SNGF: Matrilineal Line

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings asks us to list our matrilineal line in this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun task.

Here is mine:

My Mom*
Grandma Wild*
Della (Crow) Hayes (1898-1985)
Mary (Gourley) Crow (1858-?)
Mary Ann (Barry) Gourley (?-?)

Randy asks if we’ve had our mitochondrial DNA tested — I haven’t ventured down that path yet.

* I’ve read that in this age of rampant identity theft we’re discouraged from naming our parents/grandparents online, so I’m choosing not to identify my mom or grandmother here either fully by name or by vital dates. Am I being paranoid? I’d be curious to hear what other folks think about this.

SNGF: The Best 2009 Genealogy Moment

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a chance to participate in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week’s mission from Randy Seaver:

1) “What was your best Genealogy Moment during 2009?” This could be a research find, a fabulous trip, a found family treasure, etc. Your choice!

2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, a comment to this blog post, or a comment to the Twitter or Facebook status line for this post.

I have several moments just from this holiday season that I want to list here and all involve connecting with living family members to discover tidbits about the past. I’ll start with the most recent and work my way backward:

This past week, my sister and I drove from her home in Knoxville, Tenn., to the town of Elizabethton. There, we met up with our great-uncle Ben, whom I hadn’t seen since I was about 12 years old. He’s approaching 80 years old, but drove us all around town, stopping at the house where he grew up — my great-grandmother’s house — I plan to post pics in a separate blog post. I was six years old the last time I was there. We then drove to the cemetery where my great-grandparents are buried. Finally, we all went out for BBQ. It was great to reconnect with Uncle Ben.

Spending time with my sister this past week was fun too — it’s something we haven’t been able to do in several years due to our respective work and school schedules. She took me on the tour of downtown Knoxville, we shopped, we cooked, we ate, we drank, we watched movies, looked at photo albums and just plain ol’ reminisced. Genealogy is about family and therefore quality time with my sister definitely makes it on the list.

Before heading down to Knoxville, I spent Christmas and a couple of days after with one of my aunts. She indulged me and together we went through more than 2,000 family photos, sorting and organizing them into storage boxes. I got to see childhood pics of my mom and her sisters that I’d never seen before. We came across hilarious photos of me and my cousins. Best of all, we found the one scene that had eluded me the past couple of years as I put together scrapbooks about my mom and dad — a photo of just the two of them together. Among the hundreds of photos taken of our extended family trips to the beach, we finally came across a couple shots of them.

Thanksgiving weekend was significant in many ways for my family — my sister and I spent the holiday in Richmond, Va., with our half-brother and his wife. It was the longest amount of time we’d ever spent with them and we had a blast. Besides the wonderful experience of being able to connect with them and their daughter, we made a major genealogical discovery, which I blogged about previously — we discovered the burial locations for several relatives whose remains we feared had been lost. In addition, my sister and I got to see photos of still another half-brother who passed away many years before we were born. My half sister-in-law showed me a bedspread that my grandmother crocheted together with my half-brother’s mother. Several of us went on a slave-trail walk through much of downtown Richmond the day after Thanksgiving. And my half-brother took my sister and I to the Richmond Holocaust Museum, where we got to meet an individual whose family story is featured in an exhibit in the museum. It was a tremendous trip.

Thanks, Randy, for this SNGF prompt!

SNGF: Celebrity Look-Alikes

Tonight’s mission from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings was to see which celebrities we resemble by using the Celebrity Collage feature at

My results are below:

Apparently, I most resemble Emma Thompson, Joss Stone and Eddie Vedder (by 73%, according to the site). I can live with that. Sean Hayes came in close behind at 72% (at least he has one of my ancestral surnames!).  Christie Brinkley (67%), Hugh Jackman (66%) came next, followed by Cybill Shepherd and Holly Hunter, both at 64%.

All in all, I’m not totally horrified with these results. I was somewhat surprised by the omission of the one celebrity I’ve always been compared to (though not so much recently). I’ll let that one remain a mystery and see if anyone who reads this can guess. Bueller? Bueller? — no, that’s not a hint.

SNGF: Most Recent Unknown Ancestor

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

This week’s mission from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings: 1) Who is your MRUA – your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.

2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don’t you scan it again just to see if there’s something you have missed?

3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?

4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or a comment on Facebook or some other social networking site.

One of my paternal great-grandmothers is my MRUA. As I posted in a Surname Saturday post a few weeks ago, my father’s mother was #5 Ida Bole Hill (1880-1943), the daughter of Irish-American grocer #10 William B. Hill (~1841-?) and his wife, #11 Martha (aka Mattie; ~1847-?). I have not discovered Martha’s last name. Census records seem to show that Martha was born in Pennsylvania, but both her parents were born in Ireland.

William and Martha had seven children total, five of whom were still living by 1910, when Martha was listed in the U.S. census of that year as 62 and widowed (still in Philly).

One item that will probably assist me with finding out about Martha and the Hill line in general is William’s death certificate. I have not spent much time on this particular part of my family, however, because of the daunting hill of Hills I must sift through when pursuing records about them.

Interestingly, in going back through my records about the Hill family, I found them listed twice in the 1870 U.S. census:

1870 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia Ward 26 Precinct 9, p. 323 (stamped), dwelling 1903, William B., Martha and Mary Hill; digital image, ( : accessed 7 November 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1442. (Listed as second enumeration.)


1870 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia Ward 26 District 88, p. 524 (stamped), dwelling 131, family 151, William B., Martha and Mary Hill; digital image, ( : accessed 26 August 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll  1414. (First enumeration, done in June of that year–much more information on this page.)

SNGF: A Nice Thing

Our challenge this weekend, as put forth by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, is to recognize our fellow genealogists for nice things they’ve done for us in the past week or so. There’s a slew I could mention, and while I can’t thank everyone individually here for all the retweets, Follow Friday mentions, etc., over the past week, know that they are all appreciated!

I am so thankful for the warm and helpful community of geneabloggers I joined only a couple of months ago. Everyone is quick to respond to each others work with encouragement and helpful comments.

Today: Caroline at Family Stories was kind enough to mention me in her SNGF post tonight. Thanks, Caroline!

Tonia at Tonia’s Roots responded to my request for recommendations for service that allows you to pre-schedule Tweets. Thanks, Tonia, for your advice!

Thursday: Amy at We Tree left a lovely comment on the post I wrote about my dad for Veteran’s Day. Thanks for your kind words, Amy!

Last week: My fellow ProGen4 participants gave me wonderful feedback on my education plan — thanks, all! You’re a great group to interact with.

I would also like to thank Randy for this blogging prompt and all of this suggestions each Saturday night. Similar thanks are due to Thomas, our GeneaBloggers leader (also of the blog Destination: Austin Family). His efforts to keep us blogging and interacting with each other are a huge service to our community.

SNGF: Surname Distribution

Here’s our mission from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings:

1) Find out the geographical distribution of your surname – in the world, in your state or province, in your county or parish. I suggest that you use the Public Profiler site at, which seems to work quickly and easily. However, you cannot capture the image as a photo file – you have to capture the screen shot, save it and edit it.

2) Tell us about your surname distribution in a blog post of your own (with a screen shot if possible), in comments to this post, or in comments on a social networking site like Facebook and Twitter.

What a great site/blog idea! Everyone’s going to want to see their how their surname is distributed, genealogist or not. Here’s the screen cap for mine (click on it for a larger version).


CORLEY Distribution

No surprise that Ireland has such a high distribution (78.86 FPM — frequency per million). You can zoom in on particular areas of the map to see what the distribution looks like in individual countries and states. In the United States, the highest distribution for Corleys is in South Carolina (541.86 FPM). According to my research, I have to delve waaaaayyy back in my line before I see links to those Corleys. In Ireland, Corleys are concentrated in the western counties of Clare, Galway and Mayo. The FPM for Corley in West Ireland is 424.84.

Thanks, Randy! That was fun!

SNGF: Unique Ancestral Names

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Here is the topic for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings:

1) What is the most unique, strangest or funniest combination of given name and last name in your ancestry? Not in your database – in your ancestry.

2) Tell us about this person in a blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook.

3) Okay, if you don’t have a really good one – how about a sibling of your direct ancestors?

My great-great-great grandparents (Jonathan Cheatham* Corley and his wife, Delilah Basham) apparently had an affinity for U.S. historical figures. My great-great grandfather was Benjamin William Franklin Corley and he had siblings including Henry William Washington Corley (Benjamin’s twin) and Andrew Jackson Corley.

While those are only three of the 12 children that Jonathan and Delilah had together, they stand out to me. Some of the others are named after relatives (their son Caniel would have been named after Jonathan’s father).

Their names may not be unique, but I enjoy reading them as I look over my family tree. Other favorites of mine include Delilah’s, that of her father, Obediah, and the following siblings of direct ancestors:

Salley Finley Corley (has a nice rhythm to it)
Sallathiel Corley
Unity Jane Corley

This post got me thinking of the early nomenclature chapter in Genealogy as Pastime and Profession by Jacobus. He details how the Puritans named their children (Delilah would have been avoided as a name because she fell under the “Scriptural rascals and scoundrels” category (p. 29)). Jacobus goes on to say it was a common practice to close one’s eyes and run one’s finger through the Bible at random to select a name, which could explain some odd names like “Notwithstanding.”

* Jonathan Cheatham Corley’s middle name always makes me smile because it reminds me of this window in Harvard Square (Cambridge, Mass.), the headquarter’s for NPR’s “Car Talk” show, apparently.

SNGF: Satisfying Genea-Moment

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has asked us genealogy bloggers to talk about a satisfying genealogy research moment for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. I’m happy to report on my latest, which happened today!

I’ve been meaning to look into the history of the building in which I’m living — a huge Victorian mansion in Easton, Md., that has been divided into apartments. My landlord had mentioned that it was built in the 1880s, and that’s all I really knew.

I started with Sanborn maps of the area and was able to find the home on a 1919 map, along with its original house number and the house number at that time (which is still different from today’s). This is really valuable information to have when looking for a street address in other resources like the census, which was my next stop.

Now, usually one starts searching the census with a name, but I didn’t have that yet. Sanborn maps don’t typically show who owned a property. I know something about the history of the area though, so I plugged in a family name I knew would have been in Easton in the early 1900s. After locating the page where that family was listed, I started paging through until I reached the neighborhood where my house is located. Easton is a small town — this technique probably would not have worked for most other locales.

I live on one of the main drags in Easton, so there were still lots of listings to sift through. I also wasn’t having much luck finding the particular house numbers I’d seen listed in the Sanborn maps. Still, I made notes on which families seemed to be located nearby and then tried to find them in the subsequent census — my hope was that in the next census, the house I was looking for would appear close to the same names.

Or so I thought. I had begun my search in the 1910 census and then moved on to the 1920 one. No luck. I was getting pretty frustrated after repeating the technique in the 1930 census, especially with the quantity of un-numbered house listings that were on my street. Was the census taker being lazy or what?

Then my eyes latched onto a name: Wilson Tyler. BINGO. Tyler’s Lane is the name of the alley that runs behind my house — the biggest house in either direction for a block or more. In retrospect, I could and probably should have started there, but there are equally large houses on the other side of the alley — I didn’t want to make too many assumptions as I dove into this project.

The 1930 census has information on the approximate value of the dwellings recorded as well — the listing for the Tyler home was $20,000 — far more than those surrounding it. (I still need to figure out what that is in today’s dollars.)

So now I’m relatively certain I have the right name. I went back to the previous censuses (censi?) and discovered that there were actually two different spellings — Tyler and Tylor.

Then, I went to your friend and mine, Google. There, I turned up the fact that Wilson Tylor was the editor of the Easton Gazette (now the Easton Star-Democrat) in his day — big news indeed! I felt that would ensure there would be plenty of material by and about him — I wasn’t disappointed.

A quick search of the catalog at my local library brought up two books, including The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County. I wasted no time high-tailing it to the Maryland Room at my library.

A picture at the front of the book — a group shot from the silver anniversary of the Tylors — teased me with the possibility it may have been taken on the front stoop of my house. The photo was cropped close around the group, but the posts holding up the front porch roof above their heads had the same design as those at my house;  the latticework under what was then a porch extending across the entire front of the house looked an awful lot like that under a side porch on my building. (I had my laptop with me and had pulled up a picture I took of the house earlier this year.)

I beamed when I opened the book to page 74 and there was my building in all its original glory the year it was built, 1888, with some of the Tylor kids posed in front of it. The text on the page said that the house cost slightly less than $5,000(!) at that time.

The book I found also gave names of those who rented rooms from the Tylors over the years and details how it once served as a boarding house for nursing students working at the hospital across the street (it’s still a popular rental spot for travelling and other nurses working at the hospital).

So, mystery solved! I’m excited to know more about the history behind where I’m living. Turns out that the books I found at the library are written by a relative of the Tylors. He’s still researching and planning to write another book on his family’s history — I may look him up and drop him a note.

ADDENDUM (10-11): I’m saddened to discover that Laurence G. Claggett, the Tylor relative and historian/author of The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County that I mention above, died only last month. According to the Easton Star-Dem, he passed away Sept. 1.

Inspired by Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Fire & Ice

Randy Seaver’s task for this evening at

1. What is your all-time favorite song? Yep, number 1. It’s hard to choose sometimes. If you made your favorite all-time Top 40 music selections, what would be #1?

2. Tell us about it. Why is it a favorite? Do you have special memories attached to this song?

3. Write your own blog post about it, or make a comment on this post or on the Facebook entry.

I simply cannot pick one all-time favorite song, however, this mission did remind me of the first cassette I ever owned. It was given to me by my parents for my 7th birthday along with a turquoise Realistic radio (the kind with a cassette slot that operated exactly like a pop-up toaster). I loved the radio and I loved the cassette, which I played over and over and over.

The cassette, “Fire & Ice,” was a compilation of music from the likes of Blondie, Abba, The Manhattan Transfer, Bonnie Raitt, The Pointer Sisters, Diana Ross, Kim Carnes, Pat Benatar, The Pretenders. The list goes on and on.

It was awesome. To this day, many of the songs on that cassette are among my favorites.

At that time, my all-time favorite song was “Fame,” performed by Irene Cara for the movie of the same name. I also owned that tune as a single on 45 and that was played over and over and over on my Fisher-Price turntable in my playroom down in the basement. No doubt, my parents were gluttons for punishment. I am sure that the reason they bought that particular cassette was because it also had the song “Fame.”

I simply had to find the compilation online and I succeeded after searching for it on Here is a copy of the cover. If I found this on CD, I’d buy it in a second. I suppose I could always recreate it on iTunes…

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (A Day Late): Ahnentafel Roulette

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

This is my first stab at Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (albeit a day late) — a concept championed by Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings blog: This has been a really educational exercise to undertake — I learned about a numbering system I hadn’t been exposed to before, I further investigated a relative that I hadn’t spent a lot of time on yet and I found some interesting discrepancies in his census records that will require some work to clear up.

This week’s challenge is Ahnentafel Roulette:

1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your “roulette number.”

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the “roulette number.”

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person’s name for your “roulette number” then spin the wheel again – pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

This post has prompted me to learn more about the Afhnetafel numbering system. I was a bad MLS grad and went to Wikipedia for a basic description:

Shame on me, I know (actually, it’s even worse; first, I Googled it). Google also led me to this better explanation at Note that there is a typo, and number 15 should actually be great-grandmother.

Following the rules above, the roulette number to investigate is 26. This is my mother’s father’s mother’s father, Anson G. Bennett (1859-1944). I had done some preliminary investigations online into who Anson G. Bennett was, but I didn’t have much information. Here’s what I’ve been able to glean, with some certainty:

1) He was born in October 1859 in Missouri.

2) He married Josephine Susan Campbell after moving to San Antonio, Texas.

3) His father was a merchant and Anson worked for him in his store before marrying my great-grandmother.

The above has been gathered from a family history previously compiled by a relative and by searching federal census records. The one sticking point is that the state of birth information for his mother varies — either given as Missouri, Tennessee or Virginia, depending on the census year. This could mean that I’ve been viewing the records of two (or more) different Anson G. Bennetts. It could also mean that a recording error was made or that the wrong information was inadvertently given to the census taker in a given year. Obviously, more work needs to be done to clear this up.