Tag Archives: Serendipity

Boomerang photos

I grew up with few pictures from my mother’s side of the family. Her parents, Emory Morse and Lois Rhodes, had been near-neighbors as children in Wareham, Massachusetts. They divorced when my mother was eight. Mother had no further contact with her father until she was 40.

After my mother’s college graduation, her mother and step-father, a teacher working for the U.S. State Department, announced they had accepted a three-year-assignment in Ethiopia. Mother declined the opportunity to go with them. Instead, she accepted her first job as a clinical instructor and moved into a small apartment. Her family home in Maywood, New Jersey, was rented, with all contents of the house placed in a storage warehouse. Three months later, the warehouse burned – a total loss. Continue reading Boomerang photos

‘The pleasure of his acquaintance’

John Campbell White (1884-1967), Roosevelt’s Ambassador to Haiti and then Peru, and a great-great-grandson of Dr. John Campbell White of Baltimore. Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

The name Campbell has been a favored first or middle name in the Steward family for the last 170 years; before that it passed down in the White family of Baltimore and New York, where it was still recently in use. It was my great-great-great-grandfather Campbell Patrick White (1787–1859) who seems to have been the first to bear the name as a first name, and perhaps it was his father, Dr. John Campbell White (1757?–1847), who was the first White with the Campbell middle name.[1]

So the Campbells had a name with which to conjure, and according to a nineteenth-century cousin it was thanks to the marriage of Dr. White’s parents, the Rev. Robert White and Jane Thompson, that the name entered the White family. Jane and Robert were cousins, but it was Jane who was “the aunt of Sir John Campbell, Lieutenant General of the Isle of Jersey, and a connection of John Campbell the great Duke of Argyle.” Continue reading ‘The pleasure of his acquaintance’

Monhegan puzzle pieces

After my photo album puzzle was solved within what seemed like minutes of being posted (thank you, everyone!), I did some quick research: Monhegan records around 1900 contained none of my husband’s family names. Seems likely his ancestor was just another visitor to the island – a tourist who was also a talented photographer, or who appreciated the skills of a photographer who, like many artists, was drawn to the beauty of Monhegan. Still, the images in the little album drew me in. I wanted to know more about this island situated twelve nautical miles off the coast of Boothbay, Maine. Continue reading Monhegan puzzle pieces

El Dorado 1914

Jeff Record’s post on Monday, and the comments on it, have nudged me into summarizing how I was able to use his father’s DNA results to determine Jeff’s grandmother’s biological father. Jeff has written two articles in Mayflower Descendant, one on the Young family from whom his grandmother descends, so with that, as well as his past blogposts, I’ve been aware of the general chronology on this family. Jeff also shared with me his ahnentafel with all of his known ancestors, as we both have connections to Kansas. His grandmother, Georgia Lee Young, later Katheryn Elizabeth Ogle, was born in 1914 in Newton, Kansas, which is the same place of birth as my mother. Continue reading El Dorado 1914

‘The perfect is the enemy of the good’

Figure 1

Originating in an Italian proverb in 1603 and popularized by Voltaire in 1770, we have all heard the phrase “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” This phrase is very well-suited to the topic of searching genealogical databases, and particularly for AmericanAncestors.org.

Over the last year, the NEHGS web team has been researching a wide variety of things that we can do to improve the search experience for our 250,000 members. Along the way it has become clear that one of the bigger problems our members face is the dreaded “0 records returned” message (Figure 1). You just know that the record you are looking for is out there, but you can’t seem to find it when you fill out the search form. Continue reading ‘The perfect is the enemy of the good’

The hidden face

“Katheryn,” ca. 1920.

My questions about him had been endless. He was, after all, the phantom in my ancestry, a great and impervious vapor, a Wizard of Oz if you will. He was my fleeting great-grandfather, the drawn curtain of my pedigree chart, his family lines going, well … nowhere. I don’t know that I ever really expected to find him, or to see his face. I certainly did not expect any DNA results to fall from the sky, making a picture of his smile even possible. Yet those DNA results did pull back the curtain (coming in just last week) and therein I was able to find his face, albeit grainy in brown and white, and sheepishly grinning down and away, as if to say he knew I’d been looking for him for a very, very long time. Indeed, I had been. Continue reading The hidden face

Fair winds and following seas

My dad’s grave in North Bloomfield, California.

Two weeks ago, I was pondering the appropriateness of writing about my father on the anniversary of his death. Obviously parents are ancestors, but they’re so very close that I wasn’t sure whether it would be considered sufficiently genealogical. Then I got home and read Jeff Record‘s enormously touching tribute to his recently-deceased mother and the answer was clearly a resounding “YES,” so here goes. Continue reading Fair winds and following seas

Two Olives

Courtesy of Findagrave

One way genealogies can get items incorrect is when there are two individuals of roughly the same age with the same name and who have other identifying relatives with the same name as well. In this example, it gets further muddled as their respective fathers died in the same year.

The focus of this research was Rhobe (or Rhoby) Sheldon (1790–1865) of Cranston, Rhode Island, wife of William Lippitt (1786–1872). Rhoby and William married at Cranston on 1 January 1809. Their marriage, like most for this time period, does not list the parents of either, only that they were both residents of Cranston. Rhoby and William had twelve children, and Rhoby died at Cranston 3 January 1865. Her death record stated that she was born in Cranston and was the daughter of Stephen Sheldon. Maybe that’s where I should have left this; after all, her parents were not the focus of the genealogy… Continue reading Two Olives


Another way to assess a genealogy is to consider the “scope” of its content. Few genealogies trace all descendants of a seventeenth-century New England couple through male and female lines to the present: just ask the Mayflower Society about their “Five Generations” program, now approaching sixty years of effort with more than fifty volumes – and still growing!

Standard genealogies usually trace descendants of the same surname through male lines because it is a much simpler task to collect data exclusive to one surname at a time. Continue reading Scope

Additions and corrections

I love it when other genealogists give me a hand. This past weekend someone from San Diego kindly alerted me to an eBay auction for an old Imperial Cabinet-sized photograph. Someone had thoughtfully labeled the people in the photograph years ago, and they all appear in my online family tree (though none as a close relation). Continue reading Additions and corrections