Saturday, December 7, 2013

SNGF: My 2013 Dear Genea-Santa Letter

So....this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is to write a letter to Genea-Santa, including information on how good/bad you've been this year and what you'd like Genea-Santa to bring you in terms of genealogy gifts this year.

Dear Genea-Santa,

I may have sloughed off a little this year in the genealogy good deeds department, because after 4 years I finally rotated off the Seattle Genealogical Society's Board of Directors the first of June. That doesn't mean I've stopped volunteering; but I have definitely cut back from my 20 to 40 hours per week I had been putting in over the last 4 years. I did still write 3 grant proposals, managed another funded grant (for digitizing and indexing VFW membership cards we found in our storage area), made several presentations for SGS (with another one next week) and several more for other area genealogy societies, served as desk volunteer in the SGS library at least once a month, proofread the SGS Newsletters and Bulletins, and helped at least a dozen people with their family history research. I also attended my first RootsTech (never again) and submitted 5 presentation proposals for the 2014 FGS conference (all declined, so likewise never again).

In theory, not being on the Board should give me lots more time for my own research, but that really hasn't happened. My husband and I have done a lot more travel since June, but he's not terribly patient when I veer off to visit courthouses and cemeteries. We did stop in Oquawka, my father's father's father's birthplace and burial place to half of his US ancestry. But that was for less than 4 hours; I could have stayed for several days digging into the Henderson County courthouse and surrounding towns. And I have managed to convince a couple of relatives (one I've never met) into doing DNA tests for me. But there's a lot more I'd like to do.

What I would love to see under our Christmas tree (if we manage to get one up this year; we're still on the road right now), dear Genea-Santa, are the following genealogy gifts:

1. Leads to finding direct line male descendants of my Henry Collins (abt. 1802-1852) and Nicholas Campbell (1808-1876) who are willing to have their DNA tested.

2. An introduction to one or more of my living SHARP relatives who is interested in our family history and willing and able to share stories, photos and information about my Dad and his family.

3. A good quality, lightweight LCD projector (link is to one on sale at Staples, but if you know of a better deal....) so that I can offer a beginning genealogy class to the folks at Desert Gold RV Resort where we spend February and March. I promise I won't charge for teaching the class.

4. A pile of money and willing relatives to fund more DNA tests (especially FTDNA Family Finder tests) so that I can better respond to queries I receive about how I'm related to other people with matching strings on individual chromosomes.

This is beginning to sound a bit greedy, so I'd better stop here.

I can't promise there will be treats left when you get to our house, but I will put them out. The kids will be home and may beat you to them. If there's any left, be sure to try our family's favorite holiday cookie, Chocolate Krinkles, and some of the Caruva Horchata Cream liqueur.

Thank you for whatever you bring me to help with my genealogy pursuits, dear Genea-Santa. I know there are many family historians more needy than me, but I have been at this a long, long time and would really love to break down some of these pesky brick walls in 2014.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

SNGF: Geneamaps!

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge for this week involves maps, so of course I have to do it!
Randy's challenge this week (see is to generate maps of US states and Canadian provinces we've visited using the cool mapping tool at The "advanced challenge" is to generate maps of your 16 great-great grandparents resided when they married.

1. Map of my travels:
The color definitions are as follows:
    pink is for states/provinces I've visited, but no spent much time in
    amber is for states/provinces where I've at least slept and seen some sights
    blue is for states/provinces where I've spent a lot of time and seen a fair amount
    green is for states/provinces where I've spent a great deal of time on multiple visits (or lived)

YES, I have visited EVERY state in the U.S. at least once and I've lived in Virginia, Missouri (briefly, as a baby), Japan, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Ohio, Colorado,  Washington, Hawaii, and Arizona (only in winter). My parents retired to Florida, in-laws lived in California, and daughter lives in Minnesota. I've driven across the country three times (so far) and visiting the Canadian maritime provinces is definitely on my bucket list.

2. Randy suggests showing where our 3rd great-grandparents were living at the time of their marriage. That only gives me 8 points, since they all resided near each other prior to marriage, so my next map is of states where my 3rd great-grandparents were BORN.

On this map,
    pink is for states where ONE 3ggparent was born;
    amber is for states where TWO 3ggparents were born;
    blue is for states where THREE 3ggparents were born;
    green is for states where FOUR 3ggparents were born.

Note that this map only shows birth locations for 13 of my 3ggparents; the other 3 were immigrants to the U.S., being born in England (one) and Germany (two). The NJ and OH births (+ all 3 foreign births) were on my Dad's side; the

Saturday, October 12, 2013

SNGF: Henry Numbers

Randy Seaver is back from his genealogy cruise and back to challenging geneabloggers with his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week's challenge (see ) asks us to:
  1. Go to our first known ancestor with our birth surname and calculate our Henry Number from that person. Show each generation of your line of ancestors with your birth surname with their Henry numbers.
  2. How did you calculate the Henry numbers? What do these numbers tell you?
  3. Tell what you did in your own blog post.....
My responses:
1.  My first known ancestor with my birth surname is Peter SCHARFENSTEIN (1655-1713). Here is my descent from him:
1                    Peter Scharfenstein (1655-1713)
11                  Matthias Scharfenstein (1678-1756; immigrant ancestor)
111                Johann Moritz Scharfenstein [aka Morris Sharp] (1714-1781)
1118              Morris Sharp/Scharfenstein (1750-1823)
11186            Morris Sharp (1796- ? )
111868          Morris T Sharp (1834-1917)
1118681        Alvah Clyde Sharp (1871-1923) *
11186811      Harold Herbert Sharp (1893-1934) *
111868112    Alva Curtis Sharp (1917-1978)
1118681123   Virginia Leah Sharp (1948-Living)

* Denotes a son who was the eldest son with living children.

2. I generated an Outline Descendant Report in Family Tree Maker 2009 and manually added the Henry numbers, as I couldn't see a way to get FTM to do it. I'm not sure I have all the children for the first three generations of this list. I haven't focused much on this line for quite some 25 years (?) 
     I was somewhat surprised to notice in doing this that I am doubly descended from Peter Scharfenstein. The Outline Descendant Report is 28 pages long. Through my direct male Sharp line I show up on page 22. But I also appear on page 6! As it turns out, Morris Sharp (11186) married Anna Mary Thomas (111312), a granddaughter of Anna Sharp [Scharfenstein] (1113). Notice that we have mis-matched generations here, which is not surprising given the birth positions, which are obvious in this numbering system.

Interesting system, but since I'm not sure I have all the children in all of the generations, it's probably not terribly accurate. And, of course, if you go another generation back, you have to start all over again!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Classic Courthouses

I have to say that I really, REALLY love old courthouses.
Unfortunately, I lot of them have been knocked down and replaced by more modern structures.
Those I don't even bother photographing.
But when I see a nice courthouse dome or spire peaking above the trees in a town, I just have to make a detour and take a photo.
On our trip from Seattle to Minneapolis via US-12 we came across a couple of nice courthouses.

This is the Brown County, South Dakota courthouse in Aberdeen, SD. Built in 1904, it is a Renaissance Revival style building. I absolutely love that there are clocks on all four sides of the dome structure. I think the statue atop the dome is Justice, but am not positive. Forgot to bring my binoculars along!

At right is the Swift County, Minnesota courthouse in Benson, MN. It was built in 1898 to replace an earlier courthouse that proved too small to meet the growing county's needs. There are some old postcard images of this courthouse here.

Pity all county seats don't have such classic courthouses, isn't it?

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Book of Me, Week 2--Auspicious Beginnings

I am the third of four children. My father was active military until I was 9, so was gone for long periods of time. As such, there are very few photos of me as a child.
I'm guessing that the photo to the right is me, but it just as well could be my younger brother. We can't decide, so I'll pretend it's me.
My Mother told the story of my birth so many times that I started to feel guilty. Dad was stationed at Vint Hill Farms Station, near Warrenton, VA (at the time, a top secret intelligence installation) and they were living in nearby Manassas as there were no available family accommodations on base. The brilliant VA doctors decided that I was going to be born before the end of June, and they insisted that Mom give birth at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., about 50 miles away, due to possible Rh complications and the fact that my sister's birth was very quick. My older siblings were aged 39 and 17 months.
So.....the military "powers that be" made Mom stay in a guest house at Walter Reed for an entire month, waiting for my birth. All the while, she protested that I wasn't going to come until late July. My father would bring my older siblings to visit when he could, but that often turned out to be embarrassing for my mother, as (in her words) "They looked like little street urchins."
My birth itself was apparently uneventful. I was born on Friday, 23 July 1948. I have no idea what time of day or night, as there is no baby book or photo album for me.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

SNGF: Spin the Ancestor Roulette Wheel!

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge this week is:

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:
1) What year was one of your great-grandmothers born?  Divide this number by 125 (use a calculator!) and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."
2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel" - 
your software will create this - use the "Ahnentafel List" option, or similar). Who is that person, and what are his/her vital information?

3) Tell us three to five facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook status or a Google Stream post, or as a comment on this blog post.

My 4 great-grandmothers were born in 1871, 1873, 1873 and 1867. Divided by 125 and rounded to the nearest whole number yields the number of 15. What a surprise!

Number 15 in my Ahnentafel (based on me) is my mother's mother's mother, Nancy Jane COLLINS. I could write a book about her, since I've been absolutely fascinated by her my entire life.
1. My maternal great-grandmother was known as "Nannie" by friends and many relatives; she was "Mammo" to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
2. Mammo was the only of my great-grandmothers that I ever met. She was born in 1873 and died in 1966, about two months before my high school graduation. After her last child (my grandmother) died earlier that year (late February), Mammo got her affairs in order and basically gave up on life. She announced that she "was ready to meet my maker" and went to sleep.
3. Mammo lived her entire life in Missouri, almost all of it in Hickory County. She did live a few years in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, where all three of her children were born, but the family returned to Weaubleau, Hickory County within 5 years. Later in life, her husband took a job as a guard at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City and Mammo moved there for a few years, once again returning to Weaubleau after the Republicans took over.
4. Mammo had fiery red hair that turned snow white when she hit her 80s. She always wore it in a bun on the back of her head. When we moved to Pennsylvania she came and visited us and shared a room with me. I can still remember watching her brush her waist-length white hair and the light of the street lamp glinting off of it.
5. Mammo was feisty and strong-willed. Once in the early 1930s she took over writing the Weaubleau "locals" column for the weekly county newspaper and regaled the men in the area who drank alcohol and didn't attend church on Sunday. She was relieved of her correspondent duties in short order!
6. Mammo never once spelled my name correctly. She insisted that "Ginny" should be spelled with a "J"!
7. I have spent countless hours trying to evaluate the accuracy of the stories Mammo told and the family history "facts" Mammo wrote about in her letters. While there's been a grain of truth in all of them, none have proven to be very accurate.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cemetery Tours are FUN!

Today we had another great Seattle Genealogical Society cemetery tour, led by Amber Case and Lisa Oberg. This time we visited the GAR Cemetery on Capital Hill, just North of the much larger Lakeview Cemetery.

The photo at left is of the obelisk "In Memory of Our Heroes" that was erected by the Women's Relief Corps. All of the stones in the cemetery are flat, or at least relatively so. The original upright stones were re-set at a low angle many years ago.

There are some fascinating stories in this cemetery. Amber and Lisa shared a few of them with us. Not surprisingly, none of the Civil War veterans or their wives we heard about were originally from Washington state. Several of them took long, circuitous routes to get here, living in as many as 8 states en route.

I could easily get sidetracked by these cemetery stories; there are just so many of them that are absolutely fascinating. I don't know how Lisa and Amber make any progress on their own family research, given the amount of research they do for these cemetery tours. Thanks to both of you for a very pleasant and informative afternoon.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

SNGF: 100 Words on My Most Interesting Ancestor

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seavers of geneamusings is to write a short 100 word story using the phrase "...the most interesting ancestor I have ..." in 100 words and then share it.

Here's my offering:

Robert Henry Collins is my most interesting ancestor...and my obsession! Born on 6 August 1849 in Benton County, MO to Henry W. Collins and his second wife, Susannah Bartshe, Robert was an only child with 14 step-siblings and another 14 double-step-siblings (children of his mother’s other two husbands). He married Rebecca Jane Campbell in 1872, with whom he had 5 children before she died in April 1882. Then he vanished. From newspapers I know he traveled widely in the West, living in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana, occasionally returning to Missouri. He committed suicide in my great-grandmother’s smokehouse in 1924, age 75.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

High hopes for a Brookshire Breakthrough!

I have been doing family history research for well over 45 years, beginning with helping my grandmother help someone else write a history of our part of the Boone family. My mother and I were working on her lines back in the mid 1970s. My mother's mother was a BROOKSHIRE, and try as I might, I haven't been able to connect our line of Brookshires to either of the two brothers from whom supposedly all U.S. Brookshires descend. There have been several well-researched books written on the Brookshires in the U.S., but those authors have either ignored our line or stuck them in the "uncategorized" section. It's been very frustrating. I cannot begin to count how many hours I've spent searching for and reading early records of east Tennessee and southwest Virginia trying to find my 3-great and 4-great grandfathers.
I've researched all of my great-great-grandfather's children and their lines. While Henry Clay Brookshire was married three times and had three wives and 6 sons, only 3 of those sons lived to adulthood and only one had a son who lived to adulthood and had a son. I did track that male Brookshire down, but he was totally disinterested in his family history and was outraged when I asked him to do DNA testing.
So a couple of weeks ago I went back to my Brookshire genealogy and stepped back another generation to Henry Clay Brookshire's brothers, sons of William L. Brookshire. William and Sarah (VARNELL) Brookshire had at least 10 children, 6 of whom were sons. I had identified a number of male Brookshire descendants of these men over the years, but have never been able to actually "find" any of them in real life. So I started looking again and amazingly found a son of a son of a son of James Houston Brookshire, the eldest child of William and Sarah.
Even better, I discovered that this 4th cousin of mine is on Facebook.
After messaging back and forth a few times, I told my new favorite 4th cousin about the sale that FTDNA is running on DNA testing and he agreed to YDNA testing. I am SO hoping his DNA will tell us which of the brothers we descend from, although the BROOKSHIRE group at FTDNA apparently only has 10 test results.
Hope springs eternal.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

SNGF: The Rivers of our Ancestors

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver of Geneamusings is a particularly fun one for me, as a geographer.

This week, your Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission is to make a map using the National Atlas map (at the downstream course of a river that one of your ancestors may have traveled on.  What does it tell you?  What did you learn?  Did they live at other places on that river, or downstream of that river?  

Tell us about it in a blog post of your own (please show us the map you created - use an image snipping tool or take a screen shot), or make a comment here on this post, or write a Facebook status or a Google+ stream post.  

As I commented on Randy's blog post about the Streamer maps yesterday, I have some tangential ancestors in my SWICEGOOD line who went out to the California goldfields to get rich in 1850. According to one source,

“William Crutsinger and a company of sixteen left Knoxville April 3, 1850, on the riverboat Ellen White to make the cross-country journey from Independence to California. The group was made up primarily of men from the upper counties of East Tennessee.They reached the gold fields by the middle of August 1850 where their presence was reported August 23 by J. S. Wall of Kingsport who had arrived by sea about a month before. No account of their crossing has been discovered.” [1]

I’ve tried in the past to figure out what route that riverboat might have taken, but have not been successful. Streamer shows me that the Tennessee River, which flows through Knoxville, flows into the Ohio River at Paducah, KY, which then joins the Mississippi River at Cairo, IL. A riverboat could then chug upstream on the Mississippi to St. Louis, connecting to the Missouri River to near Independence.
Quite a trip!

[1] Durham, Walter T. Volunteer Forthy-Niners, Tennesseans and the California Gold Rush. Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville and London, 1997, page 105.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fraternal/Social Organizations: What were our ancestors up to?

One of the things I do for the Seattle Genealogical Society (SGS) is attempt to raise a little money by posting some of our extra books (duplicates and books that don't fit into our library collection on Ebay.

I brought another box home from SGS the other day and started working through it. Last night I came across this amazing book. It's relatively large (10.5" x 12.5") in format, but only contains about 60 pages. It's a hardback and the decorative strip on the front is embroidery, with every centimeter of that strip covered with thread.

The only text and only black-and-white pages are the title page and what would normally be the table of contents. In this case, it's a list of attendees and invitees to a single event--the 43rd annual Ranch Meeting of the Conquistadores del Cielo in September 1980 at the A Bar A ranch near Jackson, Wyoming. Most of the book's 60 pages are covered with color photos of wealthy men connected to the aerospace industry in some way having a good time. They're shown arriving on their private planes, dining, golfing, playing tennis, skeet shooting, fishing, ..... you get the idea.

As it turns out, the Conquistadores del Cielo--the Conquerors of the Sky--is a very exclusive fraternity (at least in 1980 they were all men; hopefully it's been integrated by now) of the most prominent leaders in the global aviation industry, including heads of the largest airlines and aircraft/power plant manufacturers. They've been meeting since 1938, and are apparently still active. The affiliations are not listed for the members, but the invited guests for the 1980 ranch meeting included executives from Eastern Airlines, General Dynamics Corp., British Caledonian Airlines, Douglas Aircraft Corp., Hughes Aircraft Corp., Rockwell International, American Airlines, United Technologies, Boeing, Canadair, Pratt & Whitney, Gulfstream, and TigerAir. There are apparently multiple levels of membership, as some are listed as "ranch members" and some as "fiesta members", plus a few (3) life members. Officers and Directors are listed. The only names I recognize are T. A. Wilson, former chairman of Boeing, Bob Crandall, chairman of American Airlines, and Neil Armstrong, astronaut. I'm sure aerospace enthusiasts would recognize many more names. If you're interested, they're all included in our eBay listing here.

Posting this book got me thinking. What organizations did my ancestors belong to? What role did these organizations play in their lives? How can I find out what groups they affiliated with? I do have a couple of membership cards in my ephermera collection. I've got my great-grandfather Brookshire's membership certificate in Blendville Lodge 573, Independent Order of Oddfellows, from 1913. And I've got a small red membership/dues card for my great-great-grandfather Collins from the Communist Party in Galata, MT, showing dues paid through 1913. Unfortunately, I've had no luck learning more about the latter, but it sure is intriguing. I know from newspaper accounts that my maternal grandmother was active in several "social clubs" in Weaubleau, MO, in the 1920s and 1930s, but they don't seem to have been formally chartered organizations. To fill out my ancestors' FAN clubs (friends-associates-neighbors) it certainly would be nice to know what social clubs they belonged to. Anybody have any ideas about how to find membership lists for such groups? If so, please post a comment.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

SNGF: Database Stats

This week Randy Seavers of the Geneamusings blog has challenged us with the following tasks:

1)If you have your family tree research in a Genealogy Management Program (GMP), whether a computer software program or an online family tree, figure out how many persons, places, sources, etc. are in your database (hint:  the Help button is your friend!)
2)  Tell us which GMP you use, and how many persons, places, sources, etc. are in your database(s) today in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook status or Google+ stream comment.

This was more easily said than done for me, since (1) I don't have all of my families in a single tree and (2) I'm still using an older version of Family Tree Maker (2009). I could not find the number of places (just the number of unresolved places) nor the number of sources (just the number of source groups).

What I was able to generate for my THREE family files is shown below.

                                 SWICEGOOD                  SHARP              SOMMARSTROM
                           (my maternal lines)   (my paternal lines)    (husband's lines)
People                       14,684                           2,014                    1,855
Marriages                     4,868                             734                       558
Generations                      14                               14                        11
Surnames                     2,485                             593                       417
Source groups                 596                             156                           9 (?)  

Is there any doubt as to where I spend my research time?
It could have something to do with the fact that I have NEVER met ANYONE on my father's side of the family and that nobody in my husband's family has shown any interest in family history. On the other hand, I regularly correspond with a number of cousins on my mother's side (from 1st to 5th!) and several of them keep asking me questions about truly tangential lines (for me).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

SNGF: Remembering Dad on Fathers' Day

Randy at Genea-Musings has given us this challenge this Father's Day weekend ================================================================
Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Sunday, 16 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about our Father, or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).
2)  What are three things about your father (or significant male ancestor) that you vividly remember about him?
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.

Curt and Nancy Sharp ca. 1977
This is my Dad as I remember him, except for the suit and tie! I only remember seeing him in a tie ONE time after he retired from the Army in 1957.

Alva Curtis Sharp was born on Halloween in 1917 and died in September 1978, seven weeks short of his 61st birthday. One of the most important things about my Dad is that he never had any contact with his family after he ran off and joined the Army in 1925. And he was adamant that he didn't want any of his kids (meaning me) researching his family history. After his early death from cardiac arrest, my Mother continued that policy and would not listen to any of my findings about his family. In fact, it wasn't until after she died in 1996 that I learned his family had been in contact in 1979 and a brother had even come to meet her. Ah, the secrets we hide.....

My Dad was incredibly smart and, when he decided to take up a new hobby, did it whole-heartedly. In the early 1950s that hobby was photography. In the later 1950s and 60s, it was woodworking. He built much of our family's furniture. In the late 1960s he got into golf. In the 1970s he took up needlepoint. Thankfully, we have many mementos from his various hobbies.

My Dad was also very athletic. Neither of his sons had any interest in sports, but I did. He taught me how to pitch and hit and tried to sneak me into Little League as a kid (girls weren't allowed then). He was a semi-pro bowler at one time and supposedly made quite a lot of money hustling bowlers. He'd bowl right-handed until he hooked some poor guy, then switch to his natural left-handed style. He taught me to bowl starting when I was about 8 or 9 and insisted that I do it "right." That instruction finally paid off when we got Wii Bowling a few years ago; impressed the heck out of our kids that I could pick up spares! I spent hundreds of hours with my Dad at the local bowling alley, either be instructed, bowling in youth leagues that he ran, or keeping score for him, sometimes even in league play.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

SNGF: Genealogy fun this week?

Since Randy Seaver, the originator of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, is having too much fun at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree this week, he posed the simple question in the title of this post as this week's SNGF challenge. Given how much truly useful and informative genealogy-related information Randy posts each week, I'm not complaining.
But as for genealogy fun this week, I don't have much to report.
As I write this I'm listening to the start of Jean Wilcox Hibben's presentation on "Creating Stories from Stats" at Jamboree via LiveStream. I can't thank SCGS enough for making some of their live presentations available to those of us who couldn't make it to Jamboree this year. I also watched/listened to Judy Russell yesterday and Craig Scott this morning. Both were great presentations and I'm hoping Jean's is equally as good.
Other than listening to these presentations, I haven't done much genealogy this week. I had a good time volunteering as the desk volunteer at the Seattle Genealogical Society Library yesterday. Several people came in (thank Goodness!) and I was able to steer them to some potential resources. Amazingly, the first person who came in--purportedly to renew his SGS membership--had Danish ancestors who settled in Hudson, Wisconsin. This was a Hank Jones serendipity moment. Our good friends from Hudson are arriving here on Tuesday for a short visit. Anyway, I was able to read some of his Danish and suggest some resources he hadn't tried to find out more about them. I also offered to check for records the next time we're in Hudson, probably this fall.
Unfortunately, I haven't made any progress on my own research this week. I did some dabbling in my COLLINS line and requested help from a friend, but that's about it.
Time to concentrate on Jean's talk.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

SNGF: Locations of My Ancestors on 1 June 1863

Randy Seaver's challenge for tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is to identify WHERE our ancestors were living 150 years ago--on 1 June 1863--and to post photos of those homes.

Hah! It's taken me several hours just to identify which of my ancestors were living in June 1863 and where they were living. I have no photos of houses before about 1900. None of my ancestors lived in cities, so locations are pretty nebulous.

That said, here's what I came up with:

My Dad’s side:

Morris T. SHARP (b. 1834 in NJ), my 2ggf (father’s father’s father’s father), was living in South Henderson Township, Henderson Co., IL, according to the 1863 Civil War Draft Registration taken in June/July 1863. His future wife (married in 1868), Mary [McFarland] DREW (b. 1836 in OH), was at that time married to her first husband, George DREW, and living in the town of Oquawka, Henderson Co., IL, with George and 3 young children.
I don’t know if Morris’ father was still alive or not. His mother died in 1851, but I don’t know when his father died. Mary’s parents, William (b. 1793 in PA) and Nancy [STILLEY] McFARLAND (b. abt. 1804 in PA), were also living in Oquawka in 1863. Their two youngest sons, Absolom and Benjamin, may still have been living with them, as the 1863 Civil War Draft Registration of June/July 1863 lists them as both still single, working as shoemakers, and living in Oquawka town.
Levi RYASON (b. 1834 in OH), another 2ggf (father’s father’s mother’s father) and his wife, Susanna SULTS (b. 1837 in OH), were apparently still living in Clay township, La Grange County, Indiana in June 1863. According to Levi’s obituary, they moved to Illinois nine years after their marriage in April 1856. Levi’s parents, Isaac RYASON (b. 1808 in OH) and Susanna BUSCARK (b. 1811 in PA) were also living in La Grange County, Indiana in June 1863, in the same area as their son’s family. Susanna’s parents, Michael SULTS (b. 1805, PA) and Sophia HOWELL (b. 1812, PA) were both still alive and living in Steuben County, Indiana, apparently on a farm.
On my father’s maternal side, my 2ggf James Braithwaite MELDRUM (b. 1840 in England) was on the lam. On 16 Sept 1861, he enlisted as a private in Company A of the 47th PA Infantry. According to the “Register of Deserters” for that company, James B. Meldrum deserted on 24 Jan 1863 at Key West, Florida. The next record I have for him is his marriage in August 1866 at Easton, Northumberland Co., PA, so no telling where he was in June 1863. James’ future wife, Nancy Maria STARK (b. 1845, NJ) was probably still living with her parents, William and Jane STARK, in Northampton Co., PA, in June 1863. I know nothing about this line and haven’t focused any research efforts on them. James’ parents, David MELDRUM (b. 1819, England) and Emma BRAITHWAITE (b. 1815, England) were probably still living in Phillipsburgh township, Warren County, NJ in 1863. They don’t appear in the Pittsburgh city directories until 1865.
Also on my father’s maternal side, my 2ggf, Herman SONNEN (b. 1833, Germany) and his wife, Elizabeth MOHR (b. 1838, Germany) were living in New Orleans, LA, with their son Louis (age 3). Their second child was born later in June 1863. Herman was conscripted into Company F of the 5th Louisiana Infantry on 22 July 1863 for a term of 60 days. I suspect that he had served in the Confederate Army before, but don’t know the exact dates, so he may have been off soldiering on 1 June 1863. I know nothing about the parents of either Herman on Elizabeth.

My Mother’s side:
My 3ggf, Phillip SWICEGOOD (b. 1784, NC) would have been living with his 4th wife, Mary HUNT, in Davidson County, NC.  I don’t know if any of his 16 children were still living with him. His last child, Alice Elizabeth SWICEGOOD (b. 1849), died 20 July 1863, and is buried at Tyro, Davidson Co., NC, so I assume the family was still living in that area. My 2ggf, Andrew SWICEGOOD (b. 1811, NC to Phillip and his first wife, Magadalena NUNLEY, who died in 1818) moved to northern Georgia before 1850 and didn’t move to Hickory County, Missouri until after 1865. In 1863 Andrew and his wife, Sabray OWENS (b. 1819, TN) had 5 or 6 of their 10 children, including my ggf, John Hiram Richmond Sharpe SWICEGOOD (b. 1858),  still living with them. I don’t know if Sabray’s parents were still living or not.
In June 1863 my mother’s father’s mother’s father, Squire COFFEY (b. 1828, TN) was back with his wife, Drusilla PARKER (b.1833, TN) and 4 surviving children in Maries County, Missouri, living near his mother, Rachel {Boone] COFFEY (b. 1794, NC) and several of his siblings. Squire was between enlistments in the Union Army. He served from 13 July until 9 Nov 1862 in Co. A, Maries County Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) and from 21 Aug until 30 Nov 1863 in Co. K, 9th Provisional EMM.
On my mother’s mother’s side, my 3ggf, William L. BROOKSHIRE (b.1796, VA) had just died on 16 March 1863 in Hickory County, Missouri. His widow, Sarah A. (VARNELL) BROOKSHIRE stayed in Hickory County the rest of her life, until her death in 1885. Their youngest son, my 2ggf, Henry Clay BROOKSHIRE (b. 1848, Missouri) was probably still living with his mother in June 1863. One source says that “...after her husband’s death in 1862, Sarah moved the family to Cooper County, Missouri.”
Neither of my 3ggps on my mother’s mother’s father’s mother’s side were still living in 1863. Ironically, my 4ggf, Stephen WOOLERY (b. 1799, KY) and his wife, Hannah Woods BRISCOE (b. 1808, KY) were both still living near Mount Nebo, Cooper County, Missouri. Their granddaughter, Mildred Melvina WOOLERY (b. 1850, MO) was living with her parents and siblings near Spring Fork, Pettis County, Missouri in October 1860, but I don’t know who took the kids after both parents died within 13 months of the census date.
On my mother’s mother’s mother’s side, my 3ggf, Henry W. COLLINS (b. 1802, VA) had already been dead over ten years by June 1863 and his widow, Susannah BARTSHE (b. 1829, OH) was 10 years into her second marriage. I suspect that Susannah and Silas FREEMAN were living in Texas in 1863. They moved to Benton County, Arkansas before October 1860 and their fifth child was born in Collin County, Texas in October 1862. My 2ggf, Robert Henry COLLINS (b. 1849, MO) was living with his mother and step-family at the time of the 1860 census, but I don’t know if he was still with them in June 1863 or not. He could well have been living with some other relative by then. Susannah BARTSHE’s father, my 4ggf, Jacob BARTSHE (b. 1801, PA) was still alive in 1863 and living in or near Quincy, Hickory County, Missouri, with his second wife and a bunch of kids.

Robert Collins’ wife, Rebecca Jane CAMPBELL (b. 1842, MO) was married to her first husband, Daniel W. MILLER (b. 1839, MO) in July 1859 and already had two children by June 1863. They were living on the border of Benton and Hickory counties in mid-1863, just before Daniel enlisted in the Missouri State Militia and went off to fight the rebels. Jane’s father, Nicholas CAMPBELL (b. 1808, VA) was still alive in 1863, married to his second wife and living in Alexander township, Benton County, Missouri. Jane’s mother, Sarah Anne CRABTREE (b. 1817, TN) died in 1856 and both her parents were dead long before 1863.
If anyone can connect to any of these lines, please contact me using the Comment link below. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Weekend with Judy Russell

Wow! What a great weekend I've had. 
Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, was here in Seattle as the featured speaker at the Seattle Genealogical Society's annual Spring Seminar. What a treat for all who attended!

Don't let the photo on her website scare you. Judy is nowhere near as formal and serious as that photo would suggest. She's a surprisingly dynamic speaker with a great sense of humor. Who would guess that a lawyer could be funny?

I've attended a LOT of genealogy presentations over the years, including at multiple national conferences. Judy Russell is definitely in the top handful of genealogy speakers I've heard.

Back to Saturday--4 great presentations on topics related to using legal records for genealogy. I think most of us figured we'd gotten our money's worth after the first two presentations; the afternoon was gravy! I left with a long list of "To Dos" scribbled on the back of my syllabus. And, of course, stayed up until well after midnight searching some of the websites Judy suggested, because I kept finding things I'd never seen before about every ancestor I chose. Amazing!

To top off the weekend, Judy presented a special two-hour advanced case study workshop at SGS this morning. Attendance was limited to 25. Judy's presentation was an excellent example of the Genealogical Proof standard: conducting a "reasonably exhaustive search", "evaluating the records" and "analyzing your findings" to overcome a seemingly impossible brick wall. It makes me want to dive back into ALL of the records I've collected over the last 30+ years, organize them so I can actually see what I have, and work through the process of evaluating and analyzing all the information contained in them.

But the sun's shining in Seattle this afternoon, so obviously that's not going to happen today!

Really--if you have a chance to attend a Judy Russell talk, GO!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remembering My Mom on Mother's Day

My mother, Nancy Leah [Swicegood] Sharp, died over 16 years ago. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday. Other times it seems like a lifetime since she left us.

I found this photo in a box of old glass slides a couple of years ago and scanned it. It was apparently taken on the day of my third birthday party in Grant Heights, Tokyo, Japan. I don't remember my Mom ever being so skinny or so relaxed, but then again I don't remember her before she had 4 kids! She would have been 34 in this photo and it is probably my favorite photo of her. Wish I'd found it sooner!

I also wish I'd pushed my mother to answer more questions about HER life. We worked on researching her family history together for many years, but I could never get her to talk about her own life. She was quite miffed when her favorite aunt told me about her first baby who died at about 10 days old and a little about her first marriage. She had never admitted either to any of her surviving children.

As I've been attempting to piece together both of my parents' lives, it's astounding how much I don't know about them....and how each of us four kids have different perceptions about when and where they met, what their early married life and childhoods were like, etc. My Dad never talked about his family; didn't even know his mother's maiden name. He left home at a young age and never looked back...and absolutely would not talk about his childhood.

I am happy to say that I have mostly positive memories of my parents. Yes, my Dad was pretty tough on us, but what else what you expect of an Army captain? And both Mom and Dad were outrageously intelligent and instilled a love of learning in all of us. Now if I could just learn more about THEIR lives....

Saturday, May 4, 2013

SNGF: Looking for Y-DNA Sources

As usual, Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings has posted an interesting topic for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. And even though it's a beautiful summer day in Seattle (more like late July than May!), I'm responding because it's something I really need to do.

This week's challenge:

Find a living male person in your database from your maternal grandmother's patrilineal line who could take a Y-chromosome DNA test. Answer these questions:
1) What was your mother's mother's name?

2) What is your mother's mother's patrilineal line? That is, her father's father's father's ... back to the most distant male ancestor in that line?

3) Can you identify male sibling(s) of your mother's mother, and any living male descendants from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of the next generation back, or even further.

4)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, or in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook or Google Plus post.
My responses:
1. mother’s mother’s maiden name = Molly Fay BROOKSHIRE (1894-1966), daughter of Charles Christopher BROOKSHIRE (1872-1947) and Nancy Jane COLLINS (1873-1966).
2. mother’s mother’s patrilineal line =
               Charles Christopher BROOKSHIRE (1872-1947)
               Henry Clay BROOKSHIRE (1848-1928)
               William L BROOKSHIRE (1796-1863)
               Joseph BROOKSHIRE (1764?- ? ) “a gentleman from Virginia”
3. My maternal grandmother had one brother, Henry Lee BROOKSHIRE (1900-1963)
               Lee only had one daughter, so no Y-DNA there DEAD END
    Charlie BROOKSHIRE (my maternal grandmother’s father) was one of 3 sons born to Henry Clay BROOKSHIRE and his first wife, Mildren Melvina WOOLERY. Charlie’s brothers were:
         A.   Joseph A. BROOKSHIRE (1871-1902) had two sons:
                        1.   Cecil C. BROOKSHIRE (1892-1953; obit says “two grandchildren”) had two sons:
                               i.   Cecil K. BROOKSHIRE (1916-2006) –only a death notice found; did not         mention surviving family members   I need to research this line more!
                               ii.  Joseph R. BROOKSHIRE (1918-1991?) –no marriage record found; last known location from father’s obit—Whittier, CA in 1953     I need to research this line more!
                        2.   Joseph Glen BROOKSHIRE (1900-1921) never married
        B.    William Henry BROOKSHIRE (1874-1952) had 3 sons by his first wife, none by second
                        1.  William Henry BROOKSHIRE Jr (1908-1913) died in early childhood
                        2.  Robert Rex BROOKSHIRE (1917-1975)  wife’s 2005 obit says: She is survived by a son, Col. (Ret.) Robert R. Brookshire II and his wife, Marijo; daughter, Mary Sharon Carmichael; grandchildren, Elizabeth and David Brookshire, and Brad and Serena Dehoney ....   No MALE descendants. I had contacted Robert Rex II some years ago and he was totally NOT interested in his family history.
But that's not grandmother's father also a step-brother, Roy L. BROOKSHIRE, son of Henry Clay BROOKSHIRE and his second wife, Mollie DODSON. Unfortunately, Roy only had a daughter, so no Y-DNA there.
I may need to go back another generation. Henry Clay BROOKSHIRE had 4 brothers, one of whom never married. The other three all had children, including at least one son in each line who lived to adulthood.
Conclusion: There's hope of finding a Y-DNA source for the BROOKSHIRE line, which would really be helpful, since nobody seems to know who Joseph's father was.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Early Learnings

Randy Seaver's weekly challenge is as follows:
Think back to when you first started doing genealogy and family history research. What was one of your first real research problems? How did you attack the problem? Did you solve the problem? If so, how? What lessons did you learn from this experience?

Unfortunately, I can't remember that far back! I actually started doing "real" genealogy research back in high school in the mid-1960s. My grandmother was helping write a book about the Israel Boone family and needed some Pennsylvania help. We lived in State College, PA, so I spent weeks in the stacks at Penn State's Pattee Libray, digging through the numerous volumes of the published Pennsylvania Archives. I'm sure I made lots of mistakes, but certainly don't remember them now!

The first real research problem that comes to my mind is when I started tackling my father's family. He could tell me nothing about his family; didn't even know his mother's maiden name. He left home at 17 and never looked back. I honored his wishes and didn't research his family until after he died at age 60. The next week (Sept., 1978) I headed to the Seattle Public Library to start digging. Over the ensuing weeks and months, I spent many hours in the Seattle Public Library, the Seattle Genealogical Society Library, and the Pacific Northwest Branch of the National Archives. I dug through censuses, vital records, local know the drill.

After months of work I had traced my Dad's line back to his great-grandfather, a Morris T. Sharp. According to the 1850 Census, he was living in Bureau County, Illinois, and was born in New Jersey ca. 1834. But where in New Jersey? I posted my query to an early genealogy message board ca. 1980 and was astounded when a lady in Michigan responded with a reference to a book called "Early Germans of New Jersey." She said that the book was quite rare and offered to copy the SHARP pages for me. Turns out that book was sitting on the shelves at the Seattle Genealogical Society Library, but I'd totally missed it because it wasn't with the "main" New Jersey collection, but in a special collection of New Jersey materials. Aargh! The entire family line was documented back to 1732 when the "Sharfenstein" family arrived in Philadelphia. And the Kent Collection of New Jersey materials had a dozen more references to my Sharfensteins. I'm sure my Dad was rolling in his grave when I discovered his line was of German (not English) descent!

What I learned from this experience was to ASK ABOUT SPECIAL COLLECTIONS in any archive or library.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun--Memories

Randy Seaver of Geneamusings posted this Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge today:
Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) Have you written your memoirs yet? If so, please share with us one story from your childhood. If not, then start your memoirs! The story could be a memory of your family life, your schoolwork, your neighborhood, etc. It doesn't have to be a certain length - just something you recall.

2) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook or Google Plus.
So....for some reason I've been thinking a lot lately about Vint Hill Farms, an Army base where I spent some of my early years. We left there in June 1957 when my father retired from the US Army. I believe we lived there two different times--first right after we returned from Japan in about 1952 and then again from about 1955-57. Unfortunately, my Dad's Army records aren't very forthcoming about where he was assigned when, since he was in intelligence.
I remember we had to ride the big yellow schoolbus to school in Warrenton, VA, and it seemed like a looong ride. I'm guessing it might have been about 30 minutes. One time we got caught by a hurricane while heading home on the bus and it flipped. Not a pretty sight. The bus came around to all the different housing areas on post and drove out through the MP-guarded main gate, then past the field of totem poles and out the long lane to the highway.
Totem poles?
Yes, in my memory there was a field full of totem poles just past the main gates of the base, enclosed by the post fence.
Many years later (ca 1970-71), friends and I visited Vint Hill on our spring break from Ohio State. Amazingly, the MP on duty allowed us to drive around the base as long as we didn't get out of the car. Amazing what a carful of young ladies can talk MPs into, isn't it?
Much to my amazement, there were no totem poles.
There was only a huge cluster of communication towers, which is not surprising when you know that Vint Hill was one of the first "listening posts" established by the Army during World War II.
I couldn't find any photos of the communication towers, but here's a photo of the main gate from the 1960s:
Thanks to "Mithrandir" for posting this photo at

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Society Saturday: It's Spring Seminar Time!

Geneabloggers suggested a new Saturday blog topic this week--Society Saturday--so I thought I'd use it.

I've been a very active member of the Seattle Genealogical Society for a number of years and am constantly amazed at how many local genealogists are NOT members of the Society. Many of them use our library and come to programs [often without paying the user fee] and attend our seminars. I have to admit that this is one of my pet peeves.

Maintaining a library is an expensive undertaking, especially in a metropolitan area. The SGS library contains some unique materials, especially in our family histories section and archives. Sometimes it seems like all the SGS Board does is try to figure out ways of generating more funds to support our library operations and of finding more volunteers. We keep our library open 30 hours each week with an all-volunteer staff. Personally, I think that's pretty amazing and worthy of more support from the local genealogy community.

And yes, SGS [like many societies] sponsors an annual Spring seminar. We bring in a nationally known genealogist each Spring and this year we are absolutely thrilled to have Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, coming to speak in a traditional all-day seminar on May 18th. Judy will also be doing a 2-hour advanced workshop on May 19th for a limited number of SGS members. This is the first time we've added a workshop presentation for our nationally known speaker and I'm anxious to see how this works out. Since registration for the Sunday workshop is limited to SGS members, will we get a sudden influx of new members? Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday....with a few words

"Warrensburg Boys"
I found this photo two years ago in an album stashed in a closet in Weaubleau, Missouri. From old letters and newspaper articles, I know that my great-grandfather, Charlie BROOKSHIRE, attended the Normal School at Warrensburg, MO, in the spring of 1893 [late February through early May]. Other people mentioned in the letters and newspaper articles who may be in this photo include Alva Fisher, Professor Charles E Burton, Charlie Gist, Grant Bowman, Hiram Gardner, and Brady ?. I think Charlie is the guy with the curly air looking off to the left, third person from the left. Grant Bowman may be the fellow in the front right.
Unfortunately, the college doesn't have any old photos or records online. It just occurred to me last night to email the archivist at the college, now the University of Central Missouri, to see whether they might help identify these guys. I was amazed to have a response this morning that she will take on the challenge. The college didn't start publishing yearbooks until 1905, but she does have other old records and photos to work from. Does anybody have other ideas for identifying these guys?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Randy Seaver has posted a genealogy challenge on his Geneamusings blog.
Tonight's "fun" challenge is, put simply, to create new genealogy proverbs.

As I OD on March Madness, I've come up with the following:

1. If at first you don't succeed in finding your ancestors, branch out.

2. Cousins are for finding.

3. Family history is a life-long hobby; it's never ending.

4. The harder an ancestor is to find, the more interesting he/she is likely to be.

What can you add?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Searching for Cousins

On the way home from RootsTech 2013, my husband and I stopped in Baker City, Oregon overnight. While we were snowbirding in Arizona this winter, we met a couple from Baker City and it occurred to me to share several obituaries for tangential Bartshe family members [we're talking 4th cousins here] I had obtained last year. Much to my surprise, these folks were good friends with one of the Bartshe granddaughters who had lived and died in Baker City and were able to put me in touch with her daughter. We arranged to have dinner last night in Baker City. Not only did the daughter come, but she also brought her uncle, brother to these sisters and grandson of John Riley Bartshe, my great-great-grandfather's first cousin.
We spent almost 3 hours sharing stories about our families. I'm sure the waitress was wondering if we'd ever leave! Cousin Joe told some fascinating stories about how his father's family came to eastern Oregon. And at 78 he's still farming the same land settled back in 1860.
I tried not to snow my newfound cousins with all of my research during dinner, but will be sending them a packet of information soon. They had made copies of a few old photos for me and I promised to send them digital copies of family photos I have.
I'm hoping this encounter will lead to a long and productive relationship. Have any of you had success connecting with previously unknown cousins? I'd love to read your stories.

Friday, March 22, 2013

RootsTech 2013 -- Day 2

After two days of RootsTech, I'm actually glad I won't be able to attend tomorrow. This has been a disappointing conference. I'm just glad I registered early (like last October) and didn't pay full price.
I naively thought that the focus of this conference would be on the intersection of genealogy and technology. Unfortunately, many of the sessions I've attended in the last two days haven't met that definition. In one session today, the only mention of "technology" was "do a Google search." Really? That same presenter made the statement that WorldCat identifies ALL locations for EVERY book available in the US. Really?
The "workshop" I attended yesterday that was supposed to teach me something about CSS was a total bust. Half the people left before the session was half over. We were in a computer lab, but never had cause to touch the computers!
Luckily, today's workshop on metadata was much better. The only real flaw was that it (and other "workshops") were scheduled for a single hour. What were they thinking? Workshops that involve hands-on learning require at least two hours.
I was also deeply frustrated in the Exhibition Hall today. After speaking with people in the booth late yesterday, I prepared a Gedcom file and put it on a jump drive to get my free fan chart. I took my jump drive to them at lunchtime today and was told it had to be uploaded from the computers at the Family History Library Mini-Lab. One of their yellow-shirted employees accompanied me to the mini-lab, only to end up in a shouting match with 4 or 5 FHL representatives. I was left to figure out how to upload the file on my own, which I thought I accomplished. I went back to the booth to see if they'd gotten the file and was told they couldn't check for it, come back later. So I returned an hour later and was told it was too soon; they were backlogged by several hours. So I went back at the end of the day (about 4:30) and learned that they had NOT received my file and couldn't do anything until tomorrow. Since we're leaving first thing in the morning, I can't go back and try again. Talk about frustrating!
I spent some time speaking with several other vendors in the exhibition hall and enjoyed meeting the folks at Map the Past and Photo Face Match, as well as Curt Witcher at the FGS booth.
I've got two other complaints about this conference:
--There are very few classes for intermediate or advanced genealogists. For most of the time slots in the first two days, there was only ONE session marked "intermediate"; but tomorrow there are 3 in the first session and 5 in the 3rd session [zero in the 2nd session]. Who the heck planned this?
--What's with all the emphasis on storytelling and what does that have to do with the interface between genealogy and technology?
Quite frankly, if I'd know that a third of the classes would be on storytelling and less than 10% would be designed for intermediates, I never would have even considered attending RootsTech 2013. I certainly won't waste my money on this conference again!