Posted by Pam Velazquez on December 31, 2013 in Holidays

Whether you have been doing research for a long time, or just started a few months ago, you know that every day can bring new possibilities and discoveries. Take a moment to think about where you started, and all that you’ve discovered about your ancestors.

Bohemian Texas farmer

The New Year is upon us and that means another 365 days of potential discoveries. But before we say goodbye to 2013, we would like to know:

Who was the most memorable ancestor you researched this past year? And why?


Share your ancestor and their story in the comments below – we’d love to hear your story!




  1. Joseph Ludi

    I discovered the line from which my sub-Saharan African genes come from. Now, if I could just find out more about my Jewish ancestry. Maybe this year!

  2. Judy Van Dusen

    I contacted and connected with a gentleman who was my Uncle Bill’s bunk mate when they were both German POW’s during WWII. After their liberation he lost track of my uncle and never knew what had happened to him.

  3. Candice LaPrade

    I was given my great grandfather’s diaries that he kept starting in the late 1800s through 1934 (2 years before his death). I know how Anne Shirley felt in “Anne of Green Gables” when she used the term kindred spirits. That’s how I feel about Ferd!

  4. Patricia Rohn

    I discovered more about my the family of my great grandmother, Margaret Carney. She and her siblings were split apart at a very young age in Scranton, PA when they were placed in “a home” because their parents were no longer able to take care of them. It took my great grandmother 40 years to find her sister, Mary Ann. So, I guess in a sense, she was the first “genealogist” in the family.

    For years, I have been trying to find out more about their family and what became of their parents. This year, I had a breakthrough while browsing the message boards on Ancestry. I had found a 10 year old post which included the named of my great grandmother and her sister. I contacted this person and fortunately, he was still an active subscriber. We were able to fill in some missing info on each other’s trees. Although, I still have not been able to find out what became of my great Grandmother’s parents, I still value this as a huge find.

  5. Johnny Roadman

    Using limited information, provided by my biological family, I was actually able to find out that I’m descended from a lot of royal families lol.

  6. Kathleen Condit

    I’ve always had migraines, and they run in our family. I knew my eighth great grandmother was Magdalen Hilton. I did not know she had been scalped in an indian attack and thrown across a woodpile. I knew she survived and remarried. But she had to wear a cap the rest of her life. She was on my Dad’s side.
    I did not know that on my mother’s side that my nineth great grandmother was Penelope Van Princis Kent Stout. She was scalped in an indian attack. She was healed by an older indian and lived to remarry and to have children. She lived to a very old age.
    I come from brave women with a strong will to survive.

  7. Joyce F Menard

    Today I uncovered my mother’s baptismal certificate from an Episcopal Chapel in Ancon Panama, Canal Zone. We don’t know where her parents were married… now I have the church where she was baptisized, so this is more than likely where her parents were married – This was during the building of the Panama Canal, by the American Forces… who were simultaneously involved in WWI. For me and my two cousins this is a HUGE deal, even though we have so much detail on other family members all the way to the 17th Century… I am doing the Genealogy happy dance.

  8. Charlton Cholmondley-Warner

    Two of my gg-grandfathers were bakers which is quite spooky as I like to eat lots of cakes. One of my great uncles drowned by getting his head stuck down the toilet. I am a direct descendant of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia.

    These are some of the things that I have discovered in 2013 thanks to Ancestry.

  9. Zizi Renee Wyatt

    I discovered that I am related to the Unsinkable Molly Brown. I think that was the most exciting thing for me. I also discovered that one of my ancestors was a confederate soldier in the Civil War. I also discovered that I come from a long line of farmers. Thank you so much

  10. Ann R.

    Through DNA I found out that I have some 4th cousins who are African American. I find that very interesting since I am white. I was very excited to find this out! I just would like to know more on how we are connected.

  11. Allen

    After ten years of trying to break through a brick wall, I finally found my second Great-Grandfather’s family in the 1900 Federal Census, thanks to a friend helping me. There was a spelling error. Finding that information led me to trace that line back to 1720 in Bristol, England.

  12. Mike Schindler

    With the help of a Genealogist I finally traced my family roots back to the 16th century from German Church records in Clausthal, Germany. I could not cement a link to the part of the family that emigrated to Australia when all the miners from Clausthal had their boarding fares paid for by the local government, but also found some very interesting information on the day-to-day life of a mining family in the 1800’s. It was a hard life living in the Harz mountains.

    The file is on my family tree, Ernst Schindler German roots if anyone cares to read it.

  13. Arlene Baker

    This year I learned that my 9th great grandfather and his wife Phillipa were caught kissing on Sunday. This was in the Puritan Connecticut Colony where the penalty was lashing. They escaped across the river to a community that was less strict. Scandalous.
    Also this year I learned that around the same time period my husband’s 10th great grandfather was the first European settler in Bushwick (Brooklyn) in Dutch New Amsterdam (NYC). His good friend, Capt. James Kidd, was a frequent visitor. I wonder if some of Kidd’s pirate gold is buried there.

  14. Diane

    This past year I met up with previously unknown cousins in New Zealand. My grandparents left Ireland for New York in the early 20th century. In the 1870s my New Zealand cousins’ ancestors left Ireland for New Zealand where they were among the first settlers in the southern part of the South Island. On my father’s side a genealogist helped me to find documents to connect us to our first Mayflower passenger. I also discovered and error in the transcription of an ancestor’s name in the Barbour collection which, when accepted, will connect us to another Mayflower passenger.

  15. Audrey Babbitt

    I discovered two brothers of my Father. He never spoke of them and when I found them I understood why. I don’t believe that he ever knew them directly and certainly did not know the circumstances surrounding their lives and deaths.

    Everyone in my Father’s family were delighted to finally know what had happened.


  16. Pamela Reed

    Although I’ve been doing genealogy on my family lines for more than 30 years, the most exciting find I had this year was on my step-daughter’s ancestors. Her maternal grandmother was an orphan and nothing was known about her parents, etc. The release of the 1940 census provided me the information I needed to jump start the search. I have been able to find several generations and for the first time I was able to use the city directories to discover many fascinating and helpful bits of information about them. I was just as excited as my step-daughter and her mother!

  17. My cousins researched my great grandfather for years but were stuck knowing that he came from Germany. Still today we can’t find how he came here or from where. By some wonderful miracle, I was able to locate a letter from his sister from Germany right at the end of WWII. Now my cousins are able to use that letter to take the next steps. This was very exciting.

  18. Linda Hanks

    I was always told that dad was married before he married my mom. I have search for yrs and yrs and could not find any record of this. A couple of months ago I finally found the divorce announcement written in the newspaper. OMGoodness what a wonderful find, now if only I could find a marriage record! Thank you Ancestry for making all of this possible without you I would still be wondering.

  19. Laurice J.

    This year I started researching the family of my niece’s fiancé as part of their wedding gift. Imagine my surprise when researching his maternal lineage, I discovered that my niece and her fiancé share 7-times great grandparents – making them 8th cousins. In all my years of doing research for myself and others this is the first time that has happened! What a happy discovery.

  20. Jim Baucom

    I finally have proven that my ancestor John Baucom, husband of Rachel Barker, was not the son of Nicholas Baucom, as previously thought, thanks to Y DNA tests.

  21. Lynn David

    My family had been researching to one degree of sophistication or another our ancestor Camille Eugene de Buisseret for over a hundred years. I’ve been on the trail myself for nearly 30 years. Late in 2012 I ran into a lead concernining the idea that he had changed his surname to DeBuisseret from Englebert, which the family remembered as just another given name. I found one ships list from their native Belgium (port of Antwerp) to Harwich, England, with this Camille Englebert and a Catherine Boulange(r) in which the Englebert and Boulange(r) entry appeared to be in the same handwritting as the Camille Englebert in question, who was from Glimes in Brabant.

    Work I had done 25 years earlier had independantly proven the parentage and origin from the commune of Bonlez in Brabant of our Catherine Boulanger in Indiana. This had been possible because the DeBuissert family of Knox County, Indiana, had made contact with Catherine’s Boulanger siblings in Kewaunee and Brown counties, Wisconsin, after seeing a mention of them while reading about the Peshtigo Fire.

    And then I found the smoking gun. A marriage record in St Louis, Missouri, in which he used his true name, Camille Englebert, and named his parents in Glimes, Brabant-Wallon, Belgium, and Catherine Boulanger did the same – thus anchoring the proof. This record was effected in late January, 1856, well after one might think they had been married such as before the May 1855 ships list. There may yet be a civil record of marriage somewhere in Belgium. But they had arrived in Vincennes, Indiana, in July, 1855, and purchased a farm under the name Eugene de Buisseret. Further there was a child born and died in November, 1855, and just two days before the St Louis marriage he lent $3520 to the Catholic Bishop of Vincennes (Indiana) using the name Eugene de Buisseret.

    Lucky for them the railroad from Vincennes to St Louis had been completed in early July, 1855, perhaps allowing them to first come to Vincennes (assuming an arrival in New Orleans and steamboat ride north on the Mississipi to St Louis – where family myth had said he once considered setting up a law practice) and then going to St Louis to be married.

    Finding this all out in early 2013 just about wiped me out genealogically for the rest of the year. I had to rest!

  22. Linda Marie Wetzel

    I broke through a wall that had been stumping me for almost 15 years when I stumbled across some newly-published probate records. They documented that my gr-grandfather and his siblings (which I never knew about) were parties to a land sale conducted so that their mother (another new name for me!) could afford to care for them after the death of their father, my gr-gr- grandfather (yet another new name!). Using this information I was able to weave together the threads of a number of facts that I have carried for years but never knew were connected. And with all these new names I now have a solid jumping-off point for this year’s work.

  23. Susan Klock

    On October 22, 2013, I received both a note from indicating a potential 1st cousin, and immediately thereafter received an email from MS (the potential first cousin). At first, I was really confused. I thought that I knew all my first and second cousins (we may have a big family, but we’re also really close). Turns out, MS had been given up for adoption in 1963 and did not know the names of her birth parents, only some scant details. Our extended family never knew about MS’s birth or adoption. With the details MS provided to me, I was able to determine that her father was my great uncle. I put MS in contact with two of my aunts (CK & KMK) who knew more about their uncle than I did. My great uncle and his wife had given up MS for adoption, but then two years later had twin girls. My side of the family wasn’t quite sure what to do with the info, other than provide MS with as much info as we had. About two months later, completely out of the blue, one of the aforementioned twins contacted my aunt CK and informed her that, while the family wasn’t likely aware, her mother and father had given up a child for adoption before the twins were born, and her mother and her were now trying to figure out what happened to that child. They contacted CK because she’s pretty much the family genealogist and would have the best idea of how to go about the process. My aunt CK responded “how about I just give you her phone number?”. Obviously the twin was shocked and asked how that happened. My aunt CK explained how I had done the ancestry DNA test and gotten a hit, then began communicating with MS. Needless to say, MS has now spoken with and is in contact with her birth mother and sisters.

    Thank you for bringing our family together.

  24. Ed Lawson

    Great year 2013, discovered and documented my ancestors back to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of the Mayflower. Submitted my application to the society and was accepted in July. Many other discoveries along the way included ” Ebenezer Byram” colonial tavern owner 1740 Mendham NJ and “Absalom Looney” known for the discovery of Abbs valley in Virginia. There was also Capt. James Moore the subject of a book titled ” Captives of Abb’s Valley “. Ancestry DNA helped to confirm these discoveries.

  25. Lynne Drake

    The December, 2012 discovery of my great-grandfather’s obituary on microfiche in his hometown of Midland, Michigan began my renewed search for him. The newspaper article verified the year of his death as 1906 — eleven years later than I had always thought. And he didn’t die in Michigan, but far away. Why did he leave home and where could he have gone?

    This began a search that followed him from Michigan to Ohio to Illinois to Montana to New Orleans and back again. Since my discovery, I have contacted cousins who I had never known before, living in Michigan, Canada and all the way to Key West.

    The 1900 U.S. Census showed William Madill living in southern Madison County, Montana. I knew Will died from tuberculosis, but I had no idea he went to the top of the Continental Divide to seek the cure. Race horses were bred in the huge Centennial Valley, the highest flat point in the contiguous United States — the arid climate and altitude expanded their lungs. Determining the name of what had to be a very tiny town was my biggest challenge. There are no towns there! I contacted the Beaverhead County Museum, the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, the Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge, the Yellowstone Historic Center and finally the Centennial Valley Historical Society. By comparing the names on the census to people in Centennial Valley history, we determined that the “town” was really only a stagecoach stop called Lakeview! (the county boundaries have since changed over to Beaverhead.) Lakeview was a stop on the Monida-Yellowstone Stagecoach line at that time. How exciting! When I was asked me to share Will’s story for the upcoming book “Centennial Valley — a Journey through Time Part II”, I was only too happy to write it. The book will be out later this year. Many people in the Centennial Valley area loved the first book — and there are still boxes and boxes of photographs taken in Lakeview in the museum and in private family trunks. In 1900, Lakeview only had a population of 23, but over 12,000 people traveled through to Yellowstone from 1898 to 1908 and there was a photographer’s studio and all of the parade celebrations were held there. Theodore Roosevelt was believed to travel through to inaugurate the northwest entrance to Yellowstone. This book will have biographical sketches of the people who lived in the big Centennial Valley and allow us to compare notes among the descendants.

    Photo caption: I had never seen a photo of Will, but my newfound third cousin, Rosemary, located the Madill family album in her great-grandmother’s trunk. We think that this picture is Will – and we are hoping that someone in the Centennial Valley will recognize him in their photos of Lakeview between the years of 1898 and 1906 to complete his story. I’m glad Will was able to go to Montana. I bet he liked it there.

  26. Kay (Sullivan) Jake

    In 2013 I discovered ancestors that were on both sides of Revolutionary War and War between the States. Even bigger (to me) is that Pocahontas Rebecca Matoaka is my 11th great grandmother. My Daddy always said we were decended from Cherokees, but closer to the truth is we were a mixture of tribes (as I understand what I read), we are a newly designated tribe, Powhatans (spelling probably wrong). Now all I need to do is get paperwork filled out and sent in to see whether the Tribe will accept me, my brother and our kids, as it depends on where family members born or lived. A lady and I connected our families, which I had something a bit wrong at the time, but we are both Sullivans from Orange County, Virginia, just her Mom was Africian-American and White and “Cherokee”, where my Daddy was White and “Cherokee”. We are cousins of some generation, just her ancestor was probably a slave on my g-grandma’s plantation (called “the farm” by eastern Sullivan’s). So amazing what we are finding, the more people add in their family histories. Wonderful!

  27. After learning I was adopted 11 years ago, I finally got around to digging up the dirt on my biological family in 2013. I learned quite a bit about my birth mom, who already had four kids when she got pregnant with me. Born in Indiana, my mother had around 12 brothers and sisters and the family was quite poor. She eventually moved to the Chicago area where she lived with her family in a house about 35 miles away from my adoptive parents’ home. After spending my childhood thinking I was German and Polish, I found out my ancestors actually came from Ireland, Scotland and England. How about that? I discovered a new ethnic identity in 2013. You can read more on my adoption blog, Revelations:

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