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Boneyards and Bonfires - Genealogy research

Halfway through another coma inducing week and I realized, I haven't blogged recently. Which partially explains the sludge pooling behind my retinas - nothing like a backed up brain to make a chick ornery.
And so here I am considering the complexities of life as I know it - wondering why higher consciousness is tauted as the next best thing to opposing digits? Wouldn't it be simpler if all my desires were to be scratched behind one furry ear and slid a bowl of kibble once daily - rather than this madness to BE something more than the sum parts of my ample parts prone to decay?
You see, I've had this pet project curdling in my cranium now for several years, but haven't expressed the whey from the solids due to inumerable issues like the concept of only 24 hours in a day and technology that leaves me seizing on the floor and retching into my shoes if it requires more than the simple "plug and play." On a whim I recently plugged in my scanner and surged to life without so much as one tiny error message...and the thoughts commenced to bubblin.
So I started down the rodent hole on a day trip called "Family Geneology" I thought it would be entertaining to fill out a family tree and amalgamate the multiple "family histories" I have in various stages of completion in drawers, and desks - and build something beautiful, perhaps for my spawn - all on line of course. So I joined a few "search" sites - mostly free ones but also Archives (which is very reasonable) and I set out on my epic discovery. (Besides, I need a diversion from my own wretched egofeeding TLBoehm fiasco) I dug out the Strand History circa 1970 something - the Hughes notes from a dear Auntie - and the dog earred collection of family data for the Pearce descendents - and proceded to set up a free site. Quite by accident I also found a beautifully written account of part of the Boehm Family. (I read parts of it and actually cried. it was impressive and eloquently penned) So I put up the parental units and started working backwards. And then I hit it - the proverbial wall constructed to deter grave robbers like me. Her name is Barb...she's my mom. It was a simple request, really. "Hey Mom, hows it goin' can ya tell me why Grandpa Lindquist s parent's aren't listed anywhere and who is the Southwell family and why is there a McNiel mother - with the Southwells, but Grandpa is an L and there's no parents for McNiel? OOPS....Apparently, Nellie Southwell, Grandpa's dear mother - maiden name McNiel and a brother produced Grandpa...and that's why mom was born with birth defects. and who am I to do harm to my mom by bringing this up? OK. The entire family is deceased - Grandpa, Grandma - mom's sister - all gone except for two adult cousins, Mom and me. WHO IS GOING TO CARE?
And so I called my mom again today - encouraging her that she has a story to tell about who she is, how she's overcome her "disabilities" to live this rich life....and no one else will tell her story if she doesn't. There's no one left. She tells me she will send dates and names of family. My mom is a creative type. She at times embellishes in areas where I beleive the simple truth is much more relevent. That being said, I know I will want to confirm the validity of her information.
Which brings me to this. I did find the Southwells on the 1930 census - so I know they existed. But here's the real rub - good, bad, whoremonger, or indifferent - I ache at the thought that a life has been reduced to a line of handwriting on a yellowed paper....what a waste. I want to know this woman who loved to lock her granddaughter in the outhouse, who shacked up with an amish blacksmith, who managed to garner a surname for a first son....there's a story there too....and I am a writer...right?
That's just one side of the family. I have pictures and anecdotal material to start on...once I get it fleshed out - I'll go to the families and see if they will share....and then open the thing up...Its actually fun...I'm addictive enough that I MUST reveal Nellie - she is my obsession of the moment.
Peace. If you're interested in geneology, I've stumbled upon some great sites. I may blog about it at some point....right now - its a break from traditional writing...

Cousin Di (aka Diana Spencer)

Yup. I'll take Diana Spencer for the win. I mapped out the connection a few weeks ago. Some peeps chit chat over a Mcsomething. I scrounge familial entrails for digestable leavin's.

So Princess Diana is a cousin. My tenth cousin once removed via my paternal Hughes/Secord line. Yes, its a distant tie but still an interesting rabbit hole. Unfortunately, rather than do a happy dance on my desk I feel a bit sad about it all. There are those odd moments whilst sifting through dry archival data that I am suddenly reminded of the life that churned up the dust through which I shuffle. In Diana Spencer's specific case, it brought memories of High School spilling from my cortex like so much floodwater breaching the levy. For a moment I was 16 again, fixated by the fairy tale fluff of a royal wedding. The next moment I was 32, baby on my lap, mourning with the world at the passing of a princess. So often in the harsh moments we are reminded that we are adult and mortal. It makes me ache a bit.

Perhaps its the hardwiring of my specific feminine gender that causes me to make the jump from lamenting over the sad cessation of a famous distant cousin to the lesser celebrated but equally relevant relatives closer to the trunk of my sprawling tree. Perhaps I am not alone in my occassional starstruck moments because in these moments we garner at least a perfunctory nod from those family and friends who usually relegate our genealogical diversions to the same pile as bright blue eye shadow and bellbottom jeans. (she's cataloguing the deceased now, but it will pass. Eventually she'll run out of bodies) Yet amongst the rulers and ruffians there are real stories of real people who lived and breathed and dreamed in anonymity. I find these souls just as satisfying to "rediscover" as I do a more recognisable name. And if I am afforded a glimpse into his or her life - the ache is just as palpable as I felt that day in 1997 when I watched Princess Di's funeral on TV. We all have a story.....


2 comment(s), latest 4 years, 4 months ago

Daniel Bliss - Poet

For almost a year now Ive had this genealogy addiction and my two small family histories encompassing less than a thousand souls has now burgeoned to over 4500 souls on and over 100 thousand on Now I am an opportunist. I will research any branch biological as well as by marriage which means I now have some interesting information on my step mom, my step dad and a step grandfather (my biological grandfather my dads dad died the same year I was born so the step grandfather is the only one Ive known.)

So far my northern European appearance holds true with few surprises of the oh I didnt know we were Dutch, French or German variety. That being said, I keep searching for family members who may be non Caucasian blood ties (so far I have one Native American great great grandmother) and since Im seeing some evidence of settlers in the 1700s it may be possible that I will run into some family member who owned slaves. I would find this onerous but I know its possible.

What I recently found however is that at least one of my step family had a spine and stood publicly against slavery (unfortunately he was also a British sympathizer.cant win em all) and the information thus far is below:

The Gravestone of John Jack on the Burying Hill in Concord. John Jack a former slave who had bought his freedom in 1761, asked Daniel Bliss to draw up his will, and Bliss made him immortal by composing an epitaph in the prevailing balanced syle of the day, wlhich had a barb for the liberty-loving patriots who nevertheless kept slaves. One of Bliss's Tory friends sent it to England to be printed in a London newspaper as an ironic comment on the pretensions of the Sons of Liberty. Lane Bliss 2009

John Jack was a former slave who had been owned by shoemaker Benjamin Barron of Concord, MA. Jack was able to buy his freedom and before his death on March 17, 1773. According to the local historian his epitaph was written by a local attorney who was an active abolitionist.
This attorney was also a Torrey and supported the British during the Revolutionary War. He had to flee for his life since Concord was a hot bed of British resistance. No one ever knew for sure where he went. (research shows he died in New Brunswick, Canada Boehms notes)
Here's the tombstone epitaph he wrote:

God wills us free
Man wills us slaves
Gods will be done
Here lies the body of John Jack,
Native of Africa. Who died March 1773
Aged about sixty years
Tho' born in a land of slaves
He was born free
Tho' he lived in a land of liberty
He lived a slave,
Till by his honest tho' stolen labour
He acquired the source of slavery
Which gave him his freedom;
Tho' not long before
Death the grand tyrant
gave him his final emancipation,
and put him on a footing with kings
Tho' a slave to vice
He practiced those virtues
Without which kings are but slaves. " (-Daniel Bliss (1739 - 1805) relationship to me: 1st cousin 5x removed of husband of paternal grandmother)

From the internet Craig Brown

My bent in posting this is: we humans have the propensity at times to distance ourselves from things based on our immediacy or our personal experience. Time and distance become our excuses to forget the horror and the injustices real people experienced while living out their lives in anonymity. We can certainly overcome via education and empathy but we can never forget..complacency and apathy are poisonous - deadly


Frank "Tussy" Russell manager of Annie Taylor "First woman to survive shooting Horseshoe Falls in a Barrel"

A couple of months ago while perched on the edge of my comfy couch and watching Nick Wallenda traverse a corded cable stretched across the mighty Niagara Falls, I was reminded of one of my favorite family stories. My mother in law Margaret, family historian for her own Smith/Black relatives, first mentioned my father in law, Louis Boehms connection to one Frank Tussy Russell. Frank Russell was known as a carnival and fair promoter in Bay City, Michigan when he was hired by school teacher Annie Edson Taylor. On October 24, 1901, Annie became the first person to go over Horseshoe Fall in a barrel and survive. Unfortunately, for Annie she became involved shortly afterward in a financial dispute with Frank Russell who briefly made off with her barrel and held it for ransom. Some sources indicate that Frank made public appearances with the barrel and a beautiful young woman posing as Annie Taylor before he was eventually jailed and forced to return Annies barrel.
While much of the information Ive uncovered depicts Mr. Russell as slightly nefarious, an opportunist taking advantage of an impoverished woman and ultimately contributing to her death as a pauper, Ive found nothing regarding the family of Mr. Russell with the exception of excerpts from the Boehm family history by William Dryden Boehm. William Bill Boehm, an uncle of my husband spent several years compiling information on the Boehms from their immigration to Bay City from Marienwerder Prussia forward to present day. According to data provided by Bills research, Frank married Lena Boehm, daughter of immigrant Max Boehm in 1896 when Lena was 18. Bill states that Frank reluctantly decided to represent Annie as her manager. He says as a young man Frank got into promoting after watching kids jump from the high lumber pilings into the Saginaw River. Lena and Frank had one daughter, Lillian who eventually married and moved to California. It is not known whether Lena was perhaps the beautiful woman Frank was passing off as Annie or whether Lena and Frank eventually divorced. I have found evidence of Frank, Lena and Lillian on the 1930 census residing in Detroit. According to Bill Boehm, Lena moved to California and passed away in 1968. Lillian had no children, and Ive found nothing about Frank after the 1930 census. On the 1940 census, only Lena, Lillian and Lillians husband are listed.
The Boehm family is a stalwart bunch, not given over to drama, intrigue or fanfare. It comes as no surprise therefore that no mention has been made of Lena Boehm Russells thoughts on her promoter husband and his role in history. Even the inclusion of Frank and Lena in William Boehms research was done simply out of deep love and respect for his family and not for outside attention. Speculation aside, I nonetheless find the story to be a fascinating moment in my familys history.
The picture is of Lena and daughter Lillian circa 1900

Genetic Ethnicity DNA Results

So after flunking my first Ancestry Dot Com DNA test, I got the results of the second one yesterday. Yes, I'm geekin' out about it. What else do I have to do?

And the survey SAID!

British Isles: 69%
Scandinavia: 17%
Finnish-Volga/Ural 7%
Turkish/Persian/Caucasus 7%

What does it mean? YOU tell ME.

Most of you know, I have "daddy issues" as my mom told me when I was 27 or so that the man who raised me was not my dad, and my dad was a High School sweetheart she was divorcing the man I thought was daddy for. The man who raised me passed away in 2009. Both of his parents are gone and of the surviving brothers, the brothers aren't sure if they are full or half brothers - and they live in different states which makes DNA testing difficult. You'd think perhaps a DNA test from Ancestry would calm my little girl brain. But it doesn't. You see, while I know a lot about some of my family - depending on which dad is dad, I know nothing about some of my family so the above test is pretty much "Inconclusive" in proving whether I am truly a Hughes or a Davis. Reason being: On the Davis side - I am missing all information on George's mother. And on my mom's side I am missing all information on my mom's grandfather - who could be Swede but may be Irish/Scot. My dad who raised me was Norwegian/English - but there was a great great great grandparent who was presumably Native American. That didn't show up in this test - but say George's mom was Greek - well - its possible that the test would have proven my Hughes ancestry? See my conundrum?
Anyway. The test is 98% accurate over 700,000 genomes in evidencing genetic ancestry for up to a 1000 years back. So that means my peeps probably originated in the area of Persia/Turkey/The Caucasus - moved up into the Ural Mountains and Finland (did you know Finns are not considered Scandinavians? I did not know that) then over into Scandinavia and down into the British Islands. So far - I see on all sides of my family that the bulk of my peeps came from Norway down to either the British Isles or Normandy then over to the states settling on the east coast or around the Great Lakes area and the Dakotas. I do have a great great Grandpa born in Denmark who was supposedly Finn - but he is a dead end. My Norwegian paternal family dead ends in the 1700's in Norway. The Britons go way back (I'm working in the 1100 to 900's with multiple family lines) but the Persian/Turkish connection....don't see it yet in the paper work.
So my expected 25% Norwegian can be explained by a couple of things. First would be a few point variance in the %s and the second is explained as "Genetic Shuffling" - in other words - just because the Orakers and Axness clans were in Nord Aurdal in the 1700's - doesn't mean that they were true Viking - and just like red hair - a marker for "scandinavian" may have been trumped in the sequencing by some bog jumping, kilted ruffian with bad teeth and a serious brogue.
What I found amazing is - the lack of Southern European DNA.. Apparently the Persian/Turkish/Caucasus didn't migrate across the continent and up into the British Isles - but they hugged the Ural mountains and areas of Russia. Also - any evidence of Roman influence in the British DNA (because you know the Romans were Toads and invaded everyone) is not evident.
It also goes to show that no matter how you slice me - I'm pretty darn paste-y. I'm a veritable glow stick. Except for that Persian part which may go to explain my taste for lentils and that chin hair I deal with (and I thought it was hormones)
None of it really matters in the scheme of things I suppose - unless you're inclined to be interested in human migrations. I find some validation in it. It makes me curious to learn more.
And that's my ramble for the day.

I May Be A Lizard Genealogy Archive 09/2010

I've been working on my family's geneology for a couple of months now, searching amongst the bandwidth for snippets of random verification of my lineage. My spawn calls it "cataloguing the dead'. The TPB's (testosterone producing bipeds) in my home have little to no interest in the 1700+ names I've thus far accumulated. For me, I find it fascinating - this commonality in individuality I see - how connected we really are, how resilient we were just a few generations back, and every once in awhile theres a quantum quirk in the matrix - a moment of clarity pierces the veil and I see something amazing in the mundane. Or perhaps I just get a bit silly staring at the PC for hours. Who knows?
It happened yesterday after a dear soul with an account flooded my aol inbox with five different censuses plotting out the Hughes branch of my family tree. There it was: a couple of sequential names ("Lorenzo") and an affiliation to the freemasons. BOOYAH. And she's off.....Perhaps my affinity to our former pet iguana goes beyond mere stewardship of God's creatures. You see, I may be a Lizard. It would explain so much in my family to accept the fact that we are connected to those Martian reptilian immigrants who are responsible for the murder of JFK and who killed Princess Diana as a sacrifice. And it would also go far in explaining the wattled neck I've sprouted in the past few years. Now if I could just manifest a whip like tail and serrated teeth.
And that's how my brain processes information!
A few years ago I read portions of a book by David Icke detailing how we are in fact controlled by shapeshifting lizards from Mars. The house of Windsor, most high ranking government officials including several former presidents, and the freemasons: all reptilian. The sheer volume of data this man has amassed is compelling - its absurdity notwithstanding - he's done significant research on mythologies and the mindsets of us plebeans. Truthfully though, I can't be a lizard. I'm not in any position of influencing or controlling others -so while my family has tantalizing connections - I'm just a food source like the rest of you.
Seriously, I did find the fact that "Lorenzo" was a shared name, and that both bearers also were freemasons - but my wattle is simply evidence of my aging human skin and nothing more. I do suggest - if you're fascinated by conspiracy theories (or if you just want to shake your head in disbelief) check out David Icke. He has a website
As for my family - our greatest claim to fame thus far - besides my husband's marital connection to Frank Tussy Russell (the manager of the first female to survive going over Niagra Falls in a barrel) has been in the form of land purchases and homesteading information. One of the Lorenzo's is a Lorenzo Secord. Easily googled, btw.
So my daydreams of jewel toned scaly skin and formidable claws must concede to the ordinary dirt and sweat that eventually produced me (and the bulk of humanity) for the moment I'm content. I'm going to rest on the comment of a friend who told me to take the mundane and turn it to gold...and that is what I will attempt to do. ( wish I could find that original comment so I could thank the commentor appropriately...the comment meant so much and I don't remember who said it....sigh)

I May Be Native American - Research 07/10/10

Mahala Bowman Keeley
Quite by accident I stumbled across this amazing geneology buff named Jeannie who responded to a query I had posted the Hughes message board at Over the past two days the inundation of information has made my head spin. Now it is more than a possibility that the woman in the picture is my great great great grandmother. I'm still waiting for subsequent information although the census data is strongly supportive of the connection. My paternal Great Grandpa Tracy Hughes married Florence Keeley, daughter of John Keeley. Johns parents were quite possibly Francis and Mahala (my grandfather was William Francis - and my son is Eric Francis so Francis may be more of a Family name than I thought)
Apparently Mahala Bowman Keeley was part of the Sandusky OH Senecas. I never would have imagined that I possibly had Native American bloodlines - I guess it makes me 1/32nd Seneca. (smirk) Pretty crazy, huh. I'm not totally for sure for sure yet, but it is a possibility. I am hoping to connect with a party on ancestry who has more extensive information on Francis Keeley and Mahala Bowman. We'll see what happens.
footnote 08/13/12 - Mahala is in fact my 3rd great grandmother.


Why? Because it HURTS! Seriously, though even I of the land of spreadsheets and reconciliations cannot be serious all the time. Even I must find respite, recreation and time to allow my brain to cool lest it overheat and become extra crispy.

And so Ive been dipping the brain pain in that cryogenic brew known as my genealogy diversion or as my family dubs it cataloguing the deceased. Some people play Sudoku. I plot family groups. At least Im not out spending my hard earned dollars on Jimmy Choos. I digress.
For those of you who know me and admit it - you also are aware that my aforementioned hobby is just that. A hobby. I have no vendettas, no motives and I am usually motivated to ferret out the dusty leavins of a family simply because of the rich history lesson I acquire when I google that deceased persons name, country or timeline of existence. I have learned that the hours spent carefully sifting through the familial bones will turn up familial treasure of the type I savor.
Case in point. For the past few days Ive been flipping between the Hudspeth/Watson families in the 1600 to 1300, and the Daviss and the Hughes lines which are now back to the 800 and earlier. Ive been on the trail of some ancient Viking types when suddenly my little brain was blown away. There it was on multiple sites, multiple reputable sources historical evidence that dovetails with my Ancestry DNA test and my theory about berserker blood. Yup. Odin is my grandpa. Thor is my uncle. Really Really.
Now before you assume that Ive taken a hard hit to my noggin whilst plummeting from said genealogical tree, I shall pummel you with theory and evidence. Whilst my Nordic, pillagin peeps would barrel roll in their earthen burial mounds to consider it, it appears that Odin was actually a real person. Many of the ancient texts, mythologies etc speak of Odins people coming from what is now Turkey (the place, not the poultry I know what youre thinking.) and that Odin in fact died. It is a common cultural practice to deify a cultures earliest rulers and this is apparently what happened with Odin. So as I attempted to prove or disprove the theory I found both the mythological ancestry of Odin going back to the elemental Alfadur the substance of life, and the theoretical ancestry based on oral history and genetic evidence that indicates Odin was possibly wait for it a Hun. (one moment please. My mind just got blown again)Central Asia Roots of Scandinavia - skim down to around page five if youre a skimmer. This is just one of the articles I found.
I find this information fascinating for multiple reasons. Ive always been enthralled by mythologies and specifically Norse mythology since I was a child. Not because I believed it as a religion but because I and my ancestors are story tellers. We love fiction. We love to spin a tale. And I have learned over the past decade or so that the best stories are based on a truth. So when studying mythology as it relates to the actual history of a family or a civilization I start looking for that center point of truth. And the truth is what makes the story fascinating.
For those of you who do not know I mentioned an Ancestry DNA test which plotted my genetic ethnicity as 69% British Isle, 17% Scandinavian, 7% Finnish/Volga/Ural and 7%, Persian, Turkish, Caucasus. To stumble upon both mythology and history that matches scientific data oh. There goes my mind again.
I caveat all this of course with the admonition that genealogical study the farther back you travel in time will become speculative. While I can look at my berserker tendencies, and my pale skin as the culmination of thousands of years of genetic programming I still have that thing called a frontal lobe. I still have free will. Its not about the acquisition of knowledge that one can then use as an excuse for poor behavior that drives me. Oh. I cant help losing my temper and throttling my offspring. Its in my DNA to do so. Nope. This kid is no victim. Its all about what you DO with the knowledge. Knowledge is a slave master. Wisdom frees a soul.
So at the end of the day when I come home to brawling kinsmen and all the bjorr is gone, I have a choice. I can summon the residual sludge of my possible Hunnic tribesman and go berserker on my family or I can exercise my free will given me by a benevolent Creator and thank God that I am not a victim but a victor. Of course, hulking out with a hammer swinging over my head while shouting Im Thor! might go a long way in encouraging said brawling kinsmen to cease and go procure me more bjorr. Tam Odinsdatter of the Huns. Has a certain ring to it. Perhaps as a pen name?

looking for HUGHES - KEELEY - SECORD families in Chicago and MI

My name is Tammy Boehm and I am currently researching my great great grandfather - George Hughes. He married Mary Secord - possibly in Chicago. I am also looking for his son - Tracy Lorenzo Hughes (my great grandfather) who married Florence Keeley. Florence's parents were Elizabeth Edge and John Keeley. I cannot seem to find any information on any of these people other than their names.

UPDATE: since this posting - I've found the Hughes and Secord lines - the Hughes line goes back to the 800's. I am more than happy to share this information with any one interested. (12/01/2011)

Tammy Boehm (Hughes)

Maggots in the Woodpile

As many of you are painfully and bored-ly -is that even a word? - aware, the Tamster has been on a genealogy bent for a couple of years now, pretty much forsaking any creative endeavors in lieu of following happy green leaves down the rabbit hole.

So far, I've found whalers, Quakers, village idiots, suspected murderers/kidnappers, plundering vikings, puppet royals, cousins marrying, a Tory, and a witch. (The Tory and the Salem Witch are steps, mind you.) But yesterday I found something I never expected. I've taken a bit of a break on the Davis side (my second father's clan) and moved over to the Hudspeth/Watson clan. That being the family into which my dad on birth certificate married into. Pat, my step mom has four children. All of them are Hudspeths. She is a Watson. (Yes, I keep this all in my head. Its why I can't remember if I wore this outfit already this week or not) Anyway. The Watson/Hudspeth clans hail from south of the Mason Dixon line. That should tell you where I am going.

Genealogy is much like fishing. You can sit for hours, bobber idle on the pond and suddenly 'SMACK' you're being pulled into the deep by MOBY. This week I "discovered" that The Watsons are connected by marriage to the Boones which means - one of her aunts married one of my uncles. (nice) and secondly the Watsons married into a family called Van Cleave which married into the Vanderbilts. Again. The Hughes family ties into the Vanderbilts. So. my step mom and my dad are distant cousins. (giggle giggle!) But that's not the kicker.

Yesterday I was adding Hudspeths to the happy tree, going back to England in the 1700's and as I was adding brothers and sisters to the branches I came across a set of records from Alabama...One of the Hudspeth's was a slave owner. He owned a male, 75 years old and a 14 year old female. It makes me ache. I'm not sure why I had such a strong reaction to it - but it was disturbing to me on a gut level. I find it amusing when I find evidence of Grandma and Grandpa being brother and sister but evidence of humans owning other humans - wow. I actually don't know how to present this to my step mom and her kids. Its not their "fault" and it doesn't make them terrible people because of something a great great uncle did that they don't even know about - but to me it is deeply disturbing and I don't know how to tell them without doing harm. Even seeing the document made me ache.

Anyway. I should have prepared myself better for that type of truth surfacing when researching a family with generational presence in the deep south. Perhaps I am too naive. Not all of us are cornish tin miners and displaced Quakers....