Tag Archive | Genealogy

Ancestor Hunting

Did I really marry my cousin?

July 19, 2022

Who am I? Where did I come from?

These two age old questions are ones which humans often start asking at a young age.

In the home where I grew up, I became aware – at about age 10 – of an old photo album. Inside the very heavy, olive green velvet book were fragile pages of black and white photos of people who, my mother told me, were my ancestors.

The first family photo album I ever saw. It was full of photos of my great grandmother’s family. Sadly, she did not label many photos so it was up to me to try and figure out who the people were.

It was an odd thought to think that these people – dressed in old fashioned clothes and hairstyles– were related; people of a different place and time.

Thus was born, for me, a lifelong interest in genealogy and a quest to answer those two questions: Who am I? Where did I come from?

When at college at the University of Puget Sound, I took a month long intense study class (the session was called Winterim) in January of 1979 where the focus was only genealogy. With that excellent professor to guide us, class participants traveled to the National Archives at Sand Point in Seattle and pored over microfiche census records, perused the available book collections at the Seattle Public Library, and learned to craft letters to governmental agencies for information. And, of course, got a master’s class as to how to research and document one’s genealogy.

At that time there was no way to access digital databases because they did not exist. All research took excessive amounts of time and travel, often with limited results, and meticulous hand written records.

Then, in 1996, two Provo, Utah, residents changed the world for genealogists everywhere. The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“Paul Brent Allen and Dan Taggart, two Brigham Young University graduates, founded Infobases and began offering Latter-day Saints (LDS) publications on floppy disks. In 1988, Allen had worked at Folio Corporation, founded by his brother Curt and his brother-in-law Brad Pelo.

The genealogy program my mother in law purchased.

Infobases’ first products were floppy disks and compact disks sold from the back seat of the founders’ car. In 1994, Infobases was named among Inc. magazine’s 500 fastest-growing companies. Their first offering on CD was the LDS Collectors Edition, released in April 1995, selling for $299.95, which was offered in an online version in August 1995. Ancestry officially went online with the launch of Ancestry.com in 1996.” (The Paul Allen named is not the same one who co-founded Microsoft)

Over the years, there have been numerous entertaining – at least to me – events which have occurred. Which is why this is likely to be a multi-week series of articles.

My mother-in-law spent decades researching her family lines and she, and my father in law, literally travelled in a Fifth wheel travel trailer for ten years all across the United States sightseeing and researching. She had purchased Allen and Taggart’s $300 product and used it daily.

Photo of my great grandmother Rosanna Bell King DeVore and her three sisters, about 1886, taken in Fairmont, Minnesota. The photo is in the album which I still have.

The topic of genealogy has always been one which she and I have enjoyed discussing, ad naseum. Her impressive collection easily involves 50 large notebooks filled with carefully researched documents found throughout the United States as well as many garnered from other researchers who had made the leap ‘across the pond’, so to speak.

One thing she has always been quite proud about is her connection to one family on the first sailing of the Mayflower and the many ancestors who settled in the northeast.

Back in 1996, when she was heavily into the research, I had discovered some of the early ‘on line data bases’ and would frequently go out to Rootsweb to see if any potential relatives had posted something new.

Although I cannot recall the specifics of the event, one day I happened upon a distant relative’s family tree and started clicking backwards. Doing this often provided names and dates for previously unknown ancestors, thus enabling me to expand my family tree.

I was in my father’s line which had me back in Massachusetts. Not quite Mayflower connections, but darn close. It was a day when I ‘jumped the pond’ to England with my ancestor Elizabeth House… whose mother was one Elizabeth Hammond.

An ambitious King relative collected and compiled the family history back in the 1950’s. His work was essential to getting me started in my research.

Hammond? Where had I seen that name recently? Then it hit me. Hammond was one of the names from my mother-in-law’s family which I had seen earlier that day when discussing genealogy with her! Hmmm… I wondered.

As I had her paper ancestry trees on the desk next to me, I only had to turn a few pages and there was THE  connection. The one which proved that not only were my mother-in-law and I blood related but I had, in fact, married a cousin!

I think I let out a ‘whoop’ of some sort and then turned around to where my Mother-in-law happened to be sitting as she and my father-in-law were visiting, and announced that I’d found the holy grail of connections to prove, once and for all, that we were related.

Which meant, of course, that I had married my cousin (all legal since it was 10 generations back).

The chart I created in 1996 to document how the hubby and I were cousins

My poor daughter – only six that year – got the most confused look on her face when she learned that her Mom and Dad were related to each other which meant, and I quote, “Wait? How can I be related to myself?”

This caused all sorts of amusement for the family and I love to tell people that I’m married to my cousin if only to see the reaction I get.

As for my daughter’s question, the answer is that all of us are likely related to ourselves at some point. It kinda blows the mind, doesn’t it?

I must end, however, with the caveat all genealogists give. It is possible, that somewhere along the way there is an attribution for a person which will turn out to be wrong. Alas, none of us can go talk to the people involved to verify the information. All we can do is look for connections and, nowadays, to see if we have shared DNA to others claiming the same ancestors. But that IS a story for another week.

A link to https://www.ancestry.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestry.com

Serendipity. Coincidence. Synchronocity.

What Are The Chances?

March 15, 2022

I admit that I spent this morning searching for the right word to describe the following: when you end up at the exact same place and time as someone who you would not expect to see in that place or time.

The first word which came to mind was Serendipity. Dictionary.com provides the following meaning:  an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

So that is not the word which exactly fits the scenario. Then I started putting in all sorts of words to try and figure out exactly what I was trying to describe. Which led me down the rabbit hole.

People have, seemingly forever, been unable to accurately describe such circumstances. So here’s what happened to pique my interest.

A week ago Friday, March 4, the hubby and I had been in Spokane for a meeting the night before. That morning, before heading west, we decided to go to Manito Park to look for what’s known as a ‘Geocache’ (note to my readers, more on that is scheduled for May 3).

So off we went to the park. At the first stop I noticed a pond and that it still had a partial layer of ice. Which triggered for me a memory of my Dad sharing stories of his childhood and how he would, in the winter, go ice skating at Manito Park.

For those who know me well, you also know that I’m always interested in genealogy: Mine, yours, does not matter. I love talking about genealogy. Several years ago I took a paid subscription to Ancestry.com.

Photo of my Dad and his brother (I think they are the two boys in the foreground on the right side) skating at Manito Park circa 1928-30.

Of course I knew my dad had grown up in Spokane. I just had never realized how close to Manito Park. And I knew exactly how to find the address of his house: the 1930 census. Which could be found on Ancestry.

Two minutes later, I had the address which – it turned out – was less than a half mile from the park and the pond.

So I say to the hubby that I want to go see the house. He agrees that we can – just as soon as we find his list of geocaches. So off we wander in the park, finding (or in one case, not finding) a few caches. Finally, at about 11:45, I put the address into my map application and we head east to find the house.

How pleased I was when we turned the corner and there, on South Sherman Street, was what I presumed was the house where my Dad, his brother, sister, and parents all lived in 1930.

Dad with his older brother, Lyle, and dog, Buster, sometime in the mid-1920’s at the house. The photo was, unfortunately torn in half and taped together at some point.

I got out of the car and just as I was about to cross the street – which for the record was a side street where little traffic would ever travel – a car turns south from the corner of 17th and starts to drive by. I happened to look at the driver, who is staring gaped mouth at me. He then stops the car, backs it up, and is now staring gaped mouth at the hubby. I might add the hubby is staring back in a similar manner.

By this point, it’s obvious that the driver and the hubby know each other. A window is rolled down by the yet unknown to me driver, and the hubby steps from the car.

“What are you doing here?” The man exclaims.

“We were in Spokane for a meeting last night,” the hubby answers.

“Yes, but what are you doing HERE?” the man asks once again, then adds, “That’s my house.” And he points to the house next door to the one where my DeVore family lived.

“That’s house where my dad grew up!” I exclaim.

By this time, the hubby is introducing me to his friend, Roger, who he has done extensive volunteer work for a number of years with in the Washington Masonic and Scottish Rite organizations.

Roger, it turns out, was coming home that day as he had a Zoom meeting at noon. Five minutes earlier or later the chance meeting would not have happened. We are invited to visit Roger’s greenhouse and I’m given a gorgeous purple orchid. One of Roger’s hobbies is raising them. He gives us the name of the neighbor – who he has lived next to for 17 years – and encourages us to ring the bell and introduce ourselves.

Which we do. She is happy to oblige and we snap a few photos and discuss the house and my genealogy before heading on our way.

The author with the current owner of the house where my Dad grew up near Manito Park in Spokane

So, what are the chances that we would be on that street at exactly the same moment when he happened to be driving past to his house?

Certainly it was a coincidence. Even a bit of serendipitous luck. Perhaps the best word to describe it was coined as Syncronocity.

Of course we know that the Infallible Wikipedia has something to say:  Synchronicity is a concept first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl G. Jung “to describe circumstances that appear meaningfully related yet lack a causal connection.” In contemporary research, synchronicity experiences refer to a person’s subjective experience that coincidences between events in their mind and the outside world may be causally unrelated to each other yet have some other unknown connection.”

For me it was yet another odd occurrence in a string of odd occurrences related to my late Father. Like the incident with the 1965 Ford Mustang which I wrote about a year ago: (https://barbaradevore.com/2021/03/09/eee-161-rides-again/)

There have been others which I will eventually share here. For now, however, suffice it to say that it’s somehow oddly comforting to get these reminders of Dad, his larger than life personality still reverberating through my life. Coincidence? Serendipity? Synchronicity? Or, perhaps, a different term waiting to be coined.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manito_Park_and_Botanical_Gardens

www.ancestry.com

Mosquitos

May 29, 2018

On Wisconsin!

The state of Wisconsin was formed on May 29, 1848, making it the 30th state in the union.

According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

wisconsin flag“Between 1840 and 1850, Wisconsin’s non-Indian population had swollen from 31,000 to 305,000. Over a third of residents (110,500) were foreign born, including 38,000 Germans, 28,000 British immigrants from England, Scotland, and Wales, and 21,000 Irish. Another third (103,000) were Yankees from New England and western New York state. Only about 63,000 residents in 1850 had been born in Wisconsin.”

By now I imagine everyone is wondering why the heck I’m writing about Wisconsin. It can be summed up in one word: mosquitoes.

mosquito 2When I think about visiting Wisconsin, mostly I remember a frightening encounter in the fall of 1980 with a squadron of hungry mosquitoes. Before we get to that, however, let’s talk about how many mosquitoes there are in Wisconsin. A quick internet search reveals that 56 different species have been found in the state and mosquito season starts in early May, reaching its peak during the hottest months of the year. Additionally, mosquitoes thrive when there’s water nearby and, like its neighbor Minnesota, there are a bunch of lakes. Over 15,000 according to one source I found which totals up to 11,000 square miles of water in the state!

So you put together water and heat and the mosquitoes are piling in to the moving vans, hurrying to Wisconsin. Now I know that there are those of you from a couple other places who say your mosquitoes are worse. I’ll give that to some of the southern states, especially Florida. And, for sheer volume of mosquitoes, I doubt any state can compete with Alaska, and their famous mosquito clouds. But Wisconsin’s mosquitoes are bad as evidenced by businesses with names such as Mosquito Squad, Mosquito Xscape, and Mosquito Minus. The outbreak is so noticeable that people joke about the mosquito being the state bird…state bird wisconsin

Which brings us back to September 1980. A week and half earlier, on August 30th, I said “I do” and my newly minted hubby and I ventured across the United States from Washington State via Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and then to Illinois to visit his sister and her family. After a few days there we headed north to Wisconsin to indulge the new bride in one of her favorite pastimes: geneaology.

It was in 1848, the year of statehood, when the DeVore family arrived in Hebron, Wisconsin, just 52 miles west of Milwaukee and Lake Superior. I knew my great-great grandfather Hartley was there as I had found the family in the 1850 census. But more information was needed, however, as I had come to the conclusion that the DeVore family had been dropped into Wisconsin by space aliens as I could not find where the family had been before.

hebron cemeteryIt was a nice September day but by the time we arrived at the cemetery it was sunset. I don’t recall how we knew where, exactly, the family was buried but I do know we parked on a road and walked past several rows of headstones before we came to the DeVore clan. I was busy taking photos – there were about a half dozen ancestors there – when we heard ‘the’ sound: the unmistakable whine of a million tiny wings beating their way through the air toward us, their target.

We slapped at them, shooed them, and brushed them off. But the assault was relentless. Rather than be lifted up and carried away by an army of flying monkey sized insects, we did the only reasonable thing to do: we ran to the car, diving into our seats, slamming the doors behind us to stop the attack, our genealogy forays finished for the evening.mosquito

The next day was spent talking with some locals and getting to see the inside of one of the family ancestral homes and meeting a shirttail relative who gave me a copy of a photo of my great-great grandparents. But we had learned our lesson. When the sun was about to set we were safely inside, away from the penetrating proboscis of the persistent pests.

As for the genealogy, I confirmed – about 10 years ago – that my DeVore’s are not space aliens (well, except for my brother perhaps) but were part of the Yankee group which arrived from Western New York.hartley devore grave marker

So happy 170th statehood day, Wisconsin! And you can keep your mosquitoes…

For more information about Wisconsin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin

And for the mosquito: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito

And, finally, if you are interested in tracing your family, I would suggest you go to the world connect project. Unfortunately, it’s currently unavailable online. But I’m happy to talk genealogy. Who knows, we just might be related!