Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Finding that long lost leaf. At last!

This is a post that I have been putting off writing. Partially because it is a rather emotional topic and story, and my now pregnant self is already simmering over in the emotional area. Also, because many of those directly involved are still with us and I do not want to violate privacy. However, today is as good as any and I would like to do this before I forget any of the wonderful details.

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I got started in genealogy as a result of my father's doing. We were to take a trip with my grandparents (mother's side) and we all needed passports. Everyone in our family that needed on got theirs without incident. Except my father. His came back as being filed under an alias and he would need to correct the paperwork and refile. He wound up finding out that the name he thought was his most of his life, was not his. His surname had never been legally changed from his surname at birth. However, everything was under the assumed surname- marriage, business, accounts, house, everything. So he began looking and asking questions and thus began his journey into genealogy.

He started talking to me about what had been going on and it got me curious. I was not in school at the time and had all kinds of free time to really look into it that he did not have at his disposal. I also remembered a file that I had looked through for a project (and then hoarded it) that had some genealogy done on one line from my mother's side. So I grabbed those files and bought a copy of Family Tree Maker and started inputting what I had in the file and what little I knew about my father's side. He was able to help with what little he had found, but there were still many dots that needed connecting. I started a trial with Ancestry and the tree exploded. I was soon in contact with a Brady researcher (my father's maternal line) that had been working on the line for over 60 years and had questions about our particular line. I went to the cemeteries, went to the the courthouses, connected with local researchers and made strides on the lines that I had available.

There was one line that I had very little. My father's paternal line. I was able to find the marriage certificate of my biological grandmother and grandfather's wedding. That confirmed his name and that they were married, but little else. I needed access to more resources and I needed more information. Efforts of inquiry to my grandmother were left unanswered. My father helped with the rumors and stories he had heard, and though they were just rumors, they proved to be helpful.

The rumor was that my grandfather had passed away in a car accident in Alaska. I searched Ancestry time and time again and found nothing. I Googled his name, and again came up empty handed. It was only after I got an subscription to Newspapers.com did I find something.(Click for larger image.)

This was wonderful news! He was, in fact, in a major car accident, but he did survive, despite the rumors being otherwise. After finding these I knew I needed to show my father. We were celebrating Christmas at their house the following weekend so I took them with me.

Shortly after we arrived I sat my father down and broached the subject. I asked him if he was sure what he was being told was true and showed him the articles I had found. After he had some time to read and absorb the news, I told him that I had sent a DNA kit off 2 weeks before and we should have results in another 6 weeks or so. It was very optimistic to think we may find a connection, but that's all we had at this time.

Fast forward 6 weeks. My results were in! I went to Ancestry to see what they said. Apparently, there was a lot of Scandinavian ancestry in me. Which was surprising as the lines I had worked with were predominately Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and German. I then went to look at the matches. One user came up with multiple people in their tree as being very closely related. So I clicked around and nothing really clicked. None of the names, etc. The majority of the places were Washington, and I figured it must be somewhere in my mother's line or my paternal grandmother's line. The results were overwhelming and confusing to me so I didn't look at them much more.

It wasn't long before this user contacted me. We had close relation and my tree was private. I told her I didn't recognize the names but she was welcome to take a look around and see if anything matched and where. I sent her an invite to view my tree and then I left for work. When I got home I came back to the following messages:

"OK, I just had a few minutes to look. What I found so far is the Rice family Joseph and Helen Rice is also my family. Helen G Rice (maiden name is Thompson: see my tree at "All in the family Tree") is my grandmothers sister. So if you are one of Joe and Helen's grandchildren or ?? that is our match. You have to have Helen as part of your DNA. But if not we need to keep looking. I will try to look more later tonight also."

"OK I just look again and Helen and Joe are your great Grandparents I believe. Welcome. I would be happy to share Helen's family...."

And then I kind of freaked out. This is what we were hoping for and it was a one in a million chance that a relative on that line had also taken the DNA test. She concluded the second email address with her email and we got in touch quickly. A couple emails led to a 2 hour phone call, which then led to a 2 hour phone call with my Aunt Sandi, Tom's sister. This led to yet another phone call. This time from my grandfather. Neither of us knew what to say but you could tell there was some true happiness on both side of the line.

I called my father and told him the news. I updated him on what we had heard versus what I was made privy to, gave contact info, etc. Eventually they began talking and talked regularly, and still do, I believe.  We went out in August to meet them and had a wonderful time. I really connected with them and we are looking forward to having them out our way this coming summer. All iin all, a hapy ending.

 Shirley, Travis, Tom, and Kyle

Kyle, Joe (my father), Tom, and Travis

"Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten."
~David Ogden Stiers

Thursday, March 13, 2014

50 what?

Ok, so I failed miserably at doing the 51 ancestors in 51 weeks. But it did get me thinking.

One of the points of genealogy is to know where you came from. I am only about 5 years into this HUGE undertaking and I am just now getting to the point where I am wanting to know the actual stories. Yes, fact are great. Facts and records and such are the bones of the stories. I have been gnawing at the bones for years. Now I'm ready for the meat.

So, where do we start? When trying to piece together bits of information for my second week ancestor, I found myself struggling. I even have personal memories of this person. How do we go from the basic facts to a full on story? How is that equilibrium of documentation and memory met? This is especially challenging when there is no one alive that has personal memories.

The details can fill in those blanks. So you know your grandfather lived on 4th St up until he turned 20. A larger look at those census records would tell you (or could rather) that they lived near family the whole time. There may be an arrival date- did they all come together and settle together? What brought them here? What was going on in the world, historically speaking, at that point? Land patents? War?

I find myself zeroing in on a person, collecting as many records as I can then moving on to the next. After getting past the initial "this is how I think this goes" point and getting to the "but WHY" point, this record collecting has been the bane of my existence. When you take on a challenge like blogging about your ancestors- a new one each week even, you need to know their stories. This is, in part, why I failed. I realized that though I had a lot of the records and documents, I had very little of their story pieced together.

So how do I forge ahead? Now that I have the documents to show the who and where, and even some that show how, I still have details to fill in. Starting lineally, I need to proceed to fill in those details to paint that full picture. This will help me better understand why I am who I am, why my family is who they are. That is, after all, the point of the whole thing, right?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

52 Ancestors Challenge:#1- William Schrader 1901-1930

I started working on my husbands genealogy just about a year ago, maybe a bit more. His family is swimming in the sea of Jones and Rogers, and as those of you with ancestors of the same namesake (or even you Smiths, well especially you Smiths) know, there are a million of them out there. I got to the Schrader line on my husbands maternal line and as someone who loves a good black sheep story, I hit the jackpot.

William was born as the fifth child to Henry and Emma (nee Helmers) Schrader on December 29, 1901. He was born on the family farm near Hudson, Kansas and at age 13 moved with his family to Hutchinson, Kansas. Little is known of his personality as he passed long before any nieces or nephews were born, and he never had children of his own.

On the afternoon of March 23, 1930, William's body was discovered in a parked car on the side of the road 11 miles from Raymond.  Along with William's body was the body of Helen Starr. All evidence pointed to a murder suicide. Artciles went on to state the use of a double barrel 12 gauge shotgun.

Bill, as he was often referred to, and Helen were a couple, and according to the atricles, people thought well of them and thought they would be married as they seemed to be a good match. Bill was a farm hand for Helen's parents, while Helen had just left her employment at Raymond cab to take on domestic work at the home of George Gill. On March 16th, Bill arrived at the Gill residence to pick her up and take her home. That was the last time they were seen alive.

Investigators believed that Bill had parked the car and exited going around the back  to retrieve the shotgun from the "turtle-back" compartment of his Ford Model T. He then walked around to the passenger side, where an unsuspecting Helen sat, and shot her point blank. He then returned to the driver's seat where he reloaded and turned the gun on himself, bracing the butt of the gun in the corner of the windshield in the opposite corner of the car.; the recoil breaking the windshield in front of where Helen sat. There were no signs of struggle from Helen, no sign that she left the car at any time.

There absence was thought to be caused of their elopement.

The only explanation of motive was that Helen had started seeing another man recent to the crime. Bill was let go from the Starr's employment two weeks prior to the shooting due to lack of work. It was said that he was leaving to find work elsewhere.

Bill was 28 at the time of his death; Helen only being 20.

According to an article published in the Lyons Daily News, Thursday , March 27, 1930, more than a thousand turned out for their funeral and packed the Methodist church that held services for both. They were later buried together on March 26, 1930.

According to Bill's death certificate, his cause of death is listed as suicide by firearms with a contributory cause of jealousy. The manner death is listed is a gunshot wound to the head via 12 gauge shot gun "double" Date of death was cited as March 16, 1930.

William Schrader 1901-1930