Year in review: 52 Ancestors challenge

I didn’t do such a great job of keeping up with the 52 Ancestors challenge, but I did make it more than halfway through the year. (Things got a little bit crazy in August once classes began at the university where I teach and life got busier.)

I wouldn’t exactly call it a failure but it wasn’t a great success either since I only manage 30 weeks of posting.

I will be continuing with the 2015 challenge based on themes. Perhaps this time I’ll make it past the 30-week mark.

And, as a good exercise for follow-through in the coming year, I’m setting some goals to keep myself on track with my genealogy research. Here they are:

I’m pretty sure I’ll be in over my head if I go to some of these sessions, but I’m a member and it’s unlikely that the meeting will be this close to me for some time to come. The timing isn’t great for my work and personal life (it’s really busy around her in May with the end of a college semester when you’re teaching) but I’m going to get creative and see if I can’t make it work.

  • Finish my First Families application on Jonah Clymer. (I’ve been working on this for about a year now, and while I don’t know everything I want to, I think I have enough to see this classification from the Missouri State Genealogical Association.)
  • Take some of the free online courses through the National Genealogy Society.

There’s probably a lot of information here that I need to review and would find useful to my searching for records and documents.

  • Continue to add information to the Powers family tree for my husband’s side of the family.

When I hit a roadblock in my own family tree ( and there are plenty of them) I often do a little digging on another tree just to give me something fresh to look at.

  • Trace the Johnston line of my family tree and see what other information I find on Carl Johnston and his wife, Grace, who I believe are the parents of my paternal grandfather.

These are only a few of the many things I need to accomplish in my research for the coming year, but I think they’ll be challenging enough and still attainable. And, I can set new goals as the year progresses.

52 Ancestors #30: Rebecca A. Baldridge

This week’s entry veers a bit from the line of ancestors I’ve been focusing on, but my discovery about this ancestor is important nonetheless.
I have been trying to put together enough facts and sources about James C. “Jonah” Clymer and his life to complete a Missouri First Families application with the state genealogical society. (There’s a workshop next week during the annual meeting so I’m hoping to have most things together so I can get some advice about what’s missing or necessary in order to make my application.)
Anyway, earlier this week I had to spend some time filling in the gaps of Jonah Clymer’s life. And, one of those big gaps happened to be the death of his first wife, Rebecca.
I knew from family lore that he had been married twice and that his second wife and their children were my direct line of ancestors. However, I needed to prove (somehow) that Rebecca died; I’ve seen her grave marker but don’t have a rubbing or any idea of whether it still exists since it’s a small family plot on the edge of someone’s farm.
And, to make things even more challenging, I knew that the state of Missouri didn’t start recording deaths until after 1883 and my recollection is that Rebecca Clymer died in 1882.
So, I set off to the research library at the State Historical Society to see what I could find.
I looked through a transcript of birth and death records for Scott County, just in case, she might be listed. Nothing.
I then checked a series of newsletters for the Scott County Genealogical Society to see what might be listed there. Again, nothing.
But, then I found a book of cemetery records that listed burials in the Clymer cemetery, complete with driving directions to the cemetery site.
Rebecca Clymer is listed as being buried there, along with two of her infant children. Her gravestone notes her birth as Nov. 16, 1845.
She was born as Rebecca Baldridge, according to Tennessee marriage records I’ve also found. She and J.C. Clymer (alternate spelling of Climer) were married in 1869 in Weakley County, Tenn.
They were living in Commerce, Mo., for the 1870 census and have a four-month-old son, Henderson. (He died in 1872.) The couple had another child, Mollie E., born July 26, 1872, who died Nov. 28, 1872. Their third child, Lizzie was born in 1874, followed by Lizzie in 1877 and Caladona “Callie” in 1879.
She and James C. Clymer are still living in Commerce, Mo., as of the 1880 census. It appears that two of her nieces, Allice, 14, and Selina, 10, Finley also are living with them, along with her father, William Baldridge, age 64, and James Baldridge, 28, who is likely her brother.
Rebecca died June 25, 1882.

52 Ancestors #29: Alice Angeline Webb

Alice Angeline Webb Coats is my second great-grandmother on my maternal line of ancestors.
She was born May 31, 1876, in Illinois, the daughter of Ruben Allen and Cornelia Adeline Davis Webb. She had at least four other siblings, from what I’ve been able to determine using census records.
She and her family lived in Illinois at least until her marriage to Miner Elmer Coats on Feb. 4, 1897. The couple wed in Batesville, Ark.
They continued living in Bradley, Lawrence and Independence counties in Arkansas for most of their lives together. They had four surviving children: William, Herbert, Clarence and Fay. One child, a twin of Fay, named Ray, died four days after his birth on May 26, 1910.
Alice Coats died June 29, 1945, in Lawrence County, Ark. She is buried in Austin Cemetery in Walnut Ridge, Ark.

52 Ancestors #28: Ora Alvin Loveland

I’m pretty well caught up on writing about all my ancestors in the past four generations, with a few exception on my maternal line. So I’m planning my next few posts on those ancestors.
Ora Alvin Loveland is my second great-grandfather. I didn’t know much about him until this afternoon when I spent a little time researching through and other Internet resources.
It turns out I was missing quite a few details about his life, and the number of children he fathered, what he did for a living, and when he married. It all came together with a few keystrokes.
Ora Alvin Loveland was born in February of either 1876 or 1878. Census records conflict. But he listed his birth date at Feb. 1, 1876, on his World War I draft registration, and since he was 42 at the time and not really trying to get drafted or enlist, it makes me think that’s a more accurate fact than the census records, which estimate ages.

World War I draft registration card for Ora Loveland

He was the son of Sidney Christopher and Matilda Melvina Harvill Loveland. He had nine siblings.
According to his World War I draft registration, Ora was a slender man with blue eyes and black hair. He worked in mining at the Lee Mining Co., near Oldfield, Mo., in 1918.
He and Rachel Jeneta Mathews were married Dec. 23, 1902, in Christian County, Mo.
They might have had as many as 13 children. I’m a bit confused because all my earlier notes and records listed Ora’s wife as Nettie, but that could be a nickname for Jeneta, if she didn’t go by her given first name of Rachel.
Apparently, Ora and Rachel (Nettie) were living in Bruner in Christian County, Mo., at the time he registered for the draft. Today, the area is still an unincorporated part of the county, east of Sparta, Mo., on Route 14.
I don’t think that he knew how to read or write because his mark is listed on the draft record and it’s all written in the same hand, likely that of the record taker. I’ll have to do some more digging in U.S. Census records to see if I can find anything else about literacy. Given that he came from a family of farmers living in southwest Missouri and parts of the Arkansas Delta, I seriously doubt he had much education or exposure to reading and writing.
For most of his life, Ora lived in Christian County, Mo., where he was born. The family moved to Lawrence County, Arkansas, by the time of the 1920 census. It’s about a 190 mile difference by car, according to today’s maps. I’m not sure what prompted the family to move, unless it was related to farming or mining work.
By the 1940 census, he’s listed as a widowed head of household, living in Campbell, Lawrence County, Ark., with five of his children: Johnnie, Jewel, Jessie, Samuel and Wilma. He rents a farm and completed elementary school up to the second grade (which corresponds with my assumption that he couldn’t write to sign his draft card).
Ora died on Feb. 24, 1941, in Lawrence County, Arkansas, at age 65.

52 Ancestors #27: Mabel Velma Loveland

I’m trying to catch up on my challenge a bit after a few busy weeks of the summer.
This post is about Mabel Loveland, my paternal great-grandmother.
I don’t know that much about her or even what she looked like. So now I’m on a hunt to find a cousin or relative who might have some pictures.
I re-discovered a book by Juanita Coats Peck that lists the descendants of William Coats of Halifax, Va., which includes my family line. The book includes photocopies of pictures (but there are none of Mabel) but doesn’t say anything about when or where they were taken or by whom.
So, back to what I do know about Mabel Loveland Coats.
She was born Aug. 21, 1909, in Arkansas, the daughter of Ora and Nettie Loveland. She was the youngest of four children. Her siblings were Evert, Curtis and Myrtle Coats.
According to the 1910 U.S. Census, she was living in Benton, Christian County, Mo., with her family. It’s likely she also was living near some relatives of her father’s, but I’ve not clarified that information.
Mabel married Fay Coats at Lawrence County, Arkansas, in 1930, She was 20 years old.
The couple had three children: Betty Sue, Elmer and Dinah.
Apparently, Mabel and Fay divorced. Both remarried and continued living in Arkansas.
Mabel married a man by the name of Snyder in 1960. Fay married Alta Whitmire, whom I remember seeing on visits to my aunt Dinah’s in Arkansas. (I’ll need to add her as a second wife in my family tree for Fay Coats, I now realize.)
Mabel died Sept. 18, 1967, in Arkansas. I have no idea where she is buried, but likely in the Walnut Ridge, Ark., area.

52 Ancestors #26: Fay Coats

I can’t believe I’ve reached the halfway point in the 52 Ancestors challenge.

Of course, there’s still much work to be done and more stories to tell.

I realized that I’ve done little research or writing about my maternal grandmother’s side of the family, so my next two posts are going to be about that line.

Fay Coats is my great-grandfather. He died only a few years after I was born, so I don’t have many recollections of him.

Here’s what I do know from a collection of sources on and an old book my grandfather had:

  • He is the son of Miner Elmer Coats and Alice Angeline Webb Coats.
  • He was born May 22, 1910, probably in Arkansas, as that was where he lived most, if not all, of his life.
  • He and Mabel Loveland on Jan. 18, 1930, in Lawrence County, Arkansas.
  • He and Mabel had three children, Elmer, Betty (my grandmother) and Dinah.
  • He died March 29, 1979, in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.

Clearly, I’ve got quite a bit of work to do to find out more about him and his life. Perhaps there will be an update in the near future.

52 Ancestors #25: Felix Leroy Duckworth

Again, I’m skipping around the generations because I’m trying to fill in some blanks in my family tree.
Felix Leroy Duckworth is a bit of a mystery.
I know a bit about his appearance based on the few photos of him that I’ve uncovered among family papers and scrapbooks, but little else to tell me anything about his life.

Felix Duckworth

Felix Duckworth

Felix is the father of my great-grandmother, Amy Ruth Duckworth Simpson.
He was born July 25, 1881, in Indiana, son of Sylvester and Emma Russell Duckworth.
He was living in Posey County, Indiana, in 1900, according to U.S. Census records.
He made it to southeast Missouri sometime after the turn of the century because he and Bessie Pearl Clymer had two children together (Amy Ruth and Cecil).

I’ve found no verification that he and Bessie ever actually married. No marriage is recorded in Missouri and I have no reason to believe that she went to Indiana with him, though it could be possible.

Felix did register for the draft in 1918 back in Posey County, Indiana, listing his brother Charlie as his nearest relative.
He is also listed as having completed a draft card for WWII, also living in Indiana at the time.

I know very little else about him, including when he died or where.

Although he must have left his children behind to go back to Indiana, he did have contact with them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have discovered any photos of him, or even know his name. So, there’s clearly more to his story that I’ll have to discover.

Sources: U.S. Census, 1900; draft registrations, 1918, 1930.

52 Ancestors #24: Donat Mairat

I’ve been trying to get better organized in my genealogical research, with only limited success (mostly because I don’t know what to do with all my papers and photos), and also have been reading more about how to use and find information in particular public records.

This morning I opened “The Family Tree Problem Solver” by Marsha Hoffman Rising and started on the chapter about land records.

I’ve got lots of farmers in my family tree, so it seems fitting to begin my document searching with their land records. I’ve come to realize that many of my ancestors didn’t really move around much, but from census to census, their farms seemed to. They might be listed in St. Francois County in one census but Washington or Franklin the next.

And for relatives that I’m trying to trace from Missouri to Tennessee (where they left ahead of the Civil War), it would help to know more about land records.

All of this brings me to Donat Mairat and today’s post.

It appears that Donat Mairat bought 40 acres of land from the U.S. government in April 1857 in Washington County, Mo.

This is all fairly interesting when you take into account that he purchased the land only 17 years after arriving in the United States from France. It’s fairly possible that he had farmed other land prior to this and was just adding to his acreage. However, knowing that he emigrated from France in 1840, it’s also quite plausible that this was the first land he owned in the U.S.

A few facts about his life:

Donat Mairat was born on Aug. 7 1808, in Montursin, Doubs, France, the son of Pierre Joseph Mairat and Marie Therese Comment. He had eight siblings.

He and Adelle Seraphine Cordier were married in France on Jan. 8, 1840. On May 9, the couple arrived in New Orleans from Havre, France. They sailed aboard the Charles with Paul and Sophie Cordier, the parents of his wife, and several of their children.

In 1848, Donat’s brother Victor arrived in the U.S. with his family. The families all settled in Richwoods, a French mining community in Washington County, Mo.

Donat farmed in Richwoods for the remainder of his life, according to census records. I need to do more research to see what happened to the farm and land after his death in 1882.

After his wife, Adelle Seraphine died in 1864 (likely after or in childbirth with daughter Sarafine), he married Eugenia Angeline Calliott. They were wed in 1868 in Washington County, Mo.

Donat and Adelle Seraphine had 10 children together. (Sophie is my direct ancestor.)

Over time, it appears the family surname spelling changed to Mara or Marah, depending on the records, which makes keeping tabs on this family group a little more challenging than some of my other ancestors.

52 Ancestors # 23: Margaret Mary Agnew

As I was researching my post on Winnie Pashia, and looking again at census records, I kept coming across a name that didn’t fit the family group: Margaret Agnew.

This child grew up with Winnie and Zeno Pashia as her parents, but was listed as a niece or adopted daughter in nearly all the census records I’ve located for the family.

This made me wonder: Who were the birth parents of Margaret Agnew?

I did about an hour’s research online yesterday to see what I could uncover.

It turns out that my family listings for Winnie Pashia omitted her sister, Margaret, born on May 9, 1881. She married John Agnew and they had two children. She died shortly after the birth of her daughter, Margaret Mary Agnew, in March 1918.

When Margaret Agnew died, she left behind a husband, toddler son and a newborn. It appears that her sister, Winnie, raised the infant Margaret as her own child. I don’t yet know what happened to Margaret’s birth father, John Agnew, or her brother, John. I’ve got a bit more research to do there.

And, I need to determine if there are more of Winnie Pashia’s siblings that I need to find so that my family tree can be more complete and accurate.

52 Ancestors #22: Winifred Mary Pashia

As the 52 Weeks challenge continues, I find myself a bit behind and trying to catch up. And, I’m also feeling a bit like I’ve run out of stories to write because I’m moving into the generations of ancestors with whom I have no memories or stories.

I suppose one of my problems is that as a journalist, I’ve been trained to find people and tell their stories. It’s a bit trickier when all your sources are documents hidden in a research library somewhere and you don’t know much about the people of whom you write.

I’m hoping that some time spent researching in these next few weeks will help me feel more connected as I move through the generations and branches on my family tree.

This week’s post is Winifred Mary Pasha, my second great-grandmother.

She was born March 29, 1870, in Washington, Mo., the daughter of Jean Baptiste Pashia and Lucy Flynn.

At age 10, she lived with her parents, three brothers and two sisters in Kingston, Mo. At some point in her childhood or youth, she shortened her name to Winnie.

Her marriage certificate notes her name as Winnie. She married Griffith Joseph James on April 11, 1894, in Fredericktown, Mo. They had seven children in 11 years.

Griff was a trader and apparently away from the family home during the 1910 census because Winnie is listed as head of household. By 1920, he’s returned home.

In 1930, she is a widow living in St. Louis with her married children and a niece. A decade later, her children have left and she’s living with her niece Margaret Agnew, who is listed as an adopted daughter.

She died Nov. 13, 1957, at age 87. She is buried in St. Joachim Cemetery.

My aunt told me a story recently about going to visit Winnie Pashia before her death. She and my father and their mother had traveled back from California and my aunt remembered seeing snow for the first time. My dad, only a toddler at the time, didn’t have any other recollections except that the room was dark and his grandmother was lying in a bed. I share a similar memory about my great-grandmother in this line — visting her as a young child when she was clearly near the end of her life.