Independent

“Yeah? Me, too. I’m…whatever you said. Independent.”–Rudolph in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964)

Advertisements

After 39 years of living with an accountant (31 of them, a CPA) I’ve heard more than enough about “being independent.” In the accounting world, it has to do with auditors not having their

“integrity, objectivity, or professional skepticism” (3.03b, p. 27) compromised, “so that their opinions, findings, conclusions, judgments, and recommendations will be impartial and viewed as impartial by reasonable and informed third parties.” (3.04, p. 27-28)

“Government Auditing Standards”. 2011. U.S. GAO. https://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587281.pdf. [Accessed 4 Jul. 2019].

Reports or financial statements impacted by that requirement include a statement about being independent at the bottom; or one informing the reader the accountant was NOT independent with regard to that particular company. Not being independent isn’t necessarily a problem, but readers are alerted that maybe they should make further inquiries before relying on or acting on the financial information.

Genealogy isn’t that much different, with Genealogy Standards (Second Edition) providing the necessary guidelines. It’s published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, but the introduction makes it very clear the standards apply to everyone — not just those who are certified, accredited, or professional:

These standards apply to all genealogical research, whether shared privately or published . . . personal research and research for clients, courts, and other employers.

Genealogy Standards. 2019. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Board for Certification of Genealogists, p. xix.

The five standards guiding our research are:

  • Reasonably exhaustive research — “one and done” won’t work
  • Complete source citations — if I don’t know where my information is from, how can I assess it?
  • Testing, analyzing and correlating everything — sources, information, conclusions
  • Resolving conflicts — “wishing away” inconvenient information doesn’t cut it, either
  • Constructing a coherent, well-reasoned conclusion based on the best evidence available.

Reading through the standards, nowhere do we see the term “independent,” yet it’s an underlying concept through throughout. Researchers should

not allow bias, preference, or preconception to affect their choices of information to collect and not collect. They suspend judgment about the information’s effect on the research question until after they have collected sufficient relevant information, analyzed it, and compared it to other findings.

ibid., p. 18, standard 27

Remaining “independent” when researching someone else’s family is a little easier than when working on my own. The separation I have from “those guys” allows for clearer, less biased thinking than when working on “my guys.” Nevertheless, I try really hard to put on my “Joe Friday” fedora and stick to “just the facts,” instead of what I wish was there!

Researching Mike’s ancestors, I basically started from scratch. No one had done any research on either branch of his tree, so I had no preconceived notions or existing theories. Staying independent wasn’t really that hard. All I needed to do was start with the few facts I knew, and follow the trail backwards. At least, that’s the theory.

I began with John Joseph Carmody’s second wife, Mildred B. Fitzgerald (Mike’s grandmother). I had Mildred’s name from my father-in-law’s death certificate. In DNA, I followed her mother’s line up to Mike’s Crockett/Creighton DNA match. Of course, Mildred had a father, too. Her death certificate¹ tells us his name was Ashley Fitzgerald, born in Canada, and her mother, Eliza English, born in Michigan. Her parents’ names are confirmed in both of Mildred’s marriage records:

  • 13 July 1921, in Bay City, to John Joseph Carmody²
  • 1 January 1908, in Port Huron, to Gordon E. Marshall³

Her father’s (Ashley’s) marriage4 to Eliza English on 10 April 1886, in Elgin, Ontario, Canada, listed his parents as Frederick and Maud Fitzgerald. It also provided a middle initial of “C” for him. His death certificate on 8 April 1931 expanded that out to “Cooper.” His father was listed there with just initials: “F.J.” but we got a maiden name for his mother: Maud Varcoe. She variously used “Maud,” “Augusta Maud,” “Augusta,” throughout her life.

Ashley and Eliza were found in the 1901 Canadian census5, with Mildred, her siblings, and Eliza’s mother, Isabella. It’s always helpful when widowed parents show up in the census to confirm it’s the right family! I’m not going to detail all the records found for Ashley (children’s birth registers, censuses, etc.), but most are consistent for him, using his middle initial, or the full name, and reporting ages within a birth range of 1865-1867.

So far, I’ve not found him in the 1891 Canadian census, but he may have still been in the USA at that time. Mildred was born in Ohio in December, 1890. An unmarried Ashley and his parents appeared in Sarnia, Ontario6 1881, though. His mom was Augusta Maud in that list, and her widowed mother, Jane Varcoe, was living with them. Another generation proposed! His father, Frederick, was a painter, consistent with Ashley’s eventual trade. I had another indication I was on the right track.

Aged 14 in 1881, Ashley should definitely have been in the 1871 census, but no matter how creatively I searched, I couldn’t find the family. I tabled it for a while. Months later, I saw a hint for a Michigan divorce record for an Ashley Cooper Fitzgerald. I was at home, without Ancestry access, so had to wait for a trip to the library to follow up. My next trip there, I searched for a database I knew had Ashley, then looked at the suggested records list for quick access to the divorce in question. I know, I was being lazy, but I knew it would work, and I’d neglected to write down the exact database title.

So I’m scanning down the list of suggestions, when my eyes catch “1871 Canadian Census Ashley Flynn.” I did a double-take, and briefly wondered what kind of party they were having in the Ancestry databases offices. Where did they get that name? I fully expected it to be some weirdly off the wall suggestion. Should I even waste my time?

Remember, though, we are talking this week about being independent: eliminating bias and preconceived notions, suspending judgment. I braced myself for a laugh and then clicked through to it.7 There he was, 3-year-old Ashley Flynn, a 21-year old widowed, Maud Flynn, and a 56-year-old widowed Jane Varcoe. It sure looked like my people!

Simplified ancestor tree for Mildred Belle Fitzgerald. The right side you’ve seen before, in DNA. The paternal line for Ashley is different than it was when I thought Frederick John Fitzgerald was his father.

No wonder I couldn’t find Maud, Frederick, and Ashley in the 1871 census — they were not a family, yet! Further searches turned up the marriage record for Augusta Maud and her first husband, John Flynn, in 1866. Her marriage to Frederick John Fitzgerald in 1874 finally found its way online, but at the time, it wasn’t available. Had I found it earlier, I would have realized they married six years after Ashley’s birth, though I still wouldn’t have had a clue what the surname of the first husband was.

What do I know about the relationship between Ashley and Frederick? Not much, really. I don’t really know whether Ashley was adopted by him, or not. The census record shows Ashley only as “son,” not “adopted” or “step.”

My gut feeling, though, is that they had a good relationship, based on the fact that Ashley went on to work in the same profession as Frederick. I assume Ashley “apprenticed” under his stepfather, learning the trade, and spending time together. Unless a diary or letter turn up, that’s the best we can do.

In the meantime, I will continue to employ independent thinking when researching! By the way, the divorce record that triggered my discovery was for his son by a second wife I hadn’t found yet. But that’s another story . . .

#52Ancestors


¹”Michigan Death Records, 1921-1947″, database, Michigan Historical Society, Seeking Michigan (seekingmichigan.org), accessed 8 July 2019, entry for Mildred B. CARMODY, 37, 14 September 1928, citing Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan, registered no. 355 [written].

²”Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 6 July 2019, citing Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; 1921 Midland-1921 St. Joseph, film number 158, record # 16709. John J. CARMODY (54) and Mildred B. MARSHALL [FITZGERALD] (30).

³”Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 27 December 2015, citing Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics,1907 Montcalm – 1907 Wayne, film number 93, record # 10124. Gordon E. MARSHALL (21) and Mildred B. FITZGERALD (18).

4“Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 27 December 2015, entry for Ashley C. FITZGERALD and Eliza ENGLISH, 10 April 1886, citing Ontario, Canada, Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1928. MS932, reel 53, certificate 002734, no. 52. Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

51901 census of Canada, population schedule, Sarnia, Lambton (West), Ontario, e.d. 79; family # 246, page 24 (written); line 39; Ashley G. FITSGERALD household; accessed 7 July 2019, citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-6428 through T-6556. Ashley G. FITZGERALD, age 34; digital image, Ancestry.com, Canada (https://www.ancestry.com).

61881 census of Canada, population schedule, London East, Middlesex East, Ontario, e.d. 167; page 65 (written); line 20; John FITZGERALD household; accessed 28 June 2018, citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm C13162 through C13286. Ashley FITZGERALD, age 14; digital image, Ancestry.com, Canada.

71871 census of Canada, population schedule, Ward 3, London, Ontario, e.d. 10; page 95 (written); line 20; Jane VARCOE household; accessed 28 June 2018, citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm C-9906. Ashley FLYNN, age 3; digital image, Ancestry.com, Canada (https://www.ancestry.com).

Nurture

Christmas, 1958. Gerald Bauman and Mike.

Google dictionary gives us this definition: ¹

  • Verb: care for and encourage the growth or development of.
  • help or encourage the development of.
  • cherish (a hope, belief, or ambition).
  • Noun: the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.
  • upbringing, education, and environment, contrasted with inborn characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.

The definition describes only a fraction of what’s involved in nurturing. Are there people who have no one to nurture them? Sadly, yes. Are there others not being nurtured by those who should be nurturing them, but have others come into their life and provide what’s necessary? Fortunately, yes!

I think there’s another group, though, who are nurtured, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, find themselves feeling unnurtured. It can have a lifelong effect. I think my father-in-law may fit in that category.

Now, I’ll admit I’m skating on really thin ice, here! I never met the man— he died 3 years and a day before I married his son. Mike and I knew each other when his father died, but we weren’t dating, yet. Other than a few photos and documents, most of what I know about him is second hand.

You already met Gerald Bauman in Where There’s a Will. His mother, Mildred Fitzgerald Carmody, died a month after his birthday, and Jerry (yes, it’s “G” for his full name, “J” for the nickname!) was adopted by his first cousin, Anna Carmody, and her husband, Frank Bauman.

Anna and Frank married 13 January 1919, in Toledo, Ohio.² Frank was 9 years older than Anna. She had been married before, to a Julius Klammer and was granted a divorce from him 30 March 1918, on grounds of desertion.³ There’s more to his story, but that’ll be another day.

Julius and Anna married in 1908.4 I found a potential Julius in the WWI draft registration in 1917 who listed a “wife and child.”5 I never knew them to have children, but could this be my Anna? Did they have a child I don’t know about, or did he simply make up a child to appear less draftable? Maybe. There were a lot of unanswered questions, so I went digging.

The 1920 census doesn’t show any child in the household of the recently married Anna and Frank. It seems unlikely to me Julius would desert Anna and take a child with him. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s also possible this is a different Julius Klammer, but the name is distinct enough, I think not. I haven’t noticed others. I had trouble finding Julius and Anna in the 1910 census, but obsessive creative searching located them in Flint (NOT Port Huron or Detroit—more obvious places). 1910 was the second (and last) census where married women were asked how many children they HAD and how many were currently LIVING. Anna had one—and zero.6 Now that I had a new location for them, a search at SeekingMichigan.org found their son, Bernard, who died New Year’s Day, 1910, little more than a month before his first birthday.

So, why does that backstory matter to Jerry? As best I can tell, Anna and Frank had no biological children. The opportunity to adopt Jerry in 1928 was probably a dream come true—an answer to Anna and Frank’s prayers. He is the only child in their household for the 19307 and 19408 censuses.

Gerald Alfred [Carmody] Bauman, about 1930. This is probably his first set of wheels. The image is a trimmed-down (probably for a picture frame) “RealPhoto” postcard.

Nothing I’ve heard from Mike about Anna and Frank suggested that Jerry had any negative feelings for them. Presumably he was properly nurtured by them, and did maintain a relationship for a time with his older brothers, Michael and Joseph, placed with other families after Millie’s death.

Unfortunately, another untimely death complicated things. Frank Bauman died 18 July 1936 of “carcinoma—hepatic” when Jerry was only 8. That left Anna a widow in the middle of the Depression. How she made ends meet, I don’t know, but she and Jerry continued to live in Port Huron, with extended Carmody relations nearby—including Jerry’s birth father.

In 1940, death landed on Jerry’s doorstep, again. This time it was his adoptive mother, Anna. Some time that spring, she was diagnosed with kidney problems. She died 4 November 1940, of chronic nephritis that had been diagnosed 6 months earlier. Being widowed and in ill health, she presumably spent time that spring and summer making arrangements for 12-year-old Jerry’s care, if she were to die.

We don’t know who she approached to take him in. His oldest brother, Michael, was just turning 18, so really wouldn’t have been in a position to be able to take care of Jerry. There were numerous older half siblings (from John Joseph’s first wife) in Port Huron. They might have have been potential guardians for him, but none agreed to serve as such.

They ranged in age from 57 to 42, so some were already empty nesters, the others still dealing with their own teenagers. Either group may not have wanted to add another person to the mix. The Depression was also still going strong, so it’s possible those families really didn’t have the wherewithall to feed and clothe a teenage boy. If they were barely scraping by, another person might have been too much to take on.

Unfortunately, Jerry’s biological father, John Joseph Carmody, had died 4 January that year, of brachio pneumonia, almost age 78. At that age, he certainly wouldn’t have been able (or expected) to take Jerry in, but would he have been able to convince one of his other children to do so? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not. But he died before Anna knew she was sick, so was of no help.

Bottom line, Anna was unable to find someone to agree to take Jerry in. Her will named Rollin B. Stocker executor and guardian for Jerry. Jerry spent time at the Starr Commonwealth (a children’s home, still in existence) in Albion, Michigan. This, of course uprooted him from his school and friends in Port Huron.

Actually, I never knew the home’s name, and had always thought it was in St. Clair, a town about 12 miles “down river” from Port Huron— not 160 miles away! Jerry graduated from the St. Clair High School, so I assumed it was there, and no one told me differently. Fortunately, we just spent two weeks cruising to and from Hawaii with Mike’s brother and his wife, so we had several conversations where the guys were able to “compare notes” about their memories. Each had heard (or maybe remembered?) different details from their dad. It wasn’t necessarily contradictory information, just different. Mike’s brother mentioned foster homes— something else I had never heard! Presumably the last one was in St. Clair.

Obviously, being orphaned had a huge impact on Jerry. According to Mike, his dad felt anger and resentment that none of the Carmodys took him in after Anna died. We don’t know how much Jerry did or didn’t know about Anna’s search for a replacement family for him. Maybe he heard all the details, or maybe she gave him only the Cliff Notes version.

Realistically, if you’re a 12-year-old kid about to be orphaned, it doesn’t really matter how good the reasons might be—or not be—for the adults around you not to take you in. All that matters is that you are losing your last parent, and no one wants you. You are feeling unwanted, unloved, and definitely not feeling nurtured! It’s a hard enough age under the best of circumstances—and his certainly weren’t the best!

I don’t know that Jerry had any animosity towards Stocker; he was just a man doing his job. He looked out for Jerry and his interests (assets held until adulthood). He wasn’t family, though, and didn’t make up for them.

Gerald Bauman high school photo. On the back, I’d written “Class of 1945” because that’s what I’d been told. That year needs investigation, though.

Jerry left high school early to join the Army, 5 November 1945 (age 17), and was honorably discharged 12 May 1947. He was awarded his high school diploma 11 June 1947, though he has the programs for all the Commencement activities (19 May-7 June, 1946) and the Honors Convocation held 28 May. He was already in the Army, so couldn’t have attended any of them. Someone must have saved those for him.

He and moved to Detroit shortly after his 1947 graduation. He didn’t keep in touch with the Port Huron Carmodys. Both full brothers had also moved away: Michael to Seattle, and Joseph to Pennsylvania, so he didn’t have a particular reason to stay in Port Huron. Since the three brothers hadn’t been raised together, I don’t know how much they kept in contact with each other as adults. Nor did Jerry reestablish contact with his Carmody half siblings, as an adult. That wound from his youth never fully healed, and was clearly expressed to Mike, as an older teen. His feelings mirror his father’s, in not wanting to connect with the descendants of these families. I’m not sure if that will extend to the Carmody descendants still in Ireland, but I’ll cross that bridge when I actually locate some!

This whole story makes me sad, though. Everyone has lost out, due to this rift. I’m not about to lay blame on anyone—not Anna, not the Carmody relatives, and certainly not Jerry—aged 12 or 40-something. People made the decisions they felt they had to, and were entitled to the feelings they had.

Perhaps as time passes, the emotions will mellow and dissipate. In the meantime, I need to look into getting whatever records might be available from both Starr Commonwealth and the high school. Hopefully, information from one or both institutions will answer lingering questions Mike and his brother may have regarding their dad’s life.

#52Ancestors


¹https://www.google.com/search?q=nurture+definition

²Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, index and images, accessed 8 March 2019, citing Lucas County, Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, FHL microfilm 004260731, image # 00171, reference ID it 1 p 273 No. 32685, image # 00165 of 333. Frank M. BAUMAN (39) and Anna B. KLAMMER (30); FamilySearch.

³Wayne County, Michigan, Circuit Court, In Chancery, divorce file No. 60,848 (30 March 1918) Anna KLAMMER v. Julius KLAMMER, decree of divorce; Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Detroit. Copy obtained from estate files of Gerald Bauman.

4“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925”, database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Record Search (https://familysearch.org), accessed 8 May 2019, citing Port Huron, Saint Clair, Michigan, reference n.g., citing FHL microfilm 2342682, image# 534, citing Secretary of State, Department of Vital Records, Lansing. Julius KLAMMER (21) and Anna CARMODY (20).

5“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Julius KLAMMER, serial no. 1527, order no. 381, Draft Board Ward 4 Precinct 3, Wayne County, Michigan; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1,613,195; accessed 8 May 2019. Registered 5 June 1917.

61910 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, Genesee, Flint, e.d. 17; Page 6B; dwelling number 110; family number 121; line 79; Charles A. NORGET household; accessed 12 May 2019. Julius KLAWMER [KLAMMER], age 23, boarder; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 642; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron, 10 precinct, e.d. 74-41; Page 1B; dwelling number 25; family number 25; line 73; Frank M. BOWMAN [BAUMAN] household; accessed 12 May 2019; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1025; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

81940 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, St. Clair, Port Huron, ward 10, e.d. 74-29; Page 1B; household number 12; line 42; Anna BAUMAN household; accessed 12 May 2019. Anna BAUMAN, age 52, widowed; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1815; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Out of Place

“Being lost is worth the being found.” -Neil Diamond

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ancestors and family members end up “out of place” for a wide variety of reasons. It seems mine have have used a good many of them. Sometimes it makes them difficult to find; other times it makes them impossible to locate!

Sometimes we don’t know to look somewhere else until we find their children’s birthplaces. The Kranz brothers (grand uncles, Ed and Adam) hid out farming in Iowa for about six years (In the News). Without later census records showing the Iowa birthplaces for some of their children, I’d never have thought to look there, though. The rest of their lives had been spent in the Chicago area.

The census isn’t always a help, though. I still haven’t located Uncle Iggy Schweiger in the 1920 or 1930 census records (Bachelor Uncle). It just occurred to me that his brother, Leo (Black Sheep), is also AWOL in the 1930 census. Had the brothers thrown in together for a time? Maybe. There’s no family lore to support that, but it might be possible. Of course, Uncle Leo decided to mix it up a bit, by breaking off communication with the family some time after 1942. That is definitely a time-honored way of being “out of place.”

Residing in a different, but nearby, town also makes people hard to find. I knew Jacob Meintzer (my 3rd great grandfather’s brother in Ten) existed, and had a houseful of kids. He wasn’t living in the same town as his brother, though, so it wasn’t until I accidentally ran across him in a neighboring town in the Alsatian census that I could piece him together, better. Whether he emigrated with his family to the Odessa region of Russia is still up for grabs, as is the possibility of later generations emigrating to the Dakotas. His line is still a little bit lost.

A fairly complete database of Civil War soldiers and sailors exists (with that name), so you would think Mike’s Kukler ancestor (Family Legend) would be there. Nothing found under Kukler, nor any of the other surnames married into that line. The military records coughed up a different Kukler — Frank E. — serving during/after the Spanish American War. I have no clue who he is and if/how he connects. So I have someone not where I’m expecting him and another who shouldn’t be in the records. Brilliant!

Sometimes we find someone out of place, but we don’t know the “why” that goes with it. Case in point: Christoph (Grandpa) Meintzer in Arkansas in the 1910s (So Far Away). There’s more to that story, but I don’t know what it is. Without his postcard from Arkansas, I wouldn’t even know there’s a story I’m missing.

Sometimes the “why” shows up later. I was puzzled by the marriage of John Joseph Carmody & Mildred Fitzgerald (Mike’s grandparents) 100 miles away from Port Huron, in Bay City, Michigan. They weren’t teenagers sneaking away from parents. They weren’t traveling to a place with easier marriage requirements. As I learned more about John Joseph’s involvement with transporting harness racing horses (Unusual Source), it made more sense. Numerous newspaper articles and ads had him busy during race season, shuttling the horses around. Of course he wasn’t in Port Huron! Getting married “on the road” may have been their only option, other than waiting until racing season was over. Two days after their wedding, it was announced in the Port Huron Times.

. . . Mr. Carmody went to Bay City this week to attend the race meeting and from there with his bride will go to Alpena.

“Carmody-Marshall,” 15 July 1921, Newspapers.com: accessed 20 September 2018, image number: 209880537; citing original p. 2, col. n.g, para. n.g, entry for Mrs. Mildred B. Marshall and John J. Carmody. Marriage license application notice below it in the column

Then there are the times when I lose my ancestors though my own fault — temporarily, at least — as I did when I misfiled the death certificate of my great-grandfather, Carl Moeller (Youngest). I came across it accidentally while looking for something else, but it was a wake-up call to me, reminding me I need to clean up my physical files. If I don’t know what I have, I don’t know what I need to look for, plain and simple.

Carl and his wife, Elfrieda Jonas Moeller, also ended up “out of place” through the fault of someone else on the Family Search tree (Challenge). Another user had incorrectly picked up Carl & Elfrieda as their similarly-named relatives, dragging my grandmother and her siblings into the whole mess. It took hours, but after confirming that the people they had blended with them were not correct (Drat! Those people had parents’ names!), I moved people around until the connections were correct. I hope they stay that way!

How do I avoid “out of place” situations? I can’t, unfortunately. But I can try to resolve them by:

  • Keep looking. Seriously, persistence sometimes pays off!
  • Search smarter. Use different spellings. Look for the kids. Use age and only the first name. Breaking out of the routine is sometimes effective.
  • Go page-by-page. Sometimes old-school and brute-force is the only way that will work.
  • Go on-site. Some records are not available online, so going in person is what needs to happen.
  • Give it a rest. New databases come online regularly. Sometimes I just need to tackle a different problem and give them a chance to show up.
  • Try a new database. Coupled with the one above, I think I’ve finally managed to acquire death and potential birth dates for Mike’s great-grandfather, Andrew Carmody. I wasn’t finding him in the others I searched.
  • Document everything. If I don’t know what I have, I don’t know where my gaps are.
  • Read every word for the evidence I have. Sometimes there are clues there that are more hidden. Picking just the low-hanging fruit may leave me missing the best!
  • Blog about it. Focusing on one person or family forces me to really look at what I know, and what I don’t know. I notice the gaps I have, and go in search of facts to fill them. Sometimes I find the answers I need, but if not, I still have organized my knowledge, and left myself a summary of where everything stands with that individual or family.
  • Read and watch. Blogs/newsletters/books and webinars. There are a whole lot of smarter/better genealogists our there. I’d be foolish not to learn from them. Sometimes it’ll be an entirely different approach, and other times they are telling me something I already know — but totally forgot about, and needed to be reminded of.

There’s no magic wand for any of this, but my “out of place people” don’t always have to stay lost.

#52Ancestors


DNA

“Mama, don’t take my chromosomes away . . . ” pre-med college students’ adulteration of Paul Simon lyric

I am relatively late to the DNA game. When it was first available, testing was pricey, limited to Y-DNA (for male line) and later mtDNA (mitochondrial for female line). I didn’t have questions that Y-DNA would answer, and wasn’t terribly curious about the “deep ancestry” mtDNA would provide.

Autosomal DNA testing hit the market in 2009. In spring of 2010, it cost $289 to get tested at Family Tree DNA. Seemed expensive. I wasn’t looking for unknown biological parents, so I kept my money in my wallet. By fall of 2013, Ancestry.com and 23andMe entered the fray, so competition drove the price down to $99 (sale prices, at least). Still, with relatively small databases, and no burning questions to answer, I kept my saliva where it belonged.

I began to educate myself, though, so when — if — I took the plunge, I would know what I was doing. RootsTech 2017 pushed me over the edge. Session after session on DNA reiterated the importance of testing. DNA wasn’t a magic wand to solve all my genealogical puzzles, but it was a valuable record — as important as birth or death records — and needed to be obtained while it was still available.

Mom was almost 95, and her spit wasn’t going to be around forever! I’d already missed out on my dad’s. So I ordered an Ancestry.com test for me and a FamilyTreeDNA test for her at the next sale. I spit, she swabbed, and we waited. With 4 million samples in Ancestry’s database at that point, surely I’d match someone? Fortunately, there were no unexpected surprises in our results! I am related to first cousins on both sides of the family, as well as my mother (after uploading my results to her company). Whew!

I discovered dozens of second cousins I recognized, as well as totally unknown names. In the meantime, Mike expressed surprise I hadn’t asked him to submit a test. DNA is kind of personal, and we’ve only known each other for 40+ years. I don’t have as much on his family, though, so DNA could be useful. We capitalized on Ancestry’s Father’s Day sale to order his kit.

With the exception of a first cousin, Mike’s other matches were all unknown. Most didn’t have trees, and the surnames meant nothing to me. I transferred his DNA data to other sites to expand the matches. At Family Tree DNA, he had an unknown Crockett match, without a tree. It was a solid match, with 79 cM in common, the largest segment being 59 cM. It was not a random coincidence.

I also recognized Crockett as an ancestor surname. Mike’s grandmother, Mildred B. Fitzgerald (Where There’s a Will), was a Crockett descendant. Indeed, her grandmother, Isabella Crockett, was living with Mildred in Michigan in the 1920 census.

Mildred’s mother was Eliza Jane English. She and her husband, Ashley Fitzgerald, bounced back and forth between the United States (Michigan and Ohio) and Ontario, Canada. Eliza had been born in Michigan,¹ but married Ashley in Ontario.¹ Their first and last children were born in Ontario, the middle ones (including Mildred) in Ohio.

Isabella Crockett English, Mike’s great, great grandmother. Photo taken before 1926 (her death). Photo from new-found cousins.

Eliza’s parents, John English and Isabella, did much the same thing. John was born in Ontario, Isabella in Ireland. They married in Ontario in 1860, but had their three oldest children (including Eliza Jane) between 1861 and 1869 in the USA, before heading back to Canada, where we find them in the next three censuses.²

Isabella Crockett’s parents, George Crockett and Margaret Jane Creighton, brought their four children to Ontario from Ireland sometime between 1845 (Jane born in Ireland) and 1848 (James born in Canada).³ I’ve found the Canadian records to have very complete census pages, as well as birth, marriage, and death registers. They’ve all been very helpful in filling in lots of information for Mike’s Canadian ancestors.

Modified pedigree chart for Mildred Belle Fitzgerald, focusing on her Crockett line.

“Wait! I thought this week was about DNA?” Yes, but DNA doesn’t work by itself; we have to help it. If I hadn’t researched this line prior to DNA testing, the Crockett surname wouldn’t have had any meaning for me. Anyway, after uploading Mike’s DNA data to the various databases, I finally hit paydirt at GEDmatch. The “Joe” (not his real name!) Crockett match from Family Tree DNA was there, but with a tree, this time! It wasn’t a huge tree, but it had what I needed. At the very top were George Crockett and Margaret Jane Creighton.

Bingo!

I was excited, but it took a month or two before I had time to write to the contact email. I explained why I was writing, and that Mike’s 3rd great grandparents were shared with him. I got an email back from “Joe’s” sister, “Sue” (not her real name, either!). She’s the genealogist in that family, it seems. We exchanged some information and determined they were 3rd cousins, once removed to Mike. She graciously shared an awesome photo of Isabella!

We each knew parts of the other’s story, but we were able to fill in additional gaps and details for each other, and confirm the information found in records. I still need to take some time to fill in the other descendants on this line, bringing it more up-to-date. There could easily be more matches from this family (through the daughters) without a Crockett surname.

It occurred to me while I was looking at the match information Mike shared with “Joe,” that Mike didn’t match to the sister. She didn’t happen to inherit those particular segments of DNA. Fortunately, though, she had convinced “Joe” to test his own. If not, we might not have found each other! I’m extremely grateful to him for agreeing to swab for his sister.

Now, to make my way down all our match lists to figure out the rest of them! I wonder what other mysteries DNA will unravel? Or stir up?

#52Ancestors

Top image credit: PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay.com


¹”Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 27 December 2015, entry for Ashley C. FITZGERALD and Eliza ENGLISH, 10 April 1886, citing Ontario, Canada, Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1928. MS932, reel 53, certificate 002734, no. 52. Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

²1871 census of Canada, population schedule, London, Middlesex East, Ontario, e.d. 9; page 28 (written); line 9; Robert ENGLISH household; accessed 14 April 2019, citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm [ ] through [ ]. John ENGLISH, age 32; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1851 census of Canada, population schedule, Dorchester North, Middlesex, Ontario, ed. no. 3, Township of [ ], Page 113 (stamped), page 112 (written); line 37; George CROCKETT household; accessed 13 February 2016, citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm [ ] through [ ]. George CROCKETT, age 36; digital image, Ancestry.com, Canada (www.ancestry.ca).

Where There’s a Will

I really haven’t done much with wills. Well, I’ve written two (though the “sound mind” clause always makes me a little nervous!), but as part of my genealogy research, not so much. That’s due to a combination of reasons:

  • I didn’t have a specific research question that a will would have helped answer
  • I come from a long line of peasants–no money to speak of, so mostly no wills
  • Not living near the places where I would need to look up a will
  • Not having other family members particularly interested in genealogy and wanting to make a research trip with me
  • Having a limited budget (i.e.: fairly non-existent) for either the trip or hiring someone local to the will to look it up

In fact, I’ve come in contact with only two wills in all this time, both on Mike’s side. One was for a maternal great-grandfather, Patrick Nolan. The paperwork from his probate packet was microfilmed, but unfortunately, the microfilm printer at the courthouse was broken, so all I could do was read and take notes. It was before digital cameras, so that wasn’t an option either. It was interesting reading, but no amazing revelations, either.

The other will is a photocopy of the actual will for his father’s adoptive mother, Anna Carmody Bauman. It provides the only documentation of the in-the-family adoption that took place. I never met my father-in-law. He died while Mike was in college. Mike and I knew each other, but hadn’t started dating, yet. After Jerry died, his 2nd wife packed up his paperwork & memorabilia and gave them to Mike, as the oldest child. The 1940 will was included in that.

Jerry was the youngest child of John Joseph Carmody and Mildred B. Fitzgerald. It was a 2nd marriage for both. John’s first wife had died, and their 8 children were mostly grown, when he and Mildred married. Mildred was 29 years younger than he, and had two young children. I haven’t determined if her first husband, Gordon Marshall, had died, or if they had divorced. Regardless, John and Mildred went on to have a “2nd family” of three boys: Michael, Joseph, and Jerry. Even though Mildred was only 37, she somehow developed a lung infection in the weeks after Jerry’s birth. She was hospitalized and never recovered.

That left John, age 66, with a 6-year old, a 3-year-old, and a newborn (plus two step-children)! I don’t think it was an era of a lot of hands-on parenting for men back then. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he hadn’t changed diapers or done 2 A.M. feedings–and probably didn’t want to start. In fact, by the 1930 census, John is living without any children, managing the Port Huron Lighthouse travel camp. I’m not sure where the others were living.

Jerry’s baby book was mostly empty, but had an entry in the “Baby’s First Outing” section:

“Baby went out for the first time on the 12th day of September 1928, with Mrs. Hart when Millie was taken sick and stayed there until after the Funeral of Millie the 16th of Sept. and then Nano took[e] him Home for always.”

I don’t know who Mrs. Hart was–my guess is a neighbor–and I assume “Nano” was a nickname for Anna. We have no adoption paperwork, but at least the entry corroborates what Mike had heard from his dad. The 1930 census also lists him as “adopted son” for Frank & Anna. I’m not sure how adoption by a family member would have been handled then in Michigan. My guess is that it would still be considered closed, with records unavailable.

1930 CARMODY John J Michael Jerry
John Joseph Carmody with sons Michael (left) and Jerry (right). Despite being raised by Anna & Frank, he apparently saw them on occasion. I estimate this to be in 1930 or 1931, based on Jerry (age 2 or 3?). This is the only photo we have of his dad.

Anna’s husband, Frank, died in 1936 from colon cancer. Anna died 4 years later, in 1940, with Jerry’s birth father, John Joseph Carmody, having died in January that same year. Fortunately, Anna’s will survived, giving confirmation that Jerry was born a Carmody:

” . . . I give, devise and bequeath all my estate, real, personal, or mixed wherever situated to my beloved son (adopted) Gerald Bauman (formerly Gerald Carmody) . . .”

I’m extremely grateful she made the effort to leave a clear trail to the Carmody surname. I’m not sure we would be able to find it out, otherwise.

#52Ancestors