Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#52Ancestors (15) Lulu Gertrude Frederick Spencer

Week Fifteen of the #52Ancestors challenge brings me alphabetically to my F's. This week's post is in honor of my great-grandmother, Lulu Gertrude FREDERICK SPENCER.

Gertrude, as she was known, was born on 11 October 1892 in Locke Township, Ingham, Michigan. She was the second of three children born to Milan FREDERICK and Laura Ann MAXSON. As many young farm girls did, she married her neighbor, Edward J. SPENCER. Their wedding took place on 11 October 1913, Gertrude's 21st birthday.

Gertrude and Edward's wedding photo, 1913

(They may be my own family, but I think this photograph is STUNNING. It is one of my favorite keepsakes.)

They lived on the SPENCER family farm, just a mile or so down the road from her parents. Their first child, my grandfather Dallas, was born on the farm the next October, followed by Forrest in 1915. By 1920, family circumstances forced the family to leave the farm (story here) and move into nearby Lansing. They had two more children, Genevieve and Edward, during their time in Lansing.

inscription in Gertrude's Bible
a gift from her father

October of 1925 spelled the end of young Gertrude. She succumbed to pneumonia just two days after her 33rd birthday. Her youngest son was only six months old and her oldest was only 11. The idea of growing up with no memories of your mother makes me sad. Gertrude was so lovely in photographs. I was fortunate to know several of my great-grandparents. I wish I would have known Gertrude, too.

Gertrude is buried in Rowley Cemetery, in Locke Township, next to her husband Edward.

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen

Thursday, April 10, 2014

National Siblings Day

In honor of National Siblings Day...

I'm the big sister, seated at right. Wow, we survived those monkey bars...and those matching outfits. This gives 'DNA match' a whole new meaning!

Love you guys!

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nifty DNA Map

This was a nifty find that came across my Twitter feed this morning:

As someone who has jumped headfirst into the DNA learning pool, I loved this map!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#52Ancestors (14) Carolina Christina Ebinger Hummel

Christine Carolina "Carrie" EBINGER was my great-great-great-grandmother. She was one of several German immigrant ancestors who came to America in the second half of the 19th century. I know the basics about Carrie's life but I am ready to learn more. Sometimes her name was written as Carolina Christine. I use them interchangeably.

Carrie was born on 7 July 1849 in Dafern, Backnang, Wurttemburg, Germany. I know this from the family register of St. John's Lutheran Church in Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan. After Carrie's marriage to Johann Lorenz HUMMEL in 1869 in Branch County, Michigan, the young family moved to Adrian. Fortunately, the recordkeeping in the Evangelical Lutheran church practices included family registers (below, in two parts). The first line lists facts about Johann Lorenz HUMMEL and the second about Carrie, including date and location of birth and Carrie's maiden name:

Christine Carol. gb Ebinger, Dafern, o/a Backnang, Wurttbg, gb 7 Juli '49

The HUMMEL family remained in Adrian. Carrie died there on 28 March 1895 at age 45 of an intestinal cancer. She left young children along with her beloved husband Johann.

In my searches in America for other possible records, I located a Frederick Carl EBINGER in Trumbull County, Ohio. Turns out, Frederick married Barbara Catharina HUMMEL, sister of Johann HUMMEL. Frederick left a Will and probate file after he died. It helped piece together his family.

Between the two siblings, I hope to get back to their German roots. It appears only pieces of their family emigrated to America. I have a pretty substantial timeline for them after arrival. One stumbling block may be how common their first names are. Another is how rare their surname is. I find very few EBINGERs and they are often interchanged with EPPINGER, which is not at all their family. But it's a start!

Carrie seated bottom left
Hummel family, circa 1892, Michigan

Carrie's page in my database

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen

Sunday, April 6, 2014

#genealogyselfie or My Afternoon with the Lincoln's

My favorite activities (outside of working, shopping and cleaning, 'natch) are watching my kids run track and/or cross country and researching my genealogy and local history. Sometimes the two collide. Yesterday was one of those times.

My oldest son runs in college, so many of his meets are out-of-state and unrealistic for travel. This weekend he ran at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, 'just' a 2.5 hour drive. I also went alone, which, frankly, was rather nice. Mom roadtrip! So often on a family drive, no one understands why I want to stop at that 'awesome little cemetery' over there or at the state historic site over there. Nothing stopped me yesterday. Have camera, will travel.

Near Eastern's campus south of Charleston, Illinois, are two Abraham Lincoln historic sites: the Lincoln Log Cabin and Shiloh Cemetery, resting place of Abraham Lincoln's father, Thomas, and stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln.

Since I was alone, I decided to take a selfie at the grave of Thomas Lincoln. This was such a cool find in the middle of central Illinois that I could not pass up the opportunity. And mom is always taking pictures and never in the pictures. Maybe that's why selfies were invented. (See also prompts from +Gould Genealogy & History  and +Randy Seaver)

Thomas' gravestone

Thomas Lincoln
Father of Martyred Pres
Born Jan 6, 1778
Died Jan 17, 1851

Shiloh Presbyterian Church

'modern' gravestone

historical marker

Lincoln log cabin

historical marker
Not only was yesterday a beautiful day weather-wise, but it became a great day for sightseeing and track meet cheering! Beware the crazy lady with the camera.

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Genealogy Timeline, or How I Spent My Tuesday

This is a tale to which, I'm sure, many of you can relate.


Last year, I had my own DNA tested through 23andMe. The results sat there for several months until November, when suddenly two second cousin connections showed up. We emailed and learned how we were related - as daughters of our dads who were first cousins and grew up together. Yay!

I shared this information with my dad, who is getting up there in years, and is pretty quick to give me the 'half-interested eyeroll' when it comes to sharing family history. This time was a little different. I now had names and places and pictures of his cousin from long ago.

Carefully, I explained how we daughters 'met' and how the DNA testing worked. Then I respectfully asked if he would consent to a test. I explained as best I could how it worked, and that I could only get good male results regarding our Irish line if I had a male to test. He said yes! A couple of weeks ago I received the initial results.


1:00pm: Receive email to my phone that 'Sue' wanted to share genomes

1:01pm: What the heck? I checked the site last night and no connections were live yet, so who was Sue?

5:00pm: Whew, done with work, brain thinking how to get home quickly to check the sharing

6:00pm: Dinner and dishes. Come on! I have connections to make, family!

7:00pm: Finally at the computer to see my email and that sure enough, connections were live!

7:20pm: Reviewing all the information I could. Trying to understand the geographic haplogroups

7:30pm: Everything makes perfect sense! Mostly Irish, with a little continental European from the French-Canadian side. Win!

7:40pm: Reply to Sue. Learn she is working on behalf of her mother, and that we are predicted to be pretty distant cousins. Lose a little hope

7:45pm: Share more surnames and emails with Sue and learn the French-Canadian past is our likely link

7:50pm: Open my database and review my distant Quebec ancestors

7:55pm: Open Ancestry for the go-to Drouin database to review some old records

8:30pm: Still reviewing and making new connections and entering data

8:35pm: A record comes up for my Alexis BLANCHETTE in the Tanguay collection. What is that?

8:36pm: Google tells me about Cyprien Tanguay and his efforts to document the first Quebec settlers

8:36.30pm: There's a whole new database I never knew about! Awesome!

8:45pm: See that my ancestral lines from my years of reading the Drouin books (thanks, high school French classes!) got me to documented lines to the late 1700's

9:00pm: See that if I review Tanguay, I can make MORE connections

10:00pm: And more connections

10:01pm: Oops. Good night, son! Sleep well!

10:02pm: And more connections

11:00pm: Hey, there's my connection to Sue! Find we share a fourth-great-grandfather. Revel in the glory of making that DNA connection in only a couple of hours!

11:15pm: Turn off the laptop and lights because the family is sleeping

11:20pm: Sit on the couch in the dark, reviewing more possible sources from the browser on my phone

11:45pm: Silently tell myself I'm an idiot

12:00am: Reluctantly decide to go to bed

12:01am: No sugarplums dancing in my head but plenty of anticipation for more connections!

That's how a day with my research goes. How about you?

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen

Monday, March 31, 2014

#52Ancestors (13) The Sad Saga of Sarah Donaldson Kerr

Sometimes our lives seem overwhelming or tiring or lots of things we'd prefer not to experience. My complaints are nothing compared to the sad life of my great-great-grandmother, Sarah DONALDSON KERR.

In 1854, Sarah was born into the laboring class of post-famine Ireland, perhaps County Down. Shortly after her birth, her parents, Edward DONALDSON and Margaret JOHNSTON(E) crossed the Firth of Clyde and settled in the village of Kilwinning, Ayr, Scotland. Edward worked in the local coal mines. Edward and Margaret had at least eight more children, though not all survived childhood.

On the Scottish census of 1871, Sarah was working as a domestic servant in the home of John LAW, a grocer and spirit merchant in neighboring Kilbirnie. It was there in Kilbirnie Sarah likely met Robert KERR. Robert was another Irish-born coal miner. Their marriage took place on 15 June 1874 in Kilwinning.

Sarah and Robert had their first child, Margaret Donaldson KERR, on 18 March 1876. Only a few months passed before the KERR's were on their way to America. Arriving early in 1877, the young family settled in Braidwood, Will, Illinois. Braidwood was a coal mining town, full of immigrants just like them.

The little family's new life was short-lived:

Sarah died on 12 May 1877. She appears on the records of Oakwood Cemetery in Braidwood, but no stone exists.

Sarah died on a quest for bits of coal:

As a young child, Sarah moved to a new country for a better life. As a new mother with a young child, Sarah made the bigger move to the United States for an even better life. It was not to be. Only 22 years old - a new mother and a new immigrant - and Sarah was dead.

This was one of the saddest news stories I have read. It was short. It was detached. And it was my ancestor. Rest in peace, Sarah.

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen