Friday, August 31, 2012

My Greatest Discovery (COG 121)

I've gone back and forth on what, exactly, has been my greatest genealogical discovery in nearly fifteen years of research.  Indeed, several finds would qualify, but the most recent one was quite special because it came to me when I really needed it.

I had been working on a biography on John W. Berger for my grandmother's Christmas present.  Although not very interested in genealogy, she has always been supportive of my efforts and genuinely interested in what I had to show her.  She also knew the majority of my time had been spent researching lines other than hers (for a variety of reasons, but the main one being that until recently hers were filled with stubborn brick-walls).  Therefore, I knew a book on her grandfather would be special.

I also had a soft spot for John myself.  I knew both so much, and yet so little about him.  He left letters and pictures and many records, but there were some periods in his life, especially his early years, which were a cipher.  I knew who his parents were but had no records explicitly stating their connection.  I also had many questions: When did he become a minister?  How did he end up in Evansville, Vanderburgh, Indiana (where he married)?  Where in Germany did he do his missionary work?  When exactly did he come back?  When did he come to California and later, Oakland?  What lasting effects, if any, did the Civil War have on him physically?

The deadline was looming for the book and while I had a lot of facts, I hadn't felt like I had done a good job of fleshing him out as a person.  I was feeling frustrated one evening and decided to brain storm.  What was the one thing John had been involved in most of his adult life and held most dear?  His church.  Luckily, the Methodist Church keeps wonderful records - but I didn't have time to write away for something and sit back for a month waiting.  So, I went hunting online.  I don't know what I was expecting but I felt the questions most likely to be answered were the ones pertaining to his work as a minister.

And then everything stopped.  I found it.  Was this correct?  What was this?  Is it my John Berger?  It is!  Oh my gosh, oh my gosh...

It turned out to be the book Historical Data and Life Sketches of the Deceased Ministers of the Indiana Conference of the Evangelical Association, 1835 to 1915 (a dryer title you will never find), another, equally interesting version can be found here.  I had spent the last few weeks working on the biography of a man who already had one written about him.  A very good one, indeed, filled with the kind of detail you can usually only dream of and the kind only gleaned from first had accounts not usually written down in books.

I learned about all the places he served as a minister (he was a circuit rider so there were many) and even got found two new pictures of him - one as a young man.  I also learned that he did his missionary work in Essen, Germany and came to California for his health.  I learned that he had probably met his wife at the church conference that had been held in Evansville a few months before they married.  And, I finally had black and white proof for what I long knew, who his parents were.

Then there were all the special, little surprises in store: he was finally persuaded to become a minister when he narrowly avoided being hit by lightning; while in Germany, he was once detained by a policeman on suspicion of being a spy; while a minister in Wabash, Indiana, he was thrown from his buggy and broke his leg and while still recovering, a fire broke out and burned the stable and part of the parsonage; he frequently contributed to church papers and served a variety of roles within the church; he felt his church should not merge with the non-German speaking Methodist Church; he was well loved most everywhere he preached.

I still can't really believe this even existed and was online but am so grateful to everyone from the original authors to the folks at the Internet Archive for putting this out there.

And how did the Christmas present turn out?  Great!  I ended up building the book around this biography (fleshing out areas in the biography only minimally touched on) and ended up with a nearly fifty page book (not bad when you consider the original biography was only about three pages long).  And best of all, my grandmother loved it!

This post was written for the 121st Carnival of Genealogy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Waiting for Results

The test has been taken and mailed back.  Now I wait.  I'm curious to see how AncestryDNA interprets my results.  From my research I know that my ancestry breaks down (roughly) thus:

25% Italian (not Colonial, arrived 1920),
18.75 English (not Colonial, arrived after 1850),
9.375% Scottish and Irish (not Colonial, arrived after 1840s),
6.25% Colonial New England (English and Irish primarily),
6.25% Colonial New Jersey (English, German, Scotch-Irish),
6.25% Swiss (not Colonial, arrived 1840s),
6.25% German (Palatine; not Colonial, arrived 1830s),
6.25% Danish (not Colonial, arrived after 1850),
9.375% Colonial Southern US (many unknowns, likely all English in origin),
3.125% Colonial New York (Dutch, French, English, Scottish),
3.125% Colonial Unknown (earliest traceable is Pennsylvania in the 1780s - probably entirely English in origin).

(In case you're wondering, yes, I did have too much time on my hands last evening.  Then again, I'm so anal-retentive, I would have figured these percentages anyway.)

In my experience with 23andMe (where my father, who is 50% Italian, tested) and FamilyTreeDNA, not a whole lot of people with Italian ancestry have tested.  I'm guessing even fewer will have tested with AncestryDNA, which is still in Beta.  I'm especially anxious to see how that chunk is read and classified (Southern European?  Middle Eastern?).

I also know so little about Southern Colonial lines (though they are all likely English in origin), that I would really love to find a match listing Wellons, Hudson, Mason, Mo(o)re, etc.

I do have one little suggestion for AncestryDNA.  It would be nice if projected matches were included while someone waits for their result.  I've already linked my kit to a public tree I have there, it would be nice if other testers who had the same ancestor(s) in their Ancestry trees were listed as a potential match.

Is it September yet?!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ohio Birth Index Fun recently added Ohio Birth Index, 1908-1964.  I was a little excited about this because it included:

James Lapiccirella entry
My grandmother's brother, James.  He was born about a month after the family arrived in the United States. Since his mother's maiden was something akin to 'Dutchi' I'm particularly interested in the 'Additional Information' section.  Machi and 'Dutchi' sound a bit alike, no?  A quick search of FamilySearch revealed the surname 'Macchia' in the same province my great-grandparents came from.  Hmmm...

'Nunzziatina' Lapiccirella entry
My grandmother's sister, who apparently was named Nunzziat (though I'm guessing it was more like Nunzziatina and the last letters were cut off) at birth.  As far as I know she never went by this name.

Jane Lapiccirella entry
My grandmother!  The 'R' stands for Rose.  I think it is interesting that by this point the family had been in the US a decade and seems to have Americanized a bit.  She is Jane, not something akin to Giovanna and her father had become simply 'Joe' from Giuseppe.

Also included were many of my grandmother's first cousins, children of her father's brother, Nicola.  Thank you, Ancestry, for adding this database.  You've motivated me to finally order these records and add them to my collection.

Disclosure: I have no affiliation whatsoever with  I have a subscription which was paid for same as everyone else.  I received no remuneration or prompting to write this post by anyone.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Some weeks ago I got an AncestryDNA invite.  I waited too long and missed my chance to order a kit.  I was obviously disappointed.  Then I checked my e-mail the other day and what do you know: a new invite.  And this time I didn't putz around!

I've done DNA testing before, though not through Ancestry.  Both my parents tested through 23andMe and I tested my mtDNA and did an autosomal test (Family Finder) through FamilyTreeDNA.  The AncestryDNA test is also an autosomal test.  I'll probably be the one to take the test, but I might try and talk my father into it instead - or maybe my grandmother (though that will be a real long shot).  We'll see.

I'm curious as to how a quarter of my ancestry will be interpreted: my Italian portion.  At FamilyTreeDNA it was classified as "Romanian, Tuscan."  I'm also interested in my possible matches - hopefully there will be some new folks I haven't previously found on

I'm interested in knowing what others thought of the test and results.  Have you taken the AncestryDNA test?  What is your opinion?

Disclosure:  I have no affiliation with and paid the $99 for the test same as everyone else.  I received no remuneration of any kind by anyone for writing this post.

Genealympics: Research Plan #2

From challenge 2d: "Review your collected data, research log, and database and create a Research Plan to do a Reasonably Exhaustive search for the selected ancestor(s)."

Research Plan #2:
Heman Doyle, my 4th great-grandfather.  I have the following records
  • 1850 through 1880 US Census records, obituary, city directories (New York and California), Great Register and voter registration entries (California), headstone picture, letter written by his father-in-law mentioning him, various newspaper articles, biography written by a descendant of his in the 1970s.
What I need to find/get:
  • 1820 through 1840 US Census records, 1810 also if possible; marriage record; possible biographical information from Douglas County, Nevada; cemetery record (?); probate records (?); school (law or otherwise) records (?)
What I know from what I have:
  • Heman was born 31 December, either in 1809 or 1811 in Vermont.  His father was from Ireland and his mother was from Connecticut.  He first appears in 1833 where he is mentioned in his wife's (Alzina Jackman) grandfather's will.  He appears in 1837, as Constable of Pittsford, Monroe, New York.  In 1840, his father-in-law, Moses Jackman, writes to his brother, Caleb, and mentions Heman and Heman's family.  Moses states that Heman and his family had just returned from a failed homestead somewhere near the Mississippi.  Moses further states that at the time of the letter, Heman was visiting his half-brother in Buffalo, Erie, New York.  This likely explains why I cannot find Heman in the 1840 US Census.  
  • Heman appears in the 1850 US Census in Rochester, Monroe, New York where is is listed as a lawyer.  His presence in New York in this census must be due to his wife because he was en route to California at this point.  He had gone west with John R. Shinn, who kept a journal of the trip which mentions Heman as a member of the party.  John R. Shinn would later become Heman's son-in-law.  Alzina continues to appear in Rochester directories for a few years after this, one of which lists her as a widow.  She eventually joined him out west, likely coming with her daughter and grandson in 1853.
  • Heman and his family appear in El Dorado County, California in the 1860 US Census and in San Joaquin County in the 1870 and 1880 US Census.  He died in Woodbridge, San Joaquin, California in 1881 and was buried in Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery.
  • Other tidbits:  He was in private practice in Placerville, El Dorado, California between 1852 and 1854; then until 1856 he served as recorder and court justice in Placerville.  In 1854 he was accused of trying to bribe two California State Senators.  Whatever the outcome, he did remain in practice in California afterwards.  In 1859 is mentioned as a notary public in San Joaquin Co., California.  He then went into private practice until 1865.  That same year he was appointed probate judge in Douglas Co., Nevada as well as a notary public there.  He went on to serve two terms as District Attorney for Carson Valley, Douglas, Nevada.  He also served at various times as Justice of the Peace in New York, California and Nevada.  His later activities are not known, though in the 1880 US Census, his occupation is listed as 'farmer.'  Occasionally, he is listed as H. H. Doyle, Heman H. Doyle and Herman Doyle (which is a typo).
  • From the family Bible of his daughter, his children were: Maria Adelaide Doyle, Rhoda Melissa Doyle and Frances P. Doyle.  Rhoda never appears in any records and likely died young.  While Rhoda was named after her maternal grandmother, I have no idea if any of the other girls were named after a relative on their father's side.  He was a master mason in Woodbridge Lodge, No. 131.
As you can see, Heman was no wallflower.  Finding a marriage record for him and Alzina Jackman (likely around 1832 in Monroe Co., New York) is my first priority, as is finding probate records (if he left any, they'd be in San Joaquin Co., California).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Genealympics: Research Plan #1

The next challenge I chose was 2d: "Review your collected data, research log, and database and create a Research Plan to do a Reasonably Exhaustive search for the selected ancestor(s)."

Research Plan #1:
Nicoletta ?, my great-grandmother.  I was hoping her SS-5 would have answered the big parents question, but that didn't happen.  At first I was disappointed that all I learned was where she was born, but then I realized that the names of her parents would have meant nothing without a place to look for them.  I have a birthdate for her (although the year changes depending on the record) and now that I know the place, I should be able to find and order microfilm.  What I do have on her:
  • 1930 US Census record, death certificate, obituary, ship manifest, SS-5 application
What I still need to find/get:
  • 1940 US Census record (if there is one - believe me, I've looked!), marriage record (I saw it long ago but stupidly didn't make a copy), birth record (microfilms are available to order), cemetery record (?), church records.  Eventually, I need to look for her in the 1950, 1960, 1970 and 1980 US Census records when they are released.
From all the records I do have, this is what I know:

  • She was born 25 February, 1891/1892, in Peschici, Foggia, Apulia, Italy.  She was married to Giuseppe Lapiccirella on 13 August 1913, in Italy.  They arrived at Ellis Island on 4 September 1920 and went to Warren, Trumbull, Ohio where they remained.  She was a member of St. Mary's in Warren but left at some point (I believe after her husband's death in 1973) and joined the Free Methodist Church, also in Warren.  She died on 10 February 1987 in Warren and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery (also in Warren).  According to various family records, her maiden name was something akin to 'Dutchi' but her name at Ellis Island is 'Maria Nicola Riccia.'

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Genealympics: Ancestral Surname

My first challenge is that of tracing an ancestral surname.  I went with my great-grandmother, Gladys V. Healey (Shinn):

1. Gladys V. Healey (1898, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA)
2. Lauren Everett Healey (1873, Newark, Washington Twp., Alameda, CA)
3. Comfort Haley/Healey (1838, Chebogue, Yarmouth Twp., Nova Scotia, Canada)
4. Ebenezer Haley (1801, Chebogue, Yarmouth Twp., Nova Scotia, Canada)
5. Comfort Haley (1754, Brimfield, Massachusetts Bay Colony)
6. Ebenezer Healy (1709, Rehoboth, Massachusetts Bay Colony)
7. Paul Healy (1664, Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay Colony)
8. William Healy (1613, England)

Sources and further information can be found in the book The Haley and Healy Family Ancestry of Ebenezer Haley, California Pioneer of 1850; With an Account of His Descendants to the Present Day compiled by James Bayard Haley, 1964.

Medal: Gold (although James Bayard Haley deserves it, not me)

Genealympics: The Flag

I'm late to join, but eager to participate.  Back in 2010 I also played along and had so much fun I'm coming back for more!

My previous flag can be found here, but since it left off some key countries, I'm going to make a new one also:
Not the best flag, but does represent the ancestral countries I missed the first time.  The top left flag was the flag of Canada between 1868 and 1921 and was the Canadian flag my ancestors lived under primarily.

Below it is the flag of present-day Germany.  Although my ancestors left before what is the current German state was formed, I went the modern route because there are many ancestral locations in Germany which are as yet unknown.

To the right of the German flag is that of Switzerland.  My great-great-grandmother's family hailed from there and I am very proud to say I have Swiss roots.

Above the Swiss flag is that of the Duchy of Schleswig.  Although I could lump it into Germany because it comprises the present-day German state of Schleswig-Holstein, my Schleswig-Holstein ancestors were not Germany.  They were Danish, hailing from what is now North Frisia.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Surname Saturday: Lynch

I'm only collaterally (and distantly) related to the Lynchs, but I have been doing a fair amount of research on them, primarily in the hopes of solving a bit of a mystery (see the bottom of this post for more).  Here is what I know:

Generation 1:
Francis Lynch, born circa 1770*.  He married Mary or Maria Rose (the sister of my ancestor, William Lucius Rose) on 2 Oct 1791 at Trinity Wall Street Church, New York, New York.
Marriage Notice from the New York-Packet (New York, New York), 6 Oct 1791, Issue 1211, Page 3
Their first known child, Thomas, was born 16 Jan 1795 and christened at Trinity on 22 Feb 1795.  His sponsors were his maternal grandparents, Joseph and Barbara Rose, and maternal uncle, Joseph Rose, Jr.    Francis B. Lynch does not have a christening date, though his birth date of 3 Aug 1797 appears in Trinity records.  Their third child christened at Trinity, is Joseph Rose Lynch, born 9 April 1799 and baptized 9 June 1799.  Daughter, Mary Adeline Lynch, born 4 June 1801, was christened at Trinity on 26 July 1801.

Francis Lynch died on 26 Aug 1802 and was buried in the churchyard of Trinity.  His will only mentions his children in a general sense and not by individual name, thus it makes it difficult to know which ones were living at the time of his death.
Death Notice, Daily Advertiser (NY, NY), 28 Aug 1802, Vol. XVIII, Issue 5467, Page 3
Francis' wife, Mary, remarried Capt. William McCormick on 21 Sept 1809.  She died on 30 Apr 1833 in New York, New York.  Her will left her estate to the children of her son, Francis B. Lynch.
Death Notice, Spectator (NY, NY), 2 May 1833, Vol. XXXVI, Issue 46, Page 3
* birth date calculated from cemetery records which list his age at death as thirty-two.

Generation 2:
1. Thomas Lynch, born 16 Jan 1795.  A Thomas E. Lynch died in Regla, Cuba on 12 May 1810.  I believe that this Thomas E. is the same as the Thomas, son of Francis Lynch and Mary Rose.
Death Notice, Columbian (NY, NY), 8 June 1810, Vol. I, Issue 187, Page 3
2. Francis B. Lynch, born 3 Aug 1797.  Francis married Charlotte Phillips Bache on 14 Feb 1821.
Marriage Notice, NY Daily Advertiser (NY, NY), 21 Feb 1821, Issue 396, Page 2
Charlotte died on 23 May 1830.  Francis B. Lynch died on 30 Dec 1841.
 Death Notice, Evening Post (NY, NY), 24 May 1830, Issue 8678, Page 2
 Death Notice, Spectator (NY, NY), 1 Jan 1842, Issue XLV, Page 3
Francis and Charlotte had three children (see "Generation 3").

3. Joseph Rose Lynch, born 9 April 1799.  A Joseph R. Lynch died in Marseilles, France on 9 Dec 1820 and I believe that this is the same person as Joseph Rose Lynch.  He does not appear to have been married or had children at the time of death.
 Death Notice Evening Post (NY, NY), 22 Feb 1821, Issue 5825, p2
4.  Mary Adeline Lynch, born 4 June 1801.  She is a recent discovery and someone I know very little about.  I'm guessing she died young and did not have children as she is not mentioned in her mother's will.

Generation 3:
Francis B. and Charlotte Bache Lynch had the following children, according to the book The Barclays of New York... by R. Burnham Moffat:
From page 137
I have done additional research on this generation and it is available upon request.

The Mystery:
So why have I been so interested in the Lynchs?  Because Francis is a mystery himself, and his will even more so.  I do not know where Francis was born or who his parents were.  His will makes mention of a "widow Jane Lynch" and her three children, Maria, Francis and Thomas Miflin Lynch.  Try as I might I have not been able to uncover much about these four people or how they might be related to Francis.