Gene Notes

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

Monday, December 28, 2020

Genealogical Time Machine

If you had a time machine, and could go back (or bring forward) anyone to get your genealogical questions answered, who would be your first choice? 

In this minute, I would ask my ancestor, Margaret Skirving nee Wardlaw, what she knew about her mother and could remember about her father. Mainly because I know nothing about her mother and suspect what I do know is wrong.

Or would I choose Nathaniel Davidson, my great-great-great grandfather? I know nothing of his origins other than what the 1850 census says and that can often be wrong. Can I prove he was born in 1797 Kentucky? Nope. 

Would Wilhelmine Kleesaat/Klesat/Clesot/Clesotte ... nee Zabrack (not sure this is even right) be my choice? I would love to know her parents names, her correct maiden name, where she married, where her children were born. She has always been a conundrum. She was my great-great grandmother, so the closest of my ancestors.

I'd also like to talk to my late mother-in-law. I have lots of questions for her. I might even get straight answers from her. 

You know, I'm not sure I could choose. 

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, December 21, 2020

Happy Blogiversary To Me! or 2020 Get Outa Here!

I can't believe it's been 11 years since I started this blog. Looks like I missed marking last year's anniversary. This year is different. Not a good different, but in respects to the crap year this has been for everyone, but different.

I have managed a few blog posts, for which I am grateful. Started doing some data entry and some searches and tried a little thinking outside the box, which has worked well. I am still stymied by some of the people for whom I search. 

I've tried working on eliminating some of the piles of stuff I've found this year, getting it into my program. I have the genealogist problem, this one a good one, of finding more stuff and setting off on research tangents. 

One of my husband's Ecker relatives married a Klein. I am trying to figure out if this Klein is related to the Klein ancestor that married the Ecker ancestor. I haven't answered that question, but have found other things in relation to the family. One of those items was a concentration camp record for an aunt by marriage to hubby. She was transferred from Birkenau-Auschwitz to somewhere else and survived. She married and had at least one child, a son-in-law and grandchildren. 

Even with my successes this year, I will be so glad to see 2020 go bye-bye. 

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, December 19, 2020

I Hate Researching Common Names

It's a conundrum. Either the name is too complex and/or unique that you can't find them in databases, or you are forced to search for a name like Mary Smith. Even her husband Israel Smith is more common than I would like to see. 

I found the family in 1860 In Chautauqua county, New York. I found Israel with one of his daughters in 1865. No Mary. Nothing for either of them on Find-a-Grave. 

I did find an index giving a death date to an Israel Smith in Hanover, New York for May 15, 1891. It could be him. 

Way too many hits on these names. Sigh.

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The New Copy Holder - Part Two

I've had a little time to use the new copy holder and I found out two things.

  1.  It's awesome. It hold paper in landscape and portrait positions and I think It would hold legal size in landscape position if both arms were extended.

  2. It does come up from the desk, but it isn't easy and then restocks really nice. Nano suction indeed.

I give it an A. In the past with my old copy holder that attached to the laptop, you couldn't close your laptop with it attached. It bent out of shape and then eventually broke. I taped it. This will hold a few sheets of paper at a time. 

On Amazon it is Note Tower desktop pro.

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The New Copy Holder

Wow, I don't know why I am getting so excited about a copy holder, but here it is! It's a free standing note tower that will actually hold two sheets up paper when the paper supports on the left side are extended. I have lamented the old gray one I had that finally snapped, and at times I still like to transcribe from paper notes. I made the mistake of attaching it to my desk with the nano suction strips. It's supposed to be easily repositioned. NOPE. 

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, October 12, 2020

What's That Middle Name?

I have been increasingly frustrated by distant relatives of mine using Kirtley as a middle name. I have one by the name of Robert Kirtley Graves and another by the name of James Kirtley Roberts. Both in Kentucky. 

The latter one gave me pause today, when his wife, Matilda "Tete" Percival Roberts came up in my Ancestry hints. I knew her ancestors, so I thought I'd take a look at James "Kirtley" Roberts. To my surprise, he died in Brookeville, Indiana. His death certificate gives his father's name as James T. Roberts. After a surprisingly short time, I debunked his father's name. No, his name was not James T. Roberts, but John H. Roberts who married Mary Jane Johnson and by whom he had two sons, Harvey H., and James Kirtley. From records, I did find that locale was consistent of Walton, Boone county, Kentucky. I found a death notice for Mary Jane in the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal which mentions her sons, Dr. H. H. and James K. Roberts. 

By now, I am used to finding incorrect information on death certificates. They are only as good as the informant. In this case, I don't know who gave the information and how for James Kirtley Roberts. I just know it is wrong.

I am trying to figure out if I want to tackle Mary Jane Johnson. I do have Johnsons that connect to Kirtleys. It would be helpful if I could find her 1913 death certificate.

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

COVID-19 vs Spanish Influenza

As far as I know, I have only one relative who died during the Spanish Influenza pandemic during the first World War. That person was George Zimmeth, who apparently died from Typhoid fever after drinking contaminated water from a well. George was born in 1881 and died October 13, 1918, while his brother, my grandfather, was serving in France during WWI. Grandpa did not find out till much later that George had passed. George was 31.

George left a wife, Julia Blust Zimmeth and four children: Leo (age 11): Rose (age 7, just shy of her 8th birthday); and Barbara (under 10 months.) Eight children pre-deceased George, and the youngest, Barbara would die of diphtheria in 1921. Julia Blust Zimmeth passed in December of 1925, leaving Leo, Rose and Mary, who were 18, 15 and 12, respectively.  

I try to put historical context with my genealogy, and certainly this family suffered during the pandemic, although I've never seen any reference to them having influenza during the pandemic. Losing their father must have been very difficult during a very difficult time.

Which brings us to the here and now. We've been fortunate to not be afflicted with COVID-19 in my family probably due to the abundance of caution. Hubby and I have not been motoring around the US in our motorhome, we wear masks and keep public contact to a minimum. Our daughters are also extremely careful. If and when we put this behind us, I'll add something to the database about it, but am not willing at this time to push my luck and add stuff. 

In recording your family history, are you adding historical context? Is it part of genealogy? Only you can decide what you include and what you don't, but hopefully we won't have to live through anything like this again, so that historical context could become important. 

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Monday, June 29, 2020

Gimmers Mill, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland

Thanks, to Michael Clark, one of my Scottish correspondents, I now have a link to British Listed Buildings for Gimmers Mill, where my Maitland's lived until just after the death of Dr. Alexander Maitland who was my great-great-great-great grandfather, and who died in 1826. I present the link since I have no rights to the photos. In the submitted photo on the page, just to the left of the tree line on the right is Gimmers Mill House with the mill in the background. Pretty awesome.

Gimmers Mill

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Do You Get Excited When ...

I love it when I get a message from someone on ancestry dot com. I hate it when the message is:

Hi there, I guess we are related through the Bowman link.

And their tree is locked. Which Bowman?  What do you do then? Well, you go to your DNA matches and search for the user, which you can do now, by searching for their name.  And then you get this:
5th–8th Cousin
Shared DNA: 16 cM across 1 segments 

16 cM (centiMorgans) across 1 segment really isn't anything to get excited about. It's somewhere in the range of 5th to 8th cousin.

But. Bowman is in my paternal direct line. So I do get excited. If nothing else, it validates my own research.

Now to hear back from the person who guesses we are related through the Bowman link!

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

RIP Jan Steven Zaleski

I received sad news today of the passing of a friend and fellow volunteer at The Westland, Michigan Family History Center, Jan Zaleski.

When I was actively and aggressively researching my husband's Polish ancestors I tried to learn everything I could from Jan. He had a lot to teach.

He asked me once if I had any brick walls in my research that might have appeared on the Hamburg (Germany) Passenger lists. I gave him a name - we weren't even sure of the spelling - and he found the family on the passenger lists. It gave a prior residence which led us to figuring out who the ancestor's parents were, where my ancestor was actually born and about 5 different spelling of the last name.

After I retired from the Family History Center and from my paying job, my husband and I moved down to Tennessee. But Jan would keep in touch, sometimes by Christmas card, sometimes by email, keeping me apprised of what was going on in the research world.

He had a great sense of humor, always telling me I was pronouncing Polish names wrong - he was right - and making jokes. I'll miss him.

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, January 10, 2020

My Awesome Find Follow-up

I posted about finding an obit/death notice that had eluded me for thirty plus years. The subject, Dr. John Stearns Percival was my great-great-great grandfather. Obviously, finding this death notice was the cause of a very long, intense happy dance.

Over the years, I have looked for clues about his death. I have an abstract of his probate record, because he died intestate. I can tell you, that just about everyone I have researched over the years has died without a will.

One of the researchers actually has his death place as 10 Jan 1841, Missouri City, Fort Bend, Texas. I have messaged this person on Ancestry a few times, asking for proof. Today, I looked at their citation for his death. They cited a descendants Sons of the American Revolution application. Well, I have looked at that application and no such information as to death date or place exists on said application.  If you have to ask me how I feel about that citation, you don't know me very well.

His actual place of death was Dover, Lafayette county, Missouri. Indeed, he was enumerated in Dover Township, Lafayette county, Missouri in 1840.

The death notice reads as follows: "In Dover, on Sunday the 10th inst., after a severe affliction of several weeks, Dr. John S. Percival, aged about 50 years, and formerly of Lawrenceburg, Ia."

His age? About 50 years. Well, he had just celebrated his 48th birthday in November of 1840. He wouldn't be 50 until November 14, 1842. He was from Lawrenceburg, Indiana where he practiced medicine. He married both his wives in Burlington, Boone county, Kentucky. His first wife was Matilda Fleet Hinton Goodridge, whom he married in 1817. He married his second wife on April 5, 1822.

Unfortunately, the death notice doesn't mention any family. In the same issue of the Lexington Weekly Express, Eliza Ann Percival has a letter waiting for her. That would probably be his daughter, born in March 1823 and she would have been about 17 when her father died. She was a child of his second wife. He also may have been survived by another daughter, Elizabeth from his first wife, who never married. Nor can I find any record of her anywhere. He had a son Egbert Davis Percival,  also from his first wife, who would make the long trip to California via New Orleans, across Panama, I think, and up the coast to San Francisco in 1852.

His other children, William, John Stearns, Jr., and Jabez were all children of his second wife. Nothing is really known of what became of William. John, Jr. went on to fight and die for the confederacy. Jabez (named for his paternal grandfather) also went to California, but much later than his elder half brother leaving Covington, Kentucky in 1883.

The reason for today's post besides the follow-up? Dr. John Stearns Percival died 179 years ago today.

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Celebrating the New Year with a FIND!

Every month, almost like clockwork, Genealogy Bank adds their new content to their site, and I always check for those areas where I am lacking information. I just found this gem on the site:

From the Lexington (Missouri) Weekly Express, Saturday, January 16, 1841, page 3 column 5:

In Dover, on Sunday the 10th inst, after a severe affliction of several weeks, Dr. JOHN S. PERCIVAL, aged about 50 years, and formerly of Lawrenceburg, Ia.

It's Dover, Missouri and he was from Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Apparently they abbreviated oddly back in 1841.

I have been looking for this - or any mention of him at all - in Missouri newspapers for years, since I first started working on my family history, over 33 years.

Happy New Year to me!

Copyright 2010-2020, ACK for Gene Notes