thegenealogygirl


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DNA Happy Dance & A New-To-Me Resource

dna-3d-2146389_1920

Guys!

 

This DNA stuff is awesome.  And I still don’t really know what I’m doing.

When I set out to test myself and several family members, my main goal was to find something, anything, about John Costello’s family.  That has not happened.  Yet.

But my second goal was to solve my next closest brick wall.  My third great grandfather.  He was born in France and came to the US as a child.  Until last week, everything we knew about his life was post marriage.  My sister started working on this portion of our tree about 15 years ago.  We have records, photos, and some anecdotal evidence from family members.  But all of it is post marriage.

Children didn’t just immigrate from France in the 1850s alone, but we couldn’t find any travel records.  We couldn’t find him on the census.  He seemed to have just beamed himself over from France, Star Trek style.

To complicate things, the only people in the entire US with his same surname, spelled the same way, are all his descendants.  So… made up last name?  Did his parents die when he was young, after immigrating, leaving him an orphan?  What was going on?

I hoped DNA would help with this brick wall.

And oh boy, did it ever deliver!

 

Last week I was combing through my matches that are in this general area of my tree.  I remembered something Diahan Southard said in a recent webinar.  She said that your best matches are the ones that you have no surnames in common with.  Those trees just might point you to the surname you are missing.

Well, I have two matches in this general area of my tree that have no surnames in common with me.  They are fairly close cousin matches.  I looked at their trees and while we didn’t share any surnames, those two trees did have one surname in common with each other.  It looked like their end of line people with this name were one generation apart.  I did a little digging and figured out how their two end of line folks connected to each other.

That still didn’t tell me how that surname connected to me though.  So I did some more digging.  I pushed their trees back another generation and I’ll be darned if I didn’t just find the sister of my brick wall!

I kept going.

Using the information about my 3rd great grandpa and his sister, I FINALLY found a ship manifest for the whole family coming over from France.  That led me to the state and federal census records that followed their arrival.

No wonder I couldn’t find them!

The spelling of their surname makes phonetic sense, but it is a variant I’ve never seen before and one I hadn’t thought to try.  Add to that that my 3rd gg’s first name is wrong on one record and recorded as simply an initial on the other, and it makes total sense that he seemed to be hiding.  He kinda was.

I found several more records – a second marriage for my 4th great grandpa (which lists his parents names! squeal of delight here), a land record for that same 4th great grandfather, records about both sisters of my previous brick wall 3rd great grandpa.  It was exciting!

I couldn’t find some important records I was hoping would help me jump the pond, so I dove deep into the FamilySearch catalog and exhausted everything I could find there.  Luckily for me, most of the relevant microfilm are already digitized and available to view from home.

I have more to do.  Lots more to do.  Which is why I intentionally left out names, and other specifics here.  For now.

All of this exciting searching led me to a brand-new-to-me website and a whole different set of discoveries.  This part of my tree is in Illinois.  My sister has done most of this research.  I’ve only helped with the pre-Illinois part in Québec.  This means I really haven’t spent much time with Illinois records or Illinois research in general.  All of my exciting, new discoveries sent me searching for Illinois newspapers.  I tried all of my usual stuff.  One of the “list” websites pointed me to the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections.  What an awesome, free resource!

While I didn’t find what I was hoping to find, I did find a whole bunch of goodies about other members of my family in this general branch of my tree.  In fact, I found so much that I had a genealogy first.  I actually got bored processing all of my newspaper finds and had to take a break.  The searching and finding wasn’t boring, but the downloading, saving, and cropping got boring after dozens of cool articles.  😉  Here are two articles that were particularly interesting.

MAFFIT, Orrin, 1906 burial article - crop

This article comes from the St. Anne Record, 30 March 1906.  Mr. and Mrs. Seth Moffit are my 2nd great grandparents.  This article details their travel from Chicago to Saint Anne, and the funeral and burial of their son, Orrin Seth Maffit.

BROUILLETTE, Nelson, 1919 Car accident article - crop

This article also comes from the St. Anne Record, 10 July 1919.  It describes a minor car accident involving Nelson Brouillette, my 3rd great granduncle.  What I love is all of the other names and connections this article describes.  One that isn’t obvious is that Dr. Benjamin is Nelson’s son-in-law.

 

So.  What is the point here?

 

First, DNA results are amazingly helpful to genealogy research.  I LOVE genetic genealogy!  If you haven’t dipped your toe in yet, join us.  The water is fine.  Mighty fine.

 

Second, if you have any Illinois ancestors, check out the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections.  A fabulous – and FREE – resource.

 

 

Happy Tuesday, I hope you make a fantastic brick wall breakthrough very soon!  It feels awesome.

 

 


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The Mess That Just Keeps on Growing

Whiteley - Hyde

Once upon a time, I drew that colorful – {both literally and figuratively} – flowchart.  I wrote about the matrimonial messiness in this part of my tree.  I followed that up with a post about Arthur Hyde who seemed to have left a family in England and then married his widowed sister-in-law while still being married to his wife back home.  That was followed by a post about the incestuous relationship between uncle and niece – Robert & Rosey Hyde.  Then there was the follow-up post reminding readers that we need to always click to the next image because I found even more details about that crazy mess up there on page 50 of a record.

This fascinating series of discoveries was capped off by a post all about Rosey’s Girls.  I had learned so much since I drew that first flowchart that I had to update it.

marrying mess

The crazy, twisty, utterly shocking journey did not end there.

DNA connected me with two of Rosey’s living granddaughters.  My finding-living-people-stalking skills led me to a direct descendant of Rose Elvera Hyde.  And my cousin bait – namely this blog – brought a living descendant of Arthur Hyde to my digital door.

GUESS WHAT THAT ALL MEANS?!

 

That super colorful flowchart needs another update.  A major update.  So major in fact that I have to start from scratch.  I thought that last post about Rosey’s Girls was hard to write.  Ummm…these next ones are going to be even more complicated if you can believe that.

I just wanted to share a few tid-bit teasers and two BIG, FAT REMINDERS as a PSA to all my fellow genealogists.

 

Tid-bit Teaser #1

I wrote this about the men in Rosey’s life: “There are details that come from the nuances of the records that lead me to believe that Harry was the great love of her life, that Neil was a loving old age companion, and that Robert, well, Robert seems to be the villain.  I don’t know if that’s fair, but that is who he is becoming in my mind.”

Well.  I got that completely wrong.  It turns out Harry is definitely the villain.  So much so that Robert is starting to seem not so bad.  How’s that for a turn of events?

 

Tid-bit Teaser #2

A very long time ago I wrote about my Grandma’s adopted first cousin Sherry Hunter.  At the time I wrote about Sherry, I still didn’t know Rosey had any children.  But it turns out that Sherry is a descendant of Rosey, adopted by her biological 1st cousin once removed.  Sherry belongs to that crazy mess up there.  I did not see that coming.

 

Tid-bit Teaser #3

Muriel Grace Groome nee Hyde - cleaned up

This lovely photo made it’s way to me.  That is Rosey’s daughter Muriel Grace.  Isn’t she beautiful?

 

Now for the PSAs.

 

Big Fat Reminder/PSA #1

If you have not DNA tested – PLEASE DO IT!  I cannot believe the wealth of information that has come my way as a result of DNA testing and transferring my results to two additional companies.  Followed up by contacting my matches.  In fact, I’ve gotten so caught up in the deluge, that I have lots of matches I haven’t had time to contact yet.  What other goodies are waiting for me?

 

Big Fat Reminder/PSA #2

When you have a mystery, brick wall, dead end – write about it.  Leave plenty of cousin bait.  If you are a regular reader you have probably noticed that I mostly write about my questions and unsolved mysteries.  In fact, if you aren’t paying close attention you might think I never solve anything.  😉  I am putting out massive amounts of cousin bait.  And it works.  People email me after finding something I wrote about a family member we have in common and they fill in details that ONLY THEY can share.  Details that exist in photo albums or memories.  Details that answer some of my most unanswerable questions.  Like what the heck happened to Arthur Hyde and his first wife Mary?  Did he really just leave her and the children behind in England and marry Alice?  Why yes, yes he did.

Cousin bait is your friend.  Make sure you are leaving it out to attract the cousins you need to find.  Your beautifully researched, perfectly reasoned, tidy little genealogy stories will attract cousins too, but usually not the cousins who bring more toys to the party.  You solved those ones.  Go ahead and write them up, but don’t let your mysteries languish in a stack of notes.  Those glittery little bits attract the distant cousins who just might answer some of your burning questions.  You may not like the answers – after all, there is a reason you haven’t been able to solve it with traditional research – but they are usually very fascinating answers.

 

Are you excited for my new flowchart?

 

I am!  Now, I just have to figure out how to fit all of the crazy connections on one page.

 

Maybe I need to go buy a posterboard…

 

 


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My Unexpected DNA Discovery – Conclusion and Tips

DNA Discovery

Finding Bob’s* birth mother and father was such a privilege.  I learned a lot, and felt like I was on a rollercoaster.  Because we were successful, I thought I would reemphasize the biggest lessons and tips that I gathered along the way.

 

DNA tester's warning

First – Please go into the DNA world with your eyes wide open.  There will be surprises.  Possibly, surprises that are upsetting.  Like, it turns out your favorite Grandpa isn’t your Grandpa after all – at least not biologically.  Or, you have a half-sibling you never knew about.  Or, one whole brach of your tree is completely wrong, genetically speaking.

For me, the surprises were not unwelcome.  That is not always the case.  So please, if you choose to DNA test, or ask someone else to DNA test, be open to surprises.  (People have been having babies outside of marriage for like, ever.  It bears repeating: There will be surprises.)

 

DNA Discovery, lesson one

Luckily for us, Bob had already tested with FamilyTree DNA and 23 and Me – three total tests.  Additionally, my uncle had Y-DNA tested with FTDNA and autosomal tested with Ancestry.  Having multiple tests in multiple places was really the key to finding Bob’s parents so quickly.

Most people can’t afford to test with every company.  As the person working with Bob’s matches, I can tell you that each one of those 5 tests played a crucial role in the process.  If even one of them hadn’t existed, we wouldn’t have gotten our answer.  Well, at least not so quickly and easily.

So what do you do if you are an adoptee and can’t afford multiple tests?  Learn about autosomal transfers so you get the most bang for your buck.

 

DNA Discovery, lesson two

I know this one is easier said than done in many cases.  For adoptees, they have a whole bunch of matches that they can’t differentiate.  They have nothing to work with.  There are plenty of cool science-y things you can do.  If that speaks to your soul, and you have the time – by all means, learn the cool science-y DNA tricks that barely register in my pianist/dreamer/reader/artistic brain.  If that is not you, pull up a chair and let me give you a few of my sneaky detective tricks.

Study your closest matches – up to third cousin.  Look to see if they have a tree.  If you are looking at matches in Ancestry, please note that just because there is not a tree attached to someone’s DNA results, does not mean they don’t have a tree.  Here is an example from my matches:

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 3.13.43 PM copy

This is a match I have been working with over the last few weeks to help solve some long standing mysteries.  She has not linked a tree to her DNA results.  But if you look at the very bottom left, I have the option to “Select a tree to preview” with a drop-down arrow.  After clicking the arrow I see the tree she does have.  If she had more than one tree, they would all be listed here.

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 3.13.52 PM

Her tree is quite small, because she had a dead-end she was trying to solve.  I have been able to help her, and she has been able to help me.  Win-win!

Okay, let’s get back to the point here.  Compare the trees of your matches and look for the closest common ancestors.  Everyone will fall into two camps – maternal and paternal matches.  If you can group them based on common ancestors you will be in better shape.  Try to connect your matches.  There are connections – find them.  Pay attention to names, but be careful, they could be maiden or married surnames.  Pay attention to dates and places.  You are looking for patterns.

Use the tools in the DNA service you are using to look at matches you share with your matches.  This tool can help you separate your matches into two groups.

Look for a match who is really into genealogy, they love to help!  Even if they are a little bit more distantly related, a 3rd cousin say, they probably know a lot about their tree and can help you narrow things down.

In my case, it was easy.  I already knew which of Bob’s matches belong to my side of his tree.  I was just looking for common ancestors of the remaining matches.  All of these matches were from his birth mother’s side.  Each of them added a clue or two that helped me identify Bob’s 2nd great grandparents as the common ancestors of his closest matches.  From there I had to switch to descendancy research.

 

DNA Discovery, lesson three

What is descendancy research?  I’m glad you asked.  I happen to have an info graphic handy that answers that very question.

gg defined- descendancy research

I know that is super tiny and not the least bit reader friendly.  Just click on the image and it will take you to the original post.

Completing descendancy research on the common ancestors of your matches, will help you build a tree filled with your family members.  You may not know how you are related, but you do know that you are related.  Building that tree will lead you to living family members who may be able to help.

Remember – you can switch any trees in Ancestry and FT DNA to descendancy view.  This will help.  Don’t overlook those living people who are marked private.  They still show gender.  I actually looked at Lucy in someone’s descendancy view, I just couldn’t see any data other than her gender.  She and her siblings gave me a pattern to look for – a family with a certain number of sons and daughters.  That key obituary for her brother, backed up the pattern I had already discovered.

By the way, there is a delightful bit of serendipity I left out of my previous posts.  Lucy’s brother who died?  He has the exact same first name as Bob, spelled the same way.  I know there is only one way to spell Bob, but there are several ways to spell Bob’s actual name.  Bob’s given name was chosen by his adoptive mother, who did not know that Lucy’s brother had that name.  I hope that was a tender and helpful thing for Lucy in her journey.  ❤

 

DNA Discovery, lesson four

Once you have built the descendancy tree of your common ancestors, start adding living family members by searching for obituaries.  Recent obituaries can often be found by simply googling someone.  Learn how to do targeted google searches to help with this.  My favorite tricks are putting quotation marks around a name, like this, “Ronald Skeen Peterson”.  If I search google with that phrase, I’ve just said to google, please bring me things about a person with this EXACT name.  Be careful though, not everything uses a full name.  So I should also try, “Ronald S Peterson”, “Ronald Peterson”, and “R S Peterson”.

Ronald Peterson is a super common name, so I can make my search even more targeted by adding additional facts.  Use operators like OR, AND, NOT, etc.  So if I wanted to find an obituary for my Grandpa I could try something like this: “Ronald Skeen Peterson” AND “1997” AND (death OR funeral OR obituary).  I’ve just told google to only bring me results that include the exact name Ronald Skeen Peterson, and the year 1997, and one of these three words: death, funeral, or obituary.

These google tricks can help you find LOTS of goodies.  Of course, remember to use variants.  In fact, if I want to get reeeeeaaaaally fancy I would do this: “Ronald (Skeen OR S OR ?) Peterson” AND “1997” AND (death OR funeral OR obituary).

If you can’t find obituaries using google, consider trying GenealogyBank or another newspaper website.  Many libraries or Family History Centers have subscriptions to such websites that you can utilize in their facility for free.

Once you find an obituary, update your tree with all of the people mentioned.  Even if you only know their first name.  Get everyone linked together and make good notes so you remember which obit added which people.

 

DNA Discovery, lesson five

Now if you are thinking to yourself you just did that when you found some obits, you are correct.  But what I mean here is you need to learn how to find contact information for living people.  This is where we get into creepy stalker territory.  This is where my particular skill set goes into the danger zone – that area where some people may use the skills for good, like me, or for not so good.  So I will be a bit on the vague side here.  If you know me and need personal pointers, and I know you will be using your powers for good, shoot me an email.  If not, well – shape up creepy stalker!  😉

I will just point you to my three main websites for finding living people: Facebook, the White Pages, and Family Tree Now.

If you don’t have luck finding people on Facebook, spend a little more time learning how to search it effectively.  Use a name but also add a city or state.  And so on…

The White Pages are good for people who still have a landline.  However, they are constantly tweaking their website hoping to make money off of you, so there is less info here now than there used to be.

Family Tree Now is a hackers dream come true.  I urge you to go there and get you and all of you family members off of their website by “opting out”.  However, you can track down those living people you found in the obits on this website because hardly anyone has opted out yet.  This website is free, but scary!  It definitely could be used for evil.

I know I said I was only going to mention three websites, but I should also mention that High School yearbooks helped me identify Lucy.  You can find many at Classmates.com.  But, you can often find them in local libraries online.  I found them in both places and found Lucy in them.

 

DNA Discovery, lesson six

I know it doesn’t always feel this way, but people are good.  There are always helpers in every family.  If your first, second, third interactions are discouraging – keep trying!  Don’t you quit.  You will find someone one day who will be happy to help.

Look for the helpers, there are always helpers.

 

Here are a few last tips:

Contact your matches.  Remember that people like reciprocal relationships.  They love messages that say things like, “Hey cousin, I see that we are a DNA match, I have some family photos I would be happy to share.”  Now.  An adoptee can’t say things like that.  So come up with something that invites that same type of reciprocity.  Be creative!  Maybe you are willing to help fund other family members DNA testing or something like that.

If your matches don’t respond, try again.  Be nice.  VERY nice, low-key, low-pressure.  Keep your messages short and open.  Try to deal with only one question or issue at a time.  Think like you would if you were texting someone who you know is really busy.  Once you get a feel for the other person’s interest level and time, adjust your message length and content accordingly.

Learn about DNA.  I barely know anything about DNA research, all the crazy cool, ultra-smart and nerdy charting and phasing and segmenting and so on, but it would have been the next step if my genealogy skills weren’t so robust.  Find ways to learn, watch Legacy Family Tree webinars, find Facebook groups for adoptees and DNA research, read one of Blaine Bettinger’s books, attend classes at your local Family History Center/Archive/Library, attend a genealogy conference and go to DNA classes etc.

 

A few closing thoughts:

I began my journey with a very clear goal – find matches that would help me learn more about my great grandfather John Costello.  I did not set out expecting to find a first cousin who was adopted at birth.  That wasn’t anywhere on my radar at all.  And yet, that is what I found.

The journey we took together was overwhelming, emotional, exhilarating, surprising, and of course had a few hiccups.

I will forever be grateful and humbled that I was able to help Bob find his birth parents.  That is a distinct honor and privilege that will hold a special place in my heart all of my days.  I hope to do it again one day.  Although… hopefully not for the same uncle.  😉

I imagine that John Costello is smiling down on all of us, a bit like a puppet master who somehow managed to keep his pre-marriage life a secret so that I would go looking at our DNA and find his long lost great grandson.

Well played Grandpa John, well played.

 

 

Isn’t genealogy cool?!  Isn’t DNA cool?!  But the combo – WOW, that is a powerhouse combo!

 

 

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  A lot of you have been reading along.  In fact, a lot more than normally click on over to my little corner of the genealogy blogosphere.  Thank you for sharing your own stories both here and through email, text, and FB messages.  I am inspired by how many of you have a personal connection to Bob because of your own experiences or the experiences of your loved ones.  You are awesome!

 

 

*Names, dates, and places in this series of posts have been changed or omitted for privacy purposes.  Previous posts in this series found here – Part OnePart TwoPart Three, Part Four, and Part Five.


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My Unexpected DNA Discovery – Part Five

DNA Discovery

Thankfully that email arrived very late and I was really tired.  I replied that I would be delighted to help.  Bob* immediately emailed me his usernames and passwords to his FTDNA and 23 and Me DNA accounts.  I drifted off to sleep wondering if it was even possible to track down Bob’s birth mother.

Let’s review what information I had to work with:

  • Bob’s birth date.
  • Bob’s possible birth state.
  • Bob’s possible adoption city.
  • Bob’s birth mom’s possible age at the time of Bob’s birth.
  • Bob’s birth mom’s possible first name – we’ll use Lucy*.

That is not a lot to go on.

But the other very important, absolutely essential, data we had to work with were Bob’s DNA matches with two different companies.

I logged in to each account and took a cursory look at his matches.  Right away I could set aside several that I knew belonged to my side of Bob’s family.

I looked at his close cousin matches – 1st through 3rd cousins.  There was a small handful of people to try to connect.  On the surface there was no obvious connection.  Several of those matches had absolutely no information to work with aside from their name.

Luckily, one of his close cousin matches had a rather extensive tree including descendants.  After comparing the scant clues between all of these people, I was fairly certain that I knew exactly who Bob’s 2nd great grandparents were.  They seemed to be the common ancestors for all of Bob’s close cousin matches that weren’t part of my family.

One important thing to note here is that the only clue connecting some of them to the common ancestors was their surname – not the surname of the common ancestors, but surnames that matched some of their other descendants.  This isn’t a perfect indicator, but a good possible clue.

So I had a family to comb through.  I was looking for descendants of this specific couple who lived in the right place at the right time and that had a family member named Lucy.

Luckily for me, this couple, the common ancestors, were immigrants.  They settled in one state and their children lived in that state and the neighboring state.  But still not the state Bob was possibly born in.

I moved down the tree to the grandchildren of the common ancestors.  This is where it gets sticky.  Some of these folks are still alive and not viewable in any online trees.  That doesn’t mean I couldn’t find them, I did, but it took some of my genealogy street smarts.

I wish I could show you the steps that I took.  But out of respect for Lucy, her privacy, and being sensitive to her experience in all of this – we will have to keep this all theoretical.

Her father is a grandson of the common ancestor couple.  The only grandson to live in the state of Bob’s birth.  He raised his children in the city Bob was possibly adopted from.  He died in that city.  His wife, children, and grandchildren still live in that city.

All, except for his one son who died a few years ago.  That young death generated an obituary.  In that obituary I found the name I was hoping to find – Lucy.  She was listed as his sister, along with her husband and children’s names.

I found Lucy in old High School Yearbooks.  I found her and the nexus of her family on Facebook.  She was the right age, in the right place, at the right time.  All told, I found Bob’s mom in about 40 minutes.

It happened so fast that I wasn’t sure what to think.  Did I really find her?

Did I just find the birth mother of my newly discovered first cousin?

He is in his early 40s and has been searching for years.  Did I just solve his life-long mystery?  In 40 minutes?!

I retraced my steps again and again.  I thought about something Tom Jones always says about puzzle pieces only fitting together one way even if there are a bunch of missing pieces.  My puzzle pieces were only fitting together one way.

I had found her.

What followed will, again, remain private out of respect for Lucy.  But needless to say, I was able to confirm my work.  Lucy is Bob’s birth mother.

And once again, in less than a week’s time, I was able to do something I never expected to be able to do in my entire life.  I was able to tell Bob who his birth mother is.  Let’s take a moment and let that sink in.

Wow, wow, wow!  Seriously, WOW!

 

 

I felt like some strange and fantastic genealogy combination of Santa Claus and Wonder Woman, and I loved it.  I love it.  There is really nothing like it.  I totally want to do it again.

I was able to give someone the gift of knowing where they come from.  In this crazy and delightful world of genealogy, I am constantly searching and learning more about who I am.  But the core of who I am – who my parents are, my grandparents – I’ve always known.  I have no earthly idea what it feels like to wonder who you are.  To have a completely blank slate.  No understanding of your family’s history.  At all.  No knowledge of your ethnic, religious, and cultural background.  No idea if your family is filled with recent or long ago immigrants.  I, who constantly seek more understanding of my past with a real hunger, have no idea what it feels like to be an adoptee with no knowledge of my past.  I was able to use a very tiny list of possible facts, DNA, and my super-hero like genealogy skills and find someone’s mother and father.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over how cool it has been.

 

So, so, so, so cool.

 

 

Seriously.

 

Coming Monday, one last post to wrap it all up with a few more lessons learned, as well as some tips.  I hope you will join me and share with anyone who is searching for their family.  Maybe this story will help them make their own amazing discoveries.  I hope so!

 

 

*Names, dates, and places in this series of posts will be changed or omitted for privacy purposes.  Previous posts in this series found here – Part OnePart Two, Part Three, and Part Four.

 

 


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My Unexpected DNA Discovery – Part Four

DNA Discovery

I was up earlier than normal that Saturday morning.  I didn’t want to call my uncle since I knew he had gotten home so late the night before.  Mid-morning I got a text from my aunt saying to call when I was up, my uncle was anxious to talk to me about Bob*.

The second I read the text, I called.  My uncle was super cool about the whole thing.  He was positive that he wasn’t the father, but not opposed to learning the truth.  Can we just take a pause and consider what he must have been feeling?  Genetically, Bob can only be his or his brother’s son.  If we were just talking straight odds, not accounting for any other factors, he was facing a 50/50 chance that he had a son he never knew about.

But, with courage, he faced it head on.  I explained the fastest two options we had.  Option 1 – I could walk him through downloading his raw data file from Ancestry and uploading it to Family Tree DNA.  Option 2 – He could make me the administrator of his Ancestry DNA account and I could do everything.  He happily went with option 2.  It took us about 10 minutes to complete the steps needed to transfer administrator rights to me.

I very methodically downloaded his raw DNA file and uploaded it to FTDNA.  I was so nervous that I triple checked every step.  Because I had previously completed a Y-DNA test on my uncle with FTDNA, I uploaded his raw ancestry DNA to the same account.  I didn’t know if Bob would be on top of it all enough to be checking his matches or not, so I changed my uncle’s profile name to a different first initial.  I thought my uncle should know first if it turned out he was the father.

The default email that is generated when you make an autosomal transfer to FTDNA tells you that your first matches will begin to show up as early as an hour later and before 24 hours has passed.  The thought that I might be waiting for 24 hours was a bit much for my nerves.

I tried to keep myself busy with other tasks for about 45 minutes.  And then I began the obsessive refreshing of my uncle’s FTDNA page.

I would just like to point out that if my psychologist Grandpa were alive and reading this – he would likely be somewhat concerned about my mental state.  Deservedly so.  This was a lot to handle – a lot of emotions, a lot of pressure, a lot of holding multiple people’s futures in the palm of my hand.  Kind of like this:

dna-1500076_1920

At minute 60, I clicked refresh again with no updates.  My heart sank, was I going to have to wait a full 24 hours?

At minute 61, the waiting ended.

My brain had a really hard time processing what was finally in front of me.  Was I reading this all correctly?  Suddenly I felt like I didn’t know which column was which.  I called my husband over and made him listen as I tried to explain what I was reading.  I thought his eyes and mind would likely focus better and help me process correctly.  I was wrong – he didn’t get it and tried to tell me I was reading it wrong.  🙂  Suddenly, I was back.  I knew what I was looking at.

My DNA tested uncle was also Bob’s uncle.  Not his father.

My first call was to my uncle.  He wasn’t a bit surprised.  I let him and my mom take it from here for a while.  They knew that their brother had a child he didn’t know about.  Once again, I thought that was a conversation better had with a sibling than with a niece.

From here, I was able to do something I never expected to do in my entire life.  I had the distinct privilege of telling Bob who his father is.  Let that soak in.

Wow.

 

My DNA tested uncle called his brother and told him the news.

Arrangements were made for contact between father and son.

I felt like Santa Claus.

There was just one problem.  Bob wanted to know who his birth mom was.  In a perfect world, the story would be one of teenage love, being too young, or something along those lines.  But that is not our story.  My uncle did not know who Bob’s mother might be.  He was, shall we say, a bit on the promiscuous side.

That got my nerves all in a tangle once again.  But this wasn’t my journey.  It was Bob’s.  I was just helping him find answers.

We had our first answer.  We knew Bob’s father.  I sent more pictures and shared some cool and unique facts about my uncle.  He is quite well known in a specific sporting history.  In fact, famous, is actually a better word for it.  I hoped connecting to that cool history might soften the blow of not being able to hand Bob details of a teenage romance, and the name of his birth mother.

A few days passed.  Father and son spoke.

And then late one night I got this email:

 

Subject line:  Any interest in looking at my 23 and me and ancestry.com info and seeing what

Message:  Info you can figure out?  Maybe mom side stuff?

 

 

You have come to the right place cousin!

 

 

This Santa Claus definitely needed to turn Wonder Woman and find Bob’s mom.

 

But how…?

 

 

to be continued…

 

*Names, dates, and places in this series of posts will be changed or omitted for privacy purposes.  Previous posts in this series found here – Part OnePart Two, and Part Three.


20 Comments

Rosey’s Girls – A Crazy Trip Down the Rabbit Hole

marrying mess

There’s that chart again – edited to include Rosey’s marriages and children.

There are some family puzzles that take years to solve.  You gather bits here and there that don’t always make sense.  Slowly, you learn more, but the core questions remain.  Then more records become available and you add those to the bits you already have and suddenly you are able to tie things together in a way you couldn’t before.  That is exactly the meandering path that Aunt Rosey has sent me on.  And what a journey it has been!

Almost two years ago I wrote about all of the matrimonial connections in this part of my tree.  Then, nearly a month ago now, I wrote about the Robert Hyde – Rosey Hyde marriage and child.  The questions that post brought up led me to spend time on a serious review of my sources and follow up on every single lead I had.  That process led me to find a tiny little hint of Norma.

 

Finding Norma meant that I discovered Rose Elvera Hyde wasn’t new to me.  I had just forgotten about her.

In fairness though, I had first known her as Elvira Kingham.

Let’s take a little journey down the rabbit hole together, shall we?

 

Many moons ago, the first record I found about Rosey Hyde – that I knew FOR SURE was about Rosey – was this marriage record to Harry Grant Kingham in 1914.

 

Rose Hyde & Harry Kingham, 1914 marriage record

“British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932; 1937-1938,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JDZN-H68 : 21 January 2016), Harry Kingham and Rosey Hyde, 19 Apr 1914; citing Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, British Columbia Archives film number B11378, Vital Statistics Agency, Victoria; FHL microfilm 1,983,706.

 

Rosey is listed as a spinster, which I had no reason to question.  I figured the record was accurate and thought I had found her first marriage.  The natural next step was to try to learn everything I could about Harry Grant Kingham.  I didn’t find much.  But I did find this US Consular Record.

 

KINGHAM, Harry Grant, 1915 US Consular Record

Ancestry.com. U.S., Consular Registration Certificates, 1907-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. http://ancstry.me/2oJg9ew

I hadn’t yet become savvy about how complicated this family was when I first found this document.  It lists two daughters for Harry that were born prior to his marriage to Rosey.  I tried to research them and just couldn’t find anything about a Grace Kingham or an Elvira Kingham.  I made the natural assumption that they were his daughters prior to his marriage to Rosey.  I tried to find a first wife for him – even though he was listed as a bachelor on his marriage record to Rosey – no luck.

So what did I do?

I added two daughters to Harry Grant Kingham with an unknown mother.  The girls were not attached to Rosey in my tree.

Now, fast forward to a few weeks ago…

When I found Rosey’s death record and discovered she had a daughter named Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson, I had forgotten all about Elvira Kingham.

Thank goodness for that pesky little travel record that was generated when Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson went to visit her sister Mrs. Norma ?rance in 1945.  That record led me to revisit every source attached to every person connected to Rosey Hyde.

So there I was, suddenly staring at two different Elveras in my tree – Elvira Kingham and Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson.  But they were really the same person.  So I merged them.

I quit taking any parent child relationships for granted at this point and used every combo of names for each girl.  I also quit considering Rosey’s husbands as minor character actors in her life.  The girls used Harry’s last name so I needed to know everything about Harry that I could find.

The next notable stop down the rabbit hole was Harry’s WWI Canadian Expeditionary Forces Personnel File.  There were plenty of facts about Harry but there were two pages that were especially enlightening about Rosey’s girls.

 

HYDE, Muriel Grace, record

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; CEF Personnel Files; Reference: RG 150; Volume: Box 5181 – 42; http://ancstry.me/2qc1mci

 

This particular image was page 38 of Harry’s file and it told me that Grace was actually named Muriel Grace.

 

KINGHAM, Norma Robertine, record

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; CEF Personnel Files; Reference: RG 150; Volume: Box 5181 – 42; http://ancstry.me/2qc1mci

 

This image was page 50 of Harry’s file and is the second mention of Norma – Norma Robertine Kingham – to be exact.

Suddenly, Rosey’s three girls began to make more sense to me.  I updated Grace in my tree with the name Muriel Grace Hyde, added Norma, and away I went.

Ancestry.com very quickly added a few hints to Muriel, including this Washington State Application for License to Wed.

 

HYDE, Muriel Grace and Walter E Groome, 1924 application for license to wed

Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Marriage Affidavits; http://ancstry.me/2q2GMMs

 

It certainly matched the few details I had about Muriel Grace.  The fact that the witness was a Robert Hyde was intriguing, but even more interesting to me was this line in the application: “…I further swear that there is no legal impediment to their marriage…and [they] are not nearer of kin to each other than second cousins.”

Hmmmmm… if that Muriel Grace was my Muriel Grace, and if that Robert Hyde was my Robert Hyde, did he feel sheepish signing that form and remembering that Muriel’s parentage was himself and his niece Rosey?

That is some genealogical irony right there.

Next, I pulled up the actual marriage certificate.

 

HYDE, Muriel G and Walter E Groome, 1924 Marriage Record

Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Marriage Certificates; http://ancstry.me/2otrp2x

 

Muriel listed her parents as Robert Hyde, born in Sheffield, Eng and Alice Whiteley, born in Sheffield, Eng.  Robert and Alice are the two witnesses to this union.

What?!

 

Quick recap – Alice Whiteley Hyde is the aunt turned step-mom of Rosey Hyde.  At the time of Muriel Grace Hyde’s birth, Alice Whiteley Hyde was married to Henry Hyde – her first marriage and his second.  If she was ever married to Robert Hyde is was after she was widowed first by Henry, then by his brother Arthur.  She was the informant on Robert’s death record and listed him as the divorced spouse of Rosey, not as her husband.

So, was Muriel the daughter of Alice or Rosey?

If it was Alice, then Alice had a child with her husband Henry’s brother while she was still married to Henry, then after Henry’s death proceeded to marry a different brother – Arthur, before finally settling down to live with the third brother Robert when she was once again widowed.

That seems too crazy, even for this family.

Did Muriel list Alice as her mother – because Alice was there, conveniently had the last name of Hyde as if she was married to Robert, and had a different maiden name – in an effort to avoid an uncomfortable conversation about why her mother’s maiden name matched her father’s name?  Especially when the license required that bride and groom not be more closely related than second cousins?  Was that little question putting Muriel on the spot mentally?  Was it highlighting her uncomfortable past?  Was Muriel lying to save face?  Was she lying because she was embarrassed?

And, why was Robert at the wedding but not Rosey?  In 1924 Rosey was a widowed single mom with two girls at home.  Maybe she couldn’t afford to travel from Vancouver, BC to Vancouver, Washington?

I hoped that Muriel’s death record might reveal something, anything, but unfortunately it is an index only record on both the BC Archives and FamilySearch.  FamilySearch does hold the microfilm on which the record exists, but it is stored in the Granite Mountain Vault.  {I will probably take a little trip up to Salt Lake to view the film, I just have to remember how to request a film from the vault… That is, if that film is allowed to be viewed…}

But I digress, the index to Muriel’s death lists this:

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 3.55.32 PM

“British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FLLT-LM9 : 13 April 2017), Muriel Grace Groome, 1936.

 

Muriel is listed as having a father named Robert Hyde.  I find no record of any children born to Muriel and Walter during their 12 years of marriage.

At this point I reviewed a few old family notes and letters.  Now be careful not to get lost here.  I found a letter written by Vera, daughter of Alice Hyde Duval who is the sister of Rosey Hyde.  Yes that’s right, both sisters named a daughter Elvera.  This letter written by Vera to my Grandma, mentions an old scrapbook that Vera kept.  She asked my Grandma if she wanted to have it.

I had a lightbulb moment and remembered that my mom’s cousin Heather had emailed me a few scans of an old scrapbook she had.  I dug through my emails and found those scans.  Among them was this page.

 

valmore 4

 

When Heather sent this to me all those years ago, I had NO EARTHLY IDEA who Mr. and Mrs. Peter Williamson were.  I did some basic searching but came up empty.  I figured they were important to someone in my family so I went ahead and added them to FamilySearch and uploaded the announcement.  But now?  The minute that image opened, I knew exactly who they were – this was a marriage invitation for the daughter of Rose Elvera Hyde and Peter Williamson.

Rosey was a Grandma!

This union of Carole Rose Williamson and Gordon David Zilke produced at least four children.  Of those four children, at least one has died.  But the other three may be living.  I did a little Facebook digging and found a small cluster of living descendants.  Because this whole thing started from the position of thinking that Rosey was a gay barber who had no children, I was completely shocked to discover that Rosey has living descendants.  I was not expecting that at all.  I wonder if any of them know anything about Rosey?  I wonder if any of them have pictures of Rosey?

Because I think I do.

Duval - mystery marriage

I think this photo is of Rosey Hyde & Harry Grant Kingham at the time of their marriage in 1914.

I’m getting sidetracked again…

At the time of Rose Elvera Hyde’s Marriage to Peter Williamson, she listed her parents as Robert Hyde, born in England, and Rose Hyde, born in Golden, BC.

 

HYDE, Rose Elvera and Peter Williamson, 1927 Marriage Record

“British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932; 1937-1938,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JD8Y-NXZ : 21 January 2016), Peter Williamson and Rose Elvera Hyde, 04 Jul 1927; citing Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, British Columbia Archives film number B13753, Vital Statistics Agency, Victoria; FHL microfilm 2,074,506.

 

At the time of Rose Elvera Hyde’s death, her parents are listed as Robert Hyde, born in Sheffield, England, and Rose Whitely, born in Golden, BC.

 

 

The records for both Muriel Grace and Rose Elvera Hyde are inconsistent in identifying their parentage.  But they are clearly describing the same grouping of people.  Were these inaccuracies intentional or accidental?  Were they hiding something?  It seems like it.

This leaves one more daughter – Norma.  The daughter that is definitely not a child of Robert Hyde.  Norma, the daughter of Rosey Hyde, and Harry Grant Kingham.  Norma, who led me deep into the rabbit hole.  Norma, who changed her name to Barbara.  Norma, who deserves her own post.

So here I am stuck in this mental loop where I just can’t seem to reconcile everything.  Part of me wants to believe that Rosey’s birth is the key.  That Rosey isn’t really the daughter of Henry Hyde and Ann Whiteley.  That maybe, just maybe, Rosey is the child of another couple, but that Ann and Henry took her in for some reason.  That reason wouldn’t be hard to come up with.  They were living in the extreme west in a very tiny little speck of a town.  So maybe Rosey is my adopted 2nd great grand aunt.  And just when I think I have myself good and convinced that this might be the case, I talk myself back out of it because there is no baby girl born in Golden, BC on the date that Rosey claims as her birthdate.  No baby girl of ANY name born in the entire year of 1883 in Golden, BC.

Where does this all leave me?

I’m not sure.

There is a story here – that is for certain.  It’s not a traditional story.  But man is it intriguing.  I have a few more records I am trying to scrounge up that I hope will shed some light on the core question – were Rosey Hyde and Robert Hyde both husband and wife AND uncle and niece?

  • I have reached out to the appropriate agency to try to get a copy of Robert and Rosey’s divorce decree – if it exists.
  • I have requested a copy of Alice Whiteley Hyde’s probate record.
  • I have ordered the Homestead File for Alice Whiteley Hyde and Henry Hyde’s homestead in Alaska.
  • I have requested any records about this whole lot from the church in Alaska that Alice Hyde Duval’s oldest son was baptized in – maybe there will be another event for that family in that church.
  • I need to get my hands on the image of Muriel Grace Hyde Groome’s death record if I can.
  • And lastly, I am currently building a spreadsheet with everyone’s entries in the City Directories to help me understand the timeline even better.  It is very enlightening.

 

And that, my friends, is where I am at.  Still undecided.  Still searching.  My core question is most likely unanswerable.  But I am so glad that I asked the question because I have learned so much more about this part of my family.  I have learned so much more about Rosey.

Rosey has become a very different person to me.  The picture of her life in my heart is very delicate and intricate.  There are details that come from the nuances of the records that lead me to believe that Harry was the great love of her life, that Neil was a loving old age companion, and that Robert, well, Robert seems to be the villain.  I don’t know if that’s fair, but that is who he is becoming in my mind.

Thank you for journeying down the rabbit hole with me.  Don’t get lost, it can be scary down here.  Head back up to light if you can.  😉

 

Happy Wednesday, I hope you make a fascinating genealogy discovery today!

 

 

ps – Despite all of the records that I included, there are so many that I did not include.  Among those are a few international travel records for Robert, Rosey, and the two older girls.  Hmmmm…  

 

pps – If you happen to be one of Rosey’s living descendants, email me – amberlysfamilyhistory {at} yahoo {dot} com.  Let’s put our tid-bits together and make this picture as clear as we can.  That is, if you can forgive me.

 

 


15 Comments

Incest?! – An Update: ALWAYS Go To The Next Image!

Whiteley - Hyde

Yep, it’s that image again.

Last week I begged for your help to disprove my theory of incest.  My friend Cathy commented, “The biggest sore thumb I noticed was – who is Norma?”

Exactly?!  Who is Norma.  I had already tried a bunch of things and just couldn’t find her.  But after Cathy asked the same question I was asking, I decided I really needed to find her.  I rededicated myself and used all of my fancy, sneaky, super-smart search strategies and I got a whole lotta nothin’.

But give me a puzzle and I just can’t stop.  So I revisited everyone in that matrimonial mess.  I found a lot more info – but nothing that answered my core question: Were Robert & Rosey Hyde husband and wife, AND uncle and niece?

The one thing I did find was a hint of Norma.  And I found it in an unlikely place.  A WWI Canadian Expeditionary Forces Personnel File.

But the really important part…

The absolutely CRITICAL part…

The it-would-have-been-super-easy-to-miss-Norma-completely part…

Norma showed up on page 50 of the file.

That’s right – page number FIVE-OH.

After a whole lotta nothin’, suddenly, there was Norma.

Thankfully I learned the lesson many years ago that many records have more than one page.  Some records have more than two pages.  And occasionally you will find a record that is a whopping 67 pages long – like the one that gave me a hint of Norma.

Now you probably want to know what exactly I learned about Norma.

And you probably want to know what else I learned about that mess up there.

Here’s the thing – it’s so complicated that my poor brain is still trying to sort it all out.  My poor brain is trying to figure out how to even begin to explain what I have learned.

So for now, let me just say that Norma exists.  She appears to be a sister of Rose Elvera Hyde Williamson.  I know her approximate birthdate.  And I know who two of her possible parents are.

The rest is going to have to wait until I can find the words.  And it’s going to take more than one post.  Because that family up there is a whole mess of crazy.

But my dear friends, this is what I want to leave you with today:

When you are looking at an image on any website – always click to the next image.  And then keep right on clicking until you come to an image that is about someone else.  The longest record I have ever found was 137 pages.  It was also a WWI record.

This WWI Canadian Expeditionary Forces Personnel File was BORRRRRRING!  And I like LOVE old records.  But it just kept saying the same things over and over and over.

Until it didn’t.

Until it told me that Norma exists.  That she is part of my family.

So whatever you do today in your genealogical endeavors, PLEASE, for the love of Norma, CLICK TO THE NEXT PAGE!

More updates on Incest?! coming next week.