Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Military Monday - James McFarland in the Civil War

Photo courtesy of www.soldierstudies.org
While going through my recent Fold3 discoveries, I took some time to go through the Civil War service records of my wife's earliest known McFarland ancestor, James McFarland. I found he had a very interesting story, and wanted to share what I learned about him.

The first thing that struck me was the sheer number of alternate spellings for James' name in the records. It's a wonder to me that they ever managed to lump all these names under one person's file. Between 28 pages of records, James' name is written variously as:

James C. McFarland
James C. McFirlin
James J. McFarland
James McFarlin
James C. McFarling
James P. McFailing

Makes me wonder if it was James' accent, the record keeper's hearing, or both that created all those spellings. I don't see any that were created by James himself, and there's no indication of whether he was literate or not, so I can't say exactly what caused all the spelling changes. I'm also left to wonder what his middle name really was, and why his middle initial is recorded so inconsistently.

James enlisted in the Union army in Green County, Tennessee, on 15 March 1863 as part of Company G, 8th Regiment Tennessee Infantry. Three months later he was present with his company at Camp Nelson, Kentucky on 30 June 1863. He fell ill and was marked "absent - sick with leave" for the September-October muster roll. So far, pretty hum-drum right? Then it gets interesting.

The next muster roll, for Nov-Dec 1863 records that James deserted his unit on Christmas Day, 1863, at a place called Blains Crossroads. The Jan-Feb muster roll gave the same information about his desertion. The records don't say where he went or why, just that he was gone. I wonder if he left to be with his family, or because of something he saw/experienced in a battle. Whatever caused him to leave his unit, he left after serving about nine months in the army.

Then James did something I didn't expect - he came back to his unit on 11 April 1864. Upon his return, he was arrested and tried by a court martial. He was apparently let back into the unit with no other consequence than losing three months' pay. Whatever caused him to leave, it must not have been a lack of belief in the cause or a need for the pay, as he stayed through the end of the war this time.

On 6 August 1864, when he was wounded in the right shoulder, and was thus marked absent in the Jul-Aug 1864 muster roll. But in the 31 October 1864 roll, he was back on active duty. Either the wound wasn't serious and he recovered quickly, or he wanted to (or was forced to) go back to the line early. Hopefully he recovered, I'd hate to think about having to go through everything active soldiers endured while still recovering from a bullet wound.

After serving through the end of 1864, he contracted pneumonia and was admitted to a Union hospital in Alexandria, Virginia on 2 January 1865. The Jan-Feb 1865 muster roll states he was "absent sick in hospt. Alex. Va. since Jan 2/65". A hospital record shows he was transferred to "Sickles Barracks" on 24 Feb 1865. His muster roll from Mar-Apr 1865 says he was "absent sick in hosp. since March 4 64", but that has to be an error as he was still AWOL in March 1864. If they meant 1865, it seems James spent the rest of the Civil War in that hospital, as the next record chronologically is his muster out on 30 June 1865.

So to briefly recap:
15 Mar 1863 - enlisted
30 Jun 1863 - present at Camp Nelson, Kentucky
Sep-Oct 1863 - sick
25 Dec 1863 - deserts unit
11 Apr 1864 - returns to unit, arrested, tried by court martial, returns to active duty
30 Jun 1864 - present at camp near Marietta, Virginia
6 Aug 1864 - wounded in battle
31 Oct 1864 - present with unit
Nov-Dec 1864 - present with unit
2 Jan 1865 - contracts pneumonia, hospitalized in Alexandria, Virginia
24 Feb 1865 - transferred to Sickles Barracks
Mar-Apr 1865 - hospitalized with pneumonia
30 Jun 1865 - mustered out

So yeah, very interesting service record. Eventually I hope to fill in some of the gaps and round out the story with more details about his unit, where they traveled, what battles they fought in, etc. This is one ancestor that has a story with lots of twists and turns for such a short time period. Makes me wonder what else there is to learn about him that I don't suspect yet.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Military Monday - a Fold3 Goldmine!

photo courtesy of danhilbert.wordpress.com

Being on a budget is never easy for a genealogist. There are so many good sites, with so much to offer, but that require a paid subscription. Thus, when one of them offers a free trial subscription, I'm more than happy to sign up and test drive their site, especially if it's been a few years since I last visited. Such was the case with Fold3.com a couple weeks ago, and boy am I ever glad for free trials! Never have I ever found so much information in such a short period of time.

I signed up originally to see if I could find some information on the Navy service of my grandpa, Jim Crawford. He served right after WWII on the USS Princeton (CV-37). Veterans Day was coming up, and I thought it'd be fun to see what I could find on him. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything that was definitively about his service. I tried looking up info on my dad's service in the Navy during the Vietnam War (he was on the USS Gridley (DLG-21)), but again, no luck. So I went looking for my wife's 3rd-great-grandfather, Samuel Henry Thacker, who served in the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s. Didn't find much that I didn't already have, except an index card from Company A, 2nd Tennessee Infantry, listing him as a private. So far, pretty underwhelming results.

Then I searched for my another 3rd-great-grandfather of my wife's, James McFarland, who served in the Civil War (interesting how the same generation of one line can be so much older/younger than another line, isn't it?) and struck pay dirt! They had a file of 31 pages of records on him, and it was fascinating stuff. Summing up his service here wouldn't do it justice, so I'll make a separate blog post about him later. But it was a lot more involved than a boring old "enlisted, served, mustered out" experience.

I was sorely tempted to stop here, and analyze what I'd found. I mean, what more could I hope to find than this? But I knew my free trial would expire in less than a week, and I wanted to try to find as much as I could while the trial lasted. So I wrote down quickly what I'd found so far and who it was about, and moved on to my next target - my 4th-great-grandfather, Paul Groff.

Paul has been a brick wall of mine for many years, almost since I got started in researching my family history. I'd traced back to him pretty quickly, as the records of his children and grandchildren were pretty easy to find. But once I got to him,, they all dried up. I couldn't find anything preceding his first marriage to Charlotte Blake in 1848, even after joining the Wapello County, Iowa genealogical society for a year and having them scour their records. But Fold3 had some real treasures waiting for me.

I'd sent away a couple months ago for his pension file from NARA, after his military service in the Mexican-American War, and got back a couple documents that gave his military service unit, but not much more than that. So when I jumped on Fold3, I knew which Paul Groff to look for, and what unit he was from. And it turns out, there were some really interesting documents from him!

Spread out over a couple of different files, I eventually ended up with 19 pages of documents on Paul. Two pages were his enlistments, one in 1842, and the other in 1847. These were really great finds because they not only confirm his birth in New York (and are thus now the earliest documents I have with info on his birth), they both give his birth county - Monroe. I need to follow up on this lead! This wasn't the best part though. The other two files contained collections of letters written to and from different government officials. One group of letters requested Paul's discharge from the military in 1844, saying that his mother was aged, widowed, and needed him to come home and support her. The two gems in this collection - it gives his mother's name, Hannah, and even includes a letter written by Hannah Groff herself!! I've FINALLY broken a big hole in the brick wall!!! The other collection of letters was about Paul's second period of military service, requesting that his dishonorable discharge be changed to honorable, including a letter written by Paul himself! I'm going through that stack of letters first, trying to see if I can find why he was dishonorably discharged. But in what little I've read about his unit so far is absolutely fascinating. He was in the First Dragoons, a cavalry unit, and served in the Mexican War. His unit seems to have gone all the way down to southern Mexico! Definitely need to look further into this.

But the real shocker was what I found about Norton Johnson, first husband of my 3rd-great-grandmother, Maria Janette Beardsley. I'd read/heard elsewhere that Norton had enlisted in the Civil War, and had gotten sick and died in 1864, and wanted to corroborate or refute that story (I was kind of hoping to refute it, as dying from a sickness just seemed...well, a sad way to go in a war). So I went looking to see if there was a file for him. What I found blew me away - there was a pension file for his widow, my ancestor Maria, totaling 94 pages!! It took a while to download it all, and I saw a lot in there while I was downloading - statements from judges, obituaries for Maria, death records for Norton, and other things I didn't really take the time to look at very carefully. I am very excited to go through these records and see what there is to learn about Maria, Norton, and any other family members mentioned in them. I'm still in shock that there were almost 100 pages on just this one family!

So yeah, I'm a firm believer in Fold3.com now. I only had a few days to search the site, and I'm sure my results aren't typical. But I am more than happy with what I've found, and very much looking forward to learning all about these different branches of my family and their military history.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Pierre Dextraze and family

Photo courtesy of Annie Carlile

This is a photo of the gravestone of my fourth-great-grandparents, Pierre Dextraze and Charlotte Robidoux of Quebec, Canada. I've done some research on this family, and I've found a lot of information with the help of other researchers, but my information on them is by no means complete. I'm sure that the second Pierre Dextraze listed is the son of the first, as the age matches that of the son listed in the 1881 census I've found for Pierre Sr. Adeline is probably Pierre Jr's sister, given the birthdate. The third Pierre could be the son of Pierre Jr, which would make three generations of Pierre Dextraze's buried in the same place.

The IHS on the cross looks familiar. This family was Catholic, as was Michael Barrett, whose gravestone I saw this symbol on previously. So it's neat to see some consistency in religious symbols, even though these families were separated by language, culture, country, and distance.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Genes Day Friday - My wife is no longer a Viking

I've written previously about my wife's ethnicity results from her AncestryDNA test. Today, Ancestry emailed me that they've released an updated version of those ethnicity results. After hearing about other's reactions to their updated results (both positive and negative) I was very interested in seeing what Ancestry now thought of my wife's background.

More than anything, I wanted them to revise her Scandinavian ancestry. Before, they said she was 73% Scandinavian, which I honestly thought was dead wrong. To give you an idea why, let me go over a list of the surnames of her 2nd- and 3rd-great-grandparents:

McFarland, McNeese, Thacker, Vann, Crow, Hoskins, Wright, Qualls, Dickson, Eskridge, Dean, Gould, Baugher, Smith, Gast, Red Corn, Hudson, Mead, Johnson, Duncan, Horton, Bacon, Crane, Houchens, Lewis, Carswell, Stauffer, and Tomlin.

I understand there could be inaccuracies in there, and there could be NPEs as well. But to tell me that somehow, of those 28 ancestral lines, 21 of them go back to a Scandinavian country? That just makes no sense to me.

Because Ancestry apparently emailed everyone in their customer list about the revised ethnicity results, it took several hours for traffic to die down enough for me to get in. Once I finally made in it, I quickly navigated to Lisa's revised ethnicity results.

Lisa's revised AncestryDNA ethnicity estimate

First up, the Scandinavian component is MUCH more reasonable. I'm willing to accept that she could have some Scandinavian ancestry way, way back on one or even a couple of her English lines. Going from 73% down to 2% is quite a jump, and it's gratifying to see that their revised calculations match much more closely to my wife's known ancestry. 

Also, I was happy to see the Native American results. Given that she has a full-blooded Osage great-grandfather, the amount of Native DNA is spot on. I figured the 12% "uncertain" in her previous results was probably her Native DNA, and it looks like I was right.

The only real surprise in the breakdown was the Jewish percentage. Her previous results gave no indication of Jewish ancestry, so this was completely unexpected. I'll have to go back to Gedmatch and look at their calculations again, see if they see the same thing. None of my relatives that I've tested so far have had any Jewish ancestry DNA identified, so this is something totally new. Makes me wonder if my kids received any Jewish DNA from her. That will have to wait a while though, I still have a few more older relatives to test.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the new results. It's confirmed a lot of what I knew about my wife's tree, while opening up some interesting new possibilities for future research. Just like any good genealogy find, it answers some questions, while creating more than it answered. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Genes Day Friday - Finding my French relatives

Photo couresty of www.as-found.net
Now that I've confirmed my French ancestry from William Vadnais and built a pretty good pedigree
for him, I've gone back to some of my grandma's 23andMe matches to see how many I can identify as coming from her French side. Turns out, there's quite a few!

The closest relative is obviously the cousin whose test helped me confirm the Vadnais connection. Their common ancestor is my grandma's bio-dad, so even though it doesn't pinpoint an ancestor very far back in terms of generations, it gives me several hundred cM worth of verified Vadnais/Bessette DNA, so anyone who matches my grandma and my cousin on those segments is tied to my Vadnais/Bessette line, which will come in very handy in identifying common ancestors.

Then there's the cousin whose Vadnais ancestor in his pedigree on Gedmatch helped me begin figuring all this out. He's a bit more distant, a descendant of my 4th-great-grandparents Louis Vadnais and Josephett Fregeau dit Laplanche. Finding common matches to him and his mom, who have both tested and share the same size segment with my grandma, will be tougher since they only share one small segment of about 10 cM. But I won't forget how his pedigree helped me solve this mystery.

There's a match on the Bessette side that has multiple connections to Antoine Bessette, my 5th-great-grandfather. That's pretty far back, but because of the multiple lines of descent, she and my grandma have almost 50 cM of DNA in common.

Finally, in the last couple weeks I've found two more Bessette side relatives. One contacted me because of the French surnames listed in my profile, and the other I contacted because she matched my other Bessette relative. In both cases, we were able to determine our common ancestors in just a couple of emails. It was awesome!  Both of these cousins have Moise Bessette and Scholastique Dextraze, my 3rd-great-grandparents, as common ancestors with my grandma.

I still need to download the chromosome mapping tool Kitty Munson created for us on the DNA Newbie mailing list. Now that I have a whole bunch of identified segments, I can't wait to see what her mapped chromosome looks like.

Plus I found out today that Family Tree DNA has upgraded their Family Finder match sorting to allow you to tag someone, and sort your matches to include only those people that also match that person. That is a HUGE upgrade to having to email them individually like you used to have to, or compare them 2 and 3 at a time like 23andMe still does. This could really help in finding more Vadnais/Bessette relatives, as well as with my grandpa's test (the only other one I've moved to FTDNA so far).

All in all, a very exciting week for this genetic genealogist. And many more good things to come, I'd wager!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Genes Day Friday - Heritage Lost, Heritage Found part 2

Once I realized that James Harris was not my biological great-grandfather, I wanted to know if I could find out who my biological great-grandfather was. At this point, all I had to go on were my grandma's results at 23andMe.com, and her matches at GedMatch.com.

I tried contacting some of my grandma's closest matches at 23andMe, but I didn't have a lot of success there. Most of her matches didn't respond to my information sharing requests, and the ones that did were too distant of relatives to help me answer the question I wanted answered; I had no hope of identifying a connection to an estimated 4th cousin if I had no names for half of my grandma's family tree. So I turned instead of GedMatch. I am now VERY glad I did.

Back then, Gedmatch allowed you to upload gedcom files, so you could display a family tree of the test taker's ancestors (this feature has been disabled for some time, and as of August 2013 is still not restored). As with 23andMe, I started emailing her closest matches, but I also went through their pedigrees if they had them, and searched for any surnames that looked familiar. Before long, I found one - a match that had a grandmother surnamed Vadnais. This immediately caught my attention. If you've read my blog, you know about my Vadnais connection - James Harris' sister Charlotte married William Vadnais, son of Richard and Eleanor (Bessette) Vadnais. Was this match related to my Vadnais relatives? Could grandma's bio-dad be a relative of the same Vadnais family?

I emailed the match, and he shared his family tree on Ancestry. After some digging, I discovered he was indeed related to William Vadnais. The connection was pretty distant, 3rd cousin twice removed from my grandma's Vadnais cousin of her same generation, but it was there. Of course, I had to admit to myself that grandma could have been related to anyone on his tree. Fortunately, he'd also tested his mother (who had the Vadnais connection), and grandma matched his mom as well. So at least I knew which side of his tree we matched on.

At this point, I decided I needed to broaden my pool of potential matches. I wanted to see if FamilyTreeDNA had clients more responsive to emails from other genealogists, and I wanted to see if their bio-geographic analysis (BGA) tools matched what 23andMe said about grandma's ethnic ancestry. So I transferred her results to FTDNA.

Two things stood out right away - one, that they also declared her of 100% European descent, with no Indian or African heritage. Two, she had a LOT of matches with declared French-Canadian ancestry. That was a huge surprise. It also gave another indication that my grandma's bio-dad was a Vadnais relative, or at least a French-Canadian. Once again, I set about contacting matches and trying to determine common ancestors. During this process, I found a match that had a documented connection to Eleanor Bessette. To me, this was a huge deal - not only did my grandma have a Vadnais descendant match, she now had a Bessette descendant match. In my research on my Vadnais family, I found two Vadnaises that married Bessettes - Richard Vadnais, and his brother, Polydore Vadnais, who married Rosanna Bessette, Eleanor's sister. Polydore had two daughters, no sons, so his line was obviously not mine. But Richard did have a son - William. Could William Vadnais be my grandma's bio-dad?

Rosanna Bessette and Polydore Vadnais,
Courtesy of Marlene Rimmer

To find out, I asked a cousin of mine, a descendant of William Vadnais, to take a DNA test, and gratefully, she consented. The weeks seemed to crawl by, but when the results came in, they were conclusive. She matched my grandma for just the right amount of DNA for their suspected relationship. After working on the problem for over a year, it took a little while for it to sink in that I had finally found my grandma's biological father, William Vadnais.

It has now been a few weeks since that discovery, and I find I am still trying to sort out my feelings on it. I know that William Vadnais is my great-grandfather, but I don't feel connected to him the same way I do to my other ancestors. My wife says it's because I don't have a lifetime of associating him with my family the way I do with Augusta Joseph, Katherine Hammer, or my other great-grandparents, and I think she's right. On the other hand, my connection to the Harris family has changed as well. I've been working on researching them since the start of my genealogy career. When I had to write a genealogy research paper in college, I chose the Harrises. I've written about them a couple times here on the blog. For a short time, after I realized I was not biologically related to the Harrises, I almost wanted to just clip the Harrises off my family tree. But I realized that they are still family. Jim Harris put his name on my grandma's birth certificate, he raised her as his daughter. He wasn't a perfect father, but who is? Whether they were close or distant, biological or adopted, he's still family. I think I'm still adjusting, trying to figure out how to have two different families occupy the same branch on my family tree. But I'm getting there.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Genes Day Friday - Heritage Lost, Heritage Found

It's been a long time since my last Genes Day update, but I've got a lot to show for it. First up, new test results! A Joseph cousin of mine agreed to test, as long as I would help interpret the results and assist with finding and connecting with new relatives. Talk about an offer I can't refuse! One of the first things I checked out was his Y-DNA results, as I was eager to find out what haplogroup my Joseph male ancestors belonged to. It turns out, my Joseph line belongs to haplogroup N1C1*, or M178 (the terminal SNP). I conferred with members of the DNA Newbie mailing list I'm on, as well as checking ISOGG's website, and it appears that, for now at least, there are no SNPs downstream from M178, so that's as detailed as I can get at this time. National Geographic's Geno 2.0 test might shed some more light, but for now, I know enough to make me happy.

According to 23andMe, this haplogroup is most highly concentrated in Siberians, Finns, Estonians, and the Saami people of Scandinavia. Obviously, this could just be the LONG range ancestry of my Joseph line, but I can't help but wonder if it holds any meaning for my research in a genealogical time frame. I've traced my Joseph line back to Christian Joseph, born about 1815 in Poland. Were his ancestors Russian or Scandinavian? Once I find someone willing to transcribe and translate Polish records for me, I'll get back on the research for that line and see what I can find.

Also, I heard back from one of my mom's closest matches, and we were able to determine our common ancestors! It turns out we're double cousins, as her great-grandparents, Henry Hammer and Mary McDonald, were siblings of my mom's great-grandparents, Thomas Hammer and Katherine McDonald. This is exciting because I'm starting to work on chromosome mapping, mapping out which ancestor or ancestral couple each part of DNA comes from. I've started this on the tests taken by my three grandparents, my mom, and a couple of the cousins who've tested for me. It's tricky, and not a little complicated, but I'm really interested in this - this is one of the big things I'd hoped to be able to do when I started doing genetic genealogy. Maybe I'll do two separate versions, one with the names of the ancestors, and one with locations of where those ancestors lived. We'll see.

That's some heritage found. Now for what I lost. I've written previously (here here, and here) about my difficulty in figuring out why my grandma's DNA test showed no Native American DNA. I now have the answer, and it's not at all what I was expecting.

To help figure out why my grandma was showing no Native American DNA, I tested a child of one of her siblings. The results came back - this relative also had no Native American DNA, but also showed only half as much DNA in common with my grandma as they should for their predicted relationship. There had been a longstanding story that this sibling of my grandma's had a different father than my grandma did, and the DNA test results confirmed that. Unfortunately, neither my grandma nor her relative showed any Native DNA. I started to wonder whether the "Indian" ancestor was really Indian after all. Her name was Lisette Rainier, a French name, and part of me wondered if she weren't simply considered and treated Indian, while not actually being of Indian descent.

To test this theory, I tested two of my grandma's paternal cousins, both descendants of Tom Harris and his wife Lisette. They came back sharing just the right amount of common DNA, confirming their relationship to each other. They also showed Indian DNA, each having the correct percentages of Indian DNA for having a full-blooded Indian ancestor at the same generation as Lisette. But the real surprise - they had no DNA in common with my grandma or her sibling's child. None. I thought about this for a while, trying to figure out how these two relatives, whose descent from Tom and Lisette I had documented carefully, who shared the right amount of DNA with each other, and both had Indian DNA, could both come up as unrelated to both my grandma and her sibling's child. Then it hit me - neither my grandma nor her sibling were children of my great-grandma's husband. I later confirmed this when I was contacted by another Tom and Lisette Harris descendant who had tested at 23andMe. He matched his two cousins for just the right amount of DNA and also had the right percentage of Indian DNA, and still had no DNA in common with my grandma or her sibling's child.

This was very unexpected, to say the least. I never imagined finding anything like this, not in a million years. I had my grandma take this DNA test originally to help find out more about our Indian ancestry. I felt like I'd stolen something from my grandmother; she'd always taken such pride in her Indian heritage, had worked for years to find all she could about Lisette, and now I had to tell her that we aren't actually Lisette's descendants. Not only that, but now we knew that the man who helped raise her was not her biological father. She took the news very admirably, and agreed to help me in trying to find out who her biological father was.

I don't have any negative feelings towards my great-grandma about this, and neither do my mom and grandma from what they've told me. I know my great-grandma loved her family, loved her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids as much as she could. Whatever happened, that much stood out about her above all else. No information I found on who the biological fathers of her children were can or will ever change that.

Stay tuned for part 2, where I document how I found the identity of my grandma's biological father.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Gibson photo pedigree chart

This is a photo pedigree chart of my grandpa Fred Gibson's direct ancestors. I wish I had pictures of more of them, but I am grateful for the pictures I do have. Photos of Fred, Fred Sr, Augusta, and Samuel are courtesy of Fred Gibson. Ludwig and Justine's photos are courtesy of Jim Joseph. And John Gibson's photo is from the Montana Historical Society in Helena.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - July 1967

This is a photo of what looks like just a family lunch on a sunny July day in 1967. Not sure if it's for the 4th of July, or just an ordinary day. Either way, it's a good photo. Those in the photo are, left to right:

unknown, Charles Wagner holding unknown baby, Roseanne Gibson, Eileen Pushard, Kathy Gibson (sitting in front of Eileen), Fred Gibson, Blossom Gibson, Rosie Wagner, Tommy Pushard.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The last days of Eleanor Bessette - part 2

As I mentioned last time, the documents that my French-Canadian research friend sent me added a LOT to my understanding of the Vadnais and Bessette families in my family tree. But they also fundamentally changed my perspective on Eleanor Bessette in particular, showing that her life was much more complicated than I'd at first imagined. The last document that pertained to Eleanor from my friend's research proved to me that the last nine years of Eleanor's life were about as turbulent as the rest of her life had been. This was another marriage record - the fourth in Eleanor's life, also from Butte, Montana but dated 1915. It was the name of the groom that threw me - Louis Sicord.

At first I thought it was the same person, that she'd just divorced and remarried him. But then I noted some important differences between the 1910 and 1915 marriages - Eleanor was listed as 43 years old in both; the 1910 Louis was 38, while 1915 Louis was 54; and 1910 Louis gave his mother's name as Cecelia Gabous, while 1915 Louis said his mother was Lena (no maiden name given). That got me thinking - could she have married two men with the same (or similar) name? This really interested me, and I knew of a way that might help solve the riddle - city directories.

Ancestry.com has a pretty healthy stack of Butte, Montana city directories online - 1884 (the first 15 pages only), 1890, 1893 (first 15 pages again), 1896, 1898-1900, 1904-1918, 1923, and many more. I went digging into these directories, and pretty soon I had a whole stack of references to Louis, Eleanor, and other Vadnais family members. Here's what I found.

Louis Sicord first appears in the 1910 directory, rooming at 27 W Quartz in Butte. This happens to be the address where Henry Vadnais, Lewis Vadnais, and Olivian Vadnais (relatives of Eleanor's late husband Richard) were living. It almost makes me wonder if that's how he and Eleanor met. Eleanor was living at 508 E Galena. The addresses are only a few blocks apart, as seen on Google Earth.

The next year, 1911, Louis and Eleanor were living together at 502 E Galena, just a house or two away from where she lived the year before. The 1912 entry is a little confusing. There's no listing for Eleanor, and Louis' entry just says "moved to Nome Alaska". I'm not sure if Louis and Eleanor both went up, or just Louis. My instinct is that Louis went alone, but I don't know either way. The 1913 directory lists a Lewis and Lourie Sicord living at 508 W Park, which at first glance I thought might be a different family. But then I saw that Florence Vadnais, Eleanor's daughter, was also listed at the same address. That convinced me that Louis and Eleanor were back in Butte. Meanwhile, Richard's brother, Polydor Vadnais, lived near them at 201 S Washington. Polydor had been listed at that address every year since 1908. 
1914 saw only one change - Polydor moved to 243 E Park, the same address as the livery where he worked the year before. The address was also listed as Vadnais Block. I believe, given that seven other people listed this 243 E Park as their address, as well as a bookkeeper who said he lived at Vadnais Block, that Polydor was running a boarding house at this address. So for Louis, Eleanor, and their relatives, nothing too crazy had happened (with the possible exception of an excursion to Alaska in 1912).
Things changed for everyone in 1915. Florence and Eleanor moved to 1854 Harrison, quite a distance from their previous address. Louis, on the other hand, had moved to Vadnais Block, 243 E Park. And Polydor had moved northeast to 272 Pennsylvania, while Polydor's wife Rose was listed at their 201 S Washington address.
I think, given this shift in everyone's addresses, along with the second marriage record for Louis and Eleanor in September, 1915, that the cause (or at least a major cause) for all these changes was a divorce between Louis and Eleanor. Eleanor had a pretty rough marital history - a marriage to and divorce from Albert Lafond, a turbulent marriage to Richard with multiple separations, not to mention being arrested for Richard's murder. So for her and Louis to divorce and move to separate addresses fits the pattern pretty well. It's interesting the Polydor was also displaced by this, seemingly to make room for Louis. But whatever caused them to split was overcome, as they did remarry.
After that, things quieted down for Louis and Eleanor. Louis joined Eleanor at the Harrison residence in 1916, and stayed there through at least 1918 (the last year Ancestry has directories for until 1923). Sadly, Polydor died December 14, 1915, and his wife Rose stayed at the 201 S Washington address through 1918 at least. Vadnais Block was listed in 1916 and 1917, so it seems Rose continued running the boarding house at least that long. It wasn't listed in 1918, so I don't know if she kept it going after that. Eleanor died 7 August 1919, and as her name was given in the death record as Eleanor Sicord, it seems likely that she didn't divorce Louis again. I don't have a death record for Louis yet, and haven't found any further marriage records for him, so I don't know what became of him after this. I still need to see if I can find any more directories for him.
But for now, I'm satisfied that the Louis who married Eleanor in 1910 is the same one that married her in 1915, even with the age and mother's name differences. The directories show a consistent story, and marriage records have been known to be incorrect on personal details. I also now have a much more detailed picture of the life of Eleanor Bessette after Richard Vadnais' death. She led a very mobile, interesting, and in many ways tragic life. I hope she died relatively happy with how things turned out.
Update: One thing I forgot to mention - Polydor Vadnais's wife was Rose Bessette, sister of Eleanor Bessette. That may have been part of what drew her to Montana after Richard died.  

The last days of Eleanor Bessette - part 1

I've spent the last couple weeks going through some Vadnais family documents that were sent to me by a friend of mine in the Quebec research community on Facebook, who excels at French-Canadian research. If you haven't checked out the FamilySearch communities on Facebook, here's a list of them. They have over 100, and they are super helpful, and full of knowledgeable people. Anyways, I've been going through these documents - baptisms, marriages, burials, census records, and others - and putting together this family's history. Very fascinating to see how long this family has been in Quebec, and mind-boggling to think of how many people alive today are descended from these ancestors.

One of the most interesting people in these documents has been someone I've written about before - Eleanor Bessette, wife of Richard Vadnais. I thought the surname was Bissette (that's how it was written in the Alberta newspapers) but I've since found out it was actually Bessette, or sometimes Besset. Anyways, Eleanor (born Marie Eleanor) was the eighth of 15 children (!) of Moise Bessette and Scholastique Dextraze. The documents from my friend revealed she was born on 24 November 1863 in Mont Saint Gregoire, Quebec, and baptized there the next day. Ok, nothing earth-shattering there. But that's where the normalcy ends. The next record in Eleanor's life is a marriage record - but not to Richard Vadnais. Turns out she had a previous marriage to a man named Albert Aldric Lafond in 1882, when she was 18 and he was 20. (Interesting side note - Albert Lafond's mother's maiden name was Picard! How cool is that?) The crazy thing is, they got married in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, over 300 miles from the suburb of Montreal where she was born. They were both from Quebec, so I have no idea why they felt they had to travel so far to get married. I don't know Massachusetts records well, so I haven't started looking to see whether they stayed, or just stopped there to get married.

So far as I know, they didn't have any children, and they were only married for a maximum of eight years, as evidenced by the next record - Eleanor's marriage to Richard in 1890. This record was another surprise. The date was earlier than I'd suspected, since Eleanor and Richard's first child, Florence was born in 1897. But the real surprise was the location - Butte, Montana! Once again, Eleanor seems to have traveled an extensive distance for a marriage. I don't know how she and Richard met, as Richard was living in Butte at the time, and I don't know whether Eleanor stayed in Massachusetts or went back to Quebec with Albert before divorcing him. Either way, when she married Richard she said she was divorced. There's no listing for either Richard or Eleanor in the 1896 Butte directory, so I'm guessing they'd moved up to Alberta, where their two children were born in 1897 and 1902. That's a trip of over 300 miles, not a quick journey in those days.

Thanks to the fireworks between Eleanor and Richard (and the resulting newspaper articles), I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened between them until Richard's death in 1909. After he died, Eleanor moved to Butte, where various members of Richard's family (and possibly hers - there's an Alfonso Bessette listed there in 1910) were living. As I'd mentioned in a previous post, I found a marriage record for Eleanor to a Louis Sicord from October 1910, so she wasn't widowed very long before she remarried. I'd also previously found a death record on Ancestry.com for Eleanor Sicord, giving her death date as 7 August 1919. I assumed she'd settled down with Louis, lived a quiet life with him for the last nine years of her life, and then passed away. Turns out, I was quite wrong. Stay tuned for part two!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - SS Tunisian

SS Tunisian - courtesy of www.greatships.net

This is a postcard bearing a picture of the SS Tunisian. This is the passenger ship my Joseph ancestors sailed on, leaving Liverpool, England on 5 Oct 1905, and arriving in Montreal, Quebec eight days later on 13 Oct 1905.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Pauline (Rosen) Joseph

This is the gravestone of my 2nd-great-grandmother, Pauline (Rosen) Joseph. I don't know much about her, as I've only found her in a very few records so far. The earliest record I have of her is the passenger lists departing Liverpool, England (she was originally from Russia, specifically the Volhynia area of what is now Ukraine) and arriving in Montreal, Quebec in October 1905. The next record is the 1906 Census of Manitoba, where she's listed with her husband, Samuel, and their five children - Olga, Augusta, Lydia, Amil (aka Elmer), and Helena. Sadly, the next records she appears in are her death records, one from Christ Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, and the province-issued death certificate. The church's death record gives her birth date as 15 April 1868, which is interesting considering she's buried in that same church's cemetery, where her gravestone gives her a birth date of 11 April 1867.

But all in all, I know so little about her. I'd like to learn more, and hopefully with some help from the SGGEE (Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe) and other resources, I'll be able to track down some more information on her.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm stuck

And it's not even on a brick wall. I'm stuck as to what I want to do next with my genealogy. I've been working on my German family history class - so fascinating to learn the history of the area where so much of my ancestry traces back to. And to finally understand what many of those place names like Silesia, Pomerania, Hessen, and Alsace-Lorraine that I've come across over the years actually refer to! I've also been working on my DNA analyisis, though I can't seem to decide which test to focus on, or which ancestral line I want to try to isolate and trace. I want to do something to prepare for the DNA conference I'm going to in a couple weeks (!) but I don't know what. Then there are the lines where I've had breakthroughs in the last year or so - specifically the Josephs, Bergstads, and Zitzmanns, where I have a pile of records in the original languages of my ancestors, but not enough linguistic skill to read them fluently and analyze them properly. I still have a number of brick walls or confusing lines I want to work more on - Samuel Joseph's second and third wives are still little more than names (though I did recently find corroboration of the addresses of the witnesses to his second marriage, to Elizabeth Ackermann); Pauline (Rosen) Joseph is still a mystery, as I have her death date and place, and a birth year but not much else; and my Gibson/Cain lines are still hard to find in New Brunswick. Then there are my online family trees that have been pretty neglected lately - Wikitree, FamilySearch, and Tribal Pages all need updating. So much to do! Is this what they mean by an embarrassment of riches?

Maybe I just need to sit down and make a list of all the loose ends I've got, and decide which ones I want to focus on. I thought once I finished the Project, my next course of action would be clear, but so far, I kinda feel like I'm spinning my wheels. 

if you were me, where would you start?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Zitzmann/Sitzman family relatives

Here's a photo of some of my Zitzmann/Sitzman side relatives. From the back - Charles Wagner Jr, Ellen Richter, Rosie Wagner, Mary Hoffman, Jane Richter, Eileen Nelson, Ron Wagner

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Craddock family

This is a photo of the family of my great-grandma, Edna Craddock (who is the only one missing from the photo; wonder if she was behind the camera?). From left to right, there's Hazel Craddock, Philena (Beilstein) Craddock, Elsie Craddock, Ernest L. Craddock, and Grace Craddock. It was probably taken in Montana. I don't have a date for the picture, but Grace was born in 1920, and Lena and Ernest had separated by 1930, so I'd guess probably 1928-29.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Coming to America - the Bergstads leave Norway

I recently discovered some amazing family history information thanks to FamilySearch's Norway Genealogy Research Community on Facebook. How I didn't know that there were these communities on Facebook is beyond me, but I'm so glad I know about them now.

As I've written about before, my cousin Delores Olson sent me a whole bunch of documents about and pictures of my Bergstad relatives and ancestors. One of those was a page from a family Bible, with names and birth dates of my 2nd-great-grandfather Knut J. Bergstad and his siblings in Wisconsin, but all written in Norwegian. I could make out the names and dates, but couldn't read some of the other words written on the page, and posted the image on the research community's wall. Here's what it looks like, with my ancestor's name marked with a red star.

A short while later, I had a couple responses confirming my reading of the names and dates, and that the extra language meant "came into the world on". They also helped me find them in the 1860 and 1870 US Federal censuses, which I'd previously been unable to do (mostly because until recently, I didn't know that they hadn't been using Bergstad as the family surname until after 1870). But then they went one step further. One of the posters had gone to the Norwegian Digital Archives website (in a lot of ways the the be-all and end-all site for Norwegian research) and using the info I provided, found the birth record of my 3rd-great-grandfather Johannes Sjursen Bergstad (father of all those in the Bible page), all of his siblings I knew about, the marriage of his parents Sjur Johanneson Bergstad and Anna Johnsdatter Horvei, Sjur's baptism record, and the immigration record of Sjur and Anna's family leaving Norway in 1847!! Talk about doing the genealogy happy dance!! I'd had some info for these people for years, but no original documentation to back it up. Suddenly I had all kinds of original records!

As I started going through the records and entering them into my database, I noticed something. While going through the list of family members that immigrated in 1847, there was a name that I didn't recognize in between my Johannes Sjursen (my 3rd-great-grandfather) and John Sjursen (his next oldest sibling). It looked like there was another child in between Johannes and John!

Since I had the links to John's and Johannes' birth records, and any child born between Johannes and John should be listed in the same parish register, I decided to just start going through, page by page, and see if I couldn't find this mystery child. After one hour of searching, I found her!
I'm still not very familiar with Norwegian handwriting, so I couldn't quite read the name. It looked like it might be Regtteve or Brytteve but I'd never heard of either of those names. I asked the Norway community page again, and went Google searching. Eventually I hit on this website called Nordic Names. I tried searching for a few variations of the mystery name until I found one that looked just right - Brytteva. It also said the name is local to Hordaland county, exactly where my ancestors are from! The Norway research group confirmed my guess that the name is in fact Brytteve. So my ancestor had a younger sister named Brytteve or Brytteva, who lived at least long enough to make the journey to wonder if I can find her in any American census or vital records? That's a question that'll have to wait for another day.
Once I had the names all figured out, I went to Ancestry.com to see if I could find a passenger list record for them arriving Stateside. It didn't take long before I found that they arrived at the port of New York on 30 June 1847 on the ship Albion.
At first I thought this meant they came through Castle Garden, but it turns out Castle Garden didn't accept immigrants until 1855, 8 years after my ancestors had already landed. So I'll have to find out how the port of New York was situated in 1847 to find out what it was like when they landed.
This makes the third set of ancestors that I now have immigration records on, the others being my 2nd-great-grandfather Samuel Joseph and his family, and my great-grandmother Rose Sitzman/Zitzmann and her mom, sister, and aunts and uncles. It's amazing to be able to say I know exactly when these branches of my family arrived in this country. These records are so fascinating!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Back again to Africa

In this third and final post in the series of my African DNA segments (click here to see parts one and two), I'm going to be looking at my paternal grandmother's DNA results. According to 23andMe, grandma has a little segment of African DNA on her 9th chromosome, comprising about 3.9% of the chromosome. This one is different from the segments found in my paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother's tests, however, in that the DNA is identified as North African, while the other two were both Sub-Saharan African.

Let's start the comparison by looking at the Dodecad admixture tool, which has four African populations. According to their chromosome painting tool, grandma shows positive for Palaeo-African, and possibly Northwest African a little to the right of the Palaeo-African.

When I pull up the numbers for Dodecad, both Palaeo-African and Northwest African are zeroes, but East African shows 2.2%.

This is much less than the 3.8% predicted by 23andMe. Not a very good match-up, but at least this tool's breakdown and the graph both showed African DNA.

On to Eurogenes' admixture tool. It only has one African population, West African, which shows up quite clearly on chromosome 9.

When we look at the percentage breakdown, however, West African comes up empty.

Given the size of the other populations assigned to chromosome 9, the African segment may have just been too small for the calculator to detect. Or it may have just been absorbed into the ethnicities surrounding it. Whatever the reason, the numbers and the graph don't agree for this section of this chromosome.

Now for the HarappaWorld admixture tool. This one has four African populations, and I can pick out three of them in the graph - San, Pygmy, and West African. I'm not sure if Pygmy is the largest of the three, or just stretched out by the graph tool.

The numbers show hits in two populations, Pygmy and San, but no West African. Pygmy is quite a bit smaller than San. The total percentage of African DNA that HarappaWorld sees on chromosome 9 is 0.5%. This is drastically smaller than either 23andMe or Dodecad, 3.3% and 1.7% smaller respectively. I wonder why they see the same stretches of DNA so differently.

And finally, the MDLP tool. This tool has three African populations, but grandma only showed positive for Pygmy DNA.

And what do the numbers show? No African DNA at all.

That's the second tool that has shown grandma having African DNA in the graph, but not in the percentage breakdown. With no breakdown, I don't have any numbers to compare to the other two that did give me percentages for the African DNA. But the graph agrees that there is African DNA there.

What have I learned from going through all of this? Several things:

1. Admixture analysis is far from being an exact science. The chromosome painting offered by one tool can, and often does, disagree with the percentage breakdown of the same tool. Clearly there's some fine tuning still to come in this.

2. Even when multiple tools do agree on the general ethnicity of a segment, they disagree (sometimes wildly) on the segment's size. I think this is part of #1, but it was interesting to see (especially in my paternal grandmother's DNA) the varying sizes of the African DNA segments. I wonder if this is due to the ongoing work to determine the origin of the various AIMs or SNPs used in these calculators, or just the way the computer tallies the info.

3. Although the numbers disagreed with the populations shown in the graphs, every graph on every tool showed African DNA in the same place of the same segment of the same chromosome. This was the most interesting part. All the projects (I'm assuming) are based on different base populations, from different regions and using varying numbers of people. But they all showed African DNA just where 23andMe originally did. I don't know how conclusive that is overall, but until someone comes up with a pretty reason to reject this hypothesis, I'm going to believe that all three of my grandparents analyzed have these little chunks of African DNA.

4. If my hypothesis is correct, and this really is African DNA that's showing up my grandparents' DNA tests, that means I have three African ancestors somewhere back in my ancestry, one in each of my grandparents' family trees. Given the size of the segments, that ancestor is probably too far back to trace to by paper genealogy, unless I hit a HUGE stroke of luck one day. But it's fascinating to see something in my genealogy that I probably would never have seen any other way.

5. My mom's DNA test showed her as having the same African segment as my maternal grandmother, but no other. She only has half of my maternal grandfather's DNA, so I'd have to test my aunt and uncle to see if his side had any African. I'd like to do that someday, time and finances willing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Another DNA Surprise

After researching my grandmother's little sliver of African DNA, I thought I would do the same for my grandfather's DNA test. According to 23andMe, grandpa has a little sliver of African DNA on chromosome 6. Using a technique I learned from a member of the DNA Newbie mailing list, I found that this segment is somewhere around 3.1% of the total chromosome.

After the interesting time I had trying to corroborate the African segment in my grandma's DNA on other admixture tools, I wanted to do the same with grandpa's and see what the tools had to say. I should note here that some of the admixture tools found African DNA on other chromosomes (which you'll see in some of the screenshots below), but for this blog post I'm sticking with just the solitary African segment 23andMe found.

First up, Dodecad. The Dodecad tool features three African populations - East African, Northwest African, and Palaeo-African. The graph of this section of chromosome 6 showed both Neo-African and Palaeo-African, with a little dash of Northwest African at the far right of the segment.

And what did the numbers show? That on this chromosome, he is 1% Neo-African, 1.6% Palaeo-African, but no Northwest African interestingly. That makes makes this chromosome about 2.6% African.

So the numbers and graph matched 2 for 3 on this one. Next, let's look at Eurogenes. This tool only has one type of African DNA, labeled West African. Grandpa has a pretty good chunk of it, as you can see here.

The numbers breakdown for Eurogenes said grandpa's chromosome 6 is 2.3% West African. That's pretty close to the 2.6% Dodecad gave me.

So this test shows African DNA in both the graph and numbers. Looking good so far! Now to look at the HarappaWorld admixture tool. HarappaWorld has four African populations - San, East African, Pygmy, and West African. I don't see any San in the graph, but I do see the other three represented. West African shows up the most, followed by East African, with a little bit of Pygmy in between.

When I turn to the numbers, East African doesn't show up at all, yet Pygmy does at .3%. West African dominates at 2.1%, for a total of 2.4% African DNA on this chromosome. That fits in nicely with the 2.3% and 2.6% from the other two. So the graph has three hits, but the numbers only have two. Still, this is looking pretty consistent.
Finally, let's look at MDLP's admixture tool. MDLP has three African populations - Pygmy, South African, and Sub-Saharian. There are little tiny bits of Pygmy DNA a little after the 120M mark, but much more past the 130M mark, so that's a hit. The South African and Sub-Saharian segments are much larger, so grandpa scores positive for all three types of African DNA in this test.

Looking at the numbers for this tool, grandpa has hits in all three populations. On this chromosome, he's got 0.9% Pygmy, 1% South African, and 0.1% Sub-Saharian. That puts his total African DNA on this chromosome at 2.1%, pretty close to the other three. Personally, I think the graph shows Sub-Saharian as the largest of the three, but I think the tool uses different functions or algorithms to print the graph and the numbers breakdown. Either way, the graph shows hits in three African populations, and the numbers match that.

So what does this all boil down to? Between the five DNA analysis tools, all five of them showed African DNA at the same spot on chromosome 6. The graphs on all five tools showed the African DNA, and the percentage breakdowns all verified it as well, though in two cases, populations represented on the graphs did not appear in the numbers. The amount of African DNA varied slightly between tools, with a low of 2.1% and a high of 3.1%. But basically they all told the same story - that my grandpa has a little chunk of DNA that they all believe came from Africa.

So far, that's two different ancestral lines with African DNA in them, both probably very remote, but still there. Amazing to think of the places that little bit of DNA has been, and where it came from originally. I wonder if I still carry it, whether my kids carry it? It'd be a shame for its millenia-long journey to end here. But at least I can let my descendants know it was there.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Philena Beilstein

This is a photo of my 2nd-great-grandmother, Philena "Lena" Emily Beilstein. I really like this photo because the picture is so clear. This was taken around 1905. It looks like there was another person in the picture but he (I'm guessing it's a he, because the shoulder is taller than Lena, and looks to be a dark-colored suit) was cut out. Lena got married in 1903 to David Briscoe, and in 1907 to Clarence Johnson, so it could possibly have been either of them. Either way, it's a great shot of Lena when she was young, before all the trials and hardships she would later endure.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Genes Day Friday - Wait, I have WHAT in my DNA?

After reading a post on Roberta Estes' DNA-Explain blog about using trying to learn more about the tiny chunks of minority DNA in your test results, I thought I'd give it a shot. After 23andMe revamped their admixture calculator (now called Ancestry Composition) my maternal grandmother's DNA test surprised me by showing her as having 0.1% African DNA on chromosome 3.

If my math is correct, that means she would have one 8th-great-grandparent with 100% African DNA (which we all know is impossible, since everyone in the world is a mixture of several groups). Roberta suggested going to Gedmatch.com and using the admixture tools they've incorporated on their site, to see what else you can discover around those tiny minority segments. Since I uploaded grandma's test to Gedmatch right after I first got her results, I was able to dive right in. While I still have a lot to learn about how to make full use of these tools, I was able to at least figure out how to go in and look for confirmation of the African segment. What I found was both enlightening and confusing.

First, let's look at the MDLP World-22 admixture tool. According to their admixture breakdown, grandma has 0.8% Pygmy DNA on chromosome 3. This is confirmed by the graphic representation of chromosome 3, with the bright red segment (circled for your convenience) shows the segment in question.

So their calculations match up with 23andMe in terms of percentage and location of African DNA. So far, so good. 

Next up, let's look at Dodecad. The graphic view of chromosome 3 shows Neo-African, West African, East African, and Paleo-African DNA, all lumped together in the same spot where MDLP showed Pygmy DNA.

But when I go to the admixture calculations, all the African values read zero.

Why would the graph show African, and the numbers not? I don't know.

Now we'll look at Eurogenes K9 model (and no, it has nothing to do with dogs). Here, the graph shows West African DNA, in the same spot on chromosome 3 as the others.

And here again, the admixture calculations for chromosome 3's West African DNA read zero.


Again, I'm at a complete loss as to why the graph would show West African DNA, but the admixture breakdown does not.

Finally, the last of the Gedmatch admixture tools, HarappaWorld. Their graph shows Pygmy, West African, and a smidge of East African DNA, again in the same spot on chromosome 3 as the others.

And what does their admixture calculator show? Nothing, as far as African DNA is concerned.

I'm sure there's a good explanation for this, and I'll be asking around on the DNA mailing lists I'm on to figure out what's going on. But it kind of makes me wonder what other numbers are wrong. Going through all 23 chromosomes, on four different admixture tools will take some time. But as far as I'm concerned, the African DNA seems to be there - all five graphs found it, in the same spot on the same chromosome, and two sets of admixture calculations did too. In my mind, that's evidence enough.
For me, the next step will be finding DNA matches who also share this African segment on their DNA, to see if I can't trace where in grandma's family lines this little nugget came from. Of all the minorities in the world, I never expected to find DNA from Africa in my family tree, so I'm excited to see what I can learn about it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday - I'm off to Germany!

Photo courtesy of depositphotos.com
I'm going to Germany! Well, virtually at least. I just signed up to take the Germanic Family, Local and Social History Research class through BYU's Independent Study program. I'm excited because I've always wanted to know more about German genealogy research (I've got German ancestry on all four of my grandparents' lines). Plus, it's the last course I need to finish the genealogy-family history certificate at BYU. It looks pretty intense, as the teacher's stated goal is to prepare you for the Germany accreditation test through ICAPGEN, which is something I plan on doing anyways. So it's a win-win for me. I have one year to complete the whole course. Hopefully it won't take me that long. I want to take some time with it, learn the material as best I can, and put it to practice as soon as I can. Here's to higher education!

Wordless Wednesday - Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Here are a few pictures of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. I found these pictures somewhere online some years ago (way back when I first started doing genealogy and didn't cite my sources. I've learned my lesson since then). My great-great-grandparents John Gibson and Catherine Cain were married here on 8 Sep 1879.
Before the spire was added

After the spire was added
Inside the Cathedral