Genealogy Trek ℠ American Genealogy Research

Genealogy Research, Family Search

We are busy moving hundreds of Genealogy Trek life sketches, context articles, and family genealogy resources from our emailed newsletter format to this website. We expect to complete this large undertaking over the next several months. Emailed newsletters have been sunset. The best way to receive a notice about a new family genealogy story is to sign up at this link .

Malinda Saxon - The Value of a Written Life Sketch

May 19, 2022

At Genealogy Trek we write Life Sketches about ancestors, we tell their stories. FamilySearch, a genealogy website, suggests that “Writing your family history helps you see gaps in your own research and raises opportunities to find new information.” Genealogy Trek consistently finds this statement to be valid.

While writing the life sketch of Malinda Saxon new questions arose, additional sources were gathered, and the narrative changed for both Malinda and her husband Ira Casterline. It was known that Ira lived the later part of his life in Blackford County, Indiana, but for a few years when he lived in Illinois. It was presumed Ira left Indiana after the death of his wife Malinda. This is not the case however as a new source emerged and changed their story. Malinda was with Ira as they not only moved to Illinois but also spent about a year in Wisconsin too.

The new information shines a little more light on the family and enriches the story of their lives.

Ira Casterline - “Uncle Ira”

May 12, 2022

Ira Casterline died in Blackford County, Indiana, in 1898 at the age of 93. He had lived in Blackford County for almost 60 years. When Ira’s obituary was published in the Hartford City Telegram, the headline was “Uncle Ira Casterline - Oldest Man in Blackford County Called to HIs Eternal Home Yesterday Noon.”

At Genealogy Trek we have read a lot of obituaries and have yet to see another with the term “Uncle” in the headline. Likely the term was one of endearment, used out of love and respect people had for Ira as his obituary stated that everybody called Ira “Uncle Ira”. So here’s a photo of our Uncle Ira:

genealogy research family search McManemon Family Manifest Ship DeWitt Clinton
Circa 1893. Photo courtesy of Darrin Williams.

Mahetable Casterline Miles - Almost a Centenarian

May 5, 2022

Mahetable Casterline was born in Indiana in 1842 and lived 99 years, dying shortly after her 99th birthday. As a child she lived in a log cabin. She traveled to Kansas after her marriage to David Franklin Miles by covered wagon or railway, the train stop being the end of the tract in Marysville, Kansas.

During her lifetime, the rail lines would expand to the Pacific Ocean, log cabins became houses, horse and wagons became automobiles, the Pony Express became telegrams then phone calls. With all the advances, a family story relates that her house still had a dirt floor which she preferred.

David Franklin Miles - From Farmer to Hotel Proprietor

April 28, 2022

David Franklin Miles was an early settler in Marshall County, Kansas, arriving with his family around 1871 and settling near Marysville. At the time, Marshall County was the end of the railroad line. The first train reached Marysville on January 20, 1871. It is unknown how the Miles family traveled to Kansas, whether by horse drawn wagon or railroad, and it is not known what David intended to do in Kansas. However at some point in his life, David left farming and became a hotel proprietor. If the family had traveled by rail, maybe David saw opportunities with that experience. Or if he had tried farming, maybe David decided to change occupations after the grasshoppers ate all the crops in Marshall County in the summer of 1874.

Phoebe Wass - Mother of 12 Children

April 21, 2022

Phoebe Wass married Lorenzo Miles at the age of 18 around 1825. Over the next 26 years of their marriage, Phoebe gave birth to 12 known children, about 1 child every 2 years. Phoebe gave birth to children while her older children were having her grandchildren. What a strong woman Phoebe must have been!

Both Phoebe and Lorenzo had to have worked hard to provide for their large family. While their son’s biographical sketch mentioned Lorenzo’s work at the cobbler’s bench, cutting wood and hauling goods between Cincinnati and Hartford City, the household work needed to feed such a large family must have at times seemed overwhelming. All 12 children made it to adulthood which likely is a testament to the work ethic and disciple of both Phoebe and Lorenzo Miles.

Lorenzo Miles - What’s in a Name?

April 14, 2022

What’s in a name? That question came to mind when Genealogy Trek researched Lorenzo Miles. Lorenzo seemed like an usual name for someone born in 1801 Massachusetts. Further research revealed that many family trees call Lorenzo “Lorenzo Dowell Miles”. Where does the middle name “Dowell” come from? Genealogy Trek has not located a single source that Dowell was Lorenzo’s middle name or that Lorenzo even used a “D.”

Trying to find a source for the middle name “Dowell”, Genealogy Trek learned about Lorenzo Dow.

Lorenzo Dow was a Methodist circuit minister, a traveling preacher, who preached in New England, including Massachusetts, a few years prior to Lorenzo Miles’ birth. He was immensely popular and drew crowds from all religions. It is thought that Lorenzo Dow preached to more people than any other preacher of his era. According to the New England Historical Society, Lorenzo Dow was so beloved that couples would delay their weddings until Lorenzo came to town. He would preside at their weddings, although not as an official minister, and the couples he married would often name their children Lorenzo, or even Lorenzo Dow.

So, Lorenzo Miles was likely named after the preacher Lorenzo Dow.

Thomas Miles - Soldier or Story Teller?

April 7, 2022

In 1845 at the age of 83, Thomas Miles gave a very compelling and detailed account of his service in the Revolutionary War as part of his application for a pension. The testimony is filled with names of commanders and places of events which can be verified. What can not be verified is whether Thomas Miles actually served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

Genealogy Trek has scoured resources available today on the internet including orderly books, muster rolls, and pay accounts and has not found a single entry for Thomas Miles. Yet it seems hard to believe that Thomas invented the story, especially in 1845 when information was not readily obtainable like it is today.

The commissioners of Blackford County in Indiana believed him when they exempted Thomas from paying taxes. The residents of Hartford City believed him when they celebrated Thomas and several other Revolutionary War soldiers each July 4th. The Daughters of the American Revolution believed him when they erected a Revolutionary War Hero marker in 1933 on the Blackford County Courthouse lawn and included his name.

Thomas’ pension application was denied. His children continued to pursue the pension after Thomas’ death. They were never successful in proving Thomas’ Revolutionary War service.

Mary Underwood - From Massachusetts to Indiana

March 31, 2022

In March of 1876, Congress passed a resolution recommending that as part of the celebration of the centennial of American Independence, residents of counties and towns commission someone to assemble historical sketches. The result was volumes of books published over the next 40 years containing Biographical Sketches of individuals. And if your ancestor is one of the individuals featured, you have struck gold.

Mary Underwood, wife of Thomas Miles, had three grandchildren who were written about in a biographical sketch book, Hanford R. Miles, Adam Winslow Miles and Alfred Miles. These 3 sketches provide details of the trek which led Mary and her husband Thomas from Massachusetts, to New Jersey, to New York, and finally to Indiana between the dates of 1810 and 1840. The sketches provide a wealth of information about genealogical links as well as insight into the hardships and challenges of the time.

Tomorrow April 1, is a big day for genealogists and researchers. The US 1950 census will be made public, no April Fool’s joke. What gold will you find in the census?

Mary Pool of Reading, Massachusetts Bay Colony

March 24, 2022

Genealogical research requires an understanding of probate records and inheritance law. Genealogy Trek’s ongoing research of genealogy records often leads us to update our Context to include information which helps to interpret these genealogy records.

Today, Genealogy Trek has added Mary Pool, which sheds light on the value of reading and understanding probate records. Mary Pool, sometimes spelled Poole, was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and married Joseph Underwood in 1762. There are several Mary Pools who were contemporaries so finding Mary Pool’s parents could be a challenge. However, Mary’s age and location narrowed the list to two possibilities, Lt. Jonathan Poole of Reading or Samuel Pool of Reading.

The probate record of Lt. Jonathan Poole included his will written in March of 1795 and noted that his daughter Mary, surname “Nichols”, was deceased.

Samuel Pool died intestate in 1752 so there was no will however, his probate records revealed that his daughter Mary was a minor. When Mary’s mother died in 1763, her probate records record a payment to Joseph Underwood, which was Mary’s share of her mother’s dower. This record links Mary Pool to Rebecca Pool, her mother, and back to Samuel Pool, her father.

Joseph Underwood - Revolutionary War Soldier?

March 17, 2022

Today’s Joseph Underwood is the fourth Joseph Underwood featured on Genealogy Trek. The Underwood family has been documented in the Massachusetts Bay Colony since 1637. The Joseph Underwood featured today was born in 1739, 102 years after the arrival of his forebearer Joseph Underwood. With each generation, sons named their sons Joseph Underwood so that by the time of the Revolutionary War, there are records for several Joseph Underwoods.

There is Joseph Underwood from Sudbury, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment at Natick on May 11, 1777 under Col. Rufus Putnam and Capt. Joseph Morse. Joseph died the following year on August 30, 1778.

There is Joseph Underwood from Lexington, Massachusetts. He was part of the Lexington militia commanded by Capt. John Parker who reported to duty at Cambridge on May 6, 1775, where he served 5 days.

There is Joseph Underwood from Holliston, Massachusetts. On July 28, 1780 he was part of a unit under Col. Abner Perry and Capt. Staples Chamberlain who responded to an alarm at Rhode Island. He served 14 days.

There is Joseph Underwood from Westford, Massachusetts. He enlisted June 13, 1777 and for a term of 3 years. He first served under Col. Ichabod Alden, and then under Col. Brooks and Capt. William Hudson Ballard. On March 8, 1818, Joseph lived in Putney, Vermont where he applied for a Revolutionary War pension.

Lastly, there is Joseph Underwood also from Westford, Massachusetts, who was part of the Minutemen from Westford who responded to Lexington on Apr 19, 1775, where “the shot heard ‘round the world” was fired, considered to be the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He served under Col. William Prescott and Capt. Timothy Underwood for a period of 9 days.

But are the Joseph Underwood’s from Westford two different people, or the same one? The answer to this question answers whether the Joseph Underwood featured today participated in the Revolutionary War.

Joseph Underwood featured today lived in Westford in 1775. Also in Westford were Joseph’s uncle, Timothy Underwood, and Timothy’s son Joseph Underwood. According to the pension application of Timothy’s son Joseph Underwood, he enlisted on June 13, 1777. There is no mention of any prior service. However, to receive a pension a soldier had to serve in the Continental Army, Navy or Marines at least nine months, so Minuteman service was irrelevant.

On April 19, 1775, Capt. Timothy Underwood’s Minutemen from Westford responded to Lexington. Among the Minutemen was Joseph Underwood. Did Captain Timothy Underwood muster his 17 year son or his 35 year old nephew?

Ruth Parker - Audience to the Birth of America

March 10, 2022

Ruth Parker was born almost 320 years ago in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and died at the age of 83 in the United States of America. Reading was the town of her birth in 1704 and her death in 1787.

Ruth was married twice and widowed twice, first to Joseph Bancroft and then Joseph Underwood. She spent many more years as a widow than as a spouse. Ruth’s father, Capt. Kendal Parker, was a prominent man in the community of Reading, a justice of the peace and a deacon in the church. Following the death of his daughter’s second husband, Capt. Parker ensured that Ruth would be taken care of for the rest of her life.

Ruth lived through the Revolutionary War. Her only son, Joseph Underwood, was likely one of the minutemen from Reading who responded to Concord where the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired on April 19, 1775. At the time of Ruth’s death, the future of the country was still uncertain. The war had been won but the new nation was a loose confederation of 13 former British colonies. It was not until after Ruth’s death that a stronger union emerged with the ratification of the United States Constitution and the election of George Washington as President in 1789.

Joseph Underwood - Harvard Graduate

March 3, 2022

Almost 285 years ago, on July 4, 1735, Joseph Underwood, along with 37 classmates, graduated from Harvard College. At the time, Harvard was nearing its 100th birthday, instructing its students in a classical curriculum influenced by Puritan ideology. Joseph’s education would have included courses on divinity, preaching and pastoral care as well as mathematics, logic, languages, philosophy, history and law.

Harvard graduates received high social status in Puritan New England and were expected to play a prominent role in their communities. Joseph Underwood, “Gentleman” began his career as a teacher and a preacher, first in Reading, Massachusetts, and then in Chelmsford and surrounding communities. Sadly, his career ended shortly after it began when Joseph died at the age of 37 in 1745.

Susanna Parker - Ever Heard of a Shaker?

February 24, 2022

At Genealogy Trek the genealogy research process accompanied with the writing of a Life Sketch often results in additional questions, like with today’s ancestor, Susanna Parker.

Susanna Parker was born in 1687 in Reading, Massachusetts Bay Colony, married Joseph Underwood in 1707, and mother to 13 children. Susanna and Joseph were together for almost 54 years before he died in 1761. Susanna lived another 8 years and died in 1769. Looking at the burial record the question emerged, Why was Susanna not buried with her husband? Not only was she not buried in the same cemetery, Susanna was buried in a different town altogether. To answer the question, additional research about the family was needed. Each of Susanna’s children was researched starting with the children that were fairly well documented. It was the last child researched, Mary, who provided a surprise and insight into the family with language in her will alluding to “the deluded sect called Shaking Quakers”, or Shakers.

What is not included in today’s LIfe Sketch are the challenges faced by some of Susanna’s children as they moved away into the wilderness of Northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire and Vermont. The research uncovered multiple town records which set bounties for killing bears, wolves and rattlesnakes. Not only were these threats to livestock, but to adults and children as well.

Joseph Underwood - Forerunner of the American Dream

February 17, 2022

Some ancestors leave giant footsteps while others leave tiny tiptoes. Joseph Underwood, son of Joseph Underwood of Watertown, is one who left giant footprints. Not only are the footprints giant in regard to the records he left, but also in regard to his legacy.

Joseph Underwood led a long and full life. Born in Watertown in 1681, Joseph moved to Reading after his father’s death in 1691 and lived with a relative, Thomas Hodgeman. Thomas was so thankful for Joseph’s assistance with his estate, that in 1703 Thomas gifted Joseph land in Charlestown End, today’s Stoneham, Massachusetts. Joseph purchased additional acreage next to Doleful Pond and it was here that Joseph started his family.

Joseph eventually moved to Chelmsford, Massachusetts, after buying land that belonged to his aunt Elizabeth and her husband, Arthur Crouch. Through hard work and opportunity, Joseph was able to improve his socioeconomic class from weaver to yeoman. Joseph grew his estate to over 300 acres, gifting 235 acres of his property to his sons. He became an influential leader in the community and led the effort to create the town of Westford from the west precinct of Chelmsford.

Joseph’s descendants continued his legacy and include preachers, town leaders, judges, lawyers, and Revolutionary War soldiers. Truly, Joseph achieved the American Dream before there was an America.

Joseph Underwood - First Generation American

February 10, 2022

Joseph Underwood was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1650, just 30 years after the arrival of the Pilgrims. Life in the colony was so very different from life today. Survival depended on cooperation, communal living and following strict rules. There was little, if any, separation between church and state. Town records from Watertown where Joseph lived, contained rules such as “no man … shall have liberty to set down amongst us, unless he first have consent of the Town” and “Ordered that the Next Sabbath Day every person shall take his or their seat appointed to them … if one of the inhabitants shall act contrary … for the first offense be reproved by the Deacons and for the second offense pay a fine of 2 shillings.” There were numerous rules about fences and the cutting of trees. One roaming hog could demolish the next harvest and trees were vital to maintain fences that corralled the livestock. Adultery and fornication were crimes that included jail time. Why? If children resulted from a dalliance and the parents died, the town became responsible for the care of the child.

Susannah Iiams - Leaves a Lasting Legacy

December 3, 2020

Susannah Iiams lived in Prince George’s County, British Colonial Maryland in the early 1700’s, approximately 12 generations ago. Susannah married Thomas Fowler with whom she had 12 children and after Thomas death, she married Mark Brown with whom she had 4 children. Of Susannah’s 16 children, 15 reached adulthood.

After 3 generations Susannah’s descendants numbered over 500. Likely more than 2,000,000 people in the United States today descended from Susannah. A majority probably don’t even realize they have deep roots in British Colonial American and one woman to thank for being here.

Thomas Fowler - Anne Arundel Gentry?

November 26, 2020

Almost 90 years ago Harry Wright Newman wrote a book called “Anne Arundel Gentry” which paid tribute to the early landowners of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. As Newman explained in the book, Anne Arundel County was divided into “hundreds”, a British administrative concept, and Newman sectioned the families into their respective hundred. Newman wrote about three families in the Broadneck Hundred, the Boones, the Homewoods, and the Fowlers.

While the inclusion of the Boones and Homewood families is quite fitting, the extensive research Genealogy Trek has conducted into the Fowler family left us wondering, Why were the Fowlers included? To be clear, the gentry class of colonial Maryland were the large landowners. The Boone and Homewood families patented land in Broadneck in 1660 and 1670. The Fowlers on the other hand did not patent any land in Broadneck.

Thomas Fowler, the family forebearer, was a land owner however he owned land in Prince George’s County, not in Anne Arundel. When Thomas died intestate in 1715, he left 12 children. Without an inheritance, most were likely bound in servitude to learn a trade and it appears several were placed in the Broadneck of Anne Arundel. What Thomas’ sons did well, was to marry well, wealthy widows and daughters of the gentry of Anne Arundel. They became good citizens, and were road overseers, ferry operators and constables.

While the Fowlers were not Anne Arundel Gentry, there were other families more deserving of inclusion in the book, like the Merriken and Moss families, prominent landowners who arrived in Anne Arundel and patented land in Broadneck in the 1650’s.

Benjamin Fowler - Chesapeake Colonist

November 19, 2020

Genealogical research can be frustrating when there are few sources for an individual, as in today’s person, Benjamin Fowler.

Benjamin Fowler supposedly was born in Maryland in 1768 and ended up in Ohio. Two sources confirm Benjamin was in Ohio, a land deed and a US census. No sources confirm that Benjamin was born in Maryland in 1768. Imagine the excitement when a letter from a descendant is discovered on file at the Jefferson County (IN) Historical Society. The letter relates that Benjamin Fowler came from Virginia and had 4 sons, James, Jeremiah, Benjamin and William, and 4 daughters Magareth, Mary, Nancy and Rebecca. Virginia! That’s where to look for sources.

Well, the state of Virginia’s boundaries were quite different than they are today. At the time Virginia included land that would become the states of Kentucky and West Virginia. The Revolutionary War prompted inhabitants of the original colonies, especially where the war was physically fought, to migrate westward into Virginia. Additionally, land was granted in Virginia to Revolutionary War soldiers. Researching these individuals requires looking for records in all three states - Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia.

As for Benjamin, he may have been among the Marylanders who left after the Revolutionary War and settled first somewhere in the vast expanse of Virginia and later in the new state of Ohio. The search for sources goes on.

Jonathan Pitman - Who’s Your Daddy?

November 12, 2020

Jonathan Pitman was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, in 1747. At the age of 84, Jonathan applied for a Revolutionary War pension, his deposition containing details about his service during the Revolutionary War.

At some point in time, someone suggested that Jonathan was the son of Isaac Pitman who took part in the Boston Tea Party and the claim stuck. But is it true?

Isaac Pitman of Boston Tea Party fame was born in Boston in 1752. Records confirm that the birth date is accurate. In addition, Isaac’s son related that his father was only 18 years old at the time of the Boston Tea Party. His father was actually a few years older, however Isaac’s son was 84 years of age when recalling the story. This one fact obviously precludes Issac from being Jonathan’s father as Jonathan was born before Isaac.

However, descendants of Jonathan Pitman keep trying to prove the story. A couple of more facts - when Isaac Pitman died in 1818, his heirs were his son Isaac, and his daughters Susan and Rebecca. Jonathan Pitman is nowhere to be mentioned, not in Isaac’s will nor in the probate records. If an heir to the estate, Jonathan, who was living, would have been recorded in the probate records. Lastly, Isaac Pitman was located in Boston and Jonathan Pitman in Monmouth, New Jersey.

Jonathan Pitman was a Revolutionary War hero in his own right. He was also an adventurer and a frontiersman. Finding Jonathan’s father would be a nice tribute to his legacy.

Hannah Phares - Octogenarian

November 5, 2020

When Hannah Phares married Calvin Pitman in 1807, she was 18 years old and he was 26. Hannah would have 7 children with Calvin before she was widowed in 1843, after 36 years of marriage. When Calvin wrote his will, he could not possibly have thought that Hannah would live a long life. He left his estate in Hannah’s sole possession and only after her death, was it to pass to the children.

Hannah ended up living longer than 5 of her 7 children. She died at the age of 89, 34 years after the death of Calvin. Unfortunately the manner in which Calvin devised his estate caused strife and legal issues among family members and multiple lawsuits were enacted over the rest of Hannah’s lifetime and continued even after her death.

Calvin Pitman - Child Pioneer

October 29, 2020

Calvin Pitman was about 10 years of age when around 1790 he floated with his family down the Ohio River to their new home in the Northwest territory. The family likely departed from or passed through Ft. Pitt, Pennsylvania, the departure point that Lewis and Clark used 13 years later when they left on their historic expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

Calvin’s family and other settlers landed in “Columbia”, part of current day Cincinnati, and began to build their settlement which by the end of 1790 consisted of 50 log cabins, a mill and a school. The cabins were built with security from Indians in mind, with two tiny windows, port holes on all sides from which rifles could be fired, and heavily braced front doors.

Calvin spent the next 40 years near “Colombia”, lived in Ohio when it became a state, then in his late 50’s, moved to Clinton County, Indiana, where he died in November of 1843.

James A. Fowler - Farmer to Land Holder

October 22, 2020

James A. Fowler was born shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War, when settlers began to move west into the Ohio River Valley. James’ father, Benjamin Fowler made the trek from Maryland to Kentucky finally settling in Butler County, Ohio. Farming was the occupation of a vast majority of Americans and the Fowler family was no different.

James inherited his father’s farm around 1827 and then sold it to his brother in 1835. James and his wife Elizabeth moved to Marion County, Indiana, for a few years then returned to Butler County, Ohio, where James purchased a lot in the town of Darrtown. Over the next several years, James acquired so many lots in Darrtown that at one point he owned almost 20 percent of the town.

Interestly in the US 1850 census, James listed “Farmer” as his occupation although he apparently was no longer farming. James, 62 years of age, lived in Darrtown by the Hotel Keeper, a shoe maker, a tailor, carpenters, coopers, physicians, blacksmiths, a merchant, a wagon maker, saddler and harness maker, and a distiller. James likely leased the lots he owned and was a land holder. Maybe he did not know how to describe his occupation? In the US 1860 census, James left his occupation blank.

When James wrote his will in December of 1860, he owned about 14 percent of Darrtown. He divided his lots among his 5 surviving children. Daughter Hannah and son Francis were the only 2 who lived in Darrtown; the other children moved from Ohio years earlier. By 1870, only 1 lot was left in the possession of a Fowler, lot #28 at the corner of Main Street and Apple Street, owned by Francis Fowler. Francis was a basketmaker and Francis was blind. In 1871 Francis sold his lot and moved to Indiana and the Fowler’s faded from the history of Darrtown.

Susan Pitman - Descendant of American Soldiers

October 15, 2020

Susan Pitman Fowler, her husband Felix and their children made the trek to Iowa in 1855 where they joined Susan’s married daughter Hannah VanDyke in Louisa County. Just 4 short years later, Susan’s husband was dead, leaving Susan with 5 children to provide for, the oldest, son John, age 22, and the youngest, daughter Mary, age 6.

On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began. Military service ran through Susan’s bloodline. She was the granddaughter of Revolutionary War hero Captain Jonathan Pitman, and daughter of War of 1812 Sergeant Calvin Pitman. What were her thoughts when two of her three sons enlisted in the Union army, John in June of 1861 followed by Edward in July?

Both sons were gone for 3 years, both served admirably, and both returned home to Iowa in 1864. John entered as a private, was promoted 4 times and held the rank of First Lieutenant when he mustered out. Edward entered as a private, was promoted to Second Sergeant, and was a member of the newly formed Signal Corps when he mustered out.

Felix D. Fowler - Genetic Genealogy

October 8, 2020

How do you prove a genealogical relationship when a definitive source does not exist?

This is the case with Felix D. Fowler. There are many compelling sources that make a strong case that Felix D. Fowler was the oldest son of James A. Fowler. His date of birth occurs a year after the marriage of James Fowler and Elizabeth Devore. The count of males in the census records showed a male of his age in the household. There are real estate transactions between Felix and James. If not a son, Felix was like a son to James. While some point to the fact that Felix was not mentioned in James’ will, Felix was already deceased when James’ will was written.

Genetic genealogy can strengthen a case for those who have taken a DNA test. If Felix is a son of James, then Felix’s descendants should share DNA with known children of James. And in this case they do. Felix’s descendants share DNA with descendants of Benjamin Nicholas Fowler, David D. Fowler and Hannah Ann Fowler Hanby, all known children of James A. Fowler. Not definitive proof that Felix was James’ son, but genetic evidence that Felix was descended from this branch of the Fowler family.

Does your DNA match list support your tree? Or are you failing to find matches where some should exist? Using your DNA match list and the publicly available family trees can be a tool to help confirm that your family tree is accurate and you are on the right path. While failing to find matches does not necessarily mean the family tree is incorrect, it should raise questions and prompt a reassessment into the strength of the sources that prove relationships.

Solomon Dill - War of 1812 Ohio Militiaman

October 1, 2020

On June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on Britain. The War of 1812 lasted three years and was fought on many different fronts throughout the eastern United States. It was also battled on the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain and the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida.

Solomon Dill enlisted as a private in the Ohio Militia on August 20, 1812, for a 6 month duty. The war had not started well for the Americans and General Hull’s army was under siege at Fort Detroit. There was a demand for reinforcement troops and many Ohio Militias were formed within the month of August. What Solomon could not have known was that General Hull had surrendered Fort Detroit and the army of over 2000 men four days prior to his enlistment, without a shot fired. It was an offense for which General Hull was eventually court martialed and sentenced to death. Hull’s sentence was pardoned due to his heroic Revolutionary war service.

Solomon’s unit, a part of the Second Regiment, likely never encountered a British soldier. However the Indians had allied with the British and the Ohio Militias were constantly harassed by Indians. A month after Solomon’s enlistment, General William Henry Harrison was named commander of what was left of the Army of the Northwest. During the period that Solomon served, General Harrison worked to rebuild the army and to reestablish Fort Defiance and Fort Wayne.

In February of 1813, Solomon, his unit, and other Ohio Militias eventually convened at the Maumee River Rapids, at the site of what would become Fort Meigs. The Ohio militias, who had been recruited in August, were nearing the end of their 6 month enlistments. General Harrison was present and understood the situation he faced. He had a platform built, 10 feet high, and addressed the soldiers from it. According to John Jackson, a soldier who was present, General Harrison recounted the surrender of Fort Detroit and the massacre of Kentucky troops by Indians at River Raisin. General Harrison did not know when the British would attack but he requested that the soldiers whose terms were about to expire volunteer to stay. General Harrison also stated that he had no authority to order them to stay. John Jackson went on to relate that the men had suffered from cold and fatigue and many were homesick. By the end of February, more than half of the men had departed when their enlistments expired.

Solomon’s duty ended February 19, 1813. According to John Jackson, the weather had become warmer and melted the snow. Solomon and members of his militia headed home almost 200 miles away. The last of the Ohio Militiamen were discharged by General Harrison on February 24, 1813.

Elizabeth Jane Fowler - Mortality Schedule Provides an Answer

September 24, 2020

So often looking back at one’s family tree you see ancestors who died young and wonder how they died. Sometimes an old newspaper article or obituary can be found. Or sometimes there’s a family story that sounds credible, but can it be true? Most of the time there is no answer.

Elizabeth Jane Fowler, also known as Jane Dill, wife of Dr. Solomon Dill, died at the age of 34. A family story relates that she died of lockjaw resulting from jumping on a horse in a winter storm to fetch her husband. However, in Jane’s case there is an answer in the US 1870 Mortality schedule.

In the 10 year US censuses from 1850 to 1880, the US recorded deaths in Mortality schedules. By state and county, the people who died in the year immediately preceding the censuses were listed along with the cause of death. Some schedules contain notes on whether there was an epidemic such as typhoid fever in the county. Later schedules included the attending physician.

According to the 1870 US Mortality census, Jane Dill died of consumption on June 17, 1869. Since her husband was a doctor, there’s no reason to doubt the diagnosis. Family story busted.

Mary Turner - The Value of the Obituary in Genealogical Research

September 17, 2020

Genealogy research, especially before 1850, can be frustrating and elusive. Why before 1850? Starting in 1850 the US Censuses began to list everyone in a household. Prior to 1850, the census listed only the head of the household and a count of the number of individuals in the household.

The life of Mary Turner may have been difficult to research if not for the richness of her obituary written in 1884. The obituary of Mary Turner, also known as Mrs. Mary Dill, revealed her maiden name and where and when she was born. It stated her husband served in the War of 1812. It also identified 2 of her siblings, and 3 of her 11 children, all valuable information since Mary’s husband, Solomon Dill, died before 1850 and in 1850, Mary lived with a relative without any of her children.

Obituaries sometimes include the funeral service and who attended, revealing or confirming relationships to in-laws, uncles, aunts or cousins.

Obituaries may also include family lore which may not always be proven or accurate. Information in Mary’s obituary stated she was a descendant of John Turner who arrived on the Mayflower. Genealogy Trek’s research into John Turner reveals he, and the two young sons he brought with him on the Mayflower, died within the first 6 months of their arrival. Therefore, the claim that Mary descended from the pilgrim John Turner, does not appear to be true.

Dr. Solomon Dill - Country Doctor

September 10, 2020

Around 1855, Dr. Solomon Dill left Oxford, Ohio to open a practice in Louisa County, Iowa. The location was not picked at random. Solomon’s wife’s sister had moved with her husband and 7 children to Louisa County the prior year. Maybe they wrote back to the Dill’s about a need for a doctor?

Solomon, his wife and infant daughter, made the trek to Iowa, likely in a wagon pulled by an ox, and started practicing medicine. A line from Dr. Solomon Dill’s biographical sketch in the “Portrait and Biographical Album of Louisa County, Iowa” describes what his life must have been like: “he [Solomon] responded to every call, whether coming from rich or poor, in storm or sunshine, at night or day”.

Dr. Dill’s patients were farmers and their children. In addition to childbirth and injuries, he would have treated people with typhoid fever, scarlet fever and cholera. The US 1860 Mortality Schedule for Louisa county attributed many deaths to these three diseases. By 1870 Dr. Dill was likely seeing former Civil War soldiers with lingering injuries or illnesses as well as children with whooping cough which was the cause of many deaths on the US 1870 Mortality Schedule for Louisa County.

The US 1880 Mortality Schedule is interesting because it records the attending physician. It shows that Dr Dill had taken on 2 assistants, Dr. Noble W. Mountain and Dr Brown, likely Dr. James A Brown. US 1880 Census records show both these doctors lived in Louisa County, aged about 35 years of age, 20 years younger than Dr. Solomon Dill. Dr. Dill also traveled north to Cedar Township in Muscatine County, where he was listed as attending physician.

Mary Augusta Dill - Pioneer Woman

September 3, 2020

Mary Augusta Dill, daughter of a doctor and wife of John Thomas Conlin, must have been quite the pioneer woman. She came from a long line of Dill pioneers, her great grandparents among the first to Kentucky, her grandparents among the first to Ohio and Mary and her parents among the first to Iowa. Mary’s Dill family line can be traced back to British Colonial Delaware where Mary’s forebearers appeared on tax records in 1713. The Dill family is thought to be of Scotch-Irish descent.

John Thomas Conlin - First Generation American

August 27, 2020

John Thomas Conlin was born in Indiana to two Irish immigrants. His family moved to Iowa when John was quite young and John grew up on a farm in Muscatine County, next to the Cedar River. In Muscatine County, John married Mary Dill. The family spent a short time in Taylor County, Iowa, before moving to Oneida, Kansas, where John and Mary spent the rest of their lives. Today, Oneida, Kansas, is considered a Kansas “Lost Town”. Using Google Maps and the satellite image, you can see how little of this community remains. The small town died due to a combination of a decline in the railroads and the relocation of US Highway 36. John purchased a livery stable on the southeast corner of Monroe and 5th Streets. In the satellite view the building’s outline can still be seen in the grass.

James Conlin Family - From Ireland to Iowa

August 20, 2020

James Conlin, his wife Bridget and daughter Mary Ann, immigrated from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine between 1845 and 1850. They likely arrived in New York City, then worked their way westward. At some time before 1853, they joined Bridget’s family and located in Wayne County, Indiana. By 1856, the Conlins were in Muscatine County, Iowa. Bridget’s family, the McManemons, had arrived the year before and settled on a farm next to the Cedar River. The Conlin’s moved in with McManemons and began to clear and farm the land. The farm upon which they lived is still a working farm and located a little north of the intersection of Oak Grove Road and Echo Avenue.

McManemon Family Arrive from Ireland

August 13, 2020

In early to mid August 1850, the McManamon family along with 374 other passengers and a stowaway departed Liverpool, England for the United States. The manifest of the ship DeWitt Clinton included passengers from England, Ireland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and Sweden. On September 18, 1850, 371 passengers arrived at Castle Garden, New York.

Here’s a painting of the ship leaving Liverpool The packet ship "Dewitt Clinton" of New York departing Liverpool, 1865

The patriarch of the family was Thomas McManemon and seven of his family members made the voyage with him. By 1852 the family had moved westward and was in Wayne County, Indiana and by 1855, the family lived in Muscatine County, Iowa.

Was Thomas the first McManemon to journey to America? It is hard to say since several of his family members were not on the manifest but eventually found their way to Iowa. Notably, Thomas’ son Michael was not on the manifest. Based on Michael’s life, likely he was the first McManemon in the United States. Michael was the first to Iowa. He then was one of the earliest settlers to push westward. Michael and his family were in the Montana territory in 1865. For fans of Taylor Sheridan’s series “1883”, Michael’s family was in Montana 18 years prior to the setting of the series. By 1870, the family had settled in Oregon near Walla Walla, Washington, where Michael was a cattle rancher. Michael’s family adopted the surname spelling “McManamon” and if you travel the area today, you will find roads and parks named after him and his family members.

genealogy research family search McManemon Family Manifest Ship DeWitt Clinton
Manifest of the Ship DeWitt Clinton, National Archives and Records Administration, Film M237, Reel 92.