was 140 miles from my home.  Back in the day, I would have requested it be sent to my local library or perhaps I would have even made the drive because I love Ft. Myers but now, those options weren’t possible.  I completed the form filler request Ask a Librarian and Bryan responded within two hours with a scan of what I needed.  Bryan, you are awesome!  Your information helped me trace extended family and led me to further documents that I would no way have known existed if I hadn’t uncovered the relationships that were mentioned in the will you provided.  My deepest appreciation to you!


ELIZABETH PEARSON, British Genealogist   I’ve attended lectures Liz has given locally a few times and have always been impressed with her wealth of knowledge.  The area and locations I was researching are not in my comfort zone so I contacted Liz for direction.  Liz gave me insight into British world view from the time period, reminded me of boundary changes, and provided me recommendations and direction.  Liz, I cannot thank you enough for your help.  Your insights helped me understand what I was discovering and your recommended methodology was what cracked the case!  Tracking Daniel’s relatives was definitely the direction to go.


GAYLE MARTINSON, Reference Librarian, Wisconsin Historical Society   Nothing like needing to review a collection of family information (circa 1800) from South Carolina that was donated to a historical society in Wisconsin when I could not possibly travel from Florida to review the information.  Add that the organization was closed and that the automatic reply I received when I inquired about availability said it would be at least 12 weeks before I could get a response.  I told myself, what’s 3 more months as the man I’m researching has been dead for nearly 300 years so patience, Lori, patience.  I was so pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Gayle the next day asking for more information about my request.  She placed me in the queue and was responsible for someone to go into a locked archive to look for a manuscript last cited in 1853.  Unbelievable to me, not only was this accomplished, a scan of what I needed was emailed to me at 5:11 PM a few days after my request was made.  In these difficult times, I am in awe of this librarian taking my request seriously and getting me answers to my questions so expediently.  Gayle is a tremendous asset to her organization and I hope they realize how fortunate they are to have her on staff.  Thanks, Gayle!


GUY GRANNUR, Archivist with the National Archives of Great Britain   I have zero experience with the record sets in Guy’s archive.  Guy was the presenter of the online class last month called Caribbean Connections and I couldn’t have been happier with his presentation that I needed.  After his conclusion, he responded to questions via the chat box and he was most helpful.  His expertise enabled me to find a connection on another site mentioned to show that a close relative of Daniel had gone to Barbados in 1690.  Who knew?!  Well, those that did know are all dead but because of that record I had my “Caribbean Connection.”  Thanks, Guy, for your interesting and informative presentation.


HULYA TASCI-HART, Translator  What can I say about a multi lingual educator who is so dedicated that she’ll stop what she’s doing to translate from English to German for me in seconds?!  This smart workaholic took the time to clarify what I meant so that she could be as accurate as possible with the translation.  Now I know you’re wondering, why would I need a German translation when I was researching England, Barbados and New Jersey.  It appears that my Daniel served in the Battle of Blenheim in August 1704, along with his unnamed brothers.  No records exist in the British Archives so I decided to see if there were any records left near Blenheim aka Blindheim, a Bavarian village where the battle was fought.  I reached out to Hulya to translate my request and she came through as always.  I so greatly appreciate Hulya, not only as a genealogist but as an educator.  


JIM LYNCH, Caribbeanavenue.com  I always seem to find what I need in a place my ancestor never lived and it has happened again!  Jim Webster had used a resource he owns, the 1715 Barbados census, to help me pinpoint where my family was living on the island.  I have been in search of that information for YEARS!  I’ve reached out to many and no one ever told me that the information was published in a 1980 book.  I had to have a copy!  Jim Webster linked me to Jim Lynch who responded to a form filler I completed almost instantly.  It was a Saturday and Jim mailed the book early Monday morning when the post office reopened.  It’s probably stuck in customs but I’m eagerly anticipating its arrival.  If you are doing Barbados research you must have this important work.  All it takes is contacting Jim for a copy – he uses PayPal.  Jim, thanks so much for answering my questions on a weekend and being so prompt in responding to my request.  I’m impressed with your business ethics!


JIM WEBSTER of BajanThings.com   If you’re researching Barbados this is a site you need to explore.  I was confused when I found a sugar planter listed in 1680 and 1715 with a similar name to what I was researching and questioned if it had been mistranscribed.  Jim responded in minutes to a contact form I filled out on the website.  Seriously, who does that?!  I’m so glad Jim does because he shared his knowledge and pointed me to where I could find a 1615 census of the island (none online!).  Jim, because of you, I discovered that my Mary was being cared for by her aunt after her mother’s death and my Daniel was living separately with an 18 year old youth.  I’m still trying to determine who that might be.  Thank you so much for your dedication to Barbados history.


KAREN STOKES, South Carolina Historical Society   What to do when you need to check a reference and it’s no where?!  Beating your head on the desk is not the answer.  Turning to Worldcat, I located a copy of Richard Yeardon’s History of the Circular Church in South Carolina.  Why would I need that when my Daniel was never in South Carolina?  Yeardon was a source for a bio on Daniel’s grandson, William, who was a Presbyterian minister in South Carolina after the Revolution, according to a William B. Sprague (1857).  Sprague cited Yeardon so I needed to find where Yeardon got his info.  A day after my request, Karen responded that she had looked through the book and no reference was given.  In fact, there was no information about the family at all in the book. Karen, I greatly appreciate your checking the source and recommending that I look at another work by a different author, David Ramsay, who Yeardon extensively quoted.  You were unaware that I had already reached out to another archive to check Ramsay’s notes.  This speaks volumes about your knowledge of research process as you would have no way known what the other obscure sources were pointing toward.  Kudos to you!


PAUL DAVIS, Collections and Research Assistant, Historical Society of Princeton   I was looking for a reference made to confirm my Daniel was a pioneer in Princeton, New Jersey.  Everything I had found at that point was for other areas.  Although Paul couldn’t enter the locked society, he made great suggestions and provided links for me to check out.  Thanks, Paul, I appreciate the direction you provided; you were very helpful.


TOM DREYER, NEHGS genealogist   In Boston, during a pandemic, Tom found a book on a shelf in a closed archive and provided me the information I was seeking.  Seriously, I am overwhelmed by this man’s dedication to a fellow genealogist. We discovered that I’m distantly related to his wife who is from the New York Duer family while I’m from the New Jersey Duer line.  I love the reminder that we are all connected – we’re all family.  Tom, next month when I get my first paycheck, I’m making a donation to your organization of which I am a member in your name.  The document you supplied was vital as it was the missing link to connecting a newer and older source.  Thank you!


TODD THULL, Ancestry.com Tree Owner  Like Barb, Todd responded to a message I sent him about a document he had posted about his Hollinshead line.  I was trying to locate a copy that I couldn’t find online.  Todd responded quickly and lo and behold! it was online although the copy was incomplete.  As could only happen with this family, the paragraph I needed was the last paragraph showing on the scanned book.  I don’t even know how that’s possible!  Thanks, Todd, for helping me link my line to yours.  I will be sending you a copy of my paper so you can see how the Quaker Hollinsheads are related to the Church of England Hollingsheads.  I couldn’t have made the connection without your wonderfully sourced online tree.


VICKIE URBAN, Ancestry.com Tree Owner   I have consulted with Vickie over the years as we are Duer cousins and I greatly appreciate that she ALWAYS uses sources on her tree.  She shares her findings and always responds  to messages.  Thanks, Cuz, you are most appreciated!

Last but not least, my wonderful family who puts up with my obsession.  None of them have been bitten by the genealogy bug, yet they put up with me and in their own way, try to relate to my interest.  My husband, bless him, even attempted to do some online research for me and help me decipher handwriting from the 1600s as I was transcribing.  My son suggested I watch an episode of the Sarah Connor Chronicles that might help me with a research path.  My daughter who listened attentively while I drone on about my findings.  Both my kids risk their lives daily trying to put an end to this awful disease and make the world a better place.  For them to care about my finding a christening record from 1686 is touching to me.  Thanks guys, all my love!


Yep, it’s all about love and connections.  In these crazy times I think it’s more important than ever to share some love so this week, thank someone who helped you with your research.  They deserve the recognition and appreciation.  Stay safe and happy hunting!

What the World Needs Now

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The Caribbean Connection…An Update

Last week I blogged about my strange experience looking for my Hollingshead family going from England to Barbados to Pennsylvania/New Jersey.  I was desperately searching for a document to show proof that my ancestor, Daniel, was the individual in all of those locations. 
Some odd happening occurred – a dream, an undelivered email, an internet site popping up after the electricity had been turned off  – put me back on track.  Here’s what happened this week…
Although the member of my local genealogy association that I had reached out to for help in connecting with a presenter’s email was returned as undeliverable, I used the same email address and reached the person I was seeking a few minutes later.  She responded she was unavailable but when get back with me soon.
I’ve signed up for a British seminar online that I found by “looking small” as instructed in my dream. It’s scheduled for Friday and I’m eagerly awaiting it.
Being impatient, I had a hunch that the dream meant more than just the upcoming lecture.  I don’t know why I did the following, but I did and I’m glad of that.  I decided to check Ancestry.com hints for Daniel.  I don’t use the hint option very often.  I do sometimes if I’m starting a new search for a client but for my own tree, not so much.  In case you aren’t aware, your Ancestry hints never really leave you.  If you click “Ignore” that isn’t the same as delete – which isn’t an option.  When you Ignore, it simply goes to the Hint section and is placed under that heading.  The other categories are Undecided and Accepted.  Accepted hints are all those that are showing in your Facts section, Undecided are those you can’t make up your mind about after you’ve reviewed it.  
In my Undecided section, I had about 15 hints and most were completely wrong – wrong locations (like Ohio and I was searching before there was even an Ohio territory), wrong time period (like the 1900’s and I needed 1600-1700’s), or wrong names (like Hollins).  There were 2 interesting hints, however, that I clicked on and both were from a DNA relative I’ve corresponded with in the past.  I trust her work and she always uses citations!  The hints were notes she had taken from old texts she had found in her local library.  Lucky lady, she lives close to an awesome research library.. I wanted to find the original books to check her notes so I did a Google book search (on Google, click the “Other” box and then click “Books” is the easiest to find and lo and behold, this is what I discovered:

Alfred Mathews. History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania.  Philadelphia:  R. T. Peck & Co,1886, p. 1156.

Even though this is exactly what I’m looking for regarding the route of immigration, there is no proof, other than that Stroud J. Hollinshead, a likely descendant, shared the info for his personal biographical sketch.  Sigh!  He even got some of the facts wrong.  The second paragraph is a hot mess; How could Daniel, the first ancestor, be killed at the Battle of Blenheim and then hold public office in Sussex County, New Jersey?  Quite a feat, I say.  The date of birth is off by a few years.  Didn’t mention the first wife, Ann Alexander, from whom I’m descended but does mention their child, Mary, as the daughter of the second wife, Thomasin.  Mary married a Duer; according to this bio, so did Mary’s stepmom after the death of Daniel.  Hmm, but something isn’t quite correct there, either.  Thomasin was a female and the information states she married a Jane Deuer.  I suspect they meant John as this would have been the early 1700’s.  
Then I found the following interesting story:
Rev. John C. Rankin, DD.  The Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge, NJ. Jersey City:  John H. Lyon, 1872., p.7.

I knew Daniel was flipping property but I didn’t know that he had sold to a James Alexander of New York.  That peaked my interest as his first wife was an Alexander and I’ve not been successful in locating her family.  So I read up on James Alexander and Lord Stirling.  The family liked to hide among other Alexander families in Ireland and France where they fled after picking the wrong political side in Scotland.  Scholars haven’t been able to sort through all the stories the family told in the documentation they left behind of who was related to whom as the same individual’s tales changed from time to time.  Then, there’s the whole timely topic of race relationships.  Lord Stirling made his money partially from the slave trade while father James was alive and didn’t object.  My Daniel, however, appeared to have not been in favor of slavery.  He brought a slave family with him to New Jersey but it appears there was manumision.  I told myself (no proof here!) that Daniel was empathetic as he was purportedly an indentured servant, though others felt this showed he was of the Quaker faith.  Yet, as I learned more about James Alexander, I discovered that Daniel’s second wife Thomasin left several slaves to her children when she died so the couple may not have the same shared beliefs or, I’m completely wrong about Daniel. More research definitely needed.
The Presbyterian Church reference provides another important clue.  Some believe that Daniel was Quaker but I’ve found nothing to support that.  He and his children were baptized in the Church of England in England and Barbados,  Some of the Alexander land was later donated to the Presbyterian Church.  That’s not surprising since James was a Scott and probably of that faith.  Further reading informed me there were no Quakers in the the area when Daniel relocated there.  If he had been a devout Quaker, he would have likely settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania as the Duer’s initially did.  This would explain why I’ve never found a Quaker record for Daniel.
Although all of this is interesting to my research, the last weird occurrence happened while I was reading online.  My husband and I share an office and he decided he was going to clean his workspace.  He is a piler and I’m a filer – he has piles everywhere and I have everything sorted in a variety of devices (handing file folders, in/out baskets, file cabinets, tubs in folders, etc.).  As I was deeply involved in an old text my husband said, “Is this yours?”  He was holding a CD.  I haven’t used CD’s in I don’t know how long so I shook my head no.  “Should I toss it?”  he asked.  “What’s on it?” I replied.  “The theme song of Pirates of the Caribbean.”  I thought he was kidding me.  “Yeah, right.” I said.  “Seriously,” he replied.  He thought I had recorded it to help me with my search.  (Photo above – you can see it’s scratched so it’s not new.) Nope, wasn’t I but somewhere in the great beyond there’s a tech savvy spirit with a sense of humor who is helping me along.  Keep it coming!

The Proof Genealogical Connections Are Closer Than You Think

The sun is out and the weather is cool so I intend to get some fresh air and complete yard work before the next deluge descends.  

Think shelter in place lessens your genealogical connections?  Think again!  This is an awesome article that reminds us we need to sometimes not only think out of the box to discover our heritage, we often don’t need to look far at all!  

The Washington Post’s article – Amid the pandemic, a family learns their neighbors are their long-lost relatives will make you smile, remind you that your family stories are often close but not always 100% accurate and the coincidences that occur while sleuthing can just boggle the mind.  My immediate family has gotten used to my striking up conversations with strangers and discovering our families often had a shared past but this story takes it to a new level.  Enjoy!

Stuck on Where to Find Family Records – Try This Underused Resource

Last week I blogged about obtaining school records to help identify parentage.  This week I’m thinking in reverse; say I know the parents names but I don’t know the children’s names.  Where to look if census records aren’t available?  Try church records.

Now wait, before you stop reading because you don’t know if the family was affiliated with a church, I’m going to tell you some tricks to discover that information.  

First look at the marriage license to see if there was a minister named.  You might get lucky and the church address was also recorded.  In that case, see if the church is still the same denomination and contact them.  

If you aren’t able to identify a church, then take the minister’s name and try to identify his religious affiliation from the previous census.  When researching a local family, I was able to look at the 1945 Florida State census to find the minister and his address.  Using property records, I could tell the denomination of the church he was affiliated with then – it was Baptist.  The marriage record from 1946 was in Tampa so it was probable that the family had married in that particular Baptist church.  They had records and I was able to confirm the marriage occurred at that site and several children, named, were inducted in the Cradle Club.  

This works, too, even if you’re looking for much older records for an elusive family.  If this was in the time of circuit riders, do a Google search to see if the minister named on the marriage license denomination shows up, then identify where those records may have been kept.  For example, I’m always interested in finding information about my Duer family living in what is now Ohio.  I was able to determine they were Presbyterian (after leaving the Quaker denomination).  I know where the circuit rider records are kept but they are not yet digitized or indexed so someday I’ll be visiting the repository to check them out.  

I’ve blogged in the past about obtaining a transcription of a diary written by one of my husband’s 3rd great aunts (yes, I extend searches to distant family – you never know what you’ll find and it’s usually awesome).  Mary Ann Eyster Johnson died in 1905 and descendant’s of her husband (they had no children) donated her diary to her rural church in St. Joseph County, Indiana.  While researching Mary Ann’s sister, Sara, in the hopes of identifying all of their children, I located Mary Ann’s diary and happily found she had recorded all of Sara’s children’s birth dates and in most cases, times.  This was long before birth certificates were available.  

My recommendation is always check out church records and if possible, go in person and bring chocolate.  It’s always worked for me!

An Overlooked Resource to Determine Parentage

Here’s an often overlooked resource to help identify parentage – school records.  I’m not talking about yearbooks on Ancestry.com.  I mean the enrollment and attendance records that schools had to maintain to receive state and federal funding.  

To acquire those records, which are not available online, visit the school district’s website.  If there is a search bar, simply type in “records” or “school records.”  Follow the link which usually is for recent graduates of the school district needing to get a transcript for further education or work.  Obviously, you are searching for old records so find the phone number and make a call to see what will be required for you to get the documents.

In my area, a death certificate by a relative is needed but an attorney’s representative for the estate handing the deceased’s probate is also acceptable to receive the records.

Most districts have microfilmed their older records so you will not have your request fulfilled immediately.  There’s no telling what you’ll receive, either, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to check it out. I live in a state that has lots of record loss due to mold, flood damage, fires and insects.  Even with all the losses, there is usually some records that were able to be salvaged and scanned.

Recently, I assisted a client in obtaining school records from the 1950’s-1960’s in the hope of identifying parentage. The turnover time was a little over a week. Prior to the 1970’s, you’re not going to receive a birth certificate as most schools did not have a photo copier available to make a copy of that document at the time of enrollment.  The best you’re going to get is a check mark on a line that noted a birth certificate had been presented.  The name of the enrolling parent/guardian is then recorded on the document, along with the address where the student was residing.  You may even get lucky and have a telephone number recorded.

Once you have the parent/guardian name it’s time for you to check city directory records.  In my location, phone numbers were added in the mid-1950’s and I was able to match the telephone number on the school records to two different names not recorded in those records.  Was there an error in the school records in recording the phone number?  No, the information proved that the deceased had been involved with a social service agency and explained why the recorded schools’ names varied when the home address didn’t.  The student must have been temporarily living in either a foster home or with a relative but the parent still had the right to obtain school records so the enrollment address did not change.  The enrollment and withdrawal dates listed for the various schools attended provides evidence that the family was experiencing difficulty and gives more places, such as court records, to look for a better understanding of what was occurring.

In my situation, only one parent’s name was recorded in school records.  That individual was never found in the city directory but the name and telephone of the individual who purportedly lived at the address in school records was a clue to find the other parent’s name.  

The school records also contain a birth date for the student so a check of newspaper birth announcements for that date could lead to a further confirmation of parentage – or not.  In my case, there was no announcement so it was likely the student’s parents were not married at the time of birth as it was the local policy to not record in the paper the names of children of single mothers.  

School records will not provide every answer you seek but will point you in the direction of locating other records and help you gain insight into the life of the student and the parent/guardian.  

So, what do you do if the district says there are no records?  Don’t give up!  Next check Worldcat online to see if those records were published in a book and held at an archive somewhere.  On a trip to Boston a few years ago I spent a couple of hours at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. I decided to browse through the Indiana section.  I happily discovered a book that was a transcription of Lake County, Indiana school enrollments for the early 1900’s.  The book contained my husband’s grandmother’s name and who enrolled her in first grade – one of her older stepbrothers. That made sense, Elsie’s mother was a recent immigrant from Sweden with little knowledge of the school system.  The stepbrother, a graduate of that school district who was fluent in English was helping his stepmother with the enrollment while his father was at work.  I had tried to get Elsie’s school records from the county previously and was told they had been destroyed.  That was correct information; who knew that a transcription had been made of those records prior to their demise?  I later checked with the library in Lake County that has the largest genealogical section and they didn’t have a copy of the book that was sitting in Boston.  How strange that a record was located in a place the ancestor never visited.  Of course, original records are preferred but in this case, a transcription was better than nothing and did shed light on the family dynamics at the time of Elsie’s school enrollment.  Happy Hunting!

Why You Should Share Your DNA Results

I have uploaded by DNA results to several sites and you could benefit from doing that, too.  The reason is simple – think about why you tested with the company you chose.  I tested with 23andMe because I wanted to find out the amount of Neandertal ancestry I  carry and that feature wasn’t available through the other major sites (Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com).  

Some folks may have selected a company based on pricing.  Others may have received a kit as a gift.  In the U.S., Ancestry.com commercials are everywhere but that’s not necessarily true in other parts of the world.  You stand the greatest chance of maximizing your DNA results by uploading them to sites that accept results.

Last week, I received an email from MyHeritage.com that I have several new DNA matches.  Typically, they are 3rd to 5th cousins that I’ve connected with in the past.  This time, was different.  Luckily, I recognized the surname as one of my maternal line’s great grandmothers of which I have scant information as she had died young in childbirth.  

Immediately, I clicked on the “cousins” tree which only contained 10 entries, most of which was private but I could see the geographic region and I knew that this proved promising.  I wrote the cousin an email and was happily surprised when he responded a few hours later.  We wrote back and forth all week.  The irony is that he lives just a little over 100 miles from the homestead but has no knowledge of the family.  Why?  His grandfather had relocated the family during World War II and never spoke to his children about the family’s history.  The grandfather died a few years before the cousin I was corresponding with was born so he could never ask him directly.  There is now only one elderly relative, in his 80’s remaining.  He plans on taking my family stories to the elder.  I’m anxiously awaiting his knowledge.  

No telling what you might discover from connecting with a family member across the pond!  DNA matching makes it easy and inexpensive.  

My Latest DNA Results

Recently, my St. Patrick’s Day Ancestry.com special DNA deal results were returned.  I had tested with Ancestry years ago prior to autosomal’s availability.  When the price for autosomal dropped, I decided to test with two other companies to gain access to their testing population and opted to have my children test with Ancestry.  I decided to purchase the Ancestry test because the price was right ($49.00), I wanted to go back one generation further than my children could do in search for my Morrison and Adams brick wall lines, and I wanted to play with Ancestry’s new DNA feature, Thru Lines, without having to wade through my husband’s side that my children inherited.

I’m pleased to connect with one Morrison and five Adams’ family members.  Although this certainly doesn’t resolve my brick wall it does support the direction I was going in with my research.  I suspected that my Edward Adams was the grandson of Sylvanus Adams of Sussex County, New Jersey but not being able to identify Edward’s father, I couldn’t prove it.  My hunch was due to the interesting male name of Evi.  After Edward died intestate in Perry County, Ohio in 1822, an Evi Adams living in the area served as administrator.  Evi died a few years later and I never was able to find his father, either.  Evi was about the same age as Edward so I surmised that they were either brothers or cousins.  There were several Evi’s in Sylvanus Adams’ lines before and after him so I felt strongly that Edward’s brother/cousin must be related somehow.  DNA seems to be showing that’s correct but I still haven’t found that one document that’s out there somewhere to prove it.

Although I’m pleased with the results I can understand how people who are new to genealogy and DNA give up after getting their results.  I know that the ethnic percents are only as valid as the pool used to compare findings.  In Ancestry’s case, I’m 51% German.  I don’t know how that’s possible since I would have gotten half of my DNA from my mom, who was full blooded Croatian and half from my dad, who was a mix of German, Irish, English, Welsh and Scotts.  Ancestry shows me with NO Irish, English Welsh or Scotts.  According to Ancestry, I’m only 4% French.  23andMe had me as all French and no German. 

I not only understand the pools from which the sample was compared differed, but the history of the areas.  My dad’s people were from the Palatinate, the German-French area that experienced bloodshed for years and went back and forth between the two countries. So, am I French or German?  I realize I’m a mix of both and I’m fine with that.  If I didn’t understand how this works, though, I would be totally confused. 

Recently Ancestry got into trouble with their latest DNA commercial.  I believe their well loved commercial about the man trading his lederhosen in for a kilt should have been an eye opener.  I’m thinking that man needs to test elsewhere to get a fuller picture of his ancestry. 

An Odd Genealogy Connection

I’m going to be helping out at my local genealogy society’s Ask A Genealogist Day today so I’ve got to make this brief.  I had the strangest connection a few weeks ago and I wanted to share the weird workings of the internet.  

I have an online presence beyond this blog and my website since I keep my trees public.  Usually I get connections through Ancestry.com, followed by MyHeritage.com, then through my website which is my historical home for my blogs.  Sure, I get connections through other social media platforms and occasionally, from someone Googling an ancestor and my info comes up but the latest connection was by using Newspapers.com.  

An unrelated gentleman from Scotland is writing a book on those who left  Beauly in the late 1700’s.  He discovered through Newspapers.com that I had saved a newspaper clipping from the Philadelphia [PA] Packet dated 9 Oct 1775 regarding the ship, the Clementina, arriving and that there were many workers ready for indenture.  I suspected that my 4th great grandfather, John Morison, was on that ship.  I could be wrong, though.  There were several John Mor[r]ison’s in Philadelphia at the same time and I saved every shred of evidence on all of them hoping to sort them out and discover which was my real great grandfather.  

I had mistakenly thought the author who connected with me had found my information on Ancestry but he said he didn’t have a subscription and his local library didn’t have one, either.  I was flabbergasted when he told me that he was using Newspapers.com and it flagged that I had saved the article and provided my contact info.  I didn’t know that was even an option.  

I’m glad it was as he has been a wealth of information and let me know that my Morison family most likely wasn’t always using that surname as two Morrison families originated in the mid 1600’s from other lines.  He also gave me lots of information on another Morrison family that emigrated on the same ship.  Peter, his wife and daughters were most likely connected with two other Morrison teenagers on the same boat.  Peter had been what we’d call today a game warden overseeing salmon.  I had thought, with no proof, that the families emigrating were all related but couldn’t find proof.  It’s because both boys later joined the Revolution and were taken prisoner in New York.  Both parents requested visitation to them while they were held on a prison ship.  The author was able to provide me their baptism records, too.  I had no idea that not all children were recorded in Scottish church records since parents had to pay for the recording.  Looks like Peter had the eldest children recorded but stopped after the 3rd child.  

The author was a wealth of information and I’m so glad we were able to correspond for a few weeks sharing our findings and analyzing what we had found together.  We’ve reached the conclusion that ALL the Morrisons in Philadelphia from 1775 to 1800 were related.  There was a father-son both named John who must have come some time earlier; both were in the metal trades.  Then the next wave of Morrisons came on the Clementina.  We suspect that John, a weaver, was the brother of Peter.  John came with a wife and son.  The wife was noted to be a spinster by 1790 so I believe he had died.  She and the adult son died in 1793 from the “plague”, a mosquito epidemic most likely yellow fever.  Peter’s son, John, likely is the man who comes and goes from the records as he was a ship’s carpenter.  I still haven’t figured out who my John is but I’m working on it (just not today). 
 Even so, I’m closer because of this unlikely connection thanks to Newspapers.com.  Happy Hunting!

Sparking Ancestor Passion in an Unusual Way




I’ve written before about the many ways I’ve tried to get my family interested in learning about their ancestors. Swedish Death Cleaning was the key for one of my relatives who had recently purchased a new home and was needing furniture – along with the sewing machine cabinet went great grandma’s hand made doilies, a thread chest with great great grandma’s wooden sock darner and several homemade quits and afghans. I’ve helped several relatives apply to lineage societies and although they gained membership, I was disappointed that the result wasn’t a larger interest in learning about other ancestors.  Although I never tried this trick, I did contemplate  hiding cash in a book I wrote about three generations in one line thinking that if the receivers got that far in the story, they would like the extra reward.


What occurred last weekend was unintentional and what made me come to the conclusion that making a connection has to evoke a personal passion in the living; one that you might not even know exists.  


We had a family gathering that was unexpected – the adult kids happened to just show up at our house at the same time.  Since I had been hard at work checking relationships to see if I could qualify for a new society, I made a note of where I was in the pedigree and then joined the rest of my family.  While we were all catching up on careers, shared friends and the state of the world, I mentioned I was confirming relationship to Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys, who was the last prince of all Powys, Wales.  I certainly didn’t expect the response I got from one of my children…”He’s a real guy?!  I always thought he was made up.”  I replied that Madog was indeed real and his grandfather, Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, was widely regarded as one of the most just kings who revised Welsh law making inheritance fairer for those that were not rich.


The response from my kid, “Wow, I didn’t think the guy was real.”  I asked both kids where they had heard of Madog.  Evidently, he had been mentioned in Madeleine L’engle’s Wrinkle in Time series.  Turns out, the protagonist in the series discover that there is a lineal relationship and by learning about a treacherous incident in which Madog’s brother was involved in, saves the world from destruction.  So, my adult kids were interested in how Madog was their 23rd grandfather.  


No way I could ever predict a science fiction novel they read in 4th grade would light a genealogical fire in them two decades later but it did.  We live in a very strange world, indeed.  

Another Duer Synchronicity


The universe has made some odd Duer connections for me lately and I just have to share!

For my new readers, I’ve been enamored with my Duer lines for the past several years after I received an out of the blue email from a Duer genealogist who informed me I had wrongly recorded the surname as Dure in my Ancestry.com tree. Edgar sent me an electronic version of his work which went back generations and within two weeks, he died. The good news was that he got the information out before he passed; the bad news was I could never ask him questions or collaborate on further research with him. The odd thing about that email was that it did not go through Ancestry but Edgar had somehow gotten my personal email. I never learned how he tracked me down. It also was received at a time I was extremely busy with family matters that strengthened the Duer connection.

The weirdest occurrence at the time I received the information was to discover one of my children had followed the same path as the Gateway ancestors. My child had spent a college term in Cambridge, England, decided to live in Grenada, West Indies upon graduation and then relocated to Morristown, New Jersey. Seriously, who follows that migration? Apparently, others in my family.

The Gateway ancestor, Thomas Duer, had married Mary Ann Hollingshead who had been born in the West Indies and with her father, relocated to Sussex County, New Jersey. Her parents were from Great Britain, as were Thomas’. My child was following the same immigration routes as her ancestors 250 years before. The problem was I only had 2 weeks to research as the dear child was once again relocating and I would have no reason (or place to stay for cheap) in Morristown. During breaks in the packing, I’d planned to visit the library which contained the oldest remaining records of the area. The night before my arrival, there was a gas explosion and the library was off limits. I was beyond disappointed. I did check out several other research facilities around the area but discovered nothing. (And yes, I did make a trip back later to visit the library when it reopened and I mined it for some small tidbits of info.)

Although researching in the Sussex County area had been disappointing I found another way to gather information. Edgar had not made his work public which I promptly did and that has opened the universe to many connections that have enabled me to put together the family’s dynamics over centuries. To me, it’s a very interesting family who never backed down from their beliefs which were way ahead of the society in which they lived. That character strength led to records, mainly court, which have been fascinating to read.

For the past 2 years I’ve been trying to connect Revolutionary War Patriot John Duer to his son, Thomas. Thomas died intestate before John so he wasn’t named in John’s will. Records from New Jersey are scant but last month I did find a document through FamilySearch.org that placed John, his wife, Susannah, and Thomas, all in the same place at the same time in Sussex. They had witnessed a will of a widow of the town’s physician. I learned that Susannah was illiterate, John had wonderful handwriting and Thomas, not so much. Thomas would have been 18, of legal age to testify in court that he had witnessed the widow’s wishes.

The record I wished to view was only available at a Family History Library so I trekked to one, accessed the microfilm, and promptly saved it to a thumb drive. I checked the thumb drive before I left the facility. All good. Until I got home and tried to open it. I can’t explain why but only half of the first page of the will was visible and it was the part that didn’t have the Duer signatures. The facility was now closed and wouldn’t reopen until the following week so I sought out another library location. My husband offered to go as it was quite a drive. We made it through a violent rain storm and I again found the record quickly (thanks to clearly writing the citation down) and triple checked that the document was saved intact. This time, I was successful. It seems I must work extra hard on this line to move forward!

I know from land records that the family relocated to what is now West Virginia/southern Ohio shortly after the will was written. I’m still trying to hunt down those deeds. I have found 2 clues to their existence but have been unable to locate the exact location. I decided to spend the summer working on that project.

I began by reading up on various companies that sold land during the late 18th century in the U.S. and track down where the land grant records were held. John is not listed in Bounty Land records held by the government so I decided to pursue private collections, such as the Ohio Company, whose records reside at Marietta College.

I got a beep on my phone that an email had come through so I checked as I was anticipating a response from Marietta College. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to have received 3 photos of the grave of Thomas. I had placed a request on Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves several years ago but no one picked it up, probably because the cemetery is so remote. The sender was a gentleman I had met once at a local to me genealogy meeting. In the twisted Duer way I discover information about the family, I had signed in and put my current area of research was Trumbull County. At the conclusion of the program about Cuban genealogy, the gentleman asked who I was. I waved and he said he wanted to have a word with me. After the meeting concluded he informed me that he was from Trumbull County, Ohio and he had never met anyone else in our area that was researching that location. We exchanged contact info and I asked him if he knew of anyone I could reach out to to obtain a picture of the gravestone. He said he would try his friend. I was not surprised when a week later he told me his friend had become ill and would not be able to visit the cemetery. So again, out of the blue, nearly two years after we met, the gentleman, also named Ed, remembered my request while visiting the area and surprised me with the photos.

I decided to share them with the only other person I had ever connected with who has Trumbull County roots – a former genealogy society member who still lives in that area but due to age, can no longer drive. I forwarded the pictures to her because when we first connected two years ago, she told me that Thomas had almost killed her. I was understandably confused since he died in 1829 and she was still alive but she went on to explain that she was doing a cemetery clean up and had tripped and fallen over his stone. She and other genealogy society members had righted and replaced it.

A few days went by and while I was outside speaking with the house painter I had hired, my cell rang. I excused myself as I saw the area code was from Trumbull County. Sure enough, it was the dear woman who had righted Thomas’ gravestone and we talked about my latest findings and where I was headed with the research. Hanging up, I explained to my painter how excited I was to receive the photos and to collaborate with someone so knowledgeable who lived in the area I was researching. The painter, who had gone to high school with one of my children, asked where I was researching. When I told him he laughed and informed me that his family had first emigrated from Greece to Trumbull County and he had spent the last 10 years living in the area as he still has family there who are bridge painters.

I was speechless. The universe was clearly making connections and the discovery was in my own backyard. Very weird! Even stranger, I had planned to visit Cuba for the first time 3 days later. I had only attended the local genealogy meeting where I met Ed because I wanted information in preparation for a trip to Cuba. We had had a tropical storm the previous day of that meeting and I debated whether I should drive across bridges to get there as the wind was still strong. At the end, the genealogy bug won and I made the trip. I’m so glad I did!

Patience is a virtue I have trouble possessing. Maybe that’s the lesson the universe is trying to teach me. The Duer seeds were planted a few years ago and the universe, in its own time, are maturing them and now I’m reaping the fruits. I can’t wait for the final harvest – that missing document that clearly shows that Thomas is the son of John. People have told me repeatedly I won’t find it but I believe it’s out there somewhere. The search continues.