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.