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.

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