Monday, July 25, 2016

Finally joining the DNA Bandwagon

For Christmas last year I gave my Dad a Family Tree DNA kit. Truth be told, it was more for me, but he was kind enough to supply his DNA!

I have never been one for the DNA bandwagon. It feels like it does little for my research, other than to validate the basic knowledge of where my roots started. So I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend the money or not. However, I know that putting off the gathering of DNA is never a good idea, as you don't know what tomorrow will bring. Therefore, I bit the bullet and jumped on the bandwagon.

Admittedly, I have done little to no research on the DNA process and the value of it in my family history kit bag. Proof positive that I have never grown out of my disinterest in science. Because of these reasons, I leaned on fellow genealogists in choosing the best option for me. Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, and her post "Most bang for the DNA buck" was my starting point. Judy breaks down the options for the top three companies: AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTree DNA. Her review was invaluable to me.

Based on what I read through Judy's review and reading through each of the websites, I finally opted to use Family Tree DNA. I chose the Y-DNA (37) Ancestry Test, which tests the father's line at a price of $169. There are three levels of Y-DNA tests, differentiated by the number of markers they test: 37-marker matches, 67-marker matches and 111-marker matches. Obviously, the more markers tested, the more precise the results. Family Tree DNA allows you to upgrade to the higher marker matches if you choose to do so down the road, for only the difference in price for the two kits.
The kit was easy to use. The company received my completed kit on January 12 and I received results on February 9. I was pleased with the quick turnaround. Above is a screen shot of the various ways you can explore your results. Because I'm not very educated on the process, many of these options are a little elusive and I have not been able to fully interpret my data. For me, the most interesting and telling result was reviewing the Y-DNA matches. This allows me to see individuals that share markers with my sample. I was glad to see that we matched someone whose most distant known ancestor was Peter Kuhn, my ancestor.

While I'm glad I submitted the DNA test, I am still on the fence as to how valuable the information was to me. But at the very least, I have the DNA on file and as programs improve and I become more educated I will have additional options for research.

Again, I felt pulling my results from the various options was difficult. My coworker chose Ancestry DNA and received a personalized report outlining his results, which would have been nice. Best as I can tell, I am in fact German, English and Irish. Good to know 100+ years of family research were on the right track.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Favorites for July 22, 2016

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.
Pokemon Go comes to the FDR Presidential Library
Researching tips for your Civil War ancestors
How Historians can help #SaveTheWeb
Analysis of the battle of The Somme
Taste testing the history of the hamburger
New season of Who Do You Think You Are? on the horizon
Research tips for overcoming burnt research ends (see what I did there? Love me some bar-b-cue)
The history of a glorious summer fruit
The bloody history of the U.S. House of Representatives
The National Park Service is almost 100, check out the latest news
An age old question answered: what historians really do
Welcome to "The Rock"
Grace Kelly's royal wedding
A great day to be Royal

Monday, July 11, 2016

Matrilineal Monday - Emley Odell

Emley Odell is my third great grandmother on one of my maternal lines. She was born November 18, 1859 in Ray County, Missouri to Pittman and Nancy (Hightower) Odell. She was the last of six children.
Emley's mother, Nancy, died in 1866 when Emley was just 7-years-old. Her father, Pittman, died just three years later in 1869. In 1870, the Odell children are living in the home of the oldest sibling, Elizabeth, (who had married Charles Perkins), save Elias who was a farm laborer next door to his sister's house.

The family is also mentioned in probate documents for their father, Pittman, who apparently died without a will. Charles Perkins, Elizabeth's husband, requested letters of administration in 1871 to distribute the remaining property belonging to Pittman Odell. It lists all of his children as heirs. I have not been able to locate documentation of the final distribution.

Emley is married to John Clevenger Turnage, her first cousin, on June 25, 1874. It is assumed that her sister and brother-in-law cared for her up unto her marriage. If the documentation is correct, Emley would have just been 15-years-old at her wedding. The marriage was not filed with the county until mid-November, right after she turned 16...coincidence?
John is a farmer and Emley a housewife. It is unclear whether John owned his own land or worked that of his mother, Esther Turnage. The couple have four children. It possible that there was a fifth child born in 1875 but I can find no record of it. John also appears to have been a baptist preacher as his headstone and death certificate mention, though he always lists his occupation as farmer.

Emley dies in Richmond, Missouri on June 24, 1916 just one day shy of their 42nd wedding anniversary. Though John remarries he is buried next to Emley in Crowley Cemetery near Ray County, Missouri.
Ultimately, all I know of Emley is that she was born, married, had children and died. A sad commentary on the lack of documentation of the common housewife.

To Do:

1. Locate the final distribution of Pittman Odell's property.
2. Find an obituary for Emley Odell.

This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. Emley is #22 on my list.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Surname Saturday - John Joseph Coffman

John Joseph Coffman is my third-great grandfather on my maternal side. He was born sometime in February 1857 in Rockingham County, Virginia to Joseph Coffman and Mary Miller. He was the first-born son of Joseph Coffman and Mary Miller.
His mother, Mary, died at age 31 in 1863, when John was just 6 years old. His father was remarried on October 19, 1865 to Ellenora Jones and the couple had 8 more children. If the dates on official documents are to be believed, their first son was born prior to their marriage. How risque!
Four of John Coffman's children are younger than his half siblings, that must have made for a unique family environment.

John married Elizabeth "Bettie" Knupp in Shenandoah County, Virginia on January 16, 1879 when they were both just 22-years-old. The couple had five children together.
The couple were many for nearly 8 years when Bettie committed suicide in 1887. She died November 3, 1887 just 8 months after her daughter Carrie was born. The story is sad and I imagine left an indelible mark on her daughter Florence, my great-great grandmother. This tragedy left John with five children under the age of 8.
A photo believed to be Elizabeth "Bettie" Knupp, John Coffman's first wife
Not surprisingly, John marries again soon, sometime prior to 1890, to Mary Garber. The couple have four children together.

John Joseph and Mary (Garber) Coffman
John's life was plagued with untimely deaths: his mother, his first wife and then his son, John Saylor Coffman died at just 15-years-old. There may be other children born to this union, but I find record of only four.

There is not much information on John Coffman outside of the basic data pulled from census records. He was a farmer working rented land throughout his life. He was too young to have served in the Civil War, though it doubtless was fought on his family's doorstep in Rockingham County, Virginia. I am blessed to have the above photo of John, but I wish that I knew more about his life.

He died at age 73 in Rockingham County, Virginia on April 9, 1930 and is buried in Timberville Cemetery, Timberville, Virginia.

This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. John Joseph Coffman is #31 on the list.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Surname Saturday - Elijah Happy

Elijah Happy is my third great-grandfather on my maternal side. He was born August 2, 1833 in Fayette County, Kentucky to James and Catherine Vaughn Happy. He was the fifth of six children, two of whom died in childhood.
James and Catherine were farmers by trade and when Elijah was 17 they moved the family to Ray County, Missouri to begin farming just a few miles southwest of the county capital of Richmond.

On April 21, Elijah married Marcella Reed in Carroll County, Missouri.
Elijah continued to farm in Ray County owning his own land. The couple had a total of 11 children.
Elijah was of age to have served in the Civil War and was included on a draft schedule in Ray County, along with his brother Cornelius, but Elijah did not serve in the war in any capacity I could locate. 
U.S. draft registration from Ray County, Missouri, taken June 1863
I am blessed that Elijah was active in the community because I have come across not one, but two biographies about him. Elijah and Marcella belonged to the Missionary Baptist Church and he was a member of the Richmond Lodge of A.F. & A.M., Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. Elijah's farm was 200 acres and, according to his biography in the 1881 History of Ray County, he was "one of the most substantial farmers, and valuable citizens of his neighborhood." Mighty fine words. A second biography, printed in the Portrait and biographical record of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton, and Linn Counties, Missouri, states he was a Mason connected to the Master Lodge No. 57 at Richmond (Mo.) and in politics a follower of Jefferson stating he "is thoroughly persuaded that the principles of Democracy are best adapted to the welfare of the country."

The biographies are interesting and certainly paint a picture of Elijah. He appears to have been active and respected member of the community. And the couple did well in life. According to the 1880 census they even had a servant, John Mosley. Elijah and his wife, Marcella, farm throughout their lives and live very close to several of their children as the years go on. Marcella dies in 1891.

It appears that Elijah remarries after Marcella's death. On the 1900 census he is listed with a wife named Martha, having been married for 5 years. 

Elijah Happy 1900 census
I also found a marriage record for this union dated January 13, 1895. Elijah and Martha were married 20 years when she died January 9, 1915. Elijah lived for another six years before he passed as well on June 5, 1921 at the age of 88. He is remembered in his obituary as "one of Ray county's oldest and most highly respected citizens." Interestingly, Martha is not mentioned in his obituary, only his first wife, Marcella. He is also buried next to Marcella.
Elijah and Marcella Happy's gravestone in Richmond Cemetery, Richmond, Missouri
This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. Elijah is #17 on my list.