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]

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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?

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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.

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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.

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The Disobedient Daughter

When Great-great-great-great-grandpa Thomas Chilcoat passed on, the will1 he left behind was relatively standard. First, pay all his expenses and his funeral. Second, provide for his wife. Then he starts divvying up his assets among his children: 2/5 to Robert, his eldest son [my 3rd great grandfather], 2/5 to Thomas, his youngest son, 1/5 to Elizabeth, his youngest daughter. And…

I give and devise to Sarah my eldest daughter only five dollars for the caus [sic] of her being a disobedient child

Thomas Chilcoat, Last Will & Testament, written 04 Jul 1840

One just cannot read a statement like that without wondering What in the heck did poor Sarah do to make Papa so angry?

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Delusions of Grandeur

When I was in the 10th Grade, I had to write a research paper for history. We were given a list of Civil War topics from which to choose.

  • My choice: General Irvin McDowell
  • Why?: Because his last name was the same as mine. And wouldn’t it be cool if I was related to someone famous?

Sadly, Irvin is not my long lost 3rd-Great-Uncle or even my 1st-Cousin-4x-Removed. He was just a very unskilled Union general1.

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