Tag: ancestors

Researching paternal or maternal lines: Is one better than the other?

Researching paternal or maternal lines: Is one better than the other?

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When researching paternal or maternal lines, the tendency seems to be to place more value – and therefore time and effort – into the paternal lines. Is it true that following paternal lines is better than following maternal lines?

 

In my mind, no.

Turmaine and Emery maternal ancestors.
Turmaine and Emery maternal ancestors.

The other side of this question is: “Should genealogy research concentrate more on one to the exclusion of the other?

Again, I say “no”.

When I first started researching my family’s genealogy almost fifteen years ago, it was easier to concentrate on the paternal lines, and I did so based on my limited knowledge of genealogy, in which the paternal lines seemed to be valued more.

This may be a carryover from history where women were rarely recorded as anything other than their husband’s wives and/or father’s daughters. Unless they were particularly noteworthy, details of their own personal lives were unimportant.

This may also be a result of the difficulties that can arise when researching maternal lines. Because most research works back in time, we usually first encounter a female ancestor as a wife who has taken on her husband’s name. Since a great deal of the records don’t go into any detail about the women, it’s difficult to find even clues with which to research further to find out a woman’s maiden name and parentage.

It does change for the better in more modern records such as censuses, marriage records, etc., where more detailed information about a woman’s place of origin, and her parents and their places of origin can be found.

What a shame since one’s knowledge of one’s own ancestry increases exponentially when venturing into maternal lines.

Several of the individuals I have posted about on this blog were discovered by following maternal lines of both my husband and myself.

As a matter of fact, when going through posts to identify maternal lines for this article, it was apparent that those involving the paternal lines were a definite minority. This matters because I have consistently chosen those I find most interesting to write about.

The fact that there seems to be more from the maternal lines is perfectly understandable when the odds are considered. When restricting one’s research to only paternal lines, there is no branching off through the female spouses, therefore restricting the course back in family history through one straight line from father to father to father (and so on). Although some prefer to research in this way, I’m positive they are missing out as a result.

For the purposes of this post, I am using my parents: Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine and Patricia Gail Melanson; and Mark’s parents: Marshall Matthews Blythe and Beverley Gummeson as the root persons.

In all of the cases below, we would never have known our connection to these ancestors had I not explored the maternal lines.Bourg Ancestral Line

Antoine Bourg

The ancestral line to this 7th great grandfather of my mother follows her paternal line through six generations to Pierre Melanson and his wife Marie Josèphe Granger, then follows Marie Josèphe’s line the rest of the way back.

Antoine Bourg is one of the original Acadian pioneers to come over from France in the 17th century. Although Antoine Bourg is not the Acadian ancestor from our paternal line that we most associate with, we are related to him through three branching maternal lines leading to three of his sons.

Bevan Ancestral Line

John ap Evan (John Bevan) of Wales

John ap Evan (John Bevan) was 10th great grandfather to my husband’s father, Marshall Matthews Blythe. An early Welsh immigrant and pioneer of Pennsylvania, he was a Minister with the Friends’ Meeting, land trustee for several settlers, and later became a Justice and member of the Colonial Assembly.

Emily S. Shelby is a common maternal link in this ancestry, plus those of Robert William, the Stehle family, and of course the illustrious Shelbys (see below for all).

Shelby Ancestral LineEvan (Dhu) Isaac Shelby of Tregaron, Wales

Evan (Dhu) Shelby, 6th great grandfather to my father-in-law, Marshall Matthews Blythe, was the pioneer immigrant of the Shelby family to Pennsylvania from Wales. He, along with those already mentioned were persecuted for their Quaker religion and suffered terribly at the hands of their persecutors.

The Shelby family were among the few with six family members who participated in the Revolutionary War. Of these were Brigadier General Evan Shelby, John Shelby and Moses Shelby (sons to our Evan); Governor Isaac Shelby of Kentucky and Evan Shelby III, sons to Brigadier General Shelby; and another David Shelby, son of John Shelby above.

Stehle Ancestral LineUlrich Stehle (Steely)

This Ulrich Stehle was 5th great grandfather to my father-in-law and was the son of another Ulrich, an immigrant to Pennsylvania from Europe (possibly Germany) in 1732.

Ulrich Jr. is documented as the immigrant ancestor of President Barack Obama through his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

Emery Ancestral LinePte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery

Joseph Philias Albert Emery was my father’s uncle (brother to my grandmother).

Compared to some of the other ancestors above, he is fairly recent, but his life was remarkable in that he died so young in horribly tragic circumstances.

He was one of many soldiers involved in the preparations for the battle at Vimy Ridge. On March 1, 1917, the troops were misguidedly given the order to let off gas charges. This was a tragic decision because the winds were blowing the wrong way, causing the lethal gases to be blown back onto our Canadian troops.

As a result of the chaos, Pte. Emery was never found, was reported as missing in action and was later declared to have died in action.

There are a few more who occur further back in history, but I wanted to concentrate on those for whom I had the best documentary support.


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Genealogical Research of Vermont Ancestors is Getting Easier

Genealogical Research of Vermont Ancestors is Getting Easier

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Vermont Ancestors

Find Your Vermont Ancestors

A federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities has paid for a Vermont Digital Newspaper Project planned to take two years for scanning up to 100,00 pages from Vermont newspapers of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, providing highly sought information about Vermont ancestors of researchers. Vermont is only the first of 28 states expected to contribute to this project, which will be known as “Chronicling America”.

Spearheaded by University of Vermont librarians, the url for the coming online digital archives is to be announced once any images are made available online.

This has the potential of being an invaluable resource for those doing family genealogy research in Vermont. Newspaper articles are particularly valuable as they help to provide the historical details of events and circumstances that are missing from official records commonly used in genealogy research.


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Do you have Neanderthal DNA? You may well ask if you are hairy, have tough skin, nails and thick hair.

Do you have Neanderthal DNA? You may well ask if you are hairy, have tough skin, nails and thick hair.

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A while ago, I happened upon an extremely interesting news story on malaysiandigest.com, “Are You A Hairy Diabetic Smoker Who Suffers Stomach Cramps? Blame Your Neanderthal Ancestor“, in which they describe the links between remnants of Neanderthal DNA and several modern health problems.

Do you have Type 2 diabetes, lupus, Crohn’s disease and biliary cirrhosis? These are some of the illnesses and conditions linked to Neanderthal DNA.

The Neanderthal DNA has also been linked to inherited traits such as tough skin, nails, and thick hair.

People of sub-Saharan Africa who did not migrate out and breed with Neanderthals, have very little or no Neanderthal DNA.

As genealogists, we do understood that traditional genealogy research techniques and tools can only take us back as far as a couple of centuries with any certainty.

DNA testing, however, opens up a whole new wealth of information about our ancestries that can be valuable in genealogy, but especially in determining, predicting and managing certain health conditions and traits.

The malaysiandigest.com article explains the connections in greater detail.

photo credit: wallyg via photopin cc


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Dates and details: Keep a genealogy resource file.

Dates and details: Keep a genealogy resource file.

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Everyone knows that Portland is in Oregon, don’t they, but what year did that area develop?

 

Did you know that in earlier times, it was in the Oregon Territories?

 

Hmm.

 

And when did Saskatchewan become a province, eh?

 

These details about states, provinces, counties, and other events, can be overwhelming if you try to remember them all.

 

Don’t.

 

keep a genealogy resource file

Start to develop and keep a genealogy resource file; or you could file papers in your family Genealogy folders or create a computer folder in your Genealogy master folder with specific dates and places to keep track of.

For example, you may need to know when your ancestors emigrated into the USA, in order to determine where to research their entry. Although you may think you know a great deal about Ellis Island and immigration, it was used for screening immigrants from these dates only – January 1, 1892 to 1924.

However, during those years over 400,000 immigrants were screened via the Barge Office (at the tip of Manhattan) in 1891 before the official immigration office was opened. Those dates, 1892-1924, would be useful to have in a handy form, wouldn’t they?

Before that time, Castle Garden (Castle Clinton) at the southern tip of Manhattan, NY City, was an immigrant receiving center from August 1,1855 to April 18, 1890 – more good dates to know.

Search “US immigration, timeline” for more information, including how to search both Ellis Island and Castle Garden records.

Did your ancestors come to North America from another country?

Ireland, for instance?

It would help to know dates of the major famine periods in Ireland, (search “famines, Ireland”) as well as where most emigrating Irish families landed in Canada or the United States.

Or, if they crossed the sea to England, where might they have landed there?

ArchivesIf you are searching censuses in England, many counties changed boundaries several times, particularly after the 1974 Boundary Changes, but some changed prior to that time.

One line of my family lived in the Black Midlands, and their town (Dudley) changed counties several times between Staffordshire and Worcestershire. I was sure that others must have recorded the county incorrectly, until I found an article detailing the various changes in boundaries!

Search online for “British counties, changes” and you will find several excellent sites with details.

You can imagine how important this information could be when searching through Censuses! I’ve learned to check on maps, and look in nearby counties, states, provinces, when researching an ancestor’s residences over time.

We are used to registering every life event with the government, but such was not the case in our ancestors’ days.

For example, passenger lists were not required to be recorded and filed until 1865 in Canada, 1820 in the USA, 1837 in much of England.

In Germany, some vital statistic registrations began in 1792, others not until 1876, varying by state, and they were not kept in a central repository. In general, birth, marriage, death registrations were not required until a state/county or province was formed and had a center for records.

This date of “vital statistics” is remarkably varied throughout the world, and you will need to have the details for each place, in order to search successfully and efficiently for your ancestors.

My personal Genealogy Resource File includes the following (based on my particular ancestors):

  1. Canadian Provinces/Territories, dates of Confederation and Civil Registration – and maps!
  2. Canadian ships passenger lists source (at Library & Archives)
  3. Border Crossings dates, and Passport requirements for both US and Canada
  4. Canadian land grants periods
  5. U.S. States (PA, CT, NY, MA, ME, WA, OR) and county borders, history of formation
  6. Immigration dates for Ellis Island, Crystal Garden
  7. US cities receiving immigration ships; dates
  8. Dates of US wars from 1600-1945
  9. UK Civil registrations, where held
  10. UK counties, border changes, where to find details
  11. Scotland, Ireland church registrations, census dates
  12. The German Palatine emigration paths
  13. Blank Census forms for Canada, USA, UK

…and much more! Pensions, social insurance records, railway historical maps – there is no end to the variety of resources available to help you.

I also have old and current maps of all sorts including of villages, land grants, towns, county borders, plus details of various historical events which might have impacted on my ancestors’ lives.

All of these resources in a genealogy resource file would make your research more efficient and accurate, plus these resources will allow you to provide correct citations of the sources you find.

Enjoy your research and build up your own personalized Genealogy Resource File!

Now that you understand some of the common issues of internet genealogy, you may want to look at other helpful resources.

____________________

About the Author

Celia Lewis, MA, is a Genealogy Consultant who loves both mysteries and families, finding Genealogy research a perfect fit! Now retired, she enjoys having the time to pursue her passions, along with spending time with her five grandchildren.

photo credit: waterlilysage via photopin cc


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