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.