Category Archives: Bursley

Find-A-Grave, more than just graves

The new copy of my great-great grandparents' gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

The new copy of my great-great grandparents’ gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

Good stuff starts with Find-A-Grave.  Okay, certainly not all good stuff, but lately it seems like LOTS of good stuff has made it’s way to me, complements of the wonderful people who post on Find-A-Grave.   Take, for example, the photo shown above, which awaited me in my email upon arising this morning.  Find-A-Grave volunteer Jaci happened to be at the Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, fulfilling a photo request for someone, when she took this picture of the headstone of my great-great grand parents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood.  She had no way of knowing that my yucky photo posted there was taken over twenty years ago, at sunset with a flash, later scanned with a low-res machine, and the original photo lost so I didn’t have any decent version of the precious gravestone.

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

What blows my mind even more is Crystal Lake Cemetery is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE!  What a kind person to be combing that large cemetery for someone, and then on top of it, to serendipitously stumble upon MY family’s gravestone that needed to be updated online.  Totally cool.

My Find-A-Grave stories don’t end there.  I have found the site to be one of the best for making cousin connections.  If it wasn’t for Find-A-Grave, and contacting the individual managing several Bursley memorials, I never would have met my fourth-cousin-once-removed, John.   It was largely John’s research that proved our family’s connection to Benjamin Bursley, a Revolutionary War patriot and a descendant of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, two of my Mayflower ancestors.

Most recently my Find-A-Grave connections put flesh on the bones of my Day ancestors.  It was another sort of serendipitous contact – Merrylyn had posted information on my Day family, and when I contacted her, I learned her great-great-great aunt’s sister, Elizabeth Skillings, married John Day, brother of my fourth great grandfather, Aaron Day.  We are both using the FAN principle, researching friends, associates and neighbors of our ancestors, and have had fun collaborating on the John Day/Elizabeth Skillings connection.  Merrylyn had previously obtained copies of some genealogical data on the Day family that had been submitted to the Starks (Maine) Historical Society where John and Elizabeth had lived.  The writer had spent time interviewing old relatives, and stories had passed on through the generations, with the following tidbit revealing the character and personality of John Day, Sr., father of John and Aaron:

“When the children were young they had two Grammy Days. John said his father told him to call his mother’s mother ‘Poverty Hill Grammy.’ He did and his mother spanked him!  Other family notes refer to his other Day grandmother as Pine Woods Grammy. Aaron Day from Waters History lived on what used to be Poverty Hill.  Jeremiah lived in the area today known as Pine Swamp. Hence the name Pine Woods Grammy.”

This simple little paragraph contains several bits of information:

  1. Another confirmation that John Day married his cousin, Sarah Day, daughter of Aaron Day and Sarah Goodhue.
  2. Aaron Day lived at Poverty Hill in Ipswich.
  3. John Day was a character.  I can imagine similar banter in my own household – my husband would make similar jokes and find it hysterical.  Me, not so much.  I can relate to my fifth great grandmother’s dismay at having her mama called Poverty Hill Grammy.  :-)
  4. John’s father Jeremiah Day lived at Pine Swamp, just outside Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he was born.

After learning about these Day family documents, I was able to obtain my own copy from the Starks Historical Society, but never would have known about them (or who to contact) if it wasn’t for my Find-A-Grave connection.  Yup, Find-A-Grave rocks.

 


Proving the parentage of Cynthia (Day) Bursley

Card announcing my acceptance into the D.A.R.

This past Saturday I was inducted into the Cooch’s Bridge Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  It was overwhelmingly wonderful and quite surreal, and the culmination of nearly thirty years of research into my Bursley family.  It would never have been possible without the collaboration with my third and fourth cousins, and underscores the importance of finding others who are researching your lines.

The success with my D.A.R. application (and recent approval of my Mayflower Society application as well) has inspired me to dig back into the family of my 3rd great grandmother, Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  I’ve posted a bit about my dilemma previously, having miniscule info to go on to determine Cynthia’s parents, and even worse, a very common surname that also turns up zillions of hits in search engines.   However, by golly, I am feeling pretty darn confident in the following indirect evidence, which supports that Cynthia’s parents were Aaron Day and his wife, Martha:

  • DNA evidence.  A FamilyTree DNA Family Finder autosomal test matched me to a descendant of
    I inherited a copy of this photo, which was also posted in an Ancestry.com user tree by another descendant of Aaron Day and his wife Martha

    I inherited a copy of this photo, which was also posted in an Ancestry.com user tree by another descendant of Aaron Day and his wife Martha

    Joseph Warren Day, the youngest son of Aaron Day and his wife Martha.   (We share 63.8 cM’s.)  An Ancestry.com autosomal test provided two additional genetic matches – both to two separate descendant’s of Aaron’s oldest son, Nathaniel.  Our shared, documented family trees demonstrate we are 4th cousins once removed, consistent with the relationship Ancestry predicted by the portion of shared DNA.

  • Naming conventions.  Cynthia (Day) Bursley named her youngest children Aaron Day Bursley and Martha Eliza Bursley.  Cynthia’s presumed brother, Nathaniel, also named one of his daughters Cynthia.  This latter Cynthia, daughter of Nathaniel, married Benjamin Lovejoy on 9 Oct 1864 in Medford, Piscataquis County, Maine.
  • Duplicate, original family photos.  A photograph of a woman labeled Cynthia Lovejoy was listed on the “Scott Kentish and Border” Ancestry.com tree posted by user “devorguilla.”  My heart just about stopped beating when I discovered this photo, as I immediately recognized it –  I have
    my own copy of it in the photo album originally owned by my great, great grandmother, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, daughter of Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  While the photo identification appears to be incorrect (Cynthia Lovejoy lived in Maine where she died in 1867, age 29, and the photo was taken in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1871 or later), it establishes an undeniable connection between my Cynthia (Day) Bursley and the Day family of Plymouth, Hennepin County, Minnesota, where Nathaniel Day, father of Cynthia (Day) Lovejoy, and presumed brother of Cynthia (Day) Bursley, resided. Continue reading

Pension file gem: Amos Day, 1856 letter to his father Nathaniel

The War Eagle, upon which Amos drafted this letter to his father, Nathaniel Day.

I spent my Valentine’s Day happily buried in pension and land records at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  On my agenda was the review and photographing of the pension and land records of the family of my 3rd great grandmother, Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  Most interesting was the file for Amos Day, a Union solider who died in a Georgia Confederate prison on 14 October 1864.   His mother, Eunice (Boobar) Day, had filed for a mother’s pension, and as proof of Amos’ support, she included in her pension request several letters which showed Amos’ financial contributions toward the family.  The first of these letters is dated 13 October 1856, while Amos is traveling west from Maine to Minnesota aboard the War Eagle. Continue reading


Tuesday’s Tip: HistoryGeo.com – You Can’t Live Without It!

Santiago_Homesteads_mapview

Using HistoryGeo.com, I was able to easily create this map on Google maps showing Benjamin Bursley’s residence in relation to those of his sons-in-law, Albert Stanwood and James Smallen.

Okay, it might not be as important as food, water, clothing or shelter, but if you are as into maps and land records as I am, then I’m sure you’ll agree – HistoryGeo.com is one of those “must have” subscriptions.  Here’s why:

  • HistoryGeo.com takes Arphax Publishing’s superb books, Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps, and allows you to search by surname, or browse by county, to find those who had land purchases indexed either in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database or the Texas General Land Office database.
  • When viewing the digital map on HistoryGeo.com, links are included to the individual land owner’s BLM Document, and <DRUM ROLL>…..a link to the tract of land in Google maps!!!!!
  • For under $60, less than the cost of two books, you can have a one-year subscription to access the maps and detail contained in all 500 books published to date. Continue reading

Using DNA to answer: ARE YOU MY (great great great great grand-) MOTHER?

science_dna

In 2010 I took my first autosomal DNA test through FTDNA.  I quickly discovered the frustration of autosomal DNA testing.

1)  Autosomal DNA provides no hints as to what part of your family tree your match comes from.  Given that we each have 64 fourth great grandparents, 128 fifth great grandparents and so on, it can be quite challenging to determine which person is our common ancestor when a DNA match occurs.

2)  Not everyone who does DNA testing is interested in sharing.  That was quite a surprise!  I had always assumed that people who are willing to expend the funds for DNA testing would be similarly interested in collaboration.  WRONG!

3)  Not everyone who does DNA testing posts their family tree for self-exploration by those with whom they have genetic matches. Continue reading


Military Monday – Benjamin Bursley – Civil War veteran

With stories of pilgrims and Revolutionary War ancestors, tales of Indian uprisings and cousins scalped, its no wonder I became a genealogy addict at a very young age. My mother must have been quite astounded that her seven-year-old daughter repeatedly asked about her heritage. Mom’s usual response was, “You’re English, Irish, Scotch, Welch, German and Norwegian.”  She didn’t have much else to offer me, but my grandmother sure did. While we didn’t know WHICH ancestor came on the Mayflower, or who was in the Revolutionary War, we did know it was her mother’s Bursley side that was impacted by the 1862 Sioux Uprising in Minnesota. And, years later, I now know it was also the Bursley lines that had the Mayflower ancestry as well as service in the American War of Independence. So today, Veteran’s Day, I offer this tribute to Benjamin Bursley, my grandmother’s great-grandfather, Civil War veteran and descendent of some of America’s earliest settlers – the Pilgrims. Continue reading


Lemuel Bursley, Ensign, War of 1812

As Veteran’s Day is approaching, I thought it appropriate to share the Annual Return of the Company of Foot, commanded by Daniel Beale, in the War of 1812.  Included is my ancestor, Lemuel Bursley, whose father Benjamin Bursley served in the American Revolution.  The original document is held by the Farmington (Maine) Historical Society.

Daniel Beale's Company of Foot, serving in the War of 1812.

Daniel Beale’s Company of Foot, serving in the War of 1812.

 


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