Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mary Freeland Hunter - 52 Ancestors #52

To complete the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small,  I will share what I know about my second great grandmother, Mary Freeland.

Mary Freeland was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1850, according to family papers. Both the 1850 U.S. Census and the 1900 U.S. Census indicate a birth month of February 1850.

Mary Freeland Hunter
Mary was the oldest of five children of James Freeland, a plumber, and Nancy Rainey. As far as I can tell, she was the only one to marry and have children.

Before marrying, Mary worked as a dress maker (according to the 1870 U.S. Census).

At the age of 21, Mary married James Hunter on April 13, 1871. They went on to have ten children, listed here. One of her sons predeceased her, dying at the age of nine in 1889, and another lived to be 102 years old, dying in 1984!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Grandfather, Toby Copeland - 52 Ancestors #51

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, I thought I'd write about my grandfather.

My maternal grandfather died the summer I was nine. Because he lived in Pittsburgh and I lived outside of Boston, I didn't know him well, but from everything I've heard about him, he was well liked.

Lowell Townsend Copeland was born on December 21, 1900, in Winnetka, Illinois, to Lowell Copeland and Ethel May Greeley. He is named as Townsend in the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Censuses, which I shared at Grandfather Copeland's Family 1900-1920.

The summer he was 16, he traveled out west and I shared photographs of his trip in a series of blog posts which start here.

1925 Northwestern University
Later, he acquired the nickname Toby which stuck and is what he was known as for much of his life. He attended a couple of boarding schools in New England: Kent School (Kent, CT) and Phillips Exeter, from which he graduated in 1920. He is not listed as a senior (but as a member of the "Upper Middle Class") in the 1919 Yearbook at; Ancestry's Yearbook collection doesn't include 1920.

He graduated from Northwestern University in 1925. His yearbook indicates that he participated in Track, Homecoming parade Manager, Dad's Day, and the Junior Prom Committee. This Yearbook is in's Yearbook collection.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ The Gravestone Girls

One thing I didn't mention about NERGC last April was that there was a wonderful Exhibit Hall with many exhibitor booths for genealogy societies (wow, there were a lot of them) and all kinds of vendors where genealogists could be parted from their money very easily!

I have heard Brenda, one of The Gravestone Girls, speak a couple of times and was thrilled to see her again at the conference with her treasures: beautiful decorative artwork using images created from actual 17th and 18th century New England gravestones. Each piece of artwork includes a note indicating where the image is from: what cemetery, and if known, what person the stone is for.

After thinking about it on Thursday, I went back to her booth on Friday to take a look at the many refrigerator magnets she was selling.

The first one I picked up and turned over to read about the gravestone artwork was an ancestor: "Mrs. Prissilla Appelton" who is buried in the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts. She is my 9th great-grandmother on my maternal line!

GravestoneGirls magnet on my refrigerator!

Once I got home, I looked for her memorial at FindAGrave here. However, when I looked at the photograph of the gravestone and compared it with the magnet image, I could see they weren't the same and I wondered if this magnet was really from Prissilla's gravestone. I emailed Brenda with my question and she assured me that she would get back to me.

At the Annual Meeting of MSOG (Massachusetts Society of Genealogists) in early November, I saw Brenda again. She remembered me and was excited to tell me that she was at the Old Burying Ground in Ipswich the day before to solve this mystery. It turns out that this magnet was created from Prissilla's footstone, which was positioned several feet away from the headstone.

She created a mold from the headstone and look what I got in the mail this past week:

And if you ever get a chance to hear Brenda speak, take advantage and attend - she is a wealth of information and you will learn a great deal about gravestones, cemeteries and their history.


I descend from Prissilla (Glover) Appleton as follows:

Prissilla (Glover) Appleton
Sarah (Appleton) Rogers
Priscilla (Rogers) Leonard
Priscilla (Leonard) McKinstry
Mary (McKinstry) Willis
Benjamin Willis, Jr.
Elizabeth (Willis) Wells
Eliza May (Wells) Greeley
Ethel May (Greeley) Copeland
Lowell Townsend Copeland
My mother

Monday, December 14, 2015

Naughty Charles C. Adsit - 52 Ancestors #50

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Naughty: we all have an ancestor who probably received coal in his stocking.

The following isn't really that "naughty," but was rather negative news to be published in newspapers across the country.

First a summary: my great-grandfather, Charles Chapin Adsit, lived in Chicago, Illinois.  I have written about him a few times:
He was born on July 14, 1853, to James Monroe Adsit and Susan Arville Chapin. His father, James, is considered the first banker in Chicago. Both Charles and his brother, James, Jr. followed in their father's footsteps and became active in Chicago's financial industry.

He married, first, Hattie L. Webster, on November 22, 1881, in Evanston, Illinois. She died less than a year later, in childbirth, and is buried with their unnamed child in Chicago's beautiful Graceland Cemetery.

It took Charles a few years before he was ready to marry again: he married Mary Bowman Ashby (known as "Bowmie") on October 30, 1890, in Louisville, Kentucky. See a lovely description of their wedding here.

Charles and Bowmie had two children, Charles Chapin Adsit, Jr. (b. 1892) and Elizabeth Adsit, my grandmother (b. 1897), known as Libby, who had quite a society wedding in 1919.

After Libby had been married for just a few months, it appears that her father had a bit of financial trouble.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Family Tree Maker Software is Being Retired

As many of my readers probably know,, the owner of Family Tree Maker software, announced two days ago that they would stop selling the software as of December 31, 2015, and would continue to support the software "at least through January 1, 2017."

I have been using Family Tree Maker for Mac since it became available in 2010. I stayed with a Windows computer that long (everyone else in my family had migrated to Macintosh computers by this time) because of Family Tree Maker. (I didn't want to deal with getting a Mac and have to use an extra software product to run the Windows program on a Mac.)

I was thrilled when Family Tree Maker for Mac became available and I even helped beta test the first version in August-September 2010. I upgraded to Family Tree Maker for Mac version 2 when it became available in late 2011, and FTMM3 when it became available in December 2013 (after helping to beta test that one, too).

I have been using Family Tree Maker since sometime in the early 1990s. Wikipedia has a table that shows the history of versions of Family Tree Maker, and I believe that I originally had a copy from Banner Blue, so that was a looong time ago!

After the initial shock of learning this news (and reading the hundreds, now thousands of comments on Ancestry's initial blog post), I read other bloggers input about this. A few calm and reasoned discussions can be found at the following blogs:

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software by Dick Eastman

The Legal Genealogist: Check out the Alternatives by Judy Russell

Genea-Musings: Announces Retirement of Family Tree Maker Software by Randy Seaver

I also took the time to "hang out" with Dear Myrtle's Wacky Wednesday where the discussion topic was Life beyond Family Tree Maker.

For even more links to geneablogger reactions, see Heather Rojo's Nutfield Genealogy~Part 2 Without Family Tree Maker.

My thinking right now:
The software will be supported for at least another year and will continue to work beyond that date, though ultimately the Mac operating system will update to a point where FTMM3 won't work. I have time to thoroughly explore other software options and transfer my data via GEDCOM (a genealogy file format for transferring a genealogy database).

I know that many genealogists are fans of cloud-based family trees, but for various reasons, not the least of which you never know if a website is going to close, I prefer to keep my tree on my computer.

Most users seem to use the Windows version of the software; I use the Mac version and I am exploring what software I might use. Reviews of tons of genealogy software programs can be found at GenSoftReviews. As of now, I've found some basic information on the following programs that will work on the Mac without using additional emulator software to allow Windows programs to run:

RootsMagic is originally a Windows program, but has been adapted to run on a Mac. RootsMagic is currently on sale for $20 which includes “Getting the Most out of RootsMagic.” I have heard lots of great things about RootsMagic, but I'd love to hear more from Mac users.

Reunion is a Mac-only program that has been a favorite of Mac users for years. Its cost is $99 and I'm curious to explore why it's so much more expensive than the others.

Heredis is a program which is well known in Europe. It has a Windows version and a Mac version, which can be purchased from the Mac App store with an offer of 50% off till Sunday Jan 3 2016. The price is $24.99, so the regular price must be around $50.

MacFamilyTree is another Mac-only program which can be purchased via the Mac App store at a sales price of $24.99.

iFamily is a Mac-only program. However, the website notes that the purchase price for "iFamily for Leopard" is $29.95. Note that Leopard was the Mac Operating System from 2007-2009. That's not very encouraging.

All of these programs offer demo versions which I plan to try in the next few weeks or months. Right now, I'm thinking about RootsMagic or Reunion and wondering what makes the cost of Reunion worth it. If anyone wants to share their opinion in the comments, please do.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Thankful Chapin Chapin Torrey (1774-1854) - 52 Ancestors #49

Last week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small had the theme of "Thankful." I wrote about my Mayflower ancestors. However, I noticed that several other bloggers wrote about ancestors with the given name Thankful, which I thought was a great idea because I have a few in my tree.

The closest Thankful in my family tree is Thankful Chapin, born the fifth of ten children of Simeon Chapin and Lucy Doolittle. She was possibly named for her paternal grandmother, Thankful (Dickinson) Chapin, who died in 1773.

Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 (
Springfield Births, Marriages and Deaths. Record of Birth for Thankfull Chapin.

This record from Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, at appears to be a scan of an old book that has been taped in the middle, covering the last letter of Thankful's father's name. The transcription is:
Thankfull Chapin Daughter of Simeon [indexed as Semea and Simer in the two entries]
Chapin + Lucy Chapin of Springfield
was born July 12th anno Dom. 1774.
She married her third cousin once removed, Bezaleel Chapin, who was also born in Springfield. (I have multiple Chapins in my ancestry: see Surname Saturday ~ Chapin of Springfield.)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mayflower Ancestor James Chilton and Daughter Mary Chilton

Yesterday, I shared a story about an ancestor who arrived on the Mayflower: John Howland is a paternal ancestor of mine. I also have maternal ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower.

My 12th great-grandfather, James Chilton, was the oldest passenger on the Mayflower, having been born about 1556, likely in Kent, England, making him about 64 during the voyage. There are records showing baptisms for ten children of James Chilton between 1586 and 1607 in Kent, however historians don't agree on his wife's name. Their youngest child was Mary Chilton, baptized at St. Peter's, Sandwich, Kent, on May 30, 1607, making her 13 years old during the trip.

Courtesy: Wikipedia
The family were Separatists and lived in Leiden, Holland, for a few years. Yet only James, his wife, and his youngest daughter, Mary, sailed on the Mayflower to the New World.

James was a signer of the "Mayflower Compact," the first governing document of the colony, which was signed aboard the ship on November 11, 1620.

It is said that Mary Chilton was the first European woman to step ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Mary Chilton's Title to Celebrity: investigated in behalf of a descendant of John Haward, minimus, by Charles Thornton Libby, published in 1926, can be found at and at The author explored various sources for the Mary Chilton story. On page 6, the author notes that the earliest form of the story was written down in 1769 by a second great-grandson of Mary Chilton:
"Mary Chilton was the first European Female that landed on the North American shore; she came over with her father and mother and other adventurers to this new settlement. One thing worthy of notice is that her curiosity of being first on the American Strand prompted her, like a young Heroine, to leap out of the Boat and wade ashore."

Friday, November 27, 2015

Mayflower Ancestor John Howland - 52 Ancestors #48

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Thankful. November 26 was Thanksgiving in the U.S. and genealogists think about their Mayflower ancestors at this time of year.

Four years ago, I shared the two Mayflower lines that I know of at Mayflower Passenger Ancestors.

Only as an adult did I learn the story about my ancestor John Howland falling overboard and almost being lost at sea on his trip across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower.

He was born sometime in the 1590s likely at Fenstanton, Huntington County, England, to Henry and Margaret Howland. He traveled on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Governor John Carver, who died soon after the Mayflower's arrival.

William Bradford, who became Plymouth Bay's governor and was a signer of the Mayflower Compact, kept a detailed diary, which is the only primary source account of the Mayflower voyage. It includes the following account of how stormy it was and of John Howland's miraculous rescue:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Charlie Pyle, Athlete - 52 Ancestors #47

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Sporting: Do you have a relative who was involved in sports?

I have written about my dad before, at Sports Center Saturday ~ Dad and golf.

Dad was active in other sports, too. He loved ice skating and played hockey at Brooks School and for the year he attended Princeton University. (See Daily Princetonian Now Online for more about his activity there.) He also taught all of his children how to skate (though I haven't been on ice skates in probably thirty years; I did not inherit his athletic abilities). He even participated in father-son hockey games when he was in his late 50s and early 60s!

I love the description in the following article about a prep school hockey tournament, from his senior year at Brooks, describing him as "flashy Charlie Pyle." If I read this right, Brooks beat Pomfret 3-2, with Dad providing an assist and a goal.

Will Cloney, "Belmont Hill, Thayer Reach Title Round;
Brooks, Gov. Dummer Other Hockey Winners in Private School Tilts."
Boston Herald, 3 January 1942, col. 6. Online archives. GenealogyBank. has a U.S., School Yearbooks database which includes just a couple of years from Brooks School, one of which is 1942, Dad's senior year. Following is his yearbook entry which shows that sports (Soccer, Hockey, and Baseball) were his extracurricular activities.

Brooks School Bishop, Graduation 1942 issue, page 18.

Dad is second from the right in the front row in the picture of the hockey team:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Permelia Christian Ashby Hall - Changes - 52 Ancestors #46

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Changes: Highlight an ancestor that went through many changes or that you had to change your research strategies to find.

Pamela (Christian) (Ashby) Hall is an ancestor who went through many changes AND I have to change my research strategies to find more information about her.

I have written about this third great-grandmother previously. I first mentioned her in my Surname Saturday ~ Ashby post, then shared the U.S. Census records I found her in at Kentucky ~ Looking for a Crack in the Brick Wall.

I find her listed as Pamela, Permelia and even Amelia in various records. She was born about 1802 or 1803 in Kentucky. I have not confirmed her parents in primary sources, though there are online trees that name parents for her. I need to change my research strategies to find out more about her parents and siblings, by exploring different kinds of records, probably probate records or land records, as well as exploring her "FAN Club," a research strategy that involves researching her friends, associates, and neighbors. There appear to be a lot of Christians in Hopkins County, Kentucky, which would be a place to start. (There is also a Christian County, Kentucky. Could she be related to the man for whom this county is named?)

I also need to learn more about history and geography of western Kentucky.  Here is a map (courtesy of Wikipedia) with the counties I need to learn more about in color.

Kentucky Counties, color added by me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Landing Page For My 32 Third Great-Grandparents

With yesterday's post about my third great-grandfather, Samuel Greele(y), I have now written at least one blog post about each of my thirty-two third great-grandparents.

I have created a new landing page, which you can see at the top of this blog no matter what page you might be viewing on the blog.

The ancestors are represented by their ahnentafel number. Each name is linked to a blog post about him or her, and these posts often include links to additional blog posts about that person or the family.

I have included my fourth great-grandparents where I know them.

If we share third great-grandparents, we are fourth cousins (or closer).

I am hoping that this will be a useful tool as I explore my DNA matches going forward. Instead of explaining my ancestry in each email that I send or that I reply to, I can direct possible genetic matches to this page here at my blog.

Take a look - do any of these names look familiar? Could we be cousins close enough to share a significant amount of DNA? Let me know! (And let me know if you have tested at FamilyTreeDNA or

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Samuel Greeley (1783-1861) - 52 Ancestors #45

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is ... pick your own theme, so I get to write about another third great-grandfather - one of the many ancestors named Samuel Greeley (or Greele) in my ancestry. (See Surname Saturday ~ Greeley (Greele) of Salisbury, Massachusetts for the ancestral line.)

Samuel was born on July 2, 1783, in Wilton, New Hampshire, to Samuel Greeley (the one who was killed by the fall of a tree in 1798 and is buried in a haunted cemetery) and Olive Read. He was the second of their six children.

He attended Harvard College, graduating in 1802. He married four times, fathering three children.

He married first, Lydia Maria Sewall, on May 3, 1812, in Marblehead, with whom he had:
   Abigail Greeley (4 Feb 1814 - 10 Feb 1814, in Marblehead, Massachusetts)

He married second, Louisa May, on October 19, 1823, in Boston, with whom he had:
   Samuel Sewall Greeley (11 Oct 1824, in Boston - 8 Mar 1916, in Chicago)
   Louisa May Greeley (1 Jan 1827, in Boston - 7 Oct 1903, in Chicago)

He married third, Marie Antoinette Paine, on October 18, 1831, in Boston, and fourth, Sarah Emerson Follansbee, on October 8, 1844, in Newburyport. His first three wives predeceased him.

He lived primarily in Boston, where I find him in the 1840, 1850, and 1860 U.S. Censuses, but apparently lived on the North Shore in Marblehead and Swampscott at various times in his life. 

I don't know if he was a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, but there is an obituary for him in the Register, Volume 15 (1861), pp. 360-361.

There is also an obituary for him in the Farmer's Cabinet, a New Hampshire publication:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Samuel Greeley (d. 1798) - 52 Ancestors #44

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Frightening: Do you have an ancestor who did something frightening or lived through a scary event? Do you have your own ghost story in the family? Now is the perfect time to share!

Awhile back, when I was researching my Greeley line (the five Samuels in a row: See Surname Saturday ~ Greeley (Greele) of Salisbury, Massachusetts), I found that several ancestors are buried in what is considered a haunted cemetery in Wilton, New Hampshire.

Samuel Greele (or Greeley) was born on September 29, 1752, in Hudson, New Hampshire, to Samuel Greele and Abigail Blodgett. According to the DAR's Genealogical Research Service, "Samuel Greeley, Jr." is recognized as a Revolutionary War Patriot for his patriotic service because he "signed the association test" in "Nottingham West," New Hampshire. His Patriot Number is A047896.

He married Olive Read on November 8, 1779, in Nottingham West (which is now known as Hudson) and died at age 45, leaving a widow and six children, ranging in age from 17 to a year and a half.

I previously shared information about his burial in Tombstone Tuesday ~ Samuel Greele Killed By The Fall of a Tree, where I noted that he died on September 25, 1798, in Wilton, New Hampshire, and is buried at Vale End Cemetery in Wilton, New Hampshire, between his wife and his father, Samuel, also a Revolutionary War patriot. (See his memorial here.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lillias (Johnston) Alston - 52 Ancestors #43

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, I am sharing the little bit I know about a third great-grandmother, Lillias Johnston.

Almost two years ago, I blogged about finding Scotland, Births, Baptisms, and Marriages at I found a record for the birth of "Lilias Johnstone" on June 4, 1806, in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to Robert Johnstone and Lilias Kennedy. She was the third of their six children. She was baptized on June 16, 1806.

Just after her 27th birthday, she married John Alston on June 28, 1833, at Glasgow, Scotland. (See their marriage record and read about her husband at John Alston - 52 Ancestors #36.)

The Alstons immigrated to America in 1835 with their oldest child and settled in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.

Recently, I borrowed a microfilm from the Family History Library to look for my Presbyterian ancestors in Allegheny County. This microfilm had records from several different Presbyterian churches, but about half of this microfilm (items 5 - 8) was:
Church records, 1830-1900 from the First United Presbyterian Church (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania : Allegheny). These included Session minutes 1837-1870, 1830-1870 (includes communicants, deaths, received by certificate and testimony); Session minutes 1839-1900.
(See the complete microfilm description at the FamilySearch Online Film Ordering website.)

This church was organized in 1831 as the Associate Reformed Church of Allegheny. (As readers of my blog and those familiar with Pittsburgh history know, Allegheny City merged with Pittsburgh in 1906.) In 1858 the church became the Allegheny First United Presbyterian Church, North Side in Pittsburgh and in 1994 the First Allegheny Presbyterian Church.

Although I had no luck finding my Hunter ancestors in these records, very early on, I found mention of John and Lilias Alston joining the church!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Diana (Morgan) Whitman - 52 Ancestors #42

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, I am sharing the little bit I know about a third great-grandmother, Diana Morgan.

Finding information about Diana is a challenge. From the Pyle genealogy (Pyle, Smith, and Allied Family Histories, privately published, 1951), I learn that she was born on December 17, 1803, in Manchester, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, to John Morgan and Diana Hadley.

(I recently explored some Guysborough Baptismal Records (on an FHL microfilm) and found that she had several siblings. I still need to go through the saved images and record the data in my database.)

I believe that this is one Guysborough County line (the Morgans and the Hadleys) that were not Loyalists; they were living there before the American Revolution.

Diana Morgan married Thomas Cutler Whitman on March 13, 1827, in Guysborough County, and had nine children:
Esther Abigail Whitman (1828-1921)
George William Whitman (1833-1900)
Maria E. Whitman (1842-1901)
Thomas Whitman (1839-????)
Judson Whitman (1841-1860)
Ira A. Whitman (1844-1889)
Harriet Whitman (1846-1901)
Charles Whitman (1848-1909)
Gordon Whitman (1851-1864)

In 1849, their eldest daughter, Esther, traveled from Guysborough to Boston, and ultimately ended up in New York City, where she married James Pyle, who preceded her in this migration by six weeks. Several years later, most of the Whitman family followed their eldest daughter.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Leonard Adsit - 52 Ancestors #41

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, I am sharing the little bit I know about the short life of my third great-grandfather, Leonard Adsit.

Leonard was born to Martin Adsit and Rhoda Haight on September 4, 1783, in Spencertown, Columbia County, New York, as the second of eleven children. (From the secondary source: Descendants of John Adsit of Lyme Connecticut, by Newman Ward Adsit, privately published about 1959. A digitized copy of this book can be found at

The only census I have found him in is the 1810 U.S. Census. In 1790 and 1800, he would have been just a tick mark in his father's household; he was dead before the 1820 census.

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

I previously shared my analysis of this census record at James Adsit's Parents in New York State, where I also shared an abstract of Leonard's probate record.

With the addition of lots of probate records at, I found the probate record for Leonard Adsit.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Samuel Sewall Greeley Born in October - 52 Ancestors #40

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is "Birthday in October."

Family Tree Maker's filter option makes it easy for me to filter for direct ancestors (of the person shown) or to filter for those with "Oct" in the Birth field. I have several ancestors with October birthdays, including my great great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley, who was born in Boston 191 years ago this weekend on October 11, 1824.

The best evidence that I have for his birth date is an 1890 passport application. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007. Roll 344: 01 Mar 1890-31 Mar 1890.
Record for Samuel S. Greeley

He was 65 years old when applying for this passport in March 1890. If you look closely at the document, it appears that he crossed off "swear" and wrote above it "affirm" in each case where the word "swear" appeared. He also crossed off the "So Help Me God" in the middle of the document.

Here is closeup of the middle section of the passport:

At 65, he was 5 feet, 9 1/4 inches tall, with brown eyes and Hair: black, flecked with grey." He had a dark complexion and a "full beard + mustache, grey."

I believe I have mentioned before how much I love passport applications from this collection at

I have written about Samuel Sewall Greeley before: He graduated from Harvard in 1844, and was a surveyor and civil engineer in Chicago for decades, even using these skills to build a sewer during the Civil War. You can find additional wonderful descriptions in a couple of obituaries I have previously shared.

He was the oldest living graduate of Harvard for a period of time before his death on March 8, 1916, at the age of 91. Apparently he signed his name with "OLG" after it during this period, though it's a little unclear as to how long he was the "Oldest Living Graduate."

He is buried at Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, and I visited the Greeley family plot at the beginning of September. I previously wrote about obtaining this plot card and the interesting mysteries solved and mysteries introduced by it.

He had two wives (I descend from his second wife, Eliza Wells) and nine children, five of whom predeceased him. My descent from Samuel Sewall Greeley:

Samuel Sewall Greeley
Ethel May Greeley
Lowell Townsend Copeland
my mother

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

George Lysle Jr. - 52 Ancestors #39

While writing about my great-grandmother, Marguerite Lysle last week, I realized that I had not written much about her father, George Lysle, Jr.

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is "Unusual" and if you read through, you'll find a somewhat unusual request made in the will of my second great-grandfather, George Lysle, Jr.

He was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, on the last day of February 1845, the youngest son and second-to-youngest child of George Lysle and Margaret McIlwaine. He lived his entire life in Allegheny or Pittsburgh working as a coal merchant.

He married Marion Helen Alston on October 13, 1875. See their beautiful wedding invitation. Their two children were Marguerite and George Barton. Sadly, Marion died in 1885.

He is mentioned in my Surname Saturday ~ Lysle of Pennsylvania post. I have shared his family's 1880 census record. I also have shared newspapers notices of his civic participation on a local school board and a brief death notice.

On June 11, 1889, George, age 44, married Edith O. Hadly, less than half his age at 20.

June 13, 1889, page 5, column 2. George Lysle-Edith Hadly wedding., Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, online images (
LYSLE-HADLY - On Tuesday, June 11, 1889,
at the residence of the bride's parents, by
Rev. T. J. Leak, George Lisle [sic], Jr., and
Miss Edith O. Hadly, both of Allegheny.

That summer, Marguerite turned 13 years old and George Barton turned 11. As I have noted before, Marguerite never spoke about her step-mother.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wordless Wednesday ~ Marguerite Lysle

I shared stories about the life of my great grandmother yesterday. (She was born in 1876.)

Today I want to share some photographs I have of her. Some are undated.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Marguerite Lysle of Allegheny City - 52 Ancestors #38

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Favorite Place: What has been your favorite place to research? Which ancestor came from there?

Although it can be challenging, my favorite place to research is Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, specifically Allegheny City, which, in 1907, became the "North Side" of Pittsburgh. (Read about Allegheny City at Wikipedia.) I enjoy this area because I have a group of maternal ancestors who lived there for several generations.

I previously blogged about the burial locations for four generations of my maternal grandmother's family. I now see why my mother feels such a connection to Pittsburgh, although she hasn't lived there in decades.

My mother was very close to her maternal grandmother, Marguerite Lysle, and has shared many stories and photographs of her. However, in my research, I have found out a few things about Marguerite that my mother never knew.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Margaret McIlwaine Had Twelve Children - 52 Ancestors #37

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Large Family.

I have plenty of ancestors with large families, which I think of as a dozen or more children. (Of course, I'm thinking pre-twentieth century families.)

My third great grandmother, Margaret McIlwaine, of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, had twelve children. What I know about her is mostly from census records. Her name is also on the 1937-38 printed Lysle Family Tree of which I have several copies.

I find Margaret in the U.S. Federal census for each of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. She was the wife of George Lysle, whom I wrote about here. I wrote about her husband's 1877 death in a train accident here.

In the 1880 U.S. Census, "Margret Lysle" was a widow:

1880 U.S. Census. Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T9_1087;
Page: 382.2; E.D.: 14; Line: 15: Household of Margaret Lysle

She lived at 76 Washington Street, Allegheny City, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, with three unmarried daughters: Mary Ann, Caroline, and Elizabeth (Eliza). Also living in the household was her youngest son, the namesake of her husband, George, and his family: Mary H. (Marion Helen), and two grandchildren: Margret (Marguerite) and George B. There were also three servants.

George, Jr. is a coal merchant, as was his father (and many others in the family).

The 1880 census is great for the information it provides. Looking closely, you'll see that there is a tick mark before her occupation of "Keeping House" - this is in the column for "widowed (or divorced D)." Further along the row, there is another tick mark. This column is entitled: "Maimed, Crippled, Bedridden, or otherwise disabled." I don't know what Margaret's disability was but it possibly contributed to her cause of death; she died six months after this census was taken.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

John Alston, Carpenter - 52 Ancestors #36

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Working for a Living, in honor of Labor Day in the U.S.

Third great-grandfather John Alston was a carpenter. He was born in Symington, Lanarkshire, Scotland on September 2, 1806, to John Alston and Jean Jamieson. I found Scottish birth and marriage records at and wrote about them here.

John married Lillias Johnston on June 28, 1833.

Church of Scotland (Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland). Old parochial registers for Glasgow, 1612-1854. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Family History Library microfilm. number 1042942.
Record for John Alston and Lillias Johnston. Page 412: Glasgow, 28 June 1833
Alston, John Alston, Wright, in Glasgow, Lillias Johnston, residing in the parish of Douglas. Married 28th June by Mr. John Jamieson, Burgher and Minister in the parish of Douglas.
John's marriage record lists his occupation as "Wright," which is a Scottish term for Carpenter. (A great list of Scottish occupations can be found at

Monday, September 7, 2015

DNA - Narrowing Down the Non-Paternal Event

My Pyle line can be found at Surname Saturday ~ Pyle of Chester, Pennsylvania.

I wrote about the results of Y-DNA testing (of my brother) at Y-DNA Test Results ~ A Non-Paternity Event where I noted that my presumed Pyle line is not genetically possible, based on the results of the Y-DNA test: Nicholas Pyle > Robert Pyle (1660-1729/30) > John Pyle (1687-1752) > Stephen Pyle (1730-bef 1789) > Stephen Pyle (1762-1840) > James Pyle (1823-1900) > James Tolman Pyle (1855-1912) > Charles McAlpin Pyle (1893-1966) > Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr. (1924-1993) > my brother.

FamilyTreeDNA graphic
showing how Y-DNA is inherited
A reminder: Y-DNA refers to the DNA found on the Y chromosome, which is found only in men (passed from father to son to son, etc.). Testing of Y-DNA can reveal ancient origins (described as a haplogroup) as well as connecting cousins with the same surname in a family where surnames are passed down from father to son.

First of all, I would like to share how helpful genealogy groups on Facebook can be. In January 2015, I joined the Guysborough County Genealogy group and listed my Guysborough County, Nova Scotia surnames: Pyle, Whitman, Hull, Morgan, Hadley, Atwater, and Ives. (I just searched the group for "Pyle" to take a look back at that post and I noticed that it generated quite a conversation.) I connected with some relatives who are 5th cousins (and 5th cousins once removed), who still live there and descend from Moses Hull. (See Surname Saturday ~ Hull of Connecticut for that line.)

In May, I decided to contact my 5th cousin and ask if she knew if there were any male Pyles still living in the Manchester / Boylston area of Guysborough County. She replied yes and provided me with contact information. I got in touch with the daughter of the Pyle male (who'd be about my dad's age, if dad were still living) and arranged for him to take a Y-DNA test. I will refer to him as Guysborough Pyle.

Test results are in!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Copey of Harvard, My Second Great Uncle - 52 Ancestors #35

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is School Days, since it's back to school time in the U.S.

I have been writing about my direct line ancestors, but I would like to take this opportunity to write about a second great uncle who was quite well known in his time as a professor of English at Harvard College.

Charles Townsend Copeland was born on April 27, 1860, in Calais, Maine, as the oldest child of Henry Clay Copeland and Sarah (Lowell) Copeland. He had a younger brother, Lowell Copeland, and a much younger sister, Sarah Katherine Copeland.

Image courtesy
There is a wonderful biography of him, Copey of Harvard: A man who became a legend during his lifetime, by J. Donald Adams, published in 1960 by Houghton Mifflin Company in Boston, of which I have two copies. Much of what I share comes from this biography, which was written by a former student, and really gives a wonderful taste of the personalities not only of Charles but other members of his family, colleagues at Harvard, and many of his students. Adams' sources include many letters written to Copey, from Copey, and to the author, provided to him during his writing of the book.

There are also some wonderful photographs in the book of him and some of his ancestors, but I can't share them here because I'd probably be violating copyright.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Joseph Rose, Gun Manufacturer - 52 Ancestors #34

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Non-Population, which refers to special census schedules: have you found an ancestor on a non-population census — agriculture, industry, manufactures, or 1890 Union veterans? Tell us about him or her.

I have known about these special census schedules, but have not fully explored them. I found a few 19th century ancestors while trying to decide who to write about this week. The most interesting to me was what I found for third great-grandfather, Joseph Rose.

He was born on October 25, 1809, in New York City to Joseph Rose and Frances Stanton. He married Frances Stanton Willet on October 23, 1827, and fathered six children with her.

In the 1850 U.S. Census, the first census that lists all names of household members, I find 40-year-old Joseph Rose, Jr. in New York City's Ward 4, with occupation of Gun Smith.

The household includes his wife, his four youngest children, a servant, and the last name in the image is that of his son-in-law, David Hunter McAlpin, who likely lived next door.

U.S. Federal Census. Year: 1850; Census Place: New York Ward 4, New York, New York;
Roll: M432_536; Page: 264B; Lines: 35-41; Record for Joseph Rose family

So in the's Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 for New York Ward 4, page 373, I find some more information about Joseph's business:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Third Great Grandmother Elizabeth Sewall Willis of Boston - 52 Ancestors #33

I have been keeping up with the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, and often using her optional themes. I liked last week's theme ("32" third great-grandparents) so much that I will continue to write about a third great-grandparent if the optional theme doesn't work for me.

Third great-grandmother, Elizabeth Sewall Willis, was born in Portland, Maine, on September 12, 1820, to Benjamin Willis and Elizabeth Sewall May. She was their second child; her older brother was Hamilton Willis. Sadly, her mother died when she was two years old, supposedly after the birth of a third child, who did not survive. It doesn't appear that her father remarried.

Her grandfather was Joseph May and her first cousin was Louisa May Alcott. Her daughter, Eliza May Wells, married Elizabeth's first cousin (Eliza's first cousin once removed), Samuel Sewall Greeley.

On November 6, 1838, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, she married Thomas Goodwin Wells as his second wife. (I wrote about discovering his first wife here.)

They had five children, three of whom survived her:
Eliza May Wells (1839-1880)
Henry Willis Wells (1841-1864)
Louisa Wells (1846-1927)
Benjamin Willis Wells (1856-1923)
Ruth Lyman Wells (1862-1943)

As I have noted before, this family gets confusing because there are so many in different generations and different branches with the same names: Eliza/Elizabeth, Louisa, Ruth, Benjamin, Thomas.

An 1882 passport application (from's U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925) confirms her birth date and birth place (as she reported it), as well as provides me with a physical description and her signature.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Found a Death Date at FindAGrave!

I recently had a photo request fulfilled for my third great-grandmother, Sarah (Smith) Lowell whom I wrote about here. I had been looking for her death date for years! I now know she died on March 1, 1884.

She is buried in Calais Cemetery, Calais, Maine. Her FindAGrave memorial links to memorials for her husband, parents and children.

Many thanks to FindAGrave volunteer Janice Gower for taking this photograph. She also provided the following transcription:

Died May 18 1837
AE. 42 Yrs.
Died March 1, 1884
AE 88 Yrs
Infant Children
Died in San Francisco, CA
Jan 9th 1854
AE 25 Yrs.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Third Great Grandmother Mary Ann Bowman of Kentucky - 52 Ancestors #32

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is "32" where I get to focus on one of my 32 third-great-grandparents.

Since I have been working on writing about third and fourth great grandparents during much of this writing challenge, this fits into my plan!

Last week, I wrote about a paternal third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Gorin. His wife was Mary Ann Bowman. I know much less about her.

Mary Ann was born in Kentucky on March 2, 1814 to Granville Bowman and wife Polly Walthall. (Her parents were born in Virginia.) I have five younger siblings listed for her, but there could be more children who didn't survive childhood.

I know her birth date from the Gorin family bible and I believe her birth place was probably Burkesville, Cumberland County, Kentucky, considering her father was in Cumberland County in U.S. Censuses from 1810-1840. (Also see her obituary below.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thomas Jefferson Gorin - Easy to Research - 52 Ancestors #31

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Easy: We ended July with" Challenging,” so it seems fitting to begin August with “Easy.” Which ancestor has been pretty easy to research?

Thomas Jefferson Gorin
A somewhat easier-to-research ancestor (at the third-great-grandparent generation) is Thomas Jefferson Gorin. I mentioned him in my Gorin Surname Saturday post. I have written about one of my oldest photographs, an ambrotype, of him here. (A note in with the photograph identifies him!)

The best source I have for him and his family is the 1856 family bible, which I wrote about here. It includes several obituaries which paint a wonderful picture of his life.

Thomas Jefferson Gorin was born on January 27, 1808, in Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky, to Revolutionary War veteran, John Gorin, and Elizabeth Franklin. He was the tenth of eleven children. Barren County had only been created ten years earlier, from Green County and Warren County. It was settled by Scotch-Irish and yes, Glasgow was named for the city in Scotland. (See Wikipedia.)

It is the family bible that tells me he married Mary Ann Bowman on December 27, 1831. They had eight children:
Mary Elizabeth Gorin (1833-1891)
James Edward Gorin (1835-1896)
Laura Gorin (1837-1853)
Emma Gorin (1839-1901)
Unnamed daughter Gorin (July 1842)
Ellen Gorin (1844-1858)
Thomas Gorin (March 1847-November 1847)
Florence Gorin (1851-1925)

Some of these children we wouldn't know about except for mention in this bible!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Susan Rood Chapin - A Challenging to Research Ancestor - 52 Ancestors #30

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Challenging: It’s a good time to take a look at another challenging-to-research ancestor.

I wrote about this ancestor three years ago, and she is still a challenging ancestor to research, so I thought I'd share what I know about third great grandmother, Susan Rood, again, and share some possible strategies for future research.

The challenging questions are: (1) where was she born and who are her parents and (2) when and where did she die?

Susan Rood was born on January 26, 1799, according to the embroidered sampler that her daughter, twelve-year-old Susan Arville Chapin (1820-1906) created in 1832.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Louisa (May) Greeley (d. 1828) - 52 Ancestors #29

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Musical: There seems to be a musician in every family. Who is the one in yours?

There are many musical members of my extended family, though very little is documented earlier than me (see if you can find me in the photograph at Dedham Choral Society's website) or my mother. As noted in my post about my 4th great grandfather, Joseph May, his was a musical family. His daughter, Louisa May, likely enjoyed music during her short life.

Louisa was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall, born in Boston on December 31, 1792. She was baptized at King's Chapel, Boston, on March 22, 1793. At not quite 21 years old, she married Samuel Greele, as his second wife, in Boston on October 19, 1823: Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Boston Marriages (image 4974 of 60705)

Samuel Greele  +  Louisa May, married by
                                                Rev. James Freeman, D.D.  19 Octr. 1823

Her two children, both born in Boston, were Samuel Sewall Greeley, born October 11, 1824, and Louisa May Greeley, born January 1, 1827. Sadly, these two children likely had no memories of their mother, as she died on November 14, 1828, of "Bilious Fever."