Research Tip of the Week

It is Tip Tuesday once again. This week my tip is about the use of surname tables in research. Surname tables are a useful tool to add to your genealogical research toolbox.

What is a surname table?

A surname table is a simple table that easily shows all the surnames of your grandparents through your 4th great grandparents in an easy to read and compact table. The surname table removes all the extra information of a tree and allows you to just focus on the surnames of your ancestors.

Why use a surname table?

A surname table is a great tool while doing DNA research. Autosomal DNA testing like that performed at sites like ancestry is really the most useful within 5 generations. The closer the better. With the generations of recombination, it gets too unreliable after that point. Using a surname table gives you a quick reference list of the surnames in your tree so that you can search out the familiar names in the trees of your matches. This allows you to find most recent shared ancestors more efficiently.

Surname tables are also useful in the fact that they create a visual to do list of brick walls. I knew I had a lot of brick walls in the family of my maternal grandmother but with the use of a surname table I can see the extent of my brick walls. Each of the question marks is a research project I need to work on further.

completed surname table
Surname table

Creating a surname table

This is my surname table. The concept is super simple. I used Excel to create mine, but you can use any sort of spreadsheet program or even a pencil and paper. The table needs 5 columns and 17 rows. The blank table should look something like this.

Blank surname table
Blank surname table

To fill in the table I start with the first row. I fill in the surname of my father’s father, father’s mother, mother’s father, and mother’s mother. These are my 4 grandparents. I will build out each column with their ancestors as I move down.

Grandparents

On the row with my grandparents you will notice two names (Baker/Fulkerson) separated by a slash and an asterisk next to one name, Baker. This denotes that he was the product of an adoption. During his lifetime he is on records with both his adopted surname (Fulkerson) and his biological father’s surname (Baker). I want to make sure I make note of that fact. I use a slash to denote he used both names during his life.

Okay great now I can move onto the next generation. Another way that I could approach the adoption of my Grandfather would be to add the asterisk and add Baker in an inserted row for the next generation. In my case, because my Grandfather used the name Baker for early years, I added it in on his surname. I will from this point only follow the Baker line back, not the Fulkerson name.

For the rest of this section of my table I only want to focus on the names not already on the table. I need to add the maiden surnames of each of my great grandmothers. I fill the table out moving across. Weatherspoon, Eckler, Brown, and Coats.

Great grandparents

The next generation will have 2 rows in each column. I move down my list. Once again, I only want to add names not already on the table. I want to look at the surnames of each of my great grandparents’ mothers. To keep things organized as I move down the table I start from the top and move down. My Baker great grandparent was the child of a woman with the maiden name Morgan. My Weatherspoon great grandparent was the child of a woman with the maiden name Bennett. I move across the table filling in these two rows for each column.

More generations added

At the next section of the table we are listing 3rd great grandparents. We need to add 4 surnames to our table at this level. At this generation, my tree starts to get less complete. I mark the ancestors that I cannot name with a question mark as a placeholder. This helps keep my table organized for easy understanding. I want to be able to look at my table and even at the 4th great grandparent level be able to see which surnames pair together.

After the last section, your table should look something like this. With such a compact format it is easy to see that I have some lines of my family that I have more work to do. Another thing that this table reveals, if I was not already aware of it, is that some of my lines have some intermarriage going on. I could find some skewed math in my DNA matches in the lines with double cousins.

I find surname tables especially useful when I am working DNA cases for other individuals as a Search Angel where I am not as familiar with the surnames as I am in my own lineage. Have you used surname tables while working with your DNA matches?

From Crowns to Coal Mines?

#52ancestors Week 3 – Long Line

This week the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks prompt is Long Line. For my ancestor this week I actually chose a branch of my family which has very long researched roots. This Claypoole branch has what is considered a gateway ancestor. Through him lineage has been tracked back to the Emperor Charlemagne.

The Virginia Branch

I have spent a lot of time lately working on some of my other family lines.  Recently I decided it was time to revisit some of my Shuck ancestors and see if I could get further with some of my loose ends.  I began working on the line of Malinda Claypoole.  Malinda was the wife of George Edgar Shuck and the mother of Perry Addison Shuck from which the P.A. Shuck Cemetery got its name.  That would make her my 4th Great Grandmother.

georgemalindashuck

Malinda was born in 1819 in Buchanan County, Virginia.  Her family had been in Virginia for generations.  Her Great Grandfather, James Claypoole, had come to Virginia from Delaware sometime prior to 1761.  He settled first in Augusta County and later Hardy County.

Malinda was the daughter of Ephraim Claypoole and Lucinda Arbaugh.  Ephraim (1763-1840) was the son of Joseph Claypoole and Abigail Osborn.  Joseph Claypoole (1735-1790) was the son of James Claypoole (1701-1789) and Jane Elizabeth.

The Three James

James, our Virginia settler was the 3rd of his line to carry the given name of James.  His father, James Claypoole II, was born in England about the year 1664.  James Claypoole II (1664-1706) came to the American colonies in 1683 aboard the ship Concord; also immigrating to the new world at the same time were his parents, James Claypoole I(1634-1687) and Hellena, and six of his siblings.  They were Quakers, and closely associated with William Penn.  James I was a successful merchant both in England and in the colonies.  The family made their home in Pennsylvania and Delaware region.

English Roots

As I started to research the origins of James Claypoole before he left England I quickly discovered that extensive research has already been done on the line from this point.  I’m still connecting all the dots but it gets interesting quickly.  It led to places I didn’t expect it to go.

James Claypoole was the son of John Claypoole and Marie Angell.  Sir John Claypoole (1595-1664), Knight of Latham, was a man of substantial means for his time.  During his lifetime he was both knighted and made a Baronet, he was a Member of Parliament, Justice of the Peace, and likely served as Sheriff for his county.  His family home was an estate called Northborough Manor which still stands today.

northborough-manor
Northborough Manor as it is today

John Claypoole was the son of Adam Claypoole and Dorothy Wingfield.  The Find a Grave memorial for Adam Claypoole (1595-1634) had an interesting fact that made me decide to work on the line of Dorothy Wingfield (1566-1619) first.  “Through her father’s lineage Dorothy was a direct descendant of King Edward I of England” the line reads.  Statements like that make me curious but I tend to take them with a huge grain of salt.  Mythology and genealogy can often be close friends.  Upon quick inspection it looks like the information could very well be legit but I’m reserving my grain of salt.

Chasing Royalty

Dorothy Wingfield was the daughter of Robert Wingfield and Elizabeth Cecil.  Robert Wingfield (1532 – 1580) was the son of Robert Winfield I and Margery Quarles.  Robert Wingfield I (1491 – 1576) was the son of Henry Wingfield and Elizabeth Rookes.  Each generation the ancestors appear to have managed at least a relative amount of success in life although nothing extraordinary.

Sir Henry Wingfield (1440 – 1494) seems to have lived a noteworthy life.  He was the youngest of 11 children born to Sir Robert Wingfield and Elizabeth Goushill.  Henry fought for the House of York in the War of the Roses and both Henry and his brother, Thomas, were knighted by King Edward IV at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.  At the end of his life Sir Henry served as Governor of Orford Castle.  Sir Henry and his wife were both buried in elaborate tombs that featured effigies.  The tomb and the effigies no longer exist.

At this point chasing the possibly royal link led me up the line of Sir Henry’s wife Elizabeth Goushill (1404 – 1466).  Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir Robert Goushill (1350 – 1403) and Elizabeth FitzAlan (1371 – 1425).  Sir Robert and Elizabeth FitzAlan, Duchess of Norfolk, were married about 1400.  Elizabeth was a widow and the couple married without license and as a result King Henry IV seized the lands belonging to Elizabeth.  Family connections helped smooth over the issue and the King granted them a pardon and restored her lands soon after.  Robert was knighted at the Battle of Shrewsbury by the king while still wounded on the battlefield.  According legend Sir Robert was murdered for his valuables on the same day her received his knighthood from the King.  He and Elizabeth had been married a few short years and only two daughters were born to the union.  Sir Robert and Elizabeth are buried in an elaborate tomb in St Michael’s Church in Nottinghamshire, England.

robert-goushill-elizabeth-fitzalan-effigies
Tomb of Sir Robert Goushill and Elizabeth FitzAlan in St Michael’s Church Nottinghamshire, England

Elizabeth FitzAlan was the daughter of Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel (1346 – 1397), and Elizabeth de Bohun (1350 – 1385).  She is the connection of the Claypool family of West Virginia to the ancient Kings of England.  Through her father’s side she is the 3rd Great Granddaughter of King Henry the III of England.  Through her mother’s side she is the 2nd Great Granddaughter of King Edward I, known popularly as Longshanks, and the 3rd Great Granddaughter of King Henry the III of England once again as her parents were distant cousins.

Royalty Found

So it does indeed appear that the modern Shuck family and connected lines indeed carry the blood of Kings.  Upon further digging I have discovered that James Claypool of Pennsylvania is already listed as an descendant of Charlemagne through genealogical societies that trace royal descendants which means that cousins somewhere along the line have even proved the information as accurate.  This just goes to prove you truly never know what genealogical research will turn up.  I expect to dig much further into this fascinating family line.

For what it is worth on the topic of Charlemagne…here is a great article that tackles the topic of his descendants. So you’re related to Charlemagne

See inside Northborough Manor and further details on the estate here

Daniel E Adams – Gunsmith, Soldier, Photographer, Attorney, Skunk Farmer

The Unbelievable Life of Daniel Adams

A gunsmith, soldier, photographer, attorney, and a skunk farmer – it sounds like the start of a joke where the next line should be they walked into the bar. Interestingly enough those are all job titles held at various times by Daniel E. Adams.

On the scale of interesting characters of genealogical research my third great grandfather, Daniel E. Adams, is a jackpot. For the last several weeks I have been slowly pecking away at research on him for this blog…but it seemed the more I dug the more I wanted to dig. His life took many turns that make him an intriguing research subject with countless sources.

Early Life

Daniel E. Adams was born in Canada on 23 February 1832. His parents, Erwin Adams and Charlotte Murray, were of American birth. Shortly after Daniel’s birth, the family moved back south to the United States. Over the next two decades, the family would reside in Illinois and Michigan where most of the family would settle for generations.

Daniel married his first wife, Rachel Hamilton, in Oakland County, Michigan on 23 Sept 1852. There are four known children born to the marriage Flora, Edward Dexter, Arthur Hamilton, and Elmer Eugene. Rachel passed away 5 July 1862 leaving Daniel a widower with four children under the age of 10.

After the death of Rachel, Daniel hired 17-year-old Sarah Ferguson to help care for his children. The two married on 20 September 1863 in Genesee County, Michigan.

American Civil War

On 7 September 1864, Daniel enlisted as a gunsmith in Company G 4th Michigan Infantry reorganized. According to information he provided at the time he was a veteran of the Mexican American War. During his term of enlistment, he would see combat action in skirmishes across northern Alabama.

On 14 May 1865 the train carrying Daniel’s unit derailed while traveling through Tennessee. The train car he was riding in became detached and jumped from the track. Daniel received injuries in the accident. The Army discharged him a month later in Nashville, Tennessee on 7 June 1865.

After the War

Daniel returned home to his family after his discharge from the Army. The 1870 census shows him at home with his young wife, Sarah, and their rapidly growing family. His profession at the time is listed as a photographer and records show he operated the first photograph gallery in Lapeer, Michigan. He would study law while operating the Mammoth Skylight Gallery. By 1872, he was a practicing attorney.

Daniel and Sarah continued to reside in southern Michigan and their family continued to grow. The two would have eight children together.

Eventually Daniel branched out from practicing law and started farming skunks.

Daniel passed away on 5 April 1906 in Genesee County, Michigan. He is buried in the Smith Hill Cemetery in Otisville, Genesee County, Michigan.

Cousins Made Easy: Calculate Relationship with this Quick Video

We’re Related How?

I think anyone who has ever done any cousin fishing has asked or been asked the question about degree of relationship.

Are you my first cousin once removed, no maybe you are my second cousin. The waters get muddied pretty quickly. Here is a short video that will help you become confident with explaining cousin relationships.

Research Tip of the Week

Know what you are looking for before you start searching.

It is important to know what records exist for a given time and place.

In the genealogical world it is common knowledge that a vast majority of the 1890 United States census was destroyed. A seasoned researcher will not waste time looking for a record they know doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, we all search for records that do not exist as a day to day part of the job but it is helpful to do a little pre-research homework and try to determine if the records you are looking for even exist. Work to understand the locale of your research subject. Did the courthouse burn? Did the location make any effort to record births before a certain date? Answering a few simple questions before searching can be a time saver.

Learning Mama

My daughter has recently started her foray into blogging. She is a wife and college student with 3 children of her own who lives several states away.

As part of family history month I asked her to allow me to post to her blog about family history month and requested she sit down with the oldest grandson and draw his first family tree.

I’m not going to lie…I hope I get it wrapped up as a holiday gift this gift giving season.

Head on over and check out my guest blog on Learning Mama on how to celebrate family history month.

Jackpot! 4 Easy Tips To Reach Your Family History Treasure

Two of my favorite things are newly discovered cousins and old photographs.

The name dusty roots and forgotten treasures is a subtle shout out to that. Most of my roots were dusty and forgotten until I set out to dig them up.

Every day I dig, and I am constantly rewarded with the discovery of amazing historic treasures. Not monetary treasures, I will never die rich, but I have a wealth that is incomparable to a stack of cash.

Recently I hit the lotto when it comes to the family history jackpot.

Patrick Lee Fulkerson

I connected with some cousins that I had never met before and not only has it been wonderful to connect with this newly reconnected branch on the family tree, I was also rewarded with being able to get copies of many priceless photographs.

Photographs I had never seen before. Photographs of people who have some of the same features that I do. Enough photographs to help fill in the gaps of photographs on one family line to the point that I now have a photographic timeline of NINE generations!

Amazing!

Loree Ashley

I’m always excited to connect with relatives because it gives me the opportunity to share the family history gold I find. On those instances where I find myself on the receiving end of such wonderful bounty it feels like karma is rewarding my genealogical good deeds. I get smiled on by the karma gods of genealogy a lot.

I have really been blessed.

To accomplish this great feat of 9 photograph generations it took a lot of people to share their treasures with me. I have had distant cousins mail me packages of photocopies from the opposite side of the country. I get emails from cousins filling my inbox full of priceless photographs decades old. I get text messages from relatives as they make road trips and can visit long forgotten family cemeteries that I may never get the opportunity to visit for myself.

L to R Wilma Ashley, Albertina Adams, Sarah Eckler, Emma Post, Nila Ashley

Often in various genealogical groups I see people that are upset that people are not sharing with them on sites such as ancestry. I have not run into that a lot. Most people are very generous with me.

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These are my 4 tried and true tips for breaking the ice with cousins and opening the door to sharing of information and photographs.

  • Approach newly discovered cousins with a gift of your genealogical treasure. Do you know some information that might not be common knowledge? Do you have an old photograph that you can share a copy? Can you share information about how you and the cousin are connected? Generosity often begets generosity. It is a great way to break the ice.
  • Be willing to let information simmer. If you send a message off to a cousin and get no response just let it go. There is no way to know what another individual has experienced. For some people family history can be a traumatic experience or information that you reveal might be shocking or confusing. Stalking an individual with repeated follow up messages will probably not make a new friend.
  • Show gratitude. If contact with a cousin results in nothing of use to you personally at least thank them for their time. They may not have any information for you currently but if you make a positive impression, they are more likely to recall you in the future if or when they encounter information or someone that has information.
  • Family photographs used to be rare and hard to copy. Today with great cell phone cameras in most pockets and handheld scanners available at affordable prices there is no reason to suggest ever taking possession of someone’s treasured original photograph. You want to irk Great Aunt Betty? Take her priceless heirloom photograph out of her site. Quietly get a copy if you can and thank her profusely for the privilege and then for goodness sake put it back exactly where and how you found it!

Do you have any tips and tricks for getting people to share their genealogical treasures?

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Shocking Secrets: Black-Market Babies of the Hicks Clinic

Genetic Genealogy is an exciting new frontier.

Most adoptees have questions. Few have questions like those who began life in the Hicks Community Clinic. The case of the Hicks Clinic babies is a powerful example of the information that can be discovered with the use of genetic genealogy technology.

Taken at birth – words to strike fear into the heart of any mother. That is the title of a 3-part series on TLC that aired on Oct 9 -11, 2019. The series is about a small community that straddles the Georgia-Tennessee state line and the dark history that gave the community infamy.

Jane Blasio, Hicks Baby on Taken at Birth on TLC

The town of McCaysville, Georgia was the scene of a secret black-market baby ring that operated for decades out of the clinic of a doctor named, Thomas Hicks, Sr. The town seems like any other quaint small town however, nothing about the small town is quite what it seems on the surface.

Dr. Thomas Hicks, Sr. was a respected family man and community doctor, he was a fine upstanding citizen in his community. Under the polished surface many layers of deceit festered.

Secrets

It was a poorly kept secret in the region that the doctor ran an illegal abortion clinic, drawing desperate women from all over the local region for his services. It was a poorly kept secret in town that the “good” doc was having affairs and fathering illegitimate children. A better kept secret was the fact that the doctor was running a black-market baby adoption ring, trading babies for cash in shady back door deals.

More than 200 individuals have been identified that passed through the back door of the Hicks Clinic.

No records have ever been found in the quest to learn the truth behind the Hicks Clinic adoptions. If any were kept, they have been either destroyed or have yet to be found. Extraordinary measures have been gone to in the search to locate any of Dr. Hicks records only to turn up nothing. It seems as if from beyond the grave, decades later, some of the townspeople of McCaysville, Georgia are more interested in the cover up than the truth. Even today Dr. Thomas Hicks Sr. is locally regarded as a man who did bad things with good intentions.

Complicated Legacy

The Hicks babies are all grown now and most of the biological parents who have been identified have died taking their secrets with them. Of some of the adoptees who have been reunited with their biological families, the reactions have been mixed. At least one adoptee was intended to be aborted and Dr. Hicks convinced the young woman to carry her child and put it up for adoption. Even with those truths revealed it still feels like there is more left unsaid to that story than has been revealed. Dr. Hicks plays the complicated part of both villain and hero in many of the babies of the Hicks clinic.

Nothing about the case is cut and dry even decades after the Hicks clinic closed.

Questions far outreach the answers and the web seems to grow ever larger. Powerful men in the town, the doctor, the mayor, and the chief of police all had knowledge of what was going on and indeed were involved in using the clinic to cover up their own private misdeeds in some cases.

How did the doctor eventually get shut down after decades running his abortion clinic? What led to him getting caught after so long in business? How did he manage to escape jail time for his illegal abortion ring? Have any of the Hicks babies DNA matched each other?

I have so many questions about this case. I cannot fathom the depths of frustration that is felt by the individuals who are trying to navigate this in their own lives.

There is no documentation about what happened behind the doors of the clinic.

Few living individuals who know what was going on at the time and of those…fewer are willing to speak. Even from the grave the “good” doc manages to keep a town quiet about some of its darker secrets

To really understand the case in perspective requires a broader view. Abortion was illegal. Women died in unsafe back alley abortions. Dr. Hicks at least as far as anyone can tell took good care of the women in his charge if not making the best medical decisions regarding the children they birthed. There were not safety net programs to support unwed mothers. Society held a negative view of unwed females. These were often desperate young women.

Was Dr. Hicks a villain or a hero? On some level perhaps he was both.

The doctor lost his medical license after his illegal abortion clinic was closed by the authorities in the 1960’s. At that time the black-market baby ring in McCaysville, Georgia ceased to operate. It would be decades more before anyone even realized what was going on at the back door of the clinic.

4 Brilliant Ancestry Hacks You Need to Know

Research on a Budget

I consider myself an addicted genealogist. There is a joke in the genealogy community. We are all self proclaimed addicts but you will never see a genealogist anonymous meeting. Why? Genealogists never want to quit. Perhaps we’re not a funny lot but the point is valid.

Everyday I dedicate time to researching or improving my research skills. I have been at this a long time and I consider myself a good researcher. In this field no one is ever truly an “expert”. People have specializations, but the subject is just so wide that it is is impossible to know it all at an expert level. It is a constant effort to acquire more information and skills.

If I ever strike it rich I might allow myself to spend endless amounts of money on this passion that I love so much but that is not this reality. Each of my precious genealogy budget dollars has to be used in the best way possible. I have discovered a few hacks to stretch my budget while still utilizing the vast resources at ancestry.com.

Being a member of ancestry.com can be a budget buster. The vast resources on the site, and the ease of use makes it worth the effort to subscribe to the paid site at least for short periods of time occasionally. However those monthly subscription fees can be hard to choke down.

4 Money Saving Ancestry Hacks

My first ancestry hack is to only subscribe when you are able to dedicate a considerable amount of time to research. If you are pressed for time and don’t know when you might have time to research then cancel that membership. It seems simple enough but I don’t know how many times I see people with a paid subscription to the site on auto renewal that haven’t touched the site in months. Your tree will remain there waiting for you to return at a free membership level unless YOU delete it. Don’t be afraid to save a few bucks if you can’t find the time to research.


My second ancestry hack is that even if you are researching on a regular basis cancel from time to time to get the company to offer a discount rate to stay. Often they will give 2 months for the twice of one if you have been a subscriber for awhile. It is no secret that most companies put more effort into attracting new customers than they do to ones who are loyal. I have no problem reminding companies that my research dollars are hard earned and I expect them to work for them just as they would a new customer. Ancestry is definitely one of the biggest and easiest to use sites but it is not the only place to research. I like to walk away from time to time just to remind myself that there are so many wonderful records repositories other than ancestry.


My third ancestry hack is to watch for sales. Ancestry is big on running regular sales. They typically run sales around holidays. The sales will typically offer DNA tests at $59 plus shipping and 50% off subscription services. I like to take advantage of sales around Black Friday and Mother’s Day to get my subscription services 50% off for the 6 month package.


My fourth ancestry hack is to use rakuten. It sounds too simple to be true but I always make sure I use a rakuten link when I purchase DNA tests or my regular subscription memberships. Typically, ancestry offers 7.5% cash back through rakuten. That’s right, just for buying your normal subscription you can earn 7.5% each and every time if you open a ticket through rakuten. I actually LOVE this site. They also offer 4% on DNA tests through ancestry. On a rare occasion I have even found ancestry on the double cash back list and received 15% cash back on my purchase.

Disclaimer: I will receive a small compensation from rakuten through this link however I recommend using rakuten for many of your shopping needs if you like to save money and receive cash back. I recommend this product because I think it is valuable and I have earned hundreds of dollars back in this method not because I have a referral link.

These are my 4 brilliant ancestry hacks. I use these methods to stretch my research budget and get the most out of each dollar I spend. Do you have any budget stretching ancestry hacks?