I love statistics and all the fun charts and graphs you can make. I also love TED Talks. You can imagine my delight when watching Hans Rosling's New Insights on Poverty, when he inserts his grandparents into the data set while comparing past and present economic situations around the world. Genealogy adding context to economic data? Yes please!
Murphy & Aspery
I feel pretty confident on what I’ve found so far with the Murphy and Asperys, so I’ve created a public Ancestry.com tree and have attached most of my sources. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll email you the link. This includes the surnames: Murphy, Quinn, Aspery, and Perchase. The Murphys moved out of Ireland in the early 1800′s and were always on the go throughout Wales, England, and then finally ended up in Pennsylvania. Their movements seemed to be guided by the rise and fall of various ironworks around the UK.
Richards & Williams
Margaret Ann Richards (Murphy Patterson) had a sister named Bessie and parents John Richards and Ann Williams. Family lore is that Ann died when the girls were young and John moved them with their step-mother to Pennsylvania from Yorkshire, England in 1882. I’ve found a potential 1881 census record of a Margaret, Bessie and parents John and Ann in Yorkshire. But, it also includes other siblings Polly, Joseph, and Elizabeth. As far as I know, Margaret never mentioned having any other siblings, other than Bessie. I’m still trying to figure all this out.
Duncan & Rostron
This line includes surnames: Duncan, Glass, Ford, Rostron, Barwell, Kane, and Sullivan. I’m looking for a descendant of either James Duncan (1769-1861) or Hugh Duncan (1799-1870) to compare DNA with. Also looking for an obituary for Jennie Salina (Ford) Duncan who died in 1936 in Effingham, Illinois.
Definitely need to find a descendant of Samuel Willis (abt 1823-?) or Sarah Jane Hilliard (abt 1818-?) to compare DNA with because I have NO IDEA if these are the correct grandparents of Loretta Alice (Zillifro) Hutchinson. She claimed that her “real” mother was a native american that died during childbirth – which, I know, is very unlikely, but I think it’s still possible that her real mother did die during childbirth and her father, Egbert Zillifro, remarried very quickly after. I’d really like to connect with someone from the supposed step-mother’s line to get to the bottom of it.
I spent so much time on this line, almost an entire year exclusively, that I barely look at it anymore. It includes the surnames: Hutchison, Moorhead, Campbell, Patton, Jamison, Shryock, Anderson, and Blackstone. They are Irish and Scottish immigrants from the late 1700′s and ended up in the area of Indiana, PA and Butler, PA. This is the line that connects to Fergus Moorhead, our Revolutionary War ancestor and would qualify the women in my family to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. Unfortunately, the application rules are so stringent that I completely lost interest.
The Updegraffs are well documented back to the late 1500′s. It’s my oldest line and they have interesting connections to the creation of the Mennonite church, William Penn, and early Philadelphia. But, I have little to no information on any of the women that married into the Updegraff family (it’s a very lopsided tree!). I’m particularly interested in the Millers of Hagerstown, MD and Somerset, PA.
Pirolt & Rauscher
Oh, my Austrian ancestors! I feel like I will never know their story. I have a couple leads. One is that my grandfather’s brother supposedly died in WW2 at the Battle of Monte Cassino. If I could be on the show “Who Do You Think You Are,” I would definitely want to do this family line.
WHY did Loretta divorce her husband after 20 years of marriage and leave her two youngest girls mostly unsupervised while she took an extended trip to visit family in another state? WHY and where did James Joseph Murphy contract typhoid? And HOW did all ten Davis family members survive the Johnstown flood, floating on the roof, when their house was near Washington Street – the area that was hit the hardest?
I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a bit of a busy-body. Sometimes the most frustrating part about genealogy is not having a lot of context for certain relationships and events.
But when you have enough details on paper, you can fill in the blanks with your imagination. And that is one of the best parts of genealogy.
Here’s a good example.
Alexander Campbell Hutchinson (my 2nd great grandfather, Cametta Marie’s father) had three unmarried aunts that lived together for the better part of 85 years: Esther, Isabelle, and Margaret. They reached the marriage age 3-5 years before the Civil War, so that may have something to do with why they never got married.
I was doing some research at the Butler County Courthouse a couple years ago and came across Esther and Isabelle’s will.
Esther Hutchison b. 1938 d. 8 Sep 1900
“Sarah C Wackers son Henry Miller is not to git one dollar of my money as land whaver it may be those that is not scaefied with this my will can git nothing of myen”
Isabelle M Hutchison b. 20 July 1840 d. 27 May 1907
“i have not fixed my mind on who i will leve what money i have left to but if any thing should hapen to me before i have things fixed i wont some friend to see that i get a respectable burial and monument. friends that has wronged me is not to get any of my money Miller Hutchison is not to get one dollar”
Isabelle’s will was never filed at the courthouse, but was found months after her death stuffed in the chimney. The newspaper article says that Margaret found it “while ransacking thru the house.”
So, who is this Henry Miller Hutchison? And I definitely need to find Margaret’s will to see if she also mentions him.
(Margaret J Hutchison b. 22 July 1825 d. 2 February 1910 – if anyone in the Butler area wants to take a trip to the County Courthouse)
It turns out that Henry Miller Hutchison was their nephew. He was the oldest son of their brother Robert J Hutchison, who died at the young age of 35 in October 1865.
Did Henry Miller do something terrible to his aunts or were they just three crotchety old women?
I can only imagine!
Who has had their DNA tested for health or genealogy?
I had been wanting to get tested from 23andMe for YEARS but it was always outrageously expensive. Luckily, in past year or so the price has leveled out around $99 across the board. The bigger the sample size, the better the results, so these services should be affordable!
Here’s what I’ve done.
They offer health and ancestry information. The health results are endless and are updated every month as their scientists have new findings. Your health overview includes health risks, inherited conditions, traits, and drug response.
The health risks includes the average risk vs. your risk and also tells you what percentage is attributable to genetics. Alzheimer’s is included in the health risks, which 60-80% attributable to genetics, but the results are hidden in case you don’t want to know.
The drug response information is very useful. To me, this is absolutely fascinating. Instead of trying various medicines and worrying about side effects, your DNA can indicate how you will respond to certain drugs.
The inherited conditions can be helpful if you are planning to have a baby and want to know if you are a carrier for anything. The traits section is mostly fun stuff.
The genealogy section may be disappointing if you’re trying to connect with others. The majority of users are only interested in health results and it seems like there are a lot of people who were adopted trying to find more about their birth family. But, if you get your family tested, there are all kinds of fun statistics. For instance, you can select another person and it will tell you the likelihood your children would have certain traits.
The breakdown of ancestry composition is pretty detailed compared to other DNA tests.
So 23andMe gives you a lot of information! Some info you may not want to know. I personally wanted to know everything and I’m glad I did!
A lot of genies swear by this service and use it as their preferred DNA site. I can’t figure it out.
Uncle Rusty did the basic Y-DNA test, to learn more about the Updegraff line. The results are very technical and somewhat cryptic (in my opinion). I’ve been in contact with someone testing various Updegraff lines, connecting them to the original Op den Graeff family of Germantown, PA so he was able to use the results in his study.
Uncle Rusty’s closest match was a 9th cousin, also with the same surname Updegraff. Not sure what I can gather from that, other than an adoption in my Updegraff line is unlikely.
This is what I would recommend for all the genies, especially if you have a tree there. I’m going to try to get a 2nd cousin from each line tested. The genetic ethnicity summary is pretty dull, but I already knew this so it didn’t matter to me. I was automatically connected with five 4th cousins and a lot of 5th cousins or greater. I immediately confirmed one 4th cousin and one 6th cousin.
But what is most useful are the one’s you aren’t sure about. For instance, I’m connected to someone who has a “Rebecca Duncan” from Tyronne, Ireland who is the same age as James Duncan, my 5th great grandfather who is also from Tyronne, Ireland. Rebecca moved to Canada and James ended up in Erie, Pennsylvania.
I also have a lot of connections with people who have Millers around Hagerstown, MD and Somerset, PA. I’m hoping this will help me find more about my 3rd great grandmother, Margaret Miller and her father George Miller from the same areas.
Which do you prefer?
It all started when I pulled a death certificate for William Murphy at the Pennsylvania State Archives. You never know when you’ll get what you’re looking for, especially when researching a name like Murphy.
I got lucky this time though. William Murphy, my 3rd great grandfather, lived at 307 McClure Ave in the 1920 census with his daughter Sarah and son-in-law John J. Davis. 307 McClure was the address listed on the death certificate. It was a match!
William Murphy died 11 February 1923 of atherosclerosis. The death certificate says he was “about 75″ which I found out later is off by 8 years; he was really 83.
He worked as a watchman at the Steel Carnegie Works and the National Malleable Castings Co in Sharon for 23 years up until his death.
According to the death certificate, William’s parents were Edward Murphy and Martha Quinn.
Surprisingly, Edward and Martha Murphy with child William were easy to find. They stuck out at me because they also had two daughters: Sarah and Mary. William had twin daughters named Sarah and Mary. Maybe he named them after his sisters? With more investigation, it became clear that this was “my” William Murphy family.
As I followed William and his parents, Edward and Martha through the years, history became much more personal (as what usually happens when you do genealogy). The Great Famine occurred in the 1840′s when one million people died of starvation and another one million emigrated.
Edward and Martha moved to Monmouthshire, Wales most likely in search of work and better living conditions. Their first (known) son, William was born in Wales when Edward and Martha were 28 years old. For the 1840′s, that was a very late age to be starting a family, but in Ireland it was difficult to form new households and the average marriage age increased.
Here’s their census timeline:
Edward Murphy’s occupation was a puddler. At 12 years old, William worked with his father at the Iron Mill as a “roller.”
Sisters, Sarah and Mary disappeared after 1841; they may have died or gone into servitude.
The family then moved to Durham, England, again in search of better living conditions and work, specifically to the Witton Park Ironworks. William worked as a puddler.
He married his wife, Catherine Aspery, in Escombe in the 1860′s. The family continues:
In the 1871 census, William had three children: William, Edward, and Martha. Exactly like his parents in 1851.
William’s father, Edward Murphy, Sr., now a widow, was living in the household in 1881 . William’s sister, Martha was also living with them and her daughter, Mary Quinn.
The Witton Park Ironworks closed in 1884, which probably explains the move to Grangetown.
His oldest son, William, is not listed in the 1891 census with them because he had already moved to Pennsylvania, one year ahead of his family. Then in 1892, they immigrated to America.
William’s wife Catherine died in 1902 of “liver troubles.” He lived with his daughter Mary and then with his other daughter Sarah until he passed away in 1923.
He had ten children total, nine we know of: Edward, Martha, William, Henry “Harry,” Thomas, John, James, Mary, and Sarah. As of right now, I’m not sure whether Edward, Martha, or Thomas came to America with their family.
Harry married Celia Mable Luce and had two sons: Harry William and James Russell. They were divorced after only a couple of years. Harry moved in with his sister-in-law in Youngstown until his death in 1956.
John worked as a machinist at the National Malleable and Steel Castings Co. He married an Irish immigrant named Katherine.
James was a laborer who married Margaret Richards, a Welsh immigrant. James and Margaret had six children (including my great grandmother Elizabeth). James died at a young age in 1917 of typhoid.
William’s family moved a lot; Ireland to Wales to England and America. He worked from the age of 12 until his death at 83 years old. Despite being born in Wales he always listed his birthplace as Ireland. His children were born in Durham, England but they often listed Ireland as their birthplace.
The paper trail on William is fascinating and gives a lot of insight into the Irish migration, working conditions, and life in the 1800′s.
My next to-do is to find obituaries.
I’m terrible with cursive writing. We only spent a couple weeks on it in elementary school, then moved on. My 8 year old self thought it was a complete waste of time.
My least favorite part of genealogy is deciphering handwriting. For goodness sakes, why weren’t most vital records printed, neatly?
Here are my current hang-ups.
Slave, Kane, Cain
Margaret A Rostron was born September 1879 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. She’s my 2nd great-grandmother, grandmother to Charles Duncan.
Margaret A Rostron’s parents were Annie Nora and James Rostron. Margaret’s marriage certificate from 9 August 1901 gives both her parent’s names and her mother’s maiden name. But, her mother’s maiden is not so clear (to me at least).
For the longest time, I thought her mother’s maiden was Slave, but it’s not very common and didn’t lead to anything.
Then I found James Rostron’s death certificate (Annie Nora’s husband) from 1925 which listed his wife: Nora Cain. Instead of “Slave” is the first record actually “Kane?”
Her death certificate also lists her father as a Cain, but it’s the same informant on both certificates.
Hannon in Chester
My next mystery is from the death certificate of my 3rd Great Grandfather, William Murphy. Thanks to the Pennsylvania State Archives opening up death certificates to the public, I’ve had a ton of great breakthroughs.
Everything on the death certificate matches up, his address, occupation, age (range). But I can’t figure out who the informant is.
He passed away at the home of his daughter, Sarah Davis. He had two other daughters that I don’t know what happened to, so I’m curious if this is one of them. I’m also curious because Chester is on the other side of the state so this couldn’t be just a neighbor.
It’s something like Mrs. Nod Hannon? I have no clue.
Alexander Campbell Hutchinson was born 24 April 1858 in Oakland Township, Pennsylvania to Ann Marie Jamison and William T Hutchison. “Cam” was the middle child of nine and and as a small boy they lived next door to his grandparents, two aunts and uncles, and nine cousins. I can imagine many large family gatherings.
Cam worked as an oil driller and was often away overnight for work. On 14 July 1893 he married Loretta Alice Zillifro, daughter of Egbert Terwilliger Zillifro and Sarah Ellen Willis. They had eight children; five lived pass infancy: Oscar Bower, Roscoe Campbell, Victor Harold, Cametta Marie, and Rose Ellen.
After the divorce, Cam continued to live in Butler and worked at a local car shop with his neighbor. Loretta moved to Ellwood City and lived with her daughter and grand daughters. The divorce may have been taboo for the family, because Cam’s obituary states that “he leaves a wife living at their Butler home.”
The 1940 census lists Cam living in the Butler County Home. Later that year, on 23 October 1940 at the age of 80, Cam passed away. He had been suffering from chronic endocarditis and chest pains. Cam outlived all of his eight siblings by at least 24 years.
Cam is buried at the Concord Presbyterian Cemetery in West Sunbury, Butler County, Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania. Department of Health. Death Certificates. Bureau of Vital Statistics, Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania. Butler County. Local Family Court in Butler. Divorce Records, Prothonotary, Butler.
Pennsylvania. Butler County. 1860, 1880, 1900-1920, 1940 U.S. census, population schedules. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2012.
“Last Rites for A.C. Hutchinson.” New Castle News, 26 October 1940.