Susan Orr Skinner: A Lesson in Family Dynamics (52 Ancestors #50)

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Martha Harris was married twice, each time to one of my 3rd-great-grandfathers. Her first marriage was to William Orr. After his death, she married John Starkey, himself a widower.

To quote Douglas Adams, “This is not her story.”

I’ve mused before about how strange/odd/unusual/funny/weird that it is that Martha married two of my ancestors. (And, yes, I’m also thankful that she didn’t have children with the second husband. That could have potentially made for a pretty awkward family tree.) Apparently, some wrinkle in my brain has been musing on this, too, because it suddenly hit me that it may not be all that odd. In fact, it might be perfectly logical.

Susan Orr was born in 1850, the daughter of William Orr and Martha Harris. She married George Skinner in Perry County, Ohio on 2 March 1869. Together, they had 10 children. Unlike George’s mother (the oft-married Matilda Debolt Skinner Crossen Brown McFillen) and most of George’s siblings, George and Susan stayed put in Perry County.

When you’re raising 10 kids, you need all of the help and support you can get. That help wouldn’t have come from George’s side of the family; they had scattered across Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. It stands to reason that Susan would have relied upon some assistance (even if only getting advice) from family nearby — including her mother.

When Martha Harris Orr married John Starkey, she didn’t just gain a husband — she gained several step-children. This also means that Susan gained several step-sisters and step-brothers, including my great-great-grandfather Peter Starkey. Since they were all living nearby, it seems logical that Susan would have interacted regularly not only with her mother, but also with her step-siblings.

Realizing this possible (even likely) family dynamic, it makes me wonder if that is how my great-grandparents met. Did Clara Skinner (daughter of Susan Orr Skinner) and Edward Starkey (son of Peter Starkey, Susan’s step-brother) meet at gatherings of the extended family? Is Susan actually the link between my Starkey line and my Orr line… and that it really isn’t odd that Martha was married to two of my ancestors, because in doing so, Susan’s children would have interacted with the children of her step-siblings.

When Martha Harris Orr married John Starkey, Susan Orr and Peter Starkey became step-siblings.

When Martha Harris Orr married John Starkey, Susan Orr and Peter Starkey became step-siblings.

A Genealogical Lesson

Ancestor charts are great ways to visualize our family trees. But they can also prevent us from seeing some relationships. When we look at an ancestor chart, we see our relationships to those who are listed. But sometimes it’s not about us. When the tree twists and turns, as it does in this case, we need to consider how those people relate to each other.

Susan Orr wasn’t just my great-great-grandmother. She was also the step-sister of my great-great-grandfather Peter Starkey. Realizing that relationship makes other things so much clearer.

Nancy Dillon Kingery: 1842 Was a Rough Year (52 Ancestors #49)

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Timelines are powerful tools in our research. They can show us holes in our research, give us ideas for new places to look, and even help us evaluate evidence. (“She was only 2 when she gave birth? Huh. I think something is wrong here.”)

Timelines are even more powerful when we include dates of a person’s entire family. Doing that for Nancy Dillon Kingery, my 3rd-great-grandmother, gave me a whole new insight into her life.

  • 1808 – Born1)Nancy Ann Dillon Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70131401. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio. Birth date of 2 August 1808 calculated from age at date of death.
  • 1832 – Married Henry Kingery in Lawrence County, Ohio2)FamilySearch.org, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, Henry Kingry and Nancy Dillon marriage, Lawrence County marriage vol. 1-3, p. 158.
  • 1833 – Birth of son Armsted3)Henry Rengers [sic] household, 1850 U.S. census, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, p. 399, nos. 65/67.
  • 1835 – Birth of son Lewis4)Henry Rengers [sic] household, 1850 U.S. census, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, p. 399, nos. 65/67.
  • 1836 – Birth of son William5)Henry Rengers [sic] household, 1850 U.S. census, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, p. 399, nos. 65/67.
  • 1838 – Birth of daughter Mary6)Cemeteries of Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. No publication info.
  • 1839 – Birth of daughter Elizabeth7)Elizabeth Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70146859. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.
  • 1840 – Death of daughter Elizabeth8)Elizabeth Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70146859. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.
  • 1841 – Birth of son John Peter9)FamilySearch.org, Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953, John P. Kingrey death certificate, 11782 (1917), digital image.
  • 1842 – Birth of son Samuel10)Samuel Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70146927. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio. NOTE: The tombstone is hard to read; an earlier transcription varies on the month and day of his death, though both agree that it was in 1842 and he was aged 20 days.
  • 1842 – Death of son Samuel11)Samuel Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70146927. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio. NOTE: The tombstone is hard to read; an earlier transcription varies on the month and day of his death, though both agree that it was in 1842 and he was aged 20 days.
  • 1842 – Death of daughter Mary (13 November)12)Cemeteries of Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. No publication info.
  • 1847 – Birth of son Henry Franklin13)Henry Rengers [sic] household, 1850 U.S. census, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, p. 399, nos. 65/67.
  • 1848 – Birth of son McCager14)Henry Rengers [sic] household, 1850 U.S. census, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, p. 399, nos. 65/67.
  • 1864 – Son John Peter enlists in 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry15)Roster Commission. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 9. Cincinnati: Ohio Valley Press, 1889.
  • 1872 – Death of husband Henry16)Henry Franklin Kingery, Sr., FindAGrave.com, memorial 70128122. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.
  • 1894 – Died17)Nancy Ann Dillon Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70131401. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.

1842. The year that Nancy gave birth to her son Samuel, only to see him die three weeks later. Then 4-year-old Mary died later that fall. Nancy had already lost her 1-year-old daughter Elizabeth in 1840.

How did Nancy cope with the deaths of her children? Was she frightened to discover she was pregnant in 1847 and again in 1848? How worried was she when John Peter went off to fight in the Civil War?

The gap in her children between 1842 and 1847 makes me wonder. Did she have — and lose — another child in that time? Did she avoid getting pregnant, afraid that she would have to bury another child if she did?

While we’ll never know the answers to those questions, seeing this timeline makes us think less about individual events and more about Nancy’s life.

EDIT: If you enjoyed this example of a timeline, you might also like the post I wrote about Nancy’s son John Peter, his entry into the Civil War, and the birth of his daughter: John, This Is Your Daughter: Or, How a Timeline Uncovered a Family Story.

It's kind of strange how we look at time and the events in our ancestors' lives...

It’s kind of strange how we look at time and the events in our ancestors’ lives…

References   [ + ]

1. Nancy Ann Dillon Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70131401. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio. Birth date of 2 August 1808 calculated from age at date of death.
2. FamilySearch.org, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, Henry Kingry and Nancy Dillon marriage, Lawrence County marriage vol. 1-3, p. 158.
3, 4, 5, 13, 14. Henry Rengers [sic] household, 1850 U.S. census, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, p. 399, nos. 65/67.
6, 12. Cemeteries of Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. No publication info.
7, 8. Elizabeth Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70146859. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.
9. FamilySearch.org, Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953, John P. Kingrey death certificate, 11782 (1917), digital image.
10, 11. Samuel Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70146927. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio. NOTE: The tombstone is hard to read; an earlier transcription varies on the month and day of his death, though both agree that it was in 1842 and he was aged 20 days.
15. Roster Commission. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 9. Cincinnati: Ohio Valley Press, 1889.
16. Henry Franklin Kingery, Sr., FindAGrave.com, memorial 70128122. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.
17. Nancy Ann Dillon Kingery, FindAGrave.com, memorial 70131401. Includes photo of tombstone in Kingry Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 51 Recap

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52ancestors-week51Penultimate: (adjective) occurring immediately before the last one; next to the last.1)Merriam-webster.com, viewed 26 December 2014.

Welcome to the penultimate recap of the 2014 edition of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks! It’s been a crazy week, between the holidays and trying to fit in the remaining posts in this year’s challenge. Here are my posts (yes, posts) from this past week:

The next weekly recap will be posted next Wednesday, December 31. Have you thought about who you’re going to write about in 2015? Here are some prompts to get you thinking.

Please leave a link to your post(s) from this week in the comments below. And be sure to check out the great posts from last week. It’s a good way to unwind from all of the holiday happenings!

References   [ + ]

1. Merriam-webster.com, viewed 26 December 2014.

An Overlooked Couple: John Starkey and Mary Monroe (52 Ancestors #47 & 48)

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(Bending my own “rules” here regarding the 52 Ancestors challenge. I’m purposefully combining John Starkey and Mary Monroe since we are oh-so-close to the end and I’m running out of days to catch up!)

As I was preparing this post on my 3rd-great-grandparents John Starkey and Mary Monroe, I realized that I have pretty much overlooked them in my research. (Yes, I’m hanging my head in shame.) Part of it is because I found them in my early days of tracing my family tree. It seems like we don’t revisit those early discoveries often enough. I think that another part is that I allowed myself to ignore them because of their connection with Licking County, Ohio. Licking County can be tough to research in, due to a major courthouse fire in 1875.

That having been said, I’m fortunate with John and Mary, as their marriage record survived that fire.

FamilySearch.org, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, John Starkey and Polly Monroe marriage, Licking County marriage vol. 1, p. 258.

FamilySearch.org, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, John Starkey and Polly Monroe marriage, Licking County marriage vol. 1, p. 258.

Did you catch the part in the lower left-hand corner? “Father present.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t give his name. For that matter, it doesn’t specify whose father. Was it John’s or Mary’s? Both of them would have been of legal age in 1827, so why was it noted that the father was present? Who is John W. Patterson? Is he a minister or a justice of the peace? If he’s a minister, what church is he with — and do they have records?

John and Mary lived in Thorn Township, Perry County, Ohio in 1830,1)John Starkey household, 1830 U.S. census, Thorn Township, Perry County, Ohio, page 418. just a couple of households away from John’s mother Elizabeth. I need to take a closer look at Thorn Township and the surrounding area. Who are the Monroes? Can I connect them with Mary?

Mary is last enumerated in the 1860 census.2)John Starkey household, 1860 U.S. census, Thorn Township, Perry County, Ohio, p. 123, nos. 899/872. By 1870, John was married to Martha Harris Orr (who, coincidentally, is my 3rd-great-grandmother on another line).

Looks like I have a good puzzle to work on in the new year.

References   [ + ]

1. John Starkey household, 1830 U.S. census, Thorn Township, Perry County, Ohio, page 418.
2. John Starkey household, 1860 U.S. census, Thorn Township, Perry County, Ohio, p. 123, nos. 899/872.

Charity Courson: Phantom Ancestor (52 Ancestors #46)

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SmokeCharity Courson feels like a phantom. This woman who is supposedly my 4th-great-grandmother is everywhere and nowhere all at once. Countless trees (both online and offline) list her as the wife of James Orr and the mother of William Orr. Some trees even list her as the daughter of Benjamin Courson. Most give a specific year of death: 1829, 1830, 1832; take your pick.

The problem is that not a single one of these trees that I’ve seen have a source beyond “GEDCOM file,” that is, if they have any sources at all.

Now, I’m not a source snob. I will consider the information in online trees. There’s too much valuable information to just ignore them out of hand. But no sources anywhere?! This really isn’t giving me a lot to go on.

It doesn’t help that Licking County, Ohio (where she probably lived) had a major courthouse fire in 1875. There are sources that I can — and should — examine. I just haven’t had a chance. Ancestors like Susan Tucker Kelley seem to take my time.

You’ve heard of “brick wall” problems. I think I’d feel better having her as a brick wall. That would be more substantial than being a phantom.

Matilda Debolt: Waltzing Matilda or Merry Widow? (52 Ancestors #45)

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Most of our ancestors follow fairly predicable patterns. Then there’s the occasional ancestor who blows all of those patterns right out of the water. For me, that ancestor is my 3rd-great-grandmother Matilda Debolt.

Matilda was born in 1813 in Ohio, the daughter of George and Mary (Rider) Debolt. In 1831, she married William Harrison Skinner.1)The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, National Publishing Co., Philadelphia, no date. Family Info: Stephen Skinner Family Bible, Present Owner: Bertha Stalbaum, Location: in Valparaiso, IN in 1983. Photocopy in the Family Bible Records collection at the Ohio Genealogical Society, Bellville, Ohio.

Together, Matilda and William would have nine children: Stephen Leroy, Lucinda Mary, Amaretta, Robert Matier, George Austin, John William, William Artillias, John Rezin, and Marion Washington.

So far, Matilda was right on track – get married and have a passel of kids. In May 1850, Matilda’s world came down around her. William became ill and died,2) William Skinner, 1850 mortality schedule, Reading Township, Perry County, Ohio, page 925. leaving her to raise the children. Matilda and the children are enumerated in Reading Township, Perry County, Ohio3)Matilda Skinner household, 1850 federal census (population schedule), page 353a, household 456, family 456. shortly after William’s death. It’s at this point that any resemblance of “normalcy” is gone.

William owned land at the time of his death, enough so that his estate needed to be administered and his children needed guardians. (Matilda, being female, did not have the legal standing to protect the legal rights of her own children.) The guardianship records revealed a tremendous amount of information not only about the children, but also about Matilda.

By 1852, Matilda had married Samuel Crossen.4)George Skinner guardianship records, Perry County Probate Court, case 3353. Originals at Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio; also available at FamilySearch.org. By 1859, Matilda was married to Joseph Brown, who was also guardian of some of her children.5)George Skinner guardianship records, Perry County Probate Court, case 3353. Originals at Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio; also available at FamilySearch.org.

No death record or tombstone for Samuel Crossen (husband #2) has been found, nor have I found a divorce record for Samuel and Matilda.

If Matilda married Joseph Brown in 1859, she should be Matilda Brown on the 1860 census, right? You’d think so, but you’d be wrong. She appears as Matilda “Craven,” living with her daughter Amaretta and her family in Jay County, Indiana.6)Salathiel Skinner household, 1860 U.S. Census, Jay County, Indiana, p. 49, nos. 345/345. I suspect that “Craven” is actually “Crossen.” No other record has given Matilda’s surname as Craven.

Let’s move ahead to1870. Is she a Crossen or a Brown? Neither. She’s back to using Skinner. She was living in Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana, two doors down from her son Stephen and his family.7)Matilda Skinner household, U.S. Census, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana, p. 141, nos. 53/54.

She kept using Skinner in the 1880 census, when she was living in Pulaski Township, Williams County, Ohio.8)Matilda Skinner household, 1880 U.S. census, Pulaski Township, Williams County, Ohio, p. 627C, nos. 228/240. How do I know this Matilda is mine? Fortunately for me, a copy of the family Bible is on file at the Ohio Genealogical Society. In it, is this marriage record:

McFillen/Skinner marriage record, Skinner Family Bible, photocopy at the Ohio Genealogical Society, Bellville, Ohio

McFillen/Skinner marriage record, Skinner Family Bible, photocopy at the Ohio Genealogical Society, Bellville, Ohio

Yes, Matilda got married for a fourth time, this time to J. W. McFillen. (Even the civil marriage record names him as J.W.9)FamilySearch.org, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, J.W. McFillen/Matilda Skinner marriage, Williams County Marriage Record vol. 5., p. 280. Would it have killed them to give his name?!)

It is here that I lose Matilda’s trail. The only clue that I have for her after this is an SAR application that states that she died in Illinois in 1899.10)Ancestry.com., U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970, George De Nevin Skinner application, no. 91336, 1964. My next step is to follow her children and see if I can identify any who were living in Illinois in 1900 and start looking there.

Though the question I’ll have to ask myself as I search for Matilda after her 1886 marriage to J.W. McFillen is “What name is she using?” For all I know, J.W. wasn’t her last husband. Even if he was, she has a habit of reusing old surnames.

By the way, the only husband that I’ve been able to kill off (so to speak) is William Skinner (husband #1, for those who have lost track). What happened to the other 3?

Matilda DeBolt Skinner Crossen Brown McFillen.

Perhaps instead of “Waltzing Matilda,” I should call her “Matilda the Merry Widow.”

References   [ + ]

1. The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, National Publishing Co., Philadelphia, no date. Family Info: Stephen Skinner Family Bible, Present Owner: Bertha Stalbaum, Location: in Valparaiso, IN in 1983. Photocopy in the Family Bible Records collection at the Ohio Genealogical Society, Bellville, Ohio.
2. William Skinner, 1850 mortality schedule, Reading Township, Perry County, Ohio, page 925.
3. Matilda Skinner household, 1850 federal census (population schedule), page 353a, household 456, family 456.
4, 5. George Skinner guardianship records, Perry County Probate Court, case 3353. Originals at Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio; also available at FamilySearch.org.
6. Salathiel Skinner household, 1860 U.S. Census, Jay County, Indiana, p. 49, nos. 345/345.
7. Matilda Skinner household, U.S. Census, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana, p. 141, nos. 53/54.
8. Matilda Skinner household, 1880 U.S. census, Pulaski Township, Williams County, Ohio, p. 627C, nos. 228/240.
9. FamilySearch.org, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997, J.W. McFillen/Matilda Skinner marriage, Williams County Marriage Record vol. 5., p. 280.
10. Ancestry.com., U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970, George De Nevin Skinner application, no. 91336, 1964.

Robert Nixon: The Will to Learn (52 Ancestors #44)

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If you’ve been reading my past few 52 Ancestors posts, you’ve probably picked up the fact that I had to dig deep to put together the origins of my great-great-grandmother Susan Tucker Kelley. One of the key documents that put it all together was the will of Robert Nixon, who turned out to be Susan’s maternal grandfather.

In his will1)FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Robert Nixon will, Perry County Will Book vol. 2 and B, page 64; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio. dated 5 December 1828, Robert specified his sons and daughters in birth order (grouped by gender):

  • John, my eldest son
  • Levi, Isaac, Jonathan, and Elijah, “my sons the second and third and fourth and fifth sons”
  • my eldest daughter Elizabeth
  • my second daughter Mary Ann
  • my third daughter Susannah
  • my fourth daughter Sarah

He left his sons “my plantation” and instructed them that “they are to keep and to raise my family and to support them and my dear wife Catherine.” The daughters received bequests of either thirty or fifty dollars’ worth of bed, bedding, cows and sheep.

In other words, pretty typical stuff.

I already adored Robert for specifying the order that his sons and daughters were born — and that he actually named his wife! (I get so tired of wills that say “to my beloved wife” and then never actually give her name.) But it was two stipulations in the will that gave me insight into Robert. Instructing his sons that the cows, sheep, etc., to his daughters were to be paid from his plantation, he added this:

“…and they [Robert’s sons] are to give my four daughters schooling so as they can read.”

Regarding his two youngest sons (Nathan and Elijah), the oldest sons were to give them each $100 “laid out in land for them”

“…and they are to give them learning as far as the single rule of three.”

I’ve read a lot of wills over the years. I’ve seen people stipulate that their estate was to provide for a decent burial and a tombstone. I’ve seen wills that state that if an heir contests it, that person would receive nothing. I’ve seen countless wills that leave something “to my beloved wife” and then never give her name. But this is the first time that I’ve seen a will stipulate that the daughters were to be taught to read and the youngest sons learn basic math.

"Book 8," by Brenda Clarke. Used under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0.

Book 8,” by Brenda Clarke. Used under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0.

References   [ + ]

1. FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Robert Nixon will, Perry County Will Book vol. 2 and B, page 64; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio.

More Than Their Names: William W. Tucker and Mary Ann Nixon (52 Ancestors #42 & 43)

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Finding the parents of Susan Tucker Kelley required researching numerous people and paying attention to detail. If you’ve ever heard me lecture, you’ve probably picked up on my mantra of “our ancestors are more than names.” Ironically, William’s name is part of what helped me identify him.

William Tucker wasn’t just William Tucker. He was consistently shown in the records as William W. Tucker. This turned out to be a huge clue, as there was another William Tucker — William O. Tucker — who lived in Hocking County, where William W. owned land.

He wasn’t just William W. Tucker from Perry County, Ohio. He was William W. Tucker who lived in Jackson Township, Perry County, Ohio in 1840, with a household made up of a male age 20-30, a female age 15-20, a male under 5, and two females under 5. He was the William W. Tucker who bought and sold specific parcels of land in Perry and Hocking counties in the late 1830s and early 1840s.

He was the William W. Tucker who married Mary Ann Nixon in Perry County on 4 February 1836.

Mary Ann Nixon wasn’t just Mary Ann Nixon. She was the one who married William W. Tucker on 4 February 1836 in Perry County. She was the Mary Ann Nixon whose father was Robert Nixon and who had sisters named Elizabeth, Susannah, and Sarah and brothers named John, Levi, Isaac, Jonathan and Elijah.

William and Mary Ann weren’t just William and Mary Ann. They were the parents of three children: Rachel, Greenbury, and Susan.

What happened to them between 1840 and 1848, when the children were appointed guardians by the Perry County Common Pleas court? I don’t yet know. But I do know that to find them, I’ll need to keep in mind more than just their names.

Announcing 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition

Posted in 52 Ancestors Challenge on by .

You’ve been asking and now I have an answer. YES! There will be a 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2015!

52ancestors-2015There are a few changes. The vast majority of people who responded the survey I did a few weeks ago said that they would like to continue with optional weekly themes. So, we’re going to give it a try. The weekly themes are strictly optional. They are meant to give you some ideas on who to focus on. (Isn’t choosing the week’s ancestor often the hardest part?!)

The themes are going to be general — one might even say “ambiguous.” I’m doing that on purpose. I’m hoping to inspire, rather than dictate.

On (or around) the 15th of each month, I will post the themes for the next month. Again, the interpretation of the theme is up to you. (You don’t even have to use them if you don’t want to.)

No matter if/how you use the themes, you can add a link to your post on the weekly recap, which will be published on Thursdays.

If you post to Twitter and/or Google+, include the hashtag #52Ancestors. Lots of participants follow that tag.

Without further ado, here are the themes for January:

themes-2015-01Week 1, Fresh start — Seems appropriate for the beginning of the year. What ancestor had a fresh start? What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?

Week 2, King — January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did you ancestor flee from an oppressive king?

Week 3, Tough woman — Who is a tough, strong woman in your family tree? Or what woman has been tough to research?

Week 4, Closest to your birthday — Not too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year ;) )

Week 5, Plowing through — We will likely be plowing through a lot of snow by this time. What ancestor had a lot of struggles to plow through? Or take it more literally… It’s up to you :)

I can’t wait to read your new posts!

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 50 Recap

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I52ancestors-week50t’s time for the Week 50 recap and, despite the busy-ness of the season, I’m feeling energized about the Challenge. Maybe it’s because I have the rest of the year’s posts mapped out. Maybe it’s the unexpected story I found while compiling my most recent post. Maybe it’s because I’m about ready to announce plans for 2015…

Last week, I tackled one of the posts that I’ve wanted to do since starting this challenge. I wrote about my search for the origins of my great-great-grandmother Susan Tucker Kelley, who I affectionately refer to as “my little orphaned milkmaid.”

My other post this past week told the rather unlikely story of my 6th-great-grandfather, Joseph Dickinson, and how dried beef saved him from a shipwreck. (Yes, you read that right.)

Who did you write about last week? Leave a link in the comments below. And be sure to go and look at the posts from Week 49. There are some good ones there — just like always!