Category Archives: Research Methods

Logic problems

The dovecot at Corstorphine. Courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland

If A is the son of B, and C is the grandson of B, and C’s father is D and mother is E, then how is E related to A…?

In addition to the main allied families in the Livingston project — Douglas of Dalkeith, Fleming of Wigtown, Hepburn of Bothwell, Menteith of Kerse, and Bruce of Airth — there are others that recur, either as ancestors of Livingston spouses or kin of kin in some way. One of the most prevalent is the Forrester family of Corstorphine, Torwood, Garden/Carden, and Nyddrie/Nidrie/Nithrie. Without even including the later Lords Forrester, I can easily count eight instances of Forresters in concert with other families to be covered in the Livingston book. Continue reading Logic problems

View from the dog house

Our family has an historic heirloom, a microscope that originally belonged to [Heinrich Hermann] Robert Koch (1843-1910), the famous German bacteriologist, who won the 1905 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discoveries related to the causative agents of anthrax, tuberculosis, and cholera. The microscope came into our family by virtue of his cousin, my great-great-grandfather, Ernest Wilhelm Eduard Koch (1827-1903), who was born in Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany, about 30 miles from Clausthal, the birthplace of Robert Koch. After moving to the United States, great-great-grandfather went by “Edward,” but usually was referred to by the family as E.W.E.

E.W.E. was a highly educated man and was an “1848er,” one of many who emigrated from Germany after the 1848-49 revolutions there. Continue reading View from the dog house

Churchill’s Mayflower line

Sir Winston Leonard (Spencer-) Churchill (1874-1965)

Last year I made a post teasing about an upcoming article I had written that showed, with the assistance of Y-DNA evidence, a Mayflower descent for Prime Minister Winston Churchill (among other notable figures). The journey began in 2017 when I was at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. When at our booth, we get a chance to meet lots of genealogists, members of American Ancestors and non-members alike. It is always a fun chance during some down time to discuss problems or recent findings. Continue reading Churchill’s Mayflower line

Finding Giovanna

A recent Vita Brevis post (October 28) discussed my discovery and correction of an error in the baptismal records of the parish church in Coli (Piacenza), Italy. I attributed that error to an absentminded priest who wrote the wrong family name for Domenica Plate when recording her baptism in the register on 4 July 1750. As my research continued, I uncovered another irregularity in the records, this time while trying to identify all the children of one set of great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, Giovanni Peveri (c. 1690-1745) and Lucia (maiden name unknown), who resided in Villa Fontana.[1] The 13 January 1725 record in question named Giovanni Peveri and Lucia of Villa Fontana as the parents, and Cristoforo Grassi and Maria Zavattoni as godparents, but left a blank space for the name of the baptized infant girl![2] (see illustration). Continue reading Finding Giovanna

Notorious

There are some great lines in one of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey stories about the way his “persistent and undignified inquisitiveness,” his “habit of asking silly questions,” leads him to pursue anomalies to a conclusion. In this story, “The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question,” he is hunting for a jewel thief in the drawing rooms of Mayfair, and he ends the story both in triumph and in trouble: Continue reading Notorious

The absentminded priest

Domenica Peveri alias Plate baptism. Click on image to expand it

This is a tale of how curiosity, knowledge of local Italian sources and conditions, and focused research strategies uncovered an error in church records and solved a genealogical mystery. Last year I finally discovered that my immigrant great-great-grandfather Antonio Pugni (1840-1913) was from the village of Coli in Piacenza, Italy. Fortunately, Coli parish church records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths date to 1718, and in some instances to the 1690s, and can be accessed directly on FamilySearch.org. Civil registration records of births, marriages, and deaths begin in 1806 and are also online at FamilySearch, but images can be viewed only at any of the 5,000+ Family History Centers worldwide. Continue reading The absentminded priest

Matrilineal mergers: Part Two

Gravestone of Mary E. (Young) Peltz, courtesy of findagrave.

My prior post on my own matrilineal ancestry and merged names continues with my father’s matrilineal line. My paternal grandmother’s parents were both natives of Philadelphia, and she recorded many of her ancestors and their siblings in a family Bible I used early on in my genealogical research. She identified her matrilineal great-grandmother as Mary E. Young (died 1900), wife of John Lentz Peltz (1819-1876). The Bible identifies her father as Peter Young, but does not list a mother, although it does list Mary’s siblings as Peter, Sarah, Eliza, Philip, Margaret, and David. Mary and her husband John were born, married, and died in Philadelphia, and several generations of her husband’s family are treated in a 1948 Peltz genealogy; a 1950 supplement even included my father’s older sister. Continue reading Matrilineal mergers: Part Two

Summer spots: Part Two

To continue my look at outdoor spots my family enjoyed this socially distant summer, I now will talk about Appleton Farms in Ipswich and Hamilton, not too far from the Crane Estate. The Trustees website describes Appleton farm as the “gift of Colonel Francis R. Appleton, Jr. and his wife Joan, [and] one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the country, established in 1638 and maintained by nine generations of the Appleton family.”

During our two visits to Appleton Farm this summer, my family and I found three monuments (there are more) to members of the Appleton family, the first to the above Joan Egleston Appleton (1912-2006), and then monuments to Col. Appleton’s parents – Francis R. Appleton (1854-1929) and Fanny L. Appleton (1864-1958).[1] Continue reading Summer spots: Part Two

Summer spots: Part One

Even the birds are socially distancing at Crane Beach. August 2020

With this most unusual summer now coming to an end, my family of four spent a lot more time together and got to enjoy some outdoor spots within an hour’s drive from Boston. We visited several spots owned by the Trustees of the Reservations and, as a way to remember this time, I’ve done some genealogical research on people historically associated with these places. The first place I’ll discuss is Crane Beach on Crane Estate.

Last summer, our staff outing was to nearby Castle Hill – obviously this summer we were unable to do any such outing. This property was purchased in 1910 by Richard Teller Crane, Jr. (1873-1931), president of the Chicago-based Crane Co. (manufacturer of plumbing supplies and other goods), which he had inherited from his father. Continue reading Summer spots: Part One

Matrilineal mergers: Part One

Jefferson County, Kentucky Marriage Licenses and Bonds, 1810-1814, showing the 1814 bond between William Shake and Stephen Smith.

An “added” middle name is something that comes up quite a lot when seeing family trees online and can sometimes be difficult to detect. Middle names in the eighteenth century in the present-day United States are rare, and even though they gained popularity during the nineteenth century, numerous people get their mother’s maiden name (or what a descendant thinks it is) added into a name online.

I’ve always been interested in matrilineal lines, and seeing how far back I could trace my mother’s mother’s mother, etc. Continue reading Matrilineal mergers: Part One