Blog » Anne Gillespie Mitchell The official blog of Tue, 15 Apr 2014 22:38:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What You Might Have Missed: April 14th Edition Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:08:38 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> Blog Posts
WWII Government


From the Barefoot Genealogist:

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Online Trees. Root of All Evil? Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:17:17 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> What a provocative title: Online Trees: The Root of All Evil? And it was an interesting panel discussion that I participated in at RootsTech 2014.

task list2So are trees the root of all evil? In a word, no. And in fact, not only are they not evil, if you are doing genealogy correctly, they must be part of your research plan. Yep, I went there. Now, I’m sure some of you just spit coffee or whatever you were drinking at your computer screen. But bear with me.

Tom Jones, PhD, CG, CGL,  wrote a thought provoking article for the Board for Certification of Genealogists’ publication OnBoard 18 (May 2012): “Perils of Source Snobbery.

Now I am paraphrasing here, but his point is don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Yes, we all know that not every tree online is accurate.  And some of those inaccuracies get copied and duplicated much to the frustration of those who have good information.  But does that mean everything you find in an online tree is wrong? It does not.

“Genealogists who categorically disdain certain sources risk overlooking the information they seek or references to that information, thus blocking their research. Genealogists who categorically trust preferred sources risk accepting incorrect information, also blocking—or sidetracking—their research. In contrast, effective family historians consult and assess all sources, regardless of type, that might help answer their research questions. They exclude no potentially useful source, and they trust no unverified source.” — Tom Jones, “Perils of Source Snobbery”

You can’t assume a given source is always going to be reliable.  Can you count on a death certificate always to have the correct death date? Or a tombstone? Usually. But not always. My great grandfather’s tombstone is an example.

Look closely at the death year.  It was originally 1940 and has been since corrected to 1941.

Look closely at the death year. It was originally 1940 and has been since corrected to 1941.

Can you always assume that information in an online tree is wrong? No, you can’t.  You must look at the information and prove or disprove what you see. If you don’t look, you could be missing something quite critical in your research that will block you for a mighty long time.

So next time you are trying to solve a problem, create your research plan that includes all of your favorite “reliable” resources. Census, vitals, immigration and military records.  But don’t forget to include some of those that you have been ignoring.  Family histories, locale histories. And online trees. You just never know where the clue is going to come from that sets you on the right path. If you don’t look at every possible resource, you might just miss it.

Happy Searching!


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Some Blended Families Are Larger Than Others. Can You Beat More Than 20 Children? Thu, 10 Apr 2014 21:31:35 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> You are probably familiar with one of TV’s most famous blended families, The Brady Bunch.  I bet many of you can sing the theme song. (And sorry if I put it in your head…I didn’t want to be alone!)

And I bet if you’ve been working on your family history for even just a little while you have at least one or two in your tree.  But can you beat more than 20 children in a blended family? Let me tell you about George Gillespie.

image01George Gillespie was born sometime around 1731 most likely in Virginia. He married a woman named Mary.  No one seems to know for sure what her maiden name is, but many believe it to be Moore as two of her 12 children had Moore as a middle name. George and Mary had at least 12 children that lived to adulthood. We know this because all 12 are named in his estate settlement in 1830.

The children were: William, Sherrod Moore, Francis Fanni, Letitia Moore, Lucy, Elizabeth, Alexander, Sarah Sally, George, Dicey, Lewis, and Nancy.

That in itself must have been quite the household. Mary, the mother of this brood, is believed to have died sometime before 1785. George then married Mary Saunders, the widow of Charles Farris (1710-1779). Charles and Mary had at least 10 children: James, Mary, Richard, William, John, Hezekiah, Charles, Nancy, Sarah, and Elizabeth.

Now, no doubt all those children were not living with George and the second Mary between 1785 and 1803.  But we do know that some of them were closer than others.

George Gillespie, the younger, married Mary Faris in 1790; Lewis Gillespie married Elizabeth Betsy Faris in 1800 in Amherst, Virginia.  And when George the elder died in 1803, George and Mary, Lewis and Elizabeth, and the widow Mary moved to Franklin County, Tennessee.  I guess you just never know where you will find the love of your life!

So can you beat more than 20 children in a blended family?

Happy Searching!


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Ask Ancestry Anne: Who Are James Myers Parents? Does AncestryDNA Help? Tue, 01 Apr 2014 23:50:10 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> Dear Ancestry Anne,

I’ve been having trouble committing to the set of parents I think I found for my great-grandfather James Henry Myers. I think if I got a second opinion I trust, I’d get over being hesitant to claim this family line. I need to be sure I’m climbing the right tree.

If I accept that James Myers was born in May of 1858, then he would have been 51 in April of 1910 as shown in the attached census. I know from the divorce decree that my great-grandmother divorced him on 7 Jan 1905.

Sounds plausible, right? Why do I hesitate? I got exactly zero DNA cousin matches from this family. Neither did my uncle, one generation closer to James Myers. Either no one from this family has had their DNA tested on Ancestry, or neither I nor my uncle inherited any DNA from the direct Myers line. The other thing that bothers me is the court order that committed James Myers to the Poor House has the middle initial S instead of H, and it lists his age as 45 instead of 49 (he was committed 3 Feb 1908). My explanation is that he was probably malnourished and dehydrated and possibly slurred his speech to whoever collected his vital information in the first place.

Please help.

Many thanks for all you do at

Artemis OakGrove

Dear Artemis,

You have 3 questions here and all of them are good.

  1. Why are there no Myers cousins showing up in your DNA?
  2. Does the Court Order have inaccuracies in it?
  3. Are James and Susan Myers the parents of James H. Myers?

Why are there no Myers cousins showing up in your DNA?

It very may well be, as you suggest, that there are no Myers cousins that have taken the AncestryDNA test yet.  Also, you have about 50% of your father’s DNA, 25% of your grandfather’s DNA and about 12.5% of your great grandfather’s DNA.  Not all of your great grandfather’s descendants are going to match you. You wisely chose to have your Myers uncle tested and it is highly likely that he has more of your great grandfather’s DNA and might make more matches as new cousins get tested.  Anna Swayne’s article Understanding Patterns of Inheritance: Where Did My DNA Come From? (And Why It Matters) will give you more information. 

Does the Court Order have inaccuracies in it?

Does the Court Order say who the informant is?  Unless you know who it is and how well he knew your great grandfather, you can’t really assess if the informant even knew his middle initial or his age. And if it was your great grandfather giving the information, the information could have be written down incorrectly, or as you suggest he could have been confused at the time.  The more evidence you gather about James, the better case you will be able to make whether the 1910 census and the Court Order match.

Are John and Sarah Myers the parents of James H. Myers?

Let’s start with the 1900 census record that you mentioned, since that is the one you know to be correct.

James was born in Missouri, Eliza in Germany.  The oldest daughter was born in Kansas (Holt County is very close to Kansas), Amarilla was born in Oregon and the rest were born in Missouri. Oregon strikes me as odd. The census tells us they have been married for 11 years so sometime around 1888 or 1889. Maybe they were married in Missouri, maybe in Kansas.

1900 for James Myers

I did find a marriage license for James H. Meyers and Louisa Cook. Given that Eliza was German she may have had a strong accent and the clerk may not have understood her name. Kuch and Cook may have been pronounce the same. The license is for Dec 1888 and in Oregon, Holt, Missouri which is close in date and location on the 1900 census.

Let’s think about where and when Amarilla and Mary Etta were born.  Mary Etta was born in Dec 1890 in Kansas. Amarilla in Jun 1891 in Oregon. Either Amarilla was very premature, or one of those dates is wrong.

I also wondered at first if Amarilla might have been born in Oregon, Missouri, but I found what are likely to be her other census records and they all say she was born in Oregon. I even found an index that lists her as being born in Oregon. But, it gives her married name.  Now how did they know in 1891 that she was going to marry a Counts? I suspect this is a delayed birth record which brings it into question. It may be right, but there are enough oddities that you are going to need to dig more.

oregon birth

The 1860 record you found may be your James, but it is a long jump from 1900 to 1860. I would take each of James’ and Eliza’s children and research them thoroughly. Maybe somewhere in their information is a clue to an aunt or uncle or cousin of James. And research Eliza’s family as well.

You were very wise to be cautious about committing to this family. While the indicators are there, additional evidence will help you solidify this link. I suggest you read our 5 Steps to a Healthy Tree for how to build a strong case on a hypothesis. Keep digging. The answer is out there.

Happy Searching!


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On This April Fool’s Day, Tell Us Which Ancestor Made A Fool Out of You Tue, 01 Apr 2014 16:21:36 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> There are all sorts of silly pranks that are done on April 1st. And it got me to thinking, have any of my ancestor’s played practical jokes on me? You know, left clues in strange places. Or falsified documents. Or anything that made you sigh and start talking aloud to yourself when you found it?

My 3rd great grandfather was Charlton Wallace and his wife was Martha Jane Cash. Now I know that Martha Jane Cash was the daughter of Ready Cash. (Yes, really, that was the name he went by.)  But who was Charlton’s father? Now I searched and searched and finally dug up a marriage record where William Wallace signed for him.


It didn’t state the relationship between Charlton and Wallace, but it seems like a pretty good clue. But that document took me a few years to find. And that name was right under my nose all along if I had just bothered to look for it!

When I searched for records of Ready, I found him in 1840. Right where I expected him.


Do you think I took the time to look at the next page? I did not. Do I even have to tell you who was on the top of that next page and probably a neighbor of Ready? You know it was William Wallace.


And if I had looked right away, I would have had a really good candidate for Charlton’s father! I felt pretty foolish when I found that a few years later. Lesson learned: Always look at the preceding page and the next page on a census!

All right, which ancestor made a fool out of you?  Time to fess up!

Happy Searching!



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What You Might Have Missed: March 31st Edition Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:44:23 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> Blog Posts
faces of
Fold3 Spotlights


From the Barefoot Genealogist:



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Tired of the Snow? Welcome to the Sunshine State and the Florida Research Guide Fri, 28 Mar 2014 16:28:11 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> 800px-Florida-lores-smallIt’s time for some sunshine, Florida Style! Check out our Florida State Research Guide to catch up on everything has to offer on our 27th state.

Florida has been a popular destination for many in it’s colorful history. The Spanish, French and English explored its lands starting in the early 1500′s, passing control of its people and riches back and forth for many centuries. Florida was a destination for English loyalists as it decided not to join the American Revolution.

In 1821, the United States – after much wrangling over the years with the Spanish and French – took it over and it became a Territory, with future president Andrew Jackson becoming its first governor.

The early 1800s were plagued with three wars with Native Americans known as the Seminole Wars. The United States Army finally quashed the rebellion in the 1850s forcing most of the remaining Seminoles west of the Mississippi river.

On January 10th, 1861, Florida seceded from the Union and 10 days later joined the Confederacy becoming one of the of the founding Confederate states.  Florida was readmitted to the Union in 1868.

As the nation ramped up its efforts for both World War I and II, soldiers and aviators came to Florida to begin their training. After the war, many soldiers came back to Florida and made it their home.

In the 1950s, as the desire to explore space ramped up, Cape Canaveral was established, launching the first satellite in 1958. The Cape would be the site of many more rocket launches into space including the historic mission when man first stepped on the moon.

Want to learn more about the Sunshine State? Check out our Florida State Research Guide. And be sure to visit our learning center and see what other states we have available for you.

Happy Searching!


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Think About Going Right in Your Tree, Not Left: Women’s History Month Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:19:49 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> Take a look at your tree.  Men to the left, women to the right.right-left

Look some more; do you spend more time on your male branches than your female branches?

Women are harder to research. Maiden names can be tricky to find. And when you are bridging the 1880-1900 gap and the pre 1850 gap it gets worse. And those states that didn’t record marriages before 1900! What is a genealogist to do?

Men left more records. Women couldn’t vote before the 1920s (more or less) in the US. They couldn’t own property. They were often listed as Mrs. John Smith. They didn’t fight our wars (usually). They didn’t show up in the newspapers doing this or that, except maybe the society column.

Laura Cecil Donald Gillespie

Laura Cecil Donald Gillespie

I suspect the women in my tree were pretty interesting. The living ones that I know or knew sure are. Did they suddenly just become feisty, opinionated and strong-willed? Why do I doubt that?

A while back, Amy Johnson Crow, a regular contributor on our blog, introduced the 52 Ancestors Challenge. I can’t refuse a good challenge, so I decided to do it, but I’m working on the women in my tree. The men have not been neglected, but the women have been.  I have summarized on my blog page 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks!

My great grandmother Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, lived from 1877-1964. And she was a tough cookie, loved and maybe a little feared by her family. And the photo of Granny and her dog has always been a favorite of mine.

My great great grandmother Sarah Sudie Hamrick Turner appears to have been her family’s muse. Her husband started and ran a variety of businesses. Her children were very successful and creative. My great aunt painted a picture of FDR that is supposed to be hanging in the White House, my grandfather was a radio announcer, and on and on. And doesn’t that tell us a lot about her? She must have allowed and encouraged creativity and innovation. Her accomplishments have escaped me so far, but I felt like I knew more about her just by examining the people who surrounded her.

So my challenge to you, as Women’s History Month winds down – go look at the women in your tree and start writing their stories. Not just as the wife of someone. But who were they? What did they live through and how did it effect their lives?

And tell us about them!  We want to know.

Happy Searching!



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What You Might Have Missed: March 24th Edition Mon, 24 Mar 2014 18:11:02 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> Blog Posts
Fold3 Spotlights


From the Barefoot Genealogist:
Five Minute Find


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Something New To Try When Using in the Library Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:19:57 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more ]]> Did you know that is available for free in thousands of libraries in the U.S? You can’t create a tree, or post messages on message boards. You can’t sit in your jammies and work on your family (please don’t sit in your jammies in the library!). You can’t work until 3am in the morning. But you can view much of our great content.

image02But how do you get the content home?  You’ve found that census record that shows your great great grandma’s maiden name was Smith (it’s always something challenging like that, isn’t it?).

You could print it. But that usually costs you money. Not much, granted, but it adds up. And printers don’t always work. You could save it to a flash drive, but not all libraries allow that. What is an excited genealogist to do? Trust your memory? Ha!

Well, how about if you send it home and download or print it there? When you are on the record page, look in the left hand corner and you will see a “Send Document” button.

Click that, enter your email address and we will send you an email with a link to a Family Discoveries Page.

From there you can download the image and print the transcribed information.


Want a quick demo?  Check out this Five Minute Find: Sending Documents Home from the Library for more details.

Happy Searching!


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