Photograph Showcase: Seth & Emma’s Wedding Portrait

Emma & Seth wedding photo, 1902

Emma Esther Jerrain & Seth Maffit

Emma & Seth are my 2nd great-grandparents.  I’ve written about them a few times this year.  I shared the confusing details about the name of their oldest son.  I shared the lovely portrait of Emma with her three oldest surviving children.  Lastly, I shared the sad tale of their son Orval and his tragic death in a train accident.

I have several photos of Seth & Emma.  Actual photos that I can hold in my hand and scan and share.  This photo of their wedding day is not among them.  I have a very old color copy that was given to my grandmother that I scanned at the highest resolution reasonable and this is as good as it gets.  Normally I share the best of what I have.  But in this case, this is all that I have of their wedding.  So I share it here because this is certainly better than no photo.  But I also share it in the hopes that one day, the descendant who has the original may happen across this post and then choose to scan and share the original as a higher quality image.

Cousins!  Let’s get together and preserve and share this photo and any others that exist of Seth and Emma.  ❤

Now about that date handwritten on the bottom.  Seth and Emma were married 20 January 1901 in Chicago.  That fact is not in question.  I think this photo was just likely mislabeled at some point.  I can’t imagine they took it a full year after they were wed.  Although, stranger things have happened.  😉



Happy Thursday!  I hope you make a fantastic photo discovery very soon.  If not, if you happen to have a special original photo, please scan and share with your cousins.  xoxo



52 Ancestors – Orval Jerrain Maffit, A Short Life with a Tragic End

Orval Maffit-6 months, 1910

Orval Jerrain Maffit, 6 months old, 1910

Orval Jerrain Maffit is my great-granduncle.  He is the fifth child and third son of Seth Maffit & Emma Esther Jerrain, my 2nd great-grandparents.  His oldest sister and brother both died as infants, so he grew up as the third child and second son.  He was born 12 May 1910 in Chicago.1 2 3  Five months later he was baptized in St. Anne, Illinois on 21 October 1910.4

At some point after Orval’s birth, his family moved from Chicago to Montana where they tried their hand at dryland farming.  The exact date of this move is in question.  Family records indicate the move occurred between 1911 and 1913.  Emma was most certainly in Chicago on 21 October 1910, when Orval was born, and in Gildford, Hill, Montana on 1 June 1913,5 when her next child, Hope Estelle was born.  Seth, on the other hand, had to have arrived in Montana prior to 13 August 1910 as his first land patent for the family farm was dated 13 August 1915.6  Regardless of when the entire family had moved to Montana, Emma seemed to have a certain amount of mobility as she is back in Chicago 23 November 1913, for Estelle to be baptized.7

These photos all fall in the window of time in question.  I wish I could get my hands on the originals to see if there are any additional clues.  The first two appear to be taken by a photographer in a studio.  I’m leaning toward both of them having been taken in Chicago.

Hilan, Maynard and Orval Mafifit in carriage - Chicago

l-r:  Hilan Thorne Maffit, Maynard Seth Maffit, and Orval Jerrain Maffit

Orval, Hilan, Emma and Maynard Maffit - Chicago- abt 1913

Back, l-r:  Orval Jerrain Maffit, Emma Esther Jerrain; front, l-r: Maynard Seth Maffit, Hilan Thorne Maffit, about 1913

This photo is very interesting.  The note at the bottom indicates the photo was taken on Sunday, the 9th in 1913 and is addressed “to pa”.  I know that Emma was in Chicago in November of 1913 for Estelle’s baptism.  The 9th of November 1913 fell on a Sunday and may very well be the date this photograph was taken.  The outerwear seems appropriate for November in Chicago.

Hilan, Orval & Maynard Maffit, 1913

l-r: Hilan Thorne Maffit, Orval Jerrain Maffit, Maynard Seth Maffit; The note at the bottom indicates the photo was taken Sunday, the 9th in 1913 and is addressed “to pa”.

Hilan, Orval and Maynard Maffit - 1913 in Chicago

l-r: Hilan Thorne Maffit, Orval Jerrain Maffit, Maynard Seth Maffit

Then this photo was taken on Friday, 21 November 1913, just two days before Estelle’s baptism in Chicago and as such, was most likely taken in Chicago.

Grandma Maffit & Hope Estelle Maffit

Hope Estelle Maffit and her mother Emma Esther Jerrain, 21 November 1913.


By May 1917, the children were attending Hingham School in Montana.


School House 1937

Maffit children and their classmates, May 1917, Hingham School


In 1920, the Maffit family was still living in Hingham, Hill, Montana.  There were now eight living children.  Orval was nine years old and listed on the census as having no occupation.8

Orval’s sister, Estelle, compiled several notebooks of family records.  In those records, she shares some details about the move from Chicago to Montana and additional moves that followed:


1923 was a big year for the Maffit family.  The farm was sold at auction in July,9 and Emma’s father, John Baptiste Jerrain, visited the family in Great Falls.  Here he can be seen with Orval and Jackie.

Orval Maffit, John B. Jerrain, Jackie Maffit

l-r: Orval Jerrain Maffit, John Baptiste Jerrain, Jacqueline Unity Maffit, John was their maternal grandfather, 1923.

Orval Maffit

Orval Jerrain Maffit

Hilan remembers, “that Orval was always on the move and didn’t want to stay on the farm.  He wanted adventure, so Seth and Emma gave permission for him to travel to visit Emma’s relatives.”10

This fateful trip would end badly for the Maffit family.  From the family book entitled Family Tree:  John Baptiste Jerrain & Esther Estelle Therrian,11 comes this compiled information about Orval that was written and reviewed by the grandchildren of Seth & Emma:

“When he was a teenager, he went back to St. Anne’s to visit relatives.  Later he visited Shirlee Jerrain’s family in Elmhurst.  Shirlee’s, father John A. Jerrain, was Emma’s brother.  Shirlee remembers Orval staying at their house in Elmhurst for awhile.  Emma sent a message that he was to come home because a new baby had been born into the family.  Money had been sent so he could buy a ticket and ride on the train.  The family was notified that Orval had decided to ride the rails and was killed in a fall from the train.  The family believed there was foul play in his death as his wallet was missing.  Our family records show that Orval was buried in the Jerrain family plot in St. Anne’s Church.”

Newspaper accounts12 from this time add additional details:


Youth Killed in Minneapolis, Son of Seth Moffit, 708 Eighth Avenue North

Orville Moffit, Great Falls youth who was killed Friday at Minneapolis when he fell under a freight train on which he was attempting to catch a ride, was Saturday evening identified as the 16 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Seth Roffit, 705 Eighth avenue north.

The boy whose age was reported in press dispatches as 22 years, was running beside a freight train in the Minneapolis yards in an attempt to catch a ride towards Great Falls.  He collided with a derrick used in sewer excavating and was thrown under the cars and instantly killed.

Young Moffit was accompanied by another youth of about his age, who said that he had been traveling about the country with the Great Falls boy for several weeks. Through letters carried in Moffit’s coat, the address of his parents was learned and they were notified of the accident by Minnesota officers.

The boy, according to Mr. Moffit, who is employed at the Anaconda company’s smelter, was born in May, 1910, at Chicago.  He attended the grade schools of Great Falls for several years and was recently employed by the Rainbow hotel as a bell boy.

“Orville,” said Mr. Moffit Saturday night, “left Great Falls in June and visited in our former home at Chicago with relatives.  He also made visits to other relatives in the middle west and worked in the harvest fields.

“I was informed by Minnesota authorities that the boy with him at the time of the accident said they had travelled together for several weeks, but I know that this is not so.”

In addition to his parents the boy is survived by four brothers, Maynard, Everd, Lorado and Dale Moffit, and four sisters, Hyland, Estelle, Marjorie, and Jacalyn Moffit.

The body will be taken to Chicago for funeral services and interment.”


These photos of Orval’s funeral were part of the Maffit photo collection found on a CD my Grandma kept in her private papers.

Orval Maffit's funeral

Orval Maffit's funeral in St. Anne-Grandpa 1st in line

Orval Maffit's funeral #2jpg


Emma buried three of her twelve children before her death in 1945.  No photos remain of her first two children who died as infants.  However, there are several photographs of Orval including this one that was said to have been kept on Emma’s desk.


Orval Maffit-picture was kept on Emma Maffit's desk


It has faded with time, but I wonder if it was her favorite photo of Orval?

As a genealogist, I regularly find families who suffered the loss of children.  But every single time my heart aches for the parents of those children.  Especially the mothers.  Learning details about those precious children and telling their stories feels like a gift for the mothers and fathers who had to say goodbye too soon.  ❤️




  1. I have inherited a small collection of typed genealogy records created by my great-grandmother Estelle Duval and her mother Emma Maffit.  There are three thin binders – two blue, one green, and a white pocket folder.  Each book and folder is very similar to the others. 
  2. Duval, Mrs. Frank. For Deane Alice Duval: Your Relations, Health Record, Birth Information, Wedding Anniversaries, Death, Dates and Causes. 1938. 
  3. Boone, Ardis M. “Father Charles Chiniquy’s Ledger, 1851 : First St. Anne Catholic Church, Christian Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church of St. Anne, Second Presbyterian Church of St. Anne.” Father Charles Chiniquy’s Ledger, 1851 : First St. Anne Catholic Church, Christian Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church of St. Anne, Second Presbyterian Church of St. Anne, by Charles Paschal Telesphore Chiniquy, Kankakee Valley Genealogical Society, 1851, p. 101. 
  4. Boone, Ardis M. “Father Charles Chiniquy’s Ledger, 1851 : First St. Anne Catholic Church, Christian Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church of St. Anne, Second Presbyterian Church of St. Anne.” Father Charles Chiniquy’s Ledger, 1851 : First St. Anne Catholic Church, Christian Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church of St. Anne, Second Presbyterian Church of St. Anne, by Charles Paschal Telesphore Chiniquy, Kankakee Valley Genealogical Society, 1851, p. 101. 
  5. Presbyterian Historical Society; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; U.S., “Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970”; Book Title: Session/Register 1887-1923; Accession Number: Vault BX 9211 .I30608 I42, image for Estell Hope Maffit, baptism 23 Nov 1913, image 182 of 228, line 534; accessed through “U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970,” database and images, ( : accessed 25 January 2016). 
  6. A paper copy of Seth Maffit’s Land Patent, dated 13 August 1915, from family records. 
  7. Presbyterian Historical Society; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; U.S., “Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970”; Book Title: Session/Register 1887-1923; Accession Number: Vault BX 9211 .I30608 I42, image for Estell Hope Maffit, baptism 23 Nov 1913, image 182 of 228, line 534; accessed through “U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970,” database and images, ( : accessed 25 January 2016). 
  8. 1920 U.S. census, Hingham, Hill, Montana, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 129, page 1A (handwritten), dwelling 10, family 10, lines 37-46, Seth Maffit household, digital image,, ( : accessed 22 June 2018); original source data NARA microfilm publication T625_971. 
  9. A paper copy of a Sheriff’s Deed dated 7 July 1923, from family records. 
  10. Jones, Peggy. The John Baptiste Jerrain and Esther Estelle Therien Family Tree. 2004. 
  11. Jones, Peggy. The John Baptiste Jerrain and Esther Estelle Therien Family Tree. 2004. 
  12. “Train Victim is Identified as Local Boy,” Great Falls Tribune, 10 October 1926, p. 6, col. 5; digital images,, ( : accessed 18 May 2018). 


Photograph Showcase: Emma as a Mother


Orval, Hilan, Emma and Maynard Maffit - Chicago- abt 1913

Back, l-r:  Orval Jerrain Maffit, Emma Esther Jerrain; front, l-r: Maynard Seth Maffit, Hilan Thorne Maffit, about 1913

On Monday, I shared some details about a child of my 2nd great-grandmother Emma Esther Jerrain.  Emma buried her first two children as very young babies.  She went on to have at least ten more children.  Here she is with her first three children to survive infancy:

  • Maynard Seth Maffit was born 13 April 1907
  • Hilan Thorne Maffit was born 3 March 1909
  • Orval Jerrain Maffit was born 12 May 1910

All three children were born in Chicago.  After the previous losses Emma experienced, I imagine this photo was particularly meaningful to her.

This photo was labeled by Emma’s grandchildren who gave it an approximate year of 1913.  My great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit, was born in June of 1913 in Montana.  If Grandma Emma was pregnant with Estelle in this photo, it must be very early in 1913 or else she sure is hiding it well under that girdle!

Don’t all four look so similar?  Especially their eyes.  According to family notes, eleven of the Maffit children had brown eyes, and only one – my great-grandmother – had blue eyes.  Both Emma and Seth had brown eyes.  This caused my Grandma to speculate, in later years, that Seth was not Estelle’s father.  But recently, my mom told me that her Mom and Grandma (Estelle), always told her that Emma had one brown eye and one blue eye.  Is it just me… or does her right eye look lighter than her left?  Maybe that tidbit is correct!  And for the record, I don’t question whether Seth was really Estelle’s father.  On top of my gut instinct, DNA supports the paper trail, Seth is Estelle’s father.  😉

What a treasure to find this photo on that CD from my Grandmother’s records!




Happy Thursday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy photo discovery this week!  If not, I hope you choose to preserve and share a precious photo today.  xoxo



ps – Remember that Maffit/Jerrain book I was wishing I had a copy of?  Well!  My cousin Heather scanned the whole book and emailed it to me!!  I am loving it!  There is a memories section that is the very best part of the book.  Thank you, again, Heather, for taking the time to scan and share.  It means so much to me!  ❤️



Photograph Showcase: Introducing John Baptiste Jerrain

John Baptiste Jerrain and Willow Jeane

John Baptiste Jerrain & Willow Jeane

Many years ago, my Grandma’s Maffit cousins decided to put together a book about their family.  It was quite an extensive effort.  Emails and phone calls went back and forth across the US as cousins tried to identify family members in old photo albums, recall family stories, and put the best information together that they could.  Somehow, I didn’t end up with a copy of that book.

Weird, right?

Well, ever since I found out about it – too late to get a copy – I have been trying to get my hands on the CD of photos that was created at the time the book was finished.  It has not been a fruitful effort.

But then.

Several weeks ago, I was at my parent’s home to help my mom for a few days.  She mentioned that the plastic tub sitting on the guest bed was some family history “stuff” from Grandma’s house that I may want to look through.  It sat for a few days before I got to it.  There were plenty of interesting items.  Partway through the collection, I came across a CD that was marked “SAVE” in big black sharpie.

At this point, I must interrupt myself to share with you, dear reader, that my Grandma was notorious for throwing away family treasures.  I will not subject you to the pains of rattling off a list of the items I know she tossed, or my speculation on what else may have been cast aside.  Except I can’t help myself.  Here is one small example – she had about 13 large tintypes that were not labeled.  She showed them to me and said she would be scanning them.  Somehow they ended up in the trash and if she ever scanned them, I don’t know where the scans ended up.  Her reasoning?  They weren’t labeled anyway.  Sigh.

So there I was, sitting on the guest bed, looking at a CD that Grandma had loudly labeled “SAVE” and hoping it was the CD of precious images from the Maffit family book.  I hopefully and joyfully added it to my already bursting suitcase.

Later that day, I mentioned to my Mom that I thought I had found a CD I had been hoping to get my hands on for years.  She tried to tell me I couldn’t take it.  Oh boy!  She hadn’t even looked in the tub, but when she thought there was something good, she wanted to hang onto it.  I just told her nope, I was taking it.  And I would share.  She couldn’t really argue.  Haha.

Finally last week I had a minute to download the photos from the CD.  It absolutely was what I thought it was!  Hooray!!


And so, I would like to introduce you to my 3rd great-grandfather, John Baptiste Jerrain.  Doesn’t he look dapper in his bowtie?


{Insert major genealogy happy dance here!!  🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉}


The photo is labeled with two names, John Baptiste Jerrain & Willow Jeane.  EDIT:  The following parenthetical paragraph is what I originally wrote.  Having looked more closely, the Willow Jeane who shared this photo is actually Willow Jeane Van Tuyl Lippert.  She is the daughter of Lila Estelle Jerrain & Thomas Oliver Van Tuyl.  She was born in 1928 (not 1929 as I noted before).  I am now uncertain of which Willow Jeane is in this picture.  When I get my hands on the book, I am hopeful I can sort this out properly.  In the meantime, if you happen to know something helpful, please share!  (The person who shared the photo was my Grandma’s 1st cousin, Willow Jeane, great-granddaughter of Grandpa Jerrain.  That Willow Jeane was born 6 years after Grandpa Jerrain died.  However, he had another granddaughter named Willow Jeane who was born in 1904, 26 years before Grandpa Jerrain passed.  He also had another great-granddaughter named Willow Jeane who was born in 1929, 1 year before his death.  Based on the age of the child, I would imagine that IF this child is Willow Jeane, she is Willow Jeane Jerrain, born in 1904, daughter of Prudent Arthur Jerrain & Jessie Campbell Shirky.)

What a treasure.

There are so many wonderful photos on the CD.  I am delighted!


But there is one more thing.  I almost hate to mention it.  But here goes.


The photos were scanned using what was likely the best scanning technology at the time.  Quite a long time ago.  Most of the photos are very, very small digital files.  Like very, very, very small.  This is one of the largest ones, by at least triple.  So if you are one of my Maffit cousins who happens to have any of the old originals of the family photos, how about scanning them again?  Or mailing them to this cousin to promptly scan and mail back to you?  I promise to share my scans.  🙂



Happy Monday, I hope a long sought for family treasure makes its way to you very, very soon!    xoxo



ps – Monday is not my normal day for a Photograph Showcase post, I have several other posts that are in varying stages of completion that were intended for today.  But I was so distracted by the joys of seeing my 3rd great-grandfather that I just had to share – TODAY!




Tuesday’s Tip: What to do when your FS change log presents you with a tangled mess.

FS change log mess


This video is most applicable to FamilySearch users who participate in the Family Tree.  But it also contains some gems that may help FamilySearch users who do not participate in the tree.  Here are the items covered in this video:

  • FamilySearch watch lists.
  • The change log in FamilySearch’s Family Tree.
  • Command/Control click – which I wrote about here.
  • Reviewing record attachments in FamilySearch’s Family Tree, detaching records, changing the focus person in the attachments screen and then attaching the record to the correct person.
  • Ancestry’s FamilySearch button.  Using it to link people in your Ancestry Tree to the same individual in FamilySearch.  Using it to add someone new to the Family Tree on FamilySearch.  Using it to compare the version of a person in your Ancestry Tree with the version of a person in the Family Tree on FamilySearch, and sending data between the two websites.
  • The FamilySearch internal messaging system.  Making a plan with another user.
  • FamilySearch record hints.



Remember to click the ‘HD’ button on the bottom right of the video.


I went on to spend some time updating both Annas.  If you are interested in viewing each woman in the Family Tree on FamilySearch, Anna Graf can be found here, and Anna Evelyn Shoffer can be found here.


Confusing changes and tangled messes are part of working in the Family Tree on FamilySearch.  Frankly, that is why many genealogists stay away.  If you choose to participate the Family Tree, I hope this was helpful for you.  If it was, please feel free pass it on to other Family Tree users.


Happy Tuesday, I hope you don’t come across any tangled messes on your genealogy adventures today!  😉




DNA Happy Dance & A New-To-Me Resource




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.




Photograph Showcase: From an Oval Frame

DUVAL, Deane and Estelle, 2 Sep 1944

Deane & Hope Estelle Maffit Duval, 1944

MAFFIT, Estelle, 1941

Hope Estelle Maffit Duval, 1941

I found these two photos in an old oval frame at my mom’s house.  I rescued them and the frame.  My mom wants the top photo back, I think I’ll hand deliver it rather than mail it.  But that bottom photo – I think I am going to repair the oval frame and display this photo in it.  Estelle is my great grandmother.  She was likely the person who hand painted these with oil paints.  She left a wonderful legacy of photos.  I am so grateful.