#52Ancestors | Naughty


The theme this week is “naughty,” and while I may have some ancestors who would have ended up on the Naughty list, I’ve instead selected my great-grandmother, who was pestered by some naughty children(?).

Olive Mae (Magee) Seyler was born in Dillon, Montana in 1913 to Patrick and Olive (Smith) Magee.1 She grew up in Madison County and married Edwin Seyler at the age of 21. Together, they had three daughters. By 1952, the family was living in Butte, MT where Edwin worked as a miner.2

In 1961, the troubles with the naughty vandals began.

In March, Mae told police an aerial was broken off her car, which was parked outside her house. 3

In May, she reported that vandals  let the air out of all eight tires of their two cars.4

Finally, in Dec of 1962, Mae told police that someone had burned the clothes she had hanging on her three clothes lines in her yard.5 (admittedly, this makes me giggle)

I don’t find any more entries after that, and I don’t know who the vandals were, or if they were even the same vandals. I wonder why they pestered poor Mae. Was she an easy target for some reason? Her children were grown and at least two of them were out of the house. One daughter still resided at home, working as an aide at the hospital. Could it have been her friends?


  1. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services; Helena, Montana; Montana, Birth Records, 1871-1919; Box Number: 45. (online database, Ancestry com ). 
  2. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA. 
  3. The Montana Standard, Butte, MT. 20 Mar 1961, page 5. Newspapers.com, accessed 28 Jan, 2018. 
  4. The Montana Standard, Butte, MT. 1 May 1961 , page 3. Newspapers.com, accessed 28 Jan, 2018. 
  5. The Montana Standard, Butte, MT. 16 Dec 1962, page 30. Newspapers.com, accessed 28 Jan 2018. 



Mary Ellen Warner was born on the tenth of June, 1934 , to James and Mary Warner.1

She attended school in Bridgeville, Delaware. On a recent visit to Delaware, my great aunt gave me Mary’s senior yearbook. I learned she was president of the Fix-It club, in the chorus, The Hobby Club, Dancing Club and FHA. Her nickname was “Tiny.” The senior class wrote a poem about their classmates and she was described:2

Mary Ellen will make a good wife

Her husband will lead a fine life,

For a seam she sews very straight

And in cooking she sure rates.


Mary later joined the Women’s Army Corp, graduating in January, 1954, and then was assigned as a clerk-typist in Washington, D.C.3 She was in the WAC for less than a year before she married my grandfather, Thomas DeCarlo. Together, they had eight children, one of whom died as a toddler. Thomas was also in the Army, and they were stationed in Panama at one point. Their stint in Panama came to an end in 1968 when Thomas died of a heart attack at the age of 36. Mary and the kids then returned to Delaware.

Mary died when I was 8 years old. I don’t have many memories of her because we always lived in a different state. Mostly I have memories of her house. I interviewed my mom and her sister about their memories of Mary. My aunt recalled her as being very handy, often refinishing furniture or other similar projects. She liked to decorate the Christmas tree with different themes. My mom also mentioned how Mary made all the kids’ clothes too. Years later, when I decided to teach myself to sew, my mom said I must have “inherited” the skill from her mother. 

  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA. 
  2. Bridgeville Consolidated School, The 1952 B-Hive, Bridgeville: Graduating Class of 1952. Print. 
  3. Denton Journal, Denton, MD. 5 Feb 1954, page 2. Newspapers.com (database online, accessed 5 Dec, 2018). 


Snow Flakes, poem

While perusing newspapers of Maryland for my ancestor’s surname, Wiggins, I found many hits for my 2nd great aunt, Hilda Wiggins. Turns out she must have been quite the poet, because she had multiple poems published in the Denton Journal. Most of her poems were seasonal, with titles for Father’s Day, graduation, first day of school, falling leaves, etc. I found this one, titled Snow Flakes, and it fit the theme for this week, Winter.1


Hilda Kathryn Wiggins was born in 1903 to John W. and Mary (Ellwanger) Wiggins.2 She married George Thomas Lowe in 1924 and gave birth to a son four years later. I don’t know much about Hilda and George, but one of the few things I know is that they liked to travel. Besides the poems, most of the hits on her name in the newspaper are entries in the personal section referring to her “motor trips” in her Chevrolet to places such as Williamsburg, VA; Harper’s Ferry; Niagara Falls; Yellowstone National Park and Los Angeles.

On a recent visit to my aunt’s house, we went through some old photos and most of the pictures of Hilda were from her travels, as seen above. Considering my own wanderlust and writerly ways, I can’t help but think how much she and I have in common!

  1. Lowe, H. (1953, December 18). Snow Flakes. Denton Journal, p. 12. Retrieved December 5, 2018 (Newspapers.com). 
  2. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, online database Ancestry.com. 

#52Ancestors|Unusual Source

Most people who have done any genealogy research know about the missing 1890 census. It was damaged in a fire in 1921, leaving a 20 year gap in records. The census for that year exists for about 6,000 people only.  Census substitutes, gathered from city and school directories, state censuses and other records, have been compiled to help fill in the gap.  Just the other day, I stumbled upon another source for locating an ancestor in 1890: The 1890 Veterans Schedule. This schedule enumerated Civil War Union veterans and widows and included information such as rank, years of enlistment and discharge, and disability sustained.

I found my 4th great grand-father, James Russell Crawford on this schedule.1 Unfortunately, only his name is recorded, no rank, dates or injuries. However, I did find that information in another roster of Civil War veterans. Seems he belonged to the 37th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served for three years, like everyone in that regiment. He entered as a private and was later promoted to 8th Corporal.2

The 37th regiment was called the “Greybeard Regiment” because it was made up of over 1000 physically fit men over the usual age maximum of 45 years old, but many were in their 50s and 60s. Because they were older, they weren’t assigned to active service in the field, but instead they served by guarding prisoner of war camps and supply trains. The Greybeard Regiment was sent to St. Louis; Jefferson City, MO; Alton, IL; Rock Island, IL; Memphis; Indianapolis and finally Cincinnati. They did encounter some conflict with the enemy in Memphis and several of their regiment were killed. Most deaths were related to disease though.3

Interestingly, James’ records indicate his age at enlistment was 45, however based on my date of birth for him, he was only 42.4 That being said, we all know how birth dates were merely suggestions with many of our ancestors. Either way, he would have been among the youngest in this regiment. At the time of the Civil War, he was a resident of Muscatine, IA, but at the time the 1890 census was taken, he was living in Lincoln County, WA with his family.

Following the war, James returned to farming in Iowa. His wife, Rebecca, died in 1878. By 1885, James had moved to Lincoln County, WA but he eventually died in Nez Perce, ID where many of his children had settled.



  1. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; Series Number: M123; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Record Group Number: 15; Census Year: 1890; Ancestry.com. 1890 Veterans Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. 
  2. Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 2009. 
  3. Iowa in the Civil War, Roster and Records of Iowa Soldiers, War of Rebellion, Historical Sketches of Volunteer Organizations Vol. V: Historical Sketch Thirty-Seventh Iowa Infantry, (http://iagenweb.org/civilwar/books/logan/mil706.htm, accessed 3 Dec 2018). 
  4. Find A Grave. Find A Grave entry for James Russell Crawford, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi

#52Ancestors|Next To Last

So many ways to interpret this theme for the week. . . next to last ancestor in a line. . . next to last child born to a couple. I ended up with next to last person I’d researched which also happens to be the next to last person I wrote about. . . John Washington Wiggins.

As a reminder, he is my 2nd great-grandfather on my mom’s side and he wasn’t a fan of hunters on his property. He was born in 1854 in Maryland to John and Emily Ann (VanSant) Wiggins1. His first wife, Laura McDaniel, died after 10 years of marriage and the birth of two sons, one of whom died in infancy. He then married my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Anna Ellwanger. Together they had two daughters, Hilda Kathryn and Mary Elizabeth.

John was a farmer throughout his life, living outside Denton, MD. While inspecting the 1920 Census, trying to get a better idea of where he lived, I noticed his street was listed as “Holiness Campground.”2 Curious, I turned to Google and found a website for what is now a church camp. Their history page indicates the camp, associated with the Caroline County Holiness Association, started in 1898, housing campers in tents initially. Later, cottages were built.3 Still this didn’t quite explain why John would be living there.

Then I found an article in the local paper about the dedication of the Apostolic Holiness Mission in East Denton. The building, an octagonal shape, cost over $1500 and seated 400 people. Listed among the trustees was one John W. Wiggins. Apparently this was a new religion, and their places of worship were called missions.4 The holiness movement had its roots in Wesleyanism, along with Methodism.5

I later found an article about a water hole in the woods near John’s home “not far from the Holiness Campground” that didn’t freeze over, despite the cold weather.6 So he either lived on the campground at one point then moved to a location close by, or he just lived nearby and the census enumerator put him in the vicinity of the campground.

John died on August 20, 1927 at the age of 72.7 His obituary recalled “his simple life crowned with the friendship of those with whom he was associated.”8


  1. State of Maryland Death Certificate for John Washington Wiggins 
  2. 1920 United States Federal Census, Denton, Caroline, Maryland; Roll: T625_669; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 5; Image: 714 (accessed on Ancestry.com) 
  3. “Camp History.” Denton Camp, dentoncamp.org (accessed 1 Dec 2018). 
  4. Church News, Denton Journal, 7 Feb 1903 page 3. (Newspapers.com, accessed 22 Nov 2018) 
  5. Wikipedia contributors. (2018, November 29). Wesleyanism. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:25, December 1, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wesleyanism&oldid=871156048 
  6. 25 Years Ago, Denton Journal, 6 Feb 1943, page 2. (Newspapers.com, accessed 22 Nov 2018). 
  7. State of Maryland Death Certificate for John Washington Wiggins 
  8. Denton Journal, 27 August, 1927, page 5. Obituary for John W. Wiggins. (Newspapers.com, accessed 31 Dec 2017). 

#52Ancestors |A Hunting We Will Go…or Not

As (gun) hunting season is coming to a close here in Wisconsin, it was rather timely that I found a few hunting related articles featuring some of my family members. It appears some were fans of the sport, others not so much.

Newspapers.com - The Butte Miner - 10 Nov 1913 - Page 6

First up is Amos Alonzo Seyler, a 2nd great grandfather on my dad’s side. This guy seemed to attract mischief, or cause it. He and his buddies went on a hunting trip, coming back with three deer and a bear. They told a tall tale about the bear chasing one of their party up a tree before another shot it. However, someone else claimed the bear had been shot previously and given to them, already dressed.1 I suspect Amos was also the type of guy to claim he had caught the largest fish, if only it hadn’t gotten away. The same day, there’s a report that Amos broke his right leg to the point that the bone poked through the flesh. There’s no mention of how this injury occurred.

14 Nov 1908 Denton


Next is John Washington Wiggins, a maternal 2nd great grandfather. After his marriage to my grandmother in 1901, he lived and farmed outside Denton, MD. He must have had problems with hunters coming onto his property, because he posted multiple notices warning hunters not to trespass.2 Then in 1914, a new law created the office of Game Warden, paid for by taxing the local farmers. You’d think John would have liked this, but instead, the local farmers took it upon themselves to serve as game wardens and posted a Special Notice to Hunters, pledging to “positively allow no hunting with dog, trap or gun on our farms.” They would “positively cause the arrest of any person found trespassing for the purposes of hunting” on their land, regardless of who it was. Twenty two farmers signed the pledge.3 John probably would not have been a fan of Amos.

  1.   The Butte Miner, 10 Nov 1913, Page 6. Newspapers.com, online, accessed 11/24/18. 
  2. Denton Journal, 14 Nov 1908, page 5. Newspapers.com, accessed 11/23/18. 
  3. Denton Journal, 14 Nov 1914, page 6. Newspapers.com, accessed 11/23/18. 

#52Ancestors | Random Fact


Denton Journal 
(Denton, Maryland)04 Nov 1911, Sat  • Page 5

I really don’t think you can find a more a random fact that this. I love finding mundane facts like these that were deemed newsworthy back in the day.

John W. Wiggins was my 2nd great grandfather. He died in 1927, at the age of 72 years. In his obituary, he was described as “pursuing with industry and intelligence an agricultural career.”1

I will write more about him in another post.



  1. Denton Journal, 27 Aug 1927, page 5. Denton, MD. (online database, newspapers.com, accessed 31 Dec 2017). 

#52Ancestors | Mystery

The theme this week is supposed to be Frightening but instead I’m going with Mystery. Unfortunately, it’s not the spine tingling kind of mystery.

One of the shortest branches on my trees ends with my 2nd great-grandfather, Fred Martin. The earliest record I have for him is his marriage to my 2nd great-grandmother, Rebecca May Crawford. It seems nobody knew anything about his life prior to that. For this, I have not-so-lovingly referred to him as my Mystery Martin.

Here is what I know about Fred:

1897– He marries Rebecca Crawford in Latah, ID. Marriage record only includes current residence, no age, place of birth, parent’s names, previous marital status, etc. 1

1900– Cannot find Fred in the census. Should be with Rebecca and their first born child, a son (can’t find them either).

1910– Census, Fred is 52 (born 1858), living in Winchester, Nez Perce, ID. Census says Fred born in NY. Father born in Ireland, mother in Germany. 2

1920– Census, Fred is 61, (born 1859), living in Wapato, Yakima, WA. Fred born in US. Parents born in USA. 3

1924– Fred dies in Yakima, WA at the age of 72 (DOB listed as Nov 6, 1851). States he was born in New York. Parents information says “unknown.” Informant was his daughter. 4 His obituary only states he was born in New York. 5

A few theories:

  • There is about a 30 year age difference between Fred and Rebecca. I think it is possible he had a wife and maybe children prior to her, possibly in another state, anywhere between New York and Idaho.
  • I have a lot of DNA matches on this side of the family, however, nobody seems to know anything more about Fred. Many of the DNA matches from this branch of the tree have French names and people living in Canada. Rebecca’s ancestors are well documented back to Iowa and Pennsylvania. Most were German. I have this sneaking suspicion that perhaps Fred’s people lived in Canada at some point. Maybe he even changed his name. I have a few matches with the surname St. Martin in their tree. Given that New York and Canada share a border, I think this is plausible.
  • To further support the above, one of the my DNA matches, who is a grandchild of Fred and Rebecca, posted an interview they did with Fred and Rebecca’s youngest daughter before she passed. She said that people thought Fred was Alsatian, coming from an area that was part of France or Germany, depending on the date. She remembered that “they” said Fred’s mother spoke Gaelic because she was Irish, and the father spoke French and that the two couldn’t communicate because of the language difference.

Ideally, I’d like to locate the family in the 1900 census. It may just muddy the waters around his year of birth and the nationality of his parents, but at least it would be more information.

Ancestry gave me a hint for a Fred Martin in the 1880 census. I built out that tree and followed that Fred forward in time, but it turns out it is not my Fred. There are many other Fred’s out there, born in NY around that 1850 time frame, so I will likely spend some time following them forward to rule them out (or maybe in).

  1.  Idaho, County Marriages. 1864-1950, entry for Fred Martin and Rebecca Crawford, page 13. Online database, Ancestry.com. Accessed 11/2/18. 
  2.  1910 United States Federal Census, Census Place: Winchester, Nez Perce, Idaho; Roll: T624_226; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0231; FHL microfilm: 1374239. Online database, Ancestry.com 
  3. 1920 United States Federal Census, Census Place: Wapato, Yakima, Washington; Roll: T625_1945; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 192. Online database, Ancestry.com 
  4.  Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960, database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org: 10 March 2018), Fred Martin, 27 Apr 1924; citing Yakima, Yakima, Washington, reference 2022252, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Olympia; FHL microfilm 2,022,252. 
  5. Obituary provided to me by the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society on 7/26/2016. 

#52Ancestors | Conflict

I set out to write about “conflicting” information regarding the parents of George VanSant, a maternal 5th great grand-father. My initial information regarding George came from the help of another researcher early on in my genealogy days. I had a George VanSant married to Sarah Merritt,  with parents Ephraim VanSant and Elizabeth Hall. At the time I was so excited to have information that went back to the 1600s that I just slapped it onto my tree and called it good. But I’ve slowly started to go back to try and find the appropriate documentation. When it came to George, I started to find conflicting information about his parentage. I had two options:

A. George VanSant, born  12 Nov 1747, to Ephraim and Elizabeth VanSant


B. George VanSant, born  15 Jul 1748, to Cornelius and Elizabeth VanSant

Two Georges, born one year apart, in the same town, both with mothers named Elizabeth. So which one was my George? Many of the family trees “out there” list very conflicting information, and I suspect most are incorrect.

The records that far back aren’t the most detailed. Censuses only list head of household and break down of inhabitants by sex and age. Which wouldn’t really help for two Georges, one year apart in age. Birth records don’t list mother’s maiden name, and ta-da, their mother’s have the same name. Marriage records don’t list parents at all. Turns out the two fathers are brothers, so in the end, their pedigree would be the same from their grandfather back.

I’ve slowly been reviewing (documented) research of others, wills and probates, etc. And before I sat down to write about this conflicting information, I thought I’d take one more look online. I ended up finding a birth record for a child of a George and Sarah VanSant, which, combined with a will for Cornelius VanSant (the grandfather of said child), and the (documented) research of others that proved this George only fathered the one child, and I finally realized….my George wasn’t married to Sarah Merritt at all. The other George was. So my George is the child of Ephraim and Elizabeth, but I now don’t know who he married. Close one door, open another.

And all that being said, I also realized I don’t exactly have documentation that this (or any) George is the father of my 4th great grandfather, Henry VanSant. I probably should have started there! I do have Chancery Papers for George listing among his children, a son named Henry, but no other identifying information for that Henry. Of course, the person who wrote the transcription of these papers summarized it by also stating that George, the child of Ephraim of Elizabeth, was married to Sarah Merritt, though this is not actually stated in the body of papers. Hows that for conflicting information?!


Planning a successful genealogy trip

In less than a week, I am taking off for a little genealogy trip out east. This trip, I will be researching my maternal side of the family. A few years back, my dad and I went on a road trip out west to research his family, and a year prior to that, he and I took a short weekend trip to Illinois to do some research. As my trip gets closer, I’ve been starting to plan a research strategy. Since I’ll be flying several states away from my home town, I want to make the most of my time.


  1. Create a research plan. I have made a list of the records I want to find, the people I want to research, and the places I want to visit. I have found out which records are available where, and made note of specific details like call number, etc, if possible. This time around, I have adapted a spreadsheet as a research plan. I’ve made a calendar of the days I will be on the ground out east and included the opening hours of all the places I’d like to visit. I also mapped out the locations I want to visit so I can hit up places that are geographically close together and therefore minimize back tracking.
  2. Make contact before I depart. I have emailed the archives I plan on visiting before I leave to make sure they have will be open, clear up copying fees, and clarify special rules I need to be aware of. On the first trip with my dad, in order to see church records, we had to make an appointment. We learned the courthouse doesn’t allow cellphones in the building so knew to store them safely away. Some places may only allow a certain number of people in research rooms, some don’t allow pens, or scanners or cameras. It’s best to know before I go.
  3. Prioritize. This means doing some research before I leave. Since my trip involves a flight, I don’t want to get home and realize I missed something. In order to maximize our time, Dad and I had a list of the top questions we needed answered. We prioritized the records that weren’t available online or would otherwise be difficult to obtain. This trip I might visit some cemeteries, even though there are already photos on Find A Grave. That will be low priority, but if I have time, I’ll do it.
  4. Be flexible. When dad and I went out west, we stumbled upon a historical society we didn’t know existed. They turned out to be a wealth of information, and since it was a very, very small town, they knew the families we were researching. They told us we needed to go visit with an elderly relative who lived nearby and even got her phone number for us. We also learned that a general store had a sort of local museum in the basement and the walls were covered in old (labeled) photos, including some of our ancestors. These stops weren’t originally in our plan, but they turned out to be valuable.
  5. Bring snacks. We were so busy skipping to and from sites that we didn’t even think about lunch. But when our stomachs started to grumble, I had snacks ready to go and dad had a cooler of drinks. Genealogy fuel!
  6. Take a risk. At the courthouse, we found death listings for a man and a lady with our family name but we weren’t certain if they were part of our family. We ended up requesting the death certificates anyways, figuring we could at least rule them out. Turns out the man was our family member, but the lady was not. Boy am I glad we didn’t pass on those death certificates!
  7. Pay it forward. On both trips with my dad, we visited cemeteries. After visiting our ancestor’s graves, my dad turned to me and asked if there were any requests for photos on the Find A Grave website. And each time, I whipped out a list I had in my pocket. I have requested photos on the website before, so I feels it’s just good karma to pay it back when I can. I will do the same on my upcoming trip.
  8. Don’t forget the living. While searching for dead people I managed to learn more about my dad along the way as well. We also had the serendipity of meeting our older relative who the locals led us to. On my upcoming trip, I will try to meet with my great uncle. I am also going to interview my aunt. A few weeks after returning from our trip out west, my dad received news that his aunt had passed away. You never know when someone won’t be around.