I had a free account with MyHeritage but I was never a subscriber until recently when a 50% discount offer was made for members of the National Genealogical Society. I believe the discount is now offered for a limited time to everyone – check it out here. I decided to give it a try and I immediately scaled a brick wall on my Duer line that I’ve recently been researching. Here’s how I did it…
I downloaded my gedcom from Ancestry.com to my home computer and then uploaded to MyHeritage. My tree is large so I received an email from MyHeritage once it had been loaded and was ready to go. The following day I went on the site and it was easy to upload a site photo (I used my Genealogy At Heart logo that I keep jpg’d in Dropbox and my Google+ pic, added a blurb about what my research interests are and what I’m currently investigating. I happened to write that my brick wall was to determine the link between John Duer and his purported son, Thomas. Thomas died in 1829 intestate and John, in 1831, with a will that omitted Thomas, understandably since he was deceased, but did not include any of Thomas’ children. That wouldn’t have been odd, however, John did include a grandson who lived out of the Trumbull County, Ohio area, who was the son of one of John’s deceased daughters. Why include a grandson that lived in another state and not the grandchildren that lived next door? Hmm.
I have researched probate, land and court records, cemetery records, tried to find Bible and church records, obituaries, collateral lines, biographies, area histories, and contacted area genealogical societies and libraries but found nothing. The census and tax lists just aren’t helpful since they do not show relationships that far back.
I put the research aside for a month but it’s been gnawing at me. I originally made the connection of John and Thomas through the work of Edgar Duer Whitley, a gentleman who had found me on the internet 6 years ago from a Rootsweb posting I had made in the early 2000’s. My tree proved lineage to Thomas but I couldn’t go farther back. His tree showed lineage to Thomas’ son John who had a daughter, Maria, that I’m descended from. Edgar emailed me and kindly sent me an electronic copy of all his years of sleuthing. He never had a citation, though, of how Thomas and John were related. Shortly after he emailed me he no longer responded to my emails. He was quite up in age and I figured he was deceased. Thus, I couldn’t know how he knew that Thomas was the son of John.
I would love to tell you that MyHeritage found the answer super quickly but that didn’t happen. I actually didn’t receive any Record or Smart Matches from them. I assume that’s because my uploaded tree is well sourced.
I decided to snoop around their Family Trees located under the Research category. I entered birth and death location and death year info for Thomas Duer. A number of trees popped up with displays similarly to Ancestry.com. I clicked on the first one and didn’t find anything exciting. The citations were all from Ancestry trees. Ugh!
Then things got interesting – I clicked on Thomas’ wife Hannah as the tree owner had her listed as Hannah Preston. I had her listed as Hannah Byrd. When I went to Hannah’s page I discovered that she had remarried to a James Preston in September 1831 in Trumbull County, Ohio. How had I missed that? Interestingly, here’s how the marriage license is written:
|“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, Family Search (https://familysearch.org: 21 Nov 2016), Trumbull>Marriage licenses 1828-1839 vol 2>image 55 of 181; county courthouses, Ohio.
Notice the right side records Hannah’s surname as “Dewer” but in the body of the text as “Duer.” The record is indexed by Dewer so I never found it. The tree owner had found it because he was descended from James Preston. Putting in “James Preston” in the FamilySearch.org search form would have brought it up.
How do I know that the Hannah Duer is the wife of Thomas. There was only one other Hannah Duer living in the country in 1831 and she was 10 years old, residing in Pennsylvania. My Hannah and James were both born in New Jersey in 1775. James’ first wife died in 1829 in childbirth with twins shortly after Hannah’s husband, Thomas, died. Both had young children in the home so it makes sense they would have blended their families.
I went back to Ancestry.com, Familysearch.org and Rootsweb’s World Connect Project, to see if other’s had this information. Nope! Only the one tree on MyHeritage. For me, this was definitely worth the price.
It looks like the marriage didn’t last long which could explain why no one else has the information on their trees. By 1840, James was living with the children from his first wife and Hannah was living with one of her children as the tick mark in the age category for a female most likely is for her. That age tick mark is lacking on James’ record. In 1850, the couple remained separated per the census records. Hannah’s tombstone notes her first husband’s name, Duer. James lies next to his first wife. It appears that this was a relationship that both sides wanted to forget. This could also explain why Hannah’s first husband’s purported father, John, omitted her from his will written in 1830. I’m now searching for a divorce record. This story just gets more interesting with every find! I’m very happy to have found this information that quickly with MyHeritage’s site. Once I’m done with my Duer’s I’ll be searching their site for other clues on additional lines. Happy Hunting!