15 January 2019

Untangling gnarled branches of family trees

#52 ancestors 2019 No. 3.
Prompt: Unusual Name

Untangling gnarled branches of family trees 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2019 

While the name of Araminta is somewhat unusual, or so I thought, it was a fairly popular name in my family for several generations, including my maternal great-grandmother Araminta Awtrey (1851-1927) who was named for her grandmother, Araminta Bankston (1782-1861).

It turns out that a search for this given name shows hundreds so named in the 1850 U.S. census in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, as well as in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, which means it was widespread in American families by the middle of the 19th century.

 “Araminta is one of the many literary coinages of the Restoration period, [1660-1714] in this case possibly a conflation of Arabell and Aminta,” according to The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names (Withcombe, 1977). 

The first of this name I’ve found in my family was Araminta Bankston and it was her 1800 Marriage Bible that put me on the quest to find her father — a Jacob Bankston. See earlier blog: https://shakingfamilytrees.blogspot.com/2019/01/pass-sorting-hat.html 

Having eliminated a childless couple — Jacob Bankston (1720-1757) and Elinor Cock, of Philadelphia, listed in an old genealogy — as the parents of Araminta’s father, Jacob, I turned back to sorting through Georgia records looking for clues and evidence. Three records proved to be most helpful. Two appear in The Early Records of Georgia, Volume I, Wilkes County. (Abstracted and compiled by Grace Gillam Davidson, published 1933 in Macon, Georgia) and now available online at: http://www.giddeon.com/wilkes/books/early-records-of-ga-vol 1/index.shtml 

1. There is a 1786 deed in Wilkes County, Georgia, which mentioned that Peter, Daniel and Jacob Bankston sold 400 acres in Pennsylvania, which was “and from our father, Laurence Bankston.” (Wilkes County, GA, Deed Book AA — 1785-1787 p. 127.) 

2. This same trio also sold 37.5 acres in Philadelphia, mentioning that it was “willed to our mother, Rebecca Hendricks.” (Wilkes County, GA, Deed Book AA — 1785-1787 p. 125) 

3. On 9 June 1811 in Clarke County, Georgia, the following record was recorded regarding a Creek Indian Depredation Claim of 1782 [emphasis mine]: “Whereas I Jacob Banckston is about to remove to the Missippi state [sic] this to sertyfy [certify] that I have bargind and sold unto Elijah Banckston, my son all my right[s] and title to the claim that I did againstt the Creek Nations of Indians for property taken at McNabs Fort Wilk[es] County 1782 which property was valued to five hundred and fifty five dollars and I do hereby give over all my right[s] and title to the above mentioned claim unto to above Elijah Banckston or sum written and hereby in power him to Recept for the same in my name and this my order shall recept to whom may be impowerd to pay of [off] the claim. Signed Jacob Banckston. 

So, there is a Jacob Bankston who was the son of Lawrence Bankston and Rebecca Hendricks and he had a son, Elijah Bankston, and he planned to leave Georgia for the “Missippi state” [sic] which would have been the Mississippi Territory in 1811 as Mississippi was not yet a state. Is this Jacob the father of my Araminta, and was he also the Jacob Bankston who married Nancy Brewer on 5 October 1808 in Clarke County, Georgia and whose maiden name has been misread as Moore and Brown by various researchers? If so, then that was his second marriage. Is this why my Araminta Bankston or at least her husband, Isaac Awtrey, went to Mississippi about 1810 but only stayed a short time before returning to northeast Georgia? 

Some genealogical problems are not resolved easily and some seemingly are never solved completely. Figuring out where Jacob Bankston fit into the household of Lawrence Bankston (1704-1771) and Rebecca Hendricks (1710 -before 1786) required additional and in-depth research and a number of cousins working together. 

How we figured out when this Jacob was born:
 1. His parents, Lawrence Bankston and Rebecca Hendricks were married about 1726 in Pennsylvania and lived there first, but by 1744 Lawrence was listed as a taxpayer in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Land and court records pertaining to Lawrence’s estate reveal that he had five sons, and at least one daughter — who married James Lea. 

2. In a 1793 a deposition of James Lea pertaining to land owned by Lawrence Bankston in Caswell County, North Carolina, he said that Andrew was his (Lawrence’s) eldest son, Peter was the second son, Lawrence (Jr.) was the third, Daniel was the fourth and Jacob was the fifth son, and the youngest son. 

3. Children in this time and locality were frequently born about two years apart, so based on the eldest child, probably a daughter, being born within a year after the couple was married, say 1727, this couple could have had six children born from ca 1727 to about 1739, using an estimated time frame of about two years between each child (six children x 2 years apart = 12 years). There also is possibly another daughter that researchers believe is part of this family, but evidence is lacking. If Jacob is the youngest child (we only know he is the youngest son) of Lawrence and Rebecca, his date of birth could range from about 1739 to 1743. Of especial interest in figuring out the ages of the sons of Lawrence is the 1755 tax list of Orange County, North Carolina, where is listed Lawrence Bankson [sic], Esq. and sons — 5 white polls. To be counted in the poll, each son had to be 16 years of age or older, which verified that Lawrence had four sons in 1755 — all born before 1739, but his fifth and youngest son, Jacob, evidently was born after 1739.

 4. We also know the birthdate of this Jacob’s son, Elijah (probably his eldest child). It was 1765 (thanks to his Revolutionary War pension application). Men seldom married before age 21 in this time and locality, so it can be estimated that Jacob probably married about 1764, and that he was born about 1740, give or take a couple of years. 

So far my two Aramintas have given me enough genealogical puzzles to entertain me for years — one to untangle this Bankston line and the other to sort out the gnarled branches of the Awtrey/Autry family. Bless their hearts.

06 January 2019

Pass the Sorting Hat

2019—No. 2.
Prompt: Challenge

Pass the Sorting Hat 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2019 

The problem is not finding ancestors, it is the challenge of sorting them (Where is that enchanted sorting hat of Hogwarts houses fame when I need it?). Another challenge is proving that a particular Jacob is the one that belongs in my tree — and is not someone else of the same name. Additionally, men who marry women of the same given name, thus eliminating one sorting tool, should suffer serious penalties, such as being forced to translate a thousand Latin parish records or sort out my Marys, Elizabeths, and Annes. 

One of my challenges is to disprove all the twisted, gnarled trees out there — in print and online. I realize that will never happen, but I can dream. My Jacob Bankston dangles upon dozens, perhaps hundreds, of trees. He has been linked to several wives (most of them incorrectly); his date of birth is unproven, and so is his exact date of death, but he appears in many records and a great deal of valid information about him exists. Unfortunately, the good has been tossed into a mix with the bad, creating a gallimaufry. 

What has really thrown a monkey wrench into the works is once upon a time many years ago there was a genealogy published. Like all genealogies, it has errors, and too many family historians have relied upon this one source without verifying its material. To confound the problem, the compiler seldom cited sources, or did not do so specifically, so it is impossible to determine which records were used for individual facts. (An example is a citation of “Index Holy Trinity Church, p. 10” — there are thousands of churches in the USA of this name and what is this an index to?)

I, too, started with this old genealogy, but when an 1800 Family Bible of Isaac Autry/Awtrey and Araminta Bankston who married that year was found in a descendant’s trunk in the attic, it revealed that my 4-great-grandmother, Araminta Bankston, was the daughter of a Jacob Bankston. I was elated, thinking I had solved a problem. But, a challenge promptly popped up. According to this old genealogy, there were two Jacob Bankstons (father and son); one born in 1731 in Philadelphia and one born about 1760 in North Carolina. My Araminta was born in 1782 in Georgia (I had her date of birth from her tombstone and the family Bible). So, technically, either of these Jacobs could be her father. I had no idea which one, so I started digging in the traditional records — vitals, land, probate and taxes. 

Georgia land records rewarded me with a deed which provided a wife’s name for one of the Jacob Bankstons. The deed showing Jemima as Jacob's wife was made on February 10, 1798 (Hancock County, Georgia Deed Book A-B, page 501). Some church records in Clarke County show a Jacob and Jemima Bankston as members. However, I still did not know how old this Jacob Bankston was, or if he was the father of my Araminta. Purportedly, he had died about 1817 in Georgia, but no record of probate could be found, and no exit deeds for him, although he more or less vanished from the tax lists of Georgia about 1818. 

According to Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig (1928-2009), the Swedish Colonial Society’s world-renowned historian and genealogist who specialized in 17th-century Swedish and Finnish immigrants to the Delaware River Valley, my Georgia Bankston family was part of the group that is known as the Swedes on the Delaware. (www.ColonialSwedes.net). Thanks to him, I had fresh avenues to explore to identify my Jacob. 

Luckily for descendants, many of the records of these early Swedish families have survived and have been microfilmed. I found a marriage record for a Jacob Bankston and an Elinor Cox dated 14 June 1753 (Gloria Dei [Old Swedes] Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Marriages, Baptisms and Burials, 1750-1789, FHL #511,806, p. 11). That information matched what the old genealogy claimed. 

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes Church) Philadelphia
By Beyond My Ken - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

However, I also found in those records that a Jacob Bankston
died there on 5 August and was buried 6 August 1757. He was 37 years old. That created another problem — this makes his birth year 1720 rather than 1731 as the old genealogy claimed. Additional research in Philadelphia records turned up a 1757 Will for Jacob Bankston. This Jacob had a wife, Elinor; she was named in his Will along with a brother, John, his mother, and some other relatives, but no mention of any children. That fact clearly eliminated this Jacob and Elinor as the parents of my Jacob or the other three children listed in the old genealogy. In the process, it also suggested that the birth date of 1731 used in the old genealogy had no evidence to back it up. 

The Reconstructed 1790 Census of Georgia (De Lamar and Rothstein, 1985) lists only one Jacob Bankston. It had been an early indicator that there might be a problem with the old genealogy. Next I tackled the Georgia Tax Digests (Volume I-V) covering the years from 1789 to 1817. In order to keep track of the many Bankstons and the numerous counties in which I found them in northeast Georgia, I created a spreadsheet. My conclusion is there was only one Jacob Bankston, and he was not born in 1731, and he was not the son of the childless Jacob Bankston and Elinor Cox. 

When a thorough search in pre-1850 Georgia probate, land, and tax records failed to turn up a Jacob Bankston Jr. (born ca 1760), more challenges surfaced. Where had the compiler of the old genealogy found him and who was the Jacob listed in the Family Bible as my Araminta’s father? 

Little did I realize that this genealogical challenge had just begun. Stay tuned for the next chapter(s).

03 January 2019

Help! There are Walloons in my tree

2019—No. 1. Prompt: First

Help! There are Walloons in my tree 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley @2019 

Some of my ancestors, who were among the first settlers of New York in 1624, were not Dutch or Huguenots. They were Walloons — French-speaking inhabitants of what is today southern Belgium and an adjacent part of France. They were Protestants who fled the Spanish regime and went first to the Netherlands and then to New Netherland. 

They arrived in 1624, but so far it has not been determined whether they sailed on the de Eendrach [Unity] in January 1624 or on the Nieuw Nederland. The later sailed from Amsterdam on or after 30 March 1624. While no passenger lists for these two ships exist, “several passengers can be identified, based on records of dismissals from the Amsterdam French Church (1624) and records of the Dutch West Indies Company,” according to Henry B. Hoff in his article “The First Settlers of New York in 1624.” [1] 

This year marks the 395th anniversary of the arrival of the first known immigrant ancestors of mine. They were Ghislain Vigné and his wife, Adrienne Cuvellier, and (presumably) their three daughters — Maria, Christina, and Rachel. It is possible there were other children in this family who did not survive. Their only known son, Jan, who was born about 1624, is considered to be the first European male child born in New Netherland. 

According to Harry Macy, Jr. F.A.S.G., F.G.B.S. in his article “375th Anniversary of the Eendracht and Nieuw Nederland,” [2] those who can trace a line to one or more of the four first families of New Netherland — Rapalje, Monfort, du Trieux and Vigné — must number in the millions. So obviously I have lots of cousins out there. However, the Vigné line “daughtered out” and descendants today, including myself, will be found other surnames. 

My branch descends via Maria Vigné, born ca 1613, probably in Valenciennes, Nord-Pas-de-Calais (now Hauts-de-France) who married first Jan Pieters Roos in New Netherland and after his death, married secondly, my ancestor, Abraham Isaacsen Ver Planck, about 1634. [3] 

They had nine known children, including my 8-great-grandmother, Ariantje Ver Planck, born 1646, who married Melgert Vanderpool Sr. in 1668, and had eight children. 

Leiden, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands 
While updating research on Ghislain Vigné and Adrienne Cuvellier, I made a couple of discoveries about them and the city in which they lived prior to coming to New Netherland. They joined the Walloon Church in Leiden (Netherlands) in 1618. Five of their children, including a set of twins, are listed in the Register of Baptisms there from 1618 to 1623. 

Leiden, at that time was a small city, located about 25 miles from Amsterdam. It had a population of about 45,000 in 1622. Among the famous people who called Leiden their hometown was Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn (1606-1669) and other Dutch Masters such as Jan Lievens (1607-1674) and Jan van Goyen (1596-1656). Rembrandt even lived in the same district as the Pilgrim Fathers, in the area surrounding Pieterskerk — a late-Gothic church, also called the church of the Pilgrim Fathers. 

This raises the possibility that my New Netherland Walloon family might have known some of my husband’s Pilgrim ancestors — the Mitchells, and Francis Cooke and Hester le Mahieu (who married about 20 July 1603, in Leiden; Hester was the daughter of Walloons). These families were all in Leiden about the same time. Additionally, some of the Pilgrims attended the same church — the Walloon Church (Vrouwekerk). They might have worked together in the cloth industry as weavers, wool combers, carders, or cloth-fullers. 

Perhaps the Walloon ancestry of Hester le Mahieu connects to my Vigné and Cuvelliers. If so, such a connection would probably date back to the middle-to-early 1500s and would be a first for my genealogical research outside of Switzerland.


[1] American Ancestors Magazine. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010. (Volume 11.1 (2010), pp. 28-28. Online database https://www.AmericanAncestors.org/

[2] Macy, Harry Jr., The NYG&B Newsletter, Winter, 1999, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society at http://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/

[3] Ver Planck, William Edward, compiler, History of Abraham Isaacse Ver Planck, and his Male Descendants in America (1892; reprint, Fishkill Landing, New York: J. W. Spaight, 1892). (http://hdl.handle.net/2027/yale.39002040693997 : accessed 7 April 2016.

24 December 2018

Resolving to resolve

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
 #52: Resolution

Resolving to resolve 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018 

I knew I was in trouble when I first saw that Week 52’s “prompt” was “Resolution.” My choices were limited to make a firm decision to do or not to do something — and that is not likely to happen at my age. The other option is the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.

 In genealogy there are many “problems,” not to mention a few disputes, and even some contentious matters. However, most of these deal with records and data that argue with each other — not with our family and friends. Although I have some cousins who insist I don’t know how to spell one of my family surnames. But, I’m stubborn and believe that finding creative spelling of names is what makes one a good genealogist. I also refuse to blindly accept 12-year-old mothers and 105-year-old ancestors. 

While it would be nice to make a resolution to try to solve my various genealogical problems, the solutions may be beyond my capabilities or access to records that I need. There’s also the possibility that some records simply do not exist — a price one pays when descended from so many Colonial ancestors who deliberately chose to live in places where courthouses burned, wars were fought, and stubborn folks refused to leave paper trails. 

I’ve even played around with the idea of compiling a list of all of my female ancestors for whom I have no, or an unproven, maiden name and resolve to find answers. That resolution would last until some bright and shiny potential new ancestor came along and I’d be off on another hunting expedition. Alas, I know myself well. 

I could resolve to continue the almost daily updating and housecleaning of my several one-name databases, but this is an endless thankless job I do because, well, just because — I blame it on my Dutch and German genes. 

Speaking of genes, DNA research is fast becoming a tool and a curse. As more people participate and post their trees, I’m finding connections to many new cousins. I’m ever hopeful that some will have family Bibles, photos and other material to share. But I certainly don’t need a resolution to do this. DNA matches are almost as addictive as searching genealogy trees and GEDCOMs. 

2019 is going to bring another #52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge, and I don’t need a resolution to do that either. Writing stories about ancestors instead of placing them on colorless trees is much more fun and offers a creative outlet too.

 So, I guess if I’m going to resolve to do anything — genealogically — this coming year, it will be to keep on keeping on. Watch out ancestors in hiding — I’m coming after you.

17 December 2018

Making My Nice List

52Ancestors Week 51—Nice

Making My Nice List 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018 

It’s nice to be related to someone famous or rich (or both) and it’s nice to find cousins who share their years of research with you. But at the top of my “nice” list are two cousins I have never met personally. 

My maternal grandma use to remind me (jokingly) to be proud because I was a Peacock — a descendant of the Peacocks of Atlanta, in fact. Well, that didn’t mean much to me as a kid on a farm in Oklahoma. Even years later when I began to explore my ancestry seriously, my tendency was to brush aside the family legends about any purportedly rich or illustrious lines, and try to focus on just the facts. 

However, my granny knew what she was talking about — her mother-in-law — Elizabeth (Connally) Fricks, a widow, lived with her son and his wife (my granny) for many years. And Elizabeth (Connally) Fricks was a descendant of Louis Peacock, an early Atlanta-area pioneer. The details about the Peacock-Connally-Fricks connections I did not learn overnight, or by clicking on an online tree, or figure it all out in a weekend, but eventually I discovered that my great-granny was the only child of Elizabeth Jane (called Jane) Peacock who married “Big Charles” Connally at the tender age of 15 — much younger than my other female ancestors. In 1849, my great-granny was born in Atlanta — and her mother — Elizabeth Jane (Peacock) Connally died in 1852 at the tender age of 22 — the mother of only the one known child. 

I has no pictures of Elizabeth Jane Peacock (1830-1852) or any of her husband, Charles William “Big Charles” Connally (1817-1886), but fate smiled on me. One of my nice cousins (and a double cousin at that) shared with me some pictures of her ancestors — Thomas Whipple Connally (1809-1884) and Temperance Arnold Peacock (1818-1896). Thomas Whipple Connally is an older brother of my “Big Charles” and Temperance is an older sister of my Elizabeth Jane Peacock. 

Thomas Whipple Connally and Temperance Arnold Peacock
How nice is that? 

Another cousin, while cleaning out the attic, found a treasure that had been kept in his family for many generations. It was the 1800 Bible of a couple who married that year — my ancestors — Isaac Awtrey and Araminta Bankston. 

This super nice cousin of mine scanned the images and shared with us. Most of us had been researching for years, tracing the descendants of this couple but dead-ended at proving their parents. The Bible provided the date of marriage and the names of fathers of the couple, plus additional genealogical material on their children and more.

 It doesn’t getting any nicer than this.

09 December 2018

Scrutinizing My Naughty List

#52ancestors Week 50- Dec 10-16
 Prompt: Naughty

 Scrutinizing My Naughty List 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

 Picking a “naughty” ancestor to write about this week was a monumental challenge. Which one? 

While it is fun for us genealogists to joke about our horse thieves, outlaws, and less-than-sterling ancestors, when you have a tree full of them, it is a bit embarrassing to have so many from which to choose. How on earth did I come to have so many “colorful” progenitors? Is that a special gene? If so, where is it located in the DNA? 

I started to write about my 3great-grandmother, Margaret (George) Awtrey, who in April of 1871 in Haralson County, Georgia filed a Civil War Damage Claim before the Southern Claims Commission[1] claiming that she had been loyal to the Union during the Civil War and had had $279 worth of property taken by or furnished to the Union Army during the rebellion. Her claim included a horse, seven hogs and some potatoes. 

But, I don’t know whether Margaret was actually a pro-Unionist or not. Perhaps she was naughty and lied. Perhaps she was telling the truth or filed because she was in dire circumstances after losing her husband and their home. One can understand a lie in such a situation, but a lie is still a lie. The U.S. government denied her claim. While she said she had been loyal to the U.S., her husband had been a Confederate Army spy, and the witnesses for her claim were her sons and sons-in-law — all former Confederate soldiers and probably not the best witnesses to call upon. 

However, I changed my mind about which ancestor to write about when I recalled that once upon a time I stumbled upon some others with shady pasts while I was reading dull dry deeds of Etowah County, Alabama. Therein, I had found a record that Randall Hensley was indebted to a fellow for $500 for signing an Internal Revenue Bond . . . for the personal appearance of his son, Francis Marion Hensley. 

Oh, no! The latter is my great-grandpa. His father, Randall Hensley, mortgaged his 120-acre farm to pay for the bond and Francis Marion Hensley was charged with violation of the Internal Revenue Law of the U.S. He had been arrested on the Coosa River and charged with “engaging in and carrying on a business of a distiller of Spirituous liquors without having paid the special tax or given bond as by law required.” [2]

Gulp! Dodging taxes is usually unwise, and moonshining, even with its interesting historical past in America, had been discouraged during the Civil War when several Southern states passed laws prohibiting the use of grains for anything but food. After the war a federal tax on home distilleries became law and during the 1870s, this law began to be enforced and in early 1875 they nabbed my great-grandpa. 

By Original: Pfly, using a base map template made with US Federal public domain GIS data;Version 3: John Lambert - This is a modification of File:MobileAlabamaCoosa2.png, which is in Wikimedia under GFDL license., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2065758

Now, a moonshiner in the hills of northeastern Alabama is not how I had pictured my ancestor, so I was somewhat relieved when I read the court case wherein Francis Marion Hensley claimed that he just happened to be tending the still when the Revenuers came by — he was “watching it for another fellow.” 

Well, of course, I wanted to believe him. And did, briefly until I read the name of the fellow for whom he was tending the still — who was, good grief — his father-in-law!


 1 "Barred and Disallowed Case Files of the Southern Claims Commission, 1871-1880" (NARA M1407) records. Southern Loyalists (those who were Union sympathizers) made 22,298 claims for property losses totaling $60,258,150.44. However, only 7,092 claims (32%) were approved for settlements totaling $4,636,920.69. Each claimant sought to prove their loyalty and loss through the testimony of others. The paper trail created by the claimants and the people who came forward to testify, for or against a claimant, provide a wealth of information about individuals living in the South during the Civil War.

2 Jason Sumich, "It's All Legal Until You Get Caught: Moonshining in the Southern Appalachians," article, Appalachian State University, Anthro.appstate.edu (https://anthro.appstate.edu/research/field-schools/ethnographic-and-linguistic-field-schools/summer-2007-Alleghany-county : online 9 December 2018); Department of Anthropology-ASU-Boone, NC.

04 December 2018

Winter Wonderland

#52ancestors Week 49- Dec 3-9

Winter Wonderland

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018 

Sometimes I wonder about some of my ancestors. I mean, really. 

Whatever possessed a man, who apparently had a comfortable life with hundreds of acres, horses, mules, and cattle, and a large family nearby, to pull up stakes in Rowan County, North Carolina and at age 73 go to Union County, Illinois — more than 600 miles away? 

Not only did he, his wife and most of their family make the move — but they did it in the winter. What were they thinking? 

Jacob Fricks, of Germanic-Swiss ancestry, was born about 1750 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. A first-generation American, he served during the Revolutionary War in North Carolina; married in 1788 to Eva Elizabeth Earnhardt, also a first-generation American of Germanic heritage. They prospered in Rowan County, North Carolina where they raised a large family. Paul, their youngest of 12 children, was born in 1816. 

So how do I know they made the move from North Carolina to Illinois in the winter? 

From the obituary of their youngest child who died in 1897. It reads: 

Jacob Frick was born in Pennsylvania and married in Rowan County, North Carolina to Elizabeth Earnhart [sic]. They had 12 children, of whom Paul Frick was the youngest. Jacob was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and came to Union County [Illinois] Christmas Day, 1823. 

I think the least they could have done is to have left a written report explaining why the move and a record of how high the snow drifts were. 

03 December 2018

DNA vs. Paper Trail

52 Ancestors Week 48

When DNA and the Paper Trail Disagree
 by Myra Vanderpool Gormley (C) 2018

 This week’s prompt “Next to Last” stumped me, so I chose to write about “When DNA and the Paper Trail Disagree.” 

Finding a new clue to the ancestry of the Rev. Wilson Henderson (1762-1847) sent me off in several directions trying to prove or disprove the claim that he was the son of an Edward Henderson who left a will in 1790 in Chester County, South Carolina. 

A number of online trees provided bits and pieces of information and cited their source as “Will” or "Abstract of SC Will” or “Ancestry.com—Chester County, SC Will.” Eventually, I found the latter, which actually is from a book of abstracts of South Carolina Wills, that also had been microfilmed at some point. 

I found the “Will of Edward Henderson” which was, according to the source, “Probated Dec. 3, 1790; Recorded in Book A, page 60. It is typewritten. Since the typewriter was not commercially available until about 1878 — nearly 100 years after the Will was written, obviously this was a derivative source. But one thing was clear, my ancestor, the Rev. Wilson Henderson, was not mentioned in that abstracted Will. 

A bit more digging and I learned that these abstracts were “Verbatim Copies of Old Wills Recorded in Will Book A” (South Carolina) and were a C. W.A. Project #3342. C.W.A. stands for Civil Works Administration and that was a Depression-era temporary jobs endeavor. I almost forgot about this information, thinking that the father of my Wilson Henderson had not yet been identified, and so I put the project on the back burner — temporarily. Then a DNA discussion in re the Henderson Clan caught my eye and someone remarked that it was strange that the Henderson DNA line from Wilson to Edward matches, but the paper trail doesn’t. 

I decided to see if I could find the original Will and read it for myself. Using the catalog at FamilySearch.org, I was able to find the Family History Film 23308 listing this will and there was a digitized version (DGS4753542) available online. 

Off I went, and Images 47 and 48 were my reward. Following the request that “my lawful debts to be paid and my estate as follows: Item. I give and bequeath to my son Wilson Henderson one shilling sterling . . . “ 

So my ancestor is mentioned in Edward’s Will. He apparently is the eldest son, but it impossible to ascertain the order of birth of the 12 children mentioned in the Will. I was gratified to find the evidence that makes the DNA and paper trails agree in this instance. 

Of course, what happens now that I know Edward Henderson (ca 1739-1790) is the father, and I have the name of the purported mother — Johanna Ferguson— is that I’ll put some other genealogy quest on the back burner and dig some more in pursuit of my Henderson Clan. 

22 November 2018

Celebrating with the Pilgrims

Week 47 Nov 19-25—Thankful

Celebrating with the Pilgrims

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

 My ancestors were not in what became the United States in 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving. My family started arriving a few years later to settle in New Netherland, New Sweden, and Virginia. However, my husband’s family participated in the 1621 feast as he descends from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. 

It has been my genealogical duty and great pleasure to share this information with all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, which now totals 13 generations with the great-grands.

 I am thankful for the genealogists — amateurs and professional — who came before and to all who have shared their research and data with me. Their generosity has made my work (if you can call it that) much easier. 

Along the way I’ve met (in person and electronically) numerous distant cousins-in-law, and some I know only by their published works. 

Our connection to Mayflower passengers, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, winds back through history via ancestors named Pierson, Ayers, Byram, and Alden — from Missouri to Ohio, New Jersey and back to Massachusetts. It has been an historical adventure and a genealogical journey to trace this line, and I’ve enjoyed every mile of the trip. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

14 November 2018

Making the News

#52 ancestors Week 46—Random Fact

Making the News 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018 

Joseph Warren Baird, a son of Alexander Baird and Nancy Vanderpool, picked as his first wife, Rebecca D. Hartley. They lived in Ashe County, North Carolina, but soon after their marriage in 1860 removed to Tennessee where their first three children were born. 

By 1870, they were living in Benton County, Kansas, and by 1880 their family had grown to five children. Rebecca died in the autumn of 1881 in Kansas, and a cousin shared the information that Joseph Warren Baird removed to Oklahoma Territory, where he died in 1905. 

Research often takes interesting turns and twists and when I found Joseph Warren Baird and his second wife, Jane, and three more children, they were enumerated in Alabama in 1900, but all the children had been born in Kansas between 1884 and 1888— at least according to the census. It appears, based on the birthdates of his second family, that Joseph Warren Baird had not remained a widower long after his first wife died. 

What puzzled me was that my cousin claimed he died in Oklahoma Territory in 1905. That was a bit of geographical hopscotching from Kansas to Alabama to Oklahoma Territory. I had assumed (the sin of all genealogists) that his second wife was probably a neighbor in Kansas, but I was wrong. 

While researching in North Carolina newspaper for another ancestor, one of those random facts fell into my lap which answered the question about Jane, the No. 2 wife of Joseph Warren Baird. Published 15 March 1882 in the Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, Caldwell County, North Carolina), with a dateline of Cove Creek (where Joseph Warren Baird was born) was the following: “The people are still marrying and being given in marriage. Mr. J. Warren Baird, of Kansas (late a widower) has taken unto himself a wife and returned to Kansas. He married Miss Jane Lewis of Cove Creek.” 

This one was almost too easy. I opened up my Vanderpool database and found Jane Lewis. She was the daughter of Abraham Lewis and Nancy Emely Lewis (who were first cousins), and a granddaughter of Daniel Lewis and Betsy Vanderpool. Jane Lewis and her husband, Joseph Warren Baird, are 1C1R (first cousins once removed) as he was the son of Alexander Baird and Nancy Vanderpool — and Betsy and Nancy Vanderpool were sisters. 

Now that I know when and where Joseph Warren Baird and Jane Lewis were married, I should be able to find their marriage record and quit hunting for it on the Kansas prairie. 

09 November 2018

Brothers and Cousins in Arms

Week 45 —Tribute to Veterans

Brothers and Cousins in Arms 

   — Some Never Came Home 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (C) 2018

What started out to be a blog about some of the men in my family who served during World War I, took a sharp turn when I received an e-mail from France on November 2, which reads:

 “I volunteer at Epinal American Cemetery to do guided tours and today I will do a tour and we will put French and American Flags on the gravesite of Ervin Vanderpool! I always do the same to honor a soldier for the anniversary of his D.O.D. I just wanted you to know this! I was surprised to learn about his age (36) and I saw he was married with a daughter. I don't know what he did as Technical Sergeant but he is an HERO with his two Silver Stars! Thinking of him and his family this afternoon . . .” 

The 48-acre Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France is sited above the Moselle River in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. It contains the graves of 5,254 American military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the campaigns across northeastern France to the Rhine River and beyond into Germany. The cemetery was established in October 1944 by the 46th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company of the U.S. 7th Army as it drove northward from southern France through the Rhone Valley into Germany. The cemetery became the repository for the fatalities in the bitter fighting through the Saverne Gap, and in defense of Allied positions in the Vosges region, during the winter of 1944-1945. 

Epinal American Cemetery will host a Field of Remembrance beginning November 10, 2018 through November 18, 2018. Poppies will be placed at every headstone, and in front of the memorial building as a visual reminder of honor and remembrance. 

Touched by this act of kindness by a stranger, I did additional research on T/Sgt. Ervin Vanderpool who was killed in action 2 November 1944 during World War II. 

T/Sgt. Erwin Walker Vanderpool was in Company K, 157th Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, along with his “kid brother, T/Sgt. James Otis (called Otis) Vanderpool. On 25 October 1944, their unit was involved in a bayonet fight in the woods near Housseras (France). There was bitter fighting, against strong resistance, plus horrible weather. During a battle in the Vosges Mountains near the German border, the battalion commander Felix Sparks, heard that K Company was in trouble. He rushed up a hill, only to see Otis Vanderpool on a stretcher, his leg blown off at the knee. When Sparks made it to the front, he never told Ervin Vanderpool about his brother's injury. He didn't have time. The older brother was shot in the stomach and died on the battlefield. Ironically, Erwin could have been promoted and would never have been in that battle. Officers had talked of promoting Ervin, sending him to battalion headquarters, but he refused to listen. He wouldn't accept a promotion. He wanted to stay near his brother. 

Erwin and Otis were sons of Levi Franklin and Ellie Potter. A cursory look at the family of Levi Franklin Vanderpool (1880-1968) and Ellie Potter (1884-1929) reveals they had 12 children — four daughters and eight sons — born between 1903 and 1929. Three of their children did not survive to adulthood. Closer inspection reveals a patriotic family with four, and possibly five, of their sons serving during World War II. 

  • Brothers, Ervin Vanderpool (1908-1944) and Otis Vanderpool (1919-2004) served in the Army, Company K, 157th Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.
  •  Their brother Arthur Harrison Vanderpool (1910-1989) enlisted in the Army on 20 Nov. 1940. • Their brother Eldee Vanderpool (1917-2005) was a Tech-5 in the Army; he enlisted 6 June 1945 in California and died in a Veterans Home in Napa County, California. 
  • Their brother Evert Odal (1922-1995) appears on a World War II draft registration on 30 June 1942 in Montrose County, Colorado. Whether he served, and if so, in what capacity, is not known.

SS Leopoldville

Fourteen Vanderpools are listed on the U.S. Rosters of World War II Dead, 1939-1945, in a database of those buried overseas and other sources. On this 100th anniversary (11 Nov. 2018) of the end of World War I — the war to end all wars — I thank them for their service and sacrifices — may they rest in peace. 
They are: 

1. Marion F. Vanderpool, Seaman 2nd Class, Navy (Washington). MIA, died 23 January 1942. Honolulu, Hawaii Memorial. 

2. Vane I. Vanderpool, Seaman 1st Class, U.S. Naval Reserve (Washington and Oregon). Memorial North African American Cemetery, Tunis, Tunisia. 

3. Clifford S. Vanderpool, Private, Army (Nebraska), 15th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Division. Hamm Cemetery, Hamm Luxembourg. 

4. Cecil L. Vanderpool, Coxwain, Navy (Washington). KIA. Mountain View Cemetery, Lakewood, Pierce County, Washington.

 5. Erwin W. Vanderpool, T/Sgt. Army (Colorado).157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. Epinal Cemetery, Epinal, France.

 6. Fred A. Vanderpool, Private, Army (Tennessee). Enlisted 16 March 1944. Co E, 264th Infantry, 66th Infantry Division (nicknamed Black Panther Division). Died 24 December 1944 on the SS Léopoldville when torpedoed by U-486 in the English Channel, off Cherbourg, France. Ridgewood Cemetery, Carthage, Smith County, Tennessee. 

7. Fred L. Vanderpool, Private, Army (Texas). 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Division. Died 24 April 1944. Manilla America Cemetery, Taguig City, Philippine Islands. 

USS Casablanca

8. John Wesley Vanderpool, Private, Army (West Virginia). Enlisted 29 December 1943. KIA in France 20 October 1944. McCloud Cemetery, Dingess, Mingo County, West Virginia. 

9. Orville R. Vanderpool, Technician 5th Grade, Army (Arkansas). 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. KIA 6 June 1944 near Magneville, France. See also:

 10. Payton Lafayette Vanderpool Jr., Fireman 2nd Class, Navy (Missouri). KIA at Pearl Harbor 7 November 1941. Honolulu, Hawaii Memorial (recovered).

 11. Ralph Maynard Vanderpool, Sergeant, Army Air Corps (Pennsylvania). Radioman and gunner, 446th AAF Bombardment Group. KIA over Italy 20 February 1945.

 12. Robert J. Vanderpool, 2nd Lieutenant, USAAF (Illinois). KIA in a B-25 crash 20 January 1945 over the Adriatic Sea.

 13. Walter Vanderpool, Private, Army, 517 Parachute Infantry (New York). KIA. Sospel, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Département des Alpes-Maritimes. He was killed along with four others in the blast of a bobby-trapped house in Sospel. German engineers had rigged it with a time-delayed device. Forest Home Cemetery, Waverly, Tioga County, New York.

 14. Dean Burke Vanderpool, Ensign, USNR. Commissioned in May 1943; served on the USS Casablanca in the Pacific. Died 26 June 1944 of wounds at Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Kitsap County, Washington. Ewing Cemetery, Ewing, Mercer County, New Jersey.

 Attention: Genealogists! 
The United States World War One Centennial Commission is accepting stories about the service of Americans in World War I. 

26 October 2018

Facing Uncertainty

#52ancestors Week 44—Frightening

Facing Uncertainty 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018 

On the eve of his voyage in 1641 to the New World, my ancestor, Anthony de Hooges, reflected on the “certainty of death, as well as the uncertainty of the hour” at which death would overtake him. He made out a Will even though he was single and only 21 years old. A week later, on 23 July 1641, he boarded den Coninck David (King David) in Amsterdam on a voyage to New Netherland where he was to begin a new job for the West Indies Company and a new life. 

"Anthony de Hooges was baptized in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam on 14 December 1620, the eighth and last child born to Johannes de Hooges and Maria Tijron. Both of Anthony’s parents were probably Calvinist immigrants from the Southern Netherlands (likely from Mechelen and Antwerp, respectively, in what is now Belgium). The family was evidently solidly middle class: Johannes [de Hooges] worked as a bookkeeper for the West India Company and was a shareholder in that company as well.”[1]

Anthony de Hooges kept a journal of his long voyage. It begins: "In the year of our Lord 1641, the 30th of July, I commenced this journal in the name of the Lord. May the Lord conduct us to the place of our destination in order that on our arrival we may offer to the Lord the offering of our lips to His honor and our salvation. Amen."[2]

It was an unusually stormy passage and no doubt frightening to all aboard. It took four months to reach its destination. The ship set sail from Texel with about 35 or 36 other ships. On August 19, it reached Plymouth [England] where it stayed until the 30th. Setting sail again, this time with five other vessels, it passed the Madeira Islands on September 16 and 17 and on the 19th and 20th passed the Canary Islands, leaving the other ships, except for one galley, there. By October 4, it was running short of water. It reached the Leeward Islands on October 16th, and anchored at St. Christopher on the 18th. Here it took on water and remained until the 23rd. 

On November 29, den Coninck David sailed past Sandy Hook and Anthony closed his journal saying: "At daybreak we ran to the sand point (Sandy Hook) and we rounded it too close. We got aground on a reef which had formed there within a year. After two hours we got afloat again. God be praised we suffered no damage and with good speed passed between the Hoofden (the headlands at the sides of the Narrows) and in the afternoon came to anchor at the Manhatens, in front of Smits Vly (on the East River). Thus the Lord delivered us at last, after much adversity, for which He be praised forever, Amen. — "Journal of Anthony de Hooges, of his voyage to New Netherland beginning 30 July ending 29 November 1641."[3]

For some passenger lists of ships to New Netherland/New York, including den Coninck David in 1641 see:

Six years later in New Netherland Anthony de Hooges married Aefje Albertsen “Eva” Bradt, adding some Norwegian to my family bloodline. They had four daughters and one son who was my ancestor, Johannes de Hooges (1654-1738), who married Margarita Post (1657-1700).  See The POST Family of New York and New Jersey -- Descendants of Adriaen Crijne Post, by Lorine McGinnis Schulze online at 

Johannes de Hooges and Margarita Post were parents of six daughters and only one son, who died before reaching adulthood and thus the De Hooges surname has “daughtered out” in America. Johannes and Margarita’s daughter, Cathrina de Hooges married Wynant Vanderpool, my ancestor, in 1706.[4] 

Anthony de Hooges probably has many living descendants today, as he had 25 grandchildren and 143 great-grandchildren, but they will be found under various other surnames, and spelled variantly, such as Bries, Hornbeck, Van Etten, Rutgers, Quick, Oostrander, Roosa, de la Montagne, and Vanderpool. 

He is a fine ancestor to have because there are so many records written by him and/or pertaining to him available. If you have New Netherland ancestry, perhaps he appears in your family tree, too.

 [1] From the Introduction of The Memorandum Book of Anthony de Hooges, translated by Dirk Mouw; publication of the New Netherland Research Center and the New Netherland Institute, 2012. Retrieved from: https://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org/files/2713/5543/9527/DeHoogesTranslationFinal.pdf 

[2] Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1908), p. 580. Retrieved from: https://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org/files/4813/8679/0228/NY006011163_1908_VR_Bowier_Manuscripts.pdf

[3] Ibid

[4] Col. William Van Derpoel Hannay, compiler, Dutch Settlers Society of Albany Yearbook, Vol. 41 (Albany, New York: Dutch Settlers Society of Albany, 1966-1968), p. 12.

22 October 2018


#52ancestors Week 43—Cause of Death


By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018 

Walter D. "Buck" Fricks (1884-1914), left; brother, Edward W. Fricks (1885-1963; sister, Dora M. Fricks (1892-1955)
Photo taken about 1910, Muskogee, Oklahoma

The headline of the page 1 story in the Muskogee Times-Democrat (Muskogee, Muskogee County, Oklahoma) on 18 September 1914 reads: MANGLED: Body of Man Identified as ‘Buck” Fricks, Muskogee Lineman and Well-Known Character, Found on Railroad Track at Wells, Okla., South of Here. 

Many years ago, I walked the Greenhill Cemetery in Muskogee, Oklahoma and recorded all of my known kin buried there. I had also walked it as a child many times with my grandmother, but after I became an adult and a professional genealogist I wanted to verify the information, double-check names and dates, and not rely on memory. 

Greenhill Cemetery is resting place of many of my Fricks relatives — and I knew the man called “Buck” was the brother of my grandfather. I also know that he had been killed in a railroad accident. It was a subject that was never discussed much, so I did not know any details. I had never read the newspaper account until years later. From it I learned that W. D. “Buck” Fricks, whose given name was Walter, was run over by a Katy (Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad) train at small station named Wells, located just north of Eufaula, and about 25 miles south of Muskogee where the family lived. His body was found on the track by trainmen. 

Fricks was either asleep on the track or was thrown beneath the wheels while trying to catch a moving train, according to the newspaper account. George Miller, of the county attorney’s office at Eufaula went out to look at the body and found a letter in Fricks’ pocket from a young woman in Muskogee. The body was fearfully mangled, according the news story. 

The Katy Limited, ca 1910 

It further noted that “A brother of Fricks, who lives in the country near Muskogee was notified by telephone and this afternoon passed through town on his way to Eufaula.” That brother was my grandfather, Charley. I know because my grandfather told me about that sad trip he made to identify his brother and see to it that he was buried in the family plot in Greenhill Cemetery. 

Also per the newspaper account, “Buck Fricks was a well-known character here, and was employed from time to time as a lineman by local public service corporation.” The family history claims he worked as an oil rigger and as a lineman for Western Union Telegraph. He never married and left no known children. 

He was only 30 years old when he died, and I sure wish I knew what the newspaper meant by calling him a “well-known character.” I could use a “character” in the family tree, especially a good one.