Family Found in 2 of 75

When the  Milwaukee County Historical Society celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2010, the staff chose 75 items from the collections that they considered “both unique and enlightening” and told a story about Milwaukee County’s past or about the Historical Society. Imagine my surprise recently on discovering that 2 of the 75 items have a direct connection to my own ancestors.

First, you can view the entire collection of 75 items ranging from a red A. O. Smith Flyer to Christopher Bach’s violin to Increase Lapham’s bookcase to Arthur McArthur’s desk to Old Settlers Club albums. These items and collections help illuminate Milwaukee’s history and people. Each is worth exploring to learn more.

Second, as noted, 2 of the 75 items have family connections.

One consists of a pair of  daguerreotypes featuring Byron Kilbourn, one of Milwaukee’s founders, and his wife  Henrietta. The main connection is that these pictures for some years were on display at the Benjamin Church House or Kilbourntown house built by my ancestor Benjamin Church and now a museum. Another connection is that Benjamin was an early Milwaukee settler, arriving in 1835 and living in Kilbourntown on the west side of the Milwaukee River. He was a political associate of Kilbourn’s in early Milwaukee.

The other is the William George Bruce Collection featuring family chronicles from 1916 to 1948. A Milwaukee publisher, historian and civic leader, William George Bruce was the oldest brother of my great-grandfather Martin P. Bruce.

These two members of my extended family are featured in a recent blog post I did on writing and posting biographical sketches on Wikipedia about selected ancestors.

There are other family connections to 75 items in the anniversary collection, but they less specific. Benjamin Church was a member of the Old Settlers Club and may be mentioned in one or more of the Old Settlers Club Albums while several family members have documents in the collection of Naturalization Papers.

When working on your family history, keep a look out for materials from the historical society where they lived. You too may be pleasantly surprised!

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Ancestors on Wikipedia

Do you have an ancestor who has made a significant contribution to his or her community, field of business or profession? Were they an inventor or artist or civic leader of note? Then consider developing a biographical sketch for them — using encyclopedia format — and add it to Wikipedia.

Why is this a worthwhile step in your family history? First, you will need to organize many details about your noted ancestor in a thorough and coherent way to share with others. Second, it will go onto the website well known for being the place to turn for information on all important topics.

Of course, most of our ancestors are not likely subjects for Wikipedia, no matter how good they were as citizens and family members. But if there are distinctive and influential features to their lives and careers, you should consider taking this step. To do this, you should sign up for a Wikipedia account and learn the basic formatting steps for a Wikipedia entry. Or find someone to help you.

Some years ago, I visited the Benjamin Church House that today is a pioneer museum in Estabrook Park, Shorewood, north of Milwaukee. It was built in the early days of Milwaukee, 1843-1844, not far west of the Milwaukee River by my third great-grandfather for his family. He used the distinctive Greek Revival style for the house, one of the reasons it was rescued and turned into a museum. I wrote a Wikipedia article about the Benjamin Church House because it is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public in the summer.

Sometime later, I wrote a Wikipedia entry about Benjamin F. Church himself. He was one of the earliest white settlers in Milwaukee, was a carpenter and builder, filled several public offices in the early city — and of course built the Benjamin Church House that still stands today.

Recently, I had time to write a Wikipedia entry on William George Bruce, a Milwaukee publisher, historian and influential civic leader. I had done considerable research about him as he was the oldest brother of my great-grandfather Martin P. Bruce. I had the details on his career, public service contributions and family, as well as his many recognitions and awards including being called “Public Citizen No. 1″ for Milwaukee. I also had many sources, very necessary for the References or Notes section of a Wikipedia entry. Luckily I had found a copy of the book I Was Born in America: Memoirs of William George Bruce that helped me with my family genealogy as well as the Wikipedia entry.

Of course there are other places to post such biographical sketches, including your own family history website. But if you have an ancestor whose contributions are influential and distinctive — and if they don’t yet have a Wikipedia entry — consider doing it. You will add to the store of knowledge we all share through Wikipedia.

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Online Genealogy Courses

Genealogists and family historians enjoy the quest of adding more generations to their family trees. We always face the key questions: But who were their parents? And what was the woman’s maiden name? Where did the family come from, where did they move, and why?

If you’ve been doing genealogy research for some time, you know that solving those genealogy brickwalls takes not only new online databases and books, but also new insights on how to approach our research. Here’s where free online classes and lectures can be a big help. They’re a great supplement to workshops presented by genealogy societies where you can ask the experts face to face.

Today I watched the three video segments of an excellent presentation by Bernie Gracy, founder of AncestralHunt.com. In them, he discusses how understanding place and geography and demographics can help you find key relationships among your ancestors. Locations – whether a small rural village or a city neighborhood – often influence the selection of marriage partners, and thus genealogy and family history. Proximity in an ancestral location in Europe may well determine proximity in America, for example.

These short videos are among the best genealogy lessons I’ve seen and heard. They add depth to the insights I gained from Donna Potter Phillips, a genealogist from Spokane, Washington, who gave a very fine workshop on using place in family history research. [See story.] She gave it recently for the Whitman County Genealogical Society.

You can watch these three helpful video segments from Bernie Gracy free on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ancestralhunt

There are many other sources of online genealogy classes, often free. Some are videos, some are text only. Consider using these to help you advance your own research:
Introduction to Genealogy
85 lessons at Genealogy.com
Genealogy Research Classes Online from FamilySearch

Links to other free classes and tips on improving your genealogy research can be found on the Genealogy Resouces page at my website: http://www.workingdogweb.com/Genealogy-Resources.htm

Or try a Google search for the words “genealogy on youtube” with or without the quotation marks to find more classes and videos for genealogy. Or search for genealogy on the YouTube site itself. Here are examples of what comes up:
Genealogy Gems: http://www.youtube.com/user/GenealogyGems
Genealogy Guy: http://www.youtube.com/user/GenealogyGuy

Some important topics include using Flash drives to back up all your genealogy documents and pictures including how to find your computer’s USB ports; organizing and preserving your genealogy papers materials and resources; and much more.

Here’s to great success in finding your family’s ancestors by learning new research skills and strategies!

Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 8:02 pm  Comments (2)  
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City Directories and Genealogy

Whether your genealogy research emphasizes family trees and dates or expands into the realm of family history, you will find that city directories are an essential tool. While the United States Census records provide family insights in 10-year increments, city directories can fill in many of the years in between. The older ones typically included an address, occupation and often spouses.

You can use city directories to add details and color to your family history, or use them to determine where your ancestors lived in the years between the census.

You also may make discoveries as I did when researching my great-grandfather’s uncle John Bruce who we knew lived in San Francisco and worked in the ship building industry starting before the Civil War. What a surprise to find in the 1856 directory that both John and his brother Martin had arrived, were working as ship caulkers and living at Isthmus House. [See story]. The directories helped me picture John’s life through 1905, the final entry that I can find for him. And added a brief yet exciting chapter to Martin’s life as well.

Where can you find city directories that you can search via the Internet?

There are websites that can guide you to the city directories you need, both free and subscription:
> Cyndi’s List: http://www.cyndislist.com/citydir.htm
> Online Historical Directories: http://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/
> US City Directories: http://www.uscitydirectories.com/

I am excited about the many directories online and easy to use, free, at Internet Archive: Digital Library found online here: http://www.archive.org/

That’s where I found dozens of San Francisco directories, helpful to my search for the life of John Bruce. I have found a good number of Atlanta and Chicago directories there as well, helpful for filing out details on other branches of my extended family. And checking now, I find city directories for Boston, Brooklyn, New York City and more.

While no Milwaukee directories are found there, the Internet Archive does have the 1891/1892 Wisconsin Gazetteer and Business Directory that can be helpful. And Caspar’s guide and map of the city of Milwaukee: directory of streets, house numbers and electric car lines for 1904, a treasure for understanding city locations before many street names were changed so they matched east and west of the Milwaukee River. With engravings and listings, this guide also provides a lively look at Milwaukee 106 years ago.

You may find transcribed city and town directories on websites for those locations. Especially helpful to me are the early Milwaukee directories transcribed and posted at Links to the Past: http://linkstothepast.com/milwaukee/ctydir.php

Also invaluable were the transcribed directories for New Holstein and Calumet County, Wisconsin. These include:
> 1893 Patron Directory: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~calumet/14.htm
> 1905 City and Rural Directory: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~calumet/cd1905.htm

Finally, there are many city directories on subscription websites such as Ancestry.com, and I use those as well. You also can find them the old-fashioned way, in microfilm format from your area Family History Center. It was the 1866 Milwaukee Directory read on microfilm that finally confirmed a link in my Bradley family lineage that seemed to be correct. [See story].

No matter how you obtain them, make sure city directories are a key part of your genealogy research strategy. Best wishes for your family history research, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Gold Rush & Genealogy

As is the case for many American families, we have relatives whose lives were changed by the Gold Rush to California in the mid-1800s. Brothers John and Martin Bruce were not miners, but instead were attracted to the Gold Rush boom town, San Francisco. Here is their story along with the genealogy resources that helped us find them.

Gold Rush: Prelude and Impact

On July 7, 1846, California was claimed for the United States during the Mexican-American War, and the town called Yerba Buena was similarly claimed two days later. On July 11, 1846, the American flag replaced the California Republic flag at Sutter’s Fort, a sign that California was joining the United States. The following year, on January 30, 1847, the town of Yerba Buena, founded in 1835, was renamed San Francisco.

Gold was discovered on January 24, 1848, at the lumber mill on the American River owned by Captain John A. Sutter. The gold discovery was published in the San Francisco newspaper The Californian in March, 1848, but gained little credence. Then, on May 12, 1848, gold fever was set off in San Francisco when merchant Sam Brannan from Sutter’s Fort waved a bottle of gold dust and yelled: “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River.” > See Source.

Population then surged in San Francisco, climbing from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1949. The Gold Rush boom town was off and running. And the United States moved quickly to bring California into the Union, making it the 31st state on September 9, 1850. > See Source No 1 and Source No 2.

The wealth being created was the major lure for miners and others. The value of gold exported from California in 1854 was $51,429,101, while in 1855, gold exports were valued at $44,640,090. Also in 1854, the United States opened the San Francisco Mint and in its first year turned $4 million in gold bullion into coins. > See Source No 1 and Source No 2.

Many opportunities for work and wealth developed. In 1855, a bill to develop a line of steamships running between San Francisco and Shanghai, China, was under consideration in the state’s House of Representatives. And Gov. John Bigler pushed for legislation to gain for San Francisco the benefits of the whale trade in the Pacific. San Francisco would become, for a time, the largest seaport and international trade center on the West Coast. Building and repairing ships would be essential to the city’s economy. > See Source.

Off to San Francisco

With its glitter of gold and opportunities for work in the ship building industries, San Francisco drew the two Bruce brothers, Martin and John, from their home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

They were born in Cammin, Kreis Cammin, Pomerania, on 27 March 1833 and 10 March 1835, respectively. They were two of the four sons of Martin Friedrich Bruss and Maria Sophia Stiemke Bruss. Oldest son Wilhelm or William was born 25 September 1829 in Cammin, but died as a youth. Next oldest was Augustus F. Bruss, born there 27 December 1830. Martin and Maria Bruss and their three sons left Cammin, just inland from the Baltic Sea in Pomerania, with the Old Lutheran migration and came first to Buffalo, New York, and then on to Milwaukee in the fall of 1839. > See Source with Bruss entry at bottom of page.

The traditional occupations for Bruss men were sailing, ship building and ship caulking, and they pursued this work in sailing on the Great Lakes and working in Milwaukee’s shipbuilding industry, according to books written by descendant William George Bruce.

About 1849, Maria Sophia Bruss died in a cholera epidemic in Milwaukee. Martin Friedrich Bruss remarried and was recorded in the 1850 Census with his new wife and sons Martin and John. He then died about 1854 as only his widow was listed in the 1854-1855 Milwaukee Directory. In 1855, older son Augustus married Apollonia Becker, a young woman of 18 years newly arrived from Zemmer near Treves or Trier in southwest Germany.  He settled down in Milwaukee to establish a career as a ship’s carpenter and to have ten children with Apollonia.

In 1855, brothers Martin and John were thus on their own, young single men who needed to make their way in the world. They chose to go west. About this same time, the three brothers chose to Anglicize their surname to Bruce, and that is how they appear in records after that.

In his memoirs — I Was Born in AmericaWilliam George Bruce wrote this brief synopsis of the three brothers: “While still a young man, Martin F. Bruce went south and located at Pensacola, Florida. This was before the Civil War. John went to California. Augustus F., who later became the father of William George Bruce, remained in Milwaukee.” That Martin also went to California, if only for a short time, was a new discovery in our family history.

Working as Ship Caulkers

Two brief entries in Colville’s 1856 San Francisco Directory reveal the presence of both of the brothers in the growing city. The listings on page 25 are as follows:
> John Bruce, caulker, brds Isthmus House
> Martin Bruce, caulker, brds Isthmus House

They were pursuing one of the traditional occupations of the Bruss men, calking or caulking ships, a process of making them watertight. And they both were living at Isthmus House, a residential hotel on First Street between Market and Mission streets, the address given on page 108 of the directory. Isthmus House, established about 1851 by Nathan Hellings, was about six blocks in from the Embarcadero, the site of the city’s wharves on San Francisco Bay.

These brief scraps of information are all we have to tell us  that the brothers journeyed together to San Francisco in the Gold Rush boom era. But it is enough to evoke a glimpse of their lives as young men in the sprawling landscape of mid-18th century America.

Their Lives Diverged

By 1857, Martin Bruce had moved to northern Florida to work at the Pensacola Navy Yard. He met William Ollinger and they founded Ollinger & Bruce drydock and ship repair business. Martin married William’s sister Margaret Ollinger, they had two sons and three daughters, and lived out their lives in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Martin died February 20, 1894, and is buried in the Bagdad Cemetery, Santa Rosa County.

John Bruce worked as a ship calker in San Francisco for many years. City directories on three occasions listed the firms John worked for, including, in 1873, Middlemas and Boole, Shipwrights, a firm founded in 1869, and then in 1878 and 1885, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, founded in 1848. John never married. He lived at several different multi-unit dwellings in the same area of downtown San Francisco his whole life.

The last known records for him are the 1904 California registered voter listings, showing him as aged 66, living in San Francisco at 560 Howard, 2nd floor, room 45, and the Crocker-Langley 1905 San Francisco Directory, page 357, listing him as John Bruce, calker, r. 560 Howard. We have not yet found the date of his death or where he is buried. But we now know much more about his life, thanks to the Gleanings entry in the recent Whitman County Genealogical Society newsletter that alerted me to the San Francisco directories on Archives.org. My thanks to the editor!

KEY SOURCE

Dozens of San Francisco directories in the span of years from 1850 to 1982 can be found online free at the Internet Archive at this URL: http://www.archive.org/ Use the search term San Francisco directory and Media Type as Texts to find all of them. The 1856 Directory published by Samuel Colville can be found here. Choose the Read Online format for a digital book allowing you to flip through the pages. Note that the Bruce entries are not in alphabetical order by first name, John appearing after Martin.

Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 5:52 am  Comments (1)  
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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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Genetic Genealogy

Have you swabbed your cheek and submitted the little brush to a genetic genealogy testing service, then waited in anticipation for the results? I have and I recommend it to everyone interesting in learning about their “deep ancestry.”

For women, this means testing your mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA, which is passed only from mothers to their children. Both daughters and sons receive it, but only daughters pass it on to their children. This provides a way to learn about your maternal ancestors – your mother’s mother’s mother and so on.

I used the Genographic Project from National Geographic, led by geneticist Spencer Wells. There are many other choices, but we have followed Spencer Wells’ research and wanted to be able to contribute our results to his global database.

The results showed that my maternal ancestry is U5b. This is a subset of U5, thought to be one of the oldest haplogroups in Europe, estimated at 45,000 years old and clearly predating the arrival of agriculture.

When I compared the specific pattern of genetic changes in my results to other examples online, I found an exact match in a woman whose female ancestors lived in Haderslev Amt, Denmark, on the Jutland Peninsula. That is an area near the border of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. I know my maternal ancestors come from a place that is not far south from this — Wewelsfleth near Itzhoe in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany — so this was not a surprise. It was good confirmation of my female lineage’s geographic origin.

At least its rather recent geographic orgin. The woman from southern Denmark with the exact match to my mtDNA was born 1 September 1870. That’s less than 150 years ago. Using church records, I have traced my maternal line back to the early 1700s when Metta nee Oldenburg was born in Borsfleth, a village 1.8 miles [2.9 km] from Wewelsfleth, across the Stör River near its merger with the Elbe River.  That’s almost 300 years ago.

Can we find evidence of some of the specific locations where our distant genetic cousins lived further back in time using the research on mtDNA? Yes, we can. We can’t discover who they were or prove they were in our direct line of descent, but we know they are our relatives in our genetic clan or subclan.

Focusing on mtDNA haplogroup U, we find research results placing people with this genetic pattern in Europe before the arrival of farmers from the Near East. U5 in particular has been identified in human remains from the Mesolithic in places such as England, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Russia.

In a chart with the recent article  “Genetic Discontinuity Between Local Hunter-Gatherers and Central Europe’s First Farmers” by B. Bramanti et al. [Science, Vol. 326, No. 5949. (2 October 2009), pp. 137-140], dates, locations and mtDNA clades for 22 ancient skeletons are given. [Note:  the chart is available only in a print copy or  online if you have subscription]. 

The skeletons were found in Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Russia, according to the chart. Dates range from ca. 13,400 calBC [calibrated date B.C.] to ca 2250 calBC. The mtDNA results fall into these clades: U, U4, U5, U5a, U5a1, U5b1, U5b2, K, J and T2e, the most frequent  being U5b2 found in 5 of the 22 skeletons.

A few specific examples from this chart provide a glimpse of what such ancient bones can tell us about geographic locations for our ancient ancestors. Given are the genetic clade, location and date:

U – Hohler Fels, Germany – ca. 13,400 calBC
U4 – Spiginas 4, Lithuania – ca. 6350 calBC
U5 – Ostorf, Germany – ca. 3200 calBC
U5a – Drestwo 2, Poland – ca. 2250 calBC
U5a1 – Lebyazhinka IV, Russia – 8000-7000 calBC
U5b1 – Dudka 2, Poland – ca. 3250 calBC
U5b2 – Hohlenstein-Stadel, Germany – ca 6700 calBC

Other mtDNA Charts

Another listing of ancient bones that have yielded dates can be found in an easy-to-read chart. Greece, Britain, Germany, and more are included. Here you will find Cheddar Man, an old skeleton from Britain, dated to 9,000 years ago and a U5a. Also shown is Otzi the Iceman, dated to 3,000 years ago and a K1.

On that chart, my U5b is found in two locations in northern Germany. These are:
> c. 2600 BC – corded ware culture site at Eulau, located just to the southwest of Leipzig, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany,  which is about 190 miles south of Bremen and Hamburg in northern Germany. This site revealed some genetic evidence of  families and one U5b individual.
> c. 1000 BC – Lichtenstein Cave, a Bronze Age archaeological site near Dorste, Lower Saxony, Germany, where nine ancient skeletons were U5b. This is in northwest Germany.

In that chart above, U5b is also found in skeletons from Medieval Anglo-Saxon England, not surprising as the Angles and Saxons came to England from Denmark and northwest Germany, the area of my maternal ancestors described above. 

Another detailed chart of ancient Eurasian DNA with dates  and many location can be found here.] Interesting, a U5b individual has been found in Leicester, England, dated to 300-400 A.D. in the Romano-British period.

Conclusion

Overall, the ancient bones in the B. Bramanti et al. study give evidence of Haplogroup U, U4 and U5 ancestors in Germany and nearby areas thousands of years ago, giving those in these genetic lineages a sense of our deeper family history and genealogy. The other charts provide similar insights for many other mtDNA haplogroups.

And I can see some of the specific locations and cultures of my ancient U5b maternal ancestors and cousins as much as 5,000 years ago. Genetic genealogy can indeed reveal deep ancestry!

[Note: A detailed background discussion of the archeaological samples used in the B. Bramanti et al. study and the locations were they were found is available online here.]

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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.

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://tiny.cc/GWFindingFamilyforFree

-o0o

SNGF – Ahnentafel Roulette No. 2

Note: After reviewing my Ahnentafel with greater care, I found that Jane Ebrey is No. 23 on my ancestor table while Marianna Stocker is No. 19. See Saturday, September 19,  for Ancestor 19.

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is Ahnentafel Roulette, a game played using your father’s age and a quick formula to find a number in your Ahnentafel or ancestry table.

My father was born in 1919 so would have been 90 this year. The figure 90 divided by 4 is 22.5, rounded up to 23. Ancestor 23 is a second-great grandmother on your paternal side.

My Ancestor 23 is Jane Ebrey, born about October 1839 in Prees, Shropshire, England. I say “about” because the many records I have for her show her birth year ranging from 1837 to 1855!  I suspect the 1837-1839 period is right, as census records give her age as 14 in 1851 and 22 in 1861.

To date I have not found a birth record for her, either through IGI or FreeBMD. I’ve even searched the latter for the name Jane in Shropshire, September 1837 through December 1840, hoping for a unique surname spelling, but no luck.

Research by a cousin showed Jane’s parents were Thomas Ebrey and Anne, and her uncle was Robert Ebrey, a widower for whom she kept house as we know from the 1861 Census in England.  While many records are available about Robert and another uncle, John Gilchrist Ebrey, Jane’s father Thomas Ebrey is illusive in the records. There is enough evidence to know these people are her family, but more research is needed!

The happy and romantic story for Jane Ebrey is her marriage to Benjamin Booth in the second quarter of 1866, perhaps in May or June,  the same time that her cousin Henry [Robert’s son] married Sarah Booth, sister to Benjamin.

Then Benjamin and Jane sailed for America on their honeymoon, according to family lore, coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they established  family and career. They had two sons and four daughters including the oldest daughter, Grace, who is my great-grandmother.

Relative Musings:  Jane and Benjamin arrived in 1866, just 31 years after the building of Milwaukee had begun in the woods and swamps at a harbor on Lake Michigan and just 20 years after incorporation as a city. Benjamin’s carpentry skills played a role in the building of what has become a great city on a Great Lake!

NOTE: What is an Ahnentafel? The word is German for Ancestor table. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

Thanks for the SNGF, Randy! http://www.geneamusings.com/

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://tiny.cc/GWFindingFamilyforFree

-o0o-

Published in: on September 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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