Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Updating Long-ignored Files: The St. John Family

The publication of the Mathias St. John/Sension article mentioned in a recent post has resulted in a new contact. [More on that in a later post.]

It was pointed out that I missed a son of Job St. John in the Family Group Record. I had Josiah listed as a son in Job's bio, but missed him when recording the kids. [If you can, get someone to read your material before you finalize it!] So, I need to go through my four St. John folders to piece together a profile for Josiah.

I also need to record the two new generations [Mathias' parents & grandparents] into my RootsMagic program.

My new contact has requested the deeds & other documents I used to reassign Samuel St. John to [I believe] his correct parents, Mathias II St. John & Elizabeth _______. [He was originally determined to be the son of Mathias III & Rachel Bouton.]

The lesson/suggestion here? When you have some down time in your research, pick a family & check to see what you may have missed or what new research has been conducted. If all is accurate & up to date, at least you have reacquainted yourself with ancestors you haven't visited in awhile!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Family History & the Indy 500, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing

I finally made it to the Indy 500, thanks to my girlfriend! So what's that got to do with genealogy, you ask?  Well, here goes!

My maternal grandfather had the first TV in the neighborhood in, I believe, 1946. It had a 6" or 8" screen. Family & friends showed up to watch the race at the McHugh household. My folks last attended the 1948 race. As a kid, during the '60s, we regularly attended Bump Day. Back then it was really Bump Day! There were always a half-dozen or so drivers & car owners scurrying around Pit Road trying to get a deal together for a chance to qualify.

My first vivid memory of the 500 was the 1958 race & the tragic crash that took Pat O'Connor's life. I listened to the radio broadcast every year [even while watching the TV broadcast while living in Florida]. I was glued to the radio when A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Jr., & Rick Mears won their four 500s. The '64 crash that took Eddie Sachs & Dave McDonald is still vividly implanted in my memory.

In 1962, one of the drivers was supposed to make an appearance at the Walgreen's in Irvington. With a store full of enraged mothers & disappoined kids, the manager called the track after a two hour wait. Rodger Ward was within earshot of the desperate call & volunteered to drive across town to fill-in. He made sure every postcard, racecar & slip of paper was autographed. During the late stages of the race that year, Ward took over the lead & won the 500. He had plenty of bonus fan support!

Sid Collins, Paul Page & others served as the "Voice of the 500."

Finally, my chance to see the race live came, with a call, "We're going to the race."

Wow! Little did I know what I was in for! Jim Nabors returned to sing "Back Home Again in Indiana" after being to ill to make the trip last year. 11 American drivers, 4 women in the field, a home-grown polesitter in Ed Carpenter, two 3-time winners in the field.....

Our seats were across from the last four pits on the main straight away.

We witnessed a record number of lead changes from 2012 double, a third of the field lead the race & a new average speed record was set. And to top it off, the sentimental, hard-luck favorite manuevered his way back into the lead just before the final caution & won the race under yellow. The crowd roared as Tony Kanaan crossed the yard of bricks to take the checkered flag.

What a wild & wacky debut for me at the Brickyard! [Speaking of the Brickyard - I'm attending my 1st NASCAR race this summer as well.]

So the 500 transcends the generations, my grandfather hosting the first televised 500, my parents taking me to Bump Day for 6-7 years running & me finally attending my first 500, a multi-record-breaker with a fan favorite taking the win. Oh, there was a gentleman sitting next to my girlfriend who had brought his granndchildren - he too was sharing his memories of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

P.S. Contrats to Tony Kanaan!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Good Genealogy Moment!!!

I feel like I've been suffering from research-block for a few days. The family that I need to get my data sorted out on is the Reels. The data is somewhat of a jumbled mess. Dates from various sources don't work [parents born about 1740, 1st child born about 1750] & other details don't sort out well.

What I needed was a bit of good genealogy news. It came with the online publication of the April 2013 issue of the NE Historical & Genealogical Register. There was an article by Jerome Lafayette Santken entitled Origins of Mathias and Nicholas Sension Determined. Oh  boy! Family!

I had worked on my St. John/Sension line during the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy a few years ago. A fellow St. John researcher felt that Samuel St. John, who was identified as the son of Mathias III in the St. John Genealogy by Orline St. John Alexander [1907], should rightfully be the son of Mathias II. I conducted the "reasonably exhaustive search" required & came to agree that Samuel was assigned to the wrong parents.

The Santken article was my first reunion with my St. John ancestors. Early research tried to tie them to English or Welsh nobility or even Norman origins. Nothing could be further from the truth! Santken came across about 110 variations of the St. John name. As it turned out the family was of  Dutch origin.

The family was taken back another two generations & expanded considerably.

Just when you need it, a bit of new info magically appears!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Online Family Trees & Documentation

I have held off posting my family tree online ever since it was possible to do so. Many people seem to have jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, many of the many miss out on a few fundamental items that I wish were corrected.

(1) Documentation! It seems like 90% of online trees are undocumented. If they are, census records [helpful] and citing someone else's tree are the main sources. Those other trees are frequently in error and lack citation as well. Rsearch your data and post the documentation. If you have a marriage date - give the source!!

(2) Piggy-backing [latching onto another posted tree] and assuming the other tree is well-researched.

(3) Unreliable trees with reliable sources. An unwitting researcher will post a tree with sources and goof-up! Say they have an abstract of a will attached to the tree. The will of "James Brown" [wriiten Jan. 20, 1845, proved Mar. 10, 1845] names his wife Wanda and children James Jr., Robert, Sidney, Ella [wife of Garrett Davis], Victoria and Louise. It also names, Walter Watson, "my wife's brother. The tree shows James Brown [born 1790, died after 1850], wife - unknown, children - James, Robert, Simeon, Elmer, Victoria and Louise. C'MON! You have a nice range for James' death, Jan.-Mar. 1845. No Robert in the will. Two kids misnamed, one the wrong sex! The Mrs. is also identified, even her maiden name! Check 'em when you post 'em!

Once in awhile I will contact someone to correct an error. Frequently, the person will make the correction. I finally located the wife and marriage record for one of my ancestors. About 25 trees had the wife incorrectly identified. I contacted many of the posters and a couple corrected the error. Still, the majority have the incorrect, undocumented spouse. The kicker in this is that the census records are partly to blame. The letter 'm' was transcribed as a double 'n' every year [1850-1870].

Come on folks! Stop collecting names and post accurate data with accurate sources.

Friday, May 17, 2013

When the Ancestors Arrived

After compiling my list of "National origins," I got to thinking about the arrival of my ancestors. The vast majority came over early.

The majority of my Massachusetts, Connecticut & Rhode Island ancestors landed on American shores between 1620 & 1699. The New Netherland arrivals were during the 1650s & 1660s. Welsh Quakers came over shortly after the establishment of Pennsylvania. I'm fairly sure that most of my "mystery families" arrived by the early 1700s. The latest arrivals were Germans & Irish in the 1830s & one Irish straggler about 1852.

I'm almost jealous of researchers anxiously awaiting 19th & 20th century immigration, naturalization & similar records to appear on, familysearch & other sites. In the meantime, I'm hoping to track down records from the 1650s!

Then again, the "recent arrivals" have to battle constantly changing European borders & records destroyed during WWI & before. Me? I can qualify for about a dozen lineage societies!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ancestral Heritage - Part 4

The wrap-up: surnames Q-Z.

46 - England                       3 - probably England
5 - Switzerland                   2 - probably Germany
3 - Germany                       1 - probably Wales
3 - Wales                           5 - unknown
1 - Ireland
3 - The Netherlands

England = 156                       Switzerland = 13
prob England = 12                 Sweden = 2
Wales = 8                              Germany = 10
prob Wales = 1                       prob Germany = 3
Scotland = 3                          The Netherlands = 12
prob Scotland = 1                   prob The Netherlands = 1
Ireland = 4                              W. Flanders/Belgium = 1
prob Ireland = 1                      Fr. Flanders/Netherlands = 1
Wales/England = 1                  unknown = 25
Scotland/N. Ireland = 2
Scotland/Ireland = 1
England/Ireland = 1
England/Scotland = 1

So, England claims about 65%, the rest of Britain/Ireland about 9%, Western Europe about 17% & unknown about 9%.

Satisfy your curiosity & figure your own heritage. By the way, my late-comers were Irish [c1835, 1852].
Nearly everyone else arrived during the 1600s &  1700s!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ancestral Heritage - Part 3

Hre are surnames J-P. The final installment [Q-Z] & totals will appear with the next post.

32 - England                   1 - W. Flanders/Belguim
6 - The Netherlands        1 - England or Scotland
5 - Switzerland                1 - probably The Netherlands
3 - Ireland                       2 - probably England
2 - Germany                    8 - unknown
2 - Wales
1 - Scotland
1 - Sweden

England is still dominant, The Netherlands picked up a point or two.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ancestral Heritage - Part 2

Here's round two,  D-H: 67 surnames:

43 England                         2 probably England
2 The Netherlands              1 probably Switzerland
1 Scotland                          1 probably Germany
2 Switzerland                      1 probably Ireland
3 Wales                              5 unknown
3 Germany
1 French Flanders or The Netherlands
1 Ireland or England
1 Ulster or Scotland

English bloodlines are still very dominant. Dutch, German, Irish & a few others should pick up a little.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ancestral Heritage - Part 1

I have wondered from time to time, [sans DNA reports] what percentage of what nationalities were included in my bloodlines. I know the British Isles are well covered [England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales], as is Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland & other western European nations to a much lesser degree.

So far I have waded through letters A, B & C, a total of 54 surnames. The dynamics will change as I go through the alphabet, but so far, no surprises. The results based on at least one generation =

35 England                            5 probably England  
1 Wales                                1 Scotland or Ireland
1 Switzerland                        1 Scotland or Ulster
1 Sweden                             1 probably Scotland   
1 Scotland                            7 unknown
 2 Germany     
1 The Netherlands           
That's about 60-70% English. That percentage should hold fairly well. A few more letters next time!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Family Lore Presentation

Saturday, May 11, the Genealogical Society of Marion County will present "San Juan Hill, a Mayflower Connection, a Ship Lost at Sea & other bits of family lore" at the Eagle Branch of the Marion Co. Public Library [34th & Georgetown] from 1:00-3:00.

The presentation will cover how to sort out fact from fiction in the stories passed down from generation to generation, or at least determine if the story could be true. Speaker: yours tryly.