klkellick: A large tree with very small silhouettes of people gathered underneath. (Default)

Following some branch of my dad's family tree back, I stumbled upon a bunch of Montgomerys. Irish Montgomerys, mind, not Scottish Montgomerys. But I've also seen enough documents that confuse and conflate the two -- not sure how -- that I decided to map out Lucy Maud Montgomery's family tree to see if there was any overlap if I went back far enough.

I now no longer wonder why she was depressed. I wonder how she wasn't outright crazy. The amount of intermarriage between Montgomerys (paternal line), Macneils (maternal line), Campbells (mother's sister marrying a more distant Montgomery cousin), and possibly MacLeods is more than a little unreal. I knew PEI was small, but I don't think I thought it was that small.

The possibility of a connection is pretty slim...I think I got distracted figuring out just how many branches overlap.

klkellick: A large tree with very small silhouettes of people gathered underneath. (Default)

Don't you just love when you wake up and trip over your husband's grandfather's cousin-in-law once removed?

Better yet, we connected through someone totally unrelated who is using Ancestry to document a Jewish cemetery in downstate NY.

And people wonder how genealogy can possibly be interesting!

klkellick: Gules, a chevron argent, accompanied by three trefoils or (tozer)

The thing about doing this research is, one doesn't exactly expect to have 400 years of history dumped in their laps all at once. Yet this is exactly what happened to me about 10 days ago.

My dad's paternal grandparents were named Arthur Tozer and Agnes Armstrong. Arthur died in some sort of tragic car accident on Hertel Ave in Buffalo about 10 years before my father was even born, so Dad never knew him. Agnes seems to have lived with her middle son in a Buffalo suburb for a while after that, but eventually relocated back to her native Ontario until her death in approx. 1958. All I really knew was that she had three sons; the youngest was my grandfather, who died suddenly when I was 8. I found it odd that the oldest was SO much older, and born in Canada rather than Buffalo like the younger two, but stranger things have happened, so I went with it.

About two weeks ago, I found a marriage license for her oldest son that pretty much had me panicking that I had the wrong Agnes. Why? Because this child, Richard Tozer, listed his father's first name as John (not Arthur), and Agnes' maiden name as Cavenagh. His DOB and POB matched up, his mother's first name was right, his wife's name was right. John? Maybe I could have gone with that, as Arthur occasionally used J as his middle initial. Maybe he went by John? But why hadn't I seen that anywhere else? The Cavenagh part as Agnes' maiden name is what really freaked me out, as I seriously deleted about 15-20 people from her family tree, convinced that I must have somehow severely messed up in my ignorance early on.

The next day, I found a post by utter chance that mentioned Arthur Tozer taking a train to Buffalo from Pennsylvania, to meet an Agnes Armstrong from Canada, where they had agreed to meet up and get married. This post was years old, like early-to-mid 2000s. I've posted, and responded to, other bulletin board postings before, but usually it's like a freaking message in a bottle: you hope someone, the right someone, sees it and responds with something useful. With that sort of mindset -- "this post is years old, who knows who this guy is, or if he's even using the same email account. But the names are right, there can't possibly be two Agnes Armstrongs and Arthur Tozers who lived in Buffalo at that time." So I responded, that I was pretty sure Agnes and Arthur were my paternal-paternal great-grandparents, and if he had anything useful on them, I'd be happy to trade what little information I'd been able to find.

Twenty-four hours later, the original poster responded. A few hours later, he'd given me enough information to trace Arthur's father and grandfather, back to a William H. Tozer who lived in the southern tier of New York, born in 1814. Wow, that's pretty cool, that's a whole century before my mom's family immigrated from Austria. Who knew the Tozers had been in the U.S. that long?

I had no idea.

(He also was able to clarify for me that Agnes' oldest son, Richard, had actually been the child of her first marriage -- to John Cavenagh. After they separated (divorced, I suspect, based on what I've found since then), and Agnes married Arthur, Richard started going by Richard J Tozer, rather than Richard Cavenagh. There may or may not have been a formal adoption, but as I understand from the bit of adoption history I've researched on my own, adoptions weren't always formal legal agreements until post-WWII.)

Within another 24 hours, I basically hit the genealogy jackpot. )

As you can probably imagine, I am STILL processing through the details of what landed in my lap. But suddenly, I have a very rooted sense of my dad's side of the family, something I never really had before. I am SO glad I was able to get in touch with my dad's cousins, and through them finally be able to figure out how we fit into things.

klkellick: A large tree with very small silhouettes of people gathered underneath. (Default)

As noted in the previous entry, my mom was able to clarify Allen Stokes' death record. He was in fact living in Baltimore, but was on a business trip in Georgia when he died suddenly. His body was then shipped home to Baltimore for burial. Hence the death record reading "MD, Georgia." Seems a funny way to be recorded, but it at least makes a little more sense.

My mom also says that Flossie used to swear we were related to General Pickett. So not the Robert E. Lee connection I'd mis-remembered from childhood, but close. The only way I can think of for that to have worked is if one of her brothers married one of his descendants, given that both her parents came here from Denmark.

The circus thing is, still, thus far a maddening exercise in futility. On a whim, I made a separate family tree for Spencer Quinn Stokes, his wife, and his four daughters, to see what kind of hints Ancestry came up with. The grand result? NOTHING. I swear, these people don't really exist, or someone was making sh!t up.

klkellick: A large tree with very small silhouettes of people gathered underneath. (Default)

Sent the following to my parents the other night. The intent was to let my dad know what I'd found about his maternal grandmother's family. My mom says they're going to go over it, as well as some other data I sent them, and see if it jogs their memories at all to help fill in the holes I still have. (Like his grandmother's first husband.)

Flossie's parents were Samuel Jasperson (1849-1902) and Carrie Hansen (1862-1942). They both came here from Denmark, and settled in Neenah, Winnebago county, Wisconsin around 1883. I'm not sure if they married before or after immigration, but they both arrived around the same time. After Samuel died in 1902, Carrie and at least three of their children relocated to Baltimore, MD.

Flossie had three older brothers: Alexander C, Harold J, and John Martin. There's also reference to a sister, Olga Jasperson, who was born in 1887 and shows up in the 1900 census. I'm not sure what happened to her after that; perhaps she died young?

Alexander C Jasperson was in the Navy, as you said, around 1910. By the next census in 1920, he had settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, married a woman named Helen, and eventually had four daughters. He seems to have died in Ft. Benning, Georgia, in 1952.

All I've found for Harold J Jasperson is that he died in Baltimore, MD in 1912. So we know he moved to Baltimore with Carrie.

Likewise, John Martin Jasperson was in Baltimore, MD in 1910, sharing a residence with Carrie, Harold, and Flossie. He was still living somewhere in MD in 1917-1918, according to "Maryland Military Men" -- he would have been 22 at the time, perhaps he was in WWI? Not sure where he was in 1920; by 1930-32 he was living in Harrisburg, PA. In 1940 he was living in Boston, MA. At some point he married Helen Louise Vanderpool (great-aunt Helen that we used to visit?). He died in Newton, MA in 1969.

Florence Marie Jasperson was born in 1899 in Neevah, WI. Florence Elizabeth Marie Jasperson was baptized in 1909 at St Stephen the Martyr Chapel, an Episcopal church, in Baltimore, MD (age 10). She shows up in the 1910 census with Carrie, Harold, and John, as noted above. I was unable to find anything on her in the 1920 census -- she would have been 21, perhaps this was when she was married to her first husband? By the 1930 census, she's living with Allen, Carrie, and grandmother on [redacted for public posting]. Carrie is listed there as the owner of the house, with Flossie and Allen renting from her. By the 1940 census, Allen is listed as the homeowner of [redacted -- same home], with Carrie, Flossie, and grandmother all still living there.

For a while, ALL I could find on Allen Young Stokes was that he was born somewhere in Virginia (maybe), and that he was married to someone named Gertrude during the 1910 and 1920 censuses. Eventually I was able to find the marriage announcement for his first marriage, to Gertrude Demitz of Baltimore, in Richmond, VA in December 1901. I eventually found her grave, which is how I found that after she and Allen divorced, she married a James Wesley Knight, and then died in 1977. I've found no evidence that they had any children.

I did eventually find Allen's WWII draft card from April 1942, which gives his birthdate as 24 October 1878, in Richmond, VA. I'm taking that as the best source available.

The best I can find for his death is the Georgia death index; an Allen Y Stokes is listed as having died on 2 June 1943, in "Md, Georgia." That makes no sense to me, but there it is. [Added later: Mom says Allen died in Georgia on a business trip, and his body was shipped home to Baltimore for burial.]

I have found nothing connecting Allen to a circus. (I think trying to find out more about him and this circus business is how I started getting into genealogy in the first place, pretty much as soon as I got on the internet in college!) HOWEVER, I have found what might only be circumstantial evidence that his *father* might have been connected to a circus. The marriage announcement for Allen and Gertrude gives his father's name as only "W. S. Stokes." Let me tell you, there are a LOT of Stokes' in this country, especially in the south! There are even other Allen Young Stokes, as well as variations on similar names, none of which seem to match up to our Allen Young Stokes. However, the ONLY other place I have found a "W. S. Stokes" is on a circus history website; he's listed as the band leader for Adam Forepaugh’s circus 1889. Adam Forepaugh was apparently P. T. Barnum's biggest competition at one point. The same site lists a Spencer Q. Stokes, who was a "horse trainer and showman" with a number of circuses, including Adam Forepaugh's in 1869. Spencer Stokes had four daughters, three of whom were circus equestriennes; the fourth became an actress.

I don't know if any of these Stokes' are related Allen, but they're probably a decent place to start. Do you know anything else that might point me in the right direction?

Was Flossie's first husband's last name Walker? I think I remember hearing/thinking that was Grandmother's maiden name at one point. I only second-guessed that when I saw [living relative name redacted] on the 1930 census, but maybe Allen adopted her when he and Flossie married?

klkellick: A large tree with very small silhouettes of people gathered underneath. (Default)

Oh my goodness. In the last 2-3 days, a whole bunch of things fell together, and I've ended up with a whole lot more Tozer history than I ever expected.

Um. I think I technically qualify for DAR. O_O

I also got some Barlow goodness in the mail from Howard's grandmother, which I haven't finished transcribing into Ancestry yet.

But holy crap. I've gone from thinking my family were nobodys from nowhere to finding out we helped settle the NY/PA border. And that's after we came over much earlier, pre-Revolutionary War.

Ho. Lee. Crap.

klkellick: A large tree with very small silhouettes of people gathered underneath. (Default)

Growing up, I always heard that Mom's family was Austrian, and that Dad's family was vaguely British, with a strain of Scandinavian. There were other details, such as the name of the village both my maternal grandparents' parents had come from, and a supposedly "colorful" character on Dad's side who had once owned a circus.

I've often been curious about filling in the holes -- sometimes rather large ones that the most knowledgeable didn't want to talk about. But those people are dying off, and that history is being lost.

I've toyed with genealogy in the past, but while I was out of work for nearly a year, I really started pursuing some of these leads. The release of the 1940 U.S. Census was another push -- that census, taken just before the U.S. got involved in WWII, contains the names of my grandparents, the people I'm most likely to know their full names and birthdates. I now have a family tree that goes several generations back on my mom's side, and at least back to my great-grandparents on my dad's side. From there, things get tricky as emigration comes into play; without a paid account, I generally only have access to free material from the U.S. on the larger, more well-known sites. Records from overseas, or even just from Canada, are harder to access.

But I'm also finding the names and dates don't do justice to the dramatic, everyday stories of those people. Divorce, remarriage, even a murder/suicide. Family members who disappear from available records after they leave home -- what happened to them? Was one of them really married multiple times, or do the historical documents have different names/nicknames for the same person? Plus, so many national borders changed with each war that what we call ourselves now is not necessarily how our ancestors thought of themselves -- that small village in Austria? Was actually part of Hungary before WWI, with a very different name. That makes a difference when you're trying to find records from the "wrong" country!

So here I am, just trying to dig up and preserve what I can; honor those people who made my family what it is now; and saving that information for my generation, and those after me. And who knows, someone even just "locally" famous might turn up. I might even find the truth of that circus story -- which I think might have been what got me interested to begin with.


klkellick: A large tree with very small silhouettes of people gathered underneath. (Default)
Kristen Kellick

May 2013

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