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!