Monday, December 26, 2011

Amanuensis Monday ~ Gorin Family Bible

An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Family bible records are unique items, and following is a bible which contains information that links me to a Revolutionary War ancestor (that I used in my application to the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution). Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin – some we never met – others we see a time in their life before we knew them.

Inside front cover, left
The bible was published in Philadelphia by J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1856.

Pasted inside the front cover are obituaries of my third great-grandparents, Thomas Jefferson Gorin

Inside front cover, right

and his wife, Mary Ann (Bowman) Gorin.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Recipe Friday ~ Hermit Cookies

Hermit Cookies are rich, spicy cookies. My mother found this recipe in a Boston newspaper in the 1970's. My father loved these cookies. When I am asked to bring something to a pot luck supper, or to a cookie swap, I often bring these. Once you try homemade hermit cookies, you won't want to go back to store-bought!

1 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I use Crisco.)
2 cups (white) sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses

4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 cup raisins

In large bowl, mix shortening and sugar, then mix in the eggs and molasses and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix together. Add raisins. Dough will be very stiff.

Wet hands; roll dough into sausage strips about 1” in diameter, and place on ungreased cookie sheet, leaving plenty of space between strips. Lightly squash with glass which has been dipped in water, then sugar. (If desired; I just gently flatten the strips with the bottom of the glass.)

I happen to have baking stones, but you can use cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 °F for about 9 minutes – just until the top puffs up and cracks, but cracks are still yellow. You want the insides to be soft. Let cool on the cookie sheets, then cut into bars about an inch wide.

Store in an airtight container.

Family Recipe Friday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ My Third Great Grandfather

This is one of my oldest family photographs.

Thomas Jefferson Gorin (January 27, 1808 - January 11, 1883)

This is an ambrotype, a type of photograph that was used mostly from the mid-1850's to the mid-1860's. The Ambrotype is a negative image on glass made positive with a black backing.  Most often it is cased, as you see below, where I took a picture showing the decorative liner.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ My 3rd Great Grandmother

Last week's photograph was taken of the James Hunter home in the city of Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Following are additional photographs taken of family members outside this house.

On the back, in my great-grandfather Percy Hunter's handwriting:
Side porch: C.C. Hunter, Front porch: Helen, Chester, Grandmother Hunter,
Lawn: Grandmother Freeland, S.K., Lois, Mrs. Wolf, Aunt Claude, Lottie Wolf, Mother, Dad
C.C. Hunter, Helen, Chester, S.K., and Lois are all siblings of Percy E. Hunter, my great grandfather. Based on birth dates of Percy's siblings, this photo and the two that follow were likely taken in the late-1890's, possibly in 1897, the year of Percy's marriage to Marguerite Lysle. (Curtis Carr Hunter would have been five and a half when his older brother, Percy, got married.)

Based on another photo I have of her, I think that "Grandmother Hunter" is Mary (Freeland) Hunter, Percy's mother. Perhaps Percy's father, James Hunter, is taking the photograph. (Percy's Grandmother Hunter, Catherine (Carr) Hunter, died in 1891.) 

"Grandmother Freeland" is Percy's maternal grandmother Nancy (Rainey) Freeland. Unfortunately, I don't know who Mrs. Wolf and Lottie Wolf are. Update 9/28/2013: In doing research for a Surname Saturday post for the Freeland line, I think I have determined that Mrs. Wolf is sister-in-law to Nancy (Rainey) Freeland; in other words, Mrs. Wolf is Mary (Freeland) Wolf, sister of James Freeland. And Lottie Wolf is a cousin of Mary (Freeland) Hunter. See Mary Freeland Wolfe Family post (12/28/2013) for how I identified Mrs. Wolf and Lottie Wolf.

Aunt Claude is Percy's mother's sister, Claudine Freeland, a longtime schoolteacher in Allegheny.

I think that "Mother" and "Dad" are Marguerite and Percy, based on the many photographs I have of them.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Hunter Family Home

James and Mary (Freeland) Hunter's house in the city of Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
The James Hunter family moved from Irwin Avenue to Perrysville Avenue in about 1890-1891. I wonder if this photograph was taken of "the new house" when they moved.

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Workday Wednesday ~ James Hunter in Construction

Great-great-grandfather James Hunter had more than one occupation during his lifetime, from what I can tell looking at census records and city directories. He ultimately spent most of his life providing foundation materials to builders from what I have gleaned from census records and city directories.

In 1870, 26-year-old James is listed with his widowed mother (and several siblings). He has the occupation of "Clerk" which is found a lot in 19th century census records and I'm sure that title covered a wide variety of duties in a wide variety of industries., database online. Year: 1870; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania;
Roll: M593_1290; Page: 82A
. Record for Catherine Hunter.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, I found James Hunter, married to Mary, with five children. The youngest (William Edward Hunter) had not yet been named, although he was born in February and the census was taken in June. James is listed as a Stock Dealer at house number 134 Irwin Avenue., database online. Year: 1880; Census Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania;
Roll: T9_1086; Enumeration District: 6; Page: 151.3. Record for James Hunter.
There are seven James Hunters in the 1880 Pittsburgh City Directory.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The children of James and Mary Hunter of Pittsburgh

My great-great-grandparents, James Hunter (1844 - 1902) and Mary (Freeland) Hunter (1850 - 1902), whose pictures can be seen here, had ten children:
  1. Harry Martin Lafferty Hunter (April 19, 1872 - October 1, 1949)
  2. Percy Earle Hunter (October 18, 1873 - May 24, 1937)
  3. James Freeland Hunter (July 3, 1875 - June 24, 1935)
  4. Samuel Knox Hunter (November 7, 1877 - February 19, 1948)
  5. William Edward Hunter (February 13, 1880 - August 12, 1889)
  6. John Robert Hunter (January 24, 1882 - August 28, 1984) - yes, he lived to 102
  7. Chester Audley Hunter (May 5, 1884 - August 24, 1970)
  8. Helen Rainey Hunter (September 8, 1886 - September 24, 1939)
  9. Mary Lois Hunter (August 24, 1888 - April 14, 1911)
  10. Curtis Carr Hunter (January 18, 1892 - September 19, 1936)
These dates come from family notes written by "Uncle Jack" John R. Hunter, in the mid-1970's. These are in my collection with an envelope (postmarked August 11, 1976) addressed to Margaret L. Hunter (my great aunt Margie) from S. Knox Hunter, Jr., her first cousin.

Far left of Uncle Jack's sheet, showing the two oldest children.

These family notes were written sideways on lined note paper and photocopied. This generation is on two pieces of paper taped together.

Unfortunately the notes are not complete. It's possible that one cousin was sending this to another cousin to confirm just her family's details.

Each sheet notes that it is "corrected to 8-9-1976," at which point only Uncle Jack was still living of all ten siblings.

I am able to confirm the birth years and child order by following this family through federal census records, as well as finding some additional information in other databases, but to find the exact birth dates might not be possible, so these notes are a real treasure.

Not all married, and of those who did marry, not all had children. From what I was told, William Edward died of appendicitis at age 9 and his sister, Mary Lois, died of appendicitis at age 22.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ James and Mary Hunter

James Hunter
June 20, 1844 - October 17, 1902

Mary Freeland Hunter
February 11, 1850 - March 14, 1902

These are my second great grandparents. Both of them were born and died in Allegheny City or Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. According to the back of both photographs, these were taken at J. M & E. K. Abrams, (Successors to B. Uhle) Photographers, 90 & 92 Federal Street, Allegheny, Pa.

James and Mary were married in April 1871. I used the name of the photographer imprinted on the back of the photos to explore whether these might have been taken at the time of their wedding. However, I find A. B. Uhle, Photographer, at 92 Federal Street in an 1875 Pittsburgh City Directory, so these were taken after 1875. 

My descent from James Hunter and Mary Freeland > Percy Earle Hunter > Helen Lysle Hunter > My mother > me. 

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ Historical County Boundaries

Thank you to Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings for the idea for this blog post. See the challenge details at Genea-Musings. In a nutshell, I visited the Historical U.S. County Maps page on Randy Majors website at and chose a location to explore its historical jurisdiction in time.

I chose Winnetka (a village in the township of New Trier), Illinois (where the Greeley family was for many decades), but I could just as easily have chosen Chicago, Illinois (where the Adsit family was from soon after its founding) which is about 16 miles south of New Trier. Both communities are currently in Cook County. Because Illinois did not become a state of the United States until December 3, 1818, the very early history of the area had many jurisdictional changes, which made this more of a challenge than I originally anticipated. However, it is interesting to see how often these territory and county boundaries changed in these early years of our country.

Map images and descriptions of territory and county changes come from Randy Majors County Maps page.

07/13/1787: The U.S. created the Northwest Territory to govern all territory west of Pennsylvania, north of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River.

Knox Co., NW Terr., 1790-1796

06/20/1790: KNOX (Ind.) created by the Northwest Territory from non-county area; included parts of present Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Wayne Co., NW Terr. 1796-1805

Between 1787 and 1818, when Illinois became a state, the area that is currently known as Cook County, Illinois, underwent many changes in jurisdiction. Early on, the area was known as Wayne County in Indiana Territory.

In 1809, Illinois Territory was created from Indiana Territory. The area where Winnetka and Chicago are now located was known (in chronological order between 1809 and 1818) as St. Clair County, Madison County, Edwards County, and Crawford County. This territory included land in present day Michigan and Wisconsin.

Illinois county
boundaries, 1818

12/03/1818: Illinois became the 21st state of the United States. The county of Crawford lost all territory in present Michigan and Wisconsin when the state of Illinois was created from Illinois Territory.

Illinois county
boundaries, 1830

Between 1819 and 1831, the county names of this area included: Clark, Pike, "non-county area," Putnam, then on 01/15/1831, Cook County was created from Putnam. Later in the 1830's, Cook County lost some area to the creation of McHenry County, then to Du Page County.

Moving along year by year with the Illinois map at Randy Majors County Maps page shows how the state was populated by people moving northward from south of present-day Illinois.

The Town of Chicago was organized in 1833.

Illinois county
boundaries, 1840

My second great (paternal) grandfather, James Monroe Adsit, arrived in Chicago in 1838. He lived the rest of his life in Chicago.

My second great (maternal) grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley, arrived in Chicago in 1853. His obituary indicates that he moved to the village of Winnetka in 1898.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mayflower Passenger Ancestors

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I share below my two known Mayflower lines. I've known about my descent from John Howland and Elizabeth and John Tilley (through my father) for quite awhile. A couple of years ago, I found that through my mother, I am descended from James Chilton.

Mayflower passenger names are bolded.

John Tilley (1571 - 1620) and Joan Hurst (about 1568 - 1621)
Elizabeth Tilley (1607 - 1687) and John Howland (1592 - 1673)
Desire Howland and John Gorham
Mercy Gorham and George Denison
Thankful Denison and Thomas Stanton
Robert Stanton and Anna Stanton
Thankful Stanton and Lodowick Stanton
Mary Stanton and Jedidiah Willett

James Chilton (1563 – 1620) and wife unknown
Mary Chilton (1607 – 1679) married John Winslow (brother of Gov. Edward Winslow)
  (Tradition says that Mary Chilton was the first woman who came ashore from the Mayflower.)
Susanna Winslow and Robert Latham
Mercy Latham and Isaac Harris
Desire Harris and John Kingman
Mary Kingman and Samuel Copeland
Samuel Copeland and Mary Owen
Abraham Copeland and married Elizabeth Tupper
Nathaniel Copeland and Mary Page
My mother and Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Susan Arville Chapin Adsit

Susan Arville Chapin Adsit  (June 9, 1820 - May 6, 1906)

The handwritten "Grandma Adsit" was written by Elizabeth Adsit, my grandmother. This is her grandmother, Susan Arville Chapin. She married James Monroe Adsit and her son (my great grandfather) is Charles Chapin Adsit.

When she was twelve, she embroidered the Family Register sampler that I wrote about on Monday. 

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Amanuensis Monday ~ Chapin Family Sampler

An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin – some we never met – others we see a time in their life before we knew them.

On the wall of my parents' bedroom when I was growing up was a framed sampler that had come down in my father's family. When my mother downsized, I was given this wonderful sampler. Now that I have a Flip-Pal scanner, I tried scanning it. The scan came out pretty well despite the fact that I scanned it through the glass. Due to the frame, the scan does not go all the way out to the edges of the sampler, but you do see just about all of it below.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Workday Wednesday ~ First Chicago Banker

A paternal second great grandfather of mine, James Monroe Adsit, is considered the first banker in Chicago.

Found at The Internet Archive is an 1899 book with a biography of James M. Adsit on pp 123-125.

Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois: with portraits (1899). (Chicago, Illinois: La Salle Book Company, 1899) Digital images. The Internet Archive, accessed 27 October 2011, is the source for the following transcription. 

Note that the images that I have inserted are NOT from this book, but are images from Chicago City directories found at Fold3. My additional notes and editorial comments are in red.


To have been among the first in Chicago to engage in any honorable calling is quite sufficient to make such a one a local historical personage for all time to come, and so the career of James M. Adsit is filled with unusual interest, because of the conspicuous fact that, apart from his being an exceptional character, he was among the first bankers to enter upon a career of finance within the present limits of Cook County.

Mr. Adsit was born February 5, 1809, in Spencertown, Columbia County, New York, unto Leonard and Frances Adsit (nee Davenport). His father dying when the son was but six years of age, he went to live and remain with his grandfather Adsit, and after finishing the common-school education customary for those early days, went for a time into employment in his uncle Ira Davenport's store.

On April 2, 1838, he arrived in Chicago, then a city of but a single year's standing, consisting of only a few streets stragglingly built up; and, as one of the earliest pioneers, founded a private bank at Number 37 Clark Street in 1850, having up to that time, from the date of his arrival, been engaged in loans and investments on Lake Street. [The first Chicago City Directory I find James M. Adsit in, he is a carpenter in 1844.]

1844 Chicago City Directory, page 21

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

(Not quite) Tombstone Tuesday ~ James McAlpin

In October, we visited Dutchess County, New York, with the hope of finding the gravesite of my third great grandfather, James McAlpin. According to Pyle, Smith, and Allied Family Histories (privately pubished, 1951), James McAlpin died on July 28, 1849. According to McAlpin(e) Genealogies 1730-1990 (Baltimore, MD:  Gateway Press, Inc., 1990), by Doris McAlpin Russell, he died in 1849 and was buried at Fishkill Landing, Dutchess County, New York.

Fishkill Landing was combined with another village, Matteawan, in 1913, to form the city of Beacon. With assistance from people at the First Reformed Church of Fishkill, at the public library in Fishkill, and at the public library in Beacon, I found the cemetery where I believe he is buried.

At the Fishkill Public Library I found a book that I had previously found a transcription of online. Old Gravestones of Dutchess County, New York, Nineteen Thousand Inscriptions, (Vol. II), collected and edited by J. Wilson Poucher and Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, was published in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1924. Pages 92-97 list the 343 inscriptions collected by volunteers of the Dutchess County Historical Society.

From page 92 of Old Gravestones of Dutchess County, New York

Page 92 indicates that the Dutch Churchyard at Fishkill Landing was in an "overgrown and disorderly" condition in October 1915 when the volunteers named in the image above transcribed the gravestone inscriptions.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mystery Monday ~ Happy Halloween!

This is a negative digital image of a church we visited during this past month. The mysteries are: why is my 3rd great grandfather supposedly buried here, about five miles from where there was a more prominent church, and 20 miles from the church where his children were baptized, and why is the associated graveyard so overgrown?

I will be writing about this church and its cemetery tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Libby's debut tea

Handwritten at top right: E. Adsit's Debut Tea Nov. 16, 1916

Elizabeth Adsit is my paternal grandmother, born June 18, 1897, in Chicago, Illinois, died December 6, 1983, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from Geneabloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More on the Adsit Family

Great grandfather, Charles Chapin Adsit lived in Chicago, Illinois, his entire life. I wrote about him in the following posts: City Directories as a census substitute and Adsit Family in Chicago.

This is a family that almost died out.

Charles' parents (my great great grandparents), James Monroe Adsit (1809 - 1894) and Susan Arville Chapin (1820 - 1906), had seven children:
  1. Leonard D. Adsit (January 31, 1842, Chicago - April 8, 1880, Chicago)
  2. Isabella F. Adsit (September 8, 1844, Chicago - September 3, 1916, Chicago)
  3. James Monroe Adsit, Jr. (April 7, 1847, Chicago - March 30, 1926, Chicago)
  4. Carolyn Jane Adsit (January 29, 1850, Chicago - May 6, 1922, Chicago)
  5. Charles Chapin Adsit (July 14, 1853, Chicago - July 3, 1931, Atlantic City, NJ)
  6. Frank S. Adsit (September 7, 1855, Chicago - April 7, 1859, Chicago)
  7. Jeanie M. Adsit (December 19, 1860, Chicago - August 17, 1939, Chicago)
Only two of the above-listed children married:

2. Isabella, who married Ezra I. Wheeler, and had one daughter, Florence, who died at the age of five of "acute gastritis."

5. Charles, who first married Hattie L. Webster on November 22, 1881, in Evanston, Illinois. She died just nine and a half months later, on September 4, 1882. In a 1960 letter from Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, it is noted that "Child" of Chas. died "9 4 1882 at age ---". From this, I deduce that Hattie died in childbirth and the baby died, too.

Charles married Mary Bowman Ashby, of Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky, on October 30, 1890. They had two children: Charles Chapin Adsit, Jr. (July 3, 1892, Chicago - April 21, 1944, New York City) who never married, and my grandmother, Elizabeth Adsit (June 18, 1897, Chicago - December 6, 1983, Boston) who married my grandfather in 1919. They had only one child: my father, Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr. who was a talented golfer.

Do contact me if you have an Adsit in your family tree, but we won't be any more closely related than fourth cousin (my brothers excluded).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thriller Thursday ~ Hit by Auto

Death certificates for Cook County, Illinois (for the years 1878-1922) can be found at FamilySearch. Some time ago, I found the death certificate for my grandmother's maiden aunt Carrie Adsit, who died on May 6, 1922.

Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 (index and images, FamilySearch,, from Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois, accessed May 2011),, Carrie J. Adsit, died 6 May 1922. Citing Death Records, FHL microfilm 1,378,964.
Of course, I always look at the cause of death. Since she was over the age of 70, I figured it could be any number of illnesses, but I was surprised to see: "Shock + Injuries; Struck by Automobile; Manslaughter."

Detail from Death Certificate of Carrie Adsit

Although I can find a death notice for her from the May 9, 1922, Chicago Tribune in the Historical Newspapers database on,
I wanted to know if there was a news article. Today I discovered that Fold3 has full issues of the Chicago Tribune covering the years 1849 - 1923.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Charles Chapin Adsit

My great grandfather, 
Charles Chapin Adsit (July 14, 1853 - July 3, 1931)
 in 1904

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Military Monday ~ Building a Civil War Sewer

My second great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824 - 1916) was of the right age to have served in some capacity in the U.S. Civil War. The only Civil War record I have found for him is from Official records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 1861-1865, an online database at

From Series II, Vol. 4. Correspondence, orders, reports, and returns relating to prisoners of war, pp. 278-279
Camp Douglas, in Chicago, Illinois, was a large Union prisoner of war camp, with approximately 7,800 prisoners in July 1862. (See page 278 above.)

From Wikipedia:
"It became a prisoner-of-war camp in early 1862. Later in 1862 the Union Army again used Camp Douglas as a training camp. In the fall of 1862, the Union Army used the facility as a detention camp for paroled Union Army prisoners pending their formal exchange for Confederate prisoners. Camp Douglas became a permanent prisoner-of-war camp from January 1863 to the end of the war in May 1865. In the summer and fall of 1865, the camp served as a mustering out point for Union Army volunteer regiments. The camp was dismantled and the movable property was sold off late in the year. In the aftermath of the war, Camp Douglas eventually came to be noted for its poor conditions and death rate of between seventeen and twenty-three per cent."

Transcribed from above, Colonel Joseph H. Tucker, writes to Colonel William Hoffman on July 24, 1862:
"I forward an estimate made by S. S. Greeley for introduction of sewer, for sinks connected therewith and for the supply of water for the camp. This estimate I am informed was handed to you by Mr. Greeley while you were here. I do not send the estimate as approved by me; I merely lay it before you."
From Series II, Vol. 4. Correspondence, orders, reports, and returns relating to prisoners of war, pp. 280-281
These pages include the detail of the estimate to build the sewer for Camp Douglas. The total cost is estimated to be $8,257.18, including labor.  "The work will probably occupy nearly six weeks after it is actually begun." and is signed Samuel S. Greeley, Civil Engineer.

I have not been able to find confirmation that the Union Army hired S. S. Greeley to build the sewer, but there are references to the need for water and "an ample system of drainage."
From Series II, Vol. 4. Correspondence, orders, reports, and returns relating to prisoners of war, p. 353

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ Genealogy Database Statistics

Thank you to Randy Seaver for his most recent Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Challenge, the details of which can be found at Genea-Musings. I'm a little late, but decided to rise to the challenge, which is to figure out how to find out how many persons, places, sources, etc. are in my Genealogy Management Program (i.e. my software database) and then to share this information.

I use Family Tree Maker (for Mac). The first screen you see when you start up Family Tree Maker is the Plan screen, which shows the following:

When I click <more> I see the following details:

The most recent birth date was that of my cousin's son in May, but I don't feel comfortable publishing that information, which is why it's blacked out.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cousin Louisa May Alcott

This past summer, I read Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen, a must-read for fans of the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. There are several references to family members in the book, many of whom are relatives of mine, direct ancestors and cousins.

The first chapter gives a little genealogy of Louisa May Alcott's ancestry. Since I am descended from her maternal grandparents, it adds to what I know about Joseph May (1760 - 1841) and Dorothy Sewall May (1758 - 1825), my 4th great grandparents.

The names in red below are daughters of Joseph and Dorothy.

Reisen refers to Louisa May Alcott's cousin, Sam Greele several times. This is (my 2nd great grandfather) Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824 - 1916), whose mother, Louisa May (1792 - 1828), was an older sister of Louisa May Alcott's mother, Abigail May (1800 - 1877). According to Reisen, the author was named after her aunt Louisa. (And Louisa May Greeley (1827 - 1903) is the name of Samuel Sewall Greeley's only sibling.)

On page 132, Reisen notes that Louisa May Alcott wrote in her journal about the death of Annie, cousin Sam Greele's wife, in January 1864, and about attending the wedding of her cousin Sam (Samuel Sewall Greeley) to their mutual cousin (his second wife) Eliza May Wells in September 1866. These are my 2nd great grandparents.

Eliza May Wells (1839 - 1880) is not a first cousin, but the daughter of a first cousin of Louisa May Alcott (1832 - 1888) and Samuel Sewall Greeley. Eliza's mother was Elizabeth Sewall Willis (1820 - 1900), daughter of Elizabeth Sewall May (1798 - 1822), a sister of Louisa and Abigail. (This makes Eliza May Wells a first cousin once removed of her husband, Samuel Sewall Greeley, as well as Louisa May Alcott.) Harriet Reisen also suggests that Louisa May Alcott's sister Elizabeth (1835 - 1858) was named after this sister of her mother's.

Occasionally in the book, Reisen also refers to Wells cousins and Willis cousins. These are also relatives.

If you haven't already figured it out, this family can get confusing. Cousins married cousins, and many names are used over and over, especially if someone died young, either as a child or young adult. It doesn't help that I am descended from Joseph May (1760 - 1841) and his wife Dorothy Sewall (1758 - 1825) in two different ways.

Louisa May Alcott's descent from Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall > Abigail May > Louisa May Alcott.
My descent from Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall > Louisa May > Samuel Sewall Greeley > Ethel May Greeley > Lowell Townsend Copeland > my mother > me.

       Louisa May Alcott is my first cousin four times removed. 

My descent from Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall > Elizabeth Sewall May > Elizabeth Sewall Willis > Eliza May Wells > Ethel May Greeley > Lowell Townsend Copeland > my mother > me.

       In this case, Louisa May Alcott is my first cousin five times removed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Grandfathers

On the back of the photo is written:

Samuel Sewall Greeley 79 yrs.
Lowell Townsend Copeland 2 yrs 10 mos
Elizabeth Sewall Copeland 7 mos.
Oct 21st 1903

Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824-1916) is my great great grandfather.
Lowell Townsend Copeland (1900-1974) is my grandfather.
Elizabeth Sewall Copeland (1903-1965) is his younger sister, my great aunt.

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday's Obituary ~ Samuel Sewall Greeley 1916

When my great great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley, died on March 8, 1916, he was the oldest living graduate of Harvard University. A variation of the following brief obituary can be found in numerous newspapers in March 1916.

The Rockford Republic (Illinois), March 10, 1916,
In my collection, I have an extensive obituary from the journal, Engineering and Contracting, (Vol. XLV, No. 11, pp. 23-24. Chicago, March 15, 1916). It is too long to reproduce here, but I include parts of it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ List Your Matrilineal Line

Thank you to Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings for the idea to write this blog post. See the details of the challenge at Genea-Musings. The challenge is to list my matrilineal line - my mother, her mother, etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how my mitochondrial DNA was passed to me!

a) Elizabeth
b) My mother (still living) married Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr.
c) Helen Lysle Hunter (1907 - 1990) married Lowell Townsend Copeland
d) Marguerite Lysle (1876 - 1967) married Percy Earle Hunter
e) Marion Helen Alston (1850 - 1885) married George Lysle, Jr.
f) Lillias Johnston (about 1807, Scotland - 1852) married John Alston.  They arrived in New York City in August 1835 from Scotland and settled in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, where the next four generations of women were born.

I have not had my mitochondrial DNA tested, but I hope to do it one of these days.

February 2014 Update: I have had my mtDNA tested, and I shared the results here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

School Board Member George Lysle

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 23, 1900

Unfortunately, the death notice for George Lysle, Jr. doesn't give much information about his life, but I have found much information about his family elsewhere. I have already written about this great great grandfather, George Lysle, Jr., as a coal merchant with his father and brothers. While searching newspapers at the Chronicling America website for information about him, I found that he was on the school board in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in 1889.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thriller Thursday ~ Passenger Car Jumps the Track

I knew that my third great grandfather, George Lysle, died on January 13, 1877, but only recently found out the circumstances behind his death.

I love looking through old newspapers. Imagine my surprise when searching for the surname "Lyle" (which I often try when trying to find my Lysle ancestors) at the Chronicling America website, I find the following in the (Friday), January 12, 1877 issue of the Daily Inter Ocean, a Chicago, Illinois, newspaper that was published from 1865 to 1914.

January 12, 1877, p. 5, Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois)
online image from Chronicling America
It was the middle of the night and the two sleeping cars left the train track, ran down the embankment, turning over several times, and injured a number of the passengers, three seriously, including George Lyle, of Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. What is chilling is the description from one of the passengers that the car was so completely demolished "that there was not a piece left which could not have been put in a flour barrel."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Workday Wednesday ~ Lysle & Sons Coal

Marguerite Lysle, my great grandmother, was the daughter of George Lysle, Jr. and Marion Helen Alston. George Lysle, Jr. was the sixth and youngest son of George Lysle (who fathered twelve children in total).

My third great grandfather, George Lysle (Senior) was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by 1840, when I find him in the U.S. Federal Census with eleven people in his household. From the 1850, 1860, and 1870 U.S. Censuses, I am able to put together the family and match it up to a Lysle Family Tree that was printed about 1937.

In each of these census records, George Lysle is a Coal Dealer or Merchant. By 1870, as the census image below shows, he was doing very well, with real estate valued at $100,000. His household includes two servants.

1870 U.S. Federal Census, Allegheny Ward 4, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1291; Page: 414B; image: 168. Record for Geo. Lysle.

Of George Lysle's twelve children in 1870, I only know of two who had died: Margaret (1839-1868) and Lieutenant James M. Lysle, in the Civil War. In the 1870 Census record above, he is 70 years old, his wife Margaret is 64 and children still living with him include Mary (age 45), Caroline (age 39 - though I think this should read 29), Geo (age 27) and Eliza (age 23). George (Jr.) is also listed as a Coal Merchant. When I look for other family members in census records, I often find they are in the coal business in Allegheny County as well.

Wordless Wednesday ~ Marguerite Lysle

Marguerite Lysle (August 13, 1876 - December 25, 1967)
and her younger brother, George Barton Lysle (July 18, 1878 - September 23, 1950)

Marguerite Lysle is my great grandmother and lived her entire life in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. I have written about her husband and children in the 1900-1910 federal censuses, in the 1920 census and in the 1930 census.

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Monday, September 12, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History ~ Earliest Memory

Week 37: Earliest Memory. What is your earliest memory?

Duncan A. Pyle (1967-1986)
at age 1
By the time I was three, I had two younger brothers; the younger one, Duncan, was born about two weeks before my third birthday. I remember crouching on the floor of the kitchen of our house in Dedham, Massachusetts, looking into a basket or bassinet on the floor at my baby brother, who seemed so small to me, so it would have been around or just after my third birthday.

A more distinct memory is from when my mother gave birth to her last child, about 18 months later. When she was on her way to the hospital, I asked her to bring me home a younger sister. When she arrived home with my newest sibling (another boy), I remember having a tantrum and yelling at her that I had asked for a baby sister and not another brother! (My mother has no recollection of my tantrum.)

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Workday Wednesday ~ Tobacco Manufacturer

David Hunter McAlpin
taken at the Sarony studio, 37 Union Square, Manhattan
circa 1878
My great great grandfather, David Hunter McAlpin (1816 - 1901) was an extremely successful businessman. His only daughter, Frances Adelaide McAlpin (1860 - 1937) married James Tolman Pyle on February 12, 1884. He owned land in New York City as well as in Morris County, New Jersey.

I previously posted his New York Times obituary.

He is my most recent ancestor who has a page at Wikipedia. In addition, he and his family have several pages (pp. 602-619) devoted to them in Doris McAlpin Russell's McAlpin(e) Genealogies 1730-1990, published in 1990. In a nutshell, he moved from Dutchess County, New York, to New York City at a young age and over his lifetime, built a substantial business in tobacco, becoming a leader among American tobacco manufacturers by the 1890's.

In the 1850 Census, he is listed as a 32-year-old "Segar Manufacturer," born in New York owning real estate valued at $2,000. He was married to 21-year-old Frances and had a 2-year old son, Edwin.

1850 U.S. Federal Census, New York, New York, New York; Roll: 536; Page: 264B;
Record for David H. McAlpin.

In the 1857 New York City Directory, he is in business with someone else, as the address for David H. McAlpin, segars, is the same as McAlpin & Ray, segars, at 305 1/2 Broadway.

1857 New York City Directory

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My McAlpin Ancestors in 1870

I have been reviewing census records while preparing a post about my great great grandfather, David Hunter McAlpin (1816-1901). By searching for different family members and using different spellings, I found the family enumerated in multiple places in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, since my great great grandfather owned a home in New York City and had recently started purchased property in Morris County, New Jersey.

When I first searched for David H. McAlpin in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, I found the following listing for the family in New York (21st District of Ward 21), New York. The official 1870 Federal Census enumeration date was June 1, 1870. However, I like to look at the date that the census taker visited that neighborhood to see how timely the information was. In this case it was July 16, 1870. There is a note to the right of the family that says "In Country, Unknown.", database online. Year: 1870; Census Place: New York Ward 21 District 21, New York, New York; Roll: M593_1010; Page: 644B. Record for David McAlpin.
David Hunter McAlpin(e)'s known children (all with his first wife, Frances Adelaide Rose) are:
Edwin Augustus McAlpin (1848-1917)
Joseph Rose McAlpin (1853-1888)
George Lodowick McAlpin (1856-1922)
William Willet McAlpin (1858-1925)
Frances Adelaide McAlpin (1860-1937), my great-grandmother
David Hunter McAlpin, Jr. (1862-1934)
           (though there may have been a son of the same name who died young)
Charles Williston McAlpin (1865-1942)
John Randolph McAlpin (1870-1893)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday's Tip ~ International Passenger Lists

This week (August 29 - September 5, 2011), is providing free access to international immigration and travel records. I took advantage of this to look for some of my ancestors visiting Europe from the U.S. in the early 20th century.

I found out why I've never been able to find my grandmother's family in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census - it's not that they were simply out of town, they weren't in the country to be enumerated!

The following passenger list is from's UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960.

Mrs. Chas. C. Adsit, age 32 is listed with a "Profession, Occupation or Calling" of "Wife." (However, at the far right, under the "foreigner" column, there is a check mark under "Male" so perhaps it's my great-grandfather, Charles C. Adsit traveling with his children?) Son, Charles is 7 years old, and daughter Eliz[abeth] is listed with an age of 2 or 3; it's hard to tell. She turned three years old four days after arrival, on June 18, 1900. Last is Sally Wither, the 25-year-old Scottish maid who worked for the Adsit family for many years; you can see her in the family's census listing in 1910 and 1920.

The Majestic sailed from New York City, N.Y. and arrived at Liverpool, England, on June 14, 1900. They would probably  have had to leave their home in Chicago before the end of May, and the 1900 U.S. Census was an official count as of June 1, and the census workers would have visited homes throughout the month of June.

Tuesday's Tip is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.