Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Kim Cattrall.

I am still mulling over the Kim Cattrall episode of Who Do You Think You Are? and wondering if the producers of the show had to contact Kim's cousins in Australia before they could air the show? And does England really allow people to look at birth registers for people who were born as recently as 1959? I found that a bit shocking.

Overall, I have to rate this even higher than my new cousin Tim McGraw's episode. Isn't that what we all want to do, is solve the mystery and find something shocking? Those of us from fairly normal whole families take for granted what we have, of that there is no doubt. I just can't get my mind around the idea that bigamy is more acceptable than divorce though.

Food for thought.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sympathy Saturday - Mary Elizabeth Chinn Bowman

Sometimes you have an ancestor who really touches your heart and I am fortunate to have a few women that survived some terrible times. One of  these is my great-great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Chinn, daughter of Dr. Joseph Graves Chinn and Barbara Garland Graves.Mary was born November 2, 1821 in Bourbon county, Kentucky. She married John Parker Bowman on September 26, 1837 in Fayette county, Kentucky. This marriage produced 6 children: Isabella, John, Joseph, Edwin, Frank and Clifton, born between 1838 and 1858. On March 16, 1862, her husband Lt. Col. John Parker Bowman died from exposure after the battle of Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge.) Of her surviving children - son John died in 1858 at the age of 18 - Isabella was married and the rest were still in her care. Mary Elizabeth never remarried. In 1904 at the age of 82, she died in Lexington, Missouri.

From the Higginsville Advance, Higginsville, Missouri, obituary, 4 March 1904, p1

Died in Lexington, February 26, 1904, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Bowman, aged 82 years. Mrs. Bowman has resided in Lexington since 1844. She was an exemplary Christian lady most highly respected by her many acquaintances. Funeral services were held at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon from the home of G. M. Mountjoy.

Monument reads "In Memory of Mary E. Bowman.  Born Nov. 2, 1821. Died Feb. 26, 1904.  'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.'"

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, February 25, 2011

Freaked Out Friday!

In between thunderstorm watches & warnings and tornado watches and warnings, I've been trying to write this blog. You know, you hope when you are working on something you've worked on all day that nothing gets zapped while you are a) writing it or b) saving it. Such was the case during the light show this evening with the lightning flashing all around and the lights flickering. Yes, my laptop will run on battery, but the external drive I back up to does not. And yes, everything is on a surge protector. Periodically, I will also back up to a flash drive, that way I can at least move the info to a different computer if absolutely necessary. But still I get a little freaked when that light show starts. And the winds gust. Things are quite now, and I will try to post this.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thriller Thursday - William E Harper

I've come across many horrific deaths in my death certificate searches, and the following is just pure tragic. It involves William E. Harper of Chillicothe, Missouri, who was carrying a pistol with a chambered round in his belt. He died December 11, 1929.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Percival & Zimmeth (The Second Wedding)

Yeah, I know I already talked about my parent's marriage, the civil ceremony which took place July 20, 1946 in Fremont, Ohio. This is about their other wedding.

First, if you are under the age of 50, you probably aren't aware of the religious ramifications of marrying a Catholic if you were Protestant or vice versa. In this instance, my mother was Catholic and my father wasn't. I don't think they thought much of it when they decided to elope when they were traveling to Fremont with Janet Dean & Bill Budgero, who did intend to elope.

I am sure three weeks later when the news finally leaked out, there was shock on the part of both fathers. I certainly do know that my parents were pressured into getting their marriage blessed in the "Church" and so on February 23, 1947, my parents were again married at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Detroit, Michigan.

Feb 23 1947 Marriage Certificate
I remember telling someone in my mother's hearing that they eloped and the dirty look I got from her. I still don't know what that's about, but everybody knew my parent's real wedding date was July 20th 1946. That is the one they celebrated. I don't ever remember them even acknowledging their Church wedding. In fact, it wasn't until I really got interested in family history that I even saw the church certificate. But there you are, they were married twice.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is That Really Your Name?

I have been working on this Missouri Death certificate project for too long. That is the project of trying to find all that are possible to be found. I've found close to a hundred so far for the years between 1910 and 1960. When Missouri first released these death certificates, I pulled hundreds of them. Who knew that my Chinns and Kirtleys were so fruitful and multiplied so rapidly. I quickly located husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. That was the easy part of the project. The latter part, which I am working on now using my GenSmarts program requires a little bit more work. So, I find myself searching census records and marriage records hoping to prove or disprove, add or eliminate. So far, I've worked through over 700 people. Some get the little red X that says that no death record could be found, some get the ignore designation - because if some one's husband's last name is Smith, but I have no idea what his first name was, there is no point searching that name in the death record database. Others get the intriguing Revisit or the vaguer Plan to search. I've eliminated some families from the Missouri death records altogether because they moved out of state, or just drop off the face of the earth somewhere around 1910 (yeah, that could mean they died, but probably not in Missouri.)

Today has been a real challenge and I have found a couple of hard-won records. And it is something I've tried to keep in mind while searching. For instance, Taylor Hibbs is really Robert Taylor Hibbs. Of course, I needed census records to confirm that, but for one or two records the man is listed as Taylor. I'm sure a hundred years or so ago, someone was sitting around thinking "I'll throw that family researcher off my scent." Hah. It didn't work. Gotcha.

Lesson learned: Don't skip looking at the actual census. Don't discount something because you didn't find the name you expected to see in the index. Lots of people are known by their middle names. I am not one of them!

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another Year ... Gone

Some of you Harry Potter aficionados might recognize the title of my blog as one of Professor Dumbledore's last lines in Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone. I have always loved that line. And yes, I know it isn't the end of the year, but last week was the end of my calendar year as it starts on February 17th. I can't believe I've been working on my family history for about 34 years, probably really actively for the last  25 years. I usually say it starts with working on the Percival/Bowman line when I joined the United Daughters of the Confederacy, but really it all started with a cassette tape that my uncle Jack recorded with my grandfather Zimmeth way back in 1977, trying to get the family lore recorded. My uncle was nice enough to share the recording, but he neglected to share some of the stuff he already knew about the family and I set out to fill in the blanks oh those many years ago.

Thirty-four years ago I did not have a computer. I didn't know what a family group sheet or a pedigree chart was. I didn't know about vital records, county courthouses and neither did I know where the bodies were buried so to speak. I also didn't know how consuming the research was and how I would become consumed by it at times. Twenty-five years ago, we bought our first computer and that is when I really formally began keeping track of the information I was finding. What a blessing genealogy programs were and still are. I couldn't keep track without them.

Mind you, I'm not complaining about being consumed by it. For the most part it keeps me out of trouble and that is a good thing. It's also given me a unique look at some of my ancestors. And the funny thing is, the thrill of finding one of those little documents that give me a peek into the character of one my ancestors, it is still with me. I so love those AHA moments when the little light bulb goes off in my head. They are so precious. They don't come as often, because I've done so much research, but finding those bits and pieces of ancestral character or color are what keep me fascinated and passionate about this task I've set before myself.

 One of my goals has been to keep myself healthy enough to see myself on the 1960 census. It's the first one in which I appear, and I think it will be quite a thrill to see me there. Yeah, I know it will be 21 years before that one is released, but yeah, we all need goals. I just need to keep myself busy until then!

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sympathy Saturday - George Homer Knost

On this day, February 19, 1942 George Homer Knost died in Webb City, Missouri. He was the son of William Oliver Knost and Nevada Armstrong. George was only 60 when he died, which is pretty close to the age I am now (hint: I am not 60 ... yet.) His memorial at Find-a-Grave can be found here.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chance of Spring Fever and a Bit of Family Lore!

The last few days, its been really difficult concentrating on anything indoors when the weather has been spectacular. Maybe the groundhog was right and we'll have an early spring. I do know that the weather here has been in the 60's (mid-Tennessee) and I have really appreciated it.

In the family history lore of my family is the story of a premature baby - 3 weeks early - born February 17 195! (yes, that is an exclamation mark, not a 1.) Three weeks early is nothing today in this age of great neonatal care, but in 195! it was something. The little girl weighed around 5 lbs and was 19 inches long. Can we say long and skinny? She spent the first week of her life in an incubator and her momma went home from the hospital without her. Finally, when she was about two weeks old, she went home to meet her family.

I am told that her older sister was not too fond of her at the time. This fragile little bundle was stealing her older sister's STAR status in the family - that of only girl and the baby of the family. Actually, no one talks about how older brother felt about her. He was already 4 years old and becoming quite the golden child. She was no threat to his only son status.

This third child grew into an awkward adolescent, and then into a crazy young adult. Late in her 20's she met the man of her dreams, married him, and they are living happily ever after. Yesterday was her 5?th birthday! Not bad for a preemie!

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thriller Thursday - George Clemmons Colburn Jr

George Colburn (Jr) was the son of Nancy Shelby Chinn and George Clemmons Colburn.

From the Moberly (Missouri) Monitor, July 13, 1931


HARRISONVILLE, Mo.,  July 13 (AP) -- George Colburn, Hutchinson, Kansas and Jake Thomas, Harrisonville, both about 15 years old were killed in an airplane crash near here late yesterday. The pilot, Irwin Vrooman of Kansas City was critically injured. The plane, in taking off, struck a tall cottonwood tree, nosed over into the ground and caught fire.

His memorial at Find-a-Grave can be viewed here.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Kruszka and Zalot

On February 16, 1946 in Detroit, Michigan, Jennie Zalot and Bernard "Lefty" Kruszka were married. Jennie passed December 9, 2004.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Using My Tools - GenSmarts

With the release of the 1960 Death Certificates online at the Missouri State Archives, I've been concentrating on updating my death certificates and searching for people for whom I don't have any death date at all. One of the ways I do this is to use my GenSmarts program. Yes, I do have the stand-alone program, and it was well worth the dollars I spent on it. So far, it has helped me find 62 death certificates in this latest quest.

What I've done is set up GenSmarts to search for deaths in Missouri for people who have no status, which means I don't have a tag set up for them, and their RootsMagic record does not have a death certificate assigned.
Click on image

For instance in the image on the right (Click on it) you will see that I have my to-do list up and set for Suggestions not marked, sorted by date (this seems to default to most recent to oldest), and I've just typed in "missouri deaths." The first person, whom I've already checked as not found is Amber O. Bowman. Bowman is her married name. She probably died in Kansas, since she married Robert T. Bowman, son of Joseph & Susan Bowman, and he is last found on the census in Kansas. The second person listed, is Thomas Nathaniel Roupe, and I found his death certificate, so I've checked him as found. The third person listed is Robert L. Minor, and GenSmarts says he may have died around 1933. The paragraphs at the bottom show what I actually have on him, whom he married and when, and then projects a death date if I don't have one recorded. While GenSmarts suggests 1933, in actuality, he died in 1957.

The other thing this has helped me to find are marriage records in Missouri. Often I come across a woman for whom I have no marriage information for, and Missouri's online marriage records on Ancestry are actually quite extensive. In this case, Robert L. Minor married Katie Evans on April 4, 1896 in Platte county, Missouri. So not only did I find their marriage record, but the death records for both spouses. That's a win!

Could I set up GenSmarts to look for marriages? Absolutely, But since I am concentrating on the death records for now, it works just as well the way I am using it.

Are YOU using all the tools at your disposal? I know a lot of people buy programs that they think they might use, and then don't know what to do with them. I urge everyone who has ever done that to sit down with the program and learn it. Learn the best way to utilize your time and you will become a more efficient and proficient researcher.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are -- Recap

DH and I were watching episode 2 of WDYTYA? on Friday evening, and when Kathleen Brandt came on, I reminded DH that Kathleen had left some kind comments on my blog from time to time. I was NOT prepared for the name Chrisman to come out though. I told DH then that there was a chance that Tim McGraw and I shared a common ancestor in Jost Hite. Bingo, I was right. So obviously, for me, that was a great show. I still wish they didn't make it look like these documents sprang up out of thin air though!

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sympathy Saturday - Sarah "Mildred" Demoss Foster

On February 12, 1955, Sarah Mildred Foster, daughter of John Pool Demoss and Mary Elenor Davidson died. She was born May 8, 1871. I suspect she was named for her aunt Sarah Mildred Davidson Booton, who died before 1872. Mary & Sarah Davidson were my great-great-grandmother's (Susan Davidson Percival Holt) sisters.
Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, February 11, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

First I want to say to make sure you watch tonight's episode of WDYTYA? because helping country-western singer Tim McGraw is Kathleen Brandt. Kathleen has left many kind comments on this blog and I am excited for her.I've seen a lot of "stuff" on blogs lately about this latest season's first program, and I will agree that I think it was a little flat. I don't really care about the longer/shorter lead-ins, but what I do care about is that enough attention is not paid to HOW the information was found and WHERE or HOW that information was accessed. I realize this is not necessarily a how-to program, and more of a "Look what I found" program, but I think more stress needs to be put on how the research was done. Maybe Ancestry/NBC could have a little extra online program for those of us who would like to know. It sure would be better than running those stupid ancestry ads, especially the annoying man who tells you he went on and found someone had traced his family tree back before the Civil War. Can we say CLICK and CLAIM as cousin/friend Karen puts it? I just feel like I need a bibliography of the sources used in each episode.Some of the stories from last season were very moving, if a bit overly dramatic - maybe the celebrities should be given more direction on overacting. My favorite still was Susan Sarandon who was actually shown looking for a newspaper article on her grandmother. Family research can be extremely tedious, but it can also be highly rewarding.
Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thriller Thursday - The Fall of Tinsley Chinn

Over the years, I've come across many odd first names. Tinsley is one of those. Even odder was his nickname "Chops." Tinsley was a young man of 29 at the time of his death.

From: Lexington Herald, Lexington, Kentucky, obituary, 9 December 1921, p1 c4 and p 10 c4


Tinsley S. Chinn, 29, Employe of Traction Company, Fatally Injured When His Foot Slips on Pole


Tinsley S. Chinn, 29 years old, of Third and Seventh streets, wire repairer for the Kentucky Traction and Terminal company, was almost instantly killed yesterday afternoon about 3 o'clock, when he fell from a pole on which he was working, at the corner of Richmond avenue and the Richmond pike.

At the time of the accident, Chinn and Russell Hall, of 343 South Upper street, were connecting a lighting system for Richmond avenue, Hall being on the ground near the foot of the pole.

It is thought that Chinn was just starting to climb down the pole when his foot slipped. He fell about 22 feet, striking on the back of his head and shoulders. His skull was crushed and he died on the way to the Good Samaritan Hospital.

His body was later removed to the John Milward Funeral Home on West Second Street.

Chinn, who was called "Chops" by his many friends, was one of the most valuable men in the employ of the traction company, officials said yesterday. He had been employed for nearly 12 years except during the war period, when he was stationed at Louisville, being an instructor in the motor school there.

Chinn had made his home in Lexington all his life. Many calls from Lexington and from surrounding towns were received last night at the traction office expressing regret at his death.

In his immediate family Chinn is survived by his widow, Mrs. Mattie Chinn; his father, John M. Chinn, of Scott County, who came to Lexington yesterday to visit his son, and a sister, Mrs. Joseph Medford, of 118 East Sixth Street. Also surviving are two aunts, Mrs. D. W. Keiser, 417 Maple avenue; Mrs. F. W. Hunt, 183 Loudon avenue; an uncle S. J. Chinn, of Scott county, and his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. John Holland of Midway.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Percival & Combest

Lonton Percival was the son of Philo E. Percival and Harriet Kelly. Philo, in turn, was the son of Stephen Percival and Roxana Blanchard. On census records, Philo states he was born in Michigan, and in truth, the Percivals were living in Livingston county, Michigan in 1850, two years before his birth. Lonton was born in Kansas and died in Montana in 1942. He married Stella Combest February 9, 1922 in Lewistown, Fergus, Montana.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

They Got Married ... Where?

I love surprising databases. A few weeks ago, I accessed some Consular death records (Americans who died abroad) on Ancestry. Then a friend told me about Mt. Elliott Cemetery Association site (here) and this week it is consular marriage records. I'm trying to pull all the international stuff I can before I drop the membership back to US Deluxe. At any rate yesterday's discovery was US Consular Reports of Marriages, 1910-1949. I found two different marriages, one which I will share with you - US Consul in Costa Rica. I actually knew this marriage had taken place in Costa Rica, but proof is always nice!

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Open Letter to Ancestry World Tree Users*

Dear AWT Users:

Yes, I do use Ancestry World Tree and their other "trees." I have found some good information in them, and I try to use them as a jumping off point when a family mysteriously disappears. Sometimes I get pointed in the right direction.

Sunday, I was browsing a Family Tree that included the Chinn line I am descended from on it. I can't believe the errors I found on my direct line. For instance, this tree had my great-grandfather, Frank Bowman dying in Lafayette, Boulder, Colorado. Not true. I have his death certificate. And his obituary. They clearly state he died in Lexington, Lafayette, Missouri. He's buried there too.

The most shocking thing is that I discovered my great-great-grandfather, John Parker Bowman, died in Warwickshire, England. So not true. He died on retreat from Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge) March 16, 1862.

This disclaimer was in the sources: "This information comes from 1 or more individual Ancestry Family Tree files. This source citation points you to a current version of those files. Note: The owners of these tree files may have removed or changed information since this source citation was created.

Note: Information extracted from various family tree data submitted to Ancestry and The Generations Network."

Dear User, just because one or more sources says it is true, doesn't mean it is. I've seen so many instances of copy & paste in these records it isn't funny. Several had the Will extraction of William Ball Chinn with the word "daighters" instead of daughters. Give me a break.

I've emailed you with many corrections over the years (this user and others). Do you read them?



*And other Ancestry tree products.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sympathy Saturday - John Drees

On February 8, 1910, John Drees died. He was married to Agnes Anna Meyer, daughter of Heinrich "Anton" Meyer and his first wife, Elizabeth Decker. Agnes was a half sister to my great grandfather, Joseph Francis Meyer.

Clipart courtesy of Clipart Heaven
 Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Great New Site

I was born in Detroit and raised in one of the western 'burbs. My dad's family came to Detroit in the 1920's from Missouri and my mom's parents were married there in 1922, her father originally from East Tawas, Michigan and her mother from Minster, Ohio. So, I really don't have a huge history of burials in the Detroit area. One cemetery I keep going back to, however, is Mt Olivet on the east side of Detroit. My mother's mother is buried there, my mother's brother and sister-in-law are buried there, my DH's grandparents are buried there. And then a relative here and there. So, I was pleasantly surprised when one of the Wild Ones alerted me to the Mt. Elliott Cemetery Association's website. The site incorporates records from Mt Elliott Cemetery, Mt. Olivet cemetery, Resurrection Cemetery, All Saints Cemetery, Guardian Angel Cemetery and The Preserve.

Not only did I find the expected graves there, I found a great-aunt and great-uncle for DH. Great-uncle's death date was previously unknown. I found some additional records for relatives of my mother, too. Great site!

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thriller Thursday - Accidental Death of Philip Carlisle Chinn?

This following death was ruled accidental. When a 28 year-old falls from a window according to one report, or from a third floor to a second floor according to the death certificate, you have to wonder if it truly was accidental. When I went scrabbling for an obituary, I found this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and then at least one readable page from FBI case files. You be the judge. Accidental or not?

FBI Case file

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Jesse & Burgwald

On this day, February 2, 1887, Anna "Sophia" Jesse and John Burgwald were married in Sherman township in St. Joseph County, Michigan.

Michigan Marriage record 1887

Sophia was the daughter of George Jessie and Maria Klevsaat, the granddaughter of Friedrich Christoph "Ernst" Klevsaat and Christina Sophia Luise Brahst, the great-granddaughter of Johann Christian Kleesaat and Elizabeth Catherine Neuendorf, and the great-great granddaughter of Sebastien Heinrich Kleesaat and Anna Sophia Catherine Kleesaat.  The last couple mentioned are also my great-great-great-great grandparents, making Sophia and me third cousins twice removed.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Do It!

Andrea & her uncle Mike - 1983
For years, I've been trying to get myself to get photos organized. In fact, after we moved to Tennessee, I warned both of my daughters that if there were any photos that they wanted, they would need to start going through all the bins of photos we brought here with us and I would put them in albums. Because younger daughter did hers over the Thanksgiving holiday, I rushed through them and put them all in an album for her. Older daughter, who was finishing up her degree at Tennessee Tech at the time, took longer to finish culling photos. Sad to say they are still waiting for me to put them in an album. Bad mommy! I've let that project go for any number of projects instead -- such as the two cookbooks I put together for the daughters after Christmas, the letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother during WWI, and now the letters my grandfather and other family members wrote to my uncle during WWII. Since my DH's input is very important, I am dragging him into this project also. This picture of my younger daughter and her uncle (my brother) taken back in 1983, really is making me anxious to get going on sorting through those pictures.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes