Friday, August 29, 2008

Genealogy of Gov. Sarah Palin

Posted by Craig on 8/29/2008 0 comments
As promised, I looked at the family history of Obama's VP, and now it's time to look at McCain's VP, announced today.

In one sense, I was glad it was someone who hasn't been in the national spotlight much to date because that meant her family history wasn't as well researched as some other potential choices. In another, that was an enormous challenge, and I had trouble finding some of her ancestry.

But I did find a lot on her family still, particularly on her mother's side. I found a total of 119 ancestors for her (and again have a GEDCOM if anyone's interested). She was born in Idaho and her father's family came from Kansas and Ohio, as best as I can tell. Her mother's family came predominately from Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Maine.

In fact, I found out she is distantly related to my girlfriend Nicole! They are 9th cousins, once removed, both descendants of the BEECHER family of Connecticut. Their common ancestors are Eleazer Beecher, born 1655 in New Haven, CT, and Phebe Prindle. They are also both related to Harriet Beecher Stowe through this line.

Surnames on her father's side: Heath, Centennial. English in origin.
On her mother's side: Beecher, Curtiss, Godfrey, Gower, Hine, Mueller, Sheeran, Schmoltz, Strong. Some English, Irish, German, and Scottish.

Here's the pedigree I came up with for her (six-generation chart).

Sources I used include RootsWeb Ancestry, census records, and family trees submitted to WorldConnect RootsWeb.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Genealogy of Sen. Joe Biden

Posted by Craig on 8/23/2008 1 comments
Something I always find interesting is looking at the family history of key political figures and celebrities. Sometimes it even leads you to a link to your own family, as I found myself a distant relative of actor Johnny Depp. My girlfriend has far more famous distant relatives, including Sen. Barack Obama, Pres. George W. Bush, Lucille Ball, and Bob Barker, though she has many more colonial American lines than I do.

Regardless of your political views, today is Sen. Joe Biden's day, as he was named Sen. Obama's running mate on the Democratic ticket. I thought I'd look at his family history. I compiled a quick pedigree of his ancestors from several online sources, including databases I have access to, and came up with as much of as his ancestry as possible. When Sen. McCain names his VP, I'll do the same, so there is no bias in this blog!

So, here's what I found on Sen. Biden's family history. I found 48 total ancestors for him (and created a GEDCOM if anyone's interested). His father's side was from Allegany Co., MD and his mother's from Lackawanna Co., PA. He seems to have some roots in NY and VA too but further back. Surnames on his father's side: Biden, Elkins, Johnson, Pumphrey, Randall, Robinette, Shoemaker, Taylor, Wilson. Mostly English, a little German. On his mother's side: Blewitt, Finnegan, Scanlon, Stanton. Mostly Irish.

Emigrants he descends of that I was able to link back to are William Biden (born abt. 1790 Sussex, England), Samuel Robinett (b. 1669 Cheshire, England), Valentine Johnson (b. abt 1670 England), and Patrick Blewitt (b. 1830 Ireland). The first three settled in MD, the last in PA.

Here's the pedigree I came up with for him (six-generation chart):

Sources I used include William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services, GEDview, census records, and family trees submitted to WorldConnect RootsWeb.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Having distantly-related parents

Posted by Craig on 8/20/2008 2 comments
Today marks my parents' 25th anniversary. They are in Hawaii as I write this. They're on the Big Island today, celebrating a tremendous achievement and glorious occasion. I find it appropriate to write a quick blog pertaining to them on this day.

You know, not long after I started doing genealogy, it was probably around 2000, I found a guy online claiming his parents were distantly related - 8th cousins or something like that. At first, I was amazed. Still relatively new to genealogy, the fact that such a relationship could be established - carefully documented and proven -, to the surprise of family members, amazed me.

That's what made my discovery the night of January 29, 2003 so remarkable.

I always knew there was a good chance my parents shared some common ancestry if you go back far enough - say, 12th/13th centuries far enough - because they both have family lines originating in southwestern Germany along the French border. But what I found on that wintry January night was nothing like I had ever expected.

Tracing my mom's French ancestry - in the RC Church Records for Rahling, Moselle, France - I uncovered that her gr-gr-grandfather Jean Klein (who settled in Williamsville, NY) was the gr-grandson of a Michael Bender and Christine Lambert. Funny, I thought, because those names sounded so, so familiar. I was almost certain I'd run across them before.

When I got home I punched the names into my database, and I found something very interesting. My father was also a descendant of a Michael Bender and Christine Lambert. What a coincidence! But they weren't in France, they were in Germany.

But then I looked closer. Jean Klein's grandmother was Anna Maria Bender, born about 1750. Michael and Christine on my dad's side had an Anna Maria Bender, born 8 Feb 1751 in Peppenkum, Bavaria, Germany. Hmm.. Then came the real shocker. I look under her 'family page' and learn she married a Heinrich Wuertz and relocated to Schmittviller, France. Bingo. Jean Klein's grandparents were indeed Heinrich Wuertz and Anna Maria Bender, and they lived in the village of Schmittviller, just outside of Rahling.

6th cousins, once removed was the exact connection. I checked it, and rechecked it, and made sure multiple times. It's a definite connection with 100% source documentation backing it up. Here's a diagram showing the exact relationship.

Since information on their common ancestors (and mine of course) Michael Bender and Christine Lambert is scarce on my website and elsewhere on the Web, I thought I'd share a little more on this couple I go back to through both my father and mother.

Michael Bender was born about 1710 in Peppenkum, Bavaria, Germany to Jean Bender and Margaretha Reuter. He was a laborer by trade, and his father had immigrated to Bavaria from Wittersheim, Alsace, France. His maternal grandfather Michael Reuter was the Mayor of Medelsheim. He had one sister, Anna Catharina Bender Motsch, who had 15 children in nearby Medelsheim. Michael died about age 48 on Sept. 1, 1758 in Peppenkum.

Christine Lambert was born Apr. 12, 1713 in Neualtheim, Bavaria, Germany to Johannes Lambert and Anna Maria Conrad. She had 10 siblings. This Lambert family is also believed to have originated in Alsace, France, but there is no proof at this time. Christine's maternal grandmother was Catharina Hinsberger, and her family is believed to be connected to the German royalty Von Heinsberg family. Christine died at age 54 on Feb. 9, 1768 in Peppenkum.

Michael and Christine had 9 children: 1. Johannes 1738, 2. Catharina 1740, 3. Nicolaus 1742, 4. Franziska 1745, 5. Balthasar 1746, 6. Johann Georg 1748, 7. Anna Maria 1751 (my mom's ancestor), 8. Margaretha 1754, 9. Maria Magdalena 1755 (my dad's ancestor). Of course, Anna Maria and Maria Magdalena hardly ever knew their father, who died when they were 7 and 3 years old respectively. It may have prompted their moves and marriages at a young age, off to Moselle, France in Anna Maria's case and the village of Bierbach, Bavaria in Maria Magdalena's.

And there you have it. It's hard not to think about these common lines on a day like today. Congrats to my parents! Here's hoping they'll have many more years together yet!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Passage of Time

Posted by Craig on 8/15/2008 0 comments
I messed around with iMovie tonight and threw this together real quick with a bunch of photos of ancestors/relatives of mine. 120 photos total in just 30 seconds, beginning with the mid-1800s and going all the way to the present (in chronological order). Not the best video ever, but kind of a cool effect. The music is "Everyday" by Carly Commando.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to...

Posted by Craig on 8/13/2008 5 comments
What better time than the present for my second ever entry?  There's a reason I'm posting two on the same day, the 13th of August.  The timing is significant...

One thing that I've found really interesting is to compile a list of my ancestors' birthdays.  It makes all of those dates a whole lot more fun to look at.  Compiling such a list, with the amount of ancestors I've found birthdates for, is enough to pepper any calendar.  Every week of the year, at least one of my ancestors is celebrating a birthday.  On some days, multiple ancestors of mine share a birthday.

Today is Mary Killeen McQuaid's day (and there's her picture).

She was born on August 13, 1842 - that's right, 166 years ago - in Toronto, Ontario to Irish immigrants Catherine Hartney and Sgt. Patrick Killeen.  Her father was a member of the British military for many years.  He first enrolled in the 94th Regiment of Foot as a young Irish lad at age 16.  His service took him to the Mediterranean region for some time and subsequently to Canada.  Mary was the eldest of seven children, with three of her siblings born in Quebec and the other three in Ontario.

This Killeen family is special to me for a few reasons.  One, I've learned so much about Sgt. Patrick and the rest of the Killeen clan through a distant relative I've been in correspondence with the last several years, Killeen Farrell of Toronto (descended of Mary's brother Patrick Jr.), and she's been wonderful in helping me trace my Canadian roots.  But I've also found a much closer link to the Killeen's in my immediate family.  The story goes that my grandfather Kenneth Kanalley put in writing that he wanted my grandmother to name their first daughter "Killeen."  My grandmother thought he was misspelling Colleen, and that's what she had put on the birth certificate.  He never made a peep.  But years later, when I showed my grandma the Killeen connection, with my grandfather long since passed away (he died before I was born), she immediately remembered the old note from my grandfather.

Mary Killeen McQuaid died May 14, 1882 while in childbirth at the all-too-young age of 39.  That child would have been her and John McQuaid's 12th.  Their 8th child Joseph is my great-great-grandfather.  Though she died so young, Mary's memory lives on today.

Click here to check out the complete list of my ancestors' birthdays.

A Long History of Tracing My Family History

Posted by Craig on 8/13/2008 5 comments
This October I'll officially mark 10 years since I began researching my family history.  That's right, as a pre-teen at age 12, I began tracing my family's past.  It began as a school project.  We were asked to gather the names of our parents and grandparents to construct a family tree.  When I saw the finished diagram, I was intrigued by the name changes and the fact one person could go back to two, and that person could go back to two more.  Simple concepts, maybe, but I was amazed.  I thought to myself, I wonder how many twos I can go back?

Well, some 9 years and 10 months later, I've now compiled some 650+ direct ancestors.  From village/town mayors to shepherds, bricklayers to innkeepers, and of course an abundance of farmers, I've found my ancestors to be quite an interesting bunch.  Learning about their lives, where they came from, and how they fit into history have all been the most interesting parts of genealogy for me.  I also like the fact that I'm keeping them "remembered," some of which who lived 100s of years ago.  And the hundreds of people I've met through the hobby, both in person and online, have certainly made it worthwhile.

So what will be the purpose of this blog?  I want to take my (soon-to-be) 10 years of experience in genealogy and share my knowledge with others.  I'll offer tips for conducting your own research, post commentary on the state of genealogy and the latest and greatest in genealogy online (which continues to evolve all the time), and I'll share some of my actual research now and then and interesting tidbits that other genealogists may be interested in.

I hope you'll find it interesting.  I encourage you to leave comments while you're here and share your own suggestions as to what you'd like to see in this blog.  I'll do my best to keep the content fresh (as often as I can at least) and to avoid producing a blog that is 100% text.  Variety is key, I think, for a good blog.

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