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.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Once, twice, three times a lady

While digging forrecords for David Pattee's descendants, I found a marriage record for his granddaughter Neva Evadna Bell. For her occupation, she said she was a "Lady". I didn't know that occupation existed outside of Victorian England or a Jane Austen novel.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mystery Monday - The confusing family of David Pattee

While going through another batch of record matches from MyHeritage, I came across an interesting hit on my Harris side. It was for Lucinda (Harris) Fulkerson, the older sister of my 2nd-great-grandfather Frank Benjamin Harris. Lucinda was listed as a member of the Society of Montana Pioneers in their 1899 volume Society of Montana Pioneers: Constitution, Members, and Officers, with portraits and maps.

A quick glance at the page showed me that Lucinda wasn't the only member of her family in the society - her father Thomas W. Harris, uncle Benjamin Harris, and brother Frank B. Harris were also listed as members. It made me stop and think for a minute - this was not a society of descendants of pioneers. This was a society of the pioneers themselves. I don't think I've come across another society (not counting military groups) that was built to honor the deeds and doings of the living generation. Makes me wonder what they did at their meetings (assuming they had them). I also saw that Thomas served as an officer for the society, representing Ravalli County in 1894, just three years before his death.
Seeing Thomas and his kids in the society, I got to wondering - what about his brother-in-law David Pattee? David married Thomas's sister Emma, who had come up from Missouri with her mother Lucinda and brother Benjamin some years after Thomas moved there in 1852. David and Emma married sometime around 1865, so that should have been early enough for him to count as a pioneer as well, I figured. A jumped a few pages forward, and sure enough, he was listed as a member of the society as well.
He didn't get quite as full a treatment as the Harrises did, but he was in there. But his last address really caught my attention: Tacoma, Washington. That is literally fifteen minutes from my house! I suddenly had to know more about him.
I already knew David was born about 1828 in New Hampshire, and had moved to Montana in the 1850s or 60s, where he met and married Emma. They had five children together - Cyrena, Maud, Benjamin, Lucinda, and David. My previous research on him had stopped about 1880, when his family was still in Montana. I had no info on their having lived in Washington state. Some quick digging showed me they lived in Pierce County (which includes Tacoma) in 1889, then moved to Chehalis County (later Grays Harbor County) by 1894. In the 1900 census, David was living with his daughter Cyrena "Rena" Bell and her three kids.
I find it very interesting that David had lived on opposite ends of the country in an age where crossing the country was not an easy thing to do at all. The transcontinental railroad wasn't completed until 1869, years after he was already in Montana. How did he get there? What drove him to leave the Northeast, and why pick Montana of all places? What drove him to leave Montana and go even further west? These are probably questions I'll never have answers to, but it helps me see him and his family as real, 3-dimensional people.
Finding information about this family in and after 1900 was complicated by conflicting information. In the 1900 census, David was listed as a widower, suggesting that Emma had died between the 1894 and 1900 censuses. However, David's obituary from 1901 says he was survived by "a wife and two children at Los Angeles, Cal., a daughter, Mrs. BELL, at Elma, and a son at Westport". Did David and Emma separate? Why would his obituary list Emma as his wife, and the census say she had died? I have no answer to that so far. I found a listing for "Pattee, Emma (wid David)" in the 1901 Los Angeles city directory that seems to indicate she was alive when he died. As for the kids mentioned in the obituary, the 1900 census shows their children David A. Pattee and Lulu (Lucinda/Luda) Pattee as roomers with a Bowman family in Los Angeles. That would mean the son in Westport would be Benjamin, though I can't find any records on him after 1894.
I kept searching, and could find no death record for Emma. Benjamin and Maud disappear after 1880 and 1894 respectively. I did find more information on Rena though. In 1900, Rena was a 33-year-old double widow; her first husband William John Woods died between 1892-1895, and her second husband James Bell died between 1895 and 1900. That kind of loss must have been very painful for her and her children. She remarried in June 1901 to Edwin/Edward Hunter, just three months before her father passed away (which makes the obituary more confusing, as she should have been listed as Mrs. Hunter, not Mrs. Bell). The 1910 census lists her children with their fathers' surnames of Woods and Bell, which both helped me verify that I had the right family, and made me wonder why she never changed them. That census also shows that she bore four children, three of whom were living. I can't find any record of the fourth child, and with three husbands in two states, it won't be easy to find him/her. Rena and Edward were married for 19 years, until Edward died in 1920 just five months after the census taker enumerated them in Aberdeen, Washington. It made my heart ache for this poor woman, who had now buried her third husband, a child, and her father. She remained single until her own death in 1943 in Seattle. She's buried in Seattle, about 30 miles north of here.
Once again, a "quick search" to find one record on someone snowballed into a lot more research on a hitherto unexplored branch of my tree. I'm glad I found Rena's story, and feel so bad that she had to endure so much loss. Her story is sad, but that makes it worth remembering. Hopefully her descendants know something of what she endured in raising her family. It makes me appreciate the time I get with my wife kids, and makes me want to make better use of the time I have with them. I think I'll take a trip sometime up to Rena's grave, to pay my respects to this cousin of mine who endured so much.