Saturday, June 18, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party - Edna Ascends the Iron Throne

Time for another round of Genealogy Blog Party!

Elizabeth O'Neal's Blog Party logo, used with permission

For this month's genealogy blog party, we are talking about an ancestor who epitomizes the word "strong," or in Game of Thrones* terminology, is worthy to sit on the Iron Throne - a throne made of 1000 swords and knives and was known to cause injury (or worse) to those that sat on it. Strength could be defined as military achievement, passing through hardships, or surviving an event or situation that others didn't. While I have many ancestors that I look up to as examples of strength, I chose to focus on my great-grandmother, Edna Mae (Craddock) (Harris) Moore. Edna was the oldest child of Ernest Leonard Craddock and Philena Emily "Lena" Beilstein. She was born on August 11, 1911 in Philipsburg, Montana and died December 25, 1996 in Sequim, Washington.

Edna as a baby with her mother Lena (Beilstein) Craddock
Edna went through a lot of trials in her early years, many connected with her family's poverty. Edna's daughter Sally told me the home Edna lived in at one point when she was young was a one room cabin with dirt floors. Edna's mom apparently broke down in tears when she saw it (and I don't think they were tears of joy). I can't imagine the impact of moving into a home so...rustic, if you want to put it that way, and then seeing your own mother crying because of the living conditions there. Later on, Edna's mom made a birthday cake for one of the girls (Edna had 3 sisters) and when it was done she covered it with a towel. When time came to eat it, she took the towel off, only to discover a large rat eating the cake! On another day, her father went shopping for supplies and came home with shoes for the girls, and Edna got two shoes for the same foot. With no other options (apparently returning the shoes wasn't an option), she wore them, though she later said this contributed to feet problems she had later in life.

Some time later the family moved back into a home in Philipsburg, Montana, and Edna joined the school basketball team. One day Edna complained of pain in her stomach. Her mother didn't believe her, and just assumed she didn't want to go to school. The pain was real however, and that night she had an emergency appendectomy. (This reminds me all too well of a similar story in my paternal grandmother Blossom (Wagner) Gibson's family, where her younger brother Charles Wagner complained of pain days after getting hit by a baseball while playing with friends. His parents didn't believe him, also feeling he wanted to skip school. Tragically, he was actually ill and died of tuberculosis).

Edna's parents separated sometime before she was 17, and her mom remarried to Jack White (among others; see my earlier posts on Lena Beilstein for details). Ernest was left with all four girls, and not having enough money to support them, he put them in the Montana State Orphans' Home for several years. Going into the orphanage must have interfered with her education, as the 1940 census reports that Edna only made it to 8th grade in school. Sally said this was because the orphanage put her to work doing laundry, and didn't give her time for school. Her younger sisters fared a little better, Hazel getting one year of high school and Grace two. Else was the only daughter in the family to actually complete high school.

In 1930, Edna married James Harris, son of Frank Harris and Charlotte Scribner. While I don't know too many details of their marriage, I do know that things were pretty rocky for them while they were together. Edna had dental problems in the late 1930s that caused her to have all her teeth pulled. She and Jim got some money together, ostensibly to buy her a set of false teeth. However, one night Jim came home and announced "your teeth are in the driveway." Edna went outside and saw a new car, purchased with the money that would have bought her teeth.

Jim and Edna divorced in the 1940s, Edna was then briefly married to a man named Ed Cole, then Isaac Hays, and then Bill Moore. She and Bill remained married for almost 25 years until Bill's death in 1975. She remained Edna Moore for the rest of her life (that is the name I remember seeing on her mail when we'd come to visit when I was young, and I always wondered why her last name didn't match my grandmother or mother's surnames. If I'd only asked!).

Edna in 1989
Edna had many health and other challenges in her later years. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1967, but radiation therapy sent the cancer into remission. She fell and broke her wrist in her 70s, but the wrist wasn't set properly and didn't heal correctly. She outlived her parents and all three of her sisters, her last surviving sister passing away in 1992. The next year she was diagnosed with another form of cancer, which eventually claimed her life on Christmas Day, 1996.

As with any person's life, you can't really go into all the challenges and struggles they faced in life in just a few paragraphs. Even in this brief overview of her life, I am struck with how many struggles and challenges and setbacks she was dealt. Yet the thing that strikes me the most was that every time I saw her, even in her later years when she could barely move, she was never anything but kind, cheerful, and happy. As a child and teenager, I had no clue about the hard life she had lived, and she showed no evidence of it in the way she acted around me and my siblings. She always greeted me with a hug and a smile, and would tell me to pull up my "britches" if they slouched too low. She really was the strong, silent type - silent in terms of not complaining about or bemoaning her circumstances. She took what she was given and did all she could with it. If there's anyone worthy to be called strong in my family, it's her. That's why I chose great-grandma Edna to sit on the Iron Throne.

*Disclaimer: I've never seen Game of Thrones, and had to Google search the Iron Throne to see what it was. Honestly though, after reviewing my great-grandma Edna's life, I think she'd take that throne, throw a few decorations on it and take a nap in it without blinking.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Tragedy at Mussigbrod Lake

Death records can be very interesting things. Sometimes they can tell a whole story all by themselves. The death certificate I found recently for a second cousin twice removed is like that - the story it tells is brief and tragic, but all the major details are there. The events happened at Mussigbrod Lake exactly 40 years ago this Thursday.

On June 9, 1976, Michael Frankovich, Jr., son of Michael Frankovich, Sr. and Mary (Levick) Frankovich, was a police officer on vacation at Mussigbrod Lake. Mussigbrod Lake lies about 10 miles northwest of the town of Wisdom in Beaverhead County, Montana, and about 60 miles away from Michael's home in Anaconda. At 6pm, on June 9, he was in a boat in the middle of the lake when the boat capsized. Michael didn't make it to shore, as he drowned within minutes of entering the water. His wife Nita was the informant on the sad event, which led me to believe she either witnessed it, or was at the lake with her husband when it happened. Either way, it must have been a horrible experience for her.

Wondering if there might be more to this story, I went and searched for more information. I quickly found this article from a Spokane, WA newspaper two days after the drowning.

Apparently Michael, Nita, and their seven children had gone to the lake with Michael's brother-in-law Tim Mix to celebrate the Mixes coming to visit. Tim and Michael had been fishing when the boat capsized. Tim made it to shore, but Michael didn't. They recovered his body around midnight that night. The fact that Michael's wife and kids were all there, and that they were celebrating a joyful reunion with family, makes his drowning all the more tragic.

It's amazing how the events of just a few minutes can forever alter the course of people's lives. Nita, her seven kids, and her in-laws probably never forgot that day in June when she became a widow, her kids became fatherless, and her in-laws lost a brother. Ferris Bueller may have been a little flippant when he said "life moves pretty fast," but he was right. I do need to slow down and enjoy things around me a little more, because as Michael's death certificate shows, changes that last forever can happen more quickly than you want to believe.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - A Fire in the Coals

Four years ago, I began my journey into genetic genealogy and DNA testing. Right away, from my first round of tests, I found some unexpected results, and set about trying to solve them - my grandmother's biological father,  the question of whether Ernest Craddock was my ancestor (and fortunately he is!), etc. Since those questions have been answered, I've felt like I kind of plateaued in my DNA research. Not that I haven't made big strides in some areas, because I have. But I haven't had a specific goal in mind, a question to resolve. I'm sitting on mountains of data, and I don't quite know what to do with it all. I feel kind of like a coal that's been taken out of the fire and left on its own.

So this year, I'm doing something about it. I'm now at the Marriott hotel in Burbank, California, eagerly awaiting the start of DNA Day at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree! It's going to be a day packed with talks and presentations all about DNA and genetic genealogy. I'm hoping I'll hear something (or lots of somethings!) to get me inspired and motivated to take my genetic genealogy research and skills to the next level. I'm ready to jump back into the fire with both feet, and come out ready to hit the research running again.

Speaking of DNA testing, I'm still waiting on the results from my Wagner relative's Y-DNA test. It's been delayed four times now at FTDNA (who has, I've noticed, added an additional disclaimer to the projected completion dates saying "this is just an estimate, subject to quality controls, etc"). I was really hoping the results would be in before now so I could take what I learn and use it as I hear it. But maybe it's a good thing the results aren't in just yet. Maybe I need to have that test to look forward to when I get home, to work on after Jamboree is over, and put all that new knowledge and fire to work for me. Silver lining, blessing in disguise, that kind of thing.

At any rate, I am so stoked for this weekend. Here's to continuing education and jumping back into the fire!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Military Monday - One War, Two Freds

I've known most of my life that my grandpa, Fred J. Gibson, served in the Marines during World War II. I'm very proud of his service, and given the fact that he was technically 17 when he joined up, it blows my mind that someone so young could do something so courageous and selfless.

However, what I didn't know until today is that his father, Fred John Gibson (sometimes known as John Frederick Gibson), also registered for the draft for that same war!

In 1942, the US government instituted its fourth draft of the war, known as the "Old Man's Draft" of men born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897. Thus my great-grandfather, though he was 58 years old at the time, was eligible to be drafted should the need arise. Thankfully, he was not needed and was able to remain home.

The best part of the document is in the lower right corner - his signature!

I love the way he writes his F, and my G and J are similar to his. Overall though, his handwriting is much neater than mine.

We often refer to the WWII generation as the "Greatest Generation". I wonder if we pay as much tribute to those who raised that generation, that instilled in them the work ethic, patriotism, and self-sacrifice that led them to become the heroes that they did. In his own way, Fred John Gibson was a part of that "Greatest Generation" for setting the example that his son followed through on, and passed on to his own children and grandchildren.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Genes Day Friday - Testing out Ancestry DNA's results

After several years, I've finally gotten around to starting to work with my wife Lisa's DNA results. She's the only one I've tested through AncestryDNA, so I'm not as familiar with their system as I am with 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA. I logged into her account, and saw that she has three matches listed as "2nd cousin". One has no tree, one is "tree unavailable", and one has a tree of nine people. Nine people isn't a very deep tree, but it's better than zero or unavailable, so I went with that one.

The match's tree only lists her parents (mom is presumably still alive, as the name is "private") and grandparents. My first thought was "I hope she really is a 2nd cousin, or this isn't going to go very well." As I looked over the names, the name of her maternal grandmother stuck out - Anna Rebecca Hudson. Hudson is a surname I know is in Lisa's tree. I checked, and her maternal great-grandmother was Bertha Hudson, wife of Raymond Red Corn. This was looking promising!

I went through Bertha's siblings, and there was indeed an Anna Hudson in my tree, the youngest of Bertha's 10(!) siblings. The information I had on Anna showed her marrying a guy named Edward Rogers, with whom she had two sons. Lisa's match had Anna marrying Lewis Edward Rogers, and their daughter being the mother of Lisa's match. Since I didn't show them as having a daughter, I went digging, and soon found the 1940 census for Anna's family. It showed Anna living with her husband, Lewis E. Rogers, and their three children, two boys and a girl! Further digging pulled up church records of this daughter and her husband, the father of Lisa's match. Other records even showed their daughter, Lisa's actual match! Not very often you search a genealogy website and find not-too-distant records of living people, but it does happen sometimes.

Using this information, I was able to determine that Lisa's "2nd cousin" match is actually a 2nd cousin once removed. 2nd cousins share an average of 3.125% of their DNA. 2nd cousins once removed share half that, so about 1.56%. 3rd cousins are half that again, or around 0.78%. I'd have to look up the percentage range charts, but it's interesting that the match would show up on the 2nd cousin rather than the 3rd cousin level, since it seems closer to 3rd than 2nd, in terms of percentages.

I know, both from experience and from reading the experiences of others, that most DNA matches are not resolved so easily. But I was very happy that is one seems to be just what Ancestry reported it to be. There are a lot more features on AncestryDNA that I need to explore further, especially the DNA Circles feature that so many others have written about. One of the circles given for Lisa and this match is called "Thomas Berry Hudson DNA Circle", which sounds very intriguing as Thomas Berry Hudson was the father of Bertha and Anna Hudson. I really wish AncestryDNA would give us a chromosome browser so we could see the actual matching segments that came from Thomas and/or his wife Anna Johnson, but since they won't for whatever reason, I have to hope this match has uploaded her data to I'll have to come back and look at these circles, and see who else matches Lisa and her match, and is also descended from Thomas and Anna. Very exciting stuff!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Those serious Shute kids

This is a photo I received from a cousin of mine, of siblings of my ancestor Daniel Shute. On the left is Abraham Lincoln Shute, age 3, and next to him is Eliza Shute, age 8. How on earth did they get their kids to look so serious? Mine won't hold a face like that for a second.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Surname Saturday - Just Shute Me

Did you ever have one of those days where you find yourself in the middle of something, and you can't remember how or why you started it? That's where I found myself the other day - looking at records for my Shute family line, ancestors of my 2nd-great-grandmother, Eldora (Shute) (Wagner) Greenfield. I may have decided to finally start tracking down confirmation of information I downloaded from FamilySearch more than a dozen years ago. Anyways, while looking for Shute family history info, I soon found myself staring at the following entry in the Bi-Centennial History of Albany on

I found that Braddock's defeat was part of the French and Indian War. But that got the wheels in my mind turning - did I have another Patriot ancestor on this side of my family tree? I would love to be able to document another Patriot in my family, and be able to commemorate them at my monthly SAR meetings. So I dug in and started researching.

I've spent the last several years of my personal research focusing on my more recent immigrant ancestors, so I wasn't too familiar with how to get hold of records from the Northeast before 1850. I soon found it's a lot more difficult than I had first anticipated. But I did find something incredible pretty quickly - the will of my 7th-great-grandfather Henry Shute!

It wasn't the original will, unfortunately, but it was a copy of the will as well as records of the court proceedings that reviewed the proofs and examinations made by the witnesses of the will. This was a fascinating document, for several reasons. First and foremost, Henry only names two grandchildren among his heirs, and one of them is my ancestor, Lewis P. Shute. Lucky me! Another reason is the description one of the witnesses gave of the circumstances of his being asked to witness the will. According to Philo Avery, it happened like this:

"[Philo Avery]and George W. Howard called into the house of said Shute one afternoon, he thinks when coming from Town meeting - that said Shute asked them to stay to tea as he had a piece of paper he wanted
to witness – they both staid and took tea and after tea Shute took them into another room where said instrument was lying on the table _ said Shute then put his hand on the instrument and said this is my last will and testament and shewed them where to sign their names and told them to put their residence

He also described later in his testimony that the will was folded up, so he couldn't read it and didn't ask to, just that he saw Henry's name exposed at the bottom, and signed where he was asked to. The whole episode is just so interesting to me - the idea that we have a description of an actual event sometime probably in early 1845 just fires my imagination. It's like turning on a video camera for just a few minutes and recording a scene in the living room of an ancestor 9 generations removed from me. Wow!

One other thing that caught my attention in these documents was Philo's acquaintance with Henry. When Henry died in 1850, he was over 70 years old, perhaps close to 80. Philo, at the time of Henry's death, was 31, and in his deposition says he had known Henry for 15 years prior to witnessing his will in 1845. That works out to roughly 20 years of acquaintance, so Philo would have met him at around the age of 10 or 11. How did this young boy meet Henry, and become so well acquainted with him that Henry would ask him, though they were 40 or more years apart in age, to be a witness on his last will and testament? I might need to look into Philo's history a little more, and see if there's anything about him that would help explain this.

While I have not yet uncovered any evidence of a Shute ancestor serving in the Revolutionary War, the information I have found on my Shute ancestors is amazing. I'm glad whatever it was that drew me into researching them caught me when it did. I love finding tidbits like this about my ancestors.