We’re Related – Success Story

What started as genealogy fun turned into a genealogy BONANZA!

For the past week, I’ve been playing around with Ancestry’s We’re Related app. This app takes my Heartland_Genealogy tree on Ancestry and compares it to trees of famous people – and Facebook friends (if desired). My list of matches (to date) include: Miley Cyrus, Eminem, Britney Spears, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Matt Damon, Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney and Winston Churchill and John Kerry. After connecting to a few genealogy friends on Facebook, it added Peggy Lauritzen and Drew Smith. For the most part, I didn’t recognize the common ancestor and didn’t take it seriously.

burkeHowever, when Peggy Lauritzen, was added, I was curious about how our lines might connect. The app had taken my tree and added several generations of women to make the connection — mothers, grandmothers, etc. that were not in my tree. Our connection goes thru my BURKE line — particularly Elizabeth Graves who the app indicated was the mother of my ancestor Henry F. Burke.

Thus, began my quest to see if I could find documentation supporting the relationship between Henry F. Burke and Elizabeth Graves. Using Ancestry, I found the Burke Family Tree by Barbara_Parker1510. This tree indicated that John Burke and Elizabeth Graves were the parents of Henry F. Burke. Not only did I find a tree supporting the pedigree in the We’re Related app but I hit the jackpot. Barbara had transcribed a lengthy court record that outlined many of the descendants of John Burke in a dispute over his land. Not only did Barbara transcribe this document but she provided enough info to locate the original images on Family Search!

Unfortunately, my link with Drew Smith did not expand my SMITH line(s). Nor have any of the links expanded my CRAWFORD or CURREY lines. However, it seems to add people every few days — so hope is still alive.

My Retirement Task – Puzzling It Out

jigsaw-305576_1280The number one question I’ve been asked in the last month has been, “How do you like retirement?” Quickly following that question is one wondering what I do with all my time. My answers to the 2 questions are ‘loving it’ and ‘researching my family’. Since they rarely understand that I could spend all of my time working on my family history, I quickly follow my answer up with the fact that I’m volunteering at the Nemaha County Historical Society.

For me, researching my family history is like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

Do you like putting together a puzzle? Are you glued to that puzzle and not realizing how much time you have spent looking for that one piece? After finding what you think is the right piece and struggle to make it fit, do you finally give up realizing that it just isn’t the right shape or the colors don’t match exactly? And then you start the process all over again looking for that one piece?

If so, then you have an idea of what genealogy is like. Unlike a puzzle with a fixed number of pieces, the number of people in a family history project grows as you go back a generation and grows even more when tracking descendants and spouses. Thus, a genealogy is never done — there is always someone else to research or another piece of information to find and add.

Right now, my piece of the puzzle is in Kentucky prior to 1800. I’m trying to find my James Crawford in the midst of several other James Crawfords in the same area of Kentucky. I’m relearning some U.S. history as I’m working with records in the 20 years after the revolutionary war as well as an area settled by those who came across the Cumberland Gap (think Daniel Boone). Like that puzzle, I’m searching thru my pieces (court, land, marriage, tax records, etc.) to find one that might fit. Then I compare all of the information to see if it truly could be my James — similar to color matching on a jigsaw puzzle. If it doesn’t fit, I start the process over and look for another piece.


(Note: The James in the photo is likely a different James. 1787 Madison County, Kentucky Tax Record on Family Search)

Even if I magically find that piece for James Crawford in Kentucky, the puzzle isn’t done. I can either move on to James’ parents or switch to one of my other lines — many of which take me right back thru early Kentucky. Or, I could be really adventurous and research one of several SMITH women in my tree.

As one of the genealogy jokes says:

“Done! Everything in the family tree has been found and everything is perfectly organized, including the photos,” said not genealogist EVER!


Crawford Puzzle – One Piece at a Time

jigsaw-305576_1280My Crawford lineage has always been like putting together a jigsaw puzzle — trying to figure out how hundreds of pieces fit together. Many years ago, I wrote about dissecting these pieces in order to identify my line. At the time, I identified four James Crawford families that were in the same region of Kentucky prior to 1800.

  • Rev. James Crawford (1752-1803) who married Rebecca McPheeters
  • James Crawford who married Rebecca Anderson
  • James Crawford (1772-1854) who married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, KY
  • James Crawford (1770-1833) who married Martha Knight in 1793 in Lincoln County, KY

I descend from Nelson G. Crawford (1808-1864) of Warren County, Indiana. Nelson is the son of James and Sally (Duggins) Crawford. James and Sally lived in Preble County, Ohio from about 1810 until their deaths after 1850. Besides Nelson, the household included a daughter, Polly, and Sarah’s two sons from her marriage to Alexander Duggins: Henry Duggins and William Duggins.

Also living in Preble County Ohio from about 1810 until the late 1820’s is the family of James and Martha Crawford. James and Martha, their children and Nelson G. Crawford migrate from Preble County Ohio to Warren County, Indiana where they purchase land in 1829.

The question has always been: how are these two James related?

DNA results may help with this puzzle. My brother’s yDNA test has shown a close relationship to a descendant of William N. Crawford. Unfortunately, the ancestry of William N. Crawford is currently unknown. I can’t place William N. Crawford as a descendant in my tree, nor can I place him as a descendant of James and Martha Crawford. However, recent Ancestry matches indicate a likely relationship to both men. The descendant of William N. Crawford share the following in a recent email:

maybe William N. was living with relatives. (in reference to 1850 census showing a William N. Crawford in household of William & Lutitia Crawford) [Ancestry – Year: 1850; Census Place: Pike, Warren, Indiana; Roll: M432_178; Page: 3B; Image: 319]
Ancestry DNA has:
  • One fourth cousin match to a descendant of James Crawford m. Martha Knight.
  • Two matches to descendants of James Crawford m. Sally Duggins/Smith, Marcia and another distant cousin.
  • Ancestry has also proposed his inclusion in a NAD circle with other descendants of Nathan Douglas Sellers (1797-1874).  Three of whom are fourth cousins.

Not only was this DNA suggesting a relationship to both Crawford lines, it was suggesting a link to the SELLERS family. The James/Martha line has several ties to the SELLERS family but the James/Sally line has no known ‘direct line’ ties. (Henry Duggins, step-son of James Crawford, married Jane Sellers.) My AncestryDNA results also suggest a SELLERS link. Thus, we are beginning to think the SELLERS family might show how these puzzle pieces fit together.

While going thru my Crawford notes and looking for more documentation on Ancestry, I discovered that several researchers had a completely different name (Jane Jean) for the mother of James (md to Martha). Since I could not find this name on any of the documents I had collected for Crawfords in Kentucky prior to 1800, I decided to check Family Search to see what the ‘tree’ indicated. There I found another Crawford researcher who had made a correction on the tree changing the name back to Rebecca. I contacted this researcher to see if he could shed some light on where this other name came from. I have received several lengthy emails from him regarding our shared research.

He believes the ‘Jane Jean’ came from combining two James Crawfords. His Crawford research, along with the tree on Family Research, indicate that John Crawford was married to Rebecca (not Jane Jean) and was the father of James (md to Martha). According to Family Search, John Crawford was a brother to the James who married Rebecca Anderson. Thus, two of my original James Crawford families can be pieced together as uncle (James md to Anderson) and nephew (James md to Knight).

The puzzle is coming together, but I still can’t connect my piece (James and Sally) into a Crawford line.