Genealogy

Another Brick Falls

If you’ve been following along with my genealogy posts ( here’s one, and another), you know that I’m not having the best of luck running down my Campbell name.  So this week I took a break from looking for that elusive “immigrant ancestor” and tried my hand at a different brick wall.

My dad had a first wife. All I ever heard about her was the name “Trudie”. No last name, not even if Trudie was a nickname or not, but I have always gone on the notion that her name was Gertrude. But since I am the baby of my family, my older siblings had a little more knowledge than I. I did some searching via Ancestry, Fold3, Archives, and Newspapers.  All of those sites have different aspects that making internet search a bit easier.

I do remember finding a newspaper clipping of my father when he worked for Fairchild Airmotive during WWII era. The article was just a profile of him and his job, but it closed with a tantalizing clue. As best I can recall it said: “he and his wife live in Graham.” I asked my mom if she had ever lived in a town called Graham and she said no. I’m not positive, but I believe Graham is near Burlington, NC. I did find two clippings from The Daily Times which was Burlington’s newspaper of the era, that mention a Don and Gertrude Campbell.  Both of these clippings are from the 1943/1944 years, which is exactly the correct time frame for dad to be there.

I also found a Donald and Gertrude Campbell in the 1940 census living in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Now dad is a native of Pennsylvania, and my oldest sister was born in Altoona, so this was a promising find. On the 1940 census, one of the questions asked was where the person lived in 1935. Both Don and Gertrude answered “same place”. So I looked up city directories for Altoona in 1935. For those that have never heard of a “city

outside of campbell restaurant 3

directory” basically it’s the forerunner of a telephone book.  I could not find Don listed in the 1935 directory, but I do find him, with his mother, in the 1930 census in Antis
Township, Pennsylvania, which is in the same county as Altoona. I do find Don in the 1936 census in Tipton (maybe a suburb of Altoona?). I’m positive this is the correct Don as it has him listed as working in his mother’s restaurant.

Then I found a WWII draft card for Don. I know dad was “4-F” (medically unfit for service), so I was interested in this record.  Ancestry only gave his name and a few other tidbits of information. Just enough that I could say it was his record, but nothing more. The Fold3 site has lots and lots of military records. There I could see the entire card. And it was golden. It gives the same address as the 1940 census! So that was the correct couple. Sadly, they used the standard naming conventions of the times. For the emergency contact person, all it has is Mrs Don S. Campbell. Arrgghhh!!! Why didn’t they use their own names? I see so many old records like this. It is so frustrating.

Check out all the addresses crossed out. I’m not sure how to interpret that.

Family history says that Trudie died early in the marriage, for unknown to us reasons, and that dad married our mom very quickly after her passing.  By pure luck, I came across an obituary from the Altoona Mirror, dated 10 July 1945 for a Gertrude Campbell, with a spouse Donald Campbell. But it’s for Gertrude’s death in Washington D.C. Wait, what?? In DC? But then I remembered that mom and dad did meet in DC. And the death date is only seven months prior to mom and dad getting married. Which fits the family stories perfectly.

Gertrude M Campbell 07-10-1945-page-001

From the 10 July 1945 Altoona Mirror

One stumbling block I still have is I cannot find any marriage records for Don and Gertrude, nor a death certificate for Gertrude. Since her death was in 1945, she should be listed in the Social Security Death Index as the event occurred about ten years after Social Security was started. But she may not have had a social security number. I have no idea as to how long it took for social numbers to become “standard”.

So, yes, genealogy still sucks. But I have, finally, partially knocked down one brick wall.  I wonder which will be next!

So, what are your genealogy brick walls??

Peace,
B

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Genealogy Still Sucks, Just Not Quite As Bad

So just over a month ago, I posted that “Genealogy Sucks“.  Well, it still does but quite as bad. I mentioned that I have not been able to find any DNA matches on my Campbell side (the only line I’m actively researching right now).

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Since then I have finally found a match.  Despite the fact that Ancestry doesn’t list us as a match, another site that only does DNA, GedMatch does.  We are only matched on one small segment. I’m not yet entirely sure what that means, other than we are at best distant cousins, but it’s a match!  I still have much to learn about DNA testing.

With the help of this family, I was able to correct an error on my great-great-grandfather, and add his parents to my tree. But here’s the rub. Way back in 2011 I found what I thought was my great-great-grandfather, but things just didn’t come together. I had issues with some of the data I was finding, so I always listed this connection as tentative.

Now that I have the correct information, and a generation farther back the same family as I had in 2011 keeps showing up in all my research. If, and it’s still a BIG if, this line holds true, then the gentleman I had as my great-great-grandfather will turn out to be my great-great-grandfather’s uncle!  Now I see why my data didn’t mesh. I was off by a whole generation.

I still haven’t found my immigrant ancestor. I’m still “stuck” in Pennsylvania, but at least it’s now the 1700’s and not the 1800’s.

If I can connect the dots and link great-great-great-grandfather, James R. Campbell, Sr. to the line I’ve been following for all these years, I will at least have that elusive immigrant ancestor. He will be from Ireland (maybe North Ireland depends on which brother I can link to), and not Scotland. But that’s okay. The years I have for this line, roughly 1740 – 1750, coincide with the second Jacobite uprising in Scotland. Many families left Scotland for Ireland and other places to avoid the turmoil.  The Jacobite uprising of 1745 (Wiki page here), was when good ol’ Bonnie Prince Charlie made his failed attempt to overthrow the British crown and return Scotland to its own sovereign nation.  Of course, it ended with the disastrous, for the Scots, Battle of Culloden.  Rumor has it that the Bonnie Prince used a secret drink recipe as barter for a safe haven while on the Isle of Skye. We know that drink today as Drambuie.

After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart fled to the isle of Skye. There, he was given sanctuary by Captain John MacKinnon of Clan MacKinnon. According to family legend, after staying with the captain, the prince rewarded him with this prized drink recipe. This version of events is disputed by historians who believe it to be a story concocted to boost sales of the drink.

I’m very interested in finding out if any my Campbell line (and Campbell is the second largest clan in Scotland so it will take some time to find out exactly which family) was involved in the Battle of Culloden, and if so which side.

I have accounts on most of the genealogy sites available, both free and paid. I also have my DNA spread all over the web.  Let me know what sites and tools you use for genealogy. I’d love to see if we can match up somewhere in the not so distant past!

Peace,
B

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Genealogy Sucks

So yesterday I tweeted this;

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And believe me, that is a true statement. I have been chasing my Campbell line (and other family lines – but mostly Campbell) since the late 90’s. I have had and canceled, renewed and canceled again my Ancestry account ad nauseum.  I’ve had accounts at least three email addresses ago.

In the beginning, finding family members from long ago wasn’t all that hard. My paternal grandmother (Nanny – I’ve written about her before), told me many stories of my dad’s early time and his father. His father, my paternal grandfather died in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919. Although my siblings tell me that they believe Nanny had some men friends, she never remarried leaving my father as an only child. Because of this, finding cousins and other distant relatives isn’t easy.

I remember one day at my mom’s house in South Carolina (she moved back near where she grew up after dad died) and Wifey® and I going through boxes of old stuff in her garage. Everybody said we wouldn’t find anything but what did they know!  We found sister-the-eldest’s baby book with birth records. So sweating our asses off and drinking cheap ass beer (this was before the wonderful Craft Beer revolution), paid off greatly. I found my paternal great-grandfather’s name along with his wife!  So let’s renew that Ancestry account and go searching the census records.

While it still took about ten more years to add another generation, I kept going. I finally found my great-great-grandfather and his family along with all my great-grandfather’s siblings.

In those ten years or so, I managed to fill out a lot of the missing data on my family. Birth, marriage, and death dates were located and added to my family tree.

But I still have two stumbling blocks. One, my father had a marriage prior to marrying my mother. He has always told us that “Trudie” had died within the first year of their being married. I have pictures of her (quite the beauty too). But that is all he would tell us. No dates, places, or even her real name. So that is a minor hurdle.

don & trudie campbell

Donald & Trudie Campbell

And mom was no slouch in the look department either..

with love neva

The second hurdle is finding the next generation. What I have so far;

  • My father – Donald Sherwood Campbell 1912 – 1985
  • My grandfather – Herbert J. Campbell 1884 – 1919 (No idea what the “J” is for but guessing James as that name is all over the place)
  • His father – Samuel W. Campbell  1861 – 1924 (This was the one I found in the baby book)
  • His father – James Harris Campbell 1825 – 1902

There the train falls off the tracks.  I do have a lead on his father, a possible James Richard Campbell.  The problem in the 1880 US census James Harris lists his father’s birthplace as Pennsylvania (my paternal line is very heavy in Centre County, PA), but in the same census, James Richard lists his birthplace as Maryland. No this is not a show stopper. From what I’ve read, back then the census was done by hand. After all, they didn’t have all the technology we have today to screw everything up. Instead, they screwed it up by hand, you know, the old-fashioned way!

It would not be unheard of for the census taker to ask questions about neighbors instead of the individual in question. If the person that the census taker need information from was not at home, or maybe the next home was far away (this was rather rural country then), or just plain lazy, they would ask neighbors. And many times the neighbors guessed at the answers, or the worker just made it up. Let’s face, it still happens today.

Enter the DNA tests. I have done DNA at both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. They both are quite similar in results. The problem lies in that I cannot find any close matches from the Campbell side. Nanny’s side, Bodle, is all over the place. I have more cousins on that line that I could list! But, Campbell’s? Not so much.

Then about five minutes after tweeting the tweet above, I found a new line! It had all the correct sibling names and dates, but a different set of parents for James Harris. Naturally, this peaked my interest.  A whole different set of parents could very well fix my birthplace problem. So I jumped right in with both feet.

One of the main goals I have right now is to find the “immigrant ancestor”. The first person to come over the Atlantic from somewhere in Europe, most likely either Ireland or Scotland.  This family tree had exactly that and so much more!

As I went generation by generation back I became more and more suspicious. The names that were appearing were the BIG names in Campbell history. This tree placed me directly in the same tree as the Duke of Argyll (the current Chief of Clan Campbell, The 28th Mac Cailein Mòr, the thirty-fifth Chief of Clan Campbell, His Grace, the 13th Duke of Argyll (S), and the 6th Duke of Argyll (UK) Torquhil Ian Campbell. See here for more information on His Grace.

This “tree” listed the 1st Mac Cailein Mòr, Sir Colin Campbell or “Colin The Great” (wiki here). But (and there’s always a “but” and this one is big) it didn’t stop there. Many generations after Mac Cailein Mòr was (wait for it…) the one, the only, King Arthur. Yes, that King Arthur. With a birth date and place none the less! I just about punched my laptop screen when I read that. I mean come on. There is no proof of a real Arthur, King or not. There is no consensus of a date, place or even a name for this legend. A great resource for King Arthur can be found at The Great Courses, King Arthur: History And Legend. This 24 lecture series is presented by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.  I highly recommend it.

And, of course, the “tree” continued another five generations or so. I was so pissed, so frustrated. Who would post a tree to a reputable genealogy site, with “myth and legends”.

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Two hours wasted…

So now I’m stuck back in 1825 Pennsylvania. No Campbell DNA matches, no hints other than one with questionable parentage.

If you have any hints on other research areas for Pennsylvania genealogy, and onwards to Scotland, please, PLEASE let me know. I did contact a professional genealogist but was basically told: “go find someone else”.

And yes, I renewed my Ancestry membership (but only for a month). With any luck, this link will take to Ancestry to view my current tree.

Peace,
B

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DNA Testing – What Can You Learn?

So just what does a DNA test tell you about your heritage?  You may have seen the Ancestry DNA commercial that’s been all over (at least my) TV lately. I tried to find it on YouTube, but couldn’t. It shows a young woman who has discovered a long-lost relative using their DNA testing service. It even goes so far as to imply that she not only found this ancestors name but that he had blue eyes as she does.  All from a DNA test? Not likely. What it doesn’t tell you is that you need a lot of hard genealogy work to find these kinds of things out.

I have had my DNA tested by both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. Surprisingly, the results were very similar. Both give my heritage as very “Scottish”.  As a member of the Campbell group on Family Tree DNA, I have found that my DNA just might POSSIBLY point to a Pictish lineage.  For those that don’t know who the Picts were, they are considered one the earliest inhabitants of Scotland. They are basically made up of the Celts that came across from what we would call Germany today, Vikings that come from the northern Scandinavian countries, and the people who came across from what we call Ireland and then north up to Scotland. This shows just how impossible it is to be of “pure stock”.

Bruce's ethnicity

As you can see, my results from Ancestry DNA show a varied makeup.

The image above somewhat supports the findings from Family Tree DNA. My main groups do point to the historical makeup of the ancient Picts. But, since the Picts did not leave any written records of us to study, we can’t be completely sure.

But what does it prove? In all honesty, it doesn’t “prove” a damn thing. Without some genealogy work, it will never tell you much.  I have done a bit of work at Ancestry chasing down my family tree. I have managed to solidly confirm the Campbell line back to the 1860’s or so. I just may have a lead going back to the 1780’s or so, but have not been able to confirm it. Ancestry does have very fine resources such as US and UK census records. How much access you get depends on how much you’re willing to pay.

Unfortunately, all the matches I’ve found through DNA testing have not been on the Campbell side. I did have one gentleman who matched my DNA (up to 37 markers) exactly. But he will not answer my emails to see how we are related.

I would like to call your attention to this page; “Two Lies And The Truth About DNA Testing”. The big take-away for me from this blog post was;

I want to stress that DNA Testing is of little value to anyone except yourself if you don’t do the genealogy research to back it up and share it.  A common complaint among testers is that the test result is wrong.  That’s probably a misunderstanding. Genetic testing is pretty reliable.  What isn’t so well-known is that people traveled, sometimes quite a lot, even back to ancient times. Our genes have been mixing through migrations, marriages, immigrations, wars, and conquests for as long as we have been here.  If you believe it to be wrong, prove it. But don’t forget to study up on world history first.

Source: http://blog.ancestorcloud.com/2017/05/19/two-lies-and-the-truth-about-dna-testing/ 

And from this blog;

Alva Noë explains at NPR:

Shakespeare’s kid probably had 50 percent of his DNA; his kid in turn, on average, a quarter, and so on. Within 10 generations, Shakespeare’s DNA has spread out and recombined so many times that it doesn’t even really make sense to speak of a match. Putting the same point the other way, each of us has so many ancestors that we have no choice but to share them with each other… The truth is, you have your history and your genes have theirs.

So basically, trying to say some famous person is related to you without doing the genealogy work, and only relying on a simple DNA test, is impossible.

I’m not telling you NOT to do DNA testing. I just want you to know that the test alone will not answer most of your questions. Wifey’s® results from Ancestry gave her what she wanted. She wasn’t looking for a long-lost relative. She only wanted to see the “mix” of her heritage. But no, I will not post her results. That would be TMI. Hell, I don’t even use her name on this blog, why would I give you her DNA makeup???

One more consideration. What happens to your DNA test results? Family Tree DNA does not share your results without your consent. Can’t say the same for most of the others.

In the end, ask yourself why you want to do the test. Is it for health reasons? Trying to fill out, or start, your family tree? Just curious (as was Wifey®)? For whatever reason, read the fine print before you do the test.

And remember, your results may very well vary between companies. Take your results with a grain (or maybe a shaker) of salt.

Peace,
B

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