Favourite mystery in your tree?


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Favourite mystery in your tree?

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tammikuu 8, 2013, 8:07am

Is there a mystery in your tree that you keep coming back to again and again, because it's just too good to leave alone?

I've an ancestor named Esther Christener who is said (a story passed down in the family) to have been related to British royalty, but ran away with a young servant named John Carter (no, not the one from Mars, lol) when she was still a teenager. They emigrated to Canada around 1820, her family having threatened to retrieve her if they ever found her. I have no idea whether to trust her maiden name or not - or whether to trust this story about her or not!

She consistently responded to the Canadian census with information that her mother was born in Canada, her father in the United States (which would make him a United Empire Loyalist), but I can't find any record about Christeners in the province of Ontario at that time that fit.

I've looked all over for their names on passenger lists, etc. I'm plagued by the thought that if the story's true, they could have used assumed names so it's basically hopeless. If the story isn't, I've got some plain facts about where her parents were born and their last name, but they don't lead anywhere. It's a dead end either way so I should just leave it be, and yet I can't seem to give up on it.

tammikuu 8, 2013, 8:44am

My mystery is my great great grandfather, John Sexton. He married in Adelaide, South Australia - the marriage certificate is the first record I have of him. On the certificate he lists himself as a mariner but I can't find any records.

His wife emigrated to Sydney, New South Wales from Cornwall in 1941 and lived there until a month before their wedding in 1949 .. I have a record of her sailing to Adelaide to be married.

I don't know where he came from, where he worked or how he met her; I just can't get any information at all. He is the mystery man of my family tree. I have scoured Ancestry.com and I have scanned the archived newspapers and what shipping lists I can; there is no mention at all.

tammikuu 8, 2013, 9:19am

I have a lot of mysteries but only two that I find interesting. The oldest has to do with race. My great-grandmother was obviously of mixed race, she lived until I was eleven and occasionally lived with us. We were told that she was half Indian but I know that in those days half Indian was a common dodge to hide African ancestry. So far I have traced back two more generations without finding any evidence one way or the other. Given that she is from "Traveler's Rest" Kentucky, a small settlement about ten miles into the mountains off of the Wilderness Road anything is possible.

The second mystery is new and I hope is resolved soon. I just learned that my second cousin three times removed married a man with the same last name as one of my childhood friends. I should say our, my brothers and sisters included, second family. Their last name is not very common so I think that there is a chance that we are, distantly, related.

tammikuu 8, 2013, 9:43am

A great grandfather. There was a vague family rumor that he’d been an orphan, and consistent information that he’d been born in Ohio, though he spent his entire adulthood in Illinois. Through a combination of census records, court records, and old family letters that were saved by a cousin, I’ve been able to trace his family of origin, sort of. Indeed, his parents died when he was a child, and he shows up in a custody case, with unfortunately few details. The weird thing is that his father had several family members still alive and nearby at the time, and they did not take in the child. It sure seems that ties had been severed; his grandmother made a will leaving possessions to her children and other grandchildren, but not to this one. Also, this great grandfather’s mother appeared suddenly in Ohio with two other women who were sisters. I can trace the sisters back to Pennsylvania, when they were living in the household of a man whose surname is the same as the third woman, but this third woman isn’t listed there, and by the next census when the women are in Ohio, the man has gone further west. The given ages of these women are inconsistent to the extent that the one who is my great great grandmother could be the (presumably illegitimate) daughter of the older sister, or not. She’s not another sister; other information rules this out, but she seems to be related; in the letters, the children of these women refer to each other as “cousin”, and they kept in contact via letter for decades. Oh, and also my great grandfather’s name was changed, apparently by his parents when he was a year or two old. It’s taken years of sporadic effort and luck to piece together this much, and I solve one mystery only to discover others. The mysteries date to 1880-1920, so nobody currently living has the slightest idea.

tammikuu 8, 2013, 3:58pm

My great-grandfather was born in Wales (don't know when or where). He came to Pennsylvania (don't know when) and married my great-grandmother (don't know when). They had only one child, my grandmother. When my grandmother was about seven years old, he told her that he had to go away for a while but would return for her. She never saw him again and the family story is that he went back to Wales.

His name was Edward Williams; that's just the second most common Welsh surname. The most likely US Census that he could be on is the burned 1890 census and state marriage/divorce records don't begin until 1906, long after he disappeared.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 8, 2013, 7:45pm

#5 Tapophile - I had a long-lost uncle who was rumoured to have gone to Africa but no-one knew for sure so I went to Genealogy.com (a wonderful site - and free as it is peopled by volunteers) and posted on every African community board listed. Two years later I received an email from his grand-daughter who gave me a potted history but finished by adding that he eventually disappeared again and was presumed to have gone back to Africa.

It you haven't yet discovered Genealogy.com I'd recommend it. There are boards for most countries and also for surnames. It is a bit hard to navigate until you know your way around but worth the effort. The Australian board is very active and helpful but I haven't much experience with the other community boards there.

Don't give up on your Edward Williams; with the help of a half-third cousin whom I met along my search we found our common great grandfather, Edward Davies, in Wales so it is possible but I would suggest buying a month's worth of access to Ancestry.com. Good luck ...

tammikuu 9, 2013, 1:15pm

>6 pinkozcat: pinkozcat

Thank you very much for the suggestion. I know Edward is out there somewhere and if I can find him I might find a whole new branch of the family as well. I have often wondered if he had a second family in Wales.

Sometimes it takes a long time to track down a missing person but it can happen. Last year a third cousin I had never heard of before contacted me after finding my great-grandfather on Find A Grave. She sent me her research proving the relationship to the family even though it was "irregular" but she is definitely related. I was able to give her 200+ years of family history going back to Nottingham, England. That sort of thing is half the fun of genealogy.

tammikuu 9, 2013, 7:20pm

I agrree. Finding Edward Davies and his son, also Edward lead me to the information that he had three wives and a lot of very dippy daughters. My mother's family is decidedly shady.

If you can get your tree onto the internet all manner of information surfaces; I was contacted by a third cousin who had been fostered out and took the name his foster parents gave him. He was looking for his father and found my family tree and contacted me. I was able to put him in touch with much closer family than I was and they were thrilled to discover another cousin.

The Davies family all seemed to have multiple partners - there was even a touch of bigamy in that line. As I said, my mother's family ...

maaliskuu 21, 2013, 7:11pm

My g-grandfather, John Brown...or Julius Braun, to give him his real name. On the UK 1911 census he stated he was born in Germany. His youngest child Edith was born in 1915...the year the Lusitania sank and almost every German man in England was interned. But I cannot find out if he was interned, or which part of Germany he came from. He married his wife in Lancaster in 1898 but only changed his name after the 1901 census. I suspect he came from either Bavaria or Wurttemburg because he was a pork butcher (most German pork butchers were from southern Germany). I've discussed him with the Anglo-German society but their records can't shed any light, I even tried the Red Cross archives in Geneva but he wasn't listed as an internee.

The newspaper records in my home town mention several Germans being taken away to internment camps but don't give names, grrr! Very frustrating.

I can't find him listed on any of the records of immigrants from Germany or Eastern Europe; I know he was born about 1870 but he could have come over anytime between then and 1898. His father's name was Joseph but there's no record of his arrival in England either. It's like he suddenly materialised in Lancaster and married my g-grandmother!

The weird thing is I was brought up by my grandmother who was his daughter but at no time did she mention that her father was German...maybe she was ashamed to be related to the enemy!

maaliskuu 21, 2013, 10:54pm

>9 mlfhlibrarian: Did your town/county print directories of residents or businesses during the war years? (Most medium to large cities in the US issued city directories during these years.) You could see if he's listed. Did the National Archives keep any types of lists of men interned? What about church records--Bavaria could mean he was originally Catholic. In the US German Lutheran and Catholic churches kept very detailed records, so if at some time he attended a German language church, there may be some records...Just throwing out ideas...

maaliskuu 22, 2013, 11:37am

#9-check to see if he came through Canada. I have a relative who came through Canada at that time and then moved down to the US.

maaliskuu 22, 2013, 1:41pm

Just a very wild guess:
This might be your chap: http://www.gedbas.genealogy.net/person/show/1123159544
His name is Julius Braun, he was born 1878 (so he would have been 20 when he got married), and his father's name is Josef/ph. I checked his place of birth; there is a Frauenburg in Austria, but given that all the places on the mother's side are located in former Eastern Prussia / today's Poland, it seems more likely that there was another Frauenburg around there.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 2013, 4:25pm

10/11, sorry, should have made it clear that I'm talking about the UK. Internee data was destroyed during WWII, the only extant info is with the Red Cross in Geneva, but even they don't have complete records. I did find evidence of him listed in a directory in St Helens about 1910 but nothing after that. I know he died in 1931, he is buried in St Helens cemetery. The family's butcher shop seems to have been taken over by another family by the 1920s - possible evidence of internment as the internees were not released till 1919/20 and often lost their livelihood (many were deported back to Germany). Before he died he seems to have been working in a factory, a much lower paid job.

I know he was Catholic, that's why Bavaria and Wurttemburg are indicated, also the fact that he was a pork butcher. In the UK, nearly all pork butchers were German and hailed from Wurttemburg.

His wife Susannah was CofE so their children were brought up as Catholic but very unusually when they reached school-leaving age they were allowed to choose whether to continue as Catholics or follow their mother into the Anglican church - hence my grandmother and my part of the family are Cof E but many of my cousins are Catholic. Julius got excommunicated due to his liberal stance!

rfb, I know Julius was 28 when he married (marriage cert) so it's unlikely that your Julius is him but thanks for looking and I'll do some research re Frauenburg.

I have considered that Julius's family may have gone on to the US, leaving him behind for some reason. There was a scam used by the captains of the ships taking emigrants from Germany, they landed people at UK ports, telling them they had arrived in America. Since most of the emigrants had no English they were none the wiser and by the time they found out the ship would have sailed on.
Also, the cheap way to get to the US was to travel to England landing on the east coast, then walking overland to Liverpool to board the ship to America. Many people didn't realise how far it was and decided to stay in England, or perhaps didn't have the cash to pay the fare. Julius may have got separated from his family or chosen to stay here.

One interesting thing - my grandmother thought he was from Yorkshire, according to her he had a very strong Yorkshire accent. You don't acquire that as an adult so probably he came to England as a young child and lived in Yorkshire before moving to Lancaster.

Another point - a German friend told me that Germans often use their second name as their everyday name, their first name is only used on formal occasions. So if Julius is his second name that may explain why he's difficult to track down.

huhtikuu 1, 2013, 5:25am

Oh, well, the chance that it was him was small enough anyway. I never heard of all pork butchers being from Wurttemberg or Bavaria. I assume that those were butchers specialized in pork, whereas everywhere else you just had normal butchers without specialization?

If he was catholic, it's probably unlikely that he was from Eastern Prussia, you would then rather expect him to be Lutheran, except if he also had Polish roots. Typical catholic regions also include Saxony and Rhineland (around Cologne).

> second name: That was typically the case when the first name was Johann (and Anna, Maria or Johanna for women). In any case, I would expect all names (or at least the first name + the name the person goes by) to be listed on official documents.

huhtikuu 1, 2013, 8:30am

For a long time I have been unable to identify anyone on my fathers maternal line beyond his mother and two of her siblings, one of which I only knew of because she left a child. Then two weeks ago my father finds a discharge papers from the US Civil War for John Christian Herrington. Ancestry quickly filled in family information, too much family information.

After going back and looking closely at the sources I realized that there were two John Christian Herringtons from Harrison County Kentucky. One served in the Army of the North and one road off with Morgan’s Raiders in service of the rebels. The discharge papers I have are from the Army of the North but a handwritten note, in red ink, says that an application for a pension was denied because this was the second Herrington. Did both John Christian Herringtons from Harrison County, Kentucky apply for a pension with the same paperwork?

I know that my dad’s paternal side fought for the Union and long suspected that his maternal side were rebel sympathizers, his father’s given name is Sherman Lee, after two opposing generals. I am sure I want to get the service records for both J C Herringtons and look for a common ancestor named John Christian Herrington. Still, I am not sure what will tell me for sure which J C Herrington is truly my ancestor.

huhtikuu 16, 2013, 12:30am

There are many mysteries in my family tree especially when the lines reach further back in time. Of the two lines I would like to get back further one appears to be a religious family that lived in Northampton, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Kent - the lines of Strange, Devonshire and Rolls intermarrying in a confusing tangle. I would like to get them far enough back that I can find out the parents of my direct ancestor, Rev Thomas Strange who was born in 1724. I have clues but the names are not spelled out.

The other line is at the other end of the social spectrum - a family with a criminal bent. There are records of my director ancestor Thomas Arment from the 1841 census in London until he and his son, Thomas, were nabbed for receiving stolen goods in 1849. (Son Thomas was transported to Australia but father Thomas didn't last long enough, he died on a hulk shortly after he was incarcerated). But where did Thomas Arment come from before he ended up in the Big Smoke and what was his wife Sarah's maiden name?

All these Thomases, it's enough to make my head hurt!

huhtikuu 16, 2013, 8:45am

I've got a line that is about like that with the same given names used over and over. It seems it was handed down from father to son and then all of the sons, even the ones who hadn't been named after dear old dad, named a son in honor of dear old dad so you end up with five or six grandsons with the same name who are about the same age. Then they all name a child in honor of granddad so you end up with about 15 with the same name in the generation after that -- and just pray that some of them moved to other parts so you aren't trying to sort through that many of approximately the same age.

huhtikuu 17, 2013, 1:11am

It is very confusing. When my mother wrote down her family history she put that her grandfather James Gilchrist was the one who came from Scotland to Canada, when it was his father James Gilchrist who was the one who immigrated. It is very easy to miss out whole generations that way especially when you think that closer family should know better than you do.

toukokuu 2, 2013, 11:23am

I know there are many men named James Gilchrist, Familyhistorian, but I notice you are interested in Manitoba, so just in case, where is yours from in Scotland. Mine's from Islay. (I'm in Burnaby.)

toukokuu 2, 2013, 11:35am

Family mysteries as passed on by my uncle:

We could be related to:
Sir Francis Drake
Jonathan Edwards
Aaron Burr

Still searching some archives, but my mother's side might have a link back to William Wallace (Irish clan that fought with him at Falkirk, I think? As I said, still researching that one.)

Plus, my surname has both English and Welch roots. So finding the proper lineage is proving difficult, since one of the many birth records locations burned in the 1300s.

toukokuu 3, 2013, 8:31pm

Supposedly my family line is related to Davey Crockett although I haven't found any connection yet. Most of my family settled in Cumberland County TN before it became a state, which is not exactly near where Crockett was from. Haven't dug in deep in a while.

toukokuu 16, 2013, 1:14am

Hi eicuthbertson, my James Gilchrist came from Kildalton, Islay. (I'm in Coquitlam).

heinäkuu 19, 2013, 8:17pm

Just a brief update since my post #5 above. I found my great-grandparents' marriage listed on www.familysearch.com The first surprise was that they were married across the river in New Jersey. She was born in Pennsylvania and I assumed(!) they married there.

I sent for a copy of their marriage license from the New Jersey State Archives and only had to wait three weeks. It turns out Edward was living in New Jersey at the time and so was my great-grandmother Alice. I suspect they were living together because (surprise #2) the marriage date is almost two months after my grandmother was born.

Anyway I now know his father was Peter Williams and that his mother's maiden name was also Williams. New Jersey didn't require the mother's first name back in 1891. So now I can start looking in Wales.

lokakuu 25, 2013, 2:07am

Hi, My immigrant ancestor Hugh Gallaher was born in Ireland in 1765 and his brother James in 1759. They came to Pa before the revolution as James fought for the US. The lived in central to western Pa. Where did they land. Where were they before moving to western Pa. Where are they from in Ireland? Donegal? Were they Irish, Scots-Irish, Scottish? Quaker?, Presbyterian, Catholic or ???

marraskuu 14, 2013, 5:27pm

Don't you just LOVE those brickwalls?! NOT! I belong to the Ozarks Genealogical Society in Springfield, MO. Brickwalls seem to be a big topic during our chat sessions. My mystery is on my father's side. Are there American Indian ancestors in my family? According to my dad his father's great-grandmother was Indian. So far I haven't been able to prove or disprove that claim. In Missouri it was illegal for anyone other than a white man to own property. So if any of my ancestors were Indian and they wanted to own property, they would have to claim to be white.

marraskuu 14, 2013, 10:24pm

Gigi--well you could always have DNA testing done; that might at least confirm whether you have Native American ancestry.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 15, 2013, 3:59am

I have found another mystery in my mother's side of the family: was her father (my grandfather) the son of his legal father or was he the son of my great-grandmother's second husband, not her first.

Short of DNA testing I will never know and unless anyone but me bothers to decipher a handwritten will with no capital letters or punctuation, no-one will ever suspect, but for the sake of future generations I feel obliged to at least acknowledge the possibility.

marraskuu 15, 2013, 7:58am

GigiHunter> Of course, the admixture is the least reliable part of autosomal testing. If your great-grandmother had a daughter and there is a direct female line though that (your great-grandmother's daughter's daughter's daughter, etc.), you could have that person do a mitochondrial DNA test which is more reliable with the Haplogroup typing.

marraskuu 15, 2013, 11:22am

#25 by GigiHunter>

I note that Ancestry and its various subsidiaries are offering some online training in Native American research. This seems to be some kind of webinar with 100 people per scheduled session in the next week or two. The cost is about US$40.

I was mildly interested because there are supposed to be a couple Native Americans in my lines but the traditional sources have made it quite difficult to uncover the clues necessary.


marraskuu 24, 2013, 2:00pm

Tim, when Hugh and James show up in certain places in Pennsylvania, have you found any mentions of church membership for any members of the family, including those one generation down? Are there any marriage records that give a minister's name? Are there any churches close enough to their land that they could have attended and do those churches have any surviving records?

Genealogy, for every answer, you get new questions! :)

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 9, 2013, 6:12pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

joulukuu 9, 2013, 6:14pm

Thanks Dragonfly,

Good questions I will need to look.