24 May 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Records from Granny

Thomas & Sarah CraftMy granny kept a framed photo of her and my pawpaw. When she passed away last year the family went through her things to divide them up. My aunt got the photo, but she knew that the rest of the family would like a copy. When she took the photo out of the frame, she found that my granny had stored some information in the frame. There were three pages of handwritten notes from her.
"To whom it may concern, Thomas Spurgeon Craft, and Sarah Frances Britt, were married Aug 11, 1940, Starr South Carolina, By Rev. Penlton, in his Home, wittness Claude Franke Craft and Shirly Greenway. It Rained for 2 weeks after and we had a fun time. / Ha."
"Charlotte had this picture Remade from a dogeared one Thomas had in wallet. Cost a fortune, But we loved it a log. I love all my children very much all Seven 7 of them, John always thought I didn't Love him,  I hope he does Know now I did. I know the rest of you do. Love always mama." 
"Well its 1981 made it one more year, Love ya'll 7. 'Happy New Year,' if me Die, (check Sears accident) about insurance, Liberty National, agent, 'Stovelle' John & Greg have some on them Too, I not sure how much."

Thomas & Sarah Thomas & Sarah Thomas & Sarah

21 May 2010

Breaking down the Albea Family Brick Wall - A Research Review Pt 2

In my previous post, I detailed my strategy for breaking down my Albea family brick wall: I would research the siblings of my oldest proven Albea ancestor, William A Albea. In researching William's sister Nina, I found significant information about their family, including confirming William's father, Thomas Albea. I planned to do this post on William's brother, Edward, but I'm still waiting on his death certificate to arrive. Instead, I'll talk about some information I've discovered on Thomas and his wives.

I "knew" that William's parents were Thomas Albea and Sarah P/Corley (the name was not clear). A helpful researcher with access to Lincoln County marriage records had given me a marriage date: 10 Sep 1867. A while after that, the GA State Archive began posting scanned marriage records online. These records must be browsed manually, using the original index from the records. Despite these records covering a large date range, I could not find Thomas and Sarah's marriage record. This made me doubt the validity of the date I had been given.

On my last post, a helpful comment pointed out that GA Marriage records were searchable on FamilySearchLabs and that records for both of Thomas' marriage were listed there. Sure enough, I found records for Thomas and Sarah Corley in 1867, as well as for Thomas and his second wife, Susan Pitman, in 1884. But I had not found these records on the indices at the GA State Archive. Turns out that the indices were just missing this information.  I had to manually browse through the images, but I finally found the records for both of these marriages (though the one for Thomas and Susan isn't fully filled out). Now with concrete dates, I can be sure to assign Thomas' children to the correct mother.

Marriage of Thomas Albea and Sarah Corley Marriage of Thomas Albea and Susan Pitman

The research I'd done so far on William and Nellie had also proven that a suspected grave for Thomas was the correct one. I posted the record on FindAGrave.com and requested a volunteer to photograph the grave for me.  Thanks to a volunteer, I now have photos of Thomas and Susan's graves.

Thomas T Albea Susan A Pitman Albea

Because Thomas had been married twice, I wasn't able to confirm that records I was finding of him were actually him. Because the wife's name didn't match the woman I knew to be the mother of my ancestor, I was hindered in my research. By researching all of Thomas' children - and not just my direct ancestor - I have been able to discover the name of the second wife and start breaking down my Albea brick wall.  I'll continue to write about this family as soon as my requested documents arrive.

19 May 2010

Sometimes It's Just That Easy

While eating lunch at my computer today, I asked a co-worker if they wanted me to try and look up any family history records for her on Ancestry.com. She said sure, but that she didn't know the names of any relatives who were alive for the 1930 census. Regardless, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.

Her grandparents were all first generation americans from France and Italy, so I thought I might be able to find some interesting documents. I keyed in her French surname, Vidil, along with her grandparent's home state of Pennsylvania. There were very few results - and they were all for her family.

As I told her when I offered to do the lookup, I often find that folks don't realize what they actually know about their family. In this case, the results I found were almost all for Hypolite V Vidil of Allegheny County, PA, originally of France.  I asked her if that sounded familiar, to which she casually replied, "Oh yeah, that's it!" Turns out that she knew her Great-Grandfather's name all along. She suddenly had a lot of information about Hypolite and his son (her Grandfather) Felix. Turns out that if she'd been a boy, her francophile father wanted to name her Hypolite - and wasn't she grateful to be a girl!

In this case, I was able to put together an instant family tree for my coworker, dating back to 1872 in Mayres, France. Thanks to a 10 minute search, she now has census, military and naturalization records for her paternal family line.  Sometimes it's just that easy - and doesn't that just make me so jealous!

Wordless Wednesday

Freeman sisters of Fayette County, AL

18 May 2010

How to Change Assigned Parents in Reunion

For me, a big part of genealogy research is finding false leads and having to correct data. This is especially annoying when that data has already been entered into my gedcom file. Here's a quick example on how to fix one of those errors using Reunion software for mac.

I'm currently breaking down my Albea family brick wall. It's a bit confusing right now, with the discovery that my ancestor, Thomas Albea, had two wives. So, I need to move some of the children around between spouses.  Using Reunion, I can do that rather easily - but it took me a while to figure this out so I thought I'd share it.

Here's what my initial family looked like:

You can see that I have George Albea listed as the son of Thomas and Susan Albea. In fact, I believe him to be the son of Thomas and Sarah Albea. Because I already have George listed with his wife and have begun to add sources, I'd rather not have to delete the couple and start over. It's much simpler to change George's mother.  

To start with, I select the Index icon on the toolbar (I've arranged this icon to appear in this exact spot, so it may be in a different place on the toolbar for other Reunion users). When the Index box pops up, I typed in the surname for George's correct mother, which is Corley. In this case, Sarah Corley is the only result. Now, I simply click on Sarah's name and drag and release it over Susan's name, as shown below:

Now, my software will ask me to verify how exactly I'd like to add Sarah to George's record. In this case, I want to move George to the record for Thomas and Sarah. This way, I don't end up with mulitple listings for George or random, unattached individuals floating in my software. If I was unsure which woman was George's mother, I could duplicate George and have him appear as a child for both of Thomas' wives.

Now, you can see that George's parents are listed as Thomas and Sarah:

This method can be used for a number of other events in Reunion, such as adding a second marriage between duplicate spouses or creating links between two ancestors already listed in your tree.

16 May 2010

Breaking down the Albea Family Brick Wall - A Research Review Pt 1

My oldest documented Albea ancestor has always been William Anderson Albea (1872-1936). My grandfather knew some details of his grandfather, including his birthplace, and even had a photo. I rather easily accumulated documentation on William, but had trouble proving his heritage. I have had strong suspicions about who his parents were, but had not yet been able to prove who his parents were. In order to do this, I have been searching for his siblings, as listed in his obituary: Mrs. Walter C Ivie, Edward and Elbert.1 I hoped that they left behind proof of their parents. This post will be the first in a series in which I present the research I've done on William's siblings in order to prove who their parents were.

Nellie Albea Ivey - Death Cert

Finding William's sister was rather easy. She was listed as "Mrs. Walter C. Ivie" in William's obituary, so I searched GenealogyBank.com for Walter Ivie and other variations. I quickly found an obituary for Nellie Love Albea Ivey in which her husband's full name was listed, as well as other information that indicated that this was the correct person.2 Now with a full name and death date, I sent off for Nellie's death certificate. Three months later (it's never taken so long before!) I received my GGG-Aunt's death certificate.3

Of course, what I was looking for were Nellie's parents. Would they be the same as the ones listed on William's death certificate: Thomas Albea and Sarah Corley (or Porley)? Well, yes and no. Thomas was the same, but Nellie's mother was listed as Adeline Pittman. Given that William and Nellie were born 18 years apart, it is extremely possible that they had different mothers.

This record has allowed me to decide that a previously found 1900 census record for Thomas T, Susan A, George E, Hattie L, and Nellie Albea was the correct family record that I'd been looking for.4 I've jumped to conclusions in my research before, only to find errors later. In this case, there have been many indications that this is the family I'm looking for - but I wanted proof! I knew from cemetery transcriptions of Bethany Methodist Church in Lincoln County, GA (also where Nellie is buried) that this couple is Thomas Tillman and Susan A Pittman.5 So, having a record that indicates that Nellie's mother was Adeline Pittman clinched it for me.

However - I don't believe that Nellie and William share a mother. Could Sarah P/Corley be Susan Adeline Pittman? Anything's possible, but in this case, I don't think so. Looking at the 1900 census record, I see that Thomas and Susan have been married for 16 years. This could be an error but again, I don't think so. Susan is said to have three children and there are three children listed - and that doesn't leave room for William. On top of that, the eldest child, George E, is three years older than Thomas and Susan's marriage. It would seem that unless this document is riddled with errors, Susan was not Thomas' first wife and she had another child not listed.

So, I had a few goals I my research continued:
  • Continue to search for William Albea's mother, the elusive Sarah P/Corley.
  • Continue to search for William's previously known siblings: Elbert and Edward
  • Research the new siblings, Hattie and George E (could this be Elbert or Edward?) and another unknown sibling.
  • Review older census records, such as 1880, that I believe show William with a grandfather and connect that man to Thomas T. Albea.
Coming up next, I will give details on the research that I've done on William's brother, Edward Albea.

1. "Obituary of William A. Albea," The Greenville News, Greenville, Greenville, SC, 4 Aug 1936, Pg 11, http://www.flickr.com/photos/genealogyphotos/3503670570.
2. "Obituary of Nellie Mrs. Nellie Love Ivey," The Augusta Chronicle, Augusta, Richmond, Georgia, 10 Apr 1947, Pg 3, http://www.flickr.com/photos/genealogyphotos/3865872134.
3. Certificate of Death for Mrs. Nellie Love Ivey, 9 Apr 1947, File No 8725, Georgia Department of Public Heath, http://www.flickr.com/photos/genealogyphotos/4611706757.
4. 1900 United State Population Census, Lincolnton, Lincoln County, George; p. 12 A, family 219, dwelling 214, lines 21-25; June 12 1900; National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls [via Ancestry.com].
5. Turner, Janice, "LINCOLN COUNTY, GA - CEMETERIES Bethany United Methodist Church," USGenWeb Archives. http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/lincoln/cemeteries/bethany.txt.

08 May 2010

The Popularity of Edgefield County

As I've stated in previous posts, my Family Finder DNA test from FamilyTreeDNA gave me five "close relative" matches and a large number of speculative matches. As of yet, I haven't identified a common ancestor with any of the matches, thought there are a few promising leads. And just about all of those leads lead to Edgefield County, South Carolina.

My matches and I have been exchanging a variety of family tree charts and websites while we look for matches. Here's what we've seen so far:
  • My closest match, a predicted 3rd cousin with Mr. A Peppers, might match a Parish / Paris family in Edgefield County.
  • A 4th cousin match with Mr. E Hill might match a Harris family in Edgefield County.
  • A 4th cousin match with Ms. M Barton doesn't match any surname, but we both have a large number of ancestors from Edgefield County.
That's 3 out of 5 matches that might be traced back to Edgefield County, SC! Now, the way the matches are made is by comparing segments of DNA to see if individuals share identical segments on the same chromosome. With all of these Edgefield matches, I have to wonder if we're all related.

On the FTDNA website, I can compare up to three of my matches at a time. You can see three different colors on this chart and can see that each color has a long segment and a lot of little ones. The green segment is my 3rd cousin match and the blue and orange are my 4th cousin matches. You can see that in two places the green and orange match and in one place the blue and green match. But these are very small matches, so we don't all descend from the same recent ancestor. It might be that we share a very distant ancestor though...

Out of all the people in the world who might have taken this test it strikes me that so many of my matches look to have descended from the same location. I do have a lot of ancestors from the Edgefield County Area (which broke up into Greenwood, Saluda and McCormick Counties), but I have equally large amounts of ancestors from Emanuel County, GA, Elbert & Hart Counties, GA and Lexington County, SC. I guess it's just up to who takes the test... but it still strikes me as odd.

03 May 2010

Family Finder Results Are In - Pt 2

In my first post, I showed screenshots of what my Family Finder DNA test results looked like. In this post, I'll talk about contacting my matches.

First, I didn't really go into the scientific details of the test in the previous post. My DNA test results were matched to other folks' results. Here's how FTDNA explains it:

"Family Finder detects your near and distant cousins by comparing your autosomal DNA with that of other Family Tree DNA customers. If two people share identical segments of DNA then they may share a recent ancestor. When the Family Finder program finds matching segments, it uses statistical methods to determine if the segments are likely to be Identical By Descent (IBD). If they are determined to be IBD then the Family Finder program calculates the relationship based on the shared segments’ number and size.

The Family Finder program declares a DNA segment to be Identical By Descent (IBD) if it contains at least 500 matching SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) in series.

A DNA segment (block) that is 10 centiMorgans (cM) or larger indicates conclusive shared ancestry while a block that is between 5 and 10 cM is highly suggestive of shared ancestry. Additional factors such as the number of shared blocks that are at least 1 cM and their size are also used for the degree of relatedness calculations."

It's all very scientific isn't it? This explains the two numbers on the matches page (Shared cM and Longest Block). It also helps explain what I'm looking at on the "Chromosome Browser" Page. I showed both of these screenshots shown in the previous post.

I should say at this point: I have yet to receive notification from FTDNA that I have any FF test results or matches. I only knew about these matches because I've been checking for results. I'd expect better communication from FTDNA on this...

So, my results gave me one predicted 3rd cousin and four predicted 4th cousins. If these estimates are accurate, I might be related to these matches through my 2x and 3x Great Grandparents. The match for 3rd cousin has a larger number of shared cM than the 4th cousin matches, at 45.56, with the longest block being 19.41. Based on FTDNA's explanation, this looks like a very good match. I didn't recognize any of the surnames listed for this match, but it doesn't look like that many are listed.

I went ahead and emailed all of my matches (the five "close relatives" as well as the more distant "speculative" ones). I sent them a prepared letter listing my surnames, website and contact information. I was shocked by the almost instant response I received. Within a few hours I had received emails from all of my close matches and a few speculative matches. So far, there haven't been any instant connections, which I also found surprising. This test is supposed to find matches within six generations - which I have almost fully charted. But with no obvious ancestor found yet, the shared ancestor is obviously more ancient than that. My matches and I are all exchanging pedigree files to look for a more hidden connection.

And, although we're not matching names, we are matching geographic locations. Three of my close matches have family in many of the same locations as mine. We might be able to focus on researching certain lines where both of our trees show up at the same place and time.

Based on comments from others, I should continue to make matches as other folks receive their test results. I'd love be able to make an easy match - instant gratification and all that. But, these difficult to make matches will probably help my research more than an easy match. Fingers cross either way!

Family Finder Results Are In

     For the past few days I've been keeping an eye on my FamilyTreeDNA account. My Family Finder test results weren't due until May 17th, but others in my batch had started to receive results. And today I received mine. In this post, I'm going to post screenshots of what my results look like.

     While waiting for these results to come in, I've been keeping an eye on DNA-Forums. This is a great message board site filled with really knowledgeable folks who can help other less knowledgeable folks (me!).

     So, what about my results? Here's a screen shot of what I first saw (first names obscured for privacy reasons). I had five "close and immediate" matches. I was very happy with this, given how short a time period this test has been available. You can see the name of the tester, the projected relationship, a two different dna numbers, the ability to assign them a relationship, and their ancestral surnames (in bold if they match mine). If I change the pull down menu, I can see a variety of other more distant matches or sort the matches seen here. Not all of those options are working for me right now.

     Here's a view that I can use to compare Chromosome markers. I can view three matches at a time to compare. The colors on the chart match my test results. I did have to change the pull down menu to 1+ cM to see a more "colorful" chart than what the default view shows. When you hover over a marker, you see more information on that particular match.

     I'm still trying to figure of the science behind all of this. In my next post, I'll detail what actions I've started to take with my results.


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