Saturday, December 14, 2019

Counting Third Cousins

Summer 1982; see
Throwback Thursday-Cousins Day
My current project (which I have spent many months on) has been to identify all the descendants of my eight sets of second great-grandparents. This is to help me identify my DNA matches on the several genetic genealogy testing sites where my results connect me to cousins. Smaller amounts of shared DNA suggests more distant relationships and knowing my third cousins might help identify those relationships.

I have identified 49 second cousins and over 180 third cousins. Note that on my father's mother's side (Adsit-Ashby), I have no known first cousins, second cousins, or third cousins. This makes it difficult to confirm more distant, colonial New England cousins on this side because I've got lots of other colonial New England in other ancestral lines.

Some families were more difficult to track forward than others; it depended on where they lived and whether I could find useful obituaries in online newspapers (among other resources). Then there are families with common names: Bailey, Hunter, Murphy, Smith, Walsh, as well as branches of cousins who moved abroad, making it harder to find them.

* The couple's name in bold are my second great-grandparents.
*  In many cases, the number of third cousins is an estimate (especially McAlpin-Rose, Greeley half-third cousins, and Hunter-Freeland).
*  I refer to 3 siblings under my maternal lines and 4 siblings under my paternal lines as I have one sibling with whom I share my father and not my mother.
*  The colors are based on my long-time color-coding system.

James Pyle (1823-1900) and Esther Abigail Whitman (1828-1921) had:
   7 children (only 2 had children)
   9 grandchildren
  10 great-grandchildren
  40 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 4 siblings, no first cousins, my 31 second cousins, and 4 third cousins)

David Hunter McAlpin (1816-1901) and Frances Adelaide Rose (1829-1870) had:
  10 children
  23 grandchildren
  48 great-grandchildren
(at least) 139 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 4 siblings, no first cousins, my 31 second cousins, and (at least) 103 third cousins)

James Monroe Adsit (1809-1894) and Susan Arville Chapin (1820-1906) had:
   7 children
   4 grandchildren
   1 great-grandson (my dad)
   5 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 4 siblings, no first cousins, second cousins, or third cousins)

Daniel Morgan Ashby (1828-1907) and Mary Elizabeth Gorin (1833-1891) had:
   6 children
   3 grandchildren
   1 great-grandson (my dad)
   5 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 4 siblings, no first cousins, second cousins, or third cousins)

Henry Clay Copeland (1832-1912) and Sarah Lowell (1833-1916) had:
   3 children
   6 grandchildren
   7 great-grandchildren
  20 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 3 siblings, my 5 first cousins, my 11 second cousins, no third cousins)

Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824-1916) and his first wife Anne Morris Larned (1828-1864) had:
   4 children
  10 grandchildren
  27 great-grandchildren
  (at least) 57 great-great-grandchildren (my half-third cousins)

Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824-1916) and his second wife Eliza May Wells (1839-1880) had:
   5 children
   3 grandchildren
   7 great-grandchildren
  20 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 3 siblings, my 5 first cousins, my 11 second cousins, no third cousins)

James Hunter (1844-1902) and Mary Freeland (1850-1902) had:
  10 children
  10 grandchildren
  16 great-grandchildren
  (at least) 28 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 3 siblings, my 5 first cousins, my 7 second cousins, my (at least) 12 third cousins)  (Some with the surname Hunter are very difficult to trace, as the names are somewhat common.)

George Lysle, Jr. (1845-1900) and his first wife Marion Helen Alston (1850-1885) had:
   2 children
   7 grandchildren
   7 great-grandchildren
   21 great-great-grandchildren (me, my 3 siblings, my 5 first cousins, my 7 second cousins, my 5 third cousins)

George Lysle, Jr. (1845-1900) and his second wife Edith O. Hadly (1869-1933) had:
   2 children. One son died young and the other married, but didn't have any children. No half-third cousins here.

I have added these third cousins to my tree in Family Tree Maker and plan to upload it to Ancestry, MyHeritage (and perhaps other sites) to help connect me to more cousins. I have added many surnames to my tree and have already identified several cousins on the DNA testing sites while doing this project.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

What Else Can You Find in Yearbooks: Grandfather at Northwestern

After reading about Leighton Mount, a college freshman who disappeared during a hazing incident in September 1921 at Under Every Tombstone (see Part 1: The Strange Disappearance of a Northwestern University Freshman - Leighton Mount and Part 2: The Shocking Conclusion), I remembered that my grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland, graduated from Northwestern University. He was known as Townsend, and later Toby, to distinguish him from his father, Lowell Copeland.

The family story from my mother is that her father attended Harvard University for one year, where his uncle Charles Copeland was a well-known English professor (see Copey of Harvard). Uncle Charles had Townsend take two English classes, which apparently was more than he could handle, and he flunked out.

He returned home to Winnetka, Illinois, and enrolled in Northwestern University, in neighboring Evanston, and based on the student lists and yearbooks that I found online, he was there in the fall of 1921 when the story of Leighton Mount was all over the news.

From Google Books
Google Books has a few years of the Northwestern University Bulletin / Annual Catalog, which provides lists of enrolled students and I found Lowell Townsend Copeland, of Winnetka, Illinois, enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts for the 1919-1920 school year and for the 1922-1923 school year. I wonder if he didn't take a full course load for a few years, because he was enrolled in 1919-1920 and ended up as a member of the class of 1925.

School yearbooks tell me a little bit about grandfather's experience at Northwestern. Unfortunately, they often didn't provide information for freshmen unless they were class officers (and Ancestry doesn't happen to have the 1923 copy at its U.S., School Yearbooks collection).

The following images are from the 1924 Northeastern University Yearbook (the Syllabus), which covered events and activities for the 1922-1923 school year, when the class of 1924 were juniors (and the class of 1925 were sophomores).

Grandfather was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and he was listed as Townsend Copeland, a sophomore.

He is in the back row of the fraternity photograph:

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sunday's Obituary ~ Henry Copeland 1912

I found the following obituary on MyHeritage for my second great-grandfather, Henry Clay Copeland. It gives a bit more information about him.

Henry Copeland obituary, Lewiston [Maine] Evening Journal, 8 November 1912, p. 16, col. 6; digital images, MyHeritage ( : accessed 22 November 2019).

Monday, November 18, 2019

AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Again

As AncestryDNA says: "Your DNA doesn't change, but our science does."

I have been reading about others who have seen their AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates change and I discovered late last week that mine have as well.

You can see my prior ethnicity estimates at:

DNA Test Results (April 2012)
AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Results (October 2013)
Genetic Communities (March 2017)
AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Results (September 2018)
AncestryDNA Ethnicity (May 2019)

In May 2019, my ethnicity estimate showed the following, with 3,000 reference samples:

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe64%33%-90%
Europe West23%0%-45%
Ireland & Scotland6%0%-16%
Iberian Peninsula2%0%-7%
Europe East1%0%-5%
European Jewish<1%0%-3%

As of November 2019, my ethnicity estimate shows the following, with 16,000 reference samples:

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe58%57%-72%
Ireland & Scotland36%0%-36%
Germanic Europe6%0%-29%

Graphically, you can see the changes in the maps below:

Elizabeth's revised ethnicity map from September 2018

Elizabeth's revised ethnicity map from November 2019

From what I understand, the introduction of Sweden to the ethnicity estimate occurred for many who have England, Wales & Northwestern Europe in their ancestry.

Because my ancestors arrived to the North American continent between 1620 and the 1840s, and I have not confirmed all of my immigrant ancestors (not by a long shot), I cannot say for certain what I expect my ethnicity percentages should be except that England, Scotland, and Northwest Europe are regions that I would expect my ancestors to be from.

I always tell people that estimate is the key word when you're talking about your ethnicity results from DNA testing companies. (See the possible ranges in the tables above.)

If you have tested at AncestryDNA, have you checked to see if your ethnicity estimates have been updated?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Lysle Plot at Union Dale Cemetery Pittsburgh

The last plot we visited during our August 2017 visit to Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh was the Lysle family plot, burial location for yet another pair of second-great-grandparents, a pair of third-great-grandparents, and a fourth-great-grandmother.

In the middle of the obelisk is the name Lysle:

The plot has nineteen gravestones.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Alston Plot at Union Dale Cemetery Pittsburgh

And another set of third-great-grandparents buried at Union Dale Cemetery from my 2017 visit.

There are two long rows of burials. The first five stones, representing six burials, are on the left in the above photograph:

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Freeland Plot at Union Dale Cemetery Pittsburgh

A continuation of my August 2017 visit to Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh brings us to the Freeland plot.

There are five burials in this plot:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Hunter Plots at Allegheny Memorial Park

In addition to visiting Union Dale Cemetery in late August 2017, my cousin, my husband, and I visited Allegheny Memorial Park. I am ever so grateful that my cousin was willing to drive us all over the North Side of Pittsburgh.

My cousin and I knew several family members buried at Allegheny Memorial. After we visited the office to get the burial location, one of the employees followed us and helped us find the plots, as these are in-ground markers and grass grows over them if they are not edged regularly.

He kindly edged them for us.

There are two plots, side by side of six burial lots each. There are burials in ten of the twelve lots. These six are on the left:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Hunter Plot at Union Dale Cemetery Pittsburgh

Two years ago, I visited Pittsburgh and thanks to my first cousin who was willing to drive my husband and me around the North Side of Pittsburgh (where we also visited our mothers' childhood home), we visited a couple of cemeteries, including Union Dale Cemetery.

All of my maternal grandmother's grandparents are buried there. (See a family tree at Visiting Pittsburgh's Uniondale Cemetery.)

I took lots of photos and here is one of the Hunter family plot.

There are eight burials in the plot:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Edward Randolph Gay Married Two of My Cousins

Edward Randolph Gay was born in September 1898 to Edwin Francis Gay and Louise Randolph. In 1902, his father started teaching at Harvard, and in 1906 became Professor of Economic History. He was the first Dean of the Harvard Business School from 1908 to 1919 and was president of the New York Evening Post from 1920 to 1923. [1]

Edward graduated from Harvard University in 1919 and from the Business School in 1920. He served in World War I. [2]

By 1923, he was an assistant dean of Harvard College. Although Ancestry's Yearbook collection doesn't currently include Harvard University's 1919 yearbook, it does include 1923, with Edward's photo on the page with the other deans of the college.

Harvard Class Album 1923 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1923), p. 11; image, "U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999," Ancestry ( : accessed 22 September 2019)

Edward married Rose Dunbar, on 20 July 1923, at Northeast Harbor, Maine. The Boston Globe description of the wedding is full of Harvard references. Edward's best man was Charles Franklin Dunbar, a Harvard junior, and Rose's brother. [see note 2]

Rose's paternal grandfather, Charles F. Dunbar, founded the department of political economy at Harvard, was dean of the college and, later, dean of the faculty. [see note 2]

Charles and Rose's mother was Katherine Copeland, younger sister of Lowell Copeland (my great-grandfather), and Charles Townsend Copeland, Harvard English professor. Katherine died just over a year later. Rose was my first cousin twice removed.

However, by May of 1925, Edward and Rose Dunbar were divorced, as he married Rose (Greeley) Pritchard, as her second husband, in Santa Ana, California. [3] She was my half first cousin twice removed.

Rose Greeley was the adopted daughter of Louis May Greeley and his wife Anna Lowell Dunbar.

With all the repeating names and multiple marriages, I had to draw a picture to see how Edward Randolph Gay's wives were related to my grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Greeley Half Cousins - WWII Weddings

I've been sharing stories about my grandfather's cousin, Harriet Greeley, who lost her first husband in WWI and lost a son in WWII.

Harriet had an older brother, Sam, who also had sons who served in the military in WWII.

Samuel Arnold Greeley, born in 1882, and his wife, Dorothy Coffin, had five children (all second cousins to my mother):
Anne (1916-1919)
Samuel (1914-2001)
Frederick (1919-2004)
Lois (1922-1995)
Dorothy (1929-1979)

The two sons served in WWII and three of the siblings were married within an 18-month period in 1944-1945.

Daughter Lois married Master Sgt. Nicholas Blatchford on June 3, 1944, when he was home on leave, but her two brothers were not in attendance:

"Wedding News," Chicago Tribune, 7 June 1944, p. 19, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 14 September 2019).

Frederick Greeley served as an Army Air Force navigator and was reported missing in action in March 1944 after a raid over Germany. He survived a parachute jump over Belgium and was rescued by the Belgian underground and stayed hidden until the arrival of Allied troops about seven months later. [1]

Monday, September 9, 2019

Frederick Greeley Crocker Died in 1942

The younger son of Harriet Greeley and her first husband, Alvah Crocker, Jr., was Frederick Greeley Crocker. He was born in 1911 in France and married Mary Jane Bigelow in June 1934, just before his graduation from Harvard. They settled in Milton, Massachusetts.

During their first years of marriage, Frederick attended Harvard Business School, graduating in 1936.

Harvard University, "Harvard Business School Yearbook, 1934-35," p. 109, "Frederick Greeley Crocker"; image,
"U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999," Ancestry ( : accessed 26 August 2019).
This yearbook entry suggests that although his home was "The Hilltop" in Fitchburg, he was possibly living in Brookline while attending Harvard.

At Harvard, Frederick was a member of the naval R.O.T.C. and was commissioned an ensign in the naval reserve at the time of his graduation. While in the naval reserve, he worked for a Boston investment banking firm and then with a manufacturing firm. Three sons were born to the couple, with the third born during World War II.

He was called into service in the summer of 1940 and was assigned to active sea duty in the summer of 1941. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (J G) in December 1941, and then to Lieutenant (S G) in the spring of 1942.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Greeley Half Cousins - Harriet's Second Marriage

Harriet (Greeley) Crocker became a widow at 32 years old with four children under the age of ten. It was another three years before she remarried.

She married Norman Harrower of Fitchburg and had one son with him. In 1930, they were living on Flat Rock Road, either next door or very close to her former parents-in-law in Fitchburg. The Alvah Crocker household immediately preceded the Norman Harrower household in the census.

1930 U.S. Census, Worcester County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Fitchburg Ward 3, enumeration district 174, sheet 14A, dwelling 166, family 357, Norman Harrower; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 21 July 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 963.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Alvah Crocker Died in the Great War

My grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland, had several half first-cousins because his grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley, married twice and had many more descendants from his first marriage than his second. I have found several DNA matches among these descendants, as well as some interesting stories that I think tell me a little more about my grandfather.

One of grandfather's cousins, Harriet Greeley, was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1885. She was daughter of Frederick Greeley, the oldest son of Samuel Sewall Greeley. (See Surname Saturday ~ Greeley for my Greeley line.)

She married Alvah Crocker, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1907, in what sounded like a lovely wedding in Winnetka, Illinois.

"Country Wedding in Winnetka," Chicago Tribune, 20 October 1907, p. 4, col. 1; image, ( : accessed 25 August 2019).
The couple settled in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, after their marriage, where the Crocker family had been prominent in Fitchburg for many decades. Alvah Jr.'s father was a manufacturer of paper and his great-grandfather (also named Alvah) in addition to being a paper manufacturer, was a U.S. Congressman.

Alvah, Jr. was studying to be an architect and by 1909, was in Paris, France, to study art and architecture, bringing his wife and first child with him. The youngest was born in early 1917, just before her father, Alvah, joined the military.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Using AncestryDNA ThruLines

In February, Ancestry introduced a new feature called ThruLines™ which uses Ancestry trees (created by individual users) to suggest how I might be related to my DNA matches. In other words, who are our common ancestors.

Look for this icon on your AncestryDNA page to get started:

It's important to note that you have to have a family tree on Ancestry and you have to link your DNA to your Ancestry tree or this feature doesn't work for you.

When you first click on Explore ThruLines, you'll get a long page with icons for your known ancestors, followed by icons for possible ancestors. The following screenshot shows the paternal side of my third great grandparents.

James McAlpin has many, many descendants, and quite a few have tested their DNA. Jane Hunter was his wife.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Using New AncestryDNA Color Dot Tags

In February, AncestryDNA announced some new features and I have been remiss in not blogging about them so I am remedying that now.

If you tested your DNA with Ancestry more than 6-12 months ago, you might want to login and check out these new features. The one that I have been using the most is the colored dot tags.

Colored dot tags from AncestryDNA

There are plenty of ways to use these, but I've been using them to group together known genetic matches by adding a particular color when I know that a DNA match descends from a particular ancestral couple

Soon after I started doing my genealogy (almost 30 years ago), I had a general color-coding system for my ancestral lines, by grandparent:
Blue: Paternal grandfather's ancestors (Pyle-McAlpin)
Red: Paternal grandmother's ancestors (Adsit-Ashby)
Green: Maternal grandfather's ancestors (Copeland-Greeley)
Yellow: Maternal grandmother's ancestors (Hunter-Lysle)

Because of this, I use AncestryDNA's colored dots to identify DNA matches in a similar way. Following is a screenshot of my top DNA matches in the second and third cousin range. I have placed a colored box around the colored dots which I assigned to my matches.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wordless Wednesday ~ Benjamin Willis (1791-1870)

My fourth great-grandfather, Benjamin Willis. I recently shared an 1865 Massachusetts State census record for him and his family.

Gt. gr. grandfather
Benjamin Willis, Jr.
Born Nov 16th 1791
Died July 28th 1870

The relationship noted on the back of this photo was to my grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland, and his sisters. If a relative can identify the handwriting, please let me know.

My Willis line can be found at Surname Saturday ~ Willis of England and Massachusetts.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Bonus Birthplaces in the 1865 Massachusetts State Census

The availability of state censuses varies tremendously. They were usually taken in between federal censuses. State censuses for 1855 and 1865 are the only ones that survive for Massachusetts.

While working on the last assignment for my ProGen Study group, I realized that I had never looked for my Willis and Wells family in these state censuses. It turns out that the family didn't move from New Hampshire to Massachusetts until after the 1855 Massachusetts census enumeration.

But here they are in 1865, living in Brookline.

1865 Massachusetts State Census, Norfolk County, population schedule, Brookline, p. 88, dwelling 499, family 620, Benjamin Willis; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 15 May 2019).

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

AncestryDNA Ethnicity

Reading a blog post from Dick Eastman referencing an update to Ancestry's ethnicity results prompted me to take a look at mine this morning. And yes, my ethnicity, according to AncestryDNA, has changed yet again. (Update: In a later post, Dick Eastman notes that Ancestry updated many users' ethnicity estimates in the fall 2018 but some users are still being transitioned into the new estimates and if you want to save your old ones, you have just a few weeks to do so.)

Don't be surprised. AncestryDNA has added more regions, and more importantly for my changes, more reference samples (i.e. the number of tested people from around the world whose ancestors have lived in the same place for generations).

Following is a history of my ethnicity estimates according to AncestryDNA.

I first tested in November 2011, when Ancestry was offering DNA tests to subscribers for the cost of shipping. I blogged about my initial results in April 2012 and shared this screenshot:

My genetic ethnicity (according to April 2012 AncestryDNA results)


By October 2013, Ancestry had updated its ethnicity estimates.

My updated genetic ethnicity (according to October 2013 AncestryDNA)


In March 2017, Ancestry added Genetic Communities, but my ethnicity estimates were still the same.


And today, my ethnicity estimates look only a little different.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Eight Years of Blogging!

I started From Maine to Kentucky eight years ago. No real excuse for not blogging much recently, but I have been busy participating in the online ProGen Study Group, working my way through Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

As I look back on what I shared since last April, I see that I did participate in quite a few 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks posts (writing prompts courtesy of Amy Johnson Crow). Some of my favorite blog posts of the past year include:

Aunt Mary Fights Standard Oil, where I corroborated a family story about my maternal grandmother's sisters with newspaper articles from 1952.

Ogontz School Yearbook 1926, where I shared my grandmother's yearbook page and included the names of her 41 classmates in hopes that someone searching for their ancestor's name will find it.

Paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Adsit
Grandparents of my Grandparents, where I shared childhood photographs of each of my grandparents and reported on which of their grandparents I believe that they knew. (See Libby's photo at right.)

Great-Grandmother was a Golfer, where again I corroborated a family story about Mary Bowman (Ashby) Adsit with newspaper reports from between 1898 and 1903 (where she is named as Mrs. C. C. Adsit).

And of course all my NERGC posts: I interviewed three genealogists who lectured at the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium Conference: Elissa Scalise Powell, Shellee Morehead, and Lindsay Fulton.

I also blogged about my three days at the conference: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

I do have more family stories and photographs that I hope to share in the coming months. Thank you to those who continue to follow my blog.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

NERGC 2019 ~ Day 3

This last day of NERGC was again, a very busy day. (See NERGC Day 1 and NERGC Day 2.)

I heard Ann G. Lawthers speak about Colonial Migration Patterns which is inspiring me to think about researching some of my more distant ancestors in New England, as well as those ancestors who migrated from Virginia to Kentucky after the Revolution. An interesting takeaway is that, before the Revolution, it was the German and Scots-Irish immigrants who tended to be farmers with pioneering skills, willing to venture further inland.

I then got to meet and introduce D. Joshua Taylor, President of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NY&GB) before he spoke about Pathways from New England to New York. This is one of those subjects I need to explore in order to understand hows and whys of the migration of some of my ancestors who moved from New England into or through New York on their way to places further west. For example, the Adsits, Chapins (paternal side) and Greeley (maternal side) went to Chicago, Illinois. Some family lines continued further west.

D. Joshua Taylor
Saturday's luncheon had another great speaker, Robert Charles Anderson of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), speaking about the Great Migration Study Project that he has managed for thirty years.

Friday, April 5, 2019

NERGC 2019 ~ Day 2

Today at the NERGC conference, I was extremely busy with learning and connecting with genealogists.

Donna Moughty
I started with Seeking Your Scots-Irish Ancestors with Donna Moughty, an experienced Irish genealogist. I believe I have some Scots-Irish ancestors (James McAlpin and Jane Hunter on my paternal side and Samuel Hunter on my maternal side) and wanted to learn more about this group of people who initially came from Scotland into Northern Ireland, then to America.

Donna is a fabulous speaker who really knows her stuff. She provided lots of resources.

I volunteered for an hour in the exhibit hall at the booth for NEAPG, the New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. (I forgot to take a photo of this booth.) Are you looking for a professional genealogist to help you with your New England research? Are you looking for a speaker or a teacher in genealogy? Or are you a longtime professional genealogist or an aspiring professional genealogist looking for camaraderie and support? Check out their website.

Jenifer Bakkala, president of NEAPG
The luncheon, hosted by NEAPG, was their "Table Talk" luncheon and I hosted a table for those interested in discussing Jewish Genealogy. If you don't know, my husband has Jewish ancestry and my other blog, A Jewish Genealogy Journey, shares some of the stories and interesting finds that I have made while researching his ancestry.

After lunch, I volunteered again in the exhibit hall, this time for MSOG, the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, for which I am the current recording secretary. It's great to meet other genealogists and encourage them to take advantage of what MSOG can offer.

MSOG booth in Exhibit Hall
If you have Massachusetts ancestors or if you live in Massachusetts, you're a member, right? I hope to see you at a MSOG chapter meeting soon!

Next, I heard Kathryn Lake Hogan, a well-known Canadian genealogist, speak about I've Got a Loyalist in the Family?! She provided a good history of what happened to those who were not Patriots at the end of the Revolutionary War as well as provided useful research resources - both online and on the ground. (I need to visit Nova Scotia one of these days...)

I then attended Proving It! Arguing Conclusions Without Direct Evidence with Nora Galvin. She walked through one example of resolving several items of conflicting direct evidence to come to a conclusion about a woman's maiden name and her marriage date. Her other case study was an example of using several items of indirect evidence to solve a research question about the parents of a Connecticut-born woman who died in 1941. That was a tricky one, but she did a great job of explaining the use of indirect evidence to come to a conclusion.

The Friday Banquet speaker was Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist, whose topic was The Helen Marley Story, a case study using indirect evidence, along with mtDNA and atDNA to help identify the mother of his adopted great-grandmother. It took many years for all the evidence to come together, showing that sometimes genealogists need patience and time to solve some of our research questions.

Whew! An exhausting, but very interesting day!
(See NERGC Day 1 and NERGC Day 3.)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

NERGC 2019 ~ Day 1

I've been looking forward to the NERGC conference for several weeks. (NERGC stands for New England Regional Genealogical Consortium and is pronounced NERK.) It started yesterday (Wednesday) with several optional pre-conference tracks, like Military, Beginning DNA, Librarians & Local Historians, Society Management, and Professional Genealogist.

Leaving Massachusetts early (Thursday), I made it to Manchester, New Hampshire, mid-morning and visited the Exhibit Hall first, exploring the many offerings and genealogical societies. More about that tomorrow.

After the luncheon, where we heard from Jennifer Zinck about DNA Testing: What Did I Sign Up For? I got to meet one of my February interviewees: Elissa Scalise Powell. In fact, I got to introduce her at her session entitled Deeper Analysis: Techniques for Successful Problem-Solving.

Elissa Scalise Powell
Elissa talked about the details of the research process to solve a genealogical problem. My takeaway was that good genealogists need to gather a variety of evidence, analyze the conflicting evidence in order to resolve the conflicts (i.e. explain them), and, of course, write down the conclusion. She shared several strategies, using examples, of how to analyze evidence, using charts, timelines, and migration maps, among others.

Then more brain exercising with Thomas W. Jones and Kinship Determination, where he explained methods for determining genealogical relationships, using the five steps of the genealogical proof standard and three processes: "Research, Reasoning and 'Riting." Again, writing down your genealogical analysis and conclusions was emphasized.

Thomas W. Jones
Tom makes these concepts seem so easy. For examples of kinship determination, he recommends reading articles in the NGS Quarterly, the NEHGS Register, and the NYG&B Record, all of which I subscribe to and read. These peer-reviewed journals are excellent learning tools.

Then back to hear from Elissa again when she spoke on Thinking Outside the Index: Advanced Search Techniques. I have heard variations on this lecture and it is always good to hear some of these tips again.

After a dinner out with genealogy friends, I was looking forward to some sleep! Tomorrow will be a busy day.

See NERGC Day 2 and NERGC Day 3.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wordless Wednesday ~ Grandfather and Greeley Cousin?

My grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland, was born in December 1900 in Winnetka, Illinois. His maternal grandfather was Samuel Sewall Greeley, who had several children with his first wife before she died. They all lived in the Chicago area and my grandfather was close to his Greeley cousins. In fact, my mother stayed in touch with some Greeley second cousins for many years.

I think this might be a Greeley cousin playing in the snow in Winnetka, Illinois, sometime in the first decade of the last century. He looks like he is showing off the snow tunnel that he has just dug.

And I think this is the same boy in the go-cart with my grandfather leaning on the cart behind him.

His half-first cousins on his maternal grandfather's side include:
Samuel A. Greeley (1882-1968), son of Frederick Greeley (1856-1912)
Morris L. Greeley (1893-1982), Sidney F. Greeley (1894-1988), and Joseph May Greeley (1902-1996), sons of Morris Larned Greeley (1863-1945)

If any Greeley cousins can confirm the identity of this boy, please let me know if my theory is correct.

Friday, February 15, 2019

NERGC 2019 Interview ~ Lindsay Fulton

The 15th biennial New England Regional Genealogical Consortium conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire, from April 3-6. Visit the website for all the conference information and register before February 28 to get the early bird discount!

The Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) is one of the participating organizations of NERGC and is sponsoring a lecture being given by Lindsay Fulton, the Director of Research Services at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS).

As a board member of MSOG, I have the privilege of sharing the following interview with Lindsay:


Elizabeth Handler [EH]: What got you interested in genealogy and how long have you been doing it?
Lindsay Fulton [LF]: When I was working on my masters I took a genealogy class. I was not expecting that class to change my career path, but after a week of staying up until 2:00am working on my tree, I realized I was hooked.

I was astounded at my lack of family knowledge - and when I started asking my grandparents questions, I realized that my naïveté was a blessing: I discovered my love of genealogy during my grandparent’s lifetime. And, because we’ve had a chance to open a dialogue about the family, we are even closer than before.

I’ve been interested in genealogy since 2010.

Check out "Meet the Experts at NEHGS" at or click the following image:

EH: I see from your bio that you have worked at NEHGS since 2012. What is your favorite part of working for NEHGS?
LF: Initially, I fell in love with helping people in the discovery of their family history, and in turn, their interest in history. Because, there is no better way to get someone interested in history, than to place their ancestor in historic context. If you can tell someone their ancestor was at Yorktown, for example, they will develop a real interest in the American Revolution. And, as a historian, that’s the ultimate goal: to create more interest in history.

But, over the last few years, since I’ve had a more front facing position with the Society, my favorite parts of the job have increased to include the honor of working for NEHGS, because we are the experts - truly we are. My colleagues are exceptional; they create amazing content for our magazine, the NEHGR, the Mayflower Descendant, in addition to hundreds of hours of educational programming. We are on the cutting edge of DNA and share our knowledge with our members. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else- I want to work with the best of the best, because they only make me better, and I want to be the best genealogist possible.

EH: I see that you have written many blog posts at Vita Brevis, the NEHGS blog and that you enjoy teaching. Do you have a favorite genealogical subject to teach?
LF: I love the Census: Federal, State, UK, etc. because it is one of the more inclusive record groups. But, in my experience as the Director of Research Services, I’ve developed a strong interest in the research process and record analysis. To me, it is more important to teach researchers HOW to find a record, rather than where to find it.

EH: Your talk on Saturday afternoon, sponsored by MSOG, is about Navigating the Tricky Mayflower Generations (6-9). Without giving away your presentation, what one suggestion do you have to help link a parent and child who lived in the 18th century? (And yes, I have a few of those.)
LF: My team, Research Services, works on a bunch of Mayflower applications, and we always seem to get the chance to work on lines that are difficult to document. And we’ve found, that the best approach in documenting a hard lineage is to look at the FAN (family, associates, neighbors). Because, the wider the net you cast, the more chance you have to property document your lineage.

EH: Have you attended NERGC in the past? What are you most looking forward to at NERGC 2019 (besides enjoying the company of hundreds of other genealogists)?
LF: I have not attend NERGC, but I’ve been to several genealogical conferences, and each time, I am truly impressed with all of the energy, passion, and sense of community among all of the participants. I’m sure NERGC will be equally inspiring.


This will be my third NERGC and Lindsay is right: NERGC2019 will be as inspiring as any genealogy conference you'll attend, and for those of you in New England, this is the best, closest conference you'll get a chance to attend.

Lindsay is looking forward to teaching the following session:
"Navigating the Tricky Mayflower Generations (6-9)" (Saturday, 1:45-2:45)

We hope to see you there sometime between April 3 and April 6! Register before February 28 to get the early bird discount! Visit for all the information.

I have also interviewed Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL, Shellee Morehead, CG®, and Schelly Talalay Dardashti at my other blog, A Jewish Genealogy Journey.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

NERGC 2019 Interview ~ Shellee Morehead

The 15th biennial New England Regional Genealogical Consortium conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire, from April 3-6. Visit the website for all the conference information and register before February 28 to get the early bird discount! For those of you in New England, this is the best, closest conference you'll get a chance to attend. This will be the third NERGC conference that I have attended and I'm looking forward to it!

Several New England Geneabloggers have been invited to interview some of the speakers and I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Shellee Morehead, Ph.D., CG®.


Elizabeth Handler [EH]: What got you interested in genealogy and how long have you been doing it?
Shellee Morehead [SM]: I’ve been interested in genealogy since my teens, and have been doing research about 20 years, and been professional about 8.

[EH]: Your bio says that you are an assistant professor in Biological Sciences. How has this helped you learn about genetic genealogy?
[SM]: Actually, I was a biologist long before there was such a thing as genetic genealogy. My doctorate is in evolutionary biology and I was using DNA sequencing, and phylogenetics before the first Nat Geo project. For me, having a background in molecular biology, phylogenetics and population genetics has helped me in highlighting the key things for people new to genetic genealogy to focus on. It can be overwhelming, so I like to start with the basics.

[EH]: What is your favorite genealogical subject to teach and why?
[SM]: That’s like asking which is my favorite child! (I only have one child, so it’s OK.) I like talking about DNA, and the GPS mostly, but the ethnic stuff is next on my list.

[EH]: I see that one of your NERGC presentations is “Don’t Panic Yet: Citations for Beginners.” Without giving away your presentation, what one or two suggestions do you offer about citing our sources?
[SM]: Do it as you research! And it doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it done.

[EH]: When did you become a Certified Genealogist? How has this helped you as a genealogist?
[SM]: I was first certified in 2012 and renewed in 2017. It helps in a lot of subtle ways; I always have learning and improving in the back of my mind, knowing that renewal is not that far away, so it keeps me growing as a researching and trying to improve my report writing and speaking.

[EH]: Living in Rhode Island, can I assume that you have attended NERGC in the past? What are you most looking forward to at NERGC 2019 (besides enjoying the company of hundreds of other genealogists)?
[SM]: I started at NERGC in 2009, so this will be my 6th conference, my 5th as a speaker. I love seeing people I don’t get to see often enough, I like rooming with my cousin, and meeting new people. I love the special interest groups, society night and I really enjoy volunteering at the Ancestors Road Show, lots of interesting questions come in then.


Shellee will be teaching the following sessions:
"Don't Panic Yet: Citations for Beginners" (Thursday, 4:30-5:30)
"Another Kind of Navigation: GPS for Genealogy" (Saturday, 8:30-9:30)
"DNA Solves a Mystery: Hamiltons in Colonial New England" (Saturday, 4:45-5:45)

I have also interviewed Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL, and Schelly Talalay Dardashti at my other blog, A Jewish Genealogy Journey.

Am I going to see you at NERGC? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

NERGC 2019 Interview ~ Elissa Scalise Powell

The 15th biennial New England Regional Genealogical Consortium conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire, from April 3-6. Visit the website for all the conference information and register before February 28 to get the early bird discount! For those of you in New England, this is the best, closest conference you'll get a chance to attend. This will be the third NERGC conference that I have attended and I'm looking forward to it!

Several New England Geneabloggers have been invited to interview some of the speakers and I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL.


Elizabeth Handler [EH]: What got you interested in genealogy and how long have you been doing it?
Elissa Scalise Powell [ESP]: I have been doing genealogy over 30 years. I began when we lived in Massachusetts and I stopped working to be at home with my young children and wanted to update the family history I knew about that had been published in 1892. I am still not done with that one as one thing led to another and I found that as I took on clients, I spent less time on my own family history.

EH: Your bio says that you are a Pennsylvania researcher. Did you gain your initial experience by researching your own ancestry in the Allegheny County area? (Readers of my blog will know that my maternal grandmother has many ancestors and relatives in Allegheny County. This was my “excuse” to attend the FGS 2017 conference in Pittsburgh.)
ESP: I actually have no one in Allegheny County historically, although some collateral branches from Washington and Westmoreland counties and Altoona (Blair County) have found their way to Allegheny. I specialized in my home county and the surrounding area because I lived here. In the B.C. era (Before Computers) one would have to hire a local research to do “boots on the ground” research that can now commonly be done online. Even now, there are specialized non-digital collections that need someone to actually visit and research. Clients also need someone to lead their research through the tangle of records they can now find, but don’t understand and can’t analyze.

EH: From your website, I see that you enjoy teaching. What are your favorite genealogical subjects to teach?
ESP: I love to teach how to do genealogy and see the light bulbs and excitement grow as each student becomes infected with the genealogy bug. I like to share my passion for recording and telling the stories of our ancestors. I like to help people break through brick walls. What is a brick wall to one person is a stepping stone for another. I like to give my audiences the benefit of my 30+ years of experience so that they don’t commit the mistakes I made – they can commit their own. (smile)

EH: You have been coordinator and director of a couple of Institutes. For those who are not familiar with what an Institute is, can you provide a brief description. (I would love to find a week to attend one.)
ESP: An institute is different than a conference in that at a conference, such as NERGC, you pick the topic you want to see each hour and they can vary widely in content and subject. At an institute you pick one course and attend it for 5 days in a progression of learning on that one topic, whether it is Irish Research or Advanced Strategies for Success in New England or DNA or writing or methodology (all of which are being offered in June at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh – GRIP). Institutes offer high quality courses from the instructors whose blogs and books you are reading with hand-on experiences. You not only interact with the instructor but with your classmates who have also chosen the course because of their interest in the topic. Sharing information at an institute (and to some degree at a conference) not only happens in the classrooms but also in the hallways and at meal times. You never know when someone will say something that will help you break through that brick wall problem. People find institutes to be great fun with a lot of camaraderie as you learn about your classmates throughout the week. For more information see Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh/What is an Institute? 

EH: When did you become a Certified Genealogist? How has this helped you as a genealogist?
ESP: I was first certified in 1995 and have been successful in my renewals every 5 years since. I was president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists 2012-2014. Being certified has attracted serious clients who are willing to pay for professional genealogy services from someone who has been tested and endorsed as working to standards.

EH: Have you attended NERGC in the past? What are you most looking forward to at NERGC 2019 (besides enjoying the company of hundreds of other genealogists)?
ESP: I have attended NERGC several times in the past. They always do a great job of putting together a first rate conference with nationally-known speakers and quality presentations. I enjoy the variety of topics not offered everywhere and concentrating on New England. I enjoy the exhibit hall and talking with the vendors there. The specialty day ahead of the conference is also a great way to get some specific education aside from the one-hour lectures at the conference. I am teaching one of those workshops, “From Research Question to Report: The Process” where we will take the research process apart step-by-step and go through the “Writing as You Go” method (a term which I think I coined).


Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL, (read about certification here) will be teaching the following sessions:
"From Research Question to Report: The Process" (Wednesday Workshop, 9:30-11:30)
"Deeper Analysis: Techniques for Successful Problem-Solving" (Thursday, 1:30-2:30)
"Thinking Outside the Index: Advanced Search Techniques" (Thursday, 4:30-5:30)

Let me know in the comments if you're planning to attend NERGC.

See Elissa's website at Powell Genealogical Services

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Grandparents of My Grandparents

Dana at and Jen at JenGenX Files both recently wrote blog posts to answer the question:

How many grandparents did their grandparents likely know?

This question intrigued me and I decided to figure it out while also looking for photographs of my grandparents when they were children.


Paternal Grandfather, Charles McAlpin Pyle

Charlie was born in 1893. He knew three of his four grandparents because they were all part of the same social circle in New York City and Morristown, New Jersey:
   James Pyle died in 1900, when Charlie was six and a half.
   His wife, Esther Abigail (Whitman) Pyle, died in 1921, when he was 28, two years after Charlie married.
   David Hunter McAlpin died in 1901, when Charlie was seven and a half.
   (His first wife, Frances Adelaide Rose, died in 1870.)


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Orramel Chapin ~ Boarding House Keeper

Because I'm still trying to determine the parents of my third great-grandmother, Susan Rood (see Susan Rood Chapin ~ A Challenging Ancestor), I am going back to look more closely at any and all records that I have for her and her family.

Since I wrote about the family's westward migration at Orramel Chapin Moving West Part 1 and Part 2, I have found a couple of additional pieces of information about Orramel Chapin, my third great-grandfather, who married Susan Rood in 1816.

I knew that he was in Hartford, Connecticut, in the 1830 U.S. census, in a household with a total of nineteen, ten of whom were men between the ages of 20 and 29. This puzzled me until I recently discovered a Hartford City Directory at Ancestry in the U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 database. It listed "Chapin, Orramel, Boarding house, front 71."

That explains the additional people counted in his household.

Hartford City Directory, for 1828 (Hartford: Ariel Ensign, 1828), p. 21;
digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 January 2019).

By the time of the 1840 census, he was in Chicago, Illinois, with thirteen in his household including six men between the ages of 20 and 29, who didn't fit into the family as I knew it.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Lowell Copeland Lived in a Church

It recently occurred to me that I had never looked for my great-grandfather, Lowell Copeland, in a city directory, which is a genealogical source that can provide different information than a census, a vital record, or a newspaper article, and if you're lucky, you can find an ancestor in consecutive years and see if there are any changes.

As I have previously shared at Grandfather's Occupation, Lowell Copeland was living in New Trier, Cook County, Illinois, between 1900 and 1920 and all three of his children were born there. By the time of the 1930 federal census, he was living in Michigan City, Indiana.

Lowell Copeland appeared in Chicago City Directories from 1897 to 1902, where he was listed as Asst Treasurer, Sullivan Machinery and resided in Winnetka. He appeared in the Evanston City Directory (living in Winnetka, a nearby suburb) from 1912 to 1922. 

Some time between 1922 and about 1926, Lowell moved to Michigan City, when his information might have been collected for the following year's city directory. His entry is in a gray rectangle in the image.

Caron's Directory of the City of Michigan City, Ind. for 1927-1928 (Louisville, Ky: Caron Directory Co., 1927), p. 131; digital image, ( : accessed 10 January 2019).

His name was Lowell Copeland; I'm not sure why the middle initial T appears here; his son (my grandfather) was Lowell Townsend Copeland.
Ethel M. (Greeley) Copeland was his wife.
His occupation was pur agt: purchasing agent for the Sullivan Machinery Company, which I wrote about at Grandfather's Occupation.
Lowell and Ethel lived at 614 Franklin. Well, the first thing I like to do when I see an address in a city directory is to search for it on a map.