Monday, November 12, 2018

Gena Philibert-Ortega Presents

Gena Philibert-Ortega presented 2 informative talks Saturday at the San Diego Genealogical Society.  Gena is an author of articles and books, speaker, blogger and genealogist with an emphasis on researching women’s history and lives.  Gena kept us engaged with examples of some of the interesting things she was able to find out about women.  Throughout both presentations Gena reminded us that researching our female ancestors is different then researching our male ancestors. 

Gena’s first presentation was entitled was entitled Wives, Girlfriends, Widows, Exes and Mistresses: Documenting Women.

Gena showed us some great examples of how events in our ancestor’s lives produce a variety of sources of information that we may not have thought of.  Gena talked about using genealogy databases, vital records, libraries/archives, digitized books/articles, using finding aids and relationships to locate information.  She also talked about not using the general ‘search’ options within databases but to search for a particular ‘type’ of record and then search within that record.
  • I wanted to use some of Gena’s suggestions to see what I could find on Hannah Petty Warner from my last blog post.  Searching in Ancestry using the Card Catalog and taking a chance, I searched Presbyterian Church records and was able to locate the baptismal records of 4 of Hannah and Daniel’s children including my direct line ancestor James:
  • I also now know that the family attended the local Presbyterian Church.
  • Searching in Google Books for “Hannah Warner” I stumbled upon a book entitled The Descendants of Andrew Warner published in 1919. While the ‘Hannah’ I was looking for is not the Hannah I found in the book, Andrew Warner IS my 8th great-grandfather and this is an amazing find! 


Gena’s second presentation was entitled Her Name Was Not Known: Researching Your Female Ancestor’s Life.

During Gena’s presentation she talked again about how elusive our female ancestors may seem but we can still find out so much about them if we know how to search.  She discussed the five aspects of a Woman’s life that need to be considered when you are researching to help develop a better understanding of your ancestor: the woman herself, her family, the locality where the woman lived, the time period she lived in and information about her neighbors and community (FAN club-friends and neighbors).  When searching have a list of Keywords to search, such as all the variations of a woman’s name, a location, etc. and search each one. 
  • If I go back to my post entitled Bible Records for Hannah Petty Warner and use some of Gena’s considerations for researching her what can I find to add to Hannah’s story?  I decided to look at the 1800 US Federal Census in a different way and I believe I find Hannah living with her son David Warner (her husband had died in 1787) based on her age at the time of the census.  If this is correct, I can tell by the census she was living in Riverhead, that her son Benjamin and family were living close by as where families named Woodhull, Corwin, Benjamin, Tuthill, Terry, Reeves, Youngs, Wells, etc.  These were her neighbors and coincidentally other family names I might be researching for other family lines.  This is good information to know.  Her son James, my direct ancestor, was living further away but in the same town.  I previously wouldn’t have looked at the Census since usually it’s hard to find women before the 1850 Census.
  • Riverhead, founded in 1792,  had a total of 1498 inhabitants in 1800.  This all adds some more information to Hannah’s life story.

Gena gave us some amazing suggestions for searching for women by the records that were created around their lives.  Already I am realizing first hand that women’s records and information about their lives are available just not in the same way we search for our male ancestors.  Gena reminded us that “Thinking outside the proverbial genealogy box will assist you in finding clues to those ancestresses lives.” 

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

Be sure to check out Gena’s website Gena-Philibert-Ortega and her blog Gena’s Genealogy.  Gena has authored the books From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes  and  Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Bible Records for Hannah Petty Warner

In the summer I was able to locate a Will for a Daniel Petty in Suffolk County, New York that while copying, thought was probably the correct one.  I was looking for Hannah Petty Warner’s father.  This is getting back to the late 1700s and records are scarce, to say the least.  Somehow, I knew that Hannah Petty Warner had a father named Daniel Petty.  Unfortunately, this was before my days of citing my sources.  I believe I found the information on a Family Search tree about 20 years ago. As I tried to figure out if the Will was for the correct ancestor, I decided I should take a step back and see what I could first find out about his daughter Hannah.

Hannah Petty Warner is my paternal 5th Great-Grandmother:


At the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead, New York I was able to find copies of pages from the Cottage Bible that belonged to David Warner and then his son David T. Warner.  David Warner was one of the 10 children of Daniel & Hannah Warner and brother of my ancestor James Warner.

On the pages I find the following:


Hannah was born 16 April 1737, I believe to Daniel and Hannah Paine.  I have no other record of her birth other than this account written in the Family Bible by her son David.

Hannah and Daniel Warner were married 16 December 1756.

Hannah and Daniel had 10 children: Daniel, Nathaniel (died at age 15), James (my 4x great-grandfather), Deborah, John (died at age 9), David, Benjamin, Hannah (died at age 2), Hannah (died at age 2), and Mehitable.

Hannah, her husband Daniel, and her family lived through the Revolutionary War.  What must life have been like for them?  How did they survive?  From the book A History of Mattituck by Rev. Charles E. Craven, I learned:
  • British troops were encamped in Mattituck.  Many officers were quartered in houses of local people.  The farmers were required to give large portions of their grains, crops and all their hay and straw to the invading Army.  There were stories about the British soldiers committing outrages on defenseless local people.  Some families removed themselves to Connecticut during the War with some returning and others not.  Many of their farms will pillaged by the soldiers and many lost their land.  Young men left to fight in the War.  The families that remained were compelled to swear allegiance to King George.  Men were made to work for the army and if their loyalty was in question they were beaten and sometimes killed. There was a small pox epidemic during this time.  The British troops left Long Island in 1780.
Hannah died 19 July 1814 at the age of 77 years.  Hannah is buried in Jamesport, Suffolk County, New York. 


There were no newspapers at the time of Hannah’s death so there is no Obituary to further tell her story.  The Church records of the time reprinted in Craven’s book begin with Baptisms in 1751 (after Hannah’s birth) and the Death records end in 1809 (before Hannah’s death).  Thank goodness the family had a Bible to record the life events of the family for without this it would be difficult to know of this early family history.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,
More about the Will I located for Daniel Petty next time.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday Obituary for Susan Bentz Hamman

My maternal great-grandmother Susan Bentz Hamman died in 1908 when my grandfather, James Jacob Hammond was just 5 years old.  (click on names to view their life stories) Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers lost their mothers at the very young age of 5. So young to suffer such loss.  (Additional information on Susan’s death can be found in the post entitled Which Information is Better?)

I found the following 2 obituaries in local newspapers:
From the Remsen Bell Enterprise newspaper, Friday, 29 May 1908, page 1

Susan Bentz Hamman
Mrs. Henry Hamman, nee Susan Bentz died at her home in Remsen after a long suffering from cancer, at 7 P.M. Thursday May 21.
Susan Bentz was born in Worthington Iowa on the 18th day of August 1878. In 1885 her parents moved to LeMars and a few years later to Remsen. Here Miss Bentz became the wife of Henry Hamman in the year 1898. Six children were born to them and they live with their father to mourn their irreparable loss. About two years ago Mrs. Hamman began to complain. She had treatment in hospitals in Sioux City and LeMars, but her case was a hopeless one from the start.

The second obituary is from The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa, May 28, 1908 page 4
Mrs. Henry Hammond died at the family home here last Thursday evening at 8 o'clock. She had been ill for nearly a year from the dread disease, cancer. She had been at Sioux City and LeMars twice in the hopes of obtaining relief but all treatment was in vain. In her death she leaves motherless six children, all less than nine years of age.
Susan Bentz was born in Worthington, Iowa, August 20, 1878. When 8 years old her parents moved to LeMars and later, about 16 years ago, they moved to Remsen. In 1898 she was married to Henry Hammond and to them six children were born which are now left without a mother-the best friend and most loving adviser anyone ever had. She also leaves to mourn her death a sister and three brothers: Mrs. Clara Rieling, of Emery; Jake Bentz, of Emery, S. D.; Henry Bentz, of Granville and John Bentz, of this town, all of which were present at the funeral which was held from St. Mary's church Saturday forenoon at 10 o'clock. The bereaved and motherless children have the sympathy of the community.

I found the following note in a Remsen newspaper and wondered if this is when Susan was in the Hospital in Sioux City and Henry Hamman, Susan’s husband, had gone to visit her?

From The Remsen News newspaper, Remsen, Iowa Thursday 28 February 1907:


Also from The Remsen News newspaper, Remsen, Iowa Thursday, 14 May 1908:

Additional information about Susan’s brother and her funeral from the Alton Democrat, Alton, Iowa 30 May 1908, page 1:

I am always interested in the information I can find and the inconsistencies I see in obituaries.  By looking at other articles in the newspaper I was able to find more then just facts to add to the story of Susan’s life.

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Wedding of Henry Hamman and Susan Bentz

Henry and Susan
Today is the 121st Anniversary of the marriage of my maternal Great-Grandparents Susie Bentz and Henry Hamman

The following is an image (click on item to enlarge) from the

Iowa Department of Public Health; Des Moines, Iowa; Series Title: Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1922
Return of Marriages in the County of Plymouth For the Year Ending January 1st, A. D. 1898
Date of License   3. Groom-Henry Hamman    6. Groom’s age next birthday –25    10.  Groom’s place of birth- Dubuque
   Sep 29/97         4. Residence-Remsen         7. Color-White                                   11.  Groom’s father- Jacob H.-
                            5. Occupation-Farmer          9. Groom’s 1st marriage                   12.  Groom’s mother- Cath. H.-
                           13. Bride- Susie Benz          14. Bride’s age next birthday-20        20. Bride’s place of birth- Worthington, IA
                                                                        15. Color-White                                  21. Bride’s father- John Benz
                                                                        16. Bride’s 1st marriage                     22. Bride’s mother- Maria B.-
23.  Where and When Married – Remsen Oct. 11, 1897
24.  Witnesses- Jacob Benz & Lena Braun
25.  By Whom Married, Name and Office- Rev. F. Schulte
Date of return – Oct. 19, 1897

This is the newspaper report of their wedding as found in The Remsen Weekly Bell on 14 October 1897 in the column Local Items:


  • The original wood structure for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church was erected in 1884.  German, Luxembourg and Alsace immigrants made up the congregation.  The building was destroyed in June 1885 when tornadoes moved through Plymouth and Cherokee counties.  The second structure was completed late that same year when Father Frank Schulte arrived.  This second structure would be the structure Henry and Susie were married in by Father Schulte.

Some thoughts:
  • My great grandfather’s last name ‘Hamman’ was misspelled as ‘Hamong’ which is why I was unable to find this account when I was searching under Henry’s name but found it when I was searching under Susie’s name.
  • #24 above on the Iowa State marriage record shows one of the witnesses to be Jacob Bentz, Susie’s brother.  Last week when I wrote about Susie’s life I wondered how the couple met?  A fellow Iowa researcher on Facebook found a news item in a local newspaper from 2 years prior to the wedding that showed Henry and Jacob knew each other.  I am now not surprised that he was a Witness for the couple.  I wonder if Lena was a friend of Susie’s?
  • Both Susie and Henry’s families were part of the St. Mary’s family.  Susie’s parent had immigrated from Germany and Henry’s from Luxembourg.

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kitty Munson Cooper - Using DNA to Aid your Research

Earlier today Kitty Munson Cooper presented 2 engaging and informative sessions at the monthly meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society.  Following Kitty’s presentations I thought I would go back and look at my DNA results and try out some of her many suggestions.

Kitty’s first presentation was entitled: I Tested My DNA How can it help my research?

Trying to understand all the information we are given when we do DNA testing can be daunting. Kitty discussed the ‘help’ out there for us from the testing companies we used as well as places like the ISOGG wiki or just ‘Googling’ our questions to find the places for answers.  After reminding us to download our DNA results from each company Kitty discussed uploading your results to several sites such as Promethease and GEDmatch. 
  • Pomethease is a fee site that will take your DNA results and provide health information based on your genetic profile. 
  • GEDmatch is a third party website for analysis and comparison of raw DNA data.  The advantage is that most of the DNA testing company results can be uploaded to GEDmatch for comparison.  Not everyone tests with the same company so this is a great place to do comparisons.
Comparing our DNA results with others frequently helps us break through our brick walls.  Kitty talked about first recording DNA matches in our family trees to help document connections.
a brief start of recording my DNA matches on my Legacy Tree
  • For Ancestry Kitty talked about using an Icon in the Suffix box to mark people who have done DNA testing.
I picked a star Emoji that was available
Kitty emphasized starting with the closest matches as you begin to break down those brick walls.

Kitty’s second presentation was entitled DNA Segment Triangulation

As Kitty stated “Segment Triangulation is the standard by which we infer that a specific DNA segment is from a common ancestor that we share with at least two other people.”  With closer generations we can use charts that give us information about relationships based on the amount of shared DNA.  Determining common ancestors as we get back to great-great-grandparents, etc. there are so many more possibilities that this method becomes more difficult and ‘triangulation’ becomes a more necessary method.  This method takes time and organization of your raw data on spreadsheets, etc. 

I still have so much to learn in the area of using DNA results to help me determine relationships of more distance matches.  I am by no means fluent in these areas and hope I have correctly documented some of what I learned today.

Be sure to check out Kitty’s blog at for detailed additional information.

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

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Life of Susan Bentz Hamman

Nothing was ever known about my maternal great-grandmother Susan Bentz Hamman.  My grandfather, living 1,200 miles away in upstate New York never really spoke about his family or growing up as my mother recalls.  

Susan was born to John and Mary Margaret (Robin) Bentz on 28 August 1878 in Worthington, Dubuque County, Iowa.  Susan’s parents and several of her siblings had been born in Luxembourg before the family immigrated and settled in Iowa in the early 1860s.  Susan is believed to be the 9th and last child born to John and Margaret Bentz.                   
  • Worthington was located in western Dubuque County, Iowa and was a station stop on the railroad. In 1880, according to the census, the population was 169.  The main businesses in the area were agriculture, for the production of food, and the rail lines to get those goods to the markets in the East and sometimes even on to Europe.
   (click on image to enlarge)
photo from the book The History of Dubuque County, Iowa, containing A History of the County, its Cities, Towns, etc. published 1880

In June of 1880, according to the US Federal Census, Suza (age 3), her parents and her brother Jacob (age 10) were still living in Dodge Township, Dubuque County, Iowa.  Worthington was part of Dodge Township.
1885 Iowa State Census - I am unable to locate Suza and her parents.
  • About 1886 Suza and her parents moved from one end of the state of Iowa to the other.  A distance of about 280 miles to settle in Le Mars, Iowa.  About 6 years later, in 1892, the family would move again.  This time they moved a distance of about 11 miles east to Remsen, Iowa.

In the Iowa, State Census of 1895 Susie was 17 years old and living in Remsen with her birthplace being listed as Dubuque County, Iowa.  Susie is living with her mother Mary (Widow) age 59, birthplace Luxembourg, who is Keeping House and her brother Jacob age 25, who was also born in Dubuque, and Plaster as his occupation.


  • I have been unable to locate a death certificate for Susan’s father.  Based on the census record he passed away before the date of the census of 1895 since Mary is listed as widowed.

Susie would meet and marry Henry Hamman on 11 October 1897

  • I wonder if they met at Church or did the families know each other before moving to Remsen?  Henry was born in Dyersville and Susan in Worthington.  Did they attend the same church in Eastern Iowa? Both families seem to have been affiliated with St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Remsen. 
Susie and Henry would live in Remsen and have 6 children who would all live to adulthood:
  • Mary Jeannette
  • Arthur John
  • Margaret
  • James Jacob (my grandfather)
  • Michael
  • Joseph
In the 1900 US Federal Census I am unable to find Henry, Susie and daughter Mary.
In the 1905 Iowa State Census Susan,  Henry and their children Mary, John, Maggie, Jacob, and Michael are living in Remsen, Iowa.
                                           from The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa.  Thursday, 28 March 
1907 page 5
image(not sure who the family was?)
21 May 1908 Susie would die at age 29 leaving behind her husband Henry and 6 children.

I know a little more about Great-Grandma Susie’s life but still have so many unanswered questions.  I wonder what type of mother she was?  Did she like living in Remsen?  Does anyone have a picture of her?

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Don’t Forget Cemetery Records-Additional Children Discovered

While researching my paternal ancestors I learned that several (Mary King, Louis and Sarah Barry King, Louisa King) are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, New York.  (Click on individual names to go to posts about their lives.)
What additional information might I be able to find out about my family by obtaining records the cemetery might have?  What records would a cemetery have? 

First, I needed to learn about the cemetery:
The Green-Wood Cemetery my ancestors are buried in is located in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.  This cemetery was one of the first rural cemeteries in America when it was founded in 1838.  The earliest burial dates to 1840.  The cemetery grounds encompass 478 acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths.  While being one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in the United States it also has the largest collection of 19th and 20th century statuary and mausoleums.  Green-Wood Cemetery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.  The Battle of Long Island was fought across what is now the grounds of Green-Wood Cemetery.  It was also designated a Revolutionary War Historic Site.  Currently there are over 560,000 people buried there.  Greenwood Cemetery states that in 1866 the New York Times said “It is the ambition of the New Yorker to live upon Fifth Avenue, to take his airings in the [Central] Park, and to sleep with his fathers in Green-Wood.”  This statement from the New York Times is interesting to note because within 20 years of this article my ancestors would begin being buried there.

I contacted Green-wood through their “Green-Ealogy” department and was informed that this is the listing of all those buried in the plot and grave where Mary King is buried:

Next, I looked at the list to see what I could determine about the people in the grave:
  • They are all the same Surname-“King”
  • I see Mary King, my paternal 3x great-grandmother and the date matches the burial date I have
  • I recognized the name of Louisa M. King.  Louisa was my grandmother’s sister who died of polio in 1916 at the age of 12(see post Polio Epidemic of 1916, Brooklyn, New York). 
  • I think William could be my great-grandfather’s brother William born in 1876

Then I thought about what I didn’t know:
  • Who are Caroline E., Frank Albert and Lilly King?  I haven’t seen these names before????

Finally, I decided it was time to pay Green-Wood Cemetery for copies of records they have on the people in this grave.  Would I be able to find out who Caroline, Frank and Lilly were and why they were buried with Mary?

I tried to wait patiently and finally the email came with the information I had been waiting for:

King Mary 1890 burial record
Mary King: Residence 14 – 1st Avenue, Brooklyn: Age –70:  Date of Death-7 Aug 1890: Internment-8 Aug 1890: Birthplace-PA
Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of death-Old Age: Undertaker-Peter Farrell

King Louisa 1916 burial record King Louisa Burial order
       Louisa M. King: Residence-216 57th Street, Boro of Brooklyn, N.Y. City: Age-12 years-10 months-26 days:                              Date of Death-15 July 1916: Internment-18 July 1916: Birthplace-Brooklyn, NY: Lot 3803-Grave 4-Section 85: Cause of Death-Endocarditis:  Undertaker-Fred Herbert and Sons
In addition to above on the second card is: Exact size of outside case-7 feet: Funeral will arrive at Cemetery Tuesday On July 18 at 4 o’clock P.M.:  Original receipt for grave presented by F. Herbst & Son

King Lilly 1885 burial record
Lilly King: Residence-44 41st Street, Brooklyn: Age-9 months: Date of Death-16 July 1885: Internment-18 July 1885: Birthplace-New York: Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of Death-Hydocephalus: Undertaker-F. Herbst

I needed some perspective, when looking at the death of such a young child, and found the following in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper 3 July 1885 on page 3:
  • “Of children under 5 years of age there were 196 deaths at an annual rate of 15.36 or 59.57 per cent, of total.  There were 152 deaths under 1 year of age or 46.19 per cent of total.  The four chief causes of death, except diarrheal deaths, were consumption, 42; pneumonia, 17; meningitis, 15; marasmus, 9-aggregate 83, or 25.23 per cent of total.  The total number of diarrheal deaths was 106.”
  • When Lilly died the death rate under one year of age in Brooklyn was almost 50%.  Unbelievable in today’s times.

King Caroline 1886 burial record
Caroline E. King: Residence-44 41st St, Brooklyn, N. Y.: Age 5 months-16 days: Date of Death-19 July 1886: Internment 21 July 1886: Birthplace-Brooklyn: Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of Death-Cholera Infantum: Undertaker-Fred Herbst

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 27 Jul 1886 page 4:
“ The Death Rate Decreasing
Report of the Health Department for the Week Past
  • The deaths in Brooklyn during the week ending July 24, 1886, numbered 386, being 8 less than in the previous week, and representing an annual death rate of 29.18 in every 1,000 of the population.  Compared with the corresponding week in 1885 there were 223 less, the rate of mortality then (1885) being 38.49.
  • Of children under 5 years of age there were 246 deaths, at an annual death rate of 18.60, or 63.73 per cent of total.  There were 189 deaths under 1 year, 48.96 per cent of total.  The four chief causes of death were: Cholera infantum, 101; consumption, 86; diarrhea, 28; diptheria, 12; aggregate, 177, or 45.86 per cent of total.”
King Frank Albert 1887 burial record
Frank Albert King: Residence-44 41st St, So. Brooklyn: Age-2 months: Date of Death-21 Sept 1887: Internment- 23 Sept 1887: Lot 3803-Grave 4: Cause of Death-Tubercular Meningitis: Undertaker-Fred Herbst

The closest Health Department Report I was able to find was in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 20 May 1887 page 1:
  • “ During the week ending Saturday the deaths in Brooklyn numbered 291, being 9 more than during the previous week, and representing an annual death rate of 20.37 in every 1,000 of the population,  Compared with the corresponding week in 1886, there were 24 more, when the death rate was 20.19.  Compared with the corresponding week in 1885, there were 11 more, the rate of mortality then being 21.94.
  • Of children under 5 years of age there were 110 deaths , at an annual death rate of 7.70, or 37.80 per cent of total.  There were 56 deaths under 1 year, or 19.24 per cent of total.  The four chief causes of death were: Pneumonia, 30; consumption, 42; diptheria, 18; bronchitis, 14; aggregate, 99 or 84.00 per cent of total.”

  • Now I need to determine who the parents were of the 3 children.  Were they Louis and Sarah’s children or Jacob’s children?  They were the only 2 sons in the family of Mary and Theodore King.  The births of the children would fit that they were their children. Who lived at the addresses where the children died?  They all died at the same residence.
  • I have several lines of ancestors who lived and died in the Brooklyn area but are buried in different cemeteries.  I think I need to make a list of which families are buried in which cemeteries and see what additional information that tells me.
  • I realized in my post on Sarah Maria Barry King I incorrectly stated that my great aunt, Louisa, was buried with her.  Louisa is instead buried with her Great-Grandmother Mary King.
  • I learned that the infant death rate was so much higher then I expected in the late 1880s and that my ancestors succumbed to diseases that were prevalent at the time.
By obtaining the records from the cemetery I learned about 3 children I never knew existed.  They did not show up on the Federal Census records because they died in the 10 year gap between censuses.  Don’t forget to check places where other records exist!

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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Searching Through Old Photos Produces An Unusual Find

This Summer while visiting family back East, my father had several boxes of old family photos ready for us to look through when I arrived.  We reminisced about some photos, wondered who some of the people were and why my grandparents had these and I listened to stories my father told about people, the memories sparked by the photos.  A wonderful experience!  I was so grateful he had saved them for us to look at.  Somewhere within one of the boxes was a small note card.

Terry Billard Ella notecard 1

If you are familiar with the northeastern end of Long Island the Plum Gut Lighthouse is a common site.  Then I opened the notecard and saw the following:

Terry Billard Ella notecard 2

I skimmed the note card and realized it was from Ella to my paternal grandparents Agnes (King) and Olin Warner, Sr.  This makes sense.  Ella (Terry) Billard was my grandfather’s maternal aunt.  If you have followed my blog posts about Carrie’s letters (see post Carrie’s Letters) you know that I have over 150 letters written by my paternal great-grandmother Carrie (Terry) Warner.  The majority of the letters were written to her sister Ella.  I was so happy to know that my grandparents were still in touch with my grandfather’s Aunt Ella some 45 years after his mother Carrie had died suddenly in 1910.  Then I carefully started to reread this note card:
                                                                                                                                                                        Oct 23, 1955
Dear Agnes and Olin,
So sorry to have missed you this afternoon.  So long since you had been here, do wish you had come to Natalie’s or if Irv. had called up.  I would have come home, doing nothing in particular but looking at Sunday papers and taking a nap in a big chair.  Eleanor was home with her hubbie and baby who is just as cute as it is possible for a baby to be.  Irving says you are in the chicken and egg business and not to the exclusion of ducks, Eh?  Hope the young folks are fine and getting along nicely with the best and the most beautiful baby ever.  Do try and come again some time, many thanks for the candy. 
Much love,
Aunt Ella

At first read I thought, that’s a nice note.  Sounds like my grandmother Agnes to take a box of candy when she and my grandfather went to visit Ella.  Then I looked at the date.  When I looked it up Oct. 23, 1955 was a Sunday.  Of course it was a Sunday.  My grandparents liked to go for rides on Sunday afternoons, often to no place in particular.  I always enjoyed the times when I was able to go for one of those rides with them.  Ella was 82 years old in 1955.  ‘Irv’ was Ella’s son Irving Billard.  ‘Natalie’ was Ella’s son Ellis’ wife and ‘Eleanor’ was Natalie’s daughter Eleanor Billard Carter.  This all made sense and then I thought about the 2 babies mentioned but no names listed.  Hmm.  Once again I went back to the date…Oct. 23, 1955…  Finally, I realized that the “baby who is just as cute as it is possible for a baby to be” refers to my third, and recently found, cousin Rebecca.  (See post 
The Joy and Blessings of Meeting Cousins) As I looked again at the date and the reference to my grandparents I realized that “the best and most beautiful baby ever” was referring to me, their first grandchild who was just a few months old at the time and the ‘young folks’ referred to my parents.

The genealogical significance:
      there really isn’t any new information here.  I know who the people are and I have their birth, marriage, death dates.  The significance to me is the everyday information that it gives me.  I now know that my grandparents stayed in touch with Ella.  I know they were taking their Sunday drives even back in the mid-1950s and bringing candy.  I know that Ella knew about me and was bragging not only about her great-granddaughter but also about me, her great-grand niece.  For Rebecca and I it showed a family connection way back then. 

I don’t know why my grandmother kept this little note card but I am very glad she did and that it has survived some 63 years.  The significance to me is mainly sentimental.  Taking the time to reread and think about this ‘ordinary’ note was what I needed to do.  We shouldn’t just judge the information by a quick look and by it’s ability to add just facts to our family trees but in the story it helps us tell about our families’ lives. 

I am so happy to have found Rebecca (see post Exciting News: Carrie’s Letters) and look forward to many more tea times and to exploring all those boxes of ‘stuff’ from Ella and Natalie.  What other treasures will we find?  Take the time to investigate those ordinary notes and letters.  Look for the little treasures as well.  What a treasure you may find!

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

P.S. My grandfather never did raise chickens just ducks. (see post Labor Day: Four Generations of Duck Farmers)  Not sure how that was misconstrued.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day: Four Generations of Duck Farmers

Farm sign 1

The celebration of Labor Day in the United States began in the late 19th century as a day set aside to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. Labor Day is seen as a yearly tribute to the contributions workers have made to the prosperity, strength and well-being of our country.  From a genealogical perspective, I choose to look at the occupations of my ancestors and celebrate the work they did. (See previous post Labor Day-They Were Millers) This year I would like to celebrate an occupation held by 4 generations of my family who were duck farmers.

In 1873 the first ducks were reported to have arrived from China when a New York City merchant had spotted them in Peking and ordered 25.  Nine survived the trip and started an entire industry on Long Island.  By 1900 there were 29 farms on Eastern Long Island.  Today there is only 1 (Corwin) remaining duck farm. 

Growing up I only knew that my paternal grandfather Olin and my Dad along with 2 of my grandfather’s brothers Hollis and J. Wesley were duck farmers.  It wasn’t until many years later that I found out that my grandfather’s father, John Benjamin Warner, had started the first duck farm in the family.

John grew up with farming in his blood.  Our ancestors had farmed in the same area of Baiting Hollow since the late 1700s.  John started out growing crops, mainly potatoes and cauliflower with his first purchase of land in 1893 until after his wife Carrie’s sudden death in 1910.  He sold the Baiting Hollow farm and bought property in the mid 1910s about 8 miles away in Aquebogue where John began his duck farm.  He farmed until his death in 1920.

My grandfather bought his farm in 1926 from Fredrick R. Howell in the village of Calverton, New York.  He continued that occupation for the rest of his life, semi-retiring the last few years of his life.  Later my father would begin his career as a ‘Duck Farmer’ working alongside his father.

We were introduced to duck farming at a very early age and as we grew helped my Dad and Grandfather with small tasks on the farm. 
David with the ducks Poppy showing me a white duck

                                                      David                                                                                                                                      my grandfather & I

The farm was definitely a ‘fun’ place to grow up with much to do and explore but the best part was spending time with my father and grandfather.  Our cousins would come out from the ‘city’ and we all shared great experiences on the farm. 
Later both of my brothers would also add ‘Duck Farmer’ as their occupation and work alongside my father. 

A duck farmer’s life was not an easy one.  This was a 7 day a week job with things to be done on a daily basis.  They were frequently out on the farm by 5:30 a.m. with eggs to pick up, buildings and equipment to repair, feed to get and give out to the ducks, eggs to clean and tray, baby ducks to ‘take off’, buildings to clean, ducks to move and eggs to be kept warm and rotated, etc.  A last check of the farm came at about 9:30 pm before bed and another day with new challenges.  Being your own boss and working alongside family was the reward.

dad mike

1986 was the end of an era with the close of our family duck farm.  The work was not easy and there was a sadness with the end of our family farm but the time was right.  My father and brother would go on to other careers but would always be proud to say they were ‘Duck Farmers’.  I admire the 4 generations of Duck Farmers in our family for the dedication and work they did over 70 years.

Check out the post Wordless Wednesday-Warner’s Duck Farm for a picture of my son who was able to experience duck farming for the first few years of his life, also.

You might also enjoy this 13 minute 1920 era short film I found on YouTube (especially from about 5:38 minutes in to the film) on Duck Farming ( ) done by the US Department of Agriculture.

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

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,