Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Third Most Recent Unknown Ancestor

In this week's fun over at Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver asks us to determine our 3rd most-recent unknown ancestor in our Ahnentafel list, review our research for something we might have missed, and think about what additional sources might help us.  

I suspected which branch I'd land in before starting this challenge, and if I knew my Ahnentafels even just a little bit better, probably could have figured the answer out in my head.  

The most recent unknown ancestor I wrote about back in May was (and still is) number 40, the father of my great-great-grandfather, Thomas McCormick.  The next one after that is number 41, Thomas McCormick's mother.  So moving over to Thomas' wife, my great-great grandmother Margaret Gilligan McCormick, is where I find the 3rd most recent unknown ancestor.  From Margaret's death certificate, I know that her father's name was John Gilligan (no. 42) , and that her mother's name was Katherine (no. 43).  And it's Katherine I'll be writing about tonight.

I feel like I've written about Margaret a lot lately, having hit her on Randy's roulette wheel last Saturday and considered her right to vote earlier this week.  And while given Randy's instructions, I could climb higher in the Ahnentafel list to find someone else, (which would be no. 46 - unknown father of my great-great grandmother Anna Ambrose Gillespie), I'm going to stick with Katherine and Margaret.  

My lack of a last name for Katherine is hands-down one of the most frustrating things I've researched to date.  Because I actually do (or should) have her last name.  As mentioned above, I have a death certificate for Margaret McCormick dated 4 Jan 1927.  My great-grandfather, Dr. John S. McCormick, was the informant, so I have hopes that the information noted about Margaret's parents is somewhat accurate.

Extraction from death record of Margaret McCormick.

My chief problem is that I can't read the handwriting noting Katherine's last name.  I've shown this to a couple of other people who haven't been able to decipher it either.  

But what I do know from this is that Margaret and her parents, John and Katherine, were all (probably) born in Ireland.  Given immigration related questions in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, I know that Margaret Gilligan likely immigrated to the United States sometime between 1855 and 1860, which would make her between 4 and 9 years old at the time.  So given her age, I hypothesize that Margaret probably would have come with her mother. Whether her father arrived at the same time or earlier is unknown.  Also, contact with a distant cousin tells me according to family stories Margaret and her family may have come to Canada before entering the United States.  Any other children of John and Katherine Gilligan are unknown.

While on a trip to the Family History Library about a year ago, I spent some time pouring through vital records and city directories from the 1880s-1890s for the towns of Norwich and Sprague in the county of New London, Connecticut - the farthest back I've traced the McCormick family.  

In the death records for Sprague, New London, Connecticut in 1882, I found a death entry for 49-year-old widow Catherine Gilligin, born in Ireland, who died 21 Dec 1882 in Sprague.  This would make her birth date around 1833.  Is this Margaret's mother?  I don't know, but it seems plausible - the age is not out of the question.  Unfortunately the death record lacks details like street address or parent's names, and lists her north location only as Ireland.  I have yet to find a woman, married or widowed, matching this name and age, in this geographic area, in the 1880 census. 

Extraction of death entry for Catherine Gilligin.  Sprague, Connecticut.  Registrar of Vital Statistics.  Records of Deaths, 1879-1905.  FHL Microfilm no. 1311443.  Accessed 3 Nov 2011.

Where does this leave me?  The same place I've been for a while - I need to finishing analyzing the data I collected at the FHL last year and need to track down church and/or cemetery records for Norwich and/or Sprague in the early 1880's.  I also want to lay the information I have on-hand out again and go over it with a fine tooth comb as there may be other pieces of information I haven't picked up on.  

If you have any thoughts on what Katherine's maiden name is in the death record above, please hit the comments!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ancestors' Right to Vote - Part the second

Oi. Somehow I got distracted before finishing a proper analysis for my ancestors' voting rights for my last post, Ancestors' Right to Vote.

I think I was so caught up in thinking about Mary Young Worrall and Margaret Gilligan McCormick that I forgot to finish analyzing all of my great-great grandparents.  I added 4 more folks to the table, above (which should scroll down if you're in the little window).

And I found one more ancestor in this generation who never received the right to vote.  Christine Williams Biddle Cadwalader was born 14 Feb 1847 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and died 27 Mar 1900 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania - well before women received the right to vote in 1920.

Christine's younger sister, Emily Williams Biddle (1855-1931), who I've written about in other posts, did live long enough to have the right to vote.

Ancestors' Right to Vote

Thanks to an idea from Michael John Neill over at RootDig, I spent election night (in addition to watching the television coverage) examining my ancestors and their rights to exercise the right to vote.

Michael embedded a nifty little Google Doc into his blog, which I confess caught my eye more than anything else, so I decided to take a look at my own ancestral heritage when it comes to voting rights.  My parents, grandparents, and I all had the right to vote when we came of age - 21 or 18.  I was more interested in how far back I had to go, both generationally and specifically, to find an ancestor who was not able to vote.

Here's my chart (modeled after Michael John Neill's):

My great-grandparents were all able to vote.  In particular, the women received that right with the 19th amendment in 1920, and they all lived long enough to vote if they so chose.  The next generation back, that of my great-great-grandparents is where I find the one ancestor I'm certain was never able to vote.

Mary Catherine Young Worrall was born in Pennsylvania in 1845, and died in Connecticut in 1913.  Her death notice appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Aug 1913.

"Worrall," Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Aug 1913, p. 13, col. 6; digital image, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 6 Nov 2012).

The ancestor I'm not certain of is my great-great-grandmother Margaret (Gilligan) McCormick.  Margaret was born in Ireland in 1851, and died in Albany, NY in 1927.  If she was a naturalized citizen, I presume she would have been able to vote when the 19th amendment was passed in 1920.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, her husband, Thomas McCormick is enumerated as a naturalized citizen who immigrated in 1865.  Margaret's immigration date in this census in noted as 1860.

Thomas died in 1905, so I looked next at the 1910 and 1920 censuses to see what additional information I could glean about Margaret.

birthplace - Ireland
year of immigration to the U.S. - 1855
whether naturalized or alien - blank

birthplace - Ireland
year of immigration to the U.S. - blank
naturalized or alien - blank
year of naturalization - blank

I assume, though, that because her husband was a naturalized citizen, she was also.  I don't know when Thomas naturalized, nor do I know when they married.  My best guess for a marriage date is around 1870 (give or take a few years), but I think Margaret would have received citizenship whether she married a naturalized citizen or he naturalized after they married.  Margaret probably did have the right to vote, but I'm not confident saying so with absolute certainty.

Note: I goofed this up a bit by forgetting a few folks on the chart.  See also, Ancestors' Right to Vote - Part the second.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Ancestor Name Roulette

Tonight's fun from Randy Seaver is Ancestor Name Roulette!  We take the year one of our great-grandmother's was born and divide by 90.  The resulting number is used to match the person with that ahnentafel number in our family tree. 

For this challenge, I used my great-grandmother Irene Gillespie McCormick, born in Albany, NY in 1891.  Dividing 1891 by 90 gives me 21.011, rounded down to 21.  Person number 21 is Irene's mother-in-law, Margaret Gilligan McCormick.

This branch of my family is the one I know the least about, though I do have at least 3 facts on Margaret.

Records I have turned up thus far tell me that Margaret Gilligan was born 18 Jan 1851 in Ireland.  I have yet to find where in Ireland Margaret was born.  

The 1900 federal census indicates Margaret's year of immigration to the United States was 1860, which would make her about 9 years old if the date is correct.  But so far it's all I have about her entry to the U.S.  A distant cousin I connected with recently has reason to believe Margaret and her family may have come to the United States via Canada, which is a theory I'm currently exploring as a possibility.  

Margaret's last residence was 540 Mercer St., Albany, where she died 3 Jan 1927.  She in buried in St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, NY.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Genealogy Posters

Tonight's challenge from Randy at Geneamusings is to use to make one or more genealogy posters.

I don't usually go for the creative challenges.  I'm usually more fact and technology-based, but for some reason this one intrigued me, so here are my contributions.  "Geneamemes," perhaps?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Longest Gravestone Line

Last night (yes, I'm tardy) Randy Seaver over at Geneamusings asked us to find our longest unbroken gravestone line.  

I really liked this challenge, but struggled a bit initially with how best to determine which line really was the longest unbroken.  Anecdotally, I could think of several possibilities, but turned to my genealogy software to help me out.  I'd planned to use Reunion's various find features to generate reports of burials I'd recorded.  But I never got that far - a somewhat recent cremation I'd forgotten about (no grave site or memorial marker) in one of my lines takes a solid portion of possibilities off the table.

Thinking about the research I've done to date, I had two distinct possibilities - each stemming from my great-grandparents, Gouverneur Cadwalader (1880-1935) and his wife, Mae Drexel Fell (1884-1948).  I could trace the paternal line from Gouverneur back quite a way, or the maternal line back from Mae.  While Gouverneur's paternal line would take me farther back in time, I suspected Mae's maternal line would give me more unbroken generations.  I created a quick timeline report to verify this.

Including my grandmother, Mae's daughter, I have seven known burial locations in my maternal line:

1.  My grandmother, Mae Gouverneur Cadwalader (1923-2000), buried in St. Thomas' Church Cemetery, Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.  For privacy reasons, I am electing not to post her gravestone photo, though I do have one.

2.  My great-grandmother, Mae Drexel Fell (1884-1948), buried in St. Thomas' Church Cemetery, Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.

3.  My second-great-grandmother, Sarah Rozet Drexel (1860-1929), buried in St. Thomas' Church Cemetery, Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.

4.  My third-great-grandmother, Ellen Bicking Rozet (1832-1891), buried in Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

5.  My fourth-great-grandmother, Mary Ann Laning (d.1880), buried in Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. No photo.

6.  My fifth-great-grandmother, Mary Ann Hollenback (1783-1854), buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Owego, New York. No photo.

7.  My sixth-great-grandmother, Sarah Burritt (1750-1833), buried in Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Photo by Joan Cavanaugh.
Sarah Burritt Hollenback,
Find A Grave (
Accessed 14 Oct 2012.
Lessons taken away - I need to fine tune how I enter burial information in Reunion, so I'm better able to determine when I've recorded specific cemeteries known.  And I might start attaching photos in Reunion - something I haven't done thus far.

I should also take a trip to Owego, to find Mary Ann Laning's grave, as well as to Wilkes-Barre to see Sarah Burritt's grave for myself.   Getting to Woodlands is doable, but will take a little longer.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What is your matrilineal line?

This week Randy Seaver asks us to post our matrilineal line back to the first identifiable mother.  He then asks us whether we've had our mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, the result.

Funnily enough, my matrilineal line is the one I've been focused on of late for exactly this reason.  I have not done any DNA tests myself, nor asked relatives to be tested.  But since the mitochondrial DNA test is the one I'd do myself, I decided I should get to tracing that line - something I hadn't done until recently.

Starting with my grandmother:

a)  Mae Gouverneur Cadwalader (1923, Pennsylvania - 2000, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) married J. Harrison Worrall
b)  Mae Drexel Fell (1884, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - 1948, Dark Harbor, Maine) married Gouverneur Cadwalader
c)  Sarah Rozet Drexel (1860, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - 1929, Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania) married John Ruckman Fell
d)  Ellen Bicking Rozet (1832, Pennsylvania - 1891, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) married Anthony Joseph Drexel

e)  Mary Ann Laning (1807, Owego, New York - 1880) married John Roset
f)  Mary Ann Hollenback (1783, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania - 1854, Owego, New York) married John Laning
g)  Sarah Burritt (1750, Stratford, Connecticut - 1833, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) married Matthias Hollenback
h)  Deborah Beardslee (d. 1802, Hanover Green, Pennsylvania) married Peleg Burrit, Jr.

I'm confident in this line through Ellen Bicking Rozet.  Persons (e) through (h) are the result of my recent research.  I need more documentation for all of them, but am fairly certain this is how things will shake out.  I confess I've been working with local histories and Find A Grave to get an overall sense of my matrilineal line past Ellen Rozet.  I now need to back this up with various records, of which I presently have few.

Deborah Beardslee is proving to be somewhat of a mystery.  So much so that she is deserving of her own post, so watch for that down the line.  And is why she's currently last on the above list.

The name Rozet/Roset is indeed spelled differently above for Ellen Bicking Rozet and her father, John Roset.  I consistently see each of their surnames names spelled in this fashion - Ellen's with a "z" and John's with an "s".  In general, this line will be the one that tests my skill with spelling variants. (More fodder for a later post.)

As stated above, I have yet to do a matrilineal DNA test.  But once I get more proof of this line, I expect it's something I'll pursue.  I suppose there's no reason not to do this now, but I just feel like I need to know more about the women who carry this DNA before proceeding.

What I do need to get on with is finding family volunteers for DNA tests for other of my lines.   

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

It's been ages since I've posted anything, and truth be told I haven't done anything genealogical of late that's inspired me to write. Not that I've been completely idle all summer, but my projects have taken a bit of a different turn and I've gotten very little new research done.

Some of the highlights…

The bulk of my time this summer was spent rehashing my Greenleaf line and putting together a heritage book of sorts for a family member's landmark birthday. I used Shutterfly for this project, mainly because I was pressed for time and already familiar with their photo book services. The project was completed, and I'm pretty pleased with the result (as was the recipient and other family members), but Shutterfly really isn't made for projects like this one where I was using as much or more text than images. And I had a hard time getting some of the images customized quite the way I wanted. But I'm extremely pleased with the overall quality, and considering some of the images I used were as low a resolution as they were, the print quality was pretty good. I'm not sure that I'd use Shutterfly again, though given the extensive choices these days. I'm a loyal follower of Denise Barrett Olsen over at the Moultrie Creek Gazette, so I'm going to revisit some of her past posts on electronic publishing and the various options before working on the "revised and expanded" version.

I did some traveling and was able to return to Lenox, Massachusetts - one of my favorite places. This was a short visit, but lots of genealogical connections were made, including meeting some people I've been corresponding with via email for ages. I spent time at two ancestral homes, one being Breezy Corner. The other being a return visit to Windyside, the former Greenleaf home in Lenox, now the Lenox Club. I was invited to stay the night at Windyside, which has guest facilities. The club also invited me to their weekly dinner, which was held in the music room with the large fireplace. A great stop with so many extremely hospitable folks!

 My room at Windyside (the Lenox Club)

For the 2nd year in a row, I've spent Saturday's mornings with my local genealogical society's cemetery committee. We transcribe tombstone inscriptions, checking the stones against any existing records and making updates and corrections, which are then (after much proofreading and editing) submitted back to various organizations including local historical societies and cemeteries, as well as the DAR. Any new research I did this summer was connected to this project, which allowed me to hone my skills in using local resources.

Symbols on the tombstone of Mowry Skinkle, Pine Bank Cemetery.

 In the last few days, though, I've gotten myself back on track with my own research. I expect more posts to come as I dive back into things!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

William and Mary Greenleaf Portraits - Update

Two years ago I wrote a post about the portraits of my 5th great-grandparents, William Greenleaf (1725-1803) and his wife Mary Brown Greenleaf (1728-1807) by Blackburn.

In the last few weeks I (accidentally) located the original portraits.  As with many of my finds, it started with some semi-random Googling which landed me on a Flickr photo stream belonging to Ed Bierman.  Ed has posted beautiful color portraits of both paintings which led me to believe he'd photographed the original paintings - these were too good to be anything less.

"The Honorable William Greenleaf (1757) Joseph Blackburn," photograph by Ed Bierman of the portrait by Joseph Blackburn.

"Mary Brown Greenleaf (1757) Joseph Blackburn," photograph by Ed Bierman of the portrait by Joseph Blackburn.
I noticed on the page for the photograph of the William Greenleaf portrait, that the photo belonged also to a set titled Portland Art Museum.  I assumed this meant that the portrait was hanging there, and was where it had been photographed.  The art museum in Portland, Maine, is called the Portland Museum of Art.  The art museum in Portland, Oregon, is the Portland Art Museum.  I searched the web site, and not turning up anything, dashed off an email to the curatorial staff.  I received a prompt reply confirming that the portraits are indeed currently at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon.

The paintings are much more striking than the black and white reproductions I've seen led me to believe. 

William Greenleaf reads the Declaration of Independence in 1776 Boston

While researching my 5th great grandfather, William Greenleaf (1725-1803) of Boston a few weeks ago, I stumbled across an interesting tidbit of information.  The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence of Boston took place 18 July 1776 from the balcony of Boston's Old State House or "Towne House".  Some accounts attribute this reading to Col. Thomas Crafts, who did in fact read the Declaration of Independence that day.  But the Declaration of Independence was also read by then Sheriff of Suffolk County, William Greenleaf, and repeated by Crafts, as Greenleaf reportedly spoke too softly to be heard by the crowd assembled.

I first found this account on J. L. Bell's Boston 1775 blog in the post, "Sheriff Greenleaf and Col. Crafts read the Declaration." [2] So I dug in to see what else I could find.

On 25 July 1776, the Continental Journal and Weekly Advertiser reports:

"Thursday last, pursuant to the orders of the honourable Council, was proclaim'd from the Balcony of the State House in this town, the DECLARATION of the AMERICAN CONGRESS, absolving the United Colonies from their allegiance to the British Crown, and declaring them FREE and INDEPENDENT STATES. ...

At One o'Clock the Declaration was proclaimed by the Sheriff of the County of Suffolk, which was received with great Joy, expressed by three Huzzas from a great Concourse of People assembled ..."[3]

Bell's post mentions and quotes a letter by Daniel Greenleaf (1762-1853), William Greenleaf's son, published in the Boston Transcript on 2 Aug 1855, in which Daniel Greenleaf recollects his father reading the Declaration of Independence.  Bell states that Daniel Greenleaf wrote the letter in October of 1841, and given that Daniel died in 1853, the letter would had to have been written prior to its publication in the Boston Transcript.  As Daniel Greenleaf would have been several months shy of 14 years of age in July 1776, he might well remember the events of 18 July 1776.

Daniel Greenleaf's letter, as published in the Boston Transcript, states in part:

"The Declaration of Independence was read by William Greenleaf, (my father,) then sheriff. ... My father was so proud of that proclamation that he had the paper from which he read it framed and glassed and it hung over his parlor fireplace as long as he was a housekeeper.  As his voice was rather weak, he requested Colonel Crafts to act as his herald; they stood together at the front of the balcony, and my father read a sentence, which was immediately repeated by Crafts, and so continued to the end, when was the huzza, as mentioned." [4]

[1]  "In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, In General Congress Assembled."  The Continental Journal and Weekly Advertiser, 18 July 1776, pg. 1.  Online, in "The Coming of the American Revolution," Massachusetts Historical Society ( : accessed 4 July 2012)

[2]  Bell, J. L. "Sheriff Greenleaf and Col. Crafts Read the Declaration," Boston 1775, 4 July 2007.  Online ( : accessed 4 July 2012)

[3]  Continental Journal (Boston, Mass.), 25 July 1776, pg. 2.  Online. Early American Newspaper Series 1, 1690-1876  (Newsbank). Accessed 3 July 2012.

[4]  "Reminiscences of an Old Bostonian," Boston Evening Transcript, 2 Aug 1855, pg. 1.  Online.  Google News ( : accessed 20 Jun 2012)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Curious Genealogy - Steer Family

I recently connected with Richard, another cousin (6th cousins, we think), via and was pointed to A Genealogy of the Steer Family.  At a quick glance at both this genealogy and Richard's tree on Ancestry, the Steer family links into my Judkins and Collins lines.  I did some somewhat intensive research on the Collins family last fall on my trip to the Family History Library, but have done little with the Judkins line so I'm pleased to have this hint.

What I find interesting about this genealogy is its layout and formatting, which is unlike anything I've come across thus far in terms of numbering systems.

Russell, Isaac S.  A Genealogy of a Steer Family Comprising Some of the Ancestors and Nearly all of the Descendants of Jonathan and Grace (Edgerton) Steer. New Market, Md., 1891, p. 12.  Online. Internet Archive :
Once I wrapped my head around the landscape layout, it seemed fairly easy to understand, if not a little cluttered in spots and without any additional explanatory text that one often sees in these historic genealogies.

In the above page my Judkins ancestors are listed at the bottom, going straight across:

Russell points his readers back to the "last paragraph on second page" where he explains his layout.

Russell, Isaac S.  A Genealogy of a Steer Family Comprising Some of the Ancestors and Nearly all of the Descendants of Jonathan and Grace (Edgerton) Steer. New Market, Md., 1891, p. 2.  Online. Internet Archive :
I'd be curious to know if this is a standard layout or system.  I need to keep pondering the numbering, if not the other details.

Wordless Wednesday - Elizabeth Greenleaf

Elizabeth Greenleaf, by John Singleton Copley (1753-54).  Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Most Recent Unknown Ancestor

This week's Fun from Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings is to find our "most recent unknown ancestor" (MRUA) defined as the individual with the lowest number in our Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List who lacks either a first name or surname.  We're then asked to think about what might be in our research files for this person, what we've looked at recently, what we might have missed, and what resources (on- or off-line) might help us.

I found this a really useful exercise for a family that's been one of my most challenging to research.  I knew before going into this which branch I was going to land on for this challenge - the only thing I wasn't certain about was which individual specifically would be the MRUA.  My father's maternal line is the one where I have the least information and the most holes.  But they're also the line in which I derive the most satisfaction when I find any clues at all (much less any solid connections).

I've written about the McCormicks over the years, and some of the challenges I've had with them.  In reviewing my Ahnentafel List, the most recent unknown ancestor is number 40 - the father of my great-great grandfather Thomas McCormick. 

Thomas Joseph McCormick was born in Ireland, 1847.  The 1900 census gives his year of immigration to the United States as 1865, though since the 1900 census is also off on his age by three years, I take this as a ballpark date.  Thomas McCormick died in Maine, Sept. 1905, presumably while on business as the superintendent of an Albany, New York paper mill.  I've traced his residences in the United States from Albany, NY, to Berlin, NH, to Norwich, CT - with census and city directories for the locales indicating he was employed in paper mills.

Thomas was married to Margaret Gilligan, born 18 Jan 1851, also in Ireland, and who, according to the 1900 census entered the US in 1860.  Thomas and Margaret had 7 children, all born in Connecticut between the years 1874 and 1888, six living to adulthood.  I have yet to identify Thomas (or Margaret) on any passenger lists, and since the earliest I place him in the US is in Connecticut, 1874, am not exactly sure where he would have entered this country - either New York or Boston, I'm guessing.  I have not yet located any marriage records for Thomas and Margaret.

So where to go from here?  I need to learn more about Thomas before figuring out who his father was.  I have a fair amount of raw data on various McCormick families living in the Norwich, Connecticut area from 1882-1900.  I need to analyze the family groups, many of whom have the male names Thomas, Joseph, and Daniel, and who were working at the paper mill, to try and determine any possible familial relationships.  Also, Thomas and Margaret's daughter, Maggie, died in Sprague, Norwich County, Connecticut in 1880 - tracing any church records relating to her life and death may yield more details about the family.  I also want to find any naturalization records for Thomas (1900 census indicates he was naturalized).  I recently found more details about the family during their stay in Berlin, Coos County, New Hampshire, including the marriage of their daughter Catherine to William McCann - there may be more details there to uncover.

Essentially, I need to better analyze the data I have, look into finding church records, and research other family groups living near the McCormicks, particularly in Nowich County, Connecticut. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Abandon Hope of Recovering Roebling and Blackwell

"Abandon Hope of Recovering the Bodies" [1]

Upon return of Karl Roebling from Halifax with no further word on identification of either Washington Roebling or Stephen Blackwell, the Trenton Evening Times reported it was all but certain that the men went down with the ship and would not be recovered. [2]

On May 6, 1912 the Trenton Evening Times reported arrival in Halifax of the ship Minia with 15 additional bodies, mostly those of Titanic crew members.  List of the identified had previously been wired and the ship's arrival caused no modifications in identification.  [3]

The search for Titanic's victims was then continued by the steamer Montgomery, though little additional recovery was expected.  Reports from the captain of the Minia indicated bodies were widely scattered, and conditions somewhat hazardous.  As of May 13, 1912 the Montgomery had picked up five more victims and identified three of them - none Roebling or Blackwell.  [4]

Washington A. Roebling II was neither recovered nor identified.  A memorial to Roebling exists in Trenton's Riverview Cemetery [5].  Additionally, his father, Charles Gustavus Roebling memorialized his son when the Trenton church the family attended was undergoing restoration by rebuilding the entire west wall, including stone statuary and stained glass. [6]

But what of Stephen Weart Blackwell?  I admit when I started researching this series I was under the impression that Blackwell was ultimately identified and buried in Halifax as victim 241 [7].  But a subsequent review of Blackwell's entry at Encyclopedia Titanica states that Blackwell's body was never recovered despite having been identified as victim 241 [8].  Online at the Nova Scotia Archives, the report on victim 241 identifies him as a male estimated to be 20 years of age. 

Nova Scotia Archives.  "Body No. 241 Stephen W. Blackwell," RMS Titanic Resource Guide: Fatality Reports.  Online.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

Blackwell, however, was 45 years old when he perished on the Titanic. 

"Much Regret for Victims of Titanic Wreck," Trenton Evening Times, 21 Apr 1912, pg. 23. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

As of this writing I have been unable to locate a more detailed physical description of Stephen Weart Blackwell, nor was I able to find any newspaper articles mentioning the identification of body 241 as Blackwell.  The personal effects noted with victim 241 seem to speak to Blackwell, though why one would be carrying opera glasses and a button hook, I'm not sure.  But the clothing and age discrepancy are more striking, leading me to think that Stephen Blackwell was not recovered from the wreckage. 

[1] [2]  "Abandon Hope of Recovering the Bodies," Trenton Evening Times, 5 May 1912, pg. 23.  Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[3] "Dock with More of Titanic Dead: Minia Arrives with Fifteen Corpses - Not Much Hope of Finding Others," Trenton Evening Times, 6 May 1912, pg. 1. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[4] "Finds Five Titanic Victims; Searchers Report Three Identified and One Buried at Sea," (Cleveland, Ohio) Plain Dealer, 13 May 1912, pg. 2. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[5]  "Washington A. Roebling, II," Find A Grave.  Online.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012. 

[6]  Schuyler, Hamilton.  The Roeblings: A Century of Engineers, Bridge-Builders, and Industrialists: The Story of Three Generations of an Illustrious Family, 1831-1931.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1931.  p. 314.

[7]  "Stephen W Blackwell," Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, RMS Titanic Fatality Reports, 1912.  Online. : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[8]  "Mr Stephen Weart Blackwell," Encyclopedia Titanica.  Online.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[9]  Nova Scotia Archives.  "Body No. 241 Stephen W. Blackwell," RMS Titanic Resource Guide: Fatality Reports.  Online.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[10]  "Much Regret for Victims of Titanic Wreck," Trenton Evening Times, 21 Apr 1912, pg. 23. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Titanic Graphics - Past and Present

One of the blogs I follow is Flowing Data, a data visualization blog by Nathan Yau.  The graphics vary widely in content but are quite often very visually striking, and I think even artistic (but maybe I'm a geek that way).  Usually the things that catch my eye are more closely related to my day job than my genealogy work, but in the last couple of days Flowing Data has highlighted a couple of Titanic graphics.  The interesting thing is that the graphics not only illustrate the sinking of the Titanic clearly, albeit in different ways, but one graphic is present day (2012) and the other set of graphics was produced about 100 years ago (1912-1914).

Yesterday Flowing Data posted a parallel set graph illustrating the demographics (sex, age, class) of Titanic's survivors vs non-survivors.  I find it very striking visually, though not necessarily intuitive to understand.  Heading over to the original graphic at Jason Davies' site is more helpful as Davies explains the parallel concept and points out some of the obvious conclusions to be drawn.  His chart is interactive - giving statistics that pop up as parts of the graph are moused over and allowing the viewer to toggle views to curves and icicle plots.  I actually find the icicle plot version easiest to understand, though enjoy trying to wrap my mind around the parallel data.  (According to the comments on the Flowing Data post, there are better uses for parallel data, and I'd be interested to see an example.)

[I badly want to reproduce Davies' graphic here to illustrate the dynamics between the 1912 and 2012 graphs, but for copyright reasons will not, and strongly encourage anyone interested to head over to his site at]

Contrast this with the Titanic graphics Flowing Data linked to todayPosted on Infographics news by Chiqui Esteban, there are 7 illustrations of the Titanic and its sinking, many having been originally published in The Graphic.   Esteban explains that the originals were published either in 1912 and/or in 1914 and explains that while they don't have today's flash and interactivity of graphics, effectively illustrate the Titanic's sinking.

From: Titanic infographics. From 1912, by Chiqui Esteban at Infographics news (Originally published in The Graphic)

I think one of the most striking of the "vintage graphics" is the above cross-section of Titanic showing the interior areas of the ship hit by the iceberg.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No Word from Halifax Regarding Roebling and Blackwell

Trenton Evening Times, May 1, 1912-

"No Word from Halifax" [1]

On April 30, 1912 the steamer Mackay-Bennett arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after spending two weeks recovering bodies of Titanic's victims from the sea.  On May 1st the Trenton Evening Times reported a lack of news from Karl Roebling, who had gone to Halifax in hopes of identifying Washington Roebling and Stephen Blackwell.  The Times also noted that both Roebling and Blackwell were not listed among the identified victims, and the presumption was that their bodies were not recovered. [2]

Several days earlier, on April 28, 1912, the Times reported on a wireless communication from the Mackay-Bennett to Halifax noting that an "A. Doeble" was among the identified victims.  The similarity of the name to that of Washington A. Roebling II briefly gave hope that Roebling might be among those positively identified by the Mackay-Bennett.  An absence of further news presumes that Doeble and Roebling were not the same person. 

An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, also dated May 1, 1912, tells in some detail about the Mackay-Bennett's recovery mission, including some of the methods by which victims were (tentatively) identified. In fact a victim that had previously been reported to be that of Philadelphian George Widener, based on papers found on the person, was later identified as his valet when Widener's son identified the man's watch and was consulted on other physical characteristics of the body.  [3]

[1] [2]  "No Word from Halifax," Trenton Evening Times, 1 May 1912, pg. 1.  Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[3]  "190 of Titanic Dead are Brought to Halifax; 116 Buried in the Atlantic," Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 May 1912, pg. 1.  Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Wordle

Tonight's Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings is to create a Wordle cloud using something you've written.

My usual plays with Wordle and word clouds use extracts from my genealogy management software, so this was a different sort of an exercise.  Since I've been spending the last week on a series of posts regarding the Titanic, and specifically the fate of Washington A. Roebling II, I decided to use those posts as the basis for tonight's word cloud.

I've been using Evernote to draft the series before pasting in Blogger.  I have all of the posts in a single Evernote document, along with other assorted notes as I've done my research.  I copied the text of the Titanic series posts from Sunday, April 15, 2012 - Friday, April 20, 2012.

My first pass at this was using the entire text of each post, including citations.  But since I've been depending fairly heavily on the Trenton Evening Times via GenealogyBank, thought the first Wordle cloud generated reflected the source citations too much.

What I wanted was something that more accurately reflected the content of the stories so I could see which names and words stood out.  I went back for a second pass, this time removing the citations and leaving only the text of the posts.  I'm fairly please with the results (below):
Most of the names of people mentioned in the series are easily visible (at least to me), and I think the general content of the series overall is captured decently.  I selected the "Mostly Horizontal" option to lay out the words, removed common words and numbers, and used the "Kenyan Coffee" font with "Blue meets Orange" color scheme.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roebling Waves Off Graham Party, and a Look at the Lifeboat Loading Sequence

Trenton Evening News, April 20, 1912-

"Calm Heroism of Roebling, About to Die, Related by Women He Helped to Save: Mother and Daughter Tell How Young Trentonian and London Friend Excelled in Gallantry and Cheerfulness in the TIme That Tried the Souls of All Aboard the Sinking Liner" [1]

Yesterday's post related an interview by Caroline Bonnell regarding what are some of the last known moments of Washington Roebling aboard Titanic.  A similar story is recounted in the April 20, 1912, Trenton Evening News by Mrs. William T. (Edith) Graham.  Graham states that shortly after the collision with the iceberg, Roebling knocked on their stateroom door, advising the party to be prepared for an emergency.  She relates that once on deck, her party (including daughter Margaret Graham and governess Elizabeth Shutes) was undecided as to whether the safer choice was to remain on Titanic or join the lifeboats leaving the ship.  Another passenger, Howard Case, advised the Graham party to get into a boat.  Shortly after, Roebling arrived on scene and assisted getting the three into lifeboat number three.  Edith Graham remembers,

"The boat was fairly crowded when we three were pushed into it.  A few men jumped in at the last moment, but Mr, Roebling and Mr. Case made no attempt to get into the boat.
'They shouted good-bye to us, and what do you think Mr. Case did then? He just calmly lighted a cigarette and waved us good-bye with his hand.  Mr. Roebling stood there too-- I can see him now.  I am sure that he knew the ship would go to the bottom. But both just stood there."  [2]

As noted, the Graham party descended in lifeboat 3 which launched from the starboard side of Titanic about 1:00am (according to the British Inquiry Launch Times [3]).  Caroline Bonnell and her party were aboard lifeboat 8, launched from the port side about 10 minutes after number 3.  According to the timeline set forth in from the British Inquiry and the analysis by Wormstedt, Fitch and Behe, the launching of lifeboat 3 left the controversial lifeboat 1 and collapsible C on the forward starboard side.  [4]

I'm trying to figure out what might have motivated Roebling to go to the port side of Titanic at this point, which we know he did given Bonnell's statement that he waved their party off as well.  While the forward port side had not yet launched boats 2, 4, 8, or collapsible D, I'm not sure Roebling had any way of knowing that given the position of lifeboat 3 where he waved off the Grahams, judging from Wormstedt et al's lifeboat/boat deck diagram

Wormstedt's analysis also calls into question whether lifeboat 6 or 8 was the first launched from the forward port side .  If, in fact, as Wormstedt asserts, lifeboat 8 was the first launched on the forward port side, that only shortens the time between when Roebling would have been waving off the Grahams in 3 on the starboard side, and Bonnell in 8 on the port side.  Though the anaylsis does state that the timeline is not exact, given conflicting evidence.  And I suppose it is quite possible Roebling did not actually wait until boat three was lowered before heading to the other side of the ship.  Butler asserts, perhaps quite simply, that gentlemen like Roebling and Case were offering their services to "unprotected ladies" - those travelling without men in their party such as the Grahams. [5]  And perhaps after he saw the Grahams safely to boat 8, he went in search of acquaintance Caroline Bonnell, whom he found on the port side.

[1] [2]  "Calm Heroism of Roebling, About to Die, Related by Women He Helped to Save: Mother and Daughter Tell How Young Trentonian and London Friend Excelled in Gallantry and Cheerfulness in the Time That Tried the Souls of All Aboard the Sinking Liner," Trenton Evening Times, 20 Apr 1912.  Online.  GenealogyBank :  Accessed 20 Apr 2012.

[3] [4]  Wormstedt, Bill, Tad Fitch and George Behe.  Titanic: The Lifeboat Launching Sequence Re-Examined.  2012.  Online. Accessed 20 Apr 2012.

[5]  Butler, Daniel Allen.  Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic.  Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998.  p. 101.  Online.  Google Books : Accessed 20 Apr 2012.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Final Moments of Roebling and Blackwell Aboard Titanic

Trenton Evening Times, April 19, 1912-

"Trentonians Among Dead; Survivors Retell Horrors of the Awful Disaster: Roebling Said Goodbye to Friends and then Perished with Blackwell, His Companion" [1]

" 'You will be back with us on the ship soon again,' were the last words of Washington A. Roebling, II, so far as Trenton relatives know. In an interview this morning at the Waldorf-Astoria between Miss Caroline Bonnell and Ferdinand W. Roebling, Jr. of this city, Miss Bonnell spoke of Mr. Roebling's cheerful farewell to the women of her party as they were placed in the life boats to leave the ill-fated Titanic." [2]

There is, in the article, debate as to whether Roebling thought the ship would not sink, or whether he attempted to conceal the danger of the situation. Reports of Caroline Bonnell's conversation with Ferdinand Roebling state, "the general impression was that the damage was slight to the Titanic and that the women, placed in the life boats, would soon be picked up again and the Titanic proceed on her way to New York." [3]

Bonnell reported to H.C. Blackwell, brother of Stephen W. Blackwell, that she last saw him in the smoking room as she went to her cabin for a life preserver. Her last sight of Roebling was "smiling as he waved farewell to her and her party." [4]

Caroline Bonnell is listed among survivors aboard the Carpathia along with cousins Mary and Natalie Wick, and aunt Elizabeth 'Lily' Bonnell. The fifth member of their party, George Wick, is listed among those who died at sea. [5]


Caroline Bonnell was 30 years old in April 1912. Bonnell's daughter, Mary Jones Chilcote, now 85, recalled her mother in an article and video clip by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. [7]

[1] [2] [3] [4] "Trentonians Among Dead; Survivors Retell Horrors of the Awful Disaster," Trenton Evening Times, 19 April 1912. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

[5] "UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912," Online. Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

[6] "Titanic Survivors, Carpathia Passenger List, 1912," Online. Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

[7] Whitley, Mary Ann. "Titanic 100th Anniversary: Mary Jones Chilcote recalls the tragedy through her mother' scrapbook." Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8 April 2012. Online. Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Give Up Hope for Roebling and Blackwell

Trenton Evening Times, April 18, 1912-
"Give Up Hope for Roebling and Blackwell" [1]
By April 18th, the Trenton Evening Times reports in a short, two paragraph article that the lack of communication from either Washington Roebling or Stephen Blackwell coupled with the arrival of the Carpathia with Titanic's survivors "seems to confirm what has been generally believed from the first, that these two young Trentonians went down with the giant liner--" [2]
The lead article in that evening's Times reports stories by Titanic's survivors that are today well-known:
"They tell of aged Isador Straus, a self-made millionaire, and his wife standing arm in arm, awaiting death together, the wife resisting the best efforts of the sailors to drag her from her husband and to a place of safety.
They tell how Colonel John Jacob Astor, almost the last of his race of money kings, kissed his delicate child wife goodbye and then stood at attention as lifeboats bore her away leaving him to drown." [3]
That same article states that no stories have been told of Washington Roebling or Stephen Blackwell, but that "in absence of news from these men it is believed that they were among the heroes who died bravely that others might live." [4]

[1] [2] "Give Up Hope for Roebling and Blackwell," Trenton Evening Times, 18 April 1912. pg. 1, col. 8. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 April 2012.

[3] [4] "Survivors Tell How 1500 Men Jumped from Sinking Titanic to Death in Sea; Ismay Forced His Way into the Boats," Trenton Evening Times, 18 April 1912. pg. 1, col. 1. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roebling Chauffeur, Frank Stanley, Not on Titanic

Trenton Evening Times, April 17, 1912-
"Stanley and Harris Not on the Titanic: Roebling Chauffeur Took Earlier Boat-and Other Local News from the Wreck" [1]

"Word was received by Charles G. Roebling yesterday afternoon that Frank Stanley, the chauffeur who motored Mr. Roebling's son, Washington A.Roebling II, and Stephen W. Blackwell through Europe, that he was not a passenger on the doomed Titanic but was safe in New York. Stanley saw his name on the list of those thought to have perished and immediately wired the Roeblings to the contrary." [2]

The article relates that Stanley had fallen ill while in Europe and received permission to depart early. The Times article specifically states, "Stanley arrived in New York from Rotterdam the later part of last week." [3]

A search of's database, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, reveals a Frank Stanley, age 35, sailing from Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, on the S.S. Rotterdam, arriving in New York 16 April 1912.


[1] [2] [3] "Stanley and Harris Not on the Titanic," Trenton Evening Times, 17 April 1912. pg. 3. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 April 2012.

[4] "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Online. Accessed 13 April 2012.

Monday, April 16, 2012

866 Saved From the Sinking Titanic... Roebling May Be Among the Rescued

Trenton Evening Times, April 16, 1912-
"866 Saved From the Sinking Titanic; Officials Concealed Disaster Hours; Roebling May Be Among the Rescued" [1]

By April 16th, the Trenton Evening Times reported the rescue of 866 passengers, presuming that the remaining 1492 were lost. The Times continues to report efforts to determine the fate of the three Trentonians reported aboard Titanic: Washington Roebling, Stephen Blackwell, and Frank Stanley. The article presumes that both Blackwell and Stanley were lost, but of Roebling there was a question. Among the list of survivors was reported a "Mr. Washington," but as no passenger had the last name of Washington, speculation arose as to whether the rescued man was Roebling or a Washington Dodge. Later reports determined that Dodge had survived the sinking.

Indeed, Washington Dodge is listed, along with his wife and son, among the survivors of Titanic aboard the Carpathia.

[1] [2] "Public Long Kept in Ignorance of Greatest Marine Disaster of Recent Years: Partial List of Survivors Issued," Trenton Evening Times, 16 April 1912, pg. 1, col. 8. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 12 April 2012.

[3] "Titanic Survivors, Carpathia Passenger List, 1912," Online. Accessed 12 Apr 2012.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trenton Men Aboard Titanic... Washington A. Roebling II Among Hundreds of Passengers

Trenton Evening Times, April 15, 1912-

"Trenton Men Aboard Giant Titanic Which Meets Disaster in Ice: Washington A. Roebling II, and Stephen W. Blackwell Among Hundreds of Passengers Who Are Taken Off in Lifeboats When Maiden Voyage Seemed Likely to End in Sinking of World's Biggest Vessel" [1]

"Returning to their homes in Trenton after a two month pleasure trip abroad, Washington A. Roebling II and Stephen W. Blackwell were abroad the ocean liner Titanic, which encountered icebergs last night and is said to be so badly damaged that her passengers had to be put to sea in lifeboats, being later taken on other vessels which responded to wireless calls for help.

Frank Stanley, Mr. Roebling's chauffeur, was also a passenger on the ship, the Trenton men having taken automobiles with them.

While no word has been received direct from either Roebling or Blackwell, it is anticipated that they are safe, as no casualties have been reported." [2]

The article continues by stating that the Titanic is being held afloat by her water tight compartments and moving slowly toward Nova Scotia. Titanic's automatic bulk heads are also mentioned as preventing the sinking of the ship.

I'm so accustomed to today's age of instant information and communication, that I forget how long details and truths of events took to become known. Two years ago I posted on the sinking of the S.S. Arctic in 1854 and the amount of time it took (2 weeks) after the sinking for the news to reach New York.

Today, one hundred years later, we know what happened on this date. But on April 15, 1912, news of Washington Roebling's fate remained uncertain, though it was presumed he was safe, having left Titanic in a lifeboat.

First in a series on Washington A. Roebling II and his voyage aboard Titanic based on articles that appeared in the Trenton Evening Times in 1912.

Disclaimer: I am not a descendant of the Roebling family. I first discovered Washington A. Roebling II's story over a year ago while researching his older sister, Emily Margaretta Roebling Cadwalader (1879-1941), wife of my great-great uncle, Richard McCall Cadwalader (1877-1960). I've intended to post his story for some time, and as April 15, 2012 approached, felt that it was an appropriate time.

[1] [2] "Trenton Men Aboard Giant Titanic Which Meets Disaster in Ice," Trenton Evening Times, 15 April 1912, pg. 1. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 12 April 2012.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Alexander Cadwalader

I feel like I'm probably the only genealogist not chasing down the newly released 1940 census today. This post is a little more morbid than my usual, and apologies for this being the first thing up after a longer absence than I'd like, but I stumbled across this accidentally last night and need to get it out of my head somehow.

I've heard in the family lore that my great-great uncle, Alexander Cadwalader, died by suicide, but until last night never found anything substantiating that. Then again, I don't think I've looked terribly hard, either. I think I just sort of assumed any death notice for him would be non-existent or might vaguely reference an unexpected passing. In no way did I expect to find a headline stating he killed himself, and that the hypothesis was his fear of commitment in a sanitarium.


The article explains the cause of death and briefly recounts the incident from the perspective of a member of the household staff. The article mentions the county coroner, but states that a formal inquest into Alexander's death was not necessary.

Alexander was 20 years old at the time of his death on August 6, 1918, and was the youngest of the seven sons of Richard McCall Cadwalder (1839-1918) and Christine Williams Biddle Cadwalader (1847-1900) [see This is the Face of Genealogy]

Rest in Peace.

Alexander Cadwalader at Find a Grave

[1] "Alex. Cadwalader Died by Own Hand," Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 Aug. 1918. Online. Accessed 1 Apr 2012.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - How Many Surnames?

Tonight's challenge from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings asks us to dive a little deeper into our genealogy software - by counting surnames. Randy asks us to determine how many surnames we have in our database, how we accomplish this, which surname has the most entries, and optionally, giving a top-5 or top-10 list.

My primary software is Reunion (v.9.0c). I found this feature pretty quickly. Under the "List" menu, click "Last names", then "All people". The result was a list in alphabetical order, but I was able to do a descending sort by clicking on the "usage" column. The result was the table below, which is also my top ten.

The results list not only a count by surname, but also the number of living people, as well as the earliest and latest dates for each. The earliest dates are probably correct based on what I've entered, but the other two numbers are questionable. The numbers for living people are probably correct given my data entry, but since I'm a bit lax at keeping up with living family members, probably not a true reflection of living people in my lines with these surnames. The latest date baffles me a bit - mainly because the top 4 entries all have the same latest date, which is today. I didn't make any updates in the software today, so I'm not sure where this date is coming from.

I could not find an easy way to count first names used. I've done a similar report in the past, though, by exporting my data as a text file and then doing further analyses, but found no feature native to Reunion to do this.

Reunion does have some interesting statistical snapshots, largely various age reports broken out by gender:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Random Genealogical Find - Annotated Family Genealogy

A few years ago one of my aunts gave me the family copy of the Genealogy of the Sharpless Family (Gilbert Cope, 1887). [1] The book is not in great condition, so I spent some time this weekend assessing its state so I can order a box to house it. As a result, I spent several hours leafing through the volume one page at a time - something I've never done before. (It's 1,332 pages long.)

I found a number of interesting things inside the book, both its content as well as things stuck in amongst the pages. But one of the things I found most interesting were several entries where someone had annotated in pencil corrections and additional information.

Specifically, the entry for Margaret W(ilen) Sharpless:

The unknown "annotatee" added in a birth date for Margaret, and children for two of Margaret's children, Charles Delany and Rebecca Delany Collins.

Another one I found was the entry for Petera B(rown) Worrall where the name of Worrall's son, Charles Addams was corrected in pencil, and the name "Dorothy" (his youngest daughter) added at the end of the entry.

[1] Cope, Gilbert. Genealogy of the Sharpless family, descended from John and Jane Sharples, settlers near Chester, Pennsylvania, 1682: together with some account of the English ancestry of the family, including the results of researches by, Henry Fishwick, F.H.S., and the late Joseph Lemuel Chester LL.D.: and a full report of the Bi-Centennial Reunion of 1882. Philadelphia: Published for the Family under the Auspices of the Bi-Centennial Committee, 1887.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Two Degrees of Separation

For this week's Fun, Randy Seaver challenges us to see how far back in time we can go with two degrees of separation. For those less familiar with the concept as relates to the game using Kevin Bacon and six degrees of separation, Randy describes this as, "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor."

I decided to examine my four grandparents.

The first (and easiest) scenario that came to mind was the first:

Scenario 1. Me - I knew my maternal grandmother, Mae Gouverneur Cadwalader (1923-2000). I remember my grandmother telling me stories about visiting "Bonnemama," her maternal grandmother, Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (1860-1929).

So that takes me back to the 1860's. My maternal grandmother was the youngest of my four grandparents. I wondered if I could go any farther back with any of the others.

Scenario 2. Me - I knew my paternal grandfather, Richard Cranch Greenleaf (1917-2000). By the time Richard was born in 1917, his two grandfathers and all of his great-grandparents has passed away. I presume he would have at least met either of his grandmothers - Adeline Emma Stone Greenleaf (1849-1936) or Helen Coolidge Adams (1848-1929). But I don't know this for certain - I don't think I have anything (evidence or oral tradition) that proves he ever met them. But since they all lived in geographic regions not too far separated, Albany and New York City, I surmise he probably knew both women.

This presumably takes me back to the 1840's. But it's conjecture. And a similar conjecture scenario occurs with my maternal grandfather.

Scenario 3. Me - I knew my maternal grandfather, Joseph Harrison Worrall (1913-1979). My grandfather died when I was quite young, and at the moment I'm not recalling any stories I know about which ancestors he'd known. For this one, I used Reunion's timeline software to map out some possibilities.

The farthest back I could possibly go here is 1830 - birth date of his maternal great-grandmother, Margaret Wilen Sharpless Delany (1830-1924).

My final grandparent scenario is, for lack of a better word, frustrating. This is the line with the only one of my great-grandparents I knew. But it's also the line I know the least about. So how far back I go (at the moment) is limited by my research.

Scenario 4. Me - I knew my great-grandmother, Irene Gillespie McCormick (1891-1976). Irene knew her father, Henry Edward Gillespie (1854-1933) and her mother-in-law, Margaret Gilligan McCormick (1851-1927). The results would be the same for my grandmother, Irene's daughter, Ann McCormick (1919-1992). The difference here is I'm certain Irene knew her father, and fairly certain she knew her mother-in-law who was still living at the time of Irene's marriage in 1916. This cluster of family all lived in Albany, so I'm fairly certain Irene would have met her mother-in-law on several occasions at the very least.

From what research I've done about the McCormick family tracing their migration patterns, Irene would not likely have known older McCormick relations. But there were probably older Gillespie family ancestors Irene did know - I just need to find them.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Looking forward, Looking Back: The Biddle and Cole Families

I had high hopes of getting this posted before the end of January. But yes, I'm emerging from an unintentional self-imposed hibernation of sorts to finally start getting some of the blog ideas that have been rattling around my brain out into the online world take on legs of their own.

By far my genealogical highlight of 2011 was a connection I made with Jim, another genealogical researcher whose family is tied to one of my own ancestral lines. Jim and I are not related in the traditional genealogical sense, but there is an ancestral history that ties us together.

One of my favorite finds last year was a newspaper article from the Springfield Weekly Republican (Mass.) dated 18 Feb 1932 with the headline, "Lenox Coachman Bequeathed Life Interest in $45,000 Fund." The article describes the bequests my 3rd great aunt, Emily Williams Biddle (1855-1931), made in her will. My main interest in the article at the time was that it pointed me to the burial location of Emily's parents and siblings. [see posts: Lost Biddle Children, Emily Williams Biddle] But I also enjoyed other pieces in the article which shed more light on Emily's character such as her directives for the handling (disposal) of her animals, but in particular bequests to her long-time coachman Michael Cole and various members of his family.

Jim and I first came in contact after he found my blog while researching his great-grandfather, Michael Cole. He knew that Michael had worked for Emily Biddle, that the turn of the last century placed him in Philadelphia as a carriageman, and that in later years, Michael owned a house in Lenox, Massachusetts.

I shared the article on Emily's bequests to the Cole family with Jim and we've been corresponding ever since. Jim's research of the Cole family has unearthed details about Emily Williams Biddle that I certainly would never have found on my own. My communications with Jim have solidified for me the principle of researching people in your ancestor's live beyond the family members.

In 2012, I plan to document through a series of posts, the evolving research on the Biddle and Cole families. Jim has given me his approval to share our story; in the short time he's been researching the Coles and Biddles has turned up fascinating details about both families that helps me get a picture of them beyond facts and dates.

Stay tuned!