The Shark…

I thought it fitting, after my last post, “the Snake” to follow-up with “the Shark.” Because sometimes, just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water…

SharkYeah, that great white shark swims up and bites ya in the…proverbial.

As in…

I decided that the Andrews/Parks tree was just too big. Or to be more particular, had the potential to get too big. And confusing. Immensely confusing. The Andrews line goes back to Massachusetts…and beyond. The Parks line goes back to Virginia…and beyond. So between those two lines I’ve got potentially thousands upon thousands of entries.

Particularly in light of my recent revelation that I need to keep every single child and wife and husband of every single relative in the tree because I have this lovely family wreath that keeps turning in on itself.

Not to mention that I already have two Judith Harrises within 20 years of each other on two different lines. Potential nightmare as I almost merged them once already.

Now I know that there are some genealogists out there (genealogists or collectors? A blog for a different day…) who have massive trees of over 100,000 and are perfectly fine with that. There are some genealogists who prefer to have everyone on one tree because of the family wreath and they have just the one entry per person.

Given the lines I’m dealing with though, my mom’s parents might be related…back by, oh say, Charlemagne or something. So I’m not particularly worried about that.

So I now have a “Just the Andrews” tree and a “Just the Parks” tree. Don’t get me wrong..I still have the “One Tree to Rule them All” because it’s linked to my mom’s DNA results. But I now have these two bite-sized, convenient to use trees as well.

I’m running along, taking my time entering the data, too. Checking the details, trying to add pictures and newspaper articles as I have them…really fleshing out the skeletons to give these people life again.

I though there was nothing new under the sea. Honestly. At least on the Parks’ side. I mean, there’s a society for the Park(e)s. A group doing nothing but researching that family. Ages ago a distant cousin sent me pages of information on that tree.

Guess what? If you said I was wrong, you’re right!

Anyone who has read my last few blogs will know how reluctant I am to include non-directly-related family in my trees. I just tried so hard not to do it. There is a notable exception. She was the answer to a question I’d wanted to know for years, before I ever even dabbled in genealogy…

Where did my middle name come from?

It was my maternal grandmother’s middle name, who passed it on to her daughter, who in turn gave me the same middle name. It’s nifty. I like it. But I had no idea why it was given to my grandmother in the first place, or if it had any significance at all. Until I found Minnie Lee Varner.

Minnie Lee Varner was the third wife of William Columbus Parks. I’m descended from his second wife, Sarah Jane Clift. But Sarah died shortly after the birth of my great-grandfather (and his twin, who died around the same time as Sarah…I’m still trying to figure out which one died first. They’re buried together). Minnie Lee raised Samuel Howard Parks. And, traditionally, never had children of her own. That made me rather fond of her…and I felt I needed to honor her for giving her life to these children she didn’t bear but apparently loved enough that great-grandpa gave me her name…through his daughter, but still.

There’s an emotional connection there.

Then I got pinged on one of those evil shaky leaves. And I looked. I always look. I just try to keep my eyes open. And there’s a fellow by the name of William Rass Parks who, at least his family believed, was the son of Minnie Lee Varner and William Columbus Parks.


This is one big messy proverbial can of worms.

See, W. C. Parks, to the best of my knowledge died in 1882. William R. Parks, alleged son of Minnie, was born in 1915.

Umm…last time I checked, gestation only takes 9 months, not 33 years. And seeing as how William R. died in 1994…I’m guessing he wasn’t born 33 years earlier.

So…the possibilities are…in no particular order…

  1. Minnie Lee did have William R., but out-of-wedlock and told him that W. C. was his father. Possible, especially since her last name would have been Parks.
  2. WC didn’t die in 1882. Doubtful. Someone else would have caught that by now, I’m sure. WC was born in 1826 so I’d really doubt he’d be having children in 1915 if he were around. Not impossible but highly, highly unlikely.
  3. It’s a completely different Minnie Lee Varner. Unusual last name, but not impossible. Weird that she’d have married a William Columbus Parks but…I guess stranger things might have happened? Maybe? I know of at least three William Columbus Parks and there are Parks allllllll over the South (and North, for that matter). But Minnie Lee Varner is an unusual name…
  4. My favorite. That old standby…transcription error. Maybe she was actually Minnie Lee Warner or Harner or Horner or something completely different. I mean, James Haney was indexed as James Waney on the 1851 Canadian census and I’ve seen it Harney, Huney, and Harvey. The possibilities are endless. William R. did apparently name his son “William Columbus” who went by “Lum” but…yeah, like that’s a unique name in Texas…*sigh deeply*
  5. Something really weird and slightly shady happened. Like after W.C.’s death, Minnie Lee hooked up with another relative also named William Columbus Parks. Not impossible, and not technically incest…just shady.

And that list is just off the top of my head…

There is a part of me that rejoiced, at first, to see that Minnie did go on and have children of her own. There’s also a part of me rejoicing most mightily at this new challenge. But there’s also a part of me that realizes it’s quite likely Minnie had a bit of a hard life after W.C.’s death, no matter who she is or isn’t the mother of.

If genealogy is boring, you’re not doing it right.

Especially when there are sharks in the water…everywhere…especially where you least expect them. It’s never safe to go back in the water. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.



The Snake

You know how people say, “if it were a snake…” when you find something that’s just that completely obvious?

This is one of those stories.

Now, to be honest I think in the back of my mind I haven’t wanted to believe some of the things I’ve read…and learned…about John Perry Brewer. He was not a nice man, at least what I know of him. I will say that there are, as they say, three sides of the truth. I’m sure he’d have a very different perspective of things. And I’ve tried, really tried to be more objective or at least look at things from a psychological point of view and see how he became the…well, person to be polite, that he was.

He’s one of those not easy to accept relatives. I guess everyone has one.

But all that aside, it was hard to convince me he was who other genealogists said he was.

Let’s go back to the beginning…

Waaaaaaaaaaaay back when I first started this journey, all I knew of him was that his name was Perry Brewer. He was my great-grandmother’s father. She’d been born in the Indian Territory (well, that was close anyway), and they’d lived in a sod home at some point. He had committed some grievous, terrible acts…and she’d left home in a whirlwind, never to look back. Learning what I did later, I don’t blame her. Her mother’s name was Louella Brawton (well, that’s how Grandma spelled it, at any rate), and she’d died when Doshia was just a girl.

Now that I’ve verified that certain cousins are pretty open about the details, I’ll likely get up the nerve to post about all that eventually…

In the meantime, I’ve been looking at proving, or disproving that our “Perry” Brewer is “Elias Brewer,” or as other genealogists have him named, “John Perry Elias Brewer.”

It’s been a long, strange trip.

It’s been long enough that I don’t rightly remember how I found all the details, not step-by-step, at least. I know I was able to locate the family on the census…in Oklahoma and in Missouri. That’s how I discovered that the man we knew as Perry Brewer was going by J.P. Brewer. It was early enough in my genealogy researching days that I was unfamiliar with people using their middle names…ah, good times.

1900 Census Brewer snipSo here we have the 1900 census from Oklahoma. See…his name is apparently John Perry Brewer. And there’s Doshia…and her brothers…and I’m guessing at this point her step-mother, who was the woman responsible for getting Doshia out of Dodge, so to speak. And Mattie was Ida’s daughter by Perry…Grandma knew about them. So it says there that Doshia was born in Missouri so…

Well, as we all know by know, there’s no 1890 census…

*shaking fist futilely at the sky*

We pop down to the Missouri census of 1880 and I was actually able to find the family, well the beginnings of it, anyway…

1880 Missouri Census Brewer SnipAlrighty, then…here’s J.P, Louella, and William. To this day I don’t know who Keziah is. I thought she was J.P.’s mom, but she’s not. She’s not Louella’s mom…I’ve now been down that road (it’s actually spelled Broughton, by the way…). She might belong to the Johnson family next door, there…who might actually be Louella’s brother’s in-laws. I discovered much, much later that her brother Oscar married a Johnson…

You know, that’s an entirely different blog…so keeping my eyes on the prize here, before this gets TOO LONG

It was about this time I stumbled into some of that ridiculously good genealogy luck that hits me periodically. I was subscribed to an awful lot of Rootsweb email lists…man, those were amazing, where I “met” my mom’s cousin in Texas. She was following the same trail I was. And then she introduced me to someone she’d met through Rootsweb as well, William’s granddaughter, Alma.

Alma was the key. She lived driving distance from Oklahoma, and was able to get a whole bunch of amazing information about the now notorious J.P. Brewer. Like newspaper articles and criminal records.

Yeah, criminal records. He was not a nice man.

She also passed on J.P.’s obituary, which gave me even more mythology to track down…

Noted Character Died

At the County Jail (to this City) last Thursday, J. P. Brewer died at the age of 78 years, from a Malaria attack. The deceased was born in Ohio of one of the leading families of that State. When a young man he espoused the cause of Vallandingham; a grievant but erratic lawyer and statesman who was opposed to the prosecution of war and was the only citizen of the United States who was ever banished. Accused of treason, Vallandingham was sent into the Confederate lines, but afterward went to Canada where he remained until the close of the war. At the time of Vallandingham banishment, process was out for Brewer but he escaped and came to the Southwest and joined Quantrell’s band of raiders and participated in all of the engagements of this rugged leader and was a favorite with his commander, who entrusted him with many missions that needed courage, a daring and a level head to discharge. After the close of the War, Mr. Brewer turned his attention to cattle raising and was a rustler on the border, at one time his herds covered a large territory on the Plains. After coming to this country his first fortunes have been fluctuating, sometime being in affluent circumstances and at other times having to resort to all kinds of tactics to get by.

The recent dull times found him largely in debt and his cattle heavily mortgaged. Being unable to reach his obligation the mortgages were foreclosed and possessions seized and sold, leaving him well nigh penniless.

Being a man of quick temper and unyielding and obstinate disposition he made a considerable number of enemies, together with domestic difficulties, resulting in his arrest for larceny for which he was held under bond for his appearance in District Court. His ailment was not considered serious, but his age, together with the confinement, to which his free nature was unaccustomed, led to unfortunate complications, which resulted in his death.

Now, as much as one researcher thought this obituary was written by someone who wasn’t too fond of J.P. the family lore is that it was written by his son, Jesse…who, by my family lore as well as Alma’s, was more partial to J.P. than not. I guess that’s just the way they were…I’ve not been able to prove that his herds ever covered a large territory, but…well, he did get arrested for cattle rustling. So there are definite bits of truth here.


I had a date of birth of 1854 for Perry, which would have made it awfully close to impossible for him to have been involved in the Civil War, at least on a battlefield. Not actually impossible, just close to it. So either I had the wrong date of birth, or this obituary wasn’t all that factual.

I pounded my head for a long time on the Cantrell lead…to no avail at all. Not one list in existence of known Cantrell men or even groups associated with him had a Brewer involved. Not one. Okay, sure, he could be using an alias. At any time. And the birth date could, definitely be wrong. It was hard though, to imagine the man being older. He’d been married several times, the most recent just before his death was in her 30s. Most of them had been mere wisps of girls around the age of 18. I mean, it happened, a lot. But still…

So get to the good part, right?

Alma was absolutely convinced beyond any doubt what-so-ever that our Perry was actually born Elias. Elias P. Brewer. Elias Brewer had a birth date of around 1845-46. Elias Brewer could have certainly fought in the Civil War. Could have.

So then I had to prove it to myself that Elias and Perry were the same person. And if I’d opened my eyes the snake wouldn’t have bitten me in the proverbial. It was in an email Alma sent me ages ago…which I noticed when I was going back over them.

Much like how I was able to track down Albert Foulke’s parents…he’d put down his parents names on a marriage license.


Sometimes other researchers are right. It’s alright. It happens.

So now, armed with that information, I then had a lot of family to add. Because I had his mother’s maiden name as well, Cottrill or Cottrell. That being the case, I was then able to find out that Perry had not one, not two, but lead_largethree uncles who fought in the Civil War, and yes, for the South. Two of them were captured, sent to Alton, and from what I was reading, one of them might have signed loyalty papers and been sent back out to fight for the Union.

I had no idea that was even a thing

I have learned so much history, just doing genealogy…

One of the uncles that was caught was named Elias. I started to understand a little of why Perry’s name changed so much from one day to the next. His mother’s brother was named Elias, his father was John, another relative was Perry. It probably depended who was in the house what his name was on any given day. Poor fellow.

At any rate, I was going through all those fun little shaky leaves on Ancestry with all this stuff rolling around in my head when I came upon a hint that said…Brewer shaky leafWhich I dutifully printed out, and wrote myself a note at the bottom…

“Is this J.P. or his uncle?”

And then I looked at it. And looked at it again. And just one more time…

Uncle Elias who served in the Confederate Army? Was Perry’s mother’s brother. His last name wasn’t Brewer, it was Cottrell.


There’s that snake again, biting me on the…

With the help of the library’s Fold3, I was able to find those records. Fascinating. What I could read of it, anyway. So I won’t be sharing it with you, not because it’s not appropriate or I’m selfish or anything, but because I don’t want any of my readers going blind. Seriously, it’s awful. The print is so faded on some pages, and then there’s the fancy scrolling letters or the spider-on-crack scrawl that likely rendered them illegible before the documents faded. Then they took pictures of them, and then they digitized them…

I visited my mom, and with her invaluable assistance we muddled through a few pages. It comes down to this…Elias P. Brewer claimed that he had been at his parents’ house in Chariton County, Missouri, when Rebel soldiers came along and essentially gave him the choice of coming with them or being hung. So he was conscripted, somewhere around August of 1864. He was caught by Union soldiers less than two months after he was conscripted. He claimed that he never actually fought, and that he was, as he said, completely loyal.

Not everyone bought Perry’s story, and I’m not sure I do either. In December of 1864, the recommendation was that he be banished from the state until the end of the war. I wasn’t able to discern whether that happened or not. If so, I guess he was lucky it ended in April of 1865. I would guess that, after what I’ve read about the prisoner-of-war camps, banishment from the state would have been preferable. It’s hard to say how Perry took it, though.

It’s also hard to say if he was telling the truth.

He was either really bad at fighting or really bad at not getting caught. Either way, he seems to have been terrible at lying.

The moral of this story is to always, always watch for those snakes in your research..although this particular kind of snake bite isn’t bad. I mean, at least I know now, right?






BANG your Head!

This isn’t my first go at this. I think I’ve mentioned before that I started doing genealogy as a hobby ages ago…in my 20s. I eventually got sidetracked with life. You know, that stuff that happens when you’re not doing genealogy? Yeah, that. Got married, new apartment, new job, started a business, closed a business, that sort of thing.

Back then, I was a click-o-phile. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, it’s something online genealogists toss about to refer to armchair genealogists who link every shaky leaf hint from Ancestry without doing any real research…attaching as many trees as they can find. Click-o-philes are often the people who say they researched their family tree all the way back to King Arthur or Julius Caesar or Adam and Eve in two weeks.

I guess, in the back of my head I think of that as a different hobby now. There’s the research-driven genealogy and then there’s the name collecting. *shrug* To each their own, you know? Go ahead, if that’s what you like to do, but I can’t say that it satisfies me. It’s like junk food. I want steak in a fancy restaurant, not greasy burger and fries from a drive through. But that’s me.

Some people live on fast food. If that’s your thing, go for it.

But, for me…

Well, I downloaded SO MANY TREES that were only barely related to me by the farthest thread of the imagination, and merged them into one massive mega-tree that was screeching upwards of 15,000 or more. There’s no way I could have actively researched all those people. I was trying to research. Really I was. And I did, a bit. But when I started back up again this time ’round, I decided that I needed to keep that in check. No more massive trees.

So I made a rule for myself that I would never ever add non-directly related “ancestors” into my tree unless there was a brick wall involved. Like the Welsh family. I reached out quite a bit over there because one of Lucretia’s sisters married a Taylor…so there’s the outside possibility that the infamous Joseph H. Taylor might be related to a family intertwined with the Welsh family. It happens. And that’s a good way to break down a wall.

But for the rest of the family?


No second, third, fourth wives. No children from other wives, in fact, no siblings. I wasn’t going to research them, so I wasn’t going to add them. It just made for too big a tree, and way too many shaky leaves and loose ends.

This tree was going to be different. It was going to be clean, neat, and organized.

***Yes, I can hear all the polished, professional, and hardcore genealogists laughing at me already…and no, I don’t blame you…***

Everything was going along fine until I started going back farther in my mom’s family.

You know, the side that goes back to the Massachusetts colony? Yeah, that.

I sort of expected this sort of thing when I start researching more ardently my mom’s mother’s side from Texas that goes back toward Virginia. After all, the Southern states have that reputation. You hardly hear about the kissing cousins in the North, amirite? Not that it doesn’t happen…just that joke is more likely to be made about Virginia than Massachusetts.

Feel vindicated, Southerners. It definitely happened in the North as well. A lot.

And this is where I start to bang my head, hard, against whatever nearby surface is available. Not the laptop though. I’m crazy not stupid.

The first time was the Colby’s…

Family Wreath 1I started with just one of those three children of Anthony’s there. Because that was my only direct ancestor, right? But as I added people on different lines…not that different, as it all turns out, but that’s a completely different story, working backward I discovered that our family is descended from not one but three of Anthony’s children. Now, I had seen this enough with the royals…yeah, there’s a royal line. It’s a royal pain, too. That’s an entirely different blog right there. But, well, that’s what royals do. You know? I mean, everyone knows about inbreeding and royalty and hemophilia.

Or is that just me?

At any rate, I hadn’t expected this in Massachusetts. I don’t know why. Not enough coffee probably. So I continued on with my same old theory of trying to keep the family small and neat and organized and…

Family Wreath 2You heard that coming, didn’t you? I bet you absolutely knew without a doubt what I absolutely refused to see coming down at me like a hawk after a field mouse. Yep.

And it got worse. Here we have one guy who married two different women, and his daughters who were half sisters went on their merry way, got married and then their children got married. It looks like Christopher and Sarah there are duplicates but they’re not. I stared at this for five minutes, and even tried to merge Christopher only to find out there was no duplicate there.

I need more coffee. A lot more coffee.

Moral of this story is that I guess the tree is just going to be messy and big. There’s just no getting around it.

As a bonus, even though I detest the song…I lived through the 80s and I will confess that I can still sing along with it although I never intentionally listened to it. But it really did seem to fit the over all emotions of my struggle this morning…



It’s Going to be a VERY Late Night

I don’t expect I’ll sleep any time soon. I’m on a genealogy high…

After my smashing success with Daniel Franks and company (my post earlier today would explain that if you missed it…Inch by Inch by Inch by Inch.

I mean, it was a really, really good day. What more could I expect, right? That will was just the perfect example of what I think a will ought to be. Every child named, daughters with their married names, and grandchildren listed by name, even listing off which child’s children they are. I was in heaven. And to think that an obituary might be winging itsway to me as we speak…

Well, as I said, I was over the moon.

But of course I had to tempt fate. Knowing what I’d found on a limb of the tree that was essentially nothing but really cold leads, I thought…well, let’s just pop over and see what’s cooking on that old Foulkes line. So I did. But running on some sort of weird instinct, which has gotten me more leads than I can count honestly, I decided to head over to see what was going on over at Family Search. I don’t know why. I blatantly ignored several shaky leaves on my dad’s tree that I could have sat down and gone through. I wouldn’t have found what I did…so I’m glad I didn’t. I just don’t know why I didn’t.

Except sometimes I think they stand up and scream at me.

To be perfectly and completely honest, I can’t take credit for the find. A cousin of ours, Emma, had found this. A stroke of brilliance. First I’ll warn the reader here that I haven’t seen the actual document on this. I’ve seen the index. I will be ordering it. Don’t you worry about that. I want proof.


Remember, if you will, my last post about the Two Josephs…A Tale of Two Josephs…

I’ll give you a chance to review, refresh, or catch up here.

Okay? Great…

Joseph Edward Foulkes, one of the two Josephs from my tale, is the brother of Albert. I know that for sure now. On his marriage license, he filled out the name of his parents: Joseph Foulkes and Sarah Price.

If that happens to sound familiar, maybe you’ll remember this…

Foulkes Family 1861 Census Shropshire snippetHmm…Joseph, a cabinet maker (which happens to be the career of one Joseph E. Foulkes prior to buying a share of Foulkes and Sons…) his wife Sarah, and their sons Joseph and Albert. Albert, born 1847…let’s see…1861 minus 13 would be 1848 so give or take a couple of months, right? Joseph…born 1853…1861 minus 7…well, 1854. Looks good. Not perfect, but close enough that I “penciled” it in. I’m glad I did. These longshots seem to pan out for me. Why say I this?

Dig the next census…

1851 England Census FoulkesJoseph, his wife Sarah, and there’s Albert and two daughters…Sarah and Mary Ann.

Sarah is a frequent-flyer name in the Foulkes family. But that name is familiar for more than that reason alone.

Biography of Lee County

Biography of Lee County

“Sarah Foulkes, a sister of our subject, is now living in England and a brother, Joseph E. Foulkes, is a resident of Crawfordsville, Indiana.”

Looks like I might have actually tripped over Sarah! Now this family has the right parents’ names, and three of the four children are mentioned in the same document.

If you read this morning’s post, you’ll remember how I kept saying…it was going to get better? Well, this story gets better, too. Because in the same way I discovered that someone else was researching my Frank family I have now discovered that there seems to be someone researching this very same Foulkes family.

And she’s in Liverpool.

If this is, indeed, our Foulkes family, (and there’s every reason to think so at this point in time), then I have got an awesome lead now! There’s a date of death for Joseph AND Sarah Foulkes, as well as details about the rest of Sarah’s life and the sister I didn’t know of, Mary Ann.

Here’s the next part of the quest. I mean, aside from the very obvious getting in touch with all cousins on this line to compare notes…

So far the Biographical Review of Lee County, Iowa is proving itself to be a decent resource. It lead the way to the brother Joseph, and helped me to confirm that I had the right family on the census. The one glitch is that it said Albert was born in Manchester…and if this family is the right family then he would have been born in Liverpool, not Manchester. Could this be a crazy branch? Could there be more than one family in England where all the names and dates line up? Sure it could. Stranger things have happened. But right now I’m banking on this.

I guess I’ll have a better idea if I hear from that cousin in Liverpool. Especially if she’s done or is doing DNA…WOW.

The last item in that book to track down is the “uncle” that Albert lived with when he moved to the United States. I had thought that maybe the book was wrong, and that Albert lived with his brother after first arriving. Doesn’t seem likely now, with his brother being about 7 years or so younger than him. Uncle could be either paternal or maternal as well, giving me two names to look for. Thankfully, I now know the second of those names…

But I already had a lead as far as a potential Foulkes uncle…unfortunately it’s pretty close to illegible…

Uncle Foulkes


I admit I tweaked this a little bit because, well, it’s pretty close to illegible. What I can get out of it is hopeful, however. It’s from the 1870 census in our beloved Keokuk, Iowa. Folks, ? Looks like an H or an M but I wouldn’t rule out W. 35 years old in 1870, so a rough date of birth of 1835. That’s between. Joseph, father of Joseph E. and Albert, was born in 1820. Albert was born in 1847. It’s not that unusual…but I need more. A lot more.

Even if his occupation is “painter.” Coincidence? Or the man who launched Albert on his own career?

It’s going to be a long, long night…

Inch by Inch by Inch by Inch

The trees for my parents couldn’t be more different. My mom’s father’s side goes directly back to the Massachusetts colony…well, everyone but the Haneys who apparently snuck in over the Canadian border, the Welsh family who were hanging out there in the early days of Pennsylvania, and the notorious Joseph H. Taylor. Her mom’s side goes directly back to the Virginia colonies. There is just so much history in those families, and it’s easy to get lost in the massive number of source documents, history books, and family histories. Easy. Really easy. But as far as tracking the actual genealogy, it’s not much of a challenge. I’m discovering things for the first time for our family…but it’s old news as far as the larger picture.

Still, it’s fun. And distracting. Very, very distracting. And there’s so much of it! I can spend hours and hours a day tracking down the source documents. Hours and hours and hours and hours. Mom’s tree now has over 3000 people in it, and I’m intentionally trying to keep it small. It’s not working, but…*shrug*

So I get carried away.

But I really do try to play fair. I’ve talked about that before, back in the early days of the blog…Of Momentary Distractions and Trying to Play Fair, but you know, it doesn’t always work. Especially when there’s just so much more to research in mom’s tree.

Dad’s tree is hard. Hard in that enjoyable way, that we genealogical masochists are prone to love, but still hard. The rewards are slower, harder, but at the same time more rewarding because I did it all myself. His family is, for the most part, the exact opposite of my mom’s.All of them, “recent” immigrants, by which I mean not from any of the colonies, and generally after 1800. Except that one branch of Kunkels who were hanging out in Pennsylvania from the earliest days…and the Frank family who were first seen in Ohio.

And as far as sharing research? Well, no. There’s just not a lot of people working on my dad’s side of the family, and all of them are…well, reasonably closely related. I guess that goes hand in hand with them not being in the USA from it’s very early formation. That side goes back, 4-5 generations or so as opposed to the 10 or more on mom’s side. The few people who are working on the tree are…2nd, 3rd cousins, and they don’t know all that much more than I do about this. There’s no ready-made family history for me to download and just follow-up on source documents.

I’m cooking from scratch on this one.

I can’t say that often with my mom’s tree. Sometimes, but not often. I get so excited when I find even just the smallest little clue in dad’s tree…and a new surname will send me right up over the moon!

What can I say, I’m easily amused.

These days, I’m generally working on my mom’s tree, gathering up the low-hanging fruit and trying to tie up loose ends. Until I get a tickle. Something in the back of my head telling me I need to look somewhere, do something with my dad’s side.

Like yesterday.

I decided it was time to pick at dad’s tree on Ancestry a little bit. To be specific, to poke at the Frank family a little. I want to see if I can track down the elusive possible connection from my Grandma to the DAR. Given that the Jungs were from Prussia, the Erbs from Alsace, and the Foulkes from England…I figured the Frank family from Ohio was my best shot. Yeah, I’ve talked about them before over here…Sidestep and Shuffle.

Take a minute and catch up on that…okay? Ready? Great.

The first thing I have to say about yesterday is that…there is someone else researching the Franks! It looks like she’s descended or at least related somehow to Mary Elizabeth Frank’s youngest brother William. Or Williard.

They're still in Keokuk as of 1880...

They’re still in Keokuk as of 1880…

The two names seem to be interchangeable in the family. Because of this person’s research I was able to verify that yes, I had the right Frank boys on the 1880 census. YAY! I love it when I’m right.

I was also then able to verify that one of the 1880 census I had found for a Daniel M. Frank, a longshot to say the least, in ARKANSAS, was actually Mary Elizabeth’s oldest brother. 1880 Census Daniel Frank


Daniel was, apparently, a bridge tender. I’ve even managed to wrangle the marriage index.

picture-holygrail-bridgeofdeathI’m guessing he wasn’t anything like this guy, but I can’t help myself. I see “bridge tender” and my first thought is…”what is your name…”

But I digress…

I haven’t even gotten to the best part of my search from yesterday yet. I bashed my head against the computer screen quite a bit, trying to do things the “right” way. By that I mean, climbing up the tree instead of down. Logically, I needed to next find Margaret’s maiden name. Given that Mary Elizabeth Frank and Albert Foulkes had named a son Joseph Khunce Foulkes, I figured there’s a pretty good shot at that being a maiden name in the family, maybe even for Margaret. But after beating my head on Ancestry, and then repeating the process with Family Search and not finding anything…I gave up. For the day. The battle is lost, not the war…

So I go back to Ancestry, and decide to be a rebel and look for information on John H. Frank’s parents. After all, I’ve verified that Daniel is probably John’s dad…and Daniel’s son Lewis likely John’s brother. But I don’t have proof.

Or I didn’t. Until yesterday.

*Genealogy happy dance and squeals of delight*


He died in 1862, a scant four years after his son. The bestest part ever though???

Daniel Frank Will snip 1NAMES!!! I’ve got NAMES!!! “I bequeath to my grandson Daniel Frank, son of JOHN FRANK DECEASED.” John H. Frank died in 1858. I’m more than a little optimistic now that my John H. and his son Daniel are the ones that this Daniel is referring to. Also I have a new lead on another grandson by the last name of…completely illegible. Still, I now know that John H. likely had at least one sister. Could it get better? Oh, YES IT COULD!

Daniel Frank Will snip 2Now we’re COOKING! It’s a genealogy FEAST! Just look at this gorgeous beast…”Mary A. Lusk, wife of Robert Lusk”…took me a while to decipher that, but I finally found the marriage information in Ohio. “Elizabeth Notestine, wife of Isaac Notestine” Oh, that was quite the adventure, but in its way easier than “Lusk.” There were only so many variations available. The best part, though…

To the four children of my son John Frank namely Daniel Frank, Mary Frank, John Frank and Willard L. Frank one share (John Frank having in his lifetime rec’d seven hundred dollars) and my daughter Mary A. Lusk one share and to y daughter Elizabeth Notestine one share and to my son Lewis Frank one share (each share is one-fourth).

Shock. Awe. Amazement. This is the BEST will I’ve found yet! John H. Frank, senior most definitely did receive his money during his lifetime as he apparently borrowed money from his father to get back into farming after his train accident. This is definitely our guy.

Here’s the family now. Daniel Frank and his wife, Elizabeth, had four children:

Elizabeth, married name Notestine
Mary A., married name Lusk
John: Our family’s ancestor…

In one document, I’ve now verified everything I’d suspected. Sure, I’d love to have more. I’d love to have birth and death certificates for everyone. And I’m going to keep looking.

But believe it or not, this isn’t even the best part yet.

Apparently, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library has an Obituary Index. Through this obituary index, you can find obituaries that are housed in 60 libraries across the state of Ohio. You can then order those obituaries for…get this…a WHOLE DOLLAR. Well, at least that’s the cost from Wayne County, which happens to be where I found an obituary for…DANIEL FRANK!

I’m excited, but cautious. Joseph H. Taylor’s obituary from 1859 gave me absolutely nothing in the way of details, so it’s quite possible I could get my hopes up and be squashed on the rocks of despair. But yes, I ordered it…at 8:30 at night! All I can do now is wait…

But, no, that’s not even the best part. Because I found Elizabeth’s married name of Notestine (also spelled Notestein), I was able to find her death certificate. And on her death certificate?

A maiden name for her mother, Elizabeth HORNISH.

Granted, it could be wrong. It all depends on how much Elizabeth Notestine’s son knew about his grandmother. But it’s a lead. A good, solid lead. It took forever to get here. It was slow, it was tedious, it was most certainly inch-by-inch, dragging the information out into the light of day, but I did it.

And I am over the moon.






Desperately Seeking Susannah

I mentioned that I had fallen down a rabbit hole, right?

To be truthful there have been several over the last year. I’m fairly certain there will be several more as well. But this is the story about one particular rabbit hole and the Big Shiny Object I chased right down it.

This particular story starts off many years ago, around fifteen to be particular. Right before I got married and distracted with daily life. It was the early days of the Internet, and the very early days of genealogy on the Internet. Still, there were those who had beat me to it.

One of them was a relative through my mom’s Andrews family. She’d done all kinds of research and dangled it before me. She was going to share so much information! We met each other on one of the Rootsweb email lists. Those were great fun. Her tree was up on a different website, not Ancestry, and I balked at paying for yet another site. But they had this lovely option where you could work for access–do a little transcribing, get a little time.

I managed to find her tree, and download it. I thought.

And in her email to me, she teased me, terribly, with one of those “you’re not going to believe it” messages. We had a witch in the family. A WITCH!

I still hear this in Aunt Petunia’s voice from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Because why wouldn’t I, right?

HarryPotter1-10The irony here is that, as a child (seriously, from the age of 9 forward) I was obsessed with the supernatural. With witches, vampires, even the Loch Ness Monster. But I never had a moment’s interest in the Salem Witch Trials. Innocent women were accused and killed, end of story. Booooorrrrrrrrring. When many people I knew were obsessed with it, reading book after book about the trials, about the different theories on what made the girls go nuts, even after the movie version of the Crucible came out with Winona Ryder starring…I had absolutely no interest. Zero.Zilch. Nada. Zip. Nichts. None.


Funny how those interests change dramatically when you discover a person interest, a connection, to the subject matter.

Her name is Susannah North Martin. And I spent hours looking her up online. Hours and hours.

In all that web-surfing (which I referred to as research back in those days), I found this fabulous page from Rootsweb, “Notable Women Ancestors.” And there I found two pages dedicated to Susannah North Martin…with good reason.

Man, was she feisty!

The Trial of Susannah North Martin

Goody Martin Trial snipHow could you not adore that woman? She’s standing there, accused of witchcraft, the sentence of which could easily lead her to death…and she laughs. She laughs! Why? Because she thought that those girls, those panic-stricken, shrieking, screaming, accusing girls were full of nonsense. She knew better. She was no witch, and anyone saying so was lying, crazy, or having a laugh.

As I discovered, most of her attitude was because she’d been accused before…and absolutely nothing had come of it. But times had changed. We all know the end of the story. Susannah Martin was hung, along with others, in Salem on July 19, 1692 right along side Rebecca Nurse.

Guess what happened next. Go on! GUESS!!!!

I lost her.

No seriously, I lost her. I lost the chart I’d downloaded from the website my cousin had been on. I lost that website–I think they merged in with another one. I was on my own and looking for a connection that I wasn’t even sure existed. I wanted to be related to Goody Martin…I really did. Because that woman had spunk.

Goody Martin Trial snip 2I mean, this is a thing of beauty. “I do not desire to spend my judgment upon it.”

She told that Magistrate off. This was my kin, I just knew it. She had to be, right? Yeah, but proving it…that’s a completely different story. I had no idea where she would be in the tree to begin with. I knew of no Martins or Norths at all to follow. I was lost. But I was determined.

But this is where things get really confusing.

At first, I thought that because I’d not seen hide nor hair of anyone with those family names in the Andrews family, it must be on the Parker side. I spent a lot of time researching the Parker side and…well…I was wrong. There was no sign of Susannah on the Parker side. However that is where I found the Bodwell/Bodvel family and the pirate. That’s a completely different rabbit hole. I’ll get to that some other time.

Funny how one rabbit hole can lead to another…and I end up in a bizarre labyrinth of rabbit holes

I’m sure you understand there were an awful lot of Big, Bright, Wonderful Shiny Objects between there and here. But I found her.

And in doing so I found two other witches directly related, and that we descend from Susannah North Martin not once but twice. Welcome to our family wreath.

Perley Andrews, born 1783 married a lady by the name of Elizabeth Muzzy…whose last name has about a gazillion different spellings and there are more than enough Elizabeths in the world. Seriously. Fortunately, Perley as a first name sort of stands out in a crowd.

It’s through the Muzzy family that I finally found Susannah.

Line one goes like this: George and Susannah Martin had several children, but I’m going to talk about two daughters in particular. The first was Jane, who was born 1656. She married a fellow by the name of Samuel Hadley. They then turned around and had a son that they, of course, named Samuel Hadley because…why wouldn’t you confuse future genealogists? That second (or maybe 20th they had a tendency to reuse names) Samuel Hadley married Dorothy Colby. Their son…ready for it? SAMUEL (*sigh*) married Judith Flanders…and their daughter was also named Judith but at least she was a Hadley. Only slightly confusing, right? So Judith daughter of Judith married John Muzzy…and had a son named…of course…John Muzzy.

John Muzzy married Elizabeth Colby.


Ouroboros…yeah, that’s this tree alright…

Did you notice that? Elizabeth Colby. Yeah. There’s that family wreath I’m talking about. It’s like that snake that eats its own tail…

John Muzzy and Elizabeth Colby had a daughter named Elizabeth Muzzy, because again, they wanted to confuse me. Elizabeth did me the favor of marrying Perley Andrews, not another Daniel, Thomas, or Samuel. Honestly, there are enough of all the above in the Andrews side of the family. Thankfully we’re descended from Samuel Stillman Andrews who tended to use the name Stillman. If I ever meet the man, I’ll have to thank him for that. Both Stillman and Perley are pretty easy to find in the crowd, and at this point I’m thankful for small blessings.

But wait! I’m not done…yet. As it turns out, we’re related to Goody Martin again.

Note: For this post, I actually had to bring this up in Legacy and write it out because I kept confusing myself…*sigh*

Susannah and George Martin had another daughter named Esther. Esther married John Jameson, who makes me think of Spiderman, but that’s a different squirrel altogether.

Their daughter, Jane Jameson married Thomas Nichols. Thomas and Jane had a daughter they named Anna…such rebels, I tell you…Anna married Samuel Colby. I warned you, didn’t I? Their son, Gideon, married a lady by the name of Elizabeth Tucker and their daughter was…have you guessed yet?

Elizabeth Colby.

You just can’t make stuff like this up.







Right Under my Nose

Researching the Wooster family has taught me some very, very valuable lessons.

First, always Google your ancestors. No, seriously, always. I was doing this for some of the pre-colonization of America through to medieval research…after all, proving those relations isn’t really as dependent on birth, death, and marriage certificates. Census records? Pfft. Forget about it! If you’re lucky, you’ll find dusty tomes in an English you can maybe understand, forgotten dried ledgers from churches, and the occasional academic tome. So Google is definitely your friend there. I’m not about to take the word of every Ancestry ready-made tree that’s been thrown together in 3 weeks or less. Sorting out who has done their research and who hasn’t often takes longer than just doing the research myself, which is extremely satisfying…

So, yeah, I Google. A lot.

But not so much on recent genealogy. I mean, let’s face it, my people are no one. Historically insignificant. I will admit here that they’re not generally farmers except, of course, inasmuch as everyone was a farmer to a certain point back then. Refrigeration hadn’t been created yet, you could forget about tv dinners and frozen vegetables…let alone canned. If it was canned, it was because you’d done it yourself. But, at least on my mom’s side, the ancestors I’ve found have been primarily tradesmen; blacksmiths, bricklayers, masons, teamsters, laborers, grocers.

Still, not exactly historically important. Important to me, sure, but no big mark left on humanity.

Googling then, wasn’t so important. I don’t know why I decided to go out on a limb and try it for the Woosters. Desperation, I guess.

I had gotten to the point where I had no leads at all, and I as pretty much randomly searching for Woosters in Indiana and Kentucky. After all, that’s where I had found Robert. The way families migrated I had a vague hope that maybe someone else in the family had come to Indiana as well.

And as an aside, I quickly learned that there is no Brackello county in Kentucky. The closest I found was Bracken. Another close-but-not-quite clue from that cousin of my mom’s…

First thing I found then, was this fellow in a different county in Indiana. 1850 Census Hugh WoosterIt’s a different county. Not too far, but far enough that I can’t say anything for sure. And Pennsylvania? New Jersey? Probably not. But still. There’s something about this family…and Robert did have a son he named Hugh. So I saved it to see if it fit somewhere else later. Like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s the wrong shade of blue for the sky, but maybe it’ll work for the mailbox…

Ah, but wait…

There’s a marriage license for Hugh Worster and Priscilla Rosanna Hanby in…yep…Bracken County, Kentucky. Two years before the birth of Robert.

Now I think I’m on to something. Maybe. Hugh’s 1840 census isn’t going to tell me a lot, being it’s all hash-marks and how many of whom is in the household. No names, no real dates.

And then.

Ah, Ancestry, you give me the strangest hints…things I never would have picked up in a million, zillion years…

There’s a marriage in Iowa. Yes, in Iowa. In Keokuk, no less. For a Hugh Worster and Rebecca Becks in 1857.


1857? Alright, has to be a different Hugh Worster, right? RIGHT??!!??

Because there’s no way that William Curtis’ grandfather could have been in Keokuk, Iowa all this time without my ever even knowing it. Right?

Yeah…about that.

So I Google.

Fayette County IN snippet James WorsterYou know, it seems like there’s a history book for every county in every state in the Union. Some of them have two or three, even. This particular excerpt comes from the History of Fayette County. That’s an abbreviated title…the actual title goes on for about a year or so.

Gotta love Google. Not only does it lead you to web pages, but to actual books.

This reference isn’t necessarily to Hugh, or even to Robert or William Curtis. Normally, James wouldn’t be on my radar at all. And from Pennsylvania? I’ve never actually seen a migration trail from Pennsylvania to Kentucky. Not that I know everything, far from it, but that struck me as a little odd.

And yet. There we have this Reverend Robert Worster who did just that. Went from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, and then into Indiana. And thanks to this little publicity piece on James Worster, I know some names of his children. Sarah, Daniel, James, Margaret, Hugh, Nellie, Jennie, and Thomas.


Could Hugh be the son of Reverend Worster? It certainly fits…right age, right locations. Of course, I know from my experience with the Foulkes that these little history books aren’t always perfectly accurate. They’re fine leads, though, and a good way to tiptoe around walls instead of smashing them.

Well, there’s a bit to tie up. Need some certificates and some more concrete documentation. Right now it’s allllllll circumstantial. I have almost no birth certificates. I’ve got marriage certificates and proof of death, mostly via tombstones. They all were born in, married in, or died in the same areas. They have common names of children…recurring Thomas, Jefferson, and Hugh. But I don’t even have Hugh living with Reverend Robert, not by name at least because the sons weren’t listed by name on the 1820 census I was able to find. I don’t have Hugh on a census living in the same household as his theoretical son Robert. I do have William Curtis living with Robert though, so that’s something.

These men also share another trait after the good Reverend. Most of the brothers, or the men I think are brothers at least, were in some sort of trade–literally listing occupation as “trades” or grocer. Also, it would seem most or all of them were involved with their local Mason Lodge. Which gives me another lead to track down.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, as always with these things. Genealogy is, after all, the hobby that never ends…

(yes it goes on and on my friend…)

Now for today’s bizarre coincidence, bordering on freaking me out, man.

First, a review. William Curtis Wooster married Fidelia Rebecca Taylor, daughter of the infamous brickiest-of-brick walls, Joseph H. Taylor. Joseph’s wife, Lucretia Welsh, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. I haven’t really posted much about her…I’ll get there yet. The point is, both she and her oldest sister wound up in Keokuk, Iowa, of all places. Her sister, Eleanor, married a prominent surgeon, physician, and all-around popular fellow by the name of Dr. D. L. McGugin. Seriously, he was like the “House, M.D.” of the early Victorian period. Well, maybe nicer. I hope.

Hugh Worster, whether-or-not he’s William’s grandfather, did die in Keokuk, Iowa. He was there fairly early on, as well, as his second marriage took place in 1857.

Once I knew to look for him, I found him, alright. Right. Under. My. Nose. Because that’s the SECOND lesson I’ve learned from the Wooster/Worster clan. They’re always in the last place you look. Check where everyone else is before looking everywhere else. And the third thing I’ve learned is that Grandma was most definitely correct. You couldn’t throw a stone down a street in Keokuk without hitting a relative.

The 1860 census for Keokuk, Iowa, Ward 1. Hugh is there, with his new wife and step-son, Lewis…

1860 Census Hugh WorsterHe’s at house # 546.

Then there’s Thomas J. (probably Jefferson, but might be James or John as well…)

1860 Census Thomas WorsterWith his wife, Sarah Raplee Worster, and children…there’s that Charles and Edward again. They’re at 136. House #137 is the Raplees, I’m assuming they’d be Thomas’ in-laws. But at #138…

1860 Census DL McGuginYep, that’s Dr. McGugin himself. Two doors down, give-or-take. Thomas’ nephew (if he is who I think he is) and Dr. McGugin’s niece would marry…sixteen short years later. Did they know each other well enough to have met their families?

Well, they knew each other well enough to do business together, it would seem. At least for Thomas to be a patient of Dr. McGugin. According to the probate, Thomas Worster owed Dr. McGugin a whole $7.50.

Bill for Thomas Wooster in McGugins probateIf this is the same Thomas, that is. It stands to reason, to a certain extent, that if you had a neighbor who was a doctor, that’s who you’d see…right? This haven’t changed that much.

It’s not conclusive, of course. And interesting to note that here it’s spelled Wooster. Those two spellings were interchangeable at the time…so I’m no closer one way or the other.

And the strangest part? The Welsh family was from…Washington County, Pennsylvania. The same county that Reverend Robert Worster left for Kentucky, and eventually, Indiana. Did their families know each other before? Was it coincidence? Did it ever come up in conversation? I may never know…or it might turn out to be the link that helps me, once and for all, find Joseph H. Taylor’s parents. Or not.


I am, however, keeping my Wooster/Worster collection. I think I know where everyone goes now, I just have to prove it. And I’m never ignoring another…well, any family name…again.