A Little Peek Over The Wall?

Recently I watched a presentation by Roberta Estes, (she’s a genetic genealogist guru), on analyzing mtDNA to help find the origin of your female line, genetically speaking. The presentation helped me to understand how important the matches map is at FamilyTreeDNA.

mtDNA is the DNA that is inherited through your mother’s line all the way back to the first. Only women can pass it down, although both males and females inherit mtDNA. Which means that my sister, brother and myself only inherited our mother’s mtDNA, not our father’s, and only my sister and I can pass it on to any children we might have. Below are the maps showing matches in the HVR-1 range, HVR-2 range and Full Sequence, which is the most important match map.

HVR 1 matches –exact.
HVR 2 matches –exact.
Full Sequence of all regions.

The matches we have at the full sequence range are 2-3 steps off, no exact matches. The ones of most interest are the closest matches, so those that are 2 steps off in this case. You can see on the map that they are clustered in the areas of Finland and Germany, (the yellow pins).

This is interesting. Our maternal line back on my mother’s side as far back as we can go, is Almyra Johnson’s mother Catherine, last name unknown. She is said to have married Samuel Johnson. (Johnson could very well be a Nordic last name.) This cluster information helps us to think about Almyra’s mother’s line being of possible German or Nordic origin. Which is actually helpful in further research, we have a hint of where her family might have come from, and her marrying a man of possible Nordic descent is of interest too.

This is more information than I have ever had about Almyra’s mother. Hopefully it will be of use in finding her family. I am also using this information on my maternal grandfather’s mtDNA, which goes back to Sarah Asher in Virginia or Maryland in the 1780s, she was likely English.

Interestingly, the exact, and one and two step-off matches with my father’s mother’s mtDNA are all in Sweden, not Norway as I would expect. The white pin is my dad.

Full mtDNA sequence matches with Myrtle Hamm’s mother’s line.

Becoming Part Of History

Lydia Hamm Oshkosh Normal School Photo for Quiver Yearbook, 1902ish.

About 15 years ago I talked to my Dad to see if he would be okay with me donating part of my 2xg Aunt Lyd’s papers to the Wisconsin Historical Society. He seemed okay with the idea. My reasoning was that I felt some of the items in her papers were more a part of the bigger picture of Wisconsin history, not just the Hamm family story. Another part of the reason for this decision is that when I am gone, I have no idea who is going to take care of the family papers, if anyone. (Which means I have lots of work to do in that regard – ack!)

Lydia Hamm was a teacher in Marshfield, Wisconsin for many years, (she never married, and being married usually meant a woman had to quit her teaching job). In her photograph collection I found lots of class photos with the students names written on the back, (thank you Lyd), and pictures of schools, and her students, that she had taken herself. She loved to take pictures. Also in her collection were histories written about Medford by herself, and her students.

So, I decided that I would donate these items to the Wisconsin Historical Society. I wanted to be sure that other researchers might find their own family as one of the students in her class, and Lydia grew up in Medford when it was just starting as a town so she remembered it’s beginnings.

And now, anyone can see these documents and photographs:

The above is the WHS catalog entry for her collection, (although, it is as yet unprocessed). As Lydia didn’t have children of her own, I am glad to see that part of her contribution to Wisconsin history is out there for the world to see and access. Also, in a way, she is continuing to teach. Yay teachers, unsung heroes.

Fun With The Famous

Well, Rootstech 2022 is over now. I had a chance to watch a few presentations, but only a couple of live ones. Work got in the way – and then I have lots of beading to do before I die, along with my genealogy.

But, the videos of all the ‘classes’ will be around for a year, at least, so I have time to catch up.

This morning I woke up to a ‘THANK YOU’ email from the program along with something fun.

Well, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag about being related to famous people, and annoy my friends! Here is the link: Family Search Famous People

This is what you see when you click the link. You can scroll down the whole page from ‘Leaders’ to ‘Athletes’. If you click on one of the names, it shows you the direct tree of descent for both of us (ME and the Famous person), side by side.

I know that this line is correct for me, through research, so, hello cousin Helen.

Most of the famous relations appear to be on my mother’s side. But, Dad might be happy to know that Audrey Hepburn is a cousin of his. Some of my favorites? Amelia Earhart, Marie Antoinette, Emily Dickinson and Abraham Lincoln!

So, go ahead and have some fun. (For family — if you need to sign in to see the matches, just send me an email or text and I will give you the info you need).

One of the interesting things about this for me is seeing ancestors in my tree that I am unaware of, so now I have more research to do to see if these connections are actually true. That’s helpful.

Later. Got more beading to do.

Another Trip to Norway

I don’t know about you, but the branches of my tree that always seem to be missing are of the wives of my ancestral grandfathers. Over the years I have gone back over whatever small bits of data I have and made attempts to find either names, which is a travesty all on its own, or their family. And, in some cases, I have been successful. In other’s not so much. But, today is one of those good days.

Amund Amundson’s maternal grandmother’s line just stopped with Kristi Oldsdatter, b1791, from Røldal, Hordaland, Norway. Earlier attempts to suss out her family were unsuccessful. The hint though is that we know where she was from, because several records that do exist for her indicate her origins. Including the 1865 census:

Details of 1865 Norway Census, Sjoerteiger, Ullensvang (local parish), Kinzervig (parish):

Page No.    House No.    Name                 Age      Place of birth     Family Position        Marital Status

001            01                Lars Aadsen              76         Kingservik            Husfader                              g              

002            01                Kresti Oldsdatter    74         Røldal                   hans Kone                           g

Røldal.

Previous research attempts were futile, or difficult, because I wasn’t sure of the records and there were easier ancestors to play with. Recently however, I decided to make a more serious attempt. My endeavor found that the Røldal bygdabøk has been digitized by the Family History Library, and is available outside of the library. Just to be clear, I just found this out, I have no idea when the availability of the images happened.

Thankfully, I found it, because I am pretty sure that this has allowed me to add a few more generations to her tree, which also means my tree.

If this image isn’t visible, just click on it and it will open.

The branches are still a work in progress, as I am transcribing on google translate the text from the farm histories. It works pretty well, although there are a few hiccups in the translation now and then.

I have run into one interesting family already. Tore Helgeson of Hamre, who purchased Tufte in 1673, and his wife, Britte Tolievsdtr, only had one child, a daughter, Ingerid, who married Orm Jonson Sukka from Suldal. He was, by all accounts, rich. But, he was also an ass. Here is the bygdabøk entry as translated with some adjustments by me to make it a bit more readable:

It seems that Orm had good business acumen and was rich in both money and land. In addition to the land estates he got with his wife [Ingerid], he and Tveito bought land in 1713 and also built-up half of the Tufte farm in 1720. This was probably the reason why he was a sheriff in the village from 1706 to 1708.

Various events come up that show Orm was not always successful, [I would say sane], in his dealings with others. As seen in the parliament [court?] in 1701, he was found guilty of slaying a poor woman with a stick, because she was not willing to take on a grain shed [not sure this translation is correct, maybe is means work in the grain shed]. For this case, and for another with Kittel [translation?] in the farm, he was sentenced to a fine of 6 rd. and had to pay 1 rd. to the poor. 

After Orm had died in 1735, his wife, Ingerid, sued Jakob Prestegård, because while Orm was [ill] lying on the floor, Jakob entered the living room at Berge and scolded Orm. The prelude to this was that Jakob had once before lent 10 rd. to Orm’s son Lars. Orm had promised to pay Jakob back this money, but hadn’t, and now Jakob wanted it settled. When Orm was not willing to keep his word either, Jakob became angry. According to Ingerid’s testimony in court, “He should have seen that Orm was in so much pain at the time, that when he goes from here to the world, then she hopes he goes to hell, the old dog.” Jakob refused to admit that such a thing happened. So, because Ingerid had no witnesses to bring, he was acquitted.

I am looking forward to filling out this line a bit more, it is always fun to see those records going back into the 1600s and know that those were your ancestors. I am also glad to see more of where my Norwegian ancestry comes from:

The places of interest for me from these maps are: Røldal, Hauge, Hamre, Tufto, Runnane, Berge they are all farms close together which is easy to see on the closer maps. The larger map shows where Røldal is in relation to where Amund came from along the large waterway, aboutish across the water from Ullensvang. (These image can be clicked on to see larger.)

Røldal as seen from the main highway. Looking down the city to the water. I recommend using google street view and looking around the sides of the road.

I really want to go to Norway! Not only is much of the scenery where they lived simply stunning, but I want to see where my Nordic ancestors walked, played, farmed, lived, and died for several hundred years, before they decided that life, and opportunities, would be better for them in the United States.

Persistent DNA results

This is a DNA map of my maternal grandfather from FamilyTreeDNA. And the DNA that always has me scratching my head in puzzlement is the Spain/Italy/Turkey colored bits. Here are the percentages (about 6% total):

Here is his DNA breakdown from MyHeritage:

“Iberian” pertains to Portugal and surrounding countries and on this map it is 11%.

Now, we should take these percentages with a grain of salt, and I do, but the Portuguese/Spain locals have been persistent with my grandfather’s DNA since I first had it tested about 10-15 years ago. And, as far as I have been able to tell any DNA from that part of the world in my grandfather, would likely be several hundred years further back in time, so not likely to show up. Needless to say, I have always been curious about why these DNA locals keeps showing up on his maps.

Then I saw this interesting entry from a book while researching Sarah Asher’s possible father, Anthony Asher. (Sarah is the source of my grandfather’s mtDNA.)

Torrence, Clayton,. Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore of Maryland : a study in foundations and founders. Richmond, Va.: Whittet & Shepperson, 1935.

The “Anthony Machaee, Portuguese, of the Island of Tersara (alisa Asher)”, mentioned in this book, is a possible ancestor for our Sarah Asher. Her father is believed to be Anthony Asher who was living in Greene County, PA in the latter 1700s and early 1800s, and moved to Monongalia County, WV where his daughter Sarah (Asher) Headlee’s family had also moved about the same time. This Anthony would possibly be a grandson of the Anthony mentioned in this book. (I don’t have good dates for Anthony, so can only guess about when he was born. Right now I think it was the 1750s.)

I have to say this possible line of descent does make an intriguing argument for, and explanation to the origins of the DNA that keeps showing up as from Portugal and Spain in my Grandfather’s results. It would be the perfect answer to the question. But, we need more proof.

I really hope that I am able to prove that this connection is a correct one. It would be pretty cool to have some Portuguese or Spanish ancestors waiting to be added to our family tree.

A Jolly Post

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the really bad title as today’s post is about my Jolly ancestors. (I guess I should have posted this around Christmas time.)

Yes, it has been quite a while since I have posted here. I have no excuse other than I haven’t been hmmm…excited, enthused, pumped-up…well…interested is probably the closest descriptor to use, about doing my family history lately. The pandemic, the crappy news, the anti-vaxxers, the lack of response from DNA correspondences, the inability to get to records I really need in order to further my research for certain lines, all this has contributed to my malaise. I’ll try to do better this year, I promise, ’cause I won’t let those fu**ers win. So, here goes.

The earliest known male ancestor of my Shaw line, (that would be my maternal grandmother’s line), is James Shaw. The story of James’ life has been passed down in the family and researched: he was an indentured boy who emigrated to York County, Pennsylvania, he joined the Revolutionary cause to help his new home throw off the mantle of British rule, married, had lots of children, and eventually ended up in Kentucky, where he died. I have some doubts about a few parts of his story that were passed down, because they haven’t been verified by sources. But, one thing we do know is true is that he married a woman by the name of Ann Jolly.

Very little is known about Ann, and over the last 20 years I have tried to find her origins. She didn’t just sprout up out of the ground, I believe that she had to have had parents around somewhere when she married James. But, in all these years of research I had been unable to find the answer to that question. Until now.

DNA has helped me in sorting out this mystery, but I also have found records that appear to confirm that her parents were James and Jean Jolly.

Just for added interest a map of Pennsylvania from 1800. York and Washington counties are the ones of interest in this family.

The DNA helped to give me a leg up on where to go to start this search, because I have a couple of matches with other folks who descend from this same couple, but through different children. Those matches gave me a place to start. The fact that they are in Pennsylvania, and the following two probate records cinch the deal for me. First we have James Jolly’s probate record [spelling errors from his record as is]; he died before his wife Jean:

James Jolly probate1
First I have given to my daughter Margeret her full portion that I aloted for her
likewise to my daughter Jane has recd her portion
likewise my dauther Sarah has rec’d hers
also my daugher Ann likewise also has rec’d her portion
my son James he also has rec’d his portion of goods alotted for him
my daughter Elizabeth she also has rec’d her portion
my son William he likewise has rec’d his portion
my daughter Ester has also rec’d her part,

Second… I give and bequeath to my dearly beloved wife Jane my whole estate to be enjouyed by her wholely and solely to be her own property forever to do with the same and use the same as she pleaes… I have let my hand and seal this 24th day of January 1803. John Jolly [seal]

Sighed sealed and acknowledged in presence of Benjaman Lyon, John Kinney, Thomas Parramore

Now this probate doesn’t really confirm much except that he did have daughter Ann. But then Jean died about 3 years later, and her probate record reads as follows:

Will of Jean Jolly…2 I give and devise and bequeath to my daughter Jean who is intermarried to William Quig one dollar.
I give and bequeath my daughter Ann who is intermarried to James Shaw five shillings
I give and bequeath to my oldest son James Jolly one dollar
I give and bequeath my son William one dollar
I give and bequeath my daughter Esther who is intermarried to Nathaniel Parramore one dollar
I give and bequeath Thomas Reacenior five shillings
I give and bequeath William Kinny five shillings
I give and bequeath to Martha Shaw five shillings [<– possibly Ann Shaw’s daughter]
I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth all the reminder of what money in cash is in the hands of William Kinny of mine…

In witness whereunto I have set my hand on this the 26th day of May 18 1806
Jean [her X mark] Jolly [seal]. Witness present in the presence of us: John Mann, William McDonough

If we have DNA matches with folks in this line and the two probate records indicate a daughter Ann who married a James Shaw, I have to conclude that these are likely Ann’s parents. So this is good news. I do love being able to confirm a DNA match with an actual record.

For my next post I’ll try to learn a bit more about James/John and Jean/Jane Jolly/Joley. These folks just can’t decide what their bloody names are!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot – it is possible that the Jolly’s are Scottish. Although, I doubt we will ever know for sure.


SOURCES:

  1. v1p487 27 Jan 1803 date of probate — [Jame Jolly entry 1803, v1p487; “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L991-MKCR?cc=1999196&wc=9PMX-4WL%3A268493301%2C282444001 : 3 July 2014), Washington > Wills 1781-1814 vol 1-2 > image 256 of 578; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.]
  2. v2p84 11 jun 1806 date of probate –“Jean Jolly entry 1806, v2p84; Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-8991-M22W?cc=1999196&wc=9PMX-4WL%3A268493301%2C282444001 : 3 July 2014), Washington > Wills 1781-1814 vol 1-2 > image 314 of 578; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.

Catching Up With Cousins

I was going through Flipboard on my iPad looking for news that wasn’t going to piss me off, again, when I ran across this very cool article. The headline caught my eye immediately. Alvy is a cousin of ours on the Riggs side of the family. I even have the Riggs genealogy book he published, signed by him too.

I knew some of his story from a few years ago when he first contacted me while doing his own genealogy research. So, was quite interested in reading more. Enjoy an interesting life — https://www.wired.com/story/pixar-animation-alvy-ray-smith-pixel/

Is This Why I Couldn’t Find Peter?

John Brooks, (who died as a soldier of the War of 1812), and his first wife Hannah Grosbroek had two children together before she died. The eldest, a daughter, died as an infant, but Peter, their youngest, lived long enough to be raised by his step-mother Dinah.

Poor Peter had it a bit tougher than his half-siblings because both of his biological parents had died by the time he was 12, while they still had their mother Dinah. To top it off by the time he was about 13 or 14 he was being raised by two step-parents, as Dinah had married her second husband Robert Little.

Until this last week have not been able to find anything on Peter Brooks beyond his father’s guardianship papers in 1815. Then I saw this intriguing record at ancestry.com.

(if no image is seen be sure to download the file from the link)

This document, that you see reference to above, is a prison discharge record for Auburn Prison, and in this discharge record is listed a Peter Brooks, born about 1803, in Albany, New York. All of that data matches the Peter Brooks I have been looking for these past few years. But is it him?

According to this record Peter was in prison for 7 years for breaking gaol [jail]. Which also means that he had been in jail longer than those 7 years, because he had to have been in jail to have broken out. He was released in 1829 at the age of 25. If he served the whole sentence, that means he was in prison when he was 18, and possibly earlier. If this is indeed the same Peter who is a grand half-uncle of mine, then it is no wonder I have been unable to find him. And him being so elusive to me before makes a good case to this being the Peter I have been looking for.

What I have to do next is see if the Albany Archives have any court records that might inform me as to the reason for Peter’s incarceration in the first place. Hopefully, I will also be able to confirm that he is the right Peter.


Auburn Prison where Peter was incarcerated, is in Auburn, NY, and opened in 1817. It was built with the intention of using a congregate system. The inmates worked and ate together during the day, but went into isolation at night. The work they were expected to do consisted of hard labor working on bridges, ditches, quarries, and other difficult and tedious tasks. They also had to make items like barrels, buckets, clothes, shoes, boots, tools and saddles. These were sold at a profit making the Auburn system the first to wade into the prison manufacturing industry a trend that continues to this day.

Floggings, though outlawed as a sentence, became the primary means of discipline. This soon became known as the Auburn Prison System, which owes many of it’s attributes, such as better food and health care and an increased emphasis on rehabilitation, to the Pennsylvania system. [Yes, because everyone knows a good flogging fixes everything.]

Silence was the over-riding theme of the Auburn system. John D. Cray, a deputy warden at the Auburn Prison, said silence took away the prisoner’s ‘sense of self’, which made them more obedient, and prevented them from corrupting each other. Thus the prisoners did everything without talking. They also wore a uniform of white with broad horizontal stripes. When they moved anywhere as a group, they had to walk in lockstep with their hands grabbing the side of the prisoner in front, and their elbows at their sides covering the hands of the prisoner behind. If one stumbled, many would fall and, of course, later be flogged.

This was Peter’s life for 7 years.

Unfortunately, after this ‘released from prison’ record, I have again been unable to find Peter Brooks in any records. Maybe he was a repeat offender. I guess it is off to the court records in Albany, New York.

Fred Uses Harsh Language

In my recent research looking for Hamm or Amundson descendants in Minnesota, I unexpectedly came across this interesting take on the Fred and Carrie desertion case.

I have written about this incident before, and even thought I was done writing about it, but then I found this article reporting on the same court case, but in a different paper. Well, I couldn’t just let it sit there. Ignored.

When I read the first sentence in the article I burst out in shocked laughter. Then it was “WTF dude?” I actually had to look up ’round head’, and found that it is derogatory American slang for an immigrant from northern Europe, particularly a Swede. I was appalled by my great grandfather’s rudeness and prejudice. He must have been a real treat to live with, starting with his balking at taking care of his wife’s first child with another man, and then this choice language.

I am glad that Fred divorced her, he sounds like he would have been a misery to live with ’til death’. And, no doubt, all the while would have been chasing after every available skirt he could find.

As far as I am aware, he never did find that “Irish Molly”.

More Isserstedts

Our Ancestry ThruLines tree for Isserstedt, (I removed more recent names from the chart).

I can hear the question now — “Why, or what, am I looking at?” Well, this is the tree that showed up in Dad’s Isserstedt ThruLines recently. And this ThruLine is telling me that we have a DNA match with a descendant of Fredrick Isserstedt’s Uncle Johann Christian Isserstedt (I know his name because I did a little research). This Johann Christian had a daughter Johanna, she married Heinrich Ernst Koch and so the line continues through their son Karl all the way down to our present DNA match.

Here is Johanna’s marriage as noted in the church record:

Number 21 in the list is Johanna Maria Dorthea Isserstedt’s marriage record to Heinrich Ernst Koch. It lists her father Johann Christian Isserstedt and her mother, Elizabeth Moltzer.

For me this is cool, because it might help with finessing the Isserstedt line with German church records that have been digitized, and are available to research at Ancestry, and the Family History Library.

This is also a useful match, because if I can find out their chromosome location it will tell me which part of our Isserstedt/Sachs line is the Isserstedt segment.

Even all that aside, it is kinda cool that we are getting matches with some of our recent German immigrant lines. (We also have matches with folks whose ancestors were from Schwabsburg, but their lines are the Nehrboss and Knoblochs.)

So much fun is happening with our DNA matches. It’s hard to keep up.

In other DNA news, I finally heard back from our Hamman match. To review, I sent an email to the one and only match with our cousin’s HAMM yDNA at FamilyTreeDNA, and finally, after re-sending my email three times over the last year and a half, heard back. I received a very friendly email from a nephew of the tester. He provided a history of their line with a tree. But, at this time we can not connect the two.

There is a connection, but we don’t know where yet.

I asked if he would be able to get his uncle’s yDNA results bumped up to 111 markers (currently it is only 25). There is a 2 marker difference right now, if this marker difference increases with more markers tested, that means that the connection is likely a bit further back in time. But, if the difference remains at 2 or 3, then we are looking at a more recent connection. Fingers crossed.