Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016: Year of Emergence

I'm great at coming up with New Year's Resolutions and even better at breaking them.  One of my friends suggested a keyword approach.  I'm christening 2016 my "Year of Emergence".  In some ways that is scarier than just making a resolution, especially since for me that is a rather bold statement.  Maybe older = bolder?

When I was in my early twenties my younger brother was working on a family tree project for school.  I was intrigued.  I was also starting to ask questions about my grandmother (see Bessie Bromagem for the rest of that story).  Mystery books, jigsaw puzzles, logic problems, solitaire games were some of my favorite activities.  This was in the mid 1970s, long before I had a PC or the internet.  I started learning about genealogy and found that doing research and putting it together was like all my favorites things rolled into one.  And visiting the places my ancestors lived was wonderful.  I was hooked.  

How many of you have struggled with the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?"? I didn't have a good answer, jumping through three (very!) different majors in college before finally falling into computer work & programming as a vocation.  Some of my later answers to the question were a genealogy librarian, a forensic anthropologist, some flavor of social scientist, an exotic dancer (just checking to see if you are paying attention!).  But more and more the answer became "genealogist".  Then in 2006 my brother and I exchanged Christmas presents of the first National Geographic Genographic test.  That did it.  I was hooked on DNA.  Now the answer to the question is unequivocally "Genetic genealogist".

I've spent the last several years taking advantage of educational opportunities regarding DNA tests and results, traditional genealogy methods, and how to integrate the two.  It truly is a huge logic problem.  My friends have said my face lights up when I talk about it.  And talk about it I have, even volunteering to speak publicly a couple of times (there's a first time for everything!).  Privately I've helped several friends and family members with their projects. I already have on my agenda for this year attending webinars, conferences and a week long institute.

2016: Year of Change would have also been appropriate.  I will retire from my database analyst position at Indiana University.  My son has brought a wonderful woman and her awesome daughter into our lives and they will be making it official.  I'll have the house to myself for the first time in several years.  But I chose "emergence" because of the sense of moving forward.  Change happens.  It's what you do with it that matters.  By the end of 2016 - 40 plus years after I started a genealogy hobby, 10 years after I did my first DNA testing - I will be on my way to becoming a genetic genealogist.  Boy, that sounds a bit like a resolution, doesn't it?




Sunday, February 16, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (4) Hannah Marshall

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Ancestor 4

I was starting to dabble in genealogy research while I was living in West Lafayette and attending Purdue University in the 1970's.  But most of my free time was spent socializing with my friends.  One couple I knew lived in Pine Village, Indiana and driving over to spend time with them was one of my favorite activities.  I felt so comfortable there.  It wasn't just their generous hospitality but a feeling of peace being in Pine Village, a place I hadn't even heard of until they moved there.  Little did I know I was spending time near where my third great grandmother Hannah Marshall Townsley had spent the last years of her life.

Wallace Marshall published "A History of the Marshall and Related Families" (now available on OpenLibrary here) in 1922.   Mr. Marshall made efforts to contact descendants of the families, so the book is full of descriptive stories as well as references to source records.  Mrs. Olive Wade Fenton had this to say about her grandmother: "She was a large woman, of strong character; she was quite religious; for some time before her death she was crippled, having broken her hip by a fall."  Mr. Marshall had this to add: "Some of our ultra-fashionable ladies of today smoke cigarettes, and doubtless think they are pioneering.  They are not.  Aunt Hannah and most of others of her day, smoked a pipe.  Many times she would hunt and hunt for her pipe, and finally find it - in her mouth."   Hmmm, like I hunt and hunt for my sunglasses that are on my head?  Or my keys that are in my other hand?

Hannah Marshall was born in Frederick County, Virginia 24 January 1793, to William Marshall and Elisabeth Cole.   By 1812 Hannah was in Greene County, Ohio where as recorded in Greene County, Ohio Marriage Record Book A on the 16th of January she was married to John Townsley:



The John Townsley Junior family found in the 1820 census in Greene County, Ohio is likely John and Hannah and their 3 male & 1 female children under age 10; George born 1816, Caroline born 1817 and my 2nd great grandfather William Townsley born 1819.  I do not have the name of the third male child and don't see him in later censuses.   I haven't yet found the family in 1830 or 1840. I do have a record of three more children; James born 1826, Julia born 1828 and Robert born 1830.  

In 1850 Hannah is living in Clark County with her daughter Julia and son-in-law John Wade.  I have seen an unsubstantiated death date for John Townsley of 1832.  Several of the DAR applications on his father John Townsley Sr.'s Revolutionary War service come through John and Hannah, but none list a death date for John Jr., leading me to believe that the 1832 is just a guess based on the birth date of the youngest child.

Hannah continues to live with Julia and John Wade the rest of her life.  In 1860 they are still in Clark County, but shortly after that move to Indiana.  They settled in Pine Village and that is where Hannah Marshall Townsley died.  Wallace Marshall, in the book cited above, gives her death date as 5 July 1867 and her place of burial as Carbondale Cemetery.  There an entry on Find-A-Grave with that same information.  Mr. Marshall had visited the cemetery and not found a stone for Hannah even at that time, and mentioned that some stones had been vandalized.

Wallace Marshall lived in Lafayette, Indiana.  He, too, was surprised to find Hannah Marshall so geographically close.  He states:  "I am sure none of us children ever heard of a relative so close as first cousin to father, living at that place.  In fact, I never knew it, until within the present month."  A later insert: "Since writing the above, I have learned that Uncle William attended his Aunt Hannah's funeral, so they were known to be there by the older people."

I shared your surprise, Mr. Marshall.


Monday, February 10, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (3) Geneva Evans, approx 1830-1900

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Ancestor 3

There is nothing like writing about an ancestor to show me how little I really know about them.  I don't know where Geneva Evans came from or where she ended up.  All I have is what I can glean from the few records she left. 

Geneva Evans was born sometime around 1830 somewhere in Virginia.  By 1848 she was in Warrick Couny, Indiana where she married John Nalley on May 7th (as recorded in Warrick County marriage records).  They were my 2nd great grandparents, maternal grandparents of my paternal grandfather George Hampton Harvey.


By the time the census was taken in 1850 Geneva had given birth to her Lourana, the first of several children that she would bear. The Nalley family stayed in Warrick County, Indiana for several years and in 1860 are found in Anderson Township.  Current political boundaries show that township to lie along the Ohio River. John's occupation is listed as being a farmer, but he apparently didn't own his own land since the real estate value was listed as zero.


The Civil War was breaking out.  Geneva's husband John was several years older and I find no record of him fighting.  Their sons were too young.  Southwestern Indiana wasn't in the midst of the fighting, but they didn't escape all the turmoil.  In 1862 the nearby town of Newburgh, Indiana was captured in a Confederate raid.  


For whatever reason, the family moved several miles north into Pike County by 1870.  They are found there in census in Lockhart Township.  By now they have their own land, with a real estate value of $2,000.  John is farming and Geneva is keeping house.  The older daughters have left home, leaving six children ranging in age from six months to 15 years.  John, like in 1860, is noted as not being able to read or write.  Geneva does not have that notation so she may have had more of an opportunity for an education that what John had.


Pike County must not have been satisfactory either, because by 1880 the family is in Carthage, Missouri.  John is noted as having a "tumor of the stomach".  Their 22 and 23 year old sons are in the household listed as "laborers", as well as some remaining younger children.  At some point during their residence in Carthage John died.  There is an 1887 court case filed in Pike County regarding Geneva's dower portion of a 20 acre parcel of land and naming their children as owners of the other two thirds.  I haven't been able to find a death or burial record for John.


John & Geneva's daughter Martha Nalley married a Peter Wright.  In 1900 there is a census record in Cherokee County, Kansas of Peter Wright's household with wife Mary and mother-in-law Geneva Nalley.  It is confusing, though, because this Geneva Nalley was listed as being born in March 1846 and was mother to only 4 children, 2 of whom were still living.   The birth places & parents' birth places are consistent with prior information, but Geneva could not have been born in 1846 and married in 1848.  


That's the last mention I can find of Geneva Evans.  Her daughter Martha Nalley Wright died in 1909 and Peter is found in the 1910 census for Jasper County, Missouri listed as a widower (though from Jasper County marriage records I know he remarried later that year).   Was the 1900 census entry in Kansas the correct family?  Did Geneva die there?  Or maybe back in Missouri?


Without a marriage bond or death record I don't have a clue as to who her parents were.  There were two Evans households in Warrick County in 1850 that could have been her family.  One was headed by Henry Evans and the other by James Evans.  Geneva's first son was named William H., possibly named for her husband John's father William Nalley.  Could the H be for Henry?  But her second son was named James.  Was that for her father?  


As I go through this I realize I need to make a trip to Warrick County to look at land and court records to see what I can find.




Friday, February 7, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (2) Elizabeth Hall approximately 1815-1847

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Ancestor 2

Elizabeth Hall, my 3rd great grandmother, was a June bride.  An entry in Scott County, Virginia Marriage Book 1, page 56 shows that she and James Tyree were granted a license to marry on 7 June 1836.  The ceremony was performed by W.C. Reynolds and his return was dated 22 June 1836. Unfortunately I have not found a marriage bond that might give additional information on Elizabeth's family.

The 1840 census entry for the James Tyree family in Scott County lists 3 children (1 male, 2 female) all under the age of 5.  There were both a female and male aged 20-29, presumably James and Elizabeth.  So Elizabeth was born sometime between 1811 and 1820.  If she was born in 1815 she would have been 21 at the time of her marriage.

By 1850 Elizabeth is gone.  The James Tyree family now consists of James age 36, Polly age 25 and seven children:
Malinda age 14
Mary age 12
William age 10 (my 2nd great grandfather)
Ann Tyree age 8
Lucy Tyree age 5
Louisa Tyree age 4
Caroline Tyree age 2
Elizabeth Tyree age 1

Some researchers have said that Elizabeth Hall was Mary "Polly" Elizabeth Hall but I have not seen any evidence that would lead me to believe that is true.  James Tyree's second wife is said to be Mary "Polly" Young and I believe that is who we see in the 1850 census.  

James Tyree referred to his wife Polly in his 1877 will.  There are also chancery court records for Scott County that deal with continued disputes over parts of the estate settlement.  At least one mentions Polly Tyree, but the most informative in regards to Elizabeth Hall is case 1907-025.  Close to sixty years after Elizabeth's presumed death, 30 years after James's death and shortly after Polly's death the children of the late Caroline Tyree Heron are claiming that their father W H Heron is using land that should be theirs.  One of the depositions is by Nathaniel Bloomer, husband of Mary Tyree.  When asked if his wife is a sister to Caroline Heron and a daughter of James Tyree he answers that his wife Mary "is a half-sister and daughter of James Tyree".

The first three children that were in the 1850 census match up with the 3 under age 5 in 1840 and are easily attributed to Elizabeth Hall.  The rest were so close in age it is hard to pick a point where Elizabeth's children ended and Polly's began.  This piece of evidence in the 1907 court case makes it clear that Caroline had a different mother than Mary. It's still unclear who the mother is for Ann, Lucy and Louisa.

So what happened to Elizabeth Hall?  Did she die and James immediately remarry?  Was James starting a family with Polly even as he was finishing his family with Elizabeth?  I've found no evidence of divorce proceedings.  There is a Find A Grave entry for Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Hall Tyree b 1815, d 1850 and buried in Nickles Cemetery (Looneys Gap).  There is no photo associated with the entry.  It's possible that descendants that stayed in the area would have known where she was buried.

The bigger question for me, though, is "where did Elizabeth Hall come from?"  The census entries I've seen for her children are consistent in giving their mother's place of birth as Virginia.  I've kept notes as I come across possibilities in the Scott County area.  Rhoden (by any spelling) and William Hall both have females close to age 15 in the 1830 Scott County census.  But if "Rhoden" Hall is the same person as Nimrod Hall then I may have enough evidence to remove that family from consideration, as his daughter Elizabeth moved to Floyd County, Kentucky with the rest of the family.  John Hall & Sarah Mahon lived in Lee County (next to Scott) in 1813 when their son Preston was born.  I have an Ancestry DNA match with a descendant of that family, as well as several other Hall families.  I have even more with descendants of John Hash & Rebecca Anderson, who had two daughters that married Hall's.  That doesn't really tell me much since my roots are so tangled there that I could easily be related to these DNA matches through another line.  I also have in my notes to keep an eye on Masias Hall and Unisiah Simth as possible parents.

As you can see, I've been collecting a lot of clues but not finding any real evidence.  Can any of you help me find the rest of the story?








Friday, January 31, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: (1) Bessie M. Bromagem 1881-1951

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Ancestor 1

Earlier this year Amy Johnson Crow posted a challenge on her blog No Story Too Small to write about a different ancestor each week.  52 weeks in the year, 52 different ancestors.  Nothing like starting a challenge a month late, but at least it motivated me to finally start a blog.

There is no better ancestor to start with than my paternal grandmother Bessie M. Bromagem.   I never met "Grandma Harvey" as she died two years before I was born. But I grew up in the house she had lived in.  And more than once an older relative told me I me I was her "spittin' image".  It was curiosity about her story that prompted my first genealogical research almost 40 years ago.  

Bessie was a mystery.  By the time my father was born she was suffering from debilitating mental illness.  When I asked about her the answer was "she wasn't quite right in the head".  But I had also heard stories that one of her childhood teachers said she was the smartest student ever to attend school in Patoka, Indiana.  Even in her later years she would surprise the family by performing tasks they thought she would have been incapable of.  Once a father-to-be stopped at the house when he realized he wasn't going to get his wife to the hospital in time. Bessie took charge and delivered the baby. I had to know the rest of her story.

There were no family stories passed down through Bessie.  My recently married parents as well as other extended family members were living with my grandparents when their house was destroyed in a fire.  Any photographs, papers or letters that might have existed were lost.  Bessie had no siblings except for a half-sister "somewhere back in Ohio".  I had to start from scratch, and with no internet to help me.  With such an uncommon name I thought it would be easy to trace, but I had no idea of the spelling variations I would find. 

Bessie M. Bromagem  was born 7 July 1881, most likely in Patoka, Gibson County, Indiana. She married George Harvey 4 September 1904 in Princeton, Indiana.  She died 2 February 1951 again near Princeton.  George was the informant on her death certificate and gave her father's name as Samuel Bromagen.  He apparently didn't know her mother's maiden name as that was left blank.  

I was learning more about the Bromagem family in Gibson County.  I found William S Bromagem, Hannah E Bromagem and Bessie M Bromagem living near Patoka in the 1900 census.  In the 1880 census I found Samuel Brumigen, Lizzie Brumigen and a 3 year old daughter named Mabel in the same area.  Another look through the death records and I found that Mabel Bromagem was born in 1876 and died 22 Sep 1883.  And there was a son, Samuel Arthur Bromagem born 1885, died 1886.  So Bessie was not the only child of who I now know to be William Samuel Bromagem and Hannah Elizabeth Townsley.  She was just the only child to survive til adulthood. 

My mother was very supportive of my genealogy hobby.  She made it known that we would like copies of photographs or other papers that anyone in the family might have.  We hit the jackpot when someone gave her this one:





The woman on the right is Bessie Bromagem.  The woman on the left is her half-sister Mattie.  And in the lower left hand corner was a faint mark from a photography studio in Xenia, Ohio.  Could "somewhere in Ohio" be Greene County?  Once I knew where to look I took things fell into place.  Bessie Bromagem's ancestors were some of the earliest settlers in Cedarville, Ohio.  I'm sure you'll be hearing about some of them in later posts.

But I still didn't know much more about Bessie's life after she married my grandfather. Then serendipity struck.  A man named Wilbur Bell drove through Princeton and saw the sign for my father's business:  "Ed Harvey Farm Supply".  He stopped, since the reason for his trip was to try to find some of the Harvey family that descended from his mother's half-sister Bessie.  He was Mattie's son.  My mother gave him my address and thus started a long and mutually beneficial exchange of information.  Two of the many items Cousin Wilbur gave me were a postcard and a letter.  The postcard was a photo of Bessie's two young daughters sent to Mattie.  It is a well-written, typically chatty card and Bessie mentions she is getting ready to have some dental work done.  The letter was written several years later.  One of Bessie's cousins had been visiting Princeton, stopped to see Bessie and afterwards wrote to Mattie to tell her of Bessie's deplorable condition.  

What happened between the postcard and the letter?  What turned this intelligent, educated woman into "crazy Bessie"?  By this point I was not letting the discomfort of the older generation stop me from asking questions.  I did get some answers, but not all.  After my two aunts were born Bessie had a miscarriage. The dental work she had mentioned to her sister did not go well. Those were two of the several different events that people said were to blame for Bessie's breakdown.  I found out she had been agitated enough that she was committed to an institution for a time and given shock treatments.  This would have been some time between 1910 and 1915.  When she was finally released she was docile but never "all there" again.  Her doctor thought having more children might be helpful, so my father and his two brothers were conceived.   My aunts may have had faint memories of their mother before her illness, but my father and his brothers only knew her as she was after the "treatment".

No one living when I started asking questions knew where Bessie had been institutionalized.  I considered at one time checking with the various mental hospitals in the area to see if any of their records reached back that far.  So far I haven't taken that step.