Friday, March 21, 2014

Call for help: Who was Thomas Thomas' parents?

Hello all - it's been awhile! Spring is finally here - the perfect time to start adding new leaves and branches to my tree again, I hope!

Since I began blogging about genealogy, I have connected with so many cousins near and far, old and young - many times I've been able to help them with a genealogy question or problem they've been having, but more often than not they have been invaluable in helping me break through my own brick walls and add to my branches. So I thought as a service to my genealogy clients, I'd offer them the opportunity to post their own genealogy problems, questions, or brick walls to my blog - you never know who's out there reading; you never know who's out there researching those same questions...or who is out there with the answers!

So today we have a question from K. about his great-great-grandfather, Thomas Thomas. According to K, Thomas Thomas is listed in the 1880 Census in Ellsworth, Kansas, where it says he was born in Pennsylvania and was married to Louisa A. According to his family's oral tradition, the couple lived previously in Lebanon, Ohio, where K's great grandmother, Rebecca Jane Thomas, was born. From there, the family moved to Ottawa (LaSalle), Illinois, where Rebecca married Loren(zo) Dow Pratt in 1866 - he was just home from the Civil War.

Soon after Rebecca and Lorenzo's marriage they moved to Marion, Kansas, and Thomas Thomas, her father, moved his family to Ellsworth, Kansas. In the 1880 census, Thomas is listed as a policeman, "which is interesting," K writes, "since Ellsworth was one of the wildest of the end of the trail cowtowns." Sounds exciting, right? Bet there are some good stories there! In addition to Rebecca Jane, Thomas and Louisa had a son, Joseph C., also of Marion, Kansas, and a daughter, Maria, who accompanied Louisa to Marion for the birth of Thomas V. Pratt (Rebecca's son and Thomas' grandson) in 1875.

So, to bring us back to the beginning, K wants to knock through his brick wall and answer the question: Who was Thomas Thomas' parents?

We have a lot of good info here - we have specific towns and locations, we have a few years, and we have a couple of siblings and in-laws, all of whom might have descendants out there researching these same questions or who already have the answers! So if anybody is reading this and just got that excited feeling of, "Oh my gosh - this is MY family, too!" whether or not you have the actually answer K is looking for (sometimes two people working together to search for the same answer is better than one), you can leave me a message in my comments and I will be happy to put you in contact with K and y'all can enjoy the fun of connecting with cousins!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Some random snowy Monday night AncestryDNA thoughts...

On a personal level, I have been very happy with AncestryDNA and especially since the results were revamped, updated, and made more specific...I mean, it's been thrilling. I can't wait till I get a job and can buy DNA kits for all my siblings and my father to see the slight variations and hopefully see something pop up in theirs that didn't pop up in never know. That's the fun thing about DNA.

On a connecting level, however... ::sigh:: It's been a total bust. I have tons and tons of matches. I have 30 4th cousin matches (4th-6th cousin range, usually) and I would say more than 100 distant matches, many of whom are "moderate" probability, not "low" or "very low." And yet, I have no shared ancestor hints. Not a single one. Nada. Zilch. I am super super jealous of Cousin April over at Digging up the dirt on my dead people, who has made several genetic matches on the family line that we share - but I don't connect genetically to her or any of her matches. Of course, until the database is overflowing with people, most people are going to be in my boat - the great and terrible thing about DNA connections is it will connect you to people you might never be able to prove a connection to with any records. I have several very well documented lines - my Raynor line, which is my shared line with Cousin April and dates back to colonial America, and several of my German lines, which immigrated more recently (the 1800s). I think a lot of my DNA connections are on my Irish lines, which I will never be able to prove with records - so that's a genetic dead end. And unfortunately, AncestryDNA is not yet available to many foreign countries, so I won't be able to connect to any of my well documented German lines unless their descendants came to America and also took the DNA test. Which basically leaves me with my Raynor line, which has proved useless so far.

Part of the problem is two of my pet peeves with AncestryDNA - the people who took tests who A), have a private family tree and B) the people who took tests who have NO family tree. At the very least, you can input you, your parents, and your grandparents. That would be enough for me to see whether or not there was a possible Raynor connection. And I understand people who want to keep their family tree private from the general public but it would be nice if Ancestry came up with a way to allow users to make their trees public to other AncestryDNA users, to see if there's a connection there.

So, I'm taking matters into my own hands, as much as I can anyway. I have largely, on my public tree anyway, only gone backwards, never sideways. Well, my new goal is to add as many branches and cousins as possible, to widen that net and hopefully catch a few AncestryDNA cousin connections or even just normal genealogy researching cousins - if they won't or can't connect to me, I'm going to do my damnest to connect to them.

Now I also uploaded my DNA results to after hearing that Cousin April was able to connect to a non-U.S. cousin through that website - no matter which DNA website you use, you can upload your results and connect to genetic matches - I got a ton of results (including one person with the last name Carman, who is, of course, somewhere on the Raynor line I'm sure - another old Long Island name) but I don't really understand how it works yet or how to contact these people or how accurate it is. What was kind of cool is there's a beta database that gives you a picture of what it believes your eye color looks like, based on your DNA results, and mine was DEAD ON. It was insane. I have a fairly unique eye color so the fact that it accurately picked out what my eye looks like makes me think the website is pretty legit.

Anyway, I have a lot of work to do - tons to keep me busy on these snowy days. Happy hunting, everyone!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My blogiversary!

I cannot believe it's been six years since I started writing this blog. Writing about genealogy has been such a blessing. I have had people find me through this blog and reach out to me for help. I have used this as an outlet for all my frustrations whenever I hit brick walls (which has been and continues to be quite frequently!). I have used this blog to celebrate all my genealogical victories, both big and small. I have used it as a record of my journey and of my growth as a genealogist. I have shared what I have learned in the hopes of helping others learn as well. But I think most importantly, I have found so many cousins (or they have found me), both close and distant, and many times I have been able to share with them things about our common tree that they didn't know, but more often than not they have been the source of invaluable knowledge - records, photos, letters - as well as kinship and friendship. So I'd just like to take a moment to thank everyone who has read me over the years. Hopefully six years from now, we'll all still be here - further along in our research and cousin networks, but still searching, always searching for more answers!

You can read my original blog post here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Olga Butt & Lawrence Ferris, June 13, 1936 in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York

First, let's just put it out there: Olga Butt is an unfortunate, unfortunate name. But seeing as she got a fancy schmancy European education, lived in a beautiful neighborhood in Queens, NY and was well off enough to get a big write-up in the Society Page of the Long Island Sunday Press, I guess I wouldn't mind having her name after all...

Olga Butt (1913-1999) was my first cousin 3 times removed. Her mother, Margaretha/Marguerite/Margaret, was the sister of my great-great grandmother, Meta Ricklefs Haase. Olga was actually born Olga Cornelius but her father, Oscar Cornelius (who actually comes from a very old Long Island family, like my family on my mother's side of the family) seems to have disappeared pretty early on and I assume Olga was formally or informally adopted by her mother's husband, Sheldon Clayland Butt. Which makes things so much fun when you're trying to do a genealogy search for someone. We've all been there. You know what I'm talking about.

So anyway, this past week I found Olga's wedding announcement, which is fun, since I never even knew her married name, but I don't really know anything about her and finding side branches is fun but not the overwhelmingly exciting kind that is finding someone you're directly descended from. But this announcement actually emphasizes the importance of pursuing those side branches. Why? Because a few of my direct ancestors are actually mentioned in the article - you just never know where people are going to show up!

My great-grandmother, Helen Haase Stutzmann, who I know very little about, was the matron of honor (she and Olga were cousins, and apparently close ones at that). My great-grandfather, Frederick Stutzmann, was the best man - so my great-grandparents were the two most important people there besides the bride and groom themselves (well, & I guess the bride and grooms parents). But my favorite part was reading that Helen and Frederick's 2 daughters, Faith and Helen, were the flower girls. Helen Stutzmann Gorry was my grandmother. She would've been 4 years old as the flower girl. How I would love to see photos of that wedding!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Timothy Cronin & Ellen Casey apply for a marriage license, 1912

When it comes to our recent family history (think the last 100 years or so), there can be many pieces of evidence out there revealing or supporting a family tree fact...of course, we're lucky if we can find just one but it's always a good idea to keep looking for more, something that can support or back up (or sometimes, refute) what we think we already know. In the case of marriages, you can have a church record, a non-religious record, a wedding announcement in a newspaper or church bulletin, and in my case here, a record of application for a marriage license. This would be for my great-grandparents, Timothy Ambrose Cronin and Ellen Marie Casey. And as you can see, not only does this blurb in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Oct. 11, 1912 give notice to that marriage license application, it also provides my great-grandmother's maiden name, both of their ages, and the addresses at which they lived. All information I already have, as it were, but if you didn't have it already, there it would all be in one short, tiny announcement. And as I already stated, it's nothing but a good thing to find other sources to back up what you already know. Timothy and Ellen were married four days later on Oct. 15, 1912 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a Catholic Redemptorist parish in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Timothy was 33 and Ellen was 19. They had 2 children, including my grandmother, and remained married until Timothy's death in 1948.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Military Monday: Dan Cronin reports for draft, St. Patrick's Day 1941

This picture and caption are from the Long Island Daily Press. Daniel F. Cronin reported for the draft and was inducted into the Army at the Jamaica Armory on St. Patrick's Day, 1941. He was 27 years old and a Freeport, NY police officer. Dan was my grandmother's brother and my grandfather's best friend. My grandfather, Clifford Raynor, was also a Freeport police officer, so I guess they did that together. Uncle Dan died before I was born - I think he was also my mom's godfather. He's the man pictured on the left.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Grandma's wedding china

Mary Cronin Raynor's wedding china - Homer Laughlin's Eggshell Nautilus line. This particular set was made in 1946 and the pattern is N1402, which has a blue band with a wheat laurel edge, and a floral pattern on edge and center.