Ancestry of Margaret Legard Gunyon Church: Part Four

The final phase of Robert and Fanny Gunyon’s story — in which Margaret also played a role — was the most dramatic and most complex.

Deaths and Wills of Robert and Fanny Gunyon
Forest Home Cemetery gravestones show that Robert and Fanny Gunyon both died in 1892. Reports in newspapers and legal journals about the complex legal cases involving their wills provide insights on Robert’s and Fanny’s deaths, and Margaret’s ancestry.

“Robert Gunyon, the testator, made a will February 10, 1892, and died within a few days thereafter, and… his will was duly probated April 12, 1892, in the county court of Milwaukee county. He left surviving him a widow and no children,” according to American and English Corporation Cases: A Collection of All Corporation Cases… Decided in the Courts of Last Resort in the United States, England, and Canada [1883-1894]. The volume also states that, after certain specific bequests, his property was to be “given and bequeathed to 15 relatives, whose names are given, share and share alike.”

The entry concerns a lawsuit by the Milwaukee Protestant Home for the Aged, seeking to have the executors turn over certain real estate willed to the home. The “residuary legatees answered, alleging that the devise to the appellant was void because made less than three months prior to the testator’s death.”

In Wisconsin Reports: Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Volume 85, we learn that Robert Gunyon died four days after making his will, thus February 14, 1892. He did not make specific provision for wife Fanny in his first will, because both of them were “ill unto death” and he assumed she would not survive him. He also made a nuncupative will upon learning that Fanny was getting her health back.

Fanny indeed rallied and appeared on the way to recovery, according to newspaper articles on the legal tangle over the wills. Thus she used the option provided by law to obtain her portion of his estate, on 25 Feb 1892. She made her will, but then died on 3 March 1892.
Margaret’s husband John Church was one of the executors of Robert Gunyon’s estate. But it was Margaret Church who had to go to court to fight having Fanny Gunyon’s will admitted into probate, in order to ensure that it was the instructions in Robert Gunyon’s will that determined the distribution of his estate.

Complicated Case in Probate Court
In March 1892, articles appeared in numerous Midwest newspapers about the Gunyon wills.
The Chicago Tribune carried an article headlined “Bad Tangle Over the Gunyon Wills” on March 13, 1892, page 11. It stated: “The litigation over the probating of the two wills made respectively by the late Robert Gunyon and his wife Fanny, whereby it is sought to dispose of an estate of $100,000 to separate sets of beneficiaries, promises to be one of the most complicated cases in the annals of the Probate Court in this county.” It added that the notice to contest the wife’s will is signed by Mrs. Margaret Church “who sets forth that she is his [Robert Gunyon’s] niece and heir-at-law.”

On the same day, The Inter Ocean newspaper from Chicago, Illinois, carried an article on the contested wills on page 3. It noted a “protest against the admission of the will of Fannie Gunyon to probate was filed in the Probate Court this afternoon by Mrs. Margaret Church. Mrs. Church says she is one of the children of Ann Craven Legard, deceased, who was a sister of Fanny Gunyon, wife of Robert Gunyon, and that she (Margaret Church) was the legally adopted child of Robert and Fanny Gunyon, both deceased.” The estate is valued at $65,000.

On March 12, 1892, the Milwaukee Journal published the same news under the following headline and subheads: “Fighting for Big Estate / Objections Made to the Probate of Mrs. Gunyon’s Will / Two Wills and Both Contested.” Margaret’s explanation that she is the daughter of Ann (Craven) Legard, sister of Fanny (Craven) Gunyon and the adopted daughter of Robert and Fanny is again explained. A summary of the “peculiarly interesting” details of the matter of how their wills were written was described.

The Legal Contest Concluded and Aftermath
The final outcomes of all aspects of these legal contests is beyond the scope of this genealogy article. We can report that the Wisconsin Supreme Court in its January 1894 term did rule that Robert’s bequest or devise to the Milwaukee Protestant Home for the Aged was void because it was made less than three months prior to his death.

More important for our story, the various legal and newspaper articles cited make clear the ancestry of Margaret Legard Gunyon Church. Our research is confirmed.

Following these court cases, Maggie and John had their sixth child, son Edgar Benjamin Church, on 18 March 1894. They lost their daughter Harriet Margaret Church on 29 May 1896. Maggie died in July 1909. Husband John Benjamin Church died on 25 June 1911. Maggie and John are buried at Forest Home Cemetery near Robert and Fanny Gunyon.

Author’s Note on Benjamin Church, Milwaukee Pioneer
Benjamin Church, a native of Ulster County, New York, arrived in Milwaukee in 1835. He was a well known pioneer carpenter and builder in the young city. He is the author’s 3rd-great-grandfather through his daughter Ann Maria [Hannah M.] who married Sherman Abernethy Bradley, a native of Connecticut. John Benjamin Church, husband of Margaret Legard Gunyon, was Ann Maria’s youngest brother.

Queries from from Stephanie Legard asking about the link between the Legard family of Barnsley and Wakefield, Yorkshire, England and the Church family of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Her Legard genealogy traces to Margaret Legard Gunyon Church’s brother William W. Legard (wife Amelia); their son Frank (wife Elizabeth); and their son Leonard who married Ellen Wyman, Stephanie’s grandmother.

Correspondence with Allan Green, genealogist, who lived in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England at the time the research for this article was done in February 2015.

Various UK and US census records, ship’s passenger logs, city directories and Milwaukee history books found on

“Judge Derek Mosley’s 160-Year-Old Home: The municipal judge’s home is unique — just one of just 38 in town built before the Civil War,” by Michael Horne.

“Lisbon Plank Road History”
“Barnsley” – West Riding, Yorkshire, England
“Wakefield” – West Riding, Yorkshire, England
“Kirkcudbright, Scotland”

“Fighting for A Big Estate / Objections Made to the Probate of Mrs. Gunyon’s Will / Two Wills and Both Contested,” Milwaukee Journal, March 12, 1892.
“Bad Tangle Over the Gunyon Wills,” Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1892, page 11, article with dateline Milwaukee, Wis. March 12
MILWAUKEE MATTERS. “Wills contested” article… in The Inter Ocean from Chicago, Illinois, Page 3, Sunday, March 13, 1892, dateline Milwaukee, Wis., March 12

And legal journals covering the lawsuits surrounding the wills of Robert and Fanny Gunyon including Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin, Volume 87, Callaghan, 1894.

Fourth and final part of an article completed in February 2015.
See Part One and Part Two and Part Three

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Published in: on June 10, 2016 at 2:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ancestry of Margaret Legard Gunyon Church: Part Three

Robert Gunyon and Fanny (Craven) Gunyon in Wauwatosa
In the 1853-1855 period, a handsome Italianate stone and cream brick residence with some Greek Revival touches was built for Robert and Fanny Gunyon on a 160+ acre farm in the Town of Wauwatosa, west of the city of Milwaukee. Its location today is in the Arlington Gardens neighborhood, surrounded by other homes, at 7927 West Appleton Avenue, Milwaukee. The 1860 Census enumerated Robert, 43, and Fannie, 39, living in the Town of Wauwatosa where Robert was farming. His real estate was worth $9,500. Living with them was Elizabeth Whitehead, 31, born in Scotland, no occupation listed.

More about the Gunyons and their house appeared in an article, “Judge Derek Mosley’s 160-Year-Old Home: The municipal judge’s home is unique — just one of just 38 in town built before the Civil War,” published online as a House Confidential at For example, Robert was described as owner of “a lumber mill and was cranking out 10,000 boards a day in 1850 for the construction of the Lisbon Plank Road.” In fact, Robert was one of five men who opened the sale of stock for Lisbon Plank Road construction, on 20 Dec 1849 at Chestnut Street House. There was a short-lived plank road craze, soon snuffed out by the arrival of the railroads for moving people and goods.

The Varied Careers of Robert Gunyon
Robert Gunyon is also recorded as a grocer with a store at 45 Chestnut Street, according to Milwaukee History, Vols 9-11, by Milwaukee County Historical Society. There is no date for his store in the book, but a 1865 Milwaukee Directory shows him at that address. So Robert had an enterprise in the general area of Benjamin Church home, west of Milwaukee River. Remember that it was Benjamin’s son John Benjamin Church who married Margaret Legard Gunyon on 10 Sep 1879 in Milwaukee.

As noted earlier, Robert and Fanny went back to Yorkshire some time in 1865, returning in August with Fanny’s niece Margaret Ledgar, later Legard, whom they adopted. The 1870 Census enumerated them together in Milwaukee, with Robert’s occupation lumber merchant. City directories show that his lumber yard was “on the point” at the foot of Cherry Street. One imagines that Robert met Benjamin Church, a pioneer carpenter, builder and father of John Benjamin Church, at this time if not earlier. The Benjamin Church house was on 4th between Cherry and Galena streets.

Robert had one more change in his active career. Between 1874-1878, he was listed in city directories with the business Gunyon, Cryderman & Pollow, tanners, 492 Canal. His partners were Jacob Cryderman, residence 753 7th Street, and John A. Pollow, residence 609 4th Street. Leather tanning was a big business in Milwaukee. How intriguing that Robert got into the leather industry, his father-in-law being a leather currier in Yorkshire.

After that, Robert apparently retired from active business. Milwaukee city directories show Robert and Fanny Gunyon residing at 710 Walnut Street, at least from 1874 until their deaths. Walnut is six blocks north of Cherry Street. John and Maggie Church lived at 714 Galena in 1891, three blocks south of the Gunyons.

Robert Gunyon in Politics
As we’ve seen, several Milwaukee history books mention Robert Gunyon. In another one, he is listed as Rob. Gunyon with men in new political party that had the motto “free soil, free speech, free labor, free men.” This was the Free Soil Party, active from 1848 to 1852, that opposed the expansion of slavery into the country’s western territories. This mention is in the 1871 book Milwaukee written in German by Rudolph A. Koss. The book also mentions the shop of Rob. Gunyon in Chestnutstraße or Chestnut Street.

The final phase of Robert and Fanny’s story — in which Margaret also played a role — was perhaps the most dramatic. We’ll tell it in the fourth and last installment of this family history mystery resolved, coming soon.

Third part of an article completed in February 2015… to be continued. See Part One and Part Two

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Ancestry of Margaret Legard Gunyon Church: Part Two

Why Margaret Came to America
That still left the question of why Margaret – the youngest of six children – would leave her large family in England for America. Here are some thoughts, steps toward unraveling her mystery.

A significant error in the 1900 Census, showing Margaret coming to America in 1877, led to initial confusion. That error made it appear that she left home at age 20, about the time her father died. Futher research in English and American census records, however, turned up the correct date. First, Maggie Gunyon, age 13, born in England, was enumerated in the home of Robert and Fanny Gunyon in Milwaukee in the 1870 Census [surname mistranscribed Gwnyer]. Then the 1871 Census for Yorkshire, England, has no Maggie in the William and Ann Legard household.

A search of ship’s passenger logs revealed that “Margt Ledgar,” born about 1858, age 7, female, nationality English, origin England, had arrived in New York on 7 Aug 1865. She was traveling with Robert Gunyon and Fanny Gunyon of the USA; their ports of departure were Liverpool, England, and Queenstown, Ireland, their destination the USA. Thus, in late July or early August 1865, Margaret Ledgar [later Legard] left her native Yorkshire, England, to live with Robert and Fanny Gunyon of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Gunyons adopted her as their daughter, although we’ve not seen the documents.

Newspaper and legal journal articles concerning the wills made by Robert and Fanny in early 1892 state that the couple had no children of their own – and reveal the family connection. Fanny was the sister of Margaret’s mother Ann (Craven) Legard, and so was Margaret’s aunt. We surmise that the families thought good opportunities would be available in America for Margaret, and she could be a daughter and companion to Fanny. Robert Gunyon was a very active businessman as will be shown. Thus Fanny likely craved having a child in the house.

Adoptive Parents Robert Gunyon and Fanny (Craven) Gunyon

We know a good deal about Robert and Fanny who, the 1850 and 1860 U.S. census records tell us, were born in Scotland and England respectively. Once the sister connection between Fanny (Craven) Gunyon and Ann (Craven) Legard was understood, many records for the family were found in English and American censuses, passenger lists, city directories and much more.

Robert Gunyon: Robert was enumerated in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, in the 1841 Census, taken June 6. In the household were John Gunyon, 25, and Robert Gunyon, 20, both drapers, and Joseph Irving, 15, a draper’s apprentice. Their address was “back of Cheapside.’ All three were born in Scotland. John and Robert were perhaps brothers or cousins, we thought. Then a check of Pigot & Co.’s Directory of Yorks, Leics… , 1841, turned up a Wm. Gunyon under Grocers and Tea Dealers, his shop located on Cheapside, Barnsley.

That find of the three Gunyon men led to the discovery that Robert was born on 28 Sep 1817 in Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, the son of William Gunyon, a cooper, and wife Mary (Gullon) Gunyon. His brother William was born there on 11 Sep 1809 and his brother John Gunyon was born there on 5 Aug 1814. Kelton is a parish 10 miles (N. E. by E.) from Kirkcudbright, pronounced kirr-KOO-bree, a town and parish in Kirkcudbrightshire, within the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland. It is situated on the estuary of the River Dee in southwest Scotland.

Robert was recorded as a draper and son of William Gunyon when marrying Fanny Craven in Barnsley in 1841, a match with the Robert Gunyon in the other documents. A draper was originally a retailer or wholesaler of cloth used for clothing such as silk, linen and cotton. West Yorkshire, England, Marriages & Banns, 1813-1935, show that Robert Gunyon, a draper, married Frances Craven on 10 Sep 1841 in Silkstone with Stainborough, All Saints. His father was William Gunyon, farmer; her father was William Craven, a currier. Robert and Frances were both recorded as “of Barnsley” on their marriage record.

Frances “Fanny” Craven: Frances was baptized on 1 Jul 1821 in the parish Barnsley, St Mary. The church record shows her father was William Craven, a currier, and her mother was Mary Craven. Frances was born in the first half of 1821, based on her age in census and other records. She was usually called Fanny. She was enumerated in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, in the 1841 Census, taken June 6. In the household were William Craven, 55, Mary Craven, 55, Mary Craven, 20, Fanney Craven, 20, Harriet Craven, 15, and Martha Craven, 10. Daughter Ann Craven was not there as she had married James Ledgar in 1840.

Father William Craven was a currier, suggesting how Ann met James Ledgar, also a currier. Mother Mary’s maiden name was Coe. William Craven, age 21, married Mary Coe on 23 Jan 1808 in Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Robert Gunyon and Fanny (Craven) Gunyon in Milwaukee: In late August of 1843, Robert and Fanny set off for America, departing on the ship Birmingham from Liverpool, England. On 9 Sep 1843, one day short of their second wedding anniversary, Robert Gunyon, age 25, and Mrs. Gunyon, age 22, arrived in New York City. Both were recorded as from Great Britain. His occupation is hard to read on the ship’s log. There is no evidence, but Robert and Fanny likely sailed north on the Hudson River, took the Erie Canal west to Buffalo and then sailed the Great Lakes to Wisconsin. They likely arrived in Milwaukee in late 1843 or early 1844.

Evidence of Robert Gunyon in Milwaukee begins in 1845-1846. Robert was one of eight men of Scots heritage who organized the first curling club in Milwaukee, and likely the first in Wisconsin. The game was played on the frozen Milwaukee River at the foot of Mason Street, according to Pioneer history of Milwaukee: from the first American settlement in 1833 to 1841, with a topographical description. That source says 1846 but another says 1845.

On 2 Jun 1846, Robert Gunyon was reported as having a letter remaining at the Milwaukee post office, according to a listing in the Milwaukee Sentinel and Gazette of this date. On March 24, 1847, Alexander Mitchell rallied the Scottish community in Milwaukee to raise funds for relief of famine victims in Scotland. Robert Gunyon was involved, according to the “Historical Messenger” of the Milwaukee County Historical Society, Vols 22-25.

The book Pioneer history of Milwaukee also mentions Robert’s involvement in early Milwaukee politics. On 11 March 1850, he was listed was one of three men to receive the highest votes for 2nd Ward assessor, and then, on 1 April 1850, he stood for election on the People’s Ticket for 2nd Ward assessor. He apparently did not win. The Milwaukee Sentinel on 2 April 1850 said he ran for assessor on the Law and Order Ticket for the 2nd Ward. Later, in 1879, he ran for the State Senate as a Greenbacker, but again did not win, according to the Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin.

The 1850 Census for Milwaukee lists Robert Gunyon, 33, a merchant born in Scotland, with wife Fanny, 29, born in England, in the 2nd Ward on the west side of the Milwaukee River.

Second part of an article completed in February 2015… to be continued. See Part One and Part Three

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Published in: on June 7, 2016 at 3:42 am  Comments (1)  
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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 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 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:

Here is a map with the towns of Plymouth Colony with founding dates including Plymouth, Duxbury, Scituate and so on:

Here is a listing of all the towns in Massachusetts with dates of founding and incorporation:

Here is a listing of Connecticut Towns in Order of Establishment

Important Dates in the History of the Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut until Unification with the Colony of New Haven in 1665

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 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. 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? 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 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 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 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, 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 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 – 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 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, 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, 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 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:

Oct. 18, 2009

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

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:

Oct. 14, 2009

FamilySearch invites those doing #genealogy to add to new Family Search Research Wiki: | 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 | 4.4 million year old hominid… ancestral to humans.

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