When guessing is all you have…

When Amalie was 7-years-old she was sent to a neighboring farm to work because her family was so poor.

I found this little nugget of information tucked in my e-records for my Great-Grandmother (my father’s maternal grandmother) Thyra Amalie Martinsen JENSEN. It took me by surprise because it wasn’t tied to any supporting documentation [1], I didn’t recall adding the tidbit to my records myself, nor were there any notes of where else the info may have come from. [2]

Read More »

Mommy Dearest or Dearest Mom?

The only picture I have of Lizzie Miller, from her headstone.

A story persists in the McDowell oral history about Lizzie Martin McDowell, my paternal great-grandmother. As the story goes, she was a wicked thing, mean and abusive to both her children and her husband John as well as being generally promiscuous, having an affinity for the local male population. [1]

Poor Lizzie. Will no one defend her honor?

Read More »

Looking for Noah

It’s Easter this Sunday. And for at least one of my maternal ancestors, that would have been a very busy time of year.

According to my great-grandmother’s handwritten notes about her family, her grandfather, William Noah Marsh, was “a Baptist clergyman in England.”

That really isn’t a ton of information to go on, but I’ve been trying to track him down none-the-less.

Read More »

Black Gold

Texas tea [1]… Or, in this case, perhaps Louisiana chicory?

Yep, Oil. That same bubbly that enticed Jed Clampett to pack up everything and move also emitted a homing beacon to the McPhail clan.

One Hardin Malcolm McPhail answered the call… at the ripe ol’ age of fifty-four.

Read More »

When your ancestor’s name is John Smith…

Or, in my case, the Danish equivalent of John Smith: Jens Jensen, my paternal great-grandfather.

I know almost nothing about him: he came to the United States in 1900 with my great-grandmother, Thyra Amalia [1] Martinsen, and their son Oscar; by 1910 [2], he was farming in Platte, Nebraska and supporting a family of five–wife Amelia, and children Oscar (10), Johanna (7), Marie (6), and Florence (3); by 1920 he has disappeared–separated from my great-grandmother, perhaps divorced. There are stories of his drinking and squandering of money.

Read More »