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
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.
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
Gravestone for Fred Stanwood and brother Bert Jerome, Crystal Lake Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Uncle Fred. Unmarried. That’s the only thing my grandmother had to say about her mother’s older brother. Quite odd, given that she had photos, stories and other interesting bits of history on her mother’s other five living siblings. I didn’t think much of it as a new genealogist; after all, Fred didn’t have children. What was there to research? As I matured in my techniques and skills, it did not matter that Fred was without descendants who would later care about his life and history. It mattered to me, as he was part of the family, and his life was important.
In the late 1980s, I snapped the photo above, taken at Crystal Lake Cemetery. Benjamin Stanwood, brother of Fred and Bert J. Stanwood, purchased the plot for his unmarried brothers. Bert was buried there; curiously, Fred was not. Where did he go? Where did he die? No one seemed to know.
As the internet advanced and databases became available, more details on Fred’s life emerged. Continue reading
Hannah (Thomas) Wasgatt’s signature is found in her husband Thomas’ probate record
Last Friday was a genealogist’s dream – I received five deeds and three probate files in the mail. Of particular interest was the probate record for my 5th Great Grandfather, Thomas Wasgatt, who died 19 May 1820. Shown above is the signature of his wife, Hannah (Thomas) Wasgatt, who acknowledged in writing her “allowance” from her husband’s estate. While most of Hannah’s female peers were giving their “mark” when a signature was necessary, she was able to write her name.
Hannah wasn’t the only smarty pants in the family. Nope, her husband Thomas clearly was a learned man. I was so tickled to find that the very first item listed in the inventory of his possessions was a desk. Continue reading