Saturday, December 31, 2016

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2016

Geneablogger Jill Ball, of GeniAus, suggests that genealogists celebrate the positives for the past year. My 2016 successes are listed below:

1. An elusive ancestor I found was (collateral relative) James J. H. Brown, a first cousin 4x removed. See his obituary here. With a name like James Brown, I never thought I'd find him!

2. A precious family photo I found was a daguerreotype of a first cousin 4x removed: Anna Bronson Alcott (though originally I thought it was my 2nd great-grandmother, Eliza May Wells).

3. An ancestor's grave I found was David Freeland, thanks to the online burial registry for Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. Before this year, I never knew when or where he died or where he might be buried. I still would like to find the final resting place of his wife, who died over 20 years before he did.

4. Important vital records I found were death certificates for extended Pittsburgh family in the Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964, database at I am able to put together these large Scottish-American families using information from these death certificates, cemetery records (thank you Find-A-Grave), and newspaper articles (thank you,, which has many Pittsburgh newspapers).

5. A newly found family member (second cousin Suzanne) is sharing scans of documents and photos from our common Copeland and Greeley ancestors, including photos of my second great grandfather dedicating a school in Winnetka, Illinois, and a family bible with a unique treasure inside.

6. A geneasurprise I received was an email with an image of a WWII Short Snorter with my dad's signature on it!

7. My 2016 blog post that I was particularly proud of was DNA ~ Visual Phasing (though I know it was a bit too scientific for some of my readers).

8. A new piece of software I mastered was BookWright from, which I used to write a book about the history of our family's summer house and its residents.

9. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was (and is) Facebook: It's a great place to connect with extended family and other genealogists, especially all the genealogy groups.

10. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was the second day of the MGC (Massachusetts Genealogical Council) Seminar on April 17, where I got to listen to Cece Moore, Your Genetic Genealogist, speak about DNA. I finally feel like I understand genetic genealogy.

11. A genealogy book that taught me something new was Drew Smith's Organize Your Genealogy. I will be reviewing it for organizing ideas for a long time to come.

12. A great repository/archive/library I visited was the New England Historic and Genealogical Society Library in Boston, which I try to visit once or twice a year.

13. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Nathan Dylan Goodwin's The Spyglass File. (I just finished it and loved it.) Any of Goodwin's genealogy mysteries are enjoyable!

14. It was exciting to finally meet Cece Moore (see #11 above) and Dick Eastman, who spoke to the MSOG (Massachusetts Society of Genealogists) - Middlesex chapter in June.

15. A geneadventure I enjoyed was visiting New York City in August, where I visited a couple of cemeteries, finding some of my ancestors (Pyles and McAlpins), and some of my husband's ancestors.

16. Another positive I would like to share is that I have so many wonderful photos and I'm sorry that I don't do a better job of sharing them with my readers. The photos of my "bald" great aunt Mary just have to put a smile on your face.

Marion, Margaret, Helen Rainey Hunter (aunt of the sisters), Caroline, Mary.

Thank you, Jill, for this wonderful idea and...

Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

NERGC 2017

The New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERGC) is holding its 14th biennial conference on April 26-29, 2017, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This will be my second NERGC and I'm looking forward to it! Registration is open (visit the website here and click where it says "Register Now" on the left-hand column). Early-bird registration ends on February 28.

This is a great opportunity to meet other genealogists and hear many great genealogy speakers in person.

There are many informative and educational sessions ranging from beginner to advanced. There are too many to list here, so click here for the 20-page brochure.

I am an official NERGC 2017 blogger and will be interviewing a speaker or two and sharing those interviews here in the next few months. I also hope to blog from the conference in April as I did from Providence in 2015.

If you are a genealogy blogger and plan to attend, consider being an official blogger by sending your name, blog URL and a brief bio to info -at-

It's going to be a fun and educational experience. Are you going?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

DNA ~ Visual Phasing

A few weeks ago, Blaine Bettinger, who blogs at The Genetic Genealogist, wrote about the use of Visual Phasing, a chromosome mapping methodology. The definition of Visual Phasing from Blaine's blog post:

Visual Phasing is a process by which the DNA of three siblings is assigned to each of their four grandparents using identified recombination points, without requiring the testing of either the parents or grandparents. Although the process does not automatically reveal which segment belongs to which of the four grandparents, matching with cousins provides this identification as a further step of the process.

I know some of my readers may be asking: what are you talking about? If you know you are genetically related to me, please read on!

The step-by-step on how to do visual phasing starts at Visual Phasing: Part 1 at his blog. (There are five parts.) He also includes links to visual phasing work of other genetic genealogists.

Since I have two siblings and we all have our DNA at GEDmatch, I decided that I wanted to try this. What I want to do here is to show why it's helpful to me if known relatives test their DNA, AND upload the raw data to

The images below include screenshots of "One-to-One" DNA chromosome browser comparisons from GEDmatch between me and brother S, between me and brother R, and between R and S.

Where you see solid green section, that means the two chromosomes (one from dad and one from mom) are fully-identical between those siblings. Where you see yellow (and green), that means that the siblings match on one of the two chromosomes. This is half-identical sharing. The red sections indicate that the siblings don't match on their pair of chromosomes.

I have added the vertical lines to represent recombination points in the DNA of my mother or my father as the DNA was passed down to me and my brothers.

At the bottom of the image is where I actually map the chromosome to my grandparents, using blue and red for my maternal grandparents and green and purple for my paternal grandparents.

Taking the suggestion from Blaine, I started with the X-chromosome. Daughters receive two X chromosomes, one from dad and one from mom. Sons receive one X chromosome, from mom (because they get the Y chromosome from dad). That's why in this example, only I (represented by E) have the long green bar below the blue and red bars. The green bar represents the X chromosome that I received from my dad. Brothers R and S only received one X chromosome - from mom.

Because Blaine does a good job of explaining the step-by-step of how to use this method, I'm not going to go through all those steps, but I can tell you that a cousin of my mother's shares DNA with brother R from 2,700,000 to 22,600,000 (numbers are rounded). Because I know that this cousin descends from Lowell Copeland and Ethel May Greeley (my mother's paternal grandparents), I know that the red segments represent DNA that came from the Copeland/Greeley ancestral line (i.e. my maternal grandfather). Therefore the blue segments represent DNA that came from the Hunter/Lysle ancestral line (i.e. my maternal grandmother).

Monday, November 28, 2016

Military Monday ~ Short Snorter

Another reason to have a blog: yesterday, I received an email from a history buff letting me know that he had a "short snorter" with my father's signature on it.

My first question was: What is a short snorter? From the Short Snorter Project website:
"A short snorter is a banknote which was signed by various persons traveling together or meeting up at different events and records who was met. The tradition was started by bush pilots in Alaska in the 1920's and subsequently spread through the growth of military and commercial aviation. If you signed a short snorter and that person could not produce it upon request, they owed you a dollar or a drink (a “short snort,” aviation and alcohol do not mix!)."
He included a photo.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Marguerite Hunter: A Registered Voter in 1912 (in California)

As I shared at Early 20th Century Hunter Sister Update, I found my great-grandparents, Percy and Marguerite Hunter, in a list of registered voters at an database: California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968. In 1912, Marguerite and Percy were registered Republican voters, living at 2510 Buena Vista. See the bottom two lines in the image below:; California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968; Original data: State of California, United States.
Great Register of Voters. Sacramento, California: California State Library. Year: 1912; Roll: 7; Berkeley Precinct 35.

I just read a post at the Searching for Stories blog where I learned that California women had only just gained the right to vote in a 1911 referendum. It's very likely that my great-grandmother Marguerite voted in the 1912 presidential election! (See 1912 California presidential election results at Wikipedia.)

Page 5 headline from San Francisco Chronicle, November 6, 1912

The family returned to Pittsburgh by the time of the printing of the 1913 Pittsburgh City Directory, and Marguerite lost the right to vote until the 19th Amendment passed in 1920.

Exercise your right to vote - 100 years ago in Pennsylvania, my great-grandmother, Marguerite Hunter, could not, after having been eligible to vote four years earlier in California.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sunday's Obituary ~ James J. H. Brown, d. 1912

To follow up on my post from earlier this week about using newspapers to confirm my 4th great-grandfather's death date and burial location, here is an obituary that provides a great deal of information.
"Capt. Brown's Death Hard Blow." The Buffalo Courier, 12 June 1912, online archives
( accessed 6 November 2016, page 6, columns 2-3.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tuesday's Tip ~ Using Newspapers in Ohio and New York

I have been researching the descendants of my 4th great-grandfather, David Freeland, because I wanted to confirm that the burial record I found for David Freeland in Buffalo, New York, in February 1862, was that of my 4th great-grandfather. I am using the strategy of researching descendants not in my ancestral line to see if any more information can be found out about the common ancestor.

One daughter, Barbara Freeland, married a man with the last name of Brown and had one son, James. Several years after he died, she married Christopher Goulder. She had three sons with him and many grandchildren.

To research the family, who lived in Cleveland, Ohio, I used census records, online vital records (Births, Marriages, Deaths),, and newspapers.

The Goulder descendants have been relatively easy to research since Goulder is not a common surname.

James Brown, however, is another story. There are many James Browns out there... and I didn't know if he had stayed in Cleveland or returned to Buffalo, New York, or gone elsewhere. I also didn't have the name of his wife (or wives?) and if he had any children. Could he have died young?

The first clue to narrow down this first cousin 4x removed arrived as I was researching his half-siblings. has digital images of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which is very useful if you have Cleveland, Ohio, ancestors, and in it I found the 1928 obituary for one of his half brothers, Harvey D. Goulder, who died without children. I also found the following notice:

"Goulder Will Filed." Cleveland Plain Dealer, 23 June 1928, online archives
(, page 17, column 5.

Admiralty Lawyer Leaves $580,000 in Bonds and Real Estate.
  An estate of $500,000 worth of stocks and bonds and $80,000 worth of real estate was left by Harvey D. Goulder, nationally known admiralty law expert, who died last week, it was learned yesterday when his will was filed by probate.
  Heirs named in an affidavit filed with the will were two brothers, Charles Goulder, 81, of 1261 Parkwod [sic] Drive N. E., and Robert Goulder, 76, of 2826 Coleridge Road, Cleveland Heights, and the four children of a half brother, James J. H. Brown. [emphasis mine.]
  Terms of the will cannot be made public until it has been probated by Probate Judge George S. Addams. The executor is the Central National Bank. Goulder died June 14 at his home 2806 Coleridge Road, after a twelve-day illness.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Oswald Freeland ~ 1851 Passport Application

As I shared in my previous post about my 4th great grandfather, David Freeland, a fifth cousin of mine shared a privately published family history that indicated that he had one child born after emigrating from Scotland with his wife and older children.

According to the book, son Oswald Freeland was born in Canada after the family arrived there in 1821.

The only document I have found that mentions him by name is an 1851 U.S. Passport application (referenced in the family history). This is the oldest passport application I have in my family database.

NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #37: 23 may 1851-30 Sep 1851. Record for Oswald S. Freeland, 1851.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

David Freeland, 4th Great Grandfather in 1830 U.S. Census

Almost three years ago, I connected with a fifth cousin via Ancestry because we share David Freeland as a common fourth great grandfather. (Her tree had a death date for his wife and I wondered what the source was.) This cousin shared some information about David that she had obtained from a privately published family history about another ancestral line. (This genealogy is not a Freeland family genealogy.)

Recently, she shared images of the two pages that mention the Freelands. The Freeland family information came from an interview of Barbara Elizabeth Curtis Rubins (1840-1929), a first cousin 4x removed of mine and my fifth cousin's 2nd great grandmother. She mentions her grandparents, David Freeland and Barbara Fullerton Arrold [sic: should be Arroll], and the six children that she knew of: Barbara, Anna, James, Mary, Margaret and Oswald. The older five were born in Govan, Scotland (which I had found at and blogged about at Tuesday's Tip ~ Scotland, Births, Baptisms, and Marriages) and the youngest was born in Canada (and I didn't know about him).

Additionally, she reported that, after living for five years about five miles from LaChine Rapids, Quebec, Canada, they moved to Utica, New York. This is new information to me. (My ancestor, James Freeland, ended up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)

Since I knew they immigrated from Scotland in 1821, this statement implies that they moved to Utica, New York, about 1826, and I should find David Freeland in the 1830 U.S. Census. When I did a search for David Freeland in Utica, Oneida County, New York, in this census, the first result was for David Garland in New Hartford, Oneida County. (This is a town southwest of Utica.)

I took a look and third from the bottom was David Freeland with handwriting that was indexed as Garland:

Source: 1830 U.S. census, Oneida County, New York, population schedule, New Hartford, p. 55 (handwritten), line 25, David Freeland; digital image, ( accessed 10 October 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M19, roll 99.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday ~ McAlpins at Green-Wood Cemetery

In addition to my Pyle second great-grandparents plot at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, we also visited the plot of my McAlpin second great-grandparents.

This obelisk is eight-sided and five of the sides have inscriptions.

Friday, September 30, 2016

David Freeland ~ 4th Great Grandfather

I wrote about David Freeland three years ago in my Surname Saturday post for my Freeland line.

He brought his family to Canada from Scotland in 1821. Later, David Freeland and many of his family members ended up in Great Lakes states (New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois).

What I didn't know when I wrote the Surname Saturday post were the names of all David's children and when and where he and they died.

A few months after I wrote the Surname Saturday post, I found that has indexed some records for Scotland. (See Tuesday's Tip ~ Scotland, Births, Baptisms, and Marriages.) So now I know that David Freeland was born on February 14, 1783, in Glasgow, Scotland, and that he married Barbara Fullerton Arroll on July 30, 1809, at Govan, Scotland. He had six children, all born in Govan, Scotland:
Barbara (1809-1887)
Anna (1812-1889)
James (1814-1863)
Charles (1816-????)
Mary (1818-1903)
Margaret (1820-????)
And a seventh, Oswald, born about 1823, in Canada.

The Scottish emigration record (Directory of Scottish Settlers in North America, 1625-1825. by David Dobson, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Vol. 5. 1985)) suggests that David left Scotland and arrived in Canada with his wife, one son and four daughters. Charles must have died young, which would leave James, Barbara, Anna, Mary and Margaret traveling with their parents to the New World.

Because of a scrap of paper with a rudimentary family tree, I have married surnames for three of the four daughters, but I don't know what happened to Margaret.

I had found David in the 1850 U.S. Census living with his son, James, in Pittsburgh. By the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, David was living with his daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Frederick Wolf(e), in Buffalo. He was 77 years old and since I couldn't find him with any family in the 1870 U.S. Census, I assumed he died between 1860 and 1870. When I discovered that there is an 1865 New York State Census, and he was not listed, that narrowed my search for his death date.

Once again, Facebook has proved to be a useful resource, specifically, the group for the Western New York Genealogical Society (WNYGS), which I joined last spring. I shared my query about David Freeland, and got a helpful response: Freeland is not a common name in Buffalo, and there is a burial record for David Freeland on February 25, 1862, in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.

Recently, these burial records have been digitized and made available at the website for Forest Lawn Cemetery. (See the search page at Locate a Loved One.)

Searching for David Freeland, I found a burial record. The record is on one line over two pages and the transcription is below with my notes in [square brackets].

Name: Freeland, David
Place of Birth: left blank
Place of Death: Buffalo
Time of Death: Feby 20, 1862
Married or not: left blank

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ Smith of Massachusetts and Maine

Watertown, Mass. from Wikipedia.
My immigrant Smith ancestor is Thomas Smith, who was born about 1601 and died in Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, on March 10, 1692/93 (Watertown Vital Records).

There are a few online family trees that have a birth location for Thomas Smith in England, and although I'm pretty sure he was born in England, until I see a primary source for a specific birth location, I don't plan to include it in my family tree database.

It is unclear as to when he arrived in Massachusetts, though there is a suggestion that he arrived in 1635. Robert Charles Anderson states that this Thomas Smith is no relation to other Smiths in Watertown at this time.

He was definitely in Watertown by 1637, when he was admitted as a freeman on May 17, 1637, and owned land in Watertown.

His wife was Mary Knopp, daughter of William Knopp and Judith Tue. Thomas and Mary had ten children, not all of whose births are recorded in the Watertown Vital Records.

His will was dated March 16, 1687/88, in Watertown and he died March 10, 1693. His will leaves 40 shillings to "his grand child James Smith of Pascattaqua." This indicates that this family was just north of what is now known as the New Hampshire-Maine border.

I descend from his eldest son, James (father of the grandchild James mentioned in Thomas' will).

Generation 2:
James Smith the son of Thomas and
Mary Smith born the 18th - 7 m Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988
"Watertown, Massachusetts, Births, Marriages and Deaths." 1637 record of birth for James Smith

James was born on September 18, 1637, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Thomas and Mary Smith.

By 1668, he was in the area of York, Maine when he appears in deed records.

York County, Maine
The U.S. Wills and Probates collection at is worth the subscription price for the wealth of information that can be found for early American ancestors. Although there are several online family trees that have James Smith dying in 1701 (that's a different James Smith), I know that he died between August 10, 1687, when he wrote his will, and September 14, 1687, when his will was probated in Berwick, York County, Maine. The will bequeaths half of his land and houses to his eldest son James when he reaches the age of 21, implying that the son James was born after 1866. (A later document indicates that he was born about 1675; he was 63 in July 1738.)

Her married Martha Mills, daughter of Thomas Mills and Mary Wadleigh and had at least four children (who were mentioned in his will): James, Mary, Elizabeth, and John.

I descend from his oldest son, James, who was mentioned in his grandfather Thomas' will (as noted above).

Generation 3:
James Smith (about 1675-17??) married Martha Bragdon and had six children: Joseph, James, Daniel, Mary, Martha, and Ebenezer

I descend from his oldest son, Joseph. This James is my weakest link in this Smith ancestry.  I need to dig into probate and land records and possibly other unknown-to-me local records in order to confirm this connection with more authority.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ Copeland Family Circa 1904

My second cousin has digitized a bunch of old negatives and shared the images with me. I have copies of a few of them. This is the copy of one that I have:

This is the digitized negative shared with me by my cousin:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Pyles at Green-Wood Cemetery

My husband and I visited New York City last month and of course, there were visits to cemeteries. Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, is a beautiful cemetery to visit. They have an online burial search at their website.

James Pyle is my second great-grandfather, founder of Pyle's Pearline Soap. I had seen photos of the Pyle plot at FindAGrave (start here to see James Pyle's memorial), so I knew what I was looking for.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ Copeland Siblings Circa 1910

Elizabeth (Betty) Copeland, born March 17, 1903; Ruth Copeland, born July 8, 1907; Lowell Townsend Copeland, born December 21, 1900.

I was able to help identify these children because I recognized my grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland. Thank you to second cousin, Suzanne, for sharing this photo with me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ Young Lowell Copeland

My great grandfather, Lowell Copeland, was born in Calais, Maine, on October 5, 1862, and died in Princeton, New Jersey, on December 24, 1935. I have collected quite a few images of him, the following framed image thanks to my second cousin, Suzanne.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Is This Eliza May Wells?

I analyzed this daguerreotype yesterday. Today I will share my theory of who I think this may be.

As noted yesterday, there is a photographer's imprint in the lower left-hand side of the case:
A. H. Knapp
123 Wash. St.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tuesday's Tip ~ Analyzing a Daguerreotype

I recently received this daguerreotype from my mother's sister. I believe it's the oldest photographic image that I own. (I have a few ambrotypes - see My Third Great Grandfather and Pair of Ambrotypes as well as Alston Twins Circa 1860.)

From Maureen Taylor's wonderful Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs, as well as the PhotoTree website page on daguerreotypes, I learned a great deal about how to analyze this photograph.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Photos of the 1913 Dedication of the Greeley School in Winnetka

I have written about my second great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley, several times. (See The Great Chicago Fire and excerpts from obituaries at Samuel Sewall Greeley 1916.)

Recently a first cousin of my mother died. (See the wonderful obituary for Sally Whitcomb Keen at

Her daughter is going through her mother's family materials and scanning and sending me great things, including information about our common second great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley.

There is a school named in his honor in Winnetka, Illinois, where my husband and I visited last September.

My second cousin sent me scans of photographs from the 1913 school dedication. She also sent a scan of a document about the 1938 presentation of a portrait of Samuel Sewall Greeley to the school and includes details of the 1913 dedication. Greeley had encouraged the community of Winnetka to build a school and the community recognized its prominent citizen by naming the school in his honor.

It is the oldest operating public school in Winnetka today. A brief history of the school can be found at the school's website and it implies that the design and configuration of the school was innovative for its day.

On October 24, 1913, Greeley was brought from his home to the school's entrance in a carriage decorated with flowers and flags and drawn and guarded by Boy Scouts. Here is a photo of that procession:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Dad's Pet Goat

I love this photo of my dad as a young boy in his wagon with his pet goat pulling the wagon.

This one is even better; it's always great to see such a happy smile!

And here is his mother, Libby, in a photograph dated 1929. My dad turned five years old that June.


My dad did not have the happiest of early childhoods. His parents were not very happy together and divorced in 1933 when Dad was nine years old. When I asked him about any memories of his early childhood, the only one he shared was that he had a pet goat that he adored.

When he was six years old, the family's barn was hit by lightning in a storm which caused a fire and the pet goat died in the fire. Dad was devastated.

Recently, I thought I would see if I could find any newspaper confirmation of this story. Thanks to, I found it!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Photo Collage for Facebook

Several months ago, I updated the cover photo on my Facebook page.

There have been a couple of questions about who are in the photos, so here are the answers. If I have blogged about the photo previously, I include a link to that post.

These photographs come from all branches of my ancestry and from the 1850s to 1928.

Top row left is Hunter Sisters 1911. My maternal grandmother is the youngest one standing on something in the back.

Top row middle is second great grand uncle James M. Lysle, a soldier who died in the Civil War.

At right is my father in a wagon with his pet goat. I'm guessing about 1928.

Bottom row left is an ambrotype of my third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Gorin.

Next is my second great grandmother, Susan Arville (Chapin) Adsit.

Next is a third great aunt Caroline (Carrie) Lysle (1841-1914).

Next is my great-grandmother, Marguerite Lysle (1876-1967).

Second from right is my great grandmother, Mary Bowman (Ashby) Adsit (1863-1956).

Bottom row right is a portrait of my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Adsit with my dad on her lap.

By the way, I used BeFunky's Collage Maker to create this. If you search for "Facebook cover photo collage" or something equivalent, you will find all sorts of websites that will help you create a collage for your Facebook cover. (The white space at the bottom left is where my profile photo covers this collage.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

More on Roosevelt and Rust - Harvard Class of 1904

Almost two years ago, I shared the 1934 invitation to the White House that my step-grandfather, Edgar C. Rust, and grandmother received, as well as a newspaper clipping that was in my grandmother's collection. (Saturday is the 119th anniversary of my grandmother's birth: Elizabeth Adsit was born on June 18, 1897.)

Classmates Meet Again, Unknown newspaper.

In trying to find the original of this newspaper clipping (not yet successful), I also found the following newspaper articles about this college reunion at GenealogyBank which does indicate that family members were in attendance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Aunt's Closest DNA Matches on a Chromosome Browser

My aunt A recently took a DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA. On average, she should share about 25% of DNA with me, her niece or my brothers, her nephews. (I am using initials to try to protect the privacy of my family members. Hopefully you can still follow along.)

Autosomal DNA is inherited equally from both parents. The amount of autosomal DNA inherited from more distant ancestors is randomly shuffled up in a process called recombination and the percentage of autosomal DNA coming from each ancestor is diluted with each new generation. [Source: ISOGG Wiki for Autosomal DNA]

The following screenshot from FamilyTreeDNA shows how much DNA that A shares with her top matches.

A's matches are sorted by relationship. Her closest relationship is to her sister, M.

Her next closest DNA matches are:
to my brother, S, sharing 1970.09 cM, with the longest shared block being 163.73 cM.
to me, Elizabeth, sharing 1837.98 cM, with the longest shared block being 101.44 cM.
to my brother, R, sharing 1805.56 cM, with the longest shared block being 108.96 cM.

The Shared cM Project, conducted by The Genetic Genealogist, Blaine Bettinger, shows the range of shared cM (centimorgans, a measurement implying genetic distance) that can be found between people of a known genealogical relationship. Hundreds of genealogists responded to his request for information and Blaine has generated some interesting charts to display the information.

In the case of aunt/uncle - niece/nephew relationship, the average amount of DNA reported to be shared is 1703.45 cM, with the greatest amount of DNA shared at 2226.60 cM and least amount of DNA shared at 121.34 cM. So it appears that my brothers and I share more than the average amount of DNA expected between an aunt and a niece or nephew.

The next step is to compare us in FamilyTreeDNA's chromosome browser.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

DNA: Sisters' Ethnicity Results

DNA test results have come back from FamilyTreeDNA for my mother's sister (A).

The following colorful images are from FamilyTreeDNA's MyOrigins feature which shows estimates of an individual's ethnicity going back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The key word here is estimate - this is really just a fun way to see where your distant ancestors came from.

As I have noted before, we are European.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ Morgan of Guysborough, Nova Scotia

The earliest Morgan I have in my family tree is John Morgan. Guysborough Sketches has a brief description of him as a "pre-Loyalist" settler whose sawmill was producing lumber by 1784 when the Loyalists arrived, suggesting that he had been in Guyborough prior to 1784.
Guysborough, Nova Scotia
"Morgan... is said to have been a Welsh millwright, and one of the first mills in which he was interested is said to have been on the Hadley property." [Guysborough Sketches, p. 155]

His wife was Diana Hadley, whom he married between 1784-1789. Last fall I borrowed a Family History Library microfilm of Guysborough Baptismal Records, which shows that John and Diana (Dinah) had at least six children: John, Henry, Ruth Hadley, Joseph, Diana, and Sarah Margaret.

I don't have birth information or death information for John Morgan and I wonder if more research in Guysborough County would help.

I descend from their daughter Diana.

Generation 2:
Diana Morgan was born December 17, 1803, in Manchester, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia.

She married Thomas Cutler Whitman on March 13, 1827, in Guysborough. They followed their daughter, Esther, to Boston in 1857. I wrote about Diana in a 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks post last year.

She and her family can be found in Jamaica, Queens County, New York in the 1860 U.S. Census.

She died "after a lingering illness" on April 25, 1861, in New York City. She is buried in Elmont Cemetery, Nassau County, New York, and there is a FindAGrave memorial for her.

They had nine children, born between 1828 and 1851: Esther Abigail, George William, Thomas, Judson, Maria E., Ira A., Harriet, Charles, and Gordon. Most of them came to New York, but a few remained in Canada.

I descend from their oldest child, the daughter they followed to Boston: Esther Abigail Whitman.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ Bald Mary

Helen, my maternal grandmother, was the youngest of five sisters (Marion, b. 1899; Caroline, b. 1900; Mary, b. 1903; Margaret, b. 1905; Helen, b. 1907).

The family story is that, when she was young, middle sister Mary had scarlet fever and had her head shaved to aid in her recovery. I have many photographs from this side of the family and have three showing a bald great aunt Mary:

Margaret, Mary, and I believe Helen (my grandmother) in the background.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Massachusetts Legislators' Biographical File ~ Samuel Greele

One of the speakers at the Massachusetts Genealogical Council Seminar in late April was Beth Carroll-Horrocks, Head of Special Collections at the State Library of Massachusetts.

She spoke about genealogical research at the State Library, found at the Massachusetts State House. Researchers are welcome to make simple requests by email. One of the resources unique to this library is The Legislators' Biographical File, which is a card file containing basic biographical information for all members of the General Court and Constitutional offices from 1780 to the present.

In my research, I have come across mention (usually in secondary sources) of some of my ancestors serving in the Massachusetts State House. I sent an email to Beth and she got back to me with scanned images of my relatives' cards found in this file.

My third great grandfather, Samuel Greele, was a Representative in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for several years in the 19th century.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ Willis of England and Massachusetts

My immigrant Willis ancestor is Michael Willis.

I recently purchased (from NEHGS) The Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1640, A Concise Compendium, by Robert Charles Anderson. I have many Great Migration ancestors who arrived between 1620-1635, which I listed here. Many more arrived between 1635 and 1640, and this newly-published book is a great start to finding information about these slightly later arrivals.

Immigrant Michael Willis is a superb example of one of these ancestors. The entry for him tells me that, at this time, his origins are unknown. He arrived in Massachusetts in 1637, living in Dorchester and Boston. There is also a brief list of records where he is found, including Dorchester Church Records and Suffolk County Probate files (see below).

Anderson also references the often-mentioned book for this surname: Willis records, or, Records of the Willis family of Haverhill, Portland, and Boston, 1908, by Pauline Willis. This book can be found online in several locations.

What is not noted is that Michael Willis is also found in Torrey's New England Marriages to 1700 (which can be found with a membership at with two wives noted: Joan (married by 1639), and second wife Mildred (married by 1652).

He had four children with his first wife, Joan: Joseph, Experience, Temperence, and Joana, who was born in 1651.

He had five children with his second wife, Mildred: Michael (born November 1652), Adingstil, Abigail, Lydia, and Elizabeth.

The will for immigrant Michael Willis can be found online, dated 21 June 1669.

From Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991
"I Michael Willis of Boston in new England, this
one + twentieth day of June in the yeare of Our Lord
1669 doe make this my last will + Testament -"

He leaves his estate to his wife Mildred who is his executrix. He notes that his sons Experience and "Michaell" shall have "the free use of my shop + tooles with all the utencells thereto belonging." The will goes on to list additional bequests and additional children and at least one grandchild.

He died by October 5, 1669, when he is referred to as "the late Michael Willis."

I descend from the oldest son of his second wife, the Michael named in his will.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ Lifespans of My 2x Great Grandparents

A little late to the fun, but I liked Randy Seaver's (of the Genea-Musings blog) challenge this week.

1) We each have 16 great-great grandparents. How did their birth and death years vary? How long were their lifespans?

2) For this week, please list your 16 great-great grandparents, their birth year, their death year, and their lifespan in years. You can do it in plain text, in a table or spreadsheet, or in a graph of some sort.

3) Share your information about your 16 great-great grandparents with us in a blog post of your own. 

These are my second great grandparents. (By the way, you can see my third great grandparents here.)

16. James Pyle (1823 – 1900), 77 years
17. Esther Abigail Whitman (1828 – 1921), 93 years
18. David Hunter McAlpin (1816 – 1901), 85 years
19. Frances Adelaide Rose (1829 – 1870), 41 years
20. James Monroe Adsit (1809 – 1894), 85 years
21. Susan Arville Chapin (1820 – 1906), 86 years
22. Daniel Morgan Ashby (1827 – 1907), 80 years
23. Mary Elizabeth Gorin (1833 – 1891), 58 years
24. Henry Clay Copeland (1832 – 1912), 80 years
25. Sarah Lowell (1833 – 1916), 83 years
26. Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824 – 1916), 92 years
27. Eliza May Wells (1839 – 1880), 41 years
28. James Hunter (1844 – 1902), 58 years
29. Mary Freeland (1850 – 1902), 52 years
30. George Lysle, Jr. (1845 – 1900), 55 years
31. Marion Helen Alston (1850 – 1885), 35 years

The average birth year for my 16 second great grandparents is 1831, with a 41-year range from 1809 (Adsit) to 1850 (Alston and Freeland). The average death year is 1900, with a 51-year range from 1870 (Rose) to 1921 (Whitman).

And the average lifespan is almost 69 years for my 16 second great grandparents, with a range of 35 (Alston) to 93 (Whitman) years. The great grandfathers averaged a lifespan of 76.5 years, and great grandmothers averaged lifespan is 61 years. Interesting to see that I have several second great grandmothers who died young, (and not due to complications of childbirth).

Bill West, of West in New England, added an interesting analysis, averaging this information for his paternal line versus his maternal line. When I do that, I find that the eight great grandparents on my father's side had an average lifespan of over 75 years and the eight great grandparents on my mother's side had an average lifespan of only 62 years. Of course, there were several very early deaths on that side of the family.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Greeley Family Bible

My second cousin Suzanne shared some images from an old family bible. No Births, Marriages, and Deaths, but what is here is a treasure!

First a photo of the outside of the bible, obviously very old!

Then an image of the title page, showing that it was new in 1883.

The next page tells me that it was a gift to "Ethel May Greeley from Auntie Ruth" on Dec. 28, 1884. This must have been for her ninth birthday. "Auntie Ruth" was Ethel's mother's sister, Ruth Lyman Wells (1862-1943).

The bible was later given to "Ruth Lyman Copeland from Mother" Nov 1919, when this Ruth was about twelve. I am guessing that Ruth Copeland was named after her great aunt Ruth Wells and that is why she got this bible.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy 5th Blogiversary to From Maine to Kentucky

This is blog post number 353 over the past five years. In 2015, I successfully blogged at least once a week because of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, in which I wrote about various direct-line ancestors once a week.

I have two major goals this year:

One is to continue to learn about genetic genealogy and get a variety of cousins to test. (This week, there are sales at both AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA. Click here for details.)  I got to hear Cece Moore, Your Genetic Genealogist, speak at the Massachusetts Genealogical Council Seminar last weekend. I am hoping to learn about mapping my chromosomes. From the ISOGG Wiki:
Chromosome mapping is a technique used in autosomal DNA testing which allows the testee to determine which segments of DNA came from which ancestor. In order to map DNA segments on specific chromosomes it is necessary to test a number of close family relatives. Ideally one should test both parents, one of their children, and a number of first to third cousins on both the maternal and paternal sides of the family. 
Many of my popular blog posts have had to do with DNA testing (which I have tagged with DNA). Everyone is trying to understand it and I hope I provide understandable explanations (as well as direct readers to the more experienced genetic genealogy bloggers out there).

Recently shared: my grandmother
My other goal is to share more Surname Saturday posts. I like to share these for my family so they can see the variety of surnames and locales that are in our ancestry. (Remember: sixteen 2x great-grandparents, thirty-two 3x great-grandparents, sixty-four 4x great-grandparents, and so on; there are a lot of surnames in our tree!) Of course, these are also good cousin bait.

And I do have many more photographs I know I should share in Wordless Wednesday posts. I will do my best to find the time to post at least a couple of these every month.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you continue to read and enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ Willet of Connecticut

Image of New London County from CTGenWeb
The first Willet that I know of is John Willet, found in a Groton, Connecticut marriage record and referenced in a 1985 Willet / Willett Genealogy that I found at This book gives me some information, but it would be helpful to find additional primary source info about this ancestor.

Albert James Willett, The Willett families of North America: being a comprehensive guide encompassing Willett, Willet, Willette, Willit, Willot, Willets, Willetts, Willits and other variations and early spellings of the Willett surname (Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, Inc. (1985), digital images, 2015), Internet Archive,, page 59. John Willett of Stonington, Connecticut.

This author acknowledges that family tradition says that John descends from a John Willett of Wales and others claim that he is descended from Captain Thomas Willett of Plymouth and Swansea, but there is no proof to support either of these claims.

Some of thie information in the 1985 genealogy seems to come from an earlier 1906 genealogy, written by Jacob Edgar Bookstäver, which can be found at

John's wife was Mary Clark and the Barbour Collection of Vital Records has a marriage record for them in Groton, New London, Connecticut, on November 19, 1719, as well as record of the births of their eldest three children:

Connecticut Vital Records to 1870 (The Barbour Collection), From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928, (Online Database:, NEHGS), Groton Vital Records. p. 164 (Willis - Woodbridge)

Altogether, they had six children born between 1721 and 1735: Mary, John (who died young), John, Hannah, Mercy, and Abigail.

John Willet is believe to have died about 1750, and I have not found a record of his wife's death.

I descend from their son John, their eldest surviving son.

Generation 2: John Willet (or Willett) was born on May 1, 1727, in Groton, Connecticut (Barbour Collection). He married Elizabeth Leffingwell in 1748 and had eight children with her between 1749 and 1771: Eunice, Judith, Philura, Elizabeth, John, Mary, Jedidiah, and Hannah.

John owned a major shipyard in Norwich, Connecticut, up the Thames River from New London. (See the map at the top, where I underlined the towns where I find the Willet family.) He is considered a Revolutionary War Patriot as a prominent shipbuilder in Norwich, Connecticut and I wrote about him at John Willett, Patriot.

I descend from their youngest son Jedidiah.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ Helen Lysle Hunter Circa 1909

My grandmother, Helen Lysle Hunter, as a toddler. She was born in February 1907, so I'm guessing this is 1909.

I got this photo along with many others, a few of which I shared on National Sibling Day.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Grandmother and Her Sisters ~ National Sibling Day

I was going to find a photo of me and my brothers for National Sibling Day, but two days ago, I got an envelope full of old photos. (Thank you to my aunt who gave them to my mother!)

In this envelope were photos from the early 1900s to the late 1980s, with several photos that I had not seen before.

My maternal grandmother, Helen Hunter, was the youngest of five girls born within 7 1/2 years to Percy and Marguerite Hunter.

Here are a series of photographs of the sisters (and sometimes their mother) from 1907-1930:

1907: Caroline, Marion holding Helen, Marguerite, Margaret, Mary

Although I have all these dates from other sources, it was nice to see Percy and Marguerite's wedding date and all the daughters' birth dates in Percy's handwriting on the back of this photo:


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Birthplaces Pedigree

Years ago, one of my brothers commented that our recent ancestors moved around a lot. I agreed but never figured out how to graphically share that fact here on my blog.

In the past couple of days, genealogists have been creating charts in Excel showing the birth places of their ancestors covering five generations. I couldn't resist and I have to share it because this truly shows what my brother had noted years ago.

Other than my maternal grandmother's line, there is a lot of color in this chart! I even tried to choose the colors so that red, orange and yellow represent births in Nova Scotia and New England and green, blue and purple represents births in New York and New Jersey down to Kentucky and out to Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Thank you to Lorine McGinnis Schulze at Olive Tree Genealogy for my first look at this, as well as Jana Last at Jana's Genealogy and Sally Knudsen at SallySearches and all those other genealogists on Facebook who are sharing theirs!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ruth Lyman Copeland: Her Yearbook Entry's database, U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012, is a fun and interesting database to explore.

Ruth Lyman Copeland is my grandfather's youngest sister by six and a half years. She turned 19 years old in the summer of 1926, just after she completed her two years at Abbot Academy, a private girls' boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts, (which merged into Phillips Academy in 1973)., U.S. School Yearbooks, Record for Abbot Academy The Circle Yearbook, 1926, p. 13

Although she was born in Winnetka, Illinois, her family lived in Michigan City, Indiana for a short time in the 1920s.

I love these yearbooks. This entry shows that my great aunt Ruth was quite active at school: singing, acting, and playing basketball, among other activities. And the nickname "Cope" is often found in my family tree, for men and women.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Arville S. Chapin Adsit

Arville S. Chapin
Wife of
James M. Adsit
June 9, 1820 - May 6, 1906

Arville Susan Chapin was born in Massachusetts, moved with her family to Chicago in 1838 (according to her obituary), where she married James M. Adsit, and where she died.

She is buried in the Adsit family plot at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, where I visited for the first time last September.

I descend from Arville Chapin as follows:

Arville Susan Chapin
Charles Chapin Adsit
Elizabeth Adsit
Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wedding Wednesday ~ St James Church, Chicago

97 years ago today, on Sunday, March 2, 1919, there were wedding announcements for my paternal grandparents' wedding, which had occurred the previous day at St. James Episcopal Church in Chicago.

We visited Chicago last September and although the church was undergoing some renovation, we talked our way in and here is a photograph of the inside of the church, taken by my husband.

Here is the wedding announcement from page 5 of the Chicago Sunday Tribune.

Very early in my blog, I shared a scan of the other part of the announcement, with photographs. Now I know it's from the Chicago Sunday Tribune.

Wedding announcement of my grandparents