Ancestors Born in England or New England? Part 3: Timelines

In this series — Ancestors Born in England or New England? — I identified a significant problem with birth dates in a number of Ancestry.com resources. Many individuals in the immigrant generation are shown with birth dates and places in New England towns, especially Massachusetts and Connecticut, before those towns were settled. In fact, some of English ancestry are shown as born in New England before 1620, the arrival of the Mayflower.

In Part 1, I wrote: “Over and over, I have found English ancestors listed as born in towns in New England with dates such as 1600, 1612, 1615 and so on. Clearly impossible as these dates were before the Great Migration of 1620-1640.” See Part 1.

In Part 2, I described the types of database records at Ancestry.com that contain these errors. These include Family Data Collection – Individual Records, Millennium Files and American Genealogical-Biographical Index, or AGBI, among others. See Part 2.

To ensure that you avoid birthplace errors for your early New England ancestors who were actually born in England or elsewhere in Europe, use timelines for the founding of the early towns in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Check to make sure each town has been founded or settled by European immigrant ancestors before giving those towns as birth places! Here are timeline resources you might wish to use:

MASSACHUSETTS:
Here is a map with the towns of Plymouth Colony with founding dates including Plymouth, Duxbury, Scituate and so on:
=> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plymouth_Colony_map.svg

Here is a listing of all the towns in Massachusetts with dates of founding and incorporation:
=> http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisctlist/ctlistalph.htm

CONNECTICUT:
Here is a listing of Connecticut Towns in Order of Establishment
=> http://www.ct.gov/sots/cwp/view.asp?a=3188&q=392440

Important Dates in the History of the Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut until Unification with the Colony of New Haven in 1665
=> http://www.cslib.org/earlysettlers.htm

Good strategy: print out these timelines and refer to them every time you are about to add a birth date and place for an early New England ancestor. If there is a birth date before 1620 and a birthplace in Massachusetts or Connecticut, look for additional source materials. That ancestor was likely born in England or other European county such as Holland. Your family tree will be more accurate, thanks to this extra review.

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Ancestors Born in England or New England? Part 2

What are these Ancestry.com databases or record collections mentioned in the previous post about early New England ancestors? I mean the databases with files on New England ancestors who are sometimes shown as born in Massachusetts or Connecticut before 1620.

Ancestry.com has a “hint” system that points its users to an array of resources including census records; birth, marriage and death records, and contributed family trees. Hints also point to records such as the following, where I have found problems:
> Family Data Collection – Individual Records
> Millennium Files
>  American Genealogical-Biographical Index, or AGBI

What are these?

Ancestry.com describes Family Data Collection – Individual Records as a “database containing 5 million genealogical records (20 million names) that were saved from destruction after being rejected from scientific studies. The Family Data Collection records were created while gathering genealogical data for use in the study of human genetics and disease. Compiling data for genetic research does not require the same type of documentation as traditional genealogical research. Use this database as a finding tool….”

Given this source for the Family Data Collection, it is no wonder that there are so many cases of early New Englanders shown as born in Massachusetts towns before 1620 and in Connecticut towns before 1633.

Ancestry describes the Millennium File as “a database created by the Institute of Family Research to track the records of its clients and the results of its professional research. It contains more than 880,000 linked family records, with lineages from throughout the world, including colonial America, the British Isles, Switzerland, and Germany.”

The description also states that “one of the things the Millennium File focuses on is linking to European nobility and royalty.” It says as well that source information “is also provided in this database, making it easier to verify the accuracy of the research done.” However, I have not found that to be true. The source listed is simply Heritage Consulting. The Millennium File. Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

As noted in Part One of this series, some Millennium File records contain births of early New Englanders before the arrival of the Mayflower.

Ancestry describes the American Genealogical-Biographical Index, or AGBI, as “one of the most important genealogical collections… the equivalent of more than 200 printed volumes. This database contains millions of records of people whose names have appeared in printed genealogical records and family histories.” It notes that the source of the index is Godfrey Memorial Library. American Genealogical-Biographical Index. Middletown, Connecticut, USA.

A key challenge with this database is that some of those who entered data from the Index into the Ancestry.com database used the space for “Birthplace” in a curious way. The line may say “England, Massachusetts, shoemaker,” for example. Does this mean born in England, migrated to Massachusetts, or born either in England or Massachusetts? The user is left with a conundrum.

In addition, Ancestry does not provide access to images of the original AGBI pages as it does so well with other sources such as the census, family history books and more. If the actual images were available, the usefulness of these records would increase.

Alert to Ancestry.com users: The problem that has been created by the above databases is that the errors in them have been propagated across thousands of family trees on Ancestry.com. Now, when new suscribers begin working on their New England ancestors, they find the errors both in the records from these databases and in many shared family trees. Thus, it becomes easy to assume that the information is correct – and to merge it into one’s own tree. So the spread of the errors continues.

In the next part, I’ll look at solutions to this problem including use of historical timelines.

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Ancestors Born in England or New England? Part 1

If you are researching ancestors in New England by using Ancestry.com, you may well be led astray on the birth places of many who were early arrivals to the New World. Here’s why.

We all have been told to beware of errors in family trees posted online. So we are. But if you use Ancestry.com for New England ancestors, you also must beware of all those records that seem to be “official,” called Family Data Collections, Millennium Files, American Genealogical-Biographical Index records and so on.

Over and over, I have found English ancestors listed as born in towns in New England with dates such as 1600, 1612, 1615 and so on. Clearly impossible as these dates were before the Great Migration of 1620-1640, starting with the arrival of the Mayflower in November 1620. And often before the date that the individual towns were founded.

Here are just a few examples:

[A] William Barstow, Parents:  John Barstow
Birth Place:  Hanover, MA, Birth Date: 1612
Marriage Date:  8 May 1638
Death Date:  1 Jan 1668, Death Place:  Scituate, MA
Source: Family Data Collection – Individual Records

William’s proposed 1612 birth date is before the 1620 arrival of the Mayflower, making a birth in New England highly unlikely. And Hanover, Massachusetts, was first settled by English settlers in 1649 when William Barstow, a farmer, built a bridge along the North River at what is now Washington Street. [Source: Wikipedia]. So this one of my ancestors played a key role in founding Hanover when he was about 37 years old. He clearly was not born there. Rather he was surely born in England.

[B] Mary Sims, Spouse: Robert Royce, Parents: John Sims Symes, Sarah Baker
Birth Place: CT, Birth Date: 1609
Marriage Place: Long Sutton, Parish, Marriage Date: 4 Jun 1634
Death Place: Wallingford, CT, Death Date: 1696
Source: Family Data Collection – Individual Records

If we believed this record, May Sims would have been born in Connecticut, returned to England for marriage and then came back to Connecticut. Of course that is erroneous. Other sources suggest she was born in Long Sutton, Somerset, England.

[C] Lucy Williams, Father: John Williams, Mother: Ann
Birth Date: 1620, City: Duxbury, County: Plymouth, State: MA, Country: USA
Sources: Family Data Collection – Individual Records and Family Data Collection – Births

While the Mayflower did arrive in late fall 1620, the town of Duxbury was not settled until about 1624, although some sources say 1627. So Lucy was not born in Duxbury in 1620, but more likely in England.

These records at Ancestry.com – that we will discuss in more detail in a future posting – have other kinds of problems with accuracy. For example:

[D] Mabel Yeomans, Birth Date: 25 Feb 1698
Birth Place: Stonington, N-Lndn, Connecticut, USA
Death Date: 29 May 1714
Father: John Yeomans, Mother: Millicent Utter
Spouse: Beriah Garnsey, Children: Mary GurnseyGarnsey
Source: Millennium File

The problem here? Mabel Yeomans married Beriah Garnsey on 18 Oct 1738 in Stonington, Connecticut, according to The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records: 1719-1850 and they had at least eight children between 1740 and 1757, also included in the Connecticut Town Vital Records. So the death date is clearly incorrect.

If you read the small type, you will see that Ancestry.com typically offers these files with no published sources or primary sources for the individual records, saying they are only “finding tools” for further research. The problem is that a high percentage of Ancestry users trust these records as accurate and merge the details into their trees.

At minimum, Ancestry should have more visible disclaimers on these files, perhaps the text about “use as finding tools only” in red. For credibility’s sake, Ancestry.com should find a way to alert users to the most obvious errors in the files. Perhaps the firm might offer webinars on using these records that appear to be so official. In the next post, we’ll share insights on the source of these records and why some of them are flawed.

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Published in: on August 13, 2013 at 1:12 am  Comments (2)  
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Bradley Ancestor’s Baptism in Yorkshire

Today, right before my eyes, thanks to the Internet, on a page headed “Children Baptized,” was my ninth great-grandfather’s baptism in the records of All Saints parish church, Bingley, West Yorkshire, England. The graceful script entry on a page for the year 1642 reads as follows: “Aug: 21 Steuen the sonne of Daniell Broadley de West Morton.” While the location for Daniel is a bit hard to decipher on this his youngest child’s baptism record, the phrase de West Morton is clear on his own burial record for November 27, 1641, also at All Saints parish church.

Viewing that page was a very satisfying part of my five-year quest to trace my Bradley ancestors from Wisconsin to Connecticut and then back to England. The first part of this genealogy journey was the discovery of the parents and place of origin of Sherman Abernethy Bradley who came from Connecticut to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the late 1850. That sleuthing used varied sources including:
> Census records from 1840 through 1905
> Genealogy books that include Leaming and Mary in a Bradley genealogy outline
> The marriage record for Leaming Bradley and Mary Simons in Litchfield, Connecticut
> Two Wisconsin marriage records for Sherman with one having his mother’s maiden name (thank goodness!)
> Milwaukee city directories from the 1850s and 1860s

Using those resources, I was able to conclude that Sherman’s parents were Leaming Hawkins Bradley and Mary Simons of Litchfield, Connecticut. Read that part of solving the Bradley genealogy puzzle.

Once I had made the connection between Wisconsin and Connecticut, I had many sources that outlined the genealogy for this branch of the Bradley family back to Stephen Bradley who immigrated from England. Among these sources are:
> The Descendants of Danyell Broadley de West Morton, a major Bradley genealogy online
> Profile of Stephen Bradley, son of Danyell, who came to America, in the above genealogy
> The Bradley Line including Stephen, in New England families, genealogical and memorial, Vol 4 edited by William Richard Cutter
> Profile of William Bradley of New Haven that mentions his mother and half-siblings including Stephen Bradley
And many others as the Bradley story was retold in the biographical sketches of the immigrants’ descendants.

While I had encountered many times my Bradley family’s origins in and around Bingley, West Yorkshire, England, I at last could see the baptism record that confirmed the story. I could look up All Saints parish church in Bingley to learn its story — the present structure is from the reign of Henry VIII — and see pictures of the church where the baptism occurred. And I could learn more about Bingley, a market town between Bradford and Keighley as seen on this map. And about the nearby rural locations of East Morton and West Morton, the latter the location for Stephen’s father Danyell or Daniel.

At last I had the evidence, in the baptismal record, to say this truly was the home in England of my Bradley ancestors. All the pieces of the puzzle came together.

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Published in: on July 11, 2011 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Genealogy Mystery: Jane Finally Found

Our family has long known that ancestors Benjamin Booth married Jane Ebrey in 1866 in northern Shropshire, England, and they came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on their honeymoon.  Benjamin’s older brother George, also a carpenter, was already in Milwaukee, a likely reason they came. Ben and Jane stayed to work and raise their family.
 
Benjamin’s parents and birth date and place were known. But when was Jane born and where, and who were her parents? The usual online records did not yield an answer. No International Genealogy Index or IGI record for her and nothing in FreeBMD that matched what we knew from later records.

Following considerable genealogy sleuth work, answers have turned up in a number of records –  including Benjamin and Jane’s marriage certificate ordered from the General Register Office or  GRO in England. It proved to be the key that opened the door to solving the mystery of Jane Ebrey’s family and early life.

An important clue was found on a family tree that a cousin wrote out some years ago, based on his research. It was this:
> In the 1861 Census, Jane Ebrey was recorded as keeping house for her uncle Robert Ebrey and his sons Henry and Frederick in Prees, Shropshire. They lived on on Whitchurch Street. The men all worked as butchers.
 
Benjamin and Jane’s marriage record revealed that:
> Benjamin, a carpenter, age 21, and Jane, age 27, were married in the Prees parish church on 23 April 1866
> Benjamin’s father was Joseph Booth, a builder
> Jane’s father was John Ebrey, a butcher
 
With Jane’s father’s correct name, I at last was able to find Jane’s family and her presence in key records.

John and Robert Ebrey were among the sons of Thomas Ebrey who in 1828 and 1835 was listed in Shropshire Directories as Thomas Aberey & Sons, Butchers, in Prees. Thomas Aberey [also Eberey and Ebrey] had on 31 Dec 1795 married Isabelle Gilchrist, who sometimes was recorded as Elizabeth [Elizabeth is the English version of the name Isabelle].
 
John Ebrey was recorded as John Gilchrist Ebrey when he was baptized on 15 Aug 1802 in Prees. He most likely was named for his maternal grandfather John Gilchrist, Isabelle’s father.
 
On 15 Nov 1827, John Ebrey married Mary Palin, or Paling, in Ightfield, a rural village about 4 miles northeast of Prees and 4 miles southeast of Whitchurch. He and Mary then settled in her home village of Ightfield where John was a butcher while his brother Robert continued the butcher business in Prees. John and Mary had 10 children.
 
So that’s one reason Jane Ebrey was hard to find. It turns out that she was born in Ightfield, not Prees or Hodnet as the family had assumed. Likely born in October 1836, she was baptized in Ightfield on 20 Nov 1836 as shown in the parish records on microfilm. [In the 1900 Census, Jane's birth was recorded as October 1855. She never liked giving her real age!]

But why no IGI for Jane’s baptism? It turns out that the IGIs for Ightfield are based on a document the ended with 1830.  And the FreeBMD records start with required registration in 1837. Jane’s birth fell in the gap, but the microfilm of Ightfield parish records , ordered through the local Family History Center,  had records of her birth and those of her siblings.
 
So why was Jane not with her parents in the 1841 Census? In fact, I believe she was – but the census taker hearing “Jane who is four” wrote down “James, age 4, son.” There is no birth of a James Ebrey to John and Mary in the microfilm records. So the census error is the likely reason Jane seems to be missing in 1841. In that year, the John Ebrey family lived in Prees but by 1851 they were again in Ightfield.
 
In the 1851 Census, Jane Ebrey, 14, born in Ightfield – surely our Jane – was in service in the household of John Paling in Prees. John, a grazier and butcher, was Jane’s maternal uncle, being her mother Mary Paling’s brother. [It was this record, giving her birthplace in Ightfield, that sent me to the Ightfield microfilm].
 
In this period, it was typical for young women from families of modest means to work as a servant in another household.  In 1861, Jane, as yet unmarried, was recorded as keeping house for her paternal uncle Robert Ebrey in Prees. Robert was a widower with two sons and so in need of someone to run his household.

Then on 23 April 1866, in the Prees parish church, Jane married Benjamin Booth, who had been baptized and confirmed at the church in Hodnet. The Booth family lived in the nearby village of Marchamley at the entrance to Hawkstone where the Booth men were carpenters and builders. Benjamin and Jane came to Milwaukee where he was listed in the 1866 Milwaukee Directory as a carpenter, living with George Booth, carpenter.
 
A fun extra. On 15 May 1866, at the Prees parish church, Sarah Booth, Benjamin’s sister, married Henry Ebrey, Jane’s first cousin and the son of Robert Ebrey mentioned earlier. Sarah had been a witness when Benjamin and Jane married.
 
One last bit gleaned from Shropshire Directories about John and Robert Ebrey. In the 1851 Directory for Shropshre, in the Whitchurch Trades Directory section, both John Ebrey and Robert Ebrey were listed as “country butchers who stand at the market in High Street” in Whitchurch [History, Gazetteer & Directory of Shropshire, 1851, p. 351.] Whitchurch was a market town where on Fridays merchants and tradesmen set up their booths to sell their wares.

Thus a genealogy brickwall – built of various errors and omissions – was finally overcome. Evidence that it can be done!

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Bradley Genealogy Puzzle Solved

On April 2, 2010, on Facebook, Ancestry.com posted this: “For centuries April 1st has been a day when pranksters rule, leading friends on a wild goose chase. Some of our ancestors do that year round. Have you found an elusive ancestor who took you on a path full of twists and turns? How did you finally solve the mystery?”

Several of my ancestors took me on paths of twists and turns to find them.  Here is one of my favorites, with a successful solution to the mystery, as I replied on Facebook:

Definitely! My 2nd great-grandfather Sherman A BRADLEY came to Milwaukee , Wisconsin, from Connecticut about 1857. I was led on a merry chase by the 1900 Census that said his father was born in England, his mother in Scotland. No matches in any immigration records!

So I worked to link him to the right Bradley family in Connecticut – and there are a great many. In Wisconsin marriage records [he married twice], his parents were recorded as Leming H Bradley or L. H. Bradley and Mary Simons. I found a likely match for his father’s birth as Leaming Hawkins Bradley in Litchfield, Connecticut, and a marriage there of Seyming Bradley and Mary Simons, both via the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records. [Note: Capital L and S are often misread for the other one, and Leaming is often misspelled.] No birth record for Sherman was found there, however.

An 1850 census entry with Leaming’s father Horace Bradley and two brothers John and Clark in Dodge County, Wisconsin, suggested I was on the right track. A genealogy book on Ancestry.com had this Bradley family, but only said Leaming Bradley and Mary Simonds “had several sons.” But I knew then that Seyming [Leyming] WAS Leaming – and he had sons.

The final link? Milwaukee City Directories – on microfilm, borrowed  from the Family History Library -  had entries from 1862 to 1872 for L. H. Bradley or Leming H. Bradley and one spelled correctly as Leaming H Bradley. YES! He had the same occupation as son Sherman A. Bradley, and lived just a few blocks from Sherman, his wife Hannah and their son Jesse, born 1866.

With the link finally made – using many sources and records -  I have my Bradley ancestors all the way back to the arrival of Stephen Bradley in New Haven CT from Yorkshire, England, about 1645.  So yes, English ancestors. And Leaming Hawkins Bradley’s grandfather, Aaron Bradley, married Lorrain Abernethy, and her ancestors were Scottish, of which they were quite proud.

One last confirming clue. A family tree from my uncle showed that there was a Revolutionary War soldier in the Bradley line. In fact, Aaron Bradley, L. H. Bradley’s grandfather, served in the Revolutionary War when a teenager, working in the artificer’s shop and as a guard for prisoners held in Litchfield. And so the many genealogy puzzle pieces finally fit together!

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Twitter on Genealogy

In celebration of the first National Day on Writing or #NDoW for its Twitter hashtag, I decided a blog post was in order before midnight arrived and the day was over. I discovered I wanted to be a writer by the time I was 15 or 16, and have been very happy to have university writing, editing and PR as a 40-year career, following a 3-year stint as an English teacher and a year as a newspaper reporter and feature writer.

Here are some recent tweets at my BBPetura  Twitter account that touch on genealogy, archaeology and family:

Oct. 20, 2009

Just connected with a distant Sharp cousin – we both descend from Isaac Sharp & Mary Wolverton, early PA: http://tiny.cc/IMSharp

Oct. 18, 2009

This George Smith #genealogy lists 6 sons, 5 daughters, among them my ancestor Hannah Smith who m. Stephen Bradley: http://tiny.cc/GSmith11

Making some progress on the George Smith & Nehemiah Smith #genealogy muddle – same daughters attributed to both in early day New Haven!

Oct. 16, 2009

Looking forward to “open library” event at Whitman County Genealogical Society 10/17: http://bit.ly/3lnqUv

Oct. 14, 2009

FamilySearch invites those doing #genealogy to add to new Family Search Research Wiki: http://tiny.cc/FSWiki9 | Via @Genealogysstar

Oct. 10, 2009

#SurnameSaturday – SMITH – Reviewing old attempts to determine which kids belonged to George Smith, which to Nehemiah Smith, in New Haven.

Heading to Family History Center to order fiche for Shropshire & microfilm for Celle, Germany. Need birth records! FHC closed last Saturday!

Oct. 1, 2009

RT @archaeology Ardipithecus ramidus: a photo essay http://bit.ly/20ylBe | 4.4 million year old hominid… ancestral to humans.

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