Category Archives: My Family Lines

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


Grandma and Cedric Adams – believe it or not!

Downtown, a book about Minneapolis, and Grammer's autograph book, provide clues to the mystery

Downtown, a book about Minneapolis, and Grammer’s autograph book, provide clues to the mystery of my grandmother’s relationship with Cedric Adams, the Twin Cities radio announcer.

It all started with a tale told by my late Cousin Pat, a book about the history of Minneapolis, and a peculiar warning in Grammer’s autograph book.

“Grammer,” as my grandmother was called, was the epitome of what a grandmother should be – doting, kind, and indulgent.  Okay, my mom probably didn’t appreciate the fact she spoiled me with candy and cookies, and showed me my Christmas gifts early, but I adored my grandmother.  As I grew older, Grammer would share with me stories from her childhood.  Later, as I became a genealogy addict, she was always interested in learning about my latest findings.  After returning from a research trip in Grammer’s hometown of Minneapolis, I loaned her a book I’d purchased called “Downtown.” Little did I know I wouldn’t receive it back until Grammer had passed – but she would never tell me why or what happened to it!

A biography of Cedric Adams and an article written by him appear in this book that my grandmother didn't want to give back to me.

A biography of Cedric Adams and an article written by him appear in this book that my grandmother didn’t want to give back to me.

Right after my grandmother’s death, I became reacquainted Grammer’s niece (my mother’s cousin), Pat (Anhorn) Blair.  Cousin Pat told me of my grandmother’s wild teenage years, and I learned a side of Grammer that I’d never known before.  The most interesting detail, however, was regarding Cedric Adams, an overwhelmingly popular radio announcer in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in the 1930s and 1940s. 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.

 


Sleuthing, serendipity and magical Maine maps!

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

I love maps. They often hold the keys to learning more about our ancestors. They place these people in context with those with whom they lived. They show a community, give us an idea of of who their friends, family and associates were. They simply make it all “click” for me, connecting the dots in a way nothing else does. Finding those maps, however, can be exceptionally challenging.

Consequently, I’ve spent the better part of the last nine years looking for maps of early Penobscot county, Maine. Specifically, I wanted to see where the families lived who resided in the towns of Chester and West Indian Township (now known as Woodville, and formerly Township No. 2 Indian Purchase).  Imagine my delight a few weeks ago when I finally found the online images for the 1859 map above, clearly indicating my great-great-great-great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, lived in North Woodville, just south of the Pattagumpus stream. Continue reading


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