Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Genealogy Do-Over

  As 2015 begins, I have decided to participate in Thomas MacEntee's  Genealogy Do-Over. It will be like spring cleaning in January. 

    I inherited research done by a second cousin. Her research, done in the 1950's and 1960's, using courthouse records was very good. Her interviews with elderly relatives contain some discrepancies which I have found since records have been available online. Since her research is being relied on by other family members, I want to prove my findings that are in contrast to family stories.
     Having done my DNA, my research took off in many different directions. I hastily added some branches to my tree as a way to prove a relationship. I always thought that I would just go back and add sources later. Of course, that "later" never happened.

    There are now over 1,000 people signed up on the Facebook group. With so many ideas for software, filing schemes, organizing tricks and much more from other participants, it is almost overwhelming.  It is a great resource to see others ideas and find some that will work for me.

    As Thomas mentioned,  slowing down will be important.  It is hard not to follow every little breadcrumb as it appears. The smart thing is to put that crumb of information in a list and tackle it in an organized fashion.  I have a very basic to-do list ahead of the project. This list will clear the way for a fresh start.

 My to-do list includes: 

  •  Cleaning out all the sticky notes and scraps of paper that accumulated as I chased information down the rabbit hole.
  •  I will start using Evernote instead of OneNote. I like OneNote but I need access across several devices.
  •  Using research logs. This will save time and prevent me from "finding" the same information several times over
   I am hoping that tightening up my research will help me see beyond the brick walls that haunt my family tree. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Amazing DNA

    In a previous post I told the story of my father and his birth. He and his twin were born in Ft. Myers, Florida in 1924. Their parents were not married to each other. The twins were removed from their mother by the state of Florida in November 1925. In December 1925, they went to live with the Pixlers in Sanford, Florida. Thanks to DNA I finally have some answers.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Newbern Ancestors

   My great great grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Newbern. She first appears on the census in 1850. She is listed with her parents and siblings in Madison County, Florida.

1850 census in the 11th Division, Madison County, Florida
Thomas Newbern 45
Martha 40
Mary 19
Sarah 5
William 6
Thomas 2
All reported Georgia as their state of birth.

Next to this family is the oldest Newbern daughter:
Nancy (Newbern) Lamb 23 and her children Thomas 5, Henry 4, Elizabeth 2, Nancy 1

   Going forward it is easy to follow this family and prove their connection on my family tree. Nancy and Mary moved around north Florida, usually living near each other.  Their grandchildren confirmed they were sisters. William was killed in the Civil War in 1863. The other brother Thomas, married and stayed in the same Florida area. No trace of what happened to Sarah has been found. Tracing their ancestors though is another matter.
   Since Mary’s father, Thomas was born about 1805, the first census he would be listed on as head of household is 1830. There is a Thomas Newbern living in Lowndes County Georgia in the 1830.      There is one male 20-29, one female 20-29, and one female under 5.
   I believe this could be my Thomas with Martha and their oldest child Nancy Newbern, who would have been about 4 at the time.
   Two other Newbern’s are living in Lowndes County in 1830, namely William and Dread. It is possible that Thomas is related to one or both of them. Dread Newbern is Etheldred Newbern a known son of Thomas Newbern born 1770 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.  Some family trees have shown our Thomas as being part of this family. At present there isn’t enough evidence for that assumption.
   In 1840, a Thomas Newborn is listed in Middle Florida, Madison, Florida Territory. The family is listed as:
1 Male 20-29, 1 female 20-29, 1 female 5-9, one female under 5.
   This listing is could be the young Thomas from 1830 Lowndes County, Georgia. There are two female children which could be Nancy and Mary even though the ages aren’t exactly right.
There is another Thomas Newbern listed in Lowndes County, Georgia in 1840, however, this Thomas is age 60-69. Also listed with him is a female age 60-69, male age 15-19, female age 15-19. This Thomas wasn’t listed in 1830 in this county. Is he from another county or state?

   Thomas and Martha’s first child, Nancy was born about 1825. Nancy always reported she was born in Georgia. Since Thomas was born in Georgia (as was reported in the 1850 census), it is possible Martha was born in Georgia also. Her maiden name is unknown.
   I am hoping DNA will provide some clues to the ancestors of both Thomas and Martha.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Who was John Wesley Martin's First Wife

   Another mystery in John Wesley Martin’s life is the identity of his first wife. According to his daughter, his wife’s name was Mary Pollock.  John and Mary had two children together. The oldest was my great grandfather, Joseph Edward Martin born in 1866. The youngest Martha (Mattie) Martin who was born in 1868. According to the family legend, Mary died soon after Mattie’s birth and Mattie went to live with her mother’s parents. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Who were John Wesley Martin's parents?

John Wesley Martin, my 2nd great grandfather was born in Georgia and raised his family in Jefferson County, Florida. His parents have been a brick wall on the family tree until now.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Greenberry English 1822-1866

Greenberry English born about 1822, died between 1858 and 1866. Those dates make him a very frustrating brick wall. The only record that is known, as of today, is a marriage record in Madison County, Florida. He married Mary Elizabeth Newbern, my great-great-grandmother, on July 11, 1853. Another record that is probably him is the 1850 census.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day 2014

William Vandervort Pixler

My father, William Vandervort Pixler 1924-1977

Father's Day weekend seems like a good time to share my father's story. Because he was placed for adoption, his parents and ancestors are unknown. Using DNA, I am attempting to find the identity of either his parents or their ancestors. I have found some surnames in cousin matches that I can't link to my maternal side. Whether I can definitely discover his parents only time will tell. I am sharing what is known concerning his birth parents....

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Genealogy Maze

Searching a family surname is like going through a corn maze. You never know where a turn will lead you. Will that path end in a dead end or lead to another path to search?  This is what I encountered when I decided to find more ancestors to add to my Conner family tree.
I had a small amount of information that I had gleaned from having grown up in the area where they had lived since 1875. I had visited my great grandparents’ graves and knew their birth and death dates. 

 James Conner born 1816 in Georgia, died 1896 in Lake County, Florida.
Mary Vanzant Conner born 1832 in Georgia, died in Tavares, Lake County, Florida
They are buried in Glendale cemetery in Umatilla, Florida along with other family members.

Over the years, I talked to relatives, ordered death and marriage certificates and filed all the information away. Using all this information, I turned to a new tool to use, DNA.

My brother and I have both had our DNA tested at Family Tree DNA and I turned to the cousin matches to search for Conner and Vanzant (my great grandmother) surnames. I downloaded my Family Finder matches as a spreadsheet and did a search for these surnames. The easiest way to find someone's family tree is to contact them via email. If this doesn't generate a response, a google search or search at one of the genealogy sites may turn up family trees or information. These trees are in various places including, ancestry.com, wiki family trees, individual web pages, Family Search.org and many more.
I ended up discovering some Blackburn descendants in some peoples trees.  My great grandmother, Mary Vanzant Conner, was born in Georgia to William Vanzant and Lavina Blackburn. While looking at some of these Blackburn family trees, I found one that linked to William Miller RS. He had a DAR file number.
After going to Daughters of the American Revolution website and using their ancestor search, I found a descendant of Lavina’s brother, Martin, had applied for DAR membership. Their application included family Bible records and other proof of relationship. I had now found Lavina’s mother, Mary Ann Miller Blackburn, and her family. Mary Ann’s parents were William Miller and Amy Barker. I am now working on adding the various members of all these families. Considering how many children people had back then, I have a lot of work to do. The most exciting find, so far, for my family tree. Oh, yes I still need to find those elusive Conner ancestors.
Coming up soon:  William Miller, RS and his ancestors.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why I enjoy Genealogy

     Recently, I was asked why I was researching my family tree.  Having been asked this before, I was ready with my standard answer of “I am just a curious person who loves history”. The questioner stated that the only reason to do research was to claim a royal or famous ancestor. I assured them that is not the reason for most genealogists. I don’t really expect to find anyone like that in my ancestry but the people I am finding are interesting to say the least.
     In a handful of years, I have gone from reading the census page by page on micro fiche to querying a name at ancestry.com. The progress of genealogical research has been amazing in its speed.  Not only are more people researching and sharing but now DNA is available. The DNA results don’t come with a family tree or absolute relatives but it does help see over any brick walls. I have been hammering away on those walls for a while now. Research lead to some assumptions but no direct proof.  Those assumption surnames have appeared in the DNA results. While it isn’t absolute proof, I have been led to other avenues to explore. While DNA has its limitations, it is another tool to be used.
      I am starting this blog to share my ancestors’ life stories and in the process, hopefully, help others discover new relatives.