Friday, August 31, 2018

Follow Up Friday–Trying a New Research Technique

Finding records on my ancestors in the early 1800s I knew would be difficult.  What should I do? 

In my last post entitled Trying Out a New Research Technique: Finding Ancestors in the Early 1800s I described a research technique I heard about in a workshop at Jamboree.  I developed a research question and listed all the possible sources where I could look for the answer.  I was pleased at how many suggestions I was given from readers, many of which I have used in the past, that I could add to my list of possible sources of information.

I tried searching in serval sources and found a lot of great information on my maternal 3x great-grandmother Amanda Johnson Browning’s grandparents, her marriage to William Browning, etc. Great information for other stories but what about

my research question:  When and where was Amanda Johnson born?

I had to keep refocusing myself to my research question.  The additional information is great but I needed to stay on track and answer my question.  (Those rabbit holes sure are intriguing.)  After several days of research I started looking in a book that was on my list of sources that might have information.  The book was by the author H. C. Bradsby entitled History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania: with biographical selections.   The link for the book I had listed in my spreadsheet from the Family Search Wiki didn’t work but I found the book on Ancestry when I searched Pennsylvania, Bradford County in the Card Catalog.


I was familiar with this author’s name and his work is listed on the website Tri-Counties Genealogy and History Site-Bradford and Tioga County (PA) and Chemung (NY). I have found his information to be very useful in the past.  At the time I thought this was the same book on my list but it was another book by another author.  (I used my original spreadsheet to research from and realized this book was on my spreadhseet but I somehow left it off when transferring the information to my blog post-oops.) 
Here is what I found:


Orwell township is in Bradford County, PA and I knew Amanda had married William Browning.    SUCCESS!  My research question is answered. Happy dance time!

Some thoughts on this research technique I had not used before:
  • I have to admit that it was very difficult to not just start hitting SEARCH with each record source I found when I was making my initial list.
  • Coming up with a list of possible sources to research was very helpful even if it seemed time consuming to set up on the front end.  I have short time periods here and there to search with working full time.   When I have the time to sit down for a few minutes I search haphazardly for information.  Having the list of sources made my time searching much more focused and actually more productive.  I didn’t need to stop and think about what I had already done because I kept results of my searches in my spreadsheet.
  • My list of sources of information will come in handy as I continue to search for information on Amanda’s life.
  • I have other family lines from this area of Pennsylvania.  Now that I have developed a list of resources for this county I can use that list to search other family lines as well.
  • Even though you think you are familiar with an author’s work look for other titles by the same author.  I wonder why Mr. Bradsby collected this information?  Was he paid to record the information or was it a hobby?

I will definitely use this research technique again!  Thank-you Annette Burke Lyttle

In future posts I will talk about 2 interesting finds while I was researching Amanda’s birth information.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Trying Out a New Research Technique: Finding Ancestors in the Early 1800s

I thought I would do some research on my maternal 3rd great-grandmother Amanda Johnson Browning.  I know nothing about Amanda except a possible date of birth and that her husband was listed as William Browning.  Amanda is on my direct maternal line and the line that my mitochondrial DNA traces back now through 6 generations.  (See post My Maternal Line and Mitochondrial DNA).  In my family tree I have Amanda as being born in 1823 in Pennsylvania.  I am not sure how or where I found this information because it was recorded in my tree years ago before I understood the importance of citing my sources.  My guess is I found it on Family Search back in the late 1990s.  Now I would like to go back and try to verify the information with valid sources, if possible. 

I knew that finding information on Amanda would be difficult since I am now going back in Pennsylvania to the early to mid 1880s, before the time of required birth, death and marriage records.  I also knew that census records will not name her until 1850.  I decided to try a technique I had heard about at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree this past June.  (See post Southern California Genealogy Jamboree 2018-Friday and Saturday).  The presentation was by Annette Burke Lyttle entitled How Research Plans Can Up Your Genealogical Game.  Annette talked about developing a good research question and making a list of all possible sources of information for the area where your ancestor lived before hitting the

      image         image     image        image        image

button on a record source.  I know that I have several ancestral lines that were in PA in the early 1800s, so, I decided to try her technique.  The list of resources in PA would be valuable help with other lines.

My research question:  When and where was Amanda Johnson born?

I knew that 'Pennsylvania' was too broad so I thought I would narrow my options down.  I knew that Amanda’s daughter Harriett Browning DeLeon Coolbaugh (see post) was born in 1850 in Orwell, Bradford County, PA.  I decided to look for information and records in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  
Here are the sources of records/information I found for Bradford County:
Source Information Found
Bradford County, PA History, Records, Facts and Genealogy
Linkpendium - Bradford County
Tri-Counties Genealogy and History Site - Bradford and
Tioga County (PA) and Cemung (NY) For family and local
history information

Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project
This database focuses
on the ancestors and descendants of the early nineteenth century
pioneers who migrated to Tioga and Bradford County,
Pennsylvania, primarily from Connecticut, Massachusetts,
and Vermont. It also includes Chemung County. New York.

USGenWeb project.
Bradford County Historical Society
Bradford County PA Genealogy
FamilySearch Catalog:
Pioneer and patriot families of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 1770-1826 : including history (1615-1840), marriages (1776-1850), soldiers of the Revolution, ministers, justices, original officers and all matters relating to early times
Author: Heverly, C. F. (Clement Ferdinand), fl. 1885

Family trees on Family Search
Family trees on Ancestry
Family trees on My Heritage -North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000
      The Coolbaugh Family in America, from their earliest appearance at New Amsterdam, 1686-1938
At first look I found a lot more resources than I thought would be available for me to search.  It was VERY tempting to just hit the SEARCH button but I am going to give this technique a chance and see what I can find.

Will I be able to verify Amanda’s birth?  Will a research question help me stay focused to find an answer?

In future posts I will tell you if I am able to answer my research question and what other great finds may come my way.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Wedding Wednesday-John and Sarah Hughes Rowan

Sarah Hughes and John Rowan (see post Civil War Record of John W. Rowan) are my paternal great-great grandparents. 

I found this record of their marriage about 8-9 years ago and from this marriage certificate I learned the names of their parents which were previously unknown, their birthplaces and addresses at the time of their marriage. 

I learned they were married on 1 August 1869.  Their witnesses were Charles A. Colwell and Ellen Cavanagh.  John lived at 239 10th Avenue, NYC and Sarah lived at 306 10th Avenue, NYC.  Sarah’s parents are Patrick Hughes and Susan McKeena.  John’s parents are Ann Meenan and William Rowan.  John was 23 years old and born in Troy.  Sarah was 18 years old and born in New York City.  John’s occupation was Carman.
 Rowan John Sarah marriage
Rowan John Sarah marriage 2

About a year ago when I was reviewing this document I looked again at the church name.  It was difficult to read but it looked like St. Cl...?  I decided to search on-line for churches in New York City in 1869 and found a long list.  Then I looked to see if there was one that was on 25th Street and I found it:  St. Columba’s Roman Catholic Church at 343 West 25th Street in New York City.  When I searched the name of the church on-line I found out the church is still in existence!  A few weeks ago I was actually able to go and see the church for myself. 

Here are a few of the photos I took (click on images to enlarge):

Church 3 Church 7
Church 4 Church 6
church 2 Church 8

Church 5

I was told the inside of the church is the same as it would have been 149 years ago when they were married with the exception of a mural above the altar, the finish on the altar and some of the ‘modern’ conveniences like the fans, lights. etc.  The beautiful heavy wood, the intricate carvings and the wooden beams were so interesting to see and really took me back in time. 

WOW!! What an amazing experience to actually stand in the church where Sarah and John were married all those many years ago and imagine them standing there in front of the altar.  The church back then had a predominately Irish congregation and I know Sarah and John each lived within a few blocks of the church.

Next, I need to figure out who the witnesses were (friends or family) and where John was born.  Sarah had an Aunt named Ellen McKeena.  Could Ellen Cavanagh be her married aunt?  John’s birthplace is listed as ‘Troy’.  Is that possibly Troy, NY?

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Celtic Connections Conference -Pathways to Our Past

Celtic Connections Conference

I had the privilege last weekend of attending the Celtic Connections Conference in Newton, Massachusetts.  This is the first Irish, Scottish, Welsh specific conference I have been able to attend.  “The conference was hosted by The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) and the Irish Genealogical Society International (IGSI).  Both organizations foster education in Celtic history and culture.”

On Thursday, August 9th I took part in a Sightseeing Bus Tour of historic sites in the area. 
  • We began with a stop at the Lowell National Historic Park in Lowell, Massachusetts.  There we able to watch a short video about Lowell and the Industrial Revolution and the part our Immigrant Ancestors played in it’s founding and growth. 
  • From there I went to the Mill Girls and Immigrant Exhibit at the Morgan Cultural Center.  This was one of the  boarding houses that the New England girls from farming families came to live while working in the Mills in Lowell.  They had rooms they girls stayed in, they dining room, etc. set up to show what live was like for the girls.  We were able to learn about what they ate and what their lives were like in the early 1800s as they mills began.  I purchased a book entitled The Lowell Offering Writings by New England Mill Women from 1840-1845 that I think will be a great read about what the girls went through on a daily basis working in the Mills.
(click on images to enlarge)
  • Later we walked to the Boott Cotton Mills Museum for lunch and talks about education in the area during this time period for immigrants and about the cemeteries in the area.  Following that I was able to walk through floor of the mill.  There were rows and rows of looms for making fabric.  About 4 of them were running so we could really get the feel for what it was like for the girls that worked there.  The noise was deafening.  I can’t imagine how the girls aged 14-18 worked for 12-14 hours a day at the looms with the noise.
IMG_1143 IMG_1133

  • Next, we boarded the bus and were on our way to Kimball Farm Ice cream in Carlisle, MA where the list of flavors were overwhelming and the small size was comparable to a large size at most shops.  They even had Mini and Tiny sizes :) The perfect afternoon stop in my opinion!
  • Later we drove to the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts at the Minute Man National Historic Park.  While I had been there about 20-25 years ago it was good to see it again and try to imagine what it must have been like for the young soldiers in 1775 at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Bus Tour Group Photo
Bus tour group
On Friday, August 10th the Conference officially began and we were ready to listen to the great list of speakers, several coming from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Here are a few of the ones that I particularly enjoyed from Thursday and Friday, August 11th:
  • Fiona Fitzsimons’ talk entitled Irish Church records.  Fiona gave a great review of the records that are available with great examples that went beyond her handout.  This was a very interesting talk about how to understand the records based on what was happening socially, terminology frequently used at the time, etc. 
  • Kyle Betit’s talk entitled Irish and Irish Immigrant Societies and Their Records.  I was interested in Kyle’s talk because of an ancestor (John W. Rowan) who we recently found out was a Mason.  Kyle gave us a wealth of information on many of the societies formed by immigrants and suggestions on where to look for information.
  • Donna Moughty’s talk entitled The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland Online and Off.  Donna gave a great overview of what record sets are available at PRONI (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland), how to access the index online and most important of all, how to get ready to do a research trip to Northern Ireland.
  • Dr. Bruce Durie’s talk entitled Scots Migrations to Colonial America.  Bruce gave us a brief history of the groups within Scotland, when and where they settled in America.  I have done little research to date on my Scottish ancestry because they came in the late 1600s –early 1700s.  He gave me hope that I may be able to find information in the US and in Scotland.
  • John Grenham’s talk entitled Things You Don’t Know You Didn’t Know about Irish Genealogy.  I have used John’s website for my Irish research so it was interesting to be able to meet him in person.  John talked about how we frequently become familiar with commonly used websites and may not realize the limitations of the site.  We may not find information and think we are at a loss.  He challenged us to refresh our perspectives and use a variety of sites in order to find the information we are seeking.
  • Dr. Bruce Durie’s talk entitled Why the Scots & Irish (Welsh, Bretons, Picts, etc.) are NOT Celtic!  This was a very interesting and rather surprising look at the term “Celtic”.  Bruce stated that “Celtic as applied to the original people of Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany- is a 300-year-old-mistake.”  He discussed the research being done, genetic and historical, and how the history that was passed down is very flawed.  He stated we need to stop using the term “Celtic” for these groups of people.
Lunch both days was included and we were treated to Kate Chadbourne's presentation of Fairy Paths & Ancient Ways: Songs & Stories of Roads & Remembering on Thursday.

On Saturday for lunch Sharon Kennedy presented a reenactment entitled The Strike for Bread & Roses: Lawrence, Massachusetts.
There was a dinner on Friday that I decided to attend where we were treated to Katie & Friends-Songs from Both Sides of the Atlantic.

Three days of immersion into the culture and genealogical information available for researchers was amazing.   (I highly recommend a bus tour of an area you are not familiar with.)  I could have listened all day to the variety of accents I heard at the conference.  For days after I felt I could hear the accents and it made me feel more passionate about taking trips in the future to Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

I also thought about how wonderful it is to go to an event such as a Conference.  I went knowing none of the participants and yet how comfortable it was to sit and talk to anyone there.  Everyone was so ready to say hello and talk genealogy to someone they had never met.  Each time I sat at a table there were interesting new ‘friends’ to talk to and get to know like Linda and Jim from Harrisburg, PA, Mary from Boston with a touch of green in her hair and I was delighted to have Fiona Fitzsimons as a table mate at dinner on Friday.  I was also able to talk to some of the Conference (TIARA and IGSI) organizers who were very accommodating in the hopes of everyone enjoying their time at the Conference.  They did a really nice job of setting up this great learning experience for everyone.  Great job to all the organizers and volunteers who made this a reality!

I would definitely recommend you look for the next conference this group will sponsor in 2020 that, I believe, will be held in Michigan.IMG_0915

IMG_0714 (2)

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sepia Saturday-The Photographer

Launched by Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen in 2009, Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind (they don't have to be sepia) become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, all we ask is that your sign up to the weekly Linky List, that you try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and that you have fun.

This week’s theme was about photographers:cameras:photos

I decided to feature my favorite photographer for this theme. 

My son has enjoyed taking photos and I enjoy taking photos of the photographer.  I enjoy looking at how he sees the world around him and how he frames his shots.  He definitely inspires me to look at what is around me in a different way.  Here are just a few photos taken of him photographing the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California in 2015.

Flower Fields 2 Flower fields 3

Flower Fields 4
Take a look a some of his amazing photos at .

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,