A common story among Americans is that their immigrant ancestors changed their names (or had their names changed) upon arrival to the United States in order to make their names sound more “American.” This can make researching immigrant ancestors difficult, especially if you aren’t sure under what name to look for your ancestor. This challenge is prevalent in Irish research, as surname and given name spellings can vary widely from record to record, making it difficult to determine if you’ve located the right person. Continue reading ‘More American’
When Chris Child completed the chart of the ancestry of Meghan Markle, which depicts her descent from Edward III and the common ancestry she shares with Prince Harry, I was intrigued by Markle’s early American ancestors. In looking over the chart, one couple in particular caught my eye: John Smith and Mary “Polly” Mudgett.
As someone who has seen one too many true crime documentaries on Netflix, the surname Mudgett reminded me of Herman Webster Mudgett, more commonly known as H.H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers. H.H. Holmes is infamous for his “murder castle,” a hotel built for the 1893 Chicago World Fair where several of Holmes’ crimes are thought to have occurred. Continue reading An unsavory connection
[Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 8 March 2016.]
When researching a family, one can quickly become focused on names, birthdates, and death dates. It is easy to get caught up on going as far back as possible until reaching the metaphorical brick wall, and being left with a “well, what do I do now?” mentality. Seventeenth-century immigrants can be incredibly difficult to trace and track, but learning about them in public records can help add meaning to and information about their lives. Continue reading ICYMI: Middlesex County court records
A few months ago, I visited St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury in search of the headstone of my great-great-grandparents, John Henry and Anna K. (Ulrich) Hampe. After searching for some time, I finally came to the Hampe plot. Listed on the headstone are John and Anna, as well as their children Joseph M., Bernard J., Anna M., and B. Ernestine Hampe. Though I was happy to take a few pictures, I couldn’t help but feel a flicker of disappointment. With the exception of Joseph, the other Hampes buried at St. Joseph’s Cemetery only list their birth and death year, rather than the full dates of those events. Continue reading Correcting an error
In a previous post, I mentioned that my mother had received several pictures and other items that belonged to my grandparents. In addition to the certificate that belonged to my great-grandfather, which I mentioned in my last blog post, I came across a book entitled The Muir Family Heritage Book.
According to one of the first pages of the book, The Muir Family Heritage Book was purchased by my grandfather in 1984. This surprised me; my mother had told me stories of her grandparents (my great-parents), but didn’t seem to know much about her family beyond them, and none of my aunts and uncles appeared to have an outward interest in genealogy. Continue reading Still looking
[Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 27 November 2015.]
For the last several months, I have been trying to determine the origins of each of my mother’s Irish ancestors. In a previous post, I mentioned my success in locating the origins of my Kenefick ancestors; however, I have been having trouble with some ancestors with much more common surnames.
The earliest record I have for my maternal great-great-grandparents Patrick Cassidy and Mary Hughes is their marriage record, dated in Boston 28 November 1888. Continue reading ICYMI: Consider the siblings
In a previous post – To catch a thief – I discussed the use of local clubs and societies in discovering information about ancestors. However, a recent acquisition led me to expand my search into religious records beyond the standard baptism, marriage, and burial records.
A few months ago, my mother received several photographs and documents that had been in my grandparents’ possession before they died. One afternoon, while going through everything, I came across a certificate for a John A. Hampe written in German. As I have several ancestors named John Hampe, and do not read German, I had no idea what this document could be. Continue reading Portrait from life
When researching a family, one can quickly become focused on names, birthdates, and death dates. It is easy to get caught up on going as far back as possible until reaching the metaphorical brick wall, and being left with a “well, what do I do now?” mentality. Seventeenth-century immigrants can be incredibly difficult to trace and track, but learning about them in public records can help add meaning and information about their lives. Continue reading Middlesex County court records
Recently, I moved from my hometown of Dedham to Medford, Massachusetts. I never really thought about it, but I had always assumed my family had no connections to places north of Boston. My mother and her siblings grew up in Needham (in Norfolk County), and my maternal grandfather and grandmother were raised in Dorchester and Roslindale, respectively. Continue reading Coming home
[Editor’s note: Katrina Fahy has written a number of posts on researching her Scottish, Irish, and German ancestors. Some of her techniques – and successes – are excerpted below.]
From Finding William Muir: When I began working as a genealogist, my mother expressed great interest in learning more about her father’s family: the Muirs. While she had much information on her mother’s side of the family, which was quite large, she knew little about her father’s side of the family beyond her grandparents, so I began there… Continue reading Strategies for Scottish and Irish research