Thursday, February 12, 2015

DNA - Winning!

did Ancestry DNA in 2011 and it's never really helped me with anything. Well, it has shown me a few distant distant cousins that I can figure out our common ancestor(s). But, between incomplete trees (or no tree) plus no response to an emailed inquiry, it's been just "Meh." Either no one related has tested or there just aren't many cousins out there.

For a long time, there's been this guy, Ron W.,  that has been ranked a "Very High" match to me, but his tree is sparse and showed no common surnames. We communicated a little, but didn't have much to go on.

Last summer, I decided to dig around in his tree a bit looking at women missing surnames to see if I could figure them out and find something in common. Did one woman, but found nothing common. Did another named Mary Ann whose husband was Christopher Hocker. I found the undertaker's record for her adult daughter Martha and it showed Mary Ann's maiden name - Phillips!  The 1880 census said Mary Ann was born in PA and showed her parents as being born in England. I sent Ron the info and said "Maybe this is our link, I have Phillips born in England too," and left it at that.

A couple of weeks ago, practicing my "just keep looking - dumb luck happens" philosophy, I went on Genealogy Bank thinking about early 1800s marriages of Phillips family members in Philadelphia. Imagine my delight when I found a February, 1830 marriage of Mary Ann Phillips to Christopher Hocker and - get this - it said she was the daughter of William Phillips of Frankford. That was my 5X great-grandfather's name and residence! (The name Hocker didn't ring a bell so many months after I originally found it, and remember, back then I didn't even know about William, so even had I found it, it had little meaning.)

I searched other Ancestry trees for the Hockers and found a guy that listed Mary Ann's maiden name as Fritz. I wrote him a note asking where he got that. A few days later, he told me his wife had a shoebox of papers which may be where it came from.  He sent me a document of a court case where Mary Ann's grandchildren were fighting over property left them by her daughter, Martha, their aunt. (Still no bells were ringing.)

That same day, I decided to add Mary Ann to my Ancestry tree as an unconfirmed daughter of my William Phillips and see what popped up hint-wise. Her daughter's funeral record showed as a "hint," but no bells rang in my head yet. 

Later that night, I was perusing hints from other peoples' trees for her, and there was the tree from the guy who had just sent me the court document, not a surprise. But, right under him was Ron W's tree - DING DING DING!!  I couldn't believe my eyes!

With our close DNA match, that pretty much confirmed she is Richard's sister. I sent Ron the news and the court case - Ron's grandfather was the plaintiff of that case. 

It is an amazing document. It lists other bequests from Mary Ann and her daughter to the grandchildren - including "silver marked W.M.P.," most likely William M. Phillips. There are  some deeds listed as relevant to the case. I race to my computer to find and read them with my fingers crossed.

One deed of 1893 (Mary Ann's death year) starts out "William Phillips Sr. of Germantown after making his last will & testament dated November {illegible} Mary Ann Hocker {gibberish},"  then goes on later with "The said Mary Hocker (that's Mary Ann's oldest daughter) named in the will of William Phillips Sr aforesaid subsequently intermarried with Edw Williams and died intestate..." then it's illegible again. Holy Moley!

Wait...the Register of Wills said there was no file for him. Since the deed online is so hard to read, I called the City Archives to see if better copies can be made and they said it was possible. Hopefully that will lead me to the correct probate file.
I also looked back at the 1850 Census that I suspected was William, still wondering if it's him. Head of household was a wealthy woman named Mary A. Burt, then was an Eliza Burt. Next was William, an old lady Ann Doal, then a family named Hecker. OMG, not HECKER! The enumerator spelled it wrong or it was transcribed wrong.

It was actually Mary Ann HOCKER, with her 3 kids (her husband Christopher died in 1847). I could never locate the Burts or Heckers in the City Directories or 1860 Census. Now I know why! 

I still haven't found a link to the Burt women, but maybe in time.

This Phillips family has been quite a ride! (Read my last 2 posts for more background.) I've located and talked to 2 other cousins that share the Hopkins/Phillips family with me. Both are granddaughters of sisters of my great-grandmother Pauline Phillips Hopkins (married to James S. Caterson, Jr.). We are planning a spring get together.

One sent me this delightful photo of her grandmother Maggie Hopkins and her husband William Taylor ca 1915. We are not sure who the older woman is, but with the familiar way in which Maggie is leaning on her, my money is on it being her mother, Pauline Phillips who married Melvin Hopkins. She is my great-great grandmother.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Shot in the Dark

I've looked long and hard for the origin of the patriarch of my Phillips family in Philadelphia, Richard Phillips, born ca. 1796. I knew he was born in England, and came to this country fairly early in his life. I have a deed where he was given a house in exchange for a debt in 1823, and that really helped pin it down a little.

Over time, I have searched naturalization records, passenger lists, and other online resources but have yet to find anything definitive. 

One day, while digging around in his family tree, I noticed something interesting. Richard had named one of his sons William. William, in turn, had named one of his sons William. Richard's daughter, Mary Jane Carpenter, had given her son the name William Phillips Carpenter, who named one of his sons the same.

It dawns on me that this name William must have some significance in the Phillips family. The most logical explanation would be that perhaps Richard's father had that name.

I pop on over to Family Search, and go to the Philadelphia death records. I put in the search: William Phillips, born in England between 1765 and 1780. One result that pops up looks promising. So I click on the link to see the document and start reading. William Phillips, Sr., born in England, check; born in 1776, check; died in 1861, occupation tailor, buried Baptist Ground Frankford.  Could be...

As I get to the bottom of the certificate I notice the address where this William Phillips died, 581 Wharton Street. It looked familiar to me. So I quickly look at Richard's death certificate and lo and behold the addresses are the same! Richard died on March 7, 1861 and his father William died in the same house on May 28, 1861. (1861 was a bad year for  the Phillips men - Richard's son William died in November that year.)

I quickly went to Genealogy Bank to see if I could find a death notice in the newspaper. Coincidentally, another William Phillips died on May 23 in Philadelphia also. But I managed to find my William and as the article was loading I begged for something interesting. And I got it!

His death notice stated that he was a soldier in the War of 1812 and that his funeral would be at the residence of his late son Richard Phillips, and gave the address. It also said that he would be buried at Frankford.

I did the happy dance so familiar to us genealogists when we find something significant :-)

The next day I sent a letter to the Philadelphia Register of Wills to see if they had a file for William. A couple weeks later they said there was no record found. Darnit.

I now know that the name William Phillips is pretty popular during the early to mid-1800s in Philadelphia.  I have dug through all of the city directories for that timeframe and still haven't really definitively found him. I cannot find him in the 1860 census. I did locate what could be him in the 1850 census living with two families I couldn't tie to him, so I'm not sure.

I dug through a whole bunch of naturalizations with no luck. I also waded through the Philly index of deeds and came up empty.

The conclusions so far: William was here by 1814; Richard came here with or to join his father;  if there is a William, Sr. it stands to reason there is a William, Jr.; they may have been Baptist (Richard's daughter Caroline was married by a Baptist minister) and William had some ties to the Frankford area of Philadelphia as he was buried there.
I did get help from a Philadelphia genealogist to try to find more about this family, but the results have been lukewarm at best. It's a tough time period and at this point, everything is a fishing expedition. 

But that's not the end of this story. Technology assists in a breakthrough in my next post.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The 4 Rs of Genealogy

OK, I've been AWOL from this blog for a couple of years. I had a project that took over for about two years, so genealogy was sporadic. But I'M BAAAACK!!!

I've had a few cool discoveries in the past few months, so I will share them with you.

I run hot and cold on family research -- sometimes I'm so tired of not finding stuff that my drive wanes a bit. During those periods, I go to my Ancestry tree and track peripheral lines forward in time. I love seeing what happened to people, plus I love finding living cousins to share info with, so this helps to get me over my "bored" hump.

Other times, I'm ticked at my brick walls and that makes me go back and rethink, reanalyze, reassess and renew the search.

My Phillips family are real buggers. Everything happened in the difficult period of 1800-1850: before civil registration of vital records and before the census showed everyone in a household by name.

The patriarch, Richard, blessed me with a goldmine of a will written one day before he died in 1861. (Read about it HERE) His son that I descend from died in 1857, his wife died in 1865 (the same day as President Lincoln!), leaving their children to be raised by Richard's wife, their grandmother Margaret. Only one of Richard's children lived a long life.

Due to those early marriages, I don't know either woman's maiden name. Their religious affiliations look scattered about, so it ain't gonna be easy to find them!

So over the summer, while employing the four Rs, I decided to dig into the man that was co-executor of Richard's will with Margaret. John H. Kinsley is on the 1860 Census in Philadelphia as a 37 year old blacksmith living with what appears to be his mother. Not much help. Can't find him for sure in 1850 or 1870, so I head to Genealogy Bank to see what may be in the newspapers. This marriage announcement appears on May 30, 1847:

He was married to a Caroline B. Phillips! She would be of the correct age to be Richard's daughter. But, since she wasn't in Richard's will, nor mention of her children, that meant she hadn't lived until 1861.

(I did finally find them living together in the 1850 Census, close neighbors of Caroline's brother Charles and his wife, my 3X great grandparents.)

Between newspapers, death records and cemetery/funeral records, the sad tale unfolded. Their daughter Kate died at age 2 in March, 1853. A month earlier, John Jr. died at 9 months of age.

In April of 1855, Caroline gave birth to a baby girl named Caroline. Then the mother died on May 9th. Baby Caroline only lived until August 10th. This poor family!

John himself remarried and had two daughters. He died in 1903 at age 78. A lot of Ancestry trees have this John with a different first wife and a passel of kids. But the plot record at Oddfellows tells the real story. John was buried with his first wife and their three children (and his mother). We are certain it's the same man because his grown daughter Jennie is listed as holding the deed and ordering a grave marker when they were all moved to Lawnview in 1951.

Coincidentally, Caroline's sister named one of her daughters after her, before Caroline died. That Caroline had one child, named Caroline also, but they both died shortly after the baby was born.

Had I not gone digging for that executor, I never would have known Caroline B. Phillips even existed.

I have a whole section of my website devoted to this family, with documents attached HERE.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Land Ho!

I admit it. Until recently, I didn't really utilize Land Records much in my research. What a mistake! Property records are RICH with genealogical information.

No matter what happened to church, civil, census and other mainstream records, you can count on the property transactions to be reconstructed first. Land was, and is, important. And many are available on the Net.

Look at the above deed's (from MD State Archives) first paragraph: It says so much! It tells us that Richard & Nicholas Hopkins are brothers; that their father is Gerrard, and that his will in which he left them this property was written in 1741. It also tells us where they lived at the time, although you must take old boundaries into account.

I recently found, just by dumb luck, that Philadelphia's property records are on line, and have been for 5 years! No mention is made on the City Archives website of the free indexes or the subscription-based deed books. They also have "Parcel Explorer" on which you can trace the chain of ownership of an address from 1865 forward to the present. (You do need to be aware of street name changes.)

Detail of Parcel Map for 531 Wharton. Green highlight is the exact lot with lot number.

Entry in land register books of lot #177, owner in 1869 and previous owner Margaret Phillips

These very documents lead to me finding the brother of my 3x great grandfather and his family. Charles R. Phillips (my 3XGG) died in 1857 while his children were young. His wife and kids lived with his parents, Richard & Margaret Phillips. When Richard died in 1861, he had a will written just one day before his death, leaving property to his wife, sons William B. & J. Wills Phillips, his daughter Mary Jane Carpenter, and the children of his deceased son Charles R. Phillips. (read this story HERE.)

Until last month, I could not find J. Wills Phillips, and I had been looking for a year! I found a likely death certificate for a John W. in Philly in 1864 (it showed his residence as the same address his sister lived at one time). But really nothing else. No census, no city directories. The other siblings were easy - not J. Wills darn it.

So when I found the deed indexes, I located several for Margaret Phillips, who was executrix of her husband's will, along with John Kinsley. I looked up each deed and to my delight, found this:

In 1866, Angelina D. Mackenbur, widow of John Wills Phillips, is asking for the sale of the property left by Richard Phillips to his son and therefore to her 2 minor children, John H. & Enos P. Phillips of Washington, DC! (She had subsequently married a Joseph Mackenbur in DC.)

Now I was off to the races! Found John in the Census in DC (I remembered seeing the 1860 one, but had no proof it was him.) Tracked his descendants forward and got in touch with some of them. All because of one deed! Still don't know why he was in Philly when he died, but oh well.

Property records also helped me knock down a brick wall in New Brunswick, Canada. Family Search has the indexes and deed books online for free and I was able to track back 2 generations on one line, thanks to the inheritance by sons of their father's property.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our Own Swedish House Mafia

No, not the musical act, but actual cousins of my father's from Sweden, here in the US for a visit!

Twenty-something years ago, my grandmother had given me the addresses of two of her first cousins in Sweden, from where both of her parents had emigrated. Her mother, Jenny Margreta Gustafsson, and her sisters had left behind their parents, a sister and one brother, Gustaf Hjalmer, who was much younger.

Hjalmer married and had 2 sons before losing his first wife. He married again and had a daughter, Anna Maria. My grandmother had stayed in touch will all 3 of them over the years. She and her sisters had travelled there several times.

I started corresponding with Anna Maria in the 80's while our children were very young. We shared information back & forth, but eventually lost touch.

This spring, someone had copied some info from my Ancestry tree from this family and I wrote them to say I had lots more not on there. She wrote back to say that her cousin, Anna  Maria, would be more interested in that! She was referring to my grandmother's cousin  - I was so excited to be put back in touch with her!!

Well, we emailed back & forth a bit, then she told me her son, EG, would be in the US for 3 months working. As he was only going to be 1.5 hours from me, I offered to have him meet his many American cousins! We Skyped ahead of time; they both speak English really, really well!

Needless to say, we've had a blast this summer! He attended a few family gatherings before finding out that his mother had decided to hop on a plane to meet us all too! (I guess we hadn't overwhelmed him too much) Anna Maria came for a week that was chock full of family and fun!

My dad with Anna Maria (note the Swedish Flag!)

We held a luncheon at my parents' and invited my grandmother's sister's granddaughters whom I had never met. They brought photos and stories and were thrilled to be all together. That was also the first time I met Anna Maria, which was fabulous. My face hurt from smiling so much!


She brought with her some incredible family treasures for us as well. Wonderful photos of ancestors (scroll down to bottom), some original paintings by a local artist of their town, a hand-painted Swedish horse, a book written about the town (Vreta Kloster)  the family lived in written by a grandson of my 3x great grandfather. It even features a whole chapter on him - -  of course the book is in Swedish. I will be working on translating that, you can bet!

But the pi√®ce de r√©sistance was a linen towel. Not just any towel. This one is very special. My 2x great-grandfather, Nils Gustaf Gustafsson planted and harvested the flax, extracted the fiber, spun it into thread and wove the fabric. And his wife, Anna Sofie,  embroidered her initials on it. Wow. What an extraordinary gift!

We took them on a tour of Washington DC, which they found amazing; tasted the best craft beers and local cuisine there. They then headed to spend 2 days with my parents at their house on the Wye River, where they boated, crabbed, took a tour of the Eastern Shore (and my fave town, St. Michaels) and just got to know each other.

Anna Maria & EG headed to Philly for a walkabout, then to the airport the next day as she headed home to Sweden. After that, we had a farewell party for EG, and went to an Orioles game. EG leaves tomorrow and we will miss them both. They had a wonderful time here and said they will be back!

In the meantime, we have an open invitation to Sweden :-)

Getting to meet and spend time with these relatives from so far away truly enriched my life and I am so grateful for it.

Some family photos:

The Gustafssons - Nils Gustaf & Anna Sofia seated, (l to r) Signe, Hjalmer & Gertrude

Visiting "Tomtebo," the family home

My 2x great grandfather, Nils Gustaf, at Tomtebo

Per Danielsson, my 3x great-grandfather

Per's grave

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Bad Apple

So, the last time I wrote about Samuel G. Hopkins, my 3x great-grandfather, I was pretty much just waiting and hoping for a chance to go to the Nat'l Archives #2 in College Park to search the Secret Service's files. He was a five-time convicted counterfeiter in Baltimore and Philadelphia. As such, the Secret Service, at that time part of the Treasury Department, would hold the records of counterfeit investigations. The listings at the National Archives show not only investigative files but photos as well. I was hoping against hope to at least find some information on his family as this was a major brick wall. (See previous posts HERE and HERE.)

As I wrote before, the Hopkins name was so common in Baltimore in the 1800s that you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting one! I had found a brother Benjamin listed as brother-in-law in a death notice for Samuel's wife Rebecca, but could never locate his death certificate. I traced his family forward to the present but no one alive could help.

I noticed an Ann E. Hopkins living with Samuel in Baltimore in 1850 who was the right age to be his sister. In later census records she is living with a Charlotte and a Sophia Hopkins and listed as their niece. When looking into their deaths and probate records, the name Richard H Hopkins showed up as administrator. When I searched for him in the census, it showed him as a  bailiff in a Baltimore City Court. I also found his death notice from 1917 at age 90, but I had no idea if he was related.

Ann Hopkin's  death certificate showed her as being buried at the Friends Cemetery on Harford Road in Baltimore. There is a book published that lists most of the burials there and it showed hers along with the notation of "daughter of Richard Hopkins and Mary Ann Gover." But again I had no proof that she was related and had had no luck in finding out anything about this couple except a marriage in 1817 in Baltimore.

Fast-forward to this month. Through the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness  Facebook page I found a volunteer to go to the National Archives and look up Samuel's Secret Service records. Much to my delight, he found the following two ledger entries containing information on my little criminal. It also contained a reference to a photograph in their files as well. This RAOGK volunteer went back a second time to locate the photograph but had no luck as the index and the actual photo files did not jive. On the second trip though he hit a gold mine in another ledger entry about Samuel!

This entry listed family information as follows:

One brother a crier in Judge Dobbin's Court, another employed at a DC post office, a third in business in Baltimore! Woo hoo! (You can see the ledgers HERE.)

The second ledger also included a reference to another photograph different from the first one. (The next day I called the Archives to speak to the woman that helped the volunteer with locating photos. She was able to locate the photo listed on this new ledger page!)

I started looking at the Census, having been reminded of the bailiff listed above, and searched GenealogyBank newspapers for Judge Dobbins. Who pops up but Richard Hall Hopkins,  second cousin to Johns Hopkins died 1917 and worked for Judge Dobbins! Because he died in 1917 I stood a very good chance of finding his death certificate containing his parents' information! (His obit said he was born in Carroll County, but now I know differently.)

I also searched the census in Washington DC for a Hopkins with a similar job to that mentioned at the post office. The only one I found that came close was a Philip G. Hopkins who worked at, of all things, the Treasury Department! How in the heck does the brother of a counterfeiter get a job as a clerk at the Treasury Department!? He previously lived in Baltimore, working as a clerk in a counting house.

Through another RAOGK volunteer, I just received Richard Hopkins death certificate, listing his parents as Richard Hopkins and Mary Gover, both born in Harford County Maryland! Family Search had a record of Philip Hopkins' and his wife's deaths in DC that also listed his place of birth as Harford County and his middle name as Gover!

So now I just need a one generation bridge from Richard and Mary Ann back to their parents to complete the connection to the  famous Hopkins family that started out in Anne Arundel County. (Gerrard Hopkins and the Gover family both left Anne Arundel County for Harford County in the 1700s)

UPDATE 9/1/12 - Found the link I needed! In the book Colonial Families of Maryland, it lists Richard, married to Mary Ann Gover was the son of Joseph (b. 1761), son of Richard (1715 - 1785), son of Gerrard (1683 - 1734), son of Gerrard b. ca. 1650 in Canterbury, England and came to America with his brothers & perhaps parents. (The older Richard was the brother of Johns, grandfather of the well-known philanthropist Johns Hopkins.)

Then for the last surprise of this whole mission, when looking through newspapers I found an article in 1848 Baltimore Sun, showing that a Philip Hopkins and Richard Hopkins Jr. had been arrested for -- you guessed it -- counterfeiting! They were found not guilty as the victim could not i.d. them.

These bad apples didn't fall far from the tree, but it looks like the other 2 learned their lessons!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Miracles never cease...

Flipping through some new Pennsylvania records on Family Search today yielded me a document that took my breath away.

My ex-husband's  paternal grandfather, Percy Ingles,  was a twin who's mother died when he was 2 and father died when he was 3. He and his brother were raised by their maternal grandmother and maiden aunts. Since this couple died so young, there isn't much about them to find. (Read a previous blog post about them HERE.)

Just for fun, I was looking at Family Search under Pennsylvania records and thought, "What the heck, I'll search these marriage records for Ingles, see who pops up."

I figured Homer Ingles and Annie Jukes had been married at her church in WV or MD. But to my utter surprise and delight, here was their marriage license from his hometown, Uniontown, PA!

As if that wasn't cool enough, it bore their signatures. I was VERKLEMPT!  (I love finding sigs)

Homer and Annie are one of my favorites, due to the challenges I faced finding their records and graves back 25 years ago when I embarked on this obsession hobby.

[Keep in mind that I admit that I have a really bad attitude about records in Pennsyltucky, because they are all over the darned place in that state, making it really tough to find stuff! Just when you think you know where to find something, SURPRISE! "Sorry ma'am, I think they keep those down at the old barn behind where Doc Brown's outhouse used to be..."]**

Thanks to Family Search, genealogy research there is moving into the 21st century. Almost.

**Don't send me hate mail, this frustration has built up in me for years!