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.

52 Ancestors #21: Laura Belle Brunk

Much like her husband, Henry Harrison Tyrey, I know little about the person who was Laura Belle Brunk.

Documents show the timeline of her life but the facts don’t tell me about her personality or her dreams and hopes for her children or herself.

Laura Belle Brunk, photo on Ancestry.com courtesy of Judy Tyrey Schaper.

I have found one photograph so I know a bit about what she looked like.
Laura Belle Brunk was born Jan. 18, 1879, in Washington County, Mo.
She was a year old in the 1880 census, living with her parents John Brunk and Martha Oliver in Big River in Jefferson County, Mo. She was their first child.
She married at age 19. The ceremony to Henry Harrison Tyrey took place on Dec. 21, 1898, in Richwoods. They paid $1 to have the marriage recorded.
In late August 1900, her first child, Luther Tyrey, was born. He was followed by four more siblings, Lester, Luster, Lois and Elasco.
There is a seven year gap between Lois and Elasco, which makes me think Elasco was a menopause baby. Laura was 38 when he was born (also the same age I was when my daughter was born) and 31 in 1910 when Lois was born.
Laura and Henry farmed in Washington, Jefferson and Franklin counties for much of her adult life. It’s likely that they rented their farms, but that isn’t something of which I’m certain.
She died March 23, 1948, in Jefferson County, Mo., and is buried in the Grubville Baptist Cemetery.

52 Ancestors #20: Henry Harrison Tyrey

I’m skipping around the generations a bit in my family tree, but have been writing about people that I find most interesting, or who have caused me to rethink my standard research practices.
So, I’m going back to the Tyrey line for a bit to write about my second great-grandfather, Henry Harrison Tyrey.

Using online records, I’ve been able to trace his life for each decade, but the stories are flat because I know so little about what kind of person he was.

Here’s the timeline of his life:

Henry Harrison Tyrey was born March 27, 1872, in Jefferson County, Mo. He was the third son, fourth child of Francis Tyrey and Sophia Mairat Tyrey.

He married Laura Belle Brunk on Dec. 21, 1898, in Richwoods, Mo.

From 1900 to 1940, he is listed on census records as living in various communities in Jefferson, Washington and Franklin counties in Missouri. I’m not sure if he moved or if the county boundaries changed during that time.

The 1940 U.S. Census record shows that he rented a farm in that year. I’d have to go back through the earlier years to see if he rented farms then, which would account for his moving around the neighboring counties and communities.

1940 Census, Henry Tyrey  Henry Harrison Tyrey died Dec. 19, 1946, in Jefferson County, Mo. He was 74 years old. He is buried in the Grubville Cemetery.


52 Ancestors #19: Sophia Mairat (Marah)

Francis and Sophia Tyrey

Sophia Tyrey was born Jan. 2, 1844, in Washington County, Mo., the second child of French-immigrant parents.
Her parents had emigrated from France and settled in Washington County, Mo. Her father worked in the mines there.
Sophie and the family lived for a time in Richwoods, Mo. She was one of 10 children born to Donat and Adelle Seraphine Mairat. She was baptized April 20, 1845, in St. Joachim Church.

She married Francis Tyrey at age 20. Together they had 10 children; she buried at least four of them — two in 1873 — before her own death.
Sophia died Nov. 2, 1910, of pneumonia, as recorded on her death certificate. She was 66 years old.
However, she was counted on the 1910 census, living in Big River with her husband and two sons.


52 Ancestors #18: Francis Tyrey and Francis Marion Tyrey, his son

For nearly every person we encounter at the grocery store or while out on errands, my toddler daughter is always asking “What’s her name? or What’s his name?”
It got me to thinking about names, which got me to thinking about my genealogy research.
I have two ancestors on my father’s maternal line who, at first glance, appear to be named after famous people in American history: brothers Francis Marion Tyrey and Henry Harrison Tyrey.
I’m only directly related to Henry Harrison Tyrey, (whose father also was named Francis). These names jumped from the pages of “The Family Tree Problem Solver” by Marsha Hoffman Rising as I was reading this weekend.
In a chapter about researching collateral kin, Hoffman Rising says,

“Your research with names, however, must take into account popular naming patterns outside the family. … A child born in 1800 may have been named for the heroic “Swamp Fox” of the Revolutionary War, Francis Marion, but the Francis who was born in 1870 was more likely named after someone in the family who had been named for the “Swamp Fox.”

… Evaluating naming patterns can be a helpful tool in research, but it can also take you far astray. We may never know what motivated our ancestors to choose some of the names they did. … Do examine naming patterns but be ready to discard a theory if no data from other sources can be found to support it.”

So, it occurred to me that Francis Marion Tyrey, born Jan. 16, 1870, is likely named after his father, Francis Tyrey, who could have been named for the “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion. The younger Francis Tyrey died in 1873.

Henry Harrison Tyrey, born in 1872 isn’t likely named for William Henry Harrison, the first U.S. president to die in office in 1841 — he was born about 30 years too late. There goes my naming theory.

Francis & Sophia TyreyA search of historical records on Ancestry tells me that the elder Francis Tyrey also had a middle initial M, possibly for Marion, as noted in the photo at left. He served in the Civil War in Missouri as a Union soldier so I can write off for his military file and pension records to see if the M actually is for Marion. Perhaps, he is the one who was named for the “Swamp Fox” after all.

Francis Tyrey was born Aug. 2, 1841, in Wisconsin, the son of Jacob Frederick Tyrey and Celicia Kirkpatrick. He had four sisters and three brothers. He was the oldest of the boys in the family, and the second oldest child.

By age 19, he had moved to Missouri and was living in Richwoods, according to 1860 census records. He married Adele Sophia Alexandrine Mariat in 1864. He fought in the U.S. Civil War in 1865, as a Union soldier. By 1870, he and Sophia and their young family were living in Jefferson County, Mo., next door to his parents. Both Francis and his father, Jacob, were listed as miners.

Francis fathered 10 children with Sophia, although not all of them lived past childhood.

Francis Tyrey died at age 82 in 1924, in Franklin County, Mo. He is buried in Jefferson County.


  • death certificate, grave headstone
  • U.S. federal census database, Ancestry.com, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920
  • 1890 U.S. Veterans Schedules database
  • U.S. Civil War Pension Index
  • U.S. Civil War Draft Registration


52 Ancestors #17: Bessie Pearl Clymer

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Bessie Pearl Clymer was unlucky in love.

In some ways, hers is a sad story of a woman who married at least twice, possibly three times in her 48 years, but couldn’t make a relationship last a lifetime. I’m sure she carried the stigma of divorce in an era when that wasn’t talked about openly.

She was born May 12, 1885, the oldest daughter of James C. and Maggie Jane Vanderpool Clymer.

Her death certificate lists her birthplace as Scott County, Mo., which means she was likely born at the family’s home in Commerce.
The 1900 census indicates she was living at home in Commerce with her three brothers and two sisters.

She and Felix Duckworth had two children together: Amy Ruth in 1902 and Cecil in 1906. I’ve yet to find a document that says they were married. Bessie would have been 17 at the time her first child was born.

I believe she left her children to be raised by their grandparents, though I’m not entirely sure that Cecil didn’t live with her at some point.

Regardless, she did marry several times during her life, but they were all short-lived.
Missouri marriage records show that Miss Bessie Clymer and George W. Adams were married Dec. 15, 1912, in Scott County, Mo.

Clearly that relationship didn’t last because a little more than a year later the same database of records shows that she and John F. Gillett were married Feb. 20, 1913, in Wayne County, Mo.

Census records for 1920 show a Bessie Gillett, age 34, living in East St. Louis, Ill.

Her death certificate lists her husband as John Gillette, (with the extra e), however her son, Cecil, was the informant. Information on the 1930 census indicates that she was divorced but still living in East St. Louis at that time.

She did move back to Commerce sometime before her death in 1933, because she was seen by a doctor in town from July 22 to Sept. 22, the date of her death.

The cause of death is listed as pernicioius anemia with lues listed as a “contributory cause of importance.” All this is the politest way of saying that she had a deadly case of anemia and the underlying cause or contributing factor was likely syphilis. Some research indicates that the anemia, which is a vitamin B12 deficiency, can be related to alcoholism. I would only be speculating that Bessie was a drinker, but knowing that she had children early in life, left them to be raised by grandparents, and was living in East St. Louis, Ill., — a bustling community in the 1920s and 1930s — it might seem to fit that she had a bit of a wild streak in her.

Bessie Pearl Clymer is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Commerce, Mo.


Missouri marriage records database

death certificate, Missouri bureau of vital statistics

U.S. Census records, 1900, 1920, 1930