Monday, September 5, 2011

A new Blog I've Discovered!

William & Mary Barrett Dyer
17th century England & New England

I discovered a well written blog about two of my ancestors who were historical figures, William & Mary Dyer. The blog's author is an actual published author named Christy K. Robinson, who is descended from another of William and Mary's children. Christy is currently researching and writing a historical novel on Mary Barrett Dyer, 1611-1660.

Her blog about the Dyers was begun in August 2011 and so far has seven entries, all fascinating! If you have any interest in England or America during the 1600s, you will want to check out this blog.

Link to the initial blog entry:

Happy Reading!

Karen the AncesTree Sprite

P.S. My DYER Family branch names:

Monday, January 31, 2011

Assumptions Can Be So VERY Wrong!

Today, I would like to share a personal anecdote as a warning to others to "Never Assume". In this story, I was/am the topic of the erroneous assumptions.

My late father John was married - and divorced - three times. In his teens, he had a brief marriage to Alice, which resulted in the birth of a daughter. When they divorced, my father enlisted in the Army and he and Alice allowed their infant daughter to be privately adopted by their older, childless neighbors. The young couple felt they were much too young and unsettled to raise the child as single parents.

While he was in the Army, my father met and married Olie in the state of New York. Note the resemblance of the names - change the "A" to an "O" and drop the "c" and Alice becomes Olie. Since John was born and lived his life in Pennsylvania with the exception of his Army commitment, many family researchers don't bother searching for that second out-of-state marriage.  It's easier (and lazier) to just assume they are the same person.

John and Olie moved back to Pennsylvania after his Army stint was finished and had three children - myself, my sister and my brother. Because John and Alice had a daughter, I've seen assumptions that I was that daughter, even though I was born three years after John and Olie married. They were married 19 and 1/2 years, divorcing (in PA) while I was in high school.

About seven years later, John married a third time to Consuela (known as Connie). His third wife was a widow with her own children and grandchildren. John and Connie did not have any children together, yet I've seen family trees where my younger sister (2 years younger than me) and brother (4 years younger than me) are listed as the offspring of John and Connie! My sister had actually worked with Connie at a local factory before my father even met her! Pretty nice trick for someone who wasn't born yet, eh? As we were all adults by that time, none of the three of us siblings had ever lived with them, even for a short or temporary period. Connie's own son and daughter from her prior marriage lived with them, which probably contributes to the offspring identity confusion. John and Connie divorced about 10 years later.

The obvious assumptions made by others seem to have been:

  • Alice and Olie were the same person, transcription errors being the reason for the name difference. (No, they weren't)
  • Not locating the PA divorce records on docket for my father and Alice (sloppy or lazy research)
  • Not searching for an out of state marriage record for my father (Alice never remarried).
  • Assuming that the daughter born to Alice and John was me, even though our births were years apart (one generic birth announcement of a daughter in a local newspaper is not proof of identity).
  • Assuming that my sister and brother were the offspring of John and Connie, even though my siblings were adults when John and Connie married.

The lesson here is NEVER ASSUME. Just because a name is similar does not mean it is the same person with an alternate spelling. Don't assume that just because someone lived the majority of their life in one locality, that they didn't have a major life event take place elsewhere.

Source, source, source your info and make certain that all your facts line up. Are children's ages too old to be the product of a later marriage? Don't allow assumptions to neatly fill in gaps that you want filled. The story you may have in mind may be way off the truth trail. Don't force your facts to fit the story you want, let the facts reveal their own truth.

FYI, John, Alice, and Connie have all since passed on and I have my mother Olie's permission to dicuss this in this blog.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wedding Wednesday ...& A Confession

Wedding Wednesday
 Daisy Belle Dyer and Lucas Hammond Kerr

Wedding portrait of Lucas Kerr and Daisy Belle Dyer married in the early 1890s. Luke was a widowed butcher from Crosby, Ontario, Canada. Daisy was my maternal gr-grandfather's sister. While Luke was traveling, he stayed at Daisy's family's hotel in Redwood, Jefferson County, NY, USA. This is where he met Daisy, married and moved her to his home in Crosby. After Luke died in 1912, Daisy remarried; but when Daisy died in 1945, she was buried with her first husband Lucas as a Kerr. In the photo, behind Luke is Daisy's older sister Cordelia Dyer. Cordelia didn't marry until much later. The standing gentleman is unidentified and unknown. 

And A Confession...

Yesterday I intended to prepare a post in honor of the occasion of the State of the Union address. I wanted to share some of my family's history in politics. I have many ancestors who have been elected to office at Federal, state and local levels. Others never served in elected office, but were active politically. Although the political parties differed, the dedication was evident.

When I went to compose my post, it was only then that I realized how truly tangled my digital files have become. What a headache to sift through to find the specific information that I wanted for my post. I admit, I threw up my hands in frustration and never did write the post.

It looks as though I have a new project on my hands...organizing and untangling my digital files. I don't know exactly when this got away from me and out of control, but I need to straighten it out ASAP. Saved information is useless if you can't find it when you need it. Arrggghhh!

Wish me luck and thanks for passing on any tips and tricks you use.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Mother & Baby

Unidentified Mother & Baby from the personal collection of my gr-grandfather's sister, Daisy Belle (nee Dyer) Kerr Thomas (1869-1945). Daisy was born in Madison County, NY and after her first marriage lived in Ontario, Canada for the remainder of her life. This photo was taken at J.V. Doust studio in Syracuse, NY.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mystery Monday - Help With Afro-American Man Photo

This photo was found among the belongings of my gr-grandfather's sister, Daisy Belle Dyer, b.1869 d.1945. She married 1) Lucas Kerr, and moved to Crosby, Ontario, Canada where Lucas was the town butcher; and 2) Hilliard Thomas, Smith's Falls, Ontario, Canada. Daisy Dyer was born and raised in Madison County, NY and Daisy and the Dyer family lived a short while in Redwood, Jefferson County, NY where they ran a hotel/boading house in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

The Dyers were from an early New England family, arriving in America in the 1600s. Daisy's father had fought in the Civil War for the Union and unsubstantiated family stories say that her father and grandfather had aided in the underground railroad, providing refuge on their farm as a stop on the route to Canada.

Daisy left a trove of many photos behind, many of which are unidentified. But one unidentified photo stands out - the only photograph, much less a studio portrait, of an African American in her collection! Who was this man and his connection to her families? The photo was taken at Sprague Studio in Walton, NY. There are serveral other unidentified photos in her collection that were taken at the same studio, but they are all fair haired and very light skinned Caucasian men and women.

Who is this man? And what was his significance to my family that they would have his photo saved?

Look at this picture please and tell me what you see. Are there any hints or items of interest in the picture that might date it or shed some light in general about this man? I'm open to any and all input and help. This has really piqued my curiousity!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 - New Year, New Start

The Holidays are over, the New Year's Ball has dropped and the confetti has been swept away. The Mummers have marched through Philadelphia in their annual pilgrimmage of feathers, sequins, and golden slippers once again. The traditional good luck pork & sauerkraut meal has been eaten and leftovers have been neatly tucked away in the fridge. It's 2011.
Me and my great-niece, the newest twig on our tree

A New Year and a New Start for this Blog and for my genealogy research. I pretty much have left this blog and my research sit idle during the Holiday Hubbub and now it's time to get back to business. Time to start posting again, researching again and adding to my files/story. The year is fresh and the possibilities are endless - will this be the year I discover who the parents were of my gr-gr-grandfather, Amos DeHart? Will I find more "cousins" to connect with and share information? What wonderful tips, tricks, and stories will I learn from my genealogy blogging peers?

Thanks for sticking with me as my adventure continues.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookie Memories Old & New, Sand Tarts & Rum Balls

After not being able to post since December 6,  I am so out of synch with keeping up the "Official" Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories theme. So I'm just going to surrender for this year and post my own topics instead.

Christmas Cookies were always a tradition in our home. Mom would bake sugar cookie cutouts, peanut butter cookies, drop sand tarts, and spritz cookies every year. As an adult, I took over the reins as Family Christmas Cookie Baker. In my heyday, it was not unusual for me to bake 20+ varieties of cookies each year to give as gift assortments. As I grew older and my heart failure has progressed, my stamina for the baking marathons is no longer there. So I've had to seriously cut back and each year select just a few recipes to bake. One year, I ran out of time and didn't bake any cookies and oh the uproar that ensued! No one else except  Mom bakes anything - ever - so I found out my cookies are the gift everyone looks forward to each year. Mom's 78 years old, so these days she prefers making quick breads at Christmas or premade refrigerated "just bake and eat" cookies, rather than baking cookies from scratch.

Here are two of the most requested cookies for me to bake - Mom's Drop Sand Tarts and My Chocolate Rum Balls.

These is an easy version of Sand Tarts because you don't have to slice the cookies evenly from a roll or roll them out and cut out circles. Also, Instead of a greased baking sheet, I line my baking sheet with baking parchment (which does not need to be greased). Same results, much easier cleanup.

Mom's Drop Sand Tarts

3/4 lb. butter (3 sticks, softened)
1-1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder (check the expiration date)
beaten egg whites for a wash
cinnamon or colored sugar
walnut or pecan halves

Cream butter, granulated sugar, and eggs well. Add flour and baking powder. Chill overnight. Drop by 1/2 teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten out with a flat bottomed juice glass dipped in sugar, allowing a small rim of dough around glass. This helps the cookies to bake evenly. Brush the tops with egg white wash and sprinkle with the cinnamon or colored sugar and press a nut half into the center of each cookie. Bake in a moderate 325 to 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

My Chocolate Rum Balls

These Rum Balls are the top of the request list from my sister. I make mine using Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. You can use your favorite rum or substitute bourbon, Kahlua, etc. for the rum, depending on your personal preferences..

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. rum
1/4 c. light corn syrup
3 c. fine vanilla wafer crumbs (about 80 cookies, crushed finely)
1-1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
More confectioner's sugar to coat

In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans and 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. Set aside.

In top of double boiler, over hot, not boiling water, melt the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in rum and corn syrup. Drizzle chocolate mixture over crumb mixture, stirring until well combined. Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in confectioner's sugar to coat. Store in airtight container one week to develop flavor.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.

I hope you try these recipes and enjoy them!