Saturday, January 31, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 5: Julia Matilda Cruse

When I went looking for someone to write about this week, I deliberately hit mothers side of the tree. For some reason - my problem children seem to hang out on my fathers branches, so lately, they have been getting more of my attention.

I started opening up the branches looking for a first - someone that I have not done a lot of research on who was "the first" of that line to enter the United States.

I started opening up the "Howe" line - and quickly ran into Julia Matilda Cruse.    I know almost nothing about her, other than she married Amos Howe, who I have done a bit of research on already.

A few things occurred as I researched her -
  • What an amazing woman!!!!
  • I met a new cousin!!!!
  • I realized I cannot possibly write her entire story.   It would need to be a book of it's own.  I will do my best to convey key points to illustrate her life as best I can, and provide source information  for further investigation for those who may be interested.

Early Years
Julia Matilda Cruse was born in 17 July 1823 in Boxford, Berkshire, England.  She had a happy childhood surrounded by parents and siblings.  The family was prosperous, and the children were loved, and well cared for.

Religion was an important part of Julia's life - even as a young woman.    Her family were members of the Church of England.     In 1845, Julia had been living on the Isle of Wight with her sisters family due to some health issues.  She returned that summer to find her mother distraught because one of her sisters had "disgraced" the family by joining the Mormon Church.

As the family became more familiar with the Mormon Church, several other members joined.    Her sister, Mary, who had caused the tears shed by their mother, was baptized in 1845, followed by her mother in 1846.   1847 saw Julia's father and brother in law's baptisms. On October 11, 1848, Julia was baptized a member of the Mormon Church by elder John Legg.   During this time Julie had been engaged to a young man she met on the Isle of Wight, but ended the engagement because the young man would not join the Mormon Church.

Julia Comes to America
In 1849, Julia, along with 2 of her sisters, Charlotte and Mary, and Mary's husband and 5 children ages between 3 and 15 decided to leave England and come to Utah.   They left Liverpool on September 2nd, aboard a ship named The James Pennell.

The ship had been chartered by Orson C. Pratt.    Arrangements had been made to make for as orderly and easy voyage as possible.

The boat contained 236 Mormons.   Each was provided with the amount of provisions required by law, plus some additional items.     Provisions were planned for 10 weeks, with a stipulation that any remaining provisions, should the voyage be shorter, to be "gifted" to the passenger to be used for their trip from New Orleans to St. Louis and then to Utah.     It was amazing to me to see how organized groups were - below I've attached a viewer which shows the letter sent by Orson Pratt to Thomas Clark who was in charge of the expedition.


As voyages go, this one was pleasant.   Here is a letter from Thomas H. Clark to Orson Pratt regarding the voyage:

"Ship James Pennell, New Orleans, October 22nd, 1849.
Dear Brother Pratt,--I feel it my duty to inform you of my safe arrival at New Orleans, and also a small sketch of our journey across the sea. Brother Barlow and Brother Alrin were chosen as my two counselors. I ordained Brother Alrin to the office of an elder, and then formed the company into ten divisions, with a president over each, to see that cleanliness and good order were kept, and also prayers every night and morning. We had preaching, and administered the sacrament every Sabbath, and also preaching Tuesdays and Thursdays. The officers also stood to their post, as men of God, so that all was peace and harmony during the time.
There has been but very little sickness on board. We lost three children, which were weaned just before they were brought on board; all the rest of the babes have done well. I think it would be well to inform the Saints not to wean their children just as they come; for if they do, they will likely to lose them before they get across.
Captain James Fullerton is, I think, as kind a captain as ever crossed the sea, and has been very kind to us; he has granted us every privilege which he possibly could, and made us many presents; his officers and crew were all very kind to us. The captain is a good man, and worthy to bring companies over. The ship is a good sailing vessel. We were just seven weeks crossing, and our passage was more like a pleasure trip than a sea voyage.
The Saints are all in good health and spirits, and most of those that are going to stay here, have obtained work already.
I have again proved you to be a man of God, for every word you said, when you blessed me, the night before we set sail, has been fulfilled to the very letter.
The Saints return you a vote of thanks for the good outfit you gave us, and for the quantity and quality of the same, which was good.
Brother McKenzie has met us, and has done well in helping us. He has taken a boat to sail tomorrow for St. Louis; and has also taken houses for the Saints that stay here. He has brought cheering news from the Bluffs, and also from the Valley. They have published the arrival of our vessel in the news, and consider it the most respectable and well behaved company that ever entered Orleans.
Please to give my kind respects to Sister Pratt, and all the family, and the Saints. May the God of heaven bless and preserve all his Saints, is the prayer of your brother in the gospel of Christ.
Thomas H. Clark, President.P.S. The ship "Berlin," arrived the same day, and has lost forty-three of the passengers with the cholera. "

St. Louis
Once the family arrived in New Orleans, Mary and her family headed directly to Utah, and Julia and Charlotte headed to St. Louis, where they stayed to earn money before heading to Utah.    The sisters worked as dress makers.  Both met their husbands while participating in the church choir.      The exact date that Charlotte and Julia were married is unknown - it was 1850 or 1851 depending on where you look.  Charlotte's first 2 children were born in St. Louis in 1851 and 1852, and in 1853 Charlotte and her family headed to Utah.

Julia married Amos Howe in 1850 or 1851.   Amos had a reputation for exceptional design and planning in metal manufacture.  By 1852 plans for a coast to coast railroad were underway and travel by railroad was becoming popular.    Amos was asked to move to New York to help design and plan the manufacture of railway cars.  In 1854 the family returned to St. Louis where Amos opened up a foundry shop with partner William H. Stone.   (Note this is not the same William Edward Stone that Mary Cruse married in England and emigrated to the United States with).

By 1864, Julia wanted to be with her family in Utah, and the family prepared to head west.  By then, the there were 3 children - Edgar, George and Charles.   2 other children had died as infants - James Eli, and Horace Howe.   Julia was pregnant, and suffering from lung disease.      Against her Dr.'s advice, the family decided to head west to Utah.

The Howes had the financial means to travel independently, but it was dangerous to travel alone.  The family headed out with the Warren S. Snow Company on August 19, 1864.    Along the way, the family became friends with Joseph A. Young, Brigham Young's oldest son who was returning from a mission in England and also travelling independently with the group.

On October 25, 1864 the family arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They stayed first with friends, and later moved into a house in 17th Ward, where eventually they would build a house of their own.   Amos was born on November 7th - a mere 2 weeks after their arrival.    Julia's lung issues had resolved during the trip west, never to return.

Julia's sister lived with her family in Ephraim Utah.    Amos was asked to set up a merchantile in Ephraim and the two families became close.  Charlotte's husband was killed in 1865 in the Black Hawk war.    Amos and William were part of a group that were attacked by Indians, and while Amos managed to flee, William Stone and several other people in the group were killed.  Amos and Julia took care of her sister's family - sending a check to Charlotte each month.

In December 1866, young Amos died.  Charles Howe recalled his mothers sadness, and how she sat in her rocking chair and cried, until one day, Charles gave her a hug and said "Ma, please stop crying so much, you have me left to love and kiss.".    Julia later called that young Charles' words are what prompted her to "get a hold of herself."

The family prospered in Utah and in 1873, Amos, along with his partner Nathan Davis, opened the Davis, Howe & Company Foundry.   Around this time, Julia, ever mindful of her faith, decided that her husband needed to take a 2nd wife.  Julia believed that the family would not be able to reach the highest level of salvation unless this was done.    Julia worked with her sister, Charlotte to find a suitable candidate and sent Amos to meet Amy Mellor in 1876.   On October 19th, 1876, Amos and Amy were married.  Initially Amy lived in the same house with Julia and Amos, but moved into her own house nearby about 5 months later.    Julia kept a journal during this time and expressed how hard it was for her, to have Amy so close, and her relief when Amy moved into a separate house nearby.    Though Julia expressed her difficulty privately to her diary, she made a point of getting to know Amy and they became friends.

Julia was a devoted mother and wife.  She was very active in the Mormon Church and was known for her "good works."   She hosted orphans, widows and less fortunate people in her home, and taught English to new immigrants arriving in the Salt Lake Valley.  She was a Sunday School Teacher, treasurer for The Relief Society, an assistant superintendent of the Juvenile Retrenchment Association, and president of the Mutual Improvement Association.

L.D. Adler wrote a tribute to Julia which appeared in a 1953 Relief Society Magazine:
"To Heaven's voice you have been true -
The youth of Zion pray for you
And love you for your sake,
You've taught them long and faithfully
To ever true and steadfast be -
And never God forsake."
In 1913, Mary Beth Talmadge wrote a tribute to Julia Cruse How - to commemorate her 90th birthday.   The article was published in The Woman's Exponent, June 1913 edition.

Julia Cruse Howe died at the age of 92 on June 16, 1916 - just one day shy of her 93rd birthday. When her grandson, Ralph Howe, wrote to tell the family in England of her funeral he said "She looked beautiful and heavenly in her casket - much younger than her 93 years."    5 prominent members of the Mormon church and 175h ward  spoke at her funeral - W. J. Beatie, George Albert Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Bishop F. S. Tingey, and Mrs. W. N. Williams.  She was buried very close to the location where her family entered the Salt Lake Valley, with her husband and son in the Salt Lake City Cemetary.


Special thanks to Sharon Turley who provided me with permission to use pictures she posted on, a copy of the article from The Woman's Exponent, and other information.    One of the best parts of working on family history - is meeting new cousins!!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Family History Library

Yes - I live near Salt Lake City, Utah, and Yes - I love family history, and No - I have never been to the Family History Library........ until TODAY!!!!

ComiCon is going on in downtown Salt Lake, a stones throw from the Family History Library - so I decided to go early.   The FHL opens at 8am - I was there at 7:55am!!     Found a place to park (street parking is limited to 2 hours!!!!) and headed in!

I've been anticipating this for a couple days, I had a citation in hand, and limited expectations for the day.   I wanted to get familiar with the FHL, find the citation, and attend a class regarding how to handle incorrect relationships in

In I go!    There is a LOT of Mormon FHL missionaries in the entrance - all eager to help me!    This is good - since I have no clue where to go!    One approaches me and directs me to a room to watch an introductory short video, and gives me the name tag that lets everybody around you that you are a n00b and may need extra attention.  After the video, he took me to the main room and found someone to help me find the microfilm with my citation.

My citation is not something she's seen before.  Of course - everything I've tried to run down for Mr. James Gates has been difficult, why would this be different?     We get it figured out in short order, and head off to the ROWS and ROWS and ROWS and ROWS............. of microfilm.

We find the drawer with my box and she takes me to the viewer stations (I haven't touched a micro-fiche machine in close to 30 years!)   I get settled and hit the microfilm.  

Unfortunately - the record doesn't provided much help with Mr. Gates, but I'm glad it prompted me to head to the FHL!!!

One thing I had heard, but fully realized the power of, is that the ENTIRE FHL catalog is on line.   Now that I'm more familiar with this part of the search options on, I'll use it to help.   Then next time - I can have a stack of items to look up!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 4: Will the real John Gates please step forward?

Last week I was contacted by someone who's father is a DNA match with my great uncle.    Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) predicted the match at 2nd-4th cousin.    She is also from Canada.   My mind immediately goes to my most annoying brick wall - John McGovern who supposedly came from Canada.    

That doesn't seem to be it - no McGoverns in her family.     We do share a potential common ancestor Nicholas Olmstead.  Problem is - he is my 9th great grandfather, which would be my grand - uncle's 7th great grandfather.   This seems like a stretch for a predicted relationship of 2nd to 4th cousin.......   But - it's the only lead we see - so I start working on it.         The theory is that my ancestors come through Nicholas' daughter Elizabeth, and her family comes by way of Nicholas' daughter Sarah.

I started looking - and a few generations down - run into a problem.  Turns out she's run into this problem too - one of her brick walls!

This problem's name is James Gates.   He may have been born in 1775,  1777, or 1781.   He may have lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Canada or all of the above.  He may have been married to Mary Willard or Lucina Gaston, and may have had a marriage before Mary or Lucina - to Polly Clarke, who's name may have been Mary Clarke and she went by Polly........

That is a LOT of maybe's.........

By this time a few days had passed, and I had been introduced to another person in this same family line - and now the 3 of us are comparing notes and seeing what, if anything we can piece together......

I found a record that was had indexed information only - but the record is held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.    Just so happens that I live near Salt Lake City and I work about 3 blocks away, yet............  I have never been there!

I just happened to have already taken Thursday and Friday off work.   On Friday - I am headed to the Family History Library for the first time ever :)

So - this is NOT a story about John Gates - because I still don't know who the John Gates in my family is....... but it IS a story about how John Gates allowed me to meet new friends, improve my research skills, and got myself into the Family History Library for the first time ever.  I may learn more about John Gates at the library - but I will learn more about this resource that can be used to find out more about the people in my family.

So - thank you John Gates, whoever you are......... hopefully soon I will know more about YOUR story!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#52 Ancestors - Week 3: Nicholas Olmstead

The topic this week was birthdays - I didn't stick with that topic.   Last week I was contacted by someone that is a DNA match with my great-uncle.  The suspect link, which we still have yet to prove, is the Olmsteads.     This is a line that I had not looked at much - and as I started looking at what we believe may be our most recent common relative, Nicholas Olmstead, I found myself delving into areas of U.S. History that I was not familiar with.      While the result is more or less a bare-bones timeline, I learned a ton.      Where was my passion for genealogy during my school years?   I would have had a whole different appreciation of the history of America!!!

Nicholas Olmstead is my 9x great grandfather.   He was born in England and came to the United States in 1632.  He was a civic minded individual which means that records of his comings and goings are recorded in history books of the various settlements that were being created in the 1600's.   He settled in Hartford, CT approx 5 years after he arrived in the US and stayed there until he died in 1684.      His emigrated to the United States with his family and cousin.   This group of 3 men appear together in the history books.    They moved to Hartford together, served in civic positions together and fought together in 2 wars.   His father, James Olmstead is listed as one of the original founders of Hartford, and his name appears on the memorial honoring the men that settled that city.

One of the most interesting things I learned is that trials for witchcraft did not originate in Massachusetts and existed in various places in New England well before 1692.  

With that - here are the key facts I learned about Nicholas Olmstead and his life:

  • 1613 - Born at Fairstead, Essex, England
  • 1632 - Arrived in Boston, MA, U.S.A. - Aboard the ship named Lion or Lyon
  • 1634 - Moved to Hartford, CT, U.S.A.  
  • 1637 - Fought in the Pequot War

The Pequot War occurred in 1637.  It was a relatively short war.   Nicholas served under Captain Mason.   The group left Hartford CT on May 28, and battled the Pequot Indians.  Over 600 Pequot Indians were killed and his group returned home within 3 days.   Nicholas received a grant of land for his participation.   Several of his family members also participated.

  • 1640 - Married Sarah Loomis
  • 1646 to 1647 - Served as Surveyor of Highways

I was not sure what this was exactly - what does a Surveyor of Highways do?  I did a little research, I could not find anything specific to CT, but based on what I read - it appears that a Surveyor of Highways was in charge of making sure that bridges and roads were kept in good repair, and deciding the specific route of any new roads that are needed.

  • 1653 to 1662 - Served as Townsman for the North Side (of Hartford, CT)

I researched to see what exactly a Townsman did.   Depending on the town - it could be any number of things including making sure buildings were kept in repair, being in charge of roads and fences, responsibility for overseeing the town finances, and judges in petty cases.

  • 1658 - Received rank of Corporal of the Hartford Troop of Horse
  • 1662 - Received rank of Ensign of the Hartford Troop of Horse
  • 1662 - Served as a juror of a trial that accused 2 people of witch craft - Nathaniel and Rebecca Greensmith who were convicted and executed.

  • 1669 - Served as List and Rate Maker
  • 1672 - Appointed Deputy to General Court
  • 1673 - Received rank of Lieutenant of the Hartford Troop of Horse
Nicholas was placed in command of troops and sent to New London and Huntington, and was made a Captain in 1675.
  • 1675 - Received rank of Captain, during King Phillips War. 
  • 1684 - Died at Hartford, CT 


  • Genealogy of the Olmstead Family in America, Compiled by Henry King Olmstead M.D., Revised and completed by Reverend George K. Ward A.M..  Published by A.T. De La Mare Printing and Publishing Company, Ltd., New York, 1912.    Link
  • A History of Connecticut by George Larkin Clark.  Published by G.P. Putnams Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1914.  Link

Sunday, January 11, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 2 - Moses Monroe Curtis

The topic this week is "King".    I struggled with deciding how to apply this topic.   I looked for the name "King" in my family - that failed.  I looked for someone interesting that was involved King Phillip's War - and while it was interesting to do that research, I didn't find a single person that made sense to blog about.  Lots of controversy over who may or may not have been involved and what they may or may not have done - but nothing concrete.  Next - I looked for places named "King".   Charlton Kings popped up.   I have friend that lives there - so it caught my eye.  The wife of my 1st Cousin 4x removed came from there and that led me to him - Moses Monroe Curtis.    So - my post this week is about him!    In a very round about way - the theme is in there!!

I recently read the book:  Brigham Young, Pioneer Prophet by John G. Turner.   I learned a lot from that book about both Brigham Young, and the experience of the Mormon church members in Nauvoo, Winter Quarters and Utah.  Things that I never learned in Primary or Utah History.    The author includes a lot of description of the events going around the Mormons so I learned a lot about the history of the time as well.  Researching the history of Moses Monroe Curtis was amazing because he was alive, and in some cases, near many of the key events going on at this time covered in some detail in the book.

Moses Monroe Curtis was born in October 28, 1840 in Nauvoo, Illinois.    When he was 4 years old, Joseph Smith was killed in Carthage.   Moses was very young, but did recall the incident - primarily the experience of seeing the bodies laid out as people walked by to pay respect.

The Curtis family headed west with the Mormons who were forced to leave Nauvoo.   At that time their primary food source was corn..   Parched, ground and eaten with milk or baked into bread.  Rusk was made by taking the bread, crumbling it up, and drying it in the oven.   Before the family could leave, they had to make enough Rusk to get from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters.  

By 1847 the family was living in Winter Quarters.   It was decided that Moses' uncle, Lyman Curtis, would head to Utah in 1847 with both his and Moses' families possessions, and then he would return for the others.    During this time, Moses Sr. then father worked on the Mississippi for corn.  The family prepared the corn for themselves to use on their own journey and also sold corn for 10 cents per bushel to buy provisions needed to head to Utah.     Lyman's wife, Sophrina and his daughter Melissa both died from Cholera while at Winter Quarters.

By the spring of 1850, the corn had also been supplemented with buckwheat, and the family was ready to head to Utah.     They were part of the Stephen Markham Company which left between June 20-27, 1850 and arrived in Utah between October 1-3, 1830.  The company consisted of 77 people.

The company encountered many buffalo herds and frequently had to stop, circle the wagons, chain the cattle and wait while herds of buffalo stampeded around them.   The buffalo also provided a source of food.  Occasionally a buffalo was killed and the meat made into jerky to eat along they way.

They company had contact Indians several times during the trip.  Some of these meetings were combative and hostile.   One story appears in 2 sources.    The basics of the story are the same, but some of the details differed.     A Cheyenne Indian wished to acquire a white woman to take as a wife.   Some of the boys were talking to the Indian and someone made a joke that for a price, the Indian could acquire a white woman.   There is 2 versions of the price - one says it was 7 horses, the other says it was 5 horses, 2 buffalo hides, 2 antelope skins and some dried meat.   In any case - the Indian later returned with the asking price.   The company tried to explain this was a joke, and some sort of drama ensued.   One version says that the company had to give the Indian much needed supplies to settle the matter, another version says that the company was followed for several days by an Indian party, and one night the Indian attempted to abduct one of the girls.  A fight ensued, the girl was saved and the Indians disappeared, and were not seen again.

Once the family arrived in Salt Lake City, they were dispatched to what is now Provo and cleared land, built a house and planted crops.   Moses grew up on the farm and continued to have periodic encounters with local Indians - some friendly, and some hostile.

April 1862, Moses was called by Brigham Young to go to Winters Quarters and bring a company of immigrants to Utah.   One of the immigrants he assisted in bring to Utah was a young lady from Charlton Kings (Cheltenham) England.  The young men sent from Utah had been full of pranks and mischief while in Winter Quarters, and some of the immigrants feared them.  This fear grew large enough amoungst the population of Winter Quarters, that the Apostles living there had to step in and restore confidence regarding the ruffians from Utah who were to take them to Utah.  Moses returned to Utah with the Homer Duncan Company in 1862.    One of the members of the company was Martha Sims, who had come from Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, England with her family to join the Mormons in Utah.    Martha was not scared of the young ruffian from Utah and  once they reached Utah Martha and Monroe Moses Curtis were married.

Mariah Curtis and Martha Sims
I could not find any specific statement that Moses was a polygamist, but it is indicated in many places that he had 3 wives.   The Birth/Death/Marriage dates, combined with the children's dates of birth make is pretty clear that Moses practiced plural marriage.

Moses Monroe an Sarah Josephine Curtis Family
By 1877, Moses had married his second wife, Sarah Josephine Mecham, a widow with 3 children.  The Curtis family  was asked to join the United Order in Arizona and to head there to assist in settling the area and setting up the order.     The family first settled in Northern Arizona, the moved to the Gila valley in 1880 where they settled permanently.    The city now known as Eden was first named Curtis Ward, and Moses Monroe Curtis was selected as the Bishop.

From Salt Lake Tribune, May 13, 1910
In 1879 Moses married his 3rd wife,  Miriam Melina Rudd, who was also a widow and had 4 children.

Moses and Malina Curtis
Moses lived in Eden for 37 years then moved to Thatcher.   His wife, Martha died in Eden.   Sara Josephine died while the family was living in Thatcher, and Malina died in Pima.

Moses died while living in Pima of a heart attack on March 13, 1929.   His obituary lists that he had 29 children, 136 Grand Children and 91 Great Grand Children.    It also says that the story of his life would make an interesting book.

Some of the key United States and Mormon Church historical events that Moses Monroe Curtis lived through are:
  • 1844 - Joseph Smith murdered in Carthage Illinois
  • 1844 - Brigham Young sustained as President of the Mormon Church
  • 1846 - Mormon's expelled from Nauvoo, Illinois
  • 1847 - First Pioneer Company leaves Winter Quarters for Utah.  (Moses Uncle Lyman included.)
  • 1848 - Gold Discovered in California
  • 1850 - Utah becomes a Territory
  • 1857 - Mountain Meadows Massacre
  • 1861 to 1865 - Civil War
  • 1864 - Abraham Lincoln assasinated
  • 1867 - Salt Lake Tabernacle completed
  • 1869 - Transcontinental Railroad completed at Promontory Point, Utah
  • 1877 - St. George Temple dedicated
  • 1880 - John Taylor sustained as 3rd Mormon Church President
  • 1889 - Wilford Woodruff sustained as 4th Mormon Church President
  • 1893 - Salt Lake Temple dedicated
  • 1898 - Lorenzo Snow sustained as 5th Mormon Church President
  • 1898 - Spanish American War
  • 1901 - Joseph F. Smith sustained as 6th Mormon Church President
  • 1903 - Wright Brothers first flight
  • 1908 - Ford Introduces the Model T
  • 1914 to 1918 - World War I
  • 1917 - Heber Grant sustained as 7th Mormon Church President

Below is an article that appeared in 1923 in the Improvement Era periodical about Moses Monroe Curtis

  • Obituary from the Thatcher Guardian, 1929.  Found in or  The newspaper archives go only as far as 1922, so not available on - yet.
  • Moses Monroe Curtis, Pioneer, The Improvement Era, Volume 26, No. 10, Page 899-905, available from Internet Archive - link:
  • Stephen Markham Company Information:
  • Almost an Indian Bride by Susan Ellen Johnson, From Young Women's Journal , June 1907,
  • Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, by Frank Esshorn.  Link:
  • US History Timelines:
  • Salt Lake Tribue, May 13, 1910, archives at:

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I have a serious brick wall in my ancestry.  My current theory regarding my 2x Great Grandfather, John McGovern, is that a spaceship dropped him off in Colorado in the late 1800's.

In an effort to try to solve the mystery - I have had my own DNA, as well as several relative's DNA tested.   I have also had several other family members tested - on that side of my family I had my paternal aunt and paternal great-uncle tested, as well as my brother.   So far - no luck!!!!

I enjoy the sciency part of DNA and can spend hours evaluating and hunting down possible matches. I go to many DNA related break out sessions when I attend family history related conferences, and I have talked about it at work so much that several people there have become interested and had their own DNA evaluted.   I also find the ethnic differences interesting - particularly those between me and my brother.

Until last week - I had worked with AncestryDNA only.    I have heard quite a bit about FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe.      When FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) introduced their new program for DNA transfer - I decided to try it.    FTDNA has some tools that AncestryDNA does not have, and another database to find out the origin of the spaceship that dropped my 2x Great Grandfather off.

I'm still trying to learn the in's and out's of the FTDNA user interface and tool set - but here are my comments so far - comparing the experience with AncestryDNA and FTDNA.

User Interface:   Ancestry wins hands down.   The interface is more intuitive and pretty easy to start poking around in and finding what you need.    Watch a couple videos and you quickly become an expert user.    I find FTDNA's user interface confusing - I think I've been able to figure it out, but  I'm either missing something, or they are.  Even after watching the videos.  It's not winning any points on usability.

Matches:    I'm looking for the driver of the spaceship - so far that hasn't happened anywhere!    I have made contact with several cousins through Ancestry.    I've yet to hear from anybody on FTDNA, and I have not had a response from anybody I have emailed.

Ethnicity:     Ancestry seems to have more categories.   I'm not a geneticist - so I have no idea who is better here.    For the major components - they are pretty close.

Friday, January 2, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 1: Elizabeth "Betsy" Wilde Hatch

The topic for this week is:  Fresh Start

I couldn't figure out how I would ever find a relative (that I haven't already written about) that had a "Fresh Start".  I'm sure I would have all sorts of ideas and candidates if I wasn't trying to think of one!  I decided that most people consider January 1 to be a fresh start, so I decided I would use that.   I looked for people in my family tree that were born on January 1 and settled on researching my 5x great grandmother - Elizabeth Wilde.

I have been listening to a book about Brigham Young (Brigham Young, By John Turner), and it was interesting to find people, places and events that I have been hearing about, while researching my 5x great grandmother.

Another interesting thing was that there are several very interesting stories about various members of this family which are also not verifiable.   Her story follows.

My 5x great grandmother, Elizabeth Wilde was born on January 1, 1786 in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.  Her parents were Thomas Wilde and Anna Keith Williams.    She married Jacob Hatch on April 18, 1809 in Massachusetts - probably Northampton.  The couple settled in LeRay, New York and had 11 children between the years of 1811 and 1823.

Jacob and Betsy joined the  Mormon Church in 1838 and left New York to relocate to Illinois.  The bulk of Mormon Church members were then in Nauvoo.  In 1846 Mormon Church members started leaving Nauvoo and heading west.   Winter Quarters - just over the Iowa/Nebraska border was founded as the staging ground for the Mormon Pioneers move to Utah.   By 1847 the Hatch Family had settled in Keg Creek in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, just across the river from Winter Quarters.

Pottawattamie County, Iowa
Betsy died in October 1847 while living in Keg Creek.  There are several versions of this story - and I could not find any primary sources.   In the versions I saw - the basics are the same - some sort of disturbance at the house and in the confusion Jacob accidentally shoots and kills his wife.    Here is the version from Find A Grave:

"The mob had made several attacks on the small settlement, when one night they heard a signal of attack, a large rock thrown by the enemy hitting the side of their log home. The mob quickly surrounded each home preventing the people from gaining assistance from each other. They were throwing stones through the windows, banging at the door, and tearing at the roof. The house was dark, and Jacob told his wife to get under the be to escape the flying stones, as he got jus gun to protect his wife and home. Betsy was afraid he would be killed, and while he was getting his gun, she rand into the darkness to hold the door. Jacob hearing a movement of the latch and thinking she was under the bed fired towards the door. She groaned and fell to the floor exclaiming, "Oh, Father, you've killed me!" On finding he had shot his wife, Jacob ran to his son, Isaac's house, a short distance away, crying, "Isaac, I've killed your dear old mother." Isaac and his wife, Mary Jane, accompanied him back to his cabin where they found Betsy lying on her back in a pool of blood. The bullet had passed through her shoulder, near her heart, and right wrist, through the door, then through one of the mob and into a wagon box outside. The mob finding one of their group wounded, picked him up and ran from the place."

I searched for any indication of mob activity going on in Little Keg, or other areas around Winter Quarters in October of 1847 and I was not able to find anything documented.  The town itself no longer exists.

Betsy's husband, Jacob, did eventually make his way to Utah - though when is not clear.   His headstone refers to 1849, but Mormon Church records indicate he did not arrive until sometime in 1851 or 1852.    Yet another mystery surrounding this family.

Find A Grave:
Find A Grave:
LDS History:
Family Search:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!!

It's 2015.   One of my goals this year is to write more on the blog........   So get ready!   This is your warning!

Here are some others:

  • Stay current with Ancestry hints - - for the last several months, I have waded through over 7k hints and I am officially caught up.   I want to make sure to look at them weekly at a minimum and keep them up to date.
  • Update and Verify.   My plan is to work with the Error Report on Family Tree Maker.  One type of error at a time, and resolve the error and review and update the family while I'm in there.   I created a custom Reviewed event to make it easier to know who has and has not been reviewed, when I last looked at a record, and who needs a review.    I want to verify everybody on my tree - which I do fairly well as I add them, and have every event sourced.
  • Blog more....... yes - I said that above too.    I plan to participate in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge again, as well as highlight interesting ancestors as I find them, updates from conferences, general genealogy related thoughts, etc..   My buddy at work is also planning to blog about family history - so maybe a little competition will keep us motivated!

Tonight - I'm pondering who I want to highlight for week 1 of  #52Ancestors - look for that soon!!!