Saturday, October 21, 2017

SNGF: Surname Counts

Today's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) from Randy Seaver involves counting the surnames in your genealogy database.
Specifically, he asks us to:
1) Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to Count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2)  Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

3)  Tell us what the top 10 (or 20)  surnames are in your database and, if possible, how many entries.  How many different surnames are in your family tree?

4)  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on Facebook, or in Google Plus Stream post.

Unfortunately, I don't have all my research in a single file.
I have separate files in Family Tree Maker 2014 for my maternal (Swicegood), paternal (Sharp) and husband's (Sommarstrom) families.

So, for my SWICEGOOD file, containing 15,967 individuals, my most frequent names are:
     Name                Count      Males    Females     Earliest     Most Recent
BROOKSHIRE       822         460          357          1690            1974
UNKNOWN           415           32          382           1745            1998
SWICEGOOD        284         149          133           1754            1995
WOOLERY            177           97            79           1739            1919
QUIGG                   174           96            76           1784            1973
COFFEY                 170           99            69           1776            1962
CRABTREE           168          104           63           1683            1958
BARTSHE              146           67           76            1771            1966
PAXTON                135           80           54            1742            1956
CAMPBELL           133           66           66            1705            1948

For my SHARP file, containing 2266 individuals, the top 10 surnames are:
SHARP *                210          105         104           1746            1996
RYASON                70            33           36           1801             1896
RYERSON              68            37           31           1737             1909
UNKNOWN           52              8           44           1645             1828
SULTS                    46            20           26           1805             1981
THOMAS               39            20           19           1735             1896
McFARLAND        37           21            16           1760             1900
REYERSE              34           16            18           1664             1761
STILLEY               34            16           18            1709             1845
SONNEN               33            23           10            1799             1949

Prior to taking the SHARP surname, my direct ancestors were SCHARFENSTEINs. There are 28 of those in my database (17 males, 11 females) dating from 1655 to 1767.

And lastly, my SOMMARSTROM database contains 1880 individuals, with the top surnames being
SOMMARSTROM       161       82       78           1778            1988
ERSSON                         65       43       22           1705             1909
OLSSON                        58       36        22           1726             1950
ERIKSSON                    50       30        20           1704             1959
JOHNSON                     48       34        14           1846             1994
ANDERSSON               44        21       23            1693            1977
MILLER                        44        21       23            1840             1932
JANSSON                     38        20       18            1822             1947
NILSSON                      33        22       11            1783             1908
MATTSSON                 32        24         8            1701             1960

These surname counts for my husband's Swedish/Finnish lines are pretty meaningless, since most of his ancestors used patronymic names or were children of soldiers, whose surnames were defined by where they were serving at the time the child was born. For almost every "-son" name above, there's a comparable "-dotter" surname.

Unfortunately, I didn't find an easy way to determine how many distinct surnames were in each tree and I'm too lazy to count all the names manually. The frequency lists were easy to create as Surname Reports sorted by frequency in FTM.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

SNGF: Ancestral Residences

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) challenge for this week tweaked my interest and there's football on the TV (which doesn't require any of my brain power).

His challenge for this week is to
1)  Determine where your ancestral families were on 16 September 1917 - 100 years ago.
2)  List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?
3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.

On September 16, 1917, my Mother was just over 6 months old; my father wasn't yet born (but would be in about 7 weeks).
My Mother's family--she, her older sister, Mother (Earl and Fay Swicegood)--were living in Otis, Washington County, Colorado.

This photo was taken sometime in 1919 in Otis, so I assume that's their house behind my Mother.

I visited Otis in about 2007, but couldn't figure out which house Mom's family might have lived in, if it was still standing. There are apparently no City Directories (or rural directories) for Otis while my family resided there.

My Mother's paternal grandparents, John H. and Martha Swicegood, may also have been living in Otis in September 1917, or they could have been in or near Weaubleau, Missouri. At the time of the 1920 Census, they lived in Otis; by December 1921 they were back in Weaubleau. Either place, I don't have a photo of their house. Their youngest daughter, Beulah, was still living at home in 1917.

My Mother's maternal grandparents, Charles and Nancy Brookshire, were definitely living in Weaubleau, Hickory County, Missouri, in September 1917. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly where in Weaubleau they were living, as they moved around quite a bit between about 1915 and 1935 (or so my uncle has said). Their two youngest children, Freda Mae and Henry Lee Brookshire, was still living at home in 1917. This photo is from Freda's photo album and is dated 1915, so this could be where the family was living in 1917 as well.

None of my Mother's paternal great-grandparents (my 2g-grandparents) were living in 1917), but both maternal great-grandfathers were. Henry Clay Brookshire was still working as a doctor at age 68 in September 1917 and living with his third wife in Weaubleau, Missouri. I believe this is the house he was living in. This is his granddaughter, Freda Mae Brookshire, standing in front of her grandfather's house in about 1915. And I believe the color photo is the same house in 2006.

My Mother's Mother's other maternal great-grandfather, Robert H. Collins, was also still living in 1917. I believe he was probably living in Idaho near Hailey. He wrote a letter to the local Hickory County newspaper in December 1917 from Hailey, so I assume he was there two months earlier. I have no idea exactly where he lived in Hailey. He could have been camping out in the mountains near the silver mine he owned with his uncle, Jacob Bartshe.

On my father's side, he was not born yet. His parents, Harold H. and Virginia Sharp, were probably living in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas with his older brother. 

His paternal grandfather, Alvah Clyde Sharp, was also still living. The 1918 Wichita, Kansas, city directory lists Clyde and his second wife, Rose, residing at 305 W. 8th St. The house that's at that address now, according to Google maps, is definitely not the house that would have been there 100 years ago. In September 1917, Clyde's two step-daughters, Ella and Norma, would have been living with them.

Dad's maternal grandmother, Matilda Elizabeth "Tillie" (Sonnen) Meldrum was also still living in September 1917. She was living at 414 Andrews St. in Houston, Texas. Her youngest son, Curtis B. Meldrum (b.1904), and daughter, Nancy Marie (b.1905) were living with her. I have no photos of this house.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

SNGF: Family Numbers

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) challenge this week caught my attention.

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:
1) Pick one of your sets of great-grandparents - if possible, the one with the most descendants.
2) Create a descendants list for those great-grandparents either by hand or in your software program. 3) Tell us how many descendants, living or dead, are in each generation from those great-grandparents.
4) How many are still living? Of those, how many have you met and exchanged family information with? Are there any that you should make contact with ASAP? Please don't use last names of living people for this - respect their privacy.
5) Write about it in your own blog post, in comments to this post, or in comments or a Note.

1) I've selected my mother's father's father and mother, John Hiram Richmon Sharpe SWICEGOOD and Marth Elizabeth COFFEY for this challenge. I've actually been working on this line, and John Hiram's siblings lines, recently.

2) I created an outline descendant chart in Family TreeMaker.

3) Children: John and Martha had four children. One died at birth. The other three are all dead.
    Grandchildren: 7; one (my uncle, age 91+, still living
    Great grandchildren: 17; all living except 2
    Great great grandchildren: at least 14; all living; probably more from a line I can't seem to trace
    3rd great grandchildren: at least 10; all living; probably more from a line I can't seem to trace
    4th great grandchildren; none that I know of

4) I am in contact with all of my first cousins, at least to some extent. As a child, I met both of my grandfather's sisters. They scared the heck out of me. My grandfather's older sister had no children. His younger sister had one son, who I apparently met as a young child. He died in Colorado in 1975 and I have not had much luck tracing his descendants. Total increase is at least 48.

I need to try harder to track down the descendants of my grandfather's younger sister. I'm pretty sure my living uncle is the only descendant of his grandparents on both sides still living.

Friday, March 10, 2017

100th Anniversary of Mother's Birth

Today, March 10, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of my mother's birth.
She died in 1996, so didn't make it to 80.
For the last several weeks, my mother keeps popping into my head.
And I keep thinking how different her life would have been if she'd been born in 2017 instead of 1917.
Mother, Nancy Leah Swicegood, was born in the small Ozark town of Weaubleau, Hickory County, Missouri.

Fairly soon after she was born, Mom's family moved to Otis, Washington County, Colorado. Her father, William Earl Swicegood had gotten a lead on work from his brother-in-law, Clio Vanderford (husband of his sister, Pearl). According to local newspapers, Earl got quite a few contracts with the county for concrete work. The family stayed in Otis until at least 1922, but mother Fay returned to Weaubleau several times. In August 1918, Fay somehow spilled a pot of boiling water over Leah, then a tiny toddler. Fay's mother and sister came out to Otis and they took Leah back to Weaubleau to nurse her burns. In 1919, Fay and daughters returned to Weaubleau for the birth of a third daughter, Nina Lee (born November 1st). At the time of the 1920 US Census, the family was still living in Otis and Earl was working as a contractor on a bridge project. Leah was listed as "Leo F." a male. From the photo at left, it's not surprising that the census taker might mistake her for a little boy!

The family of five returned to Weaubleau by fall 1922 so that the eldest daughters, Dee and Leah, could start school. It's not clear whether they both started school that fall or just Deloris. By all accounts, Mom excelled in school. One of her first cousins often told a story about how they were in the first grade together one day and the next day Mom was promoted to the second grade. Unfortunately, she would not talk about her childhood. I know she was a very good debater in high school and apparently the smartest person in her small graduating class.

But by the time she graduated from high school on May 10, 1934, she was deeply in love with a man a couple of years her senior, L. Jay Thomson. She apparently turned down an all-expenses-paid scholarship to the University of Missouri in favor of working as assistant Postmaster to her mother at Weaubleau. She and Jay were married on October 12th, 1935, but I'm not sure where or by whom. Their license was issued in Camdenton, Camden County, Missouri, but was not returned there. A daughter, Elsie Ann Thomson, was born on February 11th, 1936 and died five days later. She is buried in the Weaubleau Congregational Christian Church cemetery in Weaubleau. Jay was not present at the birth, as the couple was already estranged at that time. Mom filed for divorce on April 14th and the divorce was granted on Nov. 16th, 1936 on the grounds of "unreconcileable differences." Jay clearly did not want the child and insisted that she either abort it or give it up for adoption. Mom disagreed, but never once talked about this phase of her life or even admitted to this marriage and baby.

As far as I can tell, Mom left Weaubleau fairly soon after the death of her daughter and filing her application for divorce. She spent time with her grandparents in Jefferson City (Nov 1936-Jan 1937), attended comptometry school in Springfield (Feb-April 1937) and went to work for the Soil Conservation Service in Columbia, Missouri (April 1937-April 1942), and lived for a short time with her older sister in Jefferson City. At the time of the 1940 Census, she was rooming with a family and two other girls who all worked as comptometers. She did not admit to being divorced or having had a child. Her salary was $1169 per year. Curiously, the 1940 Columbia City Directory shows her renting an apartment at 109 Price ave. (same as census address) with her younger sister, Nina, a student.

On May 21, 1942 the Women's Army Air Corps was authorized by the U. S. Congress to recruit 25,000 women in 62 occupations. Comptometry was not one of them. Mom went to Los Angeles to enlist on Feb. 3, 1943. Her favorite aunt and uncle were living in the L.A. area at the time, so I assume that's why she went to L.A. to enlist. On May 1, 1943 the Army announced a new program where qualified women could enroll in the WAAC and receive Signal Corps training as radio operators and repairmen. Mom was in the first WAAC Signal Corps class, arriving in Hollidaysburg, PA on April 3, 1943 and graduating on August 6th. She was sent to Camp Crowder in Neosho, Missouri as a radio instructor for about three months, then reassigned to Vint Hill Farms Station near Warrenton, Virginia (1 Dec 1943).

My siblings and I have been told different stories about where Mom and Dad met. Dad was also in the Army, serving in the Signal Corps. Unfortunately, most of Mom's records and about half of Dad's cannot be found by the Army records service. We know they were both assigned to Vint Hill Farms and to Fort Monmouth, NJ, but don't have specific dates. They were married at Fort Monmouth, NJ on June 24, 1944 and Mom was mustered out of the Army on Sept. 21, 1944 at Vint Hill "for the convenience of the United States Army."

For the next twenty years Mom was an Army wife, following Dad to duty stations in California, Eritrea, Virginia, Japan, Massachusetts and probably locations I don't know about. She had four more children and was a "stay-at-home" Mom until 1962, when she went to work at Penn State to qualify for dependent tuition reductions (allowing us to pay $25 per quarter instead of $100).

To be continued...

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.