Monday, December 31, 2012

Genealogy New Year Resolutions ~ Update

Last New Year's Day, I posted some New Year's Resolutions. Just for fun, let's see how I did. My comments are in red.
  1. Post to this blog at least twice a week (and to my other blog, A Jewish Genealogy Journey, at least once a week).  With 80 posts for the 2012 year, I didn't quite make it on this resolution for this blog. I like to spend a good bit of time thinking through my posts, and some weeks, I just don't have the time to be as thoughtful about my posts as I would like, so I don't post. However, I did better on A Jewish Genealogy Journey with 48 posts during 2012.
  2. Continue to organize (and scan) my old photographs and family memorabilia, of which I seem to have quite a bit. In addition to organizing the old photographs, I need to consult with my mother about identifying people in some of these photos.  I didn't do a good job on this resolution [Mother - we need to schedule a time to do this!], but I did scan quite a few photos at my parents-in-law's home while visiting, which was a good thing, as they were affected by Hurricane Sandy in October, and I'm not sure if the physical photos I scanned survived the storm, but I have digital copies!
  3. Work on finding the parents of Susan Rood (Chapin). Her daughter's sampler and a couple of Chapin genealogies are my only sources of her maiden name of Rood.  I did write a blog post summarizing what I know about her, but other than that have not worked on this. I am in contact with a Rood descendant who believes she has found the names of her parents, but is looking for primary source confirmation.
  4. Choose one or two other lines to focus my research on, rather than jumping from one line to another, as I usually do. (This may be my most challenging resolution.)  Yes, this is the most challenging resolution; there are so many interesting things to find online that I am easily distracted from researching one or two lines at a time. I also have distant cousins and other researchers who contact me about lines I'm not currently working on, and then I start looking at those lines again.
  5. Visit the New England Historic Genealogical Society more often, since I can easily take the train into Boston to do so!  I did get to NEHGS twice this year, but I certainly should try to get in more often!
  6. I have been an NEHGS online volunteer for several years, and I didn't get as many hours in during 2011 as I did during 2010 or 2009, so my goal is to transcribe / proofread at least 7-8 hours every month.  Success on a resolution! I have averaged 7 1/2 hours a month transcribing and indexing for NEHGS this year.
  7. Add more to Find A Grave, both memorials for my ancestors, as well as uploading photographs of gravestones for others who request them.  I continue to enjoy adding to Find A Grave and linking my ancestors and my husband's ancestors. I manage 208 memorials and I occasionally spend an afternoon exploring different local cemeteries taking photographs requested by others. See a post about family members I have linked at this Tuesday's Tip blog post.
  8. Continue on updating sources in Family Tree Maker, my genealogy software program. [An additional resolution I added in a comment.]  I have slowly worked on this, but have not kept track of exactly which sources I have updated, so I am unable to quantify how well I have done here. I also added quite a few citations for family members I found in the 1940 US Census, released in April 2012.
Additional things I had fun doing this year included:
Obtaining 20th century death certificates for quite a few Pennsylvania ancestors. (See an example here of the death certificate for my great grandfather, Percy E. Hunter.)
Indexing the 1940 US Census. (I posted about both my indexing and my finds!)
Exploring DNA testing with AncestryDNA for myself and my husband.

These are pretty much my same goals for 2013, though I may aim for a more manageable 6-8 posts per month rather than 2 per week.

I thank you all for reading and wish you a Happy 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Matrilineal Monday ~ Fanny Davenport (1785-1871)

Frances (known as Fanny) Davenport is my third great-grandmother.

A couple of years after the death of her first husband, Leonard Adsit, Fanny (with five surviving children) married Orlando Davis and subsequently had three children with him. I have not done much research on Orlando, as he is not a direct ancestor. However, with a relatively unusual name, I am able to use it to find his wife, my third great-grandmother.

In the 1840 Federal Census, I find Orlando Davis in Sherburne, Chenango County, New York.

Year: 1840; Sherburne, Chenango, New York; Roll: 273; Page: 224;
Line 24; Record for Orlando Davis
The numbers indicate that the household included one young man between the ages of 10-15 and one young man between the ages of 15-20 (likely two of their three sons). There is a man between the ages of 40-50 (Orlando Davis) and a woman between the ages of 40-50 (Fanny (Davenport) (Adsit) Davis).


Sunday, December 9, 2012

James Adsit's Parents in New York State

There is a biographical sketch written about my second great-grandfather, James Monroe Adsit in Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois: with portraits (1899). You can tell from this biographical sketch that this is a family that knew about its roots!

In this sketch, James' parents are mentioned as Leonard Adsit and Frances Davenport. The last U.S. Federal Census that Leonard Adsit appears in is in 1810. Back then, the federal government was really just counting people and only listed the names of the head of household. (It wasn't until 1850 that we get to see the names of everyone in the household.) The remaining household members are indicated by numbers in the columns to the right. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out who is represented by the numbers in the columns of these pre-1850 censuses.

1810 U.S. Federal Census. Hillsdale, Columbia, New York; Roll: 31; Page: 666; Line: 20.

The headings for the columns that follow the head of household's name are as follows:

The three Free White Males Under 10 are likely Leonard's three oldest sons: Albert, age 2; Arunah, age 2; and James, age 1.
The fourth column, the Male 26-44 is Leonard.
The last number is in the column for Free White Females 26-44 and is his wife, Frances (Davenport) Adsit, also known as Fanny.

I found the following image at

"Abstracts of Wills, Administrations and Guardianships in NY State, 1787 - 1835",, New England Historic Genealogical Society, p 1985. Administration of Estate of Leonard Adsit.
Page 109
Adm of the Estate of Leonard Adsit
late of Sherburne, Chenango Co, died
intestate. Granted to Fanny Adsit,
widow of Leonard Adsit, Dec'd, as
Seal third Feb 1817.

His FindAGrave memorial indicates that he died September 10, 1816. He is buried at the Sherburne East Hill Cemetery, in Sherburne, Chenango County, New York.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ James Monroe Adsit

My grandmother's grandfather, who died a few years before she was born.

James Monroe Adsit
Born February 5, 1809, Spencertown, Columbia County, New York
Died September 4, 1894, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois

I wrote about him last year, but never shared his photo.

See a photo of his wife, Susan Arville Chapin Adsit.
See a photo of his son Charles Chapin Adsit.

I am descended from James M. Adsit as follows:

James Monroe Adsit
Charles Chapin Adsit
Elizabeth Adsit
Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Amanuensis Monday ~ Death Certificate for James M. Adsit

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.

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),, James M. Adsit, died 4 Sep 1894. Citing Death Records, FHL microfilm 1,030,999.

The handwritten entries are in blue; my comments are [bracketed]:
Physician's Certificate of Death-Issued by State Board of Health
State of Illinois, Cook County
The Physician who attended any person in a last illness should immediately return this Certificate, accurately filled out, to the County Clerk, if the party deceased died outside the limits of the City of Chicago; all deaths inside the city limits should be returned on these blanks to the
City Board of Health

  1. Name: James M. Adsit
  2. Sex: M    Color: W
  3. Age: 85 years 6 months 30 days  [Calculated birth date is February 5, 1809]
  4. Occupation: Banker
  5. Date of Death: Sept. 4th 2:30 AM 94  [1894]
  6. Married
  7. Nationality and place where born: Spencertown, N.Y.  American  [In Columbia County, N.Y.]
  8. How long resident in this State: 56 years
  9. Place of Death: 400 Dearborn Ave St.  24 Ward
  10. Cause of death: Cerebral Hemorrhage  [no entry under Complications]
  11. Duration of disease: About 8 days
  12. Place of Burial: Graceland
  13. Name of Undertaker: C. H. Jordan + Co.
  14. Dated at Chicago Sept 4th 1894.  (Signature:) Frank Billings M.D.
                                                               Residence:  45-22nd St.

1894 Chicago Directory, p. 228;

I like to confirm the signature by looking up the physician's name in the city directory.

See his wife's death certificate here.

See a brief biography of James M. Adsit, First Chicago Banker, published in 1899 here.

I am descended from James M. Adsit as follows:

James Monroe Adsit
Charles Chapin Adsit
Elizabeth Adsit
Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday's Tip ~ Pittsburgh City Directories

Historical City Directories can be useful in family history research and I enjoy browsing them. Different city directories are found at different websites.

For the city of Pittsburgh (and its North Side, formerly Allegheny City), historical City Directories can be found at a website offered by the University of Pittsburgh at Historic Pittsburgh.

I haven't fully explored this site, but you can find a range of dates of historic Pittsburgh City Directories at Historic Pittsburgh City Directories.

I used these directories to narrow down the date of death of one of my 3rd great grandfathers, James Freeland. In the Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities 1861-1862, James Freeland, plumber, is at the corner of Beaver and Geyer's [Avenue?] in Allegheny:

In Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities 1862-1863, James Freeland is at 29 Ohio, with his home at 187 Beaver in Allegheny:

In Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities 1863/1864, Nancy Freeland is listed as the widow of James, at the address of 187 Beaver, in Allegheny:

This narrows down James Freeland's date of death to sometime in 1863. There were a couple of James Freelands from Pennsylvania who served in the Civil War, but I have yet to determine if one of them is my 3rd great-grandfather.

As I noted in yesterday's post about his wife, Nancy (Rainey) Freeland, I also used this same method to determine the year of her death as 1903.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Matrilineal Monday ~ Nancy Rainey Freeland

I have written about long-lived maternal ancestors before. One third great-grandmother, Nancy (Rainey) Freeland, who died about 1903 was well into her 80's, if not 90 when she died. She outlived her husband by over 40 years.

Determining her birth date from census records is a challenge, as most of them indicate a different birth year.

In the 1900 U.S. Census, Nancy Freeland lives at 1415 Buena Vista Street in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania with two unmarried children.

This census record says that she was born in December 1813, is 86 years old and a widow. She was mother of 7 [?] children, of whom three are still living. (I'm only sure of five of these children-see below.) She was born in Ireland (and her parents were born in Ireland). She immigrated in 1831, and has been living in the United States for 69 years. She (as well as the others in the household) can read, write, and speak English, and she rents her home.

Her household includes her son, William J. Freeland, who was born in August 1854, age 45 years. His occupation is "Conductor R R" and he was not out of work in the prior twelve months.

Also in the home is her daughter, Anna C., born in February 1857, age 43 years, and a schoolteacher. She was out of work for 10 months in the prior year.

There is also a 23-year-old Pennsylvania-born servant, Myrtle Kniess.


Twenty years earlier, in 1880, the U.S. Federal Census shows widowed Nancy Freeland living at 87 Buena Vista Street in Allegheny with three unmarried children.

In this census record, Nancy is listed at 65 years old, implying a birth year of about 1815. She has a mark in the column indicating she is a widow and her occupation is "Keeping House."

Her son William J. is 27 years old (born about 1853) and works as "R.R. Brakeman. One daughter is listed as Claude A., age 25 (born about 1855) and a School Teacher. I have long puzzled about whether Claude A. in 1880 is Anna C. in 1900, and I am pretty sure they are the same person. (I have found many names for this third great aunt.) A younger daughter, Emma, is 22 (born about 1858) and also a School Teacher. I lose track of Emma after this census, so she either married, thus changing her surname, or died.

And here are the Freelands as listed in the Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities, 1880:


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Workday Wednesday ~ 1850's Plumber

Imagine my surprise (several years ago) when, in looking up census records for my mother's side of the family, I found a 3rd great grandfather who was a plumber!

Following is the top of the page of the 1850 census where I found James Freeland and his family in Allegheny, Pennsylvania:

U.S. Federal Census. Year: 1850; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania;
Roll: M432_744; Page: 76B; Lines 7-10: Record for James Freeland family

Line 7 shows James Freeland, age 35, with the occupation of Plumber. He owns no real estate and his place of birth is Scotland.
Line 8 shows Nancy Freeland, age 30 and indicates that she was born in Ireland.
Line 9 shows Mary Freeland, age 8/12, which implies that she was born in February of 1850, based on the date of this census, which is written in the header: twenty-ninth day of October 1850. She was born in Pennsylvania.

The official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850. All questions asked were supposed to refer to that date, but other information I have confirms that Mary was born in February 1850. Mary Freeland is my 2nd great grandmother. See a photo of her and her husband here.

Line 10 shows David Freeland, age 65, with the occupation of Weaver, and born in Scotland. Unfortunately, the 1850 census does not indicate the relation of members of a household to the head of household, but I am pretty sure that David is James' father.

From page 32 of Fahnestock's Pittsburgh directory for 1850, found at Historic Pittsburgh City Directories:

It looks like my third great grandfather was in the Freeland & Logan plumbing business on Federal Street in Allegheny in 1850. He is the only Freeland listed in that year's directory.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Ashbys in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago

Mary Elizabeth (Gorin) Ashby is buried in Chicago at Rosehill Cemetery, along with her husband, Daniel Morgan Ashby, and several of her children.

I have linked the family members at Find-A-Grave, and the kind Find-A-Grave volunteer, Jim Craig of Under Every Stone (if you haven't checked out his blog - you must), notes on his Find-A-Grave page that he gives permission for his photographs to be used for any non-commercial purpose, so below are photos of my second great grandparents' gravestones, courtesy of Jim Craig.

Mary E. Ashby

Daniel M. Ashby

I appreciate the last photo which shows the gravestones of the family plot in relation to each other.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Amanuensis Monday ~ 1891 Death Certificate for Mary E. Ashby

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.

Mary Elizabeth (Gorin) Ashby, my second great grandmother, died on July 7, 1891, in Chicago, Illinois. (Free!) has Death Certificates for Cook County, Illinois, 1878-1922 which is where I found the following.

Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 (index and images, FamilySearch,,
from Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois, accessed 5/8/2011),
Mary E. Ashby, died 7 July 1891. Citing Death Records, FHL microfilm 1,030,967.
Handwritten entries are in blue. My editorial comments are bracketed.

 1. Name: Mary E. Ashby
 2. Sex Female  Color White
 3. Age 58 years - months 7 days [Implies birth date of June 30, 1833; family bible has June 28]
 4. Occupation None
 5. Date of death July 7th, 1891 11:50 PM [I think]
 6. Married
 7. Nationality and place where born American  Glasgow, Kentucky
 8. How long resident in this State Residence Louisville [Kentucky]
 9. Place of death 455 Elm St, Chicago [Residence of her daughter, Mary, and son-in-law, who had only just married in the previous October]
10. Cause of death Hemiplegia [Paralysis affecting one side of the body]
11. Duration of disease Fifteen hours
12. Place of burial Rose Hill Cemetery
13. Name of undertaker Jordan [See their full page advertisement below.]
14. Dated at Chicago, July 7, 1891. G. E. Richards, M.D.
                                                 Residence 44 1/2 Bellevue Place [See his directory entry below.]

1891 Chicago City Directory, page 1918,

1891 Chicago City Directory, page 3045,

Matrilineal Monday ~ Mary Elizabeth Gorin, 1833-1891

More than a year ago, I participated in a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun blog post where I listed all 16 of my second great-grandparents. See Heritage Pie Chart for the basic details - names, dates, locations and parents of this generation of my ancestors.

I have blogged about 15 of these 16 second great-grandparents. The 16th of these ancestors I want to write about is Mary Elizabeth Gorin (1833 - 1891). I have written about her husband, Daniel Morgan Ashby, and shared an ambrotype of her father, Thomas Jefferson Gorin.

Much of what I know about Mary Elizabeth Gorin is found in the Gorin Family Bible that was passed down in the family and is now in my possession.

She was born on June 28, 1833, in Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky, where Gorins had been for several decades. Based on the bible entries, Mary E. Gorin was the oldest of seven children born to her parents, Thomas Jefferson Gorin and Mary Ann (Bowman) Gorin.

Image from Gorin Family Bible, Births page

According to U.S. Census records and city directories, she spent just about all of her life in Glasgow, except for her last few years, when she lived in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1850, the first U.S. Federal census that lists the names of all household members, she is enumerated in her parents' household as 17-year-old Mary E. Gorin.

According to the family bible, Mary Elizabeth Gorin married D. M. Ashby on February 11, 1857.

Image from Gorin Family Bible, Marriages page

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday's Obituary ~ 1891 Sudden Death

Mary E. Ashby is one of my second great-grandmothers. It appeared that she died rather suddenly.

The following death notice is from page 3 of the July 8, 1891, Chicago Tribune, found at Fold3.

Mary's daughter, Mrs. Charles C. Adsit, is her younger daughter, Mary Bowman Ashby, who had married Charles Chapin Adsit the previous October 30, 1890.

I will be sharing more information about this second great-grandmother in the next few days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Hurstmont Photos

Thank you to a reader of my blog, whose great-grandfather, Rudolph Hermes, was superintendent gardener at Hurstmont when James Tolman Pyle owned it. Below are a few pictures that he shared with me.

The first two are mounted photographs that he found in his father's home.

One view of one of Hurstmont's gardens

Another view of the gardens. At the far right is the house.

A postcard of "Pyle's Residence, Morristown, N.J."

You can see more pictures and a description of the home in 1907 in the June 1907 issue of American Homes and Gardens, which is found at Google Books, searching for American Homes and Gardens Hurstmont.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wells and Willis Family in Brookline in 1860

My 3rd great grandparents household in Brookline, Massachusetts as enumerated in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. (Thomas' middle initial should be G not D.), database online. Year: 1860; Census Place: Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts;
Roll: M653_514; Page 747; Record for Thomas D. Wells [sic]

Thomas D. Wells is 54 years old, no occupation listed, and incorrectly listed as being born in New York. (He was born in New Hampshire.) $10,000 represents the value of his real estate and $3,000 represents the value of his personal estate.

His wife, Elizabeth S. Wells, is 49 years old with $150,000 as the value of real estate owned. This was a lot of money in 1860 (assuming it's not an enumerator error)! (See an interesting online calculator at MeasuringWorth.) And, yes, she is correctly listed as being born in Maine.

Their children are listed: Eliza (age 21), Henry (age 19, and a sailor, who died in 1864 - see Forest Hills gravestone), and Louisa (age 12, and in school) were born in Massachusetts, and Benjamin (age 4) was born in New Hampshire.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Eliza May Wells

This branch (Willis / Wells / Greeley) of the family is one with quite a few photographs. Following are several of my second great grandmother, Eliza May Wells (20 Aug 1839 - 18 Sep 1880).

Eliza May Wells circa 1857

Eliza May Greeley
Wife of Samuel S. Greeley
almost 18 yrs. old

Monday, October 8, 2012

Matrilineal Monday ~ Eliza May Wells

Eliza May Wells, my second great grandmother, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on August 20, 1839, to Thomas Goodwin Wells and Elizabeth Sewall Willis.

She spent her childhood in Merrimack and Walpole, New Hampshire, based on the fact that I find her father and family in Merrimack, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census and I find the family in Walpole, Cheshire, New Hampshire, in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census.

Louisa May Alcott was a cousin who spent time with her "Wells cousins in New Hampshire."

By 1860, her family had moved to Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts and in 1866, she married, as his second wife, a first cousin of her mother, Samuel Sewall Greeley, in either Brookline or Cambridge, Massachusetts. (See their marriage record here.) See Samuel Sewall Greeley's obituary for more about him.

Eliza May (Wells) Greeley then moved to Chicago, where she gave birth to five children:
Elizabeth Sewall Greeley (1867 - 1868)
Ann Percival Greeley (1869 - 1876)
Henry Sewall Greeley (1871 - 1877)
Ethel May Greeley (1875 - 1931), my great grandmother. See a photograph of her.
Ruth Lyman Greeley (1878 - 1975), who deserves her own blog post one of these days.

She was also step-mother to three sons of Samuel and his first wife.

She applied for a passport application on September 25, 1879 in Chicago, Illinois. Her brother Benjamin W. Wells confirmed that she was who she stated she was., U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Record for Eliza M. Greeley (1879)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ Matrilineal Line

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge is a repeat, but one that can be repeated on a different line. The details of the challenge are as follows:

1) List your matrilineal line - your mother, her mother, etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how your mitochondrial DNA was passed to you!

2) Tell us if you have had your mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, which Haplogroup you are in.

3) Post your responses on your own blog post, in Comments to this blog post, or in a Status line on Facebook or in your Stream at Google Plus.

4)  If you have done this before, please do your father's matrilineal line, or your grandfather's matrilineal line, or your spouse's matrilineal line.

5)  Does this list spur you to find distant cousins that might share one of your matrilineal lines?

My matrilineal line is listed here, and I shared the results of my mtDNA test here.

So today, I will show my father's matrilineal line.

a) Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr. (1924, NY - 1993 MA)
b) Elizabeth (Libby) Adsit (1897, IL - 1983, MA) married Charles McAlpin Pyle
c) Mary Bowman Ashby (1863, KY - 1956, MA) married Charles Chapin Adsit
d) Mary Elizabeth Gorin (1833, KY - 1891, IL) married Daniel Morgan Ashby
e) Mary Ann Bowman (1814, KY - 1870, KY) married Thomas Jefferson Gorin
f) Polly Walthall (1793 - 1850) married Granville Bowman
g) This line goes back into Virginia and is a line I need to research.

My grandmother, Libby, passed along her mtDNA to Dad, but as a male, he could not have passed it along to any of his children.

The closest cousin who could share this matrilineal line would be a descendant of the sister of my second great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Gorin.

Any descendants of the daughters of Emma Gorin and Henry C. Murrell: Mamie Murrell, b. 1866 in Kentucky and Florence Murrell, b. 1873 in Kentucky out there?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wedding Wednesday ~ Samuel Greeley and Eliza Wells 1866

The website of New England Historic Genealogical Society at has a wealth of information in its databases (a benefit of paid membership). The Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910, is a database I could spend lots of time exploring.

Following is a record of the marriage of my second great grandparents, Samuel Sewall Greeley and Eliza May Wells.

My second great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824-1916) married twice. He married first, Anne Morris Larned in 1855 in Chicago. She gave birth to four children in less than eight years and died in 1864. Samuel returned to Massachusetts to marry his second wife, a first cousin once removed, Eliza May Wells. I discussed this family a bit when I wrote about my relation to Louisa May Alcott.

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910. (From original records held by the Massachusetts Archives.
Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004).
Marriages, volume 190, page 276b, line 32.

Close up of the left-hand side

Close up of the left hand side confirms the wedding date, September 5, 1866. Samuel's place of residence is Chicago, Illinois, and Eliza May Wells' residence is in Brookline (where, in fact, she is listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census with her parents). Her age is correct; she had just turned 27 years old. However, Samuel's listed age should be 41. He was a Civil Engineer in Chicago (which is how he served the Union in the Civil War). He was born in Boston and she in Cambridge.

Close up of the right-hand side

Samuel's parents were Samuel (they are fourth and fifth in a line of Samuel Greeleys) and Louisa (daughter of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall) and Eliza's parents were Thomas G. and Elizabeth (granddaughter of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall). This is a second marriage for Samuel and a first marriage for Eliza and they were married by F. H. Hedge, pastor of First Parish, Brookline.

Interestingly, other (secondary) sources (Willis genealogy and May genealogy) indicate that they married in Cambridge, so this is an interesting find. The couple returned to Chicago, where they had five children, only two of whom lived to adulthood, and only my great grandmother, Ethel May Greeley had (three) children.

I descend from this couple as follows:

Samuel Sewall Greeley  and  Eliza May Wells
(1824-1916)                        (1839-1880)
Ethel May Greeley
Lowell Townsend Copeland
My mother

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Willis, Wells and Wendte

A couple of years ago, before I was a Find A Grave volunteer, we visited Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain (a neighborhood of Boston), Massachusetts and took some pictures of gravestones of ancestors of mine. Now that I've been a Find A Grave volunteer for over a year, I thought it might be time to set up memorials and share the photographs we took. Following are four sides of the same stone.

My fourth great grandparents
Benjamin Willis
Born Nov. 16, 1791
Died July 28, 1870

His Wife
Elizabeth Sewall
Born Dec 6, 1798
Died Mar 5, 1822

My third great grandparents, and one of their daughters
Thomas G. Wells
Died Aug. 26, 1873
Aged 68 Yrs.

Elizabeth Sewall
Wife of
Thomas G. Wells
Died Aug. 8, 1900
Aged 79 Yrs. 11 Mos.

Ruth L. Wells
Died Oct. 7, 1943
Aged 81 Yrs. 3 Mos.

Second great grand uncle, his wife; second great grand aunt, her husband
Benjamin Willis Wells

Lena Lyman
Wife of
Benjamin Willis Wells

William C. Wendte

His Wife
Louisa Wells

Second great grand uncle and a first cousin 3x removed
Henry Willis Wells, U.S.N.
Born July 4, 1841
In command of the
U.S. Schooner Annie
He was lost with all on board
off Cape Romaine Florida
Dec. 31, 1864.

William Wendte
Killed by hostile natives in
British East Africa


A family tree to show how I descend from this family:

                                              Benjamin Willis and Elizabeth Sewall May
                                           (1791-1870)                 (1798-1822)
 Thomas G. Wells and Elizabeth Sewall Willis
(1804-1873)                      (1820-1900)
Eliza May Wells (eldest of five siblings, four of whom buried here)
Ethel May Greeley
Lowell Townsend Copeland
My mother

Of the five known children of Thomas G. Wells and Elizabeth Sewall Willis, my second great grandmother, Eliza May (Wells) Greeley is not buried here. She died in London, England, and is buried there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

Other Geneabloggers have been writing about their memories of this historic "where were you when..." event and I thought I should put my memories in writing.

On the beautiful late summer/early fall clear blue sky morning of September 11, 2001, I had sent my 2nd grader to school and had my Kindergartner at home because he attended afternoon Kindergarten and didn't have to be there until noon. When my kids were young and were home with me, I never watched TV and rarely listened to the radio.

Around 9 a.m., I made a phone call to another parent to discuss a parent committee we were co-chairing and she told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York and I should turn on the television. I believe I turned on the TV just after the second plane had hit. When my 5-year-old came into the room to ask why I had the TV on, I turned it off because I didn't think at his age that he needed to know what was going on, and frankly, I didn't really know what was going on yet and wasn't sure how to explain it to him.

In Massachusetts it was a State Primary Election Day, and because our usual polling place, the local elementary school, was closed for renovations (the boys were bused to another building across town for that school year), I went to the public library to vote. It was the only time I can remember hearing a radio on in the library as I walked through to get to the room where I got to vote.

The schools decided that it was best for the students to remain at school on as normal a schedule as possible, so my Kindergartner hopped on the mid-day Kindergarten bus at 11:30 a.m. or so. Soon after, my husband came home from his job at TJX Companies after a unique all-employee meeting where the company CEO confirmed for the employees that yes, seven of their co-workers had been on American Airlines Flight 11. He then allowed employees to go home. We watched TV together to see what was going on.

I was stunned and sad and couldn't understand who would do such a thing.

Because the boys were quite young, I always met the school bus and that particular day, I met the school bus and gave each of my sons an especially big hug.

Because we live in a suburb of Boston, we were used to sometimes hearing airplanes on their way to or from Boston's Logan Airport. I do remember thinking that it was very strange to hear only the occasional Air Force jet fly overhead for several days.

I watched some of the television coverage, but found it very difficult because I would get teary (or worse) every time I thought about the loss of human life. Over the next several days, my husband watched as much of the television coverage as he could, and we tried our best to explain what had happened to our young sons.

I will never forget.

A view of the World Trade Center 9-11-11 Tribute in Light from Jersey City, NJ.
The red, white & blue building on the left is the new World Trade Center building
Wikipedia Commons - Public Domain

Nor should anyone else.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ McAlpins in Dale Cemetery

One of the stops on our recent vacation was Dale Cemetery in Ossining, New York, where my great great uncle Edwin Augustus McAlpin and family is buried. There is an article about Uncle Edwin in Wikipedia.

The McAlpin Plot and Mausoleum is in Section F, towards the back of this beautiful cemetery. The first photograph shows the view of the McAlpin Mausoleum from where we parked.

According to the cemetery's records, there are twenty McAlpins (either by birth or by marriage) whose remains are at this mausoleum, two of whom are buried in lots in front of the mausoleum.

My son kindly held back the evergreen so I could photograph the stone below. Townsend Martin McAlpin is my second cousin once removed, son of Benjamin Brandreth McAlpin and grandson of Edwin Augustus McAlpin, who was an older brother of my great grandmother, Frances Adelaide McAlpin, both children of David Hunter McAlpin, whom I've written about before.

You can see the McAlpin family members which I added to Find A Grave by searching for McAlpin at Dale Cemetery. (Note that there are two women who married after the death of their McAlpin husbands and so don't have McAlpin in their names, but are buried here with their first husbands: Emily Benedict (Pickard) (McAlpin) Ramsey and Grace Irene (Norcross) (McAlpin) Bell.) I used Find A Grave's link family members feature so you can see the relationships.

Tip for members of Find A Grave: as I was uploading photographs to Find A Grave, I noticed that they have increased the allowed maximum file size from 750 KB to 2 MB, so if you have a larger file size photograph, you don't have to worry about reducing the size before uploading to Find A Grave.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1940 US Census ~ Great Grandmother Hunter

Of my eight great-grandparents, only two great-grandparents were still living in 1940: my father's maternal grandmother, Mary Bowman Ashby Adsit, and my mother's maternal grandmother, Marguerite Lysle Hunter.


I found Marguerite L. Hunter soon after the release of the 1940 US Census on April 1, because I knew she was in Hampton Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, so I didn't need the index to find her.

1940 U.S. Census, Hampton, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Roll T627_3404, E.D. 2-209,
page 12B, lines 49-52, household of Marguerite L. Hunter.

Living on Route 8 (no house number), Marguerite L. Hunter is the 63-year-old widowed head of household. Living with her are daughters Margaret (age 34 and single) and Mary Gerkan (age 36 and divorced) and a servant, Anna Zoeller. Five years before, Marguerite and Margaret lived in the same house and Mary lived in Pittsburgh. (That marriage and divorce is another story.)

Marguerite owns the house, it is valued at $25,000, and No, it is not a farm (although my mother always referred to the home as her grandmother's farm). [January 4, 2014 update: My mother re-read this post and told me that the "farm" was separate from this house, a couple of miles down the road. There was a tenant farmer who raised chickens and pigs and grew vegetables and hay.]

1940 US Census, column 33
None of them are listed with an occupation or salary/wages, (except for the servant, making $416 in 1939), but Marguerite, Margaret and Mary all indicate "Yes" they received income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary.

Before great-grandfather Percy Hunter died in 1937, sometime between 1930 and 1935, Percy and Marguerite built their "house in the country" in Hampton Township, shown below, which my mother fondly remembers from her childhood. (See the 1930 census record of Percy and Marguerite still living in Pittsburgh.)

Home of Percy and Marguerite Hunter in Hampton Township, Pennsylvania

My mother's grandmother died in 1967 at age 91, so I will be looking for her in the 1950 and 1960 US Censuses.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ Ancestral Name Number

Last week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings was something I had wanted to do since I saw Crista Cowan's post mentioned in #1 below. However, I was on vacation, so I'm late, but my mathematical mind was interested in doing this.

1)  Determine how complete your genealogy research is.  For background, read Crista Cowan's post Family History All Done? What’s Your Number?  For comparison purposes, keep the list to 10 generations with you as the first person.

2)  Create a table similar to Crista's second table, and fill it in however you can (you could create an Ahnentafel (Ancestor Name) list and count the number in each generation, or use some other method).  Tell us how you calculated the numbers.

3)  Show us your table, and calculate your "Ancestral Name Number" - what is your percentage of known names to possible names (1,023 for 10 generations).


I created an Ahnentafel report in Family Tree Maker and counted the names in each generation and came up with the following totals.

For ten generations (including me), my Ancestral Name Number (my percentage of known names to possible names) is 42%. I do think it's pretty cool that I can name all my third great grandparents.

I included names in each generation even if I didn't know the last name (or in one case a first name). For example, once you get back to the 17th or 18th century, sometimes all you get is "Susanna, wife of John Griswold" or perhaps "daughter of Benjamin Mathis, born in 1684" married Mr. Franklin.

I will also note that in many cases, I am relying on secondary, not primary, sources, but I try to evaluate them to determine if they are relatively reliable. (An online family tree is not reliable, but can be a "hint" to look for particular primary source records to confirm relationships.) One of my ongoing projects is to ensure I have accurate source citations to know where I found someone's name.

Interestingly, I have just a few more paternal ancestral names than maternal ancestral names. When I get back to the 9th and 10th generations, I find many of my dad's ancestors in Connecticut and Virginia. For my mother, I find ancestors in the 9th and 10th generations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. These states have pretty good records.

For some specifics, see a previous Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post that lists my sixteen second great-grandparents as well as noting each set of my thirty-two third great-grandparents.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday's Tip ~ Pennsylvania Death Records and Percy Hunter's Death Certificate

From the Pennsylvania Department of Health website:
On December 15, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett approved Senate Bill 361.
This bill amends the Act of June 29, 1953 (P.L. 304, No. 66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, to provide for public access to certain birth and death certificates after a fixed amount of time has passed. This legislation provides that such documents become public records 105 years after the date of birth or 50 years after the date of death.
In February, the indices were made available at the above website. Because the state of Pennsylvania only required state registration starting in 1906, the only year of birth records available right now is for 1906. (Next year, I'll be able to look for the birth certificate for my maternal grandmother, who was born in February 1907!)

However, death records are available for the years 1906-1961, and with so many of my mother's extended family living in the Allegheny County area for decades, I knew I'd be able to find lots of family names in the indices.

The great thing about the state of Pennsylvania Vital Records request is that each non-certified death certificate costs only $3. Now, you may have to wait four months to get your request back, but wow, the information I got for almost 20 extended family members was great! (And I'm sure if I continued to look, I'd find even more extended family members.)

I'll show you how I went through this process to obtain the death certificate for my great grandfather, Percy E. Hunter, who died in May 1937.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another 1940 Census Find - Edgar Rust in California

As noted in my previous post, indexes for the 1940 census are being made available at both and at When I noticed last week that Massachusetts was available at, I made a point to search for Edgar Rust, born about 1882 in Massachusetts, in order to provide corrections in the index for just about everyone in the household due to the errors, not in the indexing, but in the enumeration. See here for my analysis of that household.

In recreating the search today, this is what I see:

I won't detail the corrections I had to make for the Rust family in Newton, but you can see that one correction I made was to Edgar's name which was indexed as Edna!

Last week, before I made that correction, it was the Edgar C. Rust in Monterey, California, which appeared as the top result.

1940 U.S. Census, Monterey, Monterey, California, Roll T627_268,
E. D. 27-34, page 83A, lines 9-10, record for Edgar C. Rust and Elizabeth Rust

The detail shows much more accurate information than what I found at their home in Massachusetts, which now I'm sure was reported by a neighbor because they were in California, where I understand they spent several months each year.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A 1940 Census Find - Grandfather Pyle has today announced that the complete 1940 US Census is indexed and available for searching. I knew that I'd have to use an index to find my paternal grandfather, Charles McAlpin Pyle (1893 - 1966) in the 1940 US Census, and as Washington, D.C., then New Jersey, then New York became available, I looked for him, with no luck, which narrowed down the possibility to Maryland. Sure enough, he was living in Ellicott City, Maryland, where I had previously discovered he lived in 1942 (WWII Draft Registration card).

1940 U.S. Census, Ellicott City, Howard, Maryland, Roll T627_1552,
E. D. 14-4, Page 1B, lines 47-48, household of Charles M. Pyle

The census reports that Charles M. Pyle was the 12th household visited, that he owned his home, though the value of the home is not reported. "Yes" indicates that he lives on a farm. He is listed as 48 years old, and born in Maryland, though I know he was 46 in April 1940 and born in New Jersey, not Maryland. He lived in the same place in 1935. This also notes that he is married and the "7" next to the "M" is the notation that was made for married people who did not live with their spouses.

The blank between "no" representing that he did not attend school and "Maryland" for place of birth is for highest grade of school completed. Although I'm not sure, I think he completed four years of college, but it would have been interesting to confirm.

Also in the household is Walter Rouse (indexed as Kouse?), who is indexed as his brother, but if you read the word, it is his Butler! He is a 32-year-old Negro, married, and born in Maryland. He also lived in the same place in 1935.

Important to note here is that there is no circled "x" which was used in this census to record who in a household reported the information. Therefore, Charles did not report his own details, and whatever neighbor provided information to the enumerator didn't know details such as exactly how old he was, where he was born, how much schooling he had, and the value of his home.

The remaining columns of information note that both men were at work for pay during the week of March 24-30, and that Charles worked 70 hours and Walter worked 60 hours during the previous week. Charles' occupation is Operator on a Farm, and Walter's occupation is "Butler + handy man." To the right of the codes, the census tells us that they both worked 52 weeks in 1939, Charles earning $0 and Walter earning $1,040 in salary or wages. Note that the last column "Yes" represents that Charles received "income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary." Because of the way their income was reported, workers "working on own account" (OA) usually didn't report salaries or wages. Any money grandfather Pyle made on the farm or from other sources falls into this category. (His butler has the code "PW" which means he was a wage or salary worker in private work.)

So this begs the question, where was his wife?