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, followed by, 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  

An unrelated gentleman from Scotland is writing a book on those who left  Beauly in the late 1700’s.  He discovered through 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 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  Happy Hunting!

Ashes on the Doorstep

Originally published on on 29 Oct 2015

I absolutely love the internet – it’s my favorite improvement in life.  I could live without kitchen appliances, television, cell phone and backup camera on my car but I wouldn’t want to return to the days of no internet.

I first used the internet in 1993 at a reading festival at Eckerd College where a text only version was being demonstrated and I was eager to have it at home. My husband got us online in August 1995.   It’s been 20 years and my, has it changed our lives for the better!

When you think of spooky, spine tingling stories you think of creepy old houses, forlorn looking graveyards and the dark of night.  The internet is most likely last on your list of where ghostly happenings occur but it has happened to me on more than one occasion.

My most recent strange encounter began in January 2014.  I had been thinking about a deceased great aunt that I had loaned a musical instrument to in the late 1970’s.  I never got the instrument back and wondered what had happened to it.  I assumed one of her children had it.  Within a day of this thought I received an email from one of the aunt’s children who I had not seen since I was a child.  The email was curt and demanded that I correct misinformation regarding his parents that I supposedly had placed on Find-A-Grave.  I recognized his name and immediately wrote back calling him by my childhood nickname for him. Strange how I had just thought about his mom the day before!  I informed him that I was not the memorial owner and had tried to correct the wrong information in 2 prior emails but the owner had never responded. I did post a photo of his parents on the site and that is why he thought I was responsible for the wrong information.  I suggested he contact Find-A-Grave administration and forwarded my previous emails to the memorial owner to him to support his concern.

We corresponded via email for two months.  He had hired a genealogist from across the pond and had taken a trip himself to research.  He was adamant that some of my information was in error.  Thank goodness I cite my sources as I was able to explain where I obtained it, which was mostly word of mouth from my grandmother.  If you’re a faithful reader, you know my maternal grandmother was a strong family matriarch and did tend to dramatize the telling of stories so his concern of accuracy was understandable.  However, I would think she would know how many siblings she had and what their names were; he believed the family had 2 daughters and 1 son when my records show 3 daughters and 3 sons.  I suggested he contact his overseas genealogist who verified that my information was correct.  The genealogist had missed these children because she had begun searching Baptism records in 1900.  The 3 oldest children were born in the late 1890’s and died prior to emigrating to the United States. It was an understandable error as he had thought my grandmother was the oldest and she was born in 1900.  He hadn’t known she was the oldest SURVIVING child.

I sent via snail mail a dvd of all the family photos and scanned documents to him.  He had promised to send me copies of his photos but never followed through. I volunteered to take a photo of his birth dad’s gravestone which is not far from my home but he never replied.

Two months after we began exchanging emails he informed me that his sister had passed away and directed me to an online memorial site run by the funeral home.  I posted my memories of her on the site and sent my condolences to him which he didn’t acknowledge.  This was our last email exchange.

What was so odd was that his sister had died within 10 days of our initial contact. Why had he waited 2 months to tell me of her death?

In May, I received an email from a “friend” of my deceased second cousin.  She mentioned that she had seen my posting on the funeral home site.  The friend had tried to contact closer family but no one responded to her.  What should she do with my second cousin’s ashes?  Huh?!  I had to read the email twice to absorb the question.

We began corresponding and I learned, sadly, that my deceased cousin had died alienated from family. She had had a falling out with her sibling which explained why her brother had not told me about his sister’s death immediately.  He hadn’t known. Two months after the death the friend went online to try to find addresses for siblings and found the Find-a-Grave memorial now owned by the brother.  That was how he discovered his sister had passed.  Instead of responding to the friend, he forwarded the information to me.  No wonder he didn’t reply to my condolences.

I was sick to my stomach.  Knowing both my grandmother and her sister, my husband said it was a good thing this happened after they were long dead because they would have been livid.  I agreed.

How could I try to make the situation right?  Obviously, it was too late for sibling reconciliation.

The friend told me that my second cousin’s wish was to be interred with one of her parents.  The friend and a former co-worker had planned to scatter the ashes on the graves but they didn’t know where the parents were buried.  Going through my cousin’s belongings after her death didn’t provide them the answer so they waited til spring and turned to Find-a-Grave for help.  When they discovered the cemeteries were out of state they didn’t know what to do so they contacted the brother for help. With no reply from him they were at a loss until they saw my tribute.

I told them I would scatter the ashes and offered to pay for their time in finalizing my cousin’s estate. There was no reply to my offer.

In early June, I arrived home from the dentist to discover 3 boxes on my front porch.  Dragging them inside, hubby and I grabbed a knife to cut the tape.  There was a return address so I expected what I would find. The first box contained a cut glass vase, a coconut rice bowl, olive wood candlesticks, and a Hummel figurine. The second box contained pictures, certificates, a Bible and medical records belonging to my cousin.  The third box was her cremains.

An entire lifetime reduced to 3 boxes left on a doorstep.

My husband responded like he always does when odd things happen to me, he shook his head and said, “The weirdest things happen to you.”  My co-workers thought this was hilarious.  “Only you have your relatives UPS’d.”  I found it very sad.  This cousin was a role model for me as a child and I was deeply embarrassed by my family’s hard headedness.

I emailed the friend that I had received the packages and told her I would be sending her a check in the mail. She didn’t respond.  She never cashed the check or acknowledged receiving it.

Unfortunately, the death certificate was not included in the boxes.  I contacted the cemeteries where her birth parents were interred and was told that scattering of ashes was forbidden and interring cremains could only happen with a death certificate.  I couldn’t obtain a death certificate because my cousin died in a state that requires either a will, proof of life insurance bequeathment, or shared property.  Now I was dealing with 3 states and no one would make an exception.  I wrote again to the friend requesting a copy of the death certificate.  The email bounced back as undeliverable.  I sent a letter via snail mail.  No reply.  I went online trying to find a phone number but the person didn’t exist. Looked in the white pages, used Spokeo, called the funeral home – nope, nothing.  The friend had vanished.

In mid July I received a call from one of the cemeteries who told me that an exception was being made.  I followed the directions I was given and on my grandmother’s 114th birthday the cremains were finally at rest. I was asked to not divulge that an exception was made and I’ll honor that request. Even my kids don’t know how the story ended; they just knew that their 3rd cousins ashes were no longer in the entryway.

I can’t say if the change of heart was due to Divine Intervention but I’m fairly certain it was somehow my grandmother’s intervention.

And about that musical instrument.  Well, it wasn’t in the boxes so it’s still out there somewhere.  I’m fairly certain I’ll be getting a replacement soon.  How do I know?  As I wrote this, the mail was delivered and it contained my new passport.  I had forgotten hubby and I sent the renewal in early last month.  How odd that it arrived while I was writing this…

Genealogy Gems – Online Resources You Need to Know About

Originally published on on 17 May 2015.

I was rereading Mills’ Professional Genealogy this past week and the chapter on The Essential Library got me thinking of the resources that I consider must haves.  Mills was referring to books on a shelf but I find myself using more online resources these days.  Wish her books had a Kindle edition; it’s so clunky to carry around!

Besides the obvious Big 5 resources – Ancestry, Family Search, Fold3, Heritage Quest and American Ancestor – that I can access as a paid member anywhere or use at my local library for free, I find lots of good info at these FREE sites:

  • Genealogy In Time Magazine in their words, “maintains the most complete list available on the internet of the newest genealogy record sets from around the world.”  I love this resource for the time they save me in identifying newly posted internet records from around the world.  See more at here.
  • blog has innovative ideas and heartfelt and humorous stories.  They email me links to their featured stories so I can quickly click what I’m most interested in.  Here’s examples of just a few of this week’s offerings:  21 Ways to Know You Were Raised by Polish Parents – Infographic, 5 Simple Ways to Organize Your Digital Family Photos, 7 Useful Smartphone Apps for Genealogy Research, If You Grew Up in the 1960s, You Definitely Wore These Things, The Most Important Step Missing From Your Genealogy Research, and Simple Tips for Dating Old Family Photos Using Women’s Hairstyles-Victorian Era.  Sign up at
  • allows me to create my own newspaper – daily, weekly or monthly – on the topics that I want to read about.  I’ve entitled my own newspaper and it’s delivered to my email with interesting articles on history, genealogy and genetics.  I love the professional formatting and the articles arranged by topics – for example, science, business, politics, etc.  It takes only a few minutes to set up and it’s simple to add or delete sites. To create your own paper visit here.
  • Linkedin –were you aware that there are genealogy groups at this site?  There are 269 groups noted – some are open to all and some are private.  Once you’ve created a profile go to interest areas and type in genealogy.  Click on those that interest you
  • Facebook – I don’t use Facebook like most folks do; I rarely post anything about me but I definitely use the info that organizations have posted.  Check out the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogy Buffs and ask to join Deciphering Genealogy Script, Lineage Society of America and Genedocs Templates.  Also look for your local and state genealogy and historical societies.

Next time – 5 more free sites that are simply awesome for genealogy!