Saturday, July 30, 2016

SNGF: Age At Death for Female Ancestors

Since I haven't done one of Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) challenges for awhile, I thought I'd take a whack at this one. The challenge is:
1) Review your Pedigree Chart (either on paper or in your genealogy management software program) and determine the age at death of your female ancestors back at least five generations (and more if you want to).
2)  Tell us the lifespan years for each of these ancestors.  Which of your female ancestors in this group lived the longest?  Which lived the shortest?  

Here's mine:
3. Nancy Leah Swicegood (1917-1996) age 79

5. Virginia Corine Meldrum (1896-1980) age 84
7. Mollie Fay Brookshire (1894-1966) age 71

9. Nora Estella Ryason (1873-1898) age 24
11. Matilda Elizabeth Sonnen (1871-1921) age 50
13. Martha Elizabeth Coffey (1867-1947) age 80
15. Nancy Jane Collins (1873-1966) age 92

2nd Great-Grandmothers:
17. Mary Ellen McFarland (1836-1890) age 53
19. Susanna Sults (1837-1932) age 94
21. Nancy Maria Stark (abt 1845-abt 1913) age 67
23. Elizabeth Mohr (1838-1888) age 49
25. Sabray E. W. Owen (1819-1892) age 73
27. Drucilla A. Parker (1833-1901) age 67
29. Mildred Melvina Woolery (1850-1886) age 35
31. Rebecca Jane Campbell (1842-1882) age 40

3rd Great-Grandmothers:
33. Anna Mary Thomas (1795-1851) age 55
35. Nancy Stilley (abt. 1804-1876) age 72
37. Susanna Buscark (1811-1883) age 72
39. Sophia Howell (1812-1885) age 72
41. Emma Braithwaite (1815-1888) age 73
43. unknown
45. Anna Elisabetha Dierdorff (1800-1848) age 47
47. Margaretha Hahn [no dates]
49. Magdalena Harmon Nunley (1791-1818) age 27
51. Elizabeth Winchester (1780-
53. Rachel Boone (1794-abt 1885) age 80
55. Matilda Roberson [no dates]
57. Sarah A. Varnell (1803-1885) age 82
59. Emily Cordry (1830-1860) age 30
61. Susannah Bartshe (1829-1912) age 82
63. Sarah Anne Crabtree (1817-1856) age 39

So, in five generations (ignoring my 4 3rd great-grandmothers for whom I don't have information) my longest lived female ancestor was Susanna Sults at age 94 (on my father's side) and shortest lived was Nora Estella Ryason at 24 years (also on my father's side).

Averages and ranges by generation are:
Grandmothers   77.5  (71-84)
Great-grandmothers   61.5  (24-92)
2nd great-grandmothers   59.8  (35-94)
3rd great-grandmothers   60.9  (27-82 for 12 women)

I didn't realize what a huge range in ages at death there were in my ancestry.
Quite amazing!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Finding Family

This has been an amazing couple of weeks.

Not only have I been in contact with two first cousins on my father's side, now I've found someone who has provided me with a photo of my great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. It's like Christmas and birthday rolled into one!

In the photo below (left to right) are my great-grandfather, Alvah Clyde Sharp, his step-daughter Norma, his father, Morris T. Sharp, another step-daughter, Ella, and his second wife (and mother of the girls), Rose Kathmann Andrews Sharp.

For years I have thought that Ella and Norma were Clyde's daughters. I finally found their marriage record last week and discovered that the girls pre-dated his marriage to Rose. As it turns out, her first husband died in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904 after being struck by a street car. Rose returned home to Quincy, Illinois, where she met and married Clyde. Ironically, Clyde worked as a street car conductor in Wichita, Kansas (hence the uniform).

This photo and a lot of information on the Andrews girls was provided to me by Ella's youngest son, who I tracked down last weekend. His mother was a school teacher for many years and wrote multiple stories about her life. They are absolutely fascinating. For someone who is no blood relation to me, Ella and her son sure have helped me understand my family.

Monday, April 25, 2016


I was shocked to look at this blog yesterday and see that I hadn't posted anything in over a year. How embarrassing is that? To be fair, I haven't really been doing much genealogy lately. Quilting has taken over my life.

But that changed this week.

My Sharp family tree on WikiTree, which I uploaded back in July 2013, has finally led me to two of my first cousins on my Dad's side of the family. I've never met any of his relatives. Ever. So I was totally astounded when I received an email a few days ago from the son of one of my Dad's brothers. His father had just died, the last of that generation and over 37 years after my own father died. Yesterday another son in this family emailed and he is actually interested in genealogy. Woo-hoo! I'm looking forward to much more contact with these two in the future, and hopefully seeing some photos of Dad's family.

I've also been corresponding with a semi-relative who contacted me through WikiTree. She descends from the second husband of my 3great-grandmother, from his marriage to his first wife. She noticed in my sources a reference to a pension file. When I was working I made several trips a year to Washington, DC and often added a day to research in the National Archives. I was happy to scan and share the 17 pages of this Civil War pension file that I had copied. She, in turn, likes to collect clippings from online newspapers and has sent me a pile of great articles. It's been a great win-win for both of us.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

SNGF: Bright Shiny Genealogy Objects

Randy Seaver, author of the GeneaMusings blog, has come up with yet another interesting Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) challenge this week:

1) Do your research activities get sidetracked by Bright Shiny Genealogy Objects (BGSO?)  You know, an email, a record that pops up about an ancestor, something that you just have to look at?
2)  Provide an example of a recent BSGO and what you did with it.  How much time did you spend on it?  Was it worthwhile?
3)  How do you deal with them?  Do you always follow them, or do you pick and choose, or do you have the discipline to put it aside and finish what you planned to do?
4)  Share your responses in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook or Google+.

The short answer is "Yes, of course."
I get sidetracked in numerous ways.
An email from a potential DNA match for me or the 4 other people I have tested will send me off on a multi-hour (or day) research tangent.
A call or email from a tangential cousin will send me off searching for an answer.
A newspaper obituary for a name or person in a location will get me researching their family (and trying to tie it to mine).
Every trip to the Family History Library I've ever made (at least a dozen) reveals records not connected to my direct line that I just "have to" search.
Obviously, I am not a very focused researcher.
And I'm fine with that.

I get Legacy obituaries sent to me daily for several surnames and one location. On Tuesday I got one for a QUIGG who died in Michigan and ended up spending a good 5 hours trying to connect this gentleman to my indirect Quigg line. As it turned out, I was able to make the connection and sent the information off to a 4th cousin once removed (a direct Quigg descendant). She was thrilled to learn about another cousin and will be calling the man's window in a few weeks (although it's going to be hard for her to wait that long).

I almost always follow up on questions from cousins, curious obituaries, and new record sets.
I'm getting more disciplined in my responses to potential DNA matches. I send them information on my line, but don't research theirs for them any more. I rarely hear back from them.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Searching for James Braithwaite Meldrum in Texas

My husband and I are planning a road trip to Texas in the next couple of weeks. He'll be meeting a friend to go birding and I am looking forward to 3 or 4 days of research time in central Texas. Last Fall I spent a week at the Family History Library focusing on my father's lines, but couldn't figure out what happened to my great-great grandfather, James Braithwaite MELDRUM.

James was born in Leeds, England on 15 Nov 1840, the second of six children of David MELDRUM and Elizabeth BRAITHWAITE. His older brother, William, had died 4 months earlier, having lived just less than a year. I have a copy of his birth and christening records.

The family emigrated to the US between 1847 (reported in 1900) and May 1849 (when daughter Catherine was born in New Jersey). shows a David Mildrum, b. ca. 1819, occupation = grower, as arriving in New York on 5 March 1849 (Source: Irish Immigrants: New York Port Arrival Records, 1846-1851). Unfortunately, it is just an index, so I can't tell for sure if this is the correct person/family.

In any event, the Meldrum family settled near Easton, Pennsylvania, and stayed there until the mid-1860s, when they moved to Pittsburgh. Father David worker primarily as a gardener and landscaper.

James B. Meldrum enlisted as a private in Co. D, 1st Infantry Regiment of Pennsylvania on 20 April 1861 for a period of three months. He then re-enlisted on 16 September 1861 in Co. A, 47th Infantry Regiment of Pennsylvania for three years. Records found at the National Archives suggest that he deserted on 24 January 1863 at Key West, Florida.

James apparently returned to the Easton area, as he married Nancy Maria STARK on 29 August 1866 in Easton. In 1867 he is listed in the Pittsburgh City Directory (as is his father) and he is enumerated in Ward 20 of Pittsburgh in 1870, along with his wife and two young sons. Another son and a daughter were born before the end of 1873 in Pittsburgh. James Meldrum, gardener, is listed in Pittsburgh city directories in 1870, 1876 and 1877. There is a Declaration of Intention filed 17 Feb 1873 and Petition for Citizenship dated 3 July 1876 in the District Court of the US for the Western District of Pennsylvania for a James Meldrum. (I am not positive this is the same James Meldrum, as there was another one in Pittsburgh at this time, but he was a tailor.) He then disappears from Pittsburgh records.

The 1880 US Census lists James' four children with their remarried mother in Williamson County, Texas. I found only one deed mentioning James in the microfilmed deed records of Williamson County. On 7 March 1878 James and Nancy sold a lot in Taylor to A. Bisang. I did not find any listing for when they purchased this property. 

What's curious is that the David Meldrum Bible lists James as dying on 15 March 1876.

But it also says James was age 37 when he died, which he could not have been in 1876. My suspicion is that he died 15 March 1878, barely a week after he sold the property in Taylor (originally called Taylorsville).

I hope to find records in Williamson County to confirm his 1878 death. There should be guardianship records for his 4 children, who were all minors in 1878. None have been microfilmed by the Family History Library. I also hope to find the deed record for when David purchased the lot that was sold in 1878.

I'd also like to know more about his widow's other two husbands. She married a man named A. T. Minor on 7 Jan. 1879 in Williamson County, but I haven't been able to find any records for A. T. (not even his full name). She then marries Frank J. Tomkins around 1885, probably in Houston, Texas (definitely not in Williamson County), but is living alone again in 1900. I don't know exactly when she died, but hope to learn that.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

SNGF: My 2015 Genealogy Education Plans

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver of the GeneaMusings blog is to write about our 2015 plans for genealogy education. Quite frankly, this is the kind of SNGF challenge I usually ignore. But at the risk of offending my readers, I'm going to take this one on.

I have to say that I don't have any concrete plans for genealogy education this year. I used to attend virtually every talk given at the Seattle Genealogical Society (SGS), especially while I was president. But between snowbirding all winter in Arizona and health issues last summer, I've really gotten away from that. If there are topics I'm interested in, I'll probably attend talks once we get back to Seattle, but SGS doesn't have a regular schedule of presentations, so it's easy to miss them. I hope to attend the quarterly DNA Special Interest Group meetings when I'm home, but somehow I seem to have conflicts with almost all of them.

I will probably attend both the spring and fall all-day workshops that the Seattle Genealogical Society will sponsor this year. The spring seminar features C. Lynn Anderson, a genealogist I've never heard of, and will focus on the mid-South states, which is where my mother's side of the family were from. The fall seminar will feature Dr. Thomas W. Jones, who I've heard before and always enjoyed. I don't really expect to learn anything new from either of these people, but I hope I will.

I have not intention of going on a genealogy cruise or attending any more national genealogy conferences. I've been to NGS, FGS, and RootsTech and, other than my first NGS conference (in Kansas City), I felt like I got very little return for my dollars. It cost me almost $2000 to attend FGS in Little Rock, AR, and I got absolutely nothing useful out of it. As an incoming society president, I had high hopes of meeting other, more experienced genealogy society board members and learning from them. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nobody presenting with any experience with an urban society. The people who should have been able to help answer my questions were too busy schmoozing with each other to talk to me. And other than Elizabeth Shown Mills and Tom Jones, the presentations I attended were very simplistic and often poorly presented.

IMHO, RootsTech 2013 was a complete and utter failure. The meeting logistics were very poorly conceived. Any presentation designated as "intermediate" filled up as soon as the doors opened. Anyone coming from another talk was closed out. I attended 5 or 6 talks and two "workshops" (supposedly hands-on computer workshops, but only had 50 minutes, so barely got started when they had to end) and learned absolutely nothing new. The focus of storytelling bugged the heck out of me, since there were not specifics about "how to" tell our own family stories. Needless to say, it was a frustrating experience.

When I get back to civilization I will start listening to webinars again, but our internet service here is limited to 500 MB per day, which won't make it through an hour-long webinar. I will selectively listen/watch webinars sponsored by Legacy Family Tree, Southern California Genealogical Society, and Minnesota Genealogy Society (for whom I'll be presenting in May).

Maybe I'm just jaundiced from being overeducated and very, very experienced as both an academic researcher and a genealogist. I expect to learn new things and explore new ideas when I go to a conference, not just hear the same old recycled presentations from the same presenters. I really loathe presenters peddling their wares during their presentations and have run into that at every national conference I've attended. I'm clearly not a genealogy groupie, nor do I have any status whatsoever in the genealogy community, so I don't get the same treatment Randy (and others) do at conferences. If my husband is with me (often the case these days), I really can't participate fully in social functions. For my travel dollars, I'd rather be researching in the areas where my ancestors lived or in national/regional repositories.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

SNGF: Updated Ancestor Score

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is (essentially) to update our Ancestor Score from last year. You can see the details of his challenge here.
Last year's post on this same topic can be found here.

So, here is my updated table:
Relationship Possible People People in MY Tree Percent
1 Me 1 1 100%
2 Parents 2 2 100%
3 Grandparents 4 4 100%
4 Great-grandparents 8 8 100%
5 2x Great-grandparents 16 16 100%
6 3x Great-grandparents 32 30 94%
7 4x Great-grandparents 64 33 52%
8 5x Great-grandparents 128 35 27%
9 6x Great-grandparents 256 24 9%
10 7x Great-grandparents 512 21 4%

This year I created Outline Ancestor Reports in my two (paternal and maternal) Family TreeMaker databases, with me as the starting person. These reports number each generation, so it was easy to just count how many of each generation number were in each report. Much easier than what I did last year!

My overall score this year is 17%, a whopping 1% increase over last year. The research I did on my father's SONNEN and MOHR lines in September at the Family History Library added 7 names to my direct line, 2 in the 6th generation and 5 in the 7th generation.

Unfortunately, I don't have any New England ancestry and by the 10th generation almost all of my lines are back in the "old country." I have a smattering of 11th and 12th generation ancestor names in my database, but none beyond that. Even my "Swedes on the Delaware" line (STILLE/STILLEY) ancestors were born in Sweden by the 11th generation (b. 1640).