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35 years ago, an amnesia patient died in a nursing home in Morton, Illinois. This photo and story appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, in Peoria, Illinois on February 25, 1979. We have transcribed this article exactly as it was printed in February of 1979 for easier reading, and to honor the upcoming 35th anniversary of the Rick Baker series. Over the next week, we will post the 6-part series that ran in the newspaper so that you can experience the same interest and intrigue that we felt in 1979. Fast forward to today, we hope that our friends and genealogy community can find new clues and help confirm the mystery of Mary Doefour.
Whether you are just beginning to research your family history, or you have been working on your branches for years, there comes a time to hire a professional genealogist.
Click on the link above to read the entire blog. It doesn't cut and paste properly into this post
I have gone through the Mayflower Society Application process and our family has been officially accepted as members. Our roots traced our family back to Francis Cooke, Stephen Hopkins and Elizabeth Fisher Hopkins who came over on the Mayflower in 1620.
What an exhausting yet rewarding process. What is exhausting is the detail that the society expects when proving a connection. This is critical in order to ensure you have the true relationship established.
One must provide all vital documents for the current 3 generations in your line (birth, marriage and death records). They require the courthouse documents, not church records. And if a vital record doesn't exist because a state didn't require them at that time, then they need something in writing from the government agency that the records did not exist at that time.
Connecting the generations beyond the current 3 requires birth, marriage and death records; however this is where it gets tricky. States didn't always require them earlier in the US, parents were rarely listed on these documents, and records were often destroyed in local courthouses. One must truly be crafty to figure out how to properly establish kinship.
Census Records earlier than 1880 do not establish the relationship to the head of the household. Thus, they rarely accept them as documentation.
All written Wills and Probate records used in your documentation must include a typed translation. This sounds easy but some of the older wills were written with such elaborate scripts that they are very hard to read.
All newspaper obituaries must include a typed translation. Again, this sounds easy but some copies of newspaper obituaries are extremely blurry.
All documents must include sources and any cover pages if using materials from books.
The rewarding part came from the fact that all of my hard work over the years in tracing my lineage paid off in spades when I had about 95% of my application complete by the time I submitted my documents. But that is most often very rare. What was left to do was gather a few vital records since they would not accept church records as the main document to connect the dots. My family left just enough snippets of clues to let me know there was a connection, and then gave me a trail to satisfy that connection. It was just up to me to collect the necessary documents which included everything from Vital Records, Probates including Wills and Land Records, Newspaper Obituaries, Church Records, Census Records, Widows Pension Record, Cemetery Records, Cemetery Headstone Photos, and more.
At the end of the day, I didn't realize how much this membership would mean to me until I received an official acceptance. It is an honorable distinction to know that my family had such strong and admirable ancestors that braved the cold seas to bring us life in this new land. I am forever grateful to my family roots.
Our Bohemian grandmother was born in the year 1900 in Chicago and given up for adoption. It was one of the last family searches I attempted to work on because of the daunting nature of the challenge. Fast forward to this month, we just got exciting news about the birth father. I located a 3rd cousin of the suspected birth father. She took a DNA test along with my brother, and it came back with a match. It was a beautiful moment. If you are on the fence about a family connection, I highly recommend the DNA route.
You can read the blog at the site below.
If your family has the Driscoll Surname, we are looking for members to join the Driscoll DNA Project. The more people that take the test, the better chance we have of connecting with our relatives. Currently there are 79 people from around the world taking part and connecting thru DNA. See link below.
My Driscoll family came from Leap, Cork, Ireland in the parish of Kilmacabea around 1840. I have reason to beleive some immigrated to Australia. John Driscoll married Julia Dempsey.
Here is the link:
My newest blog
Feel free to share your scary stories.
I just got back from a week long research trip to Ireland. I learned a lot about Catholic Church Records in Ireland. If anyone wants me to look up or confirm the parish that your ancestors are from, I have a great index book that has detailed parish names, towns, and diocese, all by County. I can also tell you what records exist and the dates available to look at.
New Blog on the Importance of Researching Siblings.
His name was Valentine, and he was the younger brother of my great-great grandmother Eliza. Well, happy Valentines day to me because his death solved one of the weirdest mysteries in our family tree and ultimately found a missing loved one. Ok, so it took me 2 years to figure it out, but my gut knew it all along, I was just slow in following thru.
Lets back up. My gg grandfather Henry was born in the small town of Grombach, Baden, Germany in 1841. I am fascinated by Henry. He immigrated with his entire family and has been fairly easy to trace. I have a picture of him and will say he looks like a cocky, I mean confident, gg grandpa. I guess you had to be confident when you are the type of person that would travel by wagon to the state of Nebraska in 1875, without a home, set up camp in a cave, and eventually become a wealthy farmer with hundreds of land acres at the time of his death in 1919.
But Henry had 2 wives. It wasnt until I uncovered a tattered letter from 1942, packed away in a box at my mothers house, that I discovered my gg grandmother Eliza was actually Henrys first wife who died at the young age of 24 in 1872. My line wasnt 2nd wife Margaret after all. First wife Eliza was the mother of my great grandfather Fred. In the letter, it told us where she was buried, along with a baby daughter that nobody knew about. I reached out to the cemetery caretaker and he helped me locate the headstone, which my sister visited and photographed last year.
It turns out the cemetery is in this dinkly little Illinois town of maybe 400 people today, so probably 20 people 142 years ago. Mystery solved, sort of. I had Eliza down, now I began work on her mother Martha. Crap, instant brick wall.
For almost 2 years, I searched for GGG Grandma Martha. She was born in Missouri and lived most of her life there until I found her living as a widow with Eliza and Henry in the 1870 census, near the town of Elizas burial location in Illinois. But I never found Martha again - ever. I searched the 1880 census so many times it was almost ridiculous. No death record on file at the archives dept for the state of Illinois. I assumed she went back to the state of Missouri and where her 2 sons were living, but nothing. So I started chasing everything I could think of including her son Valentine and another son George. I also searched for their children, their childrens children, etc. I chased what I think (but Im not sure) are a few brothers, a probable father, and a couple sisters, but no luck. I even called the caretaker of the Illinois cemetery back to ask if he had a record of Marthas burial. Nope.
Eventually, I obtained the death certificate for Marthas youngest son Valentine in 1918. Heres where it gets weird. Valentine died 47 years later in the same dinky little Illinois town that his sister is buried at, even though he lived all of his life in Missouri. His death certificate said he had only been in town for 3 days, a coroners inquest was performed, and they could not determine cause of death.
Whats that about? I will secretly admit I feared maybe he suffered from dementia, went to the grave of his sister and took his life. But I desperately hoped that maybe his mother Martha was actually buried there after all, and he was there to pay his respects.
Heres another fun fact - Valentine died on my birthday. Maybe the universe was sending me a sign? Keep digging, Ellen.
It finally dawned on me that even though Valentine wasnt from this dinky town where he died, the suspicious nature of his death might lead to a newspaper article about the circumstances.
Ding Ding. His death made 2 newspapers in the area. It turns out he really was visiting his mothers grave. While trying to fix her broken headstone, he had what was most likely a stroke and fell over onto a pile of rocks. His body wasnt found for 24 hours.
Im sorry Uncle Valentine, but I will be forever grateful to your stroke. Hallelujah, GGG Grandma Martha has been found. Now if I could only figure out where Marthas parents are. The hunt truly never ends.
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Dont be afraid of the cemetery..
Have you ever just walked around a cemetery? If not, you should! And, no, we are not ghost busters, devil worshipers or into being scared silly.
Heres the thing; it will be what you make it. For us, its almost always a peaceful, thought-provoking, spiritual, educational and beautiful place to wander about.
Every year around my birthday, I go visit a friend who passed away shortly before his 40th birthday. Im now well over 40. Cemeteries also provide perspective..lots and lots of perspective! Suddenly, things like your slow internet connection or having a bad hair day dont really seem like such a big deal.
The real estate for almost every cemetery we have been to, is usually the best in town, with the best views to boot. Your relatives final resting place may have expansive ocean views and sweeping mountain views, or even 360 city views.
You can wander about and see actual pictures of the deceased (thank goodness for modern conveniences, i.e. hair dryers, curling irons, lip waxing, etc.), very interesting names, entry gates with incredibly ornate detail, decades- old magnificent shade trees, and sometimes, if you are lucky, you may even learn a little something from a headstone. At one particular cemetery, we even saw a bullet hole shot straight into the face of the deceased, the picture of which was on the headstone. What the heck is the story behind that?!
If you havent visited your relatives final resting place, get going! Of course, its understandable if this is a hard thing emotionally for you to do, but it doesnt have to be a sad, morose place to visit. You can make your visit a happy and spiritual trip, believe it or not! Mother Nature is really the only thing that should keep you from visiting.
Where is the most beautiful cemetery you have ever visited? Share with us your stories.